I am traveling with a group of ladies: CD - a mother of 4 and a housewife, a second time cruiser from Carnival CL, TM - CD's daughter and it is her high school graduation present to go on this cruise and her birthday, a first time cruiser and is really looking forward to the great food and happy people on the boat, DV - a middle aged recent divorcee four time cruiser with NCL from years ago, SL - me, early 30's proffesional, RCCL, CCL 6th time cruiser.
We landed in Ft. Lauderdale and spent one night to get in a party mood for the cruise. We hired a town car from the airport to Miami - given the number of us in a group it is the most economic way, yet better than a shuttle or the taxi for it is a flat fee and the driver is great. We even got his card and arranged for him to pick us up at the port when the cruise is over.
As we waited in line to get onto the boat, the lines were really long, so we started to joke amongst ourselves and having fun already with the people around us. One of the line directors noticed how much fun we were having and clued us in on a MUCH shorter line. I was thinking to myself that this cruise is really starting off with a great start!
When we first got on, it was about 11:30, and the room was not going to be ready until 2pm. So we decided to have CD and TM to drop off our luggage for holding while DV and I get a table by the pool so we can get something to eat before exploring the ship. As soon as we sat down at the crowded pool side, a server approached us to see if we wanted beer. Then a second server... then the third... all within a 2 minute time frame. The third server was really pushing the bucket of beer and when we told him we are still waiting for 2 more, he suggested that we should just get the beer anyway. When we said no, it's ok, we will wait; he further pushed to have us buy the beer for our friends so it will be a surprise for them. I have never seen such pushy 'salesman' on a cruise ship in my life!
Food: There are only 2 dining rooms that does not need a cover charge besides the buffet and a casual diner, with the dining rooms having the same menu and the casual dining having the same menu the whole day. The buffet has the same food everyday and the food variety at the buffet is very limited. Out of what little choices they had, NONE of the fruits were fresh. The cut melons were so dried out that the outside was getting porous. The breakfast buffet has about 4 of the same stations over and over again. Omelets are only offered in the MDR for they have RAN OUT OF EGGS until St Thomas (which is the 6th day of the cruise). What cruise line runs out of eggs!!!!!!! The menus for the MDR stay the same every night with a few things changing every day. Compared to other cruise lines, the food on NCL is far not up to par!
Service Or the lack there of! NOBODY smiles! And I mean NOBODY!!! When I was at the buffet, all the servers acted as if I was interrupting their day if I asked any of them to pick up the dirty dishes. I drink water with no ice. So at the MDR, I hardly had any water with my dinner because they will not get a pitcher of water with no ice. Most of the servers pours water for the rest of the table so I would get the last glass with little to no ice. By the end of the cruise, one of the server asked if it was ok that I have ice in my water because she mistakenly put a lot of ice in my glass. When I said it was not ok, for I have sensitive teeth, the half glass of ice water remained in my glass for the rest of dinner with no other water coming to me. The service is EXTREMELY slow. They all say they are too busy to get the coffee or the tea that we wanted, so we usually get those by the end our meal even though we usually order them in the beginning. The one time that one of us, DV, got good service was when she ordered a bottle of wine with dinner. For that meal, she got all the things that she needed while the server ignored the rest of the table and made it RAELLY obvious.
Accommodations: The room steward STOLE three of our beers over our stay that we would have left over from the night before and smokes in our room while cleaning it (DV is really sensitive to cig smoke, and she was kind of sick from it). CD and TM had no flat sheet to separate the comforter that they do not change throughout the cruise and themselves. We do not have any glasses in our rooms. Since it was going to be TM's bday on Wednesday, CD ordered the bday package on Monday for it to be delivered between 1 1 and 3 knowing that we were going to be on the island at that time and that TM would be surprised at the decorated room when she gets back. When we got back on Wednesday, the room was not decorated at 4:30 and we had to call to remind them. With all of these things, we thought we need to let them know by deducting the service charge by the last day of the cruise. At 4pm, CD and I went to the reception to readjust the service charge. When we stated the purpose of our visit to the counter, the lady behind the counter immediately firmed up her expressions and was very unhappy that we even thought of such a ridiculous though. She didn't know what a flat sheet was, and made excuses for why the whole crew is so rude. Her excuse for the rudeness and the lack of supplies in the room was because The Pearl is a big ship and they have new crews all the time and it is hard for them to step into the NCL standards right away. HELLO!!! It is the job they signed up for!!! Being pleasant and not being mean is not that hard!! Every meal, I spend a lot of time trying to please the servers and trying to make them happier so I would get my orders right. And that should NEVER happen anywhere, especially on a cruise ship!! So after we adjusted our service charge 50% less than recommended, she said she is sending a supervisor to the room to correct the problem. When the super came, he made more excuses as to why the things are not suppose to be the way they are and still didn't know what a flat sheet is. As he was leaving, we asked again for the sheets and glasses. He asked if we needed 2 glasses (hello! Is a four person room!), so we told him we needed 4 glasses. A room steward shows up later with 2 sheets and just handed them to TM. Later, another person shows up with ONE glass!!! So we had to ask for 3 more. A little later, he shows up with 2 more claiming they are too hot to handle and had to come back later. It is obvious he never heard of a tray that could hold all 3 of the glasses at the same time without having to use his hands. We waited until after dinner to go back to the room. The cabin now is turned down and CD and TM's sheets are still not on their beds. One sheet is rolled up in a ball on the foot of my bed and it had some sort of stain on it. So I got pretty upset at that time, and went back down to the counter with DV to re-readjust the service charge. The person at the other side of the counter didn't even listen to me and told me that I already adjusted the service charge. She had the rudest look on her face and stared off into space as if to tell me what I am telling her is not her problem. so I asked her to get me the hotel director to the cabin. When one of the upper management got to our cabin, he had both of his hands in his pockets and proceeded to tell us that the beds are not to be made until turndown and that's why we didn't get flat sheets on two of our beds. And by the way, he didn't know what a flat sheet was either! After much ado and much explaining, we finally got the sheets on our beds. But the problems didn't end there, when I opened my liquor (I bought 10 liters) that I bought from St Thomas with boxes clearly marking what are suppose to be in the boxes, I was missing one liter of vodka. Not sure if the recommended shop missed the vodka or the room steward took it out of the box (though his track record should speak for itself). And after trying to get my vodka back for a couple of hours or so, the shopping director was nice enough to deliver a bottle to my room himself.
Charges: We were ALL overcharged for something or another. TM is a minor and she has a drink charged to her card. A water was charged to our card while the water was still sitting in our cabin. Both me and DV got charged twice for a martini tasting. And the front desk told us to find the person that we suspect has put the charge on our card and have them charge something of equal value on their card for us! When we told them that we feel they just wanted to charge us for everything, he told us that 'that is the price of having fun!' I DON'T MIND PAYING FOR MYSELF, BUT WHEN I AM CHARGED FOR SOMETHING THAT I DON'T EVEN KNOW, I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT AND IT IS NOT FUN. So on the day of dismemberment, we ran off the ship at 8am even though our driver was not going to come until 10am. While waiting, and talking to other cruisers that came off the ship, we realized that we never got a itemized bill. So we went to the NCL crew to ask for it, one of them ignored us, the others just pushed the problem off to someone else and made excuses. For the whole cruise, if we reflected anything to anyone that was not right, they had an excuse for it, and not just accept the fault and correct it. The shameful thing is this being TM's first time cruise, she does never want to cruise again. And with fellow frequent cruisers, you all know how important the first cruise is and how memorable it is for you, so having a memory like this one was just not right. AS for CD, her 'upgrade' from Carnival that I told her about didn't come to fruition. DV's lovely memories of NCL of the past has vanished. Last but not least, SL, I am going to let everyone know that NCL is not worth the money nor the trouble to even think about. AND I HAVE A BIG MOUTH.