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.
Cruised other cruiselines 8 times, 1st time on Norwegian -Spirit. I was pleasantly impressed. Food was well presented, very delectible, perfect quantities, no need to come away from the table busting at the seams, so much food available everywhere, anytime. Service was always efficient and friendly. It has always been my experience that if the crew are mostly Phillipino, you will always be greeted with warmth and a big smile. The ship was well maintained.
Main dining rooms were smaller than accustomed to, so there were occassional waits with a beeper, never more than a 10-15 minute wait. Weather was too cold to use the heated pool or hottub outside. Room was clean, comfortable and appreciated the lg.bathroom with good sized shower, liked the sliding doors that divided the shower and the toilet areas, with the sink in between.
On the negative side,-Tiny tv, up at ceiling level was disappointing. Small gym and 30% of the machines were broken. The free workout classes were few and the instructor often didn't show up. $12.00 tips a day pp. was a bit high. Unfortunately I booked through Americas vacation center. Same cruise price as Norwegian however theyoffer free things that disappear after you book with them. After you board, they send you a message in part-"all promotions and quotes are subject to change without notice. So please beware of them.
In a word - wonderfull - We traveled to Barcelona and spent a day relaxing before embarking, and 2 days after departing to rest up and see Barcelona.
(All of that arranged outside of NCL).
My wife has lots of cruises under her belt, but had not been on a cruise in the 23 years we are married, me I did all my cruises thanks to the US Navy so I was the green one.
We had a balcony stateroom, on the port side on the same deck as the bridge. The service staff cannot be commended enough in my opinion; from the people who cleaned the rooms and turned down the beds at night, right up to the head waiters and the guys down in the laundry.
We took the behind the sceens tour as well as one excursion in every port, including the Monserat excursion when the ship returned to Barcelona.
I work in Nuclear power generation as a supervisor, with more reulations and regulators then what they deal with on that ship in my opinion, but at no point during the entire cruise did the least individual of entire shipscompany fail to impress me with their personal pride and professionalism, right down to the guys doing my wifes danties in the laundry.
The "Free Style" dinning expierence left us put off at first, but once we made the decision to avoid the "buffet" lines on deck 12 and the bars on deck 13, it was very very pleasurable.
The money making the ships crew has to do is a bit over the top, but its the industry standard aparently; still it did nothing to diminish our enjoyment of the entire expierence.
The Captain and the Engineering Crew where something to be proud of for NCL. You could set your watch by their work from entering port, through docking to getting under way for the next port.
Only leaving Rome did we leave late, by 45 minutes, and that was because 8 people who went off on their own out of Civittea (sp), did not return to the ship on time. We (me and the wife) actualy watched their taxi cabs pull up outside the gate from our balcony, as the ship finaly pulled away from the pier; about 20 minutes too late for the ships staff to do anything to correct the situation. Let me stress they did not use the NCL excursions!
On a very rare ocasion some item from one of the menue's failed to please; and the staff almost jumped over each other trying to make things right, despite my wife and I both telling them it was alright, the food was done perfectly, we just did not care for a particular item - (like coconut), or in the Oriental Fusion restraunt, where my wife specificaly ordered her entree without peppers. Her plate showed up with the peppers, and while my wife started to pick out the offending things, our waiteress, who was assisting at another table; saw what was happening from across the restraunt floor and FLEW to our table! Appologizing for the error in the kitchen, and took the offending dish away despite my wifes being perfectly happy with working around the peppers so as not to waste the food.
Only her Matri'D and the Chef worked harder to make it up to my wife.
The room was always smartly made up and cleaned.
The one night, with a huge cross wind was the only time we even felt the ship moving as we made our way back to Barcelona, and while it appeared to bother several of the other passengers, it was nothing to us. It did however leave the slidding glass doors and our balcony soiled to the point we could not enjoy the balcony view as we returned to the Harbor without opening the slider, which we ended up having to "lock and pin" closed so it wouldnt keep opening as the ship rolled in the high cross wind.
