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8,496 Caribbean - All Cruise Reviews

Chose cruise for stops. Excellent time crew excellent travel during Coronavirus craziness endless cleaning on ship they really made us feel safe. Captain made decisions not to port in port Rico due to uncertainty! Sailed up to ... Read More
Chose cruise for stops. Excellent time crew excellent travel during Coronavirus craziness endless cleaning on ship they really made us feel safe. Captain made decisions not to port in port Rico due to uncertainty! Sailed up to Cape Canaveral embarkation was fairly smothered considering circumstances!! provided transport to air port and we were not charged anything extra for extra days at sea!!! Excellent job NCL!!! We will definitely cruise NCL again !! Epic is a good ship for multiple stops not best ship for sea days no enough outside venues!! We have been on getaway multiple time and enjoyed the water front part of ship !! NCL is a fun cruise line for me and my wife they have good entertainment and a great staff most bar tenders on board made great drinks!! We’re a little picky we don’t like extra sweat mixers in our drinks and most time they adjusted to our taste!! Also food was great no complaints there Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Our first time with MSC. Arrmonia is a nice mid size ship with enough going on to fill our evenings. The ship was very very clean we did not catch the COVID-19 bug Food ... we was on the first sitting for our evening meal. The food was ... Read More
Our first time with MSC. Arrmonia is a nice mid size ship with enough going on to fill our evenings. The ship was very very clean we did not catch the COVID-19 bug Food ... we was on the first sitting for our evening meal. The food was just ok nothing to rave about. The buffet dinner was better also the pizza was nice a great snack of tea when we did not fancy the menu. Cabin .. we was rocked to sleep most nights in our compact ocean view cabin nice bed with the world's smallest shower. Entertainment .. the big shows was a bit tacky for my liking we ended up taking over a corner in the white lion bar most evening and entertaining ourselves. Staff .. 99% was amazing the captain called them the best crew on the sea I would agree Would I sail again on the ship yes on a different itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We had booked a trip to China in early March. Since it had to be rescheduled due to C-19, we looked around for a cruise. The 7-day Southern Caribbean on the NCL Epic sailed from SJU, which I've never visited, and the ports of call ... Read More
We had booked a trip to China in early March. Since it had to be rescheduled due to C-19, we looked around for a cruise. The 7-day Southern Caribbean on the NCL Epic sailed from SJU, which I've never visited, and the ports of call were 83% new to both of us – so, we picked it. We had a nicer-than-expected experience to Cuba the first time we were on Norwegian in 2018; the word "Epic" sounded famous and grandiose (little did I know at the time that the fame was yesteryear's news - this ship, while massive, is beginning to show its age). Also tempting was a "free" pkg: beverage (premium, but not the top one), 3 specialty dining nights, “shore excursionS”, and 250 minutes of internet - in quotation marks because the fine print revealed they aren’t quite as generous in reality. They charge you the 20% service upfront for the first 2 up front; the bev pkg is regularly priced at $99 per day, while dining is $99 for the 3 nights; so even the gratuity for the bev pack is a whopping $140 per person for the cruise. Frankly, unless you are aready a ripe candidate to join AA, I wouldn't pay to get it - $99 (or $119 with tip) of drinks per day, even at cruise ship prices, is a lot. Now, when it's "free", sure, I can drink $20 worth easily day in and day out. And yeah, there are some sore points even in the freebie (more in a sec) Likewise, I personally won’t spring $33 for specialty dining per person per night (+ tip of course). – better to save my money for when I’m NOT on a cruise, since “specialty” does not always mean “superior” when compared to the alternative (regular dining). The internet was tricky, and while not Flash-like, not as slow as feared. The “shore excursionS” was just $50, for ONE of us – try as I may, I could not come up with any excursionS that would justify the plural number; I forfeited that $50 so that I could save more money buying my own excursions. Even before Viator came on the scene big time, there have always been options that are less expensive and/or restrictive. We spent a couple of days in San Juan before the cruise, did some prep work booking our own excursions while we were there, and looked forward to the cruise with great anticipation. Please be sure you know where you board in SJU, as there are two different cruise terminals, and they are not exactly next to each other. Embarkation was one of the smoothest – a bit of walking, but practically no line, and made even better by an enthusiastic agent. In the interest of brevity (too late, you might complain!), I’ll quickly cover some general areas and focus on a few aspects of this cruise in more detail. You already have my thoughts on excursions. Entertainment was fine, with many options when it’s a ship this size. The two main shows in the Epic Theatre were good to very good. Tthe dueling piano sessions are always helped by the free flow of liquor (guests and artists), and the mentalist guy was impressive in blowing your mind. I cannot comment on any of the kids’ programmes; the water slides were not always operational (they’re fine), and the hot tubs are always crowded. and (as usual) not nearly hot enough. I like the fitness room too – seems to be enough at least for the cruise crowd I was with – not crowded at all. So now, onto the other areas (other than Cabin, which is found below). DINING The use of melamine immediately sets them down a notch: Princess, too, had that, but Celebrity had “real” plates. I’d say the Garden café was generally 3.5 to 4 stars, if you can overlook the crude way in which they treat their esteemed guests: to wit, cantaloupes, water melon, pineapples, and honey dews are all skin on, and hewn to Brobdingnagian proportions, hard to deal with when the knife is dull. We tried both Taste and Manhattan, and yes, the latter is a touch more exclusive and refined. The selection was, again, not as bad as reading reviews would have led me to believe. I had a very nice pepper steak one evening, even the French fries served with it ruined it a bit. Try to stay abreast of dining room/café hours, as that “last resort” buffet on the pool deck outside of the Garden Café is pretty much, well, last resort. That pool bar is easily one of the busiest as well, particularly during the day. Believe it or not, they offer as “specialty” dining, sushi, and a teppanyaki place – places you’d pay probably half the price if you were on terra firma. The 3 we chose were French (C+), Cagney (A-), and Italian (B+). Again, I would NOT pay extra for any of these, but since it’s a so-called freebie, we did it. So how “special” was it? Just to give you an idea… the appetizer at Le Bistro looked similar to the one we had at Taste the first night. I ordered it just for comparison. Result: taste is about the same (yup-that unmistakable chlorine smell is !) – fancier presentation, and one fewer scallop. What do you think: worth it? I’d say only the Cagney experience was “special”: larger, Riedel wine glasses, some selections that are more special (grass-fed New York). That’s why it’s the most booked. If you want Cagney’s, at YOUR time/date, book it as soon as you get on board. It is on wine, and wine pricing, that I want to spend a minute or two explaining, as it is absolutely THE worst foot NCL puts forward. Never mind that they have those wine stations in the garden café designed to gouge the unaware (a Simi Cab, which you get at Publix for about $17, $5.50 for 1.25 oz., and $22 for 5 oz.!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world). So let’s say you dodge that pitfall. NCL has more. Remember the drink pkg: FREE drinks, incl. wine, up to $15 a glass. This is where they get you. You notice there are some wines that are $8/9/10, and then you see a few at $16, $18… a glass. RESIST THE TRAP. They are designed to catch the unaware. You’d think in any establishment, the pricing would be more or less consistent. Not when they want to play “Gotcha” at NCL. I have the facts (I took pix for later research). Those $8/9/10 glasses are generally priced at a quarter of a full bottle of wine (Luigi Bosca Malbec, or the Recanati or Gerard Bertrand Cab, among others, $9/$33, the Torres Crianza, $10/$35). But once you move PAST the $15 price-point, LOOK OUT!!! The Badger Mtn Cab, or the John Wine Cotes du Rousillon, par exemple, $16/$29, or a 1.8 ratio! The point? They are trying to move you into those higher-priced wines, where the mark-up PER GLASS is unreasonably and disproportionately higher. They think you’re stupid. I resent that. Don’t be! SERVICE One thing we’ve observed in our last 3 cruises this past year is that, while on Princess or Celebrity, the staff are pretty damned close to letting the guests pass first in the corridor, NCL is probably doing an 80-20. No biggie, you might say, but worth noting. Staff friendliness was not helped by the draconian measures taken about 5 days into our cruise with food – so, I’ll try not to discount it too much – but it ran the gamut of friendly to indifference. The training, though, is ostensibly lacking. When we dined at Le Bistro, I thought I’d start with, you know, a glass of Dubonnet on the rocks, arguably the national drink along with Pernod and Ricard. “Doo-fun-nay”, our cute waitress from Peru asked, quizzically, “I don’t think we have that”. Likewise, waiters would pretend know what wine you’re talking about, and either bring the wrong one, or come back to ask you again. The way their system is, wait staff often give the impression of being harried or disorganized. Our one notable bright spot was Miguel at La Cucina the last (or what WOULD have been our last) evening on board. He was polite, professional, and very much on top of his game. A gem, and a reassuring footnote on … whatever. I don’t think I’ve made it a habit to slip someone a $20 for one meal (OVER and above the mandatory gratuity we were charged!) Our cruise WAS affected by