Although we cruised a while ago on the NCL Joy (December 2017 and April 2018), I thought our experiences might be useful to share now that the Joy is leaving the Asian market. I will aim to keep my comments to points that may still apply ... Read More
Although we cruised a while ago on the NCL Joy (December 2017 and April 2018), I thought our experiences might be useful to share now that the Joy is leaving the Asian market. I will aim to keep my comments to points that may still apply in the new market, so won't bore you with the dismal embarkation experience in Shanghai! The ship was less than a year old when we sailed, and is beautifully fitted out with that luxury feel.
We booked a Concierge Suite, which I believe is unique to the Joy. I will comment below on the details of the room, but included with the room were a number of privileges, including access to a dedicated lounge where breakfast and lunch were served daily. The lounge we used (which was located directly above the bridge) is going to be opened up to all after the refurbishment (Observation Lounge), which is a shame as it was a glorious quiet location to hang out (with amazing views), but the website is still promising private dining. We also got access to a concierge desk, a free go kart ride and a free laser tag game, the "unlimited beverage package" and 6 speciality dining coupons.
We did not visit the MDRs as they exclusively served Asian food, but the Gardens Cafe buffet had a great selection of asian and western food. We mainly though dined in the speciality restaurants. Many were the usual NCL offerings: Cagneys, La Cucina, Teppanyaki, Le Bistro and Food Republic; and they were all good. Food Republic was particularly good for casual dining. It is disappointing to see that they are replacing the Chinese Hot Pot and Korean BBQ with a "social comedy and night club" - it would have been nice for the ship to keep some individuality. There was also a great Noodle Bar which is being replaced by a fitness centre; and also a wonderful Grand Tea Room which is being replaced by a Brew House.
Of course one of the big differences when the ship was built (specifically for the asian market) was that the "pool deck" was replaced by Serenity Gardens, an open space, with a couple of smaller pools. This was a lovely area, and deck plans now posted seem to indicate that it is staying that way. Which could be a shock for people who expect a big pool in the centre with circling loungers, but lovely for people who aren't lounge lizards.
The Japanese ports we visited were amazing, there were no NCL excursions, as the majority of passengers were with Chinese tour groups, and they all had their own included excursions. This was no problem, as all the ports were easy to self-explore, and as well as visits to historic and cultural sites in Hiroshima, Kochi, Nagasaki and Fukuoka we got to visit Universal Studios Japan (Osaka).
The entertainment was first class. We got two of the NCL Production shows - Paradis and Elements, which were a great contract and showed off the talents of the cast; and also some amazing guests artists including magicians from China and aerialists from Russia. Shows were packed every performance (3 show per day), and were filled with an enthusiastic audience.
Overall, we couldn't fault the service on board. Signage, and announcements were in Mandarin and English, and everyone was particularly friendly to the Aussie foreigners. It is a shame that the cruises weren't promoted more globally, I think with the opportunity, a lot more people could have enjoyed this beautiful ship and the wonders of Japan and China. Read Less