36 Norwegian Joy Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

We liked this cruise for the itinerary and the ship. We are fans of the newer and larger ships. The crew were friendly and the ship very nice. But sadly we were on the ship with the Norovirus. I got the virus (for 5 days) inspite ... Read More
We liked this cruise for the itinerary and the ship. We are fans of the newer and larger ships. The crew were friendly and the ship very nice. But sadly we were on the ship with the Norovirus. I got the virus (for 5 days) inspite of vigorous hand washing and after we got home we both got a cold. But that happens and I was lucky that I did not require hospitalization like some did. Now the good, the bad, and the very very ugly. The good - the ship is amazing, the crew extremely pleasant and caring and our cabin steward Lizel was amazing. Fernando at the shore excursion desk was super friendly and helpful. Lobster is back using your speciality dining package plus a $19. upcharge The bad - missing - cookies, body lotion except if you're in concierge class or above, carving station in the buffet at lunch, music/dancing in the Manhattan Room, and along with seafood night (unless you want the fried sailor basket in the Local) Prime Rib night had also gone by the wayside. They substituted roast sirloin but you need to sharpen your teeth. Their complimentary menu has also slipped in quality and variety in my opinion. We could not stop in Striup Cay because of the weather, which - ok I understand this was due to safety reasons. But they did not add another port nor did they give compensation for the missed port. The very, very ugly - getting off in LA. ok so the ship contacted the Norovirus about 3 days prior to the end of the cruise. I recognize that they had a lot of work to do to get the ship ready for the next cruise but the manner in which they handled the disembarkation was unorganized and in my opinion very unsafe. They called the groups so fast that before our group 2 tour got out of the door they were calling for group 7. When we got to the luggage area there was toral chaos and it only got worse Lines to get out sprung up everywhere. There was no organization to it whatsoever. Our line got stopped from moving for over 2 hours as they let another line go and go and go. You wanted to switch lines but were afraid that they would halt the one moving once you got there. People were frustrated, yelling and getting angry. They called in the police and homeland security to maintain order. I felt unsafe. NCL staff just kept on saying this was not their fault it was caused by homeland security. That's rubbish. It was NCLs responsibility because they dumped us all out at the same time without giving any time for the group they previously called to exit the ship and baggage area. Ok. I understand they need to clean the ship but it should not have been at our expense and making us feel unsafe. I will never, ever use the port of LA again and if I ever, ever have another experience like this again on NCL they will lose a few Platinum cruisers. Our 9 a.m. tour did not leave until 11 30 (at least they waited) but our tour was cut short again with no compensation. I've been a pretty big fan of NCL but this experience has left a sour taste. I would recommend a Panama canal cruise because it was pretty amazing but I'd have reservations about the port of LA. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
16 day Panama Canal Cruise from Florida to Calif. Iincredibly beautiful ship, and our 1st experience w/ Haven. Embark/Disembark was a DISASTER w/ no communication re WHY we were standing 1.5 hrs. IN the Haven 'room'. Thousands ... Read More
16 day Panama Canal Cruise from Florida to Calif. Iincredibly beautiful ship, and our 1st experience w/ Haven. Embark/Disembark was a DISASTER w/ no communication re WHY we were standing 1.5 hrs. IN the Haven 'room'. Thousands of prior passengers clogging up entry curb area trying to get OFF the ship. Apparently NCL's Luggage and Passport scanners were broken, no updates given. Very confused port staff in Long Beach telling us contradictory directions. Paramedics took 2 passengers away that we saw standing in line foe almost 2 HOURS to get off. Only 2 (yes TWO) Customs officicals clearing US citizens, 4 for International, with empty desks next to them. Yes, Noroviurs was on the ship the last 4-5 days, NCL shared this w/ us, gave us phone #'s to call if exhibiting any symtoms, and they immediatly cleaned EVERYthing...pillows, ketchup bottles, all buffet lines became longer e/t staff (wearing gloves) had to HAND plates, napkins, and serve each dish. Kudos to NCL, they really tried, but it's a nasty bug ('m an RN), and they didn't share how MANY passengers had it, but we saw the Fire Trucks/Medics and TV Stations at the Long Beach Port, so it must have been bad. Our room in Haven on 17th floor w/ LARGE balcony (room for 2 chase lounges, plush blue pads, 2 brown wicker chairs & small table w/ room to spare. DIVINE! We were under the Haven Rest. so quiet 90% of the time, and kind of loud footsteps and furniture moving from 6 am ish-8 am? Great food there except the menu is the SAME every meal except for 1 'special'-(Beef Strogonoff was awesome!) Room Steward "Tito" was stellar, and courteous as is ALL staff. They dress very professionally, are ALWAYS kind, yet I didn't feel the Butler was really needed...he simply brought canapes each afternoon (too many, we finally said stop:), and did bring breakfast (w/ white table cloth) into our room which was great. Garden Buffet was wonderful; espec. Asian food, Pasta & Noodle 'Bar's, Indian food, and 8 different flavors of ice cream. It's hard to find a place to sit tho... The Navigation crew did GREAT...always great sailing, arriving in ports early or on time, updates on weather, and stellar job thru the Panama Canal. UNfortunatly the 'Narrator' spoke VERY little during our 8-9 hr. travels thru the enitre canal, and his accent made it hard to understand. What happened to the older gentleman who gave our 45 min. info. class in the Theatre the day prior? He said he's sailed 33 times, yet the next day HE didn't give the info. while going thru, but a Spanish gentleman who spoke RARELY. NCL did give us a very helpful guide (shiny, fold-up to put in pocket), but we had lots of ??'s. WE've never seen so many elderly folks (it is an expen$ive cruise tho),w/ walkers, canes, wheelchairs and scooters everywhere. NCL should have seperate lines as these special folks clogged up lines at EVERY port necessitating a crew member to help w/ their assistive device, and them trying to go up/down steep ramps/ladders. The rest of us w a i t t e d ...A LOT. We've crusied A lot w/ other lines, and hope NCL can work w/ the ports (espec. embark/disembark) as the ship/trip were wonderful; yet bookended w/ VERY poor communication/lines/delays. (We know several missed their flights.) We'll try NCL in the future and wish them the best as they did have a tough run w/ the Noro virus. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was a last minute booking--about a month before the cruise. The fare dropped to $699 (this is not a type) for a balcony cabin! For a 16-day cruise and Panama Canal on our bucket list, we just couldn't pass this cruise up. This ... Read More
This was a last minute booking--about a month before the cruise. The fare dropped to $699 (this is not a type) for a balcony cabin! For a 16-day cruise and Panama Canal on our bucket list, we just couldn't pass this cruise up. This was also our 11th cruise in 3 years--and 3rd on NCL--so we knew what to expect. The Joy is a mega-ship with 3800 passengers. We only felt crowded and waited for elevators after the Muster, Leaving the Joy Theater at night or when returning from a shore excursion. Pros: - We loved the Joy. It's a new ship, so it was in good condition....everything worked, which can be a problem on some older ships. No elevators out of service or bathrooms out of order. - NCL knows how to do Anytime Dining! There's rarely a wait for a table and if there was a 20 minute wait, we went to the Manhattan Room--one deck up--and were immediately seated. Unlike other cruise lines, they didn't ask us to share--which we hate. Also we were often given a table by the window, which we love. - The Observation Lounge on the 15th deck was our favorite hang-out during the day. Beautiful views with lots of comfortable seating, table and chairs and there's a small complimentary "snack buffet" with salads and small sandwiches, desserts and coffee/tea. Starbucks and Bar service are also on deck. This is where we spent the day during the Panama Canal crossing--my husband went up there at 2 am to save us two of the lounges, so we had a front row seat the entire day. - Entertainment: All good in the Joy Theater: Footloose was a delightful musical/dance show and Elements--all I can say is WOW! Do not miss it! And we enjoyed the Cavern club with the Beatle Revolution Band--for each of their three shows (Early Years, Sgt Peppers and Abbey Road eras). Not to be missed. Our cruise had an older crowd, so people lined-up for this small venue. Tip: if you enter through the outside door from the Waterfront, you can get a table up front. - Food: Dining rooms: Hit or miss. Some meals were excellent. Others--not so much. But as long as someone was serving it, we were happy. Garden Cafe/Buffet: We thought the food was great for a buffet. Good variety. All fresh and tasty. Check out the Indian food--quite good. And there are so many omelette stations that there was barely a wait. - Cabin: We were in 14898--an assigned sail away balcony towards the back of the ship. Except for long walks (which helped us keep our weight down), it was great. Plenty of storage space in the room and the bathroom, so we were comfortable on a 16-day cruise. - Service: We find the service on NCL to be