Covid-19. Day we were to dock in SJU, we were turned away - had to sail to Port Canaveral instead. The 2 extra days of cruising did not cost us extra (although they really could have tastefully handled the $15 pp/per day gratuity as long as the staff DO end up getting their share) - they handled that part alright, arranging for buses to get us to MCO. The main reason that my wife and I were less than pleased overall is summarized this way: NCL/Epic treat customers like they are stupid, math-challenged ignoramus (or is that ignorami); that may or may not be true with the majority of customers, or perhaps fellow pax are just too loaded to care, but the way NCL tried to play "gotcha" with your money is just offensive. That's why I did not buy any future credits, tempting as those deals were: it is not at all clear in my mind that we'd be three-peat customers after that cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise because the dates matched spring break-I am a professor and had the opportunity to travel (when we booked- we did not know that COVID-19 was on the horizon). We booked on "Black Monday" and got a really ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the dates matched spring break-I am a professor and had the opportunity to travel (when we booked- we did not know that COVID-19 was on the horizon). We booked on "Black Monday" and got a really good deal with 3 specialty meals, wifi, a beverage package and 50 dollars off shore excursions. Embarkment was excellent. I wished I has listened to the ship orientation-it took me days to understand processes that I should have learned! Our suite was great on the 9th floor with a balcony. The two of us friends have Celiac disease so were quickly connected to the dietary specialist who took such good care of us. We were not able to eat at the buffet because NCL does not label its food, but we had wonderful meals at the sit down restaurants including three at speciality restaurants. We upgraded to the best beverage package and enjoyed fabulous wine bottles with each meal. Our beds were comfortable. Our room was tended to twice a day. In getting off the boat for island days-we would never know we were on the giant ship! Few if any wait times or lines. Really amazing. We took one NCL shore excursion to the Virgin Gorda that was very very well done! I would say our service was good to excellent. We loved the entertainment especially "Pricilla Queen of the Desert" and the Circ show. We got the Wifi upgrade which may have been worth it for two professionals who needed to stay connected to work. WIfi on cruises is slow and frustrating but we did use it when we could. We left on our cruise just before the serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic came to light. We were not offered cancellation or rescheduling. Once on the ship the crew did lots to keep us safe. We had no virus on ship with 5000 plus passangers and nearly that many crew. I am grateful to NCL for the care they gave us. We were the last sailing of the ship for months. Now, some criticism, mostly of the ship: *The pools are not satisfactory in terms of space, depth, or temperature. There are really no handicap accommodations for swimming. *Pool bar service was far too slow and difficult *Pool area service staff seemed to be avoiding taking orders rather than trying to serve. Our ship was diverted from Puerto Rico to Cape Canaveral due to the COVID-19. Apparently we needed a 3 day quarantine. The NCL crew and staff handled three more days with poise and grace. They treated us with the same kindness we had during the scheduled days of our cruise. BRAVO NCL! You did an excellent job in a tough situation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise on 2/6/20 based on the itinerary and low price that went even lower after we booked. We flew into Puerto Rico on Friday, 3/6 and satyed3at the Caribe Hilton (amazing) while enjoying the forts, Old San Juan, some great ... Read More
We chose this cruise on 2/6/20 based on the itinerary and low price that went even lower after we booked. We flew into Puerto Rico on Friday, 3/6 and satyed3at the Caribe Hilton (amazing) while enjoying the forts, Old San Juan, some great restaurants and an excursion to El Yunque rainforest. EMBARKATION Arrived around 1:00, got tested for temperature, checked in on priority (Platinum), filled out some paperwork, got our key cards and were on the ship within 15 minutes of our temp check. DISEMBARKATION Not as smooth, but once we figured out what line to get in, we waited about 45 minutes and then were about the first 100 or so people let off. Going through customs was easy (no paperwork or questions) just held our passport by our face and walked right through. DINING Ate a 5 of the specialty restaurants and enjoyed each except for La Cucina where it took us 1.5 hours just to get served 2 courses. We ate mainly in Taste for breakfast but for a couple of early morning meals at the Garden Cafe. BARBADOS Did NCL Excursion with bus transport to Carlisle Bay Beach (beautiful) that included a welcome drink, lounge chairs and an umbrella. ST. LUCIA Did NCL Excursion for Soufriere by Land/Sea that was phenomenal. Our tour guide, Cindy, was fantastic and knowledgeable about the island and its history during our journey via small bus along the numerous twists/turns and elevated changes with a few stops to see the Pitons and amazing water views below, with our final journey via catamaran to view the Pitons and scenic coastline. ANTIGUA We booked our own excursion to Blue Waters Resort for $65 pp that included use of resort facilities (pools, beaches, water sports) but no food or drink. If you want the all inclusive the cost is $150 pp. NCL charges $349 pp (includes transportation) but we only spent $18 total for the 15-minute ride via cab from the port. You need to book this via phone directly with this beautiful and luxurious resort. TORTOLA/BVI We booked an excursion on our own via Kuralu Too for a small group (we were 2 of 20) that included 2 great snorkel spots and then almost 4 hours at Jost Van Dyke where we enjoyed the food & drinks at The Soggy Dollar Bar, the beautiful beach and warm water. ST. THOMAS We did the skyride that is but a short walk from the cruise pier that provides a quick, enclosed gondola ride to the top, while providing some amazing views at the top. Afterwards, we took an open air cab ($8 pp) to Magen'd Bay Beach to soak up some last minute beachtime at this Top 10 rated beach. ENTERTAINMENT Howl at the Moon - 5 stars! Burn the Floor - 5 stars! Epic Beatles - 4 stars SERVICE 5 Stars across the board but for a brief service glitch while eating at La Cucina. Our room steward, Irwin, was fantastic, pleasant and did a great job. We received greetings duiring our long walks in the room hallways from everyone each time we passed them. We secured POSH passes and got more than our $ worth ($59 pp) especially as our cruise was extended 2 extra days. INTERNET 1 star as I truly hope NCL addresses this really bad system they use. This was never more under the spotlight than when we were told at 6:30 AM on the day we were to leave Puerto Rico on Sunday, 3/15 through Tuesday, 3/17 where trying to make a call or change a flight via the internet were next to impossible. The extra 60 minutes were a nice gesture but were virtually useless when needed. PUERTO RICO A beautiful island that provides a rich Caribbean history, great restaurants, bars and our hotel (Caribe Hilton) was a resort we will go to again. We were upset that our ship was turned away on 3/15, and felt especially sad for the many PR People that were so close to being home, yet wre turned away like rest of us. NCL Thank you for a great cruise, wonderful service and getting us safely to Port Canaveral (no extra costs). We look forward to cruising again on NCL! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
At the port we were greeted very nicely and had a gentlemen that did our paperwork that was very nice and patient. The embarkation went smoothly got our stateroom cards then hop on the ship! We had a guaranteed partial view balcony and it ... Read More
At the port we were greeted very nicely and had a gentlemen that did our paperwork that was very nice and patient. The embarkation went smoothly got our stateroom cards then hop on the ship! We had a guaranteed partial view balcony and it was ok. Next time I will prefer a full view balcony but the price was right. There is a lot of storage space everything was well appointed. I found that the toilet in the bathroom was set in a awkward manner since it's on an angle. The shower though was large and loved the glass door. We then met our stewarts that were going out of their way to help us. We then headed to the Ocean Bar for a glass of champagne. We had the elite beverage package and found that for us it was worth its price. Jose the bartender at the Ocean Bar is fantastic. All of the cocktails were made with attention and were very good. Then off to the adult pool and the pool bar and there we started our voyage. There was a very good vibe there also. Then off the Main Dining Room. All of our servers were excellent all through the week. The food at the Main Dining Room was very very good all the time. We did go to the Specialty restaurants Canalletto and found that it was not worth the extra money spent. I also have the same opinion with Tamarin but it was better. On our voyage the seas were rough but the captain travelled behind the Bahamas and could not stop at Half Moon Key. Captain O'Driscoll is Excellent very prudent and was out on the pier in Grand Turk to salute all the guess. The Music scene is great. BB King Blues Band was excellent, Billboard on Board, Rolling Stone Rock were awesome, I was impressed. We also had good times in the Crows Nest with EXP and the vision was beautiful. We did take an excursion of the ship and it was very nice. (Puerto Plata and Cabarete Beach). The Dutch Café was my morning RDV, Andre and Kessidy were always very nice and enjoyable to start the morning. Sunshines! Where there was some downfalls in my personnal opinion was how short the time lap was for having breakfast and Lunch at the MDR. I was turned away a few times. It is more quiet during the afternoon not as much entertainment. The theatre is a bit small for the amount of people on the ship. Service was sometimes a bit slow at the Aft Pool Bar. We attented the dance shows at the Theatre and they were beautiful. By the way we had a slowed disembarkation because of the testing on one individual by the government of Florida but that was beautifully taken care of. All in All a great cruise with many many great Qualities and some small downfalls. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We wanted to try another cruise line - we had only sailed with Celebrity before this. The ship was about the same size as our previous ships. The decor and common areas were nice and we had no complaints. The Garden Cafe food was less ... Read More
We wanted to try another cruise line - we had only sailed with Celebrity before this. The ship was about the same size as our previous ships. The decor and common areas were nice and we had no complaints. The Garden Cafe food was less than stellar. We ate one lunch here and one breakfast. The breakfast was good - the other meal was terrible. We did have great service and food in the Venetian main dining room. We like having the Irish pub open - to have a drink or a late night bite. This was nice. Hated the casino - as we are non smokers and this was bad with smoke !! The Cigar Lounge and Champagne Bar area -- were just as bad. We couldn't ever try these areas because of the smoke... absolutely terrible !! About half of the ladies restroom door locks did not work. Overall - they did push the sanitizing hands thing all over the ship - but most times the public restroom areas were not very clean - paper towels littering a lot of the floor. The entertainment was good. We went to most shows and tried most of the venues on the ship - besides the areas that were "smoky ". Service was ok. We were lucky enough to find a great waitress in the Venetian and requested her section nightly. Our room steward - never really touched base with us - but would say hello in passing. Customer service in the other areas of the ship were good. We did talk to a lot of people who were repeat Norwegian Cruisers - who told us not to judge Norwegian by the Dawn and this trip -- as they were disappointed too. We do plan on trying Norwegian in the future per this advice. Overall - our cruise was OK. Was not stellar - but we do love cruising so it was a good time. If you don't have a good time on a cruise - its your own fault ! We always meet and talk to so many people !! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I recently returned from a cruise with my family on the Norwegian Epic. Our port of call was San Juan. We were originally scheduled for a 7 day Caribbean cruise, but it turned out to be a few extra days due to the complications of the ... Read More
I recently returned from a cruise with my family on the Norwegian Epic. Our port of call was San Juan. We were originally scheduled for a 7 day Caribbean cruise, but it turned out to be a few extra days due to the complications of the virus outbreak. Everyone was temperature scanned before entry on the vessel to be sure no passengers had a fever. The staff was very, very diligent keeping everything clean and sanitary. All condiments were removed from the tables, and all the buffet items were given to the patrons from the crew. (The crew was wearing gloves, and with smiles on the faces). I'm sure this was a difficult task considering they were most likely working extra shifts to cover all the extra requirements to feed everyone in the buffet area. The condiments were handed out individually in small containers. Everywhere you looked, there were crew members cleaning every surface. Elevator buttons, casino machines, handrails, tables, walls, everything. I even witnessed two people hand scrubbing every stair on the escalator. We were given constant updates on the current situation in all of the ports we visited. When our vessel tried to return to San Juan on the last day, an announcement was made by the captain about the current situation. He stated that if we were to port there that we would of been quarantined for a minimum of 3 days on the island possibly up to 14. He decided to return the vessel to Port Canaveral for us to disembark. We were then told that every cabin would receive an hour of free Wi-Fi and a free phone call to make changes to our return travel arrangements. Our drinking package was extended along with our vacation for two days at no extra charge. The cruise line also offered to pay the difference for our return flights home, and chartered buses for everyone to the Orlando airport. I believe they also chartered a private flight for any passenger returning to San Juan. All in all I was very pleased with the professionalism and the quality of service from the Norwegian cruise line employees during the stressful time! I would highly recommend them to anyone considering booking a future cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose epic because It was my first cruise and wanted a huge ship and heard norwegian was a good line. The crew took such good care of us to keep us safe from the corona virus to ensure that we all had a healthy fun cruise. Restaurants ... Read More
I chose epic because It was my first cruise and wanted a huge ship and heard norwegian was a good line. The crew took such good care of us to keep us safe from the corona virus to ensure that we all had a healthy fun cruise. Restaurants were FABULOUS. The entertainment was over top notch. Tables always clean and available.captain worked very hard to keep us safe and made sure we found a port to dock to as soon as he possibly could due to the corona virus .he was definitely a great and courteous captain. Sooo much to do on the ship. Excursions were great. Loved the eco hike and beach at st johns.came with amazing long unexpected boat ride which really made the excursion extra nice along with the amazing paradise beach in st John's and perfect hike. Zip lining in st lucia was so much fun!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Post cruise report: To start, I have to say the sanitary precautions on the cruise were outstanding. Every single day the crew washed down all the walls, doors, railings, etc. in every corridor, you couldn't walk two feet without ... Read More
Post cruise report: To start, I have to say the sanitary precautions on the cruise were outstanding. Every single day the crew washed down all the walls, doors, railings, etc. in every corridor, you couldn't walk two feet without tripping over a hand sanitizer dispenser, and the "washy-washy" (really, they say that) staff were constantly spraying your hands. They were worse than the perfume ladies at a Macy's, lol. You couldn't even get your own beverage at the buffet. A staff member had to dispense it and hand it to you. I was really very impressed. In addition, we brought our own clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and a bottle of surgical soap to wash our hands. This was our first cruise on Norwegian and it was nothing short of amazing! The ship, staff, food, etc. were all first rate. I did upgrade our cabin to what they call an Owner's Suite for our 27th anniversary. The package included a 900 s.f. suite with both a forward facing and side balcony. We had a butler, personal concierge, 3-meal dining package (the specialty restaurants are outstanding), unlimited drink package, and wifi included. Owner's suite guests also get 3 full size bottles of liquor in the cabin as well as the refrigerator kept stocked with water, mixers, etc. I had also asked for a pitcher of unsweet tea and lemonade (the lemonade was fresh squeezed) in the fridge and the butler kept it refreshed every day. He also brings an afternoon snack every day - we asked for sliced fruit and a variety of meats and cheeses. You get priority check-in and the concierge meets you at the check-in desk and escorts you to your cabin and you don't have to wait in any lines. There was also priority disembarkation. Included was both breakfast and lunch in one of the specialty restaurants - we did not eat a single meal at the buffet or the main dining room. All this for only $2,000 per person for 7 days. For what we got and being made to feel like royalty, I thought it was a bargain. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This cruise was influenced by politics from its start. Travel to Cuba was banned, so Oceania substituted other Caribbean islands from the original three-city tour. Then, the coronavirus caused a world-wide panic and pandemic. Measures ... Read More
This cruise was influenced by politics from its start. Travel to Cuba was banned, so Oceania substituted other Caribbean islands from the original three-city tour. Then, the coronavirus caused a world-wide panic and pandemic. Measures were instituted aboard the ship to keep everyone safe by limiting access to food and ensuring sanitizers were used regularly before entering restaurants. Everyone was urged to wash their hands often for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. As a result, no one got sick. Because of U.S. travel bans, Europeans from the Schengen countries disembarked in Antigua four days before the end of the cruise. The rest of the ports were eliminated for all the passengers on March 13. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, the crew and staff pulled together to provide enjoyable activities, games, and entertainment. Food is the best on any of the ships we have traveled, and the entertainers really get to know the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I am writing this as I go through my mandatory quarantine following another great cruise on the Wind Surf (the last one before operations were halted). This was our second Windstar cruise in less than 4 months after having done a 14-day ... Read More
I am writing this as I go through my mandatory quarantine following another great cruise on the Wind Surf (the last one before operations were halted). This was our second Windstar cruise in less than 4 months after having done a 14-day BTB Caribbean cruise with some friends on Star Legend in November. This time we were travelling as a couple and met 2 other couples from our hometown of Montreal on the ship during the trip. We flew in same day from Montreal as there was a direct flight to Sint-Maarten that arrived around 12h30 giving us plenty of time for our scheduled 7pm departure. We are in our mid 50's and this was our 9th Windstar cruise (all in the Caribbean) and 4th on the Windsurf. We also sailed 5 times with Celebrity prior to switching to Windstar in 2013. This was again a great cruise although there were a few hiccups along the way (especially with the tender operations). We continue to enjoy Windstar's small ships despite the fact capacity was increased by 32 pax on the Wind Surf's recent dry dock (more on this later but we did not feel the increase was noticeable). What we enjoy is the fact you can do things independently easily (we only took one snorkeling excursion from the ship), there is a relaxed dress code at dinner, the food is excellent and last but not least the great service staff who go out of their way to make your cruise memorable. This was the 3rd time we did Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary as we love all the stops along the way (BVI's, St Barth, Antigua) although the reason we chose this particular one is the fact it had a twist with no sea day and an extra stop on our favorite island, Anguilla. The weather was a bit challenging during our first 2 stops (Tortola and Jost Van Dyke) with gray skies, strong winds and regular showers. Although weather had begun to clear when in JVD, Captain decided to cancel Virgin Gorda and Beach BBQ in Fischer's Cove and instead go back to Road Town and spend the night docked and remain there the following day. This was disappointing for people that wanted to see the Baths. The crossing from Road Town to Anguilla was very rocky with several guest not able to sleep (incl. myself). The rest of the week was calmer and much sunnier. Another great but not perfect cruise with Windstar Booking: We booked 45 days in advance (we always go for lowest priced cabin as location is not necessarily important to us). We called the company directly (we did not use a travel agent) under the Canadian resident promotion with a $300 discount on the cruise price. This special is not on their website. We booked a guarantee cabin and got upgraded 3 categories to an AX room 255. Windstar also offered a 20% discount on the price of internet, drink package and laundry if all taken together prior to cruise which we did not take as we did not care for the ship’s slow and expensive internet (we had access to a good roaming package which we used most of time as we were always close to islands). Embarkation We flew in same day with an early direct flight out of Montreal which arrived in SXM at 12h20 and we arrived quickly at the ship at 13h30 vs our 19h00 departure as we were, for the first time, travelling with only carry-on luggage which made for speedier exit of busy temporary SXM temporary airport terminal. Cabs were plentiful. Cab ride was $25 for the 2 of us and took 40 minutes (we stopped at Carrefour to pick up a couple bottles of wine which we took onboard). Check-in was swift at front desk given most of the initial rush had passed. Sail away was on schedule at 19h00. We were told our cruise was almost fully booked, so around 325 passengers on board. This was not an issue throughout the cruise as the Wind Surf remains very spacious with nooks and crannies for everyone. Stateroom: We were in stateroom #255 (added to Wind Surf stateroom sticky forum). Staterooms are well designed with plenty of storage if required. The cabin was quiet and had no issues although we understand that at least on 2 occasions during the trip, staterooms located towards the back of the ship (not us) had vacuum issues with toilets not functional for several hours. Our room steward was attentive although we did not have any special requirements. Reusable water bottles we refilled every day with flat water and our ice bucket was kept full with ice every day. Despite being much smaller than on the ones on motor yachts, the rooms are very well designed and we were really only in our room to sleep or change over for dinner. We did not use room service but did use laundry service with no issues. Bathroom is compact and well-designed but starting to show its age. No issues with hot water or water pressure throughout the trip. L’Occitane toiletries are provided in all rooms. Bars and Entertainment: Drinks were mostly taken outside at Compass Rose or Pool Bar. Did not have drinks in the Lounge as we like to be outside although it looked fairly busy in the evening. Bar service was always good. Duo at Compass Rose (D’Harmony) was OK and sometimes had guests dancing but generally it was pretty quiet compared to other Windstar cruises we have taken. We did not attend the crew show Sail Aways were nice and the sails were up more often than in past cruises with our short hop from Anguilla to St Barth done on sail power only (3.5knots) Dry Dock Improvements: Although Wind Surf went into dry dock last November, changes to the ship remain minimal but include a totally renovated (incl. all furniture) and expanded Lounge (no more casino) which is much brighter than previously, the relocation of the Spa from deck 2 to deck 5 (in former Nautilus Room) and which is much larger and nicer than in the past when it was located at the back of deck 2, new chairs in Stella Bistro, a small waiting area near Amphora and new mattresses (firm) in all staterooms plus the addition of 16 new staterooms on deck 3 by reducing the number of suites. We heard onboard that the Wind Surf would get a total overhaul in 2023 Food: Again food was a highlight. We ate at Amphora 4 times, one time each Candles and Stella Bistro and Deck BBQ on the late night in St-Barth. Dinner restaurant hours have been modified from 19h00-21h00 to 18h30-20h30. Given we are late eaters, it seemed we were always racing to meet this deadline. We preferred when restaurants closed at 21h00. Menu at Amphora changes daily and was varied with vegetarian and gluten free options available. Breakfast was good with buffet or a la carte items (waffles, eggs, pancakes, eggs benedict) available. Fresh squeezed OJ, lots of fruits, pastries, smoked salmon, cereal, oatmeal as well as several hot items (love their bacon) were available on the buffet. We had good lunches at Veranda when we made it back in time from the island as the venue is only open from 12h00 to 14h00. Like breakfast, lunch consists of a buffet with hot/cold items, a carving station, pasta bar, burgers and other à la carte items that change every day. We were late a few times and had to “settle” for food at Yacht Club (very good sandwiches and energy bars). Lunch should be extended to 14h30 to accommodate those with dietary restrictions as the menu at the Yacht Club, while good, remains limited for them. Service in the dining rooms at dinner was fast and efficient with meals lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. We mostly had dinner around 8pm and never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table and by the time we were finished, most of the time we were the last table in dining room. Menus were varied with several fish, meat and vegetarian dishes and again were impressed by the quality and presentation of the food. Deck BBQ food was great although they ran out of lobster tails for those who came late which we thought was unacceptable. The Dining Under The Stars option which was offered twice on our Feb 2019 Wind Surf cruise not offered this time around. They had a burger bar lunch from 14h00-15h00 one afternoon but did not get to it as we were still on the island. Beach BBQ was supposed to be held in Fischer’s Cove Virgin Gorda but was cancelled due to strong winds preventing the ship form having a sheltered anchorage so we spent the previous night and following day docked in Road Town for the day. 2 or 3 times during the week (maybe these were every night but I can’t confirm), we were treated to canapés at Compass Rose before dinner. Usually had 2 different types of canapés and staff did a few rounds so plenty to go around. We also saw these served in the Lounge. Had dinner one night at Candles and everything was fine with tender filet mignon cooked to order. Don’t miss the prosciutto/parmesan potatoes. Note they no longer have Red Velvet cake on dessert menu. It had been a staple for several years. We like the Stella Bistro and the French inspired food was excellent when we went We are a bit picky about our coffee and the caffe lattes at Veranda in the morning were good (regular coffee not so much) but even better at Yacht Club (The barista on the Wind Surf however was not as good as Yogi on our November Star Legend cruise). We also did try a few of the sandwiches and sweets offered in the afternoon and all were excellent (try the Tuna and Greek sandwiches and the energy bars). Also new was a tea station set up in Compass Rose in the afternoon which includes cucumber sandwiches and scones… and various teas. A good initiative that seemed to be popular with some guests Although we do like our wine and drinks, for the second time in a row, we did not take any of the beverage packages available including a new one which allows you to purchases 5 bottles of wines in 2 price point categories at a 10-15% discount (several of the wines we liked were not on these lists). In the end it was cheaper, we drank better wines by the bottle and brought a couple of bottles we had bought on shore in St Barth (which they did not confiscate), to Candles and Deck BBQ and both times they did not charge the regular $17 corkage fee (they probably forgot, just too busy). Unfinished bottles were kept for next day and one time they could not find our bottle which had about a third left so they poured us 2 huge glasses of the same wine instead. Being a bit of wine buff, I find the wine list has a varied selection and decent prices. I posted wine and drink lists on Windstar forum last November and another cruiser recently posted them also. Marina We picked up our snorkel gear on Saturday night for our Sunday morning snorkel tour to the Indians although the tour provides its own gear if you forget. Due to the strong winds we did not see the marina open although a couple of times we saw them preparing it, just don’t know if they ever got to opening it formally as we were away on the islands and always came back too late Spa: We visited the new spa but did not use it. Much better location and the spa itself looks very nice. Gym: We did not use gym but it looked clean and well equipped and did not seem overcrowded. Tenders: Tender service was the only issue we had on this cruise. In St Barth, several people had to wait over an hour to 75 minutes for tenders going to and coming back from St Barth (was the case for the 2 couples we met on the ship). On our last day in Antigua, last tender was scheduled at 16h30. 12 of us were there at 16h15 when tender showed up but there were 12 other guests still on the island and instead of taking the 12 back to the ship as scheduled at 16h30 and come back for the remaining ones, we waited until 17h15 for all the late guests. They had plenty of time to have another tender run but for reasons unknown, the Bridge did not let the tender go. Guests were furious because we were kept in the dark and the Bridge’s decision did not seem to make sense from a customer service perspective. I have added more details on this on the Windstar Board under “Wind Surf Poor Tender Service” Tenders were also used in Jost Van Dyke and Anguilla and we did not hear of any issues at those ports. The tenders themselves are also in need of a total overhaul. When compared to Seabourn, Club Med 2 and Star Clipper tenders, the Windstar tenders really look shabby. They will be changing the tenders on the Motor Yachts, they probably should do the same with the sailing ships. Bridge We visited Bridge a few times and the on duty officer was nice and answered our questions. Stops and excursions: We generally are not the type to book ship excursions as we feel they are overpriced and like to do things on our own. I typically like to do my own research and do not like to plan too long ahead. On this trip, we had already been several times to all of the stops and were familiar with all of them so we knew exactly what we wanted to do. Tortola (Road Town, docked): Cloudy/rainy morning, overcast afternoon, light wind. Did ship sponsored snorkeling excursion to Norman Island. Good tour, not too expensive at $69. Snorkeling was ok at the Indians, better than the Norman Island Caves. Got back to shore around noon, had lunch onboard and went back to town and went shopping to Pussers. Town was quiet as it was Sunday and there was no other ship in town. Came back early and spent rest of afternoon on deck. This was our first time in Road Town and we liked it better when the Tortola stop was in Soper's Hole which I understand is being re-instated next year. Nice partial sunset cruise to Jost Van Dyke. They also ran tenders to JVD that evening until 12h30AM for guests that wanted to go to Foxy’s Jost Van Dyke (Great Bay, tender) Strong winds from the Northeast picked up during the night with heavy rains in the morning. Left ship around 10h30 under drizzle and headed to White Bay via taxi ($5/pers. each way 7 minute drive). Weather cleared up a bit by midday but was not great with some rain and some sun. Came back and had a few drinks at Foxy’s which has been rebuilt. Given the strong winds, Captain advised we would not be going to Virgin Gorda the following day (Beach BBQ cancelled) and instead would sail back to Road Town and dock for the night and next day. Tortola Take 2 (Road Town, docked): Finally a nice sunny day. We intended to go to Long Bay (West End) but were told by locals that the 20 ft seas offshore made for precarious swimming on all North Shore beaches so we opted to go Long Bay near Trellis Bay and airport which was sheltered. Taxi was $12/pers. each way (30 minute drive). Given there was also a Disney ship in town and that Long Bay seemed to be the only sheltered beach, it was a bit busy. It is a nice beach with chairs and all services. We went to quieter far end of beach and had lovely day. Came back to ship around 16h00. Overnight sail to Anguilla was very rocky with 12-15 ft waves. Several people including myself had a lousy night sleeping, the only one on this cruise. Anguilla (Road Bay/Sandy Ground, tender): Beautiful sunny day. We chose this cruise because it had this stop which Windstar only started doing this year and only appeared on 2 of the Yachtsman’s itineraries in 2019-2020 (normally replaced by a sea day). We have been to Anguilla several times and it remains one of the least developed islands in the Caribbean which is why we love it so much. It is renowned for its amazing soft white sand beaches which are considered by many (including myself) as some of the finest in the Caribbean if not the world. Given we had been to all of the most popular ones (Shoal Bay East, Rendez-Vous Bay, Meads Bay, Cove Bay or Crocus Bay), we decided to try lesser known Shoal Bay West (taxi $30 for the 2 of us each way 20 minute ride) which has nice beach restaurant called Trattoria Tramonto (free chairs if you have lunch). Very quiet (20 people max on a very nice and long sandy beach facing St. Martin). Came back to ship around 16h00 and had dinner at Candles that evening. Captain advised that because our sail from Anguilla to St Barth was so short (40nm) we would be under sail only most of the time with engines cut off. St Barth (Gustavia, tender): Beautiful sunny day spent at Pearl Beach Hotel on St Jean beach (Taxi 10 minutes, 20 Euros each way for 2). Rented chairs (30 Euros). Had lunch at small sandwich place later in St Jean Village (Kikiémoi). Did some shopping in St Jean. Took cab back to Gustavia where we did a bit of shopping (including wine at Cellier des Gouverneurs which we brought back on ship with no issues) and tender back to ship around 17h15. Our friends who took the tender a little later had to wait over an hour to get back and were late getting to deck BBQ which was held that night. Left St Barth at 22h00. Smooth sailing to Antigua that evening. Antigua (Falmouth Harbour, tender) Nice sunny day. Left ship around 9h30. 6 of us took a cab to Half Moon Bay, one of the nicest and least crowded (due to its remoteness) beaches in Antigua. Cab was $25 return/pers. 40 minute drive). A small restaurant/bar is now on the beach and they also rent chairs which is something new. Great sheltered beach (far end is nicer, less surf). On the way back, taxi took us up to Shirley Heights (part of Nelson Dockyards Park $5 entry fee) to take in the beautiful vista of Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour. Well worth the detour. Taxi dropped us off at the Dockyards where we spent an hour walking around and watching the racing sailboats coming in after their regatta. Got back to the ship only around 17h30 due to aforementioned tender issue. Debarkation. Debarkation was trouble free. Had breakfast around 8am after picking up our passport and having face to face meeting with Immigration on board ship in the morning. Our flight was at 13h45 so we left ship around 9AM and went directly to airport (taxi was $10/pers. as there were 10 of us in the van. Despite all the complaints on the temporary terminal’s cramped spaces, we were through security and immigration in 40 minutes as we had no bags to check. Terminal was cramped but not as bad as last year. Flight back was uneventful and we made it back to Canada just as travelling restrictions were getting tighter due COVID 19. This concluded another wonderful Windstar cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
NCL Gem Review 3/6/2020 through 3/16/2020 Sorry, this is a long one. I almost did not write it. I mean with so many more serious things on our minds lately. But then I thought, this cruise was exceptional and maybe people need to ... Read More
NCL Gem Review 3/6/2020 through 3/16/2020 Sorry, this is a long one. I almost did not write it. I mean with so many more serious things on our minds lately. But then I thought, this cruise was exceptional and maybe people need to hear that. 4 Adults in the Garden Villa Suite 14000. Both my husband and I are platinum plus latitude members. We had booked an H3 months prior but once our travel agent told me the H1 was all of a sudden open, I bid on it and my bid was accepted 4 days prior to sailing. So at the last minute we invited my sister and her husband who had sailed on the Gem with us in 2013 and they said YES! We also invited my brother and his wife but he had strep throat so no way… bummer. We had an extra bedroom which we joked about if someone drank too much we would not let them drive home ;) We left New Hampshire at 5:30 on the morning of our cruise and arrived at the Port of NY by 11:30. An easy Friday drive. We dropped off the bags, tipped the porter and parked above for $400.00, for 10 days, very easy. Except that we parked in the first parking area and it was way too far away. My husband had his knee replaced about 5 weeks ago so it was a long walk back to the ship. Once they took our temperature we were escorted to the Haven area and had to fill out a medical questionnaire. We were processed very quickly and then we saw RAVI! Ravi is an amazing butler we had for 2 sailings, many, many years ago. He greeted us and told us he already had Mr. M’s Guinness on ice and he asked about our kids … Ravi is one of those special people you meet in life that you just do not forget. And we were so happy he would be our butler once again. I will say here that this is what NCL does best. They have incredible staff that they are able to retain. Ravi has been with NCL 19 years. We went directly to Cagney’s for lunch while they finished preparing our suite. The Garden Villa is wonderful. In the past the colors were vibrant either blue, green and gold, or Orange Red and gold which might be a bit loud for everyday, but absolutely perfect for a Caribbean cruise vacation. Plus there used to be a very cool circular leather sofa. They refurbished the Villa a few years ago and the new colors are tasteful and neutral. A bit more upscale but rather subdued, IMO. And circular sofa is now just a solid oversized sectional. Comfy but dull. The Garden Villa is huge. 3 bedrooms all with their own bathroom. One is definitely the master suite with an enormous soaking tub. I will not bore you with all the details of Garden Villa, it is just as awesome as you have heard. We were kept well hydrated with 6 bottles of alcohol, and all the boxed water, soda (Pepsi products only) juices and mixers we could want. We had a few parties and they allowed us to purchase extra beer, wine and more bottles of liquor. Service: In a word, Outstanding. Ravi kept brining us food and did not mind us planning parties and our room stewards Patrick and Teddy were wonderful. They kept the Villa and Sundeck pristine. One thing that changed in the space was the courtyard area. When we sailed last we had a very private top deck. Now the Top deck is half the size and the people in the 15000 can actually look over and see us from the steps of their hot tub. It was very odd and invasive. And the Sauna never really got hot. And the master bedroom was always very cold. Our concierge was Alex from Croatia and he was excellent. Alex made our spa reservations, dining (often at the last minute) and showed us to the special seating at the Stardust and much more. He also ordered local flowers for me on behalf of my husband, with the instructions "something local and funky" he did not disappoint. It was fabulous. Ravi our amazing butler went above all expectations. We always had fresh fruit, cookies, midnight blt’s, chips and pastry platters. Ravi also brought us hot breakfast every morning from Cagneys. steak and eggs, omelets, waffles with cream and berries, OMG Ravi spoiled us. He gave us suggestions for dinner and shows, reminded us of parties and many little things that made this particular cruise so very special. The first 3 nights this ship was rocking. It was white water all day. The cruise home was just the opposite, slow and calm and very nice. Friends of ours were getting married on this cruise, which was the primary reason for this trip to begin with. So once we got the Villa we had about 72 hours to re-plan a wedding / reception. We got signs created by ETSY and had a local printer make 2 so all the guests could sign one. Then we ordered everything “peacock” theme we could get our hands on. Plus a shiny gold cake topper and balloon letters, lots of peacock feathers and favor boxes. Ravi got us extra vases for peacock bouquets and table cloths. The grooms and friends had already planned to have the wedding and reception in the Bliss and had the menu already planned, they also had gorgeous gift bags with custom printed candies and fancy glass peacocks. After speaking with Alex and Ravi the wedding / reception was relocated from the Bliss to the Villa with 54 guests PLUS the ship photographer Jillian was just wonderful. She took loads of pics and guests could go to the photo gallery and ask to view the Baker wedding to purchase their own pics. We were docked in San Juan and the ship was finally still. The wedding was perfect. NCL provided drink servers and someone serving horderves (sp) and Ravi had help at the Bar. The wedding cake was chocolate mousse and the best I ever tasted and I am kind of a cake snob  During the cruise we had 2 more slightly smaller parties in the Villa and Alex and Ravi provided plenty of great finger foods and desserts, it was awesome. Dining: I loved all the food Moderno, LeBistro were excellent and Teppanyaki was fresh and fun. I did not eat the buffet but really enjoyed Sheehans and the MDR’s. The only disappointment was La Cucina. The pizza was OK but it should not be a “specialty” restaurant, IMO. Ports: Sorry, I do not know. We had been to all of them before, so we did not get off the ship. We took the time to enjoy the hot tub and I got some work done. Work: I had pre-purchased the fastest internet package for $249.00 but when I went to log in the package was not there and I needed it so I agreed to pay $349.00 for the same package. Alex was able to fix this so I was not charged extra. I brought my desktop with 4 travel monitors (all fit in one rolling carryon) and I set them up on the desk overlooking the pool area and the sea … it was perfect. I was able to work a couple hours a day and check my emails and it made my vacation so much better, knowing I was not facing 10 days of work upon returning home. And with the Covid-19 scare taking over the world while we were away it was doubly important for me to be able to communicate with our clients and online followers. Our business is event management and we had scheduled a huge Spring Arts and Craft Festival in MA for the following weekend. Then the Governor of Massachusetts prohibited gatherings of over 50 people so we had to act quickly to suspend ad campaigns and notify our artisans and update our website, etc, etc. If I did not have this package I do not know how I would have dealt with it. One thing to note … I could not get my new fancy wifi portable printer to work. If your device does not have a screen it will not work with the NCL wifi system. But luckily Alex allowed me to email any docs to him and he printed them for me. Awesome. Another cool thing was loads of first run movies on demand at no additional cost. I played a little Texas Hold em in the Casino and this was the first NCL ship where sometimes there were not enough players to have a game. We saw 3 shows: Blazing Boots, Get Down Tonight and some kind of amazing acrobat show with a comedy clown who only whistled and he brought the house down. The shows were the best I have ever seen at sea. The cruise director was terrific, seemingly everywhere. Sorry I do not recall his name. We danced a little with the excellent house band at a couple of the 10pm poolside parties. We got VIP treatment all the way but there are less free parties, no more chocolate buffet or towel animals or bowling … and that was fine by me. The staff on the Gem is the friendliest on any ship. Everyone knew my husband … they greeted him by name, Good Day Mr, M., Good Evening Mr. M, etc. I mean everybody from the guys with suits and gold bars on the shoulders to the waiters and maintenance men … And if there was a bar that did not serve Guinness they would get it for Mr. M. Disembarkation: We were escorted off by Ravi our butler who handed us off to some port women who thought they could bypass the line and they did, sort of. It was a little odd. Then they walked us into the Customs office who had no idea why we were there … but just asked if we did a lot of shopping (NO) and said ok we are good to go. We found a young man with a cart and he took all our luggage up to the parking area. It was eerily quiet … I walked all the way to the first parking area where mine was the only vehicle there. If you have ever cruised out of NYC you know the chaos of trying to get off the ship while 2500 people are trying to get on the ship. Well we were the final cruise on the Gem until Mid-April or when Covid 19 is over, so it was quiet and odd. It was strange on the ship, knowing that most of the people working were uncertain if they would have a job the next week or where they were going and if they were sent home chances were very high that their home country would put them in quarantine in a hospital for 2 weeks. I felt so bad for these hard working professionals who, through absolutely no fault of their own, may lose their career and way of life. And I dearly hope this pandemic does not end such a magnificent industry. It was such a remarkable cruise that I will treasure these memories and hope to return to make more. Hope all stay well and stay home … for a while anyway  Till next time. Juried (Terry) PS On the final sea day here was a medical emergency that called for a med-flight. All of the outdoor furniture was secured from our courtyard to prepare but the Helicopter instead went to the front of the ship and safely picked up a passenger. We were less than 200 miles from NYC so this person must have been very ill. I hope he or she is alright, we never heard. It was incredible to witness this operation in the open water. I will attached a photo and if you look closely you can see the helicopter hovering. Stay well. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I was on the Epic for back-to-back- cruises March 1-15, 2020. This was the last cruise before NCL shut down for at least 30 days. Fortunately, there was no illness on this cruise and a good time was had by all. I am a frequent cruiser ... Read More
I was on the Epic for back-to-back- cruises March 1-15, 2020. This was the last cruise before NCL shut down for at least 30 days. Fortunately, there was no illness on this cruise and a good time was had by all. I am a frequent cruiser with NCL and have always had a good experience with them. I do not understand how people can write such negative reviews about these cruises. Everyone, without exception, was very pleasant to deal with. The staff were always cheerful and willing to help. Embarcation in San Juan went very smoothly. I am a Platinum Lattitudes member, so there were no lines to speak of. They had many people checking folks in for the cruise, much more so than on some previous cruises I have been on. I was on the ship in no time. I ate in most of the specialty restaurants and Cagneys is, by far, the best of the lot, in my estimation. The food in all the restaurants, including the main dining rooms, was quick to arrive, hot, and perfectly cooked. I had a mini-suite stateroom on deck 11 and it was great. Tons of storage and a very nice-sized balcony, much bigger than on some of their newer ships. My room attendant, Irving, was always around, always willing to do whatever was needed to make my stay comfortable. The shows were very good, both Burn the Floor, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The comedians were better than some I have seen on past cruises. The ship is large, but I never had trouble finding a seat in any of the venues. I gamble quite a bit, and I will say, the casino on the Epic seems a bit tighter than on some other NCL ships, but I still managed to have a good time. All in all, I had a great time on the Epic. I am already booked on the Pearl in November for their Panama Canal cruise. I am hoping that this virus business settles down and allows us to travel again soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I choose Norwegian lines because my 1st experience on Dawn was excellent. Obviously, I cannot say the same on the Epic. Comparing to Dawn, Everything from the welcome with exception on a few was not as exciting. Room seemed tinier. Keep ... Read More
I choose Norwegian lines because my 1st experience on Dawn was excellent. Obviously, I cannot say the same on the Epic. Comparing to Dawn, Everything from the welcome with exception on a few was not as exciting. Room seemed tinier. Keep bumping into my partner to get from one place to the other. Shower was separated from toilet area and even the sink was apart from both these areas and oh so very small. Found it very difficult to put my makeup on because there wasn’t a good mirror for this purpose like on Dawn. Not enough Elegant restaurants to choose from. Did not like the fact to always have to go though the smoky smelly Casino area to get to where I was going. The Director and crew was not as nice either. I mean this was the Epic!! Expected way more. Ship was rusty and being painted on stops. Entertainment was great. Loved The Epic Beatles and the Colombian 4 Blue band on the pool deck. They were the best! But all in all very disappointing on my wedding anniversary celebration. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Chose as a Birthday gift for wife and to follow two other family members. Did not see much of anything. All booked excursions were made impossible because if Medical issues on ship causing long delays or medical issues on the Tour ... Read More
