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The destinations and timing were the primary reason for the selection of the ship after my family narrowed our choice of cruise line to NCL. My teenager selected the Joy because of its VR and go-kart track. This was our first time on the NCL line, so I spent many hours researching excursions and additional charges prior to leaving. However, some items are not obviously a good or poor value until you experience the cruise. More on additional costs later. My family arrived in Seattle early to visit local sites of interest to use prior to the cruise. The day and a half in Seattle ahead of the cruise was completely worthwhile. Pike Street Market, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Microsoft Visitor's Center (pretty far afield but of great interest to techies), the Space Needle, and trying local foods were all worthwhile. We used Uber to get to the ship from our hotel. Drop off and pick up at Pier 66 in Seattle is a rather scary and dangerous proposition. My family observed one fender bender and several near misses during drop off and pick up. The lanes for pick up and drop off have three minute limits with no clear enforcement and many drivers making their own lanes. I liked the staggered embarkation and debarkation. Although the lines were still quite long during both events, I suspect a less structured handling would have led to much worse lines. Getting on and off the ship at each port throughout the cruise was probably one of the best experiences I could imagine. The ship card for all services is another useful aspect of the cruise. Other than getting back on in some ports, the ship card was all anyone needed to get off or on the ship, to eat or drink, or to take advantage of any amenities. Unfortunately, the amenities often cam at an extra cost. If you wanted really amazing food, you pretty much had to go to one of the specialty restaurants, which cost extra. NCL offers the ability to prepay for these restaurants allegedly. It seemed like a good deal at ~$26 per person for each meal. Unfortunately, we found out that the prepaid meals were not honored by Food Republic, American Diner, or Teppanyaki. It turns out that American Diner SHOULD have been accepted but good luck getting that money back. I spent 30 minutes waiting in line a guest services to get the $42 spent credited back to my account only to find out the restaurant has to handle the refund. The restaurant staff never bothered to answer the call from guest services. So my ~$300 prepaid meals for four meals got me exactly one meal at Le Bistro that even with the choices my family made would have set us back a whopping ~$25 per person. Every place we had complimentary food was mediocre at best. The foods that were best were pastries and any Asian style foods. Eggs and Southern or Southwestern US foods were generally terrible. Another huge disappointment was the onboard activities. The ship offered game show after game show every day and the occasional dance party. The comedy shows were good and the Elements show was okay if you like modern dance mixed with magic. Footloose was a terrible movie and story, so we skipped that show. The various musicians were good but you can only listen to so many Rat Pack songs before those get old, too. The activities that were most enjoyable...cost extra. Go-kart, VR and Laser Tag all received high marks but were costly. Nearly everything extra also needed a reservation. We ended up spending at least a thousand dollars above the cost of the cruise for the meals, soda package, and onboard activities that were extra, The shore excursions were a mixed bag. I was happy with my decisions to manage my own excursions in Ketchikan and Victoria. We did a self-guided walking tour in Ketchikan and had a great time doing that but it was a significant physical effort even if the walk is only a couple of miles. We did a tour in Juneau to see the gold mine. It was informative but too short. Thankfully, when we ended up at the Alaska equivalent of the cruise line private island, we had a whaling excursion. This was probably the most valuable and enjoyable excursion we could have selected and at the right stop -- the stop designed to make more money for the cruise lines. Finally, in Victoria, we took the $10 CAD Victoria cab to downtown then walked around ourselves. For $20 CAD plus tip you can see the old hotels, the legislative buildings, an amazing park, and even set up a high tea (extra cost). Unlike the expensive trip to the Butchart Gardens, Beacon Hill is 55 acres of free beautiful park with flora and fauna to enjoy two blocks from the parliamentary building. The cruise staff and officers were all very nice and helpful. The ship was kept very clean and the crew took cleanliness seriously unlike some of the passengers who needed to learn proper buffet etiquette. Some of the highlights of the trip: Beautiful vistas at every stop Clean, well-kept ship Spacious cabins with good storage and steward service Excellent ship service Negatives outweighed the positives: Many extra costs Terrible value for meal packages Pepsi products for mixers (Rum and Pepsi, Bourbon and Pepsi, 7 and Sierra Mist?? These do not make sense) Terrible free activities onboard Limited shopping Mediocre free foods

Wonderful ship but lots of annoyances, service issues, and extra charges

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review by borg1b

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Large Balcony
The destinations and timing were the primary reason for the selection of the ship after my family narrowed our choice of cruise line to NCL. My teenager selected the Joy because of its VR and go-kart track. This was our first time on the NCL line, so I spent many hours researching excursions and additional charges prior to leaving. However, some items are not obviously a good or poor value until you experience the cruise. More on additional costs later. My family arrived in Seattle early to visit local sites of interest to use prior to the cruise. The day and a half in Seattle ahead of the cruise was completely worthwhile. Pike Street Market, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Microsoft Visitor's Center (pretty far afield but of great interest to techies), the Space Needle, and trying local foods were all worthwhile.