I am a sort of night owl, and frequently would arise in the middle of the night and go "wandering" about, only to be surprised by one of the ships staff or another doing things like wipping down the base board edges or doing the high dusting, or some other task, typicaly ignored even in the best of hotels, and almost never seen by a guest.
The Gem is due to rotate back to the U.S. soon and NCL's newest ship will take over the Barcelona run.
The Gem will then return to the med but doing the eastern med loop in 2011.
We plan on celebrating our 25th aniversary on board the GEM cruising to those new ports.
After all why change off a winnner!
Only 2 things will change with our travel arrangements:
First - I will pick a different suite, so we are not directly under the room with the video games - (long and funny sort of story which I will sapre you all). Actualy thinking about upgrading to the suites on Deck 12 or 13 with the Concierge (sp) service.
Second - I will try and remember to pick the side of the ship that gets to view the coastline this time. Port side cabins get the sunsets for a view sailing north from Malta, starboard side got to view the coastline. A Sailor like me should have thought of that; it's my only regret when it comes to the cruise portion of the vacation.
I do have some comments I will be writting to NCL management about, but they are more about how NCL does business (management suggestions for improvement) then about anything to do with the GEM specificaly.
I highly recomend this ship and this cruise. and for the most part even the excursions.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Magnolia Blossom Mexico September 26, 2009
Norwegian Star, Mexican Riviera 9/26/09
Minisuite #11662, 11666 and 11668. One interior 10655
About us: 50's retired professionals, not too fussy. We were travelling with 3 other couples, all seasoned travellers.
Booked: through our Personal Planner at NCL
Status: DH and I are gold, one couple silver, the others have cruised 3 times with NCL. We have all cruised with other lines. This was the 35th cruise for us.
Arrival: We flew in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn LAX. We arranged with Super Shuttle to pick our group up at the hotel rather than returning to the airport. The additional cost was about $5/person. Transfer time was less than 30 minutes.
This was the Star's first sailing from LA since returning from Alaska. Two other ships were in port, including the Pearl, which created a fair amount of confusion for many travellers. The staff did not seem to have a good grasp of what procedure was and it seemed as though no on was in charge. We would be told to "go over there" only to be scoldedby the "over there" people and sent back to person number one, etc, etc. Computers were not cooperating and while my reservation was fine it seemed to take quite some time for them to find my husband's, even though we were in the same reservation number.
Having said all that we were allowed to board promptly at noon and after passing through the obligatory (can't get past them) photos we were welcomed aboard with a glass of bubbly. We entered into the lobby and were able to leave our bags in the Carousel Lounge until rooms were ready. We made our way to the main dining room for a relaxing lunch and found the staff there completely surprised to have clients. No one had told them the ship had begun boarding, so we chatted away 15 minutes or so until the dining room was open. Lunch was quite nice and the dining room is so much more pleasant than the craziness of the buffet. Our waitress came around signing up guests for the jazz brunch the next morning and we decided to partake.
Cabins: Rooms were ready around 2:00. The rooms are spacious with more than ample storage for our needs. In the minisuite there is a bathtub, so that is a treat, and unlike some of the other ships with the sliding door configuration, the toilet area could actually accomodate a normal sized adult without discomfort.
There is a shaver plug in the bathroom but no other outlet. There is hand gel by the sink and shampoo and bath gel in the shower. There is also hand lotion and a bar soap.
The vanity area has a hair dryer and the outlet is in the desk area close to the balcony doors. The entire mini bar is in the refrigerator, which we removed to have room for the ice bucket and water bottles. There is a combination style safe which was sufficient for our needs but would not hold a lap top. There is a flat screen TV and the movies for the week were quite nice. It however, only carries CNN for news. The couch in the minisuite is a double bed size and there is one side chair for the desk. The bed was comfortable and the linens a good quality. There is a wonderful curtain between the sleeping and sitting area that is terrific if one partner wants to sleep while the other reads, etc.
