First, I must say that my first cruise was with Celebrity. It was awesome, upscale and very relaxing. My wife and I felt like royalty. So, this critique will be compared to that very really classy experience.
Norwegian Freestyle: Means loud, amateur, unstructured and far more expensive than advertised. Things you expect to be included are extra.
Noise: If you’re 20 to 35 years old – this cruise is for you. If you want to take a nap at 3pm, forget it – the music is always top 10 and always thundering through your head. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom everywhere on the ship………………… Good luck relaxing. By the way, this music comes from the adult pool where you will get no rest.
Amateurs: When was the last time a bartender asked you if you wanted ice with your beer? Really? What planet is this? The people Norwegian hires are wonderful folks who are doing their dead-level best, but no one trained them. If you’re looking for a first-class experience, you won’t find it here – everything is amateur.
Services: When you rent a hotel, the maid service is part of the deal. When you go Norwegian, it will cost $12 per person per day to swap the towels and turn down the bed. Really? And if no one turns down the bed – you pay anyway. This happened twice on our 7-day cruise. So, what did we pay for? Only the fuel to move the boat from point A to point B. EVERYTHING else is extra! On our Celebrity cruise, the room was tweaked every time we stepped out our door– as many as 3 times per day.
Food: The main dining room was so-so. The food was pedestrian – we couldn’t think of a good reason to eat it twice. There was also a South American theme requiring VERY loud salsa music every single night. We didn’t care to repeat the experience because we couldn’t hear each other talk. Although we did do it twice just to make sure – and yes, it sucked again.
Secondary Dining: Because the complementary dining of the main dining room was so passé, we were forced to go elsewhere for better chow. The other “pay-as-you-go” dining was great, but forced us to pay from $15 to $50 per person for a decent meal. We ate at these restaurants for the balance of the trip because the main dining room made us all miserable.
To get a good lunch, our group learned to stake out a large table in one complementary cafeteria-style restaurant that served a decent main course. Then we got salads and side dishes from the “chow hall” down stairs and brought them upstairs to our table. On our Celebrity cruise, we ate at the main “complementary” dining room every night because the food was amazing. We never saw the need to go elsewhere. It was a very first class experience.
Complementary Chow: The main chow hall was always open. The coffee was different every day. Sometimes it was good – sometimes it was awful. The kitchen was at the central core and was open all around a rectangular periphery. This caused a nasty traffic jam of people waiting for omelets in long lines. Comparatively, on the Celebrity cruise the kitchen delivered food to many small food “islands” which allowed us to go from island-to-island without getting into heavy traffic. It was never inconvenient – always pleasant.
Class: On the second day of our cruise with Celebrity, as we walked into the “chow hall”, we were met by a gentleman who wished us a good morning and addressed us by NAME! The passenger list numbered 3,000+. Try that Norwegian!
Wine: All alcohol was expensive no matter what method you chose, but that’s the norm on cruises. One option was to choose 4 bottles of wine from a list of 3 different price groups. This offered a small discount. Theoretically, you can drink this wine at other venues throughout the ship. The problem is that you had to hold on to little pieces of paper proving you had this discount and you had to remember the names of these wines. It was a ridiculous, amateur mess. You give them your room number, which should be associated with your wine list, but no one knows what to do with it. They have no computer system to track it for you. Every time I ordered wine my blood pressure went up. I couldn’t have a nice meal without being extremely angry. The only way to make the system work properly was to receive all your wine up front; keep it in the room and carry it with you when you went to have a “classy” dining experience.
Dress: We brought nice clothing and shouldn’t have. Apparently, Norwegian “freestyle” means dressing down – waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down.
Bottom Line: Pay the few extra nickels up front for a really fine cruise, because in the end you’ll get so much more for so much less than the “discount” price.