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324 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

As I'm sure everyone does, we really looked forward to our cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Gem for many months. It was our second cruise, the first one we took was on Carnival and it was wonderful - not one complaint. The food was ... Read More
As I'm sure everyone does, we really looked forward to our cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Gem for many months. It was our second cruise, the first one we took was on Carnival and it was wonderful - not one complaint. The food was great, the service was wonderful and the layout of the ship was great. The Norwegian Gem's layout is like being in a maze. There is no central area, so we spent most of our time trying to locate our friends. Meeting at the middle of the ship by the pool wasn't a good solution since that area is always packed with people. There is very little area for adults only - and trying to find a chair anywhere near the pool was impossible - unless you wake up at 6 am and leave personal items on the chairs to claim them. The food in the buffet is cafeteria quality - not great and not very fresh at all. The two main dining rooms were no better than cafeterias and the service wasn't friendly or helpful, or even efficient! The staff on Carnival was a million times nicer - in fact they seemed to be having as much fun as we were, while treating us like we were special. Not so on Norwegian. Many of the staff had attitudes. We felt nickled and dimed to death on Norwegian. Everytime we turned around, someone was trying to sell us something - especially when you got anywhere near the too-large casino. I felt like it was a vacation in Atlantic city - not a cruise. The casino allowed smoking - the seats at the slots were so close together that sitting next to someone smoking meant their cigarette was 10 inches from your face. Very, very bad ventilation too. My other big problem with the ship and the staff was when we wanted to find out how to get to the beach when we got to Bermuda. The desk attendant steered us away from taking a taxi or public transportation - telling us that we'd never be able to get a taxi or bus back from the beach, and we were much better off paying for very expensive excursions instead. She even pressured us by saying there were only a few seats left for the next three days so we'd better book right ten. We took the "Hidden Beach" excursion for $70 p/p - turned out to be a long bumpy and smelly ride on a rickety trolley for a total of two hours at the beach before getting back on the smelly bumpy trolley! Others in our group chanced it and took a taxi to Horseshoe Cove - at a cost of only $25 for the entire group one way. They had absolutely no problem getting a taxi back from the beach. It seems very likely that the staff or Norwegian itself gets a kick back from these excursions. They should be there to help their cruise clients - not trying to make even more money from them. I felt that was shameful! Our rooms were nice and clean and the overall cleanliness of the ship seemed okay. We will never take Norwegian again. Our next cruise will be either Royal Carribbean or Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Just returned from Boston to Bermuda (1st week of June). Other ships we had gone on (3) had common areas to sit and people watch. All they had were clubs/clubs/clubs..We are not big drinkers and could not sit anywhere without always being ... Read More
Just returned from Boston to Bermuda (1st week of June). Other ships we had gone on (3) had common areas to sit and people watch. All they had were clubs/clubs/clubs..We are not big drinkers and could not sit anywhere without always being asked for drinks 24/7. A Bit too much. Buffet was good in am but limited for lunch and dinner. We didn't pay for all inclusive and then have to pay to eat at other restaurants. More and more they are adding places that require additional money. I like to see peoples faces when they receive their final bill on the ship. The shows were not the best. They were the same people with different songs. The BEST thing about the WHOLE cruise was the Comedian Dave. Never laughed so much he was worth the trip in itself. Can't wait to go see him in Boston sometime. Spa...What a joke. I researched the gym-sauna-steam room..before we left. All reviews said opened 24/7. Just wanted to hit the steam room for 10 min daily. Yea, you can with an additional $189.00. Mostly everything on the ship is a la carte...Money...money...money...Plus don't forget a $12.50. charge per day per person, for tips..Be sure to go to service desk and request that you want to waive those fees. Which they did. Bermuda..Discourage renting scooters, a lot of people returned injured. Roads are too steep and narrow. Takes 2/1/2 hours from Dockyard to Hamilton..Don't go on Sunday...Everything is closed. Have to hang around Dockyard, but you only have the afternoon. Wanted to go to Snorkel park..Admission $5.00 pp and $$$ for chairs etc..So, that day was a bust. 2nd -day-full day..Could only see a few places takes a long time to get from one place to another. Next day basically half a day by the time you have breakfast and get off the ship and get to where you want to go. There isn't much time left. Stores-very expensive..Why would I buy anything there when I can get it cheaper at home? It took a day and a 1/2 to get there but 2 1/2 to return. They could very well stay there an extra day. Didn't go for the ship wanted to see Bermuda.But, they don't want you leaving the ship. They want you on the ship( chaching/chaching/chaching. 4 1/2 days on ship. So, it's 1 1/2 days on Bermuda. Can't see much the first day..Expensive shops/pay to go to Beach...$$$$ For a couple of thousand dollars for the cheapest room for 2. Not a savings and not worth it. Be sure to ditch out a lot of extra bucks. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We were a party of 20 people on the cruise and had a ball for ourselves! We left Boston June 10th and back home June 17th. The ship rocked a bit the first night but it was fine. I didn't feel the need to take anything to prevent ... Read More
We were a party of 20 people on the cruise and had a ball for ourselves! We left Boston June 10th and back home June 17th. The ship rocked a bit the first night but it was fine. I didn't feel the need to take anything to prevent seasickness other than Ginger ale one day. Here is a list of my complaints of the ship:• Bathrooms - I learned after day two that it's just best to go back to your own room to use the bathroom. Many times when I went to the public area, the bathrooms were totally disgusting, out of order and/or out of toilet paper. It didn't appear that there was anyone checking or cleaning the public bathrooms. One night at the Venetian, I thought for sure the ladies room would be clean because the restaurant was so beautiful and well maintained. I went into the ladies room and both of the toilets were completely filled with urine and feces. I was horrified to say the least. I went out the bathroom by the elevators and that bathroom was out of order. I was so frustrated and repulsed. • Tired linens and pool towels - my bed coverlet had 3 big stains on it. The pool towels looked like something my husband would clean his car engine with. One day, the pool towel that I was given was covered in lint balls and all the towels were dingy and very old. • Food - the food was okay but very salty. For breakfast, I stuck with hard boiled eggs and fruit. There wasn't a lot of variety at all. The Celebrity Summit cruise that I went on last year was SO much better. • Being nickel and dimed - I am not a big fan of being charged the $5 per use for the plastic beer bucket and the $2 plastic frozen drink cup. That is one of the complaints that I heard from most people on this ship. • The Blue Lagoon - that is the place that is open very late. We were a party of 8 people and it took over a ½ hour to get a drink and forever to get some food. It took another ½ hour for the waiter to give us our bill. I will say though that the chicken wings are very good there! Here's what I loved about the ship:• Change in plans- Originally the ship had a show scheduled for Friday night in the Spinnaker and we all were grateful that they put the Bruins game on for us. Watching the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in a room of 1,000 people was something I'll never forget. It was unbelievable and so much fun! • Our room steward - Wyman could not have been any nicer or more helpful. He was fantastic. • Check in process - that was very smooth and organized. No problems at all there. Final thoughts: • Fun - I had a ton of fun on this ship but that was all because I was with my friends who I love dearly and because I'm able to roll with the ship's shortcoming. NCL has a opportunity to get some things right here. With a few changes, I might consider going back on NCL again BUT ONLY IF I heard that they start maintaining the public bathrooms and if they got new towels and linens. I can handle being on an older ship but I CAN NOT handle the unsanitary conditions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Just so you know I have this ship to compare to other cruises. I've been on Seven other ships prior to Norwegian. My favorite Royal Caribbean hands down. I've flown and stayed at many resorts and consider myself a seasoned ... Read More
Just so you know I have this ship to compare to other cruises. I've been on Seven other ships prior to Norwegian. My favorite Royal Caribbean hands down. I've flown and stayed at many resorts and consider myself a seasoned traveler. I've read fabulous reviews about Norwegian and some not so great. I try and form my own opinion. This is my opinion. I loved Bermuda so much last year this time going out of NY on the Celebrity Summit that I decided to go back and took my daughter last week out of same port to Bermuda again. This time on the Norwegian Gem. All I can say is thank goodness for great weather and a very nice island as that was the highlight of the entire trip. Both my daughter and I agree this will be our last Norwegian Adventure. Might I add that we overheard many regular NCL travelers stating this is their last as well. We spoke to a family that has only traveled NCL and claimed this was the worst trip ever very dissatisfied with crew, food and ship. My thoughts, glad it wasn't only me thinking this way! Where to start? Please, I'm only giving this review so that others can get a full take on this ship when making a decision. Just a little insight as to who I am. I'm 48 years young and traveled with my 23 year old daughter as a Nursing school graduation gift to her. If you fear driving to NY don't. Getting to the pier was easy and no real NY city chaos. The ship appeared clean and nice looking inside and out. Food in the dining room was not very good. Most all fish items were not even palatable Very very fishy, salmon was every-one's biggest complaint as was the sea bass. Very difficult to find any tasty dish. Shrimp cocktail wasn't cocktail it was pinkie sized baby shrimp in a mayonnaise based sauce and too fishy. If you like Mango or banana well this ship is for you. If I so much as look at another Mango item I will scream. Everything for desert or to compliment a dish was Mango Chutney, mango sauce, Mango drizzle, Mango mango, mango everywhere. Also banana pie, bread, cake, drinks, smoothies, etc. I wanted to gag. I've had so much better food on other lines. The service was extremely slow between courses several nights we waited twenty minutes to get our main dish of food. The staff was pleasant but didn't go out of their way like other lines. I did not like the free style dining, We had to wait many nights for an hour with a beeper like a restaurant back home. No Reservations are ever taken Unless you booked a special dining for additional money. Even then