Year Started: 1966
Ships in Fleet: 13
Summary: With the recent introduction of new ships the third biggest cruise company in the world. Free-style cruising, elaborate dining options and surprisingly good entertainment.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, Bermuda
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Disabled Travelers.
I've got to tell you, I was very impressed with NCL, both before we cruised and during. The Baltic 12 day cruise was awesome with the highlight being the two days in St Petersburg, Russia, particularly with our private tour guide Anya we found through the internet (guidestpetersburgrussia dot com), but more on that later. I will try to categorize our cruise experience by pre-cruise information, arraignments and preparations (telephone & internet) and then the actual resulting experience both on the ship and in the various ports. Hopefully this information will help all future cruisers.
Initially, I checked all the cruise sites and found that NCL had prices lower than the consolidators, which is a change from what I'd found in the past. So, I booked through them on the phone (this turned out to be fortuitous as I will explain). They gave me discounts for being an old guy and also for being retired military. The phone center people that worked with me were very helpful every time I called. They answered all my questions even to the point of quoting NCL guidance so there was no questions on procedures (particularly theprocedures for bringing on our own wine). I even got them to provide a partial wine list and we tried the wines before we left so we already knew what we liked (and the cost).
We don't use the cruise excursions when we cruise, so I booked everything ahead of time thru the internet. I found limited information about port visits from NCL other than their excursion information, but that is understandable. However, Cruise Critic reviews were very helpful in establishing our own excursions. We spent four days in London (6th visit) pre-cruise and stayed near the airport (and tube station) and took the tube into London which worked well and reduced costs for hotels. We had booked a Shakespearian play at the Globe Theater online which was very enjoyable. Otherwise we did the normal tourist stuff in London as there is always something new to see and, of course, the obligatory shopping for the ladies (I usually sit in a Pub nursing a beer during shopping). We had rented a car, actually a mini van, to hold the luggage, (which was cheaper to park at the hotel for 2 of the 4 days than to rent for 2 separate days) and drove to Dover, saw the Castle and dropped the vehicle off. The rental guys then took us to the ship.
We had port side rooms so we'd be able to see the white cliffs while sailing away. Embarkation was the quickest and easiest I have ever experienced. We were apparently amongst the last to get to the ship as there were dozens of check-in folks and just a few guests checking in. So it took about 15 minutes to get into the door and onto the ship for the four of us.
Ports Copenhagen: We walked from the ship into the city which was past the Little Mermaid and was a pleasant 20-30 minute walk. Wandered around down town (shopping of course, which left me in a street side café nursing a beer) toured Rosenberg Palace (location of crown jewels of Denmark), ate lunch outside next to the water in picturesque Nyhaven, and then trekked off to Tivoli which was a ways away. Good thing I had my GPS and had pre-loaded all the sites we would see (except Russia and Estonia) on the maps at all of the ports. Disappointed at Tivoli as it was $25+ per person just to get in and I had not really wanted to do the rides (and spend more dollars) and being limited on time. So I took a picture of us at the entrance and left. Overall it was a beautiful city with a mix of past and present. We had a relaxing day and saw a few sites.
Germany: I had pre-reserved a rental car through SIXT Rental as it was the only company that would rent one to us on a holiday (we arrived on 1 May -- May Day). Instead of paying a cab to take us to the rental car, I paid to have the car delivered to the port and apparently we were the only ones to do so. It turned out to be cheaper to have the car delivered than to take a cab, as we had to drop the car off at the closed rental office and cab back to the ship! As in England, the GPS was priceless getting around Berlin and Germany. We used it walking also. We had watched the news and there had been demonstrations in Berlin for May Day and when we arrived we saw street closures and politzi everywhere, and the GPS became very, very necessary. We initially tried to stay away from where we heard all the noise and cops, but it turned out they had closed off the area around the Brandenburg Gate for a huge street fair and the news media again had blown the minor demonstrations out of proportion just to confuse us. Ate a German lunch next to the Holocaust Memorial, wandered around Tiergraden Park, drove to see the "Wall" (which had cars parked in front of it and was hard to photograph), drove to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial to look around and drove the 2 hours back to the ship and arrived back about 1-1/2 hours before departure.
Tallinn: Beautiful medieval city. We just walked from the port to the old downtown (10 minutes) and wandered the cobble stone streets and took copious pictures. No set itinerary for us, we just wandered in and out of churches, etc. We ate a traditional lunch in the city square, shopped (except me, of course -- beer time), enjoyed the parks and old city walls. Another relaxing day on shore.
St. Petersburg: The highlight of the trip. Met our tour guide at the port facility and the four of us were escorted both days by Anya and our driver Nicholas. You can't get off the ship unless you have a visa or are on an escorted tour private or group. As stated before I had gotten my visas ahead of time thru the internet (handled by Anya) and had them in hand when we went thru Russian immigrations. I got us the private tour and although it was slightly higher, it was well worth the cost. Anya was able to take us to the front of each line at every venue and designed our itinerary especially for us. She even provided Ruble coins when needed to use the restrooms, something we wouldn't have prepared for! There were some last minute changes she emailed to us even after we were on the cruise due to changes at the venues in preparation for the annual celebrations in front of the Hermitage for May Day and the celebration of victory over the Nazi's military parades (I forget what they call it). We "snuck" in a back entrance and thus didn't have to wait in line at the Hermitage for entrance. We toured the city, went to Peterhof, the Hermitage (as mentioned), Yusopov Palace, Church of the Spilled Blood, Saints Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral. St Pete is a marvelous city, all while being continuously provided information (and funny Russian stories) by Anya.
Helsinki: Got on the "hop on, Hop off" bus at the dock and did the tour of the city first and listened to the tour (earphones provided on the bus in 9 languages). Then got on and off at various venues. Saw the White Church, Olympic Stadium with views of the city from the tower, Sibelius Monument and again a traditional meal for lunch. A very cosmopolitan city. The bus got us back to the dock also.
Stockholm: Met a friend from Norway near the Vasa Museum. The ship arrived hours before anything was open so we sat around waiting for our friend for a couple of hours at a café next to a canal. Saw the Vasa, walked a bit and took the "Hop on Hop off" boat tour (English and Swedish guide talks) around the city and went to the changing of the guard. We ate a traditional meal (again) and I did my beer thing while the ladies shopped. Mostly wandered and visited with our friend.
My wife always enjoys the sea days and we had four interspersed into the shore visits, so there was plenty of time to rest between trips, especially since we had four busy days in London before the first sea day on initially starting the cruise. We found the free style cruising more to our liking than traditional dining as we could come and go on the ship to eat as we wanted. The service and crew were exceptional. The food was good but not extraordinary, but then I am used to army food so it was well received for food prepared for 3,000 people (including crew) every meal. I WILL CRUISE NCL AGAIN!
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Dr johnny Gayton Alaska April 25, 2009
I purchased an Alaskan cruise from L.A. to Vancouver through Delta. We arrived for the cruise around 2:30. All of the porters had left. Despite having a 9 year old and a 12 year old handicapped daughter, we had to take all of our luggage on board ourselves. No one offered to help. There were plenty of cruise ship employees watching our struggle, but none offering to help us out.
The next disappointment was to learn that there were no programs for tweens and our children would have to be with the toddlers. The youth counselors also told us that the Nintendo Wii was reserved for the teens, so my children were crushed. Of course, the ad about the two-story video screen did not apply to the Norwegian Star. The kids had brought their laptop to spend time on the internet. Of course we found out that the nominal fee for WiFi was rather outrageous, which prevented them from using their laptop.
BTW, our car was broken into in downtown Vancouver and all of their electronics, including the laptop,were stolen. NCL should warn its passengers about downtown Vancouver and theft. It turns out that it is the number one area in North America for burglarizing cars.
The 3 days at sea were uneventful, but we had to be with the kids the entire time due to the lack of tween programs.
We kept hearing announcements about booking your excursion through NCL due to the guarantee and protection. We booked the Juneau Salmon Bake and glacier tour through NCL. Here is a recap of our experience:The bus left late.
It was hot on the bus, but the air conditioning did not work. Numerous people complained to the driver.
We sat on the bus for over 20 minutes after the glacier departure time. Again, no air conditioning. BTW, when my children went to get on the correct bus, the driver would not let them on. She proclaimed that she did not have any children on the bus. When we assured her that they were indeed with us, she said they must have been so quiet that she did not know they were there.
