Overall, this was an okay cruise. We should mention that this was a deal as far as cruise prices go, but our overall impression was that it could have been better. We made this as a back to back, first part being 15 days from Port Canaveral to Copenhagen, second a Baltic cruise for 9 days.
Weather for the entire cruise was excellent, never a rough sea. The crew and service staff were always friendly and tried hard to satisfy requests. We had excellent rapport with the wait staff in the Garden café and on the outdoor deck and learned that quite a few of these young people were in their first contract with NCL and were still learning, and striving to please. We can only recall one crew member who we felt didn’t fit in, and that was a person who was given the task of sending passengers out of the waiting area (theater) to their tours for the Baltic portion. She was loud, officious and abrasive, and we once heard her arguing loudly with a guest about a very minor thing.
The food was okay, never great, never bad, not haute cuisine, but for the price who could complain? We did observe that food trays for service were put out some time before the meal would begin, so at times the food wasn’t hot enough after sitting for an hour or so. Coffee was okay…not great, not bad. Dining for us was mostly on the outside deck as that is our preference, but the few meals we had in the dining rooms were good, with good service. A little known secret is that the Sports Bar is an excellent place to sit for Garden Café meals, and serves a limited (hot) menu from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. We also took part in the Mystery dinner (with about 100 other guests) and had a good time, despite poor direction from the staff.
A real negative for us was the lack of outside seating in any area other than the pool area or the outdoor restaurant. The promenade deck, which would be expected to contain chairs or lounges and a quiet space to contemplate and read, was the official walking, jogging and lifeboat deck, so, according to the staff, chairs were not allowed on that deck. So much for reading outdoors. We also had enough of the constant music from the overhead systems everywhere on board ( no quiet spots), and we didn’t appreciate the steady sales pitch from NCL for everything from jewelry and spa treatments to future cruises and Park West auctions/paintings. Please, just one cruise without Park West. Poor grades for the library. We were surprised to find the library had locks on the cabinet doors, and books could only be checked out for a few hours each day. There was a limited selection, and only a few chairs in the reading area.
Our rooms were adequate. We were in a midship lower deck room for the first 15 days, and had to change to a very far forward obstructed view room for the Baltic cruise portion. Did we mention that for almost the entire cruise, windows were dirty all over the ship?
All tours that we took were as represented, and we felt, very good. Great itinerary. The only tours that we had problems on were the St. Petersburg tours, and that was not NCL’s fault, as that city has a serious traffic problem, and the various sites were extremely overcrowded. Also we didn’t know far enough in advance that you need a Russian visa (expensive) in order to get off the ship in St. Petersburg unless you are on a ship sponsored tour.
Overall, we felt it would have been more helpful if staff on board had given us more information on ways to get around on our own in each port. For example:shuttle services, trains or buses to nearby towns, without having to book the ship tours, or discover on our own. Oceania does it very well. We loved the Azores (first stop), great tour of the hot springs, botanical garden and tea factory; beautiful countryside. Kudos for the Stockholm Vasa museum tour, just make it 2 hours instead of one. Be aware that in Germany you need Euro coins to use the restrooms, a problem for us senior citizens.
Will we sail NCL again? No, sorry NCL, but it seems you have changed your cruise line and service to meet either some financial criteria or a different audience. We cruised with you over 8 times, but hadn’t been on one of your ships for some time. Just okay.