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Sail Date: June 2004
Let me start by telling you who we are and how we got on this cruise. My husband, John and I are in our mid 30s and we have 3 boys, ages 14, 12 and 10 months. We usually sail on Celebrity and this was our first trip on Carnival. Our ... Read More
Let me start by telling you who we are and how we got on this cruise. My husband, John and I are in our mid 30s and we have 3 boys, ages 14, 12 and 10 months. We usually sail on Celebrity and this was our first trip on Carnival. Our older sons got out of school last Friday and John had taken vacation this week. We had looked at different vacation possibilities and decided to wait until the last minute and see what struck our fancy. So on Saturday, 6/12, I was perusing the last minute cruise sites and found Carnival Victory's 2 night Cruise to Nowhere sailing out of New York on 6/15. Since I hate to fly, this seemed like a great way to try Carnival and get away for a few days. We made babysitting arrangements for our littlest one and left at 8:00 Tuesday morning for the 3 and a half hour drive to NYC. Since we didn't have any documentation other then our email receipt from the consolidator and our funpass from Carnival, we had to go to a 'will call' desk for our docs. No problems, took about 20 minutes. While I did that, John parked the car. Parking was $48, cash. From there, we got in the first long line to pass through the first security check point, wait time, 35 minutes. After that, we got in the next long line to have our bags checked, wait time, 45 minutes. After getting through there and stopping for the lovely embarkation pictures, we got into the next line to actually check-in. Wait time for this line was only about 2 minutes, but since we were a last minute addition, we had to have keys made for us. This took another 30 minutes or so. So, if we add it all up, we're now pushing 2 hours. My guys were fantastically patient though, much more then many of the adults I witnessed. After finally figuring out what room we were in and dropping off our bags (no porterage, as this was only a 2 night cruise) we went off in search of lunch. We found burgers and pizza on deck 9 aft and decided it was preferable to fighting the lines at the buffet. Both were quite good. I bought the kids each a soda pass ($4.50 for entire trip) and sent them off to the pool, telling them to meet back at our room by 4pm or when they announced the lifeboat drill, whichever came first. The lifeboat drill was scheduled to begin at 4pm, and cabin attendants were shusshing people out of their rooms to attend the drill. Sadly, the drill did not actually begin until 5pm, so many people were stuck on deck for over an hour with their life jackets. I would come to realize that this was going to be a constant trend over the next two days. Nothing was on schedule and seldom did anyone actually seem to know what was supposed to be going on. After the drill, we dropped the life jackets off and went back up top to experience sailaway. Of all the ports I've sailed from, this was the best. The sun was just starting to dip into the west as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty and the reflection off the water and her torch was magnificent. I'm glad to have experienced it. After passing what seemed to be just a few feet under the George Washington (I think) Bridge, we began to wander around the ship to get acclimated and the kids began their vacationing (ie, swim, eat ice cream, swim, eat pizza, swim...) in earnest. The ship was lovely. Not at all too tacky as I expected. It was much glitzier then we were accustomed to, but not garish. Only exception was our bathroom, which was a frightening shade of pink. The public spaces were comfortable and for the most part well laid out. The glass elevators in the atrium were impressive. Another positive was the crew. They were all quite friendly and helpful, most possessing rather good English. We were surprised at the number of female staff. Much, much higher then on Celebrity. So, now that I've said all the nice things I can think of, I'll tell you about the rest of our experience. The food was mediocre. I was taken aback by the fact that you didn't get trays in the buffet, but had to carry everything by hand. One morning John got sour milk, which of course he didn't realize until after taking a big gulp. When ordering room service, two of the 3 times we didn't get utensils - tough to eat frosted flakes and milk with your fingers. Smoked salmon was available for breakfast in your room, but nowhere else on the ship - John was very disappointed by that one. Dining room service was efficient, but not spectacular, not unexpected on a 'no gratuity' cruise. I was shocked to see stacks of cardboard boxes in the dining room, both nights. The dining room was quite noisy and the portions were rather small. The desserts I sampled were fine, but nothing to brag about. The chilled strawberry soup seemed more like melted ice cream. Lobster was okay, but cold. My youngest son ordered prime rib medium and it was perfectly cooked - I've never seen a better job done cooking a steak 'medium'. He said it was very good. We did grab lunch from the East River Deli, sandwiches were great, but there were no sides, so you waited 30 minutes and got only a single sandwich - if you wanted anything else you needed to wait in the main buffet line. The ice cream I tried was quite tasty, and the kids seemed to enjoy it. They ate so much I think my one son is beginning to look like a swirl cone. The teen program was a joke. Three different 'events' were scheduled, two during late seating dinner. The first night the 'meet and greet' was supposed to begin at 8pm. We watched from a nearby lounge as kids would come in, see no one there and leave. Carnival staff finally arrived at 8:20 to sign kids into the program, but by that time most of the kids had given up. Afterwards there was supposed to be a teen disco from 8:30 to 9:30. When the kids kept going into the Arctic Lounge, where the dance was to be, they were repeatedly told, "we're not ready yet". When things finally were ready, it was 9:15 and then they were shooed out promptly at 9:30, so they could get ready for the adults. The second night there was supposed to be a dance under the stars for teens on the pool deck, but it was cancelled due to fog. Not rain, but fog! No alternative location was given, so once again, the teens were left to their own devices. At no point were any of these changes announced to the parents. So next time you see herds of kids wandering around on their own, realize it is entirely possible that their parents believe that they are taking part in a supervised activity that failed to materialize. My kids still had a good time, but I was disappointed, as this was their first cruise experience and I wanted it to be a good one. We will be sailing on the Mariner of the Seas next year with all three kids, and I am sure the kids will have a better time on that cruise. As for the adult entertainment, most of it was fine. A few notables - the piano guy in the Irish Pub was fantastic, as I had read in advance. Unfortunately, if you didn't arrive early, it was standing room only. We were able to catch a bit of his show before dinner one night. The jazz trio in the Ionian Room was also quite good, but due to the large number of cigar smokers there, we didn't stay long. As for the main show lounge, we only saw one show, 'Vroom', and it was not to my liking. Too loud and way too much skin for my taste. Most of the shows started late, as did late seating dinner. It seemed to be a common theme and no one felt the need to apologize. Disembarkation was another nightmare. No instructions were given, either over the loudspeakers or in our rooms. It was mass departure, carrying your own bags, and of course, we were an hour late arriving into port. No one mentioned that you would need your sign and sail cards to be presented until you actually arrived at the gangway, so the lines moved horrifyingly slow as people searched their bags for their cards. The experience in the port was also an absolute disaster, but I won't blame that on the cruise line. All in all, I can say without a doubt that I won't be taking another 'cruise to nowhere'. I also highly doubt I will sail Carnival again. There is nothing wrong with the product, and I can see why it has its devotees, but it's just not the line for me. If you only ever sailed Carnival, you probably wouldn't even notice the complaints I had (except for maybe the spoiled milk - that was hard to miss.) It's better than no cruise at all, but for me, I think I'll stick with Celebrity without the kids and Royal Caribbean with them. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Review: Queen Mary 2 Independence Weekend Sampler Cruise (July 2-5, 2005) Previous Cruises: Carnival Victory - Canada Voyager of the Seas - Western Caribbean Members in our Party - 7 My wife and me (late 40s), two sons (12 and 17), my ... Read More
Review: Queen Mary 2 Independence Weekend Sampler Cruise (July 2-5, 2005) Previous Cruises: Carnival Victory - Canada Voyager of the Seas - Western Caribbean Members in our Party - 7 My wife and me (late 40s), two sons (12 and 17), my two sisters (early 60s) and a family friend (51) Embarkation: A We used a car service to travel from Jersey City to the pier. They arrived early and we arrived at the pier in about 30 minutes at 10:45 a.m. Cunard's documents told us that no one would be boarded until 1:30 but you never believe your documents. We dropped off our luggage and went up to the waiting room in Customs Hall where chairs were set up. Your waiting area was based on the dining room you chose. At 12:30 they started the embarkation process. Less than a half hour later we were on board. As you entered the ship the Atrium was all decorated with flags and bunting for the Fourth and a line up of crew in tuxes and white gloves welcomed you aboard along with a harpist playing in the background. Cabins: A We had two outside cabins towards the front of deck 6. Very roomy with lots of storage space. Met Deirdre, our stewardess (her term), and asked her to put our beds together for us, which she did while we were at lunch. The Cunard policy is not to put the beds together if you have people in the pullmans above, but they will do so upon request. The concern is that the kids will fall out on top of you, but I'd rather have them fall on me and a mattress than on the hard floor hitting their heads on the end tables. The configuration on Carnival makes more sense. They have a sofa that turns into a single with the pullman above that. Cunard also has a tasteful vinyl mat that they put on the bed for you to place your luggage and nice throw pillows and shams. The beds were the most comfortable I've had at sea as were the pillows, and the featherbed comforter was terrific. Robes were provided for everyone. There are no animal folded towels on the QM2. The bathroom is adequate with the largest shower I've seen in an outside view stateroom. All the necessary soaps, shampoos, etc were provided. Pool towels were in the vanity. The safe was operated by combination or using a credit card's magnetic strip. When you enter your cabin the TV is already on and tuned to the video showing you how to use your life vest. The TV has limited channels but includes CNN and ESPN. Each morning, the cruise director hosted a show "Good Morning QM2" with the lead dancer serving as weather girl. The TVs also have a wireless keyboard for e-mail. Cost is $1.50 per message sent or received. Muster drill: A The muster drill on the QM2 is done in various rooms throughout the ship. Ours was in the gym. Food: B- Service: C The food in the dining room was very good, but the selection was limited. They try to be too fancy with sauces, etc. Carnival is superior and Royal Caribbean's is also better. One lobster tail had to be returned because it was rubbery and tasted bad. The prime rib and garlic shrimp were both excellent. The lemonade, iced tea and juices allowed us to get by without buying soda. Service in the dining room was sporadic and somewhat disorganized and slow. The layout is tight. Because of the fireworks in New York Harbor, the last night was open seating. We went at the usual time (early seating 5:45) and got seated right away. Those who came later had extremely long waits to get a table. The variety in the King's Court is good, but the food is nothing special (although the fresh fruit selection was wonderful) Again Carnival was much better while Royal Caribbean's Windjammer was the worst of the three. The King's Court has 4 sections; the Carvery, the Lotus, La Piazza and the Chef's Galley. The Carvery and Chef's Galley were the better choices. There were a great variety of desserts as well as soft ice cream dispensers. Breakfast in the dining room was painfully slow. Better to use the King's Court. My wife said that the Cream of Wheat was the best she's had. Cereal selections are limited with no pre sweetened for the kids. We did not try Todd English so I cannot comment on it. Entertainment: D The stage shows were amateurish, too slow and too long. On the first night "Apassionata " was a history of dance ending with swing. The second night "Rock @ the Opera" mixed opera with modern rock. We chose not to attend. The last show was "Zing Went the Strings" a tribute to Judy Garland. It started with a video that was not visible because of stage props. We left when the Judy Garland wannabe started dancing to the music of Austin Powers. The theater was only half full at the start of the show and many left during the show. Movies were shown each night in Illuminations (the planetarium) We went one evening to watch "National Treasure" which we had not seen before. The movie was good, but my surround sound at home offers better sound. The planetarium show is worth attending if just for the novelty of it all. You must get tickets ahead of time for the half hour show which is interesting if you can stay awake listening to the monotone narrator. Kid's Program: B My 12 year old went one morning and enjoyed basketball, air hockey and X-box. The schedule seemed full with a number of options. The staff is small and you must choose morning or afternoon sessions ahead of time. Kids can attend more than one session per day only if room permits -- and on our cruise it did. As for my 17 year old, there were activities but none that interested him. There were only 65 teens on board. Instead he joined pickup basketball on the sports deck. Sports deck: C There was a small basketball court and paddle tennis court that had limited hours. The ping pong tables and paddles were in bad shape. Shuffle board was near impossible as the pucks refused to slide on the wood decks. You will have some success if you turn them upside down. Pools: A The pools were really nice. The Promenade pool on deck 12 had a roof for cool evenings. On deck 8 on the back of the ship was the Terrace pool And on deck 13 towards the front of the ship was a splash pool. Also in the back of the ship there was a family pool and a sprinkler areas for the kids. Unfortunately that pool had to be close on our last day when someone got sick and lost their lunch. A mandatory emptying, cleaning and 24 hour closure meant families then had to use the other pools. Itinerary: A As we left New York Harbor, the cruise director, Brian Pierce, pointed out the sights A fire boat led us out of the harbor with water spraying. This was a 3 day trip with fireworks scheduled for New York harbor. We got a bonus because Newport Rhode Island scheduled their fireworks for July 3rd. The captain decided that would be a good show so on Sunday night we anchored just off the fireworks sight in the harbor with the rear of the ship facing the fireworks. They were so close you felt as if you could reach out and touch them. It was a cool night so stewards came out and distributed blankets and towels to keep people warm. a nice touch. Patriotic music blared over the sound system adding to the festive evening. On Monday night we anchored just north of Staten Island for the Macy's New York fireworks extravaganza. Desserts and drinks were brought out along with a contemporary band for a party atmosphere. Blankets were again provided. Because of our distance, the fireworks were visible but seemed small. We were so glad that we had the show in Newport the night before. After the fireworks show we again left New York Harbor and went out to sea before returning to port on Tuesday morning. Misc.: B The ship itself and its size are incredible. You can't see the end of the hallway of the floor you are on. Because capacity is about 2,600 people the ship never seems crowded and at times feels downright empty. For comparison, the Voyager of the Seas which is only slightly smaller carries 3,800 people at full capacity) There is one staff member for every two passengers. Most of the staff are British and all are very friendly and helpful. Stewards remove towels from deck chairs that do not seem to be in use. The QM2 is the only ship with a permanent exhibit. "Maritime Quest" is basically a history of Cunard. It is fascinating and well worth it if you have the time to explore the various items. A guide is on the back of the fold out map you find in your cabin. The QM2 is also a quiet ship: no announcements except for the captain's update each noon. Yes there are are auctions, bingo, etc, but you need to read your Daily Programme to know what is going on. Shops are limited and expensive. We've always purchased a Christmas ornament of each ship we've been on but the QM2 did not have them. My son suggested buying 2 QM2 magnets which we can put together and then use a string to make our own ornament: a great idea if you check the polarity of the magnets to make sure they will go together. Pictures were the most expensive I've ever seen. Prints of your various activities and poses were available at $27.50 each! Another item i've always bought on cruses is a photo album with the ship's logo for 4X6 prints. usually these cost about $10 On the QM2 the only way to get such an album was to buy 15 professional images and the album for $49.49.95. you could not buy the album separately. On the second day of the cruise they sold 250 T-shirts made specifically for this weekend. The mob and lines for these limited edition shirts was worse than Macy's bargain tables at Christmas. The ship itself is incredible. The Promenade deck has wooden chairs with comfortable cushions and is wide enough for jogging and walking. Three times around equals 1.1 miles. Toward the front of Promenade there is an elevator that goes up the outside of the ship to an observation deck. Breathtaking views can be had from both. The ship's library is extensive and the gym is well equipped. The spa offers an all day pass for $29. There is a book store, an internet center called Connexions, a casino, several laundries and a number of lounges with a good variety of musical choices. . On Deck two there are game tables lining the side of the ship near windows with games such as Scrabble, Checkers, Chutes and Ladders and more. Disembarkation: A As with most cruise lines you get colored tags. The difference on the QM2 is that you also get the schedule for the colors so you know when your color will be called. We chose self disembarkation because our car service was scheduled to pick us up prior to our color being called. This also allowed us to keep our luggage and not have it collected the night before docking. The ship docked at 6:30 a.m. with disembarking scheduled to start at 8. we had a leisurely breakfast and walked on deck one last time. Self disembarking began at 7:30 with colors for tags starting at 8. There was no immigration processing because we had no ports of call on this trip. We left the ship shortly after 8. Once the car service van cleared security we were on our way home and arrived there before 9:30. Overall: B I took this short cruise because I wanted to be able to say i sailed on the QM2. I wanted to see the difference between an ocean liner and a cruise ship, and there were some differences. I've always been fascinated by the old liners and was delighted to have the chance to try the modern Queen. The weekend cruise was about what my budget could handle. This weekend schedule also worked as well for my sisters who hadn't cruised in 20 years. The last time they cruised they had tiny cabins with bunk beds and sections of the ship that they could not access. They had been on the Bremen, The France The Raffaello and the SS United States. I think they were amazed at how ships have changed. A cruise is what you make of it. People can always find things to complain about. For me though, I feel blessed to be able to take a cruise and will always enjoy what is offered. And I fully enjoyed my weekend. Just wish it was longer. The QM2 is indeed a tremendous ship and I am glad I sailed on her, but unless I am doing a transatlantic voyage, i will probably not sail on her again. There are better cruise offerings out there at better prices. Next month it is back to the Voyager of the Seas for a family cruise to Bermuda (with a balcony room and a promenade view room.. i can't wait. As you can probably tell, I am addicted. For pictures from this cruise go to http://homepage.mac.com/pekrause/PhotoAlbum16.html Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
I was one of the first lucky ones to be on the NEW Noordam. I am a travel agent for one of the top agencies in the US so was lucky to be selected for a 1 night inaugural cruise in New York. I came back so inspired and rested. From first ... Read More
I was one of the first lucky ones to be on the NEW Noordam. I am a travel agent for one of the top agencies in the US so was lucky to be selected for a 1 night inaugural cruise in New York. I came back so inspired and rested. From first glance, the ship is extremely handsome and sleek. Check in went smoothly and we were on our way! This ship does not have a spectacular atrium like other new ships. However, it has a lovely staircase which is illuminated with soft yellow lights. We spent a lot of time at workshops, learning more about the HAL brand but in between, I had time to enjoy the ship. Our stateroom was #6064. It was lovely! The beds were so comfortable. The bathroom had ample space and we received Elemis products as our amenities. The verandah was quite large and could have fit my family of 5 on it!!!! We visited the Green house spa for a tour of this calm and beautiful facility. We ate lunch at the Lido Restaurant. Very good food and pleasant service. We had an excellent dinner in the dining room and our surf and turf was outstanding. After dinner, we went to the Crow's Nest bar, which offered a stunning view of New York. The gift shops and casino were closed since we were in port, so I did not get to visit them. Were things 100% perfect? Not yet! The servers were very pleasant but you could tell that they had a few small things to perfect first. Would I sail on this ship? Absolutely! Will I recommend this to my valued client's? Of course!!!! I was actually depressed to leave the ship. All my best! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
My wife and I decided were suffering from cruise withdrawal and decided to book a one night cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Dawn. We had never been on an NCL line (most of our cruises have been on Carnival), so we were looking forward ... Read More
My wife and I decided were suffering from cruise withdrawal and decided to book a one night cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Dawn. We had never been on an NCL line (most of our cruises have been on Carnival), so we were looking forward to discovering something different with this one night getaway. We drove to New York City (only about a 45 minute drive) and parked across the street from the pier. Once inside the terminal, we saw lines everywhere and it seems those working the piers didn't care about people's concerns. There was a sign posted saying boarding would start at 12:45. Everything went fairly quickly as we were on the ship by 1:30. The ship is smaller than those I have been on in the past (very narrow hallways). We went to our cabin, dropped off our luggage and went over the map of the ship (always a good idea). We then went to the Lido deck where the masses were running for food and trying to find tables. After the life jacket drill (something that went a lot smoother than most other cruise lines we'd been on), went to the Lido Deck for the Deck Party send-off. Thousands of people were gathered there for drinks and the bar-b-q party, so we went to the back of the ship (lots less people). After going under the Verrazano Bridge, went to get dressed for dinner. We would up at the Venetian Restaurant. We were seated and asked if we wanted wine. Told the hostess no, but would like drinks. The bartender(s) never came to our table, so we had water with dinner. Even asking the waiter (Reinaldo, who was fabulous) to have the bartenders come to our table, they didn't. Food portions were very small, so order two or more if you're hungry. After dinner, went to do some more exploring and found ourselves at the Casino. Very small and not very "giving" (especially the slots). Too many people crowded around the penny, nickle and quarter machines. Decided to look at the photos and purchased a few to take home with us. The show (Bollywood) was very crowded. We decided not to stay because people were on top of each other. Went to the gift shop and looked around. People kept saying "buy all you want because there is no customs to worry about". Would have done that except the prices weren't that great. Finally went back to our cabin and prepared for a nice quiet night. The beds are very comfortable and the rocking is a great feeling. I got up on Sunday morning and watched as the ship made its way back into the NY Harbor. Woke up my family and went to the Lido Deck for breakfast. Too many people hit the first line they saw rather than move toward the front of the ship (which by the way had an omelette station that the others did not). We gathered our belongings and were off the ship by 8:30. I would recommend the Dawn for a quick get-away, but not quite sure about long trips. The Good -- Wait Staff, Muster Drill. The Bad -- Pools & Hot Tubs close early, small food portions. The Ugly -- Too Many People! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
I purchased this Cruise to Nowhere as a gift for my mother, and what I had hoped would be a very memorable and relaxing trip for both of us. I also purchased this cruise as I was planning on purchasing two family cruises to the Caribbean ... Read More
I purchased this Cruise to Nowhere as a gift for my mother, and what I had hoped would be a very memorable and relaxing trip for both of us. I also purchased this cruise as I was planning on purchasing two family cruises to the Caribbean within the next year, as well as plan a wedding on a cruise ship. I am glad I made this decision, as reserving long vacations and a wedding would have been a huge mistake, waste of money, and disappointment. My mother and I entered the ship with a very positive attitude and open minds. We did not know what to expect as weve never been on a cruise before, but weve heard wonderful things. We were excited upon entering the ship and felt it would be all we hoped for. Im writing this review for other consumers so they do not have to experience what we have. We reserved a balcony room. I wouldnt suggest reserving anything smaller because this room was comfortable for a maximum of two people. The balcony was a very nice touch, and I would say well worth the money. The dEcor is a little on the tacky side, however, what I had typically expected. Everything seemed to be going well until we had a Safety Drill. Everyone was required to learn how to use safety vests and report to a certain deck. At this time, we overheard other passengers talking about dinner reservations. We did not know we needed reservations as Freestyle Dining is what seems to be advertised, which would lead you to believe you can eat at any time. Upon hearing this, we decided to go check out the restaurants and make reservations to be safe. We went to their steakhouse, Cagneys. We were told, with about 5 other couples, that they had been booked for the entire night. One of the other cruisers advised us that all of the restaurants had been already booked too. They were upset as it was their wedding anniversary and they couldnt even find a place to eat for dinner. (Please keep in mind we were told we could only boarded the ship between 2:00pm-3:00pm, and it was literally 2:20pm.) I questioned how all of these reservations could have been made, thinking I missed something and we could have called in advance or done it on the website. I was told certain cruisers were able to board as early as 12:00 and made the reservations then. I then questioned how these people could board as early as we were not given that option. About 8 of us stood there and instead of answering any questions they decided to squeeze us into the restaurant at opening time, 5:30. I still wonder how these people made all of these reservations or got on the ship so early. Regardless, we accepted the reservation. We then decided to take a walk outside on the pool deck. I was shocked that there was only one public pool, and it was extremely small. It was definitely not the type of pool that should be available for thousands of cruisers. The entire pool area and bar was crowded and uncomfortable. I couldnt imagine being on a longer cruise with these type of amenities. This was definitely not an environment of children or anyone elderly. We sat and had a couple of drinks and tried to ignore the Spring Break environment surrounding us. We went to dinner and were seated in a nice area overlooking the water. The restaurant was empty for our entire dinner, and left me wondering how they had no reservations available. I cant imagine that many people did not show up. The service was poor as no one refilled our drinks and we werent even given dinner menus for about 20 minutes. We both ordered steaks and sides. Lobster was not available among other things. I cant say we enjoyed the food and I could have had much better in a local restaurant. The dessert was also not good. The only thing good on the ship seemed to be drinks. I was shocked as I always heard others rave about the food on cruise ships. We also tried the Blue Lagoon and a couple buffets. All that seemed available was hamburgers, hot dogs, dried and bad looking cold cuts, and salad. We still stayed positive and tried to make the best of our experience. The rest of the night was ok, Ive seen some describe the quality of entertainment as Vegas style shows, Id say it was more so that of Atlantic City, NJ. It seemed everything was over crowded and the only people truly enjoying themselves were obnoxiously drunk and unaware of their surroundings. I was surprised at the lack of free food, as I was under the impression most was included. They nickel and dime you for everything, cover charges for restaurants, service charges, and gratuity automatically charges to your account. If I would have known the amount we would spend on top of the price of the cruise itself, I wouldnt have gone. It was a waste of money. For one night it totaled around $900, and we didnt participate in half of the activities or go shopping. We had a total of 5-6 drinks together. Still, by this point we stayed positive and felt the experience was ok. This was until we decided to back to our room and go to sleep. Upon pulling the sheets down to get into bed, we saw glitter, sequins, and hair all over our sheets. I was quite disgusted. It looked as if someone slept in our bed and they didnt bother to change the sheets. I called downstairs to customer service and requested a change of bed linens. They told me they would be up shortly. We sat on a very small couch and waited. An hour passed and I called the customer service line again wondering when we could expect a change of sheets. They told me the request was never made. I insisted I called an hour ago, and was told that the girl in the earlier shift must have not written it down. They told me someone would be up shortly (again.) Another 30 minutes went by, and the customer service line called me. They said the request could not be made because we had turned our outside dial as Do not disturb. I insisted we did not touch it the entire night. I said I made this request an hour and a half ago, why am I just now receiving this call if it was a problem. She responded Well are you going to change the sign or not? Before this point, I was calm and very open minded about everything. However, I was shocked by the attitude and response from an employee, never mind customer service. I told her I will change it, but I think I should have been called earlier, and they should not take a sign as seriously as anyone outside of your room can change it, including the hundreds of kids running up and down the halls. She then hung up on me. I called back and asked to speak with a supervisor or someone in charge. I was told she was in charge and there was no one else to speak