I have cruises a couple of times in the past (both times on Royal Caribbean), so I am not brand new to cruising. If this had been my first cruise experience, then I would never have cruised again.
The food was horrible. It was inedible swill. In the buffet area, there weren’t enough seats so we often had to stand to eat. Also in the buffet area was a nice display of menus for the paid restaurants on board. How tacky is that? To me, NCL was saying “We have decent food on this, but you have to pay extra to get it.” When we arrived in ports, our goal was to find edible food. We also ate in the formal dining rooms and O’Sheehan’s. Special requests were never honored. Some servers were awesome, but most were mediocre. Steak ordered “medium” was burned and so tough it could not be eaten. Potatoes were always cold. I can’t stress enough how bad the food was!
We learned on this cruise that cruise lines pay for lengths of stay in ports and docking spots. Before choosing a cruise, see how long the ship stays in port. Our port stays were not as good as other ships and the Jewel was always docked the farthest from any attractions. In Victoria, we were docked about a mile from town. Don’t worry, though. For only $10 per person, Norwegian would provide bus service to town.
If you do not like cigarette smoke, then stay away from the forward section on decks 6 and 7. The stink was absolutely terrible. Smokers were also allowed to smoke on the deck where people were walking for exercise. We had trouble with cigarette smoke on Royal Caribbean also, so this issue is not unique to NCL.
The entertainment lacked variety. If you like music, then you’re set. Just about every performance area had music every night. If you want variety, then you were out of luck. There was a comedian/magician one night who was fantastic – I would highly recommend him. And, there were excellent dancers a couple of other nights. But, other than those three nights, everything else was just music.
On the good side, our cabin and steward were fantastic. We had an aft facing balcony (room 9674, which I highly recommend). We were able to see everything from the comfort of our balcony.
The magician was fantastic. The dancers were fantastic. The dancers from Russia were especially great, although I cannot understand why the female could not find a bra that could be hidden. It was very distracting and very tacky to see her entire bra while she was dancing.
For most of the excursions, you were better off not purchasing them from NCL because of the inflated prices. Example: In Juneau the glacier visit and tram were $79.99. Off ship I was able to purchase that excursion plus a tour of the city for $64.00. The exception was the train. It’s just as cheap to purchase on the ship.
Finally, NCL (like all other cruise lines) does not pay a lot of their employees. They require mandatory tipping to pay employees’ salaries. It feels like slave labor to me, so I won’t cruise again. Of course, Americans are paid using a different pay scale. If anyone wants to fight discrimination, start with the cruise lines!
I won’t travel with NCL ever again. If I do cruise again, which I probably won’t, it will be with Royal Caribbean.