We have had 18 cruises, this was our fourteenth cruise on NCL. This cruise had problems we had not experienced before on Norwegian. We had a hint that something was amiss when we received several calls advising us that embarkation would be delayed. Arriving at the port we were notified that the previous cruise on the Pearl had an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus and measures were being taken to prevent another. Embarkation was not short of chaotic. We had been on a previous Norwegian cruise when an engine failure required a change in port itinerary, leaky pipes everywhere and the crew managed to set the ship on fire so we were ready to deal with some inconvenience. This cruise did not have the same feel that we experienced on previous cruises. There is a new management team in charge of NCL and like old hound dogs men love to mark their territory. We hope this does not alter the things that appealed to us about NCL cruises.
As we expected food was served one dollop at a time in the Garden Cafe and the Great Outdoors. It took a long time getting your meal because you had to stand in line while servers dished up food, one grape tomato at a time for example. We expected this to end after a few days if there was no virus problem but it continued to the last day of the cruise. The captain never bothered to explain why this was required for the entire cruise. We had several dinners at the Italian restaurant that were excellent with great service by the staff. Curious though that an 18 percent gratuity was added to the bill since Norwegian adds a daily per person gratuity to your on board account.
In order to control the virus the captain ordered that no ice, coffee or glasses would be allowed in the cabin. That means if you want water to take your medicine or rinse your mouth after brushing you had a problem. I guess the captain meant for you to fill the wash basin and lap up your water like our golden retriever. Since people naturally took glasses from the dining areas back to the room even the captain realized how absurd this was and loosened his stringent rules.
Another of this captains annoyances was his limit of deck chairs on the promenade deck. His limit of 12 chairs on port and starboard created a rush to claim a chair every day. His reasoning was that the chairs would create a hazard in an emergency situation. No other NCL captain in our experience saw this as a problem.
Our cabin was kept in good order by our steward who was overworked to the point that we never found how who he was. We guessed that our steward was responsible for taking care of more rooms as others were reassigned to serving ketchup or salt in the dining areas.
In spite of all of this cruising the sunny Caribbean trumps freezing in Michigan anytime. We are already booked on our next NCL cruise and expect it will be like the great ones we have enjoyed previous to this one.
Small but manageable thanks to our hard working steward.