First, read the Danforth family review. No need for me to repeat everything there. It is ALL correct - even a bit mild.
Overall, organization was lacking. Processes were disorganized; we heard the word "cluster" quite a few times.
The biggest surprise (of many) was the churlish attitude of most of the staff. Few smiles, uncaring (even after pouring coffee on my wife's lap!), angry that we asked for a new table when the tablecloth was soaked with said coffee. Excursion staff - not helpful and clueless (multiple different or non-answers to the same questions). Our cabin steward, Arnold, was excellent, though. The rumor mill had it that our crew was stripped in Southampton to staff the new ship being launched the following week. Not sure if it was true, but many of the staff acted like they had no previous experience with what they were supposed to be doing.
The tendering at Stirrup Cay was a clown show. Compared to our last visit with another cruise line, when the lines got too long, they launched some lifeboats and got the people moved quickly. Clearly Stirrup Cay can not handle two ships at once, with only two tenders and one small auxiliary (used to move crew and food service). When the tendering fell 90-120 minutes behind schedule, no adjustments to food service were made. Passengers simply got disgusted and skipped that "experience."
Excursions. Terrible. London - 2.5 hours by bus, 3 hours in London, 2.5 hours back. Waste of time from Southhampton. Paris - 3 hours by bus, 3 hours in Paris (along with a terrible guide whose English was VERY weak and who knew nothing about Paris, and who got flustered with any question she was asked). The "port briefings" provided no information about the port; they were simply an effort to sell excursions. Questions about non-excursion topics were not answered. (NB, Holland America does a MUCH better job in this arena).
Not mentioned was the appalling "out of food" situation when we missed the port stop in the Azores. Ships missing that stop is not uncommon - some lines report as much as 60% of the time they are unable to get in. SO - the ship should be prepared for not being able to re-supply in the Azores. But no - after that, we were out of watermelon, bananas, lettuce, mushrooms, orange juice, iced tea, lemonade (the only FREE drinks available), milk of any sort - for the next 7 days. Even after we landed in Miami (plenty of time to place a grocery order), there was STILL no orange juice available (doesn't orange juice come from Florida?). Some dining staff told us that they "couldn't find it" in the load they took on in Miami. Absolutely ridiculous.
In general, the food was mediocre - Buffet food overcooked, over-spiced (and not labelled as such), over-curried, over-salted. Restaurant food cold by the time it got to you. Typically took 75-90 minutes to get breakfast in either the TASTE or SAVOR restaurants, with courses arriving out of order.
The first day - lunch - in a sit-down restaurant. Waiter brings the menu, later comes back to take our order. 25 minutes later, no food. The waiter returns and tells us that we had been provided the wrong menu and we'd have to re-order. OK, can we have the correct menu? Sorry sir, we have to wait for them to be printed!
We attended a couple of extra charge dinner-shows (Cirque, Dreams, and Steam, and the "Wine school." After both, we were, via the PA system, unceremoniously told to leave immediately, even though we had not had the opportunity to finish our meal, dessert, and drink our wine.
Then, the immigration situation in Miami. 4-5 hours to unload and get everybody checked, THEN 4-5 hours to get back on board. Fuss at passengers about being back in plenty of time, THEN make them stand around while the crew flounders. Disorganized, no staff help (there were two security guards from the terminal - nobody else to help). The captain blamed it on the "local authorities" - who did the same thing that they always do. The CBP staff had left for the day, and we were still standing outside. Miami is the USA headquarters for Norwegian, and their offices are right down the street. If you are going to have, or are having, a disaster (which this process was), get your office staff out from behind their desks, go to the terminal, bring (or buy) some coolers, ice, and bottled water, and help the customers. People were sick, exhausted, overheated (the outside sidewalks have no protection from the sun), Really ANGRY, there were no medical staff present, no cold water, etc., etc.
On another occasion, myself and one other gent were lifting weights in the fitness center. A female member of the Spa staff entered the room and literally screamed at us that we must stop dropping weights. NOBODY had dropped any weights for the time I was there - about 20 minutes. She ungraciously informed us that her customers downstairs were complaining, and if they complained she was "working for free." Totally inappropriate. I complained to the fitness staff, whose response was, "We all know that she is crazy." The spa, despite paying a lot EXTRA for it, was almost always out of robes. Not a real problem for me, but the ladies were quite unhappy about the situation.
My last noteworthy comment involves my wife's effort to get a glass of tomato juice on the last morning (no orange, remember - even though we had just taken on stores in Miami). She went to the bar where the mimosas and bloody Mary are made. Guess what? Can't find tomato juice! Once located, can't find can opener! Once located, didn't know how to operate it (you have to make two holes, one to pour and one for makeup air to enter). 25 minutes to get a glass of tomato juice, at a bar that specializes in Bloody Mary and Mimosa. Unreal!
In general, the public facilities (restaurants, entertainment venues, even the buffet dining area) are not big enough for the number of people aboard the ship. Particularly a problem when the weather is cold and the outdoor pool/sunning areas can't be used. We suspect that the overcrowding of entertainment and dining venues, as well as the extensive queuing (passports, embarking, disembarking) contributed to the rampant spread of upper respiratory infections throughout the passengers. Almost everybody was sick!
My background is in part in the US Navy. If a Navy ship had so badly failed in its core mission, the boss would have been waiting at the pier, the captain would have been relieved and replaced on the spot, along with the hotel "general manager" (who was so conspicuously absent), the restaurant managers, and the person responsible for purchasing and warehousing food. Nope, blame it on the local authorities, ruin another whole day for the passengers, and move on. Sincere-sounding apologies don't make it acceptable.
It will require a lot of convincing before I will do another cruise on this line.
Pretty good cabin, balcony is small. The balcony furniture left a bit to be desired - table not big enough for a plate and a drink - never mind two people, books, etc.
3 hours in, 3 hours in London, 3 hours back. Too much bus ride for the limited time in London.View All 15 London On Your Own Reviews
Also too much "on the bus" for the 3 hours in Paris. The guide, Sophie, was terrible. Very poor English, and no knowledge of Paris (she had to keep asking the bus driver, who was Ukranian, where things were). Unable to answer ANY questions about Paris, like "Where is the HopOn, HopOff bus?" or "Where can we get a narrated river cruise?" Fortunately, local people were very helpful and friendly, but we wasted a lot of our precious time!View All 65 Paris Reviews
But would have been better, if we had just been told "You can take the train right from the pier to Blarney, and save the bus ride!"
Our guide was very good and informative.
Couldn't get in, because "another ship cut in front of us." Then it was "too windy to dock safely." Very lame.
We took the ferry to St. George and hiked ourselves. Nobody told us that the major attraction, the large fort, would be closed. Walked about 6.5 KM round trip to find that out.
Snorkeling in an area that is almost completely devoid of marine life is a complete waste. We saw a few little fish, but nothing interesting for a "tropical" island. And the process of getting there and back (tendering) was a nighmare (described in the body of our review). Staff on the ship have no idea about the rules and processes used to get people with excursions on and off the island.View All 98 Snorkeling Reviews
Disembarking and re-embarking for immigration was a nightmare, and the cruise line did nothing to ease the pain. By the time we left Miami, it seems like most of the passengers were thoroughly disgusted with Norwegian Cruise Lines.