We have just returned from yet, another wonderful cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines. We sailed aboard the Norwegian Epic for the week of April 20th-27th, and would like to share some of our experience.
This sailing took us to the Western Caribbean. Now, just a quick reference to that Western Caribbean.
We have sailed the Western Caribbean on previous occasions. When we booked aboard the Epic, 2 years ago, she was expected to call on the ports of the Eastern Caribbean. However, due to Norwegian releasing the newly built Norwegian Getaway earlier than expected, our voyage aboard the Norwegian Epic was moved to the Western Caribbean. We were given the option of cancelling, switching to the Getaway, or staying with the Epic, and joining in (once again) on the Western Caribbean itinerary. After giving the itinerary change careful consideration, and the fact that we really wanted to experience the Norwegian Epic, along with our theory that the ship really IS the destination for us, we decided to remain with our original plans and sail on her.
It was a decision that I am certainly glad that we made.
I have read many reviews in reference to the Norwegian Epic, and Norwegian Cruise Lines in general, and have come to the decision that there are just some people who love to complain, and were born into it.
First and foremost we stayed in the Haven, and enjoyed the luxuries of the 2 Bedroom Suite. I mention this first because I don't want anyone to think that just because we stayed in the Haven, that the other categories were (or are) treated any less differently. Having sailed with, and meeting with other people staying in various categories aboard the ship, I can attest to the fact that everyone I talked with thoroughly enjoyed their experience, whatever cabin they called home.
The embarkation process that I witnessed was by far flawless, considering the ship was sailing with a sold out crowd.
We arrived early at the terminal, as this is just our style. Remember, 4000 passengers are traveling with you. Everyone uses the same gangway. You can either be number 1 or number 4000....but everyone goes thru the same door. I prefer early boarding, a nice lunch, a walk about the vessel, and then watching "the masses" as they are also arriving.
Upon boarding, we immediately took advantage of signing up for the Ultimate Beverage Package. Having previously taken advantage of this "win-fall", aboard the Norwegian Sky last year, we knew it would be a winner for us, again.
This Package must be purchased by everyone in the stateroom, and my partner and I had no reservations about purchasing it again.
For $394.45 per person, or a total of $788.90 for the two of us, I can assure you it was money well spent.
Just to "be me", I decided to save all the receipts of bar purchases, and see just how lucky we would be.
Remember...we paid just shy of $800. And those receipts? A cool $1100, and that's not considering the receipts that melted in my pocket at the pool, were lost on those "happy occasions", or blown away by those lovely sea breezes. To say that we saved upwards of $300, and were not drunken idiots while doing so, is certainly a truthful statement.
We chose the Haven dining room for our first night of dinner, as we felt we owed it to ourselves to at least experience it, considering that we were living there. It was wonderful to say the least.
We joined other guests in the main dining room (The Manhattan Room) on two other occasions. The food and service were excellent, there also. I have read many reviews where people complained that "the wait was long, the food was terrible and the staff was rude." As far as our experience goes, this couldn't be further from the truth. We never waited to get in, the food was excellent, and the staff bent over backwards to make our experience here as pleasurable as one could imagine.
Future dining experiences took us to Le Bistro, La Cucina, Teppanyaki, and Moderno. Each and every one of them was worth the added expense, and we will continue to visit these venues, (along with other specialty restaurants) on future sailings.
We never waited for a lounge chair. We never waited more that a few minutes for a cocktail, and in fact, the staff were very well versed in meeting our "desires" when we were imbibing on an afternoon of sunshine, or trying our luck in the casino.
As I stated earlier, the ship IS the experience for us, so I can assure you that we strolled every nook and cranny of this vessel. She is a fine ship. Well cared for, clean, presentable, and considering that we were sailing with a full load, we found many quiet areas to call our own.
After reading many past reviewers posts of their "dilemma's", I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. You're on vacation! Is everything always 110%? Probably not. Am I going to complain that I waited for dinner for (perhaps) 10 minutes while they made up the table, knowing that we could enjoy the company of friends at a nearby bar? Probably not. Am I going to complain that guests service desk had a (small) line of people at 1:00 in the afternoon? Hello? Try going at 10 pm....let me know how that works out. I paid many a visits there at that hour (To put my casino winnings on my account), and can assure you, that I practically had the place to myself.
I still think that my room steward slept under the bed. Even when we were away from the stateroom for a short while, we came back to a room of cleanliness. (Although we really never left it a wreck anyway as this is just how we live.)
I went by some rooms that looked like a frat party had taken place, or a wild night of sex, so one has to consider how these individuals live anyway, and are probably the ones who complain the most.
Treat people as you would expect to be treated.
Don't book passage on the cheapest room available, then arrive like the "Queen of Romania", and expect to be waited on hand and foot. Ain't gonna happen, nor should it!
We will be sailing on the Norwegian Getaway for my 50th birthday this October, as she happens to be embarking on that very milestome that I will be reaching. I can't think of a better way to spend it then with a handful of close friends, and most importantly those "friends" of Norwegian Cruise Lines, who I'm sure will make it a birthday that I shall never forget.