This was our first Norwegian cruise after sailing twice on Carnival and wanting something different. We sailed during "Spring break season" for us New Englanders, so prices were higher than we had experienced in the past on ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian cruise after sailing twice on Carnival and wanting something different. We sailed during "Spring break season" for us New Englanders, so prices were higher than we had experienced in the past on Carnival, so I personally had high expectations for everything on this 5-day Western Caribbean ship.
We booked our flight through the NCL Air promotion. We had a difficult experience getting to the ship, as our first flight with American Airlines was delayed and subsequently cancelled the morning of the cruise. After contacting the airline and Norwegian's Emergency Air Hotline and discovering they couldn't get us on any other flight, we had to decide to last minute drive to NYC (3.5 hours getting into the city during rush hour) and incur a $250 parking fee which we had not planned for. I was very worried about parking and getting through security at the airport so we didn't look into other options. Thankfully, security was quick and we had an hour before boarding. We dealt with our return flight later on in the cruise, as the AA rep said she did not want to alter an existing reservation that morning, before we boarded our flight to Miami. NOTE: EVEN IF YOU BOOK AIR THROUGH NORWEGIAN, GUEST SERVICES ON SHIP WILL NOT MAKE NEW ARRANGEMENTS FOR YOU/BE EMPATHETIC OR KIND. When we spoke to them about fixing our return flight, they first of all did not understand our problem (our return flight was now to a different airport where our car was not parked) and insisted our return flight was not cancelled (yes, we know!). Then, once they understood the problem they said the only thing they could do is email American Airlines and wait for a response in the morning (What? It's an airline. They're open all the time. *eye roll*). The representative also said that we "should have come to guest services sooner to address the problem" (this was the second to last day, and when I spoke to the American Airlines rep they said we would have no problem even doing it the day we returned to Miami). I asked the NCL rep, "so you're saying this whole problem is our fault and you won't help us?" "No, ma'am, that's not what I'm saying." OKAY. Whole experience left a bad taste in our mouth. Rep was rude, condescending, and un-empathetic which are exactly the things you should not be as a customer service agent. I believe this was a supervisor. I will say there was another Guest Services rep who chased after us to understand our problem correctly and make the email, which was nice. Basically, all in all we had to take an hour of our own time out of our vacation to call the Airline and make the appropriate arrangements ourselves, even though we booked the flights through Norwegian. Maybe I'm foolish, but I thought they would handle that for you if you booked through them.
Anyway, moving on!
THE SHIP 5/5:
The ship itself was very nice. We have only cruised on some of the older Carnival ships with the tacky Vegas-style decor, so this was a nice change. I really did like the style and decor of the ship throughout. It was a little hard to navigate at first, but we learned quickly.
OUR CABIN 4/5:
We originally booked interior but won an upgrade for oceanview with a nice large picture window. This was new for us, and we loved it! We did experience our light going out in the shower on the 3rd day, which was fixed by the next day after telling our steward. Steward also left several empty drinks in the room for a whole day without taking them. Maybe he didn't see them... not sure, but had never experienced that before.
I thought the food in the free dining areas was okay-good. First meal at O'Sheehan's after boarding left me perplexed: I ordered fajitas and received no plate on which to make them, and received huge strips of meat that were way too big for fajitas. However, they tasted good. First night in Venetian was best meal in MDR, I got bruschetta, caesar salad, chicken milanese, and a sea salt caramel chocolate tart which was out of this world good. However, on other nights, the MDR dinner menus just didn't speak to me. For the rest of the cruise when I sat down to look at the menu I had a hard time deciding because nothing jumped out at me (never remember experiencing this on Carnival). We were very impressed with specialty dining, however. Los Lobos was the highlight of our dining on the ship! Our waiter was awesome and we only ordered sides, apps, and margs and were stuffed to the brim! A great value. We also experienced the Brazilian steakhouse which was a new experience that we greatly enjoyed as well. I really did not like the morning breakfast buffet, which is strange for me because I usually don't mind buffets. Lunch buffet was okay.
As for drinks, they seemed to take a long time to be made no matter where you went. Forget about even trying to get one out on the main pool deck. When I tried to get one at Bimini Bar, it took a good 20 minutes. Long lines everywhere.
Don't remember too much from this, I think it went smoothly and quickly!
We saw two shows and one comedy routine. The first show was the "Soul Rockin" musical show, which I personally did not enjoy very much. Perhaps because most of the songs were older and I didn't know them; I also thought many of the performers did a very poor job lip syncing. However, my mom really enjoyed it so maybe it's again just because I wasn't familiar with the songs. The Elements show was phenomenal! Really felt like an experience you'd have off-broadway. We were both blown away by this one. Loved the magician who was in it, and we were bummed that we couldn't make it to see him the last night. I always love comedy on the ships, so we saw the last night late-night adult only show. Francis DeLorenzo was pretty good and I laughed quite a bit. Yes, I know the comedy is for adults, I just thought the routine was trying a bit too hard to be all about SEX !!! Lmao.
I enjoyed the onboard activities that the ship offered. Never felt like we were bored or didn't have something to do. We enjoyed one round of Bingo (the caller was a riot), a painting class (new experience for us which we thoroughly enjoyed), dance parties (mostly people watching for us lol), shopping, and the live music. We also purchased the spa pass and went there 4/5 days -- very relaxing and worth it.
Now this one is hard for me to describe. I guess overall, we had more exemplary service than not. But we did have a few notable times when service was disappointing: first moments on ship at O'Sheehan's with waiter, spa rep who was affronted when we did not want to try his teeth whitening sample, and of course our guest services friend. Overall though, we had more great waiters than not, and the live band Azaelea sought us out after their Fleetwood Mac set to thank us for staying! We thought this was super nice.
We only booked one excursion through NCL and that was the "Monkey River Eco Tour." The tour did not depart until 2 hours after scheduled time because our ship got into port much later than expected due to rough seas. This excursion was pretty good, but it made for a long grueling day in the heat and sun, and we were left with little time to explore Harvest Caye. Our tour guides were very good. Other guests seemed taken aback that we did exactly what the tour specified - a boat ride through jungle river and a hike through jungle looking for howler monkeys (which we did see plenty of them). I think just due to the later timing of the activity (starting at 12pm instead of 10am), people were drained, dehydrated, and exhausted at this peak of the day for such an outdoor activity.
The other excursion we booked through Native Choice tours and was fabulous.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
I just feel like we spent SO much more for this cruise when the services received were very similar to Carnival. It also honestly felt like the addons and extras were around every corner and pushed way more than on our past cruises. Like I said, I did really like the updated ship, but I'm not sure if that it is entirely worth it to me for the price I paid. Read Less