Norwegian Gem Cruise to the March 31, 2013 to the Eastern Carribean
When I was a child I remember my mother packing her long glittery gowns that she carefully chose to wear to dinner on the Norwegian Cruise Line. I was excited as she, when her ship set sail. Upon her return the stories flowed…the fabulous candlelit meals, dancing until dawn and the beautiful photos of dinner with the captain.
For that reason in particular and memory, I chose the Norwegian Cruise Line as a Christmas gift for my husband and son (my daughter and I were traveling out of the country). We are seasoned travelers, Disney Vacation Club members as well. I was apprehensive of booking outside of the Disney Cruise Line for fear of a lack of the high standards that we are used to. I was assured by our travel agent that the Norwegian line would not disappoint .
Having booked through a travel agent, preboarded, internet check in etc. The expected wait time should have been minimal. The queues to board the ship took nearly 2 hours. Complete chaos. Taxis, buses parked every which way no organization. No refreshments, crying babies, unruly kids, frustrated parents, broken computers, … cattle. Disney occupies the kids with balloon animals and magic and refreshments.
Upon check-in to the room, the sheets on one of the beds had crusty green "something" on it. The steward was a told, after checking back twice the linens were finally changed. The cabin was dirty and in need of refurbishment.
The first evening of "Freestyle Dining" was a circus. At the door stood an attendant with a generous squirt of hand sanitizer for all (this is very unappetizing). People were lined up in huge lines to eat. They were eating with their hands from the buffet, dropping food everywhere, pushing and shoving ahead of people. The booths and chairs were worn and dirty (if you could find a seat to sit in). The food was bad that my 12 year old son did not want to eat.
The Italian Restaurant La Cucina was the second choice after attempting the buffet with great disgust. $$ Here the food was terrible as well. Pasta over cooked, sauce sweet, calamari were like large onion rings.
The Magenta again the food was terrible. Wait time to be served drinks once seated 30 minutes. Paper thin steaks, cold potatoes. Waiter aloof.
The second and 3rd night at sea the weather was rough, waves at 15 feet. There was vomit everywhere. You literally did not want to touch any railings. You could smell vomit in the hallways, and in the dining rooms this was the most disgusting thing imaginable. Barf bags everywhere.
Lots of free entertainment???
One small pool for children. Babies swimming in diapers!! Too overcrowded to swim.
Music by the pool was so LOUD and unpleasant your body vibrated if you were lying on a beach chair!
Basketball court was dominated daily by a group of teenagers.
Wii games open at 9:00am for 45min - a sign up sheet with a waiting list the length of the cruise and not available every day.
Rock climbing wall was open only at short intervals. When it did open there were huge lines.
Checkers and card games ended up being entertainment.
There was smoking in designated areas however people smoked everywhere. Having Asthma this is a HUGE problem. There was no where to get away from it except for the cabin.
Cork fees $25
Bowling for $5.00 a game!
Wifi internet fee $25/hr
Specialty restaurants (had to eat here because food was so bad) $15-$25pp
Service charge $12/pp per day
There was a huge push to buy art or jewelry. The dealers actually stated a painting was an authentic Rembrandt! It was entertainment just to watch people getting ripped off for large sums of money thinking they were buying "art".
Eventually they both caught some sort of intestinal flu. They drove so it wasn't caught from public transit, they caught it on the ship. It was NOT seasickness. Seasickness does not cause fevers, night sweats and body aches and a rash!
I have never in my life been so disappointed with a vacation. Upon returning home, my son had a fever, a rash and intestinal virus and had to go to urgent care. He was placed on steroids and antibiotics and missed two days of school.
I truly feel NCL misleads consumers with false advertising. There is little to do and EVERYTHING has an additional fee making a sub-standard experience very costly.
NCL does not set standards for behavior or cleanliness. If they do they don't enforce it. On Disney cruises you would NEVER see people vomiting all over or employees squirting hand sanitizer at you. Loud packs of teenagers dominating areas. Drunken barrages of people during the day cursing and smoking at will. Not to mention dirty linens, terrible food, long lines and soooo many fees.
This is a copy of a letter forwarded to NCL by my travel agent. The response from NCL was a $200 onboard credit on our next cruise with apologies. I honestly can't believe people spend money on these cruise vacations. It was truly that bad.