To say I was disappointed in this cruise experience would be an understatement. My husband and I SORELY NEEDED a relaxing vacation away from work, volunteer responsibilities, and life in general, somewhere to unwind, turn off the cell ... Read More
To say I was disappointed in this cruise experience would be an understatement. My husband and I SORELY NEEDED a relaxing vacation away from work, volunteer responsibilities, and life in general, somewhere to unwind, turn off the cell phones, and just chill out. We are kicking ourselves for choosing this cruise line. My fault - we really only chose this cruise because I’m terrified of flying, so leaving from NYC which was only a 4 hour drive from our home in upstate NY was super convenient. The cost was also decent, even with having to park our vehicle for a week in NYC. Maybe I'm biased after thoroughly enjoying a beautiful 3-day Bahamas cruise and an amazing 7-day Alaskan cruise with another cruise line, but even if I hadn't, I believe I STILL would not have been satisfied with this ship. I realize my review will make me sound picky and spoiled, but my husband and I both work 2 jobs, are very dedicated to our volunteer fire department, and have 2 kids to raise, so we work very hard to enjoy a decent vacation every couple of years.
Less than satisfying. The first day lunch buffet was crowded and disorganized, dinner was the same. We walked for a full 10 minutes back and forth trying to find a place to sit, and finally ended up going back to our room to eat our now cold food. This situation did not improve much during the week. The buffet dining rooms were very crowded - tables close to each other so you had to be a contortionist to get in and out of your seat, bumping the person behind you, and hurrying to beat others to an open table you were eying from across the room. The Italian restaurant was WONDERFUL - food, service and atmosphere for the most part were great, aside from the loud noise from the basketball court directly above us. This was mentioned to management that if/when they ever remodel the ship, they may want to put their "fine dining" restaurants in a location AWAY from children/recreation areas. I understand it's convenient for them because I believe their kitchen was shared with the buffet kitchen, but when guests are paying extra for a special anniversary dinner on a cruise, they would hope for an atmosphere that's a little more serene. The famous "Cagney's Steakhouse" was not good, it just wasn't. Ordered steak medium well - it came out VERY WELL. Was tough and chewy, the waiter was anything but personable - dropped our food off on the table and never checked on us again until throwing dessert menus in our face 20-25 minutes later. Brochures promised a "Chocolate Buffet" night - nope, that didn't happen. They had a chocolate dessert night with maybe 5-6 different chocolate options on the regular buffet and a couple options in the other dining rooms. Was VERY disappointed with that as had heard from other cruisers what an awesome display it was. Overall the food quality and flavor were subpar, with a few surprise tasty items here and there.
Rooms were not ready when we arrived - no big deal, we ate lunch crammed in like sardines and waited patiently. Got to our room - was dusty with dirt on the floors. I realize they're in a time crunch preparing rooms between cruises that morning, but items left in the room from the previous cruisers? Really?? We had a balcony which was a first for us when cruising, but the neighbors had children that would slam their balcony door open and closed at all hours of the day and night, the cigarette smoke from the above deck and neighbors also wafted over our way, and being allergic to smoke made me have to hibernate in the room, so being able to enjoy the balcony was very sporadic.
The magician Chip Romero was fantastic. Sat in front row for one show and he was funny and his skills are amazing. The comedian was ok but some jokes were just long and painful - many people got up and left halfway through the show. We didn't go to the "live" shows put on by the dancers/singers other than the opening night - they were ok and they tried hard, but not something we were super excited about seeing again. The last night's "crew talent show" was ok - a couple of really good singers and **spoiler alert**--- their skit "Fountains" was hysterical! You can actually see some past shows on YouTube if you search "Norwegian cruise Fountains" - they must do it on most of their cruises by the looks of it. Trivia was fun - Milo and Mandy were very nice. Again, brochures promised entertainment like "Blue Man Group" - didn't find out they were on another ship until we were already on our way sailing.
We stayed on the ship for Port Canaveral day as the prices for excursions were very high, so we got in the (only) pool for the first (and only) time as it wasn't packed full as it was the rest of the time. Great Stirrup Cay was beautiful, but having to get a ticket to get on the tender to take to the island was a long, drawn out process - never made it off the ship until almost noon. We did walk quite a ways down the beach and found our own little secluded area away from the crowd, so that was nice. Nassau was, well, Nassau. Been there once, you've been there a thousand times.
I’d say as far as being friendly and helpful, it was about half and half. If you were sitting at one of the bars drinking alcoholic drinks, you were served much faster than someone trying to refill their mug with soda, and treated much better. There were a handful of people who were always a delight to see - the greeter at the buffet – “Washy washy, happy happy, smiley smiley”! Most of the staff looked bored and annoyed when asked for assistance, like it was beneath them to help you. Just the general overall feeling you got from the majority of the staff was that they didn’t like their jobs, didn’t want to be there, and helping you was just adding to their misery.
I was raised with manners – wait your turn in line, say “excuse me” when needing to get past someone, say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate, talk quietly when others are trying to sleep, SHARE, etc. I didn’t see much of this on this cruise. I have never seen so many pushy, rude, obnoxious, loud, and inconsiderate people gathered in one location since Black Friday at Wal-Mart. The pushing and cutting in line got really old by Day 3. A lady actually told my husband to just “jump in front of people” and “push your way through” at the buffet line or he’d never get anything. Really? I had little kids stepping in front of me like I wasn’t there. I’m a 6’0” tall woman – am I really that hard to notice? Are you people who have been eating 5-6 meals a day and laying around by the pool like slugs with a mixed drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other for the last 5 days really STARVING to the point where you have to knock people over to get to the bacon??! And speaking of smokers – they’re kind of like cats: they can always tell the people that don’t like them, so they tend to get as close to those people as possible, every chance they get. Aaack! Sorry – hairball (with a touch of lung cancer).
Oh yes, can’t forget to mention the little darlings on the ship. I think it was the first time some of them had been out of their own homes – wow. I just don’t even know where to begin. Everywhere we went they were running (literally running) through the hallways, dining rooms, stores, going up and down the elevators and pushing all the buttons just for fun, throwing food everywhere, wreaking havoc on everything and everyone they could find. We even decided to check out the non-smoking lounge with the bowling alley and slot machines to find a teenage girl practicing her “Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s” routine to a couple of really happy looking teenage boys in what my husband termed, “The Caligula Room”. Really?? And where were their parents exactly?? I can’t imagine letting my children act like that in my own home, let alone in public.
Overall, like I said, we won’t be going on a Norwegian cruise again. With 14 ships on the sea, you’d think they’d have it figured out by now that customer service is the key to keeping people happy and coming back for more. My husband has written to them several times with requests for even a partial refund or at least a refund of the pre-paid tips, but all they have offered us is credit towards our next cruise they know we'll never take with them. For a company that makes close to $1 billion per year and can't refund less than $200 in tips says a lot about their values and customer service, or lack thereof.
From now on, our future cruises will again be with the company that takes you to “The Happiest Place on Earth”, or in this case, on water.