we were told they were out of items prior to ordering and you couldn't cancel once you got there it's a 24 hour cancellation or still charged the fee. Very disappointing when paying extra for a meal, which you felt you needed to opposed to enduring the dining room food and wait. Food in the buffet area. What can I say except CHAOS in every direction at any hour. plates are all over in middle of stations people trying to get a plate while you are trying to get food. If you think you are in a line forget it, without fail somebody or two or three will jump in from another direction Just rude and very dangerous to try and hold a plate of food. Silverware in one spot only and no spoons in with your napkin set. It's the same exact food choice every day. Not very appealing to the taste. Breakfast time for you early birds forget it. Buffet does not serve food until 7AM. Yup you heard right. Only coffee and fruit at 6:15. If you are lucky or 6:30ish and if you can find a working coffee or juice machine at any one time they were not working. One or more machines were often down including the ice cream maker, three times was shut down not working during our trip.I've been on ships where you can get coffee and fruit at 5 am. Not here. For you diabetics or diet conscience folks that like Splenda opposed to NutraSweet. Forget that too. it was for the taking on day one only then substituted for another yellow packet that looks like it but was NutraSweet based like it's sister packs. Also to drink, it's Water and iced tea only. no Lemonade and no fruit punch. Do not bring a water bottle to the station you are not allowed to fill a bottle to bring with you to your sun chair as on other ships. Sunbathing. Wake up at 6am to get your chair. And even then, if you go off to eat, your towel will be removed unless you have a personal item like beach bag or book on chair. Even the staff removes them from chairs. I went to the bathroom in my stateroom to return to find somebody in my chair. Officers do not care they are the ones removing them. Then for the best part. Maintenance while at sea on second day. At first didn't think much of it, until the dust from sanding of railings is coming at us and whipped in our hair from sea winds. I wanted to know why when we sat down were we not informed this was going to take place. We got a chair at 6 am to people scrubbing the floors on that very deck as they did each morning on all decks. No problem, they need to clean for our benefit. But one would think they would inform us that maintenance will be done on that level today to pick another area to sit, or would rope off area not to lay out in that area at all. Soon the entire level is filled with guests lounging and out comes several workers sanding the railings and gaulking at all the bathing suits, staring and talking about the ladies in another language. Very rude for one. Two, this could have been done when in port the next day or very early in am or later in evening. Again. All we heard was sanding and slapping the tool against the railing to release the dirt, for hours this went on. When I thought they must be doing this to varnish railing tomorrow when in port, I was wrong. Now comes out this smelling sticky Varnish. Are you kidding me? This is what I paid over 2K for? Not to mention, People on deck smoking while varnish is applied Not swift! The junk was giving us all headaches. When complaining, the officer did not care. was told it has to be done and it's all natural based fast drying base. Then why the Wet paint signs posted everywhere for the entire day? Our room was nice we had a balcony stateroom in the perfect part of ship for getting around to pool area, casino and theaters, Only walk was to the Main dining room. Our room was 8026 very clean and Christina our room steward was fantastic!!!! No problem with Bar staff or entertainment staff. very nice and funny. The shows were not great. Two or three nights were good. The Man from Mars show was the best of all, just fantastic. Second City Improv guests were great. All other shows we had to leave. Just plain bad. Oh, and the very last show at the end, our Cruise director and some staff did a performance which was hysterical. That probably was the best thing we saw the entire trip. There were a ton of activities just like our cruise lines. Nothing standing out. If you are Bingo people hang onto your purse... it starts at $39 , 49 and 69 dollars each day two times a day. Nothing less than 39.00 for one sheet. In all, Bermuda port was very nice. Beaches fantastic. But to ever do ncl again? NO way. Wouldn't even want a free one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: My husband and I and our 14 and 10 year old children have cruised four times on Royal Caribbean. We chose the Norwegian Gem this time because it had the best Embarkation port and itinerary for us: it was the ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: My husband and I and our 14 and 10 year old children have cruised four times on Royal Caribbean. We chose the Norwegian Gem this time because it had the best Embarkation port and itinerary for us: it was the closest and easiest ship for our extended family of 15 to get to from up and down the East Coast and our group, (age 5 to 83) felt it would be easiest for our family to go to one port and stay there for a few days. The Gem leaves from midtown Manhattan and spends 3 days in Bermuda, as opposed to 2 days for Royal Caribbean.HOTEL INFO: My family and my parents stayed at the Ink48 Kimpton Hotel. We primarily chose the Ink48 because it is one short block from the Manhattan Cruise Pier. On Embarkation day, we left the hotel and walked for 5 minutes to the Pier. This is the best hotel to stay in Pre cruise if you are leaving from New York City/Manhattan Cruise Pier. We love Kimpton hotels; they are hip, have large, comfortable rooms and there is a free wine hour and a free coffee hour every day. The rooftop bar is not to be missed; we spent the evening before our cruise having a fabulous time up there; good drinks, nice staff, beautiful view and comfy seating. Ink48 is in Hell's Kitchen, but it is a 15-20 minute walk to Times Square. It was the perfect hotel for our family's needs. EMBARKATION: Having read Norwegian's info and other reviews on Cruise Critic, we decided to get to the Pier at 12:00 noon. We did not realize that the Gem was allowing people on board at 11:00 am, so we arrived to find a very long line to get through security and another long line to get to the front desk. In all, we were in line for about an hour. Norwegian staff were moving people along, but I would suggest arriving at 11:00 am to beat the line. Before the cruise, I emailed Norwegian and had 2 wheelchairs reserved for my elderly parents for Embarkation and Disembarkation. When they got to the Pier, they were seated in line in a waiting area for their wheelchairs. The process worked well for them and I suggest that anyone with mobility issues reserve a wheelchair in advance by emailing Norwegian.Norwegian is better than Royal Caribbean at having rooms ready when you board. We were on board by 1:00 pm and our room was already open for us! What a nice way to start the cruise. We dropped our bags in the room and were free to eat or explore without worrying about our bags.SHIP INFO: Our first impression of the Gem is that it looks like what you would imagine a cruise ship to look like. Very colorful and tropical design. We liked it. While we also like Royal Caribbean, the decor on its ships is more muted and somewhat bland in comparison.Other than the decor, we all felt that Royal Caribbean has better ship design. The Gem is hard to walk around because many of the decks dead end and you have to go up or down a flight of stairs to continue walking from one end of the ship to the other. Two of our group have mobility issues, so this was a problem.For instance, the Gem has two main dining rooms, The Grand Pacific and Magentas. It was frustrating trying to find them because the deck layout is counter intuitive. The dining rooms are not near one another, they are hard to find and hard to get to because you can not walk the length of the deck to access them. In addition, you have to walk down a flight of stairs from deck 7 to get to the Grand Pacific and then walk down another flight of stairs to get to the tables. Again, two of our group have mobility issues, so this was a real problem. We did not know, until after we had eaten at the Grand Pacific, that there is one elevator that goes to the 6th floor behind the Grand Pacific. No one told us, about this elevator, we found it by accident.Another Gem design flaw is the small pool area and shortage of seating at the pool. The Gem has two pools side by side on the 12th floor, one for families and the other for adults. They are about ten feet apart. Except for a small sign, there is no way to tell that one of the pools is the adult pool. There is nothing similar to Royal Caribbean's separate Solarium pool for adults. In addition, there is some lounge seating around the pool, but most of the seating in the shade is comprised of tables and chairs for breakfast and lunch, not loungers. The space is too tight for the number of passengers. There is more lounging space one deck above the pool, but it is shared with the jogging track. The Quiet Lounging Space on deck 13 is nice and bar staff circulate frequently up there, but there is no shade.The Gem does have a very nice Cigar Lounge on Deck 6. It is small, but comfortable. Right outside the Cigar Lounge is Magnums Champagne Bar and the bar staff regularly come in to the Cigar Lounge to take drink orders. If you want to buy Cuban Cigars in Bermuda, go to Chatham House on Front Street in Hamilton. The prices are not bad and the Cigars are authentic.STATEROOM: Our family had connecting balcony staterooms. The rooms were more than adequate, with plenty of storage and very comfortable beds. However, the balconies were smaller than other ships and you can not open the balcony door between rooms when you are sailing, only in port. The bathrooms on the Norwegian Gem are much better than those on Royal Caribbean. The showers were bigger and the water flow is fantastic, best shower on a cruise ever! There are also privacy partitions that make the bathroom more functional. SERVICE: Our Room Steward, Ricky, was the best room steward we have ever had! He introduced himself to us right away, made our requested changes to the room layout and had the nicest personality. Throughout the week, we never had to ask for anything, he always had ice and fresh towels available, and our room was constantly being freshened up or turned down. We saw him all the time and he always had something nice to say to us and our kids. The towel animals he made for them were enchanting! The rest of our group felt similarly about their room stewards. In the past we have had indifferent, invisible and even surly room stewards. Based on Ricky and the other room stewards we met on the Gem, I would say Norwegian has the best staff in this area.DINING: After 5 cruises, we have found the food is fine as long as it is hot and fresh. So we were very surprised to find ourselves complaining about the dining on the Gem. Across the board, this is the ship's weakest link. First, the Soda package only covers Pepsi products. If you order root beer, or a soda not produced by Pepsi, you will pay extra. I have no problem with this as long as you accurately call it a Pepsi Package. It made us feel taken advantage of.Next, Freestyle Dining is a nightmare. Unless you know how Norwegian operates, you will never be able to eat dinner without a long wait. Here is the best advice: Make any specialty restaurant reservations AND main dining room reservations for the whole week BEFORE your cruise or AS SOON AS YOU BOARD or you will have trouble getting them. If you do not want to do this, then you have to eat dinner between 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Norwegian