Before even boarding the ship, I saw that prices dropped about $650 from what I paid just a few weeks earlier. In every other instance when this happened, every other cruise line refunds the money, offers an upgrade for free, or gives you an OBC. However, NCL doesn't honor any of this. So, that put a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth to start with. However, that wasn't going to stop me from having a good time!
**If you're near the NY port, wait until the last minute to book! A few people we met booked last minute through cruises.com and paid $1,399 for 2 people in a balcony room (INCLUDING TAXES AND PORT CHARGES) and got a 300 OBC. Even on NCLs website the rooms were down to $299 a person!! It's worth it to wait if you can!!**
The boarding process was VERY smooth. Got there early, about 11, had NO waits. Got our room keys very easy. Had to wait about 30 minutes to board, but no big deal at all. It was all very smooth. The rooms weren't ready, but I was prepared for this and headed straight to the pool. People were complaining about having to lug their bags around and were so mad the rooms weren't ready, but that's usually the case with many ships. There are hundreds of people there to take your bags, so to take them on with you yourself is your own option. I would always suggest checking your bags and packing a bathing suit in your purse! Makes it much easier!! We grabbed a burger by the pool and enjoyed the lovely day. The pool was basically empty for 3-4 hours, so it was great! We didn't head down to our rooms till about 5 since we wanted to enjoy the sun! I don't understand why people are in such a rush to get to their rooms!
Now here's where a big problem came. Our "upgraded" room was the VERY last room in the back of the boat. I wasn't worried about rocking, so it seemed like an okay choice. However, once entering the room you'd think you were on a roller coaster. Not for the movement, but the noise! The painting on the wall was vibrating and shaking so hard, it fell off the wall! When laying on the bed, your whole body shook. It was the strangest thing ever. I've NEVER experienced this with ANY other room. I called down to tell them, and they said to wait and someone would be there to check it out. 25 minutes later the supervisor called and said that "yeah, that room has issues and will be very loud" and told us to go down to the lobby to try to get our room changed. The man at the desk told me he'd have to send someone up. I said that I was JUST told to come down to him. He said again he'd have to send someone up. So at this point I was a bit annoyed, and said to have a supervisor come up asap. I also said to just start trying to find us a new room to get the ball rolling faster. He said that there "were no rooms" and that they'd "compensate us" with...."EARPLUGS". And he was dead serious. I was insulted that this person would act as if earplugs would stop the earthquake happening in the room. I went up to my room AGAIN to wait for someone to come. An hour later, no one had come so we decided to head to eat. I made our voicemail a message letting them know. When we got back, I went back down to the desk to see what was happening. At this point, the guy I talked to was gone, so I was dealing with a brand new person. They said to go up to the room and wait, AGAIN. 30 minutes later no one had come. I went BACK down to the desk, and was told again they'd give me earplugs. At this point I said I was getting off the ship in FL and canceling the charge. I guess this is the magic word, because shortly after they finally were ready to fix the problem. The supervisor was obviously not being called ever, because when they finally reached her she said that she had said to us hours ago to get a new room because that room was "very bad and shouldn't even be a room for passengers". So, to her credit they just weren't calling. It's sad that you have to be livid to finally get things moving. They finally got us a new room, and instructed us to go up and pack and that someone would be up in 15 minutes to move our stuff. I said to be SURE to make the room a queen bed. They said they would right away and it'd be done before we got there. 30 minutes later, no one had come. I called down to the desk, they said they would be there in a few. I then called house keeping 15 minutes later, who said they never got a request and would send someone right away. 5 minutes later someone came. Therefore, the people at the desk didn't bother calling. Once we got to the room, we found 2 twin beds. By this point I was ready to murder someone, so my boyfriend went out in the hallway and happened to find someone who did it very quickly for us. I really am shocked that it took hours for something so simple to happen. If they simply would have actually contacted the supervisor things would have been 30 minutes tops and would have been a small blip on the vacation. I'm very aware that things happen, and sometimes it doesn't go perfectly. However, this was appalling. It shows NCL's "customer service". The people at the front desk were rude and almost snobby. Having to spend hours fighting for something as simple as a room that's quiet was crazy. However, the new room was quiet and great. We ended up falling asleep and unpacking in the morning as we were exhausted. It's never fun fulling unpacking and hanging everything up, then repacking, then unpacking again. Don't suggest it to anyone! haha. Was just very let down at the lack of communication between the desk and supervisors, and the fact that it takes you being VERY MAD to finally get something done. However, once it was over I put it out of my mind and wanted to enjoy my trip. Now...on to the food!
We first headed to Tsars, to be told there was a 30 minute wait (at least). We then headed to Azura, and had to wait about 5 minutes, no big deal at all. We went at abut 7:30 I'd say. Dinner was...okay. My boyfriend liked the duck. The "shrimp cocktail" I really think must be a joke. The food was really not great. There wasn't many choices, and over all not that good. I had a steak the first night that was "okay". It was nothing special. The shrimp cocktail that I talked about earlier is the size of your pinky nail. No joke. Every night the menu lacked choices and the normal amazing options you see on many cruises. I may be a bit spoiled as Celebrity had SUCH great food options and every night I was blown away. The "lobster" night was a mini tail of lobster. It was pretty pathetic. Even carnival, which isn't known for their amazing food, was better than this in my opinion. The couple we met the first night mirrored our opinions. They had just been on a Carnival cruise a few weeks prior and said that food was 1000X better than NCLs food. It was food that if I was served it in a restaurant, I'd never go back to the place. I think they make the menu less desirable so people opt to go to the specialty restaurants. Not ONCE did they serve a fillet, prime rib, a big lobster, etc that on EVERY other cruise I've been on they did.
