Background Info: My wife and I are fifty and took this cruise out of Manhattan for our Anniversary. We are middle (maybe upper middle) class family and have traveled. We have stayed in motels/hotels/resorts/very nice hotels. We eat out often and have been to some very nice restaurants in the past. This was our third cruise in a twenty year time span.
Hotel Info: We stayed in Manhattan prior and post cruise. That I will leave up to you and your needs in accommodations, Manhattan can have very pricey rooms. I like to arrive early and leave late so plane problems do not make me miss the boat (and vice versa).
Ship Info: WE took the NCL Jewel Nova Scotia cruise in October to see the fall foliage. We had a balcony room (10040) on the starboard side (the boat left in the afternoon giving us a great view of the Statue of Liberty from our room. On return in the early morning the other side had a night view from their room (But you can always go up on deck).
Activities: The Fall foliage tour was a bust. The leaves had not turned and the cruise ports are boring without it.
Hint: Next time I will wait and check the internet maps, when I see the leaves have changed we can hop a plane and take a ground tour or drive.
Service: I hate to say it but the service on NCL was really really BAD. I can't say the crew was rude, they always say please, thank you, Sir, Madame. But getting them to do it with a smile. it's more of an attitude. I got the impression the crew is not happy with their jobs. About half 50/50, give poor (slow) service or look unhappy. The other half are fine, and occasional bad service can be over looked, but 50/50 does not come close to cutting it.
Embarkation/ Disembarkation: Getting on was fine, we waited in line about half an hour but getting off was a mess, I felt like they were throwing us out with the bath water. No they did throw us out. This might be the N.Y. Port Authority area but it still reflects on NCL. Leave extra time (over two hours) to get off the ship, get your own bag (no help), and catch a cab. It was sad to watch the older passengers trying to haul one or two big suit cases three blocks and then have to cross a busy N.Y. intersection with construction going on all over the place. Thanks NCL, the last impressions are the lasting ones.
Stateroom: The ship is newer and the room is quite nice, small (O.K. real small) but nice. Not spotless clean (crew again ) but fine. For a Ship designed in the 21st century to have a tube T.V. (not flat panel) and to have 7 channels of programming is beyond poor. You might say people do not go on a cruise to watch T.V. But what if you have children or get ill and have to stay in the room or as we did, have bad weather and miss a port leaving you with an extra day at sea.
HINT: Bring your own bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, lotion. The ship either does not provide it or its really cheap quality. The internet is wiifi (75 cents a minute.no.. not a miss print a minute) unless you bring your own Ethernet cable (how many people travel with their own cable!)
Dining: I was going to call the food Home Town Buffet with a Waiter, but Home Town Buffet is not that bad and you never see the waiter. Just poor, really sad, a disappointment. Too be fare to the cook (chief um no cook) to feed two thousand people three times a day more or less at the same time is a big order. I would say its more NCLs fault for supplying low quality, low grade food.
HINT: All the food comes from the same kitchen, does not matter where you dine. Same quality and same service, I observed the same person as my waiter in the dining room one day, cleaning up on the buffet deck the next.
Entertainment: The show and music performances on the ship were great. In fact I was surprised by how good it was. I am also glad I have something good to say as this review is getting to be a downer (waaaaa).
HINT: This is where you have to look at the average age of the passengers. The cruise director knows in advance the age and picks the entertainment to match. I'm sure the D.J. did not want to play that music, he was told what to play (I hope).
Summary: So anyone going on a cruise looking for an all inclusive trip, dont look at NCL. From before you even get on they try to nickel and dime you to pay extra for everything. It just gets old after seven days (would you like your coffee in the collectors cup only $5.95 extra). One review I read before the trip had the right attitude. She said that her suite was great and they ate every meal in the pay extra restaurant and it was a great cruise and the service was just the best. It's just the person who chooses to stay in a balcony room and does not want to pay extra at every meal have to suck it up. As long as you know before you go..then you can't complain.
If you are looking for a moving hotel room that has a great and I mean great view (O.K. it's a small small moving room), ours came out to be $430 a night, in Hawaii you might get that hotel room, in Halifax Nova Scotia you could get the whole hotel floor, then this cruise might be for you.
To me the problem is that you need accountants involved i
n your business decisions. NCL though is run by accountants and accountants don't make the best PR decisions, so you feel nicked and dimed. I will try another cruise line next time.
Hint: Be careful when you are comparing prices between cruise lines, NCL charges a mandatory tip, not only on your stateroom, also on your bar bill, every time you get a beer a tip is included, mandatory. Also when you go to the pay extra restaurant, dont think you can order whatever you want off the menu, the good stuff is another extra/extra charge. So it all adds up and can make the cruise line that seemed to cost more at face value be about the same price.