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BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I’ve cruised 41 times, mostly solo, all over the world,and am an active, enthusiastic, cruise-loving adult traveler. NCL’s weekend getaway cruise from New York City in the dead of winter appeared to be a good change of pace, and I booked a mini-suite for this trip. From past experience, I realized this cruise would be a “party cruise” atmosphere, but hoped for tolerable conditions, and I missed the ocean and needed another cruise “fix”. I used Amtrak’s Acela express to New York from my home town, first class, and it was superb, with return home the same pleasant way. HOTEL: I stayed at my favorite hotel in New York, the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square, and received their usual warm and royal service. It’s about a 15 minute ride from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal piers. The few minor glitches with the hotel were taken care of to my complete satisfaction. EMBARKATION: This is where things began to go wrong. The ship holds over 4200 passengers, and they all apparently got there early. The reservations agents I spoke with, multiple times, told me that porters load passenger’s bags for them on this cruise. The cruise line emails an information “booklet”, and it states how to put the luggage tag on one’s bags and they will be delivered to the stateroom. When I arrived at the pier, several surly and grouchy people from the cruise line, presumably, were barking orders at people to just keep moving, keep moving and there was no baggage service. Inside the pier terminal, the heat was going full blast, and the lines of people filled the building, snaking back and forth. Some people had been in the city or traveling long enough to have large luggage, and some were elderly, struggling to push and pull their bags with them because of no porter service. The NCL-uniformed agents kept barking at people to keep moving, keep moving. It was like the old descriptions of Ellis Island and the refugees struggling in lines with their bags. I was in line (and I’m a Latitudes Member in NCL’s loyalty program, which had an “expedited” check-in line) for 90 minutes. Normal check-in for cruises in my experience is 15 minutes. Agents had problems with their computers, and other NCL personnel kept misdirecting passengers to the wrong lines. Security checkpoints were manned by grumpy, surly agents who stood and watched while people struggled to lift full-size suitcases onto the conveyor belts of the scanners. Once through this area, there were unclear, tiny, and poorly placed signs as to where exactly one could finally get on the ship. That took another 15 minutes in the maze of people and locked doors to finally reach the gangway. The gangway was extended into a long, huge zigzag climb at a steep angle. I’m fit and strong, but many people again struggled to climb up the steep ramp while hauling their bags. No help was visible that I could see. Upon entering the ship, no “welcome committee” of crew members, just deadly serious security people at their podiums who scanned the passenger ID cards. I entered a crowded vestibule of some sort, filled with cigarette smoke and mobs of humanity lining up for elevators. The blasting, blaring rock music made any conversation impossible, and was horrible. It took forever to get jammed into an overloaded elevator and finally reach my cabin on deck 11. The critical, important SOLAS law-mandated lifeboat and emergency drill was chaotic and unruly. At my muster station, there was a huge crowd of boisterous, drunk, noisy, inattentive, shouting, cell-phone using, selfie-taking, profane people who were so loud you could not hear anything. The officer on the public address system was trying to get some degree of order, and to quiet people down, but people just yelled him down, even when he said if we did not “shut up and pay attention, we would do this again tomorrow”. Inappropriate comments about what people had been doing to make them late for the drill were embarrassing to listen to, especially when shouted by staggering drunks. I heard the “F” word more times than I care to remember, as well as other swearing. Between the ill-informed passengers, the narrow corridors on cabin decks, and the badly delivered drill (recording nearly inaudible above the noise level), I had honest doubts about getting off that ship alive in an emergency. People paid no attention to the instructions, officers and crew who worked very hard to deliver life-saving and legally required information before the ship sailed, and I feel that somebody in authority should have called the captain to the scene for order, and to have some of the worst of the drunks removed from the vessel before it sailed. There is a difference between happy people enjoying themselves and out of control drunkenness and bad behavior, and this cruise reminded me of an animal house mentality where company profit mattered more than how the passengers behaved and affected other passengers. I love to see people happy and having a good time on a cruise, as I myself enjoy doing, but not to the degree where it affects my health and safety on a ship. SHIP INFORMATION: The Norwegian Breakaway is a monster at over 145,000 tons, with gaudy hull art that is eye-catching in its own unique way. The sheer size of this vessel would stop traffic anywhere, but it is not really attractive either inside or out. Due to cold and later stormy weather, all I saw of the ship was my cabin deck and the several entertainment, dining, and shopping venue areas. The ship’s décor reminded me strongly of a modern New York office building, with dark functional colors, odd lighting, and a lot of sharp corners, use of metals, and nothing remarkable enough to even comment on. The casino was huge in the ship’s center, and open, and smoking is allowed in that area and/or areas in close proximity to the extent that the strong cigarette smoke odor is sucked into the ship’s ventilation system and spreads throughout most of the ship. With all the metal in the ship, the noise level is such a roar that it’s impossible to converse in normal tones anywhere, or to be heard. ACTIVITIES: There were plenty of activities on the ship’s daily newsletter, aimed at the party atmosphere. For whatever reason, I always marvel at ship activity planners who don’t seem to realize that people on party cruises stay up late – yet all the activities relating to fitness seem to be at dawn or shortly thereafter. I don’t “party”, and took this cruise mainly for the boat ride, not having to cook for two days, possible good exercise options and socializing – plus I love to sleep on ships while they are underway at sea. The only “activity” I did and thoroughly enjoyed was the 8 AM Zumba class. The handsome, young male dance entertainer from the Dominican Republic gave the best Zumba class I’ve had in years, and as I’m a former professional dancer, the two of us really burned up the floor for a marvelous solid hour of good music and dance moves. Shopping was popular with the “captive audience” crowd – nobody could go outside due to storm conditions with rough sailing and high winds. The casino rocked out 24/7, and there were several theatrical productions and shows at night. I could not get reservations for any of the shows at the time convenient to me, but having seen enough cruise ship shows, it wasn’t a problem for me. I was thrilled just to read quietly and relax in my cabin, as the rough trip didn’t really encourage a lot of activity, especially outdoors – I would have enjoyed the ropes course in good weather, however. The internet service on the ship was the slowest I’ve ever seen, and outrageously expensive. I only was able to connect once for a few minutes from an IPad, after paying for 30 minutes of internet access. There were frequent, raucous, tacky announcements loudly on the ship PA system throughout the day about the money-maker activities such as the art auctions, gambling, and shopping opportunities. Every little thing on this ship for sale was overpriced, and every opportunity to make money for the cruise line was the priority. The cruise director was a total disaster. The first time I heard his off-key, terrible, singing on a PA announcement, I thought it was one of the drunk passengers who had somehow gotten access to the PA and was trying do karaoke. This singing prelude to early morning announcements on the ship and at debarkation were absolutely awful and dreadful to hear and start the day with. The way this cruise was presented overall made one of Carnival’s legendary bad trips look like a high-end cruise in comparison. SERVICE: This was a very serious, almost depressed bunch of crew on this cruise. I did not see one smile, and I kept overhearing crew discussing how many months, weeks, days, and hours it would be until they could get off the ship and go home. Not a good sign. The crew were attractive and international for the most part, but some of them had problems with enough English to communicate with. I never got accurate answers from the guest relations desk crew, either in person or by telephone while on the ship. Service in the dining room was very good, just serious. It was like being on a cruise with a robot crew. My cabin steward did his job, but the cabin was not serviced until afternoon on the one full day at sea. I waited in the public areas as long as possible, but the cigarette smoke aggravated my allergy to it and I was forced to return to my cabin eventually. I was there when my cabin steward showed up finally to make up the cabin, and he was mature and nice, but also seemed depressed and all I heard was how long it would be until he could go home. I was not impressed at all by the service – just the lack of it from seemingly miserable people. The last morning of the cruise, no statement appeared under my door as we were told to expect, despite seeing the statements in and partially under other cabin doors in my vicinity, and when I phoned guest relations, I was told rather nastily to just pick it up myself in person. I insisted on having it delivered and somebody pounded on the door and woke me up to give it to me, despite the electronic light above the door clearly indicating not to disturb. When I asked early in the trip where the room service menu was in my cabin, or might I please have a menu at the guest services desk, the young man on duty told me he would get one right away – and then was stopped by his supervisor, who stated that this trip had no room service. Reservations told me several times that I’d enjoy the room service available on this particular cruise. The one pleasant exception to the lack of service noted above was the hostess at the Tepanyaki restaurant, who graciously cancelled my prepaid reservation and waived the cancel fee when I checked the menu, found everything either loaded with garlic and/or had foods I can’t tolerate, and I told the hostess I had to cancel as I could not eat the food there – this saved me $25. There is the option available to raise or lower the prepaid gratuities, and I should have lowered the tips based on what I received. After trying to deal with the guest relations staff many times with poor results, however, I decided it wasn’t worth it, and they would probably have not done it right anyway. EXCURSIONS: Since this cruise was only 36 hours, it offered pre- and post-cruise New York City excursions which I did not participate in, and can’t give any feedback on. CABIN: I had a deck 11 midship mini-suite, which seemed slightly smaller than the average regular balcony cabin on most ships. The décor was depressing, with more “office building” feeling. Dark colors, sharp metallic edges, cheap