My husband and I decided to do a last minute cruise to Bermuda out of NY. We'd sailed NCL twice before out of NY to Bermuda and were disappointed by service, food and behavior of passengers but decided to give it one more chance. We are delighted we did!
Embarkation was fast, easy and efficient...getting us on board within 15 minutes of dropping our luggage at the curb. We didn't arrive at the port until 1:30 and were surprised and the numbers of people attempting to board until we realized there were two ships boarding (Star and the Jewel).Even with two ships processing, all went surprisingly well.We boarded to find most cabins were not ready; first time we'd ever experienced this but it didn't matter to us.We used the time to explore our "home" for the next 7 days.We don't go near food areas because we know the vultures are there immediately!While the ships did display some signs of wear, it was clean and well maintained.
Once our floor was called, we went to our cabin to freshen up before attending the safety training which was another nice surprise.Went quickly and no need to wear the safety jacket so there were no silly games played by passengers with the jackets.
We made dinner reservations at 3 speciality restaurants prior to sailing beginning with LaCucina our first night.Food was good but not impressive at all. During the week we also dined at Cagney's and LaBistro.Again, good but not any better than regular dining room food.Certainly not worth the extra money.The best part of the speciality restaurants in the service which is exemplary. Biggest downside of the buffet area was the teen area was at the back entrance to the Buffet.Teens congregated outside many times screaming and running around and inside and out of elevators. Sometimes they came close to knocking down passengers.
Speaking of service...we found the service much improved from previous cruises with NCL. The Buffet was well organized and counter attendants did their best to keep order among over zealous diners who could wait their turn to be served. Table attendants were attentive and really friendly...nice touch!
Nightly show were absolutely FANTASTIC; professionally done. Other activities were well organized and informative. Ship's officers were visible often and interacted with passengers regularly.
The pool area is small and cramped but with the bad weather we didn't spend time there except while in port when most passengers were ashore.While at sea all passengers complained about unusually LOUD music in the area.Sure didn't provide for anyone to share conversation.While in port, volume was much lower.
We did encounter some bad weather and the Captain handled it wonderfully. Tropical storm Rafael attempted to ruin Star's fun, but didn't! The seas were rough and some passengers encountered distress but for the most part all was well.
NCL does continue with their hardsell of everything at every opportunity. Having been exposed to it previously, we learned to ignore their efforts to separate us from more money.
After a pleasant 7 day cruise, we arrived back in NY an nour earlier than expected. We had a full breakfast served in the Versailles Dining Room and left our cabin about 8:45. We had selected the 9:30 disembarkation time. Announcements began indicating there were delays so we found seating in the Red Lion expecting to wait perhaps until about 10 am. We were finally called about 10:30 but waited on the Promenade Deck until 11:30 and then in line to customs until 12:30. This all probably occurred because three ships were disembarking at the same time!!! Now we understood why cabins were not ready when we boarded (if three ships disembarked the previous Sunday). Not good planning at all because now the new embarking passengers began arriving to board the ships. The congestion of people and vehicles was beyond belief! My husband is a Cancer patient who prefers to not announce his condition, but the long time standing in line nearly caused him to collapse. Thank goodness others in line offered larger suitcases for him to sit on. Then we were faced with the difficulty of meeting our transportation home. This really put a damper on an otherwise great cruise.
Bottom line is we were impressed enough with NCL's improvement on board that we decided to cruise out of NY on the Jewel in January 2013.Hopefully the Jewel will as wonderful as the Star and the disembarkation issue will be resolved. Keep up the good work NCL, please don't disappoint us so we'll continue to cruise with you.