7 Night cruise out of Venice to Greek islands with stops in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Katakolo/Olympia. This was our second cruise with NCL (wife and I) and, based on some previous reviews, I was a little apprehensive going in. Not too many positive reviews in the past. However, we were pleased with the ship, the service and the ports of call.
Our stateroom was adequate, though the bed sagged noticeably. Sufficient room to move around as well as places for clothes, bags, etc. I was pleased with the bathroom compared to other ships. Shower was decent sized, basin in the middle and toilet in its own area with a sliding door.
Tiny TV with four movie channels, one in English. The others in German, Italian and French. Couple of news channels in English and a sports channel that we watched soccer on. I know, you don't come on a cruise to watch TV, but there are times...
Refrigerator in the room was a nice surprise, though it was filled with items for sale.
Thermostat does not show actual temperature in the room, just a sliding electronic scale to increase or decrease temperature. At least it worked.
I was pleased with how little noise came from the cabins on either side, though we could hear the lounge singer in the main lobby every night.
Internet access is not worth the expense. Painfully slow, terribly unreliable and no ability to do anything that requires the slightest download. No Skype, Face Time, etc.
The entertainment was fabulous for the most part. Had a young couple that were "Cirq de Soleil" type entertainment and very good. The on board staff entertainers also put on a good show. Was a little let down with the goofy couple that blew bubbles, did rope tricks and juggled. Kind of lame and uncomfortable to watch. The staff talent show also had its moments, though it was fun.
Plenty of music choices throughout the ship, though the couple singing pool side were really bad. For the most part, it was not enjoyable to be seated poolside. Of course, neither was the over abundance of individuals dressed in items that no respectable adult should ever consider wearing in public. Maybe it was the European atmosphere of the Mediterranean cruise, but there were way too many speedos and bikinis on folks old enough to be my grandparents, and I'm no spring chicken.
We ate in Alizar one night and the Grand Pacific the other nights. The menu got a tad boring after a while, but was good food for the most part. Didn't like the catfish special. Didn't feel like they put the pizazz into dining like previous cruises we have been on. Relatively basic and sometimes bland offerings. I think part of that is the extra charge "specialty" restaurants that are all over the place now. We didn't eat at any of them. Part of the allure of the cruise is the all inclusive aspect. But to get something a little more elegant or creative, you had to pay for it. And not cheaply. Wait staff were mediocre. Didn't seem too interested in pleasing. One night we waited nearly an hour for our food.
The "Chuck-A-Rama" breakfast and lunch buffet had a good selection, but also had it's share of so-so offerings. One afternoon they ran out of berry cobbler early and brought out a plate of apple that was not fully cooked. Literally glopped off the spoon. Fruit was always fresh and plentiful. Often hard to find a place to sit, though. Especially since there were many who took advantage of the outside aft eating area to sun themselves instead of eating there.
Herein lies one of my pet peeves for the trip. Breakfast included orange, cranberry or apple juice, as well as coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Lunch and dinner included water... or Iced tea. We're not drinkers, so the alcohol options had no appeal to us. And an occasional soda costs nearly $3.00. A simple fruit punch option with meals would appeal to a sizable crowd and wouldn't be that costly for the line.
Staff on board were generally very pleasant and friendly. (Except the Internet lady. Kind of grouchy) Our room steward did a good job of keeping things straightened up. We had to ask for towels once as well as tissues in the bathroom, but it was not a major issue. Speaking of towels, the note in the rooms talks of the striped beach towels everyone gets. It states that if you want more, you can exchange yours for fresh ones at the "dispensary" pool side. OR, if you want extras, they can be checked out at the dispensary. I had to return to my room and get the card explaining that option when the towel czar refused to part with any extras one afternoon.
I have to admit the whole "Washy, Washy, Happy, Happy" thing got a little old after a while. Though I understand the need to sanitize. My guess would be that they have so over sanitized things, there are probably super bugs growing in the hand sanitizer. (sarcasm...)
My only real big complaint came with the inability to disembark in Santorini because of the rough water and wind. I don't fault the captain for making the call. Sometimes that happens. My complaint is with the "compensation" for missing the port. We were advised that everyone would be credited the port charges for the missed port. And there would be free rum punch that afternoon.
OK. We were credited .89 cents each in port charges. Whoopee. And, as stated earlier, we don't drink, so that $1.78 became our total "compensation" for missing one of the reasons we took the cruise in the first place. Couldn't even get a free soda or fruit punch. But they could hand out the alcohol like it was going out of style. Very frustrating. Seems to me that the free rum punch would go a long way in interesting folks that drink in buying more of whatever later on, and those that don't drink were ignored.
I would suggest a number of things they could have done to at least make it appear they cared in the least. Free Internet for the rest of the day. Vouchers for $10 off meals in the specialty restaurants or towards a massage, etc. Something besides alcohol for those that don't drink. A voucher for a percentage discount in the shops. Plenty of options that would have been great customer service/PR moves.
All in all it was a very enjoyable cruise. I mean, who couldn't love Venice, Mykonos, Santorini? (OK, we didn't get a chance to love Santorini) It was a dream come true. I know this review is a little whiny. I don't mean it to be. Just factual. Hopefully they can see some of these issues and make some minor changes that will make the experience even better in the future.