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Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because the Norwegian Sky departs beautiful Miami, so we took the opportunity to stay in Miami several days before and after our cruise. Fun city! We liked the itinerary for this particular cruise because it enabled ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the Norwegian Sky departs beautiful Miami, so we took the opportunity to stay in Miami several days before and after our cruise. Fun city! We liked the itinerary for this particular cruise because it enabled us to be in Cuba for two days and a night. We also liked this itinerary because we went to Key West and Norwegian's island for a day. We are used to more entertainment on the ship, however, because the cruise was only for 5 days I understand that there wouldn't be as many choices. The comedian on board was funny, and the dancers were excellent. Some of the shows were too similar. I guess I am used to more variety. The service was outstanding, just as all the other Norwegian cruises we have been on. The employees work very hard pleasing everyone, and they succeed! We also thought the food was very good! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was my 7th or 8th cruise, and I have previously sailed on the Sky before. We choose this cruise for the extended stay in Cuba, which was the main focus of our trip. We traveled with extended family most of whom had never cruised ... Read More
This was my 7th or 8th cruise, and I have previously sailed on the Sky before. We choose this cruise for the extended stay in Cuba, which was the main focus of our trip. We traveled with extended family most of whom had never cruised before. Overall, I would rate our experience as very good. Our cabin was clean and more than adequate for our needs. Our steward, Christopher, was excellent and very attentive. He and his team were constantly visible and very hard working. The food was quite good overall, the buffet better than some I have experienced in the past. It should be noted that reservations need to be made in the main dining rooms if you don't want to wait for a table. This was something we didn't realize until after the first night when we had to wait an hour for a table. Once we understood the system, making reservations was very easy, especially if you download the NCL app. Couple of clicks on your phone and you are all set. With the reservation we were able to get right in at our requested time with ease. Main dining room food was very good and the service excellent. I would agree with some other reviews that mention a more varied selection might be a good thing though. The open bar can't be beat, and the quality of the cocktails were very good. The main pool bar occasionally had short lines, but most other bars were easily accessible with little wait. The ship is smaller, but easy to get around and has a lot of pleasant areas to gather. There were no bad smells that we experienced anywhere, in fact the only smell that I remarked on was the smell of new carpeting and the recent updating was apparent and all very nice. We did not attend many of the shows or activities, but what we did go to was entertaining and well done. In regards to the ports: Great Stirrup Cay was lovely, and a pleasant way to start vacation. The island is accessed by tender. The process was easy both going to and returning from the island. We rented rafts and enjoyed the beach and floating in the sea with view of the ship in the distance. When returning the crew offered cool towels and fruit Popsicles, which were a welcome treat after a hot day on the beach. Key West was an absolute fiasco start to finish. When we booked our cruise the Key West stop was advertised as 3 am - 10 pm, which was another reason we were drawn to this particular cruise. That is a very long time in port and we were looking forward to exploring Key West at a leisurely pace throughout the day. I am not sure when the itinerary changed, but we were not aware, until our second day on board, that we were not going to arrive at Key West until 3:30 pm with departure still at 10 pm, effectively cutting 12 hours from our stay in port. We were disappointed, but what can you do....gotta roll with the punches sometimes. The ship actually arrived in Key West closer to 4 pm, and it was at that point that chaos ensued. All passengers were required to see the customs agents before disembarking and with time off ship so limited, everyone was trying to get off all at once. The result was a line of epic proportions that wound its way from the front of the ship to the mid-deck atrium. The worst thing about it was the utter lack of information or direction from the ships crew to the passengers waiting in line. No announcements, no visible crew members etc. We stood in line from about 3:30 until close to 5 pm when we finally got off the ship. Only one NCL crew member was effectively directing and interacting sympathetically with the passengers who were by this time pretty frustrated. Her name was Gabrielle and if you are reading this Norwegian, you should promote her toot sweet! Once off, those who had not booked tours with Norwegian were out of luck as most attractions including the hop on and off trolley tours closed at 5 pm. Key West itself is a beautiful and vibrant destination, which we came away from wanting to revisit with a few days to explore all that it has to offer. Cuba was amazing! Disembarking in Cuba was a much simpler process than we