Sail Date: November 2018
Experiencing the Panama Canal with NCL seemed like a great idea, since NCL is my favored cruise line and the Canal was on my bucket list. My groups experience was mixed. This new ship is beautiful. Gone are the garish days of purple ... Read More
Experiencing the Panama Canal with NCL seemed like a great idea, since NCL is my favored cruise line and the Canal was on my bucket list. My groups experience was mixed. This new ship is beautiful. Gone are the garish days of purple and red; now is a feeling of sophistication. Most of the regular NCL line up of restaurants and bars is present, built in a purposeful way rather than looking like an add-on. Plus the addition of an observation deck was a plus for this cruise as the weather wasn’t always great. This new ship is “tender”. My sailing-captain friend used this term to describe how you could feel the waves. We liked that it felt like you were on the o unlike most large ships. We did notice that most of the specialty restaurants were mostly empty, especially Jimmy Buffet and Food Republic. Perhaps this is because NCL now does al la cart pricing for all but two of their Specialty restaurants. Some pricing isn’t a small up-charge from the cost of free meal (i.e. which are included in the fare). This is a large boat with lots of people, while you can usually find a spot to hide-out, some parts of the ship couldn’t handle the crowd, e.g. the theater, the buffet. Also by day 10 I was definitely feeling that the need to get-away. This was a 2 week itinerary. NCL changed the Mexico ports twice. And, time was very limited in a couple of the ports. The good: • There are new eating options. The BBQ place was tasty (we ate there twice (though the al la cart cost was over $50 for just me). Always like Teppanyaki, also went there twice. The chefs there were very entertaining. • Continue to like the Studios. This allows me to have my own cabin without a single supplement. The common area is beautiful. • Experiencing the canal. This was fascinating and beautiful, though it was very difficult to see through the crowd. • The new Observation Lounge is a great place to hang out during the day. They even offer food if you want a break from the buffet. What is up with people sleeping on all the couches though? • Breakfast in the dining rooms was tasty. They varied the menus each day. In the buffet area, there were lots of egg stations. • The service in dining rooms was outstanding (though sometimes slow in Manhattan). They accommodated all our various “custom” requests and acknowledged us on our return visits. The not-so-good: • In most of the restaurants, there were food warmth issues. All food from the Local pub was lukewarm. Even at Cagneys, some of the sides were not well heated. Why are all dips, dressings and sauces watery? Why did Ocean Blue smell so badly? Most of the fish we had in other places had a fishy taste (which has not been my experience on other ships). And, Food Republic was a huge disappointment, having the oddest sushi I have ever eaten. Everything there seemed pre-prepared and reheated. Finally, what happened to serving lobster? The shrimp served as part of my surf and turf at Cagneys was sad. • As with most large ships, the availability of elevators was not sufficient. It seemed at time that some were not running, i.e. staying on one floor (15 or 16). There were lots of scooters, which would fill an elevator. • All the bartenders, but a few, were very cranky and unhappy. There were no smiles, thank you or any other chatter. In week two, I started asking him or her if they were happy to be on the ship. I miss the days when we used to sign a ticket and set the tip. • The drink package is more limited than other cruise lines. It doesn’t include water, espresso or other specialty drinks. It was odd that I could drink vodka for free but had to buy bottled water for my cabin. • Shows were sold out on first day. Clearly the large crowd was not accommodated. • Although touted as having lots of on-board shopping options, there was no boutique with suits, sandals, shirts, etc. However there were lots of unpurchased watches and jewelry. • The time in Columbia was very short. Because of a broken down shuttle we only got to spend three hours there. Having already been to Mexico ports, this was an important stop. • While the race cars were fun, they seemed out of place and weren’t available most of the time. Plus the staff seemed overly cautious in taking control of all the cars several times during the race. I think the real estate could have been used as more outdoor or pool space which was tight on sea days. • CAUTION! When using a computer in the Internet Café, I was logged into someone else’s email account. The security of these workstations needs to be improved, e.g. it needs to clear pages, cache and cookies when you log out. And sadly, the Internet is still not great. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
5 of us traveling. Embarkation in LA went very smoothly. We headed to Savor restaurant and had a great lunch. This is always the moment I feel "Now I'm on vacation". We proceeded to explore all of the decks and were very ... Read More
5 of us traveling. Embarkation in LA went very smoothly. We headed to Savor restaurant and had a great lunch. This is always the moment I feel "Now I'm on vacation". We proceeded to explore all of the decks and were very pleased with the decor as well as the lay-out. On to our cabins which were definitely a step above those on the smaller ships we have sailed. Again the design was great and the bed very comfortable. Our Steward kept us very clean and all essentials were provided promptly. We ate our dinners in the Manhattan room, Cagney's , Ocean Blue, and Bistro. All gave us great experiences in food , drinks as well as service. We had several of the wait staff at different venues and really enjoyed conversations and laughter with them. We only used the Garden Cafe for quick snacks so can't really comment on it but seemed like good food there as well. We enjoyed the bands on board as well as the comedians in the Comedy club the first week. Did not attend the second. The Cavern performances of Beatlemania were also good. Did not like Havana at all. We actually walked out before it was over. Jersey Boys show was awesome! We enjoyed the pool everyday as well as the slides. Had quiet times in the District bar where we could overlook the ocean and play cards with great beer! We didn't spend as much time in the Observation deck as we expected. Grand and lovely place but we just didn't gravitate to it too much. The elevators seemed to be always packed and stopping on most levels which made going slow so we avoided them as much as we could. The ports were not on the original itinerary and we were disappointed with Ensenada and Guatemala . We took a walking tour in Matzalan which we enjoyed but could have done with less steering towards shopping. (stopping in jewelry store for a "free drink") We took the Skywalk and Eco cruise in Costa Rica which would have been great if it had not been pouring rain. Did not see much wildlife because of the weather but guides cannot be held responsible for that. It was after all a rain forest. Panama Canal day was very interesting and well narrated. Our favorite port was Cartagena. Beautiful City though very warm and humid. Overall A wonderful cruise on an awesome ship! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
new ship seemed exciting, boarding in Miami good, a bit down hill from there. The ship is large with plenty of open spaces, clean as you would expect. The decor fine, food excellent in the buffet when you can get a seat to enjoy it, a bit ... Read More
new ship seemed exciting, boarding in Miami good, a bit down hill from there. The ship is large with plenty of open spaces, clean as you would expect. The decor fine, food excellent in the buffet when you can get a seat to enjoy it, a bit hard to find gluten free stuff though. food in main restaurant a bit strange at times ie: half a chicken and very little veg, then huge portions of beef again no veg to speak of, fish strangely on its own a bit of garnish, it seemed all or nothing. The cabin we had was an inside aft, well we had bunks over our bed so had to crawl around to get out of bed, the back of the bed has a lowdown metal rail feature so no comfy sit-ups in bed. The bathroom was just fine, not so the tiny closet that was so dark and dingy I found clothes I didn't know I had taken still clean when I unpacked. We were on a package that included 2 litres of water a day, well shock horror this was delivered in bulk on day one. If you don't drink it all they advise give it away or to the steward as they throw it away(disgusting waste) The entertainment was ok Jersey boys ok seen better, the Cavern and the Beetles tribute must have most of them turning in their graves seen better at Butlins. One thing we didn't know as first time NCL cruisers was to book shows within first day or so or miss out, we were not used to this so missed some shows we would have liked, Movies in the cabin were pay to view if you wanted to see anything decent, as was the go carts, laser tag etc. The service on board was pretty good with helpful cheerful staff. Some of the shore excursions were iffy like hop on hop off with no time to hop off or chance of getting another bus back to the ship. On the whole slightly disappointed but would give NCL another chance possibly on a smaller ship Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
This was the inaugural Panama Canal cruise. So we expected so much more! We have cruised with several other Cruise Lines. I and my wife had never been on a Norwegian Cruise Line before. However our daughter and family had. She influenced ... Read More
This was the inaugural Panama Canal cruise. So we expected so much more! We have cruised with several other Cruise Lines. I and my wife had never been on a Norwegian Cruise Line before. However our daughter and family had. She influenced us to join them. Too many people for that ship. The common areas were constantly crowded. The shows were good, if you were lucky enough to get in! The buffet? Horribly crowded with a total lack of seating. They closed sections of the serving lines way too soon. That forced you to go much further away and encounter even longer serving lines! Overall, I was very displeased with the operation of this ship and it's lack of foresight for handling the large crowds. Talking about lack of foresight they sure blew it selecting ports! Two ports were replaced/cancelled because the ship was not going to fit! A company this large could not know this beforehand? This my final time using NCL. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This cruise was the 15 night initial repositioning leg from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. May 10-25 2018. The ship is amazing. The luxury and decoration is top notch. The staff and other service workers were so nice, kind, ... Read More
This cruise was the 15 night initial repositioning leg from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. May 10-25 2018. The ship is amazing. The luxury and decoration is top notch. The staff and other service workers were so nice, kind, professional. The food was the best I have ever eaten than any other cruise. (Except they didn't have a lobster night). I was impressed with the variety of food. There was foods of all kinds and nationalities, vegetarian, sugar-free, low-cal, etc. The entertainment was very high quality for a cruise ship - not the typical Las Vegas 'wannabe' type show. There were good comedians and also the Jersey Boys, Uptown, and Jeanine Carimielo were incredible. Havana was good but was in need of more 'pre-production, scripting, plot, etc.' (if you can say that for a live show) in order to have an actual story line. But the production itself was good. The Beatles impersonation group however was a bit disappointing. It was pretty clear that this was their first stint at sea. They appeared pretty nervous to be performing. Our hotel staff was wonderful. The room was cleaned every day at least twice and even three times sometimes. Nightly towel animals are a nice fun little touch as well. It is worth noting however, that NCL is more expensive than most other cruise lines. The additional fees for the Laser Tag, Race Track, bowling, and other on board activities can get costly and add up quickly. There is no mini golf, or sport court area. There are only two ping-ping tables. Also the Laser Tag is only open a couple hours in the evening and the deck completely locked up during the rest of the day. It would be nice that the deck at least could be open for browsing around for sight seeing on sea days. Note that a couple of the decks of the ship are for 'first-class' services only and require additional fees to access. (Think of first class vs coach class on an airplane) The Haven and Vibe decks require extra cost. The spa area is also contracted through a third party company and not directly with NCL and therefore requires additional fees to access. The spa area has a maximum of 120 people to access so when there are 4000 folks on board, it is important to get your reservations the first day. When purchasing your spa access, it is an all or nothing type of package. You purchase for every day of the cruise, you cannot purchase for a one day pass access. To have to pay extra for 90% of the restaurants also was unexpected, considering that they serve pretty much the same food as can be found in the main dining room and cafeteria buffet areas. When cruising on a ship of this caliber, the WiFi should simply be included as internet access is a necessity in today's world. The current cost is too expensive. If not, at least make the social connection package included. As for the fitness area -- it is much too small to accommodate 4000 people on board. Fitness machines were always occupied. Also the fact that there was additional cost to attend any of the spin class, aerobics, kick-boxing, etc. was not too pleasing. Additionally, it is worth noting that there is no locker room or changing area for the fitness area. No one wants to see 'sweaty bodies' walking through the other public areas to get back to their rooms to clean up. Reservations for all the shows could be better handled or explained prior to the cruise. To have to wait in line with several hundred people for a couple hours the first day just to reserve our 'shows' for the rest of the week caused most folks to have an initial sour attitude that was difficult to be around. Overall, however, we are quite happy with our cruise (once it got going after the first days hectic events) and the service we received. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were looking for a cruise in May that was going through the new Panama Canal and our travel agent suggested this one. We arrived at the embarkation port prior to the time they said their reception area would be open. We were allowed to ... Read More
We were looking for a cruise in May that was going through the new Panama Canal and our travel agent suggested this one. We arrived at the embarkation port prior to the time they said their reception area would be open. We were allowed to enter and walked through the registration process with almost no wait. We waited for about an hour upstairs and them were allowed on the ship. Were able to use our cabins much earlier than on other ships. I wear disappointed with the entertainment as there were multiple smaller venues and reservations were almost required. I thought we needed reservations for all the restaurants but found out the since we eat early we rarely had to wait. The food at all restaurants was good. Early in the trip the wait between courses was long, but as the days went by that was improved. Cabin Service was good but our cabin steward was either slower than normal or he had more cabins to serve. Most of the time the cabin was not cleaned up before noon. We were disappointed to find out that two ports pwere removed from the itinerary about two weeks before we left and one was added. The shore excursions were in general very good. Family traveling with us were disappointed that one excursion did not state that at the first stop at a beach the boat didn’t bring us to shore. The second stop did take us to shore. Also one stop required us to take a shuttle to the town we were supposed to dock at. And, the shuttle was $15 per person. When our party complained, in each case a refund of part of all of the fee was provided. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
My wife and I are seasoned cruisers and wanted to experience a fairly new ship without all the dings and odors of other ships we have been on. This was a beutiful ship with a terrific service crew with the 3rd leg out of Miami going over ... Read More
My wife and I are seasoned cruisers and wanted to experience a fairly new ship without all the dings and odors of other ships we have been on. This was a beutiful ship with a terrific service crew with the 3rd leg out of Miami going over to Los Angeles through the Panama Canal. Neither of us have been through the Panama Canal before, so we were really looking forward to this cruise. Here are our thoughts regarding this adventure. I will start with the Pro's and follow up with the Con's needing some attention. Pro's: Like swimming pool seating Like the waterfront for walking Like the two swimming pools and depth from 5.7 to of 6.5 feet Like the shower and pressure Loved The Observation lounge and windows Liked the singing group Phil & Keisha Duo except Phil needs to cut back on the Elvis sets Liked the Atrium seating to view a gigantic video board and to watch entertainment The Teppanyaki restaurant was set up very well and the food was plentiful and delicious. The Teppanyaki cook could be a comedian he was that good Great view coming into Cartagena Columbia. Peacocks, monkeys, toucans and ant eaters were some of the animals experienced. Super plant growth near the port. I have to say, the electic go carts were fun and sturdy. My wife and I raced each other and she let me win. We came in 35 and 36 seconds respectfully. Cowboy is the bartender in the Caverns outside bar on the waterfront. Great bartender. Jim Badger was the Piano Player in the District House and was very good and funny. He will pick on people in the audience. The singer Jenene Caramelo was very very good in the theater. The embarkation was really fast and easy Con's: The Latitudes Club representative was non-existent. As Platinum members, we could not contact anyone to handle questions regarding benefits. There was a card in the room speaking of the benefits, but not an explanation as to how to receive them. For example, each member gets 30 minutes of free internet for their use. But to receive the free minutes, you need to go to the internet manager to have the minutes post to your account associated to your cabin. The line was a mile long to see the two internet people to turn on the minutes. It took all of thirty seconds of face time after standing in line for thirty minutes. Not cool. They could have a better way. Also, the ship was not using any of the NCL Apps that you may have on your electronic device. The internet manager indicated that it is coming, but not functional at this time. We had to go to the Nextcruise desk to get info on Captains Latitudes party and for reservations for behind the scenes tours. They do not make it easy for Latitude members. We went to sign up for the behind the scenes tour, but it was sold out and put our names on a waiting list after only being on the ship for two hours. Even though they advertise concierge service which would have been nice to make all of the reservations, it appears non-existent. Also No information on departure area for Latitude members. Not to be completely negative, I do appreciate the two specialty dining and laundry services for Platinum members which was presented on a card in the room. They pride themselves on the latest electronics, but they have a long way to go. The electronic boards in the Public Areas to make reservations did not respond very well while attempting to use it. We did make one dinner reservation before it locked up, but failed at other dinner reservations and entertainment reservations. The TV electronics were also poor to use as a way to make reservations or to view our calendar of events. The calendar only showed one shore excursion made at home before the cruise. It did not reflect dinner reservations once made. I can’t reinforce how far they are behind on usable technology for cruisers. There should be messaging to the cabins and a useable interactive TV to make reservations and communicate with departments. FreeStyle cruising has gotten very lose as to attire on this ship. It use to mean when you want to eat, not what you where to eat in dining areas. The chairs in the theater are very uncomfortable. Cagney’s Restaurant was disappointing. The pro’s include the tuna tartar was exceptional and the prime rib which they indicated was a pound, but it sure seemed larger than that. I left about a quarter of it because I could not finish it. It was very tender and tasty also. The con’s include mediocre busboy service, the mashed potatoes had too much garlic. The lobster bisque was very bland. The wine glasses were huge and when you ordered a wine selection, they brought an individual carafe which filled only the bottom of the glass. Also, the whipped butter they served with the bread was not that good. The outdoor speaker systems on the ship are awful. You could not hear messages when announced on the 8th deck as well as the pool area. Another con is not having the restaurant menu’s available on the TV so as to make decisions as to where to eat. In the main dining room, The Manhattan Room, they were crowded and seemed to borrow servers from other specialty restaurants. The reservation system on the TV’s indicate the restaurants are full, but when you look in, there appears to be plenty of room. People make reservations and then do not act on them I guess. Charge $5 for reservations not acted on to solve the problem of blanket reservations. We got a phone message that are specialty restaurant Ocean Blue will cost us an extra $18/person even though it was covered under are specialty restaurant package. That really sucked calling the day before our reservation to let us know it would cost more. We cancelled our reservation. The ventilation in the theater is bad. It does not move enough cool air for the large number of people, which I believe is about 700 people capacity. I know it seems like there are a lot of con's, but the pro's helped balance out the benefits of being on this cruise. By the way, the Panama Canal was cool, even if it took us all day to work our way through it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Omg where to start? Every detail on this ship is handcrafted awesomeness! We had a balcony room, so we had fantastic ocean views anytime, but when your in on the interior you could totally forget you were on a boat at all! A floating ... Read More
Omg where to start? Every detail on this ship is handcrafted awesomeness! We had a balcony room, so we had fantastic ocean views anytime, but when your in on the interior you could totally forget you were on a boat at all! A floating resort, it had so many options for dining, all of which were delicious! And a mega list of all the activities (for all ages!)that were going on was delivered every evening so you could plan what you wanted to do! The service was great! So polite, and there for anything you might need! Everything was super clean, and even though we were close to fully booked it didn't really feel crowded, a major plus for us! Over all best cruise I ever had! Definitly booking with them again! Oh and the best cheesecake I ever had was at Taste or Savor, (imagine peanut butter cup crumbles, with a fluffy cloud of delight on top!) and I have eaten a lot of cheesecake in my lifetime! The excursion list was great, would have like more time in Tikal, but they treated us like royalty the whole way on every branch of that excursion! Definitly reccomend the Las Caletas Hideaway for anyone who is a fan of luxury beach services, awesome food, great beach, fancy hammocks and great landscaping! Plus it was owned by the man who played Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings,so really in my mind it was Gandalf's Hideaway, pure awesomeness! Read Less
Norwegian Bliss Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.5

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