My husband and I sailed on 9/12/04 and this is only our second cruise, may be our last. (Our first was Carnival Ecstasy 4 nights and it was great). We were offered a full cruise refund up until the day we sailed, but we had already made so many other plans for this vacation, and were promised that NCL was working very hard to improve this cruise, that we decided to go anyway. We booked 4 days pre-cruise at the Marriott with NCL, and this was probably the best decision we made. Because the hotel is terrific and we were on the 33rd floor with a partial ocean/city view and it was breathtaking. We also had VIP embarkation via Marriott through NCL and this went very well. We left the hotel at 1:00 p.m. and were on board by 1:45 p.m. and our room was ready with a bottle of champaign on ice. Disembarkation was also very smooth and fast, as we had a 1:20 p.m. flight to Sacramento, California.
The cruise was okay, but no better than just okay. The food was terrible in the buffet, and fair to good in the dinning rooms. We did not have a hot meal the entire seven days on ship. I ate cream of wheat with a bagel every morning (my doctor should be very happy about that), because the eggs were awful and the bacon and hashbrowns tasted like stale fish oil. Speaking of fish, the second night we ate in the buffet they offered a good looking fish filet, so several of us put some on our plate. Well just let me tell you none of us took a second bite it was so bad, stale, dry, old, bad taste. And even today I hesitate to have fish for dinner the memory of that bite still lingers with me.
Our state room was very nice, it was an aft balcony on the 8th deck and was spotless every day, towels ready, ice in the bucket we just cannot complain about our room steward Jose, he was exceptional. We asked for an egg carton foam pad and he had it on our bed the first night by the time we came back from "sail away". The only complaint about the stateroom is that it was directly above the Stardust Theater and we heard every sound like the show was being put on in our room. And I had been promised that we would not hear a sound from the theater before we sailed by NCL.
We did notice several times that the service staff were always looking over their shoulders, and we did see at several different times staff being reprimanded and scolded. One poor girl was near tears and the manager kept telling her that she would get herself fired if she did not straighten up. I do not believe that any guest on a cruise line, or any other business for that matter, should have to witness this employees getting scolded, no matter what. It really puts a damper on your cruise. We also found that shops, bars, buffets, restaurants, etc. would close often during the day. So if you were on an island you either had to eat on the island or get back to ship in the "open window" of the eating facilities.
The ship did not have a lot of activities for guests who stayed on board or returned early, except for a few evening parties. They had some hula lessons, and a talent show, and some crafts. My girlfriend and I made kukui nut leis one day and that was fun. We actually made one for us and each of our husbands, and we all wore them to dinner that night. Otherwise, there really wasn't much to do on ship except lay by the pool, play basketball, or shoot golf balls. The bar on deck 11 aft closed at odd hours, we found it open sometimes and closed sometimes. Very confusing, especially since we cannot bring liquor on board. The Outrigger Lounge forward on deck 11 was the best place, beautiful view and great place.
And most of the crew could not give information if asked where something might be. They seemed only to know a little bit about the area they work in and not much about the rest of the ship. Actually, I believe that major training needs to take place for the crew, and I mean especially the middle management.
We only participated in one shore excursion (they were very over priced), and that was the last day and that was "Lahaina on your own". However, even here there was confusion between NCL and the bus company. We chose a 9:00 a.m. departure and 4:00 p.m. return planning to spend the day in Lahaina. However, the bus driver thought that if you left at 9 a.m on his bus, you had to return on his bus at 2 p.m. (the other option) even when we showed him our tickets, he persisted and said that we HAD to travel on the same bus we came on. So we had to leave Lahaina at 2:00 p.m. cutting our day short.
Would we sail NCL again, I doubt it. We would need more than 20% discount. And they did not charge us the service charge which I was grateful for, so we did make sure the staff was tipped according to their level of service. I really hope NCL can pull this particular cruise together, because the itinerary is terrific.