Norwegian Joy Review

4.0 / 5.0
509 reviews

Embarkation, disembarkation and shore excursion

Review for the Panama Canal & Central America Cruise on Norwegian Joy
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Mrs. Cece
2-5 Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Dec 2022

We chose this cruise because of the itineraries, ship and my 'bucket list'. We booked the Panama Canal Cruise sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida and returning from Los Angeles, CA. The itineraries were interesting but about 3 weeks prior to sailing, the port of call to Costa Rica was changed to Acapulco, Mexico without warning or notification to us.

When we checked in on-line, we chose 11:30am as our time for embarkation. When we arrived at the Orlando airport (on time), we were met by an NCL representative for transfer to Port Canaveral. We checked-in at the port transfer counter at the Orlando airport all excited to embark on our cruise. The bus ride to Port Canaveral took about an hour. As our bus approached the port, we were shocked to witness a massive chaos outside the terminal building - hordes of people lined up in snakelike formations (a lot worse than lining up for popular Disney rides), and luggage strewn all over the place! We were directed to join the line for the embarkation and we literally walked about 10 minutes before we could find the end of the line! There were at least over 1,000 of passengers waiting outside to check-in. We stood in the stagnant line for over three hours, under scorching sun, hungry and thirsty. NCL officials didn't even have the decency to come out to inform us what the cause of the delay was. And to add insult to injury, we were offered water only towards the latter half of our waiting period, not even a light snack. We stood in line outside the terminal for a good 3:30 hours before the line started to creep forward inside the terminal. All in all, we stood in line for a good 4+ hours before we finally embarked. It was almost dinner time by the time we settled down! We subsequently found out that there was a computer glitch between the port and ship computers and this was not the first time that such problem had occurred. Knowing this, I wonder why the technical glitch wasn't fixed permanently, especially NCL had full knowledge that there were about 4,000+ passengers coming on board on December 04, 2022. I suffer from a chronic illness - fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes and had a double bypass 5 years back. I booked this cruise because it was on my 'Bucket List' but because of the grueling embarkation experience, I spent the first couple of days on board recovering instead of enjoying my cruise. In essence, I lost two full days! Needless to say, my husband and I were upset and disappointed and in disbelief that we could be subjected to such a gross inconvenience by a reputable line like NCL.

Well, the disembarkation was another issue!! We were scheduled to disembark at 8:45 am to board the shuttle to LAX for our flight leaving at 2pm, but we waited until 10:00 am before our group was called to exit the ship. When we arrived at the luggage pickup area, we were shocked to see that there were huge lineups for customs clearance. The lineups were long, chaotic and spread all over the place, and there weren't enough personnel to manage or control the crowd. People with luggage were confused and didn't know where to line up for customs. We were literally in a maze trying to find our way to the end of the customs lineup. When we finally managed to find the end of one of the lineups, I suffered a diabetic episode. By sheer luck, my husband managed to spot an agent and sought her help. She moved us to the faster "Porter" lane to speed us up through customs. Luckily, I had some candies in my purse, so I chewed on a couple to try to alleviate my condition. We finally boarded the airport shuttle bus at around noon and reached the airport around 12:45, rushing to catch our 2:00 pm flight.

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