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This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, where we had planned to meet family members. We don't think it is fair to offer no explanation for changes of this magnitude. This is a newer ship that is spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. There is a lovely Observation Deck and lounge on the 15th floor, with lots of nice seating and quiet space. There are a few nice places to sit outside along the 8th deck as well. Unfortunately, the ship pipes in music CONSTANTLY along the deck, as well as in the Garden Cafe (buffet). This can be very annoying, especially early in the morning when it is nice to have quiet time and also when you are seeking a quiet space to just listen to the waves, read a book, or enjoy the moonlight.Our stateroom was spacious and comfortable, with lots of storage and a large bathroom. Instead of having a private deck, we opted for a larger family room because we were originally planning to take our adult daughter who is handicapped. I'm glad we ended up not taking her . . . the elevators were very slow and extremely crowded. I would strongly recommend that the Joy consider having a handicapped only elevator and more handicapped accessibility features for the comfort of these guests. Another disappointing space is the Atrium. This area, which includes the guest services desk is being used as their main gathering space and it is SO loud and crowded! They set up folding chairs every day to accommodate the crowds. Unfortunately, there is no larger central dance hall space on the ship to handle large group events. There is also only one pool area with two fairly small saltwater pools and a kid's pool to accommodate over 4000 guests. So much space was used to provide a relatively unused race track, mini-golf course, and laser tag area. Remember, the vast majority of guests are over 60. There were other spaces for kids.Honestly, small hotels offer more pool space and bigger hot tubs than this huge cruise ship. The class system is alive and well on the Joy, giving lots of special privileges and choice spaces for those who can afford it. One of the biggest slaps to the average passenger is that all the reserved seats for the Social Club Comedy room were used up by Haven guests, so everyone else needed to wait in line for up to an hour if they wanted to see the shows. Again, the room is packed full with folding chairs to accommodate guests. In general, all the bars and clubs with live entertainment were much too small. Another solution would be to offer more entertainment with a more equitable distribution so everyone would have opportunities to to see them. The Beatles group was terrific, but again,the lines to get in the Cavern were sometimes over an hour long. Advance reservations to see Footloose and Elements in the theater are an absolute MUST because they are only shown on a couple nights. Most of the other entertainment was just okay, as was the food. We had both good and bad meals, with most being just average. The ship does not have ANY water filling stations, so in order to refill a water bottle, you need to go all the way to the cafeteria on 15th floor and fill it from water glasses. They would like you to buy bottled water, which is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. We also had a mix of impressions of the Shore Excursions. In general, they were very expensive for what you receive in return. Norwegian Cruise lines should be ashamed for including and promoting the exploitation of human beings in Colon, Columbia. People are not to be gawked at as exhibitions, as the Embera people were on many of their sponsored Shore Excursions. Even if the Embera people volunteered to do this, it is reminiscent of the days when the US staged American Indian pageants, pretending that our native American people still lived as they did hundreds of years ago. The whole staged show is an inappropriate lie to the public in order to sell products, who seemed to eat it up as truth. it would be interesting to find out where most of the money for the products goes. If it truly goes to the tribes and if the products are truly made by the tribes that would be nice, but they could still be honest with the public about their current way of life and all it entails. The staff on this ship was EXTREMELY friendly and did an excellent job, from cleaning to waiting tables. We were very happy with that part of our trip and hope these people are paid well. Our itinerary to the Panama Canal, ABC islands, Columbia, and Costa Rica was wonderful, although we really would have liked to have had our day in Santa Marta, as well as have a morning time slot in Cartagena, instead of the hot afternoon.

Mixed Feelings

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review by Notgonnalie

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, where we had planned to meet family members. We don't think it is fair to offer no explanation for changes of this magnitude. This is a newer ship that is spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. There is a lovely Observation Deck and lounge on the 15th floor, with lots of nice seating and quiet space. There are a few nice places to sit outside along the 8th deck as well. Unfortunately, the ship pipes in music CONSTANTLY along the deck, as well as in the Garden Cafe (buffet). This can be very annoying, especially early in the morning when it is nice to have quiet time and also when you are seeking a quiet space to just listen to the waves, read a book, or enjoy the moonlight.Our stateroom was spacious and comfortable, with lots of storage and a large bathroom. Instead of having a private deck, we opted for a larger family room because we were originally planning to take our adult daughter who is handicapped. I'm glad we ended up not taking her . . . the elevators were very slow and extremely crowded. I would strongly recommend that the Joy consider having a handicapped only elevator and more handicapped accessibility features for the comfort of these guests. Another disappointing space is the Atrium. This area, which includes the guest services desk is being used as their main gathering space and it is SO loud and crowded! They set up folding chairs every day to accommodate the crowds. Unfortunately, there is no larger central dance hall space on the ship to handle large group events. There is also only one pool area with two fairly small saltwater pools and a kid's pool to accommodate over 4000 guests. So much space was used to provide a relatively unused race track, mini-golf course, and laser tag area. Remember, the vast majority of guests are over 60. There were other spaces for kids.Honestly, small hotels offer more pool space and bigger hot tubs than this huge cruise ship. The class system is alive and well on the Joy, giving lots of special privileges and choice spaces for those who can afford it. One of the biggest slaps to the average passenger is that all the reserved seats for the Social Club Comedy room were used up by Haven guests, so everyone else needed to wait in line for up to an hour if they wanted to see the shows. Again, the room is packed full with folding chairs to accommodate guests. In general, all the bars and clubs with live entertainment were much too small. Another solution would be to offer more entertainment with a more equitable distribution so everyone would have opportunities to to see them. The Beatles group was terrific, but again,the lines to get in the Cavern were sometimes over an hour long. Advance reservations to see Footloose and Elements in the theater are an absolute MUST because they are only shown on a couple nights. Most of the other entertainment was just okay, as was the food. We had both good and bad meals, with most being just average. The ship does not have ANY water filling stations, so in order to refill a water bottle, you need to go all the way to the cafeteria on 15th floor and fill it from water glasses. They would like you to buy bottled water, which is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. We also had a mix of impressions of the Shore Excursions. In general, they were very expensive for what you receive in return. Norwegian Cruise lines should be ashamed for including and promoting the exploitation of human beings in Colon, Columbia. People are not to be gawked at as exhibitions, as the Embera people were on many of their sponsored Shore Excursions. Even if the Embera people volunteered to do this, it is reminiscent of the days when the US staged American Indian pageants, pretending that our native American people still lived as they did hundreds of years ago. The whole staged show is an inappropriate lie to the public in order to sell products, who seemed to eat it up as truth. it would be interesting to find out where most of the money for the products goes. If it truly goes to the tribes and if the products are truly made by the tribes that would be nice, but they could still be honest with the public about their current way of life and all it entails. The staff on this ship was EXTREMELY friendly and did an excellent job, from cleaning to waiting tables. We were very happy with that part of our trip and hope these people are paid well. Our itinerary to the Panama Canal, ABC islands, Columbia, and Costa Rica was wonderful, although we really would have liked to have had our day in Santa Marta, as well as have a morning time slot in Cartagena, instead of the hot afternoon.
Notgonnalie’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Concierge Family Inside
Cabin CF
Our cabin was very spacious and comfortable with a nice big window and a large bathroom with two sinks and a tub/shower. The bed is comfortable and there is a nice futon. LOTS of storage, two TVs, and an ottoman that can also be used as a stool next to the desk area. We had planned to bring our adult daughter who has handicaps, but we were able to find alternative care for her just before we left.
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Beach
    There is a bus station just across the street from the pier. Walk there, purchase a round trip bus card to the beach of your choice, and you are all set! It cost us $2.60 each to get to Eagle Beach. The driver dropped us off there, where we were able rent chairs and umbrellas. We used the bathroom at the beach bar that was nearby and walked to a nice restaurant for lunch. The buses go by every 20 minutes, so it wasn't a long wait to hop back on and return to the ship at the end of our time.
    View All 115 Beach Reviews
  • Bonaire Marine Park
    We took the Aquaspace Semi Sub Adventure when we were in Bonaire. The cruise was enjoyable because the staff was very friendly and it was a lovely day. The boat is kind of uncomfortable though, with limited seating on deck and a very stuffy, narrow seating area below deck. It is an older vessel and the viewing area is limited by plexiglass that is not very clear and being confined to your small bench. We saw lots of fish swimming by, but it was too clouded to take any photos. We had the opportunity to go snorkeling off the coast of the Klein Bonaire island where the marine park is located. The guides tied the boat to a buoy and gave us equipment, so we were basically on our own. This was cool, but I had no prior experience with snorkeling, so I really could have used a bit more instruction. The staff was very kind though and gave us a nice snack and drinks on board. My biggest disappointment though was that I would have liked to have had narration and information about the Marine park and the ecological efforts being made to preserve it, some of the species of fish and sea life we could expect to see, and how the park came to be in the first place.
    View All 13 Bonaire Marine Park Reviews
  • Cartagena (Colombia)
    The descriptions to most of the ship's shore excursions are rather vague, but I was able to learn that this is one of the only excursions that actually STOPS at the fortress and allows you to walk up and explore it, rather than just take a picture from the bottom. There are NO steps, as the description indicated. It is a ramp that winds its way up to the top. The walk was not too strenuous, but it did get a bit warm, especially because our guide stopped in the sun to describe information about the fortress. Our tour guide was extremely thorough and gave a wealth of information, but it would have been nice throughout the tour if there were more places to sit in the shade and enjoy the ambience. When we reached a new square in the city, we would stand in the sun and learn more about it, but never really had the opportunity to sit and relax or explore the area. The Spanish Inquisition building was interesting, but there wasn't all that much to see there. At one point, we were trapped in a stuffy jewelry shop, where we needed to listen to a sales pitch for emeralds. The shopping area in Cartagena was too crowded to be enjoyable at the time we were there. Be prepared to pay $1.00 to use the restroom. There are a lot of hawkers in the city, so we felt like we really couldn't relax much. The Spanish architecture and history of the walled city were rather interesting, although it was apparent that this is part of a city of over a million people and those who are desperate to survive will seek out the tourists.
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  • Colon (Cristobal)
    We chose this tour because it was one of the few tours that allowed us to see the Agua Clara Locks Observation Center. However, the first part of the tour was awful and Norwegian Cruise Lines should be ashamed that they even offer it. We rode a nice bus to a big hotel and waited around in the stuffy lobby for about 45 minutes without being told a time line of what we could expect that morning. Eventually, we boarded a tour boat (covered pontoon with benches) and took a short boat ride to the "Embera Village", which was a very disturbing experience, reminiscent of the days when the US staged pageants of the "Indian Savages" with people wearing large head dresses and basically exploiting the history and traditions of a group of people. As a teacher who used to work in a public school in the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota, I found the whole thing to be extremely exploitative of the Embera people and their history. People should not be put on display and gawked at. If they wanted to share their traditions and the history of the tribes, including dances and traditional music and dress, that would be one thing, but to blatantly lie to the public and pretend that these people still live in the huts we saw and wear loincloths was absolutely inappropriate. Their little kids were taught to pose for pictures and be affectionate with the tourists in order to sell baskets and carvings, which may or may not have been hand made by tribe members (everything else was a lie, so it was hard to tell). That part was especially disturbing, along with the fact that people seemed to believe they still lived as they did in the past. Earning money through tourism is okay, but not exploiting people. After that, we took a very quick boat ride along the lake, where we saw a sloth hanging from a tree, then rode back and had a boxed lunch on the bus at almost 2:00 pm. The lunch consisted of a half a sandwich and a cookie. From there, we rode over the big Colon bridge and back, which was pretty cool, with great views of the harbor. Again, we took the tour because we wanted to see the Agua Clara Observation Center, which met our expectations. It has a nice observation platform above the locks and a short video to learn about it. There was also a small nature walk loop (about a 10-15 minute walk) and a small gift shop. There is also a restaurant there, but is was not open at the time since we were there on a Sunday. I wish there had been other opportunities to see the visitor center that didn't include all the rest.
    View All 13,924 Colon (Cristobal) Cruise Port Reviews
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