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388 New York (Manhattan) to Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

This is a new ship and it is beautiful and the price was right. Getting on the ship was pretty fast if you don't stop to take a cruise pic. First impression of inside of ship was wow very nice. We went to buffet for lunch it was just ... Read More
This is a new ship and it is beautiful and the price was right. Getting on the ship was pretty fast if you don't stop to take a cruise pic. First impression of inside of ship was wow very nice. We went to buffet for lunch it was just ok noting special like Carnival or RCCL lines what I'm use to. Made it to cabin stated where's the 3rd closet and extra storage space. There was a foul smell coming from the shower drain at times so strong I put a wet towel over the drain to keep the odor from penetrating the entire cabin, most times the smell was in the halls. MSC should make it mandatory for all employees to wear deodorant OMG the smell was pretty bad on some employees. The ship hasn't changed over to the American market it still is favoring the European market. Food: The food on the Meraviglia is just one step above the MSC Seaside and that's not good. Back in the day people went on cruises and raved about how fabulous the food was, not on these ships. People in the yacht club were complaining about the food quality. A passenger in the YC was telling me that a man ordered a t bone steak and a strip steak was server to him. It was corrected but the mistake should not have happened in the first place. The food was lukewarm, some mornings you have super hot coffee and other days it's like warm by the time you put creamer of milk in it's cold. One day I chose a small piece of steak from the children side it was so tough I couldn't even cut it with a knife. Restaurants kept running out of clean coffee cups. I noticed how much food that was left on plates. Food was not edible, to tough or to salty or just not cooked right. The specialty restaurants were a joke, they are just a small step above the buffet. NOT GOOD. I inquired 3 times if the Meraviglia had switched over to the American market and was guaranteed that it has been. NO IT HAS NOT. MSC better wake up and copy other ships that have their program together if not it will fail in the American market. Entertainment: Went to the special show on board thought this is what I've seen in Vegas not, they might as well hired some of the seniors in wheelchairs and using walkers to do the show. Show was boring and felt like a middle school production. The show was over and there wasn't an announcement saying goodnight and thank you for coming just silence for a minute then the passengers started getting up to leave. There was a group on board that had a private event in the Sky lounge it was more entertaining then all the shows on board. We had a ball with them. There should be more to do during the day other then shopping shows or trivia. Who was the cruise director? Other pass cruises I've taken the cruise director was more active and we all knew who it was. Money: MSC nickel and dime you to death, old tv shows and movies cost $8 to watch in your cabin. bowling $25 for one half hour. .All day long you are bothered by the people trying to sell you a drink package or to one of their terrible specialty restaurants. Would I recommend this cruise line to a friend no I would not, to and enemy yes I would. I'm done with MSC Cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
About the Reviewer: I’m a 37-year-old male who sailed with his mother to celebrate her milestone birthday. This was my second MSC Cruise, my first being on the MSC Seaside in October 2018 (there’s a review for that voyage as well). ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 37-year-old male who sailed with his mother to celebrate her milestone birthday. This was my second MSC Cruise, my first being on the MSC Seaside in October 2018 (there’s a review for that voyage as well). However, this sailing I was celebrating a milestone of my own as this was my 47th cruise overall and my accomplishment was hitting a full year of my life at sea! Other cruise lines I’ve sailed on are Norwegian Cruise Line (Platinum Plus with over 25 cruises), Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and lastly a couple of times on Carnival. My reviews are typically written in chronological order so you can follow along with when things occurred and what my thoughts on them were. At the end there’s a summary and thank you to staff who stood out. I hope you enjoy! Day 1 – Embarkation Day – New York City After the first cruise to sail from NYC had a bad embarkation, I was happy I wasn’t arriving to Manhattan until Noon on the bus I took down from Boston. Upon arrival to the pier, the porters quickly took our luggage and with a decent tip ($2 per bag), our bags were gone and down the conveyer belt in no time! We entered the terminal and encountered a fairly long security line at 12:30PM. When I had my documents out, the lady pulled me aside and told me to go into another line which was not snaked. I did so and we were at security in no time. The check in counters didn’t have any lines at all. I was taken straight away and we were on the ship by 12:45PM. It was pretty seamless! We embarked the Meraviglia from the front of the ship and walked down the indoor Promenade with the giant LED screen, the largest at sea! It was impressive, although some of the shows watching them looking straight up later in the cruise would make me get dizzy. To best view them, go to deck 7 by the spa and look the long way down the promenade. Helpful Tip: We registered our credit cards at the onboard kiosk on Deck 6 by the elevators mid-ship. There are two types of machines to register your room card with. One takes cash and credit cards, the other one takes credit cards only and is smaller. The cash machine had so many people fiddling with them, I just wanted the card machine and this was located on Deck 6 starboard side. We went to lunch at the Market Place Buffet up on Deck 15. The buffet is quite lengthy. Each side has the same type of sections. In the front on the port side is the pizza station which serves pizza pretty much ALL the time (breakfast pizzas, and a changing variety throughout the rest of the day). There’s a pasta, salad, rotisserie, sweets and wellness sections. On port and starboard side there was ethnic sections which largely consisted of Mexican / Spanish foods throughout our voyage. In the back of the buffet (most didn’t walk that far), there was a stir fry section which was really good. During the voyage, on port days, the back section of the buffet was closed. We grabbed a plate of food and sat on the outside deck overlooking the Hudson River. It was overcast but not too chilly to enjoy a lunch out there. While eating lunch, I connected to the ship’s WiFi and loaded the MSC for Me app. This app is quite handy in booking reservations for all the shows and seeing what’s on. It also has a chat functionality which you can use to stay connected to new found friends on the ship. It was the first cruise where I used the chat functionality and it worked quite well. The app also gives you guidance on where things are in the ship and how to get to them. I strongly urge you to download this prior to the voyage so you can take full advantage of what’s on offer and waste minimal time at the touch screens scattered throughout the ship. After lunch, it was announced the staterooms were ready. We proceeded to our stateroom and the luggage was already there! This was quite impressive given how short of a time it was. The rooms were ready at 2PM. Stateroom 9218: This is a Fantastica balcony stateroom. If you don’t know what Fantastica is, it’s a tier level of room you book on MSC ships where you get certain amenities – main among them is room service. This stateroom was located starboard side on the mid-ship bump out and it was the second to last room heading aft in the mid-ship bump out. MSC seems to have a standard stateroom format as the room looked exactly the same as Seaside. The closet was small and didn’t have enough hangars (we remembered and brought our own). There is two cubbies and two drawers on the right side of the closet with the safe in the middle. There’s also another cubby on the floor of the closet on the right side. The bathroom consisted of a shower with glass door, very deep sink (love the sink design on MSC) and a counter which extends down the wall for storage. There are three shelves in the bathroom. The stateroom was in physically good condition upon initial inspection. It quickly became apparent due to the ship’s configuration with the bump out, we must’ve been on the end of the vacuum line with our neighbors being the last. The toilet was very picky so you had to flush it constantly. We had to get it fixed twice during the voyage. The refrigerator was good at cooling items such as the water containers we brought. There’s a desk drawer under the counter top, it’s quite big and another helpful place to store stuff. The light to the left of the beds was constantly flickering during the voyage. I never used it but when the evening turn down was done, it would flicker. I don’t know if it was an electrical issue or what not. I did not report it. Now this part is important, when the ship was at sea and we had some rough sea conditions due to passing cold fronts, the room was constantly creaking! For a ship as new as this, I couldn’t believe the amount of noise the room made. It wasn’t anything the ship could do to fix it as it was the room itself. I still slept but when you were in the room, you could hear it with the ship’s movement. If you’re a light sleeper, book another room and probably not on the bump out. Of more important note, the room did NOT have any Kleenex / tissues. We asked for a box and were told the ship does not provide them, only to Yacht Club guests. Some guests on the previous voyage (where an illness had started to break out) were given them who were not YC guests. This would later come back to bite MSC big time. If you’re going to be an Eco Ship, why not get rid of bottled water but instead tissues? I’m still scratching my head over this one. After unpacking, we headed down to the dining room to change our dining time. We requested the early seating but when we said early – we didn’t mean 5:15PM. I don’t know why MSC doesn’t allow a person to pick slots in first, second and third order so that if you booked an experience, they could work best to accommodate you. Having fixed dining times is inherently lazy of cruise lines anyway! It’s the one thing on MSC that I do not like. The restaurant manager switched us from Waves at 5:15PM to 6PM in Panorama. Panorama is a really beautiful restaurant aft on the ship. However, what I didn’t realize is when he switched us, we went to a table share with two other couples. Thankfully they turned out to be quite lovely people when tables around us had some really odd pairings with people swapping out. This process took us over 1 hour to do so if you don’t like your dining time, change it first thing when you get on because the people pile up and you don’t want to spend your first day of holiday waiting. At 5PM as we wasted so much time getting the table and time changed, it was the compulsory emergency drill. Our muster station was in the casino (oddly it was on Seaside as well). We arrived early to get a seat for mom and waited and waited. People were not attending the drill like they were required to. Finally, it started and it was over in the blink of an eye. They only demonstrated how to put the life jacket on. The rest was found on the stateroom TVs which was clear during the voyage people did not watch (throwing cigarettes and other items overboard, smoking on the balconies, etc.). Fellow Passengers: There was truly an international mix of passengers on the ship. I became friends with people from Germany, Holland, Canada, Austria and Greece! What unsettled me was the group of people MSC used to fill the ship closer to sailing. I booked fairly last minute (8 weeks out) and thought wow, the ship is still fairly open. However, when they discounted the prices even lower around 3 weeks out, the passenger make up got really interesting both posting online beforehand and on the ship. The Cruise Director joked about it not being a Carnival ship one night in the theater, well I guess he never visited the nightclub. Those folks causing issues were the scum the low pricing MSC did brought onboard, amazingly and not shockingly… all Americans. Before you say how rude, I’m American but I do have a sense of propriety and class. I understand everyone is on holiday but save your offensive shirts, surly (perhaps drunk) comments, feeling up your fellow (perhaps drunk) cruisers for your stateroom or better yet… don’t cruise if you can’t act correctly in public. Most of the latter stuff was in the nightclub. Cruisers also didn’t seem to practice good hygiene either leading to a massive spread of a sinus and upper respiratory bug throughout the ship. Cough etiquette goes a long way. Coughing into your elbow is great way to stop the spread of germs, but most just chose to cough on everyone else. The lack of tissues made the spread of germs on all surfaces even better. Way to go MSC on that one! I will give credit to MSC for trying to make the situation right during the voyage. I truly appreciated the guest services hospitality when my concerns were addressed. It was dinner time in Panorama and the first night menu resembled a similar one to NCL with the vegetable spring rolls. I had the lamb t-bone. The spring rolls were great. The lamb t-bone was incredibly small so I asked for a second portion. Lino, our head waiter, delivered it without issue. Lino and Frederick in Panorama offered great service throughout the cruise. Frederick was very attentive and constantly filling my water glass. The food was way too salty and it just made me thirsty incessantly. Frederick would have to refill my water glass up to five times during the dinner service! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Serge Massot We booked the 8PM showtime for the ventriloquist. I realize there’s an international audience on the ship so he would say somethings in English and I believe the other parts were Spanish. However, the little character was not really amusing and he was hitting on female passengers and calling other male passengers ugly. It was entertainment but not the kind I experienced on Seaside. I know Meraviglia had to add entertainment to the ship as they only had 7 production shows but this guy was not very entertaining overall. After the long day of traveling and getting up early, after the show I showered and relaxed. It was at this time that we discovered the room service menu’s inadequacies. I remember having room service on the Seaside and not having any issues finding something to eat. This cruise I was up in the buffet for breakfast more than I had anything from room service. Mom found items but it was challenging as she doesn’t like chocolate (and most of the menu was chocolate items) and can’t have dairy. Other entertainment going on the first night was a welcome party from the cruise staff around 10:45PM in the Promenade and the disco with the DJ after 11PM. DAY 2: At Sea The weather was still chilly outside and the seas were kicked up. Cold fronts coming off the USA East Coast would cause issues during various days of the cruise. Today was the Cruise Critic gathering and the ship did it nicely with cocktails being served at 10AM and little bites to eat. This time they let the passengers mingle a bit before they introduced the officers and presented us with a cake. It was a very nice touch and I got to make some great cruise friends along the way! It was today I discovered the Gym on Deck 16 mid-ship and wanted to do a workout since the weather wasn’t warm enough for it. The gym was packed solid and hideously small for a ship this size. Some of the cardio equipment was broken further compounding the crowded feel of the place. I went for a walk around the walking track with mom that goes around mid-ship to aft on Deck 16 to get some steps for the day. While doing the walking track, it’s single file so where possible I walked outside to the right of it to talk with mom. Runners were coming along on the other lane or just running everywhere and not staying in their lane. When you got to the aft section of the Horizon Pool where the track loops around on the Starboard side, you go right through a smoking area! How dumb!! If you’re trying to workout, why on Earth would you want to inhale smoke?! After an early lunch, I decided to go to the gym and finally found a spot to work out on the mat. I did have to work in for one of the two benches near the free weights. Very few guests were sanitizing equipment after use so I did before each usage. The side room which could be a good stretching area, was locked as it had the spin cycles in them. An aerobics room was missing on this ship since they used the basketball/soccer court for those classes. You couldn’t take a mat down there to stretch though! After a brief nap, I went to the single / solo cruisers gathering. It was there that I met two wonderful ladies at the bar who introduced me to some of the bar staff they knew from a previous voyage. All the bartenders and wait staff in the Sky Lounge were really friendly, helpful and out-going. It would become a good place for a pre-club drink or to pass time between activities. It was the first formal night of the cruise and I had the beef tournedos. The meat was cooked to order and very well presented but the sauce was way too salty. I didn’t have time for dessert as the ship had scheduled the LGBT gathering at 6:30PM in the Sky Lounge and I wanted to attend. Both the LGBT and the singles were unhosted events and unlike the Seaside – occurred every night of the cruise from night 2 onward at the Sky Lounge. Since we booked the 9:30PM show because I was unsure whether or not the LGBT gathering would run late or not, mom and I went to the Sportsplex which included the arcade, bowling, F1 simulators and the flight simulators. I purchased the Fun Pass pre-cruise for $100 for what I thought was unlimited usage of the entire complex, it turned out, it wasn’t unlimited but that’s not too much of a worry after the weather finally moderated. Of note, the bowling only had one functional lane meaning you had to arrange an appointment to use it. The 4D Cinema was intense. I played all three of the interactive movies with the skeletons in the mine one being the gentlest of them all. It’s quite an intense experience. The arcade has minimal games for a ship this size: 1 competing motorcycle game, Star Wars Game, shooting game (which didn’t seem to be working during the voyage much) and a demolition style sit down race car game. Turned out I was really good at destroying opponents in this game! The arcade would be a good place to pass time in between moments in the evening hours where entertainment gaps existed. I would highly recommend the Fun Pass at $100. The 4D Cinema is $10 per person, bowling is $25 for a half hour play, F1 was also expensive. One bad weather day and you could easily hit the $100! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: One Day More It was the first production show of the cruise, featuring Broadway hits like Singing in the Rain, Cats, Les Miserables. The productions make extensive use of LED walls for graphics saving tons of space for props and endless costume changes back stage. The production cast tonight was great, the opera singers were more overpowering of their cohort singers in group numbers but I knew they’d both be shining stars during opera night later in the cruise! I would definitely recommend catching this show on the ship! Tonight, was the first night I went to the Attic Club disco on the ship. It was here that I discovered one of the two DJs from the Seaside was onboard (and he wasn’t the better one from Seaside – DJ Tony). At the bar in the nightclub was a younger guy with his head down sleeping, apparently passed out. Security went over to check on him and let him stay there but he put his head back down. Eventually he ordered two Red Bull and was much more awake but only caffeinated. It was a good night out but most hung outside at the Horizon Bar to smoke on the starboard side. With the crosswinds, it would waft across the deck into the non-smoking area making it impossible to get air. The Attic Club was insanely hot as the ship still had the heat on from the colder cruises. I retired shortly around 1AM. DAY 3: At Sea It’s October 30th and the ship began coming alive with Halloween decorations. The culinary team in the buffet carved pumpkins yesterday all day in the kitchen they make the fresh mozzarella in and today they setup a display of them with fake candles. The display was just as you entered the Marketplace Buffet. Also, in the Meraviglia Lounge, they had pumpkins carved on the tables there and the whole bar was even more decorated than the previous day. Actually, the whole Promenade on Deck 6 was alive with Halloween items, including some scary looking man who was later used for photos by the ship’s photography team. The weather was not cooperating so well so the Fun Pass was used to play some bowling, arcade games and 4D Cinema before heading back to rest for the afternoon. The temperature outside was finally starting to moderate a bit but the weather was still overcast with occasional rain showers. We also found a nice place to go for a walk downstairs away from the smokers. It was on Deck 7 forward and was a horseshoe from port side to starboard side through the front tunnel in the ship from one bump out section to the other. It’s by the life rafts and was a good place to go to not be in the direct sunlight as well. There are NO deck chairs on this deck, it was strictly used for walking purposes only and it’s not very well advertised. Crew do a lot of work out on this deck so parts may be shut off as well. Today, the ship delivered strawberries and prosecco to the room as part of the Diamond status Voyager’s Club welcome back gift. Prior to sailing, make sure to status match with your other cruise line’s loyalty club status. On NCL I’m Platinum Plus which makes me Diamond on MSC. Just before dinner it was announced Cirque du Soleil’s scheduled performance of Viaggio was cancelled due to the rough sea conditions. I was scheduled to attend the 9:30PM showing. It would become practically a routine to visit the scheduling guy at the Carousel Lounge to get the shows rescheduled this cruise. Why would you ever build a show lounge at the aft of a ship for a Cirque performance? The least amount of movement is mid-ship! Tonight, after switching the dining time around, the birthday cake showed up to the Panorama restaurant for mom. The first night it was delivered to the Waves Restaurant because we were scheduled to be there but the second night I left early before it could be served. It became a running joke this cruise because the travel agent also bought a cake for my mom’s birthday so there were TWO cakes floating around the ship! The section host, William, did a splendid job of tracking them all down and getting them arranged though! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Born to Rock The second production show of the cruise with the production cast was mom’s favorite. She loves rock music and loved all the tunes. They had Tina Turner and many other rock legends. The production was pretty solid with full usage of LED panels and several wardrobe changes by all. Less group singing in this production so it made it a lot smoother. A definite must catch show! THEME NIGHT: Country and Western Night MSC has several theme nights on their American sailings or so it would seem (some appeared on the Seaside as well). The first theme night was Country and Western. I don’t particularly like country music but I was interested to see what they would do. The cruise staff dressed in Western attire and danced to the same line dance songs you’d hear most other places with a few country dance tunes thrown in for good measure. The overhead LED panels in the promenade had different graphics displaying throughout the event. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Beer Prov Adult Comedy Show This was an adult’s only improv comedy show. It started slow and just died. It wasn’t too funny and when it took too long to setup the next act, most people, including myself walked out. I felt bad for them but with a more engaging party (Country Night) going on just feet away, I felt my time could be better used to watch people have fun than those four TRYING to be funny. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Black Light Party Cirque du Soleil might’ve been cancelled but the Carousel Lounge was still open for usage. I loved the Carousel Lounge as a nightclub. Yes, the bar had a significant shortage of various types of alcohol requiring you to walk to the casino bar to get your drink but the lighting system and sound systems in there were FAR superior to the Attic Club. It also was much better climate controlled. It was sad the Neon party only lasted one hour before they closed it down at 12:30AM and sent us up to the Attic Club. DAY 4: At Sea – Happy Halloween MSC Meraviglia Finally, a good morning to go sunning on the pool deck after breakfast! I went up for a little while before returning to the room to join my mom at the Welcome Back Cocktail reception on the Promenade Deck 6 for all Voyager’s Club member. The event was attended by all senior staff on the ship with little snacks and drinks being served, including non-alcoholic ones. The best part was the production cast came through and did a song and dance number for us after the captain came by to say some remarks and toast. There was also a history presentation on the LED ceiling. It was very well done and probably the best welcome back party I’ve attended on any cruise line to date! After a buffet lunch, it was time to hit the gym. While most folks were out on the pool deck or worked out earlier, I could find a corner to do my ab workout and didn’t have to battle nearly as many people for the equipment. Dinner tonight was ribs and an Asian Salad. The salad was good. I asked for a double order of the ribs and still felt hungry. I didn’t order more because of the showtime and needing to get to the theater. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Serge Massot Yes, this ventriloquist came back with a new show dubbed to be full of surprises and laughs. Some of it mirrored the first show and there were new elements. The female he selected from the audience clearly didn’t want to do it and looked like she could’ve punched him at any time. I was sitting in the back and her unwillingness was palpable from there! It was a show to see but again, if he’s on, take a pass on it. THEME NIGHT: Halloween Several cruise guests, largely Americans, dressed up for Halloween. The top 3 were picked by the cruise staff for final voting up on the bridge in the Promenade. I dressed up as Cesar, quite a few vampires around but the winner of the contest was a group of drag Pan Am flight attendants and a pilot. I’ve never had my picture taken by so many cruisers before! A ship’s photographer named Veronica (I think) also snagged me for a photo shoot and she did some amazing poses. She was having a ton of fun with it! I don’t customarily buy ship photos but I did from her shoot. She’s got a good eye! Music tonight was by DJ Fabiano and the LED ceiling was on fire with creative and spooky graphics. I’ve done 3 Halloween parties at sea and this was by far the best one yet! Bravo Meraviglia entertainment team! The after party was up in the Attic Club and Horizon Pool Bar at midnight but since I was getting up to go ashore tomorrow, I went up for a bit and went to bed. Cirque du Soleil was cancelled again tonight, although it was the SONOR show I was scheduled to see. It was again due to the ship swaying in the sea conditions (high winds). DAY 5: Land Ho! ST MAARTEN After a quick breakfast, it was off the ship and in a taxi with other guests to head to Maho Beach. I was heading to Cupecoy Beach, a LGBT friendly beach on the island. It cost me $30 for the trip for myself one way. When we arrived at Maho Beach, the beach was underwater and the sand had gone up over the wall and a bus got stuck causing a traffic jam. This should’ve been my clue to get out but I didn’t. I went to Cupecoy anyway and the beach conditions were similar. The beach was underwater due to the tides and high seas. I stayed and sunned myself on the rocks until some other cruisers from the ship arrived. We walked the different inlets from above and admired the views. I split the van on the way back with the other guys from the ship. It took us one hour to get back to the ship because the traffic was so bad. Mom spent the day walking around Philipsburg, St Maarten and finding tissues. She wasn’t sick at this point but the only option available at the time was to use toilet paper to clean out your nose when you awakened in the morning. This was very silly to her (and eventually to me too when I saw what a lack of it was doing to the ship) so she sought out tissues and made that her day ashore. She was successful. You knew it was starting to get bad on the ship because a hand sanitizer lady appeared in the entry way to the Marketplace Buffet. She wasn’t there until this day. When I arrived back onboard and synced by phone back to the Meraviglia Wi-Fi, the restaurant reservation was gone showing what time we were supposed to have Teppanyaki. My mom reserved the Teppanyaki for me to celebrate a career advancement. SPECIALTY DINING: Kaito Teppanyaki This specialty restaurant is where a cook prepares a meal in front of you using a grill and puts on a show. The price varies depending on what meal you select. I had the Samurai meal which was 7 courses and included sushi, salad, soup, tempura, steak, rice and dessert. Mom had the vegetarian version of it with tofu, cucumber rolls (versus tuna rolls), tempura, salad, soup and dessert. Dominique from the Philippines prepared our meal on the grill and did an excellent job of the show. I asked him if he’d been on NCL doing it as the show was quite similar and he said he actually did work on NCL. If you’ve done Teppanyaki on NCL, this is similar but with more food (courses). Also, during the reservation process, the lady asked my mom if I was celebrating anything and she put it in the computer. To my surprise, during dessert time, the Kaito crew came out with a congratulations cake and sang a modified happy birthday congratulations song to me! I wasn’t expecting it and it caught me off guard… my mom’s payback for the birthday cake for her earlier on I presumed! It was a great meal with excellent service. I would bump into the waitstaff in the mornings up in the buffet and they’d always greet me by name. Impressive! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Antonio Versini: A world of Hands I figured this would be the standard magicians show with sleight of hand magic tricks and such. It actually was that and a whole lot more. He put up this projection light on the starboard side and this circle screen in the back and started doing impressions with his hands of animals, singers while songs were playing and morphed them all together. It was quite impressive and unique as I’d not seen anything like this before at sea. THEME PARTY: White Party A signature event on MSC seems to be their White Party. It’s simple, you wear white and dance the night away. It was the first night a party was held at the Atmosphere Pool outside. It was high energy once the line dance songs ended that accompanied most theme nights on the voyage. We had some good EDM tunes before the party shut down at midnight and moved to the Horizon Pool and Bar on Deck 16 / 18 aft. I stayed up until 1AM enjoying the fun before heading to bed. DJ Fabiano was spinning the after party. At the bar, one of the late bookers was drunk and loudly complaining about how crappy the music was. He was a complete buzzkill for anyone near him at the Horizon Bar. DAY 6: FORT-DE-FRANCE, MARTINIQUE We called on Fort-de-France, Martinique and when the morning started it was sunny and I had a leisurely buffet breakfast. I was joined by another solo from New York who hopped on last minute. She was very pleasant and we chatted for a bit. By the time I got off the ship, the sky had changed and storms were coming. The local dancers were out and performing tunes for photo ops. We decided to head to the museum we couldn’t see the last time we were there because it was Sunday. This time it was Saturday and the museum still closed because it was a holiday weekend for them (All Saints Day). The problem with going to the other side of town was the sky opened up and it down poured. Everyone ran for cover; my very large umbrella was no match for the deluge of rain that came. I ducked into an open shop. It was at this time we began to realize most of the city was closed! After getting soaked, it was time to head back to the ship and change. We decided on a leisurely lunch in the Panorama Dining Room. It was leisurely alright; it took 1.5 hours to get our lunch service and it largely seemed because the waitstaff didn’t want any other people to sit in their section again. We never dined in Panorama for lunch again after this one experience. In the PM, I returned to the gym and did a workout waiting for the sun to come out and then watched as the new guests embarked. The cruise was split into two segments to try and get more of it sold. We had a lot of new faces but sadly the sick ones were still around coughing everywhere. I continued to use my avoidance precautions as best as I could but the buffet was a hot bed of germs. Tonight, seemed to be a Greek themed menu so I stuck with the selection of Greek plates including Zucchini meatballs (Kefeta [sic]), slovaki and a custard pie for dessert. A table mate recommended all the dishes and he was supported by Lino, our head waiter for our table. It was a pretty tasty meal. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Virtual The third production show of the cruise featuring the singers and dancers. The show is with more modern music and features a cast member interacting with a phone which has different apps. Dancers come out as dancing emojis and such. While the costuming was engaging, the show, in my opinion, was the weakest one of all the productions. It just didn’t flow right and seemed wonky as they moved from app to app on an iPhone displayed on the LED screen. THEME NIGHT: Space Party I didn’t know or have anything for this party to wear so I just went as I was. It seemed like a lot of cruisers just showed up because it was on right after the show. It was at 10:15PM in the Promenade. The LED ceiling had different solar system displays and stars showing. It was a nice party with the cruise staff decked out in light up silver wardrobe. The funny part was the party was over at 11PM and they told everyone to check out the after party up at the Horizon Bar. When I went up there along with several other cruise guests, there was no music! Someone messed up this night and left a one-hour gap between the two parties! When the DJ came up, it was music under the stars at the Horizon Bar and not inside at the Attic Club. The lack of music and movement for one hour made me exhausted so I headed to bed shortly after midnight. DAY 7: BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS Our arrival was a nail biter for those of us on the starboard side of the ship. We watched as the ship backed into the channel and then come alongside a shipping container vessel (carrying some MSC containers by the way), and then slowly inching back. It was probably the tightest park job I’ve ever seen by a ship. We had to use this section of the pier because it was Sunday and the trolley trains wouldn’t be working. It was truly a sight to behold and nice work by the shore pilot and the bridge crew for an awesome docking without hitting anything (cargo ship or pier)! It was Sunday so everything was largely closed here. It wasn’t due to the same holiday in Martinique but just a very traditional church-going island. This actually worked in our favor as we decided to head to the Garrison and see if the George Washington House might be open. The ship was doing a tour to it so we figured we would try and the walk was a nice jaunt from the ship. We arrived and found a worker who was doing some clean up and said we could enter for $10USD per person. We did and walked the whole site and when we were leaving, the curator actually had just come back from church to close it up. He opened it before church for the ship’s tour. We lucked out! It was noon so we tried a place close by, one of two that were open for lunch called Brown Sugar Restaurant. It was a buffet lunch for $40 USD per person, since the other food option open was spicy Jamaican, we had to dine here. The service was non-existent. We needed water as the sun had emerged finally and it was a scorcher but the lady seemed to make it a chore to refill the glass even once. The buffet was extensive but not worth the money they were charging. After lunch, we decided to take a taxi back over to the port because it was so hot! The one-way taxi fare cost us $20 USD. Back on the ship, we showered and relaxed. Tonight’s dinner menu was not appetizing. I had the strip steak off the always available menu and it was tough despite requesting it be medium. This was one of two nights where I found the main dining room’s menu seriously disappointing and I’m not a picky person by any means. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Come Il Mare This night featured the Italian opera singers of the Meraviglia. We had heard them in earlier productions but tonight showcased their range. It was a spectacular show. Before the show and the previous night, the cruise director made it a point to say the show wouldn’t be for everyone. It wasn’t for everyone. The interpretations were on the side panels of the words being sung. The problem was the port side panel with the English was partially blocked by the curtain to the stage. I still enjoyed it! An aside: What I found really rude was despite the warning, the folks who had the 8:30 dining time still attended the show and got up and left en masse to their dining room! It was beyond rude given the caliber of the production being put on. MSC needs to put a block on reserving the show times if it overlaps with the person’s scheduled dining times. Folks with late seating need to see the first show only. Folks with the early seating see the second or third shows depending on when they finish. It’s much more respectful to the performers and the audience that way. THEME PARTY: Pirates Party Channel your inner Jack Sparrow mate and come along on the promenade for a fun-filled night at sea! I had a pirate shirt with me after learning of this theme on the Seaside the year prior. It was well-received by the staff who were surprised anyone had anything to go along! It was a typical night of line dances. However, when the party ended at 11PM this time around, I knew there would be a one-hour gap between music so I went straight to bed. DAY 8: GRENADA MSC SHORE EXCURSION: Spices and Rainforest Despite having been on so many cruises, sometimes I do go to someplace new. Today was the day to explore Grenada using a ship’s excursion because I didn’t know the island. I always take an organized tour the first time to a place and then go on my own the second time after I have my bearings. With that said, do NOT take this tour if you’re prone to motion sickness. The roads in Grenada are tight with lots of twists and turns and ups and downs. I got was getting car sick in the back and trying to get some fresh air. The AC in the tour van wasn’t working effectively and the hot air plus the lady who was coughing her head off up front was making me feel more nauseous. Finally, at the lake when I almost puked, the driver let me open the back window. I was fine thereafter but we had already stopped at the spice factory and driven well over an hour like this. The spice factory was short but informative with a 20-minute presentation and then time for shopping in the gift shop out front. The next stops were in the mountain at a lake and national park and then the Annendale Falls. The falls were spectacular and I wish I could’ve gone swimming but timing didn’t allow for it. They had cliff divers doing crazy jumps into the water for money. When the tour returned to the ship, I was still queasy. Overall, there were cheaper taxi options available doing a similar tour minus the nutmeg factory. However, no tour will be without the windy, bumpy roads so keep this in mind. We sailed for Curacao at 2PM. I went back and sunned for a bit before catching the Snow Party up on deck. At the pier welcome back show they had today, they had the snow machine out there and it appeared again on the pool deck for fake snow during this party. I live in New England, the last thing I wanted to see was snow – fake or real! Ha but it was a good afternoon party to have poolside and helped pass the time. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Butcher’s Cut (Elegant Night) As a Diamond member, you are given a choice of complimentary specialty dining. We chose this restaurant. The sommelier was quite helpful in finding mom a non-alcoholic drink she could order since the first one she had ordered; the ship didn’t have one of the ingredients. I ordered a glass of Robert Mondavi and the sommelier delivered it promptly. He was very attentive and so was the specialty restaurant manager who stopped by to say hello. I had the shrimp cocktail, the New York Steak (better quality than main dining room) and cheesecake for dessert. It was a nicely paced meal with great service offered by all. It was a nice evening to have dinner away from Panorama and well done! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Way Yet another production show brought to you by the production cast of the MSC Meraviglia. It was a high energy dance show with some opera thrown in. I sat much closer to the stage than I usually do for this show because it had filled up quite early tonight. The dancers had a soda fountain themed attire and several wardrobe changes. I liked the energy from it and would recommend it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Cirque du Soleil’s VIAGGIO The production was off to a very slow start. It didn’t seem too engaging. When the jugglers and all the other entertainers got going together, the show ended. It took forever for it to ramp up to something exciting and when it did, it was over in the blink of an eye! Yes, there were people walking on the LED wall sideways and a bike which was being pedaled across the ceiling but this show was not like any other type of Cirque show I’ve seen before. It was my first Cirque du Soleil and frankly, I wasn’t impressed by it. My mother fell asleep because it was boring. Other guests were just as confused as we were when the show ended because it had just started to get good when it did so. Being so short, it meant it had to be high energy the whole way through and instead it seemed like the last 10 minutes were. I would skip this show. I did the drink option for $18 pre-booked online. THEME NIGHT: Gatsby Party The Gatsby Party was taking a step back to the roaring 20s with cruise staff in period costumes. Since I was in Viaggio during most of it, I didn’t hear the actual type of music played but the LED ceiling was still putting on a good show while it was happening. DAY 9: CURACAO We arrived at 1PM. I went up on the sun deck and grabbed some sun before our arrival. I started to feel a bit under the weather today. Mom had started to feel that way at the end of the previous day. By the time we docked at 1PM, I was definitely coming down with something. During the afternoon, mom and I walked over to the Maritime museum and had a look around at the exhibits. The museum was not too far from the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. We had a walking tour of historical buildings in Willemstad we did afterward on our own. The ship was offering something similar but we found this walking tour online and it actually explained buildings quite well. We walked around quite extensively before heading back to the ship. Tonight’s main dining room theme was Tropical Night. The menu featured Jamaican jerk chicken and several other Caribbean favorites. It was a good menu, but not perhaps if you’re not a fan of spicy foods. It seemed like the spices weren’t too heavily applied though to the dishes I had but I have a high tolerance for spice. I went back off the ship after dinner since we were in port until 11PM to grab a drink in town with friends. It was a nice night off the ship. Most of the crew were off the ship that worked during the day, the production casts had the night off and were out and about in town. I returned to the ship and skipped the Tropical Latin Party to go to bed. I was exhausted and wanted to try and beat whatever this sinus thing was happening. Thankfully I had bought more tissues! DAY 10: ARUBA Today, mom and I walked around town which was scorching hot as the sun was out! It looked like it was threatening rain but it never materialized. We first went to the National Aruba Archaeological Museum. It was highlighted in a tour book of the island we had bought years earlier. When we arrived, the gentleman said we were in luck as the museum had just reopened during a ceremony the night prior with a new exhibit as well. The cost of admission was FREE. The museum was quite interactive and extensive on the island’s history and archaeological finds. I enjoyed it and would recommend it! The Aruba Historical Museum was also in Oranjestad and it was a five-dollar admission fee. What the gentleman at the ticket booth failed to state was this museum was also under renovations with the exhibits squished in the middle of the floor and largely unlabeled. They were in the process of moving things around. You could climb the fort tower and get a view in both directions. Overall, I would pass on this museum until they’re done their reorganization of exhibits. The island has a few other museums on offer as well and can be found by going to Visit Aruba’s website. We didn’t go to the model train museum as it was too far out of town. However, there was an antiquities museum in town as well. There was a free trolley running very infrequently from the port taking you on a loop around town. It was free as well. This was new since the last time I was in town. The entire port area had been done over nicely. When we returned to the ship, this was the first port where workers were outside squirting you with hand sanitizer besides the girl in the buffet. The gym was largely deserted so after a late lunch, I went there to do a workout and see if I could sweat out whatever this bug was coming on. I took a brief nap before getting ready for dinner. I didn’t write down what was on the menu tonight but it couldn’t have been too memorable as I didn’t take photos of it either. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Life is Magic Now here was a proper magic show with sleight of hand tricks, the sawing in half of the beautiful lady, putting her in a box and escaping and then switching it out for the magician. The show was definitely engaging and used some of the dancers as well to move things along between his wardrobe changes or setting up for the next act. I would recommend this show if it’s still around on the ship for the 7-day itineraries. For the second time, the production of SONOR from Cirque du Soleil was cancelled due to a technical issue. This time it wasn’t due to rough seas. When I went to go and change out the tickets, they were in the midst of a dress rehearsal or something and there were a bunch of technicians standing around. Since this was the second time I had to re-schedule this show, I wasn’t happy. If they had done this rehearsal earlier in the day instead of going ashore (which they did do because I saw them out), the cast would’ve discovered the technical problem and got it fixed in time. I was starting to regret booking any of the Cirque du Soleil shows on the ship. THEME NIGHT: 60s, 70s and 80s Party The cruise staff once again dressed up in their best 70s outfits, mostly bell-bottoms and glistening tops. The party was true to the time frames in questions featuring songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s which were heard at most of the other parties. I didn’t finish the party and went to bed. DAY 11: At Sea The morning consisted of a Welcome Back party for Diamond Card members only on the deck 6 promenade with more drinks and light snacks available. The LED screen did a performance of outer space landing on Earth and then the Captain and the senior officers appeared on the bridge. They seemed to be keeping their distance from the cruise guests as a good portion of the ship was now sick with whatever upper respiratory / sinus bug was going around. In the afternoon after a buffet lunch, I went out to the sun deck and relaxed. They had a King of the Sea show on at 4PM but it seemed like they picked up random people to do it. It wasn’t overly entertaining so I went back to the room to shower and take a nap. Tonight’s dinner was a formal night and the beef tournedos were on the menu again. I ordered a double of them as the meal was good the first time around. The first one was very tender but the second one on the plate was overcooked. I’m not sure how that occurred but the salt from the covering made me thirsty the rest of the night. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Paz This is a production showcasing the Flamenco dance with the art of Picasso on the LED screens behind the dancers and rotating through the audience projections. The lead dancers did an amazing job. The footwork of both of them was so fast and graceful, it was a good show. The artwork itself was enjoyable to see and how they worked it into the show. Definitely a must catch, especially if you like the flamenco dance. MOVIES UNDER THE STARS: Cars 3 The ship had run a few shows and music video type productions on the big screen at the pool but tonight was Cars 3. I hadn’t seen it in its entirety with my nephew and was waiting on the silent disco to open so I watched it for a bit until I got to a part I saw and then got a drink and came back. It’s nice they have a movie on the big screen because during the day, the screen is largely used for what’s on at the pool deck with no movies playing. There’s just tables and chairs setup but no food on offer like Princess Cruises does with popcorn and such. The bar is open there if you want to do a walk-up drink order. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Silent Disco The Carousel Lounge once again opened up with a silent disco. Housing three channels, one EDM, one Latin and one old school, there was plenty on offer. It seemed most people were on the first channel which the DJ was actually spinning in real time. The other two were pre-recorded it seemed. You had to check in for the headset and check out for it. The problem was, the bar in the Carousel Lounge didn’t have Grey Goose so I had to exit to get a drink at the bar straight ahead in the casino. You also had to hand over the headset when you had to use the bathroom which was just outside the Carousel Lounge. It seemed a little bit silly if they scanned your cruise card for taking one of the headsets. However, the Carousel Lounge was an amazing venue and it was a fun night. The music continued after the Silent Disco ended up at the Horizon Pool and Bar. I stayed up a bit later to dance to the music before finally crashing to bed around 1:30AM. DAY 12: JAMAICA Now if you’re wondering why we hit Jamaica, it was because on November 4, 2019 after sailing from Grenada it was announced due to operational issues on Ocean Cay, the island was not ready to accept ship visits. As a result, the compensation offered was a $100 onboard credit and a 20% of cruise fare paid to be applied to a future cruise. The compensation offered was astounding for missing a private island. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it there when I saw the photos on Cruise Critic prior to sailing but if we did it would’ve been nice to be one of the first. Turns out three sailings stops were cancelled and now it seems on hold for the next sailings as well. Since we would’ve had 3 sea days instead of 2, MSC decided to have the ship call in Ocho Rios, Jamaica since there was berth space available. When we arrived in Jamaica, we pulled in and looked like we were going to dock at the James Bond pier which was not close to anything but swung a hard left and came around to the other closer pier. We didn’t book anything on this island as we’ve seen what we wanted to see. Mom just wanted to go to the shopping center outside the port area with Margaritaville and to find another box of tissues. The tissue hunt brought us way outside the port with all the harassing taxi drivers trying to sell you tours every 2 feet and then other seedy characters trying to sell you marijuana. Both were out of luck, in MA marijuana is legal. I don’t smoke it but told them it was legal back home so didn’t need it. They didn’t like that response. Ha ha! Soon, those annoying folks are not going to find someone to buy it. One interesting thing to note, while the taxi drivers were all local, a predominant part of the stores we visited in search of tissues were not owned by original islanders. We had noticed this in the last few ports but this was really in your face here. No wonder the locals are not making any money if they can’t even sell their tourist wares. It seemed more desperate than my last visit. I truly was annoyed with the locals pushing stuff at me every couple of feet. I wanted to get back to the ship asap. I really wished MSC had gone somewhere, ANYWHERE but Jamaica like Cayman or Cozumel! Tonight, was Italian Night on the ship. In the main dining room, the menu was Italian themed with meatballs as an app, chicken parmigiana and Osso Bucco on order for mains and a lemoncello-type of dessert. The waiter also brought the second cake for my mom that was ordered by the travel agent. It was a nice touch and they did a whole big thing. The cake said Best Wishes and it was handled by William, the section lead. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Meraviglioso Amor The last of the production shows was the second best for mom (Born to Rock her first) and one of my favorites as well. The production featured hits like Gloria, foreign love songs with familiar lyrics so the person knew what it was no matter what language it was. The dancers and singers came together at the end along with the cruise staff and selected staff from different areas to say goodbye to Italian opera singers singing Time to Say Goodbye. It was a fitting close to a great show and a capstone to the production shows presented throughout the voyage. After the show ended, we hurried down the promenade to the logo shop for the Logo Shop Happy Hour where if you buy 3 things you would get 20% off. I bought a Lego version of the ship for my nephew for Christmas and two magnets to give him of the Doremi character for the refrigerator and trip souvenirs. I was also entered to win a ship figurine signed by the Captain. Since it was 9PM, I stuck around for the drawing. I didn’t win it but it was a good thing I hadn’t because my luggage was already overweight! THEME PARTY: MSC Little Italy The cruise staff were dressed in the colors of Italy but sadly I was exhausted so I went to bed after quickly stopping by. To be in theme, just wear red, white or green or all three! DAY 13: Sea Day The last day on the ship meant doing things I’d said I was going to do the whole cruise and never got around to. After walking a bit in the morning after eating breakfast, mom and I stopped by the Bamboo Pool for a smoothie. The Bamboo Pool had a bunch of delicious smoothies and the MSC for Me app tipped me off to them when they offered a special earlier in the cruise. I did stop by and look at the beverage menu and said I would return. I never did until today. I had the Strawberry concoction with yogurt and it was very nice. Mom sampled a different one without the yogurt in it and hers was a purple color so I’m not sure what was in it. The drinks cost $6.50 each but were pretty decent for the price paid. I spent the rest of the morning catching some sun and returned for lunch to the Marketplace to meet up with mom. After lunch we decided to head to the Photo Shop to pick up the complimentary Mediterranean night photo and find the others. I found the Halloween photos and decided to buy one of them. The embarkation photo didn’t look good so we chucked that. Vanessa who did the photo shoot with the Halloween photos rang us up. I asked her why they had printed all these photos when you can tap the cruise card in the kiosks and print them around the corner. It is so wasteful and you have to jack up the price of the photos to cover all the paper and chemical waste. MSC should have a selection pre-cruise where you choose if you want any photos printed or if you want them done digitally and you can request the print be made if you like it. This would be more environmentally friendly and perhaps the cost savings could mean they’d purchase tissues for the staterooms again! Win win, right?! After finishing up with the photos, I met up with some cruise friends at the Polar Aquapark in the aft part of Deck 19. I had not been up there the whole cruise but wanted to try the water slides. The water slides were a ton of fun. Two of them require an inflatable tube to ride, the other one which shoots you into a bowl doesn’t require a tube. The bowl slide was not as fun as you don’t shoot around it as much and then stop and have to climb out and go down the stairs. There are other water features largely geared towards kids but tons of adults were in the water park having fun too! After the water park, I needed some sun to dry off as I had to finish packing stuff including the bathing suit. The girls who I met were in the Aurea area up front on Deck 19. I wondered what this area was like as it faces the pool deck. It wasn’t relaxing because the music from the pool deck is blasting right at you. It was also a bit windy up there since it was so high up. I went back down to Deck 18 forward behind the screen and a nap. At the last dinner we had an amazing time chatting with our table mates and wishing each other well in our future travels. We also missed the Beer Prov Adult Comedy Show. I wasn’t too saddened by missing it and instead enjoyed the company of our fellow table mates a bit longer. We returned to the room to do the last of the packing and get the bags out of the room. They had to be out by 1AM but ours was out by 9:30PM. We went to bed early because we had to meet in the Carousel Lounge at 7:30AM. All Diamond US citizens had to meet at that time and were assigned Lilac 1 luggage tags. DAY 14 – MIAMI, FL, USA I was up at 5:15AM to get ready and the Marketplace Buffet was open at 6AM. When we got upstairs, the Norwegian Breakaway was still in the Miami turning basin. Goodness, what an early start this was! We were in the channel in the early hours of the morning and tied up. The siren they have on the inside of the ship by the bulkhead doors that opens out is so darn loud and ricochets off the buildings it was impossible to sleep with our starboard side facing the pier. This made a long day even longer. We reported to the Carousel Lounge as directed by the information left in our stateroom. You had to vacate your stateroom by 8AM anyway. We noticed none of the luggage tags had been called. This continued for over an hour as we noticed more and more cruisers disappearing from the Carousel Lounge with Lilac tags. We had a noon flight and needed to get off the ship. When 8:30AM came and they said disembarkation had been stopped, I made my move and asked where the actual gang ways were because we needed to get out. The lady told me where they were but disembark had stopped. When it resumed, we were in position and got off. Most of the lilac people had done so as well. There was huge gaps in luggage in the terminal for a luggage color that wasn’t called yet! No wonder the whole disembarkation process was messed up. The line for the non-US citizens inside the terminal was lengthy. All of them needed to be fingerprinted. For US citizens, all they did was snap a photo of the passport with a handheld device and send us on our way. The US citizen line moved faster and those were supposed to be the ones getting off the ship first anyway if people read the instructions! We made it to the airport by 10AM and checked in for our flight home. THOUGHTS ON SHIP DESIGN: The Meraviglia is a ship dubbed for all seasons. Her overall design supports her being a ship for cold weather cruising only. Her top deck is woefully inadequate for the passenger load she has and this will become a problem when the ship commences its Caribbean season. One side of the ship is always shaded from the smokestack back and deck chairs are crammed in every nook and cranny along the walking/jogging track. If you’re looking for a proper sun deck, stick with the MSC Seaside sailing year-round Miami. The ship’s interiors have some really beautiful spaces including the crystal staircases in the atrium. There’s a lot of wasted space on Deck 6 and 7 midship where the entry to the dining rooms and casino / Carousel Lounge are respectively. The gym is a postage stamp and is in dire need of better equipment and expansion. The promenade is great but with all sorts of sales going on and photography setups, it makes passing this area a pinch point every night on the way to the shows. The bathrooms on this ship were always distant from where you were, especially for the nightclub. If you wanted a bathroom that was large enough from the Attic Club, you had to walk down past the kid’s club to the ones by the elevators. The Horizon Pool had a one stall bathroom on Deck 16 but this wasn’t enough to support a mildly packed nightclub. You’d always have to walk a distance to use the bathroom. This didn’t make sense if the goal was alcohol sales! Likewise, for the sun deck, if you are on Deck 18 forward by the solarium roof, you have to come down one deck and go inside across the Bamboo Pool below where you were sunning and into the bathroom there. There didn’t seem like any convenient bathrooms to the Atmosphere pool deck either. You had to go into the Marketplace buffet to go bathroom. I never found it more cumbersome to need a bathroom on any cruise ship than this one! I found this truly odd. The Carousel Lounge is a far superior venue and fully equipped with a lot of audio-visual equipment. I’m surprised only a very small portion of what the equipment was in the lounge was used for Cirque du Soleil. It was evident either the shows were changed in some way to shorten them or to make it easier for the cast. There were projections and a large circular screen which were never deployed during either Viaggio or SONOR. I tend to notice production aspects more and love a good visual show. Sonor used some visuals on the LED wall but not nearly as much as the room was capable of handling. Lastly, the ship’s walking and running tracks are so crammed during warm weather days with sun bathers and people trying to run and walk and just figure out what they’re doing, it would make sense to have walkers use the Deck 7 semi-loop and leave the runners topside. My mom got clipped a few times by runners while staying in her lane. The runners didn’t seem to care or apologize for it either. This ship is not the best for fitness if you’re looking for that. STAFF SHOUT OUT: I always like to recognize staff who went above and beyond to make my holiday memorable. Ahmadi, my stateroom steward for accommodating most special requests (sans tissues) and always greeting me in the hallway no matter the time of day or night when he was working. He got used to our schedule and cleaned our room when we had our dinner. Our dining team of Lino, the main waiter and Frederick, the assistant waiter, were amazing and kept us hydrated and offered us more food if we wanted it. If we wanted more, there was rarely a wait. William who oversaw this team of amazing professionals was also quite attentive and handled a special request to find decaf tea for mom. When coming to the USA, the Meraviglia had to get rid of this nice tea display case which didn’t comply with USCG Vessel Sanitation program inspection criteria. As a result, it was a hunt for various versions of tea. He saw to it mom had her supply! He also oversaw the birthday cake situation and figured out a workable solution! Ryan De Leon in the Sky Lounge and in the nightclub was also amazing. He knew my name and my drink order by heart! Lastly, the Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant cook Dominique for a good show and the team who would greet me whenever they saw me in the Marketplace Buffet when they were up there selling the restaurant. Even the guest services staff on this ship were so kind and helpful (unlike Seaside’s guest service staff). I had a repeated issue with the ink on my stateroom keycard rubbing off in the intense heat topside and they replaced it without issue and with a smile. They have the toughest job on the ship constantly getting yelled at! SUMMARY: The Meraviglia is a nicely decorated ship. The LED panel is a great way to entertain. The night time cruise staff went out of their way to make the ship enjoyable and make sure everyone was dancing. The crew on the ship were the happiest and most efficient if I had to compare it to the Seaside last October. The crew made the trip. The chef could lay off the salt and I’m not a foodie but if I’m saying it was salty, the food was not as good as the Seaside’s preparation was. I didn’t encounter a rude staff member anywhere on the ship and only had slow service once, in the main dining room during lunch. I know the crew had a chance to get off the ship finally in each of the ports we visited. I think that plus a crew party helped to lift spirits among them. Would I recommend the Meraviglia? For top notch service, yes, I would! Would I sail on the Meraviglia again? I’m not so sure I would. If it were the Caribbean and the Seaside were on offer, I would probably sail Seaside instead. If it is a cold weather cruise, then I would consider Meraviglia again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We choose this cruise because the price was cheap (33 % off money on pair ) . When we get on the ship we were terefy about the price of Beer and the wine . They charged us 15 $ for opening my bottle of wine . ( i did not bring it to ... Read More
We choose this cruise because the price was cheap (33 % off money on pair ) . When we get on the ship we were terefy about the price of Beer and the wine . They charged us 15 $ for opening my bottle of wine . ( i did not bring it to dinning room ) it was a twist cap and i opened by my self . I try the talk with the Hotel Director but he was too busy whit his family on the ship. The guest countor doesnt give us service . The meat at the dinningroom was'nt hot . You can buy Bucket of beer only before the cruise otherwise you cant by it on the ship during the cruise .How can we know how many alcool we will drink on the cruise . Everything taste salt . The floor personnal was very great ( may be thats why NCL still in business ) I send a email to NCL service and i never get answer back . People are somking in the casino and on them balcony so you will smell it if you are near them .We did a lot of cruise with the other cie and we will go back whit Princess or Holland America and other one but never go back with NCL Sorry for my english because i do not speak english as well Have a nice cruise Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The price was a great deal. First time ever to have an inside room it was ok except for being at front of ship. Able to feel more rocking, rolling & noises of the ship. Besides this everything else was amazing. The 2 specialty ... Read More
The price was a great deal. First time ever to have an inside room it was ok except for being at front of ship. Able to feel more rocking, rolling & noises of the ship. Besides this everything else was amazing. The 2 specialty restaurants we booked were above expectations. We were treated like royalty, mind you every restaurant we ate at we were treated like royalty even the buffet. Each island was better than the last. The volcano excursion of St. Lucia was unforgettable. So easy to walk off the ship & find a beach to relax on for the day was perfect. I wish we could have spent more time at Puero Rico. Meeting the senior crew staff was wonderful through Cruise Critic meet & greet. Entertainment around the ship & in StarDust theater was remarkable & always enjoyed the evenings on the GEM Now that we are platinum level it is great to get the extra perks. We have not traveled with any other cruise lines but NCL treats us so special we do not want to try any others. Thanks for the great trip Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We like Norwegian and it works with the schedule we have. Have been on the Gem before but feel she needs a refurbishing. Carpets were worn in many areas - the transition of caret from stairs to next level was deceiving, had to be really ... Read More
We like Norwegian and it works with the schedule we have. Have been on the Gem before but feel she needs a refurbishing. Carpets were worn in many areas - the transition of caret from stairs to next level was deceiving, had to be really careful did not miss the step and fall. It was obvious that our cabin had a problem since over my bed the ceiling was black and had some of the ceiling material missing . The wait staff is very efficient to serving alcoholic beverages BUT one of our group does not drink alcohol and had to wait at least 5 too 10 minutes after we had our drinks before he received either his Pepsi or coffee. The ship ran out of creamers and strawberry jam (I can maybe see the running out of jam BUT not creamers. Think it is time for the entertainment on the Gem needs to be changed in the routines used - we love Mr. Tim but his performances used the same material as the year before. I did not care for the female singer but that is just me. The dance troupe/singer are wonderful but again it was the same shows as the year before. I think that for most people cruising you should have instructions as to how the shower controls work or someone could get really burned. We still love cruising and dealing with Norwegian but my thoughts as requested. THANK YOU Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was my first cruise ever. It was a 12 day cruise which was great in my opinion. I went with a group of friends, we were in our 40s to 50s age group, along with my friend's parents in their 70s. We all enjoyed the ship. There was ... Read More
This was my first cruise ever. It was a 12 day cruise which was great in my opinion. I went with a group of friends, we were in our 40s to 50s age group, along with my friend's parents in their 70s. We all enjoyed the ship. There was plenty to do on the ship if you like taking a relaxing walk, getting some sun, or spending time along or with people. The food in the buffet and main dining rooms were great and the service was friendly. I always enjoyed being greeted by the young lady who would say, "Good morning, washy, washy" with the spray bottle. I had no complaints about the food. Dinner at the Grand Pacific was good and the portions were just right since we were on a cruise. We ate at the Brazilian Churascaria twice and they give you lots of food. Lorena, the cruise director, was the nicest lady. She learned everyone's names and would talk to everyone she met. To be running all over the ship and still talk to everyone, that felt very welcoming and sincere. Entertainment was alright. They had a singer that was on Britain's Got Talent and she had two shows; her second show was better than the first. The comedian was good. The best show was the Russian couple that did a Cirque d-Soleil style show of swinging everywhere. The ship's shows like Swing and Get Down Tonight were good since I like both types of music. Not a country fan, so personally I could do without Blazing Boots. However the ship's performers are all very talented singers. The other bands that played throughout the ship were great. I give all of them credit for having to perform every single day and night. The stops were good. We didn't do any excursions through the ship, so we just got local taxi tours and they were great. I'd rather be in a minivan with my friends than on a crowded bus anyway. I loved walking around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico but they had us there at 4:00 PM and had to be back by 9:00 PM I think, so that was short. I'm happy just exploring the city. I'm not a beach person, but the beaches in the other islands were nice. I liked seeing new places with amazing views. Seeing the Piton mountains in St. Lucia was great and my friends enjoyed the mud baths there. Exploring the towns in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Kitts were great I would definitely go on this ship again. Although it was my first time and I have nothing else to compare it to, I was very satisfied. Exploring new places was fun. The two sea days down and two sea days back up were not a problem because there's a lot to do on the ship. I went to the gym and it was nice; plenty of equipment to choose from Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Where to begin...Upon arrival at the Manhattan cruise port, we were poorly greeted with a rapidly declining cruise staff. Although the wait was short to board the vessel, we still managed to be scolded for not following the propr seating ... Read More
Where to begin...Upon arrival at the Manhattan cruise port, we were poorly greeted with a rapidly declining cruise staff. Although the wait was short to board the vessel, we still managed to be scolded for not following the propr seating procedures. After going through security , we came upon another pissed off NCL employee and we asked why no one was smiling and the NCL employee stated to me, "would you be happy if you worked here?". At the time we were silver rewards members but that had no effect on the boarding process whatsoever. We venture around to discover an exciting breakfast buffet with multiple omelet station in the garden cafe. We did manage to explore the remaining breakfast restaurants to see if we missed anything. We soon discover that all the items at the buffet are also served in the other breakfast locations. Upon booking our reservation, we had pre booked our specialty dining based on previous NCL cruises, because we know the dinner times fill up quickly. We arrived that evening to Cagneys at around 6:40pm for our 7:00pm reservation. We showed up early knowing that there will be a ling or small wait, which there were a few couples/families ahead of us. While waiting a gentleman approached the desk for cagneys creating a scene and raising his voice stating, "I am an ambassador level NCL member as well as a VIP casino rewards member." This was all because he didn't have a reservation. After the hostess sat the irate gentleman she returned and asked 3 couples including us , what time our reservations were and room number but did not take our room cards. As it approached 7:00 another couple scurried up to the desk and said they were running late for their 6:45 reservation and were seated immediately. the hostess returned a second time and asked all the people waiting to be seated in the moderno seating area. After about 15 minutes the hostess threw a receipt at my wife showing a different days reservations for moderno which was a few days later and stated that, "we did not have a reservation at cagneys tonight" and quickly ran away. With my quick thinking and with a line longer than before, I ran to the state room on deck 8 to retrieve our cruise documents with the reservations that we made months in advance. While I was in our stateroom, the phone rang and it appeared to be the hostess saying that she had found our reservations. I ran back to deck 13 to show them our reservations documentation. When I arrived back at cagneys the hostess immediately said we found your reservations your seats are ready. I told the hostess I wanted to speak with her superior. The maitre d came out and I spoke with him about the incident at hand and he did apologize. We sat there so angered we could barely eat any of our dinner. We headed to the front desk to make a formal complaint against the hostess. We did just that. Well come to find out that the hostess also works at the front desk so that was swept under the carpet i'm sure. Nothing was done about it that we knew of. The islands- the best island we thought was St. Thomas US virgin islands. The rest of them, the locals were very annoying and persistent. I would not do this cruise to those islands again, If we were to go back then we would do an all inclusive. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We had a wonderful cruise made so especially by the activities staff and the Webb Band and overall smiling faces of the staff. We chose this cruise because it was going to islands we had yet to visit. When we cruise, we dance, attend every ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise made so especially by the activities staff and the Webb Band and overall smiling faces of the staff. We chose this cruise because it was going to islands we had yet to visit. When we cruise, we dance, attend every show in the main theater, and try to take part in as many activity events as we can. So these are most important to us. The activity staff was wonderful and truly friendly and seemed to enjoy making sure you had a good time. The Gem has two spacious dance areas - The Spinnaker and the Bliss night club. The Webb Band was very good and a nice repertoire of varied music. However, like so many cruise ships, all volumes become too LOUD. Because the variety entertainers change, I will only comment of the main stage shows.The music tribute to the 70s (also 60s) was very good with a fine selection of well known songs. Blazing Boots was a fun show until they gave the dancers choreography that resembled strip club gyrations. In fact, they now rate the show PG13. Swing was very entertaining, but for my tatstes was about 15 minutes too long. Now we ate at the buffet all the time because at night we did not want to miss anything happening on the schedule. The dining room, as all cruise ship dining rooms, take too long. We found the food to be fine..no, nothing hoity doity, but good soild food with featured entress each night, plenty of desserts Enjoyable. Staff smiled, said hello and added a bit of daily joy to the cruise. 12 night cruise ended too soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We got such a great deal, that we could not pass it up. This cruise was our first experience with the Specialty Dinning. It was nice, but not sure it is worth the extra expense. Still do not not care for the Freestyle Dinning. We prefer to ... Read More
We got such a great deal, that we could not pass it up. This cruise was our first experience with the Specialty Dinning. It was nice, but not sure it is worth the extra expense. Still do not not care for the Freestyle Dinning. We prefer to have the same wait staff and table. We have found on previous cruises a wait staff that We liked and would request their area. This time there seemed to be a lot of inexperienced. The staff at martini bar was more than fantastic. We usually spend some time in the Casino, but the cigarette smoke was so bad that We even avoided walking thru there. Our room steward was new. He did a good job, but has a lot to learn to give a personal touch. I was a little disappointed in the food in the Cafe. The ship was clean and pretty well maintained. The staff was friendly, but felt the CD was average. The entertainment, except for magician, was wonderful. Having a live band makes it much more enjoyable. The variety shows were great. We purchased the Next Cruise package. We have booked another cruise next October to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. I do have one thing that really upset us. Upon arrival back in New York, the schedule was that leave the ship at 10:40. At just before 9am, our color was called. Since we had transfers thru Norwegian, we hustled off the ship. We then were loaded on a bus and sat there for an hour and a half. I understand that there is a lot to do to get the ship ready for the next group. We are expected to be back on the ship at a certain time when in Port. Just would expect the same courtesy on leaving the ship. It was extremely uncomfortable on the bus with coats on and carry on stuff. The fact that we had not had breakfast only added insult to injury. There seemed to be a lack of organization too. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Have spent about 75 days on 8 cruises with 5 cruise lines. This was by far the worst in our experience. Food: Went to the Brazilian steak house Moderno and would only recommend the pineapple and beef ribs. I had the crazy idea ... Read More
Have spent about 75 days on 8 cruises with 5 cruise lines. This was by far the worst in our experience. Food: Went to the Brazilian steak house Moderno and would only recommend the pineapple and beef ribs. I had the crazy idea they would serve steak from Brazil. Thank God we ate at a specialty restaurant early on as the buffet was better and didn't charge. I lost 4 pounds in 4 days as there wasn't very much that was worth eating but plenty of fresh fruits. The food tends to be cold even when your first but if you love pasta, you will be happy with the pasta bar. Cabin: Four times we took cold showers. One night out toilet did not work and I had to insist it was broken before the front desk sent a plumber. The pillows, carpet, bed and sofa had a foul smell. We used towels and an open balcony door to sleep. They changed the pillows and cleaned the rest but this was only good for one night so we slept with our door open every night. On the last night, because of the cold we had to endure another OFF night. Hospitality: Discovered an unauthorized room charge by O'Sheas for a shot of rum and some other alcohol. Had gone to this restaurant before 7am that morning and had BY FAR, the worst cup of coffee and cinnamon bun ever. Simply appalling. One sip and one bite was it. Could not digest it. But that afternoon they manually entered my room number for the bogus liquor charge. Because it was straight shots I wondered whether the bar was short alcohol. When I went to reception to fix the problem, they made me feel like it was my fault. Even though there was no signature and the entry was done manually, they had us waiting for the bar manager until I asked to be reimbursed for my time. Terrible service. Entertainment: Wasn't bad. Embarkation: On islands: Was good. Never waited more than about 5 minutes. Final departure: Terrible. Our departure plans were based on their 10 am arrival but they kicked everyone off the ship before 10 am because they arrived at 8 am. They lied that customs was waiting but we ended up waiting a half hour at customs. They wanted $45 per person for a shuttle to the airports. Rather than pay $90 and have to wait, we booked lyft for $56. Last time on Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was my 3rd solo cruise on the Gem, and the worst experience by far. The cleanliness and maintenance of the ship has deteriorated a lot since the first time I sailed; there are far fewer crew members on board, so much so that it can ... Read More
This was my 3rd solo cruise on the Gem, and the worst experience by far. The cleanliness and maintenance of the ship has deteriorated a lot since the first time I sailed; there are far fewer crew members on board, so much so that it can take 2 hours to get through dinner in the main dining rooms. Food arrived cold quite frequently; the entertainment was poor compared to other cruises. I changed cabins on the third day of the cruise (went from an oceanview on deck 4 in the very front of the ship - a TERRIBLE experience in rough seas - to an oceanview on deck 5 midship. When the gentleman from customer service showed me the new cabin, there were two bottles of wine and two trays of chocolate-covered strawberries on the table in the cabin - obviously having sat there for 3 days - quite disgusting, to say the least. But I was much happier with that cabin location. About 2 weeks prior to the cruise, the prices dropped to rock bottom, I can only assume so they could fill the ship, so there were a LOT of people irritated at having paid more for an inside cabin than a lot of new bookings paid for a balcony. There were many more heavy drinkers on this cruise than I've ever experienced before, and a lot more smokers. Basic safety rules were flagrantly disregarded by most passengers - people lighting up anywhere they chose, and disposing of cigarette butts over the rails; people traipsing through the buffet in wet bathing suits, etc. Either the crew is not empowered to enforce the rules, or told not to upset guests, I'm not sure which, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. The smell of cigarette smoke was prevalent almost everywhere. The solo group on this cruise was the worst of my 3 experiences. Mainly a combination of some of the people in it being absolutely awful, and the lack of interest on the part of the solo host. The cruise director staff on this ship was stretched extremely thin. I was told that 140 crew members were leaving the ship when we got back to New York, and many of them were leaving the company altogether. There were several crew members who departed at various ports during the cruise itself. Norwegian absolutely does "nickel and dime", but since I know that going in, I plan accordingly. But the most foolish thing I've seen them do, which tells me the most about their corporate mentality, occurred on the day we got back to New York. On disembarkation day of the other two cruises I've done there were stations all around the ship with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries/muffins. Well, this time, far fewer locations to obtain a hot drink (and it was FRIGID throughout the ship when we got back to New York - it was absolutely freezing in the main dining room, the waitstaff were shivering) and NO pastries/muffins. Really, Norwegian, THAT'S going to save you a ton of money? That was a big customer service red flag for me. I've loved Norwegian in the past, I only live two hours from Manhattan, and they do have the best prices for a solo cruiser, but for me the the cruise is about the time on the ship and the weather on the journey, not the destination ports. I will be very seriously re-evaluating whether I will travel with them again or not. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We were on a 12 day cruise. Food was completely terrible. Itinerary activities were awful....we literally walked around bored. My daughter was very excited to join the kids club. She went twice...again, no activities at all. Freestyle ... Read More
We were on a 12 day cruise. Food was completely terrible. Itinerary activities were awful....we literally walked around bored. My daughter was very excited to join the kids club. She went twice...again, no activities at all. Freestyle play is plenty. Service was pretty terrible around the ship. Restaurant dining took no less than 1.5 hrs and up to 2.5 hrs. Restaurants close at certain times and we walked around with no food choices except a very small buffet.....I mean burger and salad, that's it. Norwegian nickel and dimes you. It's better to pay a little more up front and know what is covered than to go on a cruise and be nickel and dimed to death. Housekeeping was another issue. We had to call (around 3:30 pm)and ask for our room to be cleaned multiple times...by the time it was finally cleaned, it was time to turn the cabin down for bed. Evening shows were AWFUL! There was one jazz band that was fabulous. Every other band had screeching singers and people would get up and leave the area. Never again will we cruise Norwegian! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My husband and I love to cruise. We chose this cruise because it leaves out of NY and gets us away from the cold for a while. Embarkation went well. Meals in the restaurants were very good. My husband had a problem with one of his ... Read More
My husband and I love to cruise. We chose this cruise because it leaves out of NY and gets us away from the cold for a while. Embarkation went well. Meals in the restaurants were very good. My husband had a problem with one of his meals in the main dining room and we were given a bottle of house wine for our troubles. Housekeeping service was excellent with Renaldo being the best housekeeper we've ever had. My main problem was with the ships medical center. Unfortunately, I came down with an upper respiratory infection two days into the cruise. I went to the medical center thinking I could just get antibiotics that I knew would work and be on my way. I was told it would be $150 just to see the doctor for the consult. I said ok to that. After that, no other prices were discussed. The doctor said I should have intravenous antibiotics for my upper respiratory infection. Well, they had trouble starting an IV on me 2 times, and as it turned out, I was allergic to the medicine they tried to give me. I ended up having to get a shot of cortisone to counteract the allergic reaction (which I was also charged for). I was told that I had to sign all the papers for consent to treat and billing, but again no prices were discussed. After the doctor gave me the antibiotics I originally asked for I was told that the bill would be sent to my room. They would not discuss cost. You can imagine my horror when the bill did come to my room and the cost was $1,750.00!!!!! I went to the front desk to complain about this ripoff of a bill. I was told they couldn't do anything about it -- and to go contact the doctor first and then the customer service 800 number. I went to the doctor's office and they also said basically there was nothing they could do about the bill --call customer service 800 number. I think the cost for this medical care was VERY inflated. An emergency room visit wouldn't have been so much. As of this point, the problem has not been resolved. Wish me luck........ Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My wife and I chose this cruise because it was sailing close to where we lived (Delaware). Had a terrible time the first day at sea because of sea sickness. I guess you hit rough waters from New York but it gets better once you get to the ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because it was sailing close to where we lived (Delaware). Had a terrible time the first day at sea because of sea sickness. I guess you hit rough waters from New York but it gets better once you get to the Caribbean side. We enjoyed the variety of food on cruise, however, we were very disappointed with the Orchid Garden. First time the food was Ok. We thought may be it was just a bad night. Tried it again another night and when the food was served you can tell it was not fresh because the noodles started drying out and the meat started turning into a dark brown color on the edges. The Splash academy hours did not work for us because of their operating hours (9 am-12pm/2-5 pm/7-1030 pm). We had to stay within their hours for our kids to enjoy what they had to offer. My kids seemed to enjoy the child program on our previous cruise with Royal Caribbean more than with Norwegian. Otherwise, the crew made it better for us. They were very pleasant. The Steward went out of his way to make sure we had everything we needed in our cabin. The servers at the dinning areas did the same. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
It was such a good price with no single supplement so booked it straightaway. PRE CRUISE. I booked the flights but as it was very late could only get a good price with flying to GENEVA and staying overnight then another flight next ... Read More
It was such a good price with no single supplement so booked it straightaway. PRE CRUISE. I booked the flights but as it was very late could only get a good price with flying to GENEVA and staying overnight then another flight next morning to NEW YORK. Got into NEW YORK around 1200 and went to HOSTEL and checked in. Went to the CRUISE PORT and got there in time to see NCL ESCAPE leave. Then went to STATEN ISLAND FERRY saw QM2 leave and then back to the HOSTEL. DAY 1 of CRUISE. After a good nights sleep went to MCDONALDS for a BREAKFAST,as hotel did not offer Breakfast. Then after getting a shaving foam i walked to the CRUISE DOCK in MANHATTAN. I dropped my case off and went to check in,i have PLATINUM STATUS so no waiting,had my picture taken and Boarded the NCL GEM. I thought the Cabins would be ready but they were not so went to the DINING ROOM and had lunch.then just after 1pm the CABINS were ready. I had to find my own way to my cabin on DECK 8.Still no luggage but got it just before the LIFEBOAT DRILL no lifejackets needed and a very quick drill. Was going up on deck but it was raining so went to OBSERVATION ROOM to see SAILAWAY.Passed STATUE of LIBERTY and VERRAZANO BRIDGE. SOLO MEET UP in BLISS LOUNGE We all introduced ourselves with our SOLO COORDINATOR MICHAELA from LONDON. We went to GRAND PACIFIC for a GROUP DINNER Had CHICKEN,CREME BRULEE.then to the WELCOME ABOARD show of the CREW and some of the acts it was pretty good.Into the cigar room to smoke then to CABIN to sleep the ROUGH SEAS HAD STARTED! DAY 2. AT SEA PROMENADE DECK was closed a lot of banging with the WAVES. Had BREAKFAST alone in the DINING ROOM(this is always a problem finding some to share with) Had a look in the shop and did the PORT TALK and MEET AND GREET in RESTAURANT there were 130 there i think.Then the SLOT PULL got a few WHEEL OF FORTUNE but only $30 or$40 so never won anything. Had FISH AND CHIPS for LUNCH in GRAND PACIFIC SAME MENU every day and HAKE is not my favourite,never get rolls unless you ask for them. Trip to the GYM then SOLO MEET and SOLO DINNER with our group,one lady kept trying to share her food with others! The Show was TIM KOMINSKI a COMEDIAN i have seen his act somewhere. Getting some audience up on stage to act like animals it is good though. PUT CLOCKS 1 HOUR FORWARD. DAY 3. AT SEA. After a MUSHROOM OMLETTE for Breakfast did the FREE BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR as i am PLATINUM on NCL normally it is $79. Saw DRESSING ROOM behind theb stage,LAUNDRY and GALLEY TOUR.Then LATITUDES COCKTAIL PARTY got a glass of CHAMPAGNE but nothing else!DINING ROOM for LUNCH had GROUPER. As i do not have a credit card had to make a cash deposit(there sure were quick telling me!)SOLO MEET and as a PLATINUM i get 2 free meals at the other dining venues for 2 people as i hate sitting on my own i invited a new friend i made to come to MODERNO a BRAZILIAN RESTAURANT. They bring meats one at a time until you say stop. I like the roasted pineapple and chorizo the best. The Show was KATY SETTERFIELD who was on "THE ONE AND ONLY" on UK TV. I fell asleep i woke up at 4am! DAY 3. Had breakfast on my own and saw BLISS TALK then lunch before we arrived in SAN JUAN. The tour of booked to RUM DISTILLERY canceled as nobody else interested so booked another including SALSA DANCING and 2 Drinks to sample and how to make a MOJITO.Got a PREMIUM BOTTLE OF RUM TO TAKE BACK. Walked back to the ship all lit up.Did not bother with DINNER as it was late went to COMEDIAN SHOW and saw up leave at 2200Hrs. DAY 4. ST MAARTEN,QM2 was in and had BUFFET ON DECK. Then took bus around the island and to MARIGOT where i was on a cruise a lot of devastation and the old SPEED 2 SNACK BAR WAS GONE. Had a COCONUT JUICE but at $7 overcharged. back on ship 1230 for lunch in O'SHEEANS of BANGERS AND MASH(not the best sausages with hard skins) and a guinness.solo Meet up and solo dinner. VERY TIRED NO SHOW or CIGAR. DAY 5. BARBADOS TODAY After a breakfast with a lady got off ship and finally found our driver to take is around the island for $20! Saw both RIHANNA'S houses a beach but sadly no time for LUNCH.Bought a rum punch(quite strong!) and back to ship. DAY 6. ST LUCIA TODAY,after an early buffet breakfast did tour of island and RUM DISTILLERY(21 RUMS TO TRY) and bought 2 you cannot buy anywhere else.After solo meet joined JUNE for her 70th BIRTHDAY DINNER with CHAMPAGNE and a cake. DAY 7. ANTIGUA today,Tour of the island today a bit dearer at $37 but a great price.another solo meet and solo dinner of the strangest trout i have ever seen(it looked like salmon!) KATY SETTERFIELD'S 2nd show but was mostly the same people she sang of. DAY 8. ST KITTS today P&O had the best docks so had to pay $15! to get a shuttkle bus into town. The tours were too pricey so walked around not much to see shops had the same things.Back to the ship for FISH AND CHIPS. Afternoon tea is not good on the ship sadly scone was not good at all.The show was TIM'S last show as he was leaving the ship to go to HOLLAND AMERICA i got a selfie and bought his DVD. DAY 9. LAST PORT OF CALL was ST THOMAS sadly a very short stop did not do anty tours and been there before so got a taxi(he sasid $10 but driver tried to charged me $13 but got it for $10 to the old RENAISANCE HOTEL which is now the MARGARITAVILLE looked mostly the same outside and the beach but inside not very impressive i ordered a taxi back and was charged $15! then took the CABLE CAR up to the top it started raining and saw a carnival ship arrive. they were selling bags of popcorn on the dock. DAY 10. Today we were at sea quite rough seas but PROMENADE DECK was open so did the 1 mile walk after lunch went to the GYM.Did the ART AUCTION but did not win anything but had 2 things on request. SOLO meet and DINNER with 2 others as nobody else was interested HAD BARRIMUNDI and PECAN PIE. MAGICIAN was pretty good. DAY 11. LAST DAY we were at sea Gotbsome PHOTOS and a HARD DRIVE for IPHONE as my memory had run out. Then last solo meet MICHAELA was a bit different to JOSE as she was leaving the ship instead of doing emails got crayons and got us to write everyone's emails it did not work as only got few and some i could not even read.sadly ROB did not come to the solo meet so will not be meeting him in SOUTHAMPTON.She got us 3 bottles of wine so that was pretty good. I went to the last ART AUCTION no raffle wins but bout 7 pieces of art. DAY 12. Today we arrived in NEW YORK woke up in time to see us go under VERRAZANO BRIDGE but as it was so cold i missed the statue of liberty. after breakfast went to reception and no money to come back and gave the cabin steward a tip he was so greatful he bowed! then called my platinum saw susana my new friend and carried her very heavy bags. i got a taxi to the gift shop to leave my case. Then to STATEN ISLAND iuts sadly changed so had lunch at SUBWAY and went back to the TRANSIT MUSEUM tried to get to RED HOOK to see QM2 sadly no luck and back to FERRY to see if qm2 would go it was dark so got back to MANHATTEN it was packed and had to walk to 42nd st and my wheel broke.I checked in at NEWARK airport no seat number(NO WINDOW SEATS then found one!) DAY 13. A good flight and got a little sleep it was raining when we landed and thru e passport gate ok and went home to do shopping. MY FINAL THOUGHTS. A great price and a lovely cruise meeting other people was good and made a new friend i will do it again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
It was ok, nothing espectacular. I’ve been to 8 Cruises with different cruise lines and have not been disappointed, especially with Carnival, I’ve had a Fantastic time!!! In the Norwegian Gem, we had problems with the stateroom: ... Read More
It was ok, nothing espectacular. I’ve been to 8 Cruises with different cruise lines and have not been disappointed, especially with Carnival, I’ve had a Fantastic time!!! In the Norwegian Gem, we had problems with the stateroom: toilet not working, hot water not running, we got a sailaway balcony vs a nice regular balcony we paid for an extra $600. And we had to deal with of all these for 12 days, they couldn’t change us to a different room bc all the balcony staterooms were full so we weren’t as comfortable as we paid for to be but we had to bare with the inconveniences. Moreover, the time in 2 of the ports was too short. We got to Pto Rico @ 4 pm and everything closed at 5 pm so we got to do nothing since it was a work-week day. And the very last port in St. Thomas we had less than half a day before we had to embark and head back to NY. Leaving from NY to travel south isn’t the wisest unless of course, you get to spend more time in the ship and spend your money there. Some of the excursions didn’t have enough pictures and they were quite disappointing. On another note, the food was good and crew was nice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Hello my cruise travelers. I’m a platinum member on the NCL. I just came off the lovely NCL Escape November 25th, 2018, which is my 11th time cruising with NCL, and here’s my experience on the NCL Escape. I feel NCL is starting to ... Read More
Hello my cruise travelers. I’m a platinum member on the NCL. I just came off the lovely NCL Escape November 25th, 2018, which is my 11th time cruising with NCL, and here’s my experience on the NCL Escape. I feel NCL is starting to cut corners. First night use to be Lobster tail night, I use to look forward to having dinner the firsts night to get my Lobster tails, but for some reason they stopped. Plus, there’s no more 6 dollars Black jack tables, the minimum is 10 dollars which I think it’s way too much for first time players and players who’s not that fortunate financially, I was also disappointed that we didn’t stopped at Great Stitrrup Caye for some reason, when the weather appeared to be perfected when we checked the forecas They need to turn the 5 o’clock bar into a jazz and blues club, because what ever it is now it was always empty. I still love NCL they just need to stop cutting corners. Also they should had added a bar in the solo lounge like the breakaway and better menu at the complimentary restaurants. They menu were awful!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
December 2018 Hello, Here are my comments on my cruise: 1. The food was excellent at the Garden Cafe. The best specialty restaurant was the Cagneys. The Manhattan room was a very pleasant experience. However, we went to the Taste ... Read More
December 2018 Hello, Here are my comments on my cruise: 1. The food was excellent at the Garden Cafe. The best specialty restaurant was the Cagneys. The Manhattan room was a very pleasant experience. However, we went to the Taste restaurant on December 3 for dinner and we were very disappointed because the service was very slow. 2. Houskeeping was impeccable. 3.Every day we went to the library to make a sudoku and play cards, and we deplored the noise made by the majong game. People had no respect for those who just wanted to read. This problem will have to be resolved. 4. The shows were very good; we liked Brat pack and the Choir of man 5. About shore excusions we found that it was very expensive 6. My ship account I completed the cruise with a refundable credit but we don’t know when and how it will be repaid. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Just love the free style of the norvegian. But Norvegian Escape is above all because of its staff that are so so nice...and full of smiles. The only thing to improve would be the theater show. We didn,t have a new show every night. ... Read More
Just love the free style of the norvegian. But Norvegian Escape is above all because of its staff that are so so nice...and full of smiles. The only thing to improve would be the theater show. We didn,t have a new show every night. And the show Brat pack was not aim at the target travellers of that ship. Lets face it...the travellers on a ship cruise are mostly in the 50 and beyond so we prefer shows with Bee gees, Beach Boys etc. On the Breakeway we just love the show Oh What a night. The singer in the Brat pack were good but hard to follow up with the breakfast club movie, and pretty in pink and ferris bueller, day off. The food was very good. May I recommand that on the libellé of the food you put a pictogram telling us if it is vegetarien. It would of help me cause i was always asking the cook about it. I have such a nice time that I will be back. As we were with a french group, we were well taken for by Omar. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Just OK. Strange timing of events. Latitudes get together 6 PM in middle of dinner hour. Change of booked shows without notification and then they rescheduled the cancelled ones and didn't inform us of cancellation or that they booked ... Read More
Just OK. Strange timing of events. Latitudes get together 6 PM in middle of dinner hour. Change of booked shows without notification and then they rescheduled the cancelled ones and didn't inform us of cancellation or that they booked another one for us at a time and date we had something else scheduled. Found out by accident looking at our calendar. No water for a day and never notified about problem or how long it might take to repair. People showing up for breakfastr in Garden Cafe in bath robe and pajamas.Guests using tables reserved for handicapped guests and not giving them up when one is needed. $100 a day for drink package and you can't even get bottled water, orange juice or specialty coffee with the package yet you can get all the pineapple and cranberry juice you want. Music in atrium and theater was really loud. Bar service was great. need to bring back martini bar and include all martinis in pkg. not just 5 0r 6 that bartenders were allowed to make. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise at the last minute. We were given a guarantee room. I was nervous about this This ship was only 75% full CABIN We ended up in room 12647, an inside, mid ship room. When we first saw the room we were in ... Read More
We chose this cruise at the last minute. We were given a guarantee room. I was nervous about this This ship was only 75% full CABIN We ended up in room 12647, an inside, mid ship room. When we first saw the room we were in shock. It was no bigger than a closet. The bathroom was fine. The cabin had little storage place. After the first shock, we got used to it. We are never in the room. It was a perfect location. Close to both elevators and very quiet since are only 10 cabins in the hallway. Our room steward was just ok. He never took trash out. No soap for days FOOD We had been on this ship many times. The food has gone downhill. We ate at the Japanese restaurant. It was wonderful. Great food, great service, great fun. LaBistro was a huge disappointment. The escargot was horrible. French onion soup was very good. Carney’s was very good. Oysters Rockefeller was great. The steaks were fatty and tough. Bayamo was the biggest disappointment. The lobster was dry. We had the dining package. Our waitress told us we could get one appetizer, one main dish, and one dessert. We asked if we could get an extra salad also, as we always had in the past. We were told “no”. But the tables on either side of us were able to order three appetizers. The people at the other table told us they also had the dining package. We asked the waitress why they could get extras and we could not. She offered us a salad as we were eating dessert. The main dining room were pretty good. PORTS We arrived at Port Canaveral very late due to a medical emergency. It was too late to to get off. The ship canceled Great Stirrup Cay. No reason was given. Jamaica was terrible. I went for a walk. Locals kept offering me drugs. I had a guy approach me as I sat at a restaurant. Be very careful. Grand Cayman was very nice. Easy walk off. Lots of stores. Harvest Cay was my favorite. This is a private island. The beach is wonderful. The pool is incredible. Lots of lounge chairs. Lots of shaded areas. The stores were nice (no straw market). The excursions the best. Wake up early.......this port in relaxing, beautiful, and the best. Costa Maya was also great. The port is beautiful. A nice pool, stores, and music. I went to the the Mayan ruins. It was a great experience. Our guide was informative. Cozumel was okay. Easy walk off. Lots of store for souvenirs. The cheapest liquor prices. SHIP Lots to do on this ship. Water slides-Zipline-rope course-mini golf-trivia-hot tubs. There was was something to do. ENTERTAINMENT This was lacking on this ship. We did not like the Bratpack. It was confusing. Lots of folks walked out. After Midnight was good but the same type of dancing and songs. It seemed to go on forever. I love the supper club. We eat dinner while seeing a show. The golden Octoves were fabulous. The Brat Pack supper dinner was horrible. Lots of game shows. I enjoyed them. Progressive trivia was fun. The howl at the moon was not one of the best. Comedy shows were okay...not great, just okay. We found getting on and off the ship was very easy. The port employees were very friendly. This was our 5th or 6th time on this ship. Our 90th NCL cruise. We had a good time, but NCL is cutting more and more from it’s loyalty program. We keep noticing the cutbacks is every department. I am not sure what they are trying to achieve. They are becoming a low budget line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My wife and I booked the mini-suite on the 14 day western Caribbean cruise on the Escape. We were upgraded to the Haven forward-facing penthouse by bidding. The room was spectacular. This room entitled us to use the Haven courtyard, pool, ... Read More
My wife and I booked the mini-suite on the 14 day western Caribbean cruise on the Escape. We were upgraded to the Haven forward-facing penthouse by bidding. The room was spectacular. This room entitled us to use the Haven courtyard, pool, bar and restaurant. First I have to acknowledge the Haven staff that made our vacation great. The two concierge, David and Nimfa, were always there for us for anything we needed done, and for special treatment, especially the back elevators. The two best bartenders on the ship, Branko and Surendra, made the best drinks, and always came up with different drinks for us to try. Next stop, the Haven restaurant. Each meal we were greeted by the smiling faces of Arnelita and Hazel who sat us and made sure we were well taken care of. The next shout out goes to all the waiters of this restaurant, Kent, Vincent, Thereza, Katherine, Girlie, Jose, and Anish. Sorry if we misses anyone. Their service and care for the cruisers can't be beat. The service and food at Le Bistro is excellent. We loved sitting with Christian and Marc. They made our dining experiences special. Cagney's, our favorite restaurant, also had a special waiter, Augen, who we asked for as our server twice. His service and care was over the top. We can't forget our special bar server at the pool and at Headliners, Edward. He would constantly greet us and knew what we wanted. During this cruise, officers and directors were always around the ship speaking to the cruisers. Kivanc Ucar, the Hotel Director, who we spoke with many times. He stands out as the most caring and concerned individual, always around to make sure everything is going well and listening to our comments. Our favorite shows on board were Choir of Man and Wine Lovers the Musical, both held in the Supper Club. Every night there was plenty to do on board. The comedy shows were terrific, the singers and dancers around the ship were entertaining. Always something going on. Truly a great vacation. Ready for another NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Pre-Cruise Preparation- We put in for vacation time several months before the cruise and were targeting one of 2 cruises (GEM/Escape) that both left NY within a day of each other. I did numerous research and followed the prices. I ... Read More
Pre-Cruise Preparation- We put in for vacation time several months before the cruise and were targeting one of 2 cruises (GEM/Escape) that both left NY within a day of each other. I did numerous research and followed the prices. I like to book at least a month out so I have time to research the ports and plan excursions. We like the smaller ships but also wanted to experience a bigger one which we never had done. I hated the thought of over 4000 people on a ship but assumed that the length and time of year of the cruise would keep the crowds down. At one month out the prices had dropped from well-over $1000 to $529 on the Escape for the 14 day cruise (sail away rate). I also got an opportunity to bid for an upgrade. We bid the minimum of $55 per person for a balcony cabin (rate online showed this was almost a $1400 room?) which we got (notified 2 weeks out). We now had the ship and the cabin. We made all the dining room and show reservations that we were allowed to. We also booked our Chacchoben Ruins Excursion for Costa Maya. We printed out our new luggage tags and started to pack. I had also booked the Cruise Package at Hilton Garden Inn in Ridgefield. Last year we booked at Hampton Inn which was $100 cheaper. This year Hilton Garden Inn’s rates were competitive (less than $3 difference) so we booked it based on great reviews. Parking at the pier was $400. The cruise package (just over $300) included a night’s stay, Breakfast the next day, parking for the length of the cruise and a shuttle to and from port. Nancy (wife) and John (Me) are the travelers (late 50’s). We would be driving down from Southern NH. 11/22-23/18 – We celebrated Thanksgiving with the family and watch football. We started to pack. Nancy worked on Friday so I took care of last minute items and spent the rest of the day packing. 11/24/18- Last year we had a big storm that flooded our road and basement so we didn’t leave until early afternoon. This year my goal was to leave at 8:30am but we left at 9:40am (that hour did make a big difference). Traffic was terrible once we got to NJ/NY so we didn’t get to the hotel until 4pm. We checked into the hotel and booked a 10:30am shuttle to the cruise pier. We went for a swim and then the hot tub, had some tea in the lobby, ate some dinner in our room, relaxed and went to bed 11pm. 11/25/18 (Sea Day)- We woke up at 4am (must have been excited), read the online postings going back and forth on my phone and then went back to sleep until 6am. We got up and went to the breakfast which gave you the option of ordering off the menu and/or eating from the buffet. Everything was very good and the breakfast went well until “I never got my omelet”. I ordered an omelet from the menu and never got it even though I had the waitress check on it 3 times. Something was going on in the kitchen. The bacon for the buffet was put out over an hour late. After waiting for 80 minutes for the omelet we ate what was available (we knew we wouldn’t starve in the next 14 days) and headed back to our room. At the elevators we bumped into Liz, Heather and Mel who were from Canada. I recognized from their online postings. We got all our gear together and headed to the lobby at 10am for our 10:30am pickup. Our ride arrived early at 10:15am. We loaded up the van and were at the pier in 20 minutes (we did have to close our eyes during most of the drive). We waited in line and were all checked in by 11:30am. At this point all the numbers were called and we just walked onto the ship. The first thing we did was to walk around and explore the ship. It took us 2 days to get fully acclimated to the ship. At 12:30 we had a sit down lunch in Taste. I had Tomato Soup, popcorn shrimp and a Philly Cheese Steak which I would have for lunch 5 times this cruise. Nancy had a Shrimp Salad, popcorn shrimp and a shrimp pasta dish. Nancy had vowed to eat as much shrimp as she could on this cruise, which she accomplished. Everything was very good. After lunch we went to H2O for the Sail away and met several CC members including Bob (organizer of the Meet and Greet) and his wife Marie. We waited to view the ship going under the Verrazano Bridge, which we missed last year. After going under the bridge we went to the Manhattan Room for a 5:30pm dinner. After dinner we went to the “Welcome Aboard Show”. It wasn’t a bad show except for the excessive talking by the Activities Director. We went to O’Sheehan’s for our first dozen wings. After eating our wings we went to our cabin. It was a beautiful balcony cabin on the 13th floor. It had a balcony with 2 chairs and a table, a full size bed, area with a couch, fridge, coffee maker, safe and a decent size bathroom. As a Silver Latitude member our complimentary bottle of champagne was waiting for us. (weather: beautiful, high 40’s/ miles walked: 7 miles) 11/26/18 (Sea Day)- We got up at 9am and had breakfast in the Garden Café at 11am. After breakfast we went to the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet held in the District Brew House which was organized by Leafnation. We got to know Bob (Leafnation), his wife Marie and several other nice people during the cruise. This was a lot of fun. Free flowing beer and appetizers, live music, ships officers and the Cruise Director….well done Bob! At 1pm we went to Savor for lunch but for some reason the line was very long so we went to the Garden Café. After lunch we went to our cabin to relax. At 5pm we went to Savor for dinner. Nancy had a Roast Beef dinner and I had steak. At 6:30pm there was a Medivac. Two crew members were burnt in the engine room. We watched the helicopter from our balcony as it tried to land on the ship. At 7pm we went to the show “After Midnight” and then walked around the ship. (weather: rainy,windy/ miles walked: 4.6) 11/27/18 (Cape Canaveral)- We woke up to bright sunshine 130 miles from Florida at 8am. Because of the Evac last night the arrival time in Port Canaveral was changed from 1pm to 4:30pm which resulted in all excursions except for 3 transfers to be cancelled. We decided to do the transfer to “Disney Springs” ($35). This was a drive of just over an hour each way with about 3.5 hours at “Disney Springs”. We had breakfast at the Garden Café at 10am. After breakfast we went to a seminar on “Thomas Kinkade” at 11am and then the cartoon trivia in the Atrium. We got an unimpressive 11 out 20 right for the cartoon trivia. The sun was shining but still too cold to sit out on our balcony. We met at the Escape Theater at 4pm to join our group for boarding the bus to ”Disney Springs”. I was very comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt until the sun went down and then I froze. The bus left the pier at 4:50pm and arrived at “Disney Springs” at 6:10pm. We were all supposed to meet back at the bus at 9:15pm. We had plenty of time to walk around and look at the shops and decorations. We also went through the “Disney Christmas Tree Trail”. The problem is that we had no time to eat, drink or listen to the entertainment. Everyone was back on the buses by 9pm, I think it had to do with the chilly night, so we headed back to the ship a little earlier. It took only 60 minutes to get back to the ship. We ate dinner at O’Sheehans (Nancy got the Reuben, I got the fish fry and we both got wings). After dinner we walked around deck #13 (pool deck) and went to bed at midnight. An announcement was made earlier in the day that the seas were too rough to tender into “Great Stirrup Cay” tomorrow so we would be skipping the island and gain another sea day. The seas weren’t rough for the whole trip so I find this a little hard to believe? (weather: sunny,chilly/ miles walked: 8.1) 11/28/18 (Sea Day)- We got up at 10am, had breakfast and walked around the top deck. We noticed that there was no line at the Rope Course so I decided to give it a try. This was a lot of fun. The plank that went over the side was closed but hopefully I would have time to do the course again (unfortunately I never had time to do it again) before the cruise ended. To my surprise the course was more intimidating than I thought it would be. After the Rope Course we played some miniature golf and then went into the pool for a while. For some reason the water in the pool was very warm and there were no crowds. After spending some time in the pool we decided to ride the waterslide (3 times) with no wait. This is a great slide. We tried riding the body slide but it was very slow. After doing the slides we hung out in the H2O area (adults only) for a while. We were getting hungry so we went back to the cabin to change and then went to the Garden Café for lunch. On our way back from lunch we bumped into Liz, Heather and Mel who offered us their bottles of champagne. We met them at 4pm and talked a while. The champagne came in quite handy for making mimosas during the cruise. We had dinner and then went to the 80’s Dance Party for an hour and then went to bed. (weather:cool,sunny/ miles walked: 5.7) 11/29/18 (Sea Day)- We were up 10am and went to breakfast at 11am. We walked around the ship to the different venues until 2pm and then went to our scheduled reservation for the “Escape Room” which was held in the Supper Room. This was fun and difficult. Our group came in 2nd place getting 4 out of the 6 answers. We had lunch at O’Sheehan’s and then laid around the pool until the 6pm Latitudes Cocktail Party. This was fun. There was unlimited appetizers and unlimited drinks for about an hour. After the Party we went to one of the main shows called “For the Record” in the Escape Theater. When the show was over we listened to “Howl at the Moon” (dueling pianos) and some other music around the ship and then went to bed. (weather: warm,sunny/ miles walked 5.2 miles) 11/30/18 (Jamaica)- We were up at 9am, had breakfast and were off the ship at 10am. We planned on walking around the port area in Jamaica for a short time and then spending the rest of the day on the ship. As it turned out we met up with Bob and Marie at Margaritaville which is a short walk from the ship. This is a great place to go if you want to get off the ship for a while. There is a beach and a pool with a swim up bar and waterslide. You can use both for free. You can buy drinks or food but there is no pressure to do so. Nancy and Marie swam for a while in the ocean. We dried off and were back on the ship at 2pm. We had lunch at the Garden Café and walked around the ship. It was time to shower and change our clothes for Dinner at Savor. We ate dinner at Savor at 5pm. Nancy had the coconut shrimp and I had the Chicken Parm (one of my favorite meals on NCL ships). After dinner we took a nap and then waited in the Standby line at 8:30pm at Headlines, for the Comedy Show. We got into the show without any problems (plenty of seats) and enjoyed the show. The warmup comedian was terrible but the Headliner was very good. After the show we listened to JR in the Atrium for a while and then we were in bed by 11pm. (weather: warm,sunny/ miles walked 7.7 miles) 12/1/18 (Grand Cayman)- This was a tricky day because of the tendering. I told Nancy that our timing had to go perfect for us to complete our objectives and everything did go perfect. We needed to get up early to catch an early tender, to catch the right city buses and to get back to the tender area by 3pm. We woke at 7am and went to breakfast. After eating breakfast we finished packing two backpacks full of gear/supplies. We tried following “tender” directions from 3 different crew members which were conflicting and confusing. We decided to go to the tender location at 9am and just take our chances. We had no problems and just walked onto the boat without any lines. We followed advice from an online friend and took the city bus (no lines/no wait) near the library. This is a short walk from the pier. We were in the Turtle Farm before 11am (bus was $2.50 a person). We bought the $18 ticket which basically covered the turtle area. You could also buy a $49 ticket that included a swimming pool, turtle swim and a few other small things. We were happy with holding the turtles and didn’t need to swim with them. If you like turtles this was a lot of fun. We watched, held and went into the tanks with the turtles. After we were done we walked across the street to the Dolphin Center to watch the dolphins perform. We had heard there was an area used for snorkeling nearby but we couldn’t find it so we grabbed the first bus (no wait). We drove through Hell and around part of the island before getting to 7-mile beach. We swam for a while and walked the beach. When we were done we walked past Calico Jacks to a beautiful hotel. We got some cold water and walked around the hotel and then used their dressing rooms to change back into our clothes. We exited the hotel and flagged down another city bus ($2.50) with no wait at 2pm. We got back to the pier by 2:30pm, did some shopping and were at the Tender by 3pm. Once again there were no waits/no lines and we were back on the ship by 4pm. We went to our cabin to shower and then up to the Garden Café for a light snack before our dinner at 5pm. We got our usual window seat in “Taste” in time to watch the ship departure from Grand Cayman. After eating we went to the pool deck to relax and then to bed. (weather: hot,sunny/ miles walked 7.5 miles) 12/2/18 (Sea Day)- We got up at 8am and ate breakfast. Nancy is collecting the free charms so we went to the Atrium to collect the two she didn’t have. We changed into our suits and went up to the pool. First we rode the slide 5 times with no wait and then went to the pool. We spent about an hour in the pool, the maximum amount of other people in the pool was under 20. We never ran into crowds in either the adult pool or family pool. We changed our clothes and then went to a health seminar. After leaving the seminar we went up to the Garden Café for lunch and then played some mini-golf. After golfing we relaxed for a while and then went to dinner at the Manhattan Room. We both had Veal Picata which was very good like everything else we ate on the ship. After dinner we walked around the ship and took pictures. We went to the Atrium and listened to the “Golden Octives” a very talented group. Once they went on break we went to the many large TV screens and watched the Patriots game. We knew that the next three days would be very busy so we went back to the cabin and went to bed at 10pm. (weather: hot,sunny/ miles walked 5.7 miles) 12/3/18 (Harvest Caye)- We woke at 7am and had breakfast at 8am. We exited the ship and walked on the long pier to Harvest Caye. We were on the island by 10am. This is a beautiful, clean, relaxing place. Before swimming we looked in all the shops, looked at any available wildlife and went through the butterfly enclosure. Our intent was to swim in the ocean and then do some snorkeling. We spent quite a bit of time swimming at the beach but couldn’t find any place to snorkel. After talking to several people who were trying to snorkel we were told that decent snorkeling was non-existent on the island. We finished swimming at the beach and then went to the large swimming pool to swim. We had our share of swimming and were getting hungry so we got out of the pool. Nancy took one last dip in the ocean and then we headed back toward the ship. We explored the shops one more time and bumped into “Sunshine” twice, the only dog on the Escape. We got back on the ship and showered and changed. After putting on dry clothes we went to eat. We played Trivia in the Atrium and then took a nap. After waking from our nap we went to the Garden Café for dinner, watched some football on the giant screens and went to bed at 11pm. (weather: hot,sunny/ miles walked 7.5 miles) 12/4/18 (Costa Maya)- Today we had our NCL excursion to the Chacchoben Ruins. We got up (had ship gives us wakeup call) at 7:30am. Since the Chacchoben Ruins was an hour away we decided to skip breakfast. We were on the pier to meet our tour guide by 9am. The ride through Costa Maya took an hour. It was very interesting seeing how the people lived and hearing about the country from our Tour guide. We arrived at the ruins which is located in a Jungle with very good walking paths. We were originally told to use a lot of bug spray and wear pants/long sleeves so we packed 2 backpacks full of supplies/gear. Don’t know if it was the time of year but there were no bugs and shorts/T-shirt were very comfortable. Our guide stopped at each “ruin” and talked about them. This was a very interesting excursion. We spent a couple of hours at the ruins, climbed on the bus and were back at port by 1:30pm. The path throughout the ruins was about 2 miles long. There were several nice shops at the port so we walked around until 3pm. There was a “high wire” type show, with 4 men dressed as birds and several other smaller attractions like dolphins, flamingos etc. in the port area. Since we had missed lunch on the ship we went to the Garden Café for a snack. We decided to hang out in our room until our 6pm dinner reservation in “Taste” (Nancy had salmon, I had Teriyaki Steak and we split a shrimp/ribs plate). We watched the sail-away and were in bed by 10pm. (weather: hot,sunny/ miles walked 6.6 miles) 12/5/18 (Cozumel)- We woke at 8am and ate breakfast. We walked off the ship at 9am. The port of Cozumel is a huge downtown area with many shops, bars, restaurants, ect. It is like a very nice open air mall. We had originally planned on doing the ships snorkeling excursion but when we tried to book they only had one spot left. Instead of trying to book with a local company we decided to just tour around the port area. We walked several miles along the waterfront. We looked in many stores, bought some souvenirs, took lots of pictures and stopped for a few beers along the walk (Beer ranged from .85 to $3 and you could drink as you walked). We went back to the ship for lunch and found out they weren’t serving sit down lunches today so we went back to the Garden Café. Since the ship wasn’t crowded we decided to take a swim in the Family pool and then went to H2O. We used the hot tub and then relaxed in the artificial waterfall grotto before laying in the sun for a while. We were getting hungry so we showered and went to dinner at “Taste” (Nancy had Eggplant Parm and I had steak). We went back to the room and Nancy fell asleep for the night. I went to the Escape Theater to watch a comedian. I walked around the ship and then went to bed at 10pm. (weather: warm,sunny/ miles walked 8.6 miles) 12/6/18 (Sea Day)- We were up at 8am and had breakfast at 9am. We looked at all the art on the ship that was being auctioned off all week and then walked around the ship. We went to Trivia in the Atrium and then had lunch in “Savor” at Noon. After lunch Nancy went to a Health Seminar and I went to an “Officers Q&A” and the “How to be a Billionaire” game show. At 3pm we went to the “Crew All-Star Talent show”. This was very good but very short. When we were on the GEM they had 10-12 performers on the much smaller ship but there were only 5 acts on the Escape. We went to the Chinese Dinner buffet for dinner at the Garden Café which was delicious. At 8pm, after dinner, we went to the Atrium to watch the “Deal or No Deal” game show which is always a lot of fun. We headed back to the cabin to rest until it was time to go to the “Glow Party” (this has replaced the White Hot Party). Nancy fell asleep but I wanted some pictures/video so I planned on going to it for a short time myself. The Party was much better than I thought it would be, very energetic and kept my interest for over an hour. I left the Party at midnight and went to bed. (weather: cooling down,sunny/ miles walked 6.4 miles) 12/7/18 (Sea Day)- We woke up at 8am and had our traditional breakfast buffet at 9am. After breakfast we went to watch the “Progressive Trivia, round #7”. We stayed and played the “Around the World Trivia” and got our best score of the trip, 17 out of 20. We did some afternoon trivia and then watched the “Deal or No Deal” show. As we were walking through the Casino we noticed a large crowd gathered around a Black Jack table. There was a tournament going on which we watched for a while. I think the winner won over $4000. We watched the “Weakest Link” from our table in O’Sheehan’s while we ate a dozen wings. We walked around the ship taking pictures until it was time for dinner at the Garden Café. After dinner we went to the cabin until it was time for our 9pm Comedy Show. Comedian Frank Townsend had the crowd roaring, he was great. We went up to the Garden Café for a drink and then to H2O for the 80’s/90’s Party. We talked to the Cruise Director Alvin for a while for the 3rd time. He is a very interactive and friendly individual and always seemed to have time if you wanted to talk. After the party we went to bed at 11pm. (weather: much cooler,sunny/ miles walked 6.8 miles) 12/8/18 (Sea Day)- We woke up at 8am and had our last full breakfast at 9am. We went down to the Atrium to watch the “Progressive Trivia Finals”. Following the Trivia we watched a demonstration on “How to make towel animals”. We walked around the ship and then went to “Taste” for lunch. We had the same lunch (had this 5 times) that we had on the first day. We picked up our “Lime” luggage tags and headed back to our cabin to begin our long packing process. After doing most of our packing we went to the “Farewell Show” and then walked around the ship for the last time. Our plan was to meet Heather, Liz and Mel in the Atrium at 9:45am on Debarkation Day to share a shuttle back to the Hilton Garden Inn in NJ where all our cars were parked. We put our two bags out at 10:30pm and went to bed at 11pm. (weather: cold,sunny/ miles walked 4.9 miles) 12/9/18 (Debarkation Day)- We were up at 7am. We went to Garden Café for a light breakfast. When we were done we went back to our cabin to do our final packing and were down in the Atrium by 9:30am. The 5 of us left the ship and were in a long line to get into the cruise terminal building. Once we got through customs we called our shuttle and met them across the street. There was seven of us taking the shuttle back to the hotel. We all said our goodbyes, Heather, Liz and Mel headed toward Canada and we headed to NH. We hit very little traffic and got home in less than 4.5 hours. (weather: cold,sunny/ miles walked 4.3 miles) Summary: This was another great cruise. Contrary to common postings about the Escape there were “very few lines” or “crowded pools” on this cruise. I would assume that the time of year, length of cruise and the number of children on board were the main reasons for this. It seemed like the majority of people I talked to had gotten upgrades which supports the theory that the ship had a lot of available cabins. We got into several conversations with Alvin the Cruise Director and he told us that there were about 4000 on board (seemed like less to us)? The elevators seemed to only be crowded after an activity concluded, which is logical. We decided that we loved the larger ship and smaller ships equally. We found just as many advantages/disadvantages between the two and wouldn’t hesitate taking either one for future cruises. Cabin- As I mentioned earlier, we booked a guaranteed inside cabin for 14 days for $529. We had a chance to bid on an upgrade balcony cabin (which was listed for just under $1400 PP) so I bid the minimum of $55. We won the bid and got a balcony cabin on floor #13, cabin number 13146 overlooking the shuffleboard court. The cabin was large with a Full size bed, couch, fridge and coffee maker. We enjoyed the novelty of the balcony but didn’t use it as much as I thought we would. Cabin Steward- Our cabin steward was “middle of the road”. He was the only steward that ever filled our ice bucket every day without asking but on the other hand we had to remind him to restock several items over the 2 weeks. He kept the cabin clean but seemed to overlook it on a few days. Ship- this was our first cruise on a bigger ship. We were expecting not to like the size, number of people and lines. Since we learned how to navigate the ship after only two days, there weren’t many lines and the crowds were minimal we enjoyed the Escape very much. We took part in the many activities/recreation on the ship. Food- We only eat in the Complimentary restaurants and thought the food was fantastic. The service was slow as usual but we didn’t have a bad meal for the whole trip. We thought the meals were the best we’ve had on all our cruises at both the sit down and Buffet restaurants. We actually ate less at the sit down restaurants (5pm seating) so that we could have a snack at the Buffet before it closed after dinner. Entertainment- We thought the two main shows “For the Record” and “After Midnight” were done very well. The singing and dancing were excellent but neither show was our taste. I had booked both shows twice but we were satisfied with one performance each. The bands and entertainment around the ship was more to our liking. We thought several of the Comedians were great and liked a lot of the smaller shows. Activities- Like all ships we have been on, the Escape had plenty of activities that we took part in. I wish we had time for more of them. The Escape Room on the ship was well done and we enjoyed watching ballgames and videos on the giant screens. The Rope Course, mini-golf and water slides were a lot of fun. Atrium- This was probably the one and only thing we hated on the ship. First I must say that the whole Atrium is beautiful. The lighting was always changing and the whole ship (including the Atrium) was nicely decorated for Christmas. I’m not sure who designed the Atrium but it is the most ridiculous layout I’ve ever seen. Everything was run in the atrium and we were there every day for something. Even with the ships lower occupancy the atrium was over crowded. They used the giant 2-story screen for everything from music to games and only the people who were close to the stage could see everything. They put out some folding chairs but that view was blocked by the overhang of the 2nd deck. There was no walking path to move around and people were just tripping over each other. A simple solution would have been to move some of the bigger activities like “Deal or no Deal”, “Towel Demo”, ect to the Escape theater like they do on the smaller ships. Ports- One of the main reasons we took this cruise was because of the variety of Ports. We enjoyed them but not as we planned. “Port Canaveral” was supposed to be a beach day but because of the Evac which caused a 4:30pm arrival most of the tours/tourist areas were closed. We decided to take the Disney Springs transfer which turned out to be a nice evening. “Great Stirrup Cay” was supposed to be our next port but because of “rough waters” (didn’t see rough water all cruise) this turned into a Sea Day. Third port was “Jamaica”. We planned on staying on the ship but decided to do a little exploring around Port. The port area looks like it has improved a lot. After walking around we stopped at Margarita Ville for a couple of hours where you can use their beach and pool for free. Fourth port was “Grand Cayman”. We had a great day but were hoping to do some snorkeling near the Turtle Farm. We couldn’t find a spot that allowed us to do that so we went to 7-mile beach. The fifth port was “Harvest Caye”. Once again we expected to spend a portion of the day snorkeling which never happened. Our sixth port “Costa Maya” was the only port that went completely as planned with the ruins. Our final port was “Cuzumel”. We waited too long to book the ship’s snorkeling excursion (it was sold out) so we spent the day walking around the waterfront. Cruise/Hotel Package- In my opinion this is a great deal. Parking at port would have cost us $400. The package cost a little over $300 and included 1 night at the hotel (Hilton Garden Inn), breakfast, parking for the length of the cruise and a shuttle both to and from the pier. The hotel was very nice and clean. It had a workout room, pool and hot tub. There was water, coffee and tea in the lobby. The breakfast was very good and had a nice variety of food. Other than my “omelet experience” it was excellent. A little shakeup in the kitchen would help. My car was safe all cruise and the shuttle to the pier and back worked flawlessly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We try to cruise at least twice a year. We heard about this new cruise ship coming into New York, so we decided to try it out. We got upgraded from an ocean view to a balcony. Overall it was a great 14-day cruise. We noticed many rude ... Read More
We try to cruise at least twice a year. We heard about this new cruise ship coming into New York, so we decided to try it out. We got upgraded from an ocean view to a balcony. Overall it was a great 14-day cruise. We noticed many rude passengers, not only demanding to the crew but to one another as well, very disappointing. The storage space is smaller than we've seen for similar cabins, and not 1 drawer for small items. Disembarkation went extremely smoothly. Due to the size of the ship and most activities taking place in Atrium it was VERY crowded. All the games and trivia, movies, towel folding food demonstrations etc. in that one area. The theater was also noted to be small for such a large capacity ship making show times wanted difficult to obtain. All in all, I would rate the cruise as good experience I would recommend this cruise ship to my friends and family. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our fifth NCL cruise and first time on a big ship. Out last 14-day was on The Dawn, and that was a little small to keep us entertained. The Escape was so much different! From the moment we got on board to the day we left, there ... Read More
This was our fifth NCL cruise and first time on a big ship. Out last 14-day was on The Dawn, and that was a little small to keep us entertained. The Escape was so much different! From the moment we got on board to the day we left, there was so much to keep us busy! Here are some highlights: FOOD: The staff is Savor were some of my favorite on the entire ship. They always knew our names and seated us by the window at breakfast and lunch. The food there was always fresh and delicious. The menus are pretty much the same across the fleet, but there is plenty to choose from. We had dinner in the Manhattan Room and really enjoyed the impromptu performances from the cast of After Midnight. O'Sheehan's is another great free choice. There aren't a lot of breakfast choices there, but we love their wings, hot dogs, burgers, and sides. For specialties, we ate at 7 different places, and all were good. Here are those highlights: - Moderno: Best salad bar on the ship - Cagney's: Tender and moist ribeye - La Cucina: The Osso Bucco is fabulous - Le Bistro: Always love the seafood/puff pastry app and ordered a double to make a main - Pinchos: Love all of the tapas options. All were great! - Teppanyaki: Great Hibachi show - Bayamo: The only place to get lobster, and it was great!! DRINKS: We had the UBP and never had to wait for a drink anywhere. Servers were super friendly and didn't seem to mind if you ordered something and then didn't like it. They would just make something else for you instead. We especially loved trying all of the beer at the Brew House and the different mojitos at Sugarcane. Each bar seemed to have one of two specialty drinks, so it was fun to travel and try them all. ACTIVITIES: There was so much to do! I am not a tiny person, but I did the entire ropes course, and it was an incredible achievement. So much fun too! The mini golf and bocce were also fun, and we spent a lot of time with each other playing board games. Deck 8 has some great comfy chairs, so those were nice for relaxing with a book and playing games. Unfortunately, the Activities Staff were not very personable and fun. We quit going to most of their programs as a result. We enjoyed Trivia, but the prizes were really lame. We miss the signature cards from the smaller ship. The free crafts classes and dance classes on the smaller ships are also much better. Cruise Director Alvin is great, though. Full of energy and very fun. We also enjoyed the demos in the atrium, but the atrium got very packed, and the folding chairs that they brought out were not very comfortable. We missed the Spinniker/Bliss/Observation Lounge from the smaller ships. ENTERTAINMENT: This was a big highlight for us and the main reason that I gave The Escape 5 stars. In 14 days, we really were never bored. There was good live music everywhere in the bars, an we always enjoyed that before going to dinner. The shows were very well done. Brat Pack was fun, and After Midnight had incredible dancing. Choir of Man is worth the extra money, because that was the best show that we have ever seen on any ship. We saw a couple other shows at Supper Club, and they were also fun, but not as good. Headliners swapped between comedians and Howl at the Moon, and we enjoyed both. There were four comedians in the two weeks, and they performed PG, PG-13, and Adult comedy shows. All were very fun. Howl at the Moon became our favorite regular entertainment, and we tipped them well in order to get our requests answered. Tip: Hit the box office as soon as you board the ship. You can book everything all at once. They have a sheet there that lists all of the options, so you can pick and choose each night. I also made a spreadsheet ahead of time, so I was easily able to see where I could schedule more things for us to do. PORTS: - We were late getting to Florida, but we didn't have plans to get off the boat anyway. - We missed the Private Island, but some things are out of your control. - JAMAICA: We booked a plantation tour with Yardi Tours. No one else took the tour, so it was private. Amazing time that ended with a delicious plate of fruit and fresh fish. - GRAND CAYMAN: We had a private tour through Grand Cayman Safari. We went to a history museum, botanical gardens, had a local lunch, and went to Cayman Crystal Caves. The company was great to work with and gave us an incredible tour. - HARVEST CAYE: We went to the mainland to visit ruins and a spice farm. It was far too long to travel for such a short tour, but the tour itself was really nice. - COSTA MAYA: We went to ruins and had lunch made by a local family through Native Choice. It was an incredible tour! - COZUMEL: We booked a tour through Trikes. We rode by the ocean and stopped a few times. Then we had a tequila tasting and local lunch. A great day! EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Embarkation was easy. We were on with a drink in hand in half an hour. Getting off is another story. A LONG line in the cold to get into luggage collection and customs. Then no warm place to wait for your pick-up. The NY port really needs a revamp to fix these issues. OVERALL THOUGHTS: An incredible 14 days. I would do another big ship for a long cruise, but I still miss the charm of the smaller ships. We connect with the staff better on those. Still, definitely a 5-star experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018

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