good with one exception that we missed. In the Garden Cafe, you have to get your own drinks. We didn't realize how much we liked this little convenience (that you find on Princess and Holland), with the morning coffee. Don't miss the complimentary continental breakfast room service--always timely and good choices. The seasonal fruit plate is lovely and the choice of muffins good. We did a continental breakfast on shore days to save us time. - Shore Excursions: We did two: Cartagena, Colombia--a boat ride with walking tour of the Walled City...do the boat and skip the bus. It saves a lot of time with traffic. We also did the Hop-on-Hop-off in Antigua, Guatamala. It's 1.5 hour drive to Antigua, but worth it, because you get to see Guatamala countryside and volcanoes. Both Cartagena and Antigua were built in the 1500s during the Spanish Conquistador era, so they were fascinating. In Acapulco, we just got off the ship and walked to the Marketplace; there are many locals there who will guide you for the cost of a tip--ours preferred dollars, so he exchanged dollars for pesos, so we could buy in the local convenience store. We are not new to the Mexican Riviera ports, so we get off and do our own thing: in Puerto Vallarta we take a cab (about $5 pp) to the Malecon, walk, shop and stop for $1 Margaritas, Cerveza and guacamole--a cheap day. Mazatlan, we take a cab to the Gold Zone and shop and again eat guac, tacos and Margaritas (We always go to Lucky B's--good service, good prices and great food--try the Mango Margarita). In Cabo, we do our own excursion. Locals with small boats will give you a great tour of the arch and surrounding rocks and seals for a fraction of what a shore excursion costs. If you keep saying no, they keep dropping the price, so we spent $10 pp for a wonderful private tour...although it was our fourth time in Cabo, it is still fun. - Twice during the cruise, they offered laundry service $19.95 for whatever you could fit into a bag. On a long cruise this was a nice convenience. Now the Cons (Very few): - The lines getting on and off the ship were absolutely horrible. To check-in and board, we were in line for over two hours. The computer system had gone down, so they couldn't let the departing passengers off the ship and couldn't check in the arriving passengers. Getting off the ship was even worse, through immigration in LA. Four agents for 3800 passengers and no TSA Global kiosks. We got off the ship at 9am and cleared immigration at 12:30. Not a fun way to leave a wonderful cruise. - NCL nickels and dimes you. The cost of drinks is high...if you spend $200 more on the cabin, they will offer you a free drink package--BUT you still have to pay 20% gratuity, which works out to about $20/day x 16 days x 2 people = $640 for your "Free Drinks". We can't drink that much, nor want to, especially on shore excursion days...so we just buy drinks as we want them. - Specialty Dining: High cost! Restaurants charge HIGH ala carte prices from appetizers, salad/soup, entree and desserts. A meal at Cagney's steak house would exceed $100 pp and there were still up charges for lobster like entrees, even if you had the Free Specialty Dining. If you want specialty Dining, then buy a separate 3-dinner package which is $99. - Special Attractions Fees: $15 for 10 minutes on the Race Track. Charges for the Laser Tag and Galaxy Games. So be prepared...if you want to do these activities. - Photos: Again expensive. So be prepared to spend $150 for 5 picture with a digital flash drive. Recommendation: Spend the $59. for the Panama Canal Photo Book and Video. The pictures of the ship crossing the canal are great and a worthwhile expense to remember the crossing--and you cannot take your own pics of the ship! - The last day of the cruise, the captain announced there was a "gastro-intestional virus outbreak" and they were implementing extra sanitary/cleaning precautions and offering free visits at the Medical Center. The only thing we really noticed was that salt and pepper, condiments etc. were removed from the tables and they gave us paper menus. And we saw crew sanitizing everything from hand rails to elevator panels. We were not affected--we always wash our hands and use the sanitizers wherever they are available. Another tip: Bring a packet of Clorox-Wipes or a travel Lysol spray and wipe down your cabin the first day you arrive just as a precaution. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
With a name like Cruise Critic I think we can too easily get in the habit of finding problems with sailing. As with all things in life to find a problem is pretty easy but to recognize the good is something that too often can be a ... Read More
With a name like Cruise Critic I think we can too easily get in the habit of finding problems with sailing. As with all things in life to find a problem is pretty easy but to recognize the good is something that too often can be a struggle. We boarded this cruise with hesitation after a terrible NCL Epic experience 4 years ago. We have resisted sailing NCL during the last 4 years and discovered our love for Celebrity in that time. Anyway we went into this sailing with a lot of concern. This cruise started with a change to our ports which was not a last minute change but something NCL knew about and would have been nice to know before making final payment. I do believe this pre-sailing communication is something NCL could afford to invest some serious attention to. At the port we were greeted by a challenging boarding process that we later found out was a compounding of a disembarkation computer failure. It was long, certainly not the best organized and surely not the most transparent. That being said when we arrived around 1pm it took us nearly 90 minutes to make it through security and get our keycards. On a 16 day cruise I think I can give it a wash. The ship is beautiful, clean and amazing art pieces on every deck. The layout is easy to learn though I'll say now on the last day I still struggle to remember which way is fwd and which is aft. All floors pass from fwd to aft which makes the layout very easy. Unlike many ships the Buffet is FWD so I think that continued to throw me off. Our room a balcony was nice, with a simple layout of bed and couch. Storage was less than I've experienced on other ships but sufficient in every way. The bathroom was a typical small ship bathroom but with solid glass shower it made it feel not as claustrophobic. A little thing that took us a day or too to figure out was that the bathroom trash is on the door under the sink. Everything about the room was sufficient for as much time as we spend there we were very content. Going into this sailing we were told the staff and bartenders were average to mediocre. We found this to be anything but reality for us. Every bar with the exception of maybe 2 always remembered our names, drinks and engaged with us warmly. We fell in love with the district (brew pub with over 70 types of beer, all but maybe 4 included in Premium Bev Pack) and their team. It's a concept we would love to see rolled out across all ships. Each bar has signature cocktails most of which fall too sweet for me but the bar staff are always willing to adapt, many of the cocktails include a few Premium Plus liquors so it is a nice way to get those without going over the $15 limit. The bar staff as a whole may have provided our best experience of any ship. The food is another that exceeded my expectations. Knowing that a ship is composing 10k+ meals a day I know to keep my expectations in check. In the buffet the flavors were good, temperature always hot and options to satisfy. The flow was nice in that there are a half dozen eggs stations for breakfast keeping things moving with little to no waiting. Those stations transition to specialty foods for lunch and dinner. The main dining was also very good for what banquet dining. The local their bar/grill always performed for me with good flavors and satisfing meals. Specialty restaurants we delicious but "Q" and Le Bistro took the cake. All meals at Q were enormous. It's expected that cruise specialty is over the top but this was so far over it felt more than wasteful. That being said everything we ate was good and the Pit Master platter was incredible also order the banana pudding! Le Bistro was a multi visit for us, actually 3 times. The service is impeccable, the wine steward was outstanding, and the food every item was perfect. Cagney's and Food Republic were ok but not worth the visit, people we traveled with like Teppenyaki and Ocean Blue but La Cucina seemed to leave the most to be desired. Activities on board can be sparse at times but guest involved events were really a riot and a lot of fun. The speedway was faster and more fun than we anticipated, book with some other people about 6 I think would be most fun. The VR Galaxy games were also great fun. We were encouraged to go for one of their tournaments and did. We won and as a prize got free plays and even speedway passes. Some tournaments were free others were at a cost of buying a game, getting one free and then the tournament included. Either way we'll worth the fun for all ages. We missed laser tag but loved the ocean loop slide. Thankfully on our sailing it was next to no wait ever so I crushed myself doing 8 or 9 rides straight. The slide was no big deal but those damn stairs... Hello where is my elevator? The tube slide was no where near as fun for me so I did it 2 times and that was all. Never got around to laser tag but seemed awesome, next trip. Entertainment... Sigh... I wish I could give better reviews here but as a whole we found entertainment average. The elements show was great but footloose was crushing to watch. The other acts were average at best. Comedy we only saw one guy but general consensus was of the 2 on at any time one was good the other was average. DJ and bands were all pretty good, Beatle's cover let me down I have to mention Martin the General Manager. He handled a small issue for me and recognized me by face and name in Port to ensure it had been taken care of. Your ship reflects your commitment to service Martin thank you! The Meet & Greet... We had over 100 for our M&G and NCL blew me away with their service for this. Little chocolate torts and fresh fruit smoothie milk shakes. It was held in the District so as I've already mentioned the service was impeccable. All the officers were there and we had a fabulous time. We also did 2 slot pulls increased our winnings on both, one hit a small jackpot, thanks Lucky Debbie! We did 2 poker runs, a gift exchange and a pub crawl. This was a great CC group all the way through the sailing! Ports of call. We did the Western Sailing of the Panama Canal. Missed GSC as a result of rough waters and Costa Rica apparently is a non possiblity for this ship due to size so any further sailings unless CR does something about their port be ready for a visit to Acapulco instead. Cartegena was amazing I have a great contact for tours, just reach out! In Guatemala we did a Go With Gus Humanitarian tour that was amazing. Mazatlan was far better than expected, Acapulco was blah, the canal was simple but cool. Porto Vallarta was great and Cabo was over an priced Disney. All in all the 3 sea days before Cartegena and 3 sea days after may have been too much and had we known we probably wouldn't have book this itnerary. Disembarking was a Trainwreck in LAX and whoever was running the LA port did maybe the worse job I've ever experienced running the lines and organization/communication to other port staff and passengers. Honestly if that is common that person should be fired. To put it in perspective I saw a fist fight break out, the Dept of Homeland Security Police called and be required to bring order to atleast 3 different interactions, multiple people passing out and neading to be treated by paramedics, as well as immense aggression at the failure of communication and order from dozens of people which including shouting, screaming and near storming of gates, lines and guards. It took me nearly 3 hrs to get out of the port that said the process getting off the ship itself was simple and maybe the best I've ever experienced, another good job to NCL. Norovirus. This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the CDC level Gastrointestinal Intestinal issues onboard. I must commend NCL for their strong, direct and rapid response to the outbreak. The efforts to which they went to continually sanitize, clean and inform guest of the issue was so professional that I give them the highest props. Even in Cabo they had people sanitizing each of the tenders before and after people made a trip on both land and ship sides. Hands down the strongest and most serious response I've ever seen. This is a reminder people to wash your hands and uses the sanitizing stations always, also don't argue when staff recommended to use them, you just seem like a gross and uninformed person. Also, last one, don't use your hands to grab anything from the buffet, it's disgusting and jeopardizes the well being if a ship. In summary, the NCL Joy is a beautiful ship with an incredible crew. The company could invest in pre-sailing customer service and a greater level of transparency. The ports were nice but 2 stints of 3 sea days back to back was crushing and we wouldn't book an itnerary like that again. The district was our favorite bar but all the bar staff blew us away. Food was good across the ship but it was truly great at Q and Le Bistro. Events were a bit lacking but the onboard ship specific activities (Speedway, Galaxy, slides) were better than anticipated. We ended the sailing buying 4 Cruise Next credits and have been warned back over to NCL! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
A group of 9 went on the November 8th Panama Canal Cruise. After the payment deadline and our money was collected in full, Norwegian announced that the stop in Costa Rica was cancelled and replaced it with Acapulco. We were all very ... Read More
A group of 9 went on the November 8th Panama Canal Cruise. After the payment deadline and our money was collected in full, Norwegian announced that the stop in Costa Rica was cancelled and replaced it with Acapulco. We were all very disappointed and angry at the timing. There was nothing we could do. We were already scheduled to stop in 3 ports in Mexico and Costa Rica was my primary motivation for choosing this cruise.There was no weather or political issue and no explanation was offered. We believe that this change was financially driven. Boarding was a nightmare. 2 hours of standing in a cattle line. The Bahamas was cancelled due to weather. Not Norwegian's fault - but we had so few stops scheduled to begin with. As other reviewers have stated, the venue spaces are small and it became a real challenge to get a seat for the more popular shows. While we did make reservations for the only 2 shows that were available over a 16 day period, other performances - especially the comedy was ridiculous. We were told that we could not make reservations for these and that it was first come. That was wrong so we waited on a few long lines in hope of a seat. The Beatles cover band was great, but again - it was a feeding frenzy for seats - keeping in mind that this ship was not booked to full capacity... I can't imagine the insanity if it had been. The complimentary restaurants were insanely slow. I complained to the group on numerous occasions that we were spending the entire evening waiting for dinner. By the time we finished (2 - 2 1/2 hours later) we had missed so many events. The faster solution, the buffet, was very hit and miss on the quality of food. I too was graced with the norovirus for several days and had to stay isolated. Room service was free, but there was no attempt at providing any selection of light foods. My first attempt at solid food - I ordered toast. I got 2 slices of dry untoasted bread. When I asked for water and crackers - I got water with the promise to return. That didn't happen. They were more interested in retrieving their tray. I missed all of the Mexican Riviera (not Norwegian's fault) but with a 16 cruise and only 6 ports - It was a very LONG time on the boat. Even without the illness. On the plus side - the staff was very courteous and some of the acts were very good. The Beatles, as I mentioned were spot on. Cryptic Duo and the Tropical 4 were among my favorites - however one had to choose entertainment over dinner as the two often conflicted due to the time it took to dine. Footloose was fantastic and Elements was very good. Again, though - only 2 shows over a period of 16 days. Disembarkation was better for us than others (as I now see from the reviews) We did not check in any bags and were able to get in front of the cattle line. It was only about 1/2 hour compared to others 2-3 hours nightmare. I would have to say that I am totally cruised out, but if I ever consider doing this again, I would not trust Norwegian to adhere to the port schedule promised. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The price for the cruise was great and always wanted to go though the Panama Canal. The room was nice size and the aesthetics of the ship were great. The dinning rooms looked nice and the main theater was nice and beyond my ... Read More
The price for the cruise was great and always wanted to go though the Panama Canal. The room was nice size and the aesthetics of the ship were great. The dinning rooms looked nice and the main theater was nice and beyond my expectations. The issue is the basic design of the boat. The central bank of elevators were always packed and had to wait a really long time to use. The issue is the second bank of elevators were in the back of the ship not used often because of location, so the drawing board design was wrong from the start. The other design issue was the main buffet dinning area did not have enough seating. We heard the ship was not full, yet we often circled for a 10 to 15 minutes looking for a place to sit. That problem was compounded when the buffet food was not hot to begin with. Speaking of the food, there was plenty of room for improvement. The salad bar was a joke. Of the 10 items I might put on my salad it contained one..... Lettuce. And the dressing was very watery. Most of the "hot" dishes were not. Generally the proteins were dry and only fair taste. I don't eat hot dogs but I had plenty on this trip because of the poor options. We took a Celebrity trip last summer and the food was GREAT. They need to do something about checking into and out of the ship at the end of the trip. Getting off at the port of call worked well and was well thought out. However over 2 hours to check into the ship and over 3 hours to get off the ship was a nightmare. I must commend the staff on switching to serializing mode when the ship had a flu outbreak. they seemed to stop the spread of illness and we heard only 200 people got sick. The issue became the staff wasn't available to take orders and serve meals so dinner took 2 hours. Would I take another Norwegian cruise... Nope Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Two words - Norovirus, Disembarkation Multiple patients from illness, including several removed by ambulance after landing in LA at the end of the trip. Our mantra about halfway through the cruise became, "Don't touch ... Read More
