We chose this cruise primarily because of the most interesting itinerary. This cruise started in Yokohama Japan, and ended in Shanghai, China however we continued with the next two cruise segments through Alaska to disembark in Seattle. The Orient was new for us and it was a " port intensive " sailing visiting 6 port cities in Japan, 2 in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and 2 in China with only 2 sea days. In Kobe, and Hong Kong we enjoyed overnight stays and two days in each city.
The cruise was enjoyable, and cabins and ship clean, it is dated and wear is showing.... It is scheduled for a major drydock retrofit in October 2018.
Food was reasonable throughout the varied ship restaurants. We noticed most restaurant food was only warm - the exception being the Garden Cafe upon opening. One of the most significant concerns remains " head office control " limiting the chefs ability to vary menus, and provide culinary cuisine more reflective of the Asian area of travel. While it is nice to not deal with the logistics of transport, and accommodation in this variety of cities, we did miss out on experiencing the local Japanese cuisine in more depth.
Entertainment was varied and of reasonably good quality. However the absence of any entertainment reflective of the oriental culture, " enrichment programs " cultural , basic language , or port information was disappointing. Onboard activities have been severely curtailed, and the focus was clearly on NCL Shore excursions, and selling additional spa, dining, or health services.
Most shore excursions were full bus loads of 50 people with a single often untrained guide. The accent, and limited English language, of the guides were often a limiting factor to the full enjoyment of the tour. We found tour options were limited to very traditional tourist sightseeing, and they varied widely in quality and value.
As all locations were new to us, and due to the language and cultural challenges, we booked mostly NCL excursions. Increasingly we discovered more guests using independent guides, or venturing out on their own with taxis, and they were reporting much more satisfying experiences.
The process to assemble participants & load the tour buses was often chaotic, with clients arriving late, not queuing respectfully, & not following instructions. Those guests were being rewarded with the best seats on the bus ! Frankly the waiting and disorganization caused many tours to be less than enjoyable.
Communication issues with customs & immigration , & embarkation processes, were experienced, but to be expected with many new ports, and several foreign countries.
For the most part staff were genuine and helpful, however there were several examples were it was obvious staff were not allowed to think, and responded accordingly with a " standard answer " even when it made absolutely no sense in the circumstances.
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