Third and Last NCL Cruise: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by CruiseOneBelles
Overall Member Rating
Third and Last NCL Cruise
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Our trip started at a Hotel in LA. (Well actually it started on a FANTASTIC, first time ever, on Virgin Air flight). The hotel was OK. Expensive, but right at the port. Nothing fancy, no free coffee, and the Hot Tubs did not open unit 8am - making it hard to get started on our vacation early. The worst part was the fact that the hotel only had ONE 12 person shuttle. We stood in line for almost an hour just to get on the shuttle. NEXT time we stay farther from the airport and pay for our own transportation.
Once at the terminal the lines got WORSE and organization was non-existent. We were dropped, with our bags, about 100 yards from the terminal entrance. Once inside the line wound round and round and round. Must have been a mile long. Fortunately for us we were with my mother (78) who had a hip More replaced about 5 years ago. Someone noticed she was limping and rushed us to the front of the line. Hence, it took us only 45 mins. to check-in, and get on the ship. WEW!
The ship and our stateroom were filthy and falling apart. Shower leaked all over the bathroom floor. Ceiling scratched and squeeky. One drawer would not stay shut. The closet door opened and closed and banged all night. The bathroom was moldy and disgusting. The coffee was the worse I've ever tasted. Our E-docs said we could bring wine on board, but IF we drank in the dining room we would have to pay corkage. NCL ilegaly has defined corkage as ANY wine brought on board any where any time. Room service consisted of five items. You had to pay for room service pizza. There was one specialty item for dinner in the dining room but the menu was exactly the same for 14 days.
Excursions were overpriced with poor guides and WAY too many people. The room cleaning schedule was erratic. There were cases of gastrointestinal illness reported which necessitated staff hand out food and drinks, a good thing, but took forever. There was NO good plan for this, AND staff regularly did TERRIBLE things to cause contamination. I brought this to the attention of two officers and got nothing but an argument.
I am a business owner, and MUST conduct business while on the ship. NCL made it impossible to do so. I paid the $2.50 per min. for cell phone service (this is typical). I did NOT pay the $0.75 per min for SLOW internet. Instead I got a Global Data Plan thru Verizon. 100mb for $25. Unfortunately the service only worked for about 45 mins. As we went into and out of the port. NCL blocked the signal while at sea, and of course had to turn off their cell tower while at sea. We complained to Verizon, but Verizon says NCL CLAIMS 100% coverage on the Star - so contact NCL. NO luck there.
We got MANY photos taken while on board. My wife and I just started as Associate Travel agents. We wanted to use them for Social Media purposes. We TOLD staff this. Since we were silver we were SUPPOSED to get a discount on photos. We picked out 10 photos, plus the flash drive copy. Then were told NOPE, no discount for this. Flash drive is NOT a photo. Can't discount the photos. Again, went to a supervisor who gave us a copy of the Silver Rules that said we were eligible for the discount. Back to the photographer, still no go. Then went to another supervisor, and told us she would check on this and leave a message on our phone. NO message. NOTHING. We were quite willing to pay about $150 for photos that were otherwise going in the trash. Instead NCL asked for $180 and got nothing. We would STILL like copies, but NOBODY at NCL will return calls or correspondence. As agents we are now PUSHING Royal's free kids, not NCL.
My wife lost her passport while leaving the ship. NOBODY at NCL has contacted us since leaving. We have left messages with MANY MANY phone numbers and contacts. We follow-up and nobody has done anything. Contacted the port authority, the they said to contact NCL. Just a run around. Port authority says the passport would be at NCL lost and found (on the boat). You would think SOMEONE could get back to us one way or another.
There were very few chaises on the decks, passengers had to fight over getting a seat. Many of them were simply broken and dissfunctional. We were never given a chance to voice complaints - not eve a questionnaire, at the end of the cruise. I wrote three letters while on the boat. Rather than fix things, the Matri’d sent us a bottle of complimentary wine - what I really wanted was SERVICE in the dining room: a full cup of water, coffee, salt, and pepper, all served in reasonablely functional fashion. We felt the goal was to pinch the pennies of those on board and sign up new suckers. I won't ever be back. Norwegian has a severely bad management problem. In addition, it took us 2 1/2 hours standing in line, no chairs for older people, to get off ship. Norwegian did nothing.
My Mom and Sister came with us on this cruise. I “convinced” them it would be great. They are not “into” cruising, like me and my wife. They had done one previous cruise, Alaska, on Carnival - and that was only because it was the ONLY way to see Alaska. This cruise, the Panama Canal, was the same.
They felt the food on Carnival was MUCH MUCH better. They also thought the service was poor, the lower level staff was overworked, and management did not care. The first three nights the slept well. The fourth night there was an incessant banging, all night, in their cabin. The fifth night they called someone about the noise. Three staff members came down to check on it. They were told “It really is not all that bad, is it?” However, once in the hall they could overhear them talking about it, and saying how bad it was. They returned about 30 mins later, said they could not find the source of the noise, but it had stopped. The next night the banging resumed. My sister thought it was a door. She went to the deck above and found a restroom door that was banging. She secured it, and the noise quit. In the mean time, customer service brought them ear plugs for the noise. The loose door was reported, but NOBODY would fix it. Just earplugs.
One late night my mother went to use the toilet. She flushed it, and the water kept coming, and coming. She woke my sister who started putting towels in the bathroom door while my mom called for help. After MANY MANY rings she got someone who said she would let someone know, and they would get a call back. It took 20 mins. For someone to call back. Meanwhile the toilet was overflowing, and my sister was bailing water into the shower. The caller asked “Is it bad? Do we need to send someone at night?” UGH! 40 mins later a maint. Guy came, fixed the broken part. He said he would call housekeeping to come clean up the mess (wet towels and soaked carpet). An HOUR after he left they were again awakened - this time by housekeeping. They came, sprayed the wet carpet with something, and left the wet towels. In the morning the room steward was left to pick up wet towels (they had none to use for their shower) and HE brought a fan to dry the carpet. NO apology, NO were sorry. NO response from anyone other than the room steward who was stuck with the mess.
ALL of us complained about the mattresses. It took all four of us about a week, after returning to our own beds, to recover. Ship is old, so no doubt beds are too.
Getting off the ship was a nightmare. Called ALL the “colors” an hour early. Closed most of the ship (yes I know someone needs to get it ready for the next group). Unfortunately the only place to go was in the line, outside. The line went out the starboard atrium door onto the promenade deck, then wound its way to the front of the ship, back down the port side, past the atrium doors, and then finally to the ramp into the terminal. Once in the terminal we had a line at the escalator. Another line in a stinky nasty hall. And finally a group of 12 lines for customs. ALL with our suitcases in tow. It was the crowning end to poor customer treatment.
MANAGEMENT is the problem. Nobody cares, Nobody listens. Nobody does ANYTHING to fix problems. And there are MANY. Just read the web. Less
StarBreeze Panama Canal
Island Princess Panama Canal
Overall, A Good Trip