Norwegian Joy Cruise Review by sshs
- Sail Date: January 2020
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Inside
We'd been on the ship before, as well as its sister ships Bliss and Escape, so we knew (and don't love) the design. We booked an inside cabin, which was OK, although I had hopes of winning the bid for a balcony upgrade as has happened previously. That didn't happen this time.
So we boarded the ship with reasonably low expectations, but we were immediately pleasantly surprised with the service in the dining room where we had lunch, as well as the quality of the food. Our steward introduced himself promptly upon our arrival to our cabin, which was clean and well-designed, although obviously quite small.
Throughout the cruise, we continued to be impressed with the service in the restaurants and bars. I particularly liked the bar waiter Bruce in the atrium, who was always friendly and smiling. There were some clunkers among the entrees and desserts (a particularly unfortunate cannoli), but on balance the food in the MDRs and The Local was good. We didn't eat in the specialty restaurants.
We'd been to all the ports, but we had great weather and enjoyed our time in the ports. The tender operation for Cabo went quicker and more smoothly than anticipated.
Now for the negatives. The ship's unfortunate design limitations mean that some venues (particularly The Cavern and The Social) are too small for their current purposes. So we didn't get to see the Beatles or comedy shows, except for the performances in the main theater. Because we'd already seen Footloose (which isn't as good as Jersey Boys), we didn't have to deal with getting reservations for that, which was a pain we avoided. We did like the rock band Silent Shout though, and I enjoyed the Beatles tribute in the main theater on the last night.
And there wasn't enough to do on the sea days since we don't gamble or sunbathe. As people have pointed out (and is increasingly true on all ships) most things were selling-focused. I did attend some of the trivia events and went to a couple of the art auctions for something to do.
Didn't try the pool, but we did go to the giant aft hot tub, strategically timed for when we thought it would be the least crowded. It was still quite crowded and not really hot enough, but the huge size was a saving grace for being able to use it. Having to check out towels was a little annoying.
Embarkation was OK, but the self-assist disembarkation was a nightmare. They need to deploy more staff to help with crowd control.
Overall, it was a much better cruise than expected, due to the excellent service we received. We'd been thinking about calling it a day on NCL, but now are looking to book our next NCL cruise for later this year.
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