expected, especially after the difficulty in Key West. We were able to get through customs, security and exchange our money within 15 minutes, and found ourselves in Havana with 45 minutes to spare before we were scheduled to meet our guide. We booked a tour with Cubaoutings and I can not say enough positive things about our experience. We had dedicated driver (Javier) and guide (Olevis) throughout the day who customized our tour based on what we were interested in seeing and doing. It is a little unfortunate that Norwegian focuses only on 'group people to people' travel to Cuba, making those who fail to do their own research feel as if the Norwegian excursions are their only option. We had an amazing Cuba experience for less than half of what we would have paid going through the cruise line. After touring via classic car and on foot, a delicious lunch at a 'paladares' (home based restaurant), visiting a cigar factory, Hemingway's favorite haunts and so many other fascinating stops we were brought back to the ship to rest, change, eat and drink a bit before meeting our guide and driver once again to see some of the city at night and attend a show at the Tropicana, after which we were once again delivered back to our ship. On our second day we had nothing booked and simply got off the ship and walked to a street in Havana that our guide had directed us to the previous day to shop a bit and enjoy lunch before returning to the ship by 4:30 pm. Disembarkation back in Miami was a breeze. Overall, the little hiccups aside, this was an amazing trip which I would highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to go. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Our cabin was very clean and comfortable. "Jake " was our stateroom attendant, and he was very accommodating. He made us a monkey to hang in our room. We love the "freestyle" cruise idea. The drink package was ... Read More
Our cabin was very clean and comfortable. "Jake " was our stateroom attendant, and he was very accommodating. He made us a monkey to hang in our room. We love the "freestyle" cruise idea. The drink package was great, except water was not included. That should be included no matter what package you choose. We received flyers promoting massages. However, when we checked out the prices at the spa, we were told our information was not correct. The spa charges were higher! That was disappointing! Our dining experiences in the "Crossings" and "Palace" rooms were very nice. However, we were not served any lobster. And, our beef strips were fatty with a lot of gristle. Our waiter, Bryan Wilson, was a delight! He was upbeat and very attentive. Our Key West excursions had to be cancelled due to arriving later in the afternoon. We left the cruise ship after 5:00 and had to be back onboard by 9:30 pm. Our number one complaint was the LBGT people reserving the best bar and lookout area at "Spinnakers" for their private parties! We were there twice and our party of eight was asked to leave! THAT IS NOT RIGHT! With over 2,000 passengers onboard, how did this group manage to block the straight guests and why? More entertainment was needed in the "Stardust Theater." Our favorite bartenders were Anita and Giselle. And, our best waiter around the pool deck was Anthony Mendoza. He was exceptional and always smiling! We booked our Cuban excursion through "Trip Advisor." We did the "I Love Cuba Tour" where our guide, Damien, used one of our SD chips and he took photos for our group while visiting the sights. We were in an air-conditioned van for 3-4 hours, then we were in a 1956 Buick convertible for another 1-2 hours. We topped off the tour with a stop at "Casa Fuster" and then a cigar and rum store. This cost half of what NCL was charging! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
5 day cruise out of Miami: Great Stirrup Cay- Key West- over night in Havana. I am a seasoned cruiser with 15 cruises under my belt. NCL is easily my least favorite cruise line. After my first cruise with NCL I vowed never again. ... Read More
5 day cruise out of Miami: Great Stirrup Cay- Key West- over night in Havana. I am a seasoned cruiser with 15 cruises under my belt. NCL is easily my least favorite cruise line. After my first cruise with NCL I vowed never again. After this cruise I can assure you NEVER AGAIN. Customer service is a joke. The lines getting off the boat especially Key West was beyond ridiculous. People spent 2+ hours of their “Key West” day trying to get off the boat. I did experience the “bad smell” on the boat but I could get over it. Someone on deck 8 down the hall from us was complaining about as we walked by. Food was okay. Service was okay. Entertainment was sub par. My biggest complaint is... if this is your job, if this is what you do every day why is it so hard to organize where and when people are to be moved on and off the ship. Disembarkation for Key West didn’t happen until 5pm for most people and back on board by 9:30... Also, being an alcohol included cruise you can totally get the vibe that bartenders just aren’t as into it as other cruises. Over all Great Stirrup Cay, Key West and Havana are amazing each for their own reason. My advice would be to chose another cruise line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because it did a over night in Cuba. All of the stops were great. worse part was they went to Key West before Cuba so we had to go through customs 2 times. should of went to key west first would of saved us lots of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it did a over night in Cuba. All of the stops were great. worse part was they went to Key West before Cuba so we had to go through customs 2 times. should of went to key west first would of saved us lots of time.Do not stay on deck 4 in area of 4219, hallway had a bad mildow order! not really any good show, just singing people. everyone was very nice from staff to people we met on ship. Food not so good. Ship was just updated but you would never know it. Casino was nice. They did away with straws with your drinks, so if you like to use, i would bring hard plastic straws with you to keep reusing. all in all it was fine for what we paid just dont exoect too much, we wanted to go to cuba over night and this worked. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