The trip to the salmon bake was without air conditioning.
The salmon bake was a disappointment. There was a line to get a container containing a paltry amount of clam chowder. The buffet food quality was poor. The promised ribs never materialized. After a long wait, the salmon was dry and had a crunchy sugar sauce. None of us ate the food. The water in the bathroom was so cold that it was painful.
Nancy complained to the staff and a nice young man named Chris took us to McDonald's, where I fed the kids. He took our cabin numbers and said that they would reimburse us for the bake.
When no reimbursement arrived, Nancy complained to the front desk staff. They told her to return the next morning and speak to the excursion director. When she arrived he was not there. She gave the details to one of the ladies who said that we would hear something that day. When we had not heard anything by the next morning, Nancy again complained and was told that she would hear by noon. I knew then that the excursion department was not going to do anything. Sure enough, when the letter arrived it basically said that we were not entitled to any reimbursement because we left the excursion early. Of course, I was dealing with three hungry people, two of which were children who were not going to eat the food at the salmon bake.
Ketchikan went fine, as did most of the rest of the cruise. The service in the main restaurant was pretty slow, but the service in the specialty restaurants was excellent.
Our steward was very helpful and pleasant. Sarah in the fitness facility was very knowledgeable and as nice as could be. The fitness juice bar person was also responsible for the ice cream bar, and that created some long lines. The cruise staff and director could not have been nicer on the cruise. The entertainment was outstanding.
In conclusion, an overall nice cruise that gave us a bad taste in our mouth because of the excursion.
I booked a cruise to celebrate my birthday from Miami to Dover with NCL on the Norwegian Jewel.ON the third day of the cruise I was walking along 7 Deck Atrium starboard, and a man from the Duty Free shop was coming toward me pushing a tolley full of unsecured goods from the Duty Free shop. As he got to me he caused the trolley to tip over and the whole contents of the trolley landed on my leg. Fellow passengers rushed to my aid and got a wheelchair and took me to the Medical Centre where I received an injection and tablets for the pain.
My leg was badly swollen so I had xray's taken -- nothing broken and the doctor said I had bruising internally which was restricting the blood flow to my foot and causing me to be in agony with pain. I was travelling with my partner and she had to push me back to the cabin where I remained for the next 36 hours. In that time no one from the ship's crew came to see if I was ok. I returned to the MedicalCentre on a further two occasions for treatment for the pain. My partner suffers with a back problem and could not push me round the ship in the wheelchair.
As we were visiting Portugal and Spain enroute to Dover I asked at reception what they were going to do for me about getting ashore in the two ports. They said I could borrow the wheelchair, but I explained to them that my partner had a back problem and could not push me around in the wheelchair, so she said in a sarcastic tone well you will have to stay on board then.
I remained in the wheelchair for the rest of the cruise. Before I disembarked the ship in Dover they told me the NCL office in Miami was aware of the accident and they would contact me when I got home. We arrived in Dover 28 April and it is now 26 May and I have had no response from NCL. I have sent emails to NCL's office in London and Miami but have had no reply. My birthday cruise was ruined by the accident, NCL was negligent under Health and Safety rules because the crew member was pushing an unsecured and unstable trolley full of goods around the ship.
I have not had an apology from NCL or nothing, and I think it is a disgrace to treat a passenger in this way. We don't care for this sort of attitude.
The ship was fine, equal to my experience with Carnival and Celebrity.
The rooms are a little smaller and the buffet is not as clean or good.
NCL advertises that smoking is allowed in an indoor cigar bar, an outdoor bar, and on the pool decks except for dining areas and the children's pool. This is not the case. There is nowhere to smoke on the entire ship except in your room or on the very top deck, at the very back of the ship. I like to have a couple of martinis before dinner, and, of course, a cigarette.
Drinking in an open air bar is great when you are swimming or goofing off, but not when you are dressed for dinner. Sweat and wind-blown hair will really ruin your dinner.
And how about those martinis? $17.00 each. That's for two measured shots and an olive. Then they add another 15% to pay the bartender, and then tax at 7% on top of that. Then they want a tip as well. Use the mini-bar in your room. It's the same price without the glass, olive or service.
