My wife and I are in our mid 30's with two children (ages 2 and 5) This is our 5th cruise (and second with our kids) Our previous cruises included 2 RCCL and two NCL cruises. This trip also included two other families. 11 people in total(6 adults 5 kids) I must say that after this experience this will most likely be our last cruise with NCL. No disrespect to any others that enjoyed this cruise. This is merely a review based on my friends and family's experience on this vacation.
The embarkation and debarkation process was very quick, organized, and hassle free (although we did have to wait a while on embarkation day for a porter to take our luggage)
The price was very good (kids sail free with each adult)
Entertainment was pretty decent. The kids enjoyed Blue Man Group (went twice) also they liked Howl At the Moon
The cabin was very awkward and small, but we made the best of it. We had a balcony room on the 13th deck. It was hard to pass by each other w/o bumping into each other. The cabin was not very tidy when we checked in. The bathroom was in less than clean conditions. Fortuantley my wife packed clorox wipes so we were able to wipe down alot of the cabin before we unpacked.
The layout of the ship. fzreestyle cruising means more dining options. However when you cram in a million restaurants you sacrifice common space. We loved how on RCCL they had the promenade(explorer of the sea) The oasis class has central park. NCL Epic... um..i felt like a rat in a maze the whole trip. corridors everywhere.. only decent common areas was the pool area (which was obviously crowded) and the casino (not kid friendly) Not even a jogging track.. only a jogging strip on deck 7? really? and you get to stare at teh lifeboats... great job NCL
Restaurants. Many choices , and they all sound good on paper. However when you pay an upcharge for a specialty restaurant, you kinda expect something halfway decent. Moderno was probably my favorite of the restaurants. The food was great, and the service was decent.La cucinia was decent, Le Bistro was not as good as our past cruise, same with Cagneys. on the Gem these two restaurants were our favorites. Shanghai? dont bother...its worse thank chinese take out. Manhattan room was nice from a visual perspective. Food was eh.... Same with Tastes... it was"eh" the garden buffet was okay, except it was always VERY crowded and hard to get a table.
Onboard activities. You have a boat with over 4000 people on it. water slides were fun (if you dont mind waiting a while) same with rock climbing... just be prepared to wait
Kids activities... the kids club in theory is a great idea. the older kids in our group were all signed up and did okay with the playtime activties. However we question how experienced the staff is when it comes to child care. They had a parade and there were children crying, not wanting to participate, and it seems like the staff just placed those kids on the pay no mind list. not even stoping to console or ask if they were okay. and the little kids programs? the guppies room? that broom closet that they tried to pass off as a playroom for infants? NCL is not that kid friendly. Go with Disney if you can afford it
Room Service... the bane of my existence... my 5 year old wouldget hungry at times so we tried out the room service. On the same night we ordered room service and pizza from the pizza 24/7 service. we were quoted 40 minutes for room service, and 30 minutes for pizza. 35 minutes later room service came, and my son was eagerly awaiting the pizza. after an hour... nothing...but by that time he fell asleep. houlr and a half..i called and inquired and they said it has not been prepared as of yet.... so i told them "i ordered it an hour and a half ago.. just cancel it"
two nights later same situation...passed on the pizza cause room service seemed more dependable... 30 minutes was promised, but it did not show up until an hour and 25 minutes later. ice cold... who likes cold hot dogs? not me or my son. my wife called to complain and there was barely an apology to be had.
the following day we received a call from Gary the restaurant manager who was very helpful and made amends by setting us up with a nice dinner in the manhattan room with free wine and super fast service.
he also said to contact him prior to having dinner every subsequent night and he’ll ensure things are taken care of properly. So kudos to him.
Aside from Gary (and his asst mgr Roman) the staff is by far the worst we have ever encountered on the boat. Nancy the box office manager has to be one of the most miserable people I’ve ever encountered on a boat. Long story short, there was a misprint in the daily cruise guide leading us as well as many other families to believe that the nickelodeon pajama jam was a free event. We show up at 9 am to find out that you need a reservation, and its 20 dollars a person!?!?!?!?! It was not stated in the “freestyle daily” printouts that everyone carries around. That is considered to be our daily cruise bible so to speak. You can only assume that what they print is what is the truth. So we show up with 5 disappointed children and my wife attempts to find out what can be done. Apparently nothing states the gentleman at the podium. He has to speak with the box office manager Nancy. She is unapologetic and although its clearly misprinted, its our fault for not checking with the box office and there is nothing she can do. Not good enough, after us as well as two other families complained she told us “fine.. go in…you don’t have to pay” as if shes doing us a favor. She then proceeded to cop an attitude with my wife… she even had the audacity to bark the word “whatever” at my wife. So naturally one would offended. When my wife said to her “did you just say whatever? You are a manager aboard this ship, you do not say that to ANY of your guests” and Nancy replies with “maam do you think its necessary to raise your voice in front of your children?” very unpleasant, and instead of putting out the fire immediately she fans the flames. She proceeds to get the cruise director involved who also tried to play the “its in the box office window card” until finally acknowledging the misprint
Now lets move onto the gem over at the ice bar. She tells my wife that kids are welcome in the ice bar and there is limited capacity, so anticpate a wait. “is there anything else we need to know?”.. “no is the response”
The following evening the mom’s attempt to take the older kids to the ice bar because the children want to see it. they get to the podium where blondie says “kids are allowed… and its 20 dollars per person…” my wife reminds her that just yesterday none of that was stated. She blurts back “its 20 dollars for everyone regardless.. u are paying for the experience… also.. can you step to this side of the podium please” keep in mind there was absolutely NOBODY standing in the general vicinity.. why does she feel the need to ask us to move two feet to the right.
The people on the boat are MISERABLE.. we didn’t even know the name of our cabin steward… we might have seen him 3 times all week?
We feel the daily gratuity is killing the customer service… why work hard and go the extra mile when everyone gets the same cut
Unfortunately.. after three ncl cruises.. sadly this will be our last with them.