I chose this cruise because of our Fantastic previous cruise with the Norwegian Pearl going to Alaska, and we wanted another memorable, amazing experience.
It comes down to this: I am a gambler. My primary reason for cruising is gambling and drinking. I only play roulette.
1. On my last cruise, one of the two roulette tables was broken
2. I only gambled on the first day. I lost $6,500 in about 5 minutes. The table maximum was $2,000. I bet $500 on red and lost, then $2,000 on black and lost, then $2,000 on red and lost, then another $2,000 on black and lost. That was all I had to gamble with for that cruise, and I blew it in the first 10 minutes on the first day.
3. Aside from being mortified that I'd spent my entire gambling bankroll in MINUTES on the FIRST DAY, you know what I got for comps? Nothing. I don't know what my play history shows from my first cruise, but for the second cruise, it shows nothing. Every single casino on the Vegas strip will comp me rooms for that, and Casinos at Sea doesn't even rate me as a gambler.
4. NCL might be the only cruise line where I would have to pay for drinks. Even on my first cruise, where I didn't lose that much money - having to get the pit boss to nod to the bartender to make me a drink because I'm not a high enough tiered player makes me feel bad, and I don't like being made to feel bad for trying to get a bit of hospitality.
5. The ship itself was terrible. 50%+ of the passengers were ill, the crew were ill, spreading illness like wildfire around the ship. We got stuck in ports while the ship requested permission to dock because of all the sick people.
6. The ports were terrible. Hondurus might be beautiful.... but not after a hurricane, when the port is destroyed, and we're getting shuttled to the beach on small cutters so we can wander around inside a chain-link fenced area protected by soldiers with automatic rifles while beggers outside of the fence look for handouts.
7. And the worst thing of all - loyalty isn't rewarded. I have a $10,000 bankroll to gamble this fall. I've been trying to decide where to go, and my wife suggested we try a cruise again. I contacted Casinos at Sea to find out what kind of options I might have, and they're dried up. After my first cruise,NCL was offering me free cruises as a "valued casino patron." I guess I assumed that they would be happy to room and board me in exchange for me bringing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars into their casino as a captive audience - where I can't even leave and go play at another casino.
When the CAS folks told me what I was eligible for - which turned out to be the basic offers available to ANYONE on the internet via the NCL guest splashpage, that was the final straw.
I researched this a bit tonight on Cruisecritic, and find that CAS has a reputation of getting increasingly stingier, less generous, and less willing to offer promotions or incentives, and gamblers are switching to Royal Caribbean.
The first cruise I took with NCL; an inner passage cruise through Alaska - is one of the most treasured memories I will ever have. The cruise, the food, the gambling, the stops...it bought my loyalty to NCL. With the next cruise being such an opposite and inferior experience compared to the first one - we were shocked. Nothing is perfect though - I sent some feedback that the cruise didn't go very well after it ended, but never heard back.
I suppose every cruiser should research their cruise destinations and ports instead of trusting a cruise line to do it for them, but I was shocked at how shoddy of an experience it was. I read some other reviews on here about the Jewel specifically being a shoddy ship, so I can't speak for the entirety of the Norwegian fleet of course - but the followup customer service was atrocious.
Room was fine.