And please book your ownair arrangements. We were booked on a red eye express to the islands. We arrived at 8 am and could not check into the hotel until 3 pm. That was seven miserable hours homeless and guarding our luggage. When the cruise was over, NCL booked us on a 9pm flight. We had to check out by 11 am. That was ten miserable hours more. NCL had representatives at the hotel, and while they apologized, they really couldn't do anything about it. They were just there to make sure everybody got their rooms and made their transfers.
We just returned today from the worse cruise I have ever been on. We have completed over 27 cruises. This was our second on NCL. I will never use them again!
The food was boring in all of the restaurants included in the cruise price. They had several restaurants for a fee from $10 to $20 per person, but we did not frequent them. We don't feel we should have to pay extra for better food.
The service was even worse. I had a waiter just drop my food in front of me on the table.
Our stewards were nice but not very good at cleaning. We had excessive dust on shelves and the headboard area of the bed. The room was the smallest ever on any ship we have been on.
The entertainment was excellent and we liked Bar City, and had amaazing coctails, but they were rather pricey.
Our shore excursion to the beach in Grand Cayman left a lot to be desired. The umbrellas were $5 and all broken and dangerous with metal points uncovered.
It was the first time in over 27 cruises that the day before it endedwe said "I can't wait to get home!" Most of the time we say we don't want to go home and want to just keep cruising.
I cannot recommend this line or ship to anyone. Please go elsewhere.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Otto Mexico March 21, 2009
NCL stands for NO CASH LEFT. They charge extra for decent food, food or drink classes and crazy expensive drinks with 15% tips added. A "Soda" bracelet is over $6.00 A DAY.
Check in at LA harbor is a joke. Hey, NCL -- take note of how Carnival does it.
The staff, for the most part, tried their best. Our room stewards were excellent.
The food choices were a joke. You could eat at the buffet for breakfast or lunch, which was along the quality of a cheap all-you-can-eat place. The two main dinner places started at the begining of the week along the quality of a Sizzler, but by the end of the week it was pretty bad. You could, however, pay extra money to eat in a better place, from $10 to $25 dollars per person depending on which place you went to.
NCL spent more time trying to seperate us from our money than they did waiting on us. It is NOT a great value. You will spend more than you would on a "regular" cruise line for decentfood and services.
I will not be a return customer. Bye bye, NCL.
The service on this ship was fantastic. The only one to beat it so far was the NCL Star.
The food at the free restaurants was good, but at the specialty restaurants it was excellent.
The music on this ship was the best I have heard so far.
The only bad thing I have to say is not about the ship, but rather about the port it sailed from. New Orleans stinks. Everyone wanted a tip for everything. They even had signs on the tranfer bus that tips were expected.
Also this ship had no bags program. The trip down the Mississippi was a real loser. We did not get to the Gulf until well after dark.
NCL really needs to drop this port and leave from the Houston TX port.
Let me start with a little bit of background information. This was my fourth cruise and my first cruise on NCL. We were in an oceanview cabin on deck 5. Our cabin was very nice with two twin beds, vanity area, desk area and bathroom. The closet was very large and had a shelf across the top and a pull down shelf that you could use for shoes. Between the closet and the wall was the safe with four nice deep shelves underneath it. On the other side of the closet was three large lower drawers, a good size open area for the ice bucket and glasses with two shelves above it. Then there was a small desk area with the TV above. On the other side of the room was the vanity area that had 3 small shelves up the side of the mirror, a small vanity drawer, and three more large drawers. There was a stool to sit at the vanity and do your make-up, hair or what ever. They supply a hair dryer that to my DD's surprise was very powerful.
Between the beds were two smalltables each with a shelf underneath. I would have liked to have had a nightstand instead with a drawer as nothing stayed on the little table due to the amount of rocking we were experiencing. The bathroom was very large. The toilet area had a sliding glass painted door just like the shower had. They were separated by a large countertop and sink that had a moveable faucet somewhat like your kitchen faucet. A large shelf was under the sink which had a wastebasket in it and there were three small shelves up the side of the mirror to put your toiletries on. The shower was exceptional with a height adjustable/handheld shower head which included massage if you like. The temperature of the water is written on the handle in Celsius. I really like the fact that even the shower enclosure was wood grain very high end. Carpet was nice and bright as well. Bed was super comfy as were the linens. Only down side to the stateroom was the window was dirty and at some point had been leaking to the point that the screws and part of the metal trim was rusted. It had been repaired and caulked but the rust was very unattractive. Overall room was excellent.
