We flew from Portland, OR to Long Beach, CA, took a shuttle to the terminal. Then, the nightmare began. We were stuck in an overcrowded, unorganized terminal after checking in for three hours. People were milling around, there was not enough seating, no one from NCL providing any guidance or leadership. About on hour before we were able to board a couple of crew members came out to control the masses. We were the third group to board (thank God!) but had to pass through groups four through at least 13. People sitting on the floor, standing in aisles. It was a nightmare.
We got onboard and our room was still not available. The first thing I did was arrange for all our meals at the upcharge restaurants. I was my first vacation in three years (I work seven days a week). I wanted to be waited on, not go through buffet lines or eat in the main dining rooms were the masses eat. The food in the upcharge restaurants, especially Cagney's, was very good. Not as happy with Endless Summer (which was my favorite on the Alaskan cruise) or La Trattoria. The food in the main dining rooms and the buffets were a HUGE disappointment. Tasteless, not well presented, not hot, just sad. Room service was worse. Although prompt, the food was never the correct temperature. Omelettes cold, cottage cheese room temperature, burgers...well you understand. The chocolate buffet was another disappointment. After waiting until well after midnight to get in, there were only a few sculptures and mostly cut up cookies, brownies etc. On my previous cruise it was a thing of beauty, worth staying up for.
I did not experience any of the shows except the band by the pool. I found them very annoying. Everyone is laying out on the deck and the singer is yelling for everyone to get involved. I'm on vacation..don't tell me what to do. I was on deck on morning eating breakfast and asked crew member with a tray for some coffee. He told me the "coffee guy" (is there such a thing) was on the other side of the deck. I waited 20 minutes then went to the buffet and got my own coffee. Did I mention that I wanted to be waited on. Anyone who gave us attention was tipped in cash. I complained about the room service charge ($12 per person, per cabin) and had it reduced to half. I explained that I would be tipping the deserving people with cash and also explained my dissatisfaction. That was received with a nod of her pretty little head.
Ok...what I liked. Cagney's. Great food. If you're a VIP you may enjoy it for breakfast and lunch as well. We signed up for "A Taste of India" and fell in love with Indian food. I asked for several recipes. The chef came out and thanked me, promised me recipes would be delivered to my stateroom. (They were not!) The Romantic Dinner in the Soho was really nice as well. We enjoyed the Wine tasting, the Bier Garten, Gatsby's, Red Lion. Not so much the Topsider Bar or the Spinnaker. We were usually in our stateroom by 9pm so didn't experience too much of the night life onboard.
Tendering off the boat was a huge frustration. This is more a problem with the passenger's being ignorant than the crew being unorganized. The only excursion we did was the "Shrimp Feed" in Mazatlan. It was the only good thing about Mazatlan. It was worth every penny and then some. You ride up to a privately owned home and enjoy shrimp three ways, guacamole, tortillas, rice, beans, all you can drink margarita and Pacificos. Really wonderful. Lot's of bees though, freaked some people out.
Christmas dinner we enjoyed at Cagney's. This place is wonderful. My brother asked for a chocolate souffle at breakfast and they made him two at dinner. The food was spectacular every time we ate there.
Disembarking was easy because we did the "walk off".