fake wood and other hard surfaces. Extremely narrow balcony with two chairs and a tiny table. Balcony wall was full glass with a sliding door. The queen bed was two twins connected, and very comfortable with decent linens. The AC system did not work when I first got to the cabin and I had to call the engineer to fix it. Be aware that this ship has key-card activation for electricity use in the cabin! No card in the slot in the cabin equals no electricity. There are no drawers in the cabin, just shelves, but they are quite adequate. I found the refrigerator locked, and called to have somebody open it. Nobody ever appeared to do this despite repeated calls. There was no ice in the ice bucket. Also, oddly, no pen, notepad, usual book about how things work and where things are on the ship, no map of the ship, no postcards, nothing. It was like the cabin was completely stripped of anything moveable by somebody and not replenished or even checked. Only the bolted-down TV and phone and small refrigerator were in the cabin as standard items, but had they not been bolted to the ship, I would not have been surprised if they had been removed, also. Repeated calls to the guest service desk to have missing items brought to the cabin resulted in a rude answer to “come pick up these things yourself”. Are you kidding me, when I’ve paid double the high fare for this cabin? The closet was large with a safe and plenty of wooden hangers in those metal hooks on the rod to prevent theft of them. There is adequate storage space for two people at least, despite no drawers, as there are a lot of clever shelves and cubbyholes for everything. The carpet was peculiar, and did not go with the room. It was a sand color, with ripple-like darker sand color patterns in it which made the carpet looked like the ripples were real or raised on the seabed floor, and it was rather disorienting to see it and walk on it. Lighting was very poor, just ceiling spots and small low-wattage lights and lamps elsewhere. Turn-down service was a joke, as nothing looked any different in the evening before bed than when I first entered the cabin. There were visible clumps of gray dust in the corners of the furniture. There is a rather clever electronic light system above the cabin door on the corridor side which allows a light to show by color that the guest wishes either to have the cabin made up, or not to be disturbed, and is activated by a light switch inside the cabin. This system was not always observed by crew, however. It was good, however, in keeping prankster passengers and kids from either reversing the do not disturb signs hanging on doors, or removing them altogether. Having been walked in on several times due to improper door signage, the lights were a relief. When I first looked in the bathroom, I noticed empty towel racks, other than two bath towels. No hand towels, no washcloths. There was a tub mat on the under-sink shelf. I called housekeeping twice, who assured me that somebody would deliver the missing linens, and 30 minutes later they were delivered. This is something cabin service should have taken care of when setting up the cabin after the last guests departed. The bathroom was very large, with a huge glassed-in shower featuring a rain shower and various water jets. There was a large, trough-like very modern double-faucet sink. Dispensers in the shower provide shower gel and shampoo amenities, and there is a soap dispenser at the sink, but no body lotion of any kind – if you use it, bring your own. The bathroom looked clean and new. The main problem with it, however, was the lack of cold water. The faucets were installed in reverse, as well, with the colored dots of hot and cold water opposite what actually came out of the faucet. Two calls to the engineers resulted in cold water, but I had to wait up to 30 minutes for the cold water to actually come out every time I used the bathroom sink water. The water came out in a very thin, low-pressure stream at the sink faucets, but was normal in the shower. Cabin walls were paper-thin, and I can’t repeat here what I heard going on from either side of me. The cabin door was also very thin, and the rowdy, drunken party guests on board roared and pounded through the corridors all night long. There were a surprising number of children on this trip, and the unsupervised kids would run through the corridors, pounding on doors and pounding their feet on the floor when they ran – when they weren’t trying to push passengers or each other down the stairs, where these kids congregated in their boredom. DINING: I ate dinner in one of the two main dining rooms. Nice views out the windows of the evening sailing from New York City. Good but serious service. Terrible ambiance, as it was very dark, and I was seated at a table for four close to the doors to the kitchen, which had a harsh bright lighting glaring into everybody’s eyes at the table with the doors open all the time. Very unsanitary place mats of some kind of plastic with the utensils placed on this mat – it was sticky and did not look clean. Very basic menu of typical American home meal items such as spaghetti, salad, steak, etc. Certainly not gourmet, as that costs extra in the premium restaurants on this ship. Portion sizes were just right, however, and the fish I had was very good. Tasteless, unimaginative desserts. People began lining up for the dining rooms with their free-style eat when you want service, and the waiting area was jammed and reeked of the cigarette smoke filtering throughout the ship. I enjoyed the two mature couples I dined with the two nights on the ship. The noise level in the dining room was extremely high, and we had to shout to hear each other, even sitting fairly close together. This was for the earliest seating, around 6 PM. The enormous buffets higher up in the ship had food for every taste on the planet, literally, but seemed disorganized and opened late. Tiny little plates, no trays, and it was hard to get even a decent meal onto one plate and have a hand free to serve with. The lines were far too slow and long to go back for deserts or seconds, besides losing seating. Unsanitary practice of putting serving tongs on the counter edge before putting them into the food when the buffet opened, and people handled the food with their hands or fingers, and the tongs were put anyplace but where they should have been, or just left on the presumably soiled counter tops. Plenty of seating, but it was hogged by people just reading or using computers, and it was hard to find seating to eat, even early. Terrible service, with seemingly just two or three unhappy-appearing people for one side of the ship’s huge buffet seating area, and to get bar service for a soda took forever – and it was done by the same few staff cleaning the tables with what looked like dirty grayish dish rags. Be prepared for a surprise when you order a soda. I ordered diet Pepsi, and got a tiny plastic cup which held maybe 4 ounces of liquid and a lot more ice. No can full of soda, as on Princess or other lines, and it was $2.35 for this tiny cup. I had to order four to get enough to drink with my lunch. Some of the hot foods were improperly held at lukewarm or even cold temperatures. Surly serving staff at the buffet, and total confusion and more depressed crew visible. Very good Indian food was available. I had brought some nonperishable breakfast food items and bottled water with me, as I always travel with these things, and at least could enjoy breakfast the two mornings of the cruise in the privacy and convenience of my cabin. I’m glad I did, after seeing how the buffet operated. ENTERTAINMENT: I did not go to any of the on-board entertainment, as I could not get reservations at a time convenient for me. DISEMBARKATION: Total chaos at 7 AM when the ship docked. Huge mob trying to leave the ship at the same time, through too-narrow corridors, with people having to haul their own bags off the ship. Reservations staff told me there would be baggage removal, and to be sure and leave my bag outside the door the last night. Good thing I did not do this. The corridors were clogged, as were the elevators, with people hung over and in very bad moods. It took about 40 minutes for me to get off my 11 deck location with one rolling bag, down the elevator, and finally off the ship, down the long, zig-zag gangway, and into the terminal. I had a limo reserved to pick me up at the terminal, and the signs in the terminal were unclear as to where to go for this with different level roads outside. A middle-aged woman in NCL uniform was directing people by yelling at them rudely to “get in the elevator”, over and over again, and she had the ugly expression and personality of an angry pit bull. Questions directed at her as to where to catch a taxi, limo, or bus were snarled at and barely answered. I was misdirected, and ended up on the icy street where some very suspicious people were loitering. I called my limo driver, and he told me he had been blocked by the cruise people from entering the terminal roads at all, and was worried about finding me in the freezing cold and mobs of people. It took 20 minutes of calls, plus having to walk several long blocks with my luggage in a bad neighborhood before my kind driver finally saw me and collected me into his vehicle. Other than the rude woman in the terminal, there was nobody else directing mobs of people, many of whom had questions as to where to go for their various transportation. Absolutely hideous, and totally disorganized. The usually rather serious customs people looked like angels, and were very nice, in comparison. SUMMARY: Most of what I was told about this cruise was not accurate, but might apply to regular full-length cruises. The cheery, hyper reservations staff kept repeating the company slogan about “cruise like a Norwegian”. From what I saw, this style of cruising has nothing to do with Norwegians, and is an insult to this legendary country and its people. I am of Nordic heritage, and would hate to think that the world views my people by how this cruise line operates. Maybe the ancient Vikings partied in their own way on their dragon ships and longboats after a raid or war party, but that doesn’t apply to today’s standards of service and behavior on an overpriced cruise line. If one is young of mind or at heart, and loves to drink a lot, be in a noisy atmosphere, breathe cigarette smoke until you strangle, party until you drop, eat until you waddle, loves loud contemporary music, has to shout to converse, doesn’t expect much if any service, and enjoys being packed into too-small public spaces with too many people who behave similarly, than this is the cruise line and way to cruise for you, especially with world-class New York party people. I did enjoy being on the sea, and watching an impressive winter storm from my cabin – it was too windy to even be able to open the balcony door. What sleep I got between noises from drunks in the corridor was superb on a very comfortable bed. The luxury shower was an activity in itself, and I was in there for an hour at a time. There was good TV variety available. Most of what I ate was good, considering it was not high-end gourmet. My concern is for people who use these short getaway cruises as their first cruise, and who form quite the wrong impression of how good cruising can and should really be. I don’t feel that I got the service or value for which I paid, and I paid double as a single occupant for a mini-suite solo occupancy. Previous NCL cruises some years ago were nice basic cruises, although overpriced even then, and I had reasonable expectations that this short cruise would be pleasant. After this cruise, I would not go on this cruise line again even if it were free.  

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by VikingExplorer

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2014
  • Destination: Nowhere
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I’ve cruised 41 times, mostly solo, all over the world,and am an active, enthusiastic, cruise-loving adult traveler. NCL’s weekend getaway cruise from New York City in the dead of winter appeared to be a good change of pace, and I booked a mini-suite for this trip. From past experience, I realized this cruise would be a “party cruise” atmosphere, but hoped for tolerable conditions, and I missed the ocean and needed another cruise “fix”. I used Amtrak’s Acela express to New York from my home town, first class, and it was superb, with return home the same pleasant way.
HOTEL: I stayed at my favorite hotel in New York, the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square, and received their usual warm and royal service. It’s about a 15 minute ride from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal piers. The few minor glitches with the hotel were taken care of to my complete satisfaction.
EMBARKATION: This is where things began to go wrong. The ship holds over 4200 passengers, and they all apparently got there early. The reservations agents I spoke with, multiple times, told me that porters load passenger’s bags for them on this cruise. The cruise line emails an information “booklet”, and it states how to put the luggage tag on one’s bags and they will be delivered to the stateroom. When I arrived at the pier, several surly and grouchy people from the cruise line, presumably, were barking orders at people to just keep moving, keep moving and there was no baggage service. Inside the pier terminal, the heat was going full blast, and the lines of people filled the building, snaking back and forth. Some people had been in the city or traveling long enough to have large luggage, and some were elderly, struggling to push and pull their bags with them because of no porter service. The NCL-uniformed agents kept barking at people to keep moving, keep moving. It was like the old descriptions of Ellis Island and the refugees struggling in lines with their bags. I was in line (and I’m a Latitudes Member in NCL’s loyalty program, which had an “expedited” check-in line) for 90 minutes. Normal check-in for cruises in my experience is 15 minutes. Agents had problems with their computers, and other NCL personnel kept misdirecting passengers to the wrong lines. Security checkpoints were manned by grumpy, surly agents who stood and watched while people struggled to lift full-size suitcases onto the conveyor belts of the scanners. Once through this area, there were unclear, tiny, and poorly placed signs as to where exactly one could finally get on the ship. That took another 15 minutes in the maze of people and locked doors to finally reach the gangway. The gangway was extended into a long, huge zigzag climb at a steep angle. I’m fit and strong, but many people again struggled to climb up the steep ramp while hauling their bags. No help was visible that I could see. Upon entering the ship, no “welcome committee” of crew members, just deadly serious security people at their podiums who scanned the passenger ID cards.
I entered a crowded vestibule of some sort, filled with cigarette smoke and mobs of humanity lining up for elevators. The blasting, blaring rock music made any conversation impossible, and was horrible. It took forever to get jammed into an overloaded elevator and finally reach my cabin on deck 11.
The critical, important SOLAS law-mandated lifeboat and emergency drill was chaotic and unruly. At my muster station, there was a huge crowd of boisterous, drunk, noisy, inattentive, shouting, cell-phone using, selfie-taking, profane people who were so loud you could not hear anything. The officer on the public address system was trying to get some degree of order, and to quiet people down, but people just yelled him down, even when he said if we did not “shut up and pay attention, we would do this again tomorrow”. Inappropriate comments about what people had been doing to make them late for the drill were embarrassing to listen to, especially when shouted by staggering drunks. I heard the “F” word more times than I care to remember, as well as other swearing. Between the ill-informed passengers, the narrow corridors on cabin decks, and the badly delivered drill (recording nearly inaudible above the noise level), I had honest doubts about getting off that ship alive in an emergency. People paid no attention to the instructions, officers and crew who worked very hard to deliver life-saving and legally required information before the ship sailed, and I feel that somebody in authority should have called the captain to the scene for order, and to have some of the worst of the drunks removed from the vessel before it sailed. There is a difference between happy people enjoying themselves and out of control drunkenness and bad behavior, and this cruise reminded me of an animal house mentality where company profit mattered more than how the passengers behaved and affected other passengers. I love to see people happy and having a good time on a cruise, as I myself enjoy doing, but not to the degree where it affects my health and safety on a ship.
SHIP INFORMATION: The Norwegian Breakaway is a monster at over 145,000 tons, with gaudy hull art that is eye-catching in its own unique way. The sheer size of this vessel would stop traffic anywhere, but it is not really attractive either inside or out. Due to cold and later stormy weather, all I saw of the ship was my cabin deck and the several entertainment, dining, and shopping venue areas. The ship’s décor reminded me strongly of a modern New York office building, with dark functional colors, odd lighting, and a lot of sharp corners, use of metals, and nothing remarkable enough to even comment on. The casino was huge in the ship’s center, and open, and smoking is allowed in that area and/or areas in close proximity to the extent that the strong cigarette smoke odor is sucked into the ship’s ventilation system and spreads throughout most of the ship. With all the metal in the ship, the noise level is such a roar that it’s impossible to converse in normal tones anywhere, or to be heard.
ACTIVITIES: There were plenty of activities on the ship’s daily newsletter, aimed at the party atmosphere. For whatever reason, I always marvel at ship activity planners who don’t seem to realize that people on party cruises stay up late – yet all the activities relating to fitness seem to be at dawn or shortly thereafter. I don’t “party”, and took this cruise mainly for the boat ride, not having to cook for two days, possible good exercise options and socializing – plus I love to sleep on ships while they are underway at sea. The only “activity” I did and thoroughly enjoyed was the 8 AM Zumba class. The handsome, young male dance entertainer from the Dominican Republic gave the best Zumba class I’ve had in years, and as I’m a former professional dancer, the two of us really burned up the floor for a marvelous solid hour of good music and dance moves. Shopping was popular with the “captive audience” crowd – nobody could go outside due to storm conditions with rough sailing and high winds. The casino rocked out 24/7, and there were several theatrical productions and shows at night. I could not get reservations for any of the shows at the time convenient to me, but having seen enough cruise ship shows, it wasn’t a problem for me. I was thrilled just to read quietly and relax in my cabin, as the rough trip didn’t really encourage a lot of activity, especially outdoors – I would have enjoyed the ropes course in good weather, however.
The internet service on the ship was the slowest I’ve ever seen, and outrageously expensive. I only was able to connect once for a few minutes from an IPad, after paying for 30 minutes of internet access.
There were frequent, raucous, tacky announcements loudly on the ship PA system throughout the day about the money-maker activities such as the art auctions, gambling, and shopping opportunities. Every little thing on this ship for sale was overpriced, and every opportunity to make money for the cruise line was the priority.
The cruise director was a total disaster. The first time I heard his off-key, terrible, singing on a PA announcement, I thought it was one of the drunk passengers who had somehow gotten access to the PA and was trying do karaoke. This singing prelude to early morning announcements on the ship and at debarkation were absolutely awful and dreadful to hear and start the day with. The way this cruise was presented overall made one of Carnival’s legendary bad trips look like a high-end cruise in comparison.
SERVICE: This was a very serious, almost depressed bunch of crew on this cruise. I did not see one smile, and I kept overhearing crew discussing how many months, weeks, days, and hours it would be until they could get off the ship and go home. Not a good sign. The crew were attractive and international for the most part, but some of them had problems with enough English to communicate with. I never got accurate answers from the guest relations desk crew, either in person or by telephone while on the ship. Service in the dining room was very good, just serious. It was like being on a cruise with a robot crew. My cabin steward did his job, but the cabin was not serviced until afternoon on the one full day at sea. I waited in the public areas as long as possible, but the cigarette smoke aggravated my allergy to it and I was forced to return to my cabin eventually. I was there when my cabin steward showed up finally to make up the cabin, and he was mature and nice, but also seemed depressed and all I heard was how long it would be until he could go home. I was not impressed at all by the service – just the lack of it from seemingly miserable people. The last morning of the cruise, no statement appeared under my door as we were told to expect, despite seeing the statements in and partially under other cabin doors in my vicinity, and when I phoned guest relations, I was told rather nastily to just pick it up myself in person. I insisted on having it delivered and somebody pounded on the door and woke me up to give it to me, despite the electronic light above the door clearly indicating not to disturb. When I asked early in the trip where the room service menu was in my cabin, or might I please have a menu at the guest services desk, the young man on duty told me he would get one right away – and then was stopped by his supervisor, who stated that this trip had no room service. Reservations told me several times that I’d enjoy the room service available on this particular cruise.
The one pleasant exception to the lack of service noted above was the hostess at the Tepanyaki restaurant, who graciously cancelled my prepaid reservation and waived the cancel fee when I checked the menu, found everything either loaded with garlic and/or had foods I can’t tolerate, and I told the hostess I had to cancel as I could not eat the food there – this saved me $25.
There is the option available to raise or lower the prepaid gratuities, and I should have lowered the tips based on what I received. After trying to deal with the guest relations staff many times with poor results, however, I decided it wasn’t worth it, and they would probably have not done it right anyway.
EXCURSIONS: Since this cruise was only 36 hours, it offered pre- and post-cruise New York City excursions which I did not participate in, and can’t give any feedback on.
CABIN: I had a deck 11 midship mini-suite, which seemed slightly smaller than the average regular balcony cabin on most ships. The décor was depressing, with more “office building” feeling. Dark colors, sharp metallic edges, cheap fake wood and other hard surfaces. Extremely narrow balcony with two chairs and a tiny table. Balcony wall was full glass with a sliding door. The queen bed was two twins connected, and very comfortable with decent linens. The AC system did not work when I first got to the cabin and I had to call the engineer to fix it. Be aware that this ship has key-card activation for electricity use in the cabin! No card in the slot in the cabin equals no electricity. There are no drawers in the cabin, just shelves, but they are quite adequate. I found the refrigerator locked, and called to have somebody open it. Nobody ever appeared to do this despite repeated calls. There was no ice in the ice bucket. Also, oddly, no pen, notepad, usual book about how things work and where things are on the ship, no map of the ship, no postcards, nothing. It was like the cabin was completely stripped of anything moveable by somebody and not replenished or even checked. Only the bolted-down TV and phone and small refrigerator were in the cabin as standard items, but had they not been bolted to the ship, I would not have been surprised if they had been removed, also. Repeated calls to the guest service desk to have missing items brought to the cabin resulted in a rude answer to “come pick up these things yourself”. Are you kidding me, when I’ve paid double the high fare for this cabin? The closet was large with a safe and plenty of wooden hangers in those metal hooks on the rod to prevent theft of them. There is adequate storage space for two people at least, despite no drawers, as there are a lot of clever shelves and cubbyholes for everything. The carpet was peculiar, and did not go with the room. It was a sand color, with ripple-like darker sand color patterns in it which made the carpet looked like the ripples were real or raised on the seabed floor, and it was rather disorienting to see it and walk on it. Lighting was very poor, just ceiling spots and small low-wattage lights and lamps elsewhere. Turn-down service was a joke, as nothing looked any different in the evening before bed than when I first entered the cabin. There were visible clumps of gray dust in the corners of the furniture. There is a rather clever electronic light system above the cabin door on the corridor side which allows a light to show by color that the guest wishes either to have the cabin made up, or not to be disturbed, and is activated by a light switch inside the cabin. This system was not always observed by crew, however. It was good, however, in keeping prankster passengers and kids from either reversing the do not disturb signs hanging on doors, or removing them altogether. Having been walked in on several times due to improper door signage, the lights were a relief.
When I first looked in the bathroom, I noticed empty towel racks, other than two bath towels. No hand towels, no washcloths. There was a tub mat on the under-sink shelf. I called housekeeping twice, who assured me that somebody would deliver the missing linens, and 30 minutes later they were delivered. This is something cabin service should have taken care of when setting up the cabin after the last guests departed.
The bathroom was very large, with a huge glassed-in shower featuring a rain shower and various water jets. There was a large, trough-like very modern double-faucet sink. Dispensers in the shower provide shower gel and shampoo amenities, and there is a soap dispenser at the sink, but no body lotion of any kind – if you use it, bring your own. The bathroom looked clean and new. The main problem with it, however, was the lack of cold water. The faucets were installed in reverse, as well, with the colored dots of hot and cold water opposite what actually came out of the faucet. Two calls to the engineers resulted in cold water, but I had to wait up to 30 minutes for the cold water to actually come out every time I used the bathroom sink water. The water came out in a very thin, low-pressure stream at the sink faucets, but was normal in the shower.
Cabin walls were paper-thin, and I can’t repeat here what I heard going on from either side of me. The cabin door was also very thin, and the rowdy, drunken party guests on board roared and pounded through the corridors all night long. There were a surprising number of children on this trip, and the unsupervised kids would run through the corridors, pounding on doors and pounding their feet on the floor when they ran – when they weren’t trying to push passengers or each other down the stairs, where these kids congregated in their boredom.
DINING: I ate dinner in one of the two main dining rooms. Nice views out the windows of the evening sailing from New York City. Good but serious service. Terrible ambiance, as it was very dark, and I was seated at a table for four close to the doors to the kitchen, which had a harsh bright lighting glaring into everybody’s eyes at the table with the doors open all the time. Very unsanitary place mats of some kind of plastic with the utensils placed on this mat – it was sticky and did not look clean. Very basic menu of typical American home meal items such as spaghetti, salad, steak, etc. Certainly not gourmet, as that costs extra in the premium restaurants on this ship. Portion sizes were just right, however, and the fish I had was very good. Tasteless, unimaginative desserts. People began lining up for the dining rooms with their free-style eat when you want service, and the waiting area was jammed and reeked of the cigarette smoke filtering throughout the ship. I enjoyed the two mature couples I dined with the two nights on the ship. The noise level in the dining room was extremely high, and we had to shout to hear each other, even sitting fairly close together. This was for the earliest seating, around 6 PM.
The enormous buffets higher up in the ship had food for every taste on the planet, literally, but seemed disorganized and opened late. Tiny little plates, no trays, and it was hard to get even a decent meal onto one plate and have a hand free to serve with. The lines were far too slow and long to go back for deserts or seconds, besides losing seating. Unsanitary practice of putting serving tongs on the counter edge before putting them into the food when the buffet opened, and people handled the food with their hands or fingers, and the tongs were put anyplace but where they should have been, or just left on the presumably soiled counter tops. Plenty of seating, but it was hogged by people just reading or using computers, and it was hard to find seating to eat, even early. Terrible service, with seemingly just two or three unhappy-appearing people for one side of the ship’s huge buffet seating area, and to get bar service for a soda took forever – and it was done by the same few staff cleaning the tables with what looked like dirty grayish dish rags. Be prepared for a surprise when you order a soda. I ordered diet Pepsi, and got a tiny plastic cup which held maybe 4 ounces of liquid and a lot more ice. No can full of soda, as on Princess or other lines, and it was $2.35 for this tiny cup. I had to order four to get enough to drink with my lunch. Some of the hot foods were improperly held at lukewarm or even cold temperatures. Surly serving staff at the buffet, and total confusion and more depressed crew visible. Very good Indian food was available.
I had brought some nonperishable breakfast food items and bottled water with me, as I always travel with these things, and at least could enjoy breakfast the two mornings of the cruise in the privacy and convenience of my cabin. I’m glad I did, after seeing how the buffet operated.
ENTERTAINMENT: I did not go to any of the on-board entertainment, as I could not get reservations at a time convenient for me.
DISEMBARKATION: Total chaos at 7 AM when the ship docked. Huge mob trying to leave the ship at the same time, through too-narrow corridors, with people having to haul their own bags off the ship. Reservations staff told me there would be baggage removal, and to be sure and leave my bag outside the door the last night. Good thing I did not do this. The corridors were clogged, as were the elevators, with people hung over and in very bad moods. It took about 40 minutes for me to get off my 11 deck location with one rolling bag, down the elevator, and finally off the ship, down the long, zig-zag gangway, and into the terminal. I had a limo reserved to pick me up at the terminal, and the signs in the terminal were unclear as to where to go for this with different level roads outside. A middle-aged woman in NCL uniform was directing people by yelling at them rudely to “get in the elevator”, over and over again, and she had the ugly expression and personality of an angry pit bull. Questions directed at her as to where to catch a taxi, limo, or bus were snarled at and barely answered. I was misdirected, and ended up on the icy street where some very suspicious people were loitering. I called my limo driver, and he told me he had been blocked by the cruise people from entering the terminal roads at all, and was worried about finding me in the freezing cold and mobs of people. It took 20 minutes of calls, plus having to walk several long blocks with my luggage in a bad neighborhood before my kind driver finally saw me and collected me into his vehicle. Other than the rude woman in the terminal, there was nobody else directing mobs of people, many of whom had questions as to where to go for their various transportation. Absolutely hideous, and totally disorganized. The usually rather serious customs people looked like angels, and were very nice, in comparison.
SUMMARY: Most of what I was told about this cruise was not accurate, but might apply to regular full-length cruises. The cheery, hyper reservations staff kept repeating the company slogan about “cruise like a Norwegian”. From what I saw, this style of cruising has nothing to do with Norwegians, and is an insult to this legendary country and its people. I am of Nordic heritage, and would hate to think that the world views my people by how this cruise line operates. Maybe the ancient Vikings partied in their own way on their dragon ships and longboats after a raid or war party, but that doesn’t apply to today’s standards of service and behavior on an overpriced cruise line.
If one is young of mind or at heart, and loves to drink a lot, be in a noisy atmosphere, breathe cigarette smoke until you strangle, party until you drop, eat until you waddle, loves loud contemporary music, has to shout to converse, doesn’t expect much if any service, and enjoys being packed into too-small public spaces with too many people who behave similarly, than this is the cruise line and way to cruise for you, especially with world-class New York party people.
I did enjoy being on the sea, and watching an impressive winter storm from my cabin – it was too windy to even be able to open the balcony door. What sleep I got between noises from drunks in the corridor was superb on a very comfortable bed. The luxury shower was an activity in itself, and I was in there for an hour at a time. There was good TV variety available. Most of what I ate was good, considering it was not high-end gourmet. My concern is for people who use these short getaway cruises as their first cruise, and who form quite the wrong impression of how good cruising can and should really be. I don’t feel that I got the service or value for which I paid, and I paid double as a single occupant for a mini-suite solo occupancy. Previous NCL cruises some years ago were nice basic cruises, although overpriced even then, and I had reasonable expectations that this short cruise would be pleasant. After this cruise, I would not go on this cruise line again even if it were free.
 
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