We experienced many poor customer service to our dismay. Tipping is a culture in the US, and living in Los Angeles and Orlando for over 5 years, we are accustomed to it. Great service deserves tipping. However, NCL staffs did not only underperform to our dismay, we encountered many undertrained, underperformed unfriendly, and mostly grumpy staffs, along with grumpier passengers. It was an awful atmosphere. It does gets better as the cruise days progress with our excellent cruise director, Roberto. The embarkation process is especially slow. We encountered a staff who seems to be new, and 3 families of larger groups have been settled, but we waited on for almost 20 minutes and he was very quiet.
It was my birthday on the embarkation day, nobody noticed that and it seems odd as it was clearly written on my passport. Puttting aside my unnoticed birthday from fellow staffs, my husband wanted to surprise me (he choose to follow Indonesia day and request from the staff a day later) to surprise with a little cake from the kitchen. My husband told me the hassle he went through. Nobody was helpful enough to told him where to get a cake. Instead at lunch time at Moderno, he was told to do it later at dinner and given a white piece of paper to write down the birthday person name. We had our dinner at Manhattan, putting aside the smile-less and greeting-less filipino lady who ushered us to our table, I was in shock when the "birthday cake" arrived together with my lava cake dessert. The waiter just slide it in front of me and says for you ma'am. No name written, no candles, no singing. Is this a funeral? I was extremely astonished at how NCL does things. I did not touch the cake and left. I feel no celebration or joy at all. It was hands on the most unwilling celebration I have seen in my entire life!
At that point I just settled on making the biggest mistake for boarding NCL. And to think I was the one who persuaded my husband to went on a cruise. I could have my birthday celebrated elsewhere, not trapped in a ship, limiting us to what we may bring onboard. But here we are stuck in the middle of the sea. Grim and grumpy staffs and passengers alike.
Thankfully our mini-suite balcony stateroom is cozy and spacious enough. And port side seems to be the right choice for this cruise as we enjoyed many beautiful sunrise and sunsets by our balcony.
Bathroom shower head had a slightly leaking at the joints so when I shower there would be secondary water spouting from it as well, which is a minor irk. The dual faucets at the vanity area is a big welcome and the deep sink is perfect for washing up underwear. Kudos to the balcony stateroom good design. And perhaps that is the best thing I liked about this Norwegian Breakaway ship.
Waarnemende is rather isolated and the only train station there departs infrequently.
There seems to be 2 cruise ports in Helsinki, and NCL get the one further off and the one on=going construction. Not a pretty sight.
The only port that our ship managed to get that is direct to the city center.
Hate to blame NCL but the blame is theirs to take.
Our port itinerary changed from Stockholm to Nynashavn ( 1hr train ride away or 1h 40min bus ride away from Stockholm). We received a flyer in our room, apologizing for the change and NCL offered guests who booked prior to the change notice (which essentially involves almost everyone, since we booked 3 months before and we did not knew the port change) for a free bus and train transfer to Stockholm. To claim it, you have to go to the Guest Services, and you've guessed it another long unruly lines to claim your freebies. And it was indeed a shuttle bus, then a train ride. No direct transfer amigo. But they extended the port time by 4 hours so all was good. We planned to return 4 hours before the on-board time, because we ran out of things to do. Alas, the train service in Stockholm broke down and no service to Nynashavn for unknown time. To make worse the announcement were in Swedish, we waited at the train station confused that the scheduled train has been late for almost an hour. Until one arrived which everyone, locals and tourists alike, try to squeeze in, only to be told to get out again at the next stop. Then a bunch of NCL people gathered telling people to wait there. NCL will send bus to pick us up there. That is the passenger talking btw. Then 20 minutes passed? Then everyone suddenly rushed out to the street near bus terminals. Some passengers were hailing taxis. The rest of four hundreds just piled along the street.
And in the end, we arrived 15 minutes post departure time. To which 200 passengers have not yet returned to the ship. And later it was announced that the ship departure time will be delayed for 3 hours and the stranded passengers being picked up by NCL bus. A good gesture from NCL. But quite late for us.