Chose as a Birthday gift for wife and to follow two other family members. Did not see much of anything. All booked excursions were made impossible because if Medical issues on ship causing long delays or medical issues on the Tour itself. Point being the atmosphere during a global virus is not the best. When Staff is not forthcoming about medical issues. Evacuations, transfers of potential carriers it is hard to enjoy something you though might be a good time. It was not. More like torture. On the plus side, the TV in the room worked most of the time. The Room was very nice and the steward was fantastic. The hot coco and coffee machine made social distancing easier on the fan tail. The bad, Social distancing on a cruise ship is impossible! Food was seldom hot, more often undercooked and Luke warm. Food was plentiful, but not food we would chose to repeat. Hamburgers were yuk, Pizza fair. Ice cream pathetic. Deserts looked good, but often were a disapointments. Moral don't book a cruise just prior to WHO declaration of a global Pandemic. The cruise companies are taking a beating now, but so did we! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My wife and I joined friends on the Epic in march 2020. This was our first cruise. Sailed out of San Juan. Easy and organized embarkation and disembarkation. We stayed in balcony suite 11056. We liked it. Loved the Brazilian ... Read More
My wife and I joined friends on the Epic in march 2020. This was our first cruise. Sailed out of San Juan. Easy and organized embarkation and disembarkation. We stayed in balcony suite 11056. We liked it. Loved the Brazilian Restaurant, Cagne's Steakhouse and the Hibachi Grill. We would recommend eating at all three. Casino was nice. Our cabin Porter Alan was AWESOME. Every staff member we had contact with was pleasant. Bars were crowded but we managed just fine. Danced the nights away. We were slightly overdressed. Not that we dressed to the nines....... but most people were in extremely casual clothing. We both loved sailing the Epic. Ports of Call were San Juan =okay ...it was the port of call. Oranjestad was nice. Curacao was fun. In Bonaire we should have walked the town but didn't because we did an excursion. St Lucia was okay and St Kitts was fun. We went on a few excursions. One was in utvs in Curacao....would not do again. Just say No. Another no go was the St Lucia Rainforest Tram. Our guide was the sweetest most informative girl. Just did not make up for the boring ride. The Zip lines there sounded like people were having a ball. Many venders at most port of call wanting to take you on adventures. We both thought that on our next trip that is the way we would go. Way more freedom to change plans that way. Our best excursion was one the wives found and talked us into around the island of Bonaire. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
CONS Ship design The go karts laser tag and the Haven take up to much space on the ship The burger diner under the track was empty every time we walked by Not enough pools and deck space The lawn chairs are set up so tight ... Read More
CONS Ship design The go karts laser tag and the Haven take up to much space on the ship The burger diner under the track was empty every time we walked by Not enough pools and deck space The lawn chairs are set up so tight it’s hard to get on them 1 small adult pool for everyone Tiny hot tubs People were crammed around the pool like sardines the music was so loud you couldn’t have a conversation The cabin was the smallest we’ve had on any cruise ship PLUS’S Food was great lots to choose from and good quality Service was good We liked the observation lounge lots of places to sit and read or just relax and look outside Choir of Men and Kinky Boots were great comedian was funny Beatles cover band was good We will definitely cruise on Norwegian again But won’t recommend the Encore The pool areas are the dealbreaker for us Way to crowded Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We only cruise Princess since our first Alaskan trip. We took all 4 of our kids on that one and highly recommend people bring their kids and use the kids clubs. This one was just me and my partner for a quick break. We were only doing ... Read More
We only cruise Princess since our first Alaskan trip. We took all 4 of our kids on that one and highly recommend people bring their kids and use the kids clubs. This one was just me and my partner for a quick break. We were only doing the first 7 days - Eastern CARIBBEAN! Despite all the health fears this year, with the information we had at the time, we felt safe to travel at the end of Feb as planned. There were extra precautions throughout or trip and a 16 hour delay disembarking for checks at the end of this cruise. Despite this, the staff were as professional, friendly and patient as ever. Problems can happen with any service provider at any time for many reasons, we are all human after all. For me, it’s not about whether a problem happens but how the problem is handled and risks mitigated for the future. Those extraordinary events aside, the cruise was perfect, literally my only complaint is too much food to finish the exquisite dessert at Sabitini’s. We booked the Sanctuary bungalow at Princess Cays and ordered the upgraded lunch. Highly recommend! Shore fishing was great. Villa botanica excursion was good, their patio daiquiris were Devine. We plan to do it again, with the kids this time next year. If you arrive a few days ahead of your cruise, try a sport fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale with Tacohookedup.com. We also stayed at the Hilton Marina, which was minutes from fishing and the cruise port. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Our cruise started off on a great with a speedy embarkation. However, we got to the room & a balcony chair was broken & our tv (multiple times). Then due to a medical emergency, we were delayed leaving princess cay, which then made ... Read More
Our cruise started off on a great with a speedy embarkation. However, we got to the room & a balcony chair was broken & our tv (multiple times). Then due to a medical emergency, we were delayed leaving princess cay, which then made us late for St. John (the whole reason we booked this cruise was for hiking St. John national park). Princess rebooked but then we were delayed by port authority and without communication, we missed the ferry to St. John and our excursion. Sure we got our money back but then we had to venture out in a foreign place alone to get there. Now Sint Maarten was great. on the way home, our ship was quarantined due to transferring two crew members from a Coronavirus infected ship to our ship & cdc not allowing us to port. So we missed out on Kennedy space center. The food at the first half of the cruise was not great but it did get better starting after St. John. Sure princess did what they could in both situations but it was not what we expected on our first cruise Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Having cruised with Norwegian before and hailing from Wisconsin, the beverage package and destinations were a big draw. After reading the reviews on the Epic (like I do before I go anywhere on vacation) I was pleasantly surprised. All I ... Read More
Having cruised with Norwegian before and hailing from Wisconsin, the beverage package and destinations were a big draw. After reading the reviews on the Epic (like I do before I go anywhere on vacation) I was pleasantly surprised. All I had read about was the crowded conditions and long waits for the elevators as well as the poor food selection. Our group of 3 couples never ran into any of those problems. If in fact you were a late riser or had to be the first one off the ship in port you would run into a crowd in the breakfast buffet or in the line off of the ship,but that’s to be expected. Everyone of the crew was VERY friendly and the first to wish you a good day. Food was very good in the 3 specialty restaurants we ate in as well as all the other food venues we tried. Cabin was on 9th floor,balcony mini suite. Plenary of room and storage unless your holding a square dance. Toilet and shower pull the curtain if you feel the need. All the port stops were nice with the exception of St. Lucia. To many people with 4 cruise ships in port. St. Kitts very nice with the best prices and nicest shopping opportunities of cruise. In closing a vacation is all that you make it.If you choose not to have a good time don’t blame the ship. For the money it’s the best deal around!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our(two of us) 3rd cruise with Norwegian (Escape & Getaway prior) and we did enjoy the crown jewel. There were many things we missed and many things that made us scratch our heads. Check in/embarkation was fast and simple as ... Read More
