This was our 10+ cruise, but the first on NCL. I chose this cruise for the itinerary, and that's really the only good thing I have to say about it. I STRONGLY recommend another cruise line if you want any type of decent service and food.
EMBARKATION-Very fast but there are no cabin numbers on your card which I found a little annoying.
CABIN/DECOR-We had a mini suite which was actually a very nice room. It had a balcony, a king sized bed and a small sitting area with an extremely hard sofa bed couch. The best part of the room was the bathroom, which was a decent size and had a tub-shower combination and a sliding glass door to separate the toilet from the shower and vanity area. The decor of the ship has not changed since they moved this from Hawaii, so tacky flowers and nothing having remotely anything to do with Europe could be found.
FOOD-This was really terrible, and we felt forced to go to the restaurants that charged a "cover" due to the crowds at More
the free venues. Every day at the buffet (morning, noon, or night) they would run out of plates and glasses, and the restaurants were terribly understaffed. The food mostly caters to a British crowd, which curries and black pudding and the like abounding, but nary anything really palatable for Americans. The thing that really irritated us was that the rule of "no shorts in any restaurant except the buffet" seemed to be enforced only when there was a wait for that restaurant. Reservations were lost and there was no one that stayed at the front long enough to even answer a question. All in all, an inefficient mess every day.
Hint-if you want to try the specialty restaurants, go between 5:30 and 6:30 when it's 2 for 1. I would also stay away from Shabu-Shabu, as our dish tasted like some noodles and a few veggies dunked in hot water (totally devoid of flavor). Cagney's (steakhouse) was OK, and the Papa's Italian and Jasmine were actually pretty decent.
SERVICE (or lack thereof!)-This was abominable. I mean to sit in a "paying" restaurant (with a reservation I might add) for at least 10 minutes without being acknowledged or even given a glass of water is inexcusable! It also took 4 DAYS to get laundry back-and this was only after several phone calls and a visit to reception. I spoke to many others on the ship with similar (or worse) experiences. The amenities in the room are virtually non existent, and our room steward even refused to get us a bar of soap when requested. Also to me, if you put out an express room service ticket for breakfast at a certain time, there should be no reason to call 30 minutes prior to let me know it is coming (I knew what time I requested didn't I?). In general the attitude of the staff was unfriendly and largely unconcerned.
ENTERTAINMENT-I can honestly say in a two week period, I have never seen so many in-cabin movies because there was nothing else to do! The comedians were mediocre and there were really no activities except for "NCL U" events that were mostly fee based (nothing educational unless you want to learn about beer or mixing martinis). I found the sea days INCREDIBLY boring. Even the selection in the on-board shops was inferior.
PORTS OF CALL-We loved Barcelona, Rome, Florence, and even Vigo, but we probably could have done without Gibraltar, Villafranche, and Lisbon. This was our first time to Europe, so we booked a bunch of tours which were quite expensive. A disturbing fact to be noted is that the shuttles from the port to the towns in most cases were not free like on other cruise lines.
If this is anything other than your first cruise and you have NO EXPECTATIONS then here is my summary. This ship is a skipper Gilligan, so if you choose it good luck! Less
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