My husband and I returned last week from a cruise around Hawaiian islands on Pride of America, a ship operated by the Norwegian Cruise Lines.
We have cruised on many ships around the world and enjoyed the privilege. On this ship we were frankly very disappointed.
FOOD: On other cruise ships it was a pleasure to sometimes NOT go to the main dining rooms and just wander in at our own pace to the buffet on the top deck. The food was always good & fresh. On Pride of America the buffet food at their Aloha restaurant was pathetic and lacked taste. We mostly ate fruits. And even in the main dining rooms the food on offer was very ordinary.
There are 4 “specialty restaurants” on board where passengers can go if they want good food. And for this you make a booking and pay a cover charge around $25 per head. Such specialty restaurants are also on other ships but not at the expense of their dining room food!
GRATUITIES: We know that all shipping companies have a system of taking a flat sum per person per day to be put into a pool for their “behind the scenes” staff. But this is done on the final invoice before we get off the ship. And you have the option of adjusting it. With NCL you don’t have a choice. We were billed a lump sum for “gratuities” by our travel agent before we left Sydney! Apparently this is what NCL instructed them to do.
And once we were on the Pride of America, every time you have a drink or spend any money for anything on board, the invoice presented includes a “discretionary service charge” that is automatically added; and then there is a further line below asking us to enter “gratuity”! For what?
We paid gratuity directly to the staff we came in contact with. I have always thought that gratuity is something that is paid if one is happy with the service. It should never be mandatory! I know this is the American system where wages are low or negligible.
NCL should think of paying their staff better and not expect passengers to subsidise them. Perhaps they could raise the cost of the cruise. NCL has the monopoly on these islands. I ask them to make the cruise pleasurable for the passengers & staff. Hawaii was beautiful and the people warm and friendly; the staff on board were good; but our cruise was far from pleasurable.