No, I am not a “one-issue voter.” But barring the LGBT get-together, which was printed on the Day 1 schedule, from taking place so that some other group could monopolize the Spinnaker was waaaay not OK. Really bad, and the “It was a ... Read More
No, I am not a “one-issue voter.” But barring the LGBT get-together, which was printed on the Day 1 schedule, from taking place so that some other group could monopolize the Spinnaker was waaaay not OK. Really bad, and the “It was a typo” thing just added insult to insult. The 1-1/2 hour (at least) line to get off at Key West was a fiasco and a clinic in inept crowd control. We didn’t much feel like a multi-hour walking tour after that.... Cuba matters were handled reasonably well, though we had to dig a bit for some info about what to do and so on. But complexity surrounding visiting Cuba is hardly NCL’s fault. Still, odd that it was much easier to get into Havana than into Key West :-) Food was very good. No issues there. Our steward was excellent and the cabin suited us perfectly. We did the pay as you go internet and it worked very well. I wish the sauna and steam had a relaxation area attached but hey! this ship is smaller than the Gem and it’s not its fault! So not a disaster (I mean, really, I hope I have some perspective) but to be honest, if this had been our first NCL cruise we would probably have shrugged NCL off and not returned. But we’ve been semi-regulars for several years and we’re rooting for this to have been an anomaly. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
The food was excellent and well prepared.. Service was excellent and the staff was very pleasant at all times. The shows we saw were very good. The piano player on board was very entertaining . We enjoyed his music and the way he ... Read More
The food was excellent and well prepared.. Service was excellent and the staff was very pleasant at all times. The shows we saw were very good. The piano player on board was very entertaining . We enjoyed his music and the way he encouraged the audience to participate. Being Latitude members, we were invited to the Latitude party with the Captain which was excellent. We thought the Latitudes cocktail party was outstanding. Since I have trouble standing for too long my husband asked one of the waiters if if he would bring me a chair while we waited for the doors to open, He brought us into the ballroom where we were seated until the captain arrived, and other Latitudes members were ushered into the lounge. After the Captain greeted everyone, one of his officers asked him to step over to where we were seated to pose with us for a photo. We were a little disappointed that there didn't seem to be as many activities as on other Norwegian cruises we have taken. We had a balcony cabin and were disappointed that the room was smaller than expected, and did not have enough drawer space for storing essentials for the cruise. Otherwise, the overall experience was as we expected from Norwegian, and will keep us coming back. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have cruised with HAL for 10 years and are 4 star mariners, did 2 cruises on Veendam starting March 3 to April 6th 2019. Embarkation long, tedious and very hot no assistance from HAL some very sick elderly people made to stand in heat ... Read More
We have cruised with HAL for 10 years and are 4 star mariners, did 2 cruises on Veendam starting March 3 to April 6th 2019. Embarkation long, tedious and very hot no assistance from HAL some very sick elderly people made to stand in heat for hours. Cabins poorly serviced, beds lumpy and hard. Advised of food allergy well in advance of cruise very poor choices, all meals and menu in Dining poor, meals served Luke warm to cold and not together with partner. Veendam Singers and Dancers excellent other entertainment poor to average. Ports good Shore Excursions ok. Disembarkation disgusting, had tour and airport booked, colour and number we were due to leave at 8.00 am, but kept telling us, no bus hasn’t arrived, 3-1/2 hours later we were all still waiting told tour was cancelled Staff member in charge returned to ship and left us all outside some sitting on limited seating the rest standing waiting for a bus to maybe come for us. Hoping HAL has the common decency to take care of airport transfer for all disappointed passengers looking forward to tour, we of FLL Everglades which we will now never see. Lastly emphasise Kitchen staff and Head Chef Orly, who should be responsible, all the time have let the Company down inexcusably Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
