We sailed with NCL on Norwegian Jewel Jan 6 2013 to Jan 18 2013, and the following were some of our issues, observations and problems.
The food was far too salty, the Chimichuri on the steak on night 1 had to be scraped off it was that salty and would have rendered the steak inedible. Dessert was our only refuge from the salt. The Chinese restaurant also served its' food too salty, as did the Churasco Restaurant (the Chinese and Churasco were the only specialty restaurants we tried). The types of meals served in the main dining rooms and their quality reminded to of "hotel banquet food". Dinner each night was not something we looked forward to. It was not an occasion or an event, it was just "dinner" we could have been in a diner sometimes.
The toaster in the Garden Cafe deck 12 restaurant was badly designed and would spill its slices on to the floor, even with an attendant trying to catch it.
Seemed a pretty amateur set up, with dis-interested and dis-engaged staff. I stopped putting our daughter in the club when she was the only child there, as invariably she would end up being put in front of a TV. Also on 3 occasions we were called in our cabin with the message "Your daughter is ready to be picked up", is it not the job of the kids club to engage and occupy the children?? I was told that there were not many children on this cruise, and that is why it was operating the way it was (ie badly). This was a major deciding factor in us choosing NCL, and was a big disappointment.
I thought the layout and design of this daily read was poor, some desk top publishing skills would help here, it was very hard to wade through, I do not remember this being the case with the Princess Patter.
The quality of the menu layout and design also was something that a 1st year hospitality student could knock up, it just did not look that impressive. There were also only 3 courses, We were expecting 5 courses after cruising with Celebrity and Princess. There are too many specialty restaurants. I think that NCL is trying to be all things to all people, and ends up not satisfying as they strive for this goal.
The key cards on day 1 did not open our cabin, these actually were discarded by reception with new ones made up.
Ship, decor and layout.
The ship public areas seemed pokey, you always were having to dodge someone on coming, also I was surprised the learn that the ship was building 2005 and refurbed in 2011, it appears much more dated, not helped by some of the soft furnishing and decor choices, looked a bit tacky and casino like rather than classy.
This was restricted to shopping only, there was no other useful information on the ports, like how to get around (if you were not going on an NCL tour), taxis, that kind of thing, only shopping.
Ch 34 was suspended when there was a football game on, this was disappointing especially the way that the Nick relationship is played up so much in advertising collateral. I think more could have been done with the Nick characters (Dora et al). There was a live read of a story one day, this was great, but I could not work out how something so simple could not be done every day, Our daughter really enjoyed it, and it was SO simple for the staff to do.
In port the ATM does not work. It only works when the casino operates, we were getting off at Barbados and wanted some cash to do our own tour and buy some presents. I then went to the desk and asked for a "paid out" (a simple thing in any hotel, when the bill is guaranteed with a credit card), only to be told that this cannot be done, so I had no way of getting any cash, and was told I had to get local money from an ATM on land, and I would be stuck with the change of Barbados money. Not an ideal solution.
The table service was non existent sometimes around the level 6 bar areas at aprox 5.30 (pre dinner), often times I would order at the bar, and walk back to my seat. I once ordered 2 of the blue martinis to be told "they are not part of the 2 for 1 deal", to which I replied "I don't care, that is what I want".
There is huge inconsistency of wine pouring. We had an 8 bottle wine package, but on the last night ordered by the glass in the bar for a pre dinner drink. My glass of Wolf Blass Shiraz was oxidised or heat affected (I am Australian and know my Shiraz), this was replaced. Our wine was poured from a small jug (I assume 187ml or 6 oz) which is what I would have expected, however I saw some glasses leaving the bar that would have been half a bottle or more (white wine in a red glass). Perhaps the customer tipped the server??. This is NCL profits down the drain though, and I would think that the beverage potentials would be way out.
I think you have missed the mark with the beer price of $4.95. I think $3.95 would see an overall increase in revenue. $10.00 plus 15% for 2 beers is too much, not everyone wants the 6 for 5 deal (and some deposit on the container too??)
This was a debacle, it is never good, but this was particularly bad. Hurricane Sandy was blamed several times (it happened 10 weeks ago!), and there were 2 other ships in, surely they did not just drop in, and their existence would have been known about. We had to pay 2 hours wait time for a car that we had booked to take us back to Montclair, a sour taste at the end of a holiday.
Overall I was expecting much more from NCL, maybe we have been spoilt by the high quality of our previous Princess and Celebrity cruises.
All of our previous cruises required a long flight from Australia (Mediterranean, Panama, Western Caribbean), but we now live in Northern New Jersey. I would have felt very cheated if we flew 20 hours for this cruise!).