The ship overall was very nice and easy to navigate. Elevators were slow but all elevators on cruise ships are slow. I did not like the fact that the rear elevators only go to deck 7, which made getting to Tsars' Palace rather complicated and confusing. It does help if you remember that food is basically at the rear of the ship and entertainment is at the front. They have cleverly helped you keep track of the front and rear of the ship on the hall by installing carpeting that is fish and sea weed making all the fish swim forward. I told my daughter when we got on just remember the fish swim forward but didn't explain that I was talking about the carpet. Wednesday she said hey mom look all the fish are swimming to the front of the ship, duh. There is a "Freestyle" deck for that type of sunbathing it is forward deck 15; I never went there just saw the sign.
The garden café had a lot of different stations which was very nice although seating was a problem. Pool deck was very nice with adult only, family and kid only areas. The theater was beautiful and the curtain was cool how the peacock changed color when the lights changed. Was unique how the Spinnaker was all windows in the day and transformed into a club at night. Was a little bit weird walking out of a lounge with the chapel right there. Reception area was sort of blah except for the blue led lights tree not sure if that was just for the holidays or what. There were some rather interesting led icicles in the ceiling that changed colors. It was open to the Blue Lagoon and Tango's. I didn't really care for the interior decorations of the ship overall. Now this was the most disappointing part of the cruise. This is where I found I really dislike "Freestyle". Although it is nice to just go eat when you want to you also lose that part of cruising that makes me feel like a queen. You don't have an assigned waiter naturally so it is basically the luck of the draw. Service in Tsars was a nightmare.
The first night we went there and choose to share a table with others. We were seated right by a service station so it was very noisy. The waiters didn't introduce themselves and offered no suggestion at all. See nothing on the daily menu that interested me I went for the always available cheese tortellini which was good. The waiter was very slow. The entire table was not served at the same time and parts were eating their appetizers when the rest were served the main course. There was not a separate desert menu if you requested they would get you one but they didn't bring a dessert menu without being asked. The second night also in Tsars we were not even asked if we would like to share we were just seated at a two person table. Meeting new people is one of the best parts of cruising. We ordered steak and fries which were served cold. The waiter disappeared and didn't return until we were nearly finished to see if we needed anything. It was then that we were able to get ketchup only to find out that the fries were cold. Our drinks were not filled and we had to tell the waiter each evening that we wanted tea with splenda and no lemon. The waiters seemed to get irritated when we asked for Splenda because it was not already on the table and they had to get it. Not sure why as it was in huge bowls in the garden café. The food in the garden café was always cold except for the carved meats and the cooked to order items such as omelets and pasta station. Azure was the best restaurant we ate there 3 nights. We had one waiter there, Renaldo, who was worth his weight in gold. He offered suggestion as to what was the best thing on the menu and never let your drink run low. That is what a cruise waiter is supposed to be. The rest of the waiters appeared to be new or from a fast food restaurant not friendly at all.
One night ate at Blue Lagoon it is good for a fast food type meal. Didn't try any of the pay restaurants as I believe that your meals should be included in your cruise fare and you should not have to pay extra to get good service or good food. Did not feel that food was readily available all the time as when the Garden Café closed your choice was blue Lagoon and that is a sit down restaurant. There should be some kind of place where you can self serve pizza, cookies, ice cream, finger sandwiches etc all the time. There was a great CD Que. He is from South Africa. He was very personable as was all his staff. Dan, Dan the party man was pretty cool also. They had great games the not so newlywed game, dancing with the jewel stars, Liar's Club, Majority Rules, Quest, Greatest Couple or something like that.
Of course they had BINGO which is basically something to lose some money at other than the casino. Had some pool games but I didn't go. They had a pub crawl not sure what the cost was as I didn't participate. They had karaoke, Wii, and dancing. One late night event not to be missed is the White Hot Party, it was great. On sea days their ballroom dance couple taught the cha-cha and one other dance. They did seem to have a lot of "classes" that you had to pay for I didn't do these either. Basically they had the same activities as most lines do just different names. As stated earlier dining service was horrible. Our room steward Michael and his asst Asid were great. By the first evening he knew my name and addressed me anytime he saw me. Asked that the window be cleaned in room and it was done promptly. Brought a second Freestyle Daily even though he had already been there came back to make sure I found it. Put my DD's new pajamas in the bed at turn down exactly as I had instructed him to. Delivered the laundry promptly and even took a piece back to ask about a special request even though it couldn't be done. Michael is an outstanding room steward. He always made unique towel animals that I had never seen in the past. Entertainment gets the best grade possible.
