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Sail Date: October 2010
Booked this little two-day cruise-to-nowhere as a get away from the hustle 'n' bustle and it was just what the doctor ordered. It was me and another female friend getting away for the weekend. Our second 2-day cruise (first was a ... Read More
Booked this little two-day cruise-to-nowhere as a get away from the hustle 'n' bustle and it was just what the doctor ordered. It was me and another female friend getting away for the weekend. Our second 2-day cruise (first was a Carnival out of NYC back in 2005 or so.) We take the Metro from CT to Grand Central and then a $10 cab ride to the pier. Getting there is so easy in NYC - not my first cruise out of this port, and if you want to make an extended stay of things, there is no better place. We were at the pier by 12:30, as it is only a 2-day, you have to carry on your luggage (though there were plenty of people to help if you needed it.) About a 15 minute line for the security check, a 10 minute line for check in, snap my welcome photo and I was on my way. Our rooms were not ready till 1:30 (on the dot, as promised), so we headed up to the Lido deck for snacks. A little tough to navigate while pulling luggage, but not the end of the world by any means. As we were due for a Nor'easter to be rolling in that day to NYC we took advantage of the sun and ate at the grill, always tough to keep food warm when the breeze was blowing, but the chicken tenders were flavorful and crisp and the staff was cheery. After lunch we went to our room, my first ever obstructed view room. The room was clean and welcoming; I love the luggage mat that is left on the bed, very helpful. Our obstructed view was not too bad. The life boats are just below the level of your feet, and a bit of the wrenching apparatus is level with your railing, but nothing to obstruct your forward view, just your view below. The rain finally rolled in just about Muster time (a necessary event that I always try to enjoy.) It was then we fell in love with our balcony, with Extended-balconies above us, we had a good 3-4 foot over hang that allowed us to sit and enjoy the outside, watch the water and the rain and never get wet. It was perfect. (FYI - odd # rooms are city side when leaving port - had to run down to deck 3 starboard to get pics of Lady Liberty) Our first dinner was great, though our table location was not wonderful, table 140 ALL the way to the back, around the server stations and in a corner. We had no view of the dining room or the servers when they performed. If it had been longer than a 2-day I would have requested to move. Though Erol our server was wonderful. Had Caesar salad, a favorite, the flat iron steak, seasoned great, and crème Brule. A perfect meal. We planned for early seating as we are not really night owls, figured we could see the early show and then go to bed. There was only one show of the big show, and it was at 10:30. So we caught the PG comedy show at 8:30 instead, down in the Mad Hatters ball - a fantastic lounge that was well decorated and fun. We wandered the ship on the way back to our room, tons going on in all of the bars and lounges, the casino was full, people seemed to be having a blast. The wind was picking up and we were rocking for sure, but being mid ship (Front to back and up and down) we really didn't feel the effects of it. Our towel animal was a heart, no really appropriate for a girl's weekend, but as we never saw our room staff, they didn't realize that we were not a couple staying in the room. As a matter of fact our bed was one large bed, and since neither of us cared about rearranging the room for two nights, we didn't bother to call housekeeping. By morning the water was rough, people weaving along the hall ways, I am sure many people were getting sea sick, but we were fine. The rain was gone, the sky was blue but it was very windy. They closed decks 10 & 11 due to wind. We spent the day either on our balcony reading, in the bingo lounge (William was a blast as a host for the AM bingo.) Took the galley tour, such an impressive operation. We tried to grab lunch in the dining room, it was listed as being open till 2:30. By 2:10 they had already stopped seating, wish they would tell you that. By dinner the rocking was finally leveling out. Formal dinner was very nice, we both had the pasta as a starter, yummy. I had the prime rib, cooked perfectly as was my potato. She had the lobster, a winner as well. A table mate said the ribs were amazing as well. Melting cake for dessert, a must at least once on the cruise. Another perfect meal. I noticed this cruise one thing I had never seen on any of my past 5 cruises, on the dining tables is a drink list now, with pricing. It felt like I was at Ruby Tuesdays. Never before had I seen them pushing drinks like that before. Thought that was tacky. Again the evening show was only at 10:30, so we opted for the R-rated comedy show, we got their early as recommended by staff, and we were glad we did. Standing room only. The comedian was great. Stopped into the casino, and caught part of the baseball game in the sports lounge. Another great night's sleep. And as the sun came up in NYC, I got to see Lady Liberty from my balcony. Breakfast was great, as it was the morning before. Our embarkation number was 18, and it took less than an 1.5 hours for them to call us, we waited up in the Lido deck as William made the announcements, he even makes leaving the ship fun! I don't know if there were many kids on board, so Camp Carnival was doing an amazing job as usual. I loved the dEcor of this ship, lots of great period art work, Philip Marlow, Mata Hari, Robin Hood, lots of fun stuff. The grapes all over the dining room were fun and the bars were tasteful. Over all it is a great ship, for a smaller ship (only one main dining room). I would take this ship and / or itinerary again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This cruise was for the 4th of July celebration. There was 5 of us in total. Previous cruises have been with P and O Celebrity and RCCL which we enjoyed. So we were expecting something really special from the QM2. The embarkation process ... Read More
This cruise was for the 4th of July celebration. There was 5 of us in total. Previous cruises have been with P and O Celebrity and RCCL which we enjoyed. So we were expecting something really special from the QM2. The embarkation process was smooth for us, we didn't have any problems, though a lot of people were complaining that they hadn't received their suitcases. An announcement was put out saying there was a problem with the staff doing the loading. So where do I start. It was lovely to see everyone really dressed up every evening, the ladies in long dresses the gents in their Tux. The entertainment was good. Cabin we couldn't fault. But it was the food! The service in the main restaurant was not as we thought it would be. Just little things, the waiter would start to clear the plates whilst our other diners were still eating, and once I had a plate whipped away, and I hadn't finished. The food was very mediocre, nothing special, very small portions, not that we are greedy, but comparing to other cruises we have been on, it came bottom of the list. We wondered if it was because this was a New york - New york cruise, stopping at Boston and Halifax, and not transatlantic, so they downgraded the service. Sorry can't remember cabin number, but it was clean, quiet, inside cabin on deck 6. Air con was great, not noisy and easily adjustable, TV was a bit out dated, they didn't have the service where you can check your bill. Plenty of hanging space, bathroom - plenty of space, and hot water. Towels changed morning and night. On the QM2 they have launderette facilities which we Brits love, but I should imagine if you have a cabin close to this area it could be annoying. deck 6 is great as it goes straight out to the pool area. Other complaint was the schedule was not as advertised, originally there should be a day and half in Boston, but only stayed one day, then cruised back to New york at a snails pace with the excuse being made by the captain that they needed to go slow because of the whales. Positive - had a great party on board July 4th, but couldn't really see the fireworks over Boston from the ship. Highlight of the cruise - sailing out of New York - just brilliant, very special. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
I'm going to make this short since I really don't have a lot of good things to say about my sailing on the Epic. It was a short 2 night trip to introduce the ship and show us all the WOW factor. Unfortunately, I left feeling like ... Read More
I'm going to make this short since I really don't have a lot of good things to say about my sailing on the Epic. It was a short 2 night trip to introduce the ship and show us all the WOW factor. Unfortunately, I left feeling like "WOW, that was not good!" Our balcony cabin was beautiful to look at, horrible to stay in. The bed was by the door/bathroom so there was hardly any space to stand and use the sink. If my partner was by the balcony and needed to use the bathroom we had to pass by one at a time, since there's only room for one person to walk near the end of the bed. The balcony was fine, not a huge space, and we could see next door since the separation wall was curved. I felt like I had to say hello to the neighbors every time I went out there. Not private at all. I did think that the rooms had a ton of storage space and that was impressive. But I would have traded all of that in for just a bit more room to move around. And the fact that I can be sleeping and my partner could come in at 2am and want to brush her teeth, which would be right next to my feet. Stupid design, period. As for the bathrooms, huge failure IMHO. But it's not because they are divided and have see-through smoked glass(not a problem for us, but I heard a ton of complaints about it from families). And it's not because of the 'privacy' curtain or the sink in the living space (although that is ridiculous). And it's not because of the curved bed(but anyone over 5'10" will have their feet hang over end). It's because you have to use the toilet and THEN open the door to go wash your hands!! Can you say unsanitary?? I sincerely hope that those door handles are scrubbed daily and between sailings! Just plain disgusting. As for the entertainment, they had plenty. As others have said, if you want to party and dance and gamble, this is the place. With Blue Man, Second City, and Cirque, you're good to go. Second City was ok, passed on Blue Man (we've seen them 3 times already) and loved Cirque, although the food was blah and the show a bit long. (but come on, the things those acrobats can do...) My other BIG issue was the smoking. It was everywhere. The cabin below and next to us were smokers and it kept us inside. In the casino, you might as well wear a gas mask to play the tables. O'Sheehans Pub is a great concept, but to allow smoking indoors with food? Come on, almost every state in the country doesn't even allow that anymore. And we tried to enjoy the pool bar on 3 separate occasions but there were always a ton of smokers there. So by the pool, casino, up on deck, on the balconies, everywhere. They need to look at cutting back on smoking areas. We live a smoke-free life and like to vacation that way. A land-based vacation includes non-smoking flights, non-smoking hotels, non-smoking rental cars, non-smoking bars and restaurants. But go on NCL, and you're constantly in a cloud of smoke. You go back to your cabin and your hair, your cloths, everything smells like smoke. It amazes me that others are allowed to ruin someone else's health all in the name of making them happy. (Sorry to rant, but honestly, the smoke really got to me-my contacts, my nose, my throat, all a mess-and this was only for 2 nights!!) The pool area was silly. They have 2 pools the size of postage stamps and they were crammed. It's crazy. They used most of the deck space for the slides. However, kids will love, love, love the water slides and activities. BUT the pool deck gets so over-flooded in certain spots that you can't walk without slipping. NCL actually has workers there all day just pushing the water out of the way. Again, poor design. They say "Freestyle Cruising" but not on the Epic. You have to pre-plan and PAY for most of the dining. How is that "Freestyle" if in the first hour you are on the ship, you have to book your whole week of meals or you'll miss out?? And at lunch, we tried to go to Wasabi but they only seat 20 people. So if you are not there right when they open, it's an instant 45 minute wait. Again, poor design. All in all, not my kind of ship. No quiet spots (unless you get a studio room or suite with the private pool area), too much smoke, very loud, lots of partying, and too much pre-planning. Most of my friends and family would never be around that much smoke, would want more healthy-choice options for activities and dining(and breathing), and would need some quiet time/romantic areas. This ship reminds me of adults reliving their spring break days combined with a thousand mini-vans unloaded in one spot. Fun for some, a nightmare for others. I prefer Royal Caribbean and I will stick with them. I like having a solarium for adults only, mostly smoke-free(however even RCCL needs to change their balcony-smoking policy), and plenty of space. The Epic just seemed crammed to the gills with too much "stuff". Families will probably do well if you have little ones(not teens), but other than that, you are really taking your chances by booking this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
First impressions: Seeing the Norwegian Epic tower over the pier in New York was impressive, in fact the Epic completely blocked the site of the Carnival Miracle docked in the next pier over. I knew the ship was going to be very big, and ... Read More
First impressions: Seeing the Norwegian Epic tower over the pier in New York was impressive, in fact the Epic completely blocked the site of the Carnival Miracle docked in the next pier over. I knew the ship was going to be very big, and what seems to always be among the first comments when you talk to someone is "wow this ship is really big". Having also been aboard the Oasis of the Seas with Royal Caribbean, in January, which is a much larger ship at 240,000 tons, it was interesting to compare the two. Oasis is the biggest, but you'd hardly know the difference when ships get this big. I think as ships get larger, the ocean seems smaller, because the focus onboard these giants revolves around numerous options, more amenities, more dining venues, more entertainment, more staterooms and suites, and of course more people. The key is to build a big ship with excellent attention to passenger flow, and I think for the most part, NCL has succeeded in developing spaces and lounges that flow together well. Wavy staterooms One of the big discussion points as the Norwegian Epic is revealed in all her glory, is her "wavy", staterooms with curved walls and separate compartments for the toilet and the shower. My first impression when I arrived at my room 9248, a deluxe Balcony stateroom, was that it felt small and narrow. I liked the wood-like paneling, and the lighting. There's a large domed-ceiling above the bed that offered a soothing glow, which reminded me of something from the future. I discovered plenty of storage space, and clever baskets in a couple of the compartments, which are perfect for storing the dirty clothes after a long day at the beach or exploring the Mayan Ruins. The bed linens were nice, but the beds, themselves, were a bit too firm for my taste. The balcony was a decent size, and from what I understand, the air conditioning for the room, is connected to the sliding balcony door, and the air shuts off when the door is opened so passengers aren't wasting or blasting cool air into the hot and often humid Caribbean. There has been much to say about the bathroom arrangement in the wavy staterooms, most of the comments being on the "uneasy" side. After speaking with seasoned cruise industry journalists who suggested that North Americans will have a problem with the bathroom arrangement, I came to the conclusion that maybe experienced cruisers might struggle with it a bit, but first-time cruisers won't notice anything terribly unusual. I have noticed when first-time cruisers board a ship for their vacation, everything is "different" and takes a little "getting used to", for example; the movement of the ship, the lips at the base of many doors, compact staterooms, even navigating around the ship. Because "things are different" on a cruise ship, many passengers won't notice or care that the bathrooms are unusual onboard the Epic. I think the staterooms are smallish, even the suites. This is most certainly a high-density ship, and I think it will be interesting to experience the ship when at full capacity. Additionally, I think even a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom would be a squeeze for three or four people. I enjoyed the stateroom dEcor, and after spending some time in the room, I was pleased with the overall "feel" of the room. At a press conference someone asked about the little sink outside of the shower and toilet area with the tallish spout. The answer was that it was decided and chosen, several years ago, by Colin Veitch, the previous CEO of NCL, to install these unique sinks, so that he could easily fill his tea kettle. It was suggested, in somewhat of a joking way, that perhaps this is why Colin is the "previous" CEO and not the current CEO. Entertainment Without question, Norwegian Cruise Lines has upped the ante industry-wide with their "branded" entertainment including Blue Man Group, Second City, Legends in Concert, Cirque Dreams, and Nickelodeon at sea. Entertainment on ships has certainly evolved over the last couple of years with full-scale broadway-style musicals, high-diving shows and now branded entertainment. I enjoyed Blue Man Group, it was so refreshing and cool to see on a ship this eclectic and wild show performed by these "Blue Guys". I have a theory about who the Blue Men are trying to be.....they are aliens from another world experiencing simple human interaction, and it's hilarious, particularly the scene with the twinkie and the volunteer (victim) from the audience. I found myself caught-up in the show, and that says a lot because I have seen the best of the best when it comes to big shows on cruise ships, having been a Cruise Director. The live bands around the ship are also a huge plus in my book. Many of the cruise lines still use piped-in music or tracks, but NCL is using live music. There are numerous live music venues around the ship including a "Blues" club. It will take a week just to experience all the unique entertainment onboard the Norwegian Epic. Another interesting thing I discovered onboard the Norwegian Epic is that the ship doesn't just have a Cruise Director, but also an Entertainment Director, because of the magnitude of entertainment offered. The Norwegian Epic will have wonderful entertainment options for families with children because of the Nickelodeon at sea experience and the spectacular water slides on the pool deck. The youth and the teens have their own spaces and rooms for hanging out and playing videos games and watching movies. There is a vast sports deck with bungee jumping, basketball, and NCL is even offering ice skating, which is a direct competitive move to compete with Royal Caribbean. Now NCL can say, "Hey we also have ice skating at sea". The Epic is packed from stem to stern with entertainment options from the shows, the live music and the very active bars with darts, bowling, and you can even play a game of pool on two pool tables. Freeze your butt off in the Ice Bar, enjoy dancing on deck with a giant TV screen, or find a quiet spot somewhere on deck for a romantic rendezvous, there's so many options. The key is that not only is there a multitude of options, but the quality of those options is excellent. Dining When I first experienced "Freestyle dining" on the Norwgian Pearl a couple years ago, I was skeptical, however, I was soon sold on the concept when I realized that I didn't have to go eat at a certain time if I didn't want to...I could eat later and have numerous choices of where to eat. The Norwegian Epic has truly taken Freestyle Dining to the level with a plethora of quality dining options throughout the ship. You can get pizza, fish & chips, a sizzling steak, sushi, Teppanyaki, Italian food, French food, you name it and they probably have it aboard the Epic. I think I heard there were 26 different restaurants onboard. During my short visit I didn't really have an opportunity to enjoy the fine dining in the restaurants because I was scrambling to get all my scheduled interviews, take pictures and video and explore the ship, so I just stopped briefly to grab a quick something and then I was off to my next meeting. I did, however; have a wonderful mushroom soup in the Bistro that is burned into my memory and taste buds. I don't think I heard any negative comments about the food onboard. I really enjoyed the Garden Cafe for breakfast on Deck Fifteen because of the vast options including: fruits, meats, eggs, cream of wheat, pancakes and waffles, cereals, breads, pastries, all divided into stations throughout the Garden Cafe, and you can't beat the views high above the sea. DEcor around the ship I found the dEcor to be very whimsical and modern, with some classically elegant rooms for dining and socializing. The ship is very colorful but tasteful from the carpets to the artwork on the bulkheads. I didn't think the dEcor was over the top like you might see on a Carnival ship, rather I felt the tone around the ship to be fun, classy, and modern. I enjoyed the way the interior areas were broken-up into nooks and very usable spaces. There wasn't much wasted space on this ship at all, in fact the Norwegian Epic was designed to truly maximize passenger-flow from one area to another. There's even an escalator to assist with this passenger flow midship. I could see an evolution in cruise ship interior design onboard the Epic that I haven't noticed on other ships. I could see that a tremendous-level of thought went into the passenger areas. Gone are the days of boxy lounges and specific rooms; on the Epic, one room flowed and transitioned into another. I almost felt like I was in a casino in Las Vegas the way the various areas seamlessly came together. There was also an excitement in the air, not because this was a brand new ship, but I think the dEcor and laughter, the music and general pulse of the activity onboard promoted a sense of relaxation, and fun. Conclusion When I first saw the artist rendering of the Norwegian Epic, I thought there must have been a mistake, the ship looked comically top heavy and odd with decks 15 and 16 above the bridge area. After visiting the ship, I had a sense that the ship was very solid, and someone cleverly pointed out to me that this ship was built from the inside out. It really is what's on the inside that counts, and the Norwegian Epic is truly a ship that will make a big splash in a very positive way with singles, couples, and families. And speaking about single cruisers, The Epic has these very cool pod-like, staterooms for single passengers, and there's no single occupancy supplement which is excellent news for single travelers. I met with Mr. Paul Priestman who designed these single occupancy staterooms, and he was very proud of his work on these compact rooms. These rooms are almost patterned after the pod-like spaces in Japan where someone can sleep and clean-up and not much else. Mr. Priestman made these single rooms very comfortable, with fun lighting and clever cubbies for storage and hanging clothes. There's also a private shower and toilet, so there's everything you need to basically spend the week on this ship in your own small stateroom pod. It will be very interesting to see how passengers receive the Norwegian Epic this year while she is cruising the Caribbean. The hardware is very interesting, there's a lot to do, but more importantly, the crew and staff are all very excited about their new ship. I also heard that a majority of the crew onboard has their own room, which is a huge plus for those who work on the ship for months at a time. What makes an excellent cruise vacation experience is not just the fancy hardware, but the care and excellent service of the staff onboard, which I am confident the Norwegian Epic will deliver with style! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
The NCL Epic is a wonderful ship - it's everything you heard. Both the good and the bad. Good: Teppanyaki --- Filet Mignon. Yum. Casino --- HUGE! Lost $200, but it was fun. Pool - Not very large, but awesome. Waterpark - The slides ... Read More
The NCL Epic is a wonderful ship - it's everything you heard. Both the good and the bad. Good: Teppanyaki --- Filet Mignon. Yum. Casino --- HUGE! Lost $200, but it was fun. Pool - Not very large, but awesome. Waterpark - The slides are very nice. Sports Complex - My wife went ice skating. 'Nuff said. Ice Bar --- totally worth it if you like Vodka drinks or just want to be very cold. Overall, the ship is awesome. Seriously worth it. BUT... The Not-So-Good: AVOID CIRQUE DREAMS. It was more of a nightmare. Food wasn't so great (no choice, you get what you get, and vegetarian option is a few veggies on a plate.) But the entertainment is AWFUL. The acrobatics are AWESOME, but the stupid plot that surrounds it is so ANNOYING!! Don't waste your money!!! AVOID THE BAR ON DECK 6: Waitress service is slow. The food is nasty. Chicken Fingers were soggy, the wings were either too spicy or too dry (tried them twice.) Chicken Pot Pie my friend said was great, but its not worth it. And the sounds of bowling right next door are loud. Every other restaurant is good (except Cirque Dreams, that is.) THE ROOMS. Well, they're nice... but the layout is weird. Toilet separated from sink and shower. Shower opens up into room, so expect a flood if you forget a towel for the floor. And the sink is weird - we couldn't figure out how to get it to drain. PLUS, no one tells you that you need to put your keycard in the slot for the electricity to work (cool feature to save energy, but for god sakes, tell someone!) plus no one tells you to dial TWO ZERO's on the phone to get the front desk. Ugh! NICKELODEON: If you have small kids, they will want to meet Spongebob. Sure, go ahead. But the food is mediocre and again, you don't get a choice. Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Croissants, and Green Slime Syrup. Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Very nice stuff on board, and if you avoid the circus (literally) and see Blue Man Group and Second City instead, you will have a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
It is easy to see why this ship has been so promoted in the media and by the cruise line. As a new ship it does have it's "bugs" which have to be worked out but your choices for entertainment, restaurants, bars, recreation ... Read More
It is easy to see why this ship has been so promoted in the media and by the cruise line. As a new ship it does have it's "bugs" which have to be worked out but your choices for entertainment, restaurants, bars, recreation seems to be endless or you can just choose to relax and do nothing. We were one of the first to board and not being able to make reservations for shows and restaurants on line (like longer cruise passengers can do 45 days in advance), we immediately went to restaurant reservations desk and reserved the ice bar and dinner in Moderno's. Went next to the box office and found out that with limited seating in the "Spiegel Tent" that confirmed space was not available but we could "standby" 30 minutes before performances. We were able to confirm Blue Man Group and Second City Improv. We were told that on the short sailing that Legends would be performing in the Manhattan Room Restaurant and no reservations were necessary. We then wend to our cabin and found the new Monden design to have its drawbacks. While it is 180 square feet in size the "curves" in the wall makes the cabin seem smaller. Found plenty of room for storage of clothes which was located across from the sofa. The major drawback seems to be with the bathroom arrangement. The sinks are very small and you can't help but splash water on the carpeting. (Spoke with the executives on board and this is the first to be changed as they realized after the fact of the problem). While having the sink outside of the separate compartments for the toilet and shower is a great idea in principle you are standing on the floot while drying off from the shower. There is a curtain you can pull for privacy but the water on the floor will soon flow to the new carpeting and create a problem. Also no toiletries or soap bars provided. Just shampoo and liquid soap in the shower and next to the sink. We found the balcony to be a good size. There are so many choices for entertainment, recreation, spa services, and food that no one should be disappointed. We reserved the ice bar before dinner and in my opinion it is worth the $20 charge per person. We had dinner at Moderno's and again I think the service and method of carving the meats at your table makes it worth the $25 charge. There is an extensive salad bar. The vegtables served family style at the table may need some improvement but we most filled up on the meats which were excellent. We were able to see the following shows; Blue Man Group (included at no cost) and the same 90 minute show people pay $100 per person and up on land. We sat in the front row and were given poncho's just in case. Felt like a VIP. Stood in the standby line and were able to see the Nickoledion Breakfast (if you have children well worth the additional charge of $15 for adults and I think $10 for children); The Murder Mystery Lunch by Second City (Worth the additional charge); The Circ Dreams and Dinner is definitely worth the additional $15 or $20 permium seats charge as the meal of filet mignon and chicken etc makes it seem like a free show which people again pay up to $100 per person for on land (and it lasted 2 hours non stop). Because this dinner conflicted with the time of the Legends Show we did not see but heard it was great at no additional charge (and you pay about $50 per person for that). We didn't get to sample the bowling or the aqua park but talking to others they say the water slides are exhilirating. I also am a poor bowler but 6 lanes are available. The casino is huge but I do not gamble so cannot comment on the pay out rate. I did see and would recommend Howl at the Moon with the dueling piano's and the great Blues music in the Jazz Club. The staff I found to be very friendly and as a new ships there are some "bugs" in the system. NCL will let passengers who have made final payment make on line reservations for all the shows and restaurants. I would recommend it since the show venue's are relatively small compared with other cruise ships of that capacity. Hope this evaluation is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
The Gem was beautiful. The food, service and activities on this CTN were fabulous! I sailed with 3 newbies and all enjoyed their time onboard. The Quest Show was fun and was the rest of entertainment onboard. Food is always ... Read More
The Gem was beautiful. The food, service and activities on this CTN were fabulous! I sailed with 3 newbies and all enjoyed their time onboard. The Quest Show was fun and was the rest of entertainment onboard. Food is always subjective on a cruise - I must say I enjoyed variety at lunch. Dinner was great, a bit of a miss on desserts but good overall. Unfortunately the Garden Cafe did not have enough seating but seating was available at La Cucina. At the back of the Garden Cafe similar offerings could be had without the long wait. Service at the Blue Lagoon was slow but the food was delicious. A lttle patience goes a long way. Can't wait to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Just got back from my February 11 "Cruise To Nowhere" onboard the NCL Gem. Ship departed at 4:15PM from the New York City Westside pier 88. Embarkation. This time, I arrived at the pier at 9:45. I was the first ... Read More
Just got back from my February 11 "Cruise To Nowhere" onboard the NCL Gem. Ship departed at 4:15PM from the New York City Westside pier 88. Embarkation. This time, I arrived at the pier at 9:45. I was the first passenger inside the ship terminal. Around 10:30 the passengers were given green cards with a number written on it. At about 12:00PM they started calling group numbers. I was literally on the ship in 10 minutes. If you can, I would advise arriving at the pier 2 hours before the time the cruise ticket states embarkation begins. You will avoid all of the log-jam Grand Pacific Main Dining Room: Lunch I was seated right away. Like my CTN last month on The Jewel, service was slow. This time around, the dining room was not even crowded. About 6 minutes later the bar-waitress came around and took my diet soda order. 5 minutes after that, my waiter came by for my lunch order. I ordered the NY strip steak and French fries. As an appetizer, I had the Vietnamese summer rolls. For some reason, the food took forever to arrive. Summer rolls were just OK. Strip steak was good, but not great. For some reason, the hot French fries were all clumped together - I have never seen this before. It also took them along time to clear the table. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the meal a 6.5. They really do need to step up the service aspect in the restaurant Magnum's Champagne Bar I enjoyed this bar on the Jewel so I decided to check it out on the Gem. Service was great! For some reason while the ship was in NY, they charge you a "port-tax" in addition to the regular gratuity...Is this standard on other cruise lines? They do have a nice selection of champagnes. I realize that the bartenders are working for tips. But if I drink 4 sodas, how about throwing in the 5th for free? Even some of the five-star bars and restaurants do this. But I guess this seems to be part of the cruise culture. The bartender did make an effort to remember my name. Colombian Emeralds/Duty free shopping I think the Colombian Emeralds on The Jewel was a lot larger and had a wider variety. However, despite items being "on sale" and no duty/tax, the items were still on the expensive side. So I didn't really see any substantial savings at CE. They even "Hype" CE on one of the channels on the in-room TV. As usual, the liquor section of the DF shopping was a mad house! People acted as if they were in a "feeding frenzy". I guess because you could shop without limit on liquor, people wanted to really get their money's worth. I think some people were just being greedy. Debarkation Again like The Jewel, this process was a breeze. I was literally off the ship and into a taxi in a little under 10 minutes. Final Thoughts I enjoyed my CTN. But I prefer The Jewel. On The Jewel CTN I booked a mini-suite and that room was larger than the suite that I had on The Gem. I am a solo trveler and it is nice to have the extra space. I am thinking about doing the "9 day Eastern Caribbean round trip from NY" The Jewel is the ship for this voyage. Some passengers take the concept of Freestyle to no style. I saw a lot of people in the dining room in torn t-shirts, shorts and baseball hats. I think this kind of attire is not appropriate in a restaurant venue. The staff seem afraid to enforce the attire rules. Happy sailing to all! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Background - We are a married couple in our early forties. We wanted to try a cruise of one night to see if we both could handle a small cabin and the confines of even a large ship and the motion. Husband expected to hate it, wife expected ... Read More
Background - We are a married couple in our early forties. We wanted to try a cruise of one night to see if we both could handle a small cabin and the confines of even a large ship and the motion. Husband expected to hate it, wife expected to have a great time. Starting with embarkation... long long lines at the terminal. Parking is easy, although $30 per night is steep. Try public transport or a friend if leaving for a long trip. We got into the terminal at 11:45, told we could board at 12. Boat was late in arriving from prior cruise, so people still on ship well after 12 noon. We finally boarded at 1:30. We were told to eat first, rooms would not be ready until 2 or even 2:30. Actually, ours was ready when we boarded, so we got lucky there. We had an oceanview on the 8th Deck. We ate lunch at the Magenta (?), the buffet was a stampede, pushing and shoving and cursing. Total chaos. So we grabbed a buzzer from the restaurant and went to the bar for drinks until the buzzer went off. Hint - the pager can receive the signal all over the ship so if you have a long wait you can go to your room or wherever. So we had drinks at the martini bar. Strong drinks. We were a little hungry but I will say the drinks were strong. $10.75 for a martini and $6.75 for a screwdriver. Plus Autogratuity. 15 minutes and we had lunch. Like previous review - nothing to write home about, barely enough to fill you up... but the waitress reminded us that we can order as much as we wanted, so we did at dinner. Boat had not left yet, so we walked around to explore. Lots of drinkers outside in 37 degree weather in the hot tubs, but some were standing around in bikinis. One of the best things of the trip was the view of NY and NJ from the harbor as we were leaving at sunset. The water was like glass, and anywhere you looked at the Statue of Liberty, the skyline, the Staten Island Ferry... was gorgeous. Hint - a nice place to take it all in is from the Spinnaker Lounge or the fitness center. We explored and looked around until dinner at Le Bistro, dinner at 8:30. Upcharge of $20 did not buy you a 'gourmet' meal, but probably hotter and better food than the included stuff. Remember, you can order two appys, two entrees... whatever you want. I suggest you do so, particularly in the upcharge restaurants. Each restaurant seemed to have at least one vegetarian option. We went to Bliss Lounge, and found it quite loud and the strobe lights were tough to deal with. Maybe we're too old? I could have stayed another hour or two but my wife was done. She had some motion sickness issues and we called it a night at about 11. Biggest complaint about the cruise was the lack of communication from the ship to passengers regarding breakfast and disembarkation. There was none! Nothing in the notes, on tv, etc. (Oh did I mention Titanic was playing on TNT that night?) So we were completely lost as to when to eat breakfast, when we had to leave the boat, etc. We ended up not eating breakfast and leaving at 9:30. A few final notes... I liked the cruise, barely felt any motion, while my wife felt quite a bit... even though the seas were 1-2 feet and wind was about 6 mph. We were told that this cruise is the most profitable of the year for the cruise line... huge sales of duty free cigarettes and booze... people come on and buy the stuff and sell them to friends etc which pays for their entire cruise bill and more.... No muster drill on these cruises. Would we come back to NCL? Not sure... biggest complaint was lack of communication regarding arrival on Sunday morning. No problems with staff, no rudeness... Expensive night though... $480 incl tax, $30 to park car, $127 in extras for food and drinks. But we learned that we can both go on a cruise without problems. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2010
I was so disappointed with this one night cruise to nowhere that I wrote to NCL corporate headquarters. My companion and I recently attended the one night cruise to nowhere on January 23rd, 2010 out of NYC cruise port. We are both ... Read More
I was so disappointed with this one night cruise to nowhere that I wrote to NCL corporate headquarters. My companion and I recently attended the one night cruise to nowhere on January 23rd, 2010 out of NYC cruise port. We are both regular NCL cruise customers and even attended the one night cruise to nowhere last year. This year, though, we were both extremely unsatisfied. To begin, the line was extra long this year. We waited about an hour and 20 minutes to board. We arrived at 1pm. After we were aboard, we went to get lunch. The buffet was too crowded and there were no seats. It was like this last year so we expected it. We then abandoned the buffet and headed to the Blue Lagoon. I ordered tomato soup and a grilled chicken sandwich. My companion ordered buffalo wings and chicken fingers. I also ordered a Mai Tai to drink. After 25 minutes, the food arrived except for the chicken fingers. We were told they were still cooking. In short, the food was terrible. Everything was cold. The chicken sandwich was very small and the bread was stale. The chicken wings were actually rotten. There was a wing that had disintegrated black bone parts in it. We showed it to the server. She shrugged and walked away. We then waited another 25 minutes for the chicken fingers to arrive. I laughed out loud when I saw the portion size. There were literally six bites of food on the plate. We are not large people at all. This plate portion would not have filled a 7 year old child. While waiting so long, I decided on another Mai Tai. The second drink arrived but this time it was in a shorter glass of the same proportion. My guess is it was about 4 ounces less than the first one. When I inquired about it, I was told that the bar ran out of glasses. I was charged the same price. After the so called lunch, we went to our room. As we were putting clothes away, the crew came to turn down our beds. This was about 5pm. Naturally, we were not ready for that so I asked him for two extra towels and sent him on his way. Because of the late lunch, we decided to do a later dinner. Mistake- the dining room had a wait so we decided to eat at the buffet. Out of all my cruises including NCL and other cruise lines, this was the worst buffet I had ever eaten at. All the hot food was cold. All of the desserts were bland and all the bread tasted as if it was a day or more old. I felt as though we were eating left overs from the previous cruise. Breakfast buffet was the same way. Example-watered down cold eggs, ice cold pancakes, double reheated greasy potatoes and a broken coffee machine. I am very troubled by this as we have a cruise booked on March 20th on this very same ship. I am hoping that there will be a different chef aboard! As for the evening entertainment, we attended karaoke which was poorly run. I came on this cruise with specific intentions; to sing karaoke and to dance at the night club. The karaoke lady lost my ticket and I had to go to her twice to see when I could finally sing. Bingo ran late so karaoke was shortened. I was one of the first to submit a song and next to last to sing. After heading to the club, well, the music was a mix of seventies and eighties even though it wasn't supposed to be. We were in Bliss lounge. I could have dealt with it but the real problem was the temperature. It was so hot you couldn't dance without sweating up a storm. The air conditioning on the entire ship was obsolete. Usually I am wearing a sweater indoors on a cruise. Not this one. Finally, it was morning and I received the bill. I noticed the $12 per person service charge on it. I did not think that we deserved a service charge since we did not have any turn down in our room and we did not eat in the dining room or specialty restaurant nor was the service worthy at the Blue Lagoon. I went to the front desk and asked for a partial amount to be removed. I was told that this can't happen on the one night cruise. In conclusion, I believe that NCL should make this mandatory charge known to the customer before the ticket is purchased. We paid $460 plus the $24 service charge plus $30 to park the car and then the high prices of liquor where I even was ripped off on that. If I were able to, I would cancel my March 20th cruise on the Gem and if I were able, I might even think about canceling the booked cruise we have on October 20th on the Epic. In my opinion, I feel that NCL takes advantage of the customers on the one night cruise and does not give the service and attention that is normally given on a longer cruise. Overall, we were very disappointed and may resort to booking with Royal Caribbean for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was my 11th cruise on 5 various cruise lines. Have done Carnival twice before. Love the value, the exterior lines of the ships, but not the interiors so much. Have also done 3 CTNs over the years with NCL. Traveling with me were ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise on 5 various cruise lines. Have done Carnival twice before. Love the value, the exterior lines of the ships, but not the interiors so much. Have also done 3 CTNs over the years with NCL. Traveling with me were my wife, 21 year old son, 16 year old son, and 28 year old son and daughter in law. It was her introduction to cruising. Four of us had a balcony cabin while my oldest and his wife had an inside. EMBARKATION: B We left our home in Jersey City at 10:10 A.M. and traveled to the ship via NY Waterway Ferry each with one carry on bag. Arrived at the terminal at about 11 A.M., Quickly checked in and were given a group 7 card. The check in clerk welcomed us aboard the "Inaugural Cruise". That would be the one and only time we would hear the word inaugural for the whole weekend. The ship started boarding at about 11:30 and our number was called just after noon. Getting on was different since you had to go downstairs through the customs area to board on deck "0" due to the fact that the extended gangways would not fit this new design. They told us it was due to the size of the ship but since I boarded the QM2 there several years ago before she went to Brooklyn, it could not have ben the size. It had to be the design with the lifeboats hanging below the extended promenade. Slowing down the boarding was the picture taking for the sail and sign card that was done as you entered the ship. Other cruise lines do this at sign in which makes getting on board much simpler. Still, we were on board by 12:30. Once on board the elevators at the entrance were packed. We chose to walk up two flights where a crew member directed us to the glass elevators which were completely unoccupied. this helped us get to the lido buffet without waiting. BUFFET: B Once on board we immediately headed to the buffet. There were two main sections. One had a general buffet and a Mongolian bar, the other had a burrito bar and general buffet. There was also a pasta bar upstairs overlooking the dessert bar where you could order pasta dishes prepared to your liking and they were brought to your table. In addition there was a pizza place, grill for burgers, etc. and a deli. And of course soft ice cream was available. The food at all these places was excellent. The fried pork was especially good as was the seafood scampi. The chocolate chip cookies looked small and store bought but were in reality delicious and tasted home baked. The reason I rate this buffet a "B" is because of the layout which causes long lines. Carnival needs to open a dining room for lunch like NCL does which helps disperse the crowd. One thing I notice on Carnival that I do not see on the other lines: the food is too plentiful and too good. I see more obese people on Carnival than any other cruise line. Talk about gross tonnage! CABINS: A Our balcony was on Deck 6 overlooking the promenade at the Lanai with a hot tub just below our room. I'd expect this to be a real problem with noise and smoke when the weather is nice. Our cabin was roomy and tastefully done. Plenty of storage and room for four of us. The balcony seemed cramped. The bathroom is basic but with a shell shaped bowl filled with sample toiletries. The shower has dispensers for body wash and shampoo as well as a retractible drying line. The TV has the basic broadcast stations from Denver ( something to do with the height of the Rockies for broadcasting the signal) a couple of cable channels and many Carnival channels. The ship's information channel is a joke compared to other cruise lines. You never get wave heights and all other info is in metrics. There was also a free movie channel and two pay per view channels. It was easy to see this was a new ship. I had to remove the plastic from the TV's remote control. Walls in the rooms on this ship seem paper thin and you can hear a lot of what is going on in the rooms next to you. Artwork is tasteful but hung at headboard height which is annoying if you want to sit up in bed and read. The safe has a numeric keypad unlike other Carnival ships where you operate the safe with your credit card. The mini fridge is in a cabinet that you can ask the steward to lock. My son and daughter in law's inside cabin also had good space and similar amenities. Friday night it was hard getting to sleep because of the ship's rocking and the banging noise of the waves hitting the ship. I've been on cruises with 27 foot waves , but never as noisy as this. But once asleep, I slept well on the very firm new bed. I heard that some on decks higher up had things falling off shelves and people hanging on to their beds. On the second night the fog horn was blowing every two minutes but that did not disrupt my sleep. THE SHIP: C The design of this ship is flawed in a number of ways. The promenade is uncovered so you have more places to sit on nice days, but if you like a covered promenade to sit on in wet weather or want to get out of the sun, forget about it. The promenade also has two hot tubs on each side of the ship that are just below balcony cabins, as is the Lanai on each side of the Ocean Plaza. This is a "What were they thinking?!" design. To get to any of the hot tubs on the promenade people need to walk through the ship in robes. Not exactly a good plan. The promenade did have a couple of nice seating areas with wicker furniture and pleather cushions. The waterworks slides look awesome, but we could not use them or the pool because of the weather. I wish Carnival had put a sliding dome over one of the pools as they've done on some of their other ships. Also the pools are way too small for the amount of people traveling on this ship. The pool area also hosts a large movie screen They did run Two movies, "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" and "Star Trek" but it was just too nasty to sit out and enjoy. They also run nightly laser shows here which are an interesting novelty but nothing really special. On the night we went to the laser show it was punctuated every two minutes by the ship's fog horn. Lasers need fog to show up properly so in the midst of dense foggy weather the show is done adding more fog with fog machines. While still in port we decided to play the 18 hole mini golf just below the funnel. It was windy but fun and we knew we'd be unable to play once the ship left port. You need to check out the clubs and balls at a table onthe pool deck, leaving your ail and sign card for security. Had to hunt down the person running the place. She was surprised anyone would want to play in the wind. Since we chose to play mini golf we missed our cruise critic meet and greet, but you can only do so much on a 2 day CTN and this was to be a family weekend. Once we started , others started to play too. We found no shuffle board on the ship but there were extra large chess boards on the promenade. The sports deck looked nice but was not open. MUSTER: F Muster drill was an hour late because the ship was having trouble getting everyone on board. There was no communication and people were confused, some waiting in their cabins. Once the drill began there was total chaos. With the new "safety drill" you do not need to bring your life jacket. A number of people did not get the message. Communication on this ship was non existent. Once at your station, no attendance ia taken. A brief demonstration is given, The crew member giving the demonstration at our station didn't know what he was doing. Then they show a brief video, once they figure ot how to lower the screen from the ceiling and get the DVD player working. In some muster stations they never did figure it out and told people to watch it in thier cabin. It would have been comical except that there would have been a disaster in the case of a real emergency. I had absolutely no confidence that this crew would be of any help should an emergency arise. SAIL AWAY: A Sail away was late but beautiful. I'd never done a sail away at night before and the lights were gorgeous. We went to the front of deck 5 on the promenade and had very little wind and a very smooth sail down river. There are stairs at the very front of the ship that allow you to move from decl to deck. DINING ROOM: B Both the Crimson and Scarlet dining rooms are similarly decorated. We had anytime dining which was on the top level of the Crimson. We went at about 7:15 after sail away and our group of 6 was seated immediately. Once at sea the rocking became more pronounced (70mph winds will do that). A tray of silverware fell as did numerous dishes. Still, we were served well and the food was delicious. I had cream of broccoli soup, a wonderful shimp cocktail and beef tenderloin;. Others tried items such as flatiron steak, grilled chicken, vegetarian pot pie. there was not a bad meal n the bunch. The chocolate melting cake was liquidy the first night but perfect the second. During dinner about 9 loud and not so kind announcements were made to the crew as they got ready for second seating downstairs which would start on time in spite of the late first seating caused by the delayed muster drill. Before the advent of anytime dining passengers would not be subject to these announcements because the dining rooms would be closed for preparations, but with any time dining in the same room these announcements were both annoying and crude. On the Crown princess, anytime dining has its own dining room so this is not a problem. Again, this is a design flaw that could have been handled in the planning of this ship. The second night they offered lobster tail and grilled shrimp, prime rib, and duck. I am allergic to lobster, but it looked wonderful and my wife said it was excellent. The prime rib was perfect, served with potatoes and onion rings, but the duck was dense and tasted more like steak than duck. Breakfast in the dining room was pitiful. The OJ tasted as if it were mixed with Tang and the waffles tasted like sponges. My son couldn't eat his pancakes. The omelets were OK. Very disappointing Room service was fast (10 minutes) and efficient, but with limited selection. SHIP ACTIVITIES: B Normally a two day CTN goes south to North Carolina so people can enjoy some outdoor time in slightly warmer temperatures, but since we were sailing in the worst nor'easter of the decade and the storm was around us in every direction we did figure eights off Long Island just far enough out for them to open the shops and casino. The casino always seemed busy, which is not surprising, especially with everyone indoors. We never felt as if there was nothing to do. There was the marriage show, numerous music venues, trivia contests and more. One Saturday afternoon the wind had died down and I was actually able to read on my balcony for an hour. i even took a walk of 3 laps around the promenade as did a number of people. Before dinner on Saturday all six of us went down to the rather small library and checked out the game "Clue" and had a grand time playing together. A ships videographer spent some time videoing us as we played. Not sure what they'll do with that since they were't making a DVD of this trip. We also spent some time having some family portraits taken, the photographers did a terrific job. Our pictures make me smile because not only do they show how much fun we had as a family, but we are all standing slanted in them because of the movement of the ship. My 16 year old did get sick once Saturday morning but was fine the rest of the time. My daughter in law, on her first cruise, did well with ginger pills and seasick wrist bands. The rest of us had no problems. Saturday afternoon, my wife and I went to high tea which held in the scarlet dining room and was delightful. You could choose from a variety of teas and enjoy with finger sandwiches and pastries. My 16 year old also spent a lot of time at Club 02, the teen center. He actually won a 24 carat plastic ship trophy in a dance competition Saturday night. There were 95 teens on board so many skipped school on Friday. I was somewhat surprised that there was no Bingo on this ship and no art auction even though the art facility was larger than on most ships. The gym and spa looked well equipped. but we did not use them. Entertainment was top notch. The show the Friday night was a Mowtown show with Marcus Anthony who sang well and was terrific at getting the audience involved. On Saturday night the production of "Dancing in the Streets" was amazing but not as enjoyable as the night before. The Encore theater is similar to those on other Carnival ships. Shops on board were typical, but smaller than I expected. CREW: B Other than the muster drill the crew seemed to work well and were courteous, but not overly friendly. On boarding many wore shirts that said "JUST ASK". We did and were always properly directed. The dining room staff was efficient and pleasant although there were no dancing and singing waiters. We did have a Carnival crew member come to our dinner table and do a magic card trick that was fairly entertaining. Have never had that happen on any other cruise. Our steward did a great job and the towel animals were adorable. Gratuities were paid at booking for this CTN. You never saw any officers, probably because the conditions were so bad. we heard that the captain actually stayed on the bridge all night Friday. COMMUNICATION: F Communication was non existent. We were not told why we were leaving late. We were never updated on the weather. On the last night there were no disembarking information provided other than non needed custom forms left on our bed. The next morning after docking at 7A.M. they told us that they would call each deck to leave and immediately called deck one. It didn't take long before all decks were called, but very few had left. Many were still sleeping and most were in long lines at breakfast in the buffet. Announcements were not heard in the cabins. We were told that we needed to be off the ship by 9:15. We ate and left at about 8:30, took the ferry to Weehawken and were home by 9:45A.M. OVERALL: B In spite of the rough weather, we had a wonderful time as a family. I have sailed Carnival before and will sail Carnival again. Currently looking at p the Fantasy out of Charlseton this summer. They offer a solid product at a reasonable price. I will not cruise on the Dream again unless it is at a ridiculously low price. The ship's design just did not work for me. Pictures at http://web.me.com/pekrause/Krause_Family_Pictures/Carnival_Dream.html Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Hello Everyone, My DH and I recently returned from a romantic get-a-way (no children) on the Dream CTN. Overall we had a great time and will definitely return with the rest of the family when it homeport's in Florida. Embarkation: ... Read More
Hello Everyone, My DH and I recently returned from a romantic get-a-way (no children) on the Dream CTN. Overall we had a great time and will definitely return with the rest of the family when it homeport's in Florida. Embarkation: The Manhattan Terminal has vastly improved since the last time we sailed from there. It now has a fresh, modern, open look and feel to it. We arrived at about 10am, check-in procedures started by 11am but actual boarding of the ship was closer to noon. There were vending machines and complimentary coffee in the waiting area. For those who complain about the amount of time it takes to board please remember that earlier passengers have to disembark and the ship has to "ready" itself for you. Cabins: We had a balcony cabin on Deck 6. Please note cabin#6208 is an accessible cabin even though not designated as such. the Pursers desk was not aware of this as this was the first full sailing. Fortunately after sail-a-way we were moved to a cabin 4 doors down. Our balcony cabin was similar to other cabins in the Carnival fleet including layout and color scheme. There were 2 large, plush bathrobes for our use and many sample products in the bathroom. The bathroom had ample counter and shelve space. There was also a lot of closet space and counter space and lighting in the bedroom area. The Cove balcony area was not as closed in as you would think. It had more reinforced steel at the seams than the regular balcony. As a parent it felt a lot safer than the other balconies. The forward O/V cabins seemed a bit small. The deluxe O/V cabins with the double bathrooms are perfect if travelling non-solo. I wish I had one. If you have been on Disney, this concept takes it to a different level. The second bathroom has a sink and a half bath with shower. The spa cabins are heavenly. The layout is the same, however the decor gives it an upscale, modern and calming feel and this effect is carried out through to the hallways. There was a Suite on the 12th floor, all the way forward on the port side. Not sure what category or what the cabin# was, it is not shown on the deck plans. My DH disagrees with me, but I felt our Cat 12 on the Triumph was larger and was a better design. Muster Drill: We did not have to wear or carry our life jackets. You meet in a designated lounge area and receive a safety briefing with demonstration, not unlike the Airlines. Quite painless. Food: The welcoming buffet was not crowded at noon, so we were able to wander around for the best selections. Food choices were plenty and varied and tasted like typical buffet food, "adequate" my DH would say. Lemonade, fruit-punch and a selection of teas and coffee were available and my DH's favorite a 24hr ice-cream dispenser. The outside grills serving pizza and hamburgers etc always seemed to have long lines, however everything was being made and served fresh and the lines moved fairly quickly especially if you strike up a conversation with others in line with you. The Steakhouse was excellent. Food was plentiful and of good quality. Like any great steakhouse the raw meats were displayed to you. The restaurant has an open kitchen which unfortunately is not visible from all angles of the room. There is also a dance floor in the center which had tables set up on it during our dining time. Pictures do not do this room justice. It was well worth the expense. My DH had breakfast in the buffet area on Saturday morning, he reported a very dismal experience. Lunch in the Main dining room was a more than pleasant affair. My DH was a little apprehensive about dining with a large table, but soon had a change of heart. Our table mates included a female movie and commercial star and a popular Online Travel Magazine Writer from Nebraska. Conversation was active and jovial. The food except for the burger was good, better than the buffet. Tea Time was also served in one of the Main Dining rooms. It was no QM2, but it was pleasant and a nice change of pace. We had Pre Dinner at the buffet. There were not many people when we went. The Food was ok. We then had "As you Wish" dining at about 8:45pm. We were able to get a table for 2 without waiting. Some of the same food items from the buffet were being served. It was a lot better in the dining room. The chocolate cake was hot and delicious. Debarkation morning we had breakfast in the main dining room. My DH was again apprehensive, but this time he was worried we would not finish in time to get our shuttle home ( We live in Upstate NY) Again we had great tablemates including Carnival Sales Personnel (not PVP's). Food came out fast and hot. The serving sizes were rather small, however I think that is in response to our need to order more than one entree. On our table at least 7 persons ordered at least 2 entrees or an additional fruit dish or other side item. You can always ask for extra of something. Entertainment: Carnival never disappoints in this area. Two days is not nearly enough time to sample it all. We were able to make it to the main shows on both nights. The Motown evening was fantastic, I am still amazed that he was able to get that many people up on the stage especially with the boat rocking like crazy. The new show started to grow on me as it progressed, but I still miss the "Vegas Style" girls in the skimpy outfits. Although I did notice a change in the main shows on the Liberty a year and a half ago. The shows were a lot less "RisquE" the too. The late night comedians were good. I had seen Mr. Cruise before albeit the family friendly version, but some of the jokes had not changed!!. There were a lot of smaller venues scattered about the ship and they all seemed to be well received. The Piano and Caliente clubs were hopping whenever we passed by. The atrium had a Piano player and or other entertainment.There was plenty of seating and viewing areas that appeared to be the perfect place to sit and listen, or to watch passengers frantically search for their pictures in the photo gallery. The Casino: The Casino did not appear smoky. There was a guitarist entertaining and someone walking around handing out "beef patties". It took a good 20 minutes to lose $20 at the slot machines. There are many comfy chairs along deck 4 and 5 corridors along the windows although they are facing inwards and along the restaurant windows facing out. Internet and Fun Hub: There were quite a few laptops to be found. We did not use the fun hubs but I heard Carnival is hoping to take this concept fleet-wide. Unfortunately because of the weather (which we were quite prepared for) we were unable to partake in the outdoor activities. We would have loved to have seen the laser show although the main show did have some. We did hear rumors that some brave souls were seen in the suspended hot tubs. My DH was hoping it would stop raining long enough to see Star Trek on the Giant Screen, but oh well he has already seen it a half dozen times. Complimentary first run movies were also shown on the cabin TV's. Attire: Before I forget let me mention that casual attire on the second evening was the minority on this sailing. Most ladies had cocktail dresses or pants suits on, and quite a number of men including my DH wore jackets. Spa: We did not take a tour of the facility, but we did have the "Couples Mud Lounge" treatment. Of all the spa treatment we have had this was not only the best but also the best value. The name is misleading. This treatment is given in a private "Couples" lounge. There are five areas. There is the foyer type area when you enter, which has a warm bench, a cabinet with towels and a rolling table filled with different products for your body and face. Surrounding this area is a room with a regular shower, and another room with a rain shower. There is a steam room with "3" heated chairs with a waterfall shower over each one, controlled by the touch of a button on the arm rest. And yet another room where you apply treatments. A spa technician explains the different products and rooms, sets the timer by the door for an hour, locks it and leaves you to your own devices. All this for the special price of $95 unbelievable!!. The Carnival Dream felt familiar, not much different from the Liberty. It had some very nice extra touches. Or it could because like most of you I had researched the ship to death, read the blogs and seen all the pictures, that by the time we finally make it on the ship we really have seen it all. My DH said it was if the ship was designed and decorated by the "JOkEr". I told him it was (smile!!) Nonetheless, Carnival promises a fun ship with good food and great entertainment at an affordable cost, and again it did not disappoint. So people lighten up, loosen up, relax and have some fun. BTW We passed Mr. John Heald on the stairs when we were disembarking, he invited us to stay for the next sailing (in the lifeboat) Ha Ha Ha !! Samantha. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
My wife and I have been sailing since our marriage. We have been on about 20 Carnival cruises and almost all of their ships. Our honeymoon was on the Carnivale. The Dream is a beauty, but there was nothing special about this ship, except ... Read More
My wife and I have been sailing since our marriage. We have been on about 20 Carnival cruises and almost all of their ships. Our honeymoon was on the Carnivale. The Dream is a beauty, but there was nothing special about this ship, except perhaps the numerous water slides. Sailing out of New York in the middle of November required no swimsuit, however out of Florida you may have your suit but wonder where all the pools are at. Don't look too hard as the center of ship only has one small pool and one aft. This is it! For over 4,000 passengers? Yes this is largest ship Carnival has ever launched, but the ship was very crowded likely because the extra tonnage went to personal cabins. Don't get me wrong, it is nice and new, but nothing special. In other words, if you can't book this ship in Carnival's fleet don't worry about it. The cabins are identical to any other cabin in Carnival's fleet and they use essentially the same color scheme. We had a cove balcony, but it was not big deal. I would rather have booked a regular balcony. Because of the number of passengers all of the shops were loaded to capacity and all public areas were so busy it was difficult to walk around. Carvival introduced a Comedy Club on this ship and having been to many in NYC, this is the real deal and the comedians were simply some of the best I have seen anywhere. Additionally, the Dream had the best production show I have seen on any ship and on any cruise line! I was really surprised. Believe me my daughter lives in NYC and has danced on Broadway and these dancers were simply that good! The Spa is large, large, large. If this is your thing then check out the Dream. Other than what I have written, there was nothing that really stood out on this ship where I said, "Wow now that is different, unique, or special." If you are going--you will have fun. But if you havn't booked yet don't worry cause all of Carnival's ships are well maintained and well managed. Sail on!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We came down to the piers for our ninth Carnival cruise on this new ship. We were doing a B2B so we had luggage. I found someone to assist me with our luggage on the elevator and he found a porter for me. I gave him my checked luggage. We ... Read More
We came down to the piers for our ninth Carnival cruise on this new ship. We were doing a B2B so we had luggage. I found someone to assist me with our luggage on the elevator and he found a porter for me. I gave him my checked luggage. We got on board pretty quick in spite of the fact that the NY port couldn't use the regular means for boarding the ship and had to bring us in on Deck zero. My wife uses a walker and it took me and four other passengers to get my wife and walker safely up the slippery ramp. It was raining and no one from Carnival assisted. We got on board and the rooms would not be ready until 1:30 which was more than an hour and one-half away. We got something to drink as the food stations were not open as yet. We tried several stations including the famed Mongolian Wok. Even the mild sauce was too hot for my wife. The mild sauce I thought was okay. Certainly the Mongolian Grille at Sam's Town in Las Vegas, Nev is much better. This food station leaves a lot to be desired. Other food stations were better. The Carnival chef's really did a good job on the buffett. Although, I will say that the pizza station was not quite ready. Whenever I went there it was a five to seven minute wait. Go back and another five to seven minute wait. It failed to meet the Carnival standard. This did not happen when I sailed on the Triumph a month ago. The Safety Drill- was another disaster. They pack you into the area without life vests then show you a film about safety aboard the ship. We got the sound, but, no visual. Dining Rooms never actually opened on time. They might have problems preparing for this amount of people. The food for the most part met the Carnival standard. It was very good. The shows I guess weren't bad. Although I find it hard to believe how the dancers could stay up on the stage with all the motion during the weekend. The Stateroom was a nice stateroom. However, they use the same design as do the Spirit Class ships. My wife could not enter or exit the stateroom with walker. I had to fold it and bring it in or out. Same as on Spirit Class ships. On the Triumph last month my wife could walk into the stateroom with walker fully opened. The Casino was by far the worst I've ever played in. The dealers are all young kids. I've been playing Craps for more than twenty years which is longer since most of the dealers were in years on the planet. The Box Men they had weren't much better and exercised little control except to get into arguing over silly matters. We had bad weather and the ship didn't seem to be able to handle it. We were on the Triumph last month and we were in bad weather too. The ship was more stable. On Triumph Class ships they could enclose the aft pool area. Can't be done on the Dream because of an open deck on the aft of the Lido Deck. It is an okay ship, but, one would have thought with all the ballyhoo about this ship Carnival could have done better. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Hi, Here is my experience. I hope it helps others. We arrived at the port at 11am and by 1140 am we were on the ship. My sister needed Special Assistance so we were one of the very first on board. We did have to walk total of 15 ... Read More
Hi, Here is my experience. I hope it helps others. We arrived at the port at 11am and by 1140 am we were on the ship. My sister needed Special Assistance so we were one of the very first on board. We did have to walk total of 15 to 20 minutes. My sister must use a cane and we all were not happy at the distance to the point of entry. It truly was far...and mind you we had to carry our own suitcases since it was a CTN. No one at Carnival warned us ..if they had we certainly would have put her in a wheelchair. Once on board we made our way to deck 10 to the buffet to wait for rooms which opened up at about 100pm. Since we were first we were able to get some food very quickly. The burrito bar was very good. Service was good there. Most of the rest of the items were typical and just ok. We were disappointed that there were many servers that looked not busy at all. We never had dirty plates cleared or were offered drinks or drink refills at any time during the entire 2 days. There was a noticeable lack of activities on board..this was surprising since the weather was definitely going to keep everyone inside for the next 2 days. The rooms opened early and we were able to get into our balcony room on the starboard side. It is gorgeous. The lighting is great and closet space was great. The bathroom was laid out well and my sister had plenty of room to navigate the bathroom area. Many amenities were provided and that was cool even though we didnt need them. Shower gel and shampoo are in dispensers in the shower. The shower has knobs to control the exact temperature. Nice...and the shower does go from spray to massage. So we go to our Cruise Critic Party..AWESOME!!! Thanks to all who made this possible. I met many new cruise friends and I hope to sail with them in the future. So its 450 PM and we are on our balcony...we hear blaring from the port. Every one sit down. We will stop embarkation until the area is cleared...evidently at that point there were 600 unhappy people still waiting to board the ship. It is correct to assume...we did not leave on time. Muster was fine although it was too easy to just go to your spot and zone out. The screens were small and no effort was made to get people to pay attention. So we leave port. Thank goodness we were starboard. We could go on our balcony with out a coat and enjoy the view of Jersey and the Statue of Liberty...awesome...Port was another story. I went to go get a picture...and was met with 90km winds and rain...I snapped a couple of pics and ran back to my room feeling very sad for the port balconies who were battered the entire trip. Speaking of balconies...the ship has 2 over hanging hot tubs on each side. If your balcony is between them...you will smell smoke. That is the smoking area on the ship and in the am many butts littered the deck area. It was not bad but we were deck 9. But ...we could smell it. That night we saw the headliner. He had a nice personality and a good voice. He was very good at getting the audience engaged. I'm 47 and enjoyed the music. It was a tribute to Motown and was well done in my opinion. Oh Dinner..hahahahahaha yes we did go to dinner at 6pm in the Crimson restaurant. The lower level is mostly 4 tops. It was not crowded but the server was very nice but VERY overwhelmed. She had little help and all the tables of 4 really monopolized her time asking her for every little thing. And other servers who had empty stations did not come over to help her. It was funny because we missed every other course...but we were so happy to get what we got...we didn't say a word..she was that busy. The chateau briand (excuse my spelling) was tough and over cooked. The mash was nice. The broccoli has crumb sprinkles which were a nice twist. My sister took in the comedy show. We cant remember his name but my sister said it was just ok. I went to the casino and played Let it Ride...I can't complain as I did win a bit of money. The dealers and managers were EXTREMELY engaging and friendly. I would have walked away with the same feeling had I lost all my money. They were THAT NICE!!! After that we hit the room but we did stop for PIZZA. I liked it. Nothing special but I enjoyed the crust. I went again after they fell asleep...hehehe pizza is 24/7. Our room SHOOK all night. It was a bad night. People sick..but fortunately we love the motion...didn't bother us at all. The shaking and banging though did make some of us uneasy...it was that loud and unusual. So we wake up and go to Scarlett for breakfast...Eggs Benedict looked scary but was some of the best tasting EB I have ever had on a ship. Cooked perfectly...Plus after our experience dining in Crimson we switched to Scarlett. Table of 10. We went to the casino again..as there was not much planned on board. We then ate lunch at the Buffet...outside at the Tandoori bar because it was a madhouse inside....what a crazy setup for a buffet...lines that converge at the middle to a single station that has the food that people want the most. Needless to say...lines were out the door. Getting back to our lunch....I don't usually like Indian food. However, they made it look so good I had to try it...I got the Tandoori Chicken, the Pork Vindaloo, and some other meat. I had no idea what it was. I went back TWICE..OH MY GOOODNESSS YUM. They had Naan and I had 3 servings of that. I had to load it with butter and it was heaven on earth. YUM YUM YUM. At the Indian Food station they also had a Greek Salad that my sister said was awesome. We then went met friends and chatted and at 3pm we did TEA. It was too funny. It really looked like a high tea until they brought out the lipton tea bags. I think they missed an opportunity to introduce people to new teas...but it was cute to see the servers open the wooden presentation chests to display the lipton tea. The small desserts and sandwiches were well done and elegantly displayed and served. Get rid of the Lipton and bring in some fancier teas with some education about them and you have a winning activity Carnival. We then went to Trivia. Well done..quick and fun. Then back to the room to nap before dinner at Scarlett. We were in the aft corner at a window ....Excellent service and the lobster and shrimp were cooked PERFECTLY. Service was brisk and efficient. The only excitement was when the ship turned and we hit a wave. The back of the ship rose and slammed down and our plates rose off the table about an inch from the force of the slam. A big woooo came out and everyone went on with their meal. The caesar has the anchovies built in by the way...too fishy for me. Cherries Jubilee came advertised as flaming...it did not. The cherries were firm and delicious. The ice cream with it was icy, hard, hand flavorless. We then saw the production show. A M A Z I N G !!!!!!! Kudos to celebrity. We then saw Percy who was very very funny. My sister said he was the better of the 2. We got more pizza and I wanted to test out room service. I called before 11pm and within 15 minutes my food was delivered. We got a reuben....the meat had an odd color..but we thew caution to the wind...it was just OK and we are fine. The doors to the hallway do not stop noise at all. At 430 am we were woken up by someone clucking like a chicken down the length of the hallway. We got up in the AM and went to brave the madhouse buffet again. 30 minutes and we finally got some food. Lines were Super Long...and be careful...the honey and pancake syrup dispenser look the same...I won't comment on the food as it was obvious they wanted us all of the ship by 915. We got off just fine. I will say in general. I felt all the ceilings in the rooms were low. I felt closed in at all times. The dining rooms were nothing special to look at. It is a beautiful ship for sure..but it is a maze to navigate. To be honest..this was my first Carnival sailing. I expected more from their best ship. I thought too they would present themselves better since they talked a good game the 2 days. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Upon arrival at the NYC terminal, we got through security and check-in quickly, then there was a long line to get onto the ship. Maybe 40 minutes from the time we got to the port to being onboard which isn't bad at all. It was a bit ... Read More
Upon arrival at the NYC terminal, we got through security and check-in quickly, then there was a long line to get onto the ship. Maybe 40 minutes from the time we got to the port to being onboard which isn't bad at all. It was a bit strange to board at deck Zero instead of into a beautiful atrium, but we got a ground view of the cove balcony cabins which looked cool from the outside. We checked out our 8C cabin, L-shaped aft just before the wrap 9c cabin, and it was very nice and very new. Awesome double-wide balcony with chairs and lounger. Note the safe uses a code—not a credit card to lock it. Flat screen tv on wall, and the navigation channel is better than on other Carnival ships. Small refrigerator, nice closet space and bathroom, blow dryer in the drawer, full length mirror on one of the closets. Love the amenity basket too. We then set out to explore. Waterslide is incredible though it was too cold to go on it. Nice seating areas forward on the higher decks near the spa. A lot of access to forward outside viewing areas too. Outdoor movie screen was good with lots of poolside seating—not in stadium setup like other Carnival ships—all one deck level. Mini golf and basketball are farther back. Center of deck 5 is Ocean Plaza which is a nice open area that has a bar and band, margarita bar, and coffee/dessert bar (for fee). Also outside access with seating areas and hot tubs. I really liked this area and it was always full of activity. Promenade deck went all the way around outside which was great and there were hot tubs and seating areas here and there. Balcony cabins on decks 6-9 overlook this deck. Very tall atrium was very nice and this ship actually has couch seating on the decks above and overlooking the atrium so you can still be part of the activities. Scarlet and Crimson dining rooms were beautiful and we had a nice table for 4 by a window, though both nights they opened later than 6pm to a lobby full of waiting people. Not sure why they weren't ready at 6. Food service was good, drink service was slow. They appeared to be understaffed. Food was very good and I was thrilled lobster was featured the second night. I missed seeing the dinner menus posted outside the dining rooms though; doesn't appear there is anywhere to post them. There was a $30 upcharge steakhouse on deck 10 or 11 aft, but we didn't try it out (as we just ate there on Carnival Liberty and the menu was the same). Lido food: Setup a bit different than other Carnival ships but always crowded. Outside on Lido aft is the deli and a fabulous Indian food station. Upstairs inside is a pasta bar—you fill out your order sheet and the food is cooked to order and delivered to your table. We enjoyed lunch here. More forward on Lido is another buffet and the Mongolian grill which always moved slowly, but then again, the food is cooked to order. Farther forward outside is pizza and burger grill. I do think a Carnival supervisor needs to watch the lines in order to facilitate things moving along quicker. Also need to keep other food venues open longer than just lunch; mid-afternoon the pizza, deli and burger lines were too long since they were the only options (besides room svc which we did not use this cruise). Ice cream stations open too. We didn't use pools or waterslides as it was November in NY. Would love to have tried them out though. Largest art gallery I've seen on a ship to date. Launderettes are on decks 2, 7 or 10 only. Ironing on all decks. $3 per wash and dry load; $1.25 for detergent. Theater was beautiful; had seating on outside both sides of lower deck which I've not seen before. So you had the curved seating toward the stage, and then couches lined up left and right perpendicular to the stage. Dancing in the Streets is the best show I've seen on a ship. Drink service was very slow as it appeared only two people were handling the entire lower level theater. One drink we ordered never arrived. Clubs are aft and all were busy at night. Piano bar (too smoky for me), comedian shows (get there early to get a seat!) and one other smaller club. Dance club Caliente was usually active. Casino always busy too. Debarkation was a breeze as with a Cruise to Nowhere you have no customs and take your own luggage. We docked about 7:15 and we left among the first people at 7:40 or so. Yes, there were small annoyances here or there—trays left in hallways quite awhile, long lines at eateries. Yet I would go on this ship again in a heartbeat. It's new—what's not to like? About me: I have sailed Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
http://cmd.shutterfly.com/commands/pictures/slideshow?site=carnivaldream1&page=carnivaldream1&album=77 Sorry this is so long, but tried to put all my thoughts here. Let me start by saying that reviews should be for individual ... Read More
http://cmd.shutterfly.com/commands/pictures/slideshow?site=carnivaldream1&page=carnivaldream1&album=77 Sorry this is so long, but tried to put all my thoughts here. Let me start by saying that reviews should be for individual ships and NOT the cruise line. Each ship is an individual and it's own management and staff, and that's what makes each one special. We fell in LOVE with the Miracle this past Summer, so that is the only Carnival ship we have to compare the Dream to. Carnival Dream is certainly a big ship but is it an improvement over the rest of the fleet? The design on the Miracle (IMHO), far surpasses that of the Dream. All for fun-fun for all, this past cruise to nowhere put the Dream to the test. Although all were for fun there was not much to be had. Embarkation could have been a more organized. ID picture for the SS card should have been taken at the counter when registering instead of when you board the ship, which slowed the line to board the ship. The line to board the ship was long, this was after you had been waiting inside and your group number was called. Activities were limited to a bean bag toss, trivia (more on that later), putting contest, auction etc. Now I can't expect Carnival really provide more than that with such horrible weather, which was not their fault, it was just really sad to see people lining the atrium rails 10 decks or so high to watch me putt. If I were putting in my back yard I'm sure my neighbors would find this less than entertaining, but once a free bottle of $5 dollar champagne is at stake-one cannot look away! The things that truly have to be seen first hand are the new slides and mini golf course, pictures cannot do them a justice. The slides are huge and will no doubt be enjoyed by many in better weather. The mini golf course is well done and probably beats some land based ones we've played but alas it was not to be (weather). Dining: We did not dine in the main venues as we had reserved Chef's Art for both evenings. Chef's Art is the steakhouse onboard and is every bit as good as any prime dining experience on HAL, Princess, and land-based steak houses, if not better. Decor is subdued and dimly lit for effect. Food and service were impeccable here. We did dine in the Scarlet lower for breakfast and the decor is not glitzy by any means some reds but not over the top like Bacchus on Miracle. Service here was ok but this was open seating breakfast so we can't comment on dinner time. However, the portions for breakfast were a little on the small side. Lido buffet was (I hate to say horrible but I'm going to say it anyway) horrible. What was horrible? A combination of overcrowding, the lack of an organized flow, and the food choices (falafel????). There were good smells coming from the Asian buffet station, but the line was so long it didn't make sense to stand there for 20min. Hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza were outdoors, and again a very long line each and every time we tried to get a hot dog for our Son. My son wanted pizza after kids club at mid-night, we stood in line in the cold for 20 min to get a slice for him. Cabin: We had an aft balcony on deck 9, it was roomy inside and out. There is no privacy on these aft balconies, not because of people looking up or down on you but your next door neighbors. These balconies have their partitions angled back on a 45 so if you're standing even near your railing, you and your neighbor have full view of each others balcony. One can easily see into your cabin without even leaning let alone hop over so keep your door locked and drapes drawn at night.(see photo). The mattress is of gymnasium floor mat quality and a lot of massages will be sold no doubt. The Carnival Miracle had nice pillow top mattresses and had me sleeping like a dog, I wonder why Carnival took a step backward on this. The bathroom was tight but do-able, but as a word of caution, if you plan to use the overhead electrical outlet in the bathroom to charge something, leave the light on as the outlet is only energized while the lights on. The aft balcony we had on deck 9 is sheltered by the pool area overhang of deck 10, you will not get direct sun or rain. Overall design: What were they thinking? The biggest question from all passengers is probably going to be why did they put those overhang spas on the promenade deck? Passengers wanting to use them have to walk through the Ocean Plaza lounge in swimming attire and bathrobes (saw a lot of that). Some of these poor people were red-faced having to walk through a main lounge when people were dressed in formal attire, though it's certainly not their fault. Once in one of these hot tubs, you have full view into all balcony cabins situated on the sixth deck and vice versa. Only one of these Spa hot tubs was open, and with the bad weather, this was the only place to take a dip, thus it was very crowded. All of the balconies on both sides of the ship have been set back so you can no longer look directly down to the ocean. When you look down you see the unsheltered promenade deck and it's users baring the elements. The promenade itself is not only home to these alienated hot tubs but glass walls 8' or 9' high lining the outer edge so you can no longer look over the railing at the sea like the old days (last week). The only place you can do this is on the fantail. Ocean Plaza: It's just an ordinary lounge with floor to ceiling glass windows and a glass door on both port and starboard to access the promenade and the alienated hot tubs. This was used for the majority of the events, however, not enough seating and gets very crowded. Problem here is that when either door is opened, any table nearby is stripped clean of any napkins or anything else that will take flight (not a good place to play that free deck of cards). We played trivia here but on two occasions, we had a full lounge ready for trivia and nobody from the entertainment staff showed up. Used the house phone to call the front desk but that's not easy, you have to go through a full menu of options unless of course it was an emergency. It was not an emergency trivia session. On both the first night of trivia and the last one, no one showed up and no announcements were made. I felt bad for the poor waiter who kept being asked "what happened to trivia". I know this may seem "trivial" to most, however, because of the weather, there wasn't much else to do. Knowing that the weather was going to be so bad, they should have had more entertainment in the other lounges. Sam's piano bar did not open until after 9:00 p.m., same for the Burgundy lounge, caliente dance club and Jazz lounge. Safety: An odd note on the handrails for the staircases on the Dream (see pic), there's really no way to grab these handrails in a traditional sense, they're about 7" deep and tapered towards the top. To hold the handrails is like holding onto a glossy textbook by the spine and the book is open slightly. If you should loose you balance on the stairs you'll need superhuman strength in your hands or you're going down ,people with limited dexterity or arthritis may want to opt for an elevator. Desserts: The desserts are great at the lido and you can easily grab those without a big line. Lemonade, iced tea are also good and easy to grab but the water has a little funk to it (probably the new lining in the tank). Croissants and danishes are perfect, coffee is pretty good but if you're a big coffee head you can use the nice cafe for a charge. Last but not least - The Muster: Now I don't know if it's Carnivals' fault but the new muster drill is a disaster waiting to happen. A lot of people not paying attention, no attendance taken-this can't be good. There's no substitute for being at the lifeboat station and actually putting on a life jacket. I watched as over 1,000 people slowly file into the dining room through a single set of glass doors and wondered what 's going to happen when it comes time to fill the boats. That's pretty scary. At one point, there was an announcement to watch the safety video. Everyone was looking around for the screen, no screen in the dining room. At this point the Maitre D' starts speaking and making jokes! For those of us who have sailed before and have experience, I know this drill gets redundant, however, once people are panicking in an emergency situation, there's no room for jokes and not knowing where to go. The children's facilities are AMAZING! Our 9-year old SON LOVE every room he saw. We knew that this was only a two day party cruise, and not to expect much from the staff. However, it was a good way to see if we wanted to sail on the Dream again - Notice that I said DREAM and NOT Carnival! Not sure if we would sail on the Dream again. Having seen them try to entertain a full ship during two days of bad weather, I hate to see what happens on longer cruises which also have bad weather. Over all, we had a good time and lots of laughs. If I remember anything more, I will post later. Please feel free to ask any questions. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
First let me start by saying that my husband and I, and the other couple we travelled with had a fantastic time. We were there to eat, drink and enjoy getting together with old friends, and we accomplished all of those things. However, ... Read More
First let me start by saying that my husband and I, and the other couple we travelled with had a fantastic time. We were there to eat, drink and enjoy getting together with old friends, and we accomplished all of those things. However, the cruise itself needs a lot of work. Some background information about us as travelers. The four of us are between 26-29 years old. And both couples have cruised a couple times with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Disney cruises, so we have some idea of what to expect, and what the standard is in this level of cruising. We're not fussy, but we do note when things aren't up to the standard we expect, and we're willing to pay a bit more occassionally for good service. In this instance it was a Carnival cruise, so we went into it expecting large crowds, that the food would be good (but mass produced), and service would be available, but not necessarily as personable as one would like. Overall I would give this ship a rating of 3/10. Emarkation: The embarkation process was horrible. And honestly one of the worst parts of the trip. Our documents had stated that the check-in process would start at 2 and go till 3:30pm, with the ship departing at 5pm. I knew from previous experience that you are usually able to board earlier, but we ended up being a bit delayed and arrived right at 2pm anyway. The first part where we went through security and received our keys/sign and sail cards was quick and painless. However, once we got through that, we sat for about 2 and a half hours on the floor in the terminal waiting to board the boat. It should be noted that water and lemonade were made available to passengers waiting to board, which was considerate. We finally managed to get on the boat around 4:45pm, and we were certainly not the last people to board. On a week long cruise this delay might not have been that big of a deal, but for a two day curise, this sort of delay really eats into your time. There was no communication from the staff as to why there was a delay, or how it would affect the departure/muster drill (which was to have happened at 4:30pm). We weren't sure if we had missed the muster drill, or if they were doing it later for all passengers, or perhaps just for the passengers that were late boarding. Around 5pm, the chime sounded for the muster drill and we reported to our stations, where we were supposed to go over life jacket procedures, and watch a small safety video. After arriving at our muster station we lined up to report in and watch the video. The projector screen came down, however the video never played, nor was the crew able to get it up and running. After waiting for about 20-30 minutes, they finally released us, telling us we could watch the video from the tv in our stateroom if we had any questions. I'm pretty sure we all left hoping that we would have no need of the safety instructions we never received. Since our group had the early dining at 6pm (and we were familiar with the safety precautions based on previous cruises), we shrugged it off, and left to explore the boat for a few minutes and then find our table for dinner. Ship DEcor and Design/Itinerary: Normally I enjoy the Carnival decor. The ships are glitzy and reminiscent of Vegas and generally a lot of fun. I am not a fan of the dEcor on this particular ship however. This may come down to personal taste, but I found the whole thing to be way too over the top even for Carnival, and often felt a bit dizzy You do not want passengers feeling vertigo as the walk down a spiral staircase. It was obvious that a lot of attention went into the detail and decor, and the ship was kept very clean, but I ended up feeling overwhelmed by the decor most of the time. The good news is that the ship was very easy to navigate, especially for as big as it was, We had no problem learning the ship in the short time we were aboard. I had thought that the Dream had a glass dome above the pool area. If they did have it, they never put it up, which I thought was strange. We had really bad weather during the cruise (though the weather was certainly not the ship's fault). We ended up grabbing our spa robes to wear around the ship to keep warm, as some of the lounges were rather cold, and anywhere that had doors to the outside was a little chilly. The picture of the itinerary had made it seem that the ship was going to be heading down south a ways (close to Georgia/Florida) then turn around and come back to New York. Our actual route kept us very close to the coast of New York. This may have been in part because of the weather (lingering effects from the hurricane?), but from what I have seen, most of the bad weather was located right around lower New York and Jersey. As a result of our location we did have really rough seas. I heard from one of the passengers that the stabilizers on the ship were broken, but I don't know if that was true or not. Staterooms The staterooms were absolutely fine. We didn't spend particularly much time in ours (inside state room with no window). If you have one of these rooms, I do recommend turning the tv onto the channel with the ship camera outside and muting it. This will give you the "window" experience, and allow you to approximate what time it is based on the sun. It can be rough waking up in the morning at 9am in a pitch black room with no frame of reference. There were also no alarm clocks in the staterooms. Not a big deal, but it's something I don't generally pack, so it's good to know for future reference. The cabins had decent storage, and the Carnival bath robes were provided in the room (those came in handy later on). Basically if you've seen one cabin in this category, you've seen them all. Dining: Main Dining Room: The food in the main dining room was wonderful, and much better then I was expecting. I would even say it was a step up from previous cruises. Still not 5 star, but then anyone who is expecting that from this type of cruise, obviously hasn't done their home worke. Still the meat was incredibly tender, seafood well prepared and seasoned. Beverage service was a huge miss though. I ordered a soda the 1st night, and had to ask for it three times before it finally made it to the table (I had it by the time I got dessert), and the 2nd night the beverage service waiter never even made it to our table. Luckily our main waiter was wonderful, and she worked hard to make sure our water glasses were always filled, and that we always had fresh coffee in our cups. I didn't see an assistant waiter, it's possible that they no longer have them. Highlight: We had a table by the window in the dining room, and watching the Statue of Liberty all lit up float by at night was beautiful. Buffet: We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch the 2nd day. This was fairly close to what we had in cruises past. There was lots of variety, and tons of food. Burritos in the lunch buffet were good. Lines were atrociously long at pretty much all the stations, and most of the food was average. We did have pizza late one evening on the 2nd night, which was very good. We also availed ourselves of the frozen yogurt whenever we walked past. Overall I'd give the food here a B to a B-. Solid effort, and if you can't find something to eat you're in trouble. But nothing that really stood out. Other: We also tried the sushi one evening as an "Amuse Bouche" before dinner. It was not rolled particularly well, and our pieces kind of fell apart, but the fish was fresh and tasty. We attempted to find the "Midnight Snacks" on the lido deck the first night, however none were set out. We also went for Margaritas and Chips (advertised on the cruise capers) in one of the lounges at one point. When we arrived there were no chips in site, and no waiters selling Margaritas. We ended up ordering a couple Margaritas from the bar and snacking on some goldfish crackers they set out. While these things really are no big deal in the grand scheme of things (we certainly didn't go hungry, and we managed to find drinks well enough on our own), they do start to add up, and detract from the experience. Room service: This was pretty sad. We called the first night for room service, and it was an hour and a half wait. Second night we ordered from the tv in our room. It never showed up. Not a big deal, we went and found some more frozen yogurt. But this sort of thing really needs to be fixed. Entertainment: We went to both of the shows in the main theater, and to the adult comedy shows on both nights. Our group was thoroughly entertained. 1st night in the main theater was 1 gentleman singing songs from Motown along with a good band, and we all had a blast singing and bopping along. 2nd night in the main theater was the big production, the one that the cruise director had been touting from the beginning. It was a great show, but I'm not sure how "family friendly" it really is. There were sections of the show were the dancers were dressed as pimps and hookers, and one small section were one of the "hookers" takes a spin around a pole. Now the clothing wasn't that revealing, short skirts maybe a little midriff, a bathing suit would probably be more revealing, but it's very clear what they are. The moves are still fairly tame, but there is some occasional grinding. I saw one woman take her grandson out of theater at this point. They've added some acrobatics and some break dancing that was wonderful. They also used some pyrotechnics during the production, but they seemed really out of place and unnecessary. I think Carnival is trying to update it's image for a younger crowd. Both of the adult comedy acts were fun. We laughed and had a great time, but the guy from the Carnival staff who was supposed to do the warm-up set was awful. They had two shows each night, one at 9:45pm and one at 10:45pm with different comedians. We had originally planned on doing the 9:45pm one the 1st night, but left immediately because we thought that warm up guy was the headlining comedian. When we then came back for the 10:45pm and he was back doing the same bad jokes, we realized he was just the opening act. We also participated in a trivia contest, attended the marriage show, and the lounge crawl, which had the ability to be a lot of fun. They had it set up to do a different decade of dance in each lounge. We started strong with the 50's/60's in the atrium, then moved to do the 70's. Then we were supposed to follow the crew to the disco for the 80's music. At this point we overheard one of the staff say that the disco was too full, and the staff wandered off without explanation, and they kind of all dispersed. I have no idea where they went. We shrugged and decided to call it a night, but they need to make that better organized. We were looking forward to the 80's! We had also had a blast playing air hockey, and battleship, which we check out of the ships library. Disembarkation: This was also pretty rough. We received no information on what time we would be arriving in port, or what time we would be expected to leave the ship etc. We did receive customs forms to fill out (which weren't needed, as we did not go through customs on the way out). I recall either having a cruise caper or a paper with info on it about procedures for leaving the ship on cruises past. Neither one were handed out. When we asked about it we were told by the staff that they didn't want to stress out the guests, and that's why we weren't given the information. It was also slightly problematic because the announcements that went over the loud speaker the morning of the disembarkation could only be heard from the hallway. While we were in our room we could hear the chime from the announcement, but nothing else. We could have very easily missed or slept through it. Summary: I want to stress that despite all of the complaints listed above we really did have a fun time. I feel like all I've done in this review is whine, and that doesn't give the whole picture. Part of the problem may be that the ship and crew is brand new, part of it may be that it was only a two day cruise, so things are run a bit differently, thus more bumps along the way. In the end, it was certainly better than a weekend at home. But when compared to other cruises we've taken, it was certainly the worst of the bunch. I doubt any first-time cruisers would come back based on the experience from this ship. My advice, give the Dream another year or two to work out all the kinks, before sailing on it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
took the two day out of new york. My honey and I wanted time away from the kids, went other fun people and had a blast for two days. The weather was rough, service was poor but my expectations were to have fun, spend time together and we ... Read More
took the two day out of new york. My honey and I wanted time away from the kids, went other fun people and had a blast for two days. The weather was rough, service was poor but my expectations were to have fun, spend time together and we did. The ship overall was clean, the food although not 5 star was good, the buffet was crowded but aren't they all??? The service in the dining room was way too slow, they forgot courses, but it is a new ship and they are still learning. Guys GO TO THE PIANO BAR Vin was the best EVER! Cabins were spacious, we had an aft balcony, a little rocky though. We have been on 8 cruises Royal mostly and I would do Carnival again although Royal is my favorite. And go to the art auction (I've never been before) they give away free things but stay till the end. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
This was the third Carnival Miracle cruise to nowhere that we have been on out of NYC. We choose to do this cruise every year for numerous reasons but mostly to get away and have a great time. Carnival embarkation has improved 1000% as I ... Read More
This was the third Carnival Miracle cruise to nowhere that we have been on out of NYC. We choose to do this cruise every year for numerous reasons but mostly to get away and have a great time. Carnival embarkation has improved 1000% as I got to the pier at 11:45 and was on the ship at noon. I used to wait 1-2 hours! The only complaint I had on this cruise is that the buffet food on deck 9 as we boarded was simply not as good as years past. No matter, we choose to eat both nights at Nick and Nora's supper club and as usual the food was spectacular. Service and the quality of food simply cannot be beat. There are very few restaurants we have been to worldwide that beat the supper clubs on Carnival. There are many many activities available; seems to be almost as many as a typical 7 day cruise. You cannot get bored here. I bought enough booze and cigarettes to pay for the cruise - NO LIMITS and no customs. You can buy 100 cartons of cigarettes if you want - cost was $45 for TWO cartons! I enjoyed the art auction but no one was buying. Always love the free champagne. We had 16 foot seas the first night, I enjoyed it but I heard people complaining to the purser - hey folks you are on a SHIP! It was bad enough to cancel the show but they did put it on the next day. The shows were great as usual though they do the same ones every year. Room service was prompt and good. Breakfast on deck 9 was great if you went to the omelet station. The breads on board were excellent. Cabin steward was friendly as was everyone else I encountered on board. One funny (to me) side note - the past 2 years they had an activity they called the "cornhole" competition. This year the finally called it a bean bag competition. I know I explained it to the gentleman running the activity the past 2 years and evidently many others did as well as they finally changed the name of the activity! I am booked already for next year. This is simply a fun trip. There are many activities to choose from and while its only a 2 night trip it is worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gents !Let me begin by saying, that I am a very experienced cruiser and the young age of 31 !  In fact, each summer 7 of my friends and I have cruised on various cruise lines for 7 to 9 nights.  We have been on ... Read More
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gents !Let me begin by saying, that I am a very experienced cruiser and the young age of 31 !  In fact, each summer 7 of my friends and I have cruised on various cruise lines for 7 to 9 nights.  We have been on HOlland America (1), Royal Caribbeans Voyager Class Ships (5), Carnival (2) and now Norwegian (1). This trip of 2 nights was supposed to be a two night getaway being that we are all now engaged or married and we needed a 'guys' getaway to party and let loose.  First off, the boat was magnificent.  Clean and just very well designed.  Main rooms throughout the boat were always lively and just kept clean.   WE had a balcony room that was nice, alittle cramped compared to RCC, but overall very suitable. IN fact, the bathroom was more spacious than any Voyager Class's ships D1-D3 category Stateooms (which is nice). Thats where the compliments End.  The staff was utterly rude and just obscene.  I am a young guy and trust me when I say I don't try to EVER be critical when I vacation. I'm not a typical blogger that just comes on to criticize but they were really just rude.  Norwegians Freestyle means that you pay for every little thing. It is not really an all inclusive type deal as with other cruise lines.  Even for an extra bath towel our room attendant asked us for $10.  Never in 10 years of cruising have I ever been asked for that. The promenade level buffet had awful cold food.  RCC has hot food, a SUPREMELY large variety of food and the service to refill used pans was there to restock.  Norwegian had basically only Hot dogs, stall cold cuts, pizza and cold burger meat.  This is not an exaggeration. That was it. When asked to get new buns (b/c the ones in there were all broken)...the person behind the counter said they'd do that in due time and then just continued to stare at us while we had no bun !!  This is no joke...we were shocked. On top of each restaurant charging from $15 to $25 to sit down and eat, the gym charged $20 if you wanted to lay down and relax.  It was rainy outside.  Nobody was in the gym, they had 20 lounge chairs available and I decided I wanted to just close my eyes and relax before the the night partying began.  Well, this British lady came over and said I'd have to pay $20 to sit there and when I explained it was rainy outside and there was nowhere to lay down, she told me to 'GET OUT'.  Keep in mind, I was minding my business and just napping. I could see if it was there policy and they had 21 guests lined up for the 20 free chairs.  But it was EMPTY. So basically, Norweigian policy is to have 20 free chairs and kick out guest even when its rainy outside instead of trying to help them make the best of it. The nights were fun, very young crowd, lots of dancing and just a good time. Good DJ etc... but the club itself is nothing like RCC's boats atmosphere or even Carnivals really trendy club atmosphere !!All in all, we had a good time b/c of the night time partying.  But when you do a cruise, your looking for an all inclusive except for liquor and spa etc.. or the occasional high end meal you can pay for.  This boat charged for everything and came off more as a hotel than a cruise ship.  Very petty, rude and I will NEVER EVER again travel or suggest them for my friends.  I typically am the person who organizes these trips and we will never do it again with them.IN fact, we just booked a 7 night out of Rome later in the year on Royal Caribbean. So my advice, don't pay for something that you end up having unexpected later costs for .  Pay it up front and go on a nicer boat, with nicer service, GREAT food and better nightlife....go on Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Thats marketing etc...its just the truth !Sc Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
My wife and kids booked the cruise as a birthday present for me.The kids,both under 10,were really looking forward to using their own money to purchase the birthday room decoration package as a present to me. Only they don't do it for ... Read More
My wife and kids booked the cruise as a birthday present for me.The kids,both under 10,were really looking forward to using their own money to purchase the birthday room decoration package as a present to me. Only they don't do it for the one day cruise. Nothing in the web site about that. The trip was booked at the last minute,so all that was left was a minisuite.Very nice cabin, plenty of room for 4. Total cost was $930.Over $240 of that cost was for government taxes and fees. Check in was easy,on the ship at 12:30,dropped the bags off at the room,room guy was still cleaning room,slipped him $10 to make some towel animals for the kids. He never made them and we never saw him again. We went down the the Cafe buffet. It was outstanding! Nice selection, all good.By 1:30 there were no tables and people had to eat standing up. Went bowling for $40. The one day cruise had an interesting mix of people.Some families,some who couldn't afford a full length cruise,some 18 or 19 year olds who were waiting for the ship to get 3 miles out ,so they could drink and gamble. But mostly it was a booze cruise type crowd. The temperature was in the 20's on deck and yet the hot tubs were always filled with drinkers. Funny how you never saw anyone leave to use the bathroom. Diner at Magenta was terrible. The drink waiter seemed annoyed we had kids and therefore wasn't going to get a big drink order from us. I ordered a drink that didn't arrive until we were leaving. I refused it and had it taken off the bill. My wife and I both had beef dishes that were disgusting. We waited for the kids to finish their food,chicken fingers and mac & cheese, than went back to the buffet for dinner. Our waiter didn't care. We went to the Colorz show. It was all about songs that had a color in the title. Boring We had one of those 19 year olds and his girlfriend with an open bottle of wine sitting behind us in the theater. Talked the whole time until I shushed them away. When we got out of the show, you could see how people were starting to get sloppy and stupid. We went back to the cabin and called it a night. The next morning we were lucky to find a table for breakfast. Getting an omelet made was impossible. The food was good,but you really can't mess up breakfast. This was our first Norwegian cruise. I didn't like the layout of he ship. I like Royal Caribbean's atrium going down the middle of the ship. Also the 24 cafe on the Gem requires you to get seated and order your food. On Royal Caribbean, their 24 hour cafe is basically self serve. You can sit and eat or take it back to your room. I'd never do the one day cruise again. Not really for families. The next time I would take the money to Atlantic City,get a room at the Borgata,eat there and still have $400 left over for gambling. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We decided to celebrate my DH's 40th birthday on the Gem one nighter. This was our fifth cruise amongst various cruise lines. I have slowly become a RCCL fan due to the beauty of their ships. But I wanted to give NCL a try. Before ... Read More
We decided to celebrate my DH's 40th birthday on the Gem one nighter. This was our fifth cruise amongst various cruise lines. I have slowly become a RCCL fan due to the beauty of their ships. But I wanted to give NCL a try. Before we even left, I was already frustrated with NCL. They price dropped my cabin $100. I am used to all the other lines I've sailed honoring price drops. NCL wouldn't honor it or upgrade me cabins. I was disappointed in them. The New York port was nice enough. The lines to board were crazy and a bit disorganized at first. We boarded the ship around 11:30 a.m. We decided not to book a specialty restaurant which was a huge mistake. We tried the bowling right when they opened at 1:00. We knew there would be a huge wait after this, and we were right. The Bliss Lounge where the bowling alley was located was also closed for quite a while due to a private party. So we were glad we bowled early. It was a fun experience. We had never been on a ship that had this opportunity. Then we went to the buffet. What a disaster! No one could find tables. Everyone was complaining. People even just stopped and put their plates on the half walls separating the buffet from the dining room and started eating. On other lines I have sailed, if the buffet gets that busy, they open the specialty restaurant areas for seating only. There was no offer of this on the Gem. The buffet area was the worst experience I've ever had on any sailing. Then we went to our room. 11156 Balcony aft. It was great. We enjoyed the room and was glad we got an aft cabin due to the winter wind. No wind on our balcony which was great. The room had signs of wear. There were scorch marks on the couch from an iron. When you tried to sit on the couch to watch TV, the couch wouldn't lock into place. So it always wanted to roll down into a bed. There was no muster drill since it was a one nighter. They had a barbecue sailaway party on the top deck with a live band. It was great. There were lots of younger people in the pools and hot tubs. We were surprised at this because it was quite cold outside. For the sailaway, we stayed on our balcony aft. Beautiful views of Manhattan, New Jersey, and the Statue of Liberty. After sailaway, we immediately went to dinner to avoid the crowds. We ate at the no cover charge Grand Pacific. The dining room was beautiful. But the wait staff did not impress us. My DH ordered the steak. It was super thin and not worth his time. I ordered the pasta dish which wasn't great either. We wished we had booked a specialty restaurant. We didn't finish our meals and just left. We went to the restaurant that NCL calls "comfort food" that overlooks the crystal atrium. We ordered desert, cheesecake and pound cake. They were excellent. We watched playoff football games on the big screen in the crystal atrium. This was a nice touch. We later went to the one show they offered at 9:15 called Colorz. We did not enjoy it. It was a musical about different colors. I'm sure others enjoyed it. It just wasn't our taste. At 11:00 p.m. they offered one comedy show. It was an improv comedy group from Chicago. This was the highlight. We really enjoyed them. After the show, we went to see the White Hot Party. There weren't many people dancing yet but it had just started. We went to bed around 2:00 a.m., and the ship was still partying. There were two weddings onboard, several kids enjoying themselves, lots of couples, lots of families, etc. Most everyone was quite dressy and enjoying themselves. Getting off the ship was simple. Since it was a one nighter there were no customs, no carousels to get luggage, etc. We walked right off, walked right outside the no wait for taxis. Perfect. If you place cash on your account, NCL won't give you back your credit until the morning of the cruise. This was frustrating. I tried to get my credit back at midnight the night before we disembarked because I knew the lines would be shorter. They wouldn't return my money until 6 a.m. the next morning. Of course, that is when the lines are the longest. I think they need to change their policy on this one. We enjoyed NCL cruise to nowhere for what it was. I will probably return to RCCL new ships only because their ships are nicer and easier to navigate. I felt like RCCL has better customer service and better food that is already included. RCCL's newer ships also cater better to families. I did enjoy the New York port better than others I have been to. New York is an amazing city and beautiful when sailing away! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Embarkation: A We left our home in Jersey City at 10:05 A.M. and took a commuter van to the Port Authority Bus Terminal from where we walked to the port. It was fairly easy since we only had one carry on and a backpack. We arrived at the ... Read More
Embarkation: A We left our home in Jersey City at 10:05 A.M. and took a commuter van to the Port Authority Bus Terminal from where we walked to the port. It was fairly easy since we only had one carry on and a backpack. We arrived at the port about 11:20 and immediately got into the Latitudes line. The line was about 10 minutes long. Some got out of the line and moved to the much shorter line for non Latitude members. Those who did ended up with less waiting in line and longer waiting to get on the ship. Boarding takes place by numbers which are given to you on a card when you finish all the necessary sign ins. Latitude members get lower boarding numbers and therefore board earlier. we received number 10 while those going to the other line were getting numbers in the 30s. Waiting in the Latitudes line is definitely worth it. Boarding started at 12:15. Once on board we received our complimentary Orange Juice (neither my wife or I drink alcohol) and were directed to take our carry on to our stateroom before heading to lunch. Rooms would be ready by 2 P.M. but everyone could drop their belongings in their cabins upon boarding. We then went to the Magenta restaurant where we had a terrific lunch of chili chowder and a Ruben sandwich, Service was excellent and the lunch was very good. The room is nicely decorated and smaller than the Pacific dining room. We decided to skip the food stations in the buffet because we knew they would be crowded and this was to be a relaxing romantic weekend. The ship: B The Gem is a beautiful ship; clean and well laid out. We walked around and took a number of pictures. The temperature was in the low 30's and we knew it would be too cold to walk around once the ship was moving. The public rooms are very nice particularly the library and card room. One room even had a model and picture of the SS United States which is owned by NCL. The ship does have some things that I would say are mere gimmicks. In the main lobby there is a huge two story LED screen which at times has Nintendo Wii games that only a few can play. The rest of the time the screen is used for promotional information or very annoying videos that actually are uncomfortable to the eyes. The other gimmick is the bowling alley in the Bliss lounge. This novelty is also limited since since there are only 4 lanes. There is also a rock climbing wall and sports area for those inclined when the ship gets to warmer climates. The pool area was very inviting except for the outside temperature. Muster Drill: NONE! Wow this surprised me. Even on one night cruises there has always been a muster drill. There was a short safety talk over the PA by the cruise director, but that was it. This is really nice on a one night cruise because there is such limited time and so much to do. Sail Away: A We skipped the barbecue on the pool deck and opted for sail away in the spa which is located at the front of the ship with great floor to ceiling windows. As we sat in comfortable lounge chairs sipping juice we once again enjoyed the sites of New York and New Jersey. New York City is a wonderful place to sail from and I never tire of seeing the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Cabin: B We had an outside view cabin mid ship on the port side. The room was clean and well thought out, but small. Very adequate. There was plenty of storage. The bedding is greatly improved now that Freestyle 2.0 is in place. The small flat screen TV had a humorous welcome aboard video which is worth watching. CNN, FOX News, ESPN TNT, and the Cartoon Network were available as well as movie rentals. When we finally turned in for the night there was an annoying creaking sound throughout the room. My wife figured out hat the slight movement of the ship was causing the 20 or so empty hangers in the closet to swing a rub up against one another. It took about 5 minutes to remove then and place them on the floor of the closet. Spa: A This is where we spent much of our time. With less than 24 hours and so much to do you have to choose what is important to you. For my wife and me that was a relaxing getaway. The spa costs $20 per person per day. For that you get robes, a locker, and full use of the facility. By charging our cruise on VISA we were given $50 onboard credit which paid for the spa, a Christmas ornament and a refrigerator magnet. The spa has a hot tub, therapy pool, heated lounge chairs, cushioned lounge chairs and more. The locker rooms have saunas and steam rooms. Coffee, water and juice are always available. It would be hard to put into words how relaxing and wonderful it is. We spent most of the afternoon there and returned after dinner. In fact, after dinner we were the only people in the spa for about two hours. Food: C Many people go on a cruise for the food. Unfortunately this is a weak spot for NCL. While good and more than adequate, unless you eat in a specialty restaurant, it is nothing special. We had dinner in the Pacific dining room at the rear of the ship. The design of the room is beautiful an d there are many large windows. A basket of rolls and breads are provided. The service was impeccable. the food was just OK. NCL still offers a baby shrimp cocktail that looks like something out of a jar. The soups were good as were the salads. For the main course my wife had turkey scaloppini which was pretty good. I had beef loin which looked great but was extremely tough. The vegetable and potato sides were good. For desert we had ice cream. Later in the evening we ate at the Blue Lagoon which on this ship is located above the lobby. The flashing lights of the video screen was uncomfortable on the eyes and the service here very slow. I prefer the location on the Dawn along the side of the promenade. The food here is basic comfort food; wings, burgers, hot dogs etc. Entertainment: A There were plenty of choices to keep entertained. The main show "Colorz" was typical of cruise shows but very well done. I can't believe the energy put out by the singers and dancers. The band was excellent. The show had two performances. We chose the 9:30 show since we wanted to spend as much of the evening as possible in the spa. There was also a variety of music in the lounges, the not so newlywed game, the Second City comedy show and more. Many good choices I cannot comment on the kids programs of the casino since we did not use them. The Crew : A+ Frankly I don't expect much in the way of service from a one night cruise, but the service on the Gem was incredible. Crew members were genuinely friendly and went out of their way to be helpful and make this brief time special. Fellow Cruisers: Incredible Variety I would say that most on this cruise were from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but I am sure there were others. Freestyle gives you many choices for eating, entertainment and dress. While most people dressed casually, there were many ladies in cocktail dresses and a number of people in formal attire. There were many couples and groups of singles, and senior citizens. Surprisingly, for a one night cruise, there seemed to be a number of families with children. Disembarking: A NCL does this right. As long as you leave by 10:30 A.M. you are free to use the ship's facilities and even leave your belongings in your cabin. Since this was a one night cruise to nowhere we also had the benefit of not dealing with customs. So on Sunday morning we woke up as the ship was coming into New York harbor, went to the Pacific dining room for a leisurely breakfast and then wandered around the ship before disembarking at about 9:10. We arrived home at 10:05 A.M. exactly 24 hours from when we had left. Overall: A A one night cruise to nowhere is a wonderful way to spend a night out and a great break in the middle of winter. Depending o the cabin you choose it is less expensive than dinner and a show in Manhattan and far more relaxing and enjoyable. This cruise was an incredible bargain. This was my second one nightie, and I would do another in a heartbeat on NCL. For a longer cruise I'd choose another cruise line for better food and more options for family activities. Having been on nine cruises on various cruise lines I find that each has something to offer depending on what a person/family is looking for. NCL and freestyle works well for couples. Pictures can be found at http://web.mac.com/pekrause/Site/Norwegian_Gem.html Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Ok 1st off this was my 16th cruise (my 4th with NCL). I was the 1st person in the port but I was about the 100th to be let on board after sitting for over 4 hours. I went straight up to deck 12 for the buffet since we were told we could ... Read More
Ok 1st off this was my 16th cruise (my 4th with NCL). I was the 1st person in the port but I was about the 100th to be let on board after sitting for over 4 hours. I went straight up to deck 12 for the buffet since we were told we could not enter our rooms until after 2 pm due to them cleaning the rooms, I find this very ironic considering my "cleaner" just made my bed with wet piss in it from the previous cruise...but I will get back to that later. There were no tables to sit at, I wound up going outside in 20 degree weather to eat. Not a fun way to start my cruise! I went to order the bucket (buy 5 get 1 free as in every other ncl cruise I have taken)...When he rang me up i asked about the free beer the response was oh no we don't have that on the 1 night...Ok fine just give me the 1 beer..I got an attitude well why don't you want the bucket? I responded well if i am going to have to pay for them all separately why would i want to carry around 6? The guy just rolled his eyes. I usually book a balcony room or a mini-suite but I booked an inside room since it was only a 1 nighter and the first thing I did was request a soft pillow. It never came. I explored the ship for a while and while it is beautiful I could not walk more then 10 feet without a new waiter or waitress asking me if i wanted a drink (Even though I had 1 in my hand at the time). While the embarkment party was going on at 4pm i went to wait on line in front of the duty free shop to buy cigarettes, the store opening was supposed to be at 4:30. All the other stores opened on time but the duty free shop did not open until 5:30. By that time the line went down 2 hallways. When they did open the mad rush of people grabbing stuff was UNBELIEVABLE. A man knocked items out of 1 woman's hand then grabbed the stuff off the floor, the same man a minute later lifted his fist as if he was going to hit another woman. Her husband went berserk and the employees basically looked at the guy like he was crazy when he was just trying to defend his wife. Had that been me I would have picked up a bottle and cracked him over the head with it. I stood there to see if they were going to do anything about the guy and nada...they actually helped the guy pick up his 40 cartons of cigarettes and brought them to the register!! If that were my store he would have been escorted out and if i were the woman that had her stuff knocked out of her hands I would have requested a copy of the video and had the guy arrested. My cousin was already at the register so i gave him my stuff and walked out because it was getting to be a near riot and since I had my stuff I did not want to be caught in the cross-fire. We went to dinner at Teppenyaki and enjoyed the food very much. I should have expected that since it cost me over 70 bucks. After dinner we went to the casino for a few hours and I decided to go to my room for a quick nap. Well here is where the real fun began. I lifted the duvet and put my hand down on the mattress to get into bed.....IT WAS WET...not only was it wet...IT WAS YELLOW!!!!!!! Someone had pissed the bed and the cleaner just made the bed over it. (mind you this was about 11 at night so there was no chance in hell that when he made the bed at 10 am that he did not see it, since it was still wet over 12 hours later. I went downstairs to get a new room and i basically had to tell them to check the video (I was in casino, restaurant, casino) I was only in my room 10 minutes during the day to drop off my luggage before they called security to come to my room so they could "see what I am talking about". After much arguing I was given another room. I was told my luggage would be moved for me. I went back to the casino and went back to my new room at 2:30 in the morning to find my luggage was still in the old room. I walked down the hallway and ran into a crew member and I am in the middle of telling him I needed access to the old room and as I was talking to him he turned and went into a crew only area, totally ignoring me. I grabbed a house phone and called the front desk and she promised to send someone up. As I am hanging up the phone the same guy comes down the hallway. I AGAIN ask him for help and he says to me "well where is your room key?" I wanted to flip on the guy but before I had the chance the other man came to the room to help move my stuff. I wound up lugging my stuff to the other room. I finally got to bed after 3 in the morning. When I got up in the morning I went to get into the shower but changed my mind when I looked at the bottom of the shower and there was a wet, moldy towel at the bottom of it. I suggest they train their personnel on the 4th deck on how to clean a room. I cannot believe that they had the audacity to add a 12 service charge to my room for that kind of service I could have stayed in a roach motel and still had the same level of service. Read Less

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