The balcony had 1 reclining lounge chair, two side chairs with arms and a small table. We opened the partitions between the three balconies which made for easy visiting and pranks with our friends. These balconies are just aft of the buffet outcropping which means you can stand in the aft corner of the buffet and look down on these balconies. Not a problem for us but it might bother others. The cabins forward of ours have an overhang from the balcony which shields them from direct sun at mid day.
Public areas: The ship has a pleasing decor and is in good repair. The atrium is not as grand as some ships and has a large screen for viewing presentations and playing wii. The forward bar, the Spinnaker, is spacious and multilevel. It is used in the day for bingo and various meetings. It has a nice sized dance floor but only hosts a short amount of dance music each evening, giving way to game show amusement, etc later. It is a nice place to watch for whales and spend some quiet time - assuming someone isn't calling bingo in your ear.
The martini bar is around the curved bar from the Carousel where karaoke is held, so forget having your peacefull pre-dinner martini in either of those places. The Star bar is the only bar we found where you can actually have nice conversation with a view of the ocean. So many of the others have so much going on that it is actually a bit stressful to just be there.
The spa is my pet peeve NCL has added a wonderful thermal suite, which is accessible for a fee. That is fine, but they have added the use of the steam and sauna rooms to the pay to play suite. They are still in the dressing rooms but the spa staff will quite rudely inform you that they are for paying passengers only. I have not been a fan of onboard spas for many years, pretty much since they began running the spa as a consignment areas to Mandara or whoever Spas. The staff is always snooty but the Star takes the cake for downright rudeness. When I nicely asked at the desk if I had understood correctly that the sauna was only available for "paying" customers she hautily told me that was correct and if I didn't like it the complaint desk was on deck seven. I did go to the reception desk and voice my displeasure with this new change. The very nice receptionist called the spa manager, whom I could hear, and it became glaringly apparent where the spa staff get their bad attitudes. It really is surprising that an industry who goes to great lengths to be gracious to the guests have an entire division who seemingly delight in being obnoxious. Anyway . . . the spa seems to be laid out well and offers a variety of services from hair care, massages, tooth whitening, and acupuncture.
The gym hosts a nice arrangement of equipment and while I don't use the gym, my fellow cruisers do and were well pleased with the equipment and service.
Entertainment: We did not take in any of the shows, preferring to visit with friends, dance and gamble. The musicians we heard were quite good and except that they played sporatically (never knew what bar to find a group in or at what time) and the sets were short and there was limited dance area, it was nice. We enjoyed listening to the group Melodious Jones but they spent as much time talking as they did playing, and then it was break time. aaarrgh. As soon as they wrapped it up for the night, rather than another band they would have some sort of game show in the only lounge with a dance floor. We wound up dancing in the hallway one deck above where we could hear a band playing in the atrium. No logical sense of where things happen on this ship.
But if bingo is you're thing, then you're in luck. It is hosted twice a day in the Spinnaker Lounge. I think it is way overpriced but people play it by the hordes, so what do I know. The big "jackpot" bingos everyday never really happened because you had to make a blackout in 46 numbers or less, so if it took more numbers then it reverted to the daily amount. Quite misleading.
Shops: the shop area is nicely arranged and merges into one big shopping area which is less claustrophobic than some ships. I am not a shopper so I didn't spend any time there but it appeared they must have had lots to buy, given the crowds there whenever I passed by. The usual inch of gold, watch sale and $10 sales abounded and were held in the atrium.
Excursions: We did excursions in Mazatlan and PV with Mazatlan Frank and they were wonderful. In PV we also did Rhythms of the Night through NCL and it was a terrific excursion. It was dreadfully hot but still a very nice evening. I would recommend that you wear your coolest clothes and bring a fan. The food was mediocre but the desserts were fabulous! Cruising back to the ship in the dark and passing under our bow was quite nice.
Latitudes: The onboard consultant had several gatherings. He also was functioning as concierge to non-suite gold members, which meant we didn't really have concierge service. But he was nice enough. The silver/gold/plat party was in the Star Bar and well attended by officers who mingled and seemed interested in passenger input. the regular Latitudes party was on sea day #2 at 12:30 or so in the afternoon. A little champagne and rum punch, nothng fancy.
