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Norwegian Joy Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
282 Reviews

Good cruise, fun ship

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review by Cruise9Guy

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom

Newer ship with specialty features, but really chose the cruise because of the itinerary and bucket list ports and partial transit of the Panama Canal. The ship was nice, similar layout to the Escape, which is the only other NCL ship I've been on. Much smaller pool deck and area, but had read and expected that. Similar kids water park and water slides. Top decks had a great, fun speedway and laser tag arena. Yes, they were extra costs, but well worth it and lots of fun. Reservations are necessary for both!

Restaurants were pretty much the same as the Escape with the exception of The Local replacing O'Sheenan's; Q (BBQ) instead of Moderna and American Diner replacing Margaritaville. The replacement restaurants were about the same, though Moderna was better than Q, since I am on a salt-free diet and Q had significant difficulties providing me with food that I could eat. The band they had that night was good, but service at Q was awful. Frankly found that service wasn't good in the majority of the dining establishments on board, and food in the Manhattan dining room was very poor overall, got worse as we got later in the cruise. There was always something to eat, and since my meals were being prepared salt-free I could pick and choose what I wanted the night before based on the menu in the complementary or specialty dining rooms.

There was more to this cruise than dining and it was the activities, entertainment, public spaces and the itinerary itself that made this an amazing cruise. Dining in each port was really special taking in local cuisines and that made the food on the ship bearable!

My midship balcony cabin was very nice and its what I've come to expect from Norwegian cabins. Comfortable and roomy and my room steward was excellent at taking care of all of my needs and requests.

I booked my own shore excursions with private companies and small groups, and all were excellent as I researched them in advance.

Overall I enjoyed my experience on this new and wonderful ship, but dining especially in the complementary restaurants needs to be looked into and maybe overhauled.

Cruise9Guy's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom

Excellent cabin, good location, though its quite a bit more forward than mid-ship. Norwegian cabins tend to be larger and nicer than other cruise lines that are similar in size to Norwegian ships. The bathrooms are larger, and the shower has a door and is a nice size to be able to move around. The closet has a nice amount of space and the balcony is of decent size. The bed wasn't very comfortable and I asked my room steward for an eggcrate topper, and within a couple of hours it was provided. My back was forever grateful and I slept really well for the remainder of the cruise.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Visited the night before and went to a local restaurant and club. Had a nice evening before boarding the cruise ship the next day.

Great Stirrup Cay

Didn't leave the ship, had been to GSC in the past.

Cartagena (Colombia)

Private tour of both the new and old city of Cartagena. Stopped to have arepas with local street vendor. Excellent tour at a reasonable price.

Colon (Cristobal)

Very poor city, not recommended to leave ship or take tour. Left ship to walk across the street to have lunch at Grand Cafe, visit souvenir shops and grocery store. Walked around the port and went back to ship.

Puerto Limon

I organized a small group private tour with this tour operator. We went to the highlights in the area plus a local restaurant with great food. A++ on this tour and the day. Fantastic group and driver and guide. Highly recommend.


Expected more based on the conversations with the tour company in the weeks and months before the tour took place. I organized a group private tour with this company, and brought them 23 people, but tour did not turn out as expected and I do not recommend this tour operator.

Harvest Caye

Did my own thing. Walked the island, did some shopping, visited the wildlife experience, the beach, the pool. I didn't eat and/or drink anything from the island. Brought water from the ship and ate before I left the ship.

Costa Maya

Rented a golf cart from a local and took my own tour of the island, had lunch at Maya Bar, walked the beach and boardwalk and had a great time taking my own tour with others from the ship.

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