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22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
So just a heads up - we won this cruise and it originally was supposed to go out to sea and then back. We were told that due to Port Laws it couldn’t do that but there is some question as to whether that was the fact or if the number ... Read More
So just a heads up - we won this cruise and it originally was supposed to go out to sea and then back. We were told that due to Port Laws it couldn’t do that but there is some question as to whether that was the fact or if the number of indivduals who requested day passes made it non-viable to go anywhere. At first we were not really impressed with this as we could not get off of the ship and all shops and the casino were closed. They made up for this by making everything all inclusive including, speciality dining, alchol, and all attractions to ensure we got a good overall feel. As this was a “get to know” the boat tour I think Norwegian did well - with a major surprise to us all on the Saturday night....more on that later. We were travelling as a couple but kept our eyes open for those things families and singles would also like. This was the first visit to NYC by the Bliss on it’s way to Seattle for the Alaska season. She had just crossed from Europe to North America so we think a lot of the kinks in the operations would have been ironed out by then. The great things seasoned travellers will love include: - Streamlined cabins with efficient use of space. Curved cupboards (so no sharp corners to bang into on less than stable days) and double use of furniture (seat that doubles as a table but tucks away when not in use). - Lots of “things” to do including go kart track, laser tag, casino, pools, quiet places, bars and various venues for food. - USB ports in the night lights so you can have your phone/alarm clock right there with you by the bed (also adding more spots to plug in and charge - one on each side of the bed) - A well trained staff who were getting to know the Bliss like us made for efficient service that was above par. - Plenty of choices for food and drink connoisseurs. Staff was more than willing to amend or adjust food and drinks for various dietary needs. - A beautiful massive indoor observation lounge that is great to grab a snack, a drink, visit with friends, enjoy the view or curl up with a good book. The venue is open and airy so even with a lot of people in there you were not overwhelmed with noise. - A separate sun bathing area for adults (normally a fee applies at the Beach Club) away from the pool area to allow for a more laid back day in the sun (located beside the Haven private area and just as lavishly appointed). - Cavern Club provided some unique entertainment and was jammed with many people wanting to sing along to some great songs. - Interactive screens located on each deck to book speciality dining, laser tag or go karts or to provide you with information. - Buffet had themed food stations (like another line we go on) and is less cafeteria style as we have seen on other lines. - Nice having that Starbucks for the coffee fix - it is a legitimate Starbucks and not just coffee brewed with Starbucks products (this is normally an extra charge but sometimes you just need that brew). - Linens are currently plush and soft - now this is a new ship so who knows it may become the regular exfoliating towels however we noticed the towels were actually designed for the Bliss so maybe they will retain some ability to provide plushness rather than roughness. - The Waterfront is a unique deck where several specialty restaurants are located and allow you to access them from outside and in fact most of exterior seating - this will be really nice when the Bliss embarks upon her winter home port in the Caribbean. - Beer selection was excellent...not sure if it was due to the event or this is normal but you didn’t have to go a special beer bar to get a larger selection of world wide beers (though there is a special craft beer bar if the “regular list” isn’t enough). So here are some “myahs” on the ship: - There is not a lot of movement room in the rooms - to be expected but they seem to have ensured you are only getting the space you need - there is nothing extra. - Closet design was a little hinky in that about 6 inches became unusable due to an indent (unless you are bringing your own broom or hockey sticks and needed somewhere to store them). For me closet space is always premium so to lose that much means my husband suffers...ha ha. - Other than the observation deck (as noted) the ship was loud. Now it could be because there was a lot of amenities being provided however we found it to be noisy. The smaller dining rooms had bars outside their doors and I think that contributed to it - but once you were in the restaurant, it was still loud. - This is a weird one but was commented on by several people....the elevators (which we all know can get really full) had only a bank of floor buttons on the one side. As one person said they didn’t really consider left handed people. So while there are a lot of elevators you find yourself sometimes getting up close and personal with people standing just a little to close to those buttons. - Speaking of buttons.....the automated opening of exterior doors is not sensor based but instead you have to place your hand on a round disc located “somewhere” on a wall near by (sometimes you got lucky and it was on the door) but there were many people trapped sometimes between double doors as they could find the disc to open the next set. This is actually surprising as it increases the amount of surface space people are touching and therefore increasing the amount of germ transferrance. I don’t think this one was thought through from either an operational standpoint or from a health standpoint. - The only speciality restaurants we went to (and not for lack of trying but most were blocked off for private functions for those “day pass” people we mentioned) was Margaritaville. The day we went it was relatively warm 23C/mid 70s F, and the ship was not moving but it was cold sitting in this venue. The wind funnels through the deck to this area (the race track is above and there is an open stairwell up to it which we think just pulls the air through). There are no heaters (that we could see) which made for a chilly meal. The chairs used are trying to capture that blue/green beach chair look but if you are wearing shorts or have exposed legs be prepared for a little roughness. I ended up putting a towel on the chair to eliminate the scratching and draped it over the back to help reduce the draft on my back. The food was probably the worst we had on the ship - not bad - just the worst. We have eaten at land based Margaritavilles and this restaurant does not measure up. Considering there is normally a charge for this restaurant I would say it is not worth it. You can go to the shops and buy your souvenir glass there in comfort. - Theatre venue is small, entrance only on one level - considering the size of the ship (and the show they are putting on - Jersey Boys) this will probably lead to a lot of disappointed travellers not seeing this amazing production. - I don’t think the chefs believe in using salt.....at all. I am not a big salt lover so when I am adding salt to every meal you know that the seasoning is not quite right. Of course it is easier to add rather than take away...however it led to some very bland first bites. Lastly some nice little surprises that I am know are not going to be there as a rule but were cool to have. First - we went to the production of Jersey Boys. If this is on your to do book early - we went to try to book on embarkation day (we weren’t allowed to before) and all shows were sold out. We did stand by and got in but did the proverbial hunting of seats - which we got just not together. The show was excellent. We’ve seen the Broadway production and this production did homage to it. Though about an hour shorter nothing was left out. They were able to do this by eliminating any intermission and shortening some of the storylines. But here was the great thing.....as we were all getting ready to start watching this, in walks.....Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio....two of the original Four Seasons!!!! That was pretty surreal to watch a production about their lives with them! The next day The Four Seasons were inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. They ran out of white wine....how is that a nice surprise do you ask. Well first let me explain that the Bliss was sailing to Miami on Sunday and without passengers so the ship was not fully stocked. Add on top of that the number of day pass individuals who were there on an open ticket I am sure it wasn’t the only thing they ran out of. So when I ordered a glass and they didnt have any at dinner I was not too impressed....until they replaced it with some high end Champagne......adding bubble to any drink make things always better. Overall I think people will enjoy this ship. The fact they have listened to the passengers and are accommodating single travellers (single suite area is great with a independent lounge just for them), Kids activities and big “kid” activities, as well as meal choices for the various palettes makes Norwegian ahead of other cruise lines who are not quite there yet. However I think there were some design flaws by the various groups who either didn’t test drive the facilities (Margaritaville) or have no left handed friends (elevators). Would we cruise again on the Bliss - absolutely - would love to see her in action in the Caribbean. I also think that cruisers on the Alaska season are in for a real treat being able to view the various ports without getting chilled (especially the glaciers - so get there early and claim your viewing space) and just absorbing the scenery in a comfortable warm environment where someone will bring you a hot toddy if the chill still reaches you. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This would be me and my husband's 8th cruise but first time sailing with Norweigan. I am going to start off by saying, I was not impressed. My husband liked it a little more than I did but not by much. The Good: Embarkation and ... Read More
This would be me and my husband's 8th cruise but first time sailing with Norweigan. I am going to start off by saying, I was not impressed. My husband liked it a little more than I did but not by much. The Good: Embarkation and Debarkation were the fastest we have ever experienced we were both on the ship at arrival and off the ship and through customs when we returned in less than 10 minutes! Nice stateroom. We had a balcony, we couldn't use it often because if was freezing outside but that is not norweigan's fault. I found the stateroom to be large enough for the two of us. No issues with space. The decor of the ship was nice. Beautiful colors all throughout and the ship is clean. The food was tasty. Although, I heard people complain about feeling bloated from the amount of salt in the food, I didn't notice, only that there was a limited choice of foods and at the restaraunts there was not much food served at once. Which I guess is fine, so people don't waste food. Cabin Stewart: Very nice. Learned our names for a 2 day cruise and asked if we needed anything throughout our stay. Captain: Kept us very well informed about his plans for guiding the ship around the winds that were set to come in and even brought us back to dock a few hours early to avoid any trouble while at to sea. He seemed to really care about the passengers and their comfort level while on board. Ok- The not so good- Upon arriving in our stateroom, I could still smell the other people who had last stayed there, there was a cologne smell in the bed and around the cabin. Not a big deal, it just skeeved me out a little and made me wonder if there was really a thorough cleaning that took place. There was not a lot of water pressure in the shower and the temperature of the water would jump from Luke warm to scalding all on its own. Also, I had to request washcloths as there weren't any in the room. The shows- sigh.... Ok, I am really not a picky person but the Rock of ages show was really not worth seeing, after less than 30 minutes my husband and I walked out. The cirque du soleil was just ok. The performers had a really small area to perform in and it seemed like they had stuffed as many tables and chairs into the room as possible in order to make a dollar (the show was $40 per person and included dinner)... The staff who were working at the tables seemed irritated if you asked them a question and the show seemed to be a little disorganized. No one knew what they were serving for dinner. A plate was just placed in front of you and that's what you got. (It was shrimp and filet mignon but I don't eat red meat, so I gave the steak to my husband and ate a few shrimp. No one ever asked us if we wanted any soft drinks or cocktails and when they placed the dessert in front of me, I attempted to ask what it was because of allergies and I got a quick response that was drowned out by the music and she was gone, so I didn't eat it. My husband tried 1 bite and spit it out. As I stated earlier, the food selection seemed quite limited. I'm not sure if this was because it was a weekend cruise or if that's the usual way Norweigan operates but the food I did have was tasty. Aside from our cabin Stewart, the staff were not that friendly. No one was rude but no one was engaging either. Everyone seemed tired and like they would rather be some where else. Even when we arrived on board for the first time, no one was there to greet us. We just walked on board and found our way... I have never had that experience. Lastly, there was nothing to do all day. It was Valentine's Day and there was nothing going on except over priced art auctions. A woman I was in the elevator with actually asked me if I was bored yet? I responded YES! Most of the activities were set to be outdoors and it was 20 something degrees and snowing... I can't understand why they would have a boat with its home port being NYC all year around with no retractable roof over the pool, no bowling alley, no indoor movie theater.... Nothing. It was quite perplexing. When there were activities, they started after 9:00pm. And there were over 400 people trying to squeeze into a small area just to get some form of entertainment. We tried to see the sketch comedy show one night but even though we were right on time, it was already filled to capacity and they were not letting anyone else in. I don't know that I am interested in giving Norweigan another chance. If my family really wanted to try out a longer cruise with some ports to visit in some warmer weather, than I'll try it out again just to compare the weekend cruise with a longer vacation but if not, I am happy staying with Carnival and Disney! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
This was my 2nd time on the Norwegian Breakaway. My first cruise was a 7 day cruise. We decided to take the Cruise to Nowhere, in hopes of a little getaway. The ship itself is a beautiful ship, and has many perks to it. However, this ... Read More
This was my 2nd time on the Norwegian Breakaway. My first cruise was a 7 day cruise. We decided to take the Cruise to Nowhere, in hopes of a little getaway. The ship itself is a beautiful ship, and has many perks to it. However, this time I found myself somewhat bored. Possibly because it was a "Cruise to Nowhere." My biggest complaint of the trip was the route that the Captain took on this cruise. Of course during the Winter, I don't expect the waters to be nice and calm. However, he basically took us away from Manhattan, and went in circles by Long Island. From my understanding from other cruisers, the usual route it to head towards Virginia and back. The Captain kept us in horrible weather conditions, and the only full day at sea was a very rocky one. Waves crashing, etc.. Many passengers were ill. They closed off the entire outside of the ship, so you nobody could go outside. This made the the trip not so great. I also found it odd that they don't offer Room Service on the Cruise to Nowhere, you can pay for a pizza to be delivered to your room, that is all. In closing: The cruise would have been much more enjoyable had the captain taken the better route. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We just returned from a 2-night sailing aboard the Breakaway this past weekend. Normally, my family prefers sailings with 7+ nights to really get to know the ship and the staff on board. We loved our first cruise with NCL in 2004, but each ... Read More
We just returned from a 2-night sailing aboard the Breakaway this past weekend. Normally, my family prefers sailings with 7+ nights to really get to know the ship and the staff on board. We loved our first cruise with NCL in 2004, but each sailing has been getting progressively worse. It seems as if NCL is shifting its focus from passenger satisfaction to purely profit. After the absolutely dreadful experience aboard the Epic last March, we were issued onboard credit and decided to give NCL one more chance by trying something new with a cruise to nowhere. Unfortunately, although the experience was better than the Epic (it is hard to think of how it could be worse), I cannot say that I want to cruise with NCL again or even recommend it to anyone. My first impressions were that the cruise itself had an entirely different atmosphere from longer Caribbean or Mediterranean as it was (1) during the winter so all of the guests were concentrated inside, (2) sailing out of NYC so most of the passengers were celebrating long weekends (drinks all around), and (3) a holiday weekend so many families were onboard as well. In other words, it was a giant party ship (not necessarily a bad thing). However, as a result of the concentration of people inside, the quality of service, especially in the main dining areas, suffered. At the buffet, we felt rushed as servers cleared our dishes while we were still eating or using them. In some instances, I would drink my coffee and turn to see my breakfast plate halfway off the table before I could call it back. Other times, when asked if I was finished, I replied no, and my plate was still taken. It was as if they were going through the motions of asking but not even waiting for a response and moving on. In the main dining room, service was slow and seemingly confused – as observed on other NCL ships, the freestyle model results in a lack of accountability on the waitstaff’s part, especially on a 2-night sailing. Unlike the traditional model with a main server, assistant server, and bar server for the table, the single server himself has to walk back and forth from the kitchen and bar to retrieve the food and drinks. Without a doubt, one of the highlights of our cruise was Ocean Blue. One of our favorite parts of cruising is the fine dining so of course, we had to try Ocean Blue (we also love Jeffrey Zakarian – he was so friendly when we ran into him at the airport!). Service was outstanding – welcoming, knowledgeable, and incredibly attentive. The food was also phenomenal; each dish was well balanced, flavorful, and quite unique. At first, we wondered why we were limited to choosing one menu item from each section, but the portions were quite large, and we couldn’t even finish our main entrees (but we finished dessert!). Without a doubt, we would have dined there again if the cruise were longer. O’Sheehan’s was another great dining option. We always go for their buffalo wings (haven’t let us down yet), but service was a hit or miss. At the bar tops, within five minutes of snagging a table, four waiters came to the table to ask if we were helped yet. However, due to the craziness, when our food came, all the plates were missing blue cheese. When asked for some, we were told that blue cheese was a separate order (… huh). Sounds nitpicky, but it was an odd response since it was untrue, and after saying it, our waiter rushed off. It was another 5-10 minutes before we flagged him down to ask for an ‘order’ of blue cheese. Nevertheless, service at the high tops was markedly better than that at the tables, which even though we were some of the only people there, seemed sluggish and inattentive. Other positives were the activities on board and the show Rock of Ages. I appreciated the fact that the Ropes Course, Mini Golf, and Rock Climbing wall were free since they often have additional charges on other ships. These activities were well-maintained and organized (even if we froze outside in the January weather!). Unfortunately, the zipline on the Ropes Course, which we were most looking forward to, was closed for maintenance when we sailed. The show Rock of Ages was the best we had seen on a cruise ship the past decade or even longer. Too often, entertainment on board turns out to be a mess of songs and cheesy dance numbers that comes off like a cheap Vegas sideshow. In contrast, Rock of Ages featured actual sets and costumes, a catchy song list, and some truly talented performers. It was definitely the other highlight of the weekend. On the flip side of entertainment and activities, a huge downside was the stateroom service. For such a short sailing, we opted for an interior cabin since we figured we wouldn’t spend much time there. Our first mistake was choosing a cabin on the 5th floor below the Atrium (what were we thinking!?!?) – since it was so cold outside, the party in the Atrium was still booming at 3 AM. Speaking of which, the meeting rooms and library were right next to the Atrium so sounds of the raucous crowd and instruments came right through the walls (horrible design and planning!). The stateroom and more importantly, the bathroom, were quite roomy, especially for a newer ship. There was a noticeable lack of drawers (as my mom noted, where do people keep their undergarments!?), but I didn’t find it to be a problem. For people going on a weekend cruise, it’s worth noting that there is no room service, and since the buffet closes around midnight, the only late night dining option is O’Sheehan’s. I found our room steward on this trip to be much colder than those we’ve met on other ships. Usually, we end up chatting with our room steward, who is generally one of the friendliest and welcoming people on board any cruise ship. However, this time, I definitely didn’t get the same impression (perhaps because it was such a short cruise?). On the first night, there was no towel animal or chocolate on the bed, which I figured must have been omitted for the short sailing. However, our parents received both of these so it was a bit strange. (Since we were kids, it’s become a nightly ritual to eat chocolate before bed as we read the next day’s itinerary – unhealthy and silly but something we’ve always done). The following night, we received an animal (yay! It was a… seal? snake?) but no chocolate. Again, it seems nitpicky, but the lack of attention to details seems like another consequence of the short sailing. For anyone hitting the gym, it felt horribly cramped compared to the usual cruise fitness centers. The weights are separate from the cardio equipment, and each room extremely narrow and cramped. At 7:30 AM, the cardio room was pretty busy, but luckily, I was only one of three people in the weight room. There were so windows in the room, and the bright amber paint made the room feel smaller than it already was. By 8:30 AM, the 8-10 people in the room made it hard to find somewhere to stand between sets and left us shuffling around each other. When looking for somewhere to stretch, there was a side area that perfectly fit two people, but I couldn't find anywhere else in the gym to lay a mat. Overall, it was a fun way to spend the weekend with a family, but we definitely won’t be going on another short cruise. It was simply not enough time to get to know the ship or staff, and due to the ridiculously quick turnaround time, the quality of service is markedly lower than that of longer sailings. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
I'll preface this review by saying that despite some complaints we had a wonderful weekend aboard the Breakaway and that this is our 6'th cruise as well as our third on Norwegian. I'll also offer a quick summary to state the ... Read More
I'll preface this review by saying that despite some complaints we had a wonderful weekend aboard the Breakaway and that this is our 6'th cruise as well as our third on Norwegian. I'll also offer a quick summary to state the food was pretty good, the entertainment was excellent (if you could get in to see it), the ship and the cabins were very nicely appointed, however it felt extremely crowded (needs less staterooms and more public space), the service was adequate but rather slow and no one seemed to go out of their way to go the extra mile. We had a great weekend onboard, but a weekend was enough; I wouldn't want to spend a whole week on the Breakaway. Finally, having sailed both NCL and RCCL multiple times, this trip helped to solidify RCCL as our favorite over NCL. We arrived at the cruise terminal about 10:30 and received boarding group 7, wasn't too long of a wait during check-in, however it seemed a bit disorganized as even the port employee standing at the front of the line directing people to each check-in agent as they became available was wondering out loud where all of the agents were as there were only maybe 4 or 5 agents there. We were among the first people aboard the ship when we finally began boarding about 12:40. First impression is that she ship is more refined and has more of an upscale feel to it than other NCL ships, I think it's largely due to the color scheme, more elegant with less tropical pastels found on other NCL ships, reminded me more of a Royal Caribbean ship. As we hadn't eaten breakfast and were later getting onboard than we had expected, we went first to the buffet and as we were among the first few people on board, there was plenty of space. The food was good, especially the pretzel rolls we've come to love and expect aboard NCL ships. We then proceeded to begin walking around the top decks of the ship, and by just before 2:00 they made the announcement that the cabins were ready. We were sailing for the first time in a balcony cabin (we booked this only a couple weeks before sailing and the price of the balcony was only very marginally more than an inside). The cabin was excellent. The bathroom and shower were plenty large enough. The shower had a curved glass door (no annoying curtain). Our bed was closer to the closet (with small programmable safe) and the couch by the window (it appeared the cabins alternated with the bed by the closet and then by the window). Although our room was considered a standard balcony, we were right next to the first cabin that was considered a "large balcony" cabin, so our balcony was actually angled like a trapezoid, the left side of it was much deeper than the right, giving the railing an angled look toward the front of the ship. It was really great and I'd definitely recommend cabin 9110 (not to mention how easy it is to remember the number). The flat screen TV has an excellent interactive feature to review your onboard account, make dining and entertainment reservations, and review all of the activities scheduled for the day. In addition there are large touchscreens on every deck in the stairwells that allow you to do all of the things you can do on your cabin TV except for review your account. The entertainment was the best we've seen on any ship. The Rock of Ages show (although as other have said is quite raunchy and inappropriate for children) is essentially the Broadway play minus a couple of scenes. The performance as well as the sets were fantastic. Highly recommend it! We also see the Second City Comedy Performance and they were hysterical, really able to think on their feet, although also (at least the late show) not appropriate for children, but very, very funny. The dueling pianos were also great, almost as funny as the Second City Show and they could really play and sing. They were only scheduled to play until 1:00 AM, but it was so packed and everyone was enjoying themselves so much that they played into "overtime" both nights, it was a lot of fun. We ate plenty of in-between meals/snacks in the buffet, it was certainly adequate, nothing I'd write home about but nothing to complain about either, the food was good. We ate dinner in the Manhattan room the first evening (we were seated on the starboard side and had a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty from our table as we sailed out of NYC). The appetizers were excellent, some of the best we've had, the entrees were very average, like the buffet they were good, but definitely shy of exceptional. The deserts were pretty good as well. Overall, nothing I can really complain about, however nothing to rave about either; unless you're a serious foody though you'll certainly leave satisfied. We ate in the Taste dining room the next night and very much a similar experience with regards to the food. We had late night snacks in O'Sheehan's, similar experience agian with the food, the check wings were as good as could be expected on a cruise ship, not fantastic but certainly edible. The mozzarella sticks were good as was the hot dog. Worth noting in all of the restaurants (we can only comment on the Main Dining Rooms and O'Sheehan's as we didn't dine in the specialty restaurants) was that the service was on the slow side and really only adequate. I use adequate very specifically. On previous cruises, both with NCL and other lines, I feel the servers have gone out of their way to be above and beyond friendly and helpful. On this sailing, they were more perfunctory, they were polite and did their jobs but it didn't feel like anything truly special or unique. The service was also pretty slow, and from looking around it appeared as though they were understaffed/overworked. They just didn't seem to have time to go above and beyond for the guests as we have experienced on other ships. This bring us to the next point: how very crowded the ship is. In terms of gross tonnage, this is actually the largest ship we've ever been on (just nudging out the RCCL Mariner of the Seas by a few thousand tons). However, in terms of how it felt, it felt to be one of the smallest as it was very crowded. It was sailing with every cabin sold, but we've been on other full ships as well which didn't feel as crowded as this. Granted some of it may have had to do with the weather as it was freezing outside so while normally people would have spread out at the pool deck, everyone was inside. But there were (long) lines for all of the restaurants (including lines at the buffet), you had to make reservations to see any of the shows (we were lucky/smart and made our reservations for Rock of Ages and Second City online ahead of time but when we tried to switch to a later show when we were onboard we were told it was sold out), and just trying to maneuver through the ship from one end tot he other you were constantly bumping shoulders with other passengers and navigating your way through a large crowd. This was especially true on deck 7 where the casino took up half the deck, wreaked of cigarette smoke, and you had to squeeze through the machines and table to get through it. For those who aren't big gamblers, this is not a good design. I really think the experience onboard would benefit from a few less stateroom a few more square feet of public space. The lounges and the theater were just too small to accommodate the sheer number of people onboard. They could use a few more staff too as it was clear they were stretched thin as well. In the morning on Saturday it was chillybut it hit 39 degrees outside according to the Captain's announcement. The ropes curse was supposed to be open form 10-12 and again from 2-6 according to the daily planner, with an asterix saying weather permitting. Now the sun was out and it wasn't very windy and 39 degrees compared to the single digit temperatures we had been experience recently in the northeast felt like a bit of a heatwave, and sailing form NYC in January the high 30's to low 40's is really the best you can expect. However when we got up to the ropes course ready to tackle it, there was a cruise staff attendant there saying it was closed because it would be too cold to staff it as an attendant would have to stand out there form several hours. This was a huge disappointment, if you're not going to open it when it's nearly 40 degrees and sunny out then I think it might be safe to say you're not going to be opening in on short cruises out of NYC in the winter. That said, they shouldn't put it in the daily planner as "weather permitting" means it would have to be some type of tropical heatwave to actually open it. However, I noticed that he stood out there to the whole time to let guests know it wouldn't open. If he was going to be out there anyway, couldn't he have opened it? This was a let down as I was really looking forward to doing the ropes course, it is a big selling point on the ship. The last disappointment had to do with onboard credit. We had received $50 in onboard credit through a booking promotion with NCL. We were planning to use that amount to cover our Discretionary Service Charge (DSC), which is the $12 per person per night they automatically add to your onboard account. Unfortunately, only on the final morning when I review our statement did I realize they had taken back our onboard credit and charged my card for the DSC. We hadn't crused NCL in over a year, and in the past we had used onboard credit to cover the DSC (as we have on other lines more recently) without any problem. Apparently beginning in 2012, NCL changed their policy and onboard credit cannot be applied to the DSC. This is a policy that should be more prominently noted to passengers. Aside from the few negatives mentioned it was a great weekend getaway. I wouldn't want to spend a whole week on the Breakaway due to the overcrowding of the ship, but for a weekend it was a lot of fun and a nice change of pace. While I would consider sailing NCL again I wouldn't sail Breakaway and at least this trip did help to solidify Royal Caribbean as our favorite line. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
For a brand new ship built FOR NY year round, you think they would have thought of an inside pool area. Even a pool with a retractable roof like another cruise line's ship. This left the inside public areas crowded with 4000 cruisers ... Read More
For a brand new ship built FOR NY year round, you think they would have thought of an inside pool area. Even a pool with a retractable roof like another cruise line's ship. This left the inside public areas crowded with 4000 cruisers stuck inside when it was 30 degrees outside. The decks seemed closed in maybe because of the crowds. The Atrium is just two decks deep with a huge screen. However, really only seats maybe 50 people, standing about 200. People above can be seated at the O'Sheehan's bar and grill to view. Most everything is on three decks 6-8, also 4000 people on three decks. The cabins were a good size and clean. Expected since it is a brand new ship. Service was not impressive. Custom forms missing last night of the cruise, missing floor mat and a cabin attendant who didn't want to help. I attribute this to the automatic gratuity charged to the room that the industry does now. No one cares to go above and beyond anymore. Rock of Ages was an AWESOME show!!! The Dueling Pianos was also a great show. The Second City show was just OK, but I think it depends on the group you get. Didn't want to pay for the Cirque Du Soleil show (with dinner). The food in that Garden Buffet was ok. Quite a bit of variety. The Le Cucina food was good. Good views. Could have eaten outside, but for a ship from NY in January, not an option. Nice concept, but not sure what they were thinking. I will not be sailing on NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
This was our first cruise on NCL since 2009. This time, it was me, mom and the kids ages 6 and 8. I was concerned that a cruise to nowhere would be a drunkfest but we had a NCL reward certificate that was about to expire so we redeemed it ... Read More
This was our first cruise on NCL since 2009. This time, it was me, mom and the kids ages 6 and 8. I was concerned that a cruise to nowhere would be a drunkfest but we had a NCL reward certificate that was about to expire so we redeemed it for the most inexpensive NCL experience we could find. Overall, it was an okay trip. Nothing really stood out. Not sure if that’s because it was NCL or because it was unbelievably cold or because it was a cruise to nowhere or some other reason. The port was easy to find and parking was simple. However, when we returned, we discovered that the parking area is not well labeled and we had difficulty finding the car. Once inside the terminal, service was slow. Again, not sure if that was due to size of the ship or inefficiency. We arrived around noon and waited on line for just shy of an hour. Word of advice- go to the bathroom immediately when you get to the terminal because once you enter the area where the line begins, you won’t see another restroom until right before going onboard. The ship décor was nice. Not flashy like Carnival and not “wow” like I experienced when I stepped on Celebrity for the first time. We had an inside cabin and this was the first time I’d had an inside cabin in years. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the cabin and the number of storage bins. Would definitely select an inside cabin again to save money. The only downside was my cabin steward never delivered youth life jackets to the cabin. On previous cruises (other companies), youth jackets were automatically delivered. On this cruise, even after I asked, they still weren’t delivered. Both kids enjoyed the Splash Academy. The activities were typical for cruise ship youth programs. I appreciated NCL’s willingness to provide a pager so that I could be reached in case my special needs son had issues. He never did, but the pager (and calling them periodically) gave me peace of mind. The food was disappointing. Frequently, buffet items were cold and lacked variety. My mom and I got hungry around 4pm and had difficulty finding something to eat. Desserts were ordinary. Our sit down meal wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything special. Food is very subjective but this is one area where I really missed Celebrity. The other was the smoking policy. Because it was so cold, people packed the common areas. The Breakaway has a beautiful multilevel atrium–like area near the casino with restaurants and comfy chairs- and the smell of smoke. So unfortunate. I’ve decided freestyle dining is not for me. I did not want to pay for a specialty restaurant so we ate in the Manhattan Room. It took us two tries because the first time we showed up, there was quite a wait and my little one got tired of waiting. We went to the buffet to feed the kids, then returned the Manhattan Room and then, we were able to get seated without a wait. Because this was a cruise to nowhere, I’d planned to spend time in the library relaxing and reading. Not sure why the library is next to a lounge that features karaoke but it is poor planning. There were many times when my fellow library patrons and I gave each other frustrated looks because of the shrill noise. The Cirque show was very good- but about 30 minutes too long. The food was okay, except for the trio of desserts which was disappointing (unimaginative and not tasty). Yes, I would cruise NCL again if the price was right. After all, any day at sea is better than a day ashore. However, for my average family vacation, I’ll be cruising Celebrity again- for the food, service, and smoking policy. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
This was to be a trail cruising experience for a couple who travel extensively for both work and leisure. After an easy Amtrak trip up from DC we arrived at Pier 88 by an easy taxi ride. I must say that having no NCL status whatsoever I ... Read More
This was to be a trail cruising experience for a couple who travel extensively for both work and leisure. After an easy Amtrak trip up from DC we arrived at Pier 88 by an easy taxi ride. I must say that having no NCL status whatsoever I was impressed how easy check in was. Our balcony cabin was ready and we unloaded our bags by 2pm and went to look around before our 6pm sailing. It didn't start off too well and in spite of getting a welcome email touting the bar and soda packages, room service, robes etc once on board were told none of that was "offered" on a weekend getaway by the service desk. The staff wasn't quite clear what food was offered where before departure. Okay it was basically a booze cruise. Not our intention but with the size of Breakaway and 4200 passengers figured there would be lots of options. Not really - everything was crowded. Nice singer at the Martini Bar but no seats. Nice atrium no seats. Comedy Show reservations but SRO arriving 30 minutes prior. I assume that part of this is the frenzy of all trying to do everything on a short cruise but the ship was not over capacity so where's the space! As a designer myself one flaw that I can't believe NCL did on this huge amazing ship is the placement of the casino at the atrium with smoking allowed and poor ventilation which has smoke pouring all over the midship! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Booked a weekend getaway to check out the Breakaway. Have cruised Celebrity,Princess, Carnival and NCL once before on the Spirit. The ship is new ,big ,and sports some of the worst features and options I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It ... Read More
Booked a weekend getaway to check out the Breakaway. Have cruised Celebrity,Princess, Carnival and NCL once before on the Spirit. The ship is new ,big ,and sports some of the worst features and options I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It seemed like a gambling ,drinking ship ,with the weather pretty much everyone was indoors ,and the ship felt like a NY subway. Embarcation was on the Friday before the super Bowl ,and ''was awful My son and his wife had gone 2 weeks before and arrived around 1130 am and were in their room by 1230pm. We arrived around 12 and didn't get on until 2 30 pm. The mini suite was smaller than most balcony rooms . They have system that is the dumbest thing i have ever seen . You need to put your room key in a slot next to the bathroom to have electric power. when you take it out to leave the room is dark ,and hey don't count on anything in the fridge staying cold . In our case it did not matter. There is nothing in th e fridge for the weekend cruise . also no cosmettics, no towel animals. The cabins stewards were nice but seemed overworked and not terribly interested. I made reservations for the Cirque show and dinner ,as well as for Rock of ages. Never received an e mail confirmation ,so I went to guest services to check, and guess what ,they had no record. After carrying on , they booked them.Wonderful. The shows and food were very good , the high points of the weekend/ I booked a facial for my wife thae t she enjoyed . Figured I would work out and then hit the steam room. WRONG . Was told the stem room was part of the Spa Suites ,and there was a $9 charge to use it , but I couldn't because they wer full anyway. This was rock bottom . I was trailer park mini suite trash. First time on any ship I ran into this. Princess had the Sanctuary that was reserved ,but anyone could use the steam or sauna , ditto Celebrity or even the lowly Carnival. The Atrium was unimpressive as were the shops ,small and with really nothing . Would I cruise NCL again? Yes but never on the Breakaway. Oh did I mention how small the balcony was. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
I was aboard for the christening in NYC May 8 and the 2 day inaugural cruise. Arrived at LGA and took a taxi, which I split with another agent, for $43 plus tip, to pier 88. Long check-in line but that was the last line we were in for ... Read More
I was aboard for the christening in NYC May 8 and the 2 day inaugural cruise. Arrived at LGA and took a taxi, which I split with another agent, for $43 plus tip, to pier 88. Long check-in line but that was the last line we were in for the rest of the cruise. The christening was beamed throughout the ship, and we had been assigned to O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill to view it (while sipping wine and munching on corned beef sandwich and my wife on a salmon salad). The christening was blessed by Cardinal O'Malley, and Mayor Bloomberg was there, and the godmothers, the Rockettes, performed as well as pulling the ribbon to christen the ship. Buddy Velasco from Cake Boss on the Cooking Channel MC'd the christening. Guests were assigned various complimentary stateroom categories, and our room was a category O1 Family Oceanview with Large Picture Window on deck 5, 5174. Sleeps 5, with two twins, a Pullman, and a double sofa bed. Large room, but almost no drawers for storage.....a comment I heard from others. Nice bath with double wide sink and shower in a bathtub, a nice feature for families with small ones. Two closets. The cabins with just a shower have a bar in the shower for women to use when shaving legs. We enjoyed the Manhattan Room for dinner the first night with our Norwegian business development specialist, and again the second night by ourselves to dance during dinner and then watch the preview of Burn the Floor there. We like the food and service. We toured all restaurants. Cagney's and Moderno are huge. Taste and Savor are smaller and subdued. The new Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zacharian is small, but he also has raw bar with open seating adjacent to it. The Noodle bar as also next to that. There are about 4 teppanyaki tables with about 12 to a table. La Cucina Italian restaurant is very attractive, and the French Bistro has some tables in a courtyard setting that resembles a Parisian cafe. Looks great. The made a point of emphasizing that there are 27 places to eat, 11 of which are complimentary, and 16 have service charges. All the action is on decks 6, 7, and 8 midships. There were no crowds in the Garden Cafe at breakfast or lunch, with omelet's to order, too. Not "action stations" exactly, rather a line of stations. You don't need to wait in line.....just move from one area to another. Very nice views there, including wrap around windows facing aft. As you may have heard, the "promenade" deck on deck 8 is The Waterfront, and has outdoor seating for Moderno, Cagney's, Ocean Blue, Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar, Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, and Shakers Cocktail Bar. There is a gelato window and a hot dog cart, and a window to Carlo's Cakes Shop with cupcakes and pastries. We went to Rock of Ages, the second night, and the music and dancing is terrific, but NOT for children due to sexual innuendo and actions on stage. It is produced on board by the same production team that currently has the show running on Broadway. Even the audience got into it clapping and swaying arms, etc. I had no real idea about the show in advance, but was not grossed out and really did enjoy it. We also really enjoyed Slam Allen and his jazz band one night, late, in Fat Cats. The place was packed. The Sports Deck is amazing with ropes course, spider web, and bungee trampoline, rock climbing wall, basketball court, and really terrific waters slides, including 2 that start off with a vertical, feet first, drop. Despite a bit chilly weather, there were folks using the water slides. We inspected all types of cabins, including the Haven on decks 15 and 16, with its own lounge/bar and restaurant. As we have heard, overall the balconies are small, but there is so much to do on the ship that, although a balcony fan, I'd spend most time in other venues. Except for large aft facing balconies, most are 31 to 35 sq ft. The Bermuda itineraries that the ship will sail from May until October have 3 days in Bermuda on a 7 day cruise anyway. But this is a great ship with so much to do in addition to using a balcony. The sail away party the first night was at Spice H2O, and we enjoyed fireworks as we sailed out past the Statue of Liberty, and again fireworks the next night at sea during an 80's party out there. They will have fireworks on their regular itineraries, which started May 12. Debarkation began at 8am and in the normal Norwegian fashion, you don't really need to vacate your stateroom until 9:30 am. The Garden Cafe was open for breakfast until then, too. No rushing everybody out. Taxis were not easy to get at the street outside the terminal, although there was a taxi stand across the street. The taxi was still less expensive than cruise line transfers. We spent that day in New York and left our luggage with the hotel concierge and bought the Gray Line hop-on/hop-off bus ticket, 2 days unlimited for $59 a person. We checked TKTS, but the lines were too long, although there were tickets available at up to 40% off for some of the Broadway shows. We did the down-town loop and it took about 3 1/2 hours, going all the way from 44th St to Battery Park, past the World Trade Center memorial, Wall St, Chinatown and the Italian and Korean areas, Fifth Ave, Radio City Music Hall, etc. The 2nd day we did Uptown, all the way to Harlem, Central Park, and more. I'd never been to that area. The first night we decided to go to one of Gregory Zacharian's restaurants since we couldn't get into the one on the ship. We had spoken with Geoffrey onboard ship and he said The Lambs Club in the theatre district could get you in and out in time to see a Broadway show. The other is The National in the Benjamin Hotel at 50th and Lexington. We chose the latter and spent a leisurely evening, although expensive, but with great food. His menus at his restaurants, including the one on the ship, try to compare and contrast flavors. On the ship we did go to his take out window and the crab toasts and the calamari were excellent, little differing flavoring nuances. After lunch on Saturday at a great little wine bar and restaurant on 8th Ave near the hotel we took a taxi back to LaGuardia and the trip home. Prices in New York restaurants are high. My only two complaints about the ship are that they need more drawers in the staterooms, and the internet/wireless coverage is very spotty. Overall my impression is that this is a great ship, and it will go over very well. It is nothing like the Norwegian of the past, although I personally have been sailing on Norwegian for about 10 years, including before I became an agent. This was my 74th ocean/river cruise. This one ranks right up there with Oasis and Allure, both of which I have sailed on. It is a New York ship through and through. Kevin Sheenan, the Norwegian CEO, was raised in and attended college in New York, and the theme is there. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We just salied out of NYC on the NCL Jewel for a 2 day Cruise to Nowhere January 18 thru 20. The Manhattan Pier was a mess because the NCL Jewel, NCL Gem and the Queen Victoria which is doing a world cruise made her 1st stop in NYC. We ... Read More
We just salied out of NYC on the NCL Jewel for a 2 day Cruise to Nowhere January 18 thru 20. The Manhattan Pier was a mess because the NCL Jewel, NCL Gem and the Queen Victoria which is doing a world cruise made her 1st stop in NYC. We didn't feel the pain most felt checking in because we were staying in the Haven so we were wisked thru security to the VIP counter, checked in and walked over to the VIP waiting room. Our Butler came to get us around noon and told us he would be taking us to our 2 bedroom family suite to drop our bags and then to Cagneys for our 1st lunch. When we were boarding there was still a long line of people outside that just got back from the 12 day cruise on the Jewel still waiting to get thru customs and it was COLD outside. This was our 1st time in the Haven and it didn't dissappoint us. We normally get a suite on NCL for the perks but the Haven could run a couple thousand more on the 7 day cruises so we don't bother but for a couple hundred more we decided to try it. My daughter and her friend really enjoyed the pool and Jacuzzi it was a very relaxing area and Sherwin the Haven Butler did a good job of making sure everyone had what they needed. There's a concierge lounge on the Jewel if you walk up the stairs by the elevator bank that overlooks decks 12 & 13 and makes an awesome spot for the sail off when it's cold...we were the only one's there. Speaking of the Concierge he was no where to be found. There was a letter in the room with his name and extension but never saw him until we were leaving on Sunday. I did call him Friday to see if he could change our dinner reservation at Cagney's from 7:30 to 6:30 because we wanted to see the 8PM show but he said they were booked full until 9:30 so we decided to go down at 7PM and to our surprise they weren't even 1/2 full?? They seated us and service was so fast we were done just before the show was about to start. We were on the Gem 7 day cruise in May to Florida/Bahamas and Ryan the concierge was always visible but it seemed like everyone on the Jewel was resting for their upcoming 12 day cruise. The cruise director was no where to be found and his staff didn't seem very motivated...they need to duplicate Sinan on the Gem and get some motivation in that staff. Sinan was everywhere on the Gem but this guy on the Jewel lacked any enthusiasm to the point that I don't even know what his name is...he's in the wrong line of work. More dissapointments..they don't offer the soda program on the 2 day, there's no room service (nothing), no towel animals even on the 2nd night, no champagne in the suites for sail off. The biggest dissapointment is this is a huge money maker for NCL...all the pay extra restaurants were packed to the point they added extra hours, tons of drinks being sold and Casino packed but I didn't feel they take it serious enough. Friday night after the 2nd show we went to the Blue Lagoon for a few wings and before I got to open my mouth the girl at the podium said it's quicker to get the food to go?? The place was 1/2 empty and I said we would prefer to sit here so she said suit yourself, walked to a table threw the menus down and walked away?? so much for those Platinum Haven card keys:-) Long story short this 2 day cruise didn't cost us any less per night then if we were on a longer cruise but the lack of motivation and all the extra corner cutting will keep us from ever booking a CTN in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
DH and I booked the "Weekend Cruise" on the Norwegian Gem. It left from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on Friday and returned Sunday morning. This was our 1st time on NCL. To be honest, we had heard several negative things about ... Read More
DH and I booked the "Weekend Cruise" on the Norwegian Gem. It left from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on Friday and returned Sunday morning. This was our 1st time on NCL. To be honest, we had heard several negative things about NCL but the lure of a quick vacation without the need for flying or driving several hours to get there overcame any reluctance we had to try NCL. For 2nts in a mini-suite we paid $599 per person, plus tax and insurance. Somewhat pricey for two nights. I got to the pier around 10 a.m. and my husband joined me later on. I was able to check-in and get an early boarding #. The NYC Port/Pier staff was a mixture of friendly and helpful and utterly nasty. One staff member was annoyed by a group arguing with her about who was supposed to line up first and basically told them to "shut up". I was sitting down, waiting for my DH and on my cell phone and she barked at me to "get up!" I tried to explain that I was waiting for someone but she didn't want to hear it. It wasn't even a section that they had to clear, because they directed others to sit there. Weird and annoying. Security and check in moved quickly at this early time. Be warned, you had to hand carry your luggage. Checking luggage was NOT an option- no stevedores, no porters. As the day wore on, the lines were longer and longer and moved slowly because security was screening all of the luggage. Check-in itself was easy with a credit card. There were separate stations for cash deposits and for atm/debit card users. Boarding started around 12:15 p.m. That was poorly done. We entered onto deck 7, the "atrium". The design of the ship is disappointing. The "atrium" is cramped, with only two levels and low ceiling heights. What made it worse is that everyone was directed to "check" their luggage in the Bliss Lounge. So imagine hundreds of people at a time in a small area waiting to check luggage while hundreds more are trying to board. Finally, my husband got fed up and asked a uniformed woman if we absolutely had to check the luggage as we had been told when first boarding the ship and she said "No". So we bypassed the line and went up to the Great Outdoors to eat lunch and wait for the cabin to be ready. The lunch buffet was fine. The Garden Cafe was clean and spacious with pasta selections, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, carved meats, etc. and the Great Outdoors had a limited selection. Mostly carved beef, chicken, cutlets- heavier foods. Cabins were ready at 1:30 p.m. The mini-suite was spacious. Great bathroom, with a privacy partition for the toilet. Shower/tub combination was fairly roomy, good water pressure. NOTE- if you have physical difficulties- back problems, etc. this suite may not be for you. The sides of the tub are fairly high and you need to be able to get your legs over them to get into the shower. The cabin had good storage and a comfortable bed. The balcony is basic- two plastic chairs and a small table on a non-skid surface. The decor is like JC Penney threw up on a Sears- lots of royal blue, burgundy, and brights. Our cabin steward, Neil, was super-fantastic. We didn't even expect to see anyone on such a short cruise but he was always available. Neil was friendly, polite and the cabin was very well kept. The muster drill was easy- held at 3 p.m., you went to your station without needing to bring life jackets. Bali Hai, the bar above the pool area was a great place to sit and watch the sail away party. The passengers were a varied bunch but the overall atmosphere seemed friendly. The pool area has two pools, one with a water slide for the kiddos and kiddos at heart and an "adult pool". They are very close to each other, so the "adult" area is not a quiet one, as it is on Disney. The pools seemed small for the size of the ship but I think that was my perception because they were not separated like Princess'. We sailed south and so had lovely, warm, 70s weather on Saturday and the pools were busy but not crazy. We did not eat in the dining rooms, preferring to try the specialty restaurants. Cagneys was beautifully decorated, service was good, but the steaks were disappointing. Thin cuts, they were fatty and salty. The Teppanyaki was very fun. Crispino was our chef and he was funny and warm. My DH loved his "Land and Sea" saying the Filet Mignon was tender and cooked just the way he asked. My "Seafood" was good but the lobster was overcooked. It didn't matter because the theatrics of the chef were great! We did see one show- Second City and laughed a lot. Mostly "sketch" comedy with one piece of improv, the show was well done, fast-paced and different from any other show we've seen on a cruise line. Definitely recommend. We ended up at Magnums, the champagne bar, most nights. This lounge, the "beer bar" and the "martini" bar are all one big area, with different seats options. Very busy and crowded, it really seems like its a corridor rather than a defined area. Mary Joy, a cocktail waiter at Magnums, was terrific. Very efficient with a great personality. "Bandaoke" was a fun idea- singing karaoke with a band and it was great to watch! Saturday had activities. DH tried Bingo, but was turned off by the price- $50 for 6 cards? and the fact the prize wasn't guaranteed. We decided to lounge by the pool. The gazebo for the band is right in the middle, so if you are looking for quiet, you need to go up to deck 14 or 15 to find the "quiet areas". We enjoyed the music and people watching so we stayed. The pool side barbecue was plentiful. The burgers and dogs were not as good as we've had on other lines, like RCL, Princess and Disney. There was NO room service or pizza delivery on this cruise. That was a sore point along with the luggage issue. This cruise felt very much like the red-headed stepchild of the cruise line. We paid almost as much for this 2nt cruise as you would for an inside stateroom for a 7 nt cruise. Yet, full services were not available. The feeling was that NCL was looking to cut corners wherever they could without shame. I did try the Seaweed wrap at the Spa. It was ok. We were double charged on our bill but DH said the front desk corrected it without a problem the morning of disembarkation. I'm glad we caught it. On the whole, the cruise was fun without being amazing. The design of the ship, the lower quality of the food, and some other things have convinced us that we won't sail on NCL for a 7nt or longer cruise. In our opinion, we prefer Princess and Disney and feel we've gotten better return for our money. For the price, about $1500 for two people, we expected more- room service at least. Just a last note, when we were getting off the cruise, the very, very nice NCL staff person who was monitoring the line said "This was a nice cruise, no fighting, no disrespect." We almost started laughing at the surprise and wonderment in his tone. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
I got off my 5th annual Carnival Miracle cruise to nowhere this morning and while most details are fresh I want to jot down the perverbial good, bad and ugly. As I just said this was my 5th tear in a row taking this cruise - same ship - ... Read More
I got off my 5th annual Carnival Miracle cruise to nowhere this morning and while most details are fresh I want to jot down the perverbial good, bad and ugly. As I just said this was my 5th tear in a row taking this cruise - same ship - same cabin. The first 3 years were fantastic - 5 stars. Last year a few problems but manageable. This trip was a major letdown. First I would like to say that I love this cruise. It's a great getaway for me to spend quality time with my wife and as we both enjoy being on ships this is a great way to be on one more than once a year. The getting away, the ambience, the activities, the awesome shopping, the great food in the steakhouse and the Beatles show make this the perfect getaway. I think I will go right to the ugly. My cabin steward for the first time did bit care at all about service or the condition of the room. The previous occupant's garbage was left for us and I had no hand soap the first night as we never until 2nd night. I had never experienced this level of indifference in ANY cruise I have taken. The food in deck 9 - the buffets were bit up to par with precious cruises on this ship. The Chinese station dishes had a putrid smell and the taste of nations "Italy" day was simply not tasty. The lemonade was undrinkable. The best food here was the fried chicken tenders by the pool, the really good pizza and the foccacia sandwich with peppers, arugula and roasted peppers. Breakfast was not appetizing - the usually good French toast was terrible. I figured the dining room would be better, I was wrong. Service here was also indifferent and uncaring. The grapefruit was inedible, the French toast horrible and waffles ice cold. Luckily I could eat lunch 90 minutes later. Later on night 2 dinner was mediocre at best. Service was again indifferent ( I had anytime dining) and the usually very good prime rib was buffet quality. My wife got a rubbery end piece that should have never made the plate -shameful.(this was rectified) Lobster tail was good and the chocolate melting cake fabulous. Carnival excels at activities and this cruise was no exception. Tons of activities, demonstrations, bingo, shows both nights, 5 comedy shows each night and an art auction. No complaint here. Carnival is the best at this. I realize this is a 2 day cruise and after us the ship headed to Florida empty. The crew has a nice easy 2 days of partying and getting the ship ready for next cruise but they should have realized that my cruise was important to me and over 2000 others. I don't pretend to know why this year service and food quality deteriorated so but I would suggest someone at Carnival to address this before another cruise to nowhere on any of their ships. Yes there were crew who cared and the good that I mentioned ealier were actually FANTASTIC and yes I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. I just feel that on THIS cruise the passenger was an afterthought which for the first-timer looking to get their feet wet in cruising is not a good thing for numerous obvious reasons. Sorry, last complaint. The coffee bar deck 2 fwd has for years had excellent chocolate milkshakes. NOT this cruise. No chocolate syrup. Pathetic. Hey Carnival: Shame on you for allowing a ship's staff and this cruise to be downright mediocre. Read my other reviews here folks. I am usually the most easy going cruiser there is. 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
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
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: 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: January 2009
My friends were going on the 1/2/10 CTN, so we decided to give it a try, having had pleasant past cruises with NCL. I could rant and rave for a long time but I will just list my major complaints. 1. Way overpriced for what's ... Read More
My friends were going on the 1/2/10 CTN, so we decided to give it a try, having had pleasant past cruises with NCL. I could rant and rave for a long time but I will just list my major complaints. 1. Way overpriced for what's included. Whats included is not much, forcing you to pay for extras-overcrowded main dining = high priced optional restaurants. 2. Too many people, many of whom could care less for common courtesy.For instance the Number system for boarding. We happened to have a #20 due to a disability; people with higher numbers(#25 you know who you are) cut the lines so they could get on-board ahead of their turn; And the big problem was that NCL staff were not enforcing the number sequence procedure. 3. NCL advises call Access Desk if extra help needed for disability; Called and was assured help available with boarding for wheelchair bound passenger; no one available and request of helper personnel resulted in "talk with supervisor" answers from NCL personnel at embarkation; had to push wife up gangplank myself with breathing problems and past heart attack. 4. Welcome aboard is now an excuse to sell overpriced drinks - alcohol only available at outrageous prices; and solicitations for all extra charge services were rampant. 5.Show was OK, but again rude people showing up at the last minute and forcing their way to random open seats caused blocked views of the show for people who had arrived on time. 6.People, many with too many drinks under their belts, being obnoxious and loud at all hours of the night. 7. Poor service since they charge a per diam gratuity per person automatically which discourages individual accountability and rewarding for actual level on individual service. I am sure I could list more negative items, but lets just say if the CTN is supposed to make non-cruisers want to cruise, I think NCL does not have it's oars in the water. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We are both in mid 30th. We have been on two cruises before - Holland America's Noordam ( 11 nights) and Cunard's QM2 ( 4 nights). So I was comparing everything on NCL Gem with two previous trips even thought it was only 1 ... Read More
We are both in mid 30th. We have been on two cruises before - Holland America's Noordam ( 11 nights) and Cunard's QM2 ( 4 nights). So I was comparing everything on NCL Gem with two previous trips even thought it was only 1 nighters. We drove to the port 40 min from central NJ and paid $ 30 for parking (last time it was $ 24 per night). I found ship very cramped and boring. There are no open spaces, no wide halls. And whatever space was available in mini atrium, it was taking by photographers. We ate dinner at Magenta and breakfast in Grand Pacific Dining room. Food was nothing special at all. I checked buffet on the Deck 12 and discovered that food for lunch and dinner was totally the same. Lunch was extra crowded but for dinner hardly anyone was there. Show at 9.15 was just OK. After that we went to White Party. Female entertainment staff (who was dressed in white with angel wings) hardly was engaged with the dancers. The men from entertainment group were just standing around. I also didn't like the music so we left pretty soon. I though it will be crowded since pretty much nothing else was going on after the show, but only about 100 people showed up and half of them actually danced. We had inside cabin which was tiny. I can't even imagine going on 7-10 night cruise and have inside cabin especially with kids. I booked this trip by using some points. So at the end we got a good price. If we would stay one night in NY, saw the show and ate few times out, we would pay three times more. I don't think we will be cruising with NCL any time soon at least not on GEM. I would probably try another ship if the price is right. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
I'll keep this relatively short as this was my 7th cruise, second on this ship. I have been on RCL 3x, CCL, Princess and NCL all 1x. You can search them out if you want more details. Short background, I work for an internet travel ... Read More
I'll keep this relatively short as this was my 7th cruise, second on this ship. I have been on RCL 3x, CCL, Princess and NCL all 1x. You can search them out if you want more details. Short background, I work for an internet travel agency which will remain nameless, in cruise operations. With that said I have much knowledge about what a good cruise should be. I was traveling with my wife of 16 years, left the child home. We drove the 2 plus hours to the New York pier. My in-laws were going on the 7 nt Carnival Victory Canada/NE so we dropped them off and made our way to check in for the cruise to nowhere. We arrived around 1215pm after a GPS mixup. The lines were average but very slow. It was the usual people on cell phones not paying attention, people not having docs ready, etc. BUT the agent we had after 40-45 minutes in line, was very slow. She swiped my CC 3 or 4 times and then typed very slow. This process took another 10+ minutes. We were onboard around 115pm. We were greeted with bubbly and mimosas. Since we know our way around the ship we bypassed the cluster and found our cabin, deck 9 almost mid ship though NCL classifies it as a forward cabin, same layout as last cruise on the Spirit different color. The bedding was brand new and second only to CCL. Spent much time on the balcony. We headed for the buffet..what a disappointment. It was very limited and average at best. NCL was pushing people outside for the barbeque hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, etc. My first thought was if we were first timers, it would be our last time. We ate what we could and walked around. My wife tried a burger from the outdoor grille which was not much better. We headed for the Blue lagoon which did not open until 4. The Freestyle daily offered very little to do so we headed back to our room for a short nap. Headed down to the Blue Lagoon at 4 to find it packed. More walking and the got ready for dinner. The dinner menu did NOT have any type lobster dish as advertised. We did get in quickly, no wait and had a table for 2 by a window. My meal was very good but not great. My wife had a steak with peppercorn sauce....it had zero flavor, no pepper flavor just a steak with a bland sauce. Our server was like a robot with no personality. Again first timers would be very disappointed. We then headed for the comedy show...or lack of comedy. The performer was off and people heckled him, probably the funniest part of his act. We stayed for the Adults only Quest which was wild. Headed back to the cabin for the night. Had breakfast in Windows the next morning, quick seating and window table for 2. The server was much more personable and food was much better but too little too late. The ship was not as well kept as a year ago but still in good shape. The overall service was average. The other guests were mainly party crowd, bachelor and bachelorette parties so sometimes a little loud and crude. The shopping was poor unless you were a smoker. Overall disappointing. I paid a reduced agent rate with NCL and even the discounted price did not make up for the food quality and slow check in line. If NCL wants to use this to attract customers for longer pricier cruises, they need to rethink it. This is a money maker for them and as such they should offer top notch food and service. It was ok at best for what I paid, at a consumer price it would have been rated much lower. I have 2 more to review in the near future. I am going on the Solstice inaugural Nov 12, the first sailing to leave the FLL port and Disney Wonder land/sea in January. Feel free to email any questions. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation: It was interesting. We were not supposed to be able to board until 3 PM, but there was speculation it would be earlier. We took a chance (and earlier train) by arriving early, and were onboard just before 1:30. That was a nice ... Read More
Embarkation: It was interesting. We were not supposed to be able to board until 3 PM, but there was speculation it would be earlier. We took a chance (and earlier train) by arriving early, and were onboard just before 1:30. That was a nice start. Everyone was being sent to the Lido (Deck 9) to eat lunch, but we walked up the 2 decks to Deck 4 and went to our aft Veranda cabin. We met our cabin steward, Anom, stowed our carryons, and went to the Lido to eat some lunch. Cabin: The cabin was very efficient with a flat screen TV (it should have been wall mounted), a mini-fridge (full of extra cost mini-bar drinks but room for our wine and water as well), a very comfortable bed, and quite a bit of wardrobe space. Hanging space and shelves are plentiful, but be warned that drawer space is very limited (2 small ones in each of the night stands). There is no lighting in the wardrobes and it was difficult to tell if we had cleaned out the safe except by feel. The bath was also efficient, but be careful when using the shower. The shower curtain is too short and unless you use the shower head as a hand-held (standing so the spray is toward the wall) the floor will be soaked when you are finished. Durability of the design might be a concern - wallpaper was starting to peel in the room and the flimsy shower curtain track had already pulled loose (I had to snap it back in). Service: All the staff we met were invariably friendly and willing. This was a high point for us. Was the delivery 100% seamless? Of course not, but the effort always seemed to be there and that rates high in our book. One nice touch was the Lido staff helping passengers (those who needed it) with their trays without being prodded. The staff in the Tamarind (outstanding), Canaletto's (excellent), Pinnacle (excellent), and the Rembrandt (excellent) were all worthy of mention. The overall staff in the Lido was also very good. Our cabin steward was good to very good and always seemed to deliver what we requested on a timely basis. Cleaning in the bath (hair in the bath before we ever used it) and cabin (vacuuming so-so and a rubber glove dropped by the veranda door one day) were somewhat spotty, but I think he was new. Public Rooms: A big disappointment. They seemed small (not intimate) like HAL wanted to build a 100,000+ ton ship a squeeze it into the Eurodam's 85,000 ton hull. The atrium is a real let down small with an odd pinkish-purple stalactite chandelier. It certainly did not seem to be the hub of the ship. The ship's daily bulletin listed 12 bars. That seems like a lot and resulted in small venues that, in many cases, seemed like passages turned into a lounge (Explorer's) to closed off the rooms (Piano Bar), to strangely decorated, uninviting areas (Northern Lights). The shops are in a setting like a cheap shopping mall with the same pull down security grates. Not inviting at all. The high points were the Screening Room (a great place to see a movie but seats for only 36 people!)and the Silk Den (a beautiful, calming bar across from Tamarind). Artwork is always subjective, but we enjoyed only a little - antiques, old photos, "theater" art pieces, and the asian decor in Tamarind and The Silk Den. Dining: Tamarind was just outstanding. We dined there for lunch (a no charge set dim sum that is a steal!) and it was excellent. The decor, service, and food were the best on the ship and we cannot recommend it highly enough. Book on-line before you go. Caneletto's is a separate area of the Lido and does not take on-line reservations. we dined there the first night and the food was again excellent. With no surcharge, it was another bargain. Pinnacle Grill was a disappointment. The decor was very attractive and the service was very good (I had no forks when we sat down), but the food was only average - tough filet (medium rare), warm (fresh but not hot) baked potato, and a so-so souffle (ordered in advance it should have been much better). Rembrandt's - a mixed bag. The Rack of Lamb was excellent but trying to pass off a thin lido breakfast pancake as a crepe is inexcusable. Activities: Not as many as one might expect. Perhaps it is the norm for HAL or it was the 3 night itinerary or the many TAs/media/VIPs that were supposed to be onboard but, with no ports, we expected a few more choices during the day. With a new ship, a few new twists would have been welcome. Instead we got the same old/same old. Even some that we would expect were not there - wine tastings, enrichment talks (perhaps on the long, distinguished history of HAL), etc. Casino: Small. Intermittent Hip Hop music seemed a very strange choice given the average age of the clientele. One plus is that it did not seem as smoky as casinos on other ships we have sailed. Spa/Gym: We toured these areas but did not utilize them. Other posters will be more qualified to comment. Pools/The Retreat/Cabanas: We did not use these facilities but they seemed very popular. Overall Organization: No one seemed to know when the Muster Drill would take place. We did not find out until it appeared in the daily bulletin - 9:30 the morning after sailing. We have never had it the next morning. I am not sure the shore personnel had any idea when Embarkation would take place, but we chalked that up to the Coast Guard inspection. Calling the boarding numbers was an adventure since you could not hear the gentleman making the announcement unless you were pretty close to him. Disembarkation was a real challenge and detailed below. Disembarkation: A disaster. The ship was to be cleared by 10:00 AM, but we docked late (how does that happen on a cruise to nowhere?). We were not taking HAL transfers (on Amtrak) so we were assigned Expedited Disembarkation and would take our own bags off. We considered this a real plus so we could by pass the usual traffic jam claiming bags and grab a cab to Penn Station. It was to be coordinated by deck. That was the last communication we had and resulted in a mass rush for the gangway when it opened. We were not even told the deck or location (forward or mid-ship). We were fortunate to be fairly close to the gangway (totally by luck since we decided to wait in the Explorer's Lounge) but others were caught in a real crush of people. At the hatchway there was a small child running around (no parents in sight) with a cruise card distracting the security guard from his duties. Horrible organization and communication. Overall Impression: Pretty average, which is disappointing for a brand new ship. No WOW factor. Some definite hits and a lot of misses as noted above. On the whole, an OK ship we would not purposely seek out to sail on again. We have to ask - is this the best of HAL or a disappointment for seasoned HAL passengers? Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
My husband and I are both in our early 30s, we have been on 8 cruises together - this was our 4th on NCL. (Others were on RCCL) We were just on a 10 day Canada/New England cruise last month (Norwegian Dawn), but we booked this "Cruise ... Read More
My husband and I are both in our early 30s, we have been on 8 cruises together - this was our 4th on NCL. (Others were on RCCL) We were just on a 10 day Canada/New England cruise last month (Norwegian Dawn), but we booked this "Cruise to Nowhere" as a way for my aunt and uncle (late 40's) to try cruising for the first time. We thought it would be a great introduction, and a fun night away... Check-in at Pier 90 was surprisingly smooth! It was so fast, we arrived at 11:45am, and were literally on the ship within 10 minutes of arriving at the pier. The cabins were not available until 2pm, so we had lunch in the Raffles buffet. None of us were at all impressed with the buffet. Having just traveled on the Dawn in September (where the buffet was slightly above average), this Raffles buffet was extremely disappointing to us. The salad dressings were all remarkably watered down to the point that when you brought the fork to your mouth - the dressing would drip all over the table (and you!). I had to put the salad aside because it was so drippy, and I didn't even load it up with dressing. The entree choices were medium-warm at best, and not tasty at all. They also did not have a nice cut-fruit salad like they did on the Dawn. The slices of fruit they had at the buffet had the rinds still attached, were cut awkwardly, and difficult to eat gracefully. The signs stating that the cabins were not ready were still on the hallway doors well after 2pm, and finally we just opened the door and continued onto our cabin. There were a handful of other people we heard complaining about that as well from other corridors. One thing that was WONDERFUL - no muster drill! I can't tell you how thrilled we were to not have to go through that this time around! We both loathe the muster drill on cruises, and cannot truly begin to relax and enjoy our vacation until the muster is done - so we were excited to see there would be none! We normally choose to eat dinner in the specialty restaurants most nights when we cruise, and our favorites are Cagney's Steakhouse/Le Bistro...but we were traveling with my aunt and uncle who were first-time cruisers, and they really wanted to stick to the "included" restaurants. We had no problem going along with this, because my experience with the dining room or dinner buffet on the Dawn was always decent. Unfortunately, the menu for the dining room on the Cruise to Nowhere featured salmon, veal, and a few other choices that did not appeal to my relatives - so we accompanied them to their choice - the buffet. I have to say that the dinner buffet was the worst I have ever experienced on any of my previous 6 cruises! I felt bad that we had talked it up as being full of selection and fresh...then when we got to Raffles - it was not anywhere near as pleasant as the buffet on the Dawn! It was small, cramped, and the servers had their own agenda. I had to stand there and wait for someone to finish their conversation with a co-worker before they could answer my question about what something was. At least two of women passing out the plates/silverware were noticeably rude in the way they asked people to sanitize their hands first. I actually witnessed one of the waitstaff pull the plate back out from someone's hands when she realized they had not sanitized! I am a frequent cruiser so I automatically do this step anyway, but I witnessed them being rude to other passengers - I think they could have handled it differently. After dinner we walked around the ship and checked out the various public rooms, including the casino. It seemed larger than on some ships I have been on, and it handled the crowd well. I didn't feel overcrowded inside. My husband and I aren't big gamblers...but we took advantage of playing a few slots and had some fun for about an hour. We ended up watching Game 3 of the World Series in the Shanghai Bar. We would have preferred to watch it in Henry's Pub, as they had a more enclosed area and cozier atmosphere, as well as the Sox game on the larger flat-panel screens...but NCL scheduled karaoke in there for the entire evening. Not a good combination to hear the screeching of drunken passengers while trying to watch the game. Around 11pm - we took a quick run over to the Blue Lagoon for a late-night snack. Service was quick...we ordered potato skins, buffalo wings, french fries, and soup. (There were only fast-food type choices in here) The sauce on the buffalo wings was anything but "buffalo" sauce. I forgot that I had also experienced this at the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn - or I would have skipped that choice altogether. (Why can't they figure this one little thing out??) The potato skins were actually good, but covered excessively in sour cream. I also enjoyed the tomato soup. It was hot and had a pleasant taste. My husband said the fries were too greasy for him to eat, so he shared the potato skins with me instead. NCL certainly made a killing on this one-night cruise! What a great idea to cut the Canada/New England itinerary down to 6 nights and offer the 7th night that week as a Cruise to Nowhere! They probably pulled in more money from drinks and gambling during this one-nighter than the entire 6 days on the Canada/New England cruise! There were many groups of passengers, clearly with organized groups and they were all having a great time! By about 9pm there were numerous people who were completely bombed and staggering all over the ship. I was fine with that, but it was unfortunate to see that so many passengers were careless about where they left their empty beer bottles and cocktail glasses...and they were seen stacked up in public areas, in common hallways, in and around elevators -I even saw a few left in plants around the ship! There is no reason for adults to act that way in any situation - so it was somewhat unsettling to be on a ship with that class of people...but alas, it was only for one night! Disembarking the ship was a breeze. NCL allowed guests to remain in their rooms until about 10am (although we left MUCH earlier!). It was nice to leave the luggage in your room and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing. The breakfast buffet was disappointing. The eggs were super-watery and there was nobody making omelets or waffles. Again, the fruit was cut into awkward shapes with the rinds still attached, and the watermelon had seeds vs the seedless variety onboard the Dawn! Walking off the ship was as easy as swiping your card at the gangway on Deck 7. No lines, no waiting. I heard some people complaining about the steepness of the ramp from the Ship to the Pier, but it didn't bother me. It was carpeted and steep, yes, but there were handrails the entire way down and I had no problem maneuvering it. Unfortunately, our traveling companions did not fare well on this cruise. One of them got seasick about 4 hours into the sailing and was unable to emerge from her cabin until the next morning. This was no fault of the cruiseline, of course, as the seas are what they are - but I felt bas nonetheless. Her husband was able to get out and explore some of the events of the evening and had an enjoyable time, but it isn't the same when you are on your own. I wish things were different for them, because I enjoy cruise vacations so much and would love for my relatives to experience it in the same way...but it was just not meant to be. Overall, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed the decor and layout of the ship...it was much "fancier" is design than the Norwegian Dawn, with the Spirit having red oriental-style carpeting, black lacquer and brass furnishings. (Although, I prefer the more understated look of woods and rich, yet warmer colors as on some RCCL ships) On the Spirit there seemed to be more nooks and crannies to relax in - should it have been a longer trip. The layout of our interior cabin was super-enjoyable! I loved the shelves and safe in the closet, and also the tv/shelving area and vanity mirror layout. The only things I had a problem with were: 1) The tiling in the bathroom was the most shocking color of fluorescent greenish/yellow that I have ever seen, and the corners of and around the shower area were extremely discolored and looked moldy, although further inspection proved it to be only rust. Still, it was unexpected for NCL. And 2) When we asked the cabin steward to put our single beds together into one bed - we came back in the room to find much lint, dirt, stains and even a stray pill (!) on the side of the room that one of the beds originally occupied. It was only for one night, and we were really only in the room to sleep... so I didn't say anything to the staff about it, but maybe I should have. I would hate for that to happen to someone with a small child in the room. In summary, for $150/pp this was a worthwhile experience for the novice cruiser. For someone with multiple 7-day and 10-day cruises under their belt - I wouldn't recommend it at all. The only circumstance it would be recommended would be if you were planning to go with a large group of people to celebrate something. It really isn't long enough to be relaxing - it is just an opportunity for a very quick getaway. Heather Colchester, CT Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
My DH and myself live in NY and love the option of cruising from NYC. We have sailed on the EOS out of Cape Liberty and it was the most memorable cruise for our big family of 8. We needed a long weekend getaway and decided on the Carnival ... Read More
My DH and myself live in NY and love the option of cruising from NYC. We have sailed on the EOS out of Cape Liberty and it was the most memorable cruise for our big family of 8. We needed a long weekend getaway and decided on the Carnival Cruise To Nowhere on the Miracle. We have done the Cruise To Nowhere before and we had a wonderful time. Embarkation: After cruising out of Miami and Port Canaveral, NYC seemed a bit less controlled. We arrived at the Pier at 11:45am and thought for sure we would have at most an hour wait to board. People were still exiting the boat from the prior cruise at 12:30pm. They began to allow the "special guests" onboard first. A large group of travel agents boarded to tour and experience The Miracle. VIP boarded next, those who needed help and then the regular folks. It only took an hour from this point to board the ship. FOOD: The staff instructed us to go up to the LIDO deck for lunch and cabins would be ready at 2pm to drop off our luggage. The Carnival food is good. Lots of choices, the lines seemed small and the staff very friendly. I like the food choices on Carnival, there does seem to be something for everyone. We ate dinner the first night at Nick and Nora's Supper Club. The $30 charge per person was well worth it. The food was outstanding, the service was wonderful and the atmosphere was very romantic and NYC chic! Dinner in the Dining room was average. The bar waiter for our table, looked like he wanted to be anywhere but taking my order. The head waiter was average and did not go out of his way for any of the tables. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows on the Miracle were awesome. The comedians...mixed review! The first night comedian was very funny! He really connected with the crowd. The second night: Marvin Bell...was hyped up to be a big time comedian...and just thought he was average at best! He seemed a bit full of himself and thought his material was very much like the first night! CABIN: We had a AFT balcony, a beautiful room, and spacious for its category and tons of closet space. I think if you compare by category...the Carnival Cabins are bigger and have more storage space. I love the Carnival Bedding...and actually have it at home. I highly recommend an AFT Balcony, especially out of NY. The view from our balcony was something out of a movie! I did hear alittle vibration from the engine at night, but nothing that kept me from sleeping. The cabin steward never introduced himself to us, we rarely saw him except at the end of the hallway talking to his colleagues. We did not have Pool Towels in our room and I had asked for them and received them on day 2. Although the room was neat and clean, BARS/LOUNGES/CASINO: Casino was great, not enough machines...entered my first Slot Tournament and had a blast. A lot of people seemed to winning except me!! Bar staff seemed alittle overworked and some bars seemed understaffed. On day one before sail away. We decided to grab a cocktail at the piano lounge in the lobby. I mentioned that there were a group of travel agents on board touring the ship before sail away! One in particular Travel Agent had approached us on the elevator about transferring our future RCL cruise to their office, offering us onboard credits, room upgrades etc. We get up to the bar and see that the staff looked extremely busy. The travel agent and had made his way to the same bar and happen to sit next to us. He had placed a drink order and did not want to wait. He was very belligerent and obnoxious to the bar staff and they went right into defense mode. It was very uncomfortable! The lack of bar staff seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the cruise. Disembarkation: The easiest disembarkation ever. Since we did not go to any ports of call, we were off the ship in 2 minutes. This was a first for us! We were home in no time...and with no airport to deal with, it was a very good way to end the weekend! In closing, the Cruise was money well spent. Even with the rain on our only sea day, there always seemed like there was enough to do. The Activities staff did a great job of keeping everyone entertained even though we could not just lounge out by the pool! It was great to get away for a couple of days on a beautiful Fun Ship! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
I took the one night cruise to nowhere on the Dawn Sept 1st 2007. Norwegian will be running this cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Spirit every Sat in Sept and October. This is the first time I had cruised with NCL, previously I've ... Read More
I took the one night cruise to nowhere on the Dawn Sept 1st 2007. Norwegian will be running this cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Spirit every Sat in Sept and October. This is the first time I had cruised with NCL, previously I've been on RCCL 3 times. I had a good time for the night and it was a great value for a day trip and a night over, but I was a little disappointed. The last cruise I took was on RCCL's Explorer of the Seas. I took it from Miami but its since taken up residency at Port Liberty, NJ, one of the NYC area ports. The Explorer has a rock climbing wall, the indoor adult pool/jacuzzi area, an ice skating rink, and an indoor mall (Promenade) with high ceilings that gave the ship a very open feel. The Promenade also helps you locate your room as you can tell what you're nearest to in the promenade. RCCL also tosses in sculptures in the hallways to help orient you to your room. I was only on the Dawn for one day and can't give a complete review but I did notice quite a few points that would make me hesitant to book a 7 day cruise. The only indoor pool is a small lap pool located in the spa. There are also 2 jacuzzis there and most of the guests don't know its there, so it isn't crowded and is very enjoyable. I did enjoy the indoor pool area on the Explorer, and I found the dawn lacking here. It was nice that the dawn has a separate kiddie pool area which attracts young children away from the main pool. It was a beautiful day, but during inclement weather the main pool would be a real let down. Being there only one day and night I had trouble locating my room, there don't seem to be any obvious landmarks/sculptures to recognize. The floors are clearly marked, but it seems like every floor has the same Andy Warhol print at the staircase. The food was pretty good and creative, but I am told that the pay extra restaurants are well worth it. I went with 4 friends for one night and freestyle worked for me, but I'm not sure I would care for it on a longer cruise. The grand 3 level ballrooms I'm accustomed to on RCCL are really a sight to be seen and while sitting with strangers can be awkward, I rather enjoy meeting new people. The last cruise on the explorer I made 2 friends at my table that made the trip all the more enjoyable. Also, the cruise crowd took advantage of the freestyle concept and some guests were inappropriately dressed for dinner. I'm not one for suits, but I saw quite a few in t shirts and jeans. I had a good time, but I think I've been spoiled by my experiences on RCCL. Read Less

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