My husband and I weren't taking this trans-Atlantic cruise as a saved-up-for dream vacation or an anniversary trip or something. Not even as a bucket list trip, we were doing this because my husband was immigrating to the USA and we wanted to do it the "old fashioned" way. So, really, we were looking to spend the least amount of money possible and our expectations for the 2-week journey were really low. I mean we were only expecting to live comfortably (watch movies, read books, eat "freestyle"... The same stuff we do at home) as we made our way from Europe to North America. This was not the case, though.
Let's start with the most basic necessity: food. This ship seemed to be built with all of their chips in the dining experience, because 75% of the space outside of cabins is taken up by restaurants and bars, most of which you must pay extra to enjoy. So, we stuck with the free options. Before cruising, we had contacted the company and informed them that we are both vegetarians and one of us is allergic to dairy products and they assured us that everything would be fine. Well, cut to us in the buffet line, wading through lines and lines of meat. Every single kind of dead animal you can imagine was displayed in various shades of broiled, baked, and fried; but there were no meat substitutes at all. Not even a lowly slab of tofu. So, for 2 weeks, we ate mostly watermelon, boxes of cereal, bread, and cold, previously-fried broccoli. Everyone seemed fine with that, too. Since, you know, we wouldn't die from eating the above foods. The complementary dining experiences like Manhattan and Savor and Taste (all of these restaurants use the same kitchen, by the way, I hope you all realise this) had no options at all. There was only one vegetarian option and it was cheesy pasta. The "vegetarian" section in the buffet was actually just the "Indian" section and actually included beef curry. Bcause, you know, cows are vegetables. Seriously, if you are a vegetarian, do not subject yourself to this madness.
Then there's Dan Dan. He's the "cruise director." I'm not certain which authority that gives him. Is he a manager? Does he plan all the activities? All I know, is that this title gave him the permission he needed to wake us up constantly with his fun announcements about what's happening on board that hour and where you can spend your money next. It was unending interruption and meant that we were forced to (in a cruise in which the time changes almost daily) live by his schedule.
We also had to wake up constantly to go wait in superfluous lines so that we could give our passports to strangers so they could "hold on to them" for Southampton and Cobh (excuse me, what? Why can't I keep my passport?) and then wake up again and wait in a line to receive the passports back. Then there was the line to get in the restaurant (complete with pager!) and a line to get to the food at the buffet and the line to get through the crowded atrium and the line to get out the door and the maze of "hello" through every single hallway because the room attendants and their carts are ALWAYS in the hallways. To be fair, though, the ship's employees were all lovely people.
Speaking of spending money (it's all about money, isn't it?). There are so few things to do for free on this ship. There are the complimentary restaurants, that's good. There are board games and books. There are movies sometimes in the crowded public area (not in the theatre, but in the atrium where there is constant traffic and noise. So much so that they just put subtitles on the movies because they know you can't hear it), but that's it. You want to play a fun game like skiball or bowling or even darts? Well, insert your card here to pay for a game. You want a drink? $22 for 2 glasses of $3-a-bottle wine (that was our only spent money and it was only because we were lied to about getting a free drink package included.). Even some of the complimentary restaurants had price tags if you wanted a cup of coffee after your meal. Thank god we don't drink coffee.
They even said we could not go in to Gothenburg, Sweden without paying $10 per person to ride a bus to town. $10 per person to see something that you scheduled on the roster? Seriously? Take it out of the ticket price for God's sake. We did not go to Sweden, sadly, because that's ridiculous. Don't go there if you can't include transporting the passengers for free. Oh, and, we were supposed to get 60 free minutes of internet. Everyone gets that now. But, how do you set it up? Oh, there's no "free internet" option on your browser? You can't click it? Did you make an account? Oh, you did? Huh...well, keep looking for that button! I'm sure you'll find it!
The worst part, without doubt, was the weather. Now, I know that the captain cannot control the will of nature and this has no bearing on Norwegian Cruise Lines directly. But I can fault them for the way they handled the terrible weather. This cruise was hundreds of hours (336 hours in 2 weeks, you know, but at least 3 days were calm) of 14-foot swells and 60 knot winds. It was positively miserable. On top of that, even on those lovely clear days, we were not allowed outside, we were not given any advice on when it might end, we were not treated any nicer as we're vomiting and laying in bed. Dan Dan was still calling reverie every single morning... Because bingo won't play itself.
The days we were allowed on the outer decks were great. I mean, when they bothered to untie the chairs. You had people sitting on top of piles of cushions and on tables trying to enjoy what small bit of fresh air they could get.
This was my husband's first cruise and it was my third. I must have been blessed to have never even felt the movement of a cruise ship before this and I had no idea that it could get so rough. Even rougher still, it could get! This was the very ship that, a year ago, went through a typhoon.
In all, I will never sail with Norwegian again. In fact, I'm thinking I'll never sail again period. This was a terrible experience.
But I don't want to end on a bad note, so let me point out some things I loved: embarking and disembarking were painless and really smooth and professional; the staff were generally nice; they had a movie channel on the tv where they played current films and live sports (football, American football, tennis, hockey); the shower and bathroom were nice and functional; the bed (actually two beds pushed together) was comfortable; after midnight you could sit in silence in the library. Also, the ports other than Gothenburg (so Southampton, Cobh, and Ponta Delgada) were really close to the cities and easy to get off the ship and in to the city. The cities are, as always, lovely.
We were basically on the bridge of the ship and we felt every one of those 14 foot swells as though we were in a tiny rowboat. Like that movie, Life of Pi.
This stop is not near the city. We left from Copenhagen, so we had spent 5 days in the city before the cruise even began. We had to take a cab to the dock, though. I hear there's a bus, but I can only imagine how crowded that gets on sailing days.
But, either way, Copenhagen is beautiful.
Easy to access the city and if you go walking far enough, you can ditch the other 4,000 and have a quiet pint in the London Hotel pub.
Beautiful town. I took an excursion on another cruise years ago and do think that seeing Cork is a nice addition if you can swing it.
Disembarking was so simple and fast. We finally made it to solid ground!!!
We didn't see much of this place but the area around the water is lovely. You can swim in the water right there, so bring a swimming suit and towel!