So this was our first cruise on NCL> I had been reading the boards like mad to get an idea of what to expect-
I did not like the way they handled it. We were in the first group to get on as we got to the port around 10:30 am. Usually when they are about to let you on the ship, you give your sign and sail card and then you have the option of whether you want to get your picture taken with the background of the ship. This time, they required you to get this photo first so it was a long line waiting for everyone to get their picture taken. We didnt even want the pic! We just wanted to scan our card and head to the pool! They could be so much more efficient if they could change this process somehow and handle it like the other cruise lines
The buffet was very good and there was plenty to choose from, but the problem is that most of the selection stayed the same. We really did enjoy the Mexican night at the buffet- the fajitas were great!! Breakfast was also the same every day...the best part about the buffet was the pretzel rolls that everyone talks about. The biggest negative regarding the buffet was the lack of seats.
I was really disappointed in the main dining room menu, on two separate nights, I looked at the menu (only one side changes, the other side is the same every night) and I could literally not find anything I wanted. I feel that they are almost forcing you to go to the speciality restaurants. I get tired of the same food and if you eat the buffet at lunch, you really dont feel like the same food for dinner.
The biggest compliant I had regarding the main dining room, taste and manhattan room is the poor service. We actually had our server say to another server (she was at the drink area), "Great, I got the kids table"!!! All three times that we went there, our drinks were empty- when we could get them to bring it in the first place (they are not in a rush to bring tea or soda if you have the card). The meal pace was so very slow- especially with kids. If you want to make the 7pm show and the restaurant opens at 5:30- think again...you better go to the buffet!!
I dont think the shows were timed right...if you had to be there at 7, it was almost forcing us to eat at the buffet so we would be on time- you need to be there around 30 mins early to the shows if you want good seats
We did go to Moderno and it was FANTASTIC- it is a do not miss!! WE also loved the al a carte sushi- Godzilla roll was a hit! The food at the Spiegal tent was only ok- I was suprised that the topic was so racy- There was a lot of questions the kids had for me after the show that I didnt want to try to answer...Definitely rated PG 13!O'Sheehans was ok- brownie sundae was the best- wings were too saucy for us, but the kids loved the cheesesticks
Entertainment- THat is the highlight of the ship- we did it all- Blue Man group, Legends, HOwl at the Moon, Second City,White Hot Party Jeff Hobson,-who is so much fun. We also were the entertainment on Slime Time live as we were one of the two families chosen- We actually WON and got slimed in front of the entire audience! The kids loved it!!
The big downfall was the crowds- Howl at the Moon was jammed packed with people every single night.
Also- I hated that the kids club was pay by hour after 10:30- it seems that NCL is banking on you wanting to keep the kids there because almost every night it has something really awesome starting at 1030 or 11. Really?? Couldnt it have started at 9?? That is why I loved the Disney cruise-at least the kids clubs were open until 2 am for free.
We also tried the rappeling wall, rock climbing wall, waterslides, and bungee trampoline. The biggest compliant I have is the lack of hours-especially for the trampoline. It was closed on our last day of sea!!! The kids were so upset!! Also the batting area is closed almost all the time and the climbing cage is not open very often either. We would get frustrated around 3-6 because there was a huge lack of activities during this time.
The kids loved the waterslides though-especially the plunge. We loved it too :)
Kids Club- I was worried about the kids going to Recess especially after the first night when the kids stated that they didnt want to go back!! After I talked to the counselor, they seemed to make more effort with them and then they started to look forward to going. The biggest disappointment came from my daughter, who is 8. She cried because they offered face painting and she was in line- Her twin sister got hers, but they cut the line off when it was her turn! Are you kidding me???
Service- Left much to be desired. Our cabin steward was AWESOME!! He did a great job and if the ship was manned with others like him it would have been an outstanding cruise. We were actually told before the show to hurry up and order- that he was not going to wait for us- We were just trying to pull out the soda card! Once he saw that- he took 20 mins to get the drinks!
We were given lots of attitudes and just general rudeness. The exception to the rule was the cabin stewards, kid staff, cruise director staff and Nickelodeon staff. WE found most servers, bar staff, box office staff to be rude to us. We felt like an inconvenience- I dont want to feel that way on a cruise! I want to be pampered a bit!!!
Pool staff was sparse- I laid out for several hours and was never offered a drink. No one even approached me the first day-when the kids were sliding on the waterslides for hours with a drink of the day...
I think the biggest compliant and difference I felt was the generally feeling of being nickel-ed and dimed to death- THe drinks were more- I paid 14 bucks for one martini! Drink of the day was over 9 bucks! Bowling, paying for sushi, paying to keep the kids in the kids club, paying for in room movies (because the only thing on tv is news or Nick and the same Sponge Bob and Icarly episode play the entire cruise)- I dont know how to describe it- I have never felt this way before, but it felt like all the things that costs extra were really pushed. We spent triple the amount we usually do- We have just come from RCCL Freedom of the Sea and we never felt that. I knew of the charges up front, but it just felt like our options were less- especially feeling forced to pay to eat because the menu was so poor.
Cabins- Small, small , small! We had a balcony- you can barely walk between the bed and wall when it is folded down. We couldnt even get into the closet. This room was narrow. The worse of it is the bed size. I am 5'2 and my feet hung off the bed!! Seriously, do not worry about the bathrooms! We didnt find any problems with the layout
Overall, did the kids have fun?? YES Did we feel we had great night entertainment?? Yes- Do I think I would ever try the Epic again?? NO
Will we try NCL again? Probably not
We will stick to being pampered by either RCCL or Disney for now. I will say that we had much more fun than on our Carnival cruises...
We took a chance and overall I am glad we did- There really isnt any bad cruise- BUT there are things that can happen to make it great and I just didnt feel it was great