keeps tables open in their restaurants between those hours for people without reservations. You can walk in and sit down easily in that hour. After 6:00 pm there is always at least a 45 minute to one hour wait for a table at most restaurants. Third, the Buffet line in the Garden Cafe is not laid out well. Until you get familiar with the layout, you will experience very long lines. The thing you need to know is that the Garden Buffet is part of a 3 part system. At breakfast and lunch, The pool bar, the Garden Buffet and the Great Outdoors all serve the same basic food. You can go to any of the three. The pool bar and Great Outdoors are never as crowded as the Buffet. In addition, the pool bar serves a nice barbecue for lunch every day, so you might never go all the way into the Garden Buffet for lunch.Seating for the Garden Buffet is also limited, so take your meal to the tables at the pool, eat inside La Cucina specialty restaurant (the ship has a very small sign pointing the way) or go to the back of the Garden Buffet, through the doors and eat outside at the Great Outdoors. Our family preferred the Great Outdoors. It's a wonderful, shady spot with a nice breeze and ocean views, it was the best part of the cruise!The food on Norwegian is ok, but not as good as we thought it should be. The one area where Norwegian shines is the fresh fruit, it is consistently good and should not be missed. However, the deserts are bad; tasteless, not appetizing to look at and not worth the calories. Most of us never finished the deserts. The Chocolate Buffet was particularly disappointing. If you go, be aware that each station is the same as the others, except for the cake, which changes at each station. The food on the buffets is fine, but is the same every day. The food in the main dining rooms is fine, not amazing, but fine. We ate at Cagneys and enjoyed the food and service very much, but found the food in La Cucina and the Asian restaurants to be not bad, but bland.Across the board, we had problems with service in the dining areas. The waiters are friendly enough, but they did not seem to understand how to wait tables. I ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri for my tween and the waiter brought a Shirley Temple. I thought it was an honest mistake until she told me that my tween had a soda sticker and that it would not pay for a daiquiri. I told her that I was paying for the daiquiri and she said "Oh. Well, I thought she would rather have a Shirley Temple." I told her again that I wanted to get the Daiquiri and she told me that we already had the Shirley Temple, just drink that. Later in the week, some of our party ordered Chocolate Sundaes for desert and the waiter brought Baked Alaska because he thought it was better. He never asked them; the Baked Alaska just showed up. Another time, when we asked for another serving a chicken skewers the waiter looked at us and said "You want More? Are you sure?" My husband ordered a Latte in the main dining room and they brought him an Espresso. When he told them it was the wrong drink, they insisted that they were right. My husband told them it was the wrong drink and it took a manager to look at the cup and agree that it was the wrong drink. Finally, my husband ordered a Latte at the Java Bar and after 10 minutes of waiting, he still did not have his drink, so he complained and left without the drink. A few hours later we got a call from the Food Service Manager for the entire ship who was very apologetic and bought us some drinks to make it up to us. The Food Service Manager could not have been nicer, but there seems to be a disconnect between his level of customer service and some of his staff. To be fair, we had outstanding service in Cagney's Steakhouse from Jeff as well as very good service in the Blue Lagoon Lounge. In addition, except for the Java Bar, the Bar Staff across the ship were also outstanding: friendly, fast and personable. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS: We arrived a day early in New York City so that we could take our kids to the Empire State Building. Luckily, my sister told us to buy an express pass online and print it out before we left for New York. While the express pass is very expensive, It saved us a 3 hour wait in line. With the express pass, it took us 10 minutes to get to the top of the Empire State Building and 10 minutes to get back downstairs. Without the Express pass, there was a 3 hour wait in line to get to the top and a one hour wait to get in line to get back to the bottom. You have to print out the express pass before you arrive at the Empire State Building. They do not sell Express passes at the building.Bermuda is lovely and easy to get around. On our first day, we took a tour with Colin Jennings, who is highly recommended on Cruise Critic. We had a fantastic, in depth tour and really enjoyed getting to know Bermuda through Mr. Jennings. When we saw him on day 2 and 3, he always waved and gave us a big smile, he is a great tour guide and a very nice person. Wednesdays in Hamilton are Harbor Nights from 7 to 10:00 pm. It's a fun cultural experience, but if you miss it, Thursdays are Heritage Nights in Dockyard, right outside the ship. It's a similar event, with fun things to do, see and eat!We spent day two at Horseshoe Bay. It was a lovely, relaxing time. There is a changing room here. We rented Beach Chairs and Umbrellas and had lunch at the snack bar. Everything on Bermuda is expensive, so be prepared to pay $15.00 per person for a burger fries and a soda. You can take a taxi to Horseshoe for about $24.00 or you can take the #7 bus or the beach bus for $4.00. Either way, it's an easy each to get to. There is a steep hill to get to the beach. When you are ready to leave, there is a $2.00 per person shuttle that will drive you to the top of the hill.We spent day three walking around Hamilton and enjoyed the leisurely pace of the city. Then we went back to the ship and walked around the Dockyard area. We saw a cool glassblowing demonstration and had a relaxing time.Three days in Bermuda is perfect; you can see and do everything at a leisurely pace and enjoy yourself a great deal.CHILDRENS'S CLUBS: Unfortunately, we were very disappointed in the Kid's Clubs. We had four kids under age 10 and none of them liked it. The room is too small, so the over 10 kids are put in a small, dark conference room on a different floor. I can't comment on the programming, because after one visit, we never sent them back.ACTIVITIES: We did not do many shipboard activities. The kids played at the pool and the adults read a lot of books. There is a nice library and a lovely spa. All the ladies had spa treatments and found Verona and Bhanta in the spa to be excellent. One of our ladies bought the spa pass and said it was the best money she ever spent.ENTERTAINMENT: Our group enjoyed the entertainment on the Gem. Sinan is a great Cruise Director. He's very friendly and he's everywhere! His assistant cruise director is very funny too. A number of us participated in Karaoke in the Bliss Ultra Lounge and had a lot of fun. We thought the Man on the Moon Show was very good. The Second City Show was worthwhile. Our teen loved the Dancing With the Gem Stars show and my Tween loved Deal or No Deal. The White Hot Party was popular, we went to the family version and my teen had a good time. The Piano Player in Magnums Champagne Bar is very good with a broad range. DISEMBARKATION: Norwegian did a great job getting us off the ship. We chose the Easy Walk Off program. We did not have to put our suitcases out the night before or wait to be called. All we did was get up, eat breakfast and walk off the ship. Easy Walk off is from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. It only took us 15 minutes to get off the ship and into a taxi. SUMMARY: We always enjoy cruising, and this cruise was fun for our whole group. Norwegian is not as good across the board as Royal Caribbean, but it does some things better and all in all, we had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My mom always said if you don't have anything good to say don't... I'm a firm believer we need to speak up when things are fantastic and even somethimes when it's not so great. I was so surprised that I really ... Read More
My mom always said if you don't have anything good to say don't... I'm a firm believer we need to speak up when things are fantastic and even somethimes when it's not so great. I was so surprised that I really didn't enjoy this cruise. The NCL Gem to Bermuda in fact. The Island was great which was my second time cruising there. It's not my first cruise by any stretch and I always had the thinking, "when on vacation it can't be all that bad!" This time my vaction wasn't the best. I brought my daughter for a graduation gift trip. We were so excited just two girls getting away after a five year college stint and difficult nursing program. We wanted R&R and great scenery. But hopeing for the all around adventure and great ship experience to add to the others we love so much. Although the ship was pretty, clean and offered a ton to do, we did not think it was up to the standards of the other cruiselines we have sailed. Sad that R&R and scenery was all we took away from this vacation. The food (two dining rooms) and buffet had an enormous wait. I hear so much excitment about this free style dining I had to try it. You can have it! Why all the talk is beyond me. "Besides going to eat when you want" "big deal you can do that on any cruise line" It's called go to the buffet. Just the fact of waiting in the lines to get a buzzer as if at Chili's or Ruby Tuesday's this was no different then the typical food chains. Really it was like walking into your local restaurant on a Friday night at 6:00 and think you wouldn't have a 40 minute wait... Well guess what, learn now this is how it is. by the time you get seated it's like an 8:30 seating on the other cruise lines except you have no clue who you are sitting with. We were once seated at a table of six people that knew one another and we sat feeling like the third wheel. They had already ordered their meals and had apps arriving before our waiter came over to ask us what we wanted. THAT FELT WEIRD! Then there is the I don't care about you service cause I have seven tables I'm waiting on at once. and some of those tables have 10+ people at them so your two diners, forget it, He's too busy for you now and the wait begins. The service not only was disasterous, you have to deal with the lack of choices and blan flavor. Not your typical cruise choices. Shrimp cocktail alone was 8 of the micro mini tiny tiny shrimp in a mayonaise YES Mayo! on top lettuce. I can't begin to explain the food taste and what you didn't get. If you are a vegitarian which I tend to sway more toward that then beef and if you like curry or Mango you are all set. With that saying, your are still hampered by the same choices in your face everyday. Lets start and end with Mangos. Fresh Mango, Mango chutney, Mango drizzel, mango dessert, Mango on your desert, mango Jelly, mango spread... mango mango mango... I will never be able to look at another mango in my life. Then there was the buffet. In a nut shell, Pure congestion and pure layout disfuntion, along with the same identical items to choose from each and every day. WOW. Each day Never swaying from the same lunch choices?? WHY? Never on the other lines. I honestly tried to give it more than four chances before actually laughing at how bad it was. I can't even get into more then the crew coming out on a deck full of sun bathers to start sanding and varnishing the wood hand rails the day before we get to port. Common, that can't wait till we are in port for THREE DAY???? Nope, the crew stood there with sun glasses on watching us bathing suit chicks laying out while the sound of sanding and the smell of varnich is killing us. AGAIN,WHY????????? Now seriously these are only a few examples as to why one should stay away from the NCL GEM or at least think twice and not get your hopes up high or expect much. And so you know it wasn't be being too picky. lol... Just so you know, I heard these same complaints coming from very loyal Exclusive NCL past travelers. Several saying never again and how they were surprised by the low standards! I know you other NCL lovers are rolling your eyes... One thing to say, Try RCL or Celebrity and even Carnival cause it BLOWS NCL OUT OF THE WATER. Thanks for listening. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I recently sailed to Bermuda on the NCL cruise ship Norwegian Gem. It was my 10th cruise, and I have sailed on six different cruise lines. This was my second Norwegian cruise vacation, and there were enough problems to put NCL at the ... Read More
I recently sailed to Bermuda on the NCL cruise ship Norwegian Gem. It was my 10th cruise, and I have sailed on six different cruise lines. This was my second Norwegian cruise vacation, and there were enough problems to put NCL at the bottom of my list. Below are the reasons why I suggest that you spend your cruise dollars with another line. Let's start with the condition of the cabin upon arrival. The champagne and strawberries I had ordered in advance were not present. The carpet was unvacuumed, and there were band-aid peels, food crumbs, and a pharmaceutical pill on the floor. The disgusting conclusion, however, was that later that evening we found a bag filled with soiled underwear under the sink in the bathroom! I am not joking. The service on cruise ships is usually very good. Not so with Norwegian. Dining room service was poor for the most part. Most of the staff appears uninterested or annoyed. One waiter (Nigel Stewart, who was consistently terrible by the way -- how could he possibly have had his contract renewed again and again for the last ten years?) plunked down the bottle of wine we had ordered with the statement "Here it is." He then went to attend to other tables. We had to flag him down to get him to open our wine bottle. Speaking of wine, why did we have to request a wine list at every seating? How much is it costing NCL to make it an effort to order a bottle of wine with dinner? It seems silly to not hand it out with the menus -- every other cruise line does. Room service aboard the Norwegian Gem only delivers continental breakfast food, so you can't order lunch or dinner or drinks to be delivered to your room. For the record, I had to ask four different desk employees before someone could give me that information. Every other cruse line is far better at room service. Our cabin steward never restocked any of the mini-bar, so we repeatedly had to journey down several decks to get bottled water for our room. We had to bring clean silverware from the dining room because our steward left dirty silverware in our room all week. Our NCL cruise was a birthday trip, and the birthday decorations and cake that I had arranged were delivered two days early, ruining the surprise for the birthday girl. There were also canapes scheduled to be delivered between 5:30 and 6:30 pm that evening (I had this in writing). It was 4:30, and my birthday girl was feeling amorous (evidently I got points for arranging the birthday fuss, even though the Gem put them up on the wrong day). At 5:00, during a -- how shall I say tastefully -- very crucial moment, the phone rings. We try to ignore it. The caller continues to call. I answer. It's room service, informing me that he is standing outside my door waiting to deliver the canapes. So I grumbled out of bed, put on some clothes and answered the door. I pointed out that the delivery was blatantly ignoring the Do Not Disturb sign (not to mention being a half-hour early), but the young fellow informed me that he knew he was disturbing us but the canapes were supposed to be delivered at 5:00. This would never happen on a Holland America ship. Or Princess. Or Royal Caribbean. Or even Carnival. All of which I have sailed on before, and all of which I would recommend over Norwegian. The Norwegian Gem has a formal dining room, and I was informed of the coat-and-tie dress code. Apparently I was the only one who complied. The formal dining room sure wasn't. And congratulations, NCL, on finding more ways to ruin any atmosphere by having one of the ship photographers barge into the room in the middle of Formal Dinner snapping everyone's picture. Is this a French restaurant, or Disney World? All cruise lines have a mostly international staff. For the first time in ten cruises, I had difficulty communicating with much of the staff. The English skills aboard the Norwegian Gem were very poor in many, many cases. And for the record, I speak three languages (and a smattering of a fourth), so I am not one of those American tourists who does not understand how to communicate with a non-native English speaker. So in a nutshell, there are many cruise vacations that you can spend your dollars on, and I suggest ALL of them over Norwegian Cruise Line. NCL is by far the worst service, worst cleanliness, most unimpressive cruise experience you can buy. I'm sticking with Holland America and Princess from now on, and I suggest you do the same. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husand and I have cruised with other lines in the past out of different ports. It was my daughter and mother in laws first ever cruise! The port of Boston was very convenient for us, it took us 15 min's to get in, checked in with ... Read More
My husand and I have cruised with other lines in the past out of different ports. It was my daughter and mother in laws first ever cruise! The port of Boston was very convenient for us, it took us 15 min's to get in, checked in with ease and we were on board by noonish. The porters were very efficient and hats off to the Boston Police Department for keeping the traffic flowing. We were in our cabins right after the drill. We felt SO lucky to have Captain Hoyt at the helm, we left with the threat of Hurricane Danielle and came home with Earl on our heels. Only one night of so-so seas, we did see " bags " in the elevators! For a small ship, it was very sea-worthy & stable. Our adjoining cabins were clean despite the ships age, but, the door hit our bed not opening completely. We did not know that the panels between the balconies did not retract, not even doors. That was fine, no problem really, just thought it was worth a mention. The TV's are a joke, teeny, but who goes on a cruise to watch TV? altho I do like watching the entertainment that I may have missed late night. Almost every single crew member was respectful & efficient. Our stewards were the best ever. Very attentive to all our needs, they kept our cabin sparkling clean. Some public areas of the ship are not as sparkling, most notably the elevators were schmered with I'm not sure what but I wasn't going to touch the buttons and find out. This ship is OLD OLD OLD and to me, it showed its age everywhere we went. The food, well, I guess we're spoiled! I honestly can't say that it was good, not even mediocre. Jello for dessert, really? It was fun watching it wiggle. We did try a " special " on the ship for lunch featuring all the specialty restaurants, it wasn't worth the money as again, mediocre at best. Breakfast was the best with the fresh eggs cooked to order. The coffee on the ship was great. We found the buffet during high-traffic times, to be a tad " pushy " for lack of any other word. The wait staff was great helping those in need, elderly folks and those who had trouble walking. To be fair the chocolate night was yummy.... Entertainment. The Ironics are a good band. We danced a lot. Of course we do this an One other band by the pool, cannot remember their names as they were not all that great. Also, the jazz band, very good. pan flute & pianist, very nice touch for those who like this type of music. We tried to get into one of the shows, but if your not early , forget it, we left. My mother in law and daughter went to the finale show with the crew & entertainment, they thought it was spectacular. The " Dancing with the stars " show was SOOOO funny! Great!! There didn't seem to be any activities around the pool as far as games, volleyball? Sail-away parties with music, line dancing, buffets, ice sculptures lining the pool deck area? Missing..zzzzzzzzz... Trivia, again b o r i n g. Come on NCL breathe a little life into the party! The pool was closed a few times after the wave pool started, looked like fun too, but of course the cruise-line would not want anyone to get hurt. The " White Hot Party " F-U-N! The casino was okay, I only went once, won & left. My husband went a few times and lost. We played bingo, my daughter won! yay. We did the " Bermuda triangle cruise " for an excursion, it was AWESOME! We had SO much fun!! It was a glass bottomed boat that took us out to " Devils Island " and a ship-wreck. They turned the lights on to view the fish. We all enjoyed a dark and stormy night cocktail. Bermuda. Bermuda is a beautiful island. The people of Bermuda are beautiful as well. Our cab driver who took us to Horseshoe bay beach told us about his island, where he grew up and where he fished. It was a pricey ride but worth it for us. The beach was very, very crowded. We also went to snorkle park, again a very crowded beach, but fun & within walking distance to the ship ( for some ) We rented chairs on both beaches. We also shopped a lot, not on front street but at the Dock-yard & in St.George. We took the ferry to St.George, beautiful historical town, we loved it there. The ferry was nice! and inexpensive for the bus/ferry pass. We are glad we visited and had a few days to explore, wish we had seen more of the island as we have no plans to re-visit. If you get a chance to attend a CC party-do! What a blast we had, met nicest folks on the ship & hope that we see them on another trip someday! As to the rest of the ship vacationers well, I don't know what it was exactly, but I find the vibe a bit more upbeat out of Florida. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Cabin with balcony, 10th deck: Having been born in Bermuda, wanted to return with my Brother to visit, together. Planned excitedly, all details of finding our family home, walking the same steps as our parents did, decades ago. Igor came ... Read More
Cabin with balcony, 10th deck: Having been born in Bermuda, wanted to return with my Brother to visit, together. Planned excitedly, all details of finding our family home, walking the same steps as our parents did, decades ago. Igor came along, week of 9/17-9/24 and they diverted our sailing down to Port Canaveral, FL for less than a day and then on to Nassau, Bahamas for, again, less than a day. Understanding NCL did not cause IGOR, nonetheless, they certainly should have been able to get us to another port for at least an overnight stay so we could have booked an excursion worth buying! The ship was so old, dirty and creaked the majority of trip. The first 3 days we could hardly walk much of the time, then in and out of port for 2 days and again, another couple "rough days at sea", not "relaxed" as they suggest! This ship should have been decommissioned years ago! Fresh paint over rust and the lack of maintenance and cleaning were signs seen all around ship. When we returned to our room (after cleaning)the room was 'picked-up' but the railings were never wiped down and had bits of sea salt and water drenched everything; last day, they came with a machine on side of ship and hosed everything down. Unlike, either Carnival or Royal Caribbean, they hand-wiped railings all over decks and in staterooms, as well as straightening deck furniture and wiping down chairs you sit in. Most of my clothes were soiled from dirty furniture and railings I came in contact with. We never got to swim in pool; couldn't get near for all the crowds! Restaurants: Buffets were as usual, nothing out of the ordinary there. We paid for dinner at Cagney's steakhouse one night and that was enough. Being with another couple, we were hoping for a relaxed evening and some good conversation. But the waiters, waitresses, hostess, etc. were constantly interrupting us. We wanted to have drinks, relax for a few minutes before ordering. One waiter took our drink order before we had all sat down at our table! Another Waiter insisted on taking our order, before the drinks had even arrived at our table! So I ended up ordering what I didn't want, I was so rattled! Then the salads came before we were done with appetizers and the dinners before we were finished with the salads and so forth! Rush, rush, rush!! We paid close to a hundred for all of that stress?! Really!! We had touted the pleasures of our experiences cruising over the years and it all fell apart on this trip. The only good part were "some" of the staff; quite memorably enjoyable and hardworking, too. Charles, our main room attendant and Nanette, bar server, were, both, quite excellent and added good memories of an otherwise miserable trip. A couple shows were pretty good but, again, with all the tossing of the ship it was distracting and the dancers were less than impressive, understandably. We will do our homework better the next cruise and stay away from Norwegian Cruise Line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We took a second cruise on the Dawn. The engine exploded. Two cruises, and two engine problems. This time they got us back to our port of departure but it costs us one of our three days in Bermuda. This time we ate mostly in their ... Read More
We took a second cruise on the Dawn. The engine exploded. Two cruises, and two engine problems. This time they got us back to our port of departure but it costs us one of our three days in Bermuda. This time we ate mostly in their specialty restaurants because we can't stand the pandemonium that takes place in the two main restaurants. They say all you pay is a "small gratuity" to eat in the specialty restaurants. That's not true. For example, we ate in Cagney Steak House. We paid $25 each plus tax and gratuity on the $50. They charged us $10 for Lobster (with surf and turf). The lobster was extra as were other things on their specialty menu. So are the drinks. You can easily spend over $100 which we did. That's not a small gratuity. The menu selection in the specialty restaurants is not very good either. The major advantage is that you won't get trampled or have to put up with frantic waiters that accompanies eating in the main dining rooms. But to escape that, you can easily add $500 to $1000 to your on-board bill. Cruising Norwegian on the Dawn has so turned me off to cruising that we may not cruise any more. It's all about trapping you on a crowded ship with below average food so that they can get you to spend your money. I used to think that cruising was really fun, but not any more. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Pros: Cabin was clean and nicely laid-out. Food in the Pay-for restaurants was generally good. Entertainment was good - some very and others so-so. Were were in 8028 - it was clean and not cramped and we really liked it - the bed was ... Read More
Pros: Cabin was clean and nicely laid-out. Food in the Pay-for restaurants was generally good. Entertainment was good - some very and others so-so. Were were in 8028 - it was clean and not cramped and we really liked it - the bed was very comfortable and the sheets were very good too. one set of sheets were a bit pilly and we asked for new sheets - they were replaced. Balcony was great! Overall - very pleased with the cabin. Cons: Staff - (while there were a hand-full of very nice people - overall the staff generally seemed overworked and stressed out - not overly friendly. Staff was always trying to sell you something - it was a real pain! Food - The food in the pay-for restaurants was generally good, the alternative was eating in the cafeteria class dining halls - mediocre at best - but you had the noise of all the kids - the pay-for restaurants were generally quiet. Le Bistro - the food was very good - the service was rank amateur (As an example - the Maitre'D was joking around and when we were served our Red wine - the waitress said "Let me take the white wine glasses to make more room for you" everything was said with a twist to make it look like they were doing something for you - it was tiring and a pain - the kitchen was being let down by a clueless wait staff. Cagneys - both food and wait staff were very good. The other restaurants were OK - not memorable. Pool - it was a very small pool for the size of the boat - we didn't go in at all. Company response to an engine malfunction - unacceptable - On the way to Bermuda one of the engines failed - we continued at reduced speed. The initial response was the the ship would stay in Bermuda an additional day for repairs - Company management over-ruled the Captain and decided that we would leave Bermuda early - instead of leaving on Friday at 1700hrs we left at 0630hrs - so we lost a day in Bermuda - The company decided the they would recompense passengers at the rate of $50.00 per stateroom (we are contesting this - haven't heard from the company after a week - doubt we will) - all the while having a full ship for an additional day - where they made a windfall profit - this response is completely unacceptable - it meant returning to New York from Bermuda at reduced speed - with one engine still not working - had there been any additional problems - this could have been a recipe for a catastrophe - the Company does not have a good track record when it comes to safety (see other travelers reviews) - In view of the companies handling of the malfunction and deciding to return to NY with one engine failed - we will never use Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) ever again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I have been on 10 RCI and 2 Carnival cruises. This was my 13th cruise and my first and last with NCL. This time it was my wife and 16 year old daughter traveling with friends and their daughter. When I went on Carnival, having always ... Read More
I have been on 10 RCI and 2 Carnival cruises. This was my 13th cruise and my first and last with NCL. This time it was my wife and 16 year old daughter traveling with friends and their daughter. When I went on Carnival, having always cruised RCI, I made a conscious effort to not compare the two and just have a good time. That worked fine as I have found the two to be comparable. I made the same effort this time, but could not avoid the comparisons as I was very disappointed with my NCL experience. I was a little nervous about the Freestyle cruising as being a project manager; I like to have schedules and plans. We are normally second seating diners, and even with the freestyle dining, we still ate every night between 8 and 8:30. To us, Freestyle Cruising means Poor Service. We ate in the Venetian and Aqua dining rooms all but two nights because I have a real problem with paying for food on a cruise after I already paid for the cruise. The dining room staff was not at all friendly and the service was terrible. Regular cruising you have the same waiter and bus boy every night. By the second night they have your drinks on the table before you arrive and they address you by name. In this scenario, we never had the same waiter twice, even though we were seated at the same 2 or 3 tables every evening. The wait staff is spread sporadically through out the ship and dining rooms. There is no consistency to their service. You can tell their training lacks consistency as well. We struggled every night to get water and water refills. We were never offered a wine list without asking. The servers were rushed and unemotional. On a regular cruise you got to know about your servers and they took the time to talk to you and entertain you. Not here. I have received better service and more attention at an Outback Steak House. And probably better food as well. The food was average at best. We were never asked if we wanted more or another entrEe or additional dessert. Heck, that's what cruising is about. My thought is that the food and service is kept that way to force you to want to go to the up charge specialty restaurants. We did try two of the specialty restaurants, Salsa and Sushi. Both of these were very good and we did get better service and food. But we paid for it. In fact, Salsa was the only place that brought me two entrees. I asked for the server's recommendation and she said I'll bring you both. That's cruising. In my opinion, the drinks were more expensive and not as good as other lines. They had beer, liquor and wine, but no other drinks like Smirnoff Ice or Mike's Hard Lemonade. I don't like beer and these are like priced alternatives. Carnival offers these items. The Bar waiters were attentive, but did not entertain like other line. I must say, that this has occurred much less now on any cruise line now that the tips are automatically included. Our cabin steward was less than attentive. When we arrived on Sunday, there were two beach towels in the room. I told him that there were three of us in the room and we would like three beach towels. We never had 3 beach towels in our room. I told him again mid week, and that day he took our two dirty beach towels and only left one. On Friday, there were no clean towels in our room, beach or bath. He did leave a towel monkey, so we did use that as a clean towel. On the last evening of our cruise, he never even came to our room. The bunk for my daughter was not turned down and nothing was cleaned. This is amazing because I have always gushed about the service on cruises. Not this time. The one highlight that NCL has is their entertainment. Fire and Ice, Side Stage, and the Pool band were all amazing. Two thumbs way up on this. The Bollywood show was very good as well. Bermuda - This was my 5th time there. It's my favorite place in the world and it never disappoints. The place is beautiful, safe and full of the most genuinely nice people you will ever meet. So with all the negativity, we still managed to have a good time. Our overall opinion was that we were not ever meant to feel special. We were just herded through the dining rooms like regular restaurant patrons. Freestyle cruising was not for us as it gave the ship the feel of being floating restaurants. The lack of schedule did not lend itself well to meet any new people. This was our first cruise that we did not end up hanging with a new group of people that we met as we did not meet anyone for more than a few minutes. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
EMBARKATION We arrived at about 11:45 A.M. after an easy trip to the pier: a ride to the ferry, an 8-minute ferry ride, and a nice walk up the street to the pier. After making sure our bags were headed onto the right ship (HAL's ... Read More
EMBARKATION We arrived at about 11:45 A.M. after an easy trip to the pier: a ride to the ferry, an 8-minute ferry ride, and a nice walk up the street to the pier. After making sure our bags were headed onto the right ship (HAL's Veendam was sailing from the same terminal), we proceeded into the terminal. Mass confusion because everyone had to go through the same security, whether or not you were sailing on Veendam or Dawn. Lines of people, poor signage. The NCL customer service person checking us in welcomed us by saying, "Ticket, passport and credit card." Not "Hi, how are you today, welcome to the Norwegian Dawn. I hope you enjoy sailing with us." We have to wait a few minutes to board, and when we try to go up to our cabin on Deck 10, we find the large doors are all closed and we wonder what's going on. There is no one to escort us or tell us that cabins would not be available until 2:00. The announcements were not repeated often enough for us to have heard this. Everyone was directed to the Garden Cafe as if they were herded cattle. We had wanted to go to the Venetian Restaurant but were blocked. Every conceivable way to extract money from passengers was evident: ship's photographers, specialty restaurant reservations with surcharges, welcome aboard drinks in expensive plastic souvenir containers, bottles of wine for purchase, passes for the private on deck quiet spa area. This was only a preview; to come would be pay to eat with the captain, the Behind the Scenes tour of the bridge, galley and more, loud speaker solicitations, the Freestyle daily list of activities, the crew, and spa services being sold in the dining rooms at meal time. Since we had already eaten by 1:15 and couldn't get into our cabin, we decided to tour the ship. I asked the one person at the Reception Desk for a deck plan (which was difficult to read and very poorly designed). This person just pointed in the direction of the stack of deck plans at the end of the desk instead of going there, picking one up and handing it to me like a courteous professional would have. Sailaway was great except for a bit of rain, and then the sun came out and we had blue sky. We're on our way... STATEROOM We had a balcony cabin that was small but adequate. The balcony flooring needs to be replaced (stained and very worn). What surprised me was the tiniest bathroom at sea I have ever seen, especially the toilet area. The shower was okay. Too bad the whole bathroom could not have been reconfigured differently, smaller shower and larger toilet area. There was significant dust on the soap dispenser and on the bottles of water by the coffee maker. I had never been on a ship where I had to get soap out of a dispenser in the sink area and soap and shampoo in the shower area. There were no little bottles that make it convenient to use in one area or another, although I have read that the room steward could provide these bottles if asked. When I asked he said, oh no, we don't have them. There was black mold on the clothesline in the shower. Our room was never cleaned before lunch even if we changed the sign to say please clean my room. I would have preferred a chocolate on my pillow at evening turndown (but it impacts NCL's bottom line), not a towel animal on my bed. ENTERTAINMENT The musical entertainment was excellent, especially Fire and Ice. The cheapest Bingo setup was $40.00 the one day I played, and Bingo was not called in a very animated format. All games were very short, with no game filling an entire card. FOOD AND BEVERAGE The only standout was the waiter in Gatsby's, I think his name was Oswell. He was the only one who was attentive but not obtrusive. My company cafeteria serves better quality food than that offered in the Venetian and Aqua Restaurants on the Dawn. The specialty restaurants served the quality of food that should be served on board a cruise ship without the added surcharges. If we bundled the extra charges for gratuities and specialty restaurant charges, the price of a cabin would be more realistic. Venetian Restaurant There were very few selections on the dinner menu, with the same menu for the entire cruise. The nightly specials were unappetizing. The lunch menu did not change for the entire cruise. The best items were the veggie and black bean burgers for lunch and the wild mushroom quesadillas for dinner. That's it. One sauce on the chicken special was so salty as to make the entire entree inedible. All three people at our table who ordered it did not finish it. The breakfast muffins tasted like cardboard, certainly not made fresh. Bland desserts (the chocolate "extravaganza" was a HUGE disappointment). This was the first time I had ever left chocolate uneaten on my plate. There was only one dessert on the menu that was sugar free. A request for sugar-free ice cream resulted in a trip to somewhere else on the ship to get it. The food and service were average to mediocre. The appetizers and entrees were all small portions. We were never asked if we wanted more of anything. As another reviewer has already commented, that's what cruising is about. I recall only one meal in a week's worth where the service was the quality that it should have been. Unfortunately I did not record the waiter's name. Garden Cafe - always a frenzy. When I am being charged gratuities, I do not want to have to carry a cafeteria tray with my food back to a table I have to find myself. Our first morning in the Garden Cafe for breakfast, we had fresh hot omelets and dried out French toast and dried out pancakes. When I asked for sugar-free syrup, I was handed a plastic bottle of a ready-made syrup, not even served in a small container. I can do this at home. We ate in the Italian restaurant once. The food and service were good, as would be expected. But the manager had an attitude and one of our table mates complained to Reception that he was rude and arrogant. This certainly took away from a nice dinner. The Big Band brunch on the last sea day was an insult. (Sleep in, skip breakfast, pay extra for brunch at 11:00, and then not be hungry for lunch. Miss two meals and pay extra for one. BERMUDA Bermuda was great, absolutely beautiful, as we remembered it. We had perfect weather except for a few raindrops our last afternoon in port. We met many local people who were gracious and friendly. We did not take any of the ship's shore excursions. I was about to book at least one shore excursion on the NCL website, but our selected excursion was sold out on the first day and there were no offerings for the second Bermuda day. When I called NCL's toll-free number for assistance, I was told they were having difficulty with the website, and the rep read to me over the phone the shore excursion offerings. After what seemed like 50 different things to do without any explanation as to length of time and cost, I decided that since we had been to Bermuda before, we would just take the bus and ferry and go off on our own. It was an excellent choice, and we saved quite a bit of money. Smoking onboard There was too much smoke onboard. It seemed like almost everyone smoked. I did not see any part of any outside deck that was non-smoking. The walking path on Deck 7, jogging path on Deck 13, pool area on Deck 12, every outdoor space there was smoke. I was in the casino the first night for 10 minutes and thought I would choke to death because of the smoke. I never went back (saved a bundle). Some other cruise ships have a smoke-free night in the casino. NCL should consider it. The whole ship smelled like a burning cigarette. You could smell the smoke in the casino throughout the entire hallway leading to it. Other Comments The ship's photographers were the most annoying. I was even pawed by a costumed animal (AKA ship photographer) as I'm trying to leave the ship to catch the ferry. Ten crew members including the captain attended the Cruise Critic meet and greet. I was very impressed. That was the last we saw of them except for the cruise director. The crew - officers, waiters, room stewards - continuously crossed in front of me instead of letting me as the guest pass by - no manners (who is the paying - and paying - guest here?). Beware the customs rules and regulations on the items you bring back to the US or other home country. The gift shop staff will not tell you if you have purchased more than your legal limit. A suggestion for additional signage when you exit the elevators. Signs are already available with cabin numbers, but you have to read through all of the numbers. How about signs that point to Port and Starboard? Additional comments from our traveling companion in a Deck 11 mini-suite: Bathroom smelled of mold. There was no quiet place to sit and read. Events were always going on in the lounges. And there were smokers out on Deck 7. There was no designated dance floor until very late at night. There was no printed newspaper delivered to the cabin each day. (My comment: But the amount of printed advertisements and solicitations delivered to the cabins daily and sometimes hourly certainly accounted for a lot of onboard trash - I hope it was recycled.) Drink waiters asking repeatedly if we wanted drinks - as someone else said in their review, it didn't seem like the waiters had any assigned area around the pool so they were constantly asking you if they could get anything for you. (My comment: Drink waiters had said they did not have time to bring requested soda if you had a soda card.) There was good fruit in the Garden Cafe. Disembarkation - seemed to be no rhyme or reason; just a total mass of people. I rarely saw my room steward and on the few times I did he never called me by name. What we will remember: The Dawn is a beautifully decorated ship with lots of wonderful artwork and paintings. That's probably the best part of this cruise experience. Fire and Ice were excellent entertainment. The wild mushroom quesadillas and veggie and black bean burgers were great. We had a wonderful time with our friends - most likely we will not sail NCL again. I never felt special. Isn't that supposed to be part of the cruise experience? 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Sail Date June 2010
My DH and I have taken this same cruise, in the same cabin, once before. In October of 2008, it was a different experience. We have cruised with NCL now 5 times. All very different experiences. However, having been on this exact cruise ... Read More
My DH and I have taken this same cruise, in the same cabin, once before. In October of 2008, it was a different experience. We have cruised with NCL now 5 times. All very different experiences. However, having been on this exact cruise before gives us a chance to do an exact comparison. This cruise lacked so many of the things that made our previous cruise wonderful. Boarding: We drove to the pier in NY, and in the rain, unloaded out luggage and I waited while my DH parked the car. We had two 22 inch suitcases and about 6 pieces of hand luggage. Parking was easy, but getting all the luggage down to the pier was not. There was no one to give us instructions as to where to take our larger pieces. The first porter we came to was quite rude. We eventually found a porter willing to take our bags, and proceeded into the terminal. By now my DH was not in a good mood, and we still had a lot of hand luggage. We went thru security, and were rudely told we were 'hiding a bottle of wine'. I said I knew we had a bottle, and not trying to hide it, but simply packed it. We were instructed to a table on the side to pay our $15.00 corkage fee. We expected this, and had no problem with the fee. After this we were finally escorted to the Suite and Latitude lounge, where we could relax. There we met Anshuman, who we already knew from the previous cruise. At that point things went a bit smoother. We were escorted to the ship, then told our cabin was not ready and advised to have lunch in Cagneys and then proceed to our cabin. We were just happy to be aboard and get something to eat. After a nice lunch, we proceeded to our cabin. Eventually our luggage showed up. However, we were missing a piece of hand luggage. We reported it, but it was not found, so we assumed we must have left it in the car. It turned out that it was not in the car. My DH thinks he may have left it in the pier area after all the times he sat it down, picked it up, got in a new line etc. Not NCL's fault, however, it may not have happened if the boarding process for people parking at the pier were handled in an easier way. The Cabin: Having been in the exact cabin previously, we concluded nothing had changed except the position of the coffee machine, it was now on the bar. The cabin was just shabbier. The gauzy curtain had grey stains on it. The sofa cover had a hole in it and was ill fitting from too many cleanings. There was dust on several things. One of the glasses had the cover on it, but contained a clear liquid. Obviously used. We pointed this out to our butler, Ravi, but he brushed it off as not importent. The mattress when viewed from the sofa, had two impressions from use. It may have been the same one we used previously. One of the lights didn't work, which we never did point out. On the good side, we had a bowl of fresh fruit, and a bottle of sparkling wine chilled. An arrangement of flowers was delivered and was beautiful. It survived one day. Ravi moved it to the little table by the sofa where it fell on the sofa, leaving water and debri, then onto the floor. Ravi made no attempt to do anything at all to clean it up. Our Butler: Ravi was our butler, and had a very nice personality. However, I think he had too much to do as he was always rushed. He spent time when we boarded to explain the working of the coffee machine, lights and other things in the cabin, the restaurant schedules, etc. But after that he was always in a hurry. He delivered dvds to us, a plate of complimentary snacks in the afternoon, and one breakfast. We had to call for ice several times. We bought a bar setup, so we had our cocktails in the cabin before dinner, but never had fresh ice unless we called for it. Suite Perks: A bottle of bubbly, a fruit bowl, and a fresh flower arrangement. The ability to eat breakfast and lunch in Cagneys, and have extended room service. Dvds delivered upon request. Robes. Upgraded linens and bath products. Concierge service. On our last cruise in addition to the this, we had free bottled water, free soda, a pillow menu, and always fresh ice. More attention in general. Also a Cocktail party for Latitudes and suite guests with the Captain. The Food: Room service breakfast was awfull. We only had it once. Cagneys staff and food was very good, however, we had the same menu every day. On our last cruise, the menu changed daily. I looked forward to that. This time we were 'invited' to spend money to dine with the Captain. I forget the amount, but something like $150.00 per couple, including wines. On our last cruise, we received nightly invites to dine with an officer, wine included, at no cost. We ate in Salsa twice, Cagneys once, and Aqua for the remaining dinners. The food and service in all restaurants was very good. No complaints at all, and we're foodies. We bought a bottle of wine nightly, and even if the bottle we requested was not on the menu, they got it for us. We did not eat at the buffet, or anywhere else on the ship. The Ship: The ship over all was in good shape. Clean and maintained public areas. Rugs being replaced in the hall to our cabin. No complaints at all, except with our cabin as previously mentioned. The Spa: We bought the spa pass and loved it. We also had several spa treatments which we both loved. I had the hot stone massage with Linda. She did a great job. My DH had a full body massage which he also loved. I also had the seaweed detox with Rose, which was interesting, not sure I felt detoxed, but I would do it again. We liked having the aft area to look at the sea. Also nice was the ability to have coffee, tea, or just cold water. The Dockyard and Bermuda: Getting on and off the ship went pretty smoothly. We didn't do any of the excursions being sold thru NCL, but we've been there before. We bought a 2 day pass and took busses and ferries to see the island at our leisure. That turned out to be a great way to see everything. It was too cold to really beach sit or swim, but we've done that. It was sunny but windy, great for hiking and sightseeing. With kids, we may have done something more structured. But I read up on what we wanted to see on our own and we had a great time. I even found the sea glass beach at Alexander Battery in St Georges, and came home with a small bag full. The bus from one end to the other was a good way to see the whole island. At Sea: Rough seas going over, but we love that so no problem. We both slept like babies. While at sea, we like quiet activities. It was hard to find a place to read without a lot of noise. They could use more quiet space, and as the library was busy, I think others may agree. One thing was a running theme for the whole cruise.....SALES. Even at dinner, we were approached to purchase tickets to eat with the Captain. SALES thru the loud speaker system, the dailies, the crew, every where you turned you were being sold something. I would like to see more educational classes and seminars while at sea. THEN sell me something. Disembarking: We met in the Sushi lounge to be led off the ship by our concierge, Anshuman. He led us to the gangway, then abandoned us to the cattle shoots and the throngs of people all trying to get off the ship seemingly at the same time. Once off, we had no trouble finding our luggage, and no trouble going thru customs. That was very well organised. Now, if I can get soneone to look for our lost bag..... Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My Norwegian Dawn adventure was August 2nd through 9th. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 11:15, and were on board by noon. Staterooms: Overall, our interior staterooms were the smallest I've encountered. On the other ... Read More
My Norwegian Dawn adventure was August 2nd through 9th. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 11:15, and were on board by noon. Staterooms: Overall, our interior staterooms were the smallest I've encountered. On the other hand, the shower was a very pleasant 2'x4'. While there were no little gifts in the bathroom, soap, shampoo and shower gel were provided. Maintenance is lacking. My safe was not working, but the problem was taken care of quickly, and by the time muster was called my valuables were safely locked away. We weren't so lucky in our other room, as the safe remained inoperable throughout the cruise. There are no bedspreads, and turndown service isn't provided unless you request it by turning a dial outside the room to the appropriate setting. Sheets and pillowcases are never changed during the trip - on the seventh night you're still sleeping on the same sheets as the first night. Some have complained about the 13" TV and lack of stations... I can't agree with this. Small TVs are still on many ships, and three news stations as well as first run movies and TNT are available. Excursions: I can't comment on this, as with inexpensive 3 day passes for ferry and bus service available, I did not purchase any excursions. The islands are beautiful; there's plenty to do and see. Dining: gets a strong thumbs-down from me. Superb dining is a significant part of what you pay for on a cruise, and here NCL failed miserably. Freestyle should not mean being forced to pay extra for decent food. The food in the two free restaurants was nothing special. Pork medallions (basic breaded cutlets), roast sirloin (cheap cut of meat), shrimp & lobster tail (overcooked, and a lobster tail that's too small to be tasty), eggplant parmesan (no better than Celantano frozen), salmon and chicken are the choices at the Venetian - day after day with no change. With only one exception, the Chef's specials were barely an improvement. I did enjoy the rack of lamb. It's the first cruise I've been on with no filet mignon, prime rib, or a "real" lobster tail on the menu at any time. Appetizers, salads, soups and deserts were equally limited, and most were mediocre. With the exception of one dinner, service was superb. On the way out of the dining room each night we made our reservation for the following evening, and had no problems and no waiting time when we arrived. Breakfast and lunch were most often at the buffet. I never encountered more than a couple of minutes wait at the omelet station. Overall the food at the buffet was fine. I do wish it stayed open past 9:30. For late night munches the only option is a tiny food court on the promenade level with table service. I prefer to grab a munch and cup of coffee on the pool deck to enjoy the sea before bed. Entertainment: Surprisingly superb. While the magician and comedian were average, the ship's troop was wonderful, and their shows were the best I've encountered to date. We were also fortunate to be on a cruise that included outside talent brought in by a large group sailing that week. Phil Flowers (a Vegas performer) performed two nights, and also gave a show in one of the lounges. Pool and deck: The pool is one depth throughout, so there is no place to step down into it. The maintenance of the pool area was non-existent. Day after day I watched as the staff removed glasses and plates, never wiping the tables. Disembarkation: Excellent. Passengers choose the time they want to leave. It was nice to have a last relaxing breakfast without lugging my backpack along. In spite of the positives, for me they were outweighed by the negatives, and I'm not likely to choose NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
we were so excited to be going to see bermuda and the free style dining was just what we all wanted. Unfortunately the two main dining halls had 40-90 min. wait time no matter if we tried at 5:30 or 8pm and we could not seem to get ... Read More
we were so excited to be going to see bermuda and the free style dining was just what we all wanted. Unfortunately the two main dining halls had 40-90 min. wait time no matter if we tried at 5:30 or 8pm and we could not seem to get reservations for the specialty restaurants. The food at the Venetian and the Aqua was always over cooked and the wait staff much too harried to remember what we ordered or brought both courses at the same time. We had the option of 1 chef special each night otherwise it was the same menu for 7 nights. There was quite a selection of food for the buffet, yet it too was over cooked, too salty and always cold-even when we sat for breakfast at 7am. We just showed up at Cagney's (steak house) at 8:30 one night and was shown to a table by the window and had wonderful service and great food. Why were we told that we could not get a reservation at any of the specialty restaurants each day we tried yet there were many empty tables during our entire time we dined at Cagney's???? Too bad it cost us $25 each to dine there. Too bad also, that Bermuda was closed on thursday and friday due to the cup match.The good part was that there were no crowds. The bad part was just about all of the shops, museums and most churches were closed. The transportation was on a limited holiday schedule. Why did NCL not mention this when booking (many at the info desk seemed surprised and all gave different info) and why did they not make special plans for all of us this week??? We found this common line of conversation from most everyone we met. Having to wait and or pay for everything became the running joke whenever 2 or more couples were on line or in the elevator together. The snuba and snorkeling were great and the water was clear and warm. Also the shows were varied and pretty good. NCL had better fix it's dining-no one should have to wait on a cruise, especially for poor quality food, poorly prepared accompanied by poor service. To sum up our general over-all experience the the cruise did not measure up to the standards of what is to be expected for the amount of expense and time devoted towards what should have been a memorable experience. P.S It was memorable but not in the positive sense. Next time we will cruise with Royal Carribian. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Day 1 - Upon arrival, we noticed that the room only had only two towels, even though our reservation was for 3. Right off the bat I was annoyed and already thinking that the cruise line was not going to be attentive. I was right ... Read More
