My wife and I are avid cruisers. We have been on approximately 25 cruises. We just returned from one week on Norwegian Cruise Lines Pearl trip to Alaska.
WE WILL NEVER SAIL NORWEGIAN again. We paid almost double to take this cruise on NCL versus what other cruise lines were charging for similar cruises and cabins.
Why we will not cruise Norwegian again ( including but not restricted to the following):
1) Food quality flavor and options were poor.
Dining room menu changed only slightly (3 entrees per night 3 appetizers) Menu never changed at lunch and never at breakfast.
Meat texture on steaks served in Dining rooms was weird and not very flavorful. Like steak in a bag. Never had beef like this in my life.
Other foods and plate appearance were unimaginative and boring.
We compared the quality of food in the dining room to the quality of food in the specialty restaurants Norwegian has on ship. The food in the specialty restaurants was so vastly better ( but not the service which was still very poor) that we surmise NCL is trying to force cruisers to pay for better food by making inferior offerings in the standard dining rooms and buffets.
2) Service in Dining Rooms was extremely poor. Slow to get to you. Slow to get food out. Slow to get you cocktails. Further table clothes were slightly tattered and dirty on a few nights.
3) Freestyle Dining anytime anywhere really means Everywhere every time you will wait to get a table. I don't like to wait for a table every night at dinner during the prime 5-8 time slot but we did every single night- 30-60 minute wait.
4) Service by the wait staff was so poor across the board we surmised an institutional lack of training of the staff. One night when we paid a premium to eat at the French restaurant we were excited to have French Press coffee. We literally had to send the first batch back and then had to show the waiter how to allow the coffee to steep and then press. Really is that our job ? This was after we waited 15 minutes after ordering wine after we sat down to get the wine. And we had to ask/remind another server besides ours to get this wine for us. And there were only three other tables of people in the entire restaurant while we were eating. Where did our server go the place was not that big but he was rarely present. Crazy bad service.
In conclusion a great part of our cruise experiences is having fun around the food; the menu choices; the variety; the new flavors and foods; the stuff we would never eat at home. Further we like to get to know our wait staff during our trip. We have fun building these relationships.
NCL took that fun out of our experience.
I could go on like not being able to buy a cigar to smoke in the cigar bar because their purchasing department bought their cigars duty free and they could not sell cigars until they passed into international waters ( Alaskan cruise does not happen like a Caribbean cruise). I know this because upon inquiring how to by a cigar from the case ( something I do on every cruise)the beverage manager I spoke with apologized and told me he also had 5000 bottles of wine bought the same way they could not sell for the same reason. He just shook his head at this dilemma and apologized.
Also could only review your bill on paper or at the desk not available on the TV like other cruise lines.
The fitness center also only 50% open the aerobics room always locked even with no activities in it reduced the workout space to jam packed and nowhere to stretch or do non machine or weight related workouts.
Steam bath in locker room tiny and and literally plastic seating that was slippery and uncomfortable. However in keeping with Norwegians strategy you could buy an upgrade to better steam baths and pools in another area. I get it but never have seen such a small locker room and shower on a cruise ship as a standard offering.
In conclusion the constant up selling after we had clearly paid a premium price for NCL was just ridiculous. We have never seen such a disparity in quality of services from standard to upgrade at an extra cost.