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1,815 Caribbean - All Family Cruise Reviews

While we did find the ship very clean; the crew mostly friendly and attentive, the food choices in the 3 dining areas and buffet area exceptional and all of good choice and quality, we found that the entertainment lacking and there was not ... Read More
While we did find the ship very clean; the crew mostly friendly and attentive, the food choices in the 3 dining areas and buffet area exceptional and all of good choice and quality, we found that the entertainment lacking and there was not a lot of variety unless you enjoyed Bingo, trivia and traditional dancing. The two production shows, Rock Opera and 5 Sky’s, were ok at best (opinion shared by most fellow travellers we spoke with)! The Casino was also very small, lacking in options and in our view, disappointing! We also had the beverage package and the individual servings were in the “light side” to say the least, and there is a limit to the daily servings which you cannot carry forward if you have been off ship during port calls and never used the service that day! This was a first for us as other cruise lines that we have used, did not set daily limits. Shore excursion options in each port of call were numerous, prices were good and all 3 that we went on, were well organized. Shout out to the captain (bye bye Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Embark and Disembark were handled smoothly out of Miami. Multiple time cruiser with Norwegian. Very good food dining options on the Upscale Dining Program. Cagney's and Los Lobos continue to be awesome. LeBistro and Ocean Blue ... Read More
Embark and Disembark were handled smoothly out of Miami. Multiple time cruiser with Norwegian. Very good food dining options on the Upscale Dining Program. Cagney's and Los Lobos continue to be awesome. LeBistro and Ocean Blue have modified menus so that was a nice change. Q and Food Republic are definitely worth a whirl. I will say that while food quality was good, the portions in some dining areas has clearly been diminished in size. Great Cabin and I had a balcony. Great room steward which is typical. The entertainment on board is great. Choir of Man and Kinky Boots are both great shows. Very enjoyable and I highly recommend giving both a whirl. The Silent Disco is a MUST DO. Great pool experience and was always able to find a chair with no major wait time or delays. Upper Decks have become pay and that is a bit of a change for me but not a dealbreaker. Escape Room is a must do as is the Galaxy Pavilion and Laser Tag. I recommend the $29 one hour pass to do it all and it's more than enough time. Mandara Spa is always great and I used it daily and had a great massage. Finally, my only complaint, while all in favor of every discernible equal rights offering, I am not sure if it was a particular event or a group but the large LGBT community on board was very cliquish and almost took over the ship at times on programs. As someone who flies the rainbow flag, I support the community but the need to "take over" events and to be so unhospitable to others is just not a good look. All in all, a great ship and one that I would highly recommend for a frequent NCL customer, for a family seeking fun, for a great getaway and for some refreshing new options from cruising. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We are seasoned cruisers and have been on NCL, Royal, Celebrity and Holland, and I can easily say that this was our least favorite ship. If you are traveling with children, take one of the Royal giant ships of Symphony, Allure, Harmony or ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers and have been on NCL, Royal, Celebrity and Holland, and I can easily say that this was our least favorite ship. If you are traveling with children, take one of the Royal giant ships of Symphony, Allure, Harmony or Oasis. We've been on Symphony and Allure and the Encore isn't even in the same league. Those ships are amazing and Encore seemed like the designer looked at all the goods things about those ships and decided to do the opposite. Encore seems like it was designed for cold weather itineraries, as the pool deck area is laughably small for a 4,000 passenger ship. NCL needs to dismantle the race track and laser tag and build another pool on this ship. The good: - Service was very good for the most part. General attitude of staff is more pleasant than we have found on other lines. - The food was the best we've experienced on any ship. From the Garden Cafe to the dining rooms to the specialty restaurants, we found everything to be above average for a cruise. - Choir of Man is a must see show on water or land. Beatles tribute was very entertaining. The BBQ restaurant had a country band playing mainstream country hits every night and is a very fun venue. - Our 7 and 6 year old kids loved the kids camp and said it was better than Royal although they couldn't really explain why. The bad: - The absolute worst thing about this ship is everything about the design and layout. More than a third of the ship's upper decks is devoted to outdoor space for the Haven suites and the beach club ($200/extra per person and that doesn't buy you access to the Haven pool). Another third is wasted on the go cart track and laser tag which were fun for the 10 minutes each takes (at an extra charge) but are a novelty that aren't worth the space they take on the ship. That leaves less than a third of the ship for the pool area which has two fairly small pools, one of which is adults only and the other while not kids only, basically is kids only. There are not nearly enough chairs for the amount of passengers and we witnessed several arguments over chairs as well as people lying on the floor. Of the chairs there are, maybe at most 100 are in the sun at any given moment. Also, if you're not outside by 9am, you will not get a chair for the rest of the day. - One other major engineering issue is there seems to be something wrong with the ships stabilizers. Having been on many ships of varying sizes, I've never felt a ship rocking in even rough seas, the way this one does in calm seas. There was never a moment, even when the ocean looked like a still lake, where you didn't feel this ship rolling from side to side. At night when moving at speed, it felt like we were sailing through a hurricane. The hangers in our closest were swaying back and forth and things in our room were creaking so loud we all had trouble sleeping. This happened every night. I can't believe this ship really rocks like this and have to think the stabilizers weren't working correctly. - The ship has two slides. One utilizes a tube and is so tame it's like a toddler slide. The other is a vertical drop looping slide which was broken and only opened to the second to last day for about 10 minutes and the last day for about 30 minutes. Of the maybe 10 people who were able to use it, about half got stuck and had to be let out an emergency hatch. The reason the slide was broken and closed was never made clear and many people were told different things. Compare this to the big royal ships which have three slides of varying excitement and lines that move very quickly. - While many reviews say this is a great ship for kids I couldn't disagree more. The fact that NCL includes a beverage package causes too many people to drink way too much. We experienced was too many incidents of drunk people acting inappropriately around children in public spaces to ever consider NCL again. When you're travelling with kids, its disconcerting to see 100s of people drinking alcohol at 8:30am, which many are at the pool for because you can forget getting a chair after 9am. While we thought service was mostly excellent, the bartenders in most venues were painfully slow and didn't seem to care, which again, I think is the product of nearly everyone having an unlimted drink package. - This ship has no open space where you don't feel cramped. I'm 5'11' and could touch the ceiling in every area of the shop except the atrium but even that area is very narrow and not a grand space. Compared to the Oasis class ships and their huge open neighborhoods, this feels like a ship built decades ago before designers found ways to open things up. Again, compared to Oasis class and its mall like promenade, the shopping area of this ship is a bit of a joke. Many reviews praise the observation deck which is fairly open but fully inside. This might be great for relaxing with great views on an Alaskan cruise but for the Caribbean we had no reason to be in there and the few times we walked through there were very few people using this area. There is no level where you can walk fully around the ship; the closes thing is walking around the middle pool deck, again, compare to Oasis class which has a 1/5 mile track around the ship. The 8th floor has and outdoor deck on both sides with restaurants and bars that have indoor/outdoor seating but the outdoor seating is useless when the ship is in motion at dinner time as the wind makes it unbearable. Compare to Oasis where Central Park area has outdoor seating full protected from the wind. - While the shows were entertaining and Choir of Man was excellent, they don't hold a candle to the shows on Oasis class which include a Vegas quality show on the multi story outdoor arena, an ice skating show complete with dozens of drones that put on a light show, and shows in a theater that is twice the size and three times the height allowing for more set, scenery and effects. - Finally, the phone app, room tv and hallway info centers are great in theory but don't actually work. We were never sure what show and restaurant reservations we actually had as all three systems displayed different information to us the entire cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My husband and I cruise each February so are not new to this vacation type We were new to Norwegian. We were joining other family on this cruise. our other cruises have been with Celebrity and once on Holland America. I ha e never had an ... Read More
