We have just returned from our 1st ever cruise, we did not have a particular cruise company in mind but were led more by the itinerary and an offer price to NCL on their Spirit ship on the Grand Mediteranean cruise.
On the whole we had a lovely time however there were a few bug bears that I feel others should be made aware of.
Firstly when we received our cabin number approx. 4 weeks before our cruise , we did what i'm sure other first time cruisers do...we went onto the NCL website to check the deck plans and to ' see ' where we would be. We were deck 4 cabin 4539 which according to their deck plan showed us on ' a corner' or beside ' a gap' down the corridor near to the medical room. We were fairly happy with that and started counting down the days.
On embarkation we went to find our cabin and started walking down the corridor, and were very surprised to reach the Medical centre!! We hadn't passed any gaps or corners so we turned around and paid more attention to the cabin numbers. We reached our cabin and whilst we found that it was clean we discovered it was next to a crew access passage door.
The next morning at approx. 6am we were woken up by extremely loud rumbling noises and sounds of footsteps. It was like someone was pulling a very heavy suitcase across a cobbled surface with the occasional bang made by something bumping into the wall !!!
We were up early the next 2 days as excursions started very early but the following 2 mornings we were at sea and could have a ' lie-in' . This never happened though as right on cue 6am the noises started, we rang guest services who told us it was house keeping with their trolleys and the restaurant trolleys with room service for other cabins. Every morning we had the same thing, we didn't bother setting an alarm after that as we didn't need to between 6 and 6.15 am we had our own personal if VERY LOUD wake up service.
My husband got so fed up he was actually complaining in person at 6 am one morning to guest services. We were given a bottle of wine for our inconvenience but would have preferred an uninterrupted sleep.
I actually felt so tired by day 5 that I fell asleep during one of the shows in the Stardust theatre and it was only 8pm !!!!!!!!
The worst night was the night before disembarkation when we had to leave suitcases in the corridor we put ours out at approx. 11pm along with others, we got into bed and then spent the next 2 hours listening to all those suitcases being dragged along the crew access passage right beside our heads!!!! it was deafening and considering that we had to be off the ship early for our return flight to the UK we did not need such a bad nights sleep.
The staff generally were very friendly , the food in the main restaurants was excellent, the waiting staff were attentive ( only thing I disliked was in Raffles the self service buffet area - the staff were so keen to clear plates that they kept interrupting us, my husband eats quicker than I do and they would whip his plate away before I was finished which seemed a little awkward while my husband sat with an empty table in front of him whilst I continued eating) it may seem a small matter but is actually quite off putting and meant I did not enjoy that experience as much as I was constantly aware that they were hovering over you but overall we had a good time.
The entertainment was varied and good fun if you are wiling to ' have - a - go' and we met lots of interesting and lovely people but the ' Gloss' was certainly taken off our first ever cruise because of the noise we encountered. When we should have been able to stay up and watch the shows, which were very good indeed , we found ourselves yawning!!
We also booked a Romance Package as it was our anniversary , it included
* some strawberries dipped in chocolate with a bottle of champagne = gorgeous, presented beautifully and were delicious!
* canapés = delicious and beautifully presented !
* afternoon tea = absolutely awful ( there were 6 slices of poppy seed cake , 6 slices of madeira cake , 6 choc chip cookies & 6 macadamia nut cookies ) all of this for TWO PEOPLE !!! it was on a brown plastic tray from the self service restaurant with two plastic thermos jugs full of crappy coffee and luke warm water. It was in complete contrast to the previous 2 items which looked so beautifully presented. I feel it was thrown together at the last minute and guest services couldn't understand why I would complain about it ??? I absolutely hate wasted food and felt it was disproportionate for just 2 people and in the UK afternoon tea is : a selection of small finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam & some very pretty cakes !!! This definitely did NOT qualify as afternoon tea.
we also should have had 12 red roses but were told that they did not have enough so we opted for a partial refund on the package. they were going to deduct $44 from the package price, however when it came time to check our on board account and settle up all they deducted was $15 !! we were told on 3 separate occasions that it wold be $44 but they did not do what they said.
We obviously have never cruised with any other company as this was our 1st cruise but I will be very wary in future of which company I book with and I will be a little bit wiser to the whole cruise experience. As much as we enjoyed it , we are now aware of possible pitfalls in the future.