My husband and I chose this cruise because we got married on the Norwegian Crown 20 years ago, and our time in Bermuda got cut short due to Tropical Storm Arlene. We were rerouted to Newport, RI. We had a nice time, but always wanted to go ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because we got married on the Norwegian Crown 20 years ago, and our time in Bermuda got cut short due to Tropical Storm Arlene. We were rerouted to Newport, RI. We had a nice time, but always wanted to go back to Bermuda. My husband is not a big fan of cruising (he is now, more to come), so we looked in to flying and staying there for a week. It is so expensive to stay in Bermuda, so we decided to cruise. We live in NJ, so took an Uber to the port. Embarkation, despite some of the reviews I read, went very smoothly! We followed the directions, arrived at our assigned 11 am embarkation time, and were on board in about 30 minutes.
I did A LOT of research before the cruise. I studied this ship, read all the reviews, watched a lot of videos...I made it my mission to make sure we knew what we were doing before we boarded. I even had a spreadsheet of our planned daily activities/dining reservations. As I mentioned before, my husband had not cruised since our wedding. I have been on 2 cruises since, so had a little bit of experience.
We don't have children and we don't like huge crowds, so I researched where the quiet places were. As soon as we got on board, we changed into our bathing suits and got in to the pool while everyone was at the buffet. We enjoyed about an hour of almost no one in the pool. Highly recommend getting a railing spot to see the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge as you leave Manhattan.
Once rooms were available, our luggage was waiting (hint-tip the luggage porters at the port very well!). We were in a Spa Balcony: room 15750. We met our steward right away. Her name was Aileen. We ABSOLUTELY loved her. We gave her a tip on the first day, and kindly asked for a few things (robes and ice in the ice bucket every day so we could fill our water bottles). I believe that getting to know her and always going out of our way to talk with her made a difference in the service. On previous cruises, I only saw my steward the first day, and that was it. A complimentary bottle of bubbly, along with an Anniversary card, was waiting for us. When we booked the cruise, we told our travel agent we were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.
Our room was clean and well appointed and included a small coffee pot, which was great. It had lots of storage, as well. More than enough for 2 people on a 7 day cruise.The nicest room I've ever stayed in. Balcony was perfect for 2 people. I'll NEVER be able to stay in an interior room again. We were right under the ping-pong tables, but it didn't bother us because we weren't in our room that much. We were very close to the stairs and elevators, which was super convenient. Noise was not an issue at all.
We spent a lot of time at the Thermal Suite, which was included with our room. Other guests over 18 can buy a week or daily passes. There is a limit on the number of passes they sell, so it never gets crowded. The heated ceramic lounge chairs were AMAZING. The therapy pool, sauna, and snow room were fantastic. I highly recommend the Thermal Suite if you are looking for tranquility and a place to get away from the crowds. They have orange infused water, teas, and oranges available. My husband loved this place. This was the game- changer for him. He said he will always cruise NCL in the future and will always make sure we have access to the Thermal Suite.
We had several spa treatments (he had a shave and teeth whitening, I had a manicure, and we did a couples hot stone massage). All of these things were extra, and were expensive, but I felt were well worth the price. My husband, who has NEVER been to a spa or had any type of spa services, loved the shave and the massage! Do be aware that they will try to hard sell you on their products, which is slightly annoying. If you are not interested, just be honest and say no.
The food was very good, however I remember it being a lot better when we cruised on the Crown 20 years ago (perhaps because it was a much smaller ship). We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants. We ate at the buffet every morning for breakfast, and would stop in there, or O'Sheehan's for something in the afternoon if we were hungry. We got to know some of the O'Sheehan's wait staff-they were so kind and treated us like royalty! Tip: get the Thai wings. DELISH. O'Sheehan's is open 24 hours a day, also, and has decent pub style food. I enjoyed the fish and fries. My husband liked the shepherd's pie. The breakfast buffet was standard cruise breakfast food, but the French toast was amazing! Highly recommend.
We tried the buffet, Taste, Savor, and the Manhattan Room for dinner. Tip: Taste, Savor, and The Manhattan Room are all main dining rooms. If you have a larger party, be sure to make reservations in advance so you don't have to wait. The menu is the same in all 3. Apps were very good, including the smoked mozzarella ravioli, the spring rolls, and the Caesar salad. Main dishes were good-I had fettuccine Alfredo with mushrooms one night and really liked it. I tried to ignore the bread, but COULD NOT. It was delicious. Tip: you only live once, you can diet later. Eat the bread. I'll say it again, eat the bread. I had a baked apple dessert one night that I thought was great.
BE SURE to enjoy the mojitos at SugarCane! Even if you don't drink alcohol, they'll make you a raspberry guava sans rum. I LOVED the jalapeno cucumber mojito. Sounds strange, but it was fantastic. Loved the bartenders, too. TIP: this is not a fast food restaurant. These guys are seriously making amazing mojitos and it takes time. I heard some snarky remarks about the slow service. Relax, you'll get your drink! And side note: take the time to say hello when a crew member is not super busy. Ask them where they are from and how long they've been with NCL. Do this with as many crew as possible. These people work their butts off to make everyone happy. As soon as they get back to port, they have a few short hours to flip the ship, and they are back at it, and start all over again to make sure you have a great time.
I'm a little annoyed with how NCL manages the beverage packages. On RCL, you have 2 options, if I recall. The soda package and the unlimited beverage package. The unlimited allows all alcohol under a certain amount (which is just about everything), soda, and bottled water. On NCL, you don't get bottled water with your Premium Beverage Package. If you want bottled water, you have to buy it. Tip: bring an insulated tumbler, like a Yeti, and just drink the tap water from your stateroom (it is good water), or fill up at a water cooler. Ask your steward for ice every day and he/she should provide it in your ice bucket. NOTE: don't be a jerk...follow the directions at the water coolers and fill up a cup and pour into your own bottle.
Sadly, we did not take advantage of the shows. I really wish we would have seen Choir of Man, because it gets rave reviews, but my husband is not into musicals, so we didn't make reservations. Tip: go to see this show. I hear it's awesome.
We did go to the Atrium on most days to watch the game shows and entertainment. This was a lot of fun. We either sat a the Atrium bar, or sat up 1 level around the bar that surrounds the atrium, which is served by O'Sheehan's.
The pool. If you have done any reading about this ship, you already know the pool issue. It's small. If you are a pool person and do not mind close quarters, get out there first thing and enjoy. Don't be a chair hog. The crew will remove unattended belongings after 1 hour. I love the pool, but my husband hates crowds, so we just worked around it. We loved The Grotto, which is in Spice H2O, the adults only area. It's perfect for cooling off.
Alvin, the cruise director, and Alex, the assistant cruise director, were fun and HILARIOUS!
We had 2.5 days in Bermuda. We did 2 excursions (not my choice; my husband wanted to do this...Bermuda is very safe and easy to navigate using public transportation, but he was not comfortable going out on our own). We took a minibus to Horseshoe Beach on day 1. it was for about 3 hours and cost $45. We could have taken a taxi for much less. TIP: take a taxi, don't bother with the excursion. There are plenty of taxis there to take you back to the ship. Speaking of coming back to the ship, when we got back to the ship on day 1 in Bermuda, there was a very, very long line to get back on. I think we waited for about 10-15 minutes, which in the hot sun is a long time. We found out that the line was for cold wash cloths and water. We could of by-passed that line and gotten right back on the ship. It would have been helpful to have a representative from NCL at the end of the line providing this direction. On day 2 we took a minibus tour of Bermuda. Highly recommend. I think it was $145 per person. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. On day 3, my husband did a jet ski tour that he booked the night before at a place right by the ship. He loved it and got to see a sea turtle. We then went to Snorkel Beach ($5 fee). Got there at 9 am, before the crowd, and enjoyed ourselves. Great place to see fish, lots of activities, music, and a snack bar. TIP: wear water shoes. There are some rocky areas.
TIP: if you venture out on day 3, DO take an excursion. Do not chance it because if something happens, the ship does not wait. If you are on a ship affiliated excursion, they will wait for you. Our plan was always to hang around the Dock Yard on day 3, because you are right by the ship. We did not dine in Bermuda. Food (and everything else) is super expensive in Bermuda. The reason we cruised there was to save money on food and accommodations, so we were surely not going to spend money on an expensive meal. I do regret not getting a signature Bermuda drink (Dark and Stormy and Rum Swizzle), but we will be back!
Debarkation was pretty simple. The day before, go to the Guest Services area, get your tags, and follow the directions on the television monitors near the tags, or on your television. When your color is called, leave the ship. We chose to leave our luggage outside our door the night before and picked it up in the designated area at the terminal. TIP: if you chose this method, make sure you have something on your luggage so it's easily identifiable, like a bright colored luggage tag or pom-pom. We then walked few blocks up and got an Uber. We were home by 10 am.
Before we left, we tipped our steward again, because she was so kind and went out of her way to help us have our perfect vacation.
So in a nutshell, here are my tips: plan. I cannot overstate it. There are SO MANY things to do on this ship. If you don't have some sort of plan and understand the lay of the land before you get on board, it may be overwhelming, and you may waste your time figuring out what you want to do and where to go. Be patient. 4000+ people on one ship is a lot of people who come from all walks of life. I caught myself getting very annoyed more than once, but had several reminders that we are all on this planet together, and everyone has their own story. I met some really kind, interesting people because I took the time to talk and listen. BE KIND to the crew. GO out of YOUR way to say thank you. I looked everyone in the eye, from the Washy Washy man to the woman sweeping the restrooms, and said "thank you" or "have a nice day!" These people are away from their friends and family 9 months at a time, don't make a lot of money, and make it their mission to make sure we are having a great experience. The very least we can do is be kind. NCL has a reputation of "nickeling and diming." This is easily avoidable if you plan in advance. It's your choice-if you don't want specialty dining, then eat what is included. If you don't want to pay for spa treatments, then don't do it. You can have a grand time with what is included in your fare.
We loved this cruise so much that we put down deposits for 2 upcoming cruises using the NCL Cruise Next program. I was so afraid my husband was not going to have a good time, and he ended up loving it. If you know you'll cruise again, highly recommend this approach. You can go to the Cruise Next desk to learn more. I also recommend attending the Cruise Next presentation in the atrium on Saturday afternoon. You'll learn more about itineraries and the NCL fleet.
If you chose this cruise ship, you'll see why it's the happiest ship on earth. Read Less