My husband and I cruise each February so are not new to this vacation type We were new to Norwegian. We were joining other family on this cruise. our other cruises have been with Celebrity and once on Holland America. I ha e never had an experience where staff especially guest services was so rude. The ship is brand new. There is only 1 adult pool so imagine sea days. They put in a go cart track instead of a pool and laser tag all of which cost extra. There is 2 water slides only 1 was open the 7 days the second for 1 day only. Food was the same in the buffet and in their dining rooms. Who is serving corn on the cob in your main dining room? The custom restaurants were nice and food excellent. If you are a smoker this is not the ship for you. My husband is a smoker always smokes outside away from others. The smoking area is a 10x15 glass room no ventilation for hundreds of people. They created a second one after complaints right next to the out door bar but no smokers were ever offered a beverage if you were sitting in this area. The servers ignored you. These guest were treated horrible less than any other paying guest. Guest services response regarding smoking was “ you should have chosen another cruise line” we would have if it was advertised as a non smoking cruise. $ 250.00 fine for not smoking in the smoking area and cameras everywhere. Don’t risk the fine we saw many who did as there was no room in the smoking area. A passenger near our room was using a scooter to get around. It didn’t not fit into her room and she paid for a bigger handicap room. Our rooms were balcony rooms on the 9 th floor. Beverage package does not include bottled water or any canned soda. You need to buy a water package. All soda was fountain no cans. If you didn’t order a water package bottled water starts at $5.00. Entertainment was good but if you do not have a reservation you will not get in. I was surprised at the lack of activities on sea days. On celebrity there are multiple activities each hour not here. Our cabin steward was the nicest employee on the ship. Norwegian is not a cruise line I would recommend. A big waste of money this year Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Can't go wrong with Norwegian. Everything from embarkation to disembarkation was excellent. Encore not our favorite ship. No sports court or mini golf because of go cart race track. We did the go carts and they were tons of fun ... Read More
Can't go wrong with Norwegian. Everything from embarkation to disembarkation was excellent. Encore not our favorite ship. No sports court or mini golf because of go cart race track. We did the go carts and they were tons of fun but do like the configuration of other ships better. Also no bowling alley on this ship. So far Escape is our favorite ship. Jim Badger was on this ship and he is one of the best entertainers you will ever see. He was in the District, we saw him on the Escape a few years back. If you like to laugh and laugh lots he is a must see. Food and drinks excellent as always. Choir of Man was one of the main shows and one of the best we have ever seen. Kingy Boots was the other show and it was okay. Top Shelf country band was in the Q and they were awesome (and we are not huge country music fans). Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We’ve been on many cruises but this was our 2nd with NCL. Second only because our first one was a disaster on the Epic Feb/19 and we were given a 100% future cruise credit. We had both the ultimate beverage package and the soda ... Read More
We’ve been on many cruises but this was our 2nd with NCL. Second only because our first one was a disaster on the Epic Feb/19 and we were given a 100% future cruise credit. We had both the ultimate beverage package and the soda package for the kids. More than once we were charged for the kids pops. When we complained they made many excuses why they couldn’t refund it until we returned to port. We asked them to put a credit on our account in the same amount but they wouldn’t. We went to guest services 4 times trying to resolve it. No compensation. We also had many mishaps with our room not being cleaned. We complained about this too with no apologies. We had issues with our toilet not flushing and were told this is common on all NCL ships. Although for the most part the food quality was fine we had terrible service in one of the speciality restaurants. The server completely ignored us and we sat for 45 mins with our finished dinner plates in front of us. The tender process was long and drawn out. There was zero communication from the staff. There only seemed to be one tender ship shuttling passengers to the island. It took nearly 2 hours from start to finish and this is with a reservation in group B. The kids were disappointed that ropes course wasn’t opened until day 4. They really enjoyed it once it opened up. The entertainment is great but you must have a reservation. We missed out on a few shows because we didn’t know on day 1 that we needed to book in advance for future shows. Two of the shows we were able to book reservations prior to the cruise. If you think freestyle means you can eat whenever you want, think again. A reservation is needed for Manhattan room and specialty dining. Dinner line ups, even if you have a reservation, are pure chaos. Even the staff couldn’t tell us where the line up starts. We won’t be sailing again with NCL. We will stick to the cruise lines that offer better value and customer service. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have cruised on NCL 6 times now. The 5 previous cruises were on the Sun, Sky and Pearl. We loved those ships. They were smaller and more passenger friendly. We decided to try one of NCL's larger ships. This was a disappointing ... Read More
We have cruised on NCL 6 times now. The 5 previous cruises were on the Sun, Sky and Pearl. We loved those ships. They were smaller and more passenger friendly. We decided to try one of NCL's larger ships. This was a disappointing cruise. The freebies they offer are a ruse to get you to book with them. the free drink package is NOT free. You get a hefty service charge addition to your fare. The 3 free specialty dining packages are another joke. We tried making reservations 3 months before our sailing date. Could not get reservations at any of the restaurants. We had to make 8:30 or 9:00 pm reservations. The WiFi package is useless. We did use the onboard smart phone feature. $9,95 per person. This is pretty much a hit or miss feature. It did save us from spending hours wondering around looking for each other. There were 7 of us on this ship together. expect to get some messages hours after they were sent. The good shows are the ones not in the main theaters, the bad part is there is so little room for people to attend that you end up standing during almost all of those shows. very small areas to have the good shows in. This is our first cruise with the all you can drink package, consider yourself lucky if somebody doesn't spill a drink on you. It made for a ship full of stupid drunk people. The food was not good enough to turn dinner into an event. The time it took to eat dinner was over 2 hours. eat at the smaller places. we decided that from now on we will search out cruise ships that have a maximum of 2500 passengers or less. NCL has been so consumed with making money they forgot about the reason they are afloat, the passengers! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have sailed many cruise lines and this is a one and done for us. Customer service is poor to non existent. Never heard a staff member ever say anything gratuitis. They never greet you nor do they say thank you, have a great ... Read More
We have sailed many cruise lines and this is a one and done for us. Customer service is poor to non existent. Never heard a staff member ever say anything gratuitis. They never greet you nor do they say thank you, have a great day....nothing. Even when they screw up, they dont apologize, they just look at you and insinuate its you problem not theirs. Food was barely ok. Not cruise caliber at all. If you plan on specialty dining, book before you board or be prepared to hit the buffet often. The complimentary restaurants are ok but usually serve the same food. Definately try the noodle bar. There private island is nice but dont ask a crew member a question unless you want the run around and no answer. Ask fellow cruisers, you get a better answer or at the very least some help. The free bbq was ok but all the cold items are placed on the table (cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, pasta salad and cole slaw)...NO attempt to keep it cold/safe so get there when they open and not after its been sitting out for an hour. We saw 2 shows on the cruise, Six and Burn the Floor. They were both excellent. If you like to see shows, book before you leave or day one when you board otherwise good luck getting in. This includes comedy shows, art classes etc......limited seating and no wait list is offered if someone cancels. The staff suggestion was "you can wait here and see if someone dosent show up". Zero customer service skills. The Pool??? 4000 guests on the boat and its smaller than the pool in your back yard. Chairs....go at 5 am and put your stuff on chairs or you want or you wont get one....and the staff dosent police it nor do they remove towels if someone isnt in the chair like better more customer service oriented cruise lines do. There are 2 big bars poolside and always a long wait for a drink.....a total joke. This cruise seems to nickel and dime you any way they can...up charges on so much. Customer service is terrible. Entertainment venus way too small. AND HOW IS THERE NO 24 HOUR PIZZA? My family and I had a good time anyway because we make the most of any situation....thats why I give it 3 stars. For the money....book with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We loved our first 2 Norwegian cruises on the Sky, but I heard from 2 other passengers that it is now just a drunken party ship. This one, we couldn't wait to get off! We talked to several other guests who had similar experiences. ... Read More
We loved our first 2 Norwegian cruises on the Sky, but I heard from 2 other passengers that it is now just a drunken party ship. This one, we couldn't wait to get off! We talked to several other guests who had similar experiences. Really too many to relate. Food wss mediocre- at best. Same thing on the buffet every day, somethings appeared to be leftover from last night's dinner. The waitstaff in dining rooms were very nice, however food was SLOW getting to us. Went to O'Sheehan's 3 times. Lunch and dinner were good, service poor! We have never seen so many drunk passengers. Every day drunks with thong bathing suits dirty dancing with multiple guys on the ledge of the MAIN pool--by the children's area, not the 18 and over pool, where they should have been. We were on top deck waiting for the sunset and looked down at the pool. The girl with the thong was bent over with a guy on her behind, and her face in another guys crotch.....really?? Should that have been allowed at the main deck? Other passengers found it disgusting as well. We were told an excursion was sold out, only to find there were really 10 available, after we booked a different one. Tried to make reservations for shows when we got on the ship, however NO reservations were available. Had to make reservations for the tender for private Island. It took nearly 2 hours from waiting in the theater to stepping foot on the Island, and then they were not even going by the letters we were given. We were sharing the Island with the Norwegian Sky, so it was packed. BBQ on the Island was late. No information about getting luggage tickets for disembarking. People were asking each other on the elevator what to do. Another group told us of their experience of a passenger taking the cue ball off the pool table when they started their game because he was mad that all the balls didn't come down when he played his game, so now he was not going to let them play. When the wives tried to get security to come, they got no help from the staff! And when it came to picking up our 4 pieces of luggage....all 4 were in different areas of the luggage "warehouse". At least half the people we talked to or overheard said- never again. We were more than disappointed. We have chosen Norwegian in the past for our family cruise, because it seemed like they were family oriented. Not anymore. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We initially chose this cruise because a rum cake went terribly wrong! I made a rum cake using my husband’s prized rum from Grand Cayman. Learning that this was no ordinary rum and it was impossible to replace here in New Mexico, I knew ... Read More
We initially chose this cruise because a rum cake went terribly wrong! I made a rum cake using my husband’s prized rum from Grand Cayman. Learning that this was no ordinary rum and it was impossible to replace here in New Mexico, I knew a cruise to the Cayman Islands was in our future. Fortunately, we were able to find this 9 day cruise headed to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Roatán, Belize and Costa Maya. My husband and I joined the Cruise Critic roll call and volunteered to start a Meet and Greet group. It was a great experience with 226 attendees, had volunteers to host a pub crawl, slot pull, LCR dice games and gift exchange. It was a great way to meet fellow cruisers on a one to one basis. We conducted the gift exchange by matching couples with others from different parts of the country and had them meet and exchange their gifts face to face. We also made the name tags and added birthday and anniversary stickers so that they would be recognized celebrating a special occasion. Door prizes were given for signing up and helping at the meet and greet, thus showing it pays to attend! The event staff was fantastic...easy to work with and very accommodating..true cruise Heroes. Embarkation in New Orleans was a mess but totally unavoidable as the weather and a medical emergency delayed us by 3-5 hours. We snaked around in line for hours, hot, exhausted and confused but totally happy to be on vacation. Once on board, we were greeted by name by our room steward, Grace, who was exceptional! Our stateroom, 14714, spa balcony, was always clean, well stocked and comfortable. The whole ship was clean and well kept. The staff in every dining room was excellent! We did Teppanyaki twice, Cagney’s twice, Moderno, Noodle Bar, Wasabi, Savor and Taste. Friendly and they always went above and beyond to make our dining experience a delight...even fulfilling special requests for my family for tortillas, hot silli peppers and corn beef hash! Only bad experience was Ocean Blue, My son who was wearing long pants but was not wearing a collared shirt was not allowed in. Staff member was very rude about it, so we, as a family walked away. The best ports for us were Harvest Caye and Grand Cayman. Beautiful facilities and great tours. We did the taste of Cayman tour and had a great time. Harvest Caye, we did the Black swan electric boat...fascinating and educational. Our guides were very good. We also enjoyed Roatán, Jolly Rogers snorkeling...gorgeous! Jamaica and Costa Maya were ok, but been there, done that. Entertainment was great...really enjoyed million dollar quartet! Burn the Floor was fine but too loud. Enjoyed many of the activities in the Atrium too! We opted to walk off with our luggage, which saved some time. It was fast and we were off in 20 minutes even with a line. We booked a private tour with Tours by Locals because we had 3 hours before we had to be at the airport. He was on time, met us in a private car and did a great tour. He was knowledgeable about everything from architectural homes, levees, music venues and food..even did a quick stop at Cafe Dumond for Beignets and coffee! This cruise was everything we hoped for and would do it again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Just like so many of you, I came to cruise critic to read reviews before I booked my 9 Day Caribbean Cruise on NCL's Breakaway. After reading so many negative comments I still booked on NCL, because I've sailed on NCL several ... Read More
Just like so many of you, I came to cruise critic to read reviews before I booked my 9 Day Caribbean Cruise on NCL's Breakaway. After reading so many negative comments I still booked on NCL, because I've sailed on NCL several times before without any issues. I believe that some people return home after a cruise and then use Cruise Critic to complain about everything. Some people will complain about anything and you just can't satisfy them. I read about unfriendly workers on the ship (couldn't be farther from the truth). I read about how the employees seemed overworked (again, although they work long hours), they didn't seem lifeless or tired to me. I read that the food is not good, perhaps other reviewers were eating on-shore or expected 5 Star Dining...hey this is cruise ship serving over 4,000 people, 3+ meals a day....is it 5 Star dining, not likely, but I found the food very good and nothing really to complain about. In fact, my wife is Gluten Free and the ship had many options for her and took big steps to make sure she was happy...and she was. So please beware of "complainers: on this site. So here's my review: We departed out of New Orleans and unfortunately the ship was late in it's arrival, due to rough seas and a medical emergency that required a helicopter to pick up a sick passenger on the way to port. Because people will leaving the ship as thousands of new passengers were arriving to board, it created quite a large group of people coming and going...thus it took longer than expected to check in and board...all we heard around us is how upset people were to have to wait so long to board...i keep telling everyone to relax, you're now on vacation. It took us 1:45 mins and I heard from others that it took them 3 hours. Things happen, chill out. When we finally boarded we went to our cabin, dropped off our carry-ons and went to lunch at Taste. We had a nice relaxing meal. Cabin is what we expected, but the balcony was a bit smaller than normal. But enough space to sit and read and enjoy the passing seas. There is a great deal of storage space, but you have to look for it. There are even drawers under the sofa/bed. Keep looking there is more storage space then you think. Only two AC outlets, but we always bring a small 5 plug power bar. Hair dryer is included. Shower a bit larger than on some ships, but still small. I don't know how the large people on board (and there are a lot of them) fit in there??? Let's talk about food. Buffet, pretty standard fare, we dined at Taste, Savour, The Tropicana (main dining room) and for our comp dining package (4 meals), Cagney's (steak was perfect), Teppanyaki (fun and very filling), La Cucina (nothing to write home about) and Moderno (skip the salad bar, you don't want to fill up there) where they come to your table 11 times with different choices of meat, they slice it off for you, and there is an extraordinary array of flavors to enjoy. This was my favorite! Here's a secret, in a hurry and want to skip the crowds at the buffet...Margaritaville (deck 16) serves breakfast and no one was ever there. We also liked O'Sheenan's for breakfast. No matter where we went, we were seated within minutes for breakfast, lunch or dinner.. A must - book your entertainment & restaurants on line right after you book your trip. things can sell out fast. Especially Cirque Dreams and Steam. And, arrive early for a better seat for this dinner and the incredible show. Now, let's talk entertainment - The comedians were okay, but I laughed till I cried at the comedy magic show performance of Levent. Arrive early, sit in the 3 or 4th row and get ready to have a great time with lots of laughs. "Burn the Floor" is the most amazing dance show I've ever seen...how can these performers do this twice in one night. This show has world class competitive dancers, who have been competing since they were young kids. OMG! "Million Dollar Quartet", also not to be missed, for this one there's not a bad seat in the house. There is so much to do, you won't bored for a second. Casino - Slot are as tight as I've ever seen on a cruise ship. Fortunately I play poker, it's a 2/5 game with an outrageous 10% rake on every hand (max $25.00). Game started every night around 9 pm, Only one table so if you're on the wait list be prepared to wait a while. Same basic players every night. Skip the Poker Tournament, it's a joke with re-buys and add-ons Cruise ports: My wife and i have been to everyone of these ports before and I have one word of advice, if you're booking an excursion you'll save a ton by simply going ashore and signing up for a excursion from one of the many booths in every port. Cruise ships charge a huge premium to book through them. Use NCL's website to choose what you'd like to do and then just go ashore and you'll find many companies offering the same excursion at a lower rate. Harvest Cay - NCL's private island. Wonderful, tons of lounge chairs, great big beautiful swimming pool with swim up bar. No complaints about any of the ports, my wife loves to shop and I love to people watch and take photos...felt safe every where we went. This was our 13th cruise, 5th on NCL. We love cruising and honestly, you won't be disappointing with the Breakaway. If you have any specific questions, I'm happy to answer. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
To start I have sailed with Norwegian 7 previous times on boats like epic getaway and breakaway. I have always loved them and hence bought into The cruise next which is a program that if you give them money to book again they give you ... Read More
To start I have sailed with Norwegian 7 previous times on boats like epic getaway and breakaway. I have always loved them and hence bought into The cruise next which is a program that if you give them money to book again they give you some extra money. I would never sail on the encore again. I will start out saying the room and employees were good and that was not my issue We booked everything with Norwegian including flight and transport to from the ship to airport. That is were the problems began. When we arrived in ft Lauderdale it was complete mess. People had been waiting since 8 am for a shuttle. We arrived at 11. Every other cruise line was very organized and had shuttle times and great communication. Norwegian had none of this. They kept telling us things like the shuttle wasn’t coming or they only had room for half of our family. At 200pm with the boat leaving at 4 and still no info on a shuttle coming we had to spend 300 dollars to cab the 11 of us to the ship. When we arrived at boat it took 6 tries for them to get me checked in and kept trying to give me keys with other people’s name on them. There were 30 to 50 people in line behind me. I ended up being the last one checked in. Because of that we had a really hard time booking things that you could only book on the boat as they were all sold out. Including passes to the go kart track. Which was main reason to go on this boat. The ship was very nice and clean. The boat had 2 water slides both fun but the ocean loop was barely ever open. The last day we left the beach just so we could do it one last time as the day before it was closed only to find out again it was closed for maintenance yet no one was working on it. Do not bring kids on this boat unless you have lots of money to spend. The laser tag and go karts cost 2 dollars a minute and are really only fun at night. The arcade and new vr games average a dollar a minute. There was no mini golf even thou they advertised that there is. There is no rock climbing wall or ropes coarse so there is very very little for kids to do. There is absolutely no night life on this ship at all. All the clubs and bars closed at midnight except a very small disco. Ever other ship has had piano bars and live music or something going on past midnight. You have a choose of 4 restaurants and a buffet. They only thing is that the 3 restaurant unlike other ships all have the same menu. The buffet was good but same things day after day. The local which is the new osheehan on other boats was good. It is open late but you also can’t get drinks after 12. The haven which is Norwegian’s high end rooms is 10 times the size of other ships and has its own buffet and restaurants. This leaves less room on ship for the things that others have. If you can afford haven I am sure you would enjoy this cruise. We took 11 people on this cruise not one of us wouldn’t rate this as the worst cruise we have ever been on. We have all done at least 12 cruises with Norwegian carnival royal Caribbean and Disney. It’s very sad this trip was not as advertised. It was very expensive This trip has completely turned me off of Norwegian cruise which is hard to believe that after the first 6 I thought and paid into cruise next because we were going to cruise Norwegian exclusively once a year as a group for ever. This trip actually broke my heart and love affair with Norwegian. I think the new ceo is looking to nickel and dime you instead of giving you a vacation you pay for. Final note the choir of men was fantastic Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This cruise was a total waste of time and money! Chose this ship to take our grandson age 11 thinking it would offer many different activities to keep him occupied. I had pre booked the arcade package, but found out that you are limited ... Read More
This cruise was a total waste of time and money! Chose this ship to take our grandson age 11 thinking it would offer many different activities to keep him occupied. I had pre booked the arcade package, but found out that you are limited to a very few baby games and had to pay extra for any of the other games. The race track was ok, but had to book in advance to ride (at $15 a pop) and the times were ridiculous (book Tues morning to get a Friday ride), you could go in the stand by lane and possibly get on quicker. The virtual reality room was more fun for him, but you either had to pay $50 for a day pass or $8.00 for each game you played. You have 2 water slides, one for very small children which my grandson didn't want to participate with, the other you had to be 120 lbs to ride so that was out for him. The swimming pool and hot tubs were always overcrowded and restricted to adults (children could go in with an adult). Overall not a friendly ship for a pre teen. We had a mini suite that was almost a 3rd smaller than other mini suites on the Norwegian line, but the bathroom was much larger and very nice. We managed ok, but was not impressed. Our cabin steward kept our room great. All the food venues (except buffet) had to be pre booked and unless you had a reservation, which was almost impossible to get, you either ate very early or very late or at the buffet. The first few night in the buffet all food was served to you, no option to take what you wanted, so this slowed down the lines and they did get long at some stations We had 5 specialty dinners, was able to use 4 and lost the last one only getting in by being there at 5:30pm before the crowds descended. The food was only average, nothing special. To see any show was also a joke. Again had to pre book. Shows in main theater (only 2) are at 7:30pm or 10:30pm. They had attendants swiping your card at enterance that act like the gestapo, not very friendly at all. To see any of the smaller venues, again pre book or stand in standby lane. The rooms were so crowded that seeing a show was almost impossible and not a pleasant experience. The smoking area was also a joke. You were relegated to an enclosed room about 8 x 20, with about 30 people at any given time, they did open an area on upper deck with room for about 15 people, and an enclosed room in the casino, but you had to be gambling to go in there. If you were outside the marked area you were fined (many were) and some even had their room key restricted if you complained. I am a smoker (yes I know all the negatives), but I paid my fare just as every one else on this ship and felt very discriminated against. I do have to give the Encore its due. The public areas were beautiful and spacious, but of the almost 4000 people very few used the common areas. The shore excursions were also very badly planned. Arriving in Puerto Rico at 5:30pm and leaving at midnight?? About the only thing most people could do was walk the boardwalk area with all the vendors out doing their business. St. Thomas, again arriving at 6amish and leaving at 2:30pm. What chance do you have of doing anything in that time frame except shopping. Tortola was the only port with enough time to go swimming/snorkelling. Going to Norwegians own island on the last day, again a disappointment. The 2 excursions we booked were cancelled due to high winds, so sitting on the beach was about the only option. They do supply a buffet and a hamburg/hotdog stand. They also had a couple of bars set up. Overall we were very disappointed with this cruise and never again would I book the Encore. Please note that if you choose this ship, book anything you want to do well in advance of cruise date to hopefully get to do what you would like and not be disappointed when you arrive. I did not know (my own fault) in advance the problems associated with not booking ahead. We have cruised with Norwegian many times almost always on their mid size ships and have been treated like royalty. This sure was a big disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We normally cruise on Celebrity .We wanted to try an Oceania Cruise and the price was right. The cruise was disappointing .The ship was very small. You felt the ocean and every movement . There was not much to do. We are used to a much ... Read More
We normally cruise on Celebrity .We wanted to try an Oceania Cruise and the price was right. The cruise was disappointing .The ship was very small. You felt the ocean and every movement . There was not much to do. We are used to a much bigger ship with more activities. Oceania hypes the food as the best at sea, I did not find that to be the case. One night in the main dining room we had to wait a long time for our dinner to be served. We were told there was a problem in the kitchen. We had ordered rack of lamb. When the food did come all four of us found it to be inedible. It was tough and tasted awful. They took our cabin numbers and we were told it would be taken care of. For all of that we were sent a bottle of wine. Pastries and cookies were awful, I was told this is how they bake there goods. There were some good points . Cabin was small but very nice. Excellent bedding and pillows. The bathroom was small , but it served its purpose. The shower was very small, if you dropped something you couldn't turn around to bend down and get it. The staff and service was excellent. Room steward was outstanding. The entertainment was what we expected on this small a ship, very low key. The entertainment staff and the band were very good. I would not cruise Oceania again. Celebrity cruises was as good or better, but we gave it a try. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We were excited when we heard about the new Norwegian encore boat and received a fair price for a 7-day cruise. We were disappointed to find out that almost everything on the boat was at an upcharge. When we pulled into Puerto Rico, they ... Read More
We were excited when we heard about the new Norwegian encore boat and received a fair price for a 7-day cruise. We were disappointed to find out that almost everything on the boat was at an upcharge. When we pulled into Puerto Rico, they put out a sign on the bar saying that we needed to pay tax on the drinks! the boat says that there's three pools but what they neglect to say is one pool is in the elite section called The Haven which costed considerably more for a VIP experience. that leaves the "regular" guests to share one adult pool and one kid pool and you'll be fighting for a deck chair like no other boat we've ever been on. it was extremely annoying and disappointing. About always felt crowded the elevators were always packed. You're required to make reservations for almost anything on the ship and if your travel agent didn't advise you ahead of time you'll be stuck with only the latest times on the ships. The complementary food is mediocre at best. We did splurge to spend on a specialty restaurant and the food was amazing at the tune of about $125 for a couple. I will say that the shows were excellent and they did have name brand movies that they would show so I felt like they had quality entertainment but I would have much preferred us more spacious pullback where I could enjoy the sun instead of fighting over a lounge chairs. Next time I will spend a little bit more and go to Royal Caribbean where all guests are treated with the same upscale service and you're not going to add hundreds of dollars to your bill once you step foot on the boat. We had high hopes Norwegian, but this was a miss. Get rid of the silly laser tag and add a pool And make the go-karts free! If you're thinking of going on this boat do your research everything you'll want to do costs money. Everyone on the boat was speaking about it. That and how it was so overpacked and you felt like you were always having people on top of you. We did have a cabin for five which was small but we didn't spend much time in the cabin so it was adequate. The state rooms were attended by a steward 24/7 which was nice our room was always clean. We did like the freestyle dining that you could eat at anywhere at any time. There were ample bars and we felt like we could always get a drink. I don't think I would go back to this boat unless they opened up the Haven for all guests or they booked less gas in the public spaces or if they made things like some of the specialty dining restaurants and go karts video games and virtual realities for free instead of making everything cost more than for goodness sakes it's ridiculous to charge tax on drinks and ports! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I read many reviews and most of them were poor of the Encore, I do not agree. We live in South Florida and parked at the port. We checked in and were on the ship in 10 minutes. The ship is beautiful. We went to the Social and got ... Read More
I read many reviews and most of them were poor of the Encore, I do not agree. We live in South Florida and parked at the port. We checked in and were on the ship in 10 minutes. The ship is beautiful. We went to the Social and got reservations for the comedy shows as soon as we got on. Also got reservations for the escape room which has an upcharge of $15 per person. We travelled with our two sons in their early 20’s to celebrate a college graduation. We all enjoyed the escape room. Had dinner reservations before leaving home. We had a midship balcony cabin. The room was very nice as well as the bathroom. Plenty of room, only thing not good is the closest is hard to get into with the couch in the way. The attendant Christian was excellent. There was a bit of motion a few nights. The bed vibrated which woke us. The food was very good in all restaurants. We had breakfast mostly in Savor or Taste. Dinner was very good in both as well. We ate at Los Lobos, Cagney’s and Onda. Food was very good in Los Lobos and Cagney’s and fair at Onda. It was very loud and hard to hear each other when talking. Would skip that one. The buffet was good but only ate there a couple of times. The pool area is small as everyone says. We got chairs a couple of times but had to search for them. All the bars were good. We especially liked The District Brew House. The observation area on dec 15 is lovely. Great place to read, play cards etc. We had drinks there as well. Had no trouble getting drinks at any bar. We only attended a couple of comedy shows and they were good. Musicals is not our things. Guns and Rojas was good as well as others around the ship. San Juan was nothing to get excited about. Tortola was good but had to be on ship by 1:30 pm. We went to the beach. St Thomas was nice and went to the beach. We also went to private island which was nice. There was food and could use drink package. All and all we had a great time. We have cruised many times and this ship offered a lot. It never felt crowded. One negative is all the upcharges. Not many children onboard. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
On the plus side: Beautiful, new, very large ship. Beds were comfortable. Many eating spots to choose from, all with good food, some with excellent food. The specialty & Manhatten restaurants were my favs. Excellent service and ... Read More
On the plus side: Beautiful, new, very large ship. Beds were comfortable. Many eating spots to choose from, all with good food, some with excellent food. The specialty & Manhatten restaurants were my favs. Excellent service and well made drinks. Staff was helpful and friendly. Good variety of shore excursions & on- board activities. Easy on & off process. On the minus side: Outside pool deck area and bars are far too small to comfortably accommodate the number of passengers aboard ship. Leave the race track, double slides, virtual gaming, etc., to ships more suitable for families & give us a little more leg room. The very popular Beatle's show also needs to be moved to a larger venue. Most nights are SRO, no matter how early you get there. Shops were just okay. Shows also, just okay. Items that could be purchased for additional cost were pricey. I will say the plus easily surpasses the minus. Overall, a wonderful experience. Oh, & I have to mention, out of the 15 cruises I've been on, this was the smoothest. Most of the time it felt like we were just gliding over the water. Bravo NCL, you have definitely exceeded the norm. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We wanted to get out of the cold so we booked the Crown Princess to the Caribbean. Our first sign that things weren't going well was that no one could sign onto the Medallion.net to get the internet and free wi-fi that was advertised. ... Read More
We wanted to get out of the cold so we booked the Crown Princess to the Caribbean. Our first sign that things weren't going well was that no one could sign onto the Medallion.net to get the internet and free wi-fi that was advertised. After an hour and a half wait and one cruise member helping, we finally got it. Before I go any further, let me say this was our 24th cruise. Our room had NO ventilation. It took until the evening of the next day to get service, even though our wonderful cabin steward, Weny, called right away. Weny, by the way, was the best thing about our cruise. A second sign we were in trouble was that they very insistently wanted us to share a table. Princess offers Anytime dining, and you are not supposed to have to share tables. Well, the whole thing is a joke. We were seated at a long upholstered table and our table had about 12 inches between each of the other tables. We were "sharing" anyway... no matter what they advertise. Then, came the food! I watched as several people sent back there food. A woman sitting next to us, asked what she was served and she was told it was what she ordered. She shook her head, tasted it, and said "no it is not, take it back." This went on through the whole cruise. My husband ordered the beef wellington one night a got a piece of beef 3 x 2 inches long. They had 2 choices for desserts; beside ice cream, and a sugar free one. Everything tasted the same. If you didn't go to dinner at 5 pm and wanted to sit by yourself, you couldn't get a table. Our last night, we went down at 5:30, the receptionist at the dining room told us that "It could be half hour, whole hour, or more" with a very snide look on her face. We went somewhere else to eat. She called us at 7 pm. to say our table was ready. Nothing that Princess advertises comes to fruition. I realize that many of the cruise employees don't speak fluent English but every cruise we have been on they have at least been able to understand what we were asking. On 4 different occasions I asked specific questions about specific things going on during the cruise. Each time I got the wrong answer. How do I know, because I wound up going to Guest Services to get the "correct" answer. One morning we were taking our breakfast outside. The automatic door closed on my husband as he was walking through it causing his hot coffee and breakfast to spill all over him. A staff member yelled at him and said he had to be more careful. My husband responded with, " I thought these were automatic doors", "No, no, they are not" said the staff member. To which my husband said the same thing, and, again, they employee said "they are not automatic doors." I finally got up and pointed to what was printed on the doors, themselves which was Automatic Doors. I told him what it said and he turned and walked away. Every other night, they included a sheet in our dinner menu to get us to order something from a restaurant you had to pay for. Shore excursions....This was the most disorganized set up I have every seen. You were supposed to "show up" on the pier for your individual excursion. Except, everyone else did too. You had to walk through the crowd trying to find out where your line was. It was funny because everywhere you went; sitting areas, outside elevators...speaking of elevators, half of them didn't work. People were complaining about the same things I am writing about now. Everyone kept saying, "I'm so glad you said something because I thought it was just me." The best places to eat were the Salty Dog and the Pizza by the pool. The piazza had some nice salads and paninis but there was hardly anything between the bread. Another problem was the PA system. You could never hear what they were saying....ever! Now, for the good parts: Weny, our cabin steward was great. And we made sure he knew we appreciated him. The first night's show was fabulous. The Princess singers, dancers, and orchestra were great. They did a Motown show that was super. And my hat's off to Sergi...he was great entertainer. This was our 4th Princess cruise. Would we do it again? NEVER! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our first time with NCL purely because of the price of the cruise--It was $1200 cheaper than sailing on Celebrity Edge, and approximately the same for Oasis of the Seas with very similar itinearies. There is a reason it is ... Read More
This was our first time with NCL purely because of the price of the cruise--It was $1200 cheaper than sailing on Celebrity Edge, and approximately the same for Oasis of the Seas with very similar itinearies. There is a reason it is cheaper!!--Its because of the quality! This ship comes across as all modern luxury etc etc but the reality could not be further from the truth. There is no quality involved with this ship--it is pack them in, take their money and get them off. We did not feel like we had had a holiday--there is no relaxing involved here!! There a constant announcements trying to get you to part with your money, constant calls, everywhere you go its sell sell sell--of course other ships do this but not to the level seen here. Buffet food is simply pathetic--everybody who cruises likes a nice buffet with a wide variety of choice--non existent here. If you like Pizza/Burgers etc you will be fine--the choice is extremely limited and you will be disappointed here. Breakfast in particular is a complete farce. With our "cheap" package we were offered 3 "speciality" dining evenings which we pre booked. NCL's version of speciality dining is very different from other cruise lines. Food Republic--extremely poor food and service and horrible IPad devices where you see a picture of what your food should look like. Cagneys Steak House--in fairness much better than the above but still failed to cook a fillet to a Medium Rare temp. Los Lobos--a completely bizarre and pathetic attempt at new world mexican cuisine--again dreadful and cheap and tacky. Now to the deck space--a lot has been written and said regarding this. In my opinion it is completely shocking, misplanned and somewhat classism. Approx 90% of guests are expected to fit into approx 15% of the top deck space. The simple maths would point to issues and there are many. Its like a sea of disgruntled humanity all looking for the next availble bed to become free, then a mass scramble and the odd argument when it does. I go for an early morning run each day (7-8am) and most sun loungers/chairs are already covered in towels as some kind of reservation system. Then there is another sundeck that sits approx 250 guests where you pay $99 per day for the priviledge of having a sunbed--there is no pool in this area. This area is walled off by a very unsightly white metal gate--Classism?! Unfortunately we were unable to use the gokarts as we could not get a reservation at all--again a sheer lack of planning and quality of care for guests. We saw a few shows which were for a cruise ship were good but nothing to write home about. It is easy to come on to a review platform and simply criticise for the sake of it--thankfully I am not one of these people. For me to write a 1 star review, the guest experience, the quality of holiday and the overall package has to be beyond a joke and completly dismal. That is what we found on NCL Encore. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My wife and I are very experienced with over 25 cruises. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much and would recommend it noting the below issues. Pros * variety and quality of on board musical entertainment. Also, many different ... Read More
My wife and I are very experienced with over 25 cruises. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much and would recommend it noting the below issues. Pros * variety and quality of on board musical entertainment. Also, many different locations. * Very positive staff attitudes. Almost everyone greets you with a smile. * Ship is kept very clean - everywhere we could see. * Great itinerary. Wide variety of experiences in many different ports. Cons * Ship needs updating - old furniture, etc. * very funky/different balcony stateroom layout (be warned). * A large number of the gym equipment is in need of repair or replacement. * Main pool area is greatly undersized - one small bar and limited open area. Wide number and variety of ports was the key point in why we selected this cruise, but we have been on the Epic twice before and enjoy this ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Got invited to uncle's 75th birthday. Food was hit and miss. Buffet was repetitious. Recycling most of the food. I know because I'm a cook. Service was excellent by hardworking maybe underpaid crews. Wifi was too expensive, so ... Read More
Got invited to uncle's 75th birthday. Food was hit and miss. Buffet was repetitious. Recycling most of the food. I know because I'm a cook. Service was excellent by hardworking maybe underpaid crews. Wifi was too expensive, so was pop, alcohol, more like highway robbery. Coffee and teas were free at breakfast time, other times you have to pay. On our beach excursions we were served hotdogs and hamburgers and boiled ribs slathered with store bought sauce! We expected at least grilled fish and fresh fruit but instead garbage food. Not what we paid for. Dining was okey, great service. Cabin was a bit outdated, entertainment was good, staffs were good but no one was there to help us get to our room on our first day and tell us which restaurants are free. Feels like you have to pay for everything. After our cruise we were emailed free stuffs like free wifi, gratuity, pop, alcohol and so on on our next cruise, what the hell? Why didn't they offer us on our cruise? We spent a lot of money on plane tickets and hotel and food .. all we got is $25 on board credit! Not enough. We came to this cruise expecting class, but instead overpriced and overhyped. I wouldn't recommend this ship to anyone. All inclusive is better. What a total waste of money!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The Regal is our favorite ship. Great crew, beautiful ship, fun activities and excellent food choices. Embarkation was smooth. Cabin steward Ro was great. Shows we went to were very good. Love the choices in the buffet. Food hot and ... Read More
The Regal is our favorite ship. Great crew, beautiful ship, fun activities and excellent food choices. Embarkation was smooth. Cabin steward Ro was great. Shows we went to were very good. Love the choices in the buffet. Food hot and tasty. The Mongolian BBQ is my wife’s favorite. The chocolate breakfast is a lot of fun. I’m in love with the almond croissants at the International Cafe. They are flaky, juicy and loaded with almonds. The Crown Grill and Sabatinis are great. Just tooooo much food. Service in those restaurants as well as all eating venues was excellent. Love Alfredos pizza. The medallion is a great innovation. It’s easier to get in the room and I don’t have to worry about getting the key replaced every other day. Getting in the room, finding people, and the promo for a free drink is great. Debarking was very smooth. Everyone off the ship by nine am. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We just enjoyed a fabulous week aboard NCL’s newest ship, the Encore. For background, this was my 14th cruise overall and fourth with NCL, having previously sailed on the Pearl, Gem and Escape. I am 54 years old and sailed with my wife, ... Read More
We just enjoyed a fabulous week aboard NCL’s newest ship, the Encore. For background, this was my 14th cruise overall and fourth with NCL, having previously sailed on the Pearl, Gem and Escape. I am 54 years old and sailed with my wife, who celebrated a birthday aboard the ship, and our 16-year-old daughter. We had a balcony stateroom on Deck 13. My initial thoughts upon boarding were, “Wow, this ship is massive.” It reminded me of the Escape on steroids. In some ways, the design was similar in terms of the public areas on Decks 5, 6, 7 and 8. Some things were different as the Kids’ clubs were down on Deck 5. The Encore also has a Go Kart track and Laser Tag, which was not on the Escape (it had a Ropes Course and Spice H2O, an area that has drawn a lot of conversation on Cruise Critic and other boards). The lack of space around the pool is a valid complaint. Chairs are literally on top of one another, and on sea days, it was a sea of humanity. Thankfully, we purchased Vibe passes. It gave my wife and I a piece of mind, even if meant paying $209 and having to get on the ship early to procure one of the 300 available passes. I’m not sure when this area sold out, but my guess is you had to be among the first three or four groups. We spent $179 to have Priority Access, which allowed us to board the ship with the Platinum, Platinum Plus and Ambassador guests. It gave us a chance to get to the Q Restaurant in time to purchase the passes. Vibe, by the way, is a separate area on Decks 19 and 20 for anyone 18 and older. My only beef with the area is the lack of a small pool. NCL could have designed one on Deck 20 to go along with the two hot tubs on Deck 19, the bar area (Deck 19), two showers (Deck 19) and mister (Deck 20). Bar service was great and we never dealt with the mass of humanity in the pool area. Embarkation was as quick as I remember for a cruise. Once security opened at 10 a.m., we had our cards and were in the lounge area within 10 minutes. They don’t even take your photo anymore. They glean the image from your passport. For those who don’t want to fight the crowds, you can eat lunch at Taste or Savor on embarkation day. Food, on a smaller scale, can be found in the Observation Lounge on Deck 15. By the way, the Observation Lounge is the most underrated section of the ship. A great place to relax, have a drink and get awesome panoramic views. You can get a continental breakfast here each day as well. We ate dinner in all three main dining rooms (Taste, Savor and Manhattan), which offer the same menus. Each night, there are different offerings, along with everyday staples such as Caesar Salad or NY Strip steak. We also paid for three nights in one of the specialty restaurants. We chose Onda by Scarpetta (Italian), Ocean Blue (seafood) and the Food Republic (Asian). We originally booked LeBistro (French), but got an email from NCL three days prior to departure that they had to cancel the reservation due to the restaurant being booked the entire week. NCL gave each of us $50 in onboard credit. I called NCL well before our scheduled departure to make restaurant reservations. You can also book once you get on board in Teriyaki restaurant on embarkation day. All three specialty restaurants were terrific, as was the service. Each of our waiters went into detail what the SDP included. There are some items that have additional upcharges such as lobster and tiger shrimp and crab cakes. It’s too bad NCL no longer has a lobster night, but we understand that times have changed and so have the costs for such luxury food items. It doesn’t make or break our cruising experience. The Garden Café also is quite spacious and a great spot for breakfast. There are plenty of egg/omelet stations. We also enjoyed breakfast in Taste/Savor, where I could get a bagel and lox. We did not use room service, which was available with our Priority Access. Before we departed, I heard plenty of complaints regarding the service and crew. What cruise were they taking? Virtually every crew member we encountered was friendly and courteous. We never saw the cruise director, Roberto, but I hardly care about such things. I care more about great service in the restaurants and bars, and at customer-service desks. I always live by the motto: Treat those how you would like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes. They are tireless workers serving 4000 people. We always make it a point to say please and thank you and ask how their day is going. Little touches go a long way. Then there are the people who moan and groan about NCL “nickel-and-diming” its guests. Are there a lot of extra fees for things like go karts and laser tag? Yes. But do your research. Not once was I forced to take part in these activities. To me, there are plenty of other free things to do on the ship. Do research on the ship before you leave. Budget for “extras.” The go karts are worth $15. You get eight minutes and it’s a lot of fun. My wife and daughter actually went back again for a second session. They had no problem making a reservation. They also enjoyed the laser tag. I thought the Escape Room was a waste of time and money. But you live and learn. I did think the $9.95 cost to text and phone people on board was well worth it. I kept in touch with my family throughout the cruise as well as our friends who came along. Download the App and follow the instructions once you get onboard. The internet also worked very well. I paid $178 for unlimited use for the entire cruise. Was able to post items to Facebook, check email and get news/sports updates with ease. My daughter was able to log in to her school network to do some homework. For smokers, there are only a couple places to puff cigarettes, which has created a lot of negative buzz. I don’t have an issue with this because a majority of people don’t smoke. Even the casino near my home has divided up the area for smokers and non-smokers, leaving more room and machines for the non-smokers. When I go to Vegas, I can’t smoke cigars at most blackjack tables. You live with it. The Encore has a very nice cigar lounge where cigarettes are verboten. I also had excellent bar service from nearby Maltings while I enjoyed my stogies. The room could be a little bigger (seats about 16), but I never had an issue finding an available leather chair. We are also people who don’t go to a lot of the after-dinner parties, so I can’t comment on things like the Glow Party or other nighttime parties. We did see several shows, including Choir of Man, Kinky Boots and the comedians. Both shows were terrific – we thought Choir of Man was slightly better. Those boys can sing. The two comedians were entertaining; Bob Zany was better than Warren. Bob interacted well with the audience. We saw both their family and adult (18 and over) shows. You do have to book your comedy shows either in The Social, NCL app or using your stateroom TV. Easier to just go to The Social on embarkation day. We got every show we wanted. I admit, having to book all of the’ shows can be a bit hectic. We have always just showed up and walked into comedy shows. But again, with this many passengers, you’ll have to have some way to keep track of the numbers. Because NCL decided to add its private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay, to our itinerary about a month prior to departure, our port time in Tortola was cut by 4 hours. That was disappointing, but we found GSC to be a nice island. We did a wave runner excursion that I would recommend. We also booked a Premier Cabana, which accommodated eight people. We shared it with another family of 4 that came along with us. It is $404 with a 10 percent discount for being a Latitudes member (I was Silver for this cruise). San Juan, to me, was a complete waste of time. First of all, we were there from 5 to 11:30 p.m. All you can really do is explore bars and restaurants in Old Town. We also stayed on the boat in St. Thomas (we had been there many times), except for an hour of shopping. The boat was a ghost town and we were able to do the water slides and enjoy the pool sans the crowds. We signed up for the Jost Van Dyke excursion but because I was one of later reservations, it was canceled because the company only could accommodate a small amount of people due to our short stay in Tortola. So I went into town and bought some Cuban cigars at Little Denmark, and my wife and daughter got a spa treatment. I had no issues with our balcony stateroom (13896). Everything in the bathroom worked just fine and the bed was comfortable. The balcony itself was small, but not worth complaining about. I did trivia a couple of times and I must say the questions were hard. I do wish NCL would have some more specific trivia categories like sports, geography, etc. We did not do any of the pay activities such as bingo or Deal or No Deal. Just don’t see the value in them. I also didn’t spend any time in the casino. My wife lost $150. There are plenty of tables and slot machines, plus an enclosed area for cigarette smokers (no cigars). As for the water slides, there are two up on the pool deck and if you want to avoid the lines, use them on a port day. The Ocean Loop is phenomenal, but some people got stuck, presumably for not using the proper technique. I didn’t have an issue. It was super-fast and fun. The Aqua Racer is an inner-tube water slide that is slow. Great for young kids. To use the Ocean Loop, you have to be at least 120 pounds and remove all items such as watches, jewelry and Fit-Bits. Check the Daily or App to find out when these slides are in operation. Finally, the ship did have some movement. I really felt it on Friday. I think it was because the captain was going full speed to make it to GSC on time from Tortola. I never got sick, but there were a few jolts. Otherwise, the movement was minimal. If you do have trouble with sea sickness, take along the appropriate medication. So, would I sail the Encore again? Yes. She is a great ship with a great crew. But our next cruise is likely to be the Mediterranean on the Getaway or Dawn in 2021. Feel free to send me questions or comments. Happy to answer them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I had been on two previous Princess cruises before I had children. In fact my wife and I took our honeymoon on a Princess cruise, so know that I boarded knowing what the cruise would be like in general terms. My wife had cruised ... Read More
I had been on two previous Princess cruises before I had children. In fact my wife and I took our honeymoon on a Princess cruise, so know that I boarded knowing what the cruise would be like in general terms. My wife had cruised extensively with princess as a child, and it has always been her family's go-to cruise line. That all being said, i think this will be the last time I cruise with Princess. The experience has soured me to the idea of cruising with my family in general. I had heard the jabs that others made about Princess, that it's an "old people" cruise line catering principally to empty nesters with excess cash and too much time on their hands. Unfortunately this cruise has proven those insinuations to be true. The ship was chock full of elderly Americans who seemed to think that I was imposing on them by having my children with me. Other parents that I spoke with on the trip agreed that the environment was not conducive to letting their children enjoy themselves. Granted, there was a children's area with supervision but for context, on a ship of 3000+ guests, there were fewer than 30 in my childrens' age range. This meant that there were almost no family friendly events or entertainment. The traditional dining had a fixed children's menu with only a handful of options, and people in the dining room (who were eating dinner with us at 5:15 pm I might add, like we were in seniors' discount hours at IHOP) gave us dirty looks every time our children made noise (which we tried hard to minimize). The ports of call had very few family-friendly excursions, and the bungalows we rented in Princess Cays had significant maintenance issues. The shopping area in St. Thomas where we docked was depressing, dirty, and sold only overpriced jewelry and trash semiprecious stones. On the subject of semiprecious stones, NO I DO NOT want to buy any of your ammorite or whatever worthless rock you are peddling at the onboard jewelry shops today. And the last thing I need is a preroll advertisement for it on my stateroom TV when I am trying to relax. In fact, other than the Lido deck pizza place, and the trident grill, I was unimpressed with most of the specialized services on the ship. There were few drink options for children, or those who do not consume alcohol, and at the outrigger bar where they advertised fresh juices and smoothies, the staff seemed totally perplexed anytime I ordered one. Often having to go to the kitchen to procure ingredients, or even having to take the standing menu off the bar to look up what went into one of their "specialty smoothies". Last and somewhat surprising for a cruise line that caters to seniors, they now charge a $10 fee for afternoon tea (which was one of my favourite activities when cruising as a couple). The final slap in the face was when we disembarked. Our flight was at 11am, so they had us leave the ship at 8:15, which would have been fine, except the bus company they use for their port transfers is apparently run by a bunch of monkeys, who's ineptitude was not helped by the Princess staff yelling at them, rather than fixing the situation by, oh, I don't know, FINDING ANOTHER BUS WHEN OURS WOULDN'T GO INTO GEAR?! Seriously guys, you do this every day, get your act together. We almost missed our flight, and that is the last kind of anxiety I need when I am traveling with my children. Don't waste your time with Princess, next time we will be looking at Royal Carribean or someone like that, their water slides and desktop play-structures looked really fun when we were docked next to them at St. Maartin. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Too many people for the number of elevators always a wait, long walk from cabins to elevators. Exits are long walk for elderly cruisers. Add on charges for service costly upcharges for drinks etc, Prices for drinks limits the number of ... Read More
Too many people for the number of elevators always a wait, long walk from cabins to elevators. Exits are long walk for elderly cruisers. Add on charges for service costly upcharges for drinks etc, Prices for drinks limits the number of drinks people order. Drink package options very poor, drinks costly with add on service charges and gradtuity Long walk for elderly On board entertainment limited show times not popular Staff friendly, very hardworking helpful and respectful even under stressful conditions We have been loyal NCL cruisers for over 20 years up untill this cruise we never felt we were being taken advantage of I think the time has come for us to try other cruise lines. The design of the Bliss is not user friendly, We have cruised on the Breakaway several times with less problems getting to a stairway and elevator. We have come to the point that bigger is not always better when it comes to cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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