with. I said ok, and requested her name. She hung up on me, AGAIN! By this point I was furious. I worked in customer service for years when I was younger and never experienced or witnessed something like this in my life. I walked downstairs to the desk and stood on line with about twenty other cruisers with complaints. Many complaints consisted of room keys not working and dirty rooms. In fact, as I waited, I watched the customer service woman receive four calls regarding a change of sheets, and she responded saying their Do Not Disturb sign was also on and it is why they didnt receive the service for hours. They had a total of two women at this main desk. They should have had more employees available to fulfill requests. But more importantly, their employees should be trained on how to respond to requests and talk to consumers. We all waited on line as they answered the phones and ignored the line of people. One man commented I would have been better off going up to my room and calling and another woman said No, I tried calling for two hours and they dont answer so I chimed in and said Well, I got through, and they hung up on me! I was shocked. I couldnt believe this is what a cruise was like. Five of us discussed we had never been on a cruise, and now we most likely wouldnt want to, especially with Norwegian. When I finally got to the desk, I said I would like to speak with a supervisor or fill out a customer complaint form. She asked why. I told her I made a request for a change of sheets, and I was hung up on twice. She told me You were not hung up on. I said So Im a liar now? I walked down here to make this up? She told me I am a liar, and that no one hung up on me, and to go back to my room. I requested a complaint form, and she slammed a piece of Norwegian stationary on the counter. I wrote down her name and plan on contacting their corporate office about this rude, unprofessional, and obnoxious employee. As I would hope, this is not the type of individual they want representing their corporation. I understand you cant judge an entire corporation by one employee. However, I can judge the corporation by the fact this is the person they leave in charge of thousands of passenger requests. This is their lead customer service representative. I wanted this trip to be something special for my mother, and it was nothing but a headache and waste of money. The food was horrible, the additional charges were ridiculous, and the service was shocking. I would not recommend cruising with Norwegian to anyone. Im going to try Royal Caribbean or Princess as Ive heard better things about them. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
We sailed on The Spirit. This was a cruise to nowhere. I was told by my agent it was a 24-hour cruise, but it was in fact an 18-hour cruise. It was very expensive as the cheapest cabin went for 500.00 for two. We got onboard at 1pm, ... Read More
We sailed on The Spirit. This was a cruise to nowhere. I was told by my agent it was a 24-hour cruise, but it was in fact an 18-hour cruise. It was very expensive as the cheapest cabin went for 500.00 for two. We got onboard at 1pm, however cabins were not ready till after 2. This meant we had to lug our bags all over the ship as there was no luggage check on an overnight. The food that was included was an Italian cheapo menu consisting of chicken parm, lasagna and eggplant. It was very limited. If you wanted better fare you needed to pay extra in one of the alternative restaurants. We did and had a good meal at the Asian restaurant. I expected to have surf and turf for a cruise of this expense. Service was slow and poor! There were two shows, both of which were like high school reviews. There was an excellent dance band for the "New Year's Eve party." This was the only upside of the cruise. We played a bit in the casino, but none of the slots were paying out. The tables were limited and extremely crowded. This was our 15th cruise -- our 4th with Norwegian. Honestly, this was definitely not worth the money. I would tell anyone wanting to do a cruise to nowhere to save your money, it is so not worth it. As for the ship, it was small with very limited deck space and had few places for dancing. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Norwegian Spirit June 17 - 18, 2006 Cruise to nowhere (NYC- NYC) Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas (twice), QM2 Future Cruise: Crown Princess We love cruising so even a one night is special, and this more so ... Read More
Norwegian Spirit June 17 - 18, 2006 Cruise to nowhere (NYC- NYC) Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas (twice), QM2 Future Cruise: Crown Princess We love cruising so even a one night is special, and this more so because the kids stayed home with a relative so it was just the two of us (we are 50). Never cruised Norwegian so we wanted to sample them. EMBARKATION: A We live in Jersey City so we took the New York Waterway ferry to Manhattan and walked the few blocks to the pier. Being a one night cruise we only had one backpack and carry on. While crossing the Hudson we saw three ships in port. Carnival Victory, NCL Dawn, and the NCL Spirit. We arrived at the dock at 12 Noon. At 12:30 they started boarding and we were on before 1. This was the most organized boarding procedure I have seen. Cabins would not be ready until 2 PM so we went to Raffle's Food Court to eat. FOOD: B+ The food court had much better food that RCCL's Windjammer. Selection was small, but quality very good. The Tilapia was excellent as was the beef stew. Pasta from the Pasta Bar was good but service was slow since the station had only one worker. Free drinks included water, milk, skim milk, iced tea or coffee. The iced tea was way too strong. The German food in the beirgarten looked very good, as did the barbecue by the pool, but we were already full. For dinner we ate in Windows, one of two main dining rooms. Windows was at the back of the ship and was named because of it's three large windows at the back offering great views. I had the swordfish with garlic mashed potatoes. My wife had grilled salmon. Both were excellent. She also had an eggplant dish that she said was wonderful. It had a stack of eggplant medallions alternating with mozzarella and sliced tomato topped with a fresh tomato sauce. This was the first cruise I've been on where they actually left a basket of bread and rolls on your table. Also throughout the ship there are flat panel screens describing each restaurant and telling you wait times (if any) and how many tables of various sizes are available. I'm not a big fan of Freestyle dining. I'm a traditionalist who would prefer letting my regular servers get to know my likes and dislikes. I also enjoy meeting other travelers. NCL seems to have too many 2 seat tables. One restaurant we didn't get to was the Blue Lagoon. a small snack area on the starboard side of deck seven offering burgers, fries, wok dishes and won ton soup. Every time we walked through it it smelled wonderful. But is was so small and always busy. We also have never tried any of the specialty restaurants on a ship because we just don't see the value. The food is already quite good and we've spent enough for the cruise itself. CABIN: B- Small is the operative word. We had an ocean view. It was nice but not as large as on other ships. The closets had a sliding door which was nice. The safe is close to the floor in the closet. You have to get down on your knees to get close to it. The TV was a tiny 13 inch, but it did have audio/video inputs if you want to check out ant videos or pictures you've taken. Bathroom is divided into 3 areas: a large shower (biggest I've seen on a ship), the sink area, and a private toilet in an enclosure that I barely fit into. The twin beds, pushed together to make a queen were comfortable enough but rolled apart too easily while sleeping. The comforter and duvet were very nice. The green and yellow striped bedspreads were just ugly. Never met our steward. Would assume that it is because it was a one night cruise, but he did keep our room clean. We always bring a night light and have always had to use a power bar for it because of plug location. That was not needed on the Spirit as the plug was in a reasonable location. MUSTER: A Easy and well run. On deck. DEPARTURE: A This was fun. As we sailed down the Hudson we noticed an RCL ship ahead of us leaving Bayonne. Shortly thereafter the Carnival Victory and Norwegian Dawn were behind us. Four ships parading through the Narrows. Many jet ski riders waiting for the ships to enjoy the bumpy wake we left behind us. Although I take cruising out of Bayonne for convenience, coming down the river from midtown is breathtaking! SERVICE. B+ From the time we board until just after muster there were staff everywhere directing you and helping. Very impressed. On a side note this is the first ship I've been on where you had to sanitize your hands as soon as you boarded. Way too many announcements. SHIP'S DECOR: B+ The Spirit was formerly the Superstar Leo and was built for the Asian Market. Much of the Asian Decor is still there and the ship itself is very nice. The library felt as if it could be on an old time ocean liner: rich furnishings and dark wood. The pool area was very nice and the kid's pool area at the back of the ship looked terrific. We especially liked the back of the ship which had terraces with tables and comfortable bamboo/wood chairs. It was our favorite spot on the ship. The Galaxy of the Stars lounge in the front of the ship was also a very enjoyable space with huge windows looking out the front of the ship and overhang areas on each side of the ship. Here there was a faux bridge where you could see all the navigation screens that showed the ships vitals. ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT: C NCL tried to do too much in one night leading to many lightly filled venues. The main show in the theater was canceled and replaced by another show because of technical difficulties. We did not attend that. We did go to the magic/comedy show by Ed Alonzo from Saved by the Bell. It was pitiful. neither magical or funny. The theater itself was nice. Seats are sloped instead of tiered so you can walk down the center from one deck to the next. We did enjoy Neil Diamond show by Jose and Patty in the Galaxy of Stars but there were only about 40 people there. They also had a New Year's Eve Party there later and that had a good turnout. The gym was nicely equipped and even had two swim against the current pools. We don't gamble or drink so I can't comment on the Casino or bars. DISEMBARKATION: A Easy. No customs on a one nighter. Just walk off. We docked at 9 AM and were free to get off at 9:15. We strolled around the ship and left at 10 walking back to the ferry for the 10 minute ride back to New Jersey. OVERALL: B Good service, good food, weak entertainment, and somewhat small. Fully enjoyed it and would sail NCL again, but not this ship. We prefer bigger with more activities. The one nighter was short yet recharging and worth it. Will be on the lookout for one to three night cruises in the New York area to hold us over until the annual long cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
Food was shocking. Tasteless and boring. Service in the Garden was bad with employees talking among themselves. The cruise director was irritating and love the sound of his own voice on the PA system. The shore excursion director Jenni ... Read More
Food was shocking. Tasteless and boring. Service in the Garden was bad with employees talking among themselves. The cruise director was irritating and love the sound of his own voice on the PA system. The shore excursion director Jenni was only concerned in getting you into shops and told nothing of attractions in shore destinations. Her briefing in the Stardust was as though she were addressing children. This was the worst I have experienced in 30 years of cruising. The crew were sullen and unfriendly. The Captain was rarely seen and hardly gave a smile unless you paid an exorbitant sum to be photographed with him. The shore excursions were a giant rip off. Overpriced and boring. I went on an excursion to see the Titanic history. Most of the time the guide blabbered about other events and when I asked to see the Jewish graves, he said the cemetery was closed. When we drove past, the gates were wide open. We were dumped into the museum and no guide provided to give us some orientation except to tell us where the gift shop was. The shore excursions were designed to get passengers in and out of as many tourist traps as possible. The restaurants suggested by Jenni were of poor quality and overpriced. I will never ever sail on NCL again. The Star to Alaska was stellar. This was a piaster. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
My husband and I went on a cruise to nowhere aboard the Carnival Legend from 10/19-10/21. This was our second cruise, first time on Carnival. Embarkation We live in the NY area so we took a cab to the terminal. We arrived at approx ... Read More
My husband and I went on a cruise to nowhere aboard the Carnival Legend from 10/19-10/21. This was our second cruise, first time on Carnival. Embarkation We live in the NY area so we took a cab to the terminal. We arrived at approx 11:45 and were in our cabin by around 1PM. The cabin was almost ready so we dropped the bags off and headed to the Lido deck for lunch. Food We had lunch the first day on the Lido deck and had pizza. It was very good. They had a wonderful selection for you to choose from. The first night's dinner I had the chicken satay appetizer, salad and the tilapia, some sort of chocolate cake for desert. All were delicious. My husband had the smoked salmon for the appetizer,caesar salad, and, New Zealand Lamb, also the chocolate cake for dessert. He loved his selections as well. The 2nd/last night we both had the prawn appetizer, pumpkin soup, lobster tails and sherbert for dessert. Everything again was delicious. The food was well presented and well prepared. We found everything to be fresh and full of flavor. The only thing that we had on the lido deck was the pizza which as I said was very good. We also had ice cream which was more like frozen yogurt. All in all I would say the food was excellent. The service in the dining room was superb. Whatever we asked for we got, and quickly too. Cabin We were in Cabin 6149 on the Empress Deck. Our cabin steward was Wade and he was great. Very friendly and efficient. He did an excellent job of keeping our cabin very clean and tidy. The first night he didn't make us those towel animals but I left him a note the next day asking if he would make it that night and when we returned there was this huge towel dog sitting on the corner of our turned down bed. He also brought fresh towels in the evening and filled up the ice bucket. We had a balcony cabin and sat out there which was quite nice. Crew We found the crew to be extremely friendly, polite and nice. We would walk in the hallways and if there was a crew member there they would always say hello to us and smile. We found the service to be excellent. The Ship The Legend's decor is a bit over the top with all the urns but it didn't really bother me. The cleanliness of the ship was amazing. We would always see someone cleaning something. One time we saw a crew member cleaning the walls in the hallways. They were constantly mopping, sweeping or scrubbing. The first night you could barely feel the ship move except for a gentle rocking. The second night was a totally different story. There were high winds and a lot of rocking which made me nervous. Everyone said that the captain had the stabilizers on. I can't imagine how it would feel without them. Our cabin was toward the bow of the ship so we did feel the motion. I think the next time we cruise we would get a cabin midship because there was much less motion there. We also went into the hot tub which was very relaxing. We didn't go into the pools because the water was too cold. Entertainment We went to both shows and they were very entertaining. The second night we saw an R rated comic in the late show. I can't remember his name but I wasn't too impressed. All in all we had a fabulous time. There were only 2 complaints that I have. 1. It was way too short. By the time you get on, it's time to get off. We didn't do much sleeping. 2. The ashtrays on the Lido deck weren't emptied that much. I would definitely recommend Carnival to anyone. They are a great cruise line with excellent service, fabulous food and lots to do. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty is the second entry in RCI's line of Freedom class ships. She is much in common with her older sister with just a few changes. This is a huge ship and in two days it was hard to see everything. Outstanding was the ice ... Read More
Liberty is the second entry in RCI's line of Freedom class ships. She is much in common with her older sister with just a few changes. This is a huge ship and in two days it was hard to see everything. Outstanding was the ice show, which would be fabulous even on land, but was even more so considering we were at sea, albeit with perfectly calm seas. Crew worked very hard to please and was smiling and friendly as is the norm on RCI ships. Cabins were nicely appointed and the new bedding a HUGE improvement from the old cot like bedding that is being replaces on all RCI ships this year. Public rooms were varied and well designed. The Catacombs disco was a decorators dream, with small touches everything to enhance the gothic overtones. Lots of kid and teen friendly places on this ship and RCI has made it very clear that families are their target market. The design of Freedom as well as Voyager class make that abundantly clear. As for food, it was standard RCI; good not great. At Sorrento, the food looked better than it tasted. Windjammer offered many options and good seating. Food in the dining room was average. Cafe Promenade offered a large selection of sweets and snacks throughout the day. While one will never go hungry on this ship, neither is the fare offered creative or exceptional. I am sure it will please the vast majority of folks sailing on this ship. Chops and Portofino were closed but I would guess they would be just as good as they are on RCI's other vessels. The gym and fitness facility is outstanding and my single favorite part of the ship. While all RCI ships have above average fitness areas, Freedom and Liberty take this to a whole new level. RCI has another winner in the monster ship market with Liberty. Those looking for a casual, activity rich cruise will undoubtedly be very pleased with this new addition to RCI's fleet. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Went on the Norwegian Spirit for the October 20th cruise to nowhere. Boarding the ship was a breeze. Got there at 12 noon and there was plenty of parking at the terminal. Went down the elevator and breezed right through the check in ... Read More
Went on the Norwegian Spirit for the October 20th cruise to nowhere. Boarding the ship was a breeze. Got there at 12 noon and there was plenty of parking at the terminal. Went down the elevator and breezed right through the check in process. Once checked in, we immediately went on line for dinner reservations as we wanted to make reservations for Cagneys. It was already filling up pretty fast. Went on deck to the buffet for lunch. Food was ok, not the best for a cruise line, not the worst. Got chairs and listened to the band as the rooms weren't going to be ready until 2PM. At 2PM went to the room which was an oceanview room. Compared to other ships the room was a little smaller than usual. Also, there is only 1 outlet with 1 plug in the room so if you are going to need to plug anything in, you will need to bring something like an extension cord or multi-plug. At 4PM we left (they don't have a muster drill for the cruise to nowhere). Dinner at Cagneys was amazing. I strongly recommend going there. Everyone was pleased with the meal. There was quite a lot to do for the cruise. They had a comedy act (recommend skipping it she stunk), show (missed it), and many different things. Casino wasn't too packed, and bj tables ranged from $15 and up, craps was $10 minimum. Next morning we ate breakfast at the buffet which was disappointing as the food wasn't that good. Overall had a great time if you are willing to live with the small rooms and chairs that are slightly lower to the ground as this was a ship originally designed for the asian market. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Let's get right to it. DW and I, Mother and Father, MIL and FIL and Brother and his Friend had 4 adjoining inside rooms on Deck 9. I booked this cruise as a gift for my mother's 60th birthday, and purchased everyone's rooms. ... Read More
Let's get right to it. DW and I, Mother and Father, MIL and FIL and Brother and his Friend had 4 adjoining inside rooms on Deck 9. I booked this cruise as a gift for my mother's 60th birthday, and purchased everyone's rooms. This was my first NCL cruise, having been on Celebrity, Princess, HAL and Carnival for longer cruises previously. We favor Celebrity with HAL a close second. My wife and MIL had a very bad experience years ago on NCL when they allowed a ship that was to be retired to make its last 4 cruises with engine troubles and missed ports. In this day and age, a cruise line could not do that without websites like this keeping them in check, but those were the days, as they say. So I convinced them to give NCL another try. We live in Central NJ, so we drove to the terminal, arriving at approx. 10:30 a.m. and parked with ease. We were one of the first to check in before they moved the computers behind the x-ray machines, so we were on the ship as soon as they allowed boarding, approx. 11:45 a.m. We ignored the rather insistent NCL employee shuffling the rest of the unsuspecting passengers to Raffles, and thanks to the good advice on this board, took our luggage to Windows to eat lunch after we made dinner reservations at Cagney's for 6pm (we later went to explore the ship and looked at the buffet upstairs -- needless to say, Windows was a GOOD choice). The food was OK, nothing great -- in fact, it was lukewarm, but tasty. The service, IMHO, sucked. Our waiter was just going through the motions, could not be bothered to smile and just didn't want to be there, serving people. If he were my waiter for 7 days, I would not have been happy. We then went to see our rooms, which were ready at 2, as promised. I thought the room was of adequate size, but needed severe refurbishment, compared to the common areas of the ship. We never saw our steward, but our beds were separated, so we called and asked if they could be put together. One thing that I saw that shocked me was that the room steward had "hours." I had never seen this before. We were outside of the designated hours, so we had to call the purser's desk and ask for assistance. We then went to explore the ship. I have to admit, I thought the ship was beautiful. It was very tasteful and elegant, with none of the tackiness you would expect from a cruiseship, especially the lobby. The card rooms were very nice, the gym was great with all new equipment and the pool areas, from what I saw, were good. When we went back to our room, the beds were pushed together, but in the wrong direction, away from the headboard, and with the same two blankets that were on the individual beds -- not one blanket, as should have been the case. We called the purser's desk again and asked if they could fix that during turndown service. They said yes. We took a short nap and went to Deck 12 to watch the ship depart. We waited for about an hour and fifteen minutes, but no departure, so we went to our rooms to get ready for dinner. We then heard the announcement of the threat. I have to admit, it didn't bother me one bit that they were looking into the threat. I guess I just have become accustomed to living near NYC. Maybe if I had a child (my wife is expecting in March) that was not on the ship I would have paid more attention and would have had to determine whether to leave the ship or not, but it never even crossed my mind. This caused interesting dinner conversation as to whether they would let people off the ship (I said they would have to -- once they cleared the threat) and whether people would get refunds (my answer - no freakin way -- but good luck to those who will try -- and let us know how it works out). This will be the only thing I say on this topic. In my opinion, you have the right to get off of the ship if you felt that you and your loved ones were in danger, but NO right to a refund from NCL, as they were not to blame. I am saying that as a lawyer and as a rational thinking person. I also did not mind that they would not release any information about the threat. Not exactly textbook police work to release information during an ongoing terrorist threat and possibly assist the terrorists. This is life in the 21st century. Get used to it. It may not be pretty, but it happens. Anyway, back to the review. We went to Cagney's at 6pm and the restaurant is very nice. Now to the food. Part of it was very good but some of it was laughable. Three people started with the beefsteak tomato and bermuda onion salad. What was served could not have been served in a local McDonalds. Apparently, we were told, apparently as an explanation, that the tomatoes were not fresh, so they were boiled and peeled and sliced thin and served with thin red onion. We all laughed, because the waiter actually thought this was a valid explanation. They were quick in bringing different starters for those who were dissatisfied. I then had the caesar salad, prepared "tableside". We had a similar salad in the Normandie specialty restaurant on the Celebrity Summit, and it was very good, and the presentation was neat. Needless to say, we were looking forward to this. But we were served a standard caesar salad prepared in the kitchen. It was OK, but when we asked why it wasn't prepared tableside, they said there was no room in the restaurant and that it was prepared on a trolley in the back of the restaurant. So the joke for the rest of the night was that it was prepared tableside, just not at the side of our table. The steaks were excellent. My filet was very tender and the sides were good. I highly recommend the onion shoestrings. All in all we had a very nice meal. I would have wanted to try Le Bistro, but we don't have many people in our family who like french food. Maybe next time on another one nighter. We then went on deck right outside of Cagney's to watch the ship pass Lady Liberty and the bridge. I've seen it a few times, but it is neat each time. Off to the SecondCity comedy show. I have seen it in Vegas before, and it was a good show. I loved that the theater actually had theater type seats as opposed to lounge type seats. Then to the CASINO. I won $450 (craps and BJ), my MIL won $1400 (roulette and slots) and my parents lost a little (slots). My DW went up at around midnight because the casino was too smoky for her. There were $25 limits on most BJ tables, with a $100 table and a $50 table in the mix. There was one roulette table at $1 minimums and the second at $5 minimums, but we quickly found out that that particular table only gave out $5 chips and required you to place three chips on the table. They would not change the minimum to $15 -- I don't think they understood it very well. Craps was $10 and was hopping all night. I got in at a good point, won my money, and left before it went downhill. At that point, I went to pay off the room bill in cash, and encountered a slight problem. Our entire party was given a $13 per person credit as some kind of promotion we, nor our TA, knew anything about. However, I was the only one with a charge other than the tips on my account, because we do not drink. And we later found out that the credit could not be applied to the tips. The problem was that all the shops were closed and the other 6 people could not possibly spend $72 on soda, so I convinced a very nice NCL employee to place all of the accounts on my credit card so that the Cagney's charge ate up the credits and thus were, in a round about way, applied to the tips. So that worked out well. I would have gladly spent the credit in the shops, but NCL did not advise us about the credit. Kudos to the purser's desk though. They helped a great deal. I went up to the room around 3am and my wife awoke and told me the problems she had with the steward. Our room was never turned down for the evening, despite the fact that I stuck the "please make up room" sign in the door. Turns out that two of the rooms were turned down and two were not. They also did not change the comforter as we requested. A manager and another steward (apparently not ours) apologized to my wife and put the right sheets on the bed and said that they would make sure that the right people knew what happened. If I had not already paid the bill, I would have asked for the steward's tip to be removed and would have given the gentlemen who helped my wife some cash. But she did not know his name and I couldn't be bothered with complaining at 3 in the morning. It would have sucked to have this steward for 7 nights. Anyway, we woke up the next morning, had a leisurely breakfast at Windows - the food was very good, service somewhat sluggish and uninspired. We then left the ship and went home. We had a great time, and although the ship is beautiful, I do not think that we could sail the Spirit for more than the one night. The food is just not on par with Celebrity or HAL. But for one night, it was all we could have asked for. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Nice night. It is what you make of it! This was my 5th cruise and 2nd with NCL. We drove from near Philadelphia and got to the port around 11:15am. We parked easily and went down the escalators where they had a seating area with coffee ... Read More
Nice night. It is what you make of it! This was my 5th cruise and 2nd with NCL. We drove from near Philadelphia and got to the port around 11:15am. We parked easily and went down the escalators where they had a seating area with coffee and pastries. We only sat for about 15 minutes and then they put us through a quick check in and let us onboard! We looked around the ship for a while. Very clean, nicely decorated and all of the staff greeted us warmly. The staff members were pushing everyone to go to the Buffet. I witnessed a passenger ask where Windows was and the worker said 'you can go to Raffles on 12', I swung by and told him where it was. We had a sit down lunch in Windows. I got the grilled ham and cheese but it tasted like french toast. Service was great though. We went to our room at 1:20 and it was ready! We sat and enjoyed our 10th floor balcony. The people on the room next to us were talking loudly and cursing every other word but were expressing happiness about being on a cruise and having a balcony. Thankfully they were only out there for about 20 minutes or so and then we barely heard them afterwards. The room was the typical cabin size. Workable. The bathroom was split into 3 separate compartments. toilet/sink/shower with sliding doors between each. If one were aged or obese, they would be hard to maneuver but were manageable for one night. Muster drill at 3:45 and departed on time at 4. Beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty as well as a fireboat red/white/blue water display as we exited the harbor! We had were hoping to have dinner at LaTrattoria but it was closed so we had dinner in the garden room. I had Peppered Steak. It was decent. We came back to our room cleaned and turned down nicely. No folded animal or chocolate on our pillow though... We went to see the comedian (he had two showtimes while the musical 'music from 60's to 90s only had one showtime) but the set up of the lounge was odd. Bright light coming through windows, scattered small lounge booths, tall seats and loud Mexican music blaring-so we bailed before he came on. It was definitely a younger crowd on this sailing. We saw at least one bachelorette party. We ended up spending the night between the casino and casino bar. We hit enough to keep playing and over at the casino bar they had rock music on which is more to our taste! I was disappointed to learn that there was no room service on this cruise. That is one of the things I love about NCL. The Blue Lagoon Cafe is open 24 hours and everytime we walked through it (after 9pm), it was packed! My mom said there were still people eating there at 5 am. We didn't eat there so I can't comment on that. We woke up at 6:30am just in time to sit on the balcony and watch us approach and then enter the harbor. This time with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Had a quick breakfast at Raffles (good selection and quality) and walked off the ship quickly/easily around 8:30. We parked at the pier which was 25 dollars and very convenient. When the cruise ship left the pier we were pier 92 but we returned to pier 90. It just gave us a further walk to the car. No big deal for us. Overall, a very nice getaway! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Our cruise to Nowhere was on September 29. We live in Staten Island so my son and his girlfriend picked us up at 10:30 AM and because of horrendous traffic, we did not arrive at the Pier until 12:15PM. We were lucky to find a spot in the ... Read More
Our cruise to Nowhere was on September 29. We live in Staten Island so my son and his girlfriend picked us up at 10:30 AM and because of horrendous traffic, we did not arrive at the Pier until 12:15PM. We were lucky to find a spot in the lot as it was almost filled up. There were 2 other cruise ships in dock that morning. Took elevator down 1 floor and waited on a long line which moved pretty fast. Going through security was a breeze and only needed to show a DL as a mean of identification. We boarded the ship and was told that we had to go to Raffles Buffet on 12th deck. We actually preferred eating at the Buffet as we were going to Windows for dinner. The Buffet was very good. They had a large selection of food, hot and cold, sandwiches, different breads and many nice desserts. Everything was hot and fresh. They had an ice cream bar and even had fat free or sugar free which is great since I am a diabetic. At 1:30 we decided to check if we could go into our rooms to drop off luggage. Luckily, the rooms were ready. We thought the room very small and the bathroom even though it was very clean and very nicely decorated, found it very small. The balcony was tiny and did not even have leg room if you sat on a chair. For a one night cruise it was ok but would never book a longer cruise as we felt cramped. We later found that the mattress was hard as a rock and could not sleep because of it. We then went up to the pool deck and waited to sail. They had a great band that was very lively and played a great selection of dancing music. At 4:00 they also had a BBQ at poolside. It was a beautiful sunny day which made our cruise even more enjoyable. We never had a drill and was up on deck until time to get dressed for dinner. We made a 6:00 reservation at Windows since my son was going to propose to his girlfriend and we were a party of 10. Everything went well with dinner and Nelson the Maitre'd as well as Edith our waitress(whom we remembered from a cruise on the Dawn)brought us over a cake and Edith sang "Can I Call you Sweetheart" The evening was a great success and this will be a memorable cruise for all of us. We went to see the comedy show which was very funny and then to the Casino. My son and hubby were lucky and each won a little money. We went to Windows for breakfast and must say the service was very slow. It took an hour to get our food which by the way, was not up to par. Had we known, we would have gone to Buffet which I am sure was much better. At 10:15 we left the ship and headed home. Everything said, we all had a great time and look forward to doing another one nighter cruise. Janet Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
I took the one night cruise to nowhere on the Dawn Sept 1st 2007. Norwegian will be running this cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Spirit every Sat in Sept and October. This is the first time I had cruised with NCL, previously I've ... Read More
I took the one night cruise to nowhere on the Dawn Sept 1st 2007. Norwegian will be running this cruise to nowhere on the Norwegian Spirit every Sat in Sept and October. This is the first time I had cruised with NCL, previously I've been on RCCL 3 times. I had a good time for the night and it was a great value for a day trip and a night over, but I was a little disappointed. The last cruise I took was on RCCL's Explorer of the Seas. I took it from Miami but its since taken up residency at Port Liberty, NJ, one of the NYC area ports. The Explorer has a rock climbing wall, the indoor adult pool/jacuzzi area, an ice skating rink, and an indoor mall (Promenade) with high ceilings that gave the ship a very open feel. The Promenade also helps you locate your room as you can tell what you're nearest to in the promenade. RCCL also tosses in sculptures in the hallways to help orient you to your room. I was only on the Dawn for one day and can't give a complete review but I did notice quite a few points that would make me hesitant to book a 7 day cruise. The only indoor pool is a small lap pool located in the spa. There are also 2 jacuzzis there and most of the guests don't know its there, so it isn't crowded and is very enjoyable. I did enjoy the indoor pool area on the Explorer, and I found the dawn lacking here. It was nice that the dawn has a separate kiddie pool area which attracts young children away from the main pool. It was a beautiful day, but during inclement weather the main pool would be a real let down. Being there only one day and night I had trouble locating my room, there don't seem to be any obvious landmarks/sculptures to recognize. The floors are clearly marked, but it seems like every floor has the same Andy Warhol print at the staircase. The food was pretty good and creative, but I am told that the pay extra restaurants are well worth it. I went with 4 friends for one night and freestyle worked for me, but I'm not sure I would care for it on a longer cruise. The grand 3 level ballrooms I'm accustomed to on RCCL are really a sight to be seen and while sitting with strangers can be awkward, I rather enjoy meeting new people. The last cruise on the explorer I made 2 friends at my table that made the trip all the more enjoyable. Also, the cruise crowd took advantage of the freestyle concept and some guests were inappropriately dressed for dinner. I'm not one for suits, but I saw quite a few in t shirts and jeans. I had a good time, but I think I've been spoiled by my experiences on RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
I booked this for our 9 year anniversary. It was night out without any kids and would be a taste of our first cruise. I honestly have say that we really enjoyed it. Well worth the price of $130 per person for a balcony stateroom. Ship was ... Read More
I booked this for our 9 year anniversary. It was night out without any kids and would be a taste of our first cruise. I honestly have say that we really enjoyed it. Well worth the price of $130 per person for a balcony stateroom. Ship was clean, crew was very friendly and helpful, although some were a little clueless. For example, when it was time to disembark we asked a crew member what we had to. She told us that we had to check out at reception, so we waited on a long line, just to be told that we did not have to. A receipt of your bill is printed out and left on the outside of your cabin door in the morning. If everything is getting charged to your credit card and everything adds up, then that's it, you can just pack up and leave the ship, no need to do anything, just need your room key card to exit the ship. Boarding the ship went smooth, it takes a little while, but it really does go quick. Once they start the boarding process, your bags go through an x-ray machine, you go through a metal detector, then you just wait on a very fast moving line to check in. All you need is your credit card and drivers license. Once on the ship you can go grab something to eat. The rooms aren't ready until 2:00 pm. Oh yeah, we arrived at the pier around 11:30, which I believe is earlier enough because they started boarding around 1:00pm. On the ship we went to Raffles to eat, they had nice buffet, it wasn't the greatest, but really not that bad. After that we went to our room. The room was very clean and had a queen size bed and a small balcony. The bed was quite comfortable as well as the pillows. It had a small 13-15 inch tv but no alarm clock. The bathroom was small but from what I understand, most of them are. Overall, the ship itself is very nice and clean, not bad for a ship almost 10 years old. Going on other's recommendations, for dinner we ate at Cagney's steak house. Definitely worth the extra $20 per person charge. Highly recommend it. We got there at 5:30 and were told that we needed reservations, but they wound up seating us anyway at that time. Tip: if you plan on eating at any of the specialty restaurants, they say you should call as soon as you board the ship, because we were told that for those you need reservations. After dinner we went to the casino. Not the biggest, but not bad. Were able to get on a few different machines. As it got later in the night, the casino got more crowded, but we had fun. Overall, this was perfect. Did not have drive 3 hours to Atlantic City to gamble, for what you get for the money, the food and room, it is Definitely worth it. This one sold out and I can see why. We are probably going to do another one by the end of the month or next. Just a few tips: 1- Don't overpack. Just need a change of clothes IF you want to dress up at night and for the next morning. Next time I would just probably keep the clothes that I have on until the next morning. 2- Make reservations for dinner, if you plan on eating at the specialty restaurants. 3- Although they say you can't bring any alcohol on the ship, you can probably sneak it on. Hide it in your luggage. 4- Once on the ship, look over the itinerary of things to do and places to eat and plan your night. 5- Once on the ship, walk around and check out the whole ship and see what they have. 6- Try and take a nap, because you want to stay up as late as you can. 7- Try and get up early the next morning and have breakfast. On a scale of 1 to 10 this was a 9! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My wife and I just returned from the 9/1/07 Labor Day weekend "Cruise to No Where" from NYC and had a very positive experience. We booked this short get away cruise to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary without our kids (ages ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the 9/1/07 Labor Day weekend "Cruise to No Where" from NYC and had a very positive experience. We booked this short get away cruise to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary without our kids (ages 7 and 9). This was our 7th cruise (2nd with NCL, 2 w/Princess, 3 w/Carnival) and our first cruise to No Where. You can bet that it won't be our last. We had read all the reader reviews about the Dawn, but found the one written by Cruise Critic's editor, Carolyn Spencer Brown (7/03/2007) "My Cruise to Nowhere on Norwegian Spirit" to be the most helpful in preparing for this one-night experience. The weather was a beautiful 80 degrees, partly cloudy, summer sunny afternoon. We arrived at the port at 12:00 p.m., parked our car on the pier roof top parking lot ($25.00) and were on the ship by 12:30 p.m. The embarkation process was orderly and organized. Once on board, we headed to Salsa, one of the ship's restaurants, to review the menus of all other the restaurants and to make our dinner reservation. Based on all of the positive reviews that we had read, we booked a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation in Le Bistro (extra fee of $15 per person). Since NCL does not allow passengers to go to their rooms until 2:00 p.m., we lugged our overnight bag down to the Venetian for a very lovely sit-down lunch experience. The Venetian is one of the ship's main dining rooms that were actually open for lunch - very unusual compared to any of our other cruise experiences where only a "buffet" lunch is served. A lovely female waiter team (Romanian and Yugoslavian) provided us with a very cheerful and pleasant experience. After our delicious lunch, we checked out the two other dining choices and concluded that we had made the right choice for lunch. At 2:00 p.m. we went to our balcony room (#10026) to quickly unpack and change into our bathing suits. The beautifully decorated cabin was much smaller than what we had experienced on Carnival and Princess; the storage space was adequate, but not generous. The bathroom was very unique in that it was a three-part design -- the shower and toilet areas are equipped with sliding glass privacy doors to allow multiple users at one time. There was also a mini-fridge that was empty, so we filled it with our bottle of white wine that we had packed in our overnight bag. We spent a lot of time on our balcony and highly recommend same for the one-night experience. We then went upstairs to the open pool deck area and easily found two lounge chairs, where we placed our towels and nick knacks. Since the "pool party" did not appear to be in full swing yet, we decided to take a self guided tour of the ship's public areas and to get to know our way around the ship. We tried the "one scoop" ice cream cone at Sprinkles, but greatly missed the self serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt machines that are typically found on Carnival ships. After the 3:30 p.m. life jacket drill, we returned to the Lido Deck for the Deck Party send-off. At 4:00 p.m., an elaborate outdoor pool side BBQ (pork ribs, hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken) and a live Asian party band were in full swing. We picked at the delicious ribs and grilled chicken and drank our frozen Pina Coladas. When the ship finally left the pier at 4:45 p.m., we headed to the Jacuzzi tub located in the front of the ship. Here we had a beautiful view of Manhattan, New Jersey, Statue of Liberty and Verazanno Bridge. As we approached the tip of Manhattan, we left the Jacuzzi and went to our port side room, which is on the right side of the ship facing New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty. There we sat on our balcony and admired the Statue of Liberty, passing boats, Staten Island Ferry and Verazanno Bridge. Already 6:00 p.m., we headed down to Le Bistro for dinner. We were seated between the Renoir (valued at $30 million) and Monet paintings, which were both situated behind bullet proof glass. The low lighting, candle light (battery operated), soft background music and small size created an intimate, romantic atmosphere. To our surprise and luck, the female waiter team that had served us at lunch, were also assigned to our table at Le Bistro. We each ordered a glass of wine and found the four-course French service dinner to be outstanding and the food heavenly! The lobster martini, escargot, French onion soup, large salmon filet and chocolate mouse all were fantastic. Pay the extra $15 a head; you won't be sorry you did! We were not at all impressed with the 8:30 p.m. show "Band on the Run", but sat through the same anyway. Then we went to Spinnakers and danced to the music provided by that great Asian band. At 10:30 p.m., after the band stopped playing, we participated in a very hilarious, adult only, audience participation game show called "Quest". It was raucous, R-rated entertainment that kept you laughing until midnight. During the show, the MC also entertained us with his outstanding juggling talents. Still awake, we headed to the casino to play some video poker. I was very surprised that the minimum table was $10.00. Additionally, an elaborate hot "buffet" was set up in the middle of the casino for all to enjoy - very unusual compared to any of our other cruise experiences where only drinks (not food) are served. This tactic was obviously done to keep the gamblers in the casino for extended periods. After playing for 45 minutes (loosing only $10.00 at video poker), the smoke was getting to us, so we decided to head back to the room to spend some time on our balcony, where we heard the waves crashing against the ship and admired the clear sky, stars and moon lit ocean. What a wonderful way to end the night. Between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. we sat on our balcony and watched the sun rise and our slow approach under the Verazanno Bridge. There were no clouds in the sky and the weather was perfect. At 7:30 a.m., we went down to the Venetian for a very lovely sit-down breakfast experience. We were seated at a table that was situated closest to the rear windows of the dining room (facing the Verazanno Bridge and Manhattan skyline). The view was incredibly awesome and a wonderful way to end our wedding anniversary celebration. At 9:00 a.m. they announced that passengers on our deck should begin to disembark the ship. We did not experience any lines and just walked off the ship. We would definitely recommend the NCL Dawn, and especially her one-night "Cruise to No Where" for a quick, reasonably priced (base ticket - $336 per couple) romantic get away without the kids. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Background: Fiancee and I are in our mid to late 20's. We traveled with my mom (late 50's), his parents (early 50's) and his younger sister (17). We have sailed only Carnival prior to this, first time for my mom and younger ... Read More
Background: Fiancee and I are in our mid to late 20's. We traveled with my mom (late 50's), his parents (early 50's) and his younger sister (17). We have sailed only Carnival prior to this, first time for my mom and younger sister. FI's parents last sailed 25 years ago. Our cruise to no where on the Spirit was a great weekend had by all in our party no matter the age! We had no flights as we drove from New Jersey and Massachusetts right to the cruise terminal. Everyone arrived at the terminal without incident. Parking was a breeze. $25 for overnight at the pier. Embarkation: We arrived at 11:20, quickly parked our car and made our way down to the terminal. 10 minutes after parking we were on a very very short and quick line for security and then to check in and register our credit cards. The whole thing was a breeze, and couldn't have gone any smoother. We walking on board about 20 minutes after we parked. Can't complain there! Ship: Overall the Spirit is immaculate. For 10 years old she really doesn't show her age much at all. She is very tastefully decorated. Simple, and elegant. No real "wow" factor other than Windows dining room, Galaxy of the Stars, and the Tivoli pool was very nice. I think Windows was the most impressive room on the ship, but I do have to say I LOVED Galaxy of the Stars. The large windows in back of the ship in Windows were spectacular. The ship is fairly well laid out, we were pretty much familiar with where everything was by the end of the night. The other smaller rooms, we didn't get to see all of them as our time was limited. But the ones we did see were all very nice and tasteful. Henry's pub looked fun, but very small for the crowd that was there. Teppanyaki looked great, casino was smaller than I expected but nice and easy to navigate. This was the smallest ship we have sailed, so it was a different experience for us. We are used to the large open public spaces of Carnival, with the wide hallways on the public decks, grand atrium etc. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more seating in the main lobby area. I love to sit and just watch people. But otherwise it was very beautiful. Room: BC Balcony room on deck 9 aft. Room was nice and very clean. Noticeably smaller than Carnival. I am still not sure how I feel about the bathroom. It's nice to have a shower stall rather than curtains, but it did make the bathroom feel a lot smaller than it should have as it was a good size. I think i prefer the more open layout and will deal with the shower curtain :) It was clean, but didn't feel as clean as it could have been. We had 3 people in our room, wasn't bad for one night or maybe two or three, but I think I would have died after a week! Bedding was average, sheets a little scratchy. Nothing spectacular but not bad at all. I love that the balcony door was sliding. This is one huge plus as on Carnival, I am so used to hearing balcony doors slamming all day and night. I also loved that we could leave it open which leads to my next point. You can control the temperature of your room! Haven't had this on any of my past cruises, loved it. Our day/night on board: We boarded and straight away went to make reservations for Cagney's. Line was a little slow and long, but I attribute that to people checking out the menu. No biggy. We went straight to Windows for lunch. Appetizers: The Tarro Chips with Avocado Salsa were excellent, as were the goat cheese quiche, and pea soup that I tasted. Salads were very fresh, all dressings were excellent. Most of us had the Risotto which was excellent. I tasted the tilapia which my fiancee inhaled. I thought it was excellent as well. Dessert was okay - but I find that common on most cruises. Sailaway was great. There is nothing like sailing out of New York harbor. I could do it over and over again and still be as breath taken as I was this time. You get to sail past Ellis Island, all of upper and lower Manhattan, Statue of Liberty and under the Varrazano bridge. Music was good, the band Trini Flavor (i think) was excellent. They had some fun games, but not many. Sail Away BBQ was yummy, good selection. Pina Coladas were delish. Just one word of advice, don't sit on the lounge chairs by the balcony in front of the Beir Garten while they are preparing for the BBQ, otherwise you'll smell like one for there rest of the night! We spent a good deal of time in Galaxy of the Stars after we made it past the Varrazano as it got very windy on deck. This was very nice and enjoyable. Back on deck for pics of sunset, which by this time the wind had calmed down and it was very nice outside. We shopped a bit. Nothing spectacular at the shops, they did have some good prices on cosmetics. Cagney's for dinner was excellent!!! The food was outstanding as was our waitress. Very fun and vivacious. We had a little bit of a rough time here as some of our party started to get sea sick. We hit some very rough seas around this time for the rest of the evening. Appetizer: Crab Cakes - OUTSTANDING! Salads:Basic salads, nothing great. Liked Windows salad better! Meal: Filet was tender and cooked fantastic. Sides: Corn and onion shoestrings were great. Cream of spinach and mashed potatoes very basic but good. Dessert: Didn't make it there!!! :) Afterwards we caught the end of the production show which looked to have been okay. Not crowded AT ALL. Casino was a ZOO. Didn't win anything, cut our losses at $20 each. No big deal, I never expect to win. Back to Galaxy of the Stars to catch the end of the quest. I am disappointed we didn't make it there in time to play. It looked to be a blast! Except for some sore-looser college kids. My mom was even hysterical laughing. The rock band which was EXCELLENT! Lead guitarist which I believe to have been the cruise director was outstanding. We had fun here dancing with the crew etc. Comedian Chris was cute for the girls. Guys thought she was okay, she did have some really funny lines, the rest was mild and just kept a smile on your face. It was a family show, guys were looking for something more intense. After that we had about had it and headed for bed. Slept great due to the huge waves rocking us to sleep! I woke up sometime around 5 for a few and we were just sitting somewhere off Long Island with another ship. I didn't wake up again in time to catch sailing into the city, but did catch the sunrise over the city. Breakfast: Heard Raffles was not so good. We went to Windows again. Everything was fine. Just a good average breakfast. Debarkation: Ridiculously easy. Off the ship around 9:30, in our cars at 9:45. Overall: Great time, would do it again in a heart beat. Only few things I didn't like - Port security were a bit asinine. I guess they have to but the cruise line representatives were embarrassed. They apologized profusely to me for one security guard that was particularly rude to me. No big deal! Getting up the escalator was a PITA. If your bag even looks like it's touching the floor the yell! Time to chill out a bit! Ship was a bit small for me for much longer than a few day cruise. But it was nice none-the-less. And my last dislike - Cagney's was WAY too tight. It was hard to get in and out of your seat as well as in and out of the restaurant. It seemed almost dangerous if there was ever an emergency. Waiters and waitresses even had a hard time getting food to customers. If they just took out one table, then I think they would be in a lot better shape! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
My husband and I are both in our early 30s, we have been on 8 cruises together - this was our 4th on NCL. (Others were on RCCL) We were just on a 10 day Canada/New England cruise last month (Norwegian Dawn), but we booked this "Cruise ... Read More
My husband and I are both in our early 30s, we have been on 8 cruises together - this was our 4th on NCL. (Others were on RCCL) We were just on a 10 day Canada/New England cruise last month (Norwegian Dawn), but we booked this "Cruise to Nowhere" as a way for my aunt and uncle (late 40's) to try cruising for the first time. We thought it would be a great introduction, and a fun night away... Check-in at Pier 90 was surprisingly smooth! It was so fast, we arrived at 11:45am, and were literally on the ship within 10 minutes of arriving at the pier. The cabins were not available until 2pm, so we had lunch in the Raffles buffet. None of us were at all impressed with the buffet. Having just traveled on the Dawn in September (where the buffet was slightly above average), this Raffles buffet was extremely disappointing to us. The salad dressings were all remarkably watered down to the point that when you brought the fork to your mouth - the dressing would drip all over the table (and you!). I had to put the salad aside because it was so drippy, and I didn't even load it up with dressing. The entree choices were medium-warm at best, and not tasty at all. They also did not have a nice cut-fruit salad like they did on the Dawn. The slices of fruit they had at the buffet had the rinds still attached, were cut awkwardly, and difficult to eat gracefully. The signs stating that the cabins were not ready were still on the hallway doors well after 2pm, and finally we just opened the door and continued onto our cabin. There were a handful of other people we heard complaining about that as well from other corridors. One thing that was WONDERFUL - no muster drill! I can't tell you how thrilled we were to not have to go through that this time around! We both loathe the muster drill on cruises, and cannot truly begin to relax and enjoy our vacation until the muster is done - so we were excited to see there would be none! We normally choose to eat dinner in the specialty restaurants most nights when we cruise, and our favorites are Cagney's Steakhouse/Le Bistro...but we were traveling with my aunt and uncle who were first-time cruisers, and they really wanted to stick to the "included" restaurants. We had no problem going along with this, because my experience with the dining room or dinner buffet on the Dawn was always decent. Unfortunately, the menu for the dining room on the Cruise to Nowhere featured salmon, veal, and a few other choices that did not appeal to my relatives - so we accompanied them to their choice - the buffet. I have to say that the dinner buffet was the worst I have ever experienced on any of my previous 6 cruises! I felt bad that we had talked it up as being full of selection and fresh...then when we got to Raffles - it was not anywhere near as pleasant as the buffet on the Dawn! It was small, cramped, and the servers had their own agenda. I had to stand there and wait for someone to finish their conversation with a co-worker before they could answer my question about what something was. At least two of women passing out the plates/silverware were noticeably rude in the way they asked people to sanitize their hands first. I actually witnessed one of the waitstaff pull the plate back out from someone's hands when she realized they had not sanitized! I am a frequent cruiser so I automatically do this step anyway, but I witnessed them being rude to other passengers - I think they could have handled it differently. After dinner we walked around the ship and checked out the various public rooms, including the casino. It seemed larger than on some ships I have been on, and it handled the crowd well. I didn't feel overcrowded inside. My husband and I aren't big gamblers...but we took advantage of playing a few slots and had some fun for about an hour. We ended up watching Game 3 of the World Series in the Shanghai Bar. We would have preferred to watch it in Henry's Pub, as they had a more enclosed area and cozier atmosphere, as well as the Sox game on the larger flat-panel screens...but NCL scheduled karaoke in there for the entire evening. Not a good combination to hear the screeching of drunken passengers while trying to watch the game. Around 11pm - we took a quick run over to the Blue Lagoon for a late-night snack. Service was quick...we ordered potato skins, buffalo wings, french fries, and soup. (There were only fast-food type choices in here) The sauce on the buffalo wings was anything but "buffalo" sauce. I forgot that I had also experienced this at the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn - or I would have skipped that choice altogether. (Why can't they figure this one little thing out??) The potato skins were actually good, but covered excessively in sour cream. I also enjoyed the tomato soup. It was hot and had a pleasant taste. My husband said the fries were too greasy for him to eat, so he shared the potato skins with me instead. NCL certainly made a killing on this one-night cruise! What a great idea to cut the Canada/New England itinerary down to 6 nights and offer the 7th night that week as a Cruise to Nowhere! They probably pulled in more money from drinks and gambling during this one-nighter than the entire 6 days on the Canada/New England cruise! There were many groups of passengers, clearly with organized groups and they were all having a great time! By about 9pm there were numerous people who were completely bombed and staggering all over the ship. I was fine with that, but it was unfortunate to see that so many passengers were careless about where they left their empty beer bottles and cocktail glasses...and they were seen stacked up in public areas, in common hallways, in and around elevators -I even saw a few left in plants around the ship! There is no reason for adults to act that way in any situation - so it was somewhat unsettling to be on a ship with that class of people...but alas, it was only for one night! Disembarking the ship was a breeze. NCL allowed guests to remain in their rooms until about 10am (although we left MUCH earlier!). It was nice to leave the luggage in your room and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing. The breakfast buffet was disappointing. The eggs were super-watery and there was nobody making omelets or waffles. Again, the fruit was cut into awkward shapes with the rinds still attached, and the watermelon had seeds vs the seedless variety onboard the Dawn! Walking off the ship was as easy as swiping your card at the gangway on Deck 7. No lines, no waiting. I heard some people complaining about the steepness of the ramp from the Ship to the Pier, but it didn't bother me. It was carpeted and steep, yes, but there were handrails the entire way down and I had no problem maneuvering it. Unfortunately, our traveling companions did not fare well on this cruise. One of them got seasick about 4 hours into the sailing and was unable to emerge from her cabin until the next morning. This was no fault of the cruiseline, of course, as the seas are what they are - but I felt bas nonetheless. Her husband was able to get out and explore some of the events of the evening and had an enjoyable time, but it isn't the same when you are on your own. I wish things were different for them, because I enjoy cruise vacations so much and would love for my relatives to experience it in the same way...but it was just not meant to be. Overall, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed the decor and layout of the ship...it was much "fancier" is design than the Norwegian Dawn, with the Spirit having red oriental-style carpeting, black lacquer and brass furnishings. (Although, I prefer the more understated look of woods and rich, yet warmer colors as on some RCCL ships) On the Spirit there seemed to be more nooks and crannies to relax in - should it have been a longer trip. The layout of our interior cabin was super-enjoyable! I loved the shelves and safe in the closet, and also the tv/shelving area and vanity mirror layout. The only things I had a problem with were: 1) The tiling in the bathroom was the most shocking color of fluorescent greenish/yellow that I have ever seen, and the corners of and around the shower area were extremely discolored and looked moldy, although further inspection proved it to be only rust. Still, it was unexpected for NCL. And 2) When we asked the cabin steward to put our single beds together into one bed - we came back in the room to find much lint, dirt, stains and even a stray pill (!) on the side of the room that one of the beds originally occupied. It was only for one night, and we were really only in the room to sleep... so I didn't say anything to the staff about it, but maybe I should have. I would hate for that to happen to someone with a small child in the room. In summary, for $150/pp this was a worthwhile experience for the novice cruiser. For someone with multiple 7-day and 10-day cruises under their belt - I wouldn't recommend it at all. The only circumstance it would be recommended would be if you were planning to go with a large group of people to celebrate something. It really isn't long enough to be relaxing - it is just an opportunity for a very quick getaway. Heather Colchester, CT Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This cruise was a surprise for my husband's birthday. We were coming from the Bronx and we arrived at the port at 12:15 p.m. Once at the port, we parked in the lot for $25.00. We went to the registration area and it took us 5 minutes ... Read More
This cruise was a surprise for my husband's birthday. We were coming from the Bronx and we arrived at the port at 12:15 p.m. Once at the port, we parked in the lot for $25.00. We went to the registration area and it took us 5 minutes to register. The staff at the registration area was efficient and quick. Upon arrival on the ship, we were directed to go to Raffles for lunch as our rooms were not ready . The lunch at Raffles was okay. We went to our room at 1:50 pm and it was ready. We had the balcony room and it was small. It would be a tight fit for a family of four especially on a long cruise. I called reservations a few days before to have the room decorated for my husbands birthday. The room was nicely decorated with streamers, balloon and a cake. After we settled down we went upstairs for the departure barbecue. The food was average. There was chicken, franks, hamburgers, bratwurst and ribs. Everyone went to the upper deck to view the Statue of Liberty. The view from ship of the skyline is amazing. The ship was clean and well kept and the staff was very polite. Duty free shopping are on the 8th floor. We bought alcohol and cigarettes for the fraction of cost. We were able to purchase as much as we liked since we did not have to go through customs. We went back to the room to relax until about 7:30 p.m. We changed and went to Window's for dinner. I had originally reserved a table for Teppanyaki's, however, I decided it was best to go to Window's since my husband is a picky eater. I was pleased with dinner. I had the salmon for an appetizer and steak for the entrEe. My husband at Jerk chicken with rice for an entrEe and pineapple dish for an appetizer. He was actually pleased with his meal. After we ate we went to the Stardust theater for entertainment. The performers were a family of four. Later we went to the Galaxy of the Stars for the comic act. I was bored, however my husband enjoyed it. Around 10:30 pm there was another buffet at raffles that consisted of pizza, franks, cookies and some other things. Again, it was okay. We went back to room to sit on the balcony. There was complete darkness with the excepting of the moonlight glistening off of the water. It was a beautiful view. In the morning, I had breakfast at Raffles while my husband slept. The eggs were horrible. It taste like the eggs were cooked in fish oil. Other than that, everything else was fairly good. We were off the ship and at the parking lot in 15 minutes. It was a very quick process. I would suggest this cruise for anyone that wants to try cruising for the first time. Overall we enjoyed ourselves. It felt good to drive to the port instead of flying to Florida. It is also a great one day getaway from the hustle and bustle. I would do a another one day cruise with NCL. However, I'm not sure if I would do more than a one day cruise on the Spirit. There does not seem to be a lot of activities aboard the Spirit. If I have any complaints, it would be regarding customer service. I called several times to find out if the room could be decorated. No one knew for sure and I had to finally speak to a supervisor to confirm. I was also told that the ship does not open the shops for the one day cruises. They were wrong about that. Customer Service needs to make a better effort in communicating the right information to guests. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Having been on Celebrity, Disney, RCCL and Carnival, I must say this was the worst cruise line I have ever experienced. Always wanted to try NCL and thought that the one-night might give me a first hand experience before booking a 7 night ... Read More
Having been on Celebrity, Disney, RCCL and Carnival, I must say this was the worst cruise line I have ever experienced. Always wanted to try NCL and thought that the one-night might give me a first hand experience before booking a 7 night cruise. I am sure glad I did.... First, going out of New York is horrible. The pier is old and dingy - I know that the port is close to my home in ocean city, NJ, but I would never go out of there again. At first impression, the older Spirit seemed to be okay when we boarded, but as the day went on, my opinion did also. Our balcony cabin was extremely small which was not cleaned properly - they don't even provide top sheets on the bed - the bed had a bottom sheet with a feather blanket on top which I am sure is not changed with each incoming guest - I asked for a top sheet and one was provided. The food was the worst I ever experienced - I basically ate nothing and I am not a picky eater - always eat on all other lines, but it was terrible. WE were a group of 23 and had to eat in the dining room as the specialty restaurants could not handle such a large group - dinner was not eaten by most!!!! The staff never smiled and never were accommodating - such a shame that they automatically bill you in advance for gratuity - which is probably the problem - no one had to work for their tips!! Entertainment was mediocre and the smoking in the casino and attached nightclub was thick and disgusting. Stay away from this line - so many other lines that are fantastic!!! It was really a shame that some of the 23 people in our group will probably not ever cruise again as their first experience was so poor. NCL gives cruise vacations a bad name - Can't wait for my RCCL cruise in the spring - hats off to a line that does the job so well! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
What a great way to spend a weekend!!!! We boarded at 12 noon and after no wait at all to check in, headed to a wonderful lunch in the Windows dining room. Whoever recommended the cold banana soup--you were right, it was delicious! And I ... Read More
What a great way to spend a weekend!!!! We boarded at 12 noon and after no wait at all to check in, headed to a wonderful lunch in the Windows dining room. Whoever recommended the cold banana soup--you were right, it was delicious! And I NEVER order anything like that. After lunch our rooms were ready. We had an inside category I on the 10th deck and it was a little larger than I anticipated. Overall we were very pleased with our cabin. Not to mention the shower was one of the biggest I have ever seen on a cruiseship. After settling in we changed into our bathing suits. Even though it is October, it was a balmy 80+ degrees, so the pool area was a bit crowded. We made our way in and were pleasantly surprised to find the pool heated. But beware, it is salt water (as with any cruiseline I have been on) so you can just float away without realizing it. LOL. After our swim, we decided to watch the sailaway. What a sight to see us going right past all of the sky scrapers. I have lived in NJ my whole life, but have never seen NY by water. After passing the Statue of Liberty (don't take pics now, wait until the AM when the lighting is better), and going under the Verazanno Bridge we headed back to the room to get changed for our dinner at Cagneys. We made a reservation immediately upon boarding and there was already a line and seatings were filled. Luckily we wanted to eat early so we could catch the show and got in a 6. While waiting to go to dinner, dh and I did some shopping in the Duty free shops. They opened at 5 and were extremely crowded. We are not big drinkers and don't smoke anymore, so we got what people asked us to pick up and left. Cigarettes are $25 per carton or 2 for $45. Alcohol was pretty reasonable too. My mom ended up buying about 10 bottles. Since there is no limit people were buying all they could carry. But buy early! The supply is very limited. Once it is gone, it's gone. Dinner-The food in Cagney's was GREAT! I had a veal chop,and it was delish! Dh had the salmon and king crab, mom had the grilled seared tuna and stepdad had a 24oz. porterhouse. All was great. We had a bunch of sides which we shared and they were all good too. Desert was the only part that I didn't care for. I got some sinful chocolate cake and found it wayyyyyy to rich. And I am a chocoholic. Dh got the Mocha Cream Brulee and it was okay. Honestly I forget what the others had. Following dinner, I went and changed out of my dress and into capris. Much more comfortable. Then we headed to the show "On the Radio" which I found very good. It was very upbeat and kept you enjoying it all the way to the end. It was chilly in the Stardust theater so bring a sweater. After the show we headed to the casino. It was very crowded and after I lost a whopping $10 in the slots, dh found one of those coin push machines and got addicted. LOL We kept winning and losing. Finally after a hour or so we cut our losses (only $4!!) and headed out. By then mom and stepdad retired for the evening, so dh and I went looking for more fun. I was a little hungry and figured I was on a cruiseship so I might as well eat again . We heading to the Blue lagoon and it was over crowded. Once we found a seat, I settled on a plate of Potato Skins which were pretty tasty but so fattening. After a few bites I called it quits. We tried to go see Karaoke (sp?) but the pub that it was in was so crowded you couldn't make it in the door. At that point it was time for bed. Up we went and conked out. Sunday morning was very relaxed. I loved that we could keep our stuff in the room while eating breakfast. So once again we headed to Windows and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before getting our bags and getting off. The service for breakfast was pretty slow, but they walk around offering you a selection of breads and pastries to combat your hunger. If they didn't do this I am pretty sure that there would be many more complaints. All in all it was a great weekend. I would do it again in a heartbeat. When dh and I go to hawaii in just a few weeks we are going to buy 2 of those booking reward things. One for another 1 nighter and another for our cruise next Nov. I recommend this cruise very highly, it was a great mini-vacation with a great price tag! If you have any questions feel free to ask away! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Carnival Miracle entered service in 2004 and was homeported in Tampa, Florida where she did Caribbean cruises. During the time she was there, the ship received the highest ratings in the Carnival fleet both from passengers and crew. Some ... Read More
Carnival Miracle entered service in 2004 and was homeported in Tampa, Florida where she did Caribbean cruises. During the time she was there, the ship received the highest ratings in the Carnival fleet both from passengers and crew. Some people said that this was due to the generous nature of the Tampa market. But, for the summer 2007 season, Miracle was re-deployed to New York, which is not known as an un-critical market, in place of sister ship Carnival Legend. Still, Miracle's ratings continued to be high. The October 18 cruise was Miracle's last sailing out of New York for 2007. The ship had been doing eight-day cruises from New York to the Caribbean all summer. She would be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale during the winter. There were two days between the end of her last full New York cruise and the date she was to begin her Florida sailings even taking into account the time it would take to travel from one location to the other. Accordingly, a two-day cruise to nowhere was included in the schedule. Short cruises are different than full cruises. The mix of passengers is different, the ship cannot provide all of the activities that it would in a longer cruise, it is more difficult for passengers to form the relationships that normally develop over several days of cruising together with the same people and the overall pace is different. It would be easy for management to say that such a cruise does not give a true picture of the ship. However, in talking with the officers of the Miracle, no one used such an excuse. They acknowledged that the two-day cruise was different than what they normally did but they were confident enough of what they had to offer that they were quite willing to stand behind what they were doing on that cruise. Because this was a short cruise, people wanted to maximize their time onboard. Thus, it was no surprise that a large number of passengers had arrived well before the boarding time printed on the tickets. In addition, most were carrying their own (or more precisely, rolling their own) bags onboard rather than checking them with the porters. This could have been a recipe for disaster. However, the somewhat bemused Carnival employees handled the situation well, opening the ship early and processing the passengers onboard. The interior of the Miracle is decorated to a theme of famous fictional icons. Each of the public rooms was inspired by a well-known character in a book, movie or ancient myth. The connection between the characters and the rooms are often not subtle. For example, there is a two-deck high figure of Frankenstein's monster on the dance floor of Dr. Frankenstein's Lab - - the ship's nightclub. The theater is inspired by the Paris Opera House, the setting for Phantom of the Opera, and is boldly opulent. The main dining room, named after Bacchus, the ancient mythological god of wine, is a riot of giant purple grapes and huge leaves. These rooms may not give you ideas for decorating your home but they are fun to look at and it is interesting to explore the detail work. At the same time, Nick and Nora's Supperclub, the extra-tariff specialty restaurant, is a pleasing venue which evokes the glamour of the upper class New York restaurants of the 1930s and 1940s. Also, almost overshadowed by the ship's more whimsical dEcor are some beautiful colored glass vases on the various stairways. The passenger cabins are more subdued than the public rooms. Outside in the corridors, there are panels depicting Robin Hood and Sam Spade but inside the rooms are clam and nicely appointed. The beds were comfortable, the television large for a cruise ship, and there is enough drawer and closet space for a much longer cruise. Unfortunately, the smoked-glass dividers between the balconies are not quite floor-to-ceiling and one can become a party to ones neighbors' conversations. Everywhere, the ship was scrupulously clean. Indeed, Miracle has consistently received high marks from U.S. Public Health officials. Such cleanliness is an indication of the dedication of a ship's crew and consistent with this, the service on Miracle was both friendly and efficient. During the one day at sea, there was a variety of entertainment and activities ranging from trivia games to afternoon tea with live music. This was not intellectual enrichment but rather light entertainment. Keep in mind that the emphasis at Carnival is on fun. In any event, passengers were free to do as they wished and there was no feeling of overcrowding even with more than 2,000 other people onboard. The production shows in the ship's theater were excellent. Thankfully, Carnival has recognized that many of the people cruising today grew up in the 1960s and have geared their musical selections toward that fact. In addition, the stage is large, giving the singers and dancers adequate space to work. There is also a state-of-the-art sound and light system. Elsewhere, there was a piano bar, a sports bar, a jazz trio and of course, a large and very popular casino. Dining on Miracle follows the two-seating pattern traditional on passenger ships. The primary advantage of this system is that it gives one the opportunity to build up a rapport with the waiters who get to know your likes and dislikes as well as to become friends with the people at the table. Even though this was a two-night cruise, the waiters at my table were quick to develop a rapport and the passengers at the table provided good and interesting conversation. Even though some of the sister companies in the Carnival family have moved towards "more flexible" dining options, I was pleased to hear that Miracle has no plans to do so. While it sounds great in theory to dine when and where you like, the reality is that unless you rush to make a reservation, you end up either eating someplace you didn't want or at a time that is not what you wanted. The food on Miracle was generally good. Carnival tends to do better with mass market dishes than with more adventuresome items. Hamburgers, pizza, French Toast tend to be excellent. More subtle versions of duck, while tasty, are not as good. Miracle is a version of the Vista-class cruise ship design. Within Carnival Cruise Lines, she is referred to as being in the Spirit-class but similar ships also sail under the Costa, Holland America and P&O house flags. For a cruise ship, her bow is relatively narrow in relation to her length, which enables her to handle stormier seas better than cruise ships with wider bows. On this cruise, we were in rain almost the entire time yet there was very little motion (i.e. pitching and rolling). In addition, the ship is propelled by azipods rather than a traditional propeller shaft arrangement. Because the motors are suspended below the hull in such a system, there is little vibration from the propulsion system. In conclusion, the officers' confidence in Carnival Miracle was well-placed during this cruise. My photos of Miracle are posted at http://www.beyondships.com/CarnivalMiracleTour-1.html Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
On October 18th my husband (DH), my 8 year old son (DS) and I sailed on the 2 night cruise to No-Where. We chose this cruise for several reasons. One my DH and DS never cruised before, so they wanted to try it before we do a 7-day cruise ... Read More
On October 18th my husband (DH), my 8 year old son (DS) and I sailed on the 2 night cruise to No-Where. We chose this cruise for several reasons. One my DH and DS never cruised before, so they wanted to try it before we do a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean next summer for my birthday. Secondly, because previously I sailed on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas, I wanted to see if I would like Carnival being that the price is around $500 cheaper per person. Before I get to the bulk of my review on the Carnival, I will get the comparisons between the two cruise lines out of the way. Remember this is just my humble opinion: Food: Dining Room: Carnival by a landslide (more choices and much better taste) However, RCCL has better dessert. Buffet: RCCL, but not by much (I will admit RCCL Windjammer does have more variety and is set up more efficiently. Activities: Carnival-by a landslide Cabins: Tie, I heard Carnival has the largest cabins at sea, but I didn't really notice the size difference. Both are very modern looking and nicely appointed. Service: Tie, as far as service in getting your needs met. However, the staff on Carnival was much more personable. Ship Decor: RCCL by a landslide. It's true RCCL does have the nicest ships afloat (I'm speaking as far as the Voyager and Freedom class ships goes.) I know this is long review, but take a deep breath...Our cruise to No-Where. We sailed from NYC and that was great because we live in Queens, NY. Embarkation was fine. When we first arrived at the cruise port the parking lot is at pier 92 therefore we had to walk over to pier 90. For a 2 night cruise there weren't any porters to assist with luggage. But that was fine, as we didn't bring a ton of clothes for 2 nights. When we first entered the terminal there was a nice size line. However, at about 2:30 they began to let us board. And the lines moved very quickly. The whole process was less than an hour. Upon seeing the Miracle, initially I was disappointed and right away decided I like RCCL better. However, as I started to venture, I decided the Miracle was actually a very nice ship, very nice. But again, the edge goes to RCCL. We had our embarkation lunch and drink of the day at Horatio's which is the buffet on the lido deck. The buffet area is very "spread-out" almost to a fault. For example, the "Taste of Nations" section was in one area, while the deli was across the way, the grill for the burgers and dogs were out, going through the doors pass the pool and reggae band. Also, we did encounter lines there, but hey we're on vacation so no big deal. The dining room was pretty good. There was a lot of variety, the presentation was nice and the food had seasoning!!! The second night was formal night and DH had two lobster tails and two prime ribs. The warm chocolate melting was good, not great but good. DH and DS loved it. I did like the desserts better on RCCL. We ate breakfast and dinner for both days in the dining room, and used the buffet for lunch both days. At night Horatio's turns into a "Late Night Bistro", and it was great. At midnight they were grilling burgers and minute steaks. For the late night snack there were burgers, dogs, steak sandwiches, grilled chicken, crisp fries, chilling, cookies and brownies, with also 24-hour pizza and ice-cream available. Speaking of ice cream, I did not like the 24 hour ice cream machine on the lido deck. It had a weird taste, like a fat free or sugar free. I don't know but something was definitely off with the taste. Hopefully Carnival in the near future will change that so that the taste is on par with "Carvel's" or any other good ice cream. We tried some of the cake from the dessert cafe. I agree with a previous cruise critic, the cakes definitely looked better than they actually tasted. The cabins were very nice. The two beds were put together to make a king size bed and the couch was made up into a bed for our son. We all slept very comfortably. The bedding is wonderful, to the point I am thinking about ordering Carnival's bedding set. Also, in our cabin there were two bath robes for us to use. The cabins and bathrooms had lots of space for storage. I liked the free samples in the bathroom of: his and her razors, crest toothpaste, and other stuff. There are body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower too. On thing I did like better on RCCL were shower doors instead of those shower curtains on Carnival. Camp Carnival-definitely a hit with my son. DH and I had a vacation within a vacation. There are literally activities scheduled all day long for the kids. They only close for lunch and for an hour near dinner time. On the formal night, there was a "kids" dinner at Horatio's with plenty of kid friendly dishes. My son had a ball. Each time we went to pick him up from CC, it was like pulling teeth to get him out of there. Just some of the activities: scavenger hunts, treasure hunts for candy, tee shirt coloring, play station 2 video games, nintendo wii games, board games, candy art, etc. That is just a fraction of the things they had planned. Activities: I definitely had fun. Every hour there is something going on. We played bingo a few times, but we didn't win. Oh well. We participated in the battle of the sexes, went to see the "Sea Feud", went to the nightly shows for a little while, went to see one of the comedians-he was good. As far as fellow passengers, the crowd on Carnival was definitely more fun and friendly and not up tight like I noticed on RCCL. Ship Decor and public rooms: very nice. Furthermore, I liked the Bacchus dining room, purple grapes and all. Everything being said, I can honestly say that I loved Carnival more than RCCL. For next year's cruise I am sold, and we will sail on Carnival for the 7 night cruise for my birthday. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
I had often seen NORWEGIAN DAWN in New York and in various ports in the Caribbean and was curious about the big white ship with the bold-colored murals on the bows. Also, a friend who I often sailed with on QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, had said she ... Read More
I had often seen NORWEGIAN DAWN in New York and in various ports in the Caribbean and was curious about the big white ship with the bold-colored murals on the bows. Also, a friend who I often sailed with on QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, had said she had fallen in love with the DAWN and her recommendation carried considerable weight. Accordingly, when the opportunity arose to take a short cruise on NORWEGIAN DAWN, I booked a cabin. The Cruise: This was a two-day cruise to nowhere, round-trip New York. The cruise lines offer these trips primarily in order to fill gaps in their schedule. For example, there may be a gap of an odd number of days between the end of a ship's last full-length cruise out of its summer time homeport and the date it is to begin its new cruising season in its winter homeport. Rather than have the ship sit idle, the cruise line adds a short cruise without any ports. From a marketing perspective, such cruises give people who are new to the ship a taste of what it is like on board (which will hopefully make them wish to try a longer cruise) and it gives regular passengers a chance to spend some additional time aboard one of their favorite ships. The overall cost of the cruise is usually less than a full-length cruise but on a per day basis, the cost tends to be higher. The Ship: NORWEGIAN DAWN is 92,250 gross tons placing her well within the large ship category. She was built in Germany in 2002 and was refurbished in 2005. Capable of 24 knots, the ship is diesel-electric powered with an azipod propulsion arrangement. Although she is a modern cruise ship (as opposed to an ocean liner like QE2), she proved her seaworthiness by weathering the sometimes difficult East Coast winter waters, cruising winters out of New York from 2003 until 2007. Inside the ship, the public rooms are decorated in a contemporary, post-modernist style. These rooms are creatively designed, use good quality materials and make judicious use of lighting. They are also well-maintained. As a result, the overall look is elegant and sophisticated. There is no glitter, no neon, no shock and awe. Instead, there are original works by Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh and Warhol. The Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is the number three cruise line in the United States, operating a fleet of 12 ships. It targets the American mass market and distinguishes itself from its competitors by taking an approach it calls "Freestyle Cruising." The aim of this approach is to give the passengers more freedom and flexibility in their cruise experience than is traditional. The company is owned by Star Cruises of Singapore but operates from Miami, Florida. Embarkation: The NCL ships use the Manhattan Passenger Ship Terminal on the West Side of Manhattan. These are the piers once used by the great ocean liners QUEEN MARY, NORMANDIE, FRANCE and QUEEN ELIZABETH. The piers were extensively rebuilt in the 1970s and are undergoing refurbishment now. The Manhattan Terminal is easy to get to and is well-known to taxi and limousine drivers. In addition, ships leaving the terminal must sail down the Hudson (called the North River at that point) past the skyline of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, a most memorable experience. On these short cruises, most people carry (or more commonly, roll) their baggage aboard. Even with this extra burden, the lines to have the tickets and documents processed went smoothly and the process of getting onto the ship was fairly quick. Stateroom: I booked an inside cabin on Deck 11 for this voyage. It had two lower beds, which could be put together to make a queen-size bed. In similar situations on other lines when I have booked single occupancy, the beds were automatically put together but here they were not. This, however, is my only criticism of the cabin staff as otherwise the service in the cabin was efficient and non-obtrusive. The stateroom itself was clean and utilitarian. There were some nice touches such as polished cherry wood closets and a sliding door rather than a rubber curtain on the shower. However, for the most part, the stateroom was more practical than luxurious. In addition to a few inside cabins, Deck 11 holds Penthouses and Mini-suites. These staterooms looked sumptuous. Dining: Flexibility in dining is a major part of Freestyle cruising. There are no assigned restaurants, assigned tables, or set dinner times. The passenger can decide when and where to eat. However, with this freedom comes responsibility. One cannot just breeze into the most popular dining venue at seven o'clock and expect to seated. Instead, if you want to dine in a particular restaurant during the most popular dinner hours you have to make a reservation. It is best to do this as early as possible as the most popular venues and times fill quickly. I experienced three of NORWEGIAN DAWN's dining venues during the cruise. The Venetian main dining room is a huge room at the stern of the ship. However, instead of looking cavernous, the room is light and colorful. A row of large windows along the stern account for much of the light. However, the decoration uses colors reminiscent of the paintings by Caneletto of Venice in its glory days and the feeling of that graceful city lifts the atmosphere of the room. Despite the Italian name, the menu is international. For breakfast, there were familiar staples such as cereals, eggs, pancakes and French toast as well as the usual sides of bacon and smoked salmon. For lunch, the menu ranged from light fare such as hamburgers to multi-course meals with more complex entrees. I found the food good and the service attentive and helpful. Indeed, when I mentioned to one of the assistant restaurant managers that I had to leave for an appointment in a few minutes, he personally went and brought my dessert. Impressions, decorated with large reproductions of French Impressionist masterpieces, was once a general dining room. However, it has become the Italian specialty restaurant. Do not expect red-checked table cloths but rather the sophistication of Milan or of an upscale Roman venue. There is pizza but it is individually prepared appetizer pizza for one. There is pasta but it is prepared at the table pasta. Then, the main dishes, such as Salmon Francesca, are complex in their flavors. Very impressive. Le Bistro is an extra-tariff French specialty restaurant. It has been rated by other reviewers as the best dining venue on the ship. Perhaps because my expectations were so high, I found it somewhat disappointing. The food was good but no better than the Venetian and not as interesting as Impressions. It just goes to show that one should not always rely on what one reads in reviews. Entertainment: Because there are no set seatings in the restaurants, the evening entertainment does not follow the usual pattern of early shows and late shows. Rather, the entertainment is spaced throughout the evening. As a result, if one plans ahead, one can see a variety of shows during an evening. On the first night of the cruise, the show in the Stardust Theater, the ship's large entertainment venue, was headed by a combination juggler/comedian. His juggling work was impressive. His comedy was much more amateurish but because the quality of his personality shone through, it worked. The second night, the ship presented a Las Vegas style production show. This was thoroughly professional and entertaining. Interestingly, although NCL is actively courting the Baby Boom generation, the music in the show (late 1970s/1980s) was actually post-Baby Boomer. Later, I saw a show by a comedian in the Spinnaker Lounge, a large room atop the navigation bridge. It was only moderately amusing. In various other venues around the ship, there was live music. A trio of three guitarists in the Grand Atrium was the most memorable. Daytime activities: Because of the overcast skies and cool temperatures, few passengers ventured out on the open decks. Inside, the ship presented a schedule of typical cruise ship activities such as trivia contests and name that tune. There were lectures by the spa staff but no enrichment lectures and since there were no ports, no port lectures. Children's Facilities: There were very few children on this voyage. However, one cannot help but notice the extensive children's play area at the stern of the ship. It includes large statues of cartoon-like dinosaurs, a man-made cave, pools and various other items. There are also indoor facilities dedicated to children and teenagers. In summary, NORWEGIAN DAWN is a beautiful modern cruise ship providing a style of cruising that is different than that of the other major lines in many respects. Indeed, it bears a substantial similarity to a shore-side resort experience in that the guest has the flexibility and the responsibility to design much of his or her experience. My photos of the ship are posted at: http://www.beyondships.com/NCLDawn-Tour-1.html. Read Less

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