Dining: Let me say that I am not a fussy eater so the food quality was fine, considering this is a mass marketed ship. Do not expect gourmet food, even in the premium restaurants. We ate in the MDR most evenings but dined in La Trattoria one night - probably the best meal of the week, in Cagney's one night - definately the WORST meal and service of the week and did the Jazz brunch Sunday morning which was great. Cagneys - the entire meal took 3 1/2 hours during which time we had a 1 hour 15 minute break between appetizer and salad. 4 of our people never got their soup/salad and of 8, only 6 people had the correct entree. No one got their side dishes. Believe it or not after 3 1/2 hours we actually left before dessert - we just couldn't take it any more and went to the buffet for cheesecake or whatever. The maitre'd was unable to manage the two talbes of drunk women seated on either side of us - who were not only drunk but outraged that we had gotten our meals before them - holy moley, they must have been there since lunch! It was just awful and the steaks all got could have been had from any Outback/Roadhouse/Bonanza style restaurant. We did meet with the Food Service Manager the next day and he kindly comped our group dinner in the Endless Summer that night. Food was very nice, and service superb - but they all KNEW about our night before so they went out of their way to make it a special nice. I do think their advertising the free margaritas is embarrassing since they bring you a little 4 ounce (maybe) cup of beverage.
Casino: DH is a blackjack player and did well inspite of the continuous shufflers. $5 tables also have a 6/5 BJ payout. The poolside tables do not have auto shufflers but are not open very often. The slots were tight and service slow. Even bar service was hard to come by. Pretty odd for the casino but that's how it was. There was the usual assortment of table games including 3 Texas Hold 'em tables. Slots ranged from pennies on up. Not many poker machines and no nickel machines.
Internet: The cafe is quite nice with quite a few computers that all worked! time is expensive and was the slowest I ever remember. Those who had booked an excursion were given an additional 15 minutes free, which is good because on the final day it took me 14 minutes to connect! The internet manager was delightful and tried to be helpful but slow is slow. He tried to tell me that when it takes you so long to connect it does not come off your time but I watched my minutes closely and that was not true.
Disembarkation: What a mess. First, the list of tags did not coincide with all the tag colors they had distributed so there was a lot of confusion. Especially for VIPs w/ gold tags - that color was not listed and on some ships there is a meeting place for a concierge escort off the ship. This did not happen and many "goldies" were miffed. I do carry off myself, even though I had gold tags, but there were lots of confused disgruntled people wandering about. Again, like boarding, there was no one who seemed to know where to direct people to. I laughed when one girl was emphatically telling us we could not go "that" way when her boss was directly behind her waving us through. A line of sorts, had formed for self-disembarkers that would have become pure bedlam had not one gutsy lady barred the way toward the front and pointed people to the back of the line. A few others joined in and before long we had the situation under control. Needless to say, no crew was around. When the ship was finally cleared the computers wouldn't work to allow you to "ding" off the ship so they had to write your name and cabin no. on a piece of paper.
We did not have to clear immigration as we had in other ports, we just handed our declaration to an uninterested customs officer and went to catch our Super Shuttle van to the airport.
Overall: Good thing we got a good deal on this cruise. It is not a cruise I would consider taking again unless it was a real steal and I had airmiles. It was not the quality I have come to expect in NCL. I understand some of this may have been due to the change in itinerary and possible change of staff, but there were just too many times when it seemed no one knew what was going on. Maybe the guy who stayed at our Holiday Inn really was drving the
This was the 3rd time that we sailed on this ship; the last time was to the Panama Canal in 2005. This was about the 4th time that we've been to the Mexican Riviera. Overall, it was a good cruise and we had a nice time.
However, with the advent of Freestyle cruising, this cruise was significantly more casual than any we have been on. Hubby took a suit for "formal night" but did not wear it because he felt that he would be seriously overdressed. I didn't wear the cocktail dress that I brought.
We previously liked Freestyle because it meant that we could share a dinner table with different people every night. That only happened once in 11 nights because so many passengers skipped the dining room in favor of the Garden Cafe (buffet). The dining room was never more than half full.
The ship was spotless and the staff were attentive to all of our requests. The entertainment as usual was good.
If you want a casual experience, this is the cruise line for you.
NCL Sky, Miami, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay 09/11/09
Ship NCL advertises this ship as the newest in the Miami / Bahamas market. I agree..
This ship is more of the super ship design like the destiny class. If your not looking to go on a 90's era ship this is your cruise to the Bahamas.
Now I need to be critical of NCL. While this is a newer ship, NCL is in third place when it comes to attention to detail. Let me give you some examples.
The stateroom was clean and functional, and you did feel very clean and comfortable.
However.. the bathroom floor was not spotless as you will ALWAYS find it spotless on Carnival and RCCL.
There also were signs of wear and tear, like a scratched up table in the stateroom, oxidation on door locks, cracking in the bathroom sink basin where the water stopper is located, and oversized light bulbs stuffed in the ceiling light pins.
The wear is not major in most cases, but its also a sign that NCL has been ignoring these things.
Bottom line NCL, little things leave big impressions, if the other guys can getit done right so can you.
NCL will need to take her offline at some point to get these things fixed or they will become old ship issues quickly, tainting her newness image.
Especially since this ship has two cruises in every seven day stretch, which is allott of people using and breaking things in short periods of time.
Activities NCL offers a behind the scenes (how a cruise ship works) tour for anyone who wants to go, you don't need to be a frequent cruiser, HOWEVER, NCL charges $55 per person for the pleasure. Come on NCL, are you serious?? I paid my cruise fair, I spent $300 in your casino and $600 more in the spa and on drinks, maybe you could throw this in possibly?
I found this just absolutely chinsy NCL..
The Sky has all your usual ship fun, shuffle board, ping pong, spa, shows, music, comedy, photography, and dance lessons.
Ok so here NCL is exactly the same as its competition and its quality is no better or worse. SO don't base your decision on the activities.
To the good, and there is a lot of good here.
Food Let me be clear, NCL has the BEST food at sea when comparing the value cruise lines in my humble opinion.
I have been on all the major players many times and the food was great!
It was Fresh, different, and had well thought out menus.
I tasted the buffet, room service, and the main dining room and there were dishes I had never had before. Everything was full of flavor, the portions were great, and the service was excellent.
To add to this, what other cruise line has Wonton Soup at midnight? NCL has it. That's right! Wonton Soup. Check it out at the "Great Outdoors" bar. They actually have a full menu available until the very early hours of the night.
A+++++ NCL well done.
Sky, the concept.
I think NCL wants to be different, you can tell in just about everything they do.
The colors in the rooms and the public areas are different and not boring. The bars are set out in new and exciting ways, and the ship in general was thought out in a much different and exciting way then your usual mega ship way.
If you're bored with nornal, NCL is the way to go. I will say the ship is so different I got totally lost at first, not to fear though, they have clear, intelligible signs everywhere and by day two I was fine.
One great difference is this ship has an open terrace area aft called the "Great Outdoors", with a buffet and bar overlooking the water and sky, its a really nice place to eat or drink and have fun.
Costs There is value here, you can sail for as little as $199 per person in an inside cabin, or around $299 for a balcony, of course depending on the date the price will go up. Add $45 per person for port charges.
Premium Food This ship has three premium restaurants, of which I visited none, you see, I still think all food should be included, so I don't go for this gimmick.
However in fairness, you may want to try these out if your into French, Italian or a Steak House. There is a flat cover fee which includes all the food you can eat.
The Drinks As far as alcohol, drinks cost between $4 and $18, depending on what you like.
I ordered two red bull and Grey Goose drinks and it cost me $32. I almost fell out of my chair, so be warned, ask first before you order. NCL you think maybe that's a little too much??
Port Parking This ship is home ported in Miami.
