282 Norwegian Joy Cruise Reviews

20 of us from the Houston area sailed on March 8th - our spring break. While we considered cancelling, we made the decision to go forward not knowing that this would be the last sailing for the Joy for a while. It was absolutely amazing ... Read More
20 of us from the Houston area sailed on March 8th - our spring break. While we considered cancelling, we made the decision to go forward not knowing that this would be the last sailing for the Joy for a while. It was absolutely amazing how the ship was sanitized. Everyday a new process was implemented. throw pillows were removed from cabins and common area, tables were not set until people sat down. Salt and Pepper plus sugars were now on plates to be thrown away after each meal. People were not allowed to touch any food - if you wanted a glass of water, the crew got that for you. If you wanted Ketchup - the crew poured that on your plate. No one could touch the merchandise for sale. Hand washing required to enter the buffet along with sanitizer. Cabins cleaned at least 2x a day. Decks powerwashed nightly. Balconies powerwashed. Constant wiping down of common areas including the baseboards in the halls. To my knowledge, no one was sick and in fact, we felt very safe on this ship with a crew dedicated to ensure that we were safe. Thanks NCL for a vacation we will all remember for a very long time. Thanks to the Joy crew for taking such good care of us! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My BF and I just got back from our first Norwegian Cruise which was also the last that sailed before Corona Virus stopped cruise lines from continuing their cruises. I just have to say that Norwegian stepped up to the plate to make sure ... Read More
My BF and I just got back from our first Norwegian Cruise which was also the last that sailed before Corona Virus stopped cruise lines from continuing their cruises. I just have to say that Norwegian stepped up to the plate to make sure all the passengers on board were always safe from infection. There were extra precautions put in place with sanitation throughout the Joy and instructions for everyone to “washy washy” their hands as frequently as possible. There were hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Crew members were on the ready to spritz hands with sanitizer after washing as well. You couldn’t touch a railing or a wall where there wasn’t a crew member sanitizing it right behind you. Yes, some of the steps they took to keep passengers safe seemed like an inconvenience to some but we appreciated all the efforts. We enjoyed our vacation with Norwegian so much! Throughout all this chaos going on they never failed to make sure service was still on point. The food was absolutely delish all over the ship as well. The District Tap and Brew house quickly became our favorite little spot to go hang out, play some cards or listen to Zoe Jackson perform at her piano. Such fun. We will DEFINITELY be cruising with Norwegian in the future when all this stuff blows over. Hopefully that is soon. I already mis it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We did this cruise on the Joy from 3-8 to 3-15 right before all the cruise lines suspended operations. Even with the slight anxiety geared to toward the c-virus we still enjoyed this cruise immensely. Stayed in a mini suite with extended ... Read More
We did this cruise on the Joy from 3-8 to 3-15 right before all the cruise lines suspended operations. Even with the slight anxiety geared to toward the c-virus we still enjoyed this cruise immensely. Stayed in a mini suite with extended balcony, wish it would have been a little warmer (winds were cool ) so we could have utilized more often but still enjoyed the extra room. The staff and guests all went above and beyond in regards to maintaining a sanitary environment in all areas of the ship. The staff as normal were all super accommodating and were outstanding in all services rendered. The food was overall very good to great. We didn't use the buffet very often but what we did get in there was good. Ate breakfast at Savor or Taste almost every morning and it was consistently good. The specialty restaurants we had for supper were great especially Ocean Blue.....maybe the best meal of my life. Cagney's great as always, they know how to sear a steak for sure but service was a little uneven. Really enjoyed Q Texas Smokehouse also especially the ribs....sides there were a little different but still good. First time we had ever been on one of the larger ships and was worried on that aspect with seeing some negative reviews but it didn't feel that much larger with lines everywhere very manageable.. One aspect i thought was a design flaw is that this ship only has one theater compared to most i have been on that had two. This causes the main atrium area to be very congested and loud since they hold a lot of events in the Atrium.. Elevators were kinda sluggish and the lines led to congestion in the walkways but we try to walk steps anyway to get the exercise in so wasn't a big deal to us. Entertainment was good, loved Footloose and Elements and saw a comedy show which was good. We did see the Beatles Revolution in the theater but didn't try to see them at the Cavern. Excursions were very smooth in getting on and off and the ship and very well organised. We would love to go back on the Joy again in the future for sure Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise because it is convenient for us in Arizona to go to the Mexican Riviera. We have been to all of these ports multiple times, so the trip was more about the experience, and getting away than targeting a specific ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it is convenient for us in Arizona to go to the Mexican Riviera. We have been to all of these ports multiple times, so the trip was more about the experience, and getting away than targeting a specific location. It was our first time on one of the LARGE ships, and I was afraid that it would feel crowded. I did not find this to be the case. After a few days, I figured many people must have cancelled at the last minute due to the corona virus scare, so I asked a customer service, and they confirmed that there was 4,300 passengers the week we sailed. Double occupancy is only 3,800 so it was a pretty full ship, yet I never felt too crowded. A synopsis of some of the good/not so good is below. Embarkation - we had flights included with our cruise fare, and arrived later than we would have planned for ourselves. Those that arrived before 10:30 got through security, health screening, and embarkation within about 1/2 hour. since we didn't get to the port till about 1:00 it took quite a bit longer. They were doing extra screenings of passports, and had extra health forms everyone had to fill out, so that slowed things down, that of course was not NCL's fault. Overall would have been better if we had arrived earlier. Cabin - We had a concierge villa suite with balcony, and loved it. the upgraded toiletries, nicer linens/pillows, and abundant storage made it a very comfortable week. We were able to get help from the concierge to arrange reservations to some of the comedy shows that we wanted to see. We had pre-reserved all of our dining, so didn't use him for that. The perk of having private Breakfast and Lunch in La Cucina was great. Dining - We did eat at Cagneys, La Cucina, and Ocean Blue as well as Taste, the Manhattan Room, the Buffet, and the Local. Once or twice an extra item we had requested was forgotten, but never had a bad meal. The staff was very attentive, and their job was made more difficult with enhanced sanitary guidelines. No one was allowed to serve themselves in the buffet, menu covers were not used in the restaurants, and the paper menu's were discarded, so as not to pass anything from one table to another. They were strict about washing hands and sanitizing before entering eateries, and it helped us feel confident that our health was being protected. The Shows, Footloose, Elements, Beatles Revolution, and Comedians, were all great. I've always been a fan of going to various trivia, but either because of the size of the ship, or technical difficulties, or doing them in the atrium, or just the staff, I didn't enjoy the trivia games on this ship. we walked away from several of them without finishing. If they had a better location for them and just stuck to basics instead of trying to make them high tech, it would have been better. The staff and service were outstanding. Our room steward kept our room spotless, and people were constantly cleaning and wiping down handrails/elevator buttons. I did need to go to customer service twice (I picked times they weren't busy as they weren't critical issues) and both times they were friendly, and helpful. There is some of everything on this ship, we really enjoyed the hot tub in Spice H20, and the Ocean Loop waterslide. A few things they could improve, the American Diner didn't seem to ever have people in it. If they could make that an included option for the dining, with perhaps some up-charge items (shakes, smoothies etc) I'm sure it would actually generate more money for them. The Galaxy Pavillion (VR Arcade) didn't seem to be very busy either. It seemed to be a chunk of prime real estate that they could have used for a better purpose. We didn't do the go karts or laser tag, so can't comment on that. We also didn't use any of the kids/teen clubs so no comment about that either. No trip is perfect, but I've found your enjoyment is based more on your attitude than other factors. If you want to be critical you can always find imperfections, but if you want to have fun, you will find that as well. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our first cruise and given the circumstances, it was awesome. We were worried about how this may turn out, but I wish we were still on the ship. So much to do every day! Crew was spectacular! Special hats off to Arsen from the ... Read More
This was our first cruise and given the circumstances, it was awesome. We were worried about how this may turn out, but I wish we were still on the ship. So much to do every day! Crew was spectacular! Special hats off to Arsen from the Ukraine. Just the best! My wife even started her art collection on this cruise. We would definitely sail with Norwegian again. The kids enjoyed all the activities on board. They were only disappointed that they did not weigh enough to do the loop water slide that goes out over the edge of the ship. The freestyle dining was awesome. We were able to eat when we wanted and where we wanted. There are a few premium restaurants, but for our taste, the Garden Cafe Buffet was great. The crew made sure that everyone was washing and disinfecting hands. All surfaces were constantly being cleaned and wiped down. Washy Washy was a new term we learned. :) Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our first and last Norwegian cruise. Not anywhere near as good as Royal Caribbean. Boat was blah-no fun art anywhere, not colorful, small theater with cup holders like a movie theater-no balcony, other entertainment area had ... Read More
This was our first and last Norwegian cruise. Not anywhere near as good as Royal Caribbean. Boat was blah-no fun art anywhere, not colorful, small theater with cup holders like a movie theater-no balcony, other entertainment area had folding chairs and no sloped seating. Felt like an auditorium in a school. Only 2 shows instead of one very night. Food was absolutely awful in the main dining rooms. Fine dining was not fine dining and was insulting, especially for someone who has worked in fine dining. French fries and curly fries as sides?? Seriously??? We think they knew the ship wasn’t going back out due to the Coronavirus because there was a lot of repeat meals. They put all their efforts into the restaurants you have to pay for which was also insulting. This cruise is very expensive and to force folks to pay even more for food that is edible is shameful. No fun late night buffets. No fruit displays or ice sculptures. Very very very little live music. There was a section of the ship specifically for a higher paying group of people so we couldn’t use 1/3 of the ship. There were a tremendous amount of kids on the ship with no manners. They were unsupervised and running all over the place. If I wanted to go on a Disney Cruise, I would have. Our room ac was on a timer so woke up hot every night. No way to adjust this. Overall Norwegian completely lacks the effort that other cruise lines do. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Many options for dining. The buffet was great because it had so many stations to accommodate the massive amount of people and plenty of sitting areas. Did not like having to make a reservation for the shows. We normally see all the ... Read More
Many options for dining. The buffet was great because it had so many stations to accommodate the massive amount of people and plenty of sitting areas. Did not like having to make a reservation for the shows. We normally see all the shows when we cruise but having to keep up with making a reservation just took the fun out of it. Although, we did take advantage of the standby line for one show. We understand with so many people that reservations are probably needed. We chose to go back to our cabin and watch a movie most evenings. There were many movies available no extra cost that we had not seen. So that was a good option especially for this trip due to the coronavirus scare and the close encounters with all the people on the ship. Shore Excursions were nice but we saw many folks who hopped into a cab and took the same excursions at a cheaper rate. The port stops are great for seasoned travelers or someone who does not mind taking the risk on his/her own. Overall the ship staff did their best to keep us safe. We washed our hands several times. The staff do their best to enforce it especially in the Garden Café (Buffet). Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
All and all it was an average cruise, wasn’t our best or worst one. Pros Observation deck was one of my favorite places on the ship. They had light snacks (cheese, meat, crackers, fruit) and games to play but what set it apart from ... Read More
All and all it was an average cruise, wasn’t our best or worst one. Pros Observation deck was one of my favorite places on the ship. They had light snacks (cheese, meat, crackers, fruit) and games to play but what set it apart from other places On the ship were the views and it was quiet. Starbucks, gotta love 2 Starbuck locations on a ship Comedians were excellent and they didn’t make you feel like they were doing the same show between family and adult. we’ve been on other ships where the family and adult shows were very similar. The Country band at the Q was a nice touch, it’s hard finding music I like on ships They had healthy options if you’re watching calories but the salad dressings lacking (make your own) Breakfast buffet was good, I especially liked the omelet bar and turkey sausage but why is orange juice only an option at breakfast? Very clean, always seeing staff cleaning and making sure their passengers are practicing safe hygiene I especially liked bartenders Vladimir and Windel who were personable and remembered us from night to night. I also liked the complimentary bar snacks that were available for late night or between meals We only purchased one excursion from the the cruise line “Salsa and Salsa” and loved it. After all the cruises we’ve been on to find something this unique was great. Cons Buffet food lacked variety and their take on theme nights were interesting. For example, the beef tacos on Mexican day was chili wrapped in a tortilla triangle? (see picture) on a Mexican cruise! Sometimes you need late night food and it was really lacking on this ship, the Local was not great food, think store bought chips and nacho cheese. They also claimed to have late night snacks but they’re only available until 1130pm. This was by far my biggest disappointment on the ship, the margaritas. I understand efficiency but one of my favorite parts of ordering a Margarita is watching the bartender make it. Their version was premade, tasted terrible and was carbonated because it was on tap. Casino games were confusing as they’re still in Chinese and had very tight payouts. We also purchased the slot and blackjack tournament but it was only 3 minutes for slots and 8 rounds for blackjack, wouldn’t do it again. Customer service could be better (felt like new or inexperienced staff). Improve your app, it keeps crashing Popular shows should not be in the atrium, you can’t see shows you want to because it’s too crowd (an issue on all ships not just this one) Underutilized spaces on sea days Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
NCL Joy was a very nice ship. Food in specialty restaurants was wonderful. We tried Cagney’s, le bistro, Q smokehouse, Ocean Blue, and la cucina but main dining Manhattan room was just ok. Don’t eat all day before going to Q smokehouse ... Read More
NCL Joy was a very nice ship. Food in specialty restaurants was wonderful. We tried Cagney’s, le bistro, Q smokehouse, Ocean Blue, and la cucina but main dining Manhattan room was just ok. Don’t eat all day before going to Q smokehouse it was a lot of food. My husband and I did not like the Local. Atmosphere was noisy and poor food. Also too many high top tables. We enjoy O’Sheehans much better. Entertainment was great. Our room 14780 was great but wasn’t expecting a tub which wasn’t good with a hurt foot. We had concierge service but never saw him again after first day. Room steward did an excellent job. Slow bar service in casino but casino was kind to us. Elevators are super slow but with a bad foot stairs were out of the question. Only bad thing was getting on and off the ship. Port of San Pedro was the worse anywhere. 2 hours for us to get on but I heard people waited 4 hours. Getting off was almost as bad. Will never go out of this port again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
First cruise with the entire family, including 3 kids, ages 4 and 2. thought this would be a good starter since it was relatively close and we had been on the itinerary before with other cruise lines. Overall, it was a horrific ... Read More
First cruise with the entire family, including 3 kids, ages 4 and 2. thought this would be a good starter since it was relatively close and we had been on the itinerary before with other cruise lines. Overall, it was a horrific experience with few bright spots: * transfer bus from lax took 2 hours due to staff slowness and multiple stops at lax. note: traffic was light and not an issue. * the worse part was the embarkation process! took about 4 hours of waiting in line!! ncl never explained why, offered an apology or acknowledged the fiasco. i asked at a meet-the-officers opportunity and they said they are quite aware of the problem. heard all kinds of rumors about what happened. it put a damper on the entire cruise. * very few organized activities for the kids, like 30 minutes/day on certain days. * the atrium area, used for many events on board, is small and very dark, unlike other ships we have been on. * food in the mdr is about a d+ in quality. clearly, they are pushing customers to use the specialty restaurants. also, the service is extremely slow, even though staff are friendly average mdr dinners took 2+ hours. * bars are understaffed. disorganized and chaotic as people are waiting 2-deep with only 2 bartenders. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience the Mexican Riviera and my first cruise. Norwegian offered an excellent package of incentives, good value for cost, very helpful personal consultant to help me put together a trip ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience the Mexican Riviera and my first cruise. Norwegian offered an excellent package of incentives, good value for cost, very helpful personal consultant to help me put together a trip package that fit my needs. I just returned and am very , very happy. Our party was three, my two adult daughters and me . We chose a Mini Suite with balcony, mid ship on the 11th deck near the elevators. This made everything easy to get to. The food and service were outstanding everywhere we ate, both complimentary and speciality. The activities offered were diverse and fun and varied. Da nce lessons on pool deck or salsa lessons at Mojito Bar. Excursions were fun, varied for taste, The virtual reality offerings were a lot of fun and new to me. My daughters enjoyed the raceway and the giant water slide. The Winelovers Musical, Elements , and the Beatles Tribute Band in the Cavern were our favorites for shows. I am looking forward to planning my second trip with Norwegian! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We took a great trip on the Joy for 16 days from Miami to Los Angeles. Through the Panama Canal. We had a great time. plenty of things to do on the ship and plenty of excursions were offered as well. The embarkation in Miami was the ... Read More
We took a great trip on the Joy for 16 days from Miami to Los Angeles. Through the Panama Canal. We had a great time. plenty of things to do on the ship and plenty of excursions were offered as well. The embarkation in Miami was the worst of our 10 cruise vacations. First they sent us to the wrong area to check in ,so we went to the right section and there was a loud alarm going off for 30min before someone from maintainence came to disconnect it. over allit was 1 1/2 hours waiting in line to check in. This was with a pre arranged check in time! We chose an inside cabin as we always do, It was smallbut we didn'tcare as we spend our time on deck. We loved the choices of food and different dining areas that were included in the fare. Did not try any of the other dining options. Loved the Music, and Footloose play. The Elements production we did not like very much, more of a dancing program(think Ballet,interpretive dance).Most of the comedy shows were of the 18+ variety which we never go to. I feel that you don't need profanity to be funny. And even in the large shows that were supposed to be "clean" there were too many references to sex, and use of "potty" talk. The ports of call were interesting. Although the ports wherewe docked were schetchy. Meanining we docked in shipyards, where you weren't allowed to walk from the ship to the city. They were Cartagena, Colombia;Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; Excurisions were good we did VIP Sailing Adventure In Puerto Vallarta great time. Beach Resort getaway in Mazatlan nice beach with lunch at the resort restaurant men aren't allowed to wear sleeveless shirts. One poor guy was given a shirt that was too to small but he put it onso he could have lunch. :) Famous Arch, Sea lionsand Whales tour in Cabo San Lucas saw lots of whales and sea lions. we also did The Sabana Adventure Safari in Puerto Caldera don't make our mistake. First it is a 2-21/2 hour bus ride to the attraction. they have 5 different animals zebra, antelope,giraffe.spent only hour doing that lunch was good, then another 2 hours back. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal ... Read More
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal though looks nearly ready in Miami though. Had a mini suite because not much more expensive than standard balcony. First experience when we walked into our room and bathroom was WOW . Bathroom was as good as in any decent hotel with double sinks and large double length walk in shower. Also had a coffee maker which we made use of. Decent selection of films etc on the tv. Although only 3 years old ship had just had a multi million conversion from its original Chinese/Japanese market so everything new and clean. Food excellent especially the selection in the buffet where I was spoilt for choice. Had the 5 speciality meal/drink package at £100 each an absolute bargain. Can reccomend the filet mignon steaks I had 3 of them! Big Beatles fan so I can say the resident tribute act were absolutely fantastic. Watched them twice in the on-board Cavern and twice in the theatre with everybody singing along.. Almost a hidden charge why do most cruise lines add the 15% daily service charge?? Surely it should be included the the cruise price and then I could add a more personal gratuity if applicable e.g. to the cabin steward. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Overall a wonderful trip. The ship is magnificent. Boarded in Miami and was so glad to have just moved up to platinum as my line to get on was 10 minutes long, the others were in the hundreds and took 3 hours to get on. There must be a ... Read More
Overall a wonderful trip. The ship is magnificent. Boarded in Miami and was so glad to have just moved up to platinum as my line to get on was 10 minutes long, the others were in the hundreds and took 3 hours to get on. There must be a better process not a good way to start. The ship is beautiful, the staff is excellent and the food is best I’ve had on a cruise except the buffet. It was constantly cold and all tasted the same. The room was great, spotless at all times with a very personable nice steward. Room 9878 sits on top of a bar on the waterfront and had extremely loud music until 10:30 every night but then was quiet. Just don’t plan on a quiet night in. One big issue was Re boarding the ship in Cartegena. There were 3 long lines and a short Haven line which is fine, they pay plenty for that service but then 2 buses arrived and those 100 people were allowed to create their own line and cut in causing the rest of us an additional hour in the 100 heat to snake our way up. This is the fault of ncl not organizing and moving lines. There sure were plenty of staff handing out washcloths that could hVe controlled traffic, just frustrating when hot and exhausted. The smoking situation is an issue on this ship. It’s great to have an open deck area on 17 in Spice to go but in the casino it’s a small room that is is normally ventilated very well except on sea days when crowded. Also they have 5 table games in there that in 17 days ionly saw 2 with a player. I suggested they remove 2 and add more slots as times we were standing in line to play. It would have been nice to have like on others ships an ashtray outside on deck 8 where you could duck out and smoke a quick cigarette and get back in. There are many more closet smokers than you would expect. The staff on this ship were excellent. The specialty restaurants obviously have the best servers but we found some trying very hard in main dining rooms. Ocean blue was a great surprise for us. The seafood was wonderful as well as the service. Also no I Sheehan’s, name change to local. Served a great fast breakfast and menu upgrade. Overall a great trip Oh it did take 3 hours to get off ship thanks to customs border protection wow lots missed shuttles and tours was really ugly.. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Whoever designed these ships most have been on some drugs. When you hold all your games and talks in the Atrium, which has future cruises, guest services and and tours, you are asking for trouble. You have to yell at the person you are ... Read More
Whoever designed these ships most have been on some drugs. When you hold all your games and talks in the Atrium, which has future cruises, guest services and and tours, you are asking for trouble. You have to yell at the person you are talking to. For a show in the Atrium, they put out folding chairs, pay all that money to sit in a folding chair. They have a very nice theater which is underused. Why not show a movie on a sea day. Food is now right bad. No taste, weird things and slow service, even if they remember who got what. We had 8 of us and they either forgot things or gave them to the wrong people. The paid restaurants were not much better, Japanese was good and Ocean Blue, might have been the best restaurant I have ever been in while on a cruise. Service Fantastic, food better then any other place on the ship. Footloose was great, the other shows not very good. Worst comedians that I have ever seen with the female comedian disgusting. Nice things, the cabin, although it was dirty when we arrived, the bathroom great. The crew very nice. When it takes an hour to board and close to two hours to get off there is something wrong. Our tour of LA was cut short. The tour was suppose to leave at 9 and we left at 11:15. Come on if you had a tour let us off first. Last time for this line. Just the little things that they make you pay for. Try another cruise line, if you want service and better food. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I chose Norwegian because we cruised Mexico last year and just returned from a Panama Canal cruise. Both cruises have been enjoyable, but recent news, if true will make me think twice about cruising with them again. News is today that they ... Read More
I chose Norwegian because we cruised Mexico last year and just returned from a Panama Canal cruise. Both cruises have been enjoyable, but recent news, if true will make me think twice about cruising with them again. News is today that they are encouraging their sales force to tell people how safe it is on their ships and not to worry about Corona virus. To me, that is just plain stupid with the virus being most anywhere. Cruise ships are a giant Petri dish no matter how well they are cleaned. You have 3 to 5 thousand people living, eating and eliminating in a confined area. No matter how careful you are, you are going to touch something that has been contaminated. Personally, if I were to be considering a cruise right now, I would cancel out, especially if Norwegian messing with the truth in their sales department. That aside, I will say that we enjoyed the trip thru the Panama canal, but wished there had been different ports on the western side as we had just been to three of them last year. Our rooms were kept up very well and they were really encouraging people to wash their hand or use sanitizer all over the ship. One thing that we have found to be going downhill is the food service in the ship buffet. Most all foods served on this trip were barely warm, some were actually cool. This is a dangerous way to serve food in my opinion. The dining room food was excellent and hot. We ate a five of the specialty restaurants on board and found the staff and food EXCELLENT in the Ocean Blue. The food and staff was also very good in the LeBistro restaurant, but were disappointed that they had run out of escargot on the 13th day of our 16 day cruise. They also ran out of food items in the buffet,{Cafe}. When we went to Mexico last year on the Bliss, we really enjoyed the whiskey bar, but on the Joy, it seems like the bar was dark, dingy and unfriendly. I do want to compliment Norwegian on the drink package. The drinks were great and the bar staff, with the exception of the Joy's whiskey bar was great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently ... Read More
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently retired and it's time to travel while we're still able to do so. While working and limited to 7 days off, we did the East, West, and South Caribbean total 10 times over 17 years. This time we went to the Panama Canal area. ABC isles, Cartagena, Colon, Panama Canal, and Limon. from Miami. 12 days on the Norwegian Joy 020220 - 021420. Our Embarkation was terrible as we had to wait outside for 2 hours in hot weather as we were in a Carnival terminal (why?) and all passports were checked slowly for recent travel to China in lieu of the new Corona virus concerns (that's good that we were checked). The ship was very nice. Clean, recently updated, and very comfortable but for a very small pool on Deck 16. Most of that area is empty for lounging. The pool takes up less than 5% of the open deck area. It made for easy seating to view the Superbowl on departure day. Even though out of Miami where the Superbowl was, we had a Latin America TV feed with commercials for soccer and Cricket. The same 3 commercials all game, at every time out. Our cabin was inside (as we like it dark) and had a large shower and bathroom comparatively but little storage space (36" closet with 4 shelves on the inside. So I put my underwear and socks above the bed and n my night table. So what? We're only in the cabin to sleep, and when we've previously had a balcony we didn't use it at all. The food offerings were very tasty buy sparse. We ate breakfasts in the buffet when we had early excursions so we'd get out quickly, but opted for the dining rooms on days at sea or late port arrivals so we could have our favorite smoked salmon not offered at the buffet. For lunch we ate at the buffet only because there was a greater variety offered that the dining rooms. For supper, we ate only 4 of 12 nights in the dining rooms because we didn't like the menu options offered. On our previous cruises in Sept. and Oct. 2019 on NCL we had shrimp cocktail offered each night as an appetizer option as well as salmon. These options were missing, but I found them on the Haven (luxury suites with their own dining room above deck 16) every night instead. That's NCL trying to get us to pay big bucks for a small food option now considered premium. Boo! But nobody was going away hungry, ever. Also, the many main dish selections in the buffet at lunch and dinner had dwindled from many to several, and we found salad selections mixed with hot foods, kinda doubling up on the facings of the same thing. Lunch meats were ham, salami or (salty) turkey. Salads were fresh and fine, fruits were apples, oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple. only a handful of different hot offerings were given each day at lunch and dinner along with daily pizza, pasta, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, grilled chicken and french fries. White rice was everywhere. Onion soup was on every dinner menu buffet and dining rooms and only 1 other 'cream of'' soup: 2 soups daily. The India chef had a 'Taste Of India' section that was rarely visited by anyone and with dishes I never heard of before. I didn't go there at all. That should be fixed by rotating other country offerings nightly. But in general, all of the other food tasted excellent. Nightly entertainment was very good, with 3 shows (1 for fee - Wine Lovers) and broadway class performances of 'Footloose' and 'Elements' (same show we saw in the Western Mediterranean in October on the N. Epic (Now THAT was a ship with a lousy cabin setup). Other nightly entertainment offerings were a Beatles cover band twice in the theater and 4 times at the Cavern bar (excellent), 4 different comedians in the Social Club, and 2 singers (one was a duet 1st time including the cruise director DanDan who was a surprise tenor with a wonderful voice). Service in the buffet was excellent, and the dining room was hit or miss as we had only one bad experience. But I'd still give service 5 stars. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao thrice before, but our Bonaire experience (first visit) was a bad tour vehicle with limited vision, no loudspeaker, and 2-1/2 hours until a bathroom stop and it was given by a tour operator Voyager Bonaire Tours. My mom said if you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything. 'Nuf said. Shore excursions by NCL were very good but expensive. In the ABC islands, we opted for the excursion tents for tours to give the money to the locals. These tents are right outside the ship entrance. Except for Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao were very good and for $20 or $25 pp, you get an equivalent $79-$99 NCL tour. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands here as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao twice. But the Cartagena, Colon, and Limon ports had no such tents and also high crime rates in the first two. So we opted to stay safe and use NCL cruises to be safe and it was the right thing to do. We took NCL's "Exploring Magnificent Cartagena" as our tour. As soon as we got off the tour bus at every stop we were hounded by sidewalk vendors with jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, coin collection cards, you name it! Dozens, no hundreds of vendors suffocating us no matter which way we turned. It was worse than I could ever imagine. I sat down with my wife at an outdoors area for a drink and Columbian coffee (a must) and were besieged constantly by at least 20 of them in 15 minutes. We were safe but under duress. "No thank you". No thank you. No. No thank you. You run out of no thank you's all day long and at every stop. It was suffocating and left a bad taste of the city. The NCL tour there was very good, visiting the large fort "Castille San Felipe de Barajas" outside only (enough), then on to "Palacio De La Museo Historico de Cartagena" which showed the torture history of previous eras, and a cultural exposition "Exposicion Derivas" which featured a native dance troupe. Next day in Colon (as far as I'm concerned pronounce it both ways) we took the NCL tour "Former Canal Zone History and Miraflores Locks" and for $79 pp it was a bargain. We made a stop at a Latin 7-11 with 2 policemen standing guard with automatic weapons in front. Very clean but unsettling. We stopped next at the Goethals monument for a nice photo. After a total 1 hour drive, we arrived at the Pacific side of the canal.Then we went to the Miraflores canal locks. There was an IMAX theater (we didn't get tickets) and saw a 12 minute film. We then went up to a grandstand looking over the locks and watched as the locks opened and closed and a 5000 car carrying ship went through, guided by electronic 'mules'. It was a wonderful experience. When we left, we drove back to the ship, Just outside the ship is the slums, with partially demolished but standing buildings that look line WWII photos of bombed out streets. We were warned in advance not to visit as even near the ports people can be mugged in broad daylight without any repercussions. The next day was the Panama Canal transit. It started at 5 AM and we went through 3 locks, turned around and went back through the same by 2:30 PM. It was sort of Deja Vu as we witnessed it up close on the Pacific side the day before at Miraflores. It's still an engineering marvel not to be missed. The next day was our last port of call, Puerta Limon (Limon) Costa Rica. This is a nature area with rainforests. A Biologists dream come true. Again no port cruise tents here. We signed up for NCL's tour "Caribbean Train, Eco Cruise and Countryside" ($79pp). We were bused offroad first to an old rickety wooden 3 car train for a 50 minute ride through the rainforest. Take the seats on the left side as the right has the ocean most of the way. I loved it. Like traveling in the '30s. We got off and were taken by bus past a very large banana plantation for miles. We arrived at 'EcoJungle Natural Tours'a ' for a short river cruise past sloths, lizards, and birds. It was fun and enjoyable. It was also not full of bugs so I was told that the repellent I used was not needed. We went back for complimentary pineapple and tea and took the bus back to the ship. We had 2 days at sea to return to Miami. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 9th cruise on Norwegian and our 17th cruise overall. This was our first time on the Norwegian Joy. Due to the size of this very large ship, embarkation was a bit frustrating with very long lines, but once we were on the ship, ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise on Norwegian and our 17th cruise overall. This was our first time on the Norwegian Joy. Due to the size of this very large ship, embarkation was a bit frustrating with very long lines, but once we were on the ship, that was almost forgotten. The Norwegian is only a few years old and is beautiful and clean. The ship has a lot of activities including a race car track and laser tag, for an extra fee, of course. Both were fun to do at least once. The pool deck is very large, but it was often difficult to find an open lounge chair because people will place a towel on a chair and leave it there all day, even if they are no longer on the pool deck. That is very frustrating! In the evenings, the staff clears off the loungers and puts out chairs to watch a movie on the enormous outdoor movie screen. We enjoyed several outdoor movies during the cruise. We did notice that on the 5 sea days during the cruise, there were not touch day time activities. If you did not want to lounge by the pool (if you could find a chair), then you were left to entertain yourself. During the evenings, there were so much to do that we were not able to do everything that we wanted to do. We ate in every restaurant on the ship at least once with the exception of the American Diner. Le Bistro, Cagneys, La Cucina and Ocean Blue were excellent as usual. Tempanyaki was good but way too much salt and garlic, but it was fun talking to the other guests at our table. We did not like Food Republic. The Korean beef and the Tempanyaki chicken had the same sauce which was strange. The food never looked the same on the table as it did in the pictures. We were not impressed with this restaurant although the service was good. We definitely did not like the BBQ restaurant call The Q. The beef brisket was overcooked and everything tasted the same. The banana pudding was very gelatinous and lacked flavor. We will not return to this restaurant. We saw the play Footloose. The acting and singing were average in our opinion and it did not live up to the hype. We had already seen the other play Elements on a different ship, so we did not go to that one. One night we say the Beatles Review concert that was excellent! We went to multiple comedy shows on the 6th deck. All were extremely funny, and we would definitely recommend these if you like comedy. Make sure you sign up for the shows that you want on the first day of the cruise. Otherwise you have to wait in a standby line, but most people got in anyway. On the last day of the cruise at 12 noon we saw the play called "Wine Lovers, The Musical". I believe we paid $25 per person. The play was cute and funny. The meal was average but included 7 glasses of wine in total. There were 3 glasses of white wine and 2 glasses of red wine during the main course. Then there were 2 glasses of dessert wines. We sat with 3 other couples at a table for 8 and thoroughly enjoyed their company. I think we were the last table to leave. I would definitely recommend this event for the entertainment value. It was so much fun! The first three ports were Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. We did not take excursions at these ports, but did our own thing. We went to the caves in Curacoa which was different and fun. We went snorkeling in Bonaire which was amazing! And we went to a private beach and swam in Aruba. All 3 days were fun and relaxing. The next port was Cartegena, Columbia. We signed up for an excursion that was only a boat ride over to and from the city. The boat ride was relaxing and avoided the road traffic. We went into the Spanish Inquisition Museum, the Gold Museum and the chocolate factory which were all interesting. We shopped in the mom and pop stores and bought some pretty paintings and other souvenirs. We stayed in the Old Town the entire time and always felt safe. The street vendors were a bit annoying but not as bad as we had read about in other reviews. The next port was Colon, Panama. We took an excursion call Two Oceans by Railroad. We road in an old but pretty train to Panama City on the Pacific Ocean. We were able to take some pictures and buy some sourvenirs, but then back on a bus to Colon. On the way back we stopped at Agua Clara which is a platform where you can watch ships go the the Panama Canal. It is a very different perspective than watching while you are on the ship. We also saw a short film about the making of the canal. The next day the Norwegian Joy went through the Panama Canal. We went through 3 locks to get to Gutan Lake. After about an hour, we turned around and went back through the same 3 locks, as our trip was round trip out of Miami. It was very cool to see the ship rise more than 80 feet from lock #1 to lock #3. This was a very enjoyable day. The last port was Puerto Limon. We went on a private tour with Relay Day Tours. The tour was excellent, and there is a lengthy review on TripAdvisor. We chose a private tour because we wanted a small group instead of a large busload. It was awesome! Overall I gave the cruise a 4 out of 5 stars. We did not give it 5 stars because of the extremely long wait at embarkation, the lack of activities during the day, the lack of pool lounge chairs, and some of the restaurants and shows did not impress. Otherwise, great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, ... Read More
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, where we had planned to meet family members. We don't think it is fair to offer no explanation for changes of this magnitude. This is a newer ship that is spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. There is a lovely Observation Deck and lounge on the 15th floor, with lots of nice seating and quiet space. There are a few nice places to sit outside along the 8th deck as well. Unfortunately, the ship pipes in music CONSTANTLY along the deck, as well as in the Garden Cafe (buffet). This can be very annoying, especially early in the morning when it is nice to have quiet time and also when you are seeking a quiet space to just listen to the waves, read a book, or enjoy the moonlight.Our stateroom was spacious and comfortable, with lots of storage and a large bathroom. Instead of having a private deck, we opted for a larger family room because we were originally planning to take our adult daughter who is handicapped. I'm glad we ended up not taking her . . . the elevators were very slow and extremely crowded. I would strongly recommend that the Joy consider having a handicapped only elevator and more handicapped accessibility features for the comfort of these guests. Another disappointing space is the Atrium. This area, which includes the guest services desk is being used as their main gathering space and it is SO loud and crowded! They set up folding chairs every day to accommodate the crowds. Unfortunately, there is no larger central dance hall space on the ship to handle large group events. There is also only one pool area with two fairly small saltwater pools and a kid's pool to accommodate over 4000 guests. So much space was used to provide a relatively unused race track, mini-golf course, and laser tag area. Remember, the vast majority of guests are over 60. There were other spaces for kids.Honestly, small hotels offer more pool space and bigger hot tubs than this huge cruise ship. The class system is alive and well on the Joy, giving lots of special privileges and choice spaces for those who can afford it. One of the biggest slaps to the average passenger is that all the reserved seats for the Social Club Comedy room were used up by Haven guests, so everyone else needed to wait in line for up to an hour if they wanted to see the shows. Again, the room is packed full with folding chairs to accommodate guests. In general, all the bars and clubs with live entertainment were much too small. Another solution would be to offer more entertainment with a more equitable distribution so everyone would have opportunities to to see them. The Beatles group was terrific, but again,the lines to get in the Cavern were sometimes over an hour long. Advance reservations to see Footloose and Elements in the theater are an absolute MUST because they are only shown on a couple nights. Most of the other entertainment was just okay, as was the food. We had both good and bad meals, with most being just average. The ship does not have ANY water filling stations, so in order to refill a water bottle, you need to go all the way to the cafeteria on 15th floor and fill it from water glasses. They would like you to buy bottled water, which is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. We also had a mix of impressions of the Shore Excursions. In general, they were very expensive for what you receive in return. Norwegian Cruise lines should be ashamed for including and promoting the exploitation of human beings in Colon, Columbia. People are not to be gawked at as exhibitions, as the Embera people were on many of their sponsored Shore Excursions. Even if the Embera people volunteered to do this, it is reminiscent of the days when the US staged American Indian pageants, pretending that our native American people still lived as they did hundreds of years ago. The whole staged show is an inappropriate lie to the public in order to sell products, who seemed to eat it up as truth. it would be interesting to find out where most of the money for the products goes. If it truly goes to the tribes and if the products are truly made by the tribes that would be nice, but they could still be honest with the public about their current way of life and all it entails. The staff on this ship was EXTREMELY friendly and did an excellent job, from cleaning to waiting tables. We were very happy with that part of our trip and hope these people are paid well. Our itinerary to the Panama Canal, ABC islands, Columbia, and Costa Rica was wonderful, although we really would have liked to have had our day in Santa Marta, as well as have a morning time slot in Cartagena, instead of the hot afternoon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual ... Read More
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual flavor of each place. We kind of enjoyed the relaxation of two sea days both starting and ending the cruise. There were the ABC's-Aruba, Bonair & Curacao. We chose the basic 'see the island' excursions to experience the particular flavor of each- aloe vera factory, salt harvesting, flora/fauna, climbing outcrops, caves, and ... seeing deserts for a large part of them! Because of scheduling changes, we only had time for a great lunch in only one, Curacao- an outdoor table in a charming bistro sheltered by trees. ..and riding the wild pontoon bridge as it opened! We ventured into the 'Old City' of Cartagena, Columbia, a large cluster of shops, restaurants and chapels surrounded by a centuries-old stone wall. Great for shopping and photos, but lousy with street vendors who continually swarmed you like mosquitoes. One even sat down at our bistro table and tried to sell us dominos! There was a nature garden/zoo a short walk from our dock, to provide further photo ops. The Panama two day stop provided various excursions to experience the country- we chose the bus/walking tour of New/Old Panama City, experiencing the third world flavor (like a torn-down 12 foot high wall separating the rich section from the poor) and actually seeing the Pacific. The port city itself, Colon, was NOT recommended as a tourist exploration site. The canal itself was kind of overwhelming- waking before dawn to a full moon on the water, seeing the array of waiting ships, riding our 1100' cruise ship through three locks, rising up 85', turning around in Lake Gatin, then back out to the Caribbean sea. 7 hours experience in all. Final stop was Puerta Limon, Costa Rica- taking a canal/jungle cruise with animal spotting, then a train ride through banana plantations. They had a huge cluster of shops for last minute shopping next to the docking area. AS TO THE CRUISE, my wife and I differ. I am of the opinion that 3800 passengers is JUST TOO DAMN MANY. The ship was beautiful, with room for ALL kind of diversions- almost a dozen restaurants, huge theater, 60 foot water slides, and two story race car track. The normal pool area was replaced by a floor, to accommodate billions of beach chairs, and two smallish pools, the size of a large room. There was an activity going every minute of the day, and choice of 8 music acts (besides the theater 'Footloose' musical, Circe du Soleil clone, and other performers). It was refreshing to be surrounded by 95% shipmates as old as us; definitely friendly and courteous interactions through out. BUT EVERYTHING WAS A WAIT- elevators, bars, restaurant food service, concierge service, etc. Wifi wasn't bad, depending on time of day. It JUST BUGS me. Even walking to our room I felt like we were walking the gauntlet. I felt bad for the EXTREMELY HARDWORKING staff to be the target of occasional impatient outcries. Also annoying was the fact that we had to correct 4 misbilled items on our room check over the 12 days, each entailing another wait in lines.. A MAJOR PROBLEM WAS a change in scheduling when the JOY arrived to pick us up- it was late, a terminal had to be reassigned, luggage moved for some, and they were playing catch up to process. The actual boarding was 2-3 hours late and all 3800 folk were packed into the boarding area trying to hear the PA system announcements. Again, the staff did do a great job trying to get us registered. A final strangeness was new procedures put in place to combat spread of virus's (The Joy apparently had two norovirus outbreaks in December). For the first 3 days, all access to buffet food was made by staff, and menus were paper, not books. I guess there was a 'quarantine' period delay in place. Don't let my annoyances cloud the fact that we had a SPLENDID time, both onship and off. The food in the specialty restaurants seemed a step above normally good, and even the middle tier sitdowns were 4/5 stars. Entertainment was great, and where else can you walk from a brew pub to a whiskey bar to a mojito bar while traversing the sea? And once again, thanks to the hardworking staff, who made this excursion great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Panama Canal on our bucket list, awarded thru Casino for interior room so good opportunity to do this with small discount. I was hesitant going with another NCL bigger ship since our Thanksgiving Cruise on the get a way wasn’t that ... Read More
Panama Canal on our bucket list, awarded thru Casino for interior room so good opportunity to do this with small discount. I was hesitant going with another NCL bigger ship since our Thanksgiving Cruise on the get a way wasn’t that good. This ship however was a pleasant experience; the staff across the entire ship were welcoming, always greeting guests. I enjoyed the layout on this ship so much more than their getaway from Casino, decor, & staff. They were taking all precautions with the Noro & recent corona virus’s constantly cleaning, & really insuring folks we’re washing hands. The food in buffet was often better than their main dining rooms where service was still sometimes an issue. They had excellent shows on this ship from the footloose musical, Russian aerialists & especially the Beatles production. The local restaurant which is included served great food 24/7. Highly recommend the chicken pot pie! The water slide was fun. I really enjoyed the laid back vibe on this trip, anytime dining with no worry of dressing up too much. I had no complaints or bad experiences on this 12 day cruise & would Cruise again on Joy. Our bartenders on the aft end H2O bar Cristian, Juancho & Mike were awesome! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 8th NCL cruise but our first on a large ship. My wife and I were a bit concerned about the size, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that large doesn't necessarily mean crowded and congested. Although there are a ... Read More
This was our 8th NCL cruise but our first on a large ship. My wife and I were a bit concerned about the size, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that large doesn't necessarily mean crowded and congested. Although there are a couple of areas that can get a bit busy at times, particularly the front elevator banks and the Atrium, you could always find a quiet spot to relax and unwind. My wife and I chose this cruise because we hadn't cruised the Mexican Riviera yet and were intrigued by the idea of cruising from coast-to-coast through the Canal. We also thought it would be a good way to escape the cold confines of South Dakota for a couple of weeks. This turned out to be an even better outcome than we could have expected. Due to the unexpected nature of winter weather in the Midwest, we decided to fly out of Omaha, Nebraska, the day before the cruise. This turned out to be a wise decision as the area we departed from experienced a major snow storm the following day. After an uneventful flight from Omaha through Salt Lake City to LA, we arrived just before noon and hired a Lyft driver to drive us to a hotel near the port. The next morning we took another Lyft the remaining 5-10 minutes to the pier. We arrived early around 9:30, so were only the second couple in line waiting to go through Security. As we waited in the covered area outside the Security building, the line behind us began to grow and gradually expanded beyond the covered area. After about an hour, we were finally able to enter the security area and proceed from there to the check-in counters. The check-in counters are arranged by the deck your cabin is on and, being the first-in-line for Deck 10, we were able to walk right up to the counter and were checked-in in about 5 minutes. We quickly found a seat near the embarkation gangway to begin our wait for the boarding call. Evidently, the embarkation must have been delayed longer than expected, because the terminal area finally filled to it's max capacity and they had to shut down the check-in counters. It wasn't too much longer after this, however, that they did start the embarkation process and things seemed to get back on track. As other reviewers have already noted, the Joy is in like-new condition. The pool deck is a little odd in its pool layout due to the retrofit from the China market. However, this does allow for a larger area for the deck loungers, so there never seemed to be a problem finding an open deck chair or lounger. Our Mini-Suite on Deck 10 was just a few doors down from the landing with the forward stairs and elevator banks. This turned out to be an ideal location as it was just 3 decks down to the Theater and a few steps through the elevator banks to The Local. These forward elevator areas do tend to get a bit congested at times, but we found out a little patience and pre-planning can help mitigate some of the frustration you may encounter. We ate in all of the main dining areas (Savor, Taste, Manhattan, Local and Buffet) and found them all to be good to excellent. The food was generally hot and flavorful and we didn't encounter any excessive delays in service. The staff was always friendly and often asked if we had a show or other event we needed to get to. We also ate in several of the specialty restaurants; Q, Cagney's, Ocean Blue and Teppenyaki (twice). They were all excellent and the service was impeccable. This was also our first time participating in a Cruise Critic Roll Call. Although we didn't participate in all the events the group set up, we did attend the sail-away get together in Spice H20 and the M&M the next day at sea which was held in the District Brew House. We were particularly impressed with the effort that NCL made to make this event thoroughly enjoyable. We were met at the door with specially prepared fruit smoothies and the Cruise Director, Dan Dan, and several of the ship's officers were there to greet and welcome us to the cruise. This is also the first cruise that I can remember seeing the ship's officers, including the Captain, out and about the ship mingling with and conversing with the passengers on a regular basis. This added a nice personal touch to the cruise that truly makes you feel at home and a part of the Norwegian family. On the entertainment side of things, there are so many things to do it's hard to fit them all in, even on a 16 day cruise. We made reservations for Footloose and Elements in advance of the cruise as recommended, and both were exceptionally well done. We also saw the comedians (at The Social and Theater), the ventriloquist (Phil Hughes), the hypnotist (Doug MacCraw), the magician (PC Lai), the Beatles tribute band, and the comedian juggler (Dan Bennet). They were all very good, especially Dan Bennet, who we had seen on a previous NCL cruise and thoroughly enjoyed his show. His rapid-fire wit and commentary will have you struggling to keep up with his non-stop narration and juggling prowess. The performers in the Atrium every day and evening were very good, but the volume was often louder that we would have liked. We did not visit the Arcade, Galaxy Pavilion or the Casino, but did try the Speedway; which was fun but a bit on the expensive side at $15 per person. We used our $50 per cabin credit for most of our port excursions through NCL. The only exception was a 10 in 1 Ultimate Puntarenas Highlights & Lunch in Costa Rica with Thumbs Up tours. This is an exceptional experience with up-close encounters with Capuchin monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, crocodiles and a scenic hilltop lunch. It's also inexpensive with very knowledgeable and personable tour guides. The weather was fantastic throughout the cruise with sunny skies and smooth sailing conditions. Although the sun could get quite intense during the middle of the day, there always seemed to be a cooling breeze and it was always pleasant in the shade. The day we cruised through the Canal was partly cloudy to mostly sunny, so that helped to keep the heat and humidity in check for the most part. The only thing that kept this cruise from being completely perfect was the sickness that started to permeate the ship toward the end of the cruise. There was evidently enough respiratory and intestinal issues going through the ship, along with the Corona Virus news, that the crew started taking precautionary steps to make sure everyone stayed as healthy as possible. Consequently, all condiments and place settings were removed from the tables in the Buffet, and all the food and drinks in the Buffet area were served by staff wearing rubber gloves. We did notice that there were several guests that had persistent coughs and talked to some that had been quarantined on the ship for a period of time due to illness. On a large ship with nearly 4000 passengers, it would be expected that there would be some illness in a population that large but, the previous Norovirus incident on the Joy and the current Corona Virus scare, had the NCL staff taking no chances (to their credit). All-in-all, this cruise exceeded our expectations and we would like to thank NCL for making this a truly enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This ship was very clean and well maintained. The electronic door openers may have seemed like a good idea but when you are trying to keep germs at a minimum, having everyone touch the openers to open doors is not a good idea. They need to ... Read More
This ship was very clean and well maintained. The electronic door openers may have seemed like a good idea but when you are trying to keep germs at a minimum, having everyone touch the openers to open doors is not a good idea. They need to post a sign by these openers and tell people to use their elbow or the back of their hands to activate them. In general, I feel that all NCL cruise ship food in the buffet and free dining rooms is lackluster. Every night, in all three dining rooms, for 16 days, we had the same choice of entrees with just one or two different options. I feel like they scrimp on their free food so that you pay to upgrade to their specialty restaurants. The “Elements” show was very entertaining but all the other entertainment options were lackluster. The Speedway was unique and a fun experience. The slides were fun and the pools nice. I wouldn’t want to be on this ship with a lot of kids because the adult pool is small and it was difficult to find chairs in the pool area. The Panama Canal transit was amazing! This was certainly the highlight of the trip! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We took the Norwegian Joy from LA to Miami on Jan 17, 2020 because it went through the Panama Canal, which was on out bucket list. We have done several cruises on various cruise lines, but this was our first Norwegian cruise. It is also ... Read More
We took the Norwegian Joy from LA to Miami on Jan 17, 2020 because it went through the Panama Canal, which was on out bucket list. We have done several cruises on various cruise lines, but this was our first Norwegian cruise. It is also our last Norwegian cruise. Embarking/Disembarking This was the worst embarking experience we have had in 15 cruises. Very long line and wait times. No explanations as to why. Worst embarkation ever. This was the worst disembarking experience we have had in 15 cruises. They got 2 hours behind scheduled disembarking times. Worst disembarkation ever. Service The service on the Joy was not exceptional like other cruise ship. The service in the main dining rooms was excruciatingly slow, not just once in a while but always. And when we did get our food, it was usually not hot. Quite often they would get orders mixed up or not bring a complete order. We were actually surprised because we have never experienced such poor service on a cruise ship before. Food In general, food in the buffet and main dining rooms was disappointing and boring. Not what we have been used to on other cruises. Every night, in all three main dining rooms, for 16 days, we had the same choice of entrees with just one or two different options. Fish, beef, or chicken. We missed having prime rib, duck, lamb, lobster. You had to go to a specialty restaurant to get those. It seems like they do this so that you have to pay extra to upgrade to their specialty restaurants. Some of the beef meals we got were tough and inedible. The same chicken meal ordered on different days were quite different, spicy one time, not the other. The soups were often very salty. Desserts were disappointing as well. Entertainment The entertainment on the Joy was pretty good. Footloose and Elements were excellent. There were some very funny comedians/jugglers. Po the magician was a joke. There is a problem with the theater being way too small for the amount of passengers on the ship. If you got there 30 minutes before the show, you might not get a seat. There was a tribute Beatles band that were very good. The problem with them was that they were featured in a very small venue (50 seats) called the Cavern. We never did get to see them perform in the Cavern, even though we got there an hour before show time on several nights. Very disappointing. We did get to see them in the main theater however. They did a second main theater show but it was exactly same as the first. They have go-carts and laser-tag but you have to pay extra for them. Itinerary Started out bad as the itinerary kept changing in the months before we even left home. The stop in Costa Rica was at a cargo ship yard. Nice view of cargo containers. There was absolutely no touristy things around. You had to pay $15 to get a shuttle to the nearest town (20 miles away). There was a free shuttle to the dock gate, but nothing to see or do there. The Panama Canal crossing was interesting but was not on schedule. Communication Very poor communication on the ship about what was going on. Especially for when non-scheduled events were happening. Most people were puzzled and confused as to what was happening. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The Joy is, unquestionably, a beautiful ship. That being stated, there are several deficiencies as to the ability to handle 3800+ guests. The theater is not able to handle the crowds and unless you got there at least 30 minutes prior to ... Read More
The Joy is, unquestionably, a beautiful ship. That being stated, there are several deficiencies as to the ability to handle 3800+ guests. The theater is not able to handle the crowds and unless you got there at least 30 minutes prior to a show, odds are that you wouldn't get a seat. I have never, ever experienced this issue on any other cruises. Additionally, both the Cavern Club (the Beatles tribute band venue) and the Social (stand up comedians venue) are woefully undersized. To go to a performance in the Cavern Club, you had to get in line a full hour before the show (which is 45 minutes!). Huge lines at the Social as well. It is clear that NCL has significantly (repeat - SIGNIFICANTLY) cheapened the offerings in the main dining rooms. Pretty much every night, you'd look at the menu and really struggle to find something appealing. No shrimp cocktails (ever!), no lobster night, and the utilization of really cheap fish varieties (swai, bluefish, etc). I guess that they really want you to buy additional nights in the specialty restaurants (which we did!). Additionally, even on a 16 night cruise, they never changed the limited lunch menu in the main dining rooms (or La Cucina, where Concierge Class could eat breakfast and lunch). Obviously, this is crazy! The specialty restaurants were wonderful. We dined in them 9 out of the 16 nights and loved every meal. It was clear to us that if we were ever to travel again on this ship, Concierge Class is an absolute necessity. Embarkation in LA was an absolute nightmare and the debarkation process in Miami was no better. Lines were beyond comprehension if you were not Concierge or guests in the Haven. You'd think they'd have these processes figured out, but it was utter chaos in both places. That being said, we had an absolutely fabulous concierge who did not have the word "no" in his vocabulary! This really enhanced the trip. Additionally, as noted in other reviews, the staff overall was as good as any we've ever had on a cruise. Kudos to NCL for what is obviously a terrific training program. Ports: Most were fine, but Acapulco is a disaster and there is virtually nothing to see on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. 40 years ago, we went to Acapulco a few times and it was "the" place to go in Mexico. Now, it's in shambles. No cruise ship should be going there. The cabin: Concierge Family Inside Suite. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! At 561 sq.ft., it was larger than our son's apartment in Brooklyn! It was comprised of 2 bedrooms, a living room, and 2 bathrooms (master bath with a double sink and bathtub). It is designed for up to 6 passengers, but as there were virtually no families on this sailing, NCL offered it at prices far below normal. While we occasionally missed having a balcony (especially while crossing the Panama Canal, we'd gladly sacrifice the balcony for this cabin any time. Now, we're spoiled!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Norwegian Joy Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 3.7
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.3
Family 3.5 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.5 3.0
Service 4.5 3.9
Value For Money 3.5 3.2

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