This was our(two of us) 3rd cruise with Norwegian (Escape & Getaway prior) and we did enjoy the crown jewel. There were many things we missed and many things that made us scratch our heads. Check in/embarkation was fast and simple as usual with NCL, though we were a tad confused as to why we were ushered to the waiting area for the Pearl and unable to hear the announcements for Encore boarding. After boarding we were in awe of how beautiful the interior was decorated and how large each of the areas were, enough space for many people with ample elbow room. Making our way to what we thought was going to be the only smoking section on the ship, other than the enclosed casino area, we were told there was an outside smoking section on Deck 16. Bravo NCL for accommodating the "outcast" we truly appreciated it. Though I do understand that some whom do not smoke still complained and I agree it could have been in a better ventilated area, but being close to the bar was huge plus. The weather could, of course, been better but that is not NCL's fault. it was very windy and the water was rough for most of the cruise, we have learned our lesson and will wait to later in the year to cruise again. Ports of call were great and un-boarding and boarding were simple as always. San Juan we took the Bacardi distillery tour (1/2 star for this one) was very boring. Not sure what we were expecting but this was not it. St. Thomas ( 5 stars) this is my favorite place on the planet and was very much looking forward to the this port once again. We did the helmet dive at Coral Park, it was little windy but the warmer weather helped beat the chill. The experience was amazing and the instructors were awesome. After we hung out at Cokie beach the water was so blue and so clear it was truly a much needed relaxing area. Tortola was the warmest day of the cruise, we took the "un"Speedy boat over to the Baths and spent about 2 hours swimming and exploring all the nooks and crannies. Due to the weather we were unable to stop at Great Stirrup Cay, which I kinda figured was going to happen once I stepped out on the balcony and saw the clouds and how choppy the water was. We made the best of the extra sea day and it turned out to be lucrative in the casino $$$. The food was outstanding, and coming from me who only eats once a day, that's saying something. Ocean Blue was by far the best sea bass I have ever had. Manhattan Room was so much fun (if you have a chance to have Franklin as your server, you will not be disappointed) Taste or was it Savior, whichever, server could not be bothered and was very rude, however the steak was very good. The Garden Cafe was very good and seemed larger on the Encore compared to the others, though partner says it wasn't. The things we missed; Spice H2O, this is just a great space on the other ships allowing only adults and is a welcome space to escape (no pun intended) from the family drama on the pool deck(s). We also missed the Irish Pub (who by the way was open 24 hours, unlike the Local which claims to be) food was better than the Local. Why we scratched our heads; All the up charges, talk about being nickle and dimed to death..good grief. We were also bewildered as to why some bars closed so early, this made no sense to us, with as many people that are on this ship and as many bars that are on it, no one should have to wait at an over crowded bar. Overall we were very glad we took this ship, though we will not cruise it again, we will step back down to either the Escape, Bliss or Joy. Thanks Norwegian for another great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
The on board experience for my first cruise was great. After talking to seasoned cruisers on board, I found that most preferred Princess Cruise's larger staterooms and variety of activities to those they had experienced on other ... Read More
The on board experience for my first cruise was great. After talking to seasoned cruisers on board, I found that most preferred Princess Cruise's larger staterooms and variety of activities to those they had experienced on other cruiselines. Our ship was not allowed to dock at the end of our cruise until 2 crew members were tested for the Coronavirus. This meant a whole extra day at sea but the crew kept us entertained and well looked after during this crucial nerve-wracking time. It all ended well and we actually came out of it with an extra day and night onboard enjoying the great food, entertainment and service. I took full advantage of the dining facilities included and the Medallion we wore was convenient for all extra costs. We prepaid gratuities which was a nice option. I enjoyed the fitness track every morning before indulging in the massive buffet breakfast offerings. The main show every evening was so professional and just the right length. The art auction, backstage tour, dance lessons, quiz and trivia games were all great fun. A family member was celebrating a birthday onboard and was quite pleased with the extra attention from the crew. I did not take part in any excursions as it was my first cruise so I was happy just exploring the townsites close to the ship. Overall, it was a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our 17th cruise, our 2nd on NCL. I was really excited when I booked this cruise over a year ago on this new 'amazing' ship, but alas it did not live up to my expectations. Embarkation was fairly fast, we arrived at ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise, our 2nd on NCL. I was really excited when I booked this cruise over a year ago on this new 'amazing' ship, but alas it did not live up to my expectations. Embarkation was fairly fast, we arrived at the port approx. 10:30am and they started letting us board at 11:30, then the race begins. If there are any shows, meals etc. that you want to attend you have to rush to different venues and stand in long lines to try to register. Our first goal was to buy Vibe Beach Club passes. This was held in the Barbeque restaurant Q Texas Smokehouse. We got tickets #83 & 84. Lucky, I thought. Choose wisely as it was extremely windy up there the entire cruise. There is no cover if it rains, a few umbrellas if the sun is intense. Bar service there was good and I did love the very quiet hot tubs. We did not spend enough time there to warrant the $209/pp price tag though. It did offer a retreat from the disastrous pool deck though. When buying the passes they did mention numerous times that it was not refundable!! The lines for the comedy were way too long, and by that time we were tired of standing around and waiting. I was able to score only one night at the comedy show on the NCL app. Thank goodness I booked Choir of Men before we sailed or I wouldn't have gotten into that one either. I wish they would have had everything available on the website to book pre-cruise; entertainment, go-karts, laser tag etc. I would have tried more activities. Cabin-MA14170 mini suite- very small cabin- one tv-small balcony-weird storage under mirrors and counters. The bathroom was quite nice with a large shower no bathtub. Not much different that a typical balcony cabin though. You have to pay for good movies, or 3 channels with other movies that you cannot schedule or re-start. The dining on the ship was very good. We ate at specialty restaurants Teppanyaki-awesome so fun entertainment, Cagney's-very good, and LeBistro-very good. Note: the 4-6oz lobster at Cagney's was not worth the 22.80 upcharge. I barely had enough to share with my DH. The rest of our meals were typically at the Taste DR or The local. Nice food and choices but no frills and don't ask for anything not on the menu, they typically can't accommodate. Escargot was only available in LeBistro. The bar staff on this cruise get's my highest praise. Those people work like maniacs trying to keep up with the demand on all those drinking packages. Sometimes there would only be one bartender on duty with 10-15 guests all waiting to order. Some cruisers would get angry, but there is only so much a guy or gal can do. Cudos to Bong-mojito bar, Mary Grace-A-list bar, Lovely, Atec, Ida(sp), Thomas, Daniel-Observation bar; amazing, amazing people how hard they work and their pleasant attitudes. Port stops were fair- San Juan (didn't even get off) we first arrived at 5:30pm. St. Thomas did the Champagne Cat Snorkel-nice, Tortola did the Baths-nice but long cat ride to get there and back. Lucky the water wasn't too rough. Great Stirrup Cay-sailed right by, was too windy to tender. RC had two ships tied to their dock at Coco Cay (lucky they bought a pier) Overall, though, it was a nice cruise. Vacation is always good. I would definitely NOT sail on the Encore again unless they made some huge changes (more pools, scrap the laser tag and go karts etc. etc.) I do not understand what they mean by Freestyle cruising, there was nothing free about it except the dress code in the dining rooms and restaurants. That's what brings me back to my title. Choose your ship wisely for what is most important to YOU. I thought I did, but definitely learned my lesson. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our 5th cruise. 4th one with Norwegian. a quick trip to get away from the Candian winter. The ship is big. VERY big... almost too big. I found the ship easy to move around in... easy to find things.. but the pool deck was ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise. 4th one with Norwegian. a quick trip to get away from the Candian winter. The ship is big. VERY big... almost too big. I found the ship easy to move around in... easy to find things.. but the pool deck was insane. I had read reviews so knew what to expect... had decided not to buy the package for the VIBE package - thought I could endure it... I could not. each chair is side by side along with the others... they had attendants coming to ask for a drink (great) but you could not MOVE - let alone save a seat if you could find one for the hubby or kids. I spent my time on the pool deck sitting way to close to strangers alone - with my headphones on to drown out the conversations of strangers beside me. we saw choir man - GREAT. Kinky boots very good (had seen it on broadway before-held it's own). Ate at the Mexican place and twice at Q as we could not get a reservation anywhere else. Kids really enjoyed the Buffet and we went to Savoir 3 times. all very good. Never used any of the shore excursions - did those on our own. The room was a good size for the 4 of us. (two parents and two teenagers.) complaints about the room.... it was above the cavern night club... for an 'upgraded' room and the noise that came out of that club just didn't compute with me. we survived - but they really shouldn't sell that room at an upgrade due to the noise... The next thing that really made me upset was out 'neighbor had a marijuana habit. every afternoon and evening they would smoke up. the smell was disgusting and foul. we could not sit out on our balcony due to the smell. (now - we are from Canada where it is legal... but seriously??) smell wafted into our room as well so venting is obviously not tight. Again - we survived. But I would have really rather not had to deal with that every day - all day. we did the race track and laser tag. did not do the virtual reality (kids just used the video arcade) my husband used the gym - said it was huge and nice... but crowded in the am - I told him because everyone else has the same idea as him. I would NOT go on this ship again. too big - not enough space in the sun. Kids said they enjoy the rope course more as they can go on it for free (thanks for saving money kids!) and do rock climbing. they did the race track twice. and a few video games. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020

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