Get ready to pay $20 per day to park your car at the port, so if you live in the area get a friend to drop you off or pick you up, or take a taxi because its outrageous. We can thank Dade County for this, as usual; they soak you when you have no alternatives.
Getting on and off Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth, we chose to carry our luggage out and we were off in 10 Minutes, 20 minutes if you count going thru customs.
Summary All in all, for a 3 or 4 day Bahamas cruise, this is a better deal than what RCCL and Carnival offer by a mile, for now anyways.
I sincerely hope the other carriers get a little more competitive with each other, a nice price war would be great for us cruisers ;-)
I will will be posting some pictures soon.
My husband and I booked this cruise for our 30th wedding anniversay. When we got to our room I checked the mini bar, it was missing half of the contents although it had been checked off as complete. We reported this and halfway through the cruise it was topped up. We checked our statement when we left the ship and everything was OK. One week after leaving the ship a $77 dollar amount was taken from my credit card. No paperwork was every sent to justify this amount being deducted. When we contacted NCL we were told that this was for the mini bar - we took nothing from this bar as it was horrendously expensive. Two months later we have now received a refund (slightly less because of the difference in exchange rate)
The cruise went to amazing ports and great scenery. The excursions were pricey at some ports but for the most part worth it. The St Petersburg excursions were fabulous but you were rushed through most of the exhibits because it takes so long to get through customs and we were running an hour behind.
The one of the problem we had is that we were booked in a Mini Suite on Deck 11 and the Kid Zone was directly above our room and all we heard from 8am to 11pm were the kids screaming, jumping and dropping things on the ceiling. It was so annoying that we complained but nothing was done - this was so not worth the extra money we spent. My suggestion is to double check the room you are booked in and make sure you are not below restaurants, pools and Kid Zones.
Another issue we had was the food was mediocre at best - the desserts were bland and the meals were that great.
The NCL Spirit is rated a 4 star but my experience puts it closer to a 3 star (this was my 4th cruise experience...first with NCL). Cruises are about services and food (primarily). What this cruise lacked was quality of food in their dining rooms. For example, the appetizers were barely a single mouthful and pre-cooked food (unfrozen). For the entrees, the quality simply was not there. Some items were so laden with butter and cream that you almost felt it went straight to your arteries. On lobster night they served half a tail in the entree. The added 1 shrimp a 2 mussels. Ridiculous. The dining service was slow and in one room (the Windows) the lady in charge "Jenny" didn't bother to greet you.
NCL promotes "freestyle" cruising. A great concept but totally mismanaged for dinner service. On three occasions we had to wait 45 minutes for a seating. They would not take any reservations in their dining rooms. It felt as if NCL made it somewhat uncomfortable to wait and hoped many would chose their specialty restos for added cost. Bar service seemed very pushy on selling you drinks. Theyjust did not stop asking you.
Sorry, I did not get my money's worth. I have been on other cruises and for the same money (and family vacation) thus far the Royal Caribbean is the best. Thank you.
Hi my name is Alki and this year I went on my first cruise to Bermuda with NCL Spirit. I am very satisfied from all my time on the ship. Crew memberes made sure for me to have a great time partying and they were very helpful. Definetely I will do it again in a couple of years. I like that Spirit leaves from Boston MA during the summer because I live in Boston.
My husband (75) and myself (65) just returned from the cruise to Alaska. Our cruise was terrible. The entertainment was a disaster. Not approriate for family oriented cruise. The service was not good. Our room attendent Sherton was very good and helpful and kept our room perfect. He is the only one that I can say was very attentive.
Children were running in the hall and I spoke to the personnel about this because they bumped into me three different times.
I have an artificial hip and if they had knocked me down I would be in a wheel chair because I cannot have any more surgery on my hip. The personnel told me they could not do anything about the running in the halls and in the resturant. We have travel with Norwegian before and had excellent service. We had planned to make this a yearly anniversary trip on their ships. Now we will never travel with Norwegian again and I will advise anyone else not to.Also too many hidden fees and having to buy our cokes all the time. This is rediculous.