Having cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, my wife and I decided to try NCL. We booked the Norwegian Dawn for a Bermuda cruise. Getting on the ship was easy. The balcony room was fine. Actually, the ship was in good condition and laid out nicely. Since we were on deck ten, we were convenient to everything. The room steward did a fine job.
However, the problem with NCL started before we even settled in. I had contacted NCL before the cruise because my wife has special dietary needs. NCL advised us to go to the Reception Desk and ask to see the Restaurant Manager when we got on board. I followed their directions but was told by the clerk at the desk that we just had to speak to the people at the restaurant who would help us.
Well, we dined at the Venetian the first night and, as expected, the meal did not go well. My wife's dietary needs were not met and we knew then that it would be a long trip regarding her food requirments. The second night, we dined at the Aqua and after several attempts at trying to get the foreign waiter to understand what my wife needed, they came through with what she required.
Since the menus at the "Free" restaurants, the Venetian and the Aqua were the same every night, except for a daily chef's special we tried Cagney's, their steak house. There is a $25 pp surcharge but we wanted to try it. The waiter rushed each course and part of my T-bone my steak came out raw. I showed the waiter that it was raw & he re-fired it and then it was overdone and he blamed me for it being overcooked. My wife's filet mignone was raw in the center and she left half of it. I complained about the dinner and was told that the Maitre D would contact me. I am still waiting...
After doing this dance a couple of more times, I was finally able to meet with the Restauarnat Manager and expressed my dissatisfaction with the food service in the dining rooms. I also advised him that if I met with him in the beginning, like I was instructed but was ignored by NCL staff, this food problem would not have been an issue. He asked us to try the Impressions dining restauarant, which has a $10 surchage pp. We dined at the restaurant that night and everything went well and he even covered the surcharge.
The problem with this cruise was that the food menus never changed for the week. It appears that NCL wants you to go to the surcharge restaurants. Oh, by the way, at Cagneys if you want a lobster tail there is an additional $10 surcharge. Could you believe that?
The desserts even stayed the same the whole trip. How much sherbert & ice cream can you eat?
The restaurant staff were all foreigners who really did not understand what you asked of them.
As a side note, NCL takes $12 pp automatically out of your account for crew tips, etc. and waiters get a 15% tip on whatever you purchase when dining (bottled water, sodas, drinks). There is no incentive for them to do a better job and there is no downside if they do a poor job.
I like to have the ability to pay for service or not pay for it. I prefer the envelopes at the end of the cruise.
My overall impression and feelining about this trip is that it was just an ok trip. I do not think I would try NCL again, especially if they have menus that never change.