4th NCL cruise out of N.O.....getting on an off the ship was super easy. Easy check in and easy off. The ships crew is absolutely fantastic! Excellent service all around from everyone! Great cabin stewards, restaurant/bar staff and entertainers. The shows in the theatre were great, JP the magician does and excellent show and is very funny, Band on the Run was great, and the Cirque show was awesome!
The food though was about as blah as can be though. Plentiful, but just plain and very, very boring. Repeat cruisers with NCL will be disappointed to find the exact same foods as last years cruise. (NCL changes the menus every TWO years!!) Food is definitely uninspired, under seasoned, plain, boring. (this was repeated over and over by a majority of other guests we spoke with). There was a time when all food was the caliber of the cover charge restaurants. It would be nice to have some more variety, with all the Phillippine chefs onboard, it was disappointing to not have one single dish from their country ever, not even in the Asian cover restaurant!! Why not take advantage of their true talents??
On our cruise, we had to tender in both Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Major issues with their tender process, it took over two hours to get off the ship in Cozumel (and we were group 4!!), and over an hour to get back on. With very limited time in port - usually 9am - 3:3 pm there wasn't nearly enough time. The line to get back on the ship in Cayman was about 4 blocks long, no other ships in any of the ports had such issues. The dock in Jamaica was in the working cargo area, and very undesirable. It seems everywhere we were the Carnival and RCL ships had the premium docking areas,
The cabins were very clean, nicely furnished, but had some issues. No clocks at all in cabins, no way to set an alarm or see the time. TV had very limited channel selection, yet had 5 NCL only channels for them to sell everything under the sun. Granted no one goes on a cruise to watch TV, but in inclement weather, or for late night it shouldn't be that hard to provide more channels. If it can be done in a plane at 40,000 feet it shouldn't be that hard to provide at least a dozen choices on a ship. On deck 11 midship there was always an overwhelming smell of sewerage, not very nice, and apparently nothing can be done about this.
Internet charges are pretty outrageous also.
You can expect to be nickel and dimed everywhere on board. In cover charge restaurants, many of the specialty entrees had a fee in addition to the cover charge. The photo gallery charges are sheer outrageous! $12.95 for each and every 6x8 photograph, and most of them were thrown away, such a complete waste of paper, chemicals and time. One would think that they would rethink their pricing strategy here! Another disappointment is that when booking a spa massage, you actually have to pay an additional charge to use such things as the sauna, or even take a shower. Another sad example of the nickel and diming!
The ship itself is very well maintained, and there seemed to be enough elevators. Big complaint on the pool deck, which crams too many things in one area. the kids pool should be completely separate from the adult area, but they are all in one area. Our cruise had over 500 kids, and you could definitely notice it everywhere! Parents should control their kids better, but of course they don't. Suggestion to NCL, get rid of the water slide. Its crappy and just makes things worse!
Huge complaint was on port days, when getting on the ship in late afternoons, the only food available were the horrible hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries on deck, and there was a mad rush for this with not nearly enough workers to handle the crowds. perhaps they should keep the deck bbq open longer, or open the buffet earlier on these days. Note to NCL...if you are going to attempt a chocolate buffet, please get some better recipes for the items you offer, overall they were just awful.
Overall we had a pleasant time, however not sure if we would choose NCL again. We did enjoy New Orleans, and had a great pre cruise stay at the St. Philip French Quarter Apt. hotel, which we would highly recommend. It would be nice to see NCL put a real first rate modern ship in the New Orleans market though. It seems Carnival offers a far superior product with the Sunshine. It looks fabulous, and we ran into many guests from this ship and they were all very positive about it. As far as the itinerary, perhaps it would be better if the ship docked rather than tendered, and they could totally replace Jamaica, as most people we talked to thought this was the least favorite stop.