Now on to them...We tried Mamas, Tangos, and Cagneys. Tangos is the Mexican restaurant, and we LOVE Mexican food. The food was "Okay". Not bad, not great. However, the chicken tortilla soup is AMAZING! Mamas was also "Okay". In both restaurants, the servers were so overwhelmed and busy, that it was very hard to ever get the little things you need (fork, more water, etc). Both really lacked great service, which I thought I'd get since we were paying extra. It wasn't their fault though, as they each had way too many tables. Cagneys we did on the last night with a couple we met because after we reviewed the MDR's menu, we knew we had to go somewhere else (turkey, basic chicken, etc.). Cagneys was FANTASTIC. Finally, a real lobster and some prime rib. However, it was an extra $60 to have good food. I find that to be a bit sad. The service was AMAZING!! Can't say enough about how great this place was! It was nice to finally have some good service and great food.
We ate at the buffets for breakfast, which was good but ALWAYS the exact same thing. We did the bbq mainly for lunch, which was very good. Always hot, and always yummy. The chicken at the bbq was reallly good! Blue lagoon is the 24 hr spot that not many people know about. Great "comfort" food. MUST GET THE WINGS! They are REALLLLY good! You can get anything from there to go as well! Service is terrible, but the wings make up for it! Also, try the souffles in the MDR, they are FANTASTIC. Creme brulee is also very good!
The shows were really fantastic. Cirque was AMAZING and the cast was so talented. The game shows were GREAT fun! Casino was fun as well. We missed the famous John cruise director on our sailing.
On to the pools...there were only 2 pools, which were always packed. Hard to walk around. BUT to everyone complaining about "chair hogs"..walk upstairs and there's plenty! There's 2 levels on top of the pool filled with chairs! Only down fall was when we went down to take a dip in the pool, a few very rude people took one of our chairs and our towel (resulting in a $25 charge) and denied taking it, although all our stuff was nicely placed below that chair that was once on top of the chair. It wouldn't be a big deal if we didn't get charged for that towel the women decided to take. We had only walked away for 15 minutes too. Not sure how to fix this problem, maybe put a tag on your towel? Or just hope that most people aren't as rude as this women. I missed the nice indoor (ADULT) pool that every other boat I've been on has had. It's something I would have liked as my boyfriend got burnt one day and couldn't be out in the sun so a nice hideaway pool would have been great.
This boat was also missing the "grand lobby" every other boat I've been on has had. No huge lobby where you can see up 10 floors, or glass elevators. No large shopping area. This isn't a big deal, but it just wasn't nearly as "breath taking" as some other boats.
The service.... MDR and any restaurant had terrible service. The servers were OVER sat, and had no help. They didn't care about you as they were going to get the auto tip from you no matter what.
However, out by the pool they had a GREAT bar staff! We made friends with a few who knew us by name and our drinks of choice. I loved this! They work HARD. Tip them a few extra bucks and they'll be very loyal!
In FL we did Universal. They have you wait in stardust to be called down to get off the ship. You're all going out to the same shuttle area, so just go down whenever they start calling them. You'll skip a long line, and they don't check that you have that exact excursion called. We had GREAT weather and had a GREAT time! Could have used an extra hour, but other than that it was great!! MUST GET FRONT OF THE LINE PASSES though. If you don't, you will get on maybe 3 rides. They're pretty inexpensive, and SO worth it! We had a BLAST!
GSC- Getting off the boat was a bit crazy. Get a tender ticket EARLY! Beautiful weather, and great island. Went snorkeling, which was fun. We headed back early so we'd miss the crazy lines. The boat was empty, and so nice.
Nassau- We swam with the sea lions at blue lagoon. Beautiful private beach that you get access to when doing dolphins or sea lions. It was SO fun!! Very cool and had a great time!!
We had FANTASTIC weather, which was great! Overall, a vacation is a vacation so I loved it. However, the food was not great, service was not great, and the boat was nothing special. If I had never cruised before, my review would be different. Being that I've had some better cruises to go off of, it's obviously different. The boat was not in the top 5 of my favorites, the food was not in the top 5 (may be last place), and the service was MOST DEF not in the top 5. However, the fact that there was no flight to get on and we got to go out of NYC was great!!
This cruise was VERY clean!! MADE you sanitise your hands over and over, which was great!!
I do not suggest this cruise if you're flying. If you're flying, try celebrity or RCCL that goes out of FL. I'd only suggest this boat if you're in NJ, NY, PA, etc and can drive in because then it's worth it. Otherwise, try a different ship that has cooler things on it and better food.
Do expect to have to pay extra for better food as well!
If you have any questions, let me know! Again, please remember this is a review based on many other cruises so it may be different if it's your first cruise!!