We used Uber to get to the ship from our hotel. Drop off and pick up at Pier 66 in Seattle is a rather scary and dangerous proposition. My family observed one fender bender and several near misses during drop off and pick up. The lanes for pick up and drop off have three minute limits with no clear enforcement and many drivers making their own lanes.

I liked the staggered embarkation and debarkation. Although the lines were still quite long during both events, I suspect a less structured handling would have led to much worse lines. Getting on and off the ship at each port throughout the cruise was probably one of the best experiences I could imagine.

The ship card for all services is another useful aspect of the cruise. Other than getting back on in some ports, the ship card was all anyone needed to get off or on the ship, to eat or drink, or to take advantage of any amenities. Unfortunately, the amenities often cam at an extra cost.

If you wanted really amazing food, you pretty much had to go to one of the specialty restaurants, which cost extra. NCL offers the ability to prepay for these restaurants allegedly. It seemed like a good deal at ~$26 per person for each meal. Unfortunately, we found out that the prepaid meals were not honored by Food Republic, American Diner, or Teppanyaki. It turns out that American Diner SHOULD have been accepted but good luck getting that money back. I spent 30 minutes waiting in line a guest services to get the $42 spent credited back to my account only to find out the restaurant has to handle the refund. The restaurant staff never bothered to answer the call from guest services. So my ~$300 prepaid meals for four meals got me exactly one meal at Le Bistro that even with the choices my family made would have set us back a whopping ~$25 per person. Every place we had complimentary food was mediocre at best. The foods that were best were pastries and any Asian style foods. Eggs and Southern or Southwestern US foods were generally terrible.

Another huge disappointment was the onboard activities. The ship offered game show after game show every day and the occasional dance party. The comedy shows were good and the Elements show was okay if you like modern dance mixed with magic. Footloose was a terrible movie and story, so we skipped that show. The various musicians were good but you can only listen to so many Rat Pack songs before those get old, too. The activities that were most enjoyable...cost extra. Go-kart, VR and Laser Tag all received high marks but were costly. Nearly everything extra also needed a reservation. We ended up spending at least a thousand dollars above the cost of the cruise for the meals, soda package, and onboard activities that were extra,

The shore excursions were a mixed bag. I was happy with my decisions to manage my own excursions in Ketchikan and Victoria. We did a self-guided walking tour in Ketchikan and had a great time doing that but it was a significant physical effort even if the walk is only a couple of miles. We did a tour in Juneau to see the gold mine. It was informative but too short. Thankfully, when we ended up at the Alaska equivalent of the cruise line private island, we had a whaling excursion. This was probably the most valuable and enjoyable excursion we could have selected and at the right stop -- the stop designed to make more money for the cruise lines. Finally, in Victoria, we took the $10 CAD Victoria cab to downtown then walked around ourselves. For $20 CAD plus tip you can see the old hotels, the legislative buildings, an amazing park, and even set up a high tea (extra cost). Unlike the expensive trip to the Butchart Gardens, Beacon Hill is 55 acres of free beautiful park with flora and fauna to enjoy two blocks from the parliamentary building.

The cruise staff and officers were all very nice and helpful. The ship was kept very clean and the crew took cleanliness seriously unlike some of the passengers who needed to learn proper buffet etiquette.

Some of the highlights of the trip:

Beautiful vistas at every stop

Clean, well-kept ship

Spacious cabins with good storage and steward service

Excellent ship service

Negatives outweighed the positives:

Many extra costs

Terrible value for meal packages

Pepsi products for mixers (Rum and Pepsi, Bourbon and Pepsi, 7 and Sierra Mist?? These do not make sense)

Terrible free activities onboard

Limited shopping

Mediocre free foods
borg1b’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Large Balcony
Cabin B6 8716
The cabin was another excellent aspect of this cruise. My teenager slept on the couch/bed and said it was quite comfortable for such a bed. The large balcony was wonderful and gave us some privacy under the awning but the ability to see fantastic scenery at the railing. The location of the cabin near the bow on deck 8 was really outstanding for access to dining, shopping, and amenities. I was worried its proximity would lead to disrupted sleep from the noise of the ship, but the noise was rarely at times we were not already awake. The location was very quiet.

The bathroom and cabin were spacious enough to maneuver, although I did stub my toe badly on the last day on the drawer under the couch. My husband believed the shower was a bit small, but my son and I had no issues with the size of the bathroom. The storage initially seemed it might be small, but three of us managed to unpack our clothes into just the closet and drawers and still had the two shelves under the TV available.

Speaking of television, the comedian made fun of the View from the Bridge channel, but my family found that channel excellent for sleeping. The Navigation Channel was also useful, but they need to work on their views. They are generally not centered on the ship's location and the perspectives are kind of useless because they go close up to pretty much out in space and from the moon. A more regional view is needed. Finally, the TV offers four movie channels that show recent movies, which was nice for those sea days when nothing else worth doing was going on.

Another cabin positive was the provided bathroom sundries -- shampoo, body wash, soap, and body lotion. The lights to request room cleaning or to not disturb were great. The room stewards were fantastic and did a great job keeping the room made up and clean. I had no real complaints about the cabin.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews