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We chose this cruise looking for a short get away. This was our second on NCL after having done the Jewel Oct 2018 for a New England cruise. We live in Southern Calif. and we usually go to Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Reno for 4 nights just to get away. So we wanted to shake it up. We love cruising (maybe 25 cruises in our background typically 7-14 days) so thought about trying this 5 night cruise on the Joy instead. Great decision and now we have other options for those short getaways. As to restaurants, the main dining room (we tried Savor for embarkation lunch and the Manhattan for dinner) were ok at best. Service in the former was poor, the hamburger was, as I said, ok at best. Dinner in Manhattan: service good, but food just ok. Le Bistro was exceptional--service, food, ambience. Loved it. Ocean Blue: service was good, all courses except my entree were great. I had the grouper with lemon and oil The fish was done properly but the sauce was tasteless. Everyone else (there were 4 of us) enjoyed their entrees so I guess I just chose the wrong sauce (my fault and I should have sent it back). Cagney's: Service was poor. The four of us were all using our specialty dinner package (as we did at Le Bistro), and the waiter told us that we could have an appetizer or a soup/salad, not both When we pressed him on that he relented and allowed us each to have both. The restaurant lost one of our party's special diet order placed several days earlier. The waiter kept getting the order wrong in the sense of not knowing who ordered what and, thereby, placing the order in front of the wrong person. This was after checking several times. We had the premium wine package (the standard one, not the premium plus). With the wine steward I had requested that she surprise me with a wine paired to what I had ordered for each course. (Doing that at Ocean Blue the night before, Richard, the wine steward had done an exceptional job and I wanted to try it again.) It took her a long while to understand what I was requesting (in fairness, Richard didn't understand right off either but caught on relatively quickly), asking me several times what wine I wanted with dinner. She missed one course (there were 4 courses) and other than pouring never came back to see how we liked the wine. The port wine she gave me for dessert was significantly less enjoyable than what Richard had supplied the night before (or the wine steward at Le Bistro). My veal was sort of fatty (again, I should have sent it back), and my wife's Porterhouse was gristly on the New York Strip side). Q, the barbeque restaurant, was a pleasant surprise. After a bit of a delay for the waiter to recognize us and start service, he did a great job. The food was excellent, service, very good, and the decor was creative and enjoyable. Embarkation: with Concierge Suite one has not only priority check in but priority boarding. It took less than 10 minutes for us to be on board from when we entered the terminal. And there were substantial lines that we were able to bypass. Right after check in they took us around a corner and right up the gang plank--wonderful! Debarkation: USA authorities had delayed "releasing" the ship for debarkation. And of course, everyone poured out of their cabins at their assigned times, anyway. So there was one big clog in the hallway with the usual serpentine lines. Fortunately, someone right ahead of us asked a crew member where we should go since we had priority debarkation, also. She directed us through a hall way that got us close to the front of the serpentine line. That got us off the ship relatively quickly. After retrieving our bags (really, really easy as Concierge is a whole separate debarkation class to itself), we found ourselves in a long line to get to immigration/customs. But we noticed that we could "buy" our way out via a porter. With a porter, we went to a separate line that took about 5 minutes vs a probable 45 minutes. We definitely didn't need a porter for our two checked bags and two carry ons. I gave the porter $7 (no official charge just tips for the porter)----well worth it. The whole process took about 35 minutes from once the debarkation line on the ship started to actual move to get through Immigration/customs and out of the terminal. Entertainment: Foot Loose was great---enjoyed it immensely. Wine, the musical, with 3 cast members from Foot Loose was fun, well acted, and well worth the money. The comedy club had two entertainers performing at different times. So we went on two different days. Enjoyed one, not the other. But again, in fairness, the rest of the audience seemed to like the second guy so I guess, just not to my liking. Elements was also not my cup of tea. But my wife loved it and I could appreciate the amazing talent and energy that was displayed. I should have gone to the Cavern Club instead as I just could never fit in the Beatles. Shore Excursions: We did the coastal whale watching in Cabo through NCL. As was explained, it was the luck of the draw as to whether you see whales and how many. We got lucky. There were perhaps 3 whales in front of the boat for a long time, diving and surfacing. Just before we got back to port, another whale decided to do a full breach. Amazing! That whale also had a baby with her who was trying to mimick her mom but wasn't quite strong enough yet. It was fun to see them both. Beverage service on the boat was excellent, they also served chips and guacomole which was quite tasty. All included in the price. Ensenada Wine Tasting: I set up a private tour at this port as we only wanted two wineries as opposed to the usual three and didn't want the 50-75 person bus tour. We were taken by Alain (the owner of Baja Wine and Sun) to a small family owned winery and then a large winery. It was interesting to see the differences and enjoyable not to be with a cattle car of people. Price was less than the cruise ship version, also. Alain had said he would meet us outside the terminal--I thought that meant the terminal building. It didn't; it meant the actual terminal. So we had to walk maybe a quarter mile, not a big deal. We had a comfortable van. Water in a cooler in back. Alain's English was excellent and his knowledge deep. He is actually a CPA by training and I would recommend him highly. The English of the person guiding us at the small winery was also excellent--turns out she just received her BS from UCSD in biology. The English of the guide at the big winery was perhaps not quite as good but still excellent. After the tours Alain dropped us off at El Rey Sol, a french restaurant that has been around since at least the early 50's, about a half mile from the ship. We had eaten there on our last trip to Ensenada (I think a land trip) many years ago and wanted to return. Interesting for the memories but I would not do it again. The food was just not up to what I was anticipating. Instead, I would have had lunch in the valley near the wineries as there are many excellent ones there. Room Steward: Poor. We didn't actually meet her until the second day. She never gave us a tour of the room. We didn't discover a big trash can next to the desk until the last night. She left two partially filled drink glasses on the desk for two days. One day, she didn't make the bed properly so that the bottom sheet wasn't properly tucked in and pulled out in the middle of the night. I was not pleased with her. Crowds: This is a big ship but NCL does a great job of keeping everyone dispersed so other than the elevators which often were crowded, we never felt it to be a problem. And even the elevator situation was acceptable. Noise: For some reason the powers that be seem to think that cranking up the PA system to maximum is the way things should be. So it is extremely noisy in the area where customer service/shore excursions are located. The activities they hold there are so noisy that I actually could not converse with the person at the CruiseNext desk. And that is another issue. When I do business, I want to be sitting down at a desk and able to hear the other person. Maybe that doesn't bother a Millenial, but I can't do that anymore. I would suggest to NCL that if they want me to sign up for a future cruise they find a room to put their CruiseNext people. Even at the CruiseCritic Meet & Mingle, the cruise director had the PA system at what seemed like maximum--for a group of maybe 20 people. Bothersome. But what was good was that there were maybe 12 officers and managers at that meeting. Impressive. I would do the Joy again and we are actually thinking of doing the Pacific Coastal cruise on her. Only hesitation is will the enterainment (Footloose, etc.) get swapped with a different NCL ship. While I enjoyed all the entertainment I don't know that I want to see the same stuff too soon. All in all--a great cruise.

Delighted and Surprised

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review by merv0007

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Villa Suite with Balcony
We chose this cruise looking for a short get away. This was our second on NCL after having done the Jewel Oct 2018 for a New England cruise. We live in Southern Calif. and we usually go to Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Reno for 4 nights just to get away. So we wanted to shake it up. We love cruising (maybe 25 cruises in our background typically 7-14 days) so thought about trying this 5 night cruise on the Joy instead. Great decision and now we have other options for those short getaways.

As to restaurants, the main dining room (we tried Savor for embarkation lunch and the Manhattan for dinner) were ok at best. Service in the former was poor, the hamburger was, as I said, ok at best. Dinner in Manhattan: service good, but food just ok.

Le Bistro was exceptional--service, food, ambience. Loved it. Ocean Blue: service was good, all courses except my entree were great. I had the grouper with lemon and oil The fish was done properly but the sauce was tasteless. Everyone else (there were 4 of us) enjoyed their entrees so I guess I just chose the wrong sauce (my fault and I should have sent it back).

Cagney's: Service was poor. The four of us were all using our specialty dinner package (as we did at Le Bistro), and the waiter told us that we could have an appetizer or a soup/salad, not both When we pressed him on that he relented and allowed us each to have both. The restaurant lost one of our party's special diet order placed several days earlier. The waiter kept getting the order wrong in the sense of not knowing who ordered what and, thereby, placing the order in front of the wrong person. This was after checking several times. We had the premium wine package (the standard one, not the premium plus). With the wine steward I had requested that she surprise me with a wine paired to what I had ordered for each course. (Doing that at Ocean Blue the night before, Richard, the wine steward had done an exceptional job and I wanted to try it again.) It took her a long while to understand what I was requesting (in fairness, Richard didn't understand right off either but caught on relatively quickly), asking me several times what wine I wanted with dinner. She missed one course (there were 4 courses) and other than pouring never came back to see how we liked the wine. The port wine she gave me for dessert was significantly less enjoyable than what Richard had supplied the night before (or the wine steward at Le Bistro). My veal was sort of fatty (again, I should have sent it back), and my wife's Porterhouse was gristly on the New York Strip side).

Q, the barbeque restaurant, was a pleasant surprise. After a bit of a delay for the waiter to recognize us and start service, he did a great job. The food was excellent, service, very good, and the decor was creative and enjoyable.

Embarkation: with Concierge Suite one has not only priority check in but priority boarding. It took less than 10 minutes for us to be on board from when we entered the terminal. And there were substantial lines that we were able to bypass. Right after check in they took us around a corner and right up the gang plank--wonderful!

Debarkation: USA authorities had delayed "releasing" the ship for debarkation. And of course, everyone poured out of their cabins at their assigned times, anyway. So there was one big clog in the hallway with the usual serpentine lines. Fortunately, someone right ahead of us asked a crew member where we should go since we had priority debarkation, also. She directed us through a hall way that got us close to the front of the serpentine line. That got us off the ship relatively quickly. After retrieving our bags (really, really easy as Concierge is a whole separate debarkation class to itself), we found ourselves in a long line to get to immigration/customs. But we noticed that we could "buy" our way out via a porter. With a porter, we went to a separate line that took about 5 minutes vs a probable 45 minutes. We definitely didn't need a porter for our two checked bags and two carry ons. I gave the porter $7 (no official charge just tips for the porter)----well worth it. The whole process took about 35 minutes from once the debarkation line on the ship started to actual move to get through Immigration/customs and out of the terminal.

Entertainment: Foot Loose was great---enjoyed it immensely. Wine, the musical, with 3 cast members from Foot Loose was fun, well acted, and well worth the money. The comedy club had two entertainers performing at different times. So we went on two different days. Enjoyed one, not the other. But again, in fairness, the rest of the audience seemed to like the second guy so I guess, just not to my liking. Elements was also not my cup of tea. But my wife loved it and I could appreciate the amazing talent and energy that was displayed. I should have gone to the Cavern Club instead as I just could never fit in the Beatles.

Shore Excursions: We did the coastal whale watching in Cabo through NCL. As was explained, it was the luck of the draw as to whether you see whales and how many. We got lucky. There were perhaps 3 whales in front of the boat for a long time, diving and surfacing. Just before we got back to port, another whale decided to do a full breach. Amazing! That whale also had a baby with her who was trying to mimick her mom but wasn't quite strong enough yet. It was fun to see them both. Beverage service on the boat was excellent, they also served chips and guacomole which was quite tasty. All included in the price.

Ensenada Wine Tasting: I set up a private tour at this port as we only wanted two wineries as opposed to the usual three and didn't want the 50-75 person bus tour. We were taken by Alain (the owner of Baja Wine and Sun) to a small family owned winery and then a large winery. It was interesting to see the differences and enjoyable not to be with a cattle car of people. Price was less than the cruise ship version, also. Alain had said he would meet us outside the terminal--I thought that meant the terminal building. It didn't; it meant the actual terminal. So we had to walk maybe a quarter mile, not a big deal. We had a comfortable van. Water in a cooler in back. Alain's English was excellent and his knowledge deep. He is actually a CPA by training and I would recommend him highly. The English of the person guiding us at the small winery was also excellent--turns out she just received her BS from UCSD in biology. The English of the guide at the big winery was perhaps not quite as good but still excellent.

After the tours Alain dropped us off at El Rey Sol, a french restaurant that has been around since at least the early 50's, about a half mile from the ship. We had eaten there on our last trip to Ensenada (I think a land trip) many years ago and wanted to return. Interesting for the memories but I would not do it again. The food was just not up to what I was anticipating. Instead, I would have had lunch in the valley near the wineries as there are many excellent ones there.

Room Steward: Poor. We didn't actually meet her until the second day. She never gave us a tour of the room. We didn't discover a big trash can next to the desk until the last night. She left two partially filled drink glasses on the desk for two days. One day, she didn't make the bed properly so that the bottom sheet wasn't properly tucked in and pulled out in the middle of the night. I was not pleased with her.

Crowds: This is a big ship but NCL does a great job of keeping everyone dispersed so other than the elevators which often were crowded, we never felt it to be a problem. And even the elevator situation was acceptable.

Noise: For some reason the powers that be seem to think that cranking up the PA system to maximum is the way things should be. So it is extremely noisy in the area where customer service/shore excursions are located. The activities they hold there are so noisy that I actually could not converse with the person at the CruiseNext desk. And that is another issue. When I do business, I want to be sitting down at a desk and able to hear the other person. Maybe that doesn't bother a Millenial, but I can't do that anymore. I would suggest to NCL that if they want me to sign up for a future cruise they find a room to put their CruiseNext people. Even at the CruiseCritic Meet & Mingle, the cruise director had the PA system at what seemed like maximum--for a group of maybe 20 people. Bothersome. But what was good was that there were maybe 12 officers and managers at that meeting. Impressive.

I would do the Joy again and we are actually thinking of doing the Pacific Coastal cruise on her. Only hesitation is will the enterainment (Footloose, etc.) get swapped with a different NCL ship. While I enjoyed all the entertainment I don't know that I want to see the same stuff too soon. All in all--a great cruise.
merv0007’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Concierge Villa Suite with Balcony
Cabin CC
Blown away by the Concierge Balcony Suite cabin. Booked the mini balcony suite about 5 months prior to sailing. Three months prior to sailing I was checking prices to see if there had been a drop. There was plus I noticed that the concierge was only slightly more than the mini suite. At 50% more space I decided to go for it. It was outstanding. Space similar to a hotel room. Plenty of space with a laptop at a desk. My wife had plenty of space for makeup. Location was close to the elevators but not so close as to have disturbing noise. Lighting was decorative and beautiful. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
Deck 14 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins