We chose this cruise specifically for the Panama Canal crossing, but thoroughly enjoyed the ports we visited. Cartegena, Costa Rica, Acupulco, Cabo and Ensenada were pretty touresty. Nicaragua and Guatemala were very interesting and well worth the time and expense. The cruise ship, on the other hand, was disappointing.
Extensive maintenance and repairs on board were very disruptive. We could not to use our stateroom because of overpowering fumes from solvents or paints after a shore excursion. We really needed a shower and nap. Guest services staff sent us to use a couch in the bar for our nap! Pallets for paint and other supplies were stored all over the decks. Sections of the ship were blocked off and the Tapas Bar was completely closed for the duration (this was one I looked forward to, and was not notified in advance that it would be closed). Noise from sanding/grinding decks and fumes from paints and solvents in the public areas were very disruptive throughout the cruise. It really spoiled our 1st experience on a cruise ship.
Music at the pool, in the Dazzle lounge and Windjammer bar was so loud we couldn't enjoy it. The smell of chlorine in the Dazzle was overpowering, so we didn't participate in the events held there.
Specialty dining was very disappointing, as well. I resent having paid gratuity in advance when service was so poor. At Cagney's my steak was great, but my husband's was tough and overcooked.
At Moderno, it was so noisy we couldn't talk to each other and service was very slow. Side dishes were not presented until 45 minutes after we arrived. We both sat with empty plates in front of us for a long time. Servers waited on a large group table next to us and we were pretty much ignored. The Filet Mignon was excellent, bacon wrapped chicken was so dry I had to drink water to swallow it. After an hour we left without finishing our meal. The maitre d' attempted to get us to stay, but we were too frustrated to enjoy the meal. He left us a voicemail inviting us back (which we were not interested in). He sent chocolates to our room. Then he kept showing up at other restaurants we went to. After a while it felt like he was stalking us. Very uncomfortable!
Generally we found ourselves waiting for at least one of the "free" restaurants to open to get dinner. Our stomachs and opening times were never in sync. Overall our dining experiences were mixed. We found the 7 Seas dining room to be consistently good. The 4 Seasons service was slow and food was so so. The Garden Cafe was ok for cafeteria food. Most entrees were heavily salted and they seemed to serve a lot of pork. Desserts were kind of blah, but the salad bar was good. It was consistently hard to find a table. Food at the Sports bar was pretty good, but it wasn't open during the day.
On the plus side...Our cabin was good and the room steward was great! Overall staff was very friendly.
I was quite surprised at the comfort in the cabin. Initially it was set up with a double bed centered under the window. We asked the room steward to split into 2 singles and the room was much more comfortable. With a larger space in the middle, you could walk up and look out the window easily, and it seemed more roomy overall. Shelving, hanging space and drawers provided enough storage for our clothes. There was plenty of room under the beds for storage of suitcases and shoes. We brought heavy-duty magnetic hooks for hanging items. Also, the magnetic hooks were great for hanging laundry on hangers from the ceiling. Bathroom was small but efficient. Body wash and shampoo dispensers in shower and hand soap dispenser at sink. Next time I'll bring my own shampoo. Plenty of space to store pills/toothpaste/toothbrush and misc. Big minus for this room category is NO COFFEE MAKER! But we could get free "Continental Breakfast" and coffee room service after 6:30 AM. If you are an early riser like we are, be sure to bring a big mug and plan to walk to the other end of the ship to get coffee. But only after 5:30 AM.
NCL booked us at the Pullman Hotel. It was outstanding. Room was great, awesome view, nice decor. We ordered room service for dinner because we were tired after a long day in transit. Absolutely delicious!
Typical. Cartagena is a big city. It was a good way to see around town. We skipped the walking tour at the end because it was way too hot and humid to enjoy a walk.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Guide was great. Air conditioned bus, but the toilet didn't work. They put ice in it to keep it from smelling bad. Tour itself was really good. Got lots of good info about the country and it's people. Meet and greet with White-faced Capuchin monkeys was interesting. Tarcoles River trip was best part of this excursion. Guide from another boat got out and hand-fed a couple of crocodiles. Lunch was nice. Just enough time to buy a T-shirt.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Colonial Leon, Folklore Show & Lunch - For me, this was the best shore excursion on this cruise. Very interesting, delightful people and amazing landscape. We visited the Ortiz-Gurdian Foundation art gallery, which had some outstanding pieces for such a small gallery. Lunch and enterainment at the Hotel El Convento were very good.
I give this tour a poor rating only because of the guide (Gerrardo). He was knowledgeable, but not at all accommodating to the needs of people on the tour. It's a long bus trip and the guide seemed put out because people wanted at bathroom break when we reached our destination. The botanical garden is great, but it was very hot. Several people were too stressed to continue. They guide was not at all sympathetic and kept saying that it would get easier. That was not the case. The steps became steeper and the walk more strenuous. Fortunately (in spite of the guide) the people having trouble turned back and waited for the rest of us at the entrance. The boat tour was delightful. Overall, would have enjoyed this more in cooler weather (we were there March 26th) with a different guide.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Perfect short sail out of Cabo. We were greeted on board with drinks and elegant snacks. Rafi and crew where just great.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Pretty typical city tour and shopping. Never had a chance to see La Bufadora (blow hole) because of crowd, but we've seen one before, so no big deal. Huge (and I mean HUGE) shopping gauntlet. You need to haggle over prices and it seemed that prices were better at the shops near the buses. Tequila tasting, great fish tacos and churros.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Casa Santo Domingo & Antigua tour. This was my 2nd favorite tour. They are making good efforts to preserve and maintain colonial art and various archaeological sites.