Bar hops were just so-so at best. Always there until you needed one then they all vanished. This was the best part of the cruise. The Jean Ann Ryan production numbers were great especially le Cirque Bijou this is a show not to be missed get there early. There was a comedian he was just so-so, a ventriloquist Ken Groves he and his two puppets were fantastic at all 3 of his shows and last but definitely least was a quartet group called The Cat's Pajamas they were fantastic. Altogether the Cat's did 4 shows on our cruise because they did an extra set the day we missed Great Stirrup Cay.
First port was Roatan which was a great day we did an island tour with TransTours. It was great we went to several scenic viewing areas, a children's home, had authentic food, went to see the monkeys and still had time for the beach. You can't go wrong with TransTours. Second port was Belize which is a tender port and if you don't have you excursion with NCL you have to get a ticket to get off the boat. This was a little strange to me I feel that it should be first to the gangway first off. That is a little discriminatory to me. I have just as much right to leave as their tenders do. Did a snorkel, beach, manatee tour with Coral Breezes. The excursion started off good but then a storm rolled in so we snorkeled in the rain with really bad currents and very choppy water. Then when we got to the beach/island it was pouring down rain everyone was sitting under the roof wrapped in wet towels freezing for what purpose I don't know but we had to wait until time that we were supposed to leave. Then we voted to skip the manatees so we could get back to the ship to get dry and warm. This excursion should have been cancelled when it started to rain. Not impressed with Coral Breezes.
Third port Costa Maya, three ships in port which is a dock port. The pool there was nice other than that there is nothing there but shopping unless you pay for some kind of excursion. We thought it would be like Cozumel and we could just catch a cab into downtown, NOT. If you are not into shopping plan to stay on the ship or book and excursion. The last port was supposed to have been Great Stirrup Cay but being a tender port which was cancelled due to the safety issue. We actually had waves from 4 to 7 ½ feet according to the ships log on TV. I am glad they didn't try to tender. Que the CD did a great job of creating activities to fill the time. Most of which had to be inside due to the cold, windy, rainy weather.
Getting off was pretty painless. The night before you choose what time you want to leave. Place the appropriate color tag on your luggage. Place your luggage outside your door prior to midnight. Get up have breakfast and pretty much the time you chose they will call that you can disembark. They also have a feature where you can tote your own luggage and leave before everybody else. I was not impressed with anything except the entertainment.
To be exact I was rather dissatisfied with everything else. I believe that they are all about selling something be it a special dining area, bingo, martini classes, pub crawl, next cruise, over priced poor photos, art or whatever. I don't like feeling like everything is for a fee. I do like cruising though and will cruise again just not with NCL.
We arrived at our cruise ship early, at around 11:00, as we wanted to enjoy the ship prior to sailing. We found this to be a great idea as we were onboard by 12:15.
Once onboard we found the ship to be extremely clean and well kept.
The staff were friendly and were happy to see the new passengers.
After exploring the ship and grabbing a bite to eat, we were allowed to our balcony room 10140 at around 2:00. We found this room to be well appointed and the balcony just the right size for my wife and I. Sunrises or sunsets are best viewed from balconies.
The food on the ship was fine, with the Summer restaurant more then adequate for a sit down meal. Breakfast in the Summer restaurant was very good. The food at the buffet was fresh and fine for a quick meal if that is what you wanted.
If you wished a change of menu for dinner you could pay a fee for one of the specialty restaurants. We did eat at three of these venues and found that the extra cost was not worth it. Ourmain concern about the specialty restaurants is that if you pay extra for one of the venues, the service and selection should move up a notch. We did not find this happened. We did enjoy the Freestyle dining and had no trouble making reservations just be flexable.
The entertainment on the ship exceeded our expectations. Top notch.
The port of Roatan was our best adventure by far. We attended a small daytime resort -- Fins and Flippers -- and found the beach, pool, service and snorkeling fantastic. The price was right at $20 per person, with food being around $5 per person and beer $2 each. I found it on the internet as it is not ship-sponsored.
The other ports, Belize and Mexico, we just walked around the pier and shopped, selecting this as our choice of activity.
Norwegian Cruise Line does attempt to extract money from you at every twist and turn of the cruise ship. You do receive water, coffee and tea, but if you expect anything other then these refreshments at non-dining hours you are charged a fee. You can purchase a pop card, which we did, for $50, but this card does not include juices. You can bring pop and juice aboard at no cost or hassle. It's just nice to know what you can and cannot receive on the ship so that you can prepare accordingly.
My wife and I really enjoyed our cruise with Norwegian Cruise line and have placed a deposit for a second cruise with them in the near future. I guess signing up as repeat customers says it all.
This was our 8th cruise, the 2nd on NCL. The first NCL trip was in 2001 to Alaska on the Sky. Since then we have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean & Carnival. Every cruise has had its pros & cons, so I'll just give you those.
CONS No champagne at arrival as we were told there would be.
We had an inside stateroom. The storage space was barely adequate. There was a corner desk area, but it had no drawers. On the other side there was a corner shelf that held the TV, but under that was a square table with a chair & you could not get around the square of the table to that side of the bed. The table had a tray with a coffee pot , coffee, cream, sugar, cups, etc., so most of the space was taken up already. There were 3 drawers, a closet and then some open shelving. There was only room for our underwear in the drawers, not enough hangers for all our clothes, so most of our clothes we stacked on the open shelves.
No ice the first night. Called thedesk, waited half an hour, then called again to be told they had delivered it, was I in the room? Ice arrived half an hour later.
First dinner in the Summer Palace dining room. Arrived at 6:30 pm, with another couple & were seated with one other couple. Service was terrible. Bread on table, no butter. Waited half an hour just for someone to take our order. By 8:30 we still had no dessert (we left). One gentleman from our table got up 3 times to get someone to wait on us. They were told (after we left) to come back tomorrow & it would be better. I asked at the reception if it was normal to have such a wait in the dining room. Her answer was that "it was the first night." Maybe for me, but not for the staff!
In the buffet areas, the tables were not cleared off promptly & sometimes you couldn't even see anyone doing that job. It appeared that they had to clear tables, put it on a big tray & walk it someplace else.
Constant "pushing" of the "specialty" restaurants, shore excursions, raffle tickets, bingo, etc.
NCL raised their "service charge" aka "tips" to $12 per day per person.
If you didn't want to hang around the pool in the sun, not much organized activities.
Forced use of hand sanitizing. I understand, but it was annoying.
PROS Only had a camera aimed at my face 2 times, once during embarkation and once at dinner the first night.
The buffet area's food was excellent, with a lot of choices, including a very large assortment of ingredients for salads. We are not into dessert much, but they had a very nice hand scooped ice cream bar, with at least 8 different flavors, plus toppings, not including the soft serve machine, with no upcharge for ice cream as we have seen on other ships.
The entertainment was the best fit for us of any ship we have been on. David Nastar was the comedian, "Sharkbait," another comedy act of jugglers, and Second City, an improv group. Also 3 shows of dancing and music from the Jean Ann Ryan Co.
The theater itself holds over 1200 and is very steep in design, so you could see very well.
Went to dinner in the Indigo dining room on Friday night, had good service, although the menu is limited.
The ship was very clean and well maintained.
Once we met our cabin steward & asked for ice we always had it.
OVERALL We made a conscious decision on Sunday night to not let our unmet expectations ruin our vacation (no champagne, poor service for dinner, no ice, etc.). We basically got what we paid for (the cruise was cheap). The weather was wonderful, over 80 degrees and only 16 when we left home. The only specialty restaurant we went to was Mambo's (the TexMex restaurant). They had 2 for 1, so it was $10 for 2 of us and you each get a "free" margarita. I feel like I already paid for dinner, so I shouldn't have to pay again. Hardly anyone dressed up, so we were happy we had decided to forgo formal wear.
I'm not sure if we will sail with NCL again or not. If the price and itinerary are right we might. As long as you go into it not expecting a lot, you should have a good time.