This was my first cruise, something I had always wanted to do. So, I signed up for a Mini Suite in the Spa section, the second highest class one could purchase (I wanted a higher class but was told they were sold out, something I later found out was not true).
Due to the airline canceling my flight from Anchorage to Miami, then rebooking it to a later flight which took off 3 hours late, I arrived in Miami one hour before the boat left. I had called Norwegian the night before, when I found out about the flight problems, and was told that there would not be anyone available to pick me up at the airport at the time I was coming in (supposedly 2.30PM, actually I arrived at the airport at 3PM), and that I would have to hire a taxi or private limo service in order to make the embarkation time. I did this, costing me $125. While I was waiting for my luggage, I saw a person holding a Norwegian sign, asked them who they were and what they did, was told they were there to pick up any More
Norwegian customers! Since I had already hired and paid for the limo, and it was on its way, it took it.
Upon arriving at the boat at 3:30PM, there was NO ONE there to tell me where to go, to help with the bags, nothing. I figured it out by finding the TSA place to go through before boarding. There was a group of about 15 people there, waiting to get into the TSA screening building but a TSA agent wasn't letting anyone go through the line, although there were many agents just standing around doing nothing. We were getting a bit upset, and finally, another TSA agent opened another door to let us in an go through the screening (the first agent was VERY upset at this, screaming at us and the other agent...very strange). Through all of this there were no Norwegian employees there to help.
I finally got on board, Again, a lot of us standing around, with our luggage, having no clue where to go or what to do. I saw to Norwegian employees standing around talking to each other so went to them, asked where we were supposed to go. They did not speak english (something I was to find prevalent among a lot of the staff). Another customer heard this and took over, guiding us to reception and check in. That went fairly smoothly, although there was nowhere to sit down while waiting in line to be checked in, something that I thought would be available as many customers have to travel long distances to get to this ship, and we are tired and worn out.
So, I got checked in, no problem there. No directions on how to get to my cabin and when I asked for someone to carry my luggage, was told there was no one available to help out. So, I carried my 4 bags (I have medical equipment as well as carrying enough for the different climates I was going to be going to, Alaska, the Caribbean, Miami, and North Dakota, during my entire trip. I had to travel almost the entire length of the ship (1400 feet) and encountered many staff just standing in the hallways chatting to each other, and when I asked for help, none was offered.
Got to my cabin, which was very nice. However, I had ordered a bottle of champagne to be there, thinking it would be nice to sit on my balcony and drink champagne and eat the caviar I had carried from Anchorage. Well, the champagne was there, but there was no ice bucket for it and it was warm!!! I called room service to get a cold bottle, they told me housekeeping handled this??, transferred me to housekeeping where I told them the situation. Within 5 minutes another bottle showed up, in an ice bucket, but it was the wrong champagne. I told the guy that it was the wrong one, he did not understand me (again, no english) so I showed him the bottle. He said, "oh, no mo tha". I took the ice bucket, told him to keep the champagne then called housekeeping. They told me there was no more of my champagne, so I ordered two ice buckets, hoping that eventually I could get the bottle cold (it was 85 degrees there, and no air conditioning....another problem it took me 4 days to get rectified).
From there, the cruise went downhill. I won't go into all the details but it was pretty bad. As other reviewers have noted, there is no one to tell you what is going on on the ship. 4 days into the cruise, I did find out from another customer, that there is a daily bulletin (which I was not receiving...remember, I has a suite that was supposed to have my own steward...yeah right, the one I had was a nice lady, but I discovered that her english was, at best, spotty. . every time I asked for something, she would smiled, nod her head "yes" and tell me "okay" but nothing would happen. Once I figured this out, I made sure she understood what I was saying by asking her to repeat it and give me a time frame for accomplishing whatever I was asking.
To go any where on board, one pretty much has to pass through the casino. Okay, I understand they want to get you to play some, and that is okay with me. But, they allowed smoking in the casino so one is subjected to substantial second- hand smoke throughout the day. This is unacceptable.
Most of the food on board sucked, but I did get a fabulous meal at the steak house, Cagney's, and had discovered a secret wine list they had, but did not give to just anyone. Why this is, I have no idea, but I found out about it from another customer, and pre-ordered some wines to be opened several hours before my meal. Yeah right, my champagne (the one I had been told by housekeeping they were out of) was there, but no one came to open it. After sitting there with my guests for 20 minutes, I got up and opened it myself - boy o boy, you should have seen the service we got then!
One more thing that upsets me. I am a single person that travels alone; there are a lot of us out there. Unlike some other lines, Norwegian charged me the price for two people. I understand they have to have the price for two people for the cabin and, though I don't like it, I am willing to pay for that. But the price of a cruise with them includes meals for two; I believe they should discount the price of a cabin for one by the amount they figure into the cost of a cruise per person for the food. Some other lines do this.
Oh, I just remembered the kicker: I thought that a "Norwegian" cruise line would be owned and operated by....Norwegians. They certainly imply this in their advertising. This cruise line is owned and operated by White Star Lines, a Chinese company. It became a running joke amongst the passengers, "where are the Norwegians"? There were people working on the boat from many countries, and I found it great to talk to a lot of them (those that did speak english), bu...no Norwegians could be found. Rumor was that there were two Norwegians higher up the chain of command int the running of the ship side of things.
I got to know some of the higher up staff, and took them to dinner one night. After a lot of champagne and wine, I found out that it was well known that there existed a lot of problems with this ship, and that the vice president of the hotel side of operations was coming on board the following week to "straighten things out"; If this was true, that is great, but what about the thousands of customers (this boat holds over 4000 passengers!) that paid for a good time and received much less than this? Less
Aesthetically nice cabin but, the bath drain stopper did not work, the advertised "refrigerator" turned out to be what the staff told me was a "cooler", the air conditioning did not work (a problem for an Alaskan traveling the Caribbean!), the "Queen Bed" was actually two twins put together; which was okay except they were too short (and I am only 5"11" tall) so I had to sleep sideways from corner to corner so my feet would not hang off the end, and the steward did not speak much english!