We just got back from the February 17th four-night sailing of the NCL Majesty to Key West & Cozumel. After reading several reviews on several sites, I had some concerns about the sailing, but most of them proved to be baseless. This was our second cruise, our first being a 7 day Alaska cruise with Royal Caribbean.
Arrival in Miami was painless. We parked in the garage, paid by CC for parking (Think it was $10/day), and had a short walk to the terminal. We could have also used the porter right at the terminal, but we needed to reorganize our bags, since we drove down.
The drive itself was interesting. We left Jamestown, NY (near Buffalo), on Friday evening, and were chased southward by the winter storm that clobbered the northeast. The snow was behind us all the way, and we saw very little of it. However, many of our cruisemates that flew or left later had extreme problems with the weather.
The boarding process was very smooth. You do need to keep your ID ready at all times, as we had to show it at least six times before we boarded. The only problem I had was with the X-ray machine. I asked to have my film hand searched, and they refused, claiming that the machine would not damage it. I'll see what the results are like later this week. They did allow me to pass my camera by the machine at each return from port however.
The Majesty was a nice boat overall. We had an outside class CC cabin, setup for three people. The room was much bigger than I had expected, and was bigger than my outside cabin on RCL. My daughter had a pull-down bed from the wall, and my wife & I had two singles pushed together on the other side. The shower was large enough, and there was a good-sized closet, a desk and two dressers in the room. We were on deck 6, just forward and port of the casino. I know the Majesty has been 'stretched,' but could not confirm that this was part of that process, but the room was in great shape.
Overall the ship was in good shape. The decks were all clean and well painted. The Majesty is a smaller ship, but it never felt crowded. The theater is far too small, and has poles blocking views all over the place. The dining rooms are small and intimate, but nicely decorated.
Speaking if food, again, no complaints. Freestyle cruising, where you eat when and where you want, worked well for us. We ate at the Four Seasons restaurant most of the time, but did try the Seven Seas as well for lunch. We also ate at the buffet and the pizza shop on deck 10. We did not try either of the 'spe4cialty' restaurants, but they were always packed. The Le Bistro looked like a joke; a very small crowded restaurant built right off of the hallway, open to all that walked by. I'm sure it was meant to be like a French sidewalk cafe, but to me it seemed like eating in a fishbowl. We passed. We missed the Pasta cafe on 5 forward, but it was a great looking place. We booked a table on the final night, but they only had standard red pasta and an Alfredo dish that didn't appeal to us, so we passed.
We only waited 5 minutes one night, otherwise we walked in and ate on demand. And we demanded and demanded and demanded! My 16-year-old daughter, a real food aficionado, couldn't believe the choices and the fact that Dad never said no to her requests for desserts. The food was very good, with few exceptions. Pass on the Caribbean steak, as it was tough. The Beef Wellington was good, as was the Steak Diane served later in the week. My wife enjoyed the Seafood, and with three picky eaters, we were each able to find something each time that we liked. The soups were superb, and the deserts good and varied. Breakfast included omelets made to order on deck 10. We never made it to breakfast in the restaurants, but I heard they were good. We ate lunch at several places, but usually went to the buffet on 10 forward, enjoying our meals on the pool deck. The buffets we, well, buffets. The food was good, moderately warm, and varied.
Our cruisemates were a varied bunch, all ages, but predominately US & Canadian. They had a youth and teen program, which my daughter used when she got tired of Mom & Dad. Freestyle cruising makes it harder to meet people, but you can meet more. Just make sure that you ask to be seated with someone else. Our cruise was short of about 100 people due to folks missing the plane or boat because of the weather, so they often sat the three of us alone at a table for 6.
The port of calls were short, but getting on and off was simple. The entertainment was mixed. There was a great blues pianist, and two good comedians. The two shows drew my wife and daughter, but I left after a few minutes. Somehow seeing a group of sequined teens dancing to Jumpin Jack Flash and such leaves me cold.. It felt like a high school dance recital. But others loved it.
The casino was good, but play the first night. I won $150 on Roulette the first night, but gave it all back later. I fared better than some though. One man I watched play won $500 the first night and ended up down $1500 at the end of the cruise.
Disembarking was simple and easy. We had breakfast, they called our number, and we were off in 30 minutes.
Overall, the cruise was a very good experience. The Majesty was a good boat, the food was good, and the staff helpful Freestyle cruising worked very well, and we really enjoyed our break from the cold. We left 80+ in Miami, and woke up to 13 degrees and three more inches of snow this morning. I'd go back in a heartbeat!