We left New Orleans on Feb 2nd 2014 in the total fog. We did enjoy the city as it gave it a mysterious ambiance especially when you think about the cemetaries and legends that are vehiculed about it.
Embarkation was not the easiest we had in the past cruise we did. It was our second cruise with NCL (the other being on the Spirit to Bermudas a few years ago). So we knew it was not the standard we had with Celebrity or Princess, but we were aware there would be some difference.
New Orleans port is, for what we saw, going under renovation. I hope it will be easier for people to be going through traffic as you have to wait many minutes just to be dropped with your luggages by the taxi: buses, cars, taxis all converge in a small area and it is chaos. We were litteraly 3 to 4 blocks away in a hotel but not close enough with our luggage to walk it. So the taxi was $7 per person ($14 for two) for a ride that should have lasted 3 minutes, but they charge per person as they know they will be stuck at the drop off zone.
Once on the ship, we were able to get to our cabin quite rapidly, but that was after we were like a herd of tourist waiting in line for something like 45 minutes.
Room: (inside cabin just under the casino). We were concerned a bit that the room that had been assigned to us would be noisy, but really, we heard nothing the whole week. The size of the room as OK and as expected. It was clean and our room stewart was always smiling and pleasant. He did an excellent job. One thing though: the matress on the side of my husband was really showing years of abuse, being shaped almost as a banana. We did not tell anybody, but maybe we should have mentioned it.
Food: At first, we could not understand why some people had been complaining about the food. It was good and there was a good variety. But as the week progressed, we found it to be repetitive and very standard. The Garden Cafe Buffet presented many stations, but when you think about it, a whole section was for Indian food and stir fry. Personnally, we love exotic food, but it was always the same thing. For the pasta bar, it was pasta and your choice of sauce. Nothing else: no vegetable, no chicken, not shrimp. Pasta and sauce. I was told I would have to book at the paying restaurant if I wanted shrimp in my pasta! I had to laugh about it. They did offer a package at $119 per person to go and eat in any of the a la carte restaurant, but we relied on our past experience and left it open as we thought the main dining room would offer a better experience.
Really, that is not what happened. On one of the evening, I really was disappointed with their "new Orleans combo of shrimp and beef". My idea of New Orleans style shrimps is not 3 breaded shrimps beside a small steak. I would have thought it would have been more creative. As for dessert, we were not the only one finding that there was way too many dessert made of gelatin. In the end, everything tasted the same. They did have the chocolate fountain at night at the Garden Cafe, but their main thing was the Bread Pudding. Yes it was very nice, but all by itsef in its category. I remember some sorbet (coconut once and pineaple another night) that were very good.
We did eat at the Bistro (French cuisine). It was very good. We had the duck magret and confit and as for the started, the 4 cornets. Nicely presented and refined as well.
we did attempt to eat at Moderno. We had heard that the food was really excellent. Oooops. Major problem there. Three of the restaurant a la carte gives on the Atrium: Chin Chin, Moderno, and the Sushi Bar. We had a reservation for the Moderno at 8.30 PM (they are not opened on lunch time except on sea days). We sat down and when our waiter came to take our order, we could not hear him. He almost had to scream so we could hear him. The inconceivable thing is that since there are no walls seperating the restaurant from the atrium, the shows scheduled (that night was a tribute to Neil Diamond) are so loud that you cannot hold a conversation! And it was until 9.30 PM. When the manager of the restaurant came to see us because we wanted to leave, he was very gracious and understanding. He also said that he has that kind of problem every week!!!! I sure hope that the refurbishing due in May will take cake of this problem. Already that the ship atrium is far from being impressive... this is really a major problem. No wonder there was always room in the restaurant.
We did sample the sushis at the Sushi Bar before a late dinner and it was good.
Shows: They were all excellent. Very impressive that show called Le Cirque Bijou. The performers were really on the ball and gave it all they had.Jaimie the cruise director is far from acting like on of these Diva we had seen on an European ship one day: she did a very good job, was funny without being vulgar, and we felt she really enjoyed people and her job too. Good for you Jaimie! She was accessible and always smiling. A good asset for NCL.
As for all of the personnel, we can honestly say that they are very pleasant and work so hard to please their guests. Even the captain seems to be a good sport and seems close to his passengers. He also seems to show appreciation for his team (from the people in the laundry room to his officers).
See below for our port reviews.
In all, we enjoyed the destinations. We knew we did not want to spend too much, so we figured we had what we paid for. Was it a good deal? It was a honest deal. Knowing what we know, we would have paid a little bit more as we missed the dining experience this time. For us, it is part of the fun of cruising. We really look forward to these wonderful dinners.
We hope that this will have been helpful.. And we take this opportunity to thank the family who was part of the cruise critics community and invited us, after the roll calls, to visit the Villa they had rented. It is rare that people will share this privilege. The mother (Christmas Carole) was a lovely lady. I will remember them for a long time.