Two words - Norovirus, Disembarkation Multiple patients from illness, including several removed by ambulance after landing in LA at the end of the trip. Our mantra about halfway through the cruise became, "Don't touch ANYTHING!!!" Sheer chaos on disembarkation and no help from the staff to get us straightened out. Were accidentally put into the "quarantine" line without our luggage and had to beg, scream, cry to get any help finding our bags. Even called NCL and was told that they couldn't help - that we should just file a claim for lost bags. WHAT?!?!? Finally a customs officer took pity and escorted passengers, one by one, into the immigration building to retrieve their bags. No thanks to NCL! Average to good food with good variety. Lots of activities and constant stimulation (is that really what cruise ship passengers are looking for? I was fortunate enough to have a balcony to hang out on to get away from the constant noise and crowds). Pleasant crew, even under stress from the viral outbreak. "Washy washy, happy happy!' Shore excursions okay, although some were better than others. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Wanted to do the Panama Canal, and the bonus of Costa Rica was a big plus. Been on a couple of cruises and lines, so wanted to try something different. The included 5 'free' perks was a draw as well, especially the $99 airfare. ... Read More
Wanted to do the Panama Canal, and the bonus of Costa Rica was a big plus. Been on a couple of cruises and lines, so wanted to try something different. The included 5 'free' perks was a draw as well, especially the $99 airfare. The trip started with a red-eye across the US, and a connecting flight to Ft Lauderdale, tiring, but expected. Then the trouble started. The ground transportation at Ft Lauderdale to the Miami cruise terminal was a cluster and a half; 3 or 4 different people directing groups this way and that to different buses, and ended up with them yelling at each other in front of the customers when one group of 10 people were told to get on a bus in front of another 10 who were waiting with another "guide" for that very same bus; they're were way to many chiefs and not enough workers for the contracted transportation company. Eventually we got on a bus after waiting for the sporadic transportation. Then we arrived at the Miami cruise terminal. The porters didn't know any correct information, but their hands were immediately out to collect tips to move bags 10 feet from the bus to a cart. The security staff had people waiting in the heat, no lines were moving, and even when they did start, it was also a cluster, only one screening line open, one woman working her butt off trying to get the trays from behind the scanners out to the front, while three male co-workers joking and laughing but not doing anything. Once we got past the "security," getting our cabin cards and from there onto the ship was efficient. After that, during the two weeks, the ship itself was spectacular, cabin was beautiful, attendant was great, entertainment was non-stop, and crew was always pleasant, Cruise Director "Dan-Dan" and staff were energizer bunnies, (even when things got rough - more on that later), and the Cruise Critic bunch was an extra blast of fun as well. Dinners at the "extra" dining rooms were spectacular, on par with the expectations of other cruise lines; but food in the buffet and main dining rooms was consistently bland, nothing spectacular at all (it looked good, but then there was just no taste, and no variety). It was funny that the only standout was some Indian food on one small corner of the buffet, which itself wasn't very good or the crepe station opposite it. The rest of the many stations were all identical food, and not super appealing; I've paid $9.99 for better buffets all over the world. But the crew were working their butts off to keep it stocked and clean though. The save was "The Local" a 24 hour spot, food was consistently good, and basically comfort food. Specialty Mojitos and staff at the Sugarcane bar were outstanding, and the rest of the bars were good as well, the frozen drinks were better at the poolside bar, when the machine was working. When we stopped at our first destination, the Bahamas private island, the weather turned, so they had to cancel right as we arrived. Understandable, but this was not a good thing as they had already canceled the planned port of Costa Rica and substituted Acapulco, which has a currently Level 4 advisory from the US State Dept that states "U.S. government employees may not travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco," due to the fact that armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. So Norwegian is getting some negative feedback for no decent communication on why Costa Rica was canceled, especially since 'currently' the Feb 2020 Panama Canal crossings still show this itinerary. So we had many extra days at sea, with no effort for compensation. I'm sure the casino, gift shops, and 'extra' cost amenities were happy to increase Norwegians compensation while customers needed to do something new after being stuck out at sea for extra days, but then had to pay extra for it. The Panama Canal was mainly why we booked this cruise, and it lived up to the expectations, although waiting for low tide to get under the Bridge of the Americas was an interesting hiccup. None of the ship organized shore excursions were especially great or cheap, but the $50 refund (per cabin) and guarantee of the ship not leaving was the only reason why we used them, as there were plenty of options to book ahead of time or right there on the pier. Colombia was interesting, but the panhandlers were on an extra level of intrusive and persistent. Guatemala was very informative, and the coffee plantation was great. The pier was really good, with a zoo and nice facilities. Acapulco was not scary, but we didn't wander away more than 3 or 4 blocks from the pier for due diligence reasons. Mazatlan was interesting, the scheduled excursion was not exactly what was described and the "guide" was full of himself, but because of the weather hampering what we had planned, the director was nice enough to give us the privilege of releasing hatched baby leatherback sea turtles from a sanctuary into the pacific ocean. Planned Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas excursions got canceled because I got sick and just stayed in the room and on the toilet for about 36 hours (IBS). The shore excursions desk took care of it and we weren't charged, even though it was within the 48 hour window. I recovered enough by Cabo to go to Cabo Wabo and had a great meal there. It was after we left Cabo that the Captain explained that a Norovirus outbreak had occurred and they were implementing US CDC controls to prevent any more occurrences. I didn't get it luckily, but that would have wiped me out on top of my IBS symptoms. But they didn't explain how many people were sick, and now the news is speculating between 100 and 300 guests, some having to be taken off by medical personnel when we got back in to port, but we didn't find out about this until after we were off the ship back in Los Angeles. The last sea day was fun, as the Cruise Critic bunch had a bar crawl and poker run and slot pull, and we had a blast. Disembarkation in Los Angeles was a disaster. The terminal staff directing people randomly in different directions, sick people collapsing in line, only a few customs officers to handle the thousands of people to get checked off, giant lines snaking this way and that, no bathrooms or water, no AED (a man complained about chest pains) or wheelchairs, and then the fire department showed up to take care of the really sick that were pulled off to the side, being glared at by the port police like they were trying to smuggle stuff in their weakened states. Then when we finally got out of that mess, the bus transportation folks were just as discombobulated. We got told to walk down the line (with all our luggage) of 25 buses to get ours, only to be told when we got there, our bus had already left, and we had to go back to the beginning. LA was as woefully unprepared as Miami was. The cruise itself was great, but I wouldn't do it again without a dining package, a drink package, and a CC role call. And not if its one of the first times a ship this size has hit a port, as both Miami and LA cruise terminals were understaffed, unprepared, unprofessional and uncooperative, additionally, Norwegian has got to work on the port services people, as both of the transportation companies were not professional at all, staffed by people that didn't really know how to handle situations or in some cases really didn't seem to care or understand what was going on, nobody was in charge. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was our fourth cruise with NCl. We felt dedicated to sail with them again. But our room was changed from the 10th deck to the 9th deck with notification. Our friends asked for a room the the 10th deck so we would be on the same ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with NCl. We felt dedicated to sail with them again. But our room was changed from the 10th deck to the 9th deck with notification. Our friends asked for a room the the 10th deck so we would be on the same deck, which didn't happen. Fire drill was held in the dining room and we were not checked in properly. Received a nasty letter saying we had violated the rules. Had to make reservations for most of the shows at the beginning of the cruise, it you didn't you were out of luck. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get off the ship and through customs. NCL pushed passengers off into customs so they could start their through cleaning after a lot of people came down sick. We are still sick from being on the cruise and we have been home for 5 days. The portion size at each restaurant was totally different. Some were so little and some were way to much. Not sure we will sail with NCL again after this down grading experience Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was a first time cruise with NCL and we booked it because it gave us transit of the Panama canal which we had missed with other cruises in this area. Embarkation at Miami was to say the least a shambles it took us two and a half hours ... Read More
This was a first time cruise with NCL and we booked it because it gave us transit of the Panama canal which we had missed with other cruises in this area. Embarkation at Miami was to say the least a shambles it took us two and a half hours from arriving at the port to get on the ship, the shore staff were blaming a failure of the ship computer system, rightly or wrongly NCL could have provided more than a cup of water to those of us stranded in the queue. The ship itself is probably the best we have sailed on, I appreciate it is a new ship, but it is so well appointed and easy to find your way about. Our cabin was to a high standard and keep very clean throughout the voyage, we were on deck 9 with the main activity areas on the three decks below. Free style dining suited us extremely well with the many choices available and for the most part the food was excellent, we had 5 specialty restaurants included in our package and each one was excellent. We always found it easy to get a lounger on the sundeck although we found it a little bit noisy around the pool area but there are plenty of places to be found if you are looking for quieter spot. The pools themselves are quiet small and could be less deep, just a thought for the less confident swimmer there being no life guard at the adult one. The crew were probably the friendliest and helpful we have encountered, always cheerful and ever ready to help. Disembarkation at LA was a total nightmare 3 hours without any assistance not even water this time, NCL will need to get this issue sorted. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We had chosen The Norwegian Joy so we could experience a full transit of the Panama Canal and this cruise fit our time schedule. The Good: The ship is beautiful, there was a fun atmosphere, and a lot of different bars and areas ... Read More
We had chosen The Norwegian Joy so we could experience a full transit of the Panama Canal and this cruise fit our time schedule. The Good: The ship is beautiful, there was a fun atmosphere, and a lot of different bars and areas inside and out to hang out. The Observation Deck on the ship is beautiful, and has it's own little buffet breakfast and lunch that provided lighter fare. The freestyle Dining...no jacket and tie requirements for the dining areas were perfect for my husband and me. I like to dress up a little for dinner, he thinks having a collard shirt on is formal wear. There were a couple of smaller complementary dining areas, the Taste and The Savor that we really enjoyed. The Manhattan is nice but large and noisy with staff running everywhere. We had a nice balcony room which was comfortable and we loved. I was really happy that there weren't cameras stuck in our face every time we turned around. The photographers were respectful of our wishes. The shows we attended were good and entertaining. The food in Cagney's was lovely and the service outstanding. The same with Ocean Blue. The not so good: There are extra charges upon extra charges. A bottle of wine with dinner is as little as $23, but there is a corkage fee (normal) and a 20% service fee AND a tip line with the expectation of a tip on top of it. This was true in the complimentary restaurants as well. There was a 20% service charge, a specialty dining charge and a line for an expected waiter tip. We prepaid our tips but felt awkward because the staff don't know who did and who didn't. Drinks are costly, I ordered a mudslide one day and it was $14, with the gratuity I gave the server I paid $16. We ate at the Teppanaki one night and the meal was terrible, it all tasted like burnt garlic. Things to know: Budget for extra service charges, extra tips and extra extra tips (giving the bar tender a couple of bucks with your wine order will get you a full glass of wine instead of a quarter glass). Budget extra for the specialty restaurants and the al la carte places. Budget extra for the gaming, race tracks and the virtual reality gaming places. Budget extra for tips for the excursions you go on. I did not purchase the Free At Sea packages so can't comment on that but wonder if the extra service charges are included in the packages or put on the bill. The Bad and Ugly Several of us contracted a gastrointestinal illness onboard the last part of the trip. When we disembarked, we (the sickies) were herded into an open fenced parking lot, without water, toilet facilities, or places to sit to be processed through customs which took 3-4 hours. Some of the sickies had to be transported out by EMS. I don't know if this was a ship decision or a customs decision, but hopefully they will review this process. Overall We had a great time, the food was good and the ports of call were great. In spite of our GI stuff we are ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We are long term NCL fans - Platinum Plus. NCL Joy is a wonderful ship! Food was very good and the crew was amazing, but a bit overworked! I did notice the specialty restaurants are bigger which is good - but the staffing is a bit ... Read More
We are long term NCL fans - Platinum Plus. NCL Joy is a wonderful ship! Food was very good and the crew was amazing, but a bit overworked! I did notice the specialty restaurants are bigger which is good - but the staffing is a bit slimmer so service has slipped a bit. Our cabin was nice but lacks propper storage - ZERO drawers in the set up (who designs these things???) - but we did find that if you empty the soft drawers - they can be used. This was a Panama Canal Cruise of 16 days so perhaps 70% of the passengers are over 50 - but the ship ignores the older guests!! We are dancers and like nice romantic couple dancing after dinner and into the evening! Not on NCL Joy (and most NCL ships) - it is more like Carnival for the Cruise Director and his staff. The H2O is treated more like a teen club - I requested some slow dances and the DJ asked - what are those - slow never happened - if you don't line dance or hip hop - don't go!! I watch many couples come out, sit for a while and leave without a chance to dance. Note that the ship did have 1 hour of Ballroom dance every other day in the late afternoon. I also need to point out that the ships phone-based wake up system only works half the time so don't count on that wakeup call. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Wanted to see the Panama Canal. We stood in line for three hours when we should have been in the concierge area with no waiting ..we paid extra for that! Three tropical depressions, water spouts very close to our ship, missed and changed ... Read More
Wanted to see the Panama Canal. We stood in line for three hours when we should have been in the concierge area with no waiting ..we paid extra for that! Three tropical depressions, water spouts very close to our ship, missed and changed stops right before we cruised and during the cruise, Stops are very short, excurtions are questionably unsafe in Central America. Noro -virus over 400 sick....very little info to passengers. Elegance for upgrade passengers was removed. Right down to salt and pepper packets. Last five days deteriorated to steerage. I wrote three complaint letters and was refused any refund. I think if I paid for Concierge Level and got Steerage treatment...there should be a refund to the lower level costs this was our second NCL cruise...the first we accidentally booked during Spring Break. Constant drunken kids, public fornication, sofas from the cabins were actually thrown from balconies. Same fancy rooms! The Joy was built for the Chinese and it was a huge fail...the boat was redesigned and is still a huge miss. The Guest Relations Department sees nothing wrong with these issues mentioned. We have taken 15+ cruises...never again on NCL. Finally....over 4 hours to get off the boat in LA. No water...no bathroom...and 400 people with diarrhea. Not even a seat for the sick. The ambulance was call for two passengers during our escape! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I have had my eye on this itinerary for a long time and was able to experience it on the new and improved Norwegian Joy. I have been on 10 cruises now, mostly with Princess with a little HAL, Carnival and Celebrity sprinkled in. I must ... Read More
I have had my eye on this itinerary for a long time and was able to experience it on the new and improved Norwegian Joy. I have been on 10 cruises now, mostly with Princess with a little HAL, Carnival and Celebrity sprinkled in. I must say that Norwegian has a stellar product with its Breakaway Plus class ships. I think the layout is superior to anything sailing out there for this market segment. This was a Panama Canal partial transit. The Panama Canal was a bucket list experience and the partial transit was only partially great. NCL canceled every shore excursion at this port! It was blamed on not enough available tenders from the Panama yacht club. (Was the reason given). We had pre-purchased the railroad excursion that tours the entire canal. The Island Princess was on a similar itinerary and I wonder if She won the Tender competition? I will put on my detective hat and find out here on Cruise Critic. Don't get me wrong, it was great to see the Joy sail through the Gatun locks and back. It really turned out to be another sea day which doesn't suck either. The other ports were awesome with the shore excursions that NCL offered. I highly recommend the Old City tour in Cartagena, the Rainforest/wildlife extravaganza in Puerto Limon, The Dolphin encounter in Roatan, catch and release fishing and snorkeling in Belize. They were some of the best excursions I've ever been on. What can I say about the Ship? She is gorgeous and well laid out. Our midship mini-suite was very comfortable and convenient to all the upper deck locations. Our favorite venue on the ship was the observation lounge on deck 15. There are great fore, port and starboard views with very classy and comfy chairs and loungers. There is a full bar, a Starbucks and a nice little buffet. The Waterfront on deck 8 is a treasure as well. Dining was hit and miss. Next time we will skip most of the specialty restaurants and opt for the Garden Cafe or the Manhatten dining room. Service was excellent for all dining venues. Joy hands down have the best shipboard entertainment of any cruise line I've been on. Footloose, Elements, and the Beatles act were top notch. All the lesser shows and comedy acts held their own as well. It was hard to leave on the last morning. (In more ways than one). We were supposed to disembark at 08:30 am due to a Miami city tour. We did not get off the Joy until 10:30! There were technical glitches that kept everyone's luggage from getting off the ship. I hope nobody had to cancel tours and/or missed their flights. We can't wait to get on the other Breakaway Plus class ships. We are drinking the NCL kool-aid now. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We had a very fun cruise because we were traveling with several family members. The Norwegian Joy is a fairly new ship and had many good things about it. However the ship only had two banks of elevators and two stairways, which made it ... Read More
We had a very fun cruise because we were traveling with several family members. The Norwegian Joy is a fairly new ship and had many good things about it. However the ship only had two banks of elevators and two stairways, which made it seems very congested. The food was very good and the dine any time/any place policy was enjoyable. We didn't like the constant efforts to sale us something and get us to buy stuff. - "See it, like it, but it". They were always trying to "sign up for our next cruise". A little of the sales pitch was fine, but it because very annoying. The ship had a very nice 900 seat theater and good entertainment. The Footloose and Elements productions shows were by far the best we have seem on any cruise. We wish there were more activity options during the day like dance classes that were at a different time other than 5:00 PM. My wife was disappointed that there were not any Zumba classes. We were on a Princess cruise to Alaska in May 2019 and they had a great variety of Zumba and dance classes - which were very fun for my wife. We wish there were more and better lectures about the Panama Canal and other ports of call. There was one short lecture about the canal held in the small Atrium area. It was packed with people and many could not hear or see the lecture. This should have been held in the large theater. This was very poor planning. We also had to listen to a long presentation about signing up for our next cruise before the lecture started. Going through the Panama Canal was the highlight on the trip. The Customer Service staff, housekeeping staff, and waiters were all very friendly and helpful. We were also disappointed that there were no places to play games with my family. We had a group of 8 people and the ship had a very small game room. We had use the tables in the buffet area when they were not busy. This was certainly not ideal. Our cabin was very nice. The bed was great, and the bathroom was a little larger than many ship we have been on. The shower was especially nice. After many difference cabin types on many curses, we decided that a balcony room works best for us. It makes the room feel a little larger and certainly more bright and sunny. Even though the balcony was small it was very nice to go out side and see what was happening. It was especially nice when we went through the Panama Canal. We when on three shore excursions. Two were good, but the Cartagena Hop on Hop off tour was very poor. the bus was late arriving and we stand in the heat for about an hour. One passenger had heat stroke problems while waiting. The bus was so crowded and the various stops where we were supposed to "hop off" had many people waiting to "hop on" so we didn't dare get off because we could probably never get back on and would miss the ship departure. The narration on the bus was very poor. Not a good tour. The disembarkation process was a disaster. The crew seemed confused on what was happening and where we should go. We needed to disembark early and we were delayed for about an hour. The ship computer system failed and delayed passengers for 1 and 1/2 hours. This is not impact us, but it did cause problems for others in our group. Overall the cruise was fun but I thought Norwegian could have done many things better. I would travel with Norwegian again, but they are not my first choice. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Newer ship with specialty features, but really chose the cruise because of the itinerary and bucket list ports and partial transit of the Panama Canal. The ship was nice, similar layout to the Escape, which is the only other NCL ship ... Read More
Newer ship with specialty features, but really chose the cruise because of the itinerary and bucket list ports and partial transit of the Panama Canal. The ship was nice, similar layout to the Escape, which is the only other NCL ship I've been on. Much smaller pool deck and area, but had read and expected that. Similar kids water park and water slides. Top decks had a great, fun speedway and laser tag arena. Yes, they were extra costs, but well worth it and lots of fun. Reservations are necessary for both! Restaurants were pretty much the same as the Escape with the exception of The Local replacing O'Sheenan's; Q (BBQ) instead of Moderna and American Diner replacing Margaritaville. The replacement restaurants were about the same, though Moderna was better than Q, since I am on a salt-free diet and Q had significant difficulties providing me with food that I could eat. The band they had that night was good, but service at Q was awful. Frankly found that service wasn't good in the majority of the dining establishments on board, and food in the Manhattan dining room was very poor overall, got worse as we got later in the cruise. There was always something to eat, and since my meals were being prepared salt-free I could pick and choose what I wanted the night before based on the menu in the complementary or specialty dining rooms. There was more to this cruise than dining and it was the activities, entertainment, public spaces and the itinerary itself that made this an amazing cruise. Dining in each port was really special taking in local cuisines and that made the food on the ship bearable! My midship balcony cabin was very nice and its what I've come to expect from Norwegian cabins. Comfortable and roomy and my room steward was excellent at taking care of all of my needs and requests. I booked my own shore excursions with private companies and small groups, and all were excellent as I researched them in advance. Overall I enjoyed my experience on this new and wonderful ship, but dining especially in the complementary restaurants needs to be looked into and maybe overhauled. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise because of (1) partial Panama transit (2) interesting ports of call (3) relatively new ship. My husband and I had a very enjoyable time but compared to other cruises we've taken (11 to date), this one ranks about ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of (1) partial Panama transit (2) interesting ports of call (3) relatively new ship. My husband and I had a very enjoyable time but compared to other cruises we've taken (11 to date), this one ranks about about a 3.7 on a scale of 5. Highlights: - Embarkation took about 1 hour, not great but much better than a previous NCL cruise that took more 2 hours. We were able to access our cabin as soon as we got on board. -Excursions we took were very good, especially the Monkey River Eco Tour in Belize. Be sure to bring insect repellent and wear long pants and sleeves for the hike. I did but still got bitten, but it was worth it. Saw lots howler monkeys, lots of birds, iguanas, etc. We also thoroughly enjoyed the Turquoise Bay All Inclusive private Beach Break excursion in Roatan. -Ship staff provided all around excellent service -Ship entertainment offered something for everyone. Entertainers were all excellent. -Specialty restaurants we tried were all worthwhile: Le Bistro, Ocean Blue and La Cucina. We liked Le Bistro so much that we had dinner there twice. -The Local Bar & Grill was a great place for lunch or a light meal during the day. -Fun Halloween celebration on Oct. 31st. Garden Cafe was nicely decorated with lots of uniquely carved pumpkins and other Halloween related characters. Disappointments: - Our cabin #8158 was right over the ship's theater. Whenever there was a performance, the noise was so loud that the entire cabin vibrated. We were unable to stay in our cabin whenever there was a show or movie during the hours between 7:00pm-8:00pm and 9:00pm to 10:00pm. Avoid this cabin and those near it like the plague. -Our cabin was also located on the same side as the District Brewhouse. Loud music often played until 12:00pm almost daily. -While Garden Cafe (Buffet) offered a wide selection of food choices with excellent presentations, food wasn't as tasty as previous NCL cruises we've taken. No soy or almond milk offered, at least I wasn't able to find it. -Was a challenge finding a table at the Garden Cafe during main dining times. Often had to go out on deck to use the overflow tables. Not great when it was raining and windy. -Jogging track, located on the 17th deck, was difficult to use as I constantly had navigate around other passengers. Used Deck 8 instead. -Gym was small and always busy. -Meals in the Main, Savor and Taste dining rooms took too long. One dinner took over 2 hours just for the appetizers and main course. We didn't stay for dessert. -Elevators were exceptionally slow. As a result, during peak times, elevators were always crowed going up. One day, we waited 10 minutes for an up elevator. Only 2 banks of elevators, one in the AFT and the other in the Forward. -Disembarkation was delayed for more than an hour due to a system problem. Once the problem was fixed, it went smoothly. Was not a problem for us since we had a late afternoon flight but other passengers that we talked to were fearful that they would miss their flights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We have cruised many times and this time on NCL to Panama Canal was absolutely fantastic. The ship is immaculate, the staff (from management to bartenders to cabin attendants to restaurant staff...EVERYONE.)..were kind and willing to ... Read More
We have cruised many times and this time on NCL to Panama Canal was absolutely fantastic. The ship is immaculate, the staff (from management to bartenders to cabin attendants to restaurant staff...EVERYONE.)..were kind and willing to assist when help was needed. We had zero complaints the entire two weeks onboard. There are plenty of restaurant options that are included in the price so you don’t tire of the food choices. The a la carte restaurants are reasonably priced if you choose to try one of them. The entertainment was very enjoyable every nights. The excursions were all excellent and the boarding/I boarding at each port was basically flawless. If we were detained for a bit past posted times to embark or disembark, it wasn’t at the fault of NCL. The ports just weren’t ready to give clearance. There were plenty of pool chairs but you should plan on claiming your choice seats early on at sea days bc everyone will want one for the day. Thank you for a wonderful vacation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Our 13th with NCL and the very best to date. The reasons are by catagory... PRICE: NCL still gives IMO the best value all drinks included, speciality restaurants, Internet and room credits at an average of $150 per day is great value. ... Read More
Our 13th with NCL and the very best to date. The reasons are by catagory... PRICE: NCL still gives IMO the best value all drinks included, speciality restaurants, Internet and room credits at an average of $150 per day is great value. ITINERY: The ports of call were all to places we had not visited, didn't like all of them but thats life. Really impressed with Costa Maya, the port was obviously man made for the cruise industry but great quality outlets,bars and entertainement. Cartagena had by far the best port I have been too, a small animal enclosure with varid birds, Iguanas, monkeys etc plus shops, restaurant and tour options. SHIP: One word...(no not Awsome)...just WOW..loved the layout, loved the ease of location on decs 6,7 & 8. Loved the quality of furnishings and decoration, loved the service from every bar tender (especially Waves and the A List bar) and waiters in all restaurants. Happy, chatting to everyone and worked so very hard to make sure everything was as good as it could be. Loved our MS stateroom 10208, very well looked after by our cabin steward and the location was perfect. Loved the onboard entertainement with the exception of the Cavern Club, a club with no room to dance and the worst Beatles tribute I have ever seen. Footloose was great as was the live bands. One special mention to who ever organized the daily music played by the pool, it was a superb mix of old and new and not one day passed when we didn"t enjoy laying on dec listening to the great tunes. Loved the outstanding speciality restaurants.. Cagney's as always was great, Le Bistro was our favorite a quality of food and service rarely equalled. Food republic was a great choice also as was Q the Texas bbq. Also really enjoyed the buffet. The Indian section was great and always found seating very easily, not something that can be said on other ships. FELLOW PASSENGERS: I personally think that Cruise Critic should be called Cruise Passenger Critic. My only complaint on this and many other cruises is the way people behave. Rude, ignorant and totally lacking in public behaviour. When will people realize that the nicer you are when speaking to bar staff or waiters, the better they will treat you. Sorry to say but American customers were the worst. Please cost nothing, I never heard people ask for a drink with the word please at the end of it. The behaviour at embarcation was appalling, people pushing to be onboard 1st was pathetic. Peoples behaviour at the buffet was shamefull. Obscene greed and waste levels that were outrageous. Even in elevators, no consideration for other people just pushing and shouting move or I need to get out, shame on you. OVERALL: A great cruise and can't wait to sail on Joy again. Unfortunately I probably would think twice about sailing on the older, smaller ships as the level of quality is higher on the newer ships IE food and entertainement. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
But got less! While I have no big issues with the ship itself, the cruise line itself was lacklustre. Embarkation was a mess. The waiting area was a mess! No water, coffee, tea at all available, all machines were empty and never attended ... Read More
But got less! While I have no big issues with the ship itself, the cruise line itself was lacklustre. Embarkation was a mess. The waiting area was a mess! No water, coffee, tea at all available, all machines were empty and never attended to. The washrooms were sadly completely grosst and I expect these basic services. Additionally, the check in was very, very slow. C’mon guys...it should not take so long! Naturally when everyone finally makes it on-board, they need food and drink, and they all head to the buffet. If this had been my first cruise, I would have jumped ship at this point. But things did improve. Our cabin was adequate, but small and had ample storage. It was just ...boring! No pizzazz or character. We had no complaints as to noise etc. Very quiet! Dining was lovely! We were very well attended to everywhere by lovely, lovely staff! Ok, a couple of duds, but not worth mentioning. Our dining was predominantly a highlight! Entertainment was good! Not amazing, but good! Not much variety compared to previous cruises. Activities were old people based...boring. FYI...I’m 65. Service was almost universally wonderful. I can count on one hand the times I was not impressed. Usually not the service, but attitude of the giver was the issu and I am not easily put off! Our room attendant Carlos went above and beyond! A sweetheart and no complaints. Ports were no surprises, mainly standard fare. Our partial transit through the Panama Canal was a highlight to be sure, and a wonderful experience! Amazing! Our excursions were standard fare. Exception was our private excursion on Roatan Island which was amazing! I wish I could award this a better rating. I’m not a “picky” person, but I really appreciate value. This cruise did not meet those value expectations. I do not appreciate paying for water! Nor do I appreciate a service charge on alcohol! It is simply a money grab that I have never been expected to pay for before. Water... really! In short, there are many outlets vying for my vacation dollars, and unless Norwegian presents with an amazing deal, I will look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Have been wanting to experience the transit through the Panama Canal. It was quite the experience, especially since it was the Joy's first transit. We opted for a Concierge Villa Suite and the accomodations and service provided ... Read More
Have been wanting to experience the transit through the Panama Canal. It was quite the experience, especially since it was the Joy's first transit. We opted for a Concierge Villa Suite and the accomodations and service provided were excellent. Had a great time on board and met some very nice people through the Cruise Critic Roll Call. We got together several times throughout the cruise, to play games or just chat. The specialty restaurants were not fantastic and really no better than the regular dining. The two theater productions, Footloose and Elements were kind of amateurish, not quite up to par with what we have come to expect from NCL. The ports were just so-so, but we enjoyed the ship so much, it really didn't matter. The crew was the friendliest we have ever encountered on any other ship, Norwegian or otherwise. We would happily choose to sail on the Joy again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Mainly for the Panama Canal The first thing Norwegian did was a few days prior to sailing was to cancel a destination and substitute it for a lesser destination. Never had this happen before many people were not happy about this . ... Read More
Mainly for the Panama Canal The first thing Norwegian did was a few days prior to sailing was to cancel a destination and substitute it for a lesser destination. Never had this happen before many people were not happy about this . The entertainment was good but having to make reservations for these venues was trying . First time i saw a single story theater so space was limited The ship is designed much differently than most, its pool layouts are very different , hot tubs not hot, elevator locations far from each other, not what you see on most ships. Dining venues were good, the best being The Local bar which serves great meals 24 hours a day. Cabin Balcony was ok very little storage space. The service was good throughout. The biggest complaint was that there was no sports bar as my wife said its a guy thing but we had no choice of American sports IE: World series not on any TV Soccer daily on all tvs . Panama Canal was worth seeing would do it on a different Cruise line, not that Norweigen was horrible it just had a different atmosphere more European not American. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Wanted to see if a Travel with Alan cruise was for us; first time on Norweigan cruise. Amazing reading the reviews - our experience was unlike others. We waited 2 hours at the airport for NCL bus - arrived at ship 25 minutes before ... Read More
Wanted to see if a Travel with Alan cruise was for us; first time on Norweigan cruise. Amazing reading the reviews - our experience was unlike others. We waited 2 hours at the airport for NCL bus - arrived at ship 25 minutes before sailing. Not a good beginning - we would have gone home then if we could have gotten our money back. We thought the food in the restaurants was great, Garden Cafe not good and did not try the Manhattan. We thought the crew, except for our room steward, were wonderful. Entertainment area confined to Atrium so no place else to go. Beatles Revolution was in an impossible room. All entertainment, expect on rare occasions, was reservations only - silly. Entertainment was mediocre at best. Beatles Revolution in theatre was good because it matches our generation. Footloose and Elements were disappointing. We will not cruise on the Joy again - layout is horrible. Nothing to do when the weather is bad. Pool is too small. Cancelled Costa Rica, replaced with Acapulco - no explaination and that was disappointing. Dan Dan the cruise director was great - not his fault the entertainment venue choices are so bad. Attended captain's meeting - appreciated the humor. May do another NCL cruise but....jury is still out on that. However the Travel with Alan experience was HORRIBLE so that's a NEVER DO AGAIN. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal Passage which was a wonderful experience . The only blunder of the actual event is that we were told an incorrect time (5;30 am ) for passing under the Bridge of America. I luckily awoke at ... Read More
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal Passage which was a wonderful experience . The only blunder of the actual event is that we were told an incorrect time (5;30 am ) for passing under the Bridge of America. I luckily awoke at 2:45 am and was on deck as we passed under around 3:30 am . The rest of the morning was spent listening to other passengers complain that they missed it. Panama Canal experience is amazing ! I was disappointed that Costa Rica was deleted . We could have done without the very Dirty port of Cabo ! we were not informed that our excursion was cancelled until we were on the dock. It was not a pleasant walk along the marina front so we returned asap. The Mazatlan topless bus ride was also just a tourist money seeking trek that really did not show anything interesting and took too long. The Guatemala safari drive through was a good excursion. There are a great variety of animals and the property is well maintained . At the Puerto Vallarta port , we enjoyed the Discover PV bus tour . The stops were interesting and our guide was terrific. We arrived in Acapulco ( an added stop) on a rainy day . We decided to just walk the shoreline but soon realized that there is nothing to see . There were "beachfront" restaurants closed due to weather . I am not sure that sunshine would make the area look more appealing . It was especially annoying to try to get off the gangway without being poked by the umbrellas of all the taxi drivers offering to take us somewhere. Overall , The Joy just needs to improve on it's food selections , There is too much of the same menu and the desserts in Buffet are not appealing. The main pool also seems small for such a large ship. There is another smaller pool (SpiceH20) that was available. We were very Happy with our inside Family Concierge 2bed/2bath cabin. Our Steward David and our concierge Reynaldo were both terrific! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We are not first time cruisers but have been cruising for 20 years. Nor are we whiners who expect perfection in every area, so this is an honest account of our experience on the NCL Joy 16 day Panama Canal Cruise: We arrived at the ... Read More
We are not first time cruisers but have been cruising for 20 years. Nor are we whiners who expect perfection in every area, so this is an honest account of our experience on the NCL Joy 16 day Panama Canal Cruise: We arrived at the pier in Los Angeles (San Pedro) at around 10:30 and were checked in quickly and escorted to a special area in the building to enjoy snacks, drinks and at around 11:30 we were escorted to the ship by an attendant for the haven and concierge guests. We had a Family Inside Concierge with a virtual balcony for 4 people (adults) and let me tell you it was so roomy and nice to have plenty of room to move around and enjoy the space. The concierge we had (Reynoldo) introduced himself the next morning at breakfast and I can only speak for us, but we used him a lot so as not to have to stand in line at Guest Services to get things done. He took care of our go kart reservations (all 3 times), laser tag reservations, our dining reservations, our entertainment reservations and any time we had a problem he made it right. Because we were concierge, we could eat breakfast and lunch in La Cucina and it was never busy for those even though the food was the same every day for 16 days. As for the ship, it was beautiful. You could tell it was new and well taken care of and it was very clean and elegant looking. When it came to entertainment, we did the go karts 3 times and they went faster than we thought they would and we had an amazing time racing others from our group. The Galaxy Pavilion offered some fantastic VR experiences and we bought at least 2 packages for rides. Hint: Keep an eye out on your Freestyle Daily for the tournaments they offer in the Galaxy Pavilion as it is a good way to see if the experience is for you for free. The laser tag was exhausting in a very fun way. Be sure to play at night for a different experience. We played twice because the first time the staff guy who worked there played as a member of the other team and we did not enjoy the game at all as were were just sniper practice for the worker and did not feel we were able to enjoy or interact with the game. One call to the concierge and we were offered another game at no charge with no workers allowed to play. In regards to ship activities, they had a nice variety of things happening around the ship for different likes. Most of the main activities were held in the Atrium and I could not for the life of me figure out why they could not have enough chairs for people if they insisted on doing things there. It was ridiculously hard to ever find a chair and if the ship was not even full, I can't imagine what they were thinking. The juggler (Scotty Cavanaugh), Elements, and the aerialists Dimitry and Maria, were absolutely fabulous shows. Footloose was worth watching but I felt the violence and cursing really made it inappropriate at times. As for the service, I really have no idea what has happened here and hope it is only the Joy that this is occurring on and not company-wide. The room steward was fine, nothing special, but fine. The service in the Local and La Cucina was good. As for the buffet and the main dining areas it was not good at all. As avid cruisers, we know dinner takes a while to get through and don't expect to be done in an hour, but it was bordering on ridiculous on how slow everything was going and I have never seen so many crew members standing around doing nothing on a ship as I did here. We even videoed 2 waitresses standing in the cubby hole of the restaurant putting lip gloss on each other. We also witnessed buffet workers on their phones or joking with 2-3 other workers while we stood in front of them waiting to order ice cream or cut meat and then it was like we were bothering them to come do it. That is completely unacceptable service and I believe it starts at the top with management giving them expectations to follow. We honestly felt like since they know the service charges are added automatically, there is no need to try harder of go that little extra special bit to make the vacation experience memorable. We did not book any excursions through the ship, but chose to go it alone. Which leads me to my last issue: The Food! If it were not for the food, I probably would consider booking on the Joy again as long as it wasn't full, but for the food alone, my husband and I both agreed, we just could not get past how horrid the food was. Out of 16 days of meals, we can maybe pick 5 things we would eat again and not a single one of them would be a dessert. I told the Maitre D one night about 8 days in that if they did not find a new chef, there was no way people would be repeating this ship, it was seriously that bad. He said they do get quite a few complaints about the food. It's pretty bad when you see the crew eating off the ship in ports and though they can't say it on the ship, many will tell you it is awful. It is pretty sad that they make the regular dining room food so terrible just to try and up sell the fee restaurants. All in all passing through the Panama Canal was an experience of a lifetime and I am happy that we did that. However the three reasons I will never cruise with them again is 1)Food, 2)Service, and 3)the cruise was reduced by 70% 2 weeks before we cruised in order to try and fill the ship and those of us who booked ahead got nothing. I hope they can fix these issues for future cruisers to enjoy their time aboard. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Norwegian Joy Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.5 3.8
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.3
Family 3.5 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.5 2.9
Service 4.5 3.9
Value For Money 3.5 3.2

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