Posted April 7th, 2013, 04:39 PM
Before I start, I'd like to thank all of the CC members with their posts and reviews, which I found VERY helpful in planning this cruise. CC members are the best! Okay, so here goes nothing, hope you enjoy:
DAY 1- EMBARKATION
After a grueling drive from Philly, we visited with some relatives in FL, and arrived to the port in Tampa around 11:00. My dad dropped the rest of us and the luggage off, and then parked the car in the long-term parking lot. We gave our suitcases to the porters, and were in the waiting area at around 11:30. We went to the check-in tables/desks, and were given our Sea Passes and waiting Group #5. Those waiting were offered water, juice, and the daily cruise news. We (Group 5) were quickly called, and boarded the ship around 11:45. We went straight up to the Garden Café for lunch, and I would HIGHLY suggest boarding early, then directly going to lunch, as it got VERY crowded. Afterwards, we went to the Teen Center so my parents could register us, and explored the ship until our cabins were ready at 1:00. Our bags arrived at about 2:00. The Muster Drill was around 3:15, our meeting area was in the Stardust Theater, and was very sweet, short, and to the point…WAY shorter than on RCI. We made a reservation for the Venetian for 5:45. I would suggest going before 6:20 or so, because there was a VERY long line, and I would assume, a VERY long wait. On the first night, they were allowing people with shorts, a worker explained that this was because many people weren’t aware of the “no shorts” policy, and they would start to enforce this rule for the rest of the cruise. I had the shrimp and potatoes, surf and turf, and key lime pie. It was all very delicious! Other family members got the cheesecake (BEST EVER) and the bread and butter pudding, both which I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone!
Then it was off to the teen club! I arrived at around 8:00, and there was a line of teens, for the staff was checking everyone in, making sure they were registered, and you got an eyeball sticker on your card to verify your registration. While the others were getting checked in, those of us already in sat on the couches/chairs and met each other. This is how I met three of my closest friends on the cruise! So once everyone was checked in, the two teen counselors introduced themselves (Dazzle and Pebbles), they were awesome! They went over rules and such, and then we played a bunch of ice breaker games to get to know each other. I made a group of about 7-8 friends, and we all went to the pool deck to talk and go in the hot tubs. We checked back at the teen club late that night, but it was a group of people awkwardly break dancing, so we just hung out until the 1am curfew.
My opinions of the Teen Club:
I have to say, I had a much better experience with the teen club on NCL than on Royal. Though the fact that my NCL cruise was a 7-day on the Dawn during spring break and my RCI was a 3-day on Monarch OTS during President’s Day weekend could have made a difference. I did meet some nice friends on RCI, but overall I felt that the teens on NCL were just really friendly and fun.
Facilities: The Teen Club on the Dawn was really great! There were 2-3 TV’s on the one side, with couches/comfy chairs and gaming systems. These (video games) were usually occupied, but kids were taking turns. There were about 4 tall tables with chairs where people just sat and talked. There was an air hockey table and a foosball table. As for the dancing area, the main/center part of the whole room was a dance floor. On the side there was a small DJ booth, and surrounding the dance floor were couches/love seats. There were rectangle bean bag cushions that were pushed to the side, but sometimes my friends and I would throw them on the dance floor and lay on them. I noticed that almost every night there were pizza, wings, and other finger foods delivered to the club.
Activities: The activities on RCI and NCL are pretty much the exact same. There was a schedule (I’ll post copies) of Teen Club activities given out when you first board the ship, and it was posted outside of the Club as well. Most of the fun activities started at 8:00, and the dances started around 11:00 or 11:30 and then went until closing (1:00am). What my friends and I normally did was, we would meet at the Club at 8:00, decide if we wanted to do any of the activities they offered, if not, we hit the hot tubs or talked at the top deck, and went back to the Club for the dances. There were groups of other teens coming in and out of the club throughout the nights, so I guess most others did the same.
Teen Staff: With the staff on RCI, I felt they tried to act too much like teenagers, they were very friendly though! Dazzle and Pebbles (NCL) were fantastic counselors! They weren’t too much like “Mom and Dad”, and weren’t trying to be everyone’s best friend either, they were just really great! I feel like they interacted with us enough, without trying to dictate what we did. For example, if the majority of teens weren’t thrilled with the activity listed on the schedule, they were more than willing to cater to what we wanted to do. Finally, Dazzle taught all of us how to do a dance that the crew had done at the Sail Away Party called “Danza Kuduro”. It was literally the most fun thing I’ve ever done at any type of dance! It became the teen crew’s “theme song” in a way, as we danced to it almost every night! If anyone is interested, I have the video of us doing it, and the video is a good way to see what the teen club looks like as well!
Advice/Pointers: GO TO THE TEEN CLUB THE FIRST NIGHT AT 8:00. I cannot stress this enough! This is where everyone first meets each other…it’s basically how you form your group of friends for the rest of the cruise! There are plenty of ice breaker games, though awkward, you meet people. Make sure to be outgoing and friendly, even if you are shy at home, no one knows that! Also, if you don’t make friends right off the bat, try again the 2nd night; people were very open and friendly and groups grew with more people as the cruise went on. I mean, we love our families, but you don’t want to hang out with your parents every night, right!?
A side note: I posted on the CC Roll Call for my cruise, and got in contact with some other teens pre-cruise. I set up a facebook group so we could all meet each other, which I highly suggest! Now, we use the facebook group for all teens that were on the cruise and post funny memories and such. It’s also a great way for everyone to find each other, just in case they forgot to get someone’s contact info.
Teen Schedule: (Below)
Hope you like it so far, and I apologize for the length! I'll try to post Day 2 and more pictures of Day 1 as quickly as I can!
3/07 Jewel of the Seas
3/08 Enchantment of the Seas
2/17/12 Monarch of the Seas
3/24/13 NCL Dawn
6/21/15 NCL Gem
Links to My Reviews:
3/13 NCL Dawn: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1821547
6/15 NCL Gem: