This was our second cruise with Norwegian and overall our 35th cruise. We were interested in the transatlantic crossing and the 4 ports, as well as Copenhagen. We were very happy with Copenhagen and with the ports the ship visited. We ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Norwegian and overall our 35th cruise. We were interested in the transatlantic crossing and the 4 ports, as well as Copenhagen. We were very happy with Copenhagen and with the ports the ship visited. We always enjoy cruising, and find you can have a good time no matter what. We had plenty to eat and drink, we were entertained, and we had a relaxing time, so this was a good vacation. Having said that, we find some of the Norwegian practices could be better. So I will comment on the positives and the negatives below.
Staff: Most of the staff on the ship are very friendly and cordial and have been well trained. They say good morning when you pass them and they look you in the eye and are very nice. These folks work an incredible amount of hours, seven days a week and we are very appreciative of their efforts. I am amazed at how hard they work, in order for us to have an enjoyable cruise, and the staff on the Breakaway generally did a good job for us and we are appreciative.
Food: Breakfast always had a huge variety of everything any of us could want. The food was served at the right temperatures and everything was plentiful. They did have trouble keeping up with dish washing and ran out of cups, glasses and plates at times. Lunch was also fairly good. But the offerings are substandard for a large cruise line. (A made to order deli, taco bar and other enhancements would be nice.) Breakfast and lunch do not have adequate seating space in the buffet area. There is overflow seating near the pool, but when the temps are in the 40’s and 50’s, it’s not too appealing. Dinner was somewhat disappointing. Service was very slow in the Taste/Savor/Manhattan dining rooms. (I don’t feel they have enough staff here.) The food options seemed to be lower cost items. Items such as shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, lobster, and crab were not offered. Salmon was served occasionally. Steaks were cheap cuts and not very desirable. There were plenty of choices, but many were not appealing to the six at our table. One reason for the slow service is the wait staff serves wine and adult beverages, in addition to food. I’ve not experienced this on other cruise lines. We did eat at the buffet one evening, and the food seemed similar to lunch. We did eat at Shanghai, the Noodle restaurant, and were very disappointed. Service was rushed and disorganized. Food came out in random orders. 2 dishes never arrived, and when we mentioned this, the server argued with us, instead of just getting it. We had planned to go twice, but did not go back. While we had plenty to eat, we feel Norwegian has focused so hard on 7 “specialty” restaurants that the “inclusive” restaurants have been reduced to a very basic experience without a focus on great service or quality food. If you want a decent steak or a good piece of fish on Norwegian, plan on spending $50 – 75 per person for a very nice meal, including additional gratuity.
Entertainment: The best music act was “Shanti Lleone and the Guilty Pleasures”, who played instruments and made real music. The played a couple hours a night, on about half the nights we were onboard, at a room called Syd’s Pour House. They were great, if you like 70’s and 80’s rock and roll. Overall, entertainment was a mixed bag. The ship had several good entertainers, including 2 Comedians, a Magician, and a Comedic Juggler. The biggest issue on this ship is a lack of space for entertainment. Norwegian has dedicated too much space to “specialty” restaurants, which means revenue generation for the cruise line. We refuse to eat at the “specialty” restaurants, since we have already paid for food in our fare. On the entertainment side, the main theater holds about 6-700 guests at a show and is as impressive as a high school assembly hall. That’s pretty inadequate for a full ship of 4,000 passengers. So they make a big deal out of getting reservations for their “big” shows. Nothing but a marketing ploy to make people think they’re getting something special. I found the “big” shows disappointing and well below Broadway standards. “Rock of Ages” and “Burn the Floor” were big production shows, but were average at best. We went to see the “Adele” singer in the big theater. The theater was full 30 minutes before show time, so we were unable to see the show. Due to the size of the space, there were a lot of passengers who were left out. The Mersey Boys were pitiful singers and dancers. It just didn’t seem they practiced sufficiently. Roxy was a group of 4 singers straight from college Music Theater. They sang fine, but the act was disingenuous. The biggest entertainment negative was the lack of a live band to support the shows. All shows and most entertainment was supported with “karaoke style” background music that sounded like what you hear on an elevator. Some shows had a drummer and a couple of guitars, but it was just very disappointing music. The ship has a couple of small “theaters” (about 100-200 seats), and you can see some of the main theater acts at the smaller venues. The Atrium is a large open space spanning 3 floors, with a large screen. It’s used as a theater, because there is nowhere else to go. This space is terrible. People camp out on the limited seating and never have to leave. Movies, bingo, activities, future cruise sales and everything else is presented in the area, and it is very noisy. Just incredible poor planning and very disappointing for such a nice ship.
Outdoor and other activities: The outdoor activities are great on this ship. We did the ropes course, the climbing wall and putt putt. But the weather was so poor, these activities were open for brief periods. Including the water slides, this ships has great amenities for the Caribbean, but not so good in the middle of the North Atlantic. The Outdoor activities were all free. Many of the activities offered each day have a fee associated with them, which is consistent with Norwegians approach.
On most of the days we were sailing, the seas were very rough and the winds extremely strong. As a result, the ship moved about quite a bit. I never hold the cruise line accountable for poor weather. However, the communication about weather was incredibly poor. There was rarely a forecast on the TV for the next day. Many days there wasn’t a temperature reading. And the seas and the wind speed were shown the same day after day on the Navigation channel. It just seemed as though no one on the bridge had time to keep the info up to date or the passengers weren’t a high priority.
Embarkation was well organized and went fairly well. When they announced boarding would start, they only had 3 wheel chairs, so my wife had to walk the length of the ship. Debarkation was very orderly and went well. Wheel chairs for the ports were never visible, so it didn’t seem they had any.
Due to the issues we had with food, beverage and entertainment, Norwegian is not a cruise line we will use in the future. The quality of their product is substandard to other lines. On top of the above issues, Norwegian charges for everything. Bottled water of any sort is not allowed to be brought on Board at any time. Their “ultimate” beverage package is not ultimate. It does not include bottled water, flavored waters, canned sodas or even a $2 cup of Americano coffee, much less coffee drinks with alcohol. On top of it, they have the gull to charge gratuity on the retail price of the package, and then don’t have adequate bar and wait staff to serve their guests. I’m not sure where that “gratuity” goes. So this will be out last Norwegian cruise for a long while. I need to see improvements from other reviews before I would consider this line again. Read Less