I just returned from a 7 night cruise on the NCL pearl: Dec. 26 - Jan. 2. The ship was nice and the ports were fine so I'll get right to the issues my party and I had. THE SERVICE IS TERRIBLE. How so? NCL thought having a collective tip pool was a great way to improve the quality of service??? The staff members on the ship were incredibly rude and because the tips went into a large pool, there was no need to act professionally or respectfully towards the passengers. 70% of the staff could care less about our enjoyment. We were repeatedly told NO or 'sorry there is nothing we can do' to simple requests that would be taken care of on other reputable cruise lines.
On New Year's Eve, my party of nine attempted to make reservations to the Garden Lotus as we were looking forward to enjoying their sushi, which was great (we knew this from a previous outing). Upon making reservations, we were told sushi was first come first serve and we found this peculiar as we needed reservations a few nights earlier for the same place. Well, as we arrived to the restaurant, my party was told we needed reservations. Because we asked several staff earlier about making reservations and receiving the same answer: first come first serve, we were very upset. After speaking to the manager, she told us there was nothing she could do and we could eat there after 10 pm if we wanted. Where was the customer service? Nine people were willing to pay for dinner because that's all NCL wants: to take your money while denying the service we pay for. So, after digressing, we were shocked the manager would do nothing to try to fit us in. My party called reservation services to discuss this matter with someone of higher authority only to hear that we should go to one of the regular dining halls. This simply was not acceptable and we requested to speak with a superior. The woman on the phone said to call an extension to seek the help we were looking for. Upon calling the extension, we found out she directed us to the regular dining hall. DEFINITELY NOT WHAT WE ASKED FOR.
Furthermore, on numerous occasions, the staff would do as little as they possibly could to accommodate the members of my party. We are charged 12 dollars a day per person for service charges and yet on the last night, very few services were available. Room service shut down the last night even though we were paying for it. There were very few smiles from NCL's staff. The only staff member that was always pleasant was the the guy who tended to our rooms: Anthony from the Philippines.
If you purchase a coke card ($50) don't expect to ask the bar staff for a pepsi by the pool and receive it. You are continually asked if you would like any booze every 5 minutes you are outside.
Would you like fresh juice to be available anytime after breakfast? Sorry, that would be $3.00 per glass. Would you like to use the spa facilities: steam room, locker rooms, jacuzzi? Sorry, that would be $20 per day. I found it quite bizarre when a capaccino on one floor is free yet $3 on another.
Bottom line: I have been on multiple cruises and this was my first NCL cruise. I can say with confidence this will be my last NCL cruise. I am spoiled with Royal Caribbean and will cruise with their line forever more. Period.