My family and I specifically chose the Empress of the Seas for its itinerary-Cozumel, Havana (overnight), and Nassau. After reading some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was a bit worried about sailing on this specific ship. No ... Read More
My family and I specifically chose the Empress of the Seas for its itinerary-Cozumel, Havana (overnight), and Nassau. After reading some of the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was a bit worried about sailing on this specific ship. No worries! My family and I were presently surprised at the service and how well maintained the ship was. The ship is the smallest in the NCI fleet, which was fine by us! Mega ships are overrated; being on a smaller ship makes it much easier & quicker to learn the layout of the ship and you can walk from one end to the other in 5 minutes! Excellent dining experience in both the dining room and the Windjammer cafe! Huge selection of foods available...and quality of the food was very good to excellent. Desserts at the buffet were much better than I remember from my past experiences on NCL and Carnival. There were options for beverages at the Windjammer for those who chose not to purchase the pricey drink packages-lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, water, and coffee. The coffee was much too strong for my taste, but it was decent. Staff on the ship couldn’t have been more helpful-from Deny (our room attendant), to our waiters in the dining room-Valento and Viny, and who can forget the hilarious activities staff who made playing trivia every day a hoot! Our accommodation was an oceanview stateroom. Yes, the rooms are small, but how much time do you actually spend in your room!?! I don’t know about anyone else, but I go on cruises to spend time in the ports of call, on the sun decks, and at activities, not wasting away in my room!!! Past posts indicate the ship is in poor repair and musty/dirty. I can tell you that I found none of this on the Empress of the Seas. I am a neat freak so I would have definitely noticed these things! No areas of the ship were closed off due to maintenance when we sailed (as I had read in previous posts). The pool and hot tubs were well maintained and were never shut down. Embarkation and debarkation when stopped at ports of call was quick and painless. I was a tad worried about getting sick on a cruise, given what is publicized in the media so often. The staff went above and beyond to encourage passengers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before meals to help with the spread of germs. I can tell you as a nurse I sincerely appreciated this! Shout out to Neilbert for greeting us at the Windjammer Café multiple times a day and encouraging us to “washy washy”!!! I would definitely consider traveling on the Empress of the Seas in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise for two reasons...we have cruised a lot but we had not been to Havana (or any place in Cuba). We saw an add in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which offered an inside cabin on this sailing for a really inexpensive ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons...we have cruised a lot but we had not been to Havana (or any place in Cuba). We saw an add in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which offered an inside cabin on this sailing for a really inexpensive price. We decided to give it a shot! We had a really small inside cabin (with a TINY shower), but it had tons of storage and the cabin steward was great! We found the service in the dining room, and the food in general, to be just okay, (how can a Mediterranean cruise line NOT know how to make great pasta!!!) with some notable exceptions...the gelato and desserts were wonderful. The Grill (burgers, etc.) was good. The Surf and Turf Restaurant was outstanding! The final gala evening also was, finally, a very good meal. Also the Caffe Lounge was wonderful. The cruise director was charming and enjoyable. The entertainment staff was also fun and engaging. The entertainment was good and was different each evening. The front office staff was pleasant and helpful. And we found their shore excursions to be well run, interesting, and moderate in price. All of the trips that we chose were smaller groups...15 to 20 people, at the most, which made for a more enjoyable excursion. The guides were interesting and informative. The ship had matched our 4 Star Mariner status with their vacation club, giving us a top tier "Black" membership level. They gave us champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, invitations to 2 cocktail events, 2 chocolate ship replicas, and other gifts. In addition, we got priority tendering and disembarkation. All of this was an unexpected pleasure and made the trip nicer. Finally, the "Meet and Mingle" that the ship organized for our Cruise Critic group was delightful....the nicest we have ever attended! It was held in the Red Lounge/Rum Bar on the morning of our first sea day. We were greeted by the head of the hotel department and several other officers. The lounge was set up with clusters of padded chairs surrounding cocktail tables. Each table was set with a martini glass filled with chocolate covered strawberries and surrounded by fancy little canapes. Servers circled the room with champagne, mimosas, bloody Marys, and non-alcoholic drinks. A fancy cake was served, photographs were taken, music was playing...all in all, a very nice event! To sum up, we had a great time in spite of the ways in which we found some areas of the ship wanting. Read Less

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