Oh, what high hopes we had for Norwegian. We perceived it as a luxury liner, a step above the rest.
Boy, were we wrong.
First, the things we liked - embarkation/debarkation was very fast and efficient. This was our sixth cruise total, third cruise line, and it was by far the fastest. Bueno.
The mini suite on 11 was very nice - bigger than the balcony rooms we have been on, but not a true "suite". It had a tub - gasp! And a nice big balcony.
We LOVED the shore excursions - we went to Cozumel for a nice relaxing beach party, Belize for snorkeling over a great reef, Roatan for outstanding snorkeling - amazing!! Last was Costa Maya, for Mayan Ruins - very informative, very nice tour.
The washy washy guy and antiseptic dispensers all over the place was very nice - and wise. We appreciated that.
So that was the good stuff.
We have cruised Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We had our experience with service on those lines - which was good - so we expected more from NCL. Instead, we got much, much less.
FIrst we had to park on a surface lot - $112! And got a nice scratch on my door as a bonus. Carnival, right next door, is a covered deck, and cost less.
The use of space is not great - it feels very small and closed in. No large open awe inspiring spaces.
The pools on 12 were average, but the waterslide was worse that you would find at the kids splash park downtown.
The fitness area is a joke - treadmills, like 4 of them, with an equal number of ellipticals, are nose to the window - NO circulation, and a 30 minute limit, due to the scores of people wanting to use them. The ceiling is inches above your head. Very inadequate.
The shows with the magician/comedian were okay. But there was really nothing else to do on board! We kept looking and the Breakaway flier to find something - yawn fest. We went to the Fizz lounge every night - that was fun, but it was small, and night after night that was it? Bummer.
And the food - the two main dining room food was mediocre at best. Nothing stood out as being good. No signature dishes. Which left you with the option to go to one of the restaurants - and pay more. Was that really just an option though? If the food was blah in the main dining rooms, so you have to eat where it costs $15 - $40 a head more. Really? After paying more than the average cruise? The nickle and diming begins.
Then there is the 18% gratuity tacked on to every food or drink you purchase, whethere you wait for the waitress to walk two feet to the bar, and take 20 minutes to return - or just belly up to the bar yourself. Welcome to the gratuity.
"Service". Norwegian has a systemic problem here. The wait staff - except for one waiter - was dismissive, condescending, or worse. Want a refill on your water? Forget about it! Iced tea to drink? Good luck. And extra appetizer? We were actually told no!! Seriously???
We had purchased a 3 restaurant deal through the NCL website - we were excited about that. Well, they had no record of our purchase. After hours at the customer "service" desk, I finally went online and showed them my bank statement where NCL took my money in September!! They never conceeded this one. They fought to the bitter end - they did give us the package days into the cruise, but continued to repeat the mantra "we haven't heard back from coorporate yet." I guess the carrier pigeon died.
Chocolate fantasy night - yes yes yes! Beautiful! Ooh, ahhh....tasted meh. Disappointed yet again.
That was our first and last cruise. NCL wanted us to pony up $12 per day, per person for "service". We removed those bogus charges and palmed cash generously to our steward, and the one waiter who gave a crap.
We do a week long cruise annually - we are RUNNING back to Carnival. Good food, great service, fun - yes, and it costs less.