Although not told prior to this cruise, it was the last sailing of the Norwegian Sky. After reaching Vancouver it was to be torn apart while travelling back to dry dock in San Francisco. There it would be refurbished and put back into action as the "Pride of Aloha" and sail with a completely American Crew around the Hawaiian Islands.
At each port including the San Juan, competent international crew were dropped off and untrained American crew were brought aboard. This caused many problems. Some of which I will tell you about.
Our cabin was not clean when we boarded, towels on the floor, half full glasses of liquid, pop tins, soap rings, etc in the bathroom. We asked 3 times, and a uniformed staff member asked once to have the room cleaned to no avail. The towels were changed and the trash removed upon turn-down somewhere around 10:00 pm. If we got towels on the rack during the cruise we were lucky, sometimes we had to call to have the room made up and the towels were just left on the counter.
For our Freestyle dining experience, it was "Eat when NCL wanted you to, where NCL wanted you to". We stood in line every night to put our name on a list for a table then sat around and waited for our name to be called. Every time when we went into the dining room there were tables available, but no staff to serve them. When we did get a table, the staff was inexperienced or experienced and overworked (more tables than they could handle or training other staff). Every night we heard trays of dishes hit the floor.
The Breakfast Buffet ran out of bacon, skim milk, All-bran cereal, and prunes (just a few), but all were available in the dining room. This shortage came at the Panama Canal only a few days into the cruise and the stocks were brought on board until Los Angeles.
Because the Pride of Aloha was not going to be sailing in international waters, there would be no casino. So a day before we reached LA, a lot of slot machines and some tables were taken out of the Casino. There was still 6 days of cruising left.
Between San Francisco and Vancouver all of the pools and hot tubs were closed 'for maintenance' they said. We asked why now, when the ship is going in to dry dock! But they wouldn't open them.
On the good side, for the most part the staff were friendly, except the ones that were getting off who didn't really care to make your stay great, and the ones getting off who didn't know enough to make your stay great.
If this were our first cruise, it would be our last. We certainly weren't the only ones with this feeling, everyone we talked to said the same thing. There were lineups at the Purser's desk to take the automatic tipping off.
This was our first experience with Norwegian and it surely will be our last.