I'm going to start with the bad news first. I thought the Bags program sounded like a good idea, so I signed up for it. The idea of not having to lug around a heavy suitcase was really appealing. The charge showed up on my onboard account and I received my airline boarding passes, my airline tag numbers, the special NCL bag tags, and the little sticker to wear on my shirt identifying me as a Bags program user. I disembarked thinking everything was handled. When I arrived at LGA I waited for my suitcase at the carousel, it never showed up. I went to the American Airlines baggage office and they could find no record for my suitcase. I filed a report with AA and went home. I called NCL's Lost & Found number the next morning but they are closed on the weekend. That seems odd considering that all the arrivals and departures happen on the weekend. I called again Monday morning and learned that the people who run the Bags program did not see a record of my payment so they left the suitcase in Miami. Michelle Cross from NCL called me back Monday afternoon and told me that the suitcase had been shipped via FedEx. It finally arrived Friday afternoon, and the suitcase was damaged; one of the plastic skids on the back had been pulled off but luckily someone had put in in the front zipper compartment so I can have it reattached.
I went to the CruisCritic.com meet & greet the second day of the cruise. The Hotel Director, the Executive Chef, the Cruise Director, and Assistant Cruise Director all said to us, "If something is wrong, tell us and give us a chance to make it right." I didn't get that feeling from the Lost & Found staff. I received a half-hearted apology only when I called to point out the charge on my onboard account. There was no effort to "make it right." This has colored my memories of NCL with a bad light.
The cruising part was really wonderful. Last week was my first cruise of any kind. Talk about starting big! Embarkation was surprisingly fast, my airport transfer left the airport at noon and I was in the buffet by 1:15.
I travelled alone, so I got one of the Studio inside cabins. I was very pleased with it. The Studios are small but well laid out, and to tell the truth, I've seen smaller New York apartments. Sol, the Assistant Cruise Director arranged events for the solo travelers in the Studios, so we got to know each other. Coffee in the morning and drinks before dinner in The Studio Lounge became daily events.
The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. At breakfast in the Garden Cafe, when I couldn't find a table in the forward section of the seating area, one of the hostesses suggested I go down to La Cucina where there were more tables available. I did that every morning for the rest of the cruise, one morning the hostess even carried my plate for me. As I said, everyone was very helpful.
The food was excellent, in the dining rooms as well as the specialty restaurants. I especially liked Le Bistro and the two meals I had at the Speigel Tent shows.
The shows were excellent and not what I expected on a cruise ship. My only complaint is that they tended to be too short for me, but the more experienced cruisers in my family assured me that all cruise ship shows top out at about an hour. I plan to see Blue Man Group here in New York so I can see more of what they can do.
All in all, it was a good experience. The Studios were great for me as I had some must-use vacation days and couldn't find a companion to go with. The size of the ship is somewhat overwhelming, especially at peak dining hours; I was reminded of Times Square at those times.
I found that I do enjoy cruising, I would probably sail again with NCL, but I'm not gonna do anything like the Bags program again.