We went on one of the 24 hour taster cruises, with two friends.
Embarkation was somewhat disorganised, but not too slow. Our cabin, a junior suite, was ready on arrival. It appeared to be identical in size to our friends balcony cabin, ... Read More
We went on one of the 24 hour taster cruises, with two friends.
Embarkation was somewhat disorganised, but not too slow. Our cabin, a junior suite, was ready on arrival. It appeared to be identical in size to our friends balcony cabin, but with an improved bathroom. The balcony cabin had a shower cubicle, the junior suite had a shower occupying the side of the bathroom with room for two (if desired!). Similarly the balcony cabin had a single basin, the junior suite a double basin trough. Soap and shower gel was available from dispensers, there were no amenities such as cotton wool, buds etc nor fluffy dressing gowns.
The room was equipped with a coffee machine, one tea bag, sugar and no coffee. On enquiry we were told that coffee pods were not being provided for the one night cruises.
We had only one shower towel between the two of us. I rang down for an extra one and was told that one would be sent but two hours later it had not. I rang again and it then came quickly. But ringing for help was not easy as the operator did not answer the phone, on several occasions, for a considerable time. We did not have a shower mat, assumed these were not provided, but later found out that our friends had one. They also had the conventional decorative towel on the bed which we did not, but we were not too fussed about that.
The bed was large and comfortable, but there was no real suite amenities. The only furnishing difference from the balcony cabin was a bench - type settee instead of a chair. There is not a lot of storage space for a longer cruise.
This is an enormous ship, though not an attractive one externally as it has the appearance of an office block on water. Internally the colours are muted and restrained and the better for it. The general internal appearance is pleasing. Facilities are many and varied, including high level 'assault course' type wire walking, plank walking. Facilities for children included excellent-looking water slides and a crèche.
Not all of the facilities were working. We enjoyed the crazy golf but this would have been better if there had been more than 4 balls available - in total. We used 2 for our party of 4 and gave the other 2 to another party. There were lots of clubs available but others could not play for lack of balls. It seemed as though many of the balls had been broken under pressure of the clubs, as there were broken balls around including in the target shoots. We asked a member of staff but were told there were none more on board.
Similarly we would have loved to play ten pin bowling, and did see some others doing so, but for most of the time this was out of order with technicians seemingly unable to fix the machine. Quite a number of the other machines also were out of order, which seemed surprising for a ship less than a week into service.
Norwegian need to do something about their public address system. Announcements were largely inaudible over the general hubbub, despite us trying to hear them. The only person who could be heard clearly was the captain, when telling us of the importance of attending the muster station drill. He did not otherwise speak. However the other announcements during the drill returned to the inaudible standard. The drill was worryingly lax. Passengers seemed to have no idea where to go and were arriving throughout the demonstration, and being sent to other stations. Lifebelts were not given out and we were supposed to watch one being put on, but the place at which it was being put on was obscured by other passengers so we could see nothing. No attempt appeared to be made to check that all passengers attended.
The self service Garden restaurant served food of a reasonable standard. No attempt was made to invite passengers to use the hand cleaning dispensers, and most did not. As a striking apparent design flaw, the aft lifts (elevators for American readers) emerge in the middle of the Garden restaurant, so passengers wishing to use these for the remainder of the attractions of that deck walk straight through the serving and eating areas. Not clever. The plates in this restaurant are plastic, reminiscent of picnics.
Mid-way through the afternoon we looked on the information screens throughout the ship and found that the 10.00 p.m. performance of the theatre show was full and there were only 170 seats left for the 7.00 p.m., so we booked that. The theatre appears nowhere near big enough for the number of passengers. Tip: book early. We were required to be in our seats 10 minutes before the performance started, reasonably enough, i.e. 6.50. This ruled out a served dinner beforehand. But the result was that when the theatre emptied at 8.30 we, together with all the others attending, all attempted to access the freestyle dining in the main restaurants. They were full, including by those passengers intending to attend the 10.00 o'clock performance, and could not cope leading to lengthy queues, then passengers turned away for an hour or so. Some further consideration needs to be given to the show times.
The show, Million Dollar Quartet, was outstanding, probably the best we have seen on any ship. It appeared to be a bought-in production, and we cannot speak as to the in house team. Regrettably the comedy club was not open during this cruise.
Dinner was a mixed experience. Two of our party had meat options which were considered very good. There was no fish option except lobster/other shellfish. The two non-carnivores therefore had a filled pasta dish, the only vegetarian option. This was appalling, insufficiently cooked, hard, tasteless, cold. They asked to see the maître d'. This took 10 or more minutes and when he came he was offhand, not very apologetic.
One particular gripe was the mark-ups on the wine. Cruisers expect a service charge on drinks (in this case a steep 18%). But Norwegian also added VAT and duty, apparently justifying this by a note on menus in minute type that in certain ports local taxes were added (we had the meal at sea but never mind). The result was to increase the menu price by around 50% in total.
Breakfast was very slow. 1 hour 10 minutes from entering the restaurant until our hot courses came. A grapefruit was cut in half but not segmented. Difficult to eat an unsegmented grapefruit, especially when the only spoon provided is a soup spoon! We asked for marmalade for the toast but this never came.
Overall, Norwegian have spent a fortune on this ship and there is the potential for some excellent facilities for those who like them. But there is a low staff to passenger ratio and it shows. The passenger-facing staff were friendly and doing their best but rushed off their feet and in many cases insufficiently trained. Things may well improve when the staff have worked together on this ship for longer. There was an unpleasant apparent fear of their middle-managers who could be seen berating staff but not lending a hand to show an example when things were busy. Read Less