This was a last minute booking due to family circumstances which in truth limited our choice of cruise. However, we have now cruised with NCL five times and since our first cruise with NCL 24 years ago we have noted a marked decline in standards and quality. This time my wife and I cruised with my brother and sister-in-law and both of them reflect our views on standards and quality. The reason we chose this cruise was it covered the Christmas and New Year periods and my brother and his wife had never been to the Canary Islands. Christmas was disappointing in that it was not marked in any special way, the Christmas dinner was two slices of turkey with few trimmings served as usual on a cold plate. More effort was made for the New Year festivities.
Despite a recent refit parts of the ship were drab and dated. Particular in this respect was the scruffy Henry`s bar and Blue Lagoon cafe. The Raffles restaurant offered repetitively burgers, hot dogs plus other dishes and the general scrummage for food was only tolerated when there was no alternative options.
The main windows restaurant was acceptable and a calm recluse when not full up but there was constant repetition of some of the meals on offer, though counterbalanced by an extensive choice of dishes. The service was generally good but was spoilt by a lack of understanding of our requirements by both waiting staff and Matre `D.The waiting staff were falling over themselves to help but due to lack of training they would not always fulfill their function correctly. As a party of 4 we were always prepared to share with others on tables of six plus, but however hard we tried to convey this concept the idea was never executed. There were often long queues for tables at Windows and Garden restaurants and sharing would have gone some way to alleviating the waiting time. We noticed a tremendous wastage of food when waiters failed to served the requested portions. One egg at breakfast time was always interpreted as two resulting in wastage. Portions of fruit plate were excessive but despite pleas to reduce the portion size this again went unheeded. The evening entertainment whilst generally good was of poor standard in some cases being typical of a budget cruise line. The daytime activity programme whilst plentiful were in most cases designed specifically to raise revenue for NCL and not necessarily for the enjoyment of passengers. The talks given on ports of call were short, normally less than 15 minutes and did not convey the extent of information most passengers required. Information regarding shuttle bus service were not always relayed and resulted in confusion on the dockside when attempting to find transport.
The cabin is what it is - a small room with no room for relaxing apart from the bed and one bucket chair. When showering and changing either my wife or myself would vacate the cabin to allow the other room to move around.
The shower was good and the room was kept clean and was well attended to.
Did not visit Barcelona.