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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
NCL Management needs to do a better job of communicating prior to the cruise. Our only real complaints were the lack of information regarding the check-in process. Why did they provide luggage tags to print and instruction to attach them ... Read More
NCL Management needs to do a better job of communicating prior to the cruise. Our only real complaints were the lack of information regarding the check-in process. Why did they provide luggage tags to print and instruction to attach them to our luggage when THERE WAS NO LUGGAGE SERVICE AT THE PIER for the 2-night cruise? Also, the numbering system used as you check in made no sense. It seemed like 90% of the people waiting to board were in group number 21 judging by the way the cheer went up when they said "and now, number 11 through 21" (there were no numbers 11-20). At least the room was ready when we got on board around 11:30. The only positive while we were sitting and waiting for embarkation was that the NCL ship WiFi became available around 10:30 and we were able to make entertainment reservation while sitting in the pier. Saved another line on board to make reservations. No complaints with the food. Moderno was good. We enjoyed it. Breakfast at O'Sheehan's both morning was quick and good. The buffet was, well, just a buffet. No surprises but nothing to write home about. Dinner at Savor met all expectations. Nothing outstanding but just good food. The comedy club was OK. Improv can be funny but it can also be just stupid. This show was somewhere in between. The only other minor complaint was with the sound crew for the Rock of Ages show. When they don't enable a performer's microphone, they're left on the stage talking or singing without the microphone working. It happened twice during the show to two different performers. No mic for several seconds. Also, they amplified the music much more than the voices of the singers. Made it hard to appreciate their performance. The cabin we had was a mid-ship balcony (category BA) on deck 13. Was noticeably smaller than the equivalent cabin we had on Quantum of the Seas last year. A few inches here and there really made a difference between the bed and closet, and in the transporter capsule they call a shower. Would we go on Breakaway again? Yes. Any day at sea still beats a day at the office. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
We took the Breakaway on the last cruise to nowhere. It was a great weekend! This cruise was a little different since it was just a two day cruise. For instance, there were no porters for luggage. But since it was such a short cruise, ... Read More
We took the Breakaway on the last cruise to nowhere. It was a great weekend! This cruise was a little different since it was just a two day cruise. For instance, there were no porters for luggage. But since it was such a short cruise, people didn't have much luggage anyway. And, when we boarded, we could head straight to our rooms. Embarkation was a mess. They assigned boarding numbers but the people working on the floor were calling different numbers than the ones called over the PA system. That worked to our advantage since our boarding number was 39. We got on when the PA was calling number 10. I've never seen such a disorganized embarkation. I also realize that some of that might not be under NCL's control. The ship is beautiful with some nice public areas. The atrium tends to get crowded though and the flow along the length of the ship can be tight at times as you move through the atrium, shopping area, or casino. The weather was great and we spent time around the pool both days. The adult pool area is nice and they enforced the no kids rule. Not sure why I need to show my room key to get pool towels though. The muster drill was poorly run. Some of the arcade games were allowed to continue and the ship board PA system was useless where we were, near O'Sheehan's, since we couldn't understand a word. There were some other announcements we couldn't hear. A wasted 20 minutes. We left about port an hour late. I don't know why but we got a great view of the NYC skyline when we sailed. I didn't see or hear anything about a sail away party. We had a drink at Shakers before dinner. Very good drinks and music by Angel was good to listen to as well. Dinner in Moderno was fantastic! Not only was the food and service great, we had a table right by the aft window so we got to see the NYC skyline, the Statue of Liberty and the Verazzano Bridge all lit up. Moderno has a great salad bar as others have commented. It was worth the up-charge. We spent some time in the casino but it was too smoky for us to really enjoy it. We went to Howl at the Moon--we really enjoyed the show! It was fun to sing along and it went nonstop. They rotated three people for the two pianos and it was non stop fun. All three are very talented. We had an inside cabin on Deck 11 forward. It was fine. The bed was comfortable and we got good hot water for a shower. It's kind of a long walk to the elevator or stairs though. The next day we had breakfast in the buffet and ate outside on the deck. The weather was great. We explored the outside decks and checked out the casino. Still too smoky so we left after a half hour or so. We had lunch in Savor that was very good. We hung out by the pool in the afternoon. The hot tubs were full. We tried exploring the shopping but the main shop was packed. There seemed to be too few shops for a ship this big. We changed for dinner and stopped by the martini bar again. We had dinner in Le Bistro. We had some champagne to start and a great bottle of wine with dinner. The server asked if I'd like another serving of escargot and I took her up on it. They were great! My steak was overcooked though. We went back to Howl at the Moon it was so fun the night before. It was really fun again. The next morning we had breakfast in Savor and walked off about 9:30. The taxi line was a mess so we left and began to walk to Penn Station. It turns out there is a taxi stand on 12th Avenue right across from the pier so we gat a taxi there and then head home. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This was my first cruise with norwegian after 4 with Carnival. We got the the manhattan pier at about noon and it was very confusing compared to past cruises. We traveled with two other families and we met them aboard the ship. Once aboard ... Read More
This was my first cruise with norwegian after 4 with Carnival. We got the the manhattan pier at about noon and it was very confusing compared to past cruises. We traveled with two other families and we met them aboard the ship. Once aboard the ship we found our room and explored the ship. the ship is beautiful! Our first activity was the ropes course. We went on when it opened and it was very fun. we also ended up doing the ropes course again the next day since they never opened the water slides. The next day on the ship while we were at sea we enjoyed dancing by the pool side. The service on the ship was ok. the crew members did not seem as friendly as on Carnival and did not go out of their way for you. Our cabin was the family ocean view on deck 5. it was nice however was a little small for five people to stay in. We ate in the manhattan room the first night and enjoyed our meal. We also enjoyed O'Sheehans irish pub. The entertainment was great! we enjoyed the rock of ages show as well as the piano bar and the fire and ice show. Overall we had a great time on the cruise. the main crtisism i would have is that the crew were not very friendly and the ship seemed a little disorganized in coordinating events. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
After reading a number of negative reviews we decided to roll the dice and get a sense of the ship with a weekend cruise to nowhere. A number of the complaints are perfectly valid, some a bit overblown, others somewhat questionable. We had ... Read More
After reading a number of negative reviews we decided to roll the dice and get a sense of the ship with a weekend cruise to nowhere. A number of the complaints are perfectly valid, some a bit overblown, others somewhat questionable. We had a lot of fun and will likely sail on Breakaway again but this ship isn't for everyone. EMBARKATION Get there early and you'll get on board fairly quickly. We arrived at the port at 11:40 and were onboard by 12:30. Not too shabby. BOARDING THE BREAKAWAY Kind of an odd thing to note about a cruise experience but worth pointing out nonetheless. If one of the highlights of your cruise experience is entering the grand atrium and looking around in awe this is not the ship for you. There's no atrium in the traditional sense. You're greeted, you board and you find yourself near the stairs and elevators, not the atrium. Make your way toward the center of the deck and you'll discover an atrium which resembles the hotel lobby of a boutique hotel with a European sensibility. It's very nice but it won't blow you away. The closest thing to an atrium experience can be found at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8 but the space feels a bit confined. SHIP LAYOUT Very easy to navigate since the focal point of the ship is at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8. Entertainment venues, the casino, restaurants, shops, guests services, etc. are spread across these three decks. Oddly enough, despite the size of this ship, many of the spaces seem small. You're left with the overall impression that they tried to squeeze as much as possible into a very defined space. This is most apparent in the atrium which hosts photo ops, dance lessons and other activities. Corridors are noticeably narrower on passenger decks than on other cruise ships. If someone is approaching you'll have to squeeze around them or move aside to let them pass. Elevators are in short supply. While you can typically expect elevators forward, aft and center on most ships, the Breakaway has only two elevator banks. This leads to crowding and long waits. My best guess is that a third elevator was eliminated to allow for additional cabin space (and the ship has a lot of cabins). Speaking of cabins.... CABINS and BALCONIES The cabins are very nicely done with pleasing tones and ample closet space but... They're a bit small. If you've sailed with Disney, Carnival or even on other NCL ships you quickly discover just how much smaller these cabins are. A standard balcony stateroom on the Breakaway comes in at just under 200 square feet -- and that includes the undersized balcony which accommodates two chairs that can be set at a slight angle or facing each other. You can upgrade to a mini-suite but that will cost you a bit more and the size is comparable to that of a standard balcony stateroom on competing Carnival, Disney, NCL and RCL ships. Most travel websites indicate that these rooms are larger but trust NCL's own website for accurate room dimensions. TIP: Cabins require a key card to turn on the lights. All well and good and not uncommon BUT when you remove the keycard ALL power is cut off to the cabin so if you're hoping to charge your camera or phone while at dinner or in the pool you'll return to discover that it hasn't charged. Ask your room steward for a card to keep the power. You can keep it in the slot for the duration of your cruise and you'll be able to charge your devices. THE FOOD NO complaints! We were pleasantly surprised that the food in the MDR's was actually VERY good. Our dinner in the Manhattan Room was fantastic and our meals in Taste and Savor were very good. Yes, all three share the same menu but there's a nice variety on the menu. Also, the 'free' restaurants are as nicely laid out and decorated as the premium restaurants. You won't feel as if you're getting second tier service. Another free option is O'Sheehan's which offers Irish Pub fare and is open 24 hours a day. Just don't eat at the bar. No one ever took our order. If you feel like splurging you can eat at one of the many specialty restaurants but the MDR's will work for most. Oh, and free hot dogs from the hot dog cart! if you're not a fan of Freestyle Cruising when it comes to meals, set times and wait staff are not NCL's thing. You may miss it but you'll adjust (and, really, Freestyle cruising is pretty much just about eating where and when you'd like). Tip: Book all meals before sailing. Also, if the board indicates that a restaurant has no availability drop by anyway to see if they can seat you. People tend to make reservations and then never show up. Tip: Arrive early for a good table to see the dancers from Burn the Floor perform in the Manhattan Room. They perform at 6:00 p.m. on select nights for a half hour and it's a lot of fun. ENTERTAINMENT ROCK of AGES is a lot of fun and the cast is fantastic. A crowd pleaser but definitely not for (most) kids under 14. It really depends on how sophisticated your kids are since language can get a bit colorful and some of the sexual situations are not entirely kid friendly. SECOND CITY is designed around both families and adults. If you enjoy improv you'll enjoy Second City. We did not attend the Cirque show. At $40 per person I just wasn't feeling it for this cruise. Other activities are available throughout the day for everyone in the family. BARS Lots of bars. The Ice Bar is a novelty that gets you two drinks for $20 and some fun pictures but if you opt to pass it by you'll be able to live with yourself. What I did miss, however, was an intimate bar experience. There's usually a lounge of some sort on most ships that's a bit on the low key side but most venues on the Breakaway were fairly high energy. This is to be expected on a cruise ship, of course, but every now and then you just want to slow things down a bit. THE SPA Ship spas tend to have a warm vibe about them but lots of blues and whites here with a layout that is perfectly functional but with a flow that seems a bit off. The fairly large pull, however, is a definite plus. SMOKE FROM THE CASINO This comes up frequently in reviews. It's definitely noticeable and one has to wonder why the casino would be placed between two decks in such an open area. That said, it's no worse than other cruise ships we've been on but it's definitely noticeable and at certain times more than others (at one point there was absolutely no smoking at all in the casino). SPLASH ACADEMY We didn't bring our kids on this cruise so I can't weigh in on how much fun it is but the facilities were a bit underwhelming compared to Carnival and (especially) Disney. Our daughter will have to weigh in on the fun factor on our next Breakaway cruise (and from what I've read kids love Splash Academy). STAFF Room stewards were great as were the servers. Very helpful and accommodating. We found the Guest Services staff to be available but not overly helpful. Having just recently been on a Disney cruise the contrast in service was hard not to miss. While the primary goal at guest services on a Disney ship is to find a solution to a problem or have an available answer for any possible inquiry (and always with a smile), the Guest Services staff on the Breakaway seemed a bit preoccupied. OUTDOOR FUN! It was a bit too cold to experience it all (and on day two all outside areas were closed off due to high winds) but what little we did get to see looks like it will be a lot of fun. Large open areas, the Boardwalk, water slides and much more. ABOUT THAT NEW YORK THEME FOR THE SHIP... Well, you definitely get the sense that the interior was not designed by someone with an intimate knowledge of New York. The hull design by Peter Max nails it but the interior of the ship doesn't quite follow through. Yes, there are splashes of art here and there as well as a number of old photos of old New York but it would have been nice if more of the interior spaces reflected the architecture and the sights and sounds of New York. Just an observation. CONCLUSION Was it perfect? No. Are there a few things that could use improvement? Sure. Some major, some minor. Was it a lot of fun? Yes, and because of this we're willing to sail on the Breakaway again   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We just returned from a 1 night cruise to nowhere which while it was enjoyable I didn't get to do as much as one would of hoped. I was still recovering from bronchitis and a sinus infection so I knew the original plan of partying ... Read More
We just returned from a 1 night cruise to nowhere which while it was enjoyable I didn't get to do as much as one would of hoped. I was still recovering from bronchitis and a sinus infection so I knew the original plan of partying late may end a bit earlier than planned but was still planning on having a blast. We arrived at the port in record time had absolutely no traffic on our ride up from the Allentown, PA area. It was approximately 11am when we arrived. Our first lack of service was the parking elevator attendant insisted on cattling us into a line to wait for the worlds slowest elevator. We waited and waited to then be told anyone who is capable can take the stairs.... we only had a small bag so we opted that route to find it was an escalator the whole time!! We only lost about 10 minutes but it was still frustrating. We then got through security quickly and were awaiting to check in. Since we had sailed prior we had "priority" check in. The guy who ended up checking us in was having computer issues, so we waited and waited. He finally got it working and then the swiping machine went down but he kept insisting it was our credit cards. Long story short we lost another 15 minutes or so. Made it on to the ship and up to the Garden Cafe by noon. Lunch was nice and there was plenty of space considering we were lucky and got on so quickly. Rooms were ready by about 1:30. We had a balcony on the 10th deck aft. It was a nice room although the bathroom configuration was interesting. I don't remember having a sliding shower door on the toliet area on our last Gem cruise but this time we did and it was pretty pointless as my string bean hubby could barely fit in the toliet area and shut the door. There was a crack in our sink that was purely a cosmetic issue, we had no problems using the shampoo or soap dispensers as I know that's been a complaint I've seen a lot recently. The balcony was nice but there were a few used bandaids laying out there when we arrived YUCK. Our cabin stewards were awful they didn't leave any of the forms, papers etc. that were supposed to be in our cabin. When running into them in the hallway they acted like they were being bothered. Not your typical friendly and helpful cabin steward. They also notoriously knocked very lightly once and immediately opened the door walking in on quite a few passengers. We went to have dinner in the main AFT dining room but they were having pager issues so there was an insane wait around 7pm. So we headed to the Magenta room instead and walked right in. Again the service wasn't there not your happy hello I'm blah blah from some country and will be your waitstaff this evening. They literally took your order and didn't offer bar service unless you asked multiple times. The food was hit or miss. Our one friend was quite bummed that surf and turf was not offered. There was a regional specialty which was lamb I believe but our waiter didn't find that piece of information important we overheard it later on in our meal from another server. One friend had the broccoli bisque and loved it. I had the garlic polenta and a spring roll which were both good but the sauce that went with the spring roll was not consistent. My other friend had it as well and her's was nice and sweet while mine was very spicy/gingery. Main meal I got the bacon carbonara which lacked flavor, my friend got the steak which was mostly gristle and the spinach served with it was awful. Her husband got the salmon which he enjoyed but it was a very very small portion. Unfortunately we didn't get to go to any shows as my husband became very ill not long after sailaway. At first we thought maybe it was his salad at lunch as it came on quickly with no notice but when we returned this morning the doctor diagnosed him with strep. Due to him being sick and us not knowing what the issue was in respect for the other passengers onboard we remained in our room for the evening and left fairly early the next morning to get him home to the doctor. Before leaving I quickly ran up to the garden cafe to grab some breakfast and was not at all impressed. The options were really lacking and the bacon was very under done. One of my biggest complaints were they had a staff member standing in front of the juice dispensers filling them constantly and adding them to a tray but she would just stand there with her back to you even once the tray was filled and looking down. Not walking around and offering them to anyone. So it made it very hard to get a juice drink or ice tea. I asked if I should fill my own or take one from the tray and she said fill please but then just stood there in the way. Maybe I just had bad timing but everytime I wanted a drink it seemed like she was just standing there smack dab in the middle of the machine with a full tray. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We just got back from the cruise to nowhere Jan 17th - 19th. PROS: food at Teppenyaki excellent - not sure why, but they were turning folks away and said they were booked the first night and there was only 2 tables during our 2 hours ... Read More
We just got back from the cruise to nowhere Jan 17th - 19th. PROS: food at Teppenyaki excellent - not sure why, but they were turning folks away and said they were booked the first night and there was only 2 tables during our 2 hours there. I think it may be true that they are understaffed. Cirque du Soliel show was wonderful - a must see Spa mini suite was beautiful room ( I thought the entire ship was beautiful - not gaudy like older ships) - the spa suite shower was great -enjoyed the waterfall showerhead - the bathroom was a great size. Buffet food was pretty good - did bottleneck at times - I think you just needed to time it right. casino quite large and we did win a little - purchased the chips/slot discounts online prior to the cruise which was a good deal. CONS: too much smoke drifting from the casino into other areas of the ship. the last Disney cruise we were on, staff stood guard at all the restaurants with hand sanitizer and made you use it before meals. On this cruise, it was available, but I saw very few people using it. SPA: while it is quite large and a beautiful area... it was completely packed on this cruise and very noisy - I go to the spa to relax and this was just a fight for access to the tile loungers/spa pools/access to the salt room etc... and they were charging $279.00 for spa access for the 2 day cruise which was outrageous given how crowded it was and that the spa was not even open the second night ( it closed at 8pm) . my access was included with the room ... but if I had paid additional I would have been very upset. free dining rooms very slow... we had to wait one day for lunch at Manhattan for 45 minutes to get in and once inside it took 30 minutes sitting there and no service yet. The restaurant was only half full .. so we got up and left for the buffet. very disappointing. Other folks we spoke with said all dining rooms were very slow. again, not sure if they have enough help. The upcharging for everything seems excessive on this ship- the whole point of cruising is to have an all inclusive vacation .. and it seems NCL is slowly trying to get away from that concept ( charges for shows, restaurants, kids clubs after a certain time..) .. if you want anything of better quality they want to charge you for it. the first day on board it was 50 degrees and sunny - not sure why there was no outdoor activities open such as the slides/ropes course etc. 2nd day it was cooler/windier and again they were not open.. so disappointed that we could not try them. My son is 12.5 years old - Splash Academy was where he was assigned. Did not want to go at all as you had to stay 2 hours minimum before pickup and the area was set up for much younger kids with kiddie activities- not age appropriate.. they should rethink adding 11 and up to the teen area ( 13 and up) - Entourage which looked like lots of fun. Rock of Ages show was fun and well done - but definitely for adults only- cursing/girls in stockings/garters/dry humping/sexual innuendos throughout - seems like an odd choice for a cruise line for their major free show on board. Costs of leaving from NYC are high - $ 80.00 for parking for 2 days at the pier + tunnel/tolls etc... and it was rocky/choppy/cold the second day of the cruise- felt ill for a while - I don't know if I would pick another trip from here again ( definitely not in winter) - but would rather leave from Florida port . a cruise to nowhere was a great way to check out the ship without having to spend a fortune. We had a fun weekend, but I don't think I'd take another trip on the Breakaway - I'll stick with Disney and Royal Caribbean lines.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
I've never cruised in the US before, so when my sister and I decided to do a "weekend escape" from NYC I wasn't sure what to expect. It was mostly fun and I was pleasantly surprised, although they were a few hitches on ... Read More
I've never cruised in the US before, so when my sister and I decided to do a "weekend escape" from NYC I wasn't sure what to expect. It was mostly fun and I was pleasantly surprised, although they were a few hitches on the relatively short trip. Boarding was an absolute disorganized nightmare. I'm not sure if this is always the case with Norwegian, or things were weird because the breakaway was in the neighboring dock and had been turned into the Bud Light hotel for super bowl weekend. We were told we could get on the boat between 12 and 4, but when we arrived at the cruise terminal at 12:30, the waiting area was packed with passengers and we were told the ship wasn't ready. We were given a boarding card with a number on it and waited for at least another hour. There was some semblance of order once they began boarding and they started by calling sections by number, but after the first set of numbers it was chaos and nobody had any idea if and when it was their turn to go. After about another half hour, we just got up and walked past the guy checking boarding card numbers and got on the very long line to go through security and board the ship. About 40 minutes after that, we were on the ship- close to 3 hours after we were told we could board. After that, it was mostly smooth sailing. The food was good, even the buffet (which, as a vegetarian and a picky eater I was prepared to be disappointed in), the service was mostly good (though our room could have been cleaner- we found hairs in our bed that weren't ours!). The cabins were small but fine, definitely not what we expected for a mini-suite. The atmosphere was fun, clearly people came to party and they did so pretty much non-stop! The piano lounge was nice, and some of the other bars were great. The 24-hour irish pub (whose name I can't remembered, but I nicknamed O'shitshow) was a mess, though, clearly understaffed and they couldn't keep up with the crowds. It was constantly full, dirty, out of glassware, etc, and we tried to order food there once and were told that they were so backed up that we couldn't even place an order unless we waited 20 minutes. I hated rock of ages, but the crowd seemed into it. We paid for access to the spa, and while the facility itself was nice, especially since it was too cold to use the outdoor pools, my experience was mixed. The woman at the front desk refused to sell us a one-day pass and when we went back to look at the facility, we saw another woman selling one day passes so we proceeded to buy one from her. Mid-transaction, front desk lady stormed into the spa and started yelling at the lady who was selling us passes, and took my receipt and wouldn't give it back! We finally got our things and were on our way, but were not looking forward to having to check in with front desk lady the next day. We spent several hours in the spa on saturday, and while the facilities were great, it was too crowded and more of a party atmosphere than a spa atmosphere. People were fighting over chairs, including 2 couples who kept throwing each others' things off of the 2 chairs next to me, the pool was crowded, people were screaming and talking loudly, and somebody actually brought a bucket of beer in. People were carrying on full conversations in the sauna, and there was nobody there to regulate anything. Definitely not a relaxing setting, but the pool, saunas and steamrooms were nice. I also used the gym on saturday, and it was fine. It was nice to overlook the water while working out. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
NCL offered a free 2 night cruise aboard the Getaway for travel industry people & press out of NYC on January 27. The newest member of NCL's fleet had just made it's maiden transatlantic journey and was in NYC for the Super ... Read More
NCL offered a free 2 night cruise aboard the Getaway for travel industry people & press out of NYC on January 27. The newest member of NCL's fleet had just made it's maiden transatlantic journey and was in NYC for the Super Bowl as it was chartered as the Bud Light Hotel. My wife and I are both in our 30's ad have no kids. We are very laid back and down to earth...not uppity at all. There were Pros & Cons about the Getaway & the cruise in general. Pros: Embarkation & Disembarkation - Fastest I've ever experienced on any cruise I've ever been on. Dining - Tons of choices and mostly good food (see MDRs & buffet in Cons section). All of the specialty restaurants were free on this cruise, but even if they weren't, they are well worth the extra charge. Moderno, Le Bistro & Cagney's are our favorites! The new O'Sheehans Pub is a much improved version of NCL's 24 hour diner on their other ships. Chicken pot pie was AWESOME and I'm not even a big fan of it usually. Carlo's Bakery is a nice touch...best cannoli I've ever had & I'm from NYC & Buddy "Cake Boss" himself was on the cruise! Entertainment - The Illusionarium was a great and fun magic show & I would recommend it. Just note that this is a dinner show, so don't eat before you go! Headliners comedy club was a fun (or should I say funny) hour spent. We didn't get to see the main show Leagally Blonde. Public Spaces - Very big and nice ship, but no real WOW factor. The casino is huge and has every game you could want on a cruise ship. I didn't have any luck, but my wife won $200. The ropes course is cool & the overall decor on the ship is very nice & modern. Service - Everyone we encountered were friendly, helpful and seemed like they knew what they were doing. Cons: Dining - The MDR's food is good, but not as hot as it should be and the portions are tiny. The buffet has the same things over and over everyday and gets boring. The food is usually cold and not the best quality. Cabin - We had a mid-ship balcony & it was hands down the smallest cabin I've ever had on a ship before. The balcony was rediculously small...have to put the chairs on an angle just so your knees aren't hitting the glass. The shower was like being in a coffin & the only outlets were by the phone...not near the bed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We started off getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get the pups ready for daycare. We dropped them off and headed downtown to catch the Amtrak. The train ride to NYC was quick and uneventful to Philly. However, there was a delay in changing over ... Read More
We started off getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get the pups ready for daycare. We dropped them off and headed downtown to catch the Amtrak. The train ride to NYC was quick and uneventful to Philly. However, there was a delay in changing over the tracks heading from Philly to Trenton, and then from Trenton to Newark. I think we waited in Newark for 15 minutes while they waited for the tunnel into NYC’s Penn Station to free up and continue letting trains through. Overall, we arrived at Penn Station about 35 minutes late. We headed up to the street to hail a cab and it was an eventful ride that ended up costing us about $17 bucks with tip. The cab dropped us off at Pier 90 and it was quite crowded when we entered the terminal. We were handed boarding group number 29 and proceeded to get in line to check in. Check in was long and one of the workers sent us into the wrong line, so her co-worker tried to tell us to go back around and walk down the correct line which would have lost our place in the current line. I wouldn’t hear of it. I told him that wasn’t fair and he needed to close off the line well behind us since requiring everyone to walk back around would make all those folks behind me lose their place in line as well. Before we got to the counter, the older gentleman directing passengers to an open counter was super nice and a bit “Friendly” so my babe looked at him like “slow it down a bit pops.” She’s so cute!! While waiting be called to transfer to pier 88 to board, some folks were just downright NASTY. I started to get a bit uncomfortable b/c obviously there was nothing any of the workers could do to make the process go faster so nastiness proved to be fruitless and unnecessary. When groups 1-16 were called to board, a nice gentleman said he liked my outfit, hair, etc so gave me his extra group 16 boarding card which I appreciated and off to the Breakaway we went. We were onboard probably around 1:10ish I believe. We headed straight to our balcony cabin #11114. I thought it was nice, but it was on the port side (I wanted starboard). We then headed up to the Garden Café for lunch. The buffet food was pretty good. There were a few misses that I tried but overall, it was good. I also met Tiggerwannabe and got my pretty pink butterfly. After lunch we explored the ship and I thought it was just beautiful. My first cruise was on Carnival and all I remember were bright gaudy colors. We headed to O’sheehan’s for the muster drill where I met Mizlorinj. After that we walked around a bit more and headed out to the Waterfront for Sail Away. After sail away we headed to dinner in the Manhattan Room. I had the salmon tartar for my app. It was yummy, I almost ordered a second helping, but the Duck Confit dish was awful, I sent it back and got the Eggplant which was just okay. I love duck confit but this was not Confit, no duck fat at all and it was dry -- which is the complete antithesis of Confit!! That was disappointing. I had the pistachio crème brule’ for desert which was good because it wasn’t too sweet. After dinner we walked off the food a bit. We then headed back to the room to freshen up and relax a bit b/c we had a 10:00 pm reservations for Rock of Ages but we missed it. We had the munchies around this time so we snuck into the studio lounge and grabbed some cookies. It’s really nice in there. Around 10:30 we were beat and ended up skipping the show, so we showered and headed to bed. Saturday morning I got up early b/c I wanted to get sunrise pics which came out absolutely stunning. I then hung out until it was time to get ready for the Meet & Mingle. I thought it went great and was extremely happy to meet everyone that I had the pleasure of meeting. I liked the DJ, but I didn’t spot a bartender or photographer?? After the Meet & Mingle we headed to O’sheehans for lunch. The food was just okay. I ordered a burger and the bread was hard as a rock. The apps (wings & cheese sticks) were okay but the spinach dip was awful. We then headed to Carlo’s and got 2 cupcakes they were also awful, not fresh, dry, and fell apart in the box and a cannoli which surprisingly was probably was the best darned cannoli I’ve ever had. We then stopped in the casino, had a few drinks, and just people watched until dinner. We headed back to the buffet for dinner and again it was pretty good. Overall, it was a great cruise that we really enjoyed. The only downsides were the food issues listed above, all the unsupervised young children running around especially in light of yesterday’s tragedy, and no towel animals or chocolates left for us even after I tipped our steward each day.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
I didn't intend to take a cruise to nowhere. Originally, the plan was that my very first cruise would be in March of 2014 aboard the Norwegian Breakaway. I booked it over a year ago as a present to myself for my 50th birthday, even ... Read More
I didn't intend to take a cruise to nowhere. Originally, the plan was that my very first cruise would be in March of 2014 aboard the Norwegian Breakaway. I booked it over a year ago as a present to myself for my 50th birthday, even treating myself to an aft-facing balcony. But then I saw the one-night Cruise to Nowhere, and the price was just too good to pass up. So I decided to get my feet wet, so to speak, by using the overnighter as sort of a sampler to see how I'd like the world of cruising. I'm a single guy -- what they called a "confirmed bachelor" in more civilized times -- who lives in Manhattan, so getting to the port on the morning of the trip was a breeze. As was, honestly, the entire process. It helped that almost as soon as I arrived at the terminal, I met fellow Cruise Critic member Lellie and her son, two of the nicest people you could hope to meet! She basically walked me through the entire process and by noon, we were on the boat. By 12:05, I had my first cocktail in hand. 'Cause that's how I roll! Lellie and her son invited me to join them for lunch, and I gladly accepted. While I'm very, very good at traveling solo -- and have no problem eating (or doing much of anything else) on my own -- when good company presents itself, why turn it away? We wound up going to the Grand Pacific dining room. So, how was my first experience with cruise food? In a word... pretty darn good. Okay, technically, that's three, but... you get the point. One of the things I really loved about the meal -- aside from the whole "order as much as you care to" -- was the portions. I know some people probably complain when they order, say, fried calamari and receive 8-10 pieces (with a delicious aioli accompaniment) -- as opposed to the mound you might get at a landlocked restaurant -- but I found it ideal. I ordered the calamari, a delicious shrimp Caesar salad and the fish and chips. (Lellie's son, it should be noted, is a human garbage disposal. He must have had three appetizers, two main courses and three desserts! But the kid burns it off and is thin as a rail.) In any case, both my order and his illustrate the point: the smaller portions left me pleasantly full but not overly so, while Lellie's son was free to order to his heart's content. (Did I mention that as soon as we finished this fantastic meal, he was ready to go to the buffet? Ah, to have that metabolism again... ) The calamari wasn't hot (it wasn't really even warm), and oddly, the "warm bread pudding" was borderline chilly. And yet, the food was actually very tasty. Look, I'm a foodie, and -- having read a lot of mixed things about meals aboard the ship -- I came in with fairly low expectations. And yet I wound up really enjoying just about everything I ate over the next 24 hours. I'm also very much of the mindset that I'm on vacation, and it's going to take a whole lot to get me even warm under the collar, let alone hot. By the time lunch was over, the cabins were ready. This was a good hour earlier than they'd told us it would be, which was an unexpected treat. I went to my cabin -- room 8005 -- to drop off my stuff. Now, I'm a big believer that balconies are the way to go, but on a one-nighter, I just couldn't see paying the price, so I went with an inside. A couple notes about the room. As I expected, it was small. While it was fine for a solo traveler on an overnighter, I most definitely would not want to spend a week in it. I suspect I'd feel very claustrophobic after a few days. And if you had two -- let alone three of four? -- occupants... yeah, that might get real ugly real fast, especially if you planned to spend any significant time in the room. The other thing to note is that room 8005 is as far forward as a room on level 8 can get... and as a result, the ride was, at times, a little rough. I'm not talking things falling off shelves or anything, but there was a fair amount of noticeable motion that I assume was the boat sort of plowing through the water. While I didn't actually get sick sick, I did get a little... sea sick. This may also have been me, however. I do have a tendency toward car sickness in certain circumstances, and I noticed that at around 9 p.m. or so -- by which time I was in the casino -- I was feeling a bit queasy. A walk around the promenade deck and some brisk air cleared that up.. which is why I'm glad I have an aft-facing balcony on the Breakaway: easy access to all the fresh air I can suck into my lungs! Over the course of the evening, I really did my best to see as much of the ship as possible, so let me hit a few highlights: * Bliss Lounge: This is just a fantastic, groovilicious spot to hang out. Four bowling lanes, air-hockey tables, good music, a great vibe. It's sad that, by all reports, this was turned into sort of an uncomfortable cave on the Breakaway, because on the Gem, it's fantastic. (It definitely could have used more staff, however. The poor girl working the bar alone was clearly in over her head. Nice as could be, but out of her league. It didn't help that -- this being a one-night cruise filled to the brim with a whole lotta people wanting to party hard -- she was getting slammed with customers, not all of whom were of the patient variety.) * Stardust Theater: Really nice space, very comfy. Lellie, her son and I met up to see comedian Jeff Harms here. (He was, by the way, fantastic. I love a comic who plays with the crowd and manages to do circular humor that all ties together in the end, which was exactly what he did.) We went directly from here to... * Spinnaker Lounge: ... where we caught the Second City improve group. Spinnaker is a fantastic space, nice big bar, lots of seating for shows (although it was standing room only for Second City). As for the show itself... they say adult, and they mean it. It was raunchy as heck... in the best way possible. It's also true that how successful the show is depends entirely on the audience. Unfortunately, our audience tended to be a little shy when it came to shouting things out. (Except for one man, seated in front of me, who was calling out some pretty dark stuff... much to my amusement). * Casino: I had a blast here. They had a great selection of games, and a surprising number of penny slots. The staff was a LITTLE pushy when it came to selling the nightly Paradise Lotto tickets. I bought tickets, and then was asked every 10 minutes by someone else if I wanted to purchase tickets. It's not a huge casino, so it can feel a little claustrophobic, but I walked away a winner and had a blast. What more can you ask, right? * Star Bar: I'd actually like to have spent a bit more time here, but there just wasn't time. Also, there were two groups in the place when I entered... a crazy-drunk group of girls celebrating a birthday, and a group in the corner who were apparently using an iPhone or something similar to loudly play their own music over the music played by the lounge. * Shakers Martini bar: I never actually got drinks at either of these, because they were jam packed with very loud, very drunk people most of the night. Totally not my scene... unless I happen to be one of the very loud, very drunk people. :) And that IS one thing to know about a cruise to nowhere: There are a lot of people on board who have one night to party, and man, are they intent upon doing so. By 8 p.m. or so, there were folks so drunk they couldn't walk. I have to think that the bar staff hates the cruises to nowhere, with everyone trying to drink as much as possible in the course of the evening. After cashing out at the casino, I headed to the Garden Café, the only place open for late night snacks (it was around 12:30 a.m. by now, and I'd skipped dinner... unless you count bourbon!). They had a nice selection of food, including a surprising (to me) number of vegetarian options. The pizza was fantastic, as were the ham-and-cheese on sourdough bread mini sandwiches. I took one last walk around the promenade deck -- a real highlight, to me -- taking time to stand at the very back of the boat, look off into the distance and contemplate life. (My conclusion? "I'm on a one-night cruise having an awesome time... life is good.") The bed in my cabin was super comfy. The bathroom was odd... the shower stall is pretty roomy (although it would be helpful to have H and C indications on the handles, as it wasn't the easiest thing to figure out which was what or how it worked). But the toilet is oddly angled so that should you need to... er... do your business sitting down, your knees are gonna be pressed against a wall. I can't begin to imagine how some of the more... um... corpulent of my fellow cruisers would possibly use the toilet. Then again, public restrooms are plentiful... I don't know if it had to do with the far-forward location of my cabin or if this is just common (remember, this was my first time on a cruise ship), but man, there is no way you'll sleep through arriving in port! I woke to the cabin shaking and I thought, "Good lord, are the alarms going to go off? Are we goin' down?" On the plus side, you won't miss breakfast! (On the down side, you may WANT to, given that the Garden Café was a madhouse with folks trying to get in that last meal! I'm not really a breakfast person, so I skipped, but the food looked pretty tasty!) Disembarkation was a breeze. Although the announcement said I'd have a customs form in my room, I didn't... but it was easy to grab one either from guest services or even after getting off the boat. In summary? My one-night cruise to nowhere was a fantastic experience. I'd do it again tomorrow in a heartbeat... and it definitely got me excited for my first "real" cruise on the Breakaway in March! Got any questions? Hit me up, I'll try to answer them! Happy Sailing! Tralfie/Richard   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
I went on the one-night Cruise to Nowhere sailing from New York City in November. I live in Manhattan, so it was fairly simple to get to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, though it's far from the subway if you are taking public ... Read More
I went on the one-night Cruise to Nowhere sailing from New York City in November. I live in Manhattan, so it was fairly simple to get to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, though it's far from the subway if you are taking public transportation. The embarkation process was very smooth and the staff I talked to were all very nice, which helped me to get more excited for the cruise. Aside from a cruise of the Greek islands I went on as a teenager, it was my first cruise, and definitely my first cruise where the ship and the entertainment were the major focus. On a Cruise to Nowhere, the ship is everything, since there are no ports of call. We did have beautiful sunset views of Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, but at night the ship provided all the entertainment you need. There wasn't time to do everything, but I was happy with what I decided to do. I used my copy of the Freestyle Daily, NCL's daily newsletter that lists the day's available activities, to plan my schedule. First I had dinner at the Grand Pacific dining room. I loved the ambiance of the dining room—very grand—but I wasn't wowed by the food. Next I went to the 70s-inspired show, "Get Down Tonight," which was high-energy and a lot of fun. Finally, I went to the Bliss Lounge for open mic karaoke, which was my favorite activity of the night. I met some amazing people there who were on the cruise with a huge group of family and friends, and we all had fun performing, singing along, and cheering for each other up on stage. I walked around the deck before returning to my cabin, but it was a bit cold and dark to really enjoy to the fullest. I slept well in my cabin. The next morning, I woke up early with the idea that I could make the most of a one-night cruise by going up on deck to watch the sunrise over the ocean, but I emerged on the deck to find that it was raining and we were already docked back in Manhattan. I grabbed breakfast at the buffet and disembarked early to beat the rush. There wasn't much left to do at that point anyway. Overall, I did enjoy my cruise and I thought it was a great value. I wish the food was better, but maybe it's better in the paid dining rooms. Other than that, the crew was great, the other passengers on the cruise were lively and friendly, and I had a good time. I hope I get to have other cruise experiences soon! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We only needed 2 pts to get us to Platinum status so we decided to book a 1 night cruise in a suite. However, I had noticed that the cruise prices had decreased so I called to see if anything else could be done. And was it!!!!! - we ended ... Read More
We only needed 2 pts to get us to Platinum status so we decided to book a 1 night cruise in a suite. However, I had noticed that the cruise prices had decreased so I called to see if anything else could be done. And was it!!!!! - we ended up being upgraded to an Owner's Suite - 10004. It had: 4 phones, 3 tv's, 2 bathrooms, 2 balcony's, seating for 15+, etc...It was a shame that we only had it for 1 night. Embarkation was a breeze - since we were staying in a suite, we were processed quickly, taken to the small room for refreshments and then taken upstairs to meet the concierge and then to lunch in Cagney's. We had sailed on the Gem in March and were familiar with Cagney's. The thought is good - allow suites to eat breakfast and lunch there. Well, every time we eat there, the service isn't good. We are ignored, when tables around us are being asked for their orders. We see coffee being served, but skipping us. And for breakfast, it was a joke. We weren't asked for bread orders, while the table next to us was. The fresh fruit and misc foods weren't where they were in April so I presumed that they weren't available on the 1 night cruise. It wasn't until we overheard another table pointing and talking about it, that we saw it. None of the wait staff had told us. The show was good -we had seen the main dance show in March. I was surprised to see how empty the Stardust Theatre was. The comedian was excellent. We spent time at the casino and broke even. Clientele for this cruise is certainly different than on the long cruises. This was the first cruise for many people and there were lots of VIP casino players, too. I think that many people took this cruise "just to escape" for 1 night. Where else in NYC can you get a room, all meals, gamble, and take in a show - all for a reasonable price? Many, many people were drinking, buying booze and cigarettes. Being in a suite allows us for early debarkation, too, but when we went down to Deck 7 where others were getting off, there was no one in line and so we literally, just walked off the ship. Would I do this again? Probably not - now we are at Platinum and we don't need to garner any points. It was a hectic day/evening for us since we drive 150 miles just to get down to NYC. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
We just came back from another 2 night cruise to nowhere on the Carnival Glory. Arrived at the port by 10:30am and was on the ship by 11:10am and followed everyone to the buffet area. Unlike the last time we did this the buffet area had ... Read More
We just came back from another 2 night cruise to nowhere on the Carnival Glory. Arrived at the port by 10:30am and was on the ship by 11:10am and followed everyone to the buffet area. Unlike the last time we did this the buffet area had plenty of seating and the lunch buffet was very good. We had no complaints. The deli part of it was actually very good. After lunch we took a spa tour and I signed up for a gentlemens shave/facial later on that day. We walked around the ship and got to cabin at 1pm and unpacked. Cabin 8461 aft with extended balcony. Small cabin but nice balcony. For a couple of days it was fine. We usually stay in suites but on a 2 nighter what's the point. The ship never felt crowded except during the muster drill. It was a full ship. Ate both nights in the steakhouse. Both meals were fantastic and worth the up charge to us. There was no production show our first night and they cancelled the adult comedy show at 1130pm that night. This was very disappointing. All there was to do was gamble and drink. So we did. The gambling wasn't good to us but I did see many people getting hand paid on the slots. So some people were winning. My spa treatment was nice and spa was good. The second night went to a very weak latin stage show and saw the adult comedy show late night that was so packed we had to stand. The comedy was funny so we didn't mind standing for about 40 minutes. Had great weather and calm seas. All in all we had a real good time.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Just returned from a 2 Day Cruise to No Where with my DH and my niece. DH and I are seasoned cruisers and have been on Royal and NCL. We are now legal guardians to my 13 year old niece so sharing a vacation and a cabin with a child is new ... Read More
Just returned from a 2 Day Cruise to No Where with my DH and my niece. DH and I are seasoned cruisers and have been on Royal and NCL. We are now legal guardians to my 13 year old niece so sharing a vacation and a cabin with a child is new to us so we thought a 2 day cruise would be perfect way to try it out. Love leaving out of Manhattan. Coming from CT its a pleasant drive. Because we left early we were on the pier about 10:30 so parking was not an issue and were on board by 11:30. Being a 2 day, you bring your own luggage on board. Not an issue expect we had to drag it around for 2+ hours. We did a 2 day on NCL in Feb and they allowed you to leave your luggage in one of the clubs until the rooms were ready. Carnival, take note, that is a nice option! Heard good things about Guys Burgers and headed there first. YUM! I am not a burger fan but this really was delicious. Fries were delish too! Being there was a light rain, we walked around exploring the ship  with luggage in tow. I agree with others that said the layout is hard to manage and in some regards, strange. NCL is guilty of this too as you cant always walk from front to back or my personal pet peeve, you have to walk through the middle of a club or restaurant to get to the other side. This is where I miss Royal and the promenade. Rooms are finally ready so we are eager to get rid of our luggage. I booked the Ocean Suite and it was very nice though smaller than I expected. Again, DH and I are still getting accustomed to being parents and now sharing a very small space hence the upgrade to a suite. It worked out fine though the bed was harder than I would of liked. With prayers answered, the sun was out just in time for sail away. I was eager to show my niece the Status of Liberty and going under the bridge. We went to the very top deck and watched us pull out of our berth and start down the river. My niece was already bored watching the skyline and went to the pool, LOL. DH and I enjoyed the sun, the sights and the excitement of going under the bridge. You really do worry that youre not going to make it! Off to dinner in the My Time dining room. On a longer cruise, I always choose the late seating as my favorite part of cruising is the camaraderie you develop with the wait staff. I have been blessed each cruise with an amazing wait staff so though the staff was excellent and served me well, I still missed the personal touches of being served by the same people night after night. Oh, I did love the dancing and singing in the dining room by the wait staff. My niece of course was totally embarrassed by my participation, but I enjoyed myself. The one requirement I asked of my niece was to go to the meet & greet at Circle C (Carnivals kids camp). She begrudgingly attended after dinner but when I returned to pick her up, she was out & about with her new found friends. My plan worked! Now DH and I could go dancing while she was out with her friends.Not having ever used the kids camps before, I didnt know what to expect and have nothing to compare it to. I did think the 12-14 year old room was rather small and didnt see much in there to entertain them whereas the small kids area was very large and the older kids was set up like a night club. There were planned activities but niece preferred wondering around the ship with her group of friends. Next day was gorgeous and sunny. Went to Red Sail for breakfast and seemed to beat the crowd as there werent any lines (there were very long a couple hours later). Its funny as I thought the buffet area on the Glory was very welcoming and warm and not loud & chaotic, but it was a bit frustrating to wait in line to get your food. Then again, NCL & Royals buffet area is a mad house with people in front of you, behind you and all over trying to get their portions. Still not sure which I prefer.chaos or lines. By 9:30 am finding lounge chairs by the pool was near impossible. We managed to find two for DH & I and my niece went by herself and located one in another area. She didnt stay there long as she wanted to go find her friends. We on the other hand, stayed in the pool area all day people watching. We did leave for lunch  pizza and burritos (yummy) but otherwise relaxed all day. They did the usual pool games, music and ice sculpting on deck during the day. From 12 to 4 they had a DJ on deck which I enjoyed. I kinda liked the shout outs for birthdays, anniversaries and what not. It kept the energy high in the area. After 7 hours in the sun, I was ready for a shower and of course to eat. Another dinner in the Golden something dining room and they had lobster which surprised me. Thinking its only 2 days, they wouldnt serve lobster. But they did and I was oh so happy. Another dance with the wait staff and off we went. Took a family photo  our first, and off she went with her friends and off we went to enjoy a beautiful evening on deck and later to dance the night away. Unfortunately two days goes by so quickly and the next morning had breakfast, packed up and disembarked. Disembarkation went smoothly but as always theres a lot of people so the lines to get off tend to be long. Overall, I enjoyed myself. I am not hard to please, I have a go with the flow, make the best it attitude and had a nice long weekend. I do miss the easy layout of Royals ship and I do prefer Royals color schemes as they are more subdue. I thought Glory looked too shiny and glossy and you can easily tell the new upgraded areas from the old because of this. For example, the Alchemy Bar is done with a neutral stone bar, leather seating and wood floors whereas the hallway floor leading to it is a shiny glittery black tile with glittery color tiles sprinkled about with a mirrored ceiling, and loud colored seating. Not my personal preference but it certainly did not take away from my experience. I also think the lobby areas on other ships fall short of the wow factor. But again, I love the promenade with the sidewalk feel and its big open space. Again a personal preference. I will say I enjoyed the food on Carnival a lot, the DJs were excellent and didnt make me feel old by playing music I couldnt dance too and the staff was over the top friendly and helpful  I mean amazingly nice and eager to help you. So, how was it with my niece? Good. Im glad she had a good time, met some kids and was able to do her own thing so we could have some adult time. I learned establishing rules are vital and knowing how to get back to the cabin are also very important (for her and me, LOL!). How was my first time on Carnival? No complaints really. I like to cruise. I like having my bed made each night, my room cleaned daily, a variety of foods to choose from and try, entertainment within walking distance, and not having a care in the world for a while. So the question now is where to next?   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2013
What a blast, rocking on the Norwegian Jewel's cruise to nowhere. Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the terminal about 11, paid $70 for 2-night parking, had priority check-in, got group #5, and we boarded and were eating lunch at ... Read More
What a blast, rocking on the Norwegian Jewel's cruise to nowhere. Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the terminal about 11, paid $70 for 2-night parking, had priority check-in, got group #5, and we boarded and were eating lunch at the buffet by 12:15! Dining: Speaking of buffets, I read all the previous negative reviews, and I just don't get it. You must be a really picky eater if you cannot find something you like. Ok, the Jewel did not have all the fancy Chef named stations as other lines have, but you could easily choose from very good pizza, hamburger, hot dog stations, to pressed sandwiches, pasta to order, chinese, indian, and american fare food. Since we boarded early, the food was hot, plentiful, and the choices were endless, our 2 buffet lunches and 2 buffet breakfast's were excellent. We booked dinner online in advance a month before the cruise, and on night #1 we ate at the excellent Braziian BBQ called Moderno's and were were not disappointed for the $20 upcharge per person. The salad bar was fresh with cold seafood, salads, soups, olives, cheeses, breads etc. The main meal came with delicious sides of garlic mashed potatoes, fluffy rice and black beans, and fried bananas which were tasteless. The highlight of course were the skewers of piping hot flavorful meats, including garlic beef, lamb chops, sirloin, filet mignon, chicken, chorizo, etc. The place was fun, it was buzzing with energy, and the desserts of flan and papaya ice cream were delicious also. Word got out the food was so good there, that it was fully booked on night #2. Dinner night #2 we ate at the French Bistro, and surprisingly, we were a little disappointed. Appetizers of escargot swimming in garlic, mussels in a cream sauce, and scallops were good. Main course of roasted duck and pork with apples, were boring, not hot, and had very little flavor. Only my filet of beef was excellent, but it had a weird tasteless potato gratin as a side. This place was not worth the $20 upcharge, and it appears it gets served out of the main kitchen so why all the fuss? Cabin: We had a mini-suite on deck 11, right below the outdoor deck, the pool, the spa the gym and Garden Cafe buffet, a perfect location. The suite was wonderful, it had a queen size bed and sofa that became a full size bed that could be separated by a curtain, gave the feeling of 2 rooms in one! We had plenty of room for the 3 of us, and we drank coffee brewed from our in suite coffee maker, and also had beer and wine on the balcony. Plenty of storage room, and a bathroom with a shower and bathtub combo, very serviceable. Pool/Spa/Gym: What a good time we had lounging in the outdoor hot tubs during a snowstorm, people were having a grand time, and the outdoors pools were heated and full of happy people, even though the temps were in the 40's and 30's. Excellent gym, which was full on day 2 sea, and the spa was worth the up charge of $45 for the 2-days. Entertainment/Activities: Ok, there were a lack of day time activities, too much bingo, the boring Deal or no Deal game, but the casino was full and fun, the comedian on night #1 was excellent, and the sail away parties or any parties led by the DJ were crowded and rocking. While there was no official disco, the Spinnaker Lounge was where the DJ had us all dancing way past midnight. We saw the Band on the Run show on night 2 which was good. The piano player who did Elton John was very entertaining, and most of the live music at the different venues were very good. Would have been nicer for few more activities during the day 2 at sea like wine tasting, ship and kitchen tours, etc. Getting off the ship: Best system of any cruise line, its hotel style, just walk off anytime after 7:30 with your carryon bags. We walked off after breakfast at 9, and were home in our driveway by 10:30. Overall: This was our 2nd cruise to nowhere, a two-nighter this time on the NCL Jewel, last year we were on the Gem. Quick comparison between the 2, the Jewel is a little dated compared to the Gem, there was no Bliss Lounge, in its place was the largest at sea store I have ever seen. In some respects I thought it was a waste of space. The Jewel like the Gem has a pay for fee Spa, but while nice, the Jewel's hydrotherapy pool was much smaller than the Gem's. Another gripe, why doesn't NCL have an indoor atrium and walkthrough decks? You can't walk across deck 6 from one end to the other, you have to go up a deck to deck 7 and back down to get to the casino? But overall, what a rocking good time for the 2 days at sea, we were never bored, the NY crowd was all into partying, we saw plenty of fun bachelor and bachelorette parties. We will take another 2 night cruise to nowhere on NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Took my wife and 3 of her friends on the NCL Gem on a cruise to nowhere out of Manhattan for my wife's 50th birthday celebration. I booked 2 interior adjoining staterooms on deck 11 which was just 1 deck below the Garden Cafe buffet, ... Read More
Took my wife and 3 of her friends on the NCL Gem on a cruise to nowhere out of Manhattan for my wife's 50th birthday celebration. I booked 2 interior adjoining staterooms on deck 11 which was just 1 deck below the Garden Cafe buffet, the pool and sports, deck, etc! I booked this cruise due to the convenience of hopping on in Manhattan as we are from Long Island. I read a lot of negative reviews for the NCL freestyle experience, so I had to see it for myself as we are experienced cruisers with 12 under our belt split between Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines and their set dining times which we are fan of. Here is a quick rundown of our fantastic 50th birthday celebration: Embarkation - A total disaster as 2 NCL ships were being loaded, the Gem and Jewel. We arrived at the Manhattan cruise ship terminal at 12:15, paid our $30 to park overnight, and from there the cue lines were ridiculous and we did not board till 2:30. Taking over 2 hours to check-in is unacceptable, it must go better when there is only one ship being checked in. Dembarkation - Great experience, ship docked a little after 8 AM, we ate breakfast at the garden buffet, and we could leave at our leisure from our rooms at any time no later than 10 AM. We grabbed our bags from our room at 9 AM, we easily got off and in our truck and we were out of there and out of Manhattan by 9:30, and home an hour later at 10:30! Great de-embarkation system, no calling decks, special assists, etc, just leave when you want! Dining - As soon as we boarded we dropped our bags in our rooms and headed to the buffet which appeared overcrowded. We then got seated at the Grand Pacific dining room and had a nice lunch of philly cheesesteaks, french fries, portobello mushrooms, steak, etc. Service was just ok, but the food was good. After lunch and the lifeboat drill, we hit the pool area, and saw a fantastic outdoor BBQ where the food looked amazing, I wish we ate there, and we will hit on a future NCL cruise! The best dining times for the best restaurants were already booked up by 3 PM, so I called and got the La Cucina Italian restaurant for an 8:45 dinner. Sitting in that restaurant made us feel like were at an italian eatery in town, the food was worth the $10 cover charge, we had nice meal, no crowd, nice atmosphere. Having a bad perception of the free style dining was washed away as I took a tour of all the restaurants, and they all looked worthy of their cover charges. You can make a reservation via phone in your room, on the phone in the passage ways, or at the restaurants themselves. There were TV screens area showing the times and availability of the restaurants, so that system worked well. We hit the Garden Buffet on the pool deck in the afternoon between lunch and dinner and the next morning, and we loved the layout of it. It was different and had a different nice feel compared to Carnival, again, it felt like a Las Vegas buffet with the themed dining stations. overall the food in the buffet was good. Room - Our inside suite was very nice, comfortable mattresses, great Ikea wood like decor everywhere including in the bathroom where the shower stall had a great layout and glass shower doors, soap was provided, we loved it. We peeked in the balcony rooms and hope to book a suite the next time. Entertainment - The NCL Gem had a great Las Vegas vibe, maybe it was the NY/NJ crowd who were looking to party till our eyes bled knowing we were there for only one night. The party started immediately after the lifeboat drill at 3 PM with the DJ rocking the pool deck. It was cold and windy, but people were dancing and partying for 2 hours, we had so much fun. The main show at 7:30 was cheesy but fun, the flow of the lounges, bars, public areas was a nice change from Carnival and Royal, and the Blizz lounge had a fantastic rock band from England. When the band was done at 11 PM, the DJ picked right up for the toga party, and we danced and partied till 1 AM in the ultracool Bliss lounges that had full size beds in it. Again I felt like we were in Las Vegas. There was plenty of live entertainment in multiple lounges, the bars were beautiful, we really enjoyed touring the public areas. Spa - I purchased Spa admission for the 5 of us at $30 each, and we spent 2 blissful hours in there in the hot tubs, heated chaise lounges. The Spa had separate areas for men and women with Sauna, steam and whirlpool tubs, and they had a coed area that was was pure joy. The Spa had a European feel, we relaxed sweated, took in the sites and we would buy a Spa package in the future! Summary - We were pleasantly surprised with our overall NCL Gem experience. The ship had a great vibe, people were buzzing and partying everywhere, the food was good not great, the service was good not great, but with so many dining choices you will be satisfied. We will sail on NCL again, next time for 7 days or more. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
General Comments: This cruise was a fun getaway with my 12 year old daughter. I was a little worried that the crowd might be more rowdy than normal given it's a CTN, but I am happy to say that while it was a younger and more party ... Read More
General Comments: This cruise was a fun getaway with my 12 year old daughter. I was a little worried that the crowd might be more rowdy than normal given it's a CTN, but I am happy to say that while it was a younger and more party spirit crowd than other NCL cruises, I didn't see anybody out of control or behaving badly. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Getting on was crowded but ran relatively smoothly. There were two ships departing that afternoon and this makes the terminal at full capacity. From curb to ship took me about 45-60 minutes arriving at ~11:30AM. Two tips--they were handing out Freestyle dailies for the cruise and this made good reading while waiting in line to check in--try to grab one before getting in line. Second, there was a desk taking specialty restaurant reservations and a pretty long line in front of that. Again, in interest of maximizing time on board, try to visit this desk and book a reservation if you plan to dine specialty. Menus were available to browse, for those who aren't sure of plans. Disembarkation was extremely easy given no customs needed and no checked luggage. Sail away: This is probably the best aspect of this short cruise. You get an awesome view of the New York skyline as well as the Eillis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Best place to hang if it isn't too cold is forward in the top most sundeck areas. The Jewel was leaving right after the Gem and we watched it back out right after us and follow us down the river. Dinner: We ate at Teppanyaki and it met my expectations. I had done it a couple times before but it still is fun and the food, fresh grilled in front of you is quite good. Entertainment: We went to watch the comedian rather than the earlier musical show. Comedian was excellent- relaxed, good mix of working the audience and canned routine. Lunch/Breakfast at Buffet: Crowded as expected, particularly on a CTN. Food was fine and lines moved pretty fast. Hard to find seating--suggestion go aft to the La Cucina Italian restaurant where there is additional seating for lunch and breakfast. Only complaint--bacon was horrible and inedible, greasy and tasted off. Service: I was overall happy with the level of service. It's a very short cruise so hard to evaluate, but the few encounters I had were pretty positive. All in all this cruise met my expectations. Wish it could have been longer! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We had a great time, I had only been a a CTN once and my DH never has. Embarkation was crazy with both the Gem and Jewel departing at roughly the same time, once you were through the security checkpoint, staff could have done a better job ... Read More
We had a great time, I had only been a a CTN once and my DH never has. Embarkation was crazy with both the Gem and Jewel departing at roughly the same time, once you were through the security checkpoint, staff could have done a better job at directing Gem passengers back to check in. The check in desks were past the boarding gate, you couldn't see them at all. We arrived at the port at 11:30 and were onboard at 1, not too bad even amidst the confusion. After boarding DH and I like to find a quiet spot to have a cocktail and wait to drop off our bags. On the way to that spot we encounter a great crew member who answered my question about making dinner reservations by dailing a phone for me - I was connected to reservations and got exactly what I wanted - Le Bistro, I found out later they hadn't even set up the reservation desk in the atrium yet, so I was one of the first to make one! We found Magnum's tucked under a stairwell one floor down and had a cocktail there. Some of the staff seemed like we were a bother but not all. Lunch in the MDR was very slow,but we had to wait to get in the cabin any way. The food at lunch was not very good and the portions were extremely small, I had a Cobb salad that was missing half of the ingredients and was swimming in dressing. Got to our cabin obstructed view OV 8566, we were on a stretch of hall all by ourselves, it was nice and quiet. Tv was alittle odd the volume would increase all by itself! We only had it on while dressing though. We had booked Le Bistro thank goodness which turned out to be a perfect meal,the fruits de Mer and lamb chops were perfection. We had 6 o'clock reservations so we could see the show. The show One World was really awful, plays at my daughter's high school have been better and we left half way through. The comedian later in the evening, was good, old jokes but a good delivery kept us laughing. Wandering around and having a few cocktails at Bliss and the Spinnaker and meeting some fine folks along the way. Bliss was fun with the beds and a toga party! If we had more time we would have tried bowling at Bliss. Casino was pretty good to us the roulette wheel spun in our favor! My husband was looking for something to eat and we when to The Blue Lagoon the hostess said it was closing at 11:30 and we were told they would be open later but to go to the buffet now. The most awful mess awaited us there. There was barely anything edible, it looked like they were slopping the hogs. Every leftover nasty thing from the evening dinner buffet was STILL out, including the mayo (it was turning transparent, it was so old), it was just gross. Dried out hotdogs and grey hamburgers, a chinese beef dish with no noodles or rice, cold cuts with the oldest, hardest bread I have ever seen, is that what they call late night dining. Blue Lagoon never did open again. It makes you wonder, just how much they will cut out before folks have a real fit. Of course we didn't really need to eat again, so we didn't let it get us down. Some people though may stay out later and drink more and/or play more in the casino if they can get a nice late nite snack. All in all we had a nice time, saw everything we wanted to see and did everything we wanted to do. Would I do another 1 nighter - probably not, but never say never! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
I had booked this cruise with a friend. She had never cruised before, so I wanted to make sure she had a good time. We planned to stay up all night in order to get the maximum amount of fun out of the 22 hours. We booked an inside ... Read More
I had booked this cruise with a friend. She had never cruised before, so I wanted to make sure she had a good time. We planned to stay up all night in order to get the maximum amount of fun out of the 22 hours. We booked an inside cabin, figuring we wouldn't be sleeping anyway, so why spend the extra money? Well, about a week before the cruise, prices had come down, so we decided to upgrade to a balcony, and that was one of the best decisions we made. The drive on Saturday morning to the pier from NJ via the Lincoln Tunnel and 10th Ave. to 55th St. was a breeze, as was parking at the pier. For a longer trip, I would have parked in Weehawken and taken the ferry, but for the one nighter, the cost would have been about equal, so I chose the convenience of parking at the pier. We got there around 11:00. Lines were non-existent; Norwegian did a great job cheerfully guiding people through the check-in process. It was about an hour before we were able to board, but the time passed quickly and pleasantly. First we perused the dinner menus for the various restaurants. Dinner at the free dining rooms looked great, but my friend wanted to try a specialty restaurant, so we splurged the extra $15 each to eat Asian Fusion cuisine at the Orchid Garden, and made dinner reservations for 6:45. We then sat down in the waiting area, and pored over our copy of the Freestyle Daily, which Norwegian had the foresight to give out before we were on the ship.As we wanted to avoid the crowds at the buffet (thank you, fellow reviewers, for the warning!), we headed to the Grand Pacific Dining Room and had a relaxed, delicious meal. There were no crowds; we were able to walk in and get seated right away. The food was amazing and portions were just right. We were quite full by the end of the meal.The rooms wouldn't be ready until 2:30, so we had a drink at the Bali Hai Bar on Deck 13. It was noisy and crowded (although less so than on Deck 12), but for some of the younger people, that was an advantage.Be sure to ask for all your drinks in regular glasses and not souvenir glasses. If you don't specify this, you will get the souvenir glass (actually, plastic cup) by default, and will pay $2 more per drink. I requested a regular glass for every drink I ordered (six total), and not one waiter or bartender minded one bit. (If you really want the souvenir glass, and you don't mind taking a used one to wash out at home, you will find plenty sitting around for the taking on Decks 12, 13, and 14 after sailaway.)Once our room was ready, we deposited our tote bags in our room, and headed back upstairs, this time one deck higher to the smaller Deck 14 at the front of the ship. This deck was peaceful and quiet, and we stayed there for hours - before, during, and after sailaway - and loved it. The one drawback to this deck, though, is that you are directly in front of the ship's horn, which is LOUD! But it only sounds a few times at the beginning of sailaway and again as the ship passes the Freedom Tower.Then it was time for dinner at the Orchid Garden. The restaurant was mostly empty, so we wouldn't have really needed to make the reservations, although I can't say if that is true at all the specialty restaurants. In hindsight, 6:00 would have been a better time, as we missed a gorgeous sunset (we took turns every so often leaving the restaurant to go peek out the starboard side windows), and were not able to visit any other bars, some of which had guitar or piano singers, before the show. The food was good, but I didn't think it was worth the extra $15 charge. My friend, however, loved it and thought it was well worth it.The show was wonderful. There is only one big show - at 8:30, so plan your dinner accordingly. After the show we headed to Spinnaker's for the comedian. The lounge was full, as Quest was still going on, and when it ended, no one left. We found seats at the bar, where we couldn't see. Turns out we could barely hear from there either. What we did hear, we didn't care for, so we went back to our room to enjoy our balcony for a while, and to take a short nap. Just a note - room service and towel animals are not done on the one-night cruise.Refreshed, we headed down to the casino. It was crowded and smoky, so we didn't spend too much time there. An awesome singer/piano player was performing at Magnum's Champagne Bar, so we sat and had a drink. Unfortunately, he was on his last song, so we didn't stay long. We set out to explore the ship and to hit more bars, but we found that by this time (after midnight), most of the entertainment was over. We did find one band in the Atrium, but as we were sitting down, they got up to take a break. We spent the rest of our time exploring. The only thing we found going on was the White Hot Party in Spinnaker's, which was a bit too loud and stroby for us. So by 2:15 am, we had run out of things to do. The Blue Lagoon was open all night, and I would have been willing to go there for some food, but we were getting tired, and went back to the room. Had there been more going on, we would have stayed out longer.My friend pointed out that falling asleep to the rocking of the ship was part of the cruise experience too, so we partially opened our balcony door, and fell asleep to the gentle rocking and the sound of the ocean. This was delightful, and the bedding was clean and amazingly soft and comfortable.After about three hours of sleep, we got up again to watch the sunrise and the re-entry into New York from our balcony. After sailing under the Verrazano, we headed up to the Great Outdoors on Deck 12, had a mini-breakfast snack, and enjoyed a beautiful, peaceful, uncrowded view of the rest of the trip back up the Hudson.Once we docked, we headed to the Grand Pacific Dining Room for a full breakfast; again, totally enjoyable and delicious. Our departure instructions said we could remain on the ship until 10 am, so we took our belongings out of the room, and headed up to our favorite place - Deck 14 - and enjoyed just relaxing in the sun until about 9:45, when we simply walked off the ship.Disembarking couldn't have been easier. People were allowed to walk off any time between docking (8:30ish) and 10:00, and from what I saw, people were leaving all during this time, so I don't think there was any crowded mass exodus. Very pleasant, as was the drive down 12th Ave. to the Holland Tunnel.Would I do the one-nighter again? I'm not sure. Although the cruise prices were reasonable for what we got, the addition of the port fee (paid on every cruise) was not economical when the cost is not spread over several nights. I think I will give the 2-nighter a try, though. I believe it would be a better value per night, and it would give us so much more time on the ship. Of course, I'd cruise 365 nights a year if I could afford it, but when you just need a cruise fix, or if you've never cruised before, the one- and two-night cruises are nice options. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
I did this cruise with my 22 year old daughter. (it was her B day gift) She had never been on a cruise and it seemed like a fun intro and a good thing to do together. We live 1 hr away from NYC so getting there by train was easy. I read on ... Read More
I did this cruise with my 22 year old daughter. (it was her B day gift) She had never been on a cruise and it seemed like a fun intro and a good thing to do together. We live 1 hr away from NYC so getting there by train was easy. I read on previous reviews that some people had long lines at embarkation so we were prepared for that. Yes they were long when we arrived at 12;40 but they moved very fast. The whole process took us about 40 minutes. Then we went straight to the spa to book a treatment. Even that early on they didn't have a lot of spaces left so if you want to do this ....book that first and then go to lunch. We went to the main dining room for lunch and even though they close at 2:00 when we arrived at 1:45 they seated us and we had a very nice relaxed lunch. After that the cabin was ready. Beds were comfy and sheets looked new. No pilling at all as I read in an earlier review. We got familiar with the ship and had a drink and watched NYC's sky line and Statue of Liberty go by before heading to the spa. We had dinner at Azura which was as good as most cruise food is. Nothing special nothing bad. I never go to specialty restaurants. All staff was super nice.. Then we went to the "adult Quest" game. We sat next to some very nice people and although I never do those games this time I did and we had lots of silly fun. After that we stayed to watch the comedian who was ok. Then me and my daughter danced until we were tired! We had a great night together. This cruise to nowhere is really what you make of it. Pools and hot tubs were heated and there was a good amount of people using them even though it was 30 degrees out. There were no kids and mostly the crowd was under the age of 55 and lots of couples for Valentines and people celebrating b days etc. I would never do it if I would live far away from NYC. (not worth the hassle) but it was certainly fun for us. Also I would NEVER book anything else but an inside cabin for this. I mean why would you? It's too cold to be outside. The seas were calm and in the morning I didn;t feel that we were rushed of the ship. The first announcement was at 8:15....We skipped breakfast and took our time and left the ship at 10:00. Read Less
NYC
Sail Date: January 2011
A little bit about me: I am 45 years old. This is probably my 7th cruise. I previously have sailed on the following cruise lines: NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Carnival. Just got back from a "one-nighter" ... Read More
A little bit about me: I am 45 years old. This is probably my 7th cruise. I previously have sailed on the following cruise lines: NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Carnival. Just got back from a "one-nighter" on the NCL Jewel. Ship departed from NYC Pier 88 on Saturday January 22, 2011 . When I arrived at the pier at 12:00PM it was a total cluster: there were massive crowds. At first it seemed a little disorganized. However the lines moved rather quickly once inside the terminal. I was able to board the ship at about 1:00. Since the cabin was not ready, I went to Tsar's Restaurant. I was seated rather quickly. It took a while for the waiter to come by and take my order....probably because there were a lot of people in the restaurant. I ordered a club sandwich and a diet pepsi. Food arrived in about 15 minutes. Food was OK. Once I was done it took a long time for somebody to clear the table... I was able to go to my balcony cabin on the 11th floor at 2:00 PM. Room was nice. It was spacious and it was definitely enough for me...Not sure how two people would do in the room. My only two room criticisms are that the queen size bed is comprised of two twin beds pushed together. While sleeping, I could feel the gap between the two beds. I also wish that the bathroom had mini individual bottles of shampoo and body wash. There was a dispenser for these products. Bathroom was a good size, there was even a full-sized bathtub... Prior to departure, I spent time in the ship's champagne bar, Magnum's. It was nice. They had a nice selection of champagnes. Prices were reasonable. For dinner I made a reservation for the Teppanyaki restaurant. Hint: make your specialty restaurant dinner reservations as soon as possible. Food was really good and the chefs did a wonderful presentation. I did not spend much time in the casino because it was very smoky. I was able to pick up two bottles in the Duty Free shop. Hint: there is no limit as to how much stuff you can bring back, you do not go through Customs. So shop til you drop! Overall I had a nice time. I did notice that people were VERY casually attired. Some guest were just plain sloppy! I guess freestyle not only applies to dining options, but to attire as well. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it a 7. Next month I am going on the NCL Gem for another one -nighter! Departing the ship was a breeze. I was off the ship in about 5 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This cruise was for the 4th of July celebration. There was 5 of us in total. Previous cruises have been with P and O Celebrity and RCCL which we enjoyed. So we were expecting something really special from the QM2. The embarkation process ... Read More
This cruise was for the 4th of July celebration. There was 5 of us in total. Previous cruises have been with P and O Celebrity and RCCL which we enjoyed. So we were expecting something really special from the QM2. The embarkation process was smooth for us, we didn't have any problems, though a lot of people were complaining that they hadn't received their suitcases. An announcement was put out saying there was a problem with the staff doing the loading. So where do I start. It was lovely to see everyone really dressed up every evening, the ladies in long dresses the gents in their Tux. The entertainment was good. Cabin we couldn't fault. But it was the food! The service in the main restaurant was not as we thought it would be. Just little things, the waiter would start to clear the plates whilst our other diners were still eating, and once I had a plate whipped away, and I hadn't finished. The food was very mediocre, nothing special, very small portions, not that we are greedy, but comparing to other cruises we have been on, it came bottom of the list. We wondered if it was because this was a New york - New york cruise, stopping at Boston and Halifax, and not transatlantic, so they downgraded the service. Sorry can't remember cabin number, but it was clean, quiet, inside cabin on deck 6. Air con was great, not noisy and easily adjustable, TV was a bit out dated, they didn't have the service where you can check your bill. Plenty of hanging space, bathroom - plenty of space, and hot water. Towels changed morning and night. On the QM2 they have launderette facilities which we Brits love, but I should imagine if you have a cabin close to this area it could be annoying. deck 6 is great as it goes straight out to the pool area. Other complaint was the schedule was not as advertised, originally there should be a day and half in Boston, but only stayed one day, then cruised back to New york at a snails pace with the excuse being made by the captain that they needed to go slow because of the whales. Positive - had a great party on board July 4th, but couldn't really see the fireworks over Boston from the ship. Highlight of the cruise - sailing out of New York - just brilliant, very special. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
First impressions: Seeing the Norwegian Epic tower over the pier in New York was impressive, in fact the Epic completely blocked the site of the Carnival Miracle docked in the next pier over. I knew the ship was going to be very big, and ... Read More
First impressions: Seeing the Norwegian Epic tower over the pier in New York was impressive, in fact the Epic completely blocked the site of the Carnival Miracle docked in the next pier over. I knew the ship was going to be very big, and what seems to always be among the first comments when you talk to someone is "wow this ship is really big". Having also been aboard the Oasis of the Seas with Royal Caribbean, in January, which is a much larger ship at 240,000 tons, it was interesting to compare the two. Oasis is the biggest, but you'd hardly know the difference when ships get this big. I think as ships get larger, the ocean seems smaller, because the focus onboard these giants revolves around numerous options, more amenities, more dining venues, more entertainment, more staterooms and suites, and of course more people. The key is to build a big ship with excellent attention to passenger flow, and I think for the most part, NCL has succeeded in developing spaces and lounges that flow together well. Wavy staterooms One of the big discussion points as the Norwegian Epic is revealed in all her glory, is her "wavy", staterooms with curved walls and separate compartments for the toilet and the shower. My first impression when I arrived at my room 9248, a deluxe Balcony stateroom, was that it felt small and narrow. I liked the wood-like paneling, and the lighting. There's a large domed-ceiling above the bed that offered a soothing glow, which reminded me of something from the future. I discovered plenty of storage space, and clever baskets in a couple of the compartments, which are perfect for storing the dirty clothes after a long day at the beach or exploring the Mayan Ruins. The bed linens were nice, but the beds, themselves, were a bit too firm for my taste. The balcony was a decent size, and from what I understand, the air conditioning for the room, is connected to the sliding balcony door, and the air shuts off when the door is opened so passengers aren't wasting or blasting cool air into the hot and often humid Caribbean. There has been much to say about the bathroom arrangement in the wavy staterooms, most of the comments being on the "uneasy" side. After speaking with seasoned cruise industry journalists who suggested that North Americans will have a problem with the bathroom arrangement, I came to the conclusion that maybe experienced cruisers might struggle with it a bit, but first-time cruisers won't notice anything terribly unusual. I have noticed when first-time cruisers board a ship for their vacation, everything is "different" and takes a little "getting used to", for example; the movement of the ship, the lips at the base of many doors, compact staterooms, even navigating around the ship. Because "things are different" on a cruise ship, many passengers won't notice or care that the bathrooms are unusual onboard the Epic. I think the staterooms are smallish, even the suites. This is most certainly a high-density ship, and I think it will be interesting to experience the ship when at full capacity. Additionally, I think even a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom would be a squeeze for three or four people. I enjoyed the stateroom dEcor, and after spending some time in the room, I was pleased with the overall "feel" of the room. At a press conference someone asked about the little sink outside of the shower and toilet area with the tallish spout. The answer was that it was decided and chosen, several years ago, by Colin Veitch, the previous CEO of NCL, to install these unique sinks, so that he could easily fill his tea kettle. It was suggested, in somewhat of a joking way, that perhaps this is why Colin is the "previous" CEO and not the current CEO. Entertainment Without question, Norwegian Cruise Lines has upped the ante industry-wide with their "branded" entertainment including Blue Man Group, Second City, Legends in Concert, Cirque Dreams, and Nickelodeon at sea. Entertainment on ships has certainly evolved over the last couple of years with full-scale broadway-style musicals, high-diving shows and now branded entertainment. I enjoyed Blue Man Group, it was so refreshing and cool to see on a ship this eclectic and wild show performed by these "Blue Guys". I have a theory about who the Blue Men are trying to be.....they are aliens from another world experiencing simple human interaction, and it's hilarious, particularly the scene with the twinkie and the volunteer (victim) from the audience. I found myself caught-up in the show, and that says a lot because I have seen the best of the best when it comes to big shows on cruise ships, having been a Cruise Director. The live bands around the ship are also a huge plus in my book. Many of the cruise lines still use piped-in music or tracks, but NCL is using live music. There are numerous live music venues around the ship including a "Blues" club. It will take a week just to experience all the unique entertainment onboard the Norwegian Epic. Another interesting thing I discovered onboard the Norwegian Epic is that the ship doesn't just have a Cruise Director, but also an Entertainment Director, because of the magnitude of entertainment offered. The Norwegian Epic will have wonderful entertainment options for families with children because of the Nickelodeon at sea experience and the spectacular water slides on the pool deck. The youth and the teens have their own spaces and rooms for hanging out and playing videos games and watching movies. There is a vast sports deck with bungee jumping, basketball, and NCL is even offering ice skating, which is a direct competitive move to compete with Royal Caribbean. Now NCL can say, "Hey we also have ice skating at sea". The Epic is packed from stem to stern with entertainment options from the shows, the live music and the very active bars with darts, bowling, and you can even play a game of pool on two pool tables. Freeze your butt off in the Ice Bar, enjoy dancing on deck with a giant TV screen, or find a quiet spot somewhere on deck for a romantic rendezvous, there's so many options. The key is that not only is there a multitude of options, but the quality of those options is excellent. Dining When I first experienced "Freestyle dining" on the Norwgian Pearl a couple years ago, I was skeptical, however, I was soon sold on the concept when I realized that I didn't have to go eat at a certain time if I didn't want to...I could eat later and have numerous choices of where to eat. The Norwegian Epic has truly taken Freestyle Dining to the level with a plethora of quality dining options throughout the ship. You can get pizza, fish & chips, a sizzling steak, sushi, Teppanyaki, Italian food, French food, you name it and they probably have it aboard the Epic. I think I heard there were 26 different restaurants onboard. During my short visit I didn't really have an opportunity to enjoy the fine dining in the restaurants because I was scrambling to get all my scheduled interviews, take pictures and video and explore the ship, so I just stopped briefly to grab a quick something and then I was off to my next meeting. I did, however; have a wonderful mushroom soup in the Bistro that is burned into my memory and taste buds. I don't think I heard any negative comments about the food onboard. I really enjoyed the Garden Cafe for breakfast on Deck Fifteen because of the vast options including: fruits, meats, eggs, cream of wheat, pancakes and waffles, cereals, breads, pastries, all divided into stations throughout the Garden Cafe, and you can't beat the views high above the sea. DEcor around the ship I found the dEcor to be very whimsical and modern, with some classically elegant rooms for dining and socializing. The ship is very colorful but tasteful from the carpets to the artwork on the bulkheads. I didn't think the dEcor was over the top like you might see on a Carnival ship, rather I felt the tone around the ship to be fun, classy, and modern. I enjoyed the way the interior areas were broken-up into nooks and very usable spaces. There wasn't much wasted space on this ship at all, in fact the Norwegian Epic was designed to truly maximize passenger-flow from one area to another. There's even an escalator to assist with this passenger flow midship. I could see an evolution in cruise ship interior design onboard the Epic that I haven't noticed on other ships. I could see that a tremendous-level of thought went into the passenger areas. Gone are the days of boxy lounges and specific rooms; on the Epic, one room flowed and transitioned into another. I almost felt like I was in a casino in Las Vegas the way the various areas seamlessly came together. There was also an excitement in the air, not because this was a brand new ship, but I think the dEcor and laughter, the music and general pulse of the activity onboard promoted a sense of relaxation, and fun. Conclusion When I first saw the artist rendering of the Norwegian Epic, I thought there must have been a mistake, the ship looked comically top heavy and odd with decks 15 and 16 above the bridge area. After visiting the ship, I had a sense that the ship was very solid, and someone cleverly pointed out to me that this ship was built from the inside out. It really is what's on the inside that counts, and the Norwegian Epic is truly a ship that will make a big splash in a very positive way with singles, couples, and families. And speaking about single cruisers, The Epic has these very cool pod-like, staterooms for single passengers, and there's no single occupancy supplement which is excellent news for single travelers. I met with Mr. Paul Priestman who designed these single occupancy staterooms, and he was very proud of his work on these compact rooms. These rooms are almost patterned after the pod-like spaces in Japan where someone can sleep and clean-up and not much else. Mr. Priestman made these single rooms very comfortable, with fun lighting and clever cubbies for storage and hanging clothes. There's also a private shower and toilet, so there's everything you need to basically spend the week on this ship in your own small stateroom pod. It will be very interesting to see how passengers receive the Norwegian Epic this year while she is cruising the Caribbean. The hardware is very interesting, there's a lot to do, but more importantly, the crew and staff are all very excited about their new ship. I also heard that a majority of the crew onboard has their own room, which is a huge plus for those who work on the ship for months at a time. What makes an excellent cruise vacation experience is not just the fancy hardware, but the care and excellent service of the staff onboard, which I am confident the Norwegian Epic will deliver with style! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
The NCL Epic is a wonderful ship - it's everything you heard. Both the good and the bad. Good: Teppanyaki --- Filet Mignon. Yum. Casino --- HUGE! Lost $200, but it was fun. Pool - Not very large, but awesome. Waterpark - The slides ... Read More
The NCL Epic is a wonderful ship - it's everything you heard. Both the good and the bad. Good: Teppanyaki --- Filet Mignon. Yum. Casino --- HUGE! Lost $200, but it was fun. Pool - Not very large, but awesome. Waterpark - The slides are very nice. Sports Complex - My wife went ice skating. 'Nuff said. Ice Bar --- totally worth it if you like Vodka drinks or just want to be very cold. Overall, the ship is awesome. Seriously worth it. BUT... The Not-So-Good: AVOID CIRQUE DREAMS. It was more of a nightmare. Food wasn't so great (no choice, you get what you get, and vegetarian option is a few veggies on a plate.) But the entertainment is AWFUL. The acrobatics are AWESOME, but the stupid plot that surrounds it is so ANNOYING!! Don't waste your money!!! AVOID THE BAR ON DECK 6: Waitress service is slow. The food is nasty. Chicken Fingers were soggy, the wings were either too spicy or too dry (tried them twice.) Chicken Pot Pie my friend said was great, but its not worth it. And the sounds of bowling right next door are loud. Every other restaurant is good (except Cirque Dreams, that is.) THE ROOMS. Well, they're nice... but the layout is weird. Toilet separated from sink and shower. Shower opens up into room, so expect a flood if you forget a towel for the floor. And the sink is weird - we couldn't figure out how to get it to drain. PLUS, no one tells you that you need to put your keycard in the slot for the electricity to work (cool feature to save energy, but for god sakes, tell someone!) plus no one tells you to dial TWO ZERO's on the phone to get the front desk. Ugh! NICKELODEON: If you have small kids, they will want to meet Spongebob. Sure, go ahead. But the food is mediocre and again, you don't get a choice. Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Croissants, and Green Slime Syrup. Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Very nice stuff on board, and if you avoid the circus (literally) and see Blue Man Group and Second City instead, you will have a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
It is easy to see why this ship has been so promoted in the media and by the cruise line. As a new ship it does have it's "bugs" which have to be worked out but your choices for entertainment, restaurants, bars, recreation ... Read More
It is easy to see why this ship has been so promoted in the media and by the cruise line. As a new ship it does have it's "bugs" which have to be worked out but your choices for entertainment, restaurants, bars, recreation seems to be endless or you can just choose to relax and do nothing. We were one of the first to board and not being able to make reservations for shows and restaurants on line (like longer cruise passengers can do 45 days in advance), we immediately went to restaurant reservations desk and reserved the ice bar and dinner in Moderno's. Went next to the box office and found out that with limited seating in the "Spiegel Tent" that confirmed space was not available but we could "standby" 30 minutes before performances. We were able to confirm Blue Man Group and Second City Improv. We were told that on the short sailing that Legends would be performing in the Manhattan Room Restaurant and no reservations were necessary. We then wend to our cabin and found the new Monden design to have its drawbacks. While it is 180 square feet in size the "curves" in the wall makes the cabin seem smaller. Found plenty of room for storage of clothes which was located across from the sofa. The major drawback seems to be with the bathroom arrangement. The sinks are very small and you can't help but splash water on the carpeting. (Spoke with the executives on board and this is the first to be changed as they realized after the fact of the problem). While having the sink outside of the separate compartments for the toilet and shower is a great idea in principle you are standing on the floot while drying off from the shower. There is a curtain you can pull for privacy but the water on the floor will soon flow to the new carpeting and create a problem. Also no toiletries or soap bars provided. Just shampoo and liquid soap in the shower and next to the sink. We found the balcony to be a good size. There are so many choices for entertainment, recreation, spa services, and food that no one should be disappointed. We reserved the ice bar before dinner and in my opinion it is worth the $20 charge per person. We had dinner at Moderno's and again I think the service and method of carving the meats at your table makes it worth the $25 charge. There is an extensive salad bar. The vegtables served family style at the table may need some improvement but we most filled up on the meats which were excellent. We were able to see the following shows; Blue Man Group (included at no cost) and the same 90 minute show people pay $100 per person and up on land. We sat in the front row and were given poncho's just in case. Felt like a VIP. Stood in the standby line and were able to see the Nickoledion Breakfast (if you have children well worth the additional charge of $15 for adults and I think $10 for children); The Murder Mystery Lunch by Second City (Worth the additional charge); The Circ Dreams and Dinner is definitely worth the additional $15 or $20 permium seats charge as the meal of filet mignon and chicken etc makes it seem like a free show which people again pay up to $100 per person for on land (and it lasted 2 hours non stop). Because this dinner conflicted with the time of the Legends Show we did not see but heard it was great at no additional charge (and you pay about $50 per person for that). We didn't get to sample the bowling or the aqua park but talking to others they say the water slides are exhilirating. I also am a poor bowler but 6 lanes are available. The casino is huge but I do not gamble so cannot comment on the pay out rate. I did see and would recommend Howl at the Moon with the dueling piano's and the great Blues music in the Jazz Club. The staff I found to be very friendly and as a new ships there are some "bugs" in the system. NCL will let passengers who have made final payment make on line reservations for all the shows and restaurants. I would recommend it since the show venue's are relatively small compared with other cruise ships of that capacity. Hope this evaluation is helpful. Read Less

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