I want to start off by saying that I recognize that this is a stressful time for everyone including and especially for the travel industry. We cruised from March 8 to March 15. On March 8 when we left, COVID19 was a concern but not to the same extent it was by the end of our cruise.
That being said, the service on this ship is terrible from day one.This as my first time with NCL, but I have cruised with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity. ALL of them completely blow NCL out of the water.It seemed like they were really short staffed. At night in The Local (the only place to get food after 11:30 unless you want to pay $9.95 for room service) tables sat uncleared and totally filthy, the hot tubs in the evening constantly had empty plastic cups flying around them and squashed out cigarette butts in the filters. During the morning hours there was garbage floating around in the pool. There were never enough bar tenders, finding a server around the pool or in the theater, or really at any restaurant was a hard task. We waited about an average of half an hour for a drink. I asked Customer Service about this assuming COVID19 had them short staffed but I was told that they were full staffed and "its normal to wait a long time for things on big ships." I noticed that there were no drink servers in the main buffet area and asked about that and was told "It is self serve and we don't have servers but there is a walk up bar in the buffet if you want a drink." There are 4000 people on this ship, most of which have the "free drink package" (except for the additional 20% added for gratuities and additional taxes you pay per drink when docked in at certain ports) and one bar in the buffet,with one, maybe two bartenders. You do the math on this one. You get to choose between waiting in line for forty minutes for a drink or eating with your family.
The staff on this ship didn't seem motivated at all and they were just down right miserable in some instances.At the bar by the kids pool my son was sitting on a stool at the bar while I was waiting for a drink and the bartender snapped "get down, no kids". the towel guys were very rude and abrupt as well. It definitely did not have the friendly feel you get used to on other cruise lines or even all inclusive land vacations
There are some things mentioned in a lot of other reviews that are definitely true. One being the crowding and the other being the nickle and diming. This is a huge ship that has all the pool space of a small ship. The amount of people on a sea day is unbearable. We had the pleasure of being on this cruise with a bunch of 20 somethings during their march break. the "adult pool" was overtaken by drunk college students doing cannonballs and belly flops into the pool surrounded by about 2000 other annoyed and disgruntled guests while security chased them around the pool. This was a daily thing. This ship is so overcrowded. Other people have said it again and again. Its true. As for the nickle and diming, there is a program at kids club where you can leave your children later at night for a fee. If you have two children (siblings) in the club you get a discount. NCL tried to charge us separately for our boys and not give us the discount because they are step brother and not actual brothers. We were in the same room and they are on a family vacation. I thought that was shady. When the COVID19 situation got more serious on Thursday they closed down ping pong and mini golf to stop spread of germs. Those are both free things. They did however leave open the arcade, laser tag, and go carts. All payed things. I think if there is risk of someone getting the virus from the handle of a golf club, there is most certainly a risk of getting it an an arcade,or even a casino!
This ship is beautiful and has some really cool restaurants and bars and some of the best food I've had on a cruise. Jersey Boys and Six were also really great shows. It's just run by a company who seems to have no idea or doesn't care who their competition is in terms of customer service. When it comes to large ships, The Oasis class blows NCL away in every category. If I had never been a cruise before I might think this was good, but comparatively it's not. We sailed with Celebrity last spring during a promotion they had similar to NCL's where the drinks and wifi were included. We did not pay a dime more for anything that claimed to be free, we had unlimited wifi for both devices (I don't even want to say what we ultimately ended up paying for our "free" wifi) on Celebrity we didn't pay an extra 20% on our drink package, no additional extra taxes at certain ports either. Everything was just as it claimed. WIth NCL I felt like I was always looking for the fine print or the "catch"
There are a few other small things that seemed off too. Bliss didn't leave New York until about 2.5 hours after it was supposed to and no one addressed this at all. Standing outside at the "sail away party" was really cold lol, It would have been nice to know we were going to be waiting until after the sail away party ended! I still don't know why we were so late leaving. We missed the day at their private island because of high winds, which seems to be fairly common. Although whatever ship it was may have been smaller than ours, it was disheartening to see Royal Caribbean docked at their island so close to the one we should have been at. We were at customer service so many times on account of key cards not working which was frustrating. All in all, I'm not sure this cruise was worth the 14 day quarantine my family and I are enduring from having been on it (being Canadian citizens returning from a different country, just policy now)