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There is so much to say... First, this was our first cruise as Norwegian Platinum members. We chose this cruise because we like Transatlantic voyages, it was very reasonably priced and it was the only cruise that fit our specific time frame. We live in NYC and love the ability to take a cab directly to the ship. The motivating force was a desperate need to have a vacation after a hard winter. Also, we had never been to either the Azores or Belgium, so that was a plus. We booked a sail-away balcony (our first time not booking a specific cabin). We were assigned a decent cabin on deck 8 that turned out to be really well located for this cruise. One week and one day before sailing (late in the afternoon on Good Friday) we got an email from NCL announcing an itinerary change that shortened the cruise by two days and eliminated the French and Belgian ports. Much has been written on the roll call thread about this fiasco. In short, NCL managed to screw up, piss a lot of people off, and then, in their attempt to fix the screwup (by bringing back the French and Belgium stops at the cost of the Azores and Portland stops) pissed off even more people. In our case, we just booked two more nights in London to cover the earlier arrival and adjusted our other arrangements to suit. As Platinum customers, embarkation was an absolute breeze. We were checked in and eating lunch in no time (although seating in the cafe was insufficient). We had previously sailed twice on the Breakaway, a ship we really didn’t care for. This cruise convinced us never to book a large ship again. There may be some really great large ships on other lines, but we don’t feel like finding out. The large NCL ships feel much more cramped than the Jewel class, a class we have cruised multiple times and have really loved. Let’s break down the issues: The biggest one is that whenever any area in the ship is crowded, it feels like being stuck in rush hour traffic. We came to avoid the atrium completely. It’s a mess. Much too small, too loud, too few chairs and, worse, it also acts as a thoroughfare. We completely avoided all of the events held there, some of which we wanted to attend. The Garden cafe is too loud, and suffers from the same design problem, it is almost impossible to walk through without bumping into people who are hauling plates of food in seemingly random patterns. Also there is just not enough seating. The aforementioned fiasco meant that there was always a long line at guest services. Exceptionally poor communication from NCL about refunds and bill adjustments made any interaction with them difficult because of the crowds. In short, the ship design with poor traffic management, and a claustrophobic feel and an emphasis on outdoor space better suited to warm climates meant that the whole experience was cramped. Disembarkation was slow. The itinerary change meant that we couldn’t pick up the immigration officials in the Azores which meant another long line to be navigated upon arrival all the while watching the clock to see if we we would make our train (we didn’t but there was a subsequent train, so there was no real issue). As usual, the crew was quite good. What our cabin steward lacked in friendliness, he more than made up for in ruthless efficiency. Our room was always done quickly and correctly without impacting our use thereof. The wait staff was friendly, as was everyone else we dealt with. As for food, we felt that the free sit-down restaurants were hit-or-miss. We had a couple of good meals (prime rib one night, a solid burger another at O’Sheehans), a couple of meals that were poor at Taste and Savor and one good and one not-so-good at the Tropicana. As for the Garden Cafe, it was okay, not as good as we have experienced before. The specialty restaurants were much better. The filet at Cagney’s was excellent. That was comped as a Platinum perk. We paid a la Carte at Le Bistro, a meal I was really looking forward to, as I had loved both the Trois Cornets appetizer and the Canard a l’Orange on previous voyages. Both are gone from the menu, a big disappointment. The other comped meal at Moderno was exceptional. The waiter comped our glasses of wine as well. As for the journey, we found it hard to deal with the constant time changes. There is no getting around the fact that crossing time zones is difficult, but by the third or fourth one, we just wanted it to be over. The weather, although cold and mostly gray, was good. As for entertainment, the Million Dollar Quartet show was a standout, we also enjoyed the Cirque Dreams dinner show although, despite being first in line and having paid extra for floor seats, discovering that we had poor sight lines because the Haven guests got the best seats (something that we didn’t know would happen) was a bit frustrating. Music about the ship suffered from the poor design. The open atrium made for terrible acoustics and an unwelcoming experience. The ship open-space performers were just okay, in my opinion. We were looking forward to hearing some decent blues in the Fat Cats club (as we had on the Breakaway) but it was taken over by Karaoke almost every night and, as far as I could tell, nobody on board could play or sing the blues. We paid extra for access to the thermal suite, something we have done on every NCL cruise. Our normal routine is to hit the gym, shower off and soak. The gym was always crowded. Some of the equipment was broken and there were times when it wasn’t possible go work out. The thermal spa was, likewise, fairly crowded. The staff is doing a better job of policing the reservation of both the heated and regular lounge chairs, a consistent problem in the past, so that is an improvement, Despite all of my issues with the ship, it was a very enjoyable cruise. That, largely, was due to some of our fellow passengers and our decision to be more social than in the past. We made some initial connections via the roll call thread that led to one of the best times, the mad beer-sampling dash through Bruges. In LeHavre, we walked into town determined to have coffee, baguettes and butter which we found in the Sunday market in the center of town. We were determined not to let the problems ruin our vacation and we have succeeded. It is clear, however, that our non-stop string of being NCL-only customers is at an end. The emphasis on packing people in is taking its toll. I do recognize that what you get for your money is still a good deal, but it may no longer be for us. NCL has cut both service and some quality in recent years and we would prefer for our cruise experiences not to resemble traveling on budget airlines where the emphasis is on upcharges and post-sales opportunities,

Making lemonade out of lemons

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by Bunkie2100

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2019
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony Stateroom
There is so much to say...

First, this was our first cruise as Norwegian Platinum members. We chose this cruise because we like Transatlantic voyages, it was very reasonably priced and it was the only cruise that fit our specific time frame. We live in NYC and love the ability to take a cab directly to the ship.

The motivating force was a desperate need to have a vacation after a hard winter. Also, we had never been to either the Azores or Belgium, so that was a plus. We booked a sail-away balcony (our first time not booking a specific cabin). We were assigned a decent cabin on deck 8 that turned out to be really well located for this cruise.

One week and one day before sailing (late in the afternoon on Good Friday) we got an email from NCL announcing an itinerary change that shortened the cruise by two days and eliminated the French and Belgian ports. Much has been written on the roll call thread about this fiasco. In short, NCL managed to screw up, piss a lot of people off, and then, in their attempt to fix the screwup (by bringing back the French and Belgium stops at the cost of the Azores and Portland stops) pissed off even more people. In our case, we just booked two more nights in London to cover the earlier arrival and adjusted our other arrangements to suit.

As Platinum customers, embarkation was an absolute breeze. We were checked in and eating lunch in no time (although seating in the cafe was insufficient).

We had previously sailed twice on the Breakaway, a ship we really didn’t care for. This cruise convinced us never to book a large ship again. There may be some really great large ships on other lines, but we don’t feel like finding out. The large NCL ships feel much more cramped than the Jewel class, a class we have cruised multiple times and have really loved. Let’s break down the issues:

The biggest one is that whenever any area in the ship is crowded, it feels like being stuck in rush hour traffic. We came to avoid the atrium completely. It’s a mess. Much too small, too loud, too few chairs and, worse, it also acts as a thoroughfare. We completely avoided all of the events held there, some of which we wanted to attend. The Garden cafe is too loud, and suffers from the same design problem, it is almost impossible to walk through without bumping into people who are hauling plates of food in seemingly random patterns. Also there is just not enough seating.

The aforementioned fiasco meant that there was always a long line at guest services. Exceptionally poor communication from NCL about refunds and bill adjustments made any interaction with them difficult because of the crowds.

In short, the ship design with poor traffic management, and a claustrophobic feel and an emphasis on outdoor space better suited to warm climates meant that the whole experience was cramped.

Disembarkation was slow. The itinerary change meant that we couldn’t pick up the immigration officials in the Azores which meant another long line to be navigated upon arrival all the while watching the clock to see if we we would make our train (we didn’t but there was a subsequent train, so there was no real issue).

As usual, the crew was quite good. What our cabin steward lacked in friendliness, he more than made up for in ruthless efficiency. Our room was always done quickly and correctly without impacting our use thereof. The wait staff was friendly, as was everyone else we dealt with.

As for food, we felt that the free sit-down restaurants were hit-or-miss. We had a couple of good meals (prime rib one night, a solid burger another at O’Sheehans), a couple of meals that were poor at Taste and Savor and one good and one not-so-good at the Tropicana. As for the Garden Cafe, it was okay, not as good as we have experienced before. The specialty restaurants were much better. The filet at Cagney’s was excellent. That was comped as a Platinum perk. We paid a la Carte at Le Bistro, a meal I was really looking forward to, as I had loved both the Trois Cornets appetizer and the Canard a l’Orange on previous voyages. Both are gone from the menu, a big disappointment. The other comped meal at Moderno was exceptional. The waiter comped our glasses of wine as well.

As for the journey, we found it hard to deal with the constant time changes. There is no getting around the fact that crossing time zones is difficult, but by the third or fourth one, we just wanted it to be over. The weather, although cold and mostly gray, was good.

As for entertainment, the Million Dollar Quartet show was a standout, we also enjoyed the Cirque Dreams dinner show although, despite being first in line and having paid extra for floor seats, discovering that we had poor sight lines because the Haven guests got the best seats (something that we didn’t know would happen) was a bit frustrating. Music about the ship suffered from the poor design. The open atrium made for terrible acoustics and an unwelcoming experience. The ship open-space performers were just okay, in my opinion. We were looking forward to hearing some decent blues in the Fat Cats club (as we had on the Breakaway) but it was taken over by Karaoke almost every night and, as far as I could tell, nobody on board could play or sing the blues.

We paid extra for access to the thermal suite, something we have done on every NCL cruise. Our normal routine is to hit the gym, shower off and soak. The gym was always crowded. Some of the equipment was broken and there were times when it wasn’t possible go work out. The thermal spa was, likewise, fairly crowded. The staff is doing a better job of policing the reservation of both the heated and regular lounge chairs, a consistent problem in the past, so that is an improvement,

Despite all of my issues with the ship, it was a very enjoyable cruise. That, largely, was due to some of our fellow passengers and our decision to be more social than in the past. We made some initial connections via the roll call thread that led to one of the best times, the mad beer-sampling dash through Bruges. In LeHavre, we walked into town determined to have coffee, baguettes and butter which we found in the Sunday market in the center of town. We were determined not to let the problems ruin our vacation and we have succeeded. It is clear, however, that our non-stop string of being NCL-only customers is at an end. The emphasis on packing people in is taking its toll. I do recognize that what you get for your money is still a good deal, but it may no longer be for us. NCL has cut both service and some quality in recent years and we would prefer for our cruise experiences not to resemble traveling on budget airlines where the emphasis is on upcharges and post-sales opportunities,
Bunkie2100’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BB 8156
The cabin was mostly fine. We did have an issue with the somewhat worn out mattress, bit that was mostly and quickly corrected via the addition of a mattress topper.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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