We needed a trip to the Virgin Islands around the holidays to take our group of 9 (4 adults and 5 kids, ages 12 - 18) to scatter my mother’s remains. There were a couple ships/trips that fit the bill but this one was recommended by our ... Read More
We needed a trip to the Virgin Islands around the holidays to take our group of 9 (4 adults and 5 kids, ages 12 - 18) to scatter my mother’s remains. There were a couple ships/trips that fit the bill but this one was recommended by our travel agent due to it’s newness and activities. After looking at the specs we agreed. Go karts at sea? Laser tag? Virtual reality experiences? Water slides? Tons of dining options? Broadway shows? “Free” perks? Though it was expensive, it appeared to be everything we needed to keep the kids and adults as busy and entertained as we wanted to be. Unfortunately, it fell short in way more areas than it succeeded and left everyone disappointed. Pros first as I want to give credit where it’s due..
The ship is huge and “checks lots of boxes”. If your goal is to be able to tell people that you drove on the longest go kart track at sea or played laser tag on the back of a ship, well, you can say you’ve done it.
The staff that assisted with the business of sending Mom into the Caribbean were excellent. They showed sensitivity and reverence and set up a nice private area at the rear corner of the boat for us to have our little ceremony. It was even decorated with flowers and they had a rose for each of us. Very well done at jno extra cost.
Our staterooms were well-appointed and comfortable. We had 4 “mini suites”, which were a necessary upgrade to get adjoining rooms for the kids. The mini suite gets you a larger bathroom than the normal balcony room and, in my opinion, is worth it. You spend time every evening getting ready for dinner/shows, etc., and having the double sink and extra space was nice.
Embarkation/Debarkation was as smooth as getting that many people on/off the boat could be.
We had a couple stand-out meals. Teppanyaki on New Year’s Eve was great. The chef was top-notch and entertaining. Some of the best fillet mignon I’ve had. Food Republic was also great. It’s more of a casual/lunch-type place, but if you’re a foodie, they’ve got a fun menu of fusion dishes that combine Asian with Latin. Sounds weird but it works.
The theatre shows were great. As reported by others, Choir of Man is fantastic. Kinky boots is a bit cliche in its gender-bending political correctness, but well done nonetheless.
The advertised capacity of this ship is 4000 but it feels like 10,000. Everything is crowded and chaotic. The buffet was busy every time we visited, including what would typically be considered off-hours. Norwegian have dedicated the front third of the ship to the private “The Haven” and the back third of the ship to go karts and laser tag, leaving precious little space (especially for a huge ship) for everyone to gather in the middle third. Sea days were a painful exercise in trying to carve out a little space for yourself. Chairs around the “public” pool were literally butted next to each other which made walking around the deck difficult. Though saving chairs longer than 15 mins was against Norwegian’s stated policy, there was no enforcement. If you didn’t get to the pool deck by 8:00 am, you were S.O.L., as there would be a towel on every chair. I’m sure the experience in the The Haven or Vibe beach club is quite different, but honestly, if I’m looking for a luxury experience I’m probably just going to book a Viking or Seabourn cruise.
There are not enough advertised activities to go around. Despite what it looks like on paper, our kids were quickly bored and even us adults were starting to wonder. We were excited about go karts, but were quickly disappointed to learn that at best, we might get one ride, ALL WEEK! The same was true for the laser tag. All of the activities are a significant extra fee and in short supply. It really felt like a bait-and-switch and I had a bad feeling about it all from the very first day. Our kids are pretty content to just have a pool to swim in and even that was a challenge on this boat. Of the two small pools, one was reserved for adults and the other was 3ft deep and full of little kids, leaving nothing for teens. Additionally, one of the two slides had a 120lb minimum weight that none of our kiddos could do. The other slide was a tube slide that was short and slow. If your kids have been to ANY water park, they will find this one lame.
Restaurants, shows, the Vibe, etc., book up fast and some will be completely booked before you step on the boat. Many seats are apparently set aside for The Haven guests. This adds a stress to your vacation that many will not find enjoyable and sets you up for disappointment when you learn that something you’ve been anticipating, possibly for as much as a year, isn’t going to happen.
Other than while in port, the boat NEVER STOPPED SWAYING, even with seas that were relatively calm. Although none of us got sick, it was peculiar and at times a little annoying. There were also times when a low frequency rumble could be felt shaking the ship. I’ve been on smaller vessels that felt much more solid.
The “free perks” are anything but free. Norwegian charges automatic gratuities on all food and beverages, even when they’re “free”. This adds up to real money by the end of the week and, in my opinion, takes away from personal experience of directly tipping for service.
Service was spotty for a cruise ship and felt a bit “canned”. Our steward was crabby all week and when my sister once returned to her room in the middle of the day he said “people are wondering why you are here”, basically “why are you interrupting me. It was kinda funny but also embarrassing and not at all appropriate.
In summary, this wasn’t our first cruise, but it was our first on Norwegian. Unfortunately, it will likely be our last. Almost every aspect of this trip felt like a money grab, something that I loathe on vacation. Maybe their other ships are different, but we spent a ton of money on this trip and came away disappointed. Buyer beware. Read Less