After my 19th cruise, I've decided to write my first review about a cruise.
I'd hate to judge an entire cruise line company by just one cruise, but after many cruises with other companies such as Royal, Costa and Carnival, we decided to try NCL. The only reference we had about this company was the food was great. We were also intrigued about Freestyle Cruising.
Well, at the end what Freestyle Cruising meant to us was:
- Long waits to get into a restaurant, especially after 8 p.m.
- If you want to use the sauna, steam room and all those amenities other companies include in the price you pay for the cruise, you have to pay $160, a fee that covers the entire trip. For a family of four, that is $640.
- If you want a small bar of soap to wash your hands (or other part of your body) like you should, you better try the ports of call. You won't find one bar of soap on the ship, even if you ask for it. Unbelievable!
- The Norwegian Dawn is dirty, even after a recent renovation, and some members of the crew are not as courteous as other cruise lines.
- The bathroom of our cabin 4409 was real dirty with mold and stains in the shower (a real shame because the shower compartment is bigger and more comfortable than comparable cabins on other cruise lines.)
- No towels available regularly on the pool area.
- There is no Solarium area on this ship.
- Breakfast menu is boring and the menu options are much less than other cruise lines.
- We missed our free 5 pm sushi that we eat on Carnival every sailing. If you want to eat sushi on NCL, you have to pay extra at one specialty restaurant.
- Cruising to us (a family of two adults and two children) is about value. We couldn't find that concept sailing with NCL.
- The fourth bed in the cabin (when you book for four with other companies they put you in a cabin with two beds and two bunk beds) was a pull out bed, a bit bigger than my 11 year old petite daughter. A total shame! This seems to be the practice onboard of Norwegian Dawn because one of the crew members confirmed it.
- The only show we went to at the theater was the worst we've seen on a cruise ship. A real turn off.
- Many members of the crew seem to be tired and demoralized.
- The classic NCL menu at the two restaurants that are included in the cruise fare is phenomenal. We did not try any of the many specialty restaurants onboard; some of them are as expensive as a fancy joint in Miami Beach. The classic menu is one that never changes and is offered daily together with another daily menu.
- The itinerary was exceptional: Cayo Levantado (DR), St. Marteen, Tortola, Dominica, Antigua, Barbados and St Kitts were great exotic destinations. We thought we knew the Caribbean for the many times we have sailed to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Costa Maya. We were wrong, the Southern Caribbean is the real thing. Each island has its own flavor and characteristics, in topography and culture.
- The buffet personnel encourage passengers to use hand sanitizer right at the entrance of the restaurant, and they make that practice fun and pleasant. I don't have to point how important this is on a cruise ship.
Though it's probably unfair to judge an entire cruise line based on one trip and one particular ship, I don't think we'll sail again.
The Freestyle Cruising philosophy does not seem to be working well. I'd give you all those specialty restaurants for one bar of soap.
This final consideration is for the connoisseurs: We'd rather sail with Carnival departing from the Port of Miami paying a cheap cruise fare to the regular Caribbean (Bahamas, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel).