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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We have taken 21 cruises in the past 6 years. This was our first and probably our last on Carnival. First I will discuss the positive features of our cruise. We were on the 14 day cruise out of NY going to the Panama Canal. The food was ... Read More
We have taken 21 cruises in the past 6 years. This was our first and probably our last on Carnival. First I will discuss the positive features of our cruise. We were on the 14 day cruise out of NY going to the Panama Canal. The food was excellent. We had lobster tails 2 nights and filet mignon on 1 night. The dinner choices were excellent! The had a brunch several mornings where Filet Mignon was also offered! The buffet had many choices. Good burgers, Tacos, Burittos and Pizza and Delli sandwiches. Pizza was offered 24 hours a day which was a plus. As far as entertainment goes the shows were good. We also saw a couple comedy shows which were average. The plus on this cruise were the DJ Xtreme and The Flying Scotsman the cruise director. They were amazing! They were by far the best DJ and the best cruise director we ever experienced on a cruise! As far as the cabin goes we were in 7335 an inside cabin. It was spacious for an inside cabin. Plenty of closet and storage space! Great lighting. Those are our positives regarding the cruise. Now for the negatives. The room was warm. We like to always cool down the room as soon as we arrive. After a day we knew that would not be possible. The thermostat was on the coldest setting yet it was warm and stuffy. We called customer service many times. By the way most times they do not answer their phones and you need to go to from desk. They checked the room and left us a note that the temperature was in the normal range set by Carnival. (74 is normal). To us its warm! Other cruises we can get it down to 68-70. about 5 days into the cruise we complained again about the heat to a night person at the desk. She said she will send someone. Miraculously they did an adjustment and we were happy for several day as the temperature was a constant 68.2! That didnt last for too many days! The temperature rose again to 74 and of course we complained and Carnival said its normal! We then gave up. The temperature around the ship is very uneven. For example, the dining room was cool yet the comedy club would be stifling hot. Even the comedian made a joke about the heat! Obviously the ship has not corrected their air conditioning problem! . The next issue was the plumbing. Its still in bad shape. Our toilet would make loud gurgling sounds at any time of the day for no apparent reason! Once it sounded like it was going to explode! We taped the noise on our phone and showed it to customer service and they just shrugged. A few times the toilet did not flush at all for an hour or 2 nd they start working again. We heard an entire line of toilets were not working for a good part of the day one day. As for the public bathrooms, they were dirty. Carnival cut corners not cleaning bathrooms as often as needed. Locks on bathroom stalls were broken. toilets didnt flush, many times paper towels was missing to hold the door open when leaving. I wish i had a list of all the times there was no soap in the soap dispenser in the mens room! The next problem was the condtion of the ship. Its obvious they fixed the atrium and updated many areas of the ship. But many areas were left in poor condition. There was rust in many areas of the ship. On deck 9 near the pool the floor was all rusted out, there were plastic buckets collecting the water dripping from deck 10 and the grating near the bathrooms was loose and people were constantly tripping on it! On deck 11 we sat by the pool and after a rain the water was running down the rusted stairway in buckets. On deck 9 the metal moulding was being held together with masking tape! Service in the dining room was bad. We had a "senior waiter" for most of the cruise for dinner. He would forget a dish here and there til we finally gave up asking... butter was not given even though we requested it twice. I asked for a club soda with desert every night. I received it maybe 5 out of 14 nights! Courses would be served fairly fast until dessert,.Then came the lull... we would wait maybe 30 minutes for dessert. Teaspoons were not to be had. They were not in our place setting and we had to ask every night. No one ever came to clean up the crumbs on our table after the main course. We would just do it ourselves. Breakfast service was no better. you had to ask many times to receive the items ordered. The condition of the ship as bad as previously described. The entrance to the limelight club had this red carpet that curled. Trip hazard but no one cared! There were broken ice machines in the buffet, electronic door out of order to name a few other problems. Guest services was clueless. For the most part they all were pleasant and courteous. But they did NOT answer phones when you called from the room! we asked them several questions at the front desk and they rarely had the answers. Obviously they were poorly trained about the ship features and events. Norovirus. This ship is an accident waiting to happen. There is a severe lack of hand sanitizers. Soap dispensers in the bathrooms are empty many times. Lack of paper towels to open bathroom doors. The crew is NOT proactive to prevent norovirus. Also the choice of tv stations was bad. We did not have CNBC or Bloomberg. We did not have CNN or any equivalent news station. The tv did not function properly. One station you could barely hear and another station would be blasting! To sum up, the food and dj and cruise director were great. The ship was in bad shape and crew was not properly trained. The ship probably need another week or two in drydock and was taken out too soon for the sake of profits. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because it was a newly renovated ship going on a 14 day cruise, I was very upset by some extremely negative reviews right before going on this cruise and i wish to put everyone else at ease, we have been on 3 other ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was a newly renovated ship going on a 14 day cruise, I was very upset by some extremely negative reviews right before going on this cruise and i wish to put everyone else at ease, we have been on 3 other cruises and so far, 5 days in this one is the best so far. I realize that there was a few bugs they needed to work out the first few cruises out of the renovation but things are running very smoothly on this 4th cruise of this ship, i have not seen any construction or finishing that is still not complete, so far no sewer issues. The buffet is very crowded during peak times but we knew this in advance and just worked around it. We have been eating at other venues or during non peak times. Love the blue iguana cantina, guys burger joint and the pig and anchor bbq, the bbq we did on embarkation day, it was like no one even knew it was there!! No lines, i recommend the beef, super tender!! Everything is so new and beautiful, everyone has been super helpful. Our room steward gave us a box fan for my hubby, it's been a life saver!! My advice is to ask for something, you never know if they might have it. Love the ropes course and water slides, never any lines, loving the comedy and entertainment, cruise director Chris is a blast. My daughter has trouble making friends but the youth crew has made things super fun and she had friends by the second day. I can't say enough about the great time we are having on this beautiful ship. It makes me sad that people only leave reviews when they want to complain, life is too short to be negative!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
In the past, two of my favorite things about Carnival cruises were the Deli, where I looked forward to having a great pastrami sandwich every day for lunch, and the adult entertainment, which always made us laugh out loud. On Carnival ... Read More
In the past, two of my favorite things about Carnival cruises were the Deli, where I looked forward to having a great pastrami sandwich every day for lunch, and the adult entertainment, which always made us laugh out loud. On Carnival Sunrise, the deli was average at best - went there on the first day for my pastrami sandwich but never went back. The sandwich was dry, the bread was dry, the service was blah. We did get to go to the adult entertainment, which was very good, but not because we always wanted to. Sometimes it was our only choice. The redesign of the ship, which made room for more cabins, took away a significant amount of public spaces. There is very little space in the theatre – no way it can accommodate even ¼ of the people on the ship. And despite what it says in the marketing materials, there is no internet café so you better bring your own tablet or laptop. There is no library, which is truly sad because on a 14-day cruise you will most likely read one book and head to the library for another. And there is really only one area on the ship where you can sit and read – it has about 25 seats. During our 14-day cruise, we got to see the crew talent show only once. Why? Because our late seating dinner got us to the theatre too late -- all of the seats were taken -- all of the time. And it wasn't just because of our choice of late dinner. Scheduling activities on the ship was horrendous. Often there was something (like a game show) in the theatre right before the crew show - so folks from earlier dinners went to see it and just never left. When we realized that the only way we would get to see the show was to sit on the stairs, we would rush to the Limelight Lounge to try to catch the adult comedy show. And sometimes that too was filled to capacity – no seats. Another issue with the Limelight Lounge was finding it/getting to it. If you came out of the restaurant you could walk 25 feet right into the lounge. But for some dumb reason, they would rope off the area and make you go up a flight of stairs and through the casino to get on line for the Lounge. The smoke from the casino permeated way passed the casino – you could smell smoke in the elevators and for quite a distance on the adjacent floors. They also did not offer even one night of non-smoking in the casino. On the topic of activities, there were many days when the entire afternoon was trivia after trivia after trivia. Really? That's the best you can offer? While searching in the first days for what I soon learned was the non-existent internet café, I had the chance to speak with a woman who had been on the Carnival Triumph 8 times. She hated what they did to “her” ship and agreed with me on many issues about the lack of space overall. Food: most evenings we sat with our family for the late seating dinner. Our servers were great – funny and attentive. But the service overall was erratic. Some nights everything went smoothly; other nights things were not hot or the wrong dish was served. Don’t know if that was a kitchen issue or if it was our servers.... Food in the buffet area was mediocre and the lines really, really long at just about any time of day. The bakery section needs a real overhaul. Every day they put out cookies that literally fell apart when you tried to pick them up with the serving spoon. How difficult is it to realize that the bowl is filled with broken cookies and crumbs everyday – so change the recipe!!!! Also, there were usually four or five different cakes to choose from – they all tasted the same. We would recommend going upstairs to the Italian restaurant for lunch. They don’t really advertise it, so we stumbled upon it. When you get upstairs (from the buffet area), you will be given a seat number and a form to fill out. On the form you can request specific items in your pasta and it will come to you fresh and hot. That was great. Not so great is that you had to ask for something to drink – ice tea or lemonade. And that would put the server out – “Ok, I’ll try to find some for you!” Why not include space on the form for a beverage – too logical perhaps? The Captain’s party, which was held toward the end of the cruise, was in the theatre. If you are seated anywhere other than the main floor, good luck getting a drink or any hors d’oeuvres. There is no way the servers are going to be able to get to you or climb through groups of people to do so. That’s my take on the Carnival Sunrise. I usually pick a destination and then see which cruise line will get me there within my timeframe for travel and within my budget. I definitely wanted to see the Panama Canal, and the price was right for this cruise. However, I will not take another cruise on the Carnival Sunrise. And sadly, if this ship’s redesign is the wave of the future for cruise ships, I guess I will be cruising less. 25 nights on Carnival 127 nights on Princess 60 nights on Holland America 32 nights on Norwegian Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because it went to Costa Rica where neither of us have been, The Panama Canal which neither of us have been to either. We haven't been to Half Moon Cay either. My wife once went to Grand Cayman more than 30 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Costa Rica where neither of us have been, The Panama Canal which neither of us have been to either. We haven't been to Half Moon Cay either. My wife once went to Grand Cayman more than 30 years ago though. My wife has mobility problems and the many sea days appealed to us. We have been on this ship before, as the Carnival Triumph three times. So this was our fourth time on this vessel although it has been remade since. The embarkation process went smoothly. Did notice that keys to staterooms are no longer given out at embarkation. Stateroom attendant leaves key at stateroom. Can be bad if wrong person gets it. They no longer take picture and use picture on passport for identification. Staterooms weren't ready so we dropped off carry on luggage and went to Lido Deck for refreshment. You will find things about our stateroom in the stateroom section below. The food in the dining room isn't as good as it used to be. The Carnival Sunrise has a new Executive Chef. He likes to cook with spices. We, wife included, do not like spicy food. Ate Salmon most nights. The Beef Wellington, had on one of the three formal nights was good. Most desserts were good. Ate two at times. My wife spread out what she had to other things. Many things were good, service didn't meet former Carnival standards although most times was acceptable. The pizzeria was very good and ate there most days after got finished playing in the casino. The food on the Lido Deck was pretty good too. Had a few burritos that were very good, some of the food at the buffett was good as was the Deli. The Deli had long lines and most times didn't want to wait on them. About Entertainment and Activities: The shows were okay. My wife liked them. We had seem them before. Missed two shows due to doing other things. The enrichment talks were good. As a veteran liked the veteran meeting, and enjoyed the veteran's table at the high tea. Like playing in the casino. Played there every night. Most times played at the craps table and at times played slot machines. My wife likes to play slot machines. Met some people that were known from other cruises. Even made a few new acquaintances, a rarity for me, in the casino. The staff at the craps table was pretty good. They were for the most part, very competent dealers, box men, and pit bosses. Hope they are there when I next go on the Carnival Sunrise in the fall. The Cruise Director was Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams. He is a very good Cruise Director. It is no mistake that many of his people are getting promoted. Also of note, although many passengers didn't seem to like Adam, he is very competent and will one day make a fine Cruise Director himself. Houston is a very funny guy. One day he will be a very fine comedian. However, he does many things well on the activities staff. He should be given a night at the comedy club. One day, he might even make a fine Cruise Director. Disembarkation was a complete disaster. They were slow in getting luggage set up in the terminal and that was why we had long waiting times. Had to explain to car service why it took us so long to get off the ship. Next time bring fewer clothes and use laundry room more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I stayed on Riviera Deck Midship. No balcony but spacious except for the shower. There was a lack of storage space and Small tiny nightstands. We moved the life vests and placed them under the bed so we could use the closet space. It ... Read More
I stayed on Riviera Deck Midship. No balcony but spacious except for the shower. There was a lack of storage space and Small tiny nightstands. We moved the life vests and placed them under the bed so we could use the closet space. It had a nice size tv, we just watched ship cameras or ship location channels. Only used one electrical outlet to plug in our multiport gadget to charge our electronics. The toilet made an unusual sound of a long foghorn after flushing and since I use the toilet 4 times during the night, I thought would wake everyone on my side of the ship. There were no complaints, thankfully. And of course our stewards were courteous and friendly. There was garbage odor on some elevators and smoke throughout the Casino. Deck 3 and 4 were were a pain since at one point or another, a restaurant blocked the front to aft part of the deck. Our Time Dining we requested same waiter Camilo. He is GREAT. Sang songs and danced on some nights. Really great and funny individual. Request for a table he manages and you wont be disappointed. I selected foods I knew I liked so To me, the food was good. Im not a sun worshipper so I wont comment on the pools and chairs. The jogging track is a bit small but I enjoyed the Rope Course. It was complicated at first due to my big gut, but once I got the know how, it was a piece of cake with a bit of sweat of course. Guys Burgers are delicious, the pizza is so-so. Breakfast is same each day with no variety. Had to skip the Midnight Buffet with the Ice And food sculptures due to the mob trying to take pix and the LINE seeming endless. But Im sure it was delicious. ( I didnt gain any weight that night) Bartenders and staff introduced me to some delicious drinks. There were a couple good shows with the singing and dancers but wasnt interested in hypnotism and card tricks. The good seating area in the Liquid Lounge is small. There are poles blocking the way, lighting fixtures if youre too high up, and cant see the stage at all if youre anywhere to the side of the stage. Remodeled and all, from 1 to 5, I rate the ship a 3. Fun Factor I rate the ship a 3 as well. Friendliness I rate it a 5 There were not enough sanitizers and people were hardly using the ones available. I rate cleanliness a 4. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We got disable-room , hard to get ,we like 14 days cruise. And was done over. Our balcony was not for wheelchair or scooters ,very narrow ,and doors were old ,we also got locked out .The room was very nice ,clean,great handicap-room . ... Read More
We got disable-room , hard to get ,we like 14 days cruise. And was done over. Our balcony was not for wheelchair or scooters ,very narrow ,and doors were old ,we also got locked out .The room was very nice ,clean,great handicap-room . Spa was disappointing ,thermal loungers were in a small room ,only 6 ,no other chairs. Would not give us a refund ,waste of our money. The Flying scotsman was the Best ,the shows were great ,food was good. Room service was good. Embarking was confusing ,the staff did not know how to help. We went to the Musterstaion and were told it was on 3 deck ,not there ,hard to get back on the elevators ,when we got there ,it was over. They were bringing luggage to the rooms ,so most of the elevators were closed. Disembarking was a nightmare , we waiting over 3 hours before we got somebody to take us out with the wheelchair. Was so disorganized ,they did not have the staff to help the handicap . Everybody was so upset. SO the cruise was disappointing ,because the staff was not trained to do their job. Not going back on the Carnival . Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. The reason for the low score for NCL is that there were lots of little things which were not as good as other cruise companies and they added up to make a big difference. Firstly the good: The organisation of the Freedom dining is fantastic. We only had to wait (briefly) for a table on a couple of occasions - the rest of the time it worked like clockwork. This is down mainly to the ladies who work at the front desk. They do an exceptional job. The staff in the dining rooms were all fantastic. Hardworking and always cheerful. No mean feat! The chinese restaurant is included rather than the usual cover charge and we thought the food was superb. The presentation of the food in the main dining rooms was the best we have seen There were proper showers in all of the rooms (not just shower curtains) The bad: The menus in the Chinese and O'Sheehans never changes nor does it in Grand Pacific at lunch time. Not too bad if you are on a 7 day cruise but this was 19 days of the same choice. The drinks are very expensive The ship was late in to nearly every port. Sometimes just by 15-20 mins but it messed up our plans (and on two of the occassions this was when the ship was only travelling a short distance between ports) Disembarkation was a shambles with poor communication. They put on too few tenders when needed so that it took us until after 1pm to get off the ship when we had to be back on board by 4pm. We paid for an upgrade to an ocean view room and yet all we could see was a lifeboat. There was no warnings about it being a partial view. There was insufficient shade on the ship so there was always a battle to be up early enough to grab some. They have a great lounge at the front of the boat where you can sit in the shade and cool and look at the view but insisted on running bingo and other talks in there all through the day despite having other areas that would accomodate these things. They even had to draw the blinds in the room to make it dark enough to see the projector. The talks about the ports and countries we were visiting were awful. The entertainment in the bars was not to our taste and hardly varied. No gala type dinners so no lobster or other special food. Food was the worst we have had on a ship (not bad like other reviews have said - just not as good as other ships) The food in the buffet was not great and was very repetitive. All of the entertainment was geared towards Americans (even though they were in the minority on the ship). I understand that they are usually the majority so I guess it would be too much trouble to change things cruise by cruise. Guest Relations were terrible. They handled a minor complaint so badly that it ended up being a big issue. They have zero authority and a terrible attitude. One thing that isn't the ships problem but is worth mentioning is that we like to share our table with others in the evening. Clearly most people who choose NCL don't like to so it was rare that we managed to get a table with other people on it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We ... Read More
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We hesitated to tour Nicaragua since we had to fill out a health form for that country. The entertainment was better than I expected as well. However, each entertainer sold their CD, book, etc. and I would have thought the pay by NCL sufficient. We did a couple of cruises on Royal Caribbean and did not experience this. We did not opt for the internet on principle. It should have been free. I had a phone plan but it would not work on the ship. I had to go onto the pier in order to use my iPhone. We were pleased with our cabin and out attendant, Julius. He provided great travel tips and service. However, the rest rooms in the public areas needed more attention. The one on the 12th floor in the area of the buffet smelled of urine and had trash on the floor. The corners had built up filth. I cannot say the same for some of the Guest Services personnel. They had to "check with their superior" too frequently. They apologized profusely if something went wrong and said it was because they had never been in that port before. Not an excuse. NCL should have provided orientation. I got conflicting information between them and the Shore Excursion personnel. The specialty restaurants were outstanding. However, the two main dining rooms and the buffet left a lot to be desired. We, fortunately, are not drinkers but do enjoy an occasional one. The drinks were very expensive and included a tip and another charge of some kind. Needless to say, as with the internet, we opted out. There were a lot of activities but many of the programs tried to sell special offers after a presentation. It seemed as if every time we wanted to do something extra, there was a hand holding out for more money. I even learned that we could have had the $14.50 charge pp per day removed!!!! Didn't do this because I think the crew who don't deal directly with passengers should be rewarded as well. But, why put this on if it is more or less optional. Frankly, we have been spoiled by Viking river and ocean cruises. The initial price may be higher; but, as you know, very little is extra. Free water, WiFi, included excursion at every port, free wine, beer, soda with meals, umbrellas, robes, listening devices so that all can hear the guide, etc. The personnel treat guests with kid gloves and we are never left to wander around having to ask where we should be for an excursion. I have not yet totaled up our trip but it will be equal to or more than Viking. Also, the location of the Guest Services and Shore excursions were right off of the Atrium where there were activities and music and a noisy bar. I felt I had to shout to be heard and had to ask for things to be repeated. On Viking, the staff had desks and passengers were able to sit down and have a decent discussion. On our last trip, we left an iPad at a hotel in Madrid. They bent over backwards to get it returned to us. Embarkation was speedy and rooms ready in a timely manner. However, disembarkation was not. The line to get off the ship was stalled and an announcement was made that they would not be calling any color categories for a while. Our tour of LA was supposed to start at 9 o'clock. We did not leave the terminal until 10 and our excellent guide had to cut corners to be able to see what she thought was most important. I noticed that she did not receive many tips which was a disservice to her because this was not her fault. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise because we made up our minds not to let the above get to us. But, no, I would not choose NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. Freestyle cruising fit our plan as we didn't want to dress up every night, although we did a couple of nights. As newbie cruisers, I would say it's all about the ship and the crew and the people on board. We are in our early sixties so our expectations were folks our age and older. For the most part, that proved to be true. People who have had many cruise experiences see the cruise in many different ways comparing one to another. Food, entertainment, ports of call, etc. First off for me, I've never been surrounded by so much food. It was good. Speciality dining was fun! There is no reason to complain. Just pick something else! The crew and all the staff want you to be happy. They take their job seriously. Entertainment was all day and into the night! Something for everyone. Beautiful people who truly try to make your vacation memorable. Really enjoyed the "hot white" party. Service was excellent. They washed and folded my clothes for a fair price. The spa was superb! I would recommend it to anyone. It's expensive, but for a vacation to get ones mind off the work waiting for you at home-- a bargain. I gave my wife the 18 day spa pass and that was a bargain too! The Gem is truly a wonderful ship. I read its fact sheet. Its' crew international. Really makes it fun. Norwegian in my mind strives to be a class act. Sign me up- I'd do it again. I didn't think about work once. Therefore it was a true vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled or made me feel welcome. I'm a former hostess- so this bothers me. My cabin steward kept my room clean, but even though I'd put the "Make Up Room" sign up by 7AM (I'm an early riser)- the room was never made up until 10AM. Also, I go to bed early- and my room was never made up in the evening before 9PM. Given that it was an 18-night cruise- The cabin steward should have recognized my routine but didn't care. I had to ask for things and he wasn't friendly until the last night of the cruise- when he probably hoped for an extra tip. I didn't give him one because he hadn't gone the extra mile- like most cabin stewards do. I generally tip extra, but not this time. Ship- the ship was in very good condition- there were some places that needed repainting on the exterior and my friend's cabin (5096) had what looked like mold on the ceiling. It turned out to be paint but it was unsightly. Internet- You can pay $.99 a minute or you have to buy a package. The only way to get the 24 hour unlimited use is to buy a package for the entire voyage. Expensive. Entertainment- I was never bored. There were plenty of activities to participate in. Show that I went to were very good. I loved Brad Stevens the pianist. Food- I dined for most meals in the Grand Pacific Dining Room. We usually showed up between 5;30- 6:30 and there wasn't much of a wait. The meals were hit and miss. Meat dishes- steaks and ribs (and even the Hungarian Goulash) were inedible. Too tough. Perhaps the head chef is a vegetarian but he needs to have someone taste test the food. I'm sure there were many complaints and plates of food sent back to the kitchen. I ended up referring to this as the "bird and fish" cruise because those dishes and the vegetarian dishes were good. The bananas foster were bananas cut lengthwise and plopped into butterscotch and rum. Gross. My "key lime parfait" was really key lime mousse. Tasted good but did not resemble a "parfait". The corn fritters were flat pancakes with a kernel of corn in each one. The salads were lacking in anything other than mixed greens and they ran out of spinach midway through the cruise. Le Bistro was good- but the cost of the food was excessive- given that meals are included in the passage. The up charge shouldn't be $17.99 for a good steak. The buffet was ok. The outside burger stand was good and on sea days they did really nice bar-b-ques by the pool. The best dish was a seafood medley. Yum! Drinks- I thought the price of wine was reasonable. I noticed my chardonnay was cheaper at Magnums than other venues. Don't know why. Unless you are a full-fledged alcoholic- don't bother with a drink package. Average drink price is $10. Excursions and Ports Curacao- We pre-purchased $60 resort passes (through Resorts for a Day) for the Hilton Hotel. It was fabulous. They welcomed us- provided towels and we were free to use the beach and pool areas. Our passes included $25 food and beverage vouchers, which was enough for us to drink four drinks and split a delicious Quesadilla. Highly recommend this place. Taxis to and from the Hilton were $20 each way. Aruba- We winged it and were so glad we did. There are school buses (decorated with graffiti) offering $25 pp island tours. We went to a rock formation, a church, a lighthouse (where there are food and beverage trucks. Get a fruit smoothie for $5- delicious!). Then we were dropped off at Eagle Beach for two hours and then returned to the ship. It was awesome. The beach chairs rent for $10. Santa Marta- very poor industrial port. Our excursion to a waterfall was underwhelming and there was too much walking (and wading through streams) for some of the passengers. I'm only 53 so the mostly shaded walk didn't bother me (it's over a mile each way) but my 71 year old travel companion it was too much for- especially with wading through the streams 8 times. I should have read the fine print about shoes getting wet. The waterfall may be more impressive when there isn't a drought but it was puny. The banios (toilets) were very gross and you have to pay $1 to use them. Norwegian should drop this port IMO and do two nights in Cartegena. Cartegena- Loved this city. Very pretty architecture. The vendors are ridiculous though. My suggestion is ignore them. Someone in my group made the mistake of buying something and then was swarmed by other vendors. To get away from the them- nip into on of the Juan Valdez coffee shops (Columbia's Starbucks). The coffee is good and inexpensive. They only take pesos or credit cards. Shops took US dollars though. Panama Canal- Wow! Was a wonderful experience. I got up early and managed to score a seat at the bow in Spinnacker at 6:45. Transit started around 8AM but it was neat waiting in line for the Canal. Sailing through the lake while eating lunch at one of the aft window tables in the Grand Pacific Dining Room was one of my favorite trip experiences. Costa Rica- We went to an animal rescue with NCL where we saw many birds, moneys, and animals. We were treated to fresh fruit- which was very delicious . Highly recommend Nicaragua- We went to the Botanical Gardens and Leon with NCL. Our guide Gabriel was very good but the trip to and from was long and we were underwhelmed with the Botanical Gardens. There were no flowers at all. The only thing worth seeing was the green parrot. Guatemala- I stayed onboard. I'd had enough of long bus rides through poverty stricken areas for a lifetime at this point. Manzanilla- We went on the NCL excursion to Barcelo Karmina Resort. This was close to the ship and a very nice all-inclusive which we enjoyed. The town however is industrial and polluted. I think NCL should take it off the itinerary. Puerto Vallarta- I stayed on the ship but if you like to shop there is a big mall and a Walmart. Cabo- Great way to end our trip. Tendering was fast and easy. The town is beautiful. We went to Casa Dorada resort with NCL. Our tour group had access to a hotel suite which we could access from the pool area. We had a complimentary buffet lunch and a free beverage (any). I had a Bahama Mama which was good. Margaritas were good too. Make sure to be out on deck at sailaway to watch the whales. We saw many, many whales. This was a great way to end our trip. I'd go back to Cabo. Overall- I had a great time on the cruise and would sail NCL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same could be said for the disembarkation in LA - what a disaster. Whilst the cruise itinerary, restaurant and bar staff were great, the food lacked variety and was very limited - one of our friends is diabetic and it was very limiting for him (NCL you have done better than this). Being on the ship for 18 days - some variation in the buffet section for lunch and supper would have been welcome, the breakfast was not much better. The fruit provided on board was generally disgusting. We basically had the same food for 18 days. The ship docked in very remote industrial ports resulting in additional costs for travel into town - almost forcing the NCL excursions on us. In one case we were to dock in Puntarenas but were taken to Puerto Caldera and advised that it would cost $15.00 per person for a bus into Puntarenas. The live bands and musical entertainment was the poorest I have experienced on a cruise ship to date. The internet service provided was expensive and slow. The positives - the cabin was clean and well serviced. The staff ( with exception of the administration) was excellent. The narrator providing us with facts and information on the Panama Canal was excellent. Overall - the ship is showing its age - not what I expect from our preferred cruise line! you can do better than this NCL - I know this because I have experienced it in the past. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from ... Read More
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from the shore excursion team - were fantastic at managing mobility issues. Lots of disabled restrooms, staff was always eager to assist. The room was clean, and had enough room for a family of four, and our balcony was fantastic. Our steward Biency was always available, always called us by our names, consistently asked us if we needed anything and was generally accommodating. We always had what we needed in our room and it was made-up/turned-down at good times. He was a true highlight. The restaurants and bars were always well stocked and had a good selection. I would like to see the service at O'Sheehan's improve and some additional things added to the menu (a BLT or club sandwich, onion rings, guac & salsa for the nachos etc). Also the quality of the food at O'Sheehans varied dramatically every time we went in. The shore excursions and the shore excursion team were below what I would expect for the price point. I feel like that NCL should have staff that is knowledgable about the excursions because someone on the team has taken it and has done a write-up for the other members of staff & made notes that cruisers would find helpful. They were clueless with answering questions and just kept repeating what I could already read on the app. We also waiting in the theatre one day when the SE staff walked way without calling our tour. When a man asked about it they waved their hand as they walked away and said, "oh yeah, that one is ready, you can go." Also, the activity levels were useless and not at all indicative of the actual difficulty. I ended up injured on a shore excursion due to their ignorance and their attitude was "oh well." NCL needs to ramp up the ports of call for this cruise and have better timing at ports. Having to drive an hour or more at most ports just to see places of interest is a hassle. A Panama City stop would have also been a good choice for this itinerary. There were 20 kids on this cruise and I felt the Splash Academy struggled to manage this small amount even with all their staff. I don't know how they do with a boat full of kids! We kept repeating instructions to keep a certain chid away from our child but we constantly got feedback that they kept letting them interact and therefore had continued negative occurrences despite our instructions. To be quite honest, our child was harassed by this other child and the staff only reacted when my child retaliated. The staff didn't really feel like they knew much about children or how to redirect their behaviour. I would like them to get more training on conflict resolution because their solution seemed to be to throw their hands in the air. Having said all that, the ship was a great size, the Panama canal portion of the itinerary was worth it for the narration and information alone, the dining and bar staff was consistently fantastic, and some of the excursions were well worth the time and money. This was our first time on NCL (we've done two other companies in the past) and I feel that it was good enough to give it another go, should my complaint about the excursions get resolved. There were a lot of long time cruisers complaining on this cruise but we didn't feel that our experience was negative overall, just some training for Shore Excursions and the Splash Academy. Everything else was great. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ... Read More
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ports that I had not been to before and after this 44 day voyage I enjoyed this ship and it’s staff very much. I had a great and memorable experience from really every department onboard. Spending that much time on board the ship I think I really got to know the cruise director and recreation staff well. Some even remembered me from my previous September 2018 trip on this ship, or perhaps the bicycle helped them remember too. Security staff definitely remembered me and the bike from September. But I was really surprised with how many of the overall ships crew called me by my first name when just walking by even though I had very little interaction with them. For me, during the cruise I always kept in mind that for most of the staff on board they are here on a 6 month contract and even though they don’t have a day off and work around 10 hours or more a day, they still start every day as if their goal was to make sure that my trip was going as best as it could. I didn’t do any drinking or gambling and I think I booked a total of 0 shore excursions and purchased about the same amount of photos but I still had a great time. Yes, the bike played a huge roll too. Since there was a lot of overlap on the ports that we would be visiting, when in port, I treated the 1st leg (west bound journey) as an exploration trip and the east bound journey I applied what I learned and explored the port more efficiently. The bike also helped a lot. Regarding the bicycle, it’s a folding bike, (specifically a Citizen Miami). The bike retails new for $275.00 but I purchased off of craig’s list for $100. I upgraded the original seat to a gelled saddle and I also brought with me: a helmet with a GoPro, an air pump and lastly the padded seat underwear. I also know now that I should bring a bike tire repair kit too, however I was able to find a bike repair shop while we were in Santa Marta, Colombia that replaced the tube, tire and the shop had WiFi for a total of 16,000 Colombian Pesos (or $5.16 USD). While not in use the bike went under my bed, and I didn’t have to worry about checking in the bike at the airport as luggage since I was doing a round trip from NY. I walked the bike on board and there was no additional fee for bringing it. Yes I also received many offers from the crew about purchasing the bike from me. I can not put to words on how welcome the cruise ship staff made me feel while on this entire voyage, but it was really great. Every department did a fantastic job. I think security had the toughest roll as they get the least appreciation for keeping people safe especially as people were climbing over ropes, railings and each other during the panama canal transit which lasted about 5 hours. The cruise director staff came in a close 2nd as they have to keep everyone as happy as possible over the entire journey but in my opinion every crew member on board did a fantastic job. I enjoyed the food very much, but my problem is really with portion control. I felt that Breakfast in the grand pacific dining room was the right way to start my morning. Glen, the only female waitress on board named Glen is the best waiter on board this ship. In regards to the evening entertainment, I would try to go to both evening shows whenever possible but I would sit in 2 totally different areas in the theater which gave me a totally different perspective of the show. Special shout out from me is included to the sign language interpreter they had on board for the east bound (LA-NY) journey. While she wasn’t meant to be part of the entertainment she was both very entertaining, informative, educational and really added a layer to the show that I had never experienced before. I learned later that some times, like for the ventriloquist or comedian, a rehearsal performance is not available so the translation is just live action and there is no pause button available to look terms up. It was also really nice to talk and interact with the entertainers when they weren’t performing on stage. While the Gem’s cast performers can also be found working in places like the ship’s library, the guest performers were friendly and approachable in all areas of the ship like the gym, restaurants or even just random encounters in the elevators and hallways. Yes I also encountered people who were not enjoying the cruise, but from my perspective they were either asking for too much, just ignorant of the rules and policies, just totally missed stuff that was clearly listed in the daily schedule or just really novice cruise ship travellers (aka noobs). But yes I also had the upper had when it came to ports that we had visited before so I knew what to expect. I myself knew that I had to be a bother to the ship’s hotel director because I kept stopping by his office looking for his secretary’s signature for the ship’s scavenger hunt but kept running in to him instead. But he seemed ok with it or at least understanding and just kept telling me to keep trying to find her each time I visited. Lastly, I highly suggesting doing the behind the scenes tour for a great perspective on what goes on onboard and how and why things operate as they do. It’s free to do for platinum latitude members. Thank you very much for a very enjoyable voyage. I’m strongly considering doing this voyage again next year and I hope you next voyage on the Gem is just as enjoyable. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I ... Read More
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I taken these trips individually, one cruise 11 different countries; We also went thru the Panama Canal which was just place i heard and read about and wonder what that looks like, I was lucky to have experience it, it was awesome. While we were at sea going from one country to the next the ship did not disappoint they kept us quite entertained with lots of food, games, seminars, swimming, the spa, the Casino and first class live stage performances, thank you Norwegian Gem I really enjoyed myself. My state room was lovely with a king size bed and the service was impeccable, after 18 days of having being catered to I am still trying to get back to normal now that I am home. I traveled by my self because most of my friends were not able to get away for such a long period of time but I never felt alone the staff and the other guests were all very friendly and I felt very comfortable, can't wait for my next cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and ... Read More
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and entertainment well below prior sailings with NCL. Food was mediocre and the Big Screen TV area had seating for about 80 people on a ship transporting over 2000...go figure. Television viewing in-room was on a very small screen with one movie station, one tv station other than 3 news and 2 sports. walking deck 7 frequently had closed areas for maintenance though none was witnessed. Upper decks were often closed for high winds. given the fact the ship traveled at 23 knots I have come to expect high winds to be a given on Cruise Ships. Why else surround the deck with glass panels? Cagney Steak restaurant served my steak RARE and draining blood.... although ordered MEDIUM. Even after sending back to kitchen for additional cooking it came back medium RARE...less blood but at least warm in center...the baked potato was well cooked and delicious. I should not complain though as it was a complimentary dinner for my Platinum traveler status and it came with a very good Australian wine. The Vintage Railway shore excursion in Costa Rico was well below advertisement. After discussing with the onboard representative they offered a 30% discount...which never showed on room billing. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by the pool on the "sea days" so you could enjoy the pool and sunshine! With 10 "ports of call" there was ample opportunity to enjoy shore excursions mixed in with relaxing by the pools. We had only been to Cabo San Lucas before so the other 9 ports were all new to us and real treat to discover. We especially enjoyed Guatamala. Who'da thought? And of course the Panama Canal was extra special. We added an extra day in New York City to begin and L. A. at the end and really enjoyed this addition to our trip. It really added extra relaxation and excitement to our trip. Overall, I believe our experience with Norwegian was great and I'm really happy that we upgraded to a mini suite for that little extra cabin space. I had booked a balcony and then submitted bids to upgrade and managed to get upgraded. We will forever remember this cruise for the people we met and all of the fabulous experiences on ship and on shore. In addition, we would like to thank the wonderful crew members!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship ... Read More
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship balcony on th 9th floor.The ship was impeccably clean and our room was cleaned regularly and efficiently.The wait staff couldn’t do enough for us.The bar tenders knew us by name and were extremely friendly and attentive.The ports of call were great and the Panama Canal was an experience of a life time , including the sites and ongoing commentary .We were graced with phenomenal weather throughout the cruise .We ate at the specialty restaurants( Le Bistro and Cagney’s steakhouse) and we’re extremely pleased with both. We enjoyed the Grand Pacific as well as The Magenta.The Garden Cafe was great for breakfast and lunch and offered great variety.The outdoor poolside bbq was equally great offering wonderful daily themed options..We had the ultimate beverage package and I would say our only disappointment was that bottled water was not included . I would highly recommend this cruise and NCL Gem will not disappoint . T & M from Montreal Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of healthy options to cater for most tastes. Something was very wrong on this cruise, Foid was very often warm or cold , most dishes in heavy sauces, plain fish mon existent . Salads were unpleasant. Presentation overall was simply not up to cruise standard. Speciality restaurants were a mixed experience, Le Bistro and Moderns were best. O’Sheehans’ fish and chips was horrible, not at all the same as a few years ago . Cagneys was v disappointing, salmon was uncooked inside. Mushrooms were inedible and unpleasant. Main dining rooms were ok , but very time consuming and lacking in fruit and veg, so only went a few times. Garden buffet staff are amazing, all waiting staff and room attendants were wonderful . Reception staff are doing their best, but are not v knowledgeable. We asked for a table on our balcony so we could order breakfast, they said our mini suite is too small and that we should eat breakfast in bed/- finally we were provided with a table, Excursions were well priced . The Chiva fun bus in Colombia was fantastic. Code farm in Guaramala excellent. The cruise director did not seem to be very proactive compared to our past cruise experience . Entertainment slots tended to be 45 minutes only in public areas . Captain Fafalios was wonderful and we felt safe in his hands . Our main disappointment was the strange food in the buffet , and the level of sparkle from the cruise director. Disembarkation took far too long - around 90 mins of standing in line , we feel this could have been better managed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? ... Read More
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? There are always a few bumps in the road but generally it was terrific. I'm disabled, traveled solo and use an electric wheelchair and had to cancel my whale watching tour in Cabo because they have to tender there and can't take the electric wheelchair but apparently no one realized that when I bought the excursion. Overall, NCL was very helpful finding me shore excursions that were accessible. I especially enjoyed the Tarcoles River excursion in Costa Rica. Food was good, buffet was a little cold from time to time but I always found something to satisfy my taste. I noticed the last day on the breakfast buffet the "Mountain of Bacon" dwindled to a small pile.. Guess that was their way of saying "We're done feeding you folks" lol. Magenta was very good, Cagney's and Moderno was excellent. The staff was always friendly and helpful. I especially enjoyed the very helpful bar staff at the Java Cafe. My cabin steward Andrean was always very helpful and smiled all the time. He would brighten every day. Entertainment was ok. I enjoyed the performance of "Swing" the most. There is a little monotony that sets in during an 18 day cruise but I always found something to do. I wish they could find a way to do a better variety of TV shows. It's very limited. I downloaded a bunch of movies and shows from Netflix and Amazon on my tablet. Be aware they are time limited so pay attention to how long you have to each them. We saw lots of whales and porpoises after we left Cabo from the ship so that was fun. There was a nice mix of people on board, quite an international group. I heard one lady complain the people Spanish too much. Apparently the fact we were in Latin America escaped her. Generally friendly, I meet some very interesting people on board. We had some nice conversations. Folks were always helpful with wheelchair of I needed a hand. In Puerto Vallarta, we did a walking tour and the sidewalks had ramps but some were step and not flat, kinda scary. They had to help me walk down one that was too steep, but the tour operator and fold on the tour were helpful. The tour operator's and bus drivers were all excellent. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We choose this cruise because of the Panama Canal Transit and San Francisco We live in the Bay area so coming home was part of the choice. Our thoughts of a exciting and fun cruise never appeared. It was almost creepy walking back to ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the Panama Canal Transit and San Francisco We live in the Bay area so coming home was part of the choice. Our thoughts of a exciting and fun cruise never appeared. It was almost creepy walking back to our cabin after 11PM. Most bars were closed and not a person was around. During the nice weather around the pool, there was only one activity in all 19 days. The service was good and the crew could not have been more helpful. Although there were not many smiles or much personality involved. While the dining room is beautiful the food was only OK. When you expect so much and OK is delivered. I brought dressy clothes and formal wear, they were hardly necessary. The entertainment was as good as on most other cruise lines, nothing special. I am a Travel Agent and would not think of Cunard first when a client wanted a special cruise experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
I've sailed with Cunard before, but always on Queen Mary 2, so this cruise was an opportunity to experience one of the other two Cunard ships. The cruise was 42 nights long including transiting the Panama Canal and stops in Fort ... Read More
I've sailed with Cunard before, but always on Queen Mary 2, so this cruise was an opportunity to experience one of the other two Cunard ships. The cruise was 42 nights long including transiting the Panama Canal and stops in Fort Lauderdale, Aruba, Limón, Puntarenas, San Francisco, Hawaii, American Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand. Embarkation was in New York and disembarkation was in Sydney. Embarkation: In a word… shambolic. I've experience Cunard embarkations in Southampton, Singapore and Sydney and each one of those ports managed to process passengers through security and onto the ship without the terminal staff displaying an almost hilarious inability to communicate with personnel on the ship and each other. Announcements that should have been made on a loud speaker weren't. Terminal staff weren't aware (or didn't care) about priority embarkation for Grills passengers as passengers in wheelchairs were boarded ahead of priority guests. The whole thing took much longer than it needed to, with terminal staff unable to make up their mind when to start the embarkation process. At one point they let about 15 people through security then decided to halt the process leaving the 15 people standing in a no-mans land between the security scanners and the check-in counters. The remainder of the guests waiting to board were kept back behind the security scanners. This lasted for about 15 minutes. Nobody knew why, least of all the terminal staff... I'm guessing. This shameful exercise in ineptitude was capped off by the check-in staff member incorrectly swiping my credit card details. I know this because each sector I had to go down to the Purser's office and have them swipe the card again. I don't lay the blame for the ridiculously inept boarding process at Cunard's door. The terminal staff seemed confused with all aspects of the embarkation procedure and I'm not sure that anyone from Cunard could have done anything to improve the situation. I say I am "not sure" because I really don't know - perhaps they could have done something? It seems to me that if the Cunard brochures say that Grills guests receive priority embarkation than they should get priority embarkation. If Cunard can't be bothered ensuring that this happens than they should remove it as a selling point from their brochures. Stateroom: I was in suite 5198 and I could not have been happier. The suite is large with extremely generous wardrobe space and plenty of amenities. The view from the stern is simply awe-inspiring and I particularly enjoyed hearing the gentle roar of ocean and watching the wake from the stern. The bathroom is large with a full sized spa bath and separate shower with glass door. The shower is generously proportioned with room for two people to shower together (if so inclined to do so). The shower and bath area are separate to the toilet and vanity area (there is however a connecting door) which is handy as it enables two people to use the facilities at the same time. The bed was very comfortable and the sheets are very soft. I particularly liked the large three seater sofa with two accompanying single chairs. You can have quite a number of fellow guests for drinks and not feel crowded at all. This suite is practically perfect, if you're looking at one of the stern suites than look no further than this one. Be warned though, the suites at either side of the ship (with the wraparound balconies) are much smaller on the inside than the three middle suites as the space for the side balcony is at the expense of inside space. This only applies to decks, four, five and eight as decks six and seven are the Q1 suites. You should also be aware that the interior of the middle stern suite is slightly different to the suites on either side, they have a long bench under the window which the middle suite doesn't have. Any of the three middle Q6 suites on deck 5 would be fine, do not let them upgrade you to a Q5 with the wraparound balconies, you will be disappointed with the lack of space inside those suites. You've been warned. Food: Let's just say that the food in the Queens Grill is excellent, there's really no other way to describe it. The choices for breakfast and dinner are extensive and in the evening the à la carte menu provides more than enough dishes for even the fussiest of eaters to choose from. With the exception of about 7 nights, I ate all my evening meals in the Queens Grill and didn't experience one dish that was poorly presented or incorrectly cooked. I will say though that the scrambled eggs on the breakfast menu are the powdered variety, which should not be the case in the Queens Grill. There's no point being in the Queens Grill and eating powdered eggs, so follow my lead and request scrambled eggs made from real eggs; the staff don't care, they're more than happy to oblige. And really, Cunard should be embarrassed at dishing out powered scrambled eggs in the Queens Grill. McDonald's uses real eggs for their breakfast menu, why can't Cunard use them in the Queens Grill restaurant for scrambled eggs? Off-menu requests were happily acquiesced to including dishes where I provided a list of ingredients and explained how I wanted the dish prepared. I was impressed with all aspects of the off-menu process including the requesting of and the dishes themselves. This is one of the selling points of the Queens Grill and it's something Cunard (well the head waiters really) does very well. One Queens Grill perk is that you can choose from the restaurant menu when dining in your room. I did this a couple of times for lunch and for about three days when I was sick. It's nice to have more choices than just the room service menu and I appreciate this particular convenience. Other dining venues I experience include the Verandah restaurant and the Lido (including the alternative dining venue on the Jasmine night). The food in the Verandah restaurant is wonderful, with the exception of the Bresse Chicken (boring), the Pork Rillette and the Duck Foie Gras with Pears (both disgusting). The scallops and langoustines, sautéed in a lime butter, with herb printed pasta was incredible, as was the Milk Fed Rack of Lamb. The deserts were very nice including the Delicate Custard and Hot Vanilla Soufflé. The food in the Verandah restaurant was, overall, very very good and if I had been travelling in Britannia I would have dined here more often. During this cruise I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food in the Lido. I had lunch here a couple of times and thought the variety and quality of the food was very good. A particular favourite with (seemingly) everyone on board was the self service ice-cream machine, I highly recommend treating yourself after a day sun baking out on the deck. The cooked to order pasta and pizza station is also a recommendation if you're looking for a quick and easy lunch. The pizza I had was quite good, the pasta was just okay. In my opinion the pasta dishes in the restaurant are better. One night a group of us ate in the alternative dining space in the Lido on the Jasmine night. The asian food was very good, there was a lot of it and everyone at the table was very complimentary about the food. Afternoon tea was probably the only culinary disappointment on this cruise. Queen Elizabeth does not have the little fruit tarts that Queen Mary 2 has, the QE has similar pastries that are not as good and are more pastry than filling or fruit. Very disappointing. I was so looking forward to these and was quite disappointed to find out they only have an inferior substitution on board QE. Apart from that one item the afternoon tea offerings (scones etc) are the same as on board Queen Mary. Although, having said that, I do think the scones on Queen Mary taste better. Service: When you're on board for 42 nights you end up having a lot of interaction with a lot of crew members on a daily basis. Overwhelmingly, the crew are professional, polite and good at what they do. The staff in the Queens Grill restaurant were excellent with the waiter and junior waiter providing possibly the best service I have ever had on board a Cunard ship. The maitre d and the head waiters in the Queens Grill were also excellent, very friendly and overall very good at what they do. They never failed to greet us with genuine smiles and made sure to visit the table every night to say hello. The staff in the Queens Grill lounge were also very good, they quickly remembered names and drink preferences and were efficient and friendly. This was also the case in Cafe Carinthia where, incidentally, they make the best strawberry daiquiris. Afternoon tea service in the Grills Lounge was generally good, although on some occasions the staff covering the afternoon tea service were very substandard. One one occasion two Indian staff members conversed in a language other than English whilst setting up the lounge for afternoon tea, this is in direct contradiction to what they're supposed to do (speak English in the guest areas). Following on from this one of the same Indian staff members tried to resist getting me a cucumber sandwich. "No more left" he said whilst indicating to the nearly empty tray of sandwiches he was holding. This being the start of the afternoon tea service I knew they would have more trays of sandwiches available so I persisted. Amazingly, so did he with his explanation that there was no more and that I should just pick from what he had left on his tray. Eventually I looked him in the eye and said "get some". He shrugged his shoulders and returned with a fresh tray of sandwiches, including the cucumber variety. He really was appalling, but happily he's an anomaly amongst the crew. The Verandah Restaurant is supposed to be the place to go for a special event like an anniversary. Surprisingly then I found that the service in the Verandah was not as good as the Queens Grill restaurant, no where near as good. Now either I got very lucky in the Queens Grill or the staff in the Verandah restaurant are not as good as they think they are. I think it's the latter. The decor in the Verandah restaurant is lovely, the food (barring the three dishes I mentioned) is wonderful, it's the service that needs to improve. I'm not saying the service is bad, I'm just saying that it could (and probably should) be better. I had two butlers and two stewards (one lot for each sector). They were all very good and really added to my enjoyment of the voyage. I like having a butler, they're more concerned with fulfilling any requests you have rather than cleaning the room, it's more preferable to just having a steward. I also like that the butler lays out the tablecloth and sets the table as though you were eating in a restaurant when you dine in your room. In summary, 98% of the crew are excellent at their jobs and provide great service. The rest don't and that's not entirely unexpected when you're dealing with human beings. Only one unfortunate incident prompted me to put in a complaint, but it was handled to my satisfaction, which pretty much just involved them (Cunard) listening to what I had to say and apologising, which was all I really wanted. Overall, Cunard's service is excellent. Food, service and accommodation are generally the things that impact on a cruise the most so I wanted to cover those in quite a bit of detail. The following are some general observations. The ship itself: A lovely cruise ship, does the job with no unexpected issues. The amenities are all quite lovely and the decor is generally very pleasing to the eye. The grills amenities are excellent, the views from the restaurants and grills lounge are wonderful. There is a lot of open deck space for grill passengers on decks 11 & 12, but as there is no shade whatsoever the use of this space is limited. A major disappointment is the promenade deck on deck three. Compared to the promenade deck on QM2 the QE version is claustrophobic and unattractive. There are no sweeping vistas like there are on QM2. QM2's promenade deck makes you want to walk around the ship, QE's doesn't as it's all a bit sad and depressing - especially after experiencing QM2's. One interesting aspect of QE's promenade deck is that you can look into the Britannia Restaurant as you walk around the stern. On Cruise Critic, a lot is made of the fact that you can do the same with the Grills restaurants on QM2 (with the inference being that this makes the location substandard) however no one seems to make the same inference regarding the Britannia restaurant on QE? The smaller size of the QE (when compared to QM2 and other larger ships) makes it attractive to older passengers who apparently don't like the distances required to walk on QM2 and other larger ships. I was surprised by the much, much older age demographic on these two sectors of the world cruise, much older than the transatlantic I experienced and the other two previous world cruise sectors on QM2. If you are looking for a much older demographic to cruise with, then the smaller Vista cruise ships (QE & QV) are a better bet than the larger QM2 - generally speaking. Excluding children, there was probably less than twenty passengers under 50 on both sectors. The gym is of a reasonable size however the five treadmills in the centre near the glass windows are the only ones that tall people can use (for running) as the remainder are under the low ceiling. Low ceilings are ever present throughout this ship by the way. The spa is not as well laid out or as inviting as the spa on Queen Mary 2. The change rooms are down the hall and big glass windows make it easy for people to see into the spa pool area where guests are relaxing on loungers and/or swimming. It's not relaxing laying on a lounger in the spa watching the hustle and bustle of the pool area outside as people wander around eating hot dogs and ice creams etc. I also don't find the spa value for money. On QM2 you get access to the spa amenities all day if you book a treatment. On QE you get access to the spa amenities for one hour only - before or after your treatment. Needless to say I think the spa situation on QM2 is better. Of course you can buy a spa package which allows you daily access, something I've done on QM2 as I think it's a worthwhile thing to do, but not on QE. Entertainment: The Royal Cunard singers and dancers between New York and Sydney were the best I've seen on a Cunard ship. I enjoyed all their shows with the exception of 'Royal Hotel' which was not to my taste. The singers in particular were very good. The guest stars were okay, I enjoyed the ones I saw. The lectures I attended were all well formatted and well presented, Cunard performs highly in this area and generally has interesting lecturers aboard. As is expected, the entertainment on board is geared towards people in their 70's and 80's. The ship dies after about 10:30 and there are only small pockets of life left, generally the Yacht Club and Commodore Club. Cunard continues its bizarre practice of having a live Caribbean band play in a nightclub and the DJs continue to play music that is (on the whole) 30 to 50 years old. It's rare to hear modern music in the ship's nightclub and it's almost always at the request of a passenger. Generally speaking the evenings in the Yacht Club are frustrating as on the rare occasions the DJ plays a couple of modern songs he always abruptly changes gear and plays something from the 50's or 60's. All the younger people then sit down and the older generation gets up to slow dance. This frustrated me for the first couple of weeks but then I realised that Cunard are not interested in reaching out to a younger demographic. If people under 50 happen to book on a Cunard ship then Cunard will happily take their money but there's no chance Cunard is going to bother attempting to provide an entertainment venue or age-appropriate music for anyone under the age of 50. Anyway, one of the entertainment options I enjoyed the most was the availability of DVDs from the Grills concierge to watch in the suite. There's a really good range of movies available and I enjoyed kicking back and watching a few movies every now and then. I also got a lot of reading done. Bring your own books or load up your IPAD as I'm convinced I caught a cold as a result of borrowing a book from the library. Tours: The shore tours I booked with Cunard were all reasonably interesting and and well organised. The tour in American Samoa was probably the least interesting but that's hardly Cunard's fault as there is not much to see in American Samoa. On two occasions I booked island tours which involved nothing more than swimming and lying on the beach, these were at Aruba and Tonga. I enjoyed these very much. The Hobbit tour in Tauranga in New Zealand was also very interesting. The two occasions that tendering was required I thought that everything was as well organised as it could be and there was certainly no excessive queues or wait times to board a tender. Fellow passengers: I've always found that the vast majority of people I meet on a Cunard ship are interesting, intelligent and friendly. Generally speaking this voyage was no different. Having said that, due to the older demographic, you do run across people for whom the sight of homosexuals is as horrifying and fascinating as a car crash - they just can't look away. Happily, these people are in the minority and I imagine you'd get them on any and all cruise lines. Overall: Cunard has a very good product and most people will be happy enough cruising on a Cunard ship. If you're under 50 you should ideally look to QM2 as your first option as this is (in my experience) the ship with the younger passenger demographic. Regarding the Queen Elizabeth, the food & service on board is (rare exceptions aside) of a very high standard as is the maintenance of the ship and the decor and layout. I enjoyed this cruise and had a really good time.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We had a great time on board NCL Jewel on this long 17 night cruise, and if you're booked on the Jewel, you will really enjoy it as long as you don't have any 5 star expectations. Like all cruise lines in this mid-price range, ... Read More
We had a great time on board NCL Jewel on this long 17 night cruise, and if you're booked on the Jewel, you will really enjoy it as long as you don't have any 5 star expectations. Like all cruise lines in this mid-price range, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. But none are 5 star. And like so many cruise critics so correctly point out, you get what you pay for. If you want a 5 star cruise ship, then book a Regent cruise. The Jewel is a 3 and a half/4 star cruise ship. We got a great deal for this cruise, and our philosophy is just to go with it, knowing some things will probably be a bit hit or miss. And that's exactly how it was. The other key factor you must accept is the upselling of product on board. It's just part of the territory. And a necessity for cruise lines in this price range to make real money. That's why you can choose so cheaply. We never felt the need to book a surcharge restaurant on the Jewel. Knowing the surcharge restaurant reviews were so mixed may have been a factor for us not to book, but we really liked the food in the MDR's Tsars and Azure. And having an evening buffet option with solid food was great, when we wanted to be more casual. We took an inside cabin on deck 11 because we were on a budget having travelled from New Zealand, and wanted to splash out in NYC for our week there, prior to the cruise. The cabin was great value. Knew what we were getting. Bathroom was bigger than our balcony cabin on our last cruise (Costa) and was so clean and well maintained by Richard, our steward. As I'll point out below in my list of Panama Canal cruise tips, it was not a great disadvantage for the Panama Canala, as you really need the full wide vision view of the canal for photos. Not just one side of the boat. The service stars of the show are crew who look after the Garden Cafe buffet and Great Outdoors areas. And the room stewards. They're so friendly and welcoming, as opposed to several service personnel in Tzar's, who spoilt it for the majority of on the ground servers at Tzar's who were great. One reception hostess thought she was running a prison camp for a couple of days there, and I was appalled at how she treated some American guests around us. For those guests, there's no way they'll ever take an NCL cruise again. Just couldn't work out why reception service was so friendlier at Azure - but maybe because it's smaller. We loved the freestyle dining at Tzar's and Azure. Had to wait sometimes, but were always happy to just go with it. Here are some random Panama Canal Jewel tips - in no order of importance - Small torchlight becomes your best friend, especially for an inside cabin. - Great Outdoors at the back of the boat is a great home base. Always tables available except at peak breakfast time. - Will never go on a cruise ship without an evening buffet. The Jewel buffet is excellent value despite some bad reviews. Was just great to have a real casual place to go after a busy day on your feet. We ate dinner mostly at Tzars, so we never got tired of the evening buffet options. Generally good 3 and a half star/4 star fresh food. - Avoid breakfast buffet on port days unless you get there first thing " it's a real zoo with everyone stressing they are going to miss their tour. Go to Tsars for breakfast.. - We loved Tzar's Palace for our a la carte meals. Like all cruiselines in this mid-range cost category it can be a bit lucky dip with the food. But we had some great meals there. We avoided the steak as it tasted manufactured. But other beef dishes were OK. Lamb shank's great. Pork and chicken dishes never disappointed. The large open environment made it a pleasure to eat there, despite the service hiccups. - Tsar's Palace for breakfast and lunch is a bit of a secret it seems.. No queues and very civilised. Lunch was excellent with calamari and beer battered cod on the daily menu fantastic. Would avoid the battered fish off the favourites lunch menu - didn't work from frozen. Such a better experience than the buffet at peak times. - Dinner at Tsar's and Azura has queues to get in for much of the night, but it doesn't take long to get seated really despite that. A small price to pay for the freestyle concept of eating when you want to. Was great to get our own table for 2 every night. - Spinnaker Lounge is great place for space and quiet (except when bingo is on). Library was fairly busy mid morning, and mid afternoon, but also a good option as other posts have pointed out. - If you like tea and scones with raspberry jam, then go to Great Outdoors for their afternoon tea about 3pm/3.30pm. - Don't bother about ear marking seats or getting up at 3am to claim your spot on Canal Transit day. Just a waste of time and energy. There are great views all over the ship, and they also open up the front of the boat on deck 8 mid morning for extra viewing options. That's right up on the bow. You honestly need to move around to get the best shots. Our best pics are from the stern " from Great Outdoors area " looking back at the locks/views. - the entertainment is above average at Stardust Theatre. Production crew were excellent and the flagship shows - Four Seasons Oh What a Night, Band on the Run and Cirque were very good. - NCL excursions were too expensive for us, and no-one we met had a good experience with them. Just head ashore and choose your own tour with the local operators waiting outside. Or better still, just join up with a group on the cruise critic forum. - Book a late flight out on disembarkation day at Los Angeles, and stay on board until 11.30am as you're allowed to do. The disembarkation process from about 7.30am was a total disaster. Most people didn't have a clue what was going on, and the warm friendly fuzzy approach from staffers strangely was absent. They had their B Team on. Was almost like "we've got your money, so don't really care how you get off really". Felt really sorry for older people struggling with it. The logistics crew obviously devised this system on a staff night in a bar somewhere. Unfortunately NCL Jewel take this freestyle thing too far, and allow you to try and get off the ship taking your own bags with you. Most guests, it seemed, decided to take this option, instead of leaving their bags out the night before, like we did. (and do on other cruiselines) The result was chaos. - Deck 7 is great for walks. Spacious and never too busy. Usually use ship gyms, but 45 mins each day walking on deck 7 did the trick. Overall - the positives far outweigh the negatives. We always knew it would be 'lucky dip' in one or two areas. As it always is on ships in this price range. We had a great time. For the record, most cruise veteran's rate Princess as the best in this category, with a question only over their food not being as good as it once was. We knew it would be an older mature set of cruisers, given not school holidays, and the length of the cruise. The average age of cruisers would have been late 60's. Only 17 kids according the the Kids Club, compared to about 650 for the previous 7 day cruise. We met some great people. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
WE've never been free style cruising and did not enjoy the experience. DINING on the few occasion we went to the tsar or azure restaurants we had to queue. The front of house took our room no, spoke into her walkie talkie and ... Read More
WE've never been free style cruising and did not enjoy the experience. DINING on the few occasion we went to the tsar or azure restaurants we had to queue. The front of house took our room no, spoke into her walkie talkie and forced us to stand as closely as possible on the stairs,we felt we were like cattle.we dined in the garden cafe several evenings in all restaurants the general level of the meals was poor we did not get a hot meal at all, in the garden cafe we felt we were intruding in the staff canteen.We tried 4 or the speciality restaurants,Cagneys,Mama's,Le Bistro and Modenas generally the food and service was excellent except the manager of mama's didn't acknowledge our existence,otherwise they were truly worth the visit.5*food and service. Excursions We only went on three excursions as they are mainly over priced, we did the bus,train and boat ride in Costa Rica this was good and worth the price,we also did the horse riding in Cabo San Lucas again good value the only complaint we had and reported was the Mexican cooking experience in Puerta Vallarta it was a cooking demonstration in a back street restaurant we sat on a veranda whilst the chef stood in the street and cooked two dishes on a bar b q then went into the restaurant and had a meal of the two dishes, sweet was extra as were any drinks. Complained to shore excursion staff upon return told it was the tour companys responsibility and nothing to do with NCL even if you book through their web site. ENTERTAINMENT The general level of entertainment was good the shows in the theatre by the companys own staff were of a high standard, some of the guest acts were not upto the same standard ie the hypnotist was particularly poor. The groups in the bars and lounges were also of a high standard Overall Though the ship is only eight years old it is starting to show its age the decor and fittings are tired and badly need updating. The general staff were always helpful but the bar staff were always trying to serve you bottles of wine instead of a glass, the senior officers from asst managers and above barely acknowledge your existence. I personally would not free style cruise again and if this had been my 1st cruise it would have put me off cruising for a long time Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
17 days of cruising left me feeling spoiled rotten. The Jewel is a very nice ship and there are plenty of things to do. On this cruise, there were a couple of places that were very hot and HUMID, which doesn't suit me, but going ... Read More
17 days of cruising left me feeling spoiled rotten. The Jewel is a very nice ship and there are plenty of things to do. On this cruise, there were a couple of places that were very hot and HUMID, which doesn't suit me, but going through the Panama Canal was exciting and worth the sweat. The food in the main dining rooms and the buffet was good, but nothing special. One week of eating the "included" meals isn't bad but for a 17 day cruise we needed to get some variety and we ate in the specialty restaurants 8 times. If it is in your budget, I highly recommend Cagney's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's. The entertainment on board was fabulous and there was plenty of variety. The service, especially by our "bar servers" and room steward was outstanding. Boarding was speedy but disembarkation was a disorganized mess. I love the daily newspaper things they give out, but a lot of it is redundant and there is a lot they could include but don't. It seems they are constantly pushing the spa, shopping and art auctions... and don't tell you much about the ports we'll be visiting (well, except to push the shore excursions). We visited Colombia (no need to ever go there again), Costa Rica (beautiful country), and several places in Mexico. I'm not a shopper, but I do usually buy some souveniers and stuff. In 3 of the places we stopped, the sales pitches never stopped and the vendors were annoying, which only makes me turn and walk away. Cabo San Lucas is gorgeous. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I have to say from the onset that our experience with Norwegian was fantastic.Our embarkation was very good no real problems. We went straight to Tsars for lunch (thanks CC for the advice) and it was very nice. After lunch we did what most ... Read More
I have to say from the onset that our experience with Norwegian was fantastic.Our embarkation was very good no real problems. We went straight to Tsars for lunch (thanks CC for the advice) and it was very nice. After lunch we did what most people do and that is explore the ship and wow was it big or at least to us poor Aussies it was compared to the P&O ships down under. We had a mini suite cabin 11108 it was larger than what we was expecting no noise from above and that blackout curtains made for some late sleep ins. The balcony is bigger that what we expected to be totally honest the cabin was great. We ate at all of the free restaurants however Tsars, Asurs and Blue Lagoon was the best for us, the buffet had a very good selection and yes the food was "HOT" contrary to what other people have stated but with a full load of passengers it was crowded on most sea days. The shore excursions were a bit pricey and I would suggest that you walk off the ship in any port let alone the ports that we did as in most cases you can get the same excursions with the local operators at half the price. We found all of the staff and crew to be very polite including the staff at the administration counter. The shows that we attended were very good all be it only lasting 45 minutes or so. The sea day entertainment was also very good (got to get them signatures on your score cards) all in all you could do as little or as much as you wanted, the pools and spars were also very good. We got to know some very good people on this cruse and none had a bad word to say about the cruise. As for "wishy wishy washy washy" she and they do a great job and at the end of the day the hygiene and health of the passengers is their main concern, (Good On Them). It was great to see the captain and senior officers doing a daily walk through the ship and talking to passengers and answering their questions well done Captain Lars, Officers and crew. Our travelling companions being first time cruisers could believe the service etc and all of the above. There is only one thing that NCL need to look at and that is the disembarkation fiasco with the emigration people being on-board to check everyone off, it might have been just a one off on this occasion. Once again well done NCL and congratulations Captain Lars. We will sail again with you very soon. Read Less

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