Day 1 - Upon arrival, we noticed that the room only had only two towels, even though our reservation was for 3. Right off the bat I was annoyed and already thinking that the cruise line was not going to be attentive. I was right on the money. Our phone had no labels on it, unlike my friend's phone. It was difficult to figure out which button to push when I needed guest services. The shower wall unit was missing labels. Not that one could not figure out that the other one was shampoo, but it looked crappy not to be labeled and once again gave me the feeling that the cruise line does not take pride in its ships. We had no hot water. We had no TV - it was not working. My friend told me of a laundry special where if we put our clothes out to be pressed we could get them back by 6pm the next day and it was half price! I decided to do it but unlike my friend, I had no laundry bag in my closet. So I had to call for one. I put my clothes in it and left it on the bed. I was hugely disappointed that there was not an outlet for a hair dryer. Both of the outlets available were "Not for dryers" and "For shavers only". I wish this information was somewhere available before I packed my blow dryer. Additionally, my hair takes forever to dry with that dryer the cruise line supplies. Most nights I went out with my hair slightly damp. Very annoying. Someone's belt from a previous cruise was left in the room in our closet. Ick. Day 2 - We could not get anything but tepid water until Day 2 in the afternoon. This was awful for the first two showers. My kids even went to a friend's room to shower. Why this occurred I still do not know but I pushed on that red button forever and still did not get the hot water expected. When I asked my friends if they got hot water, all of them said it was extremely hot. We did not have any TV until Day 2 at 6pm after three visits by someone to try and fix it! Someone came the first time to fix it while we were at dinner. When we got back to the room my son was excited to relax and watch a movie because the TV was finally on. Only, what they "fixed" was just that they got the TV "on" and said it was fixed but it only played the channel with the boat's location. Remote did not work. Disappointment set in as we had to call again. My son was extremely annoyed. This time another person came to look at it and decided it needed a new remote. He said he would go get one and be right back. It took about an hour before he returned. Expecting my laundry to be back by 6pm. No sign of it by 5 pm. I call and a woman says she'll call to find out what happened to it. She never calls back. At 6pm I called again. She says she will call again. This time I ask her to call me back. She doesn't! Now it is too late and I have to wear shorts to dinner because my nicer clothes are not back. Talk about frustration. After dinner I get back to the cabin and STILL NO CLOTHES! I had to call again, making it 3 times in total before it showed up at 11pm with no apologies, and I still had to pay for it. My son went to charge his game system in the outlet by the mirror in the room and the outlet did not work! Had to call to have them fix it. Day 3 - Starting today, Day 3, we had to call DAILY to have towels replaced. We tried to keep same towels for the first two days but with the humidity they never dried. They were gross. After that, at times the wet towels were left and other times replaced. Some times they were picked up and other times they were left on the floor! Day 4 - The left side of the closet stopped working on Day 4, making it difficult to get to anything on that side of the closet. Called 4 times to have it fixed, as well as speaking to our steward Eric in the hall about it twice but to no avail. IT NEVER GOT FIXED!!! So every time I had to open that side I had to open the right side all the way and drag the left one open. This was beyond inexcusable. Every time I had to open the closet I got very upset, usually yelling out loud, making it miserable for my children. Day 5 - I ran out of shower gel on Day 5! I cannot believe this was never checked and refilled! There were three of us in the room so considering that it should have been checked at least once during the week. I had to use shampoo to shower with. I was extremely agitated with this. Day 6 - We traveled with friends. On this morning, we all got to breakfast only a few minutes before 9:30am. The hostess seated us without a problem. Our waitress, however, was the rudest person we encountered the whole trip!!! She had a nasty face, was rude beyond rude, threw down, yes, threw down cream cheese on our table, and had no patience with us whatsoever. It was so bad that our beverage person picked up on it and eventually got us a new waitress! If they didn't want to serve us, they should not have let us in to the dining area. That was totally uncalled for and upset and angered all of us! Day 7 - The last day of the cruise was my younger son's birthday. I asked at the reception desk if I could get a larger cake and also asked if there could be decorations. A very nice supervisor said he could get it done. They took my order and I expected everything to go smoothly. We asked the supervisor if we should decorate and they assured us that the boat staff would take care of it. I told my son all about it and he was very excited! HOWEVER, when we got to the restaurant, there were NO DECORATIONS! I was very upset. Then the host comes over with a white bag with all of the decorations in them!!!!! He had just received them. So we went without them. I was beside myself for my son who didn't know why the room wasn't decorated. I paid $50 for a cake to have a nice party with decorations and there were none. Truly disappointing. I carried the decorations home with me. And last but not least, the last night of the cruise the pull out bed was not even turned down!!!!!! Additional issues/Inconsistencies: They market "freestyle" as free to do whatever, but in reality, if you travel with a group and want to eat together, they only allow that at 2 specific times in the evening so there was not a lot of flexibility with that. Also, there were 20 of us that ended up cruising together but because we did not book together, NCL did not acknowledge us at all. No discounts on anything! My friend's room was stocked with a bottle of water and sparkling water when he arrived. We had none. Ice bucket was only filled first day. The same water from the melted ice stayed in the bucket the entire rest of the week. The balcony was very dirty. The fiberglass was filthy and there was a lot of dirt around making the whole balcony very unappealing to sit in. Why have people pay for a balcony and then not even keep it clean? My friend told me that his steward knew his name by day 2 and used it! Even though I used Eric's name the entire week, not once did he bother to ask our names. That was very disappointing. The entire week I never was able to go into the large pool. Three days in a row I tried to find a chair and not once was I able to secure a lounge chair in this area. People hogged the chairs, and even though NCL says that it is not allowed to do that, no one cared to do anything about it. So I went on a cruise and never went into the pool!!!!!! Overall feeling - if you sail NCL, you should keep your expectations low. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We were very disappointed with the overall experience.  We were big fans of freestyle cruising prior to this cruise.  NCL has made several changes to the Freestyle Cruise program which we were told became effective recently.  Here is a ... Read More
We were very disappointed with the overall experience.  We were big fans of freestyle cruising prior to this cruise.  NCL has made several changes to the Freestyle Cruise program which we were told became effective recently.  Here is a listing of what we didn't like about the changes:- You now have to pay a cover charge for ALL of the alternative dining options.  The last time we cruised the Dawn there were 2 alternative restaurants that were free.  We were told by the cruise representatives that the food quality is now better.  We refused to pay extra to eat at a different restaurant, so I can't comment on the food quality at the specialty restaurants.- They have changed the menus in the 2 main restuarants.  The menus are totally different, but don't change during the entire 7 nights.  They claim that they are now offerring their most popular dishes every night, but we found it to be very boring and ended up eating the same thing over and over again.  We think this is a way to try and make you eat in one of the specialty restaurants where there is an additional cover charge.- The service in the restaurants was not very good and dinner took forever.  The restaurants are crowded because there are no free alternative choices.- The buffet was horrible.  The tables were dirty, they didn't keep up on cleaning up and they were always out of clean cups and silverware.  They closed half of the buffet early to switch over from breakfast to lunch making the other side very crowded.  One morning they started the switch over just after 10 AM.  The dinner buffet was very disappointing, the choices were no better than lunch.- The per day gratuity charge has increased from $10 per person to $12 per person and now they have made kids a full gratuity charge.  We paid $12 per day for our 9 year old and my sister paid $12 per day for my 3 year old nephew.  The kids charge used to be half.- The spa is very expensive and they no longer allow you use of the heated pool/hot tub facilities with a treatment.  If you want to use the entire facility, you pay a cover charge of $100 per person or $150 per couple to use the facility for the week.- The entertainment was very poor.  We were last on the Dawn three years ago and the shows and comedian were the same as back then.  You would think they would change it up a little.  There is no entertainment during the day unless you want to pay for bingo.  NCL has taken the theory that they discount the cruise and then make up for it on the extras once you get on board.  If you plan to book a cruise with NCL, add about $200 - $300 per person to the cost of the cruise when comparing with other cruise lines.  We cruised NCL frequently in the past because of the NCL mastercard rewards program.  They also changed this effective January 2009, significantly decreasing the rewards.  We will most likely try a different cruiseline in the future.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
So here we go. Our family (the 4 of us; 2 adults 2 kids 10 and 3; my inlaws, aunt and uncle, and their daughter and companion) a total of 10 traveled on the Dawn to Bermuda on 8/10/08. We have all cruised extensively and chose the Dawn ... Read More
So here we go. Our family (the 4 of us; 2 adults 2 kids 10 and 3; my inlaws, aunt and uncle, and their daughter and companion) a total of 10 traveled on the Dawn to Bermuda on 8/10/08. We have all cruised extensively and chose the Dawn because of the freestyle dining and it was the only ship that did a 7 night Bermuda from NYC. Embarkation - what a breeze. We thought we were off to a GREAT start! Arrived at 1030 and boarded by 1130! When we boarded we were told to go the buffet at the Garden Cafe. The crew was adamant that the Venetian was CLOSED. NOT TRUE! It opens at 1230! They will insist and insist and insist that it is not open! ARRGGHHHH. For its' size, the Dawn feels very crowded. The public areas and especially the pool are not well thought out at all. There is only one pool you can swim in on the entire ship (unless you want to pay $$ to use the indoor pool). They consider their tiny 4 foot pool as another one but, really. Don't get me wrong we had some good times in the pool especially on Saturday when the seas were rough and it was one giant, fun wave pool! They do have the T-Rex kids pool on the aft of the ship and it is difficult to get to. You must walk down very steep stairs or walk through the gym which children are not allowed. No one supervises it and small children were getting squashed by the bigger (and in my opinion much too old to be there 12-18) ones coming down the slides. Our activities consisted of quality family time together which we had, interruption free and with wonderful weather! Now to the service. The bartenders were wonderful. Very eager and at times pushy to serve you. Not a problem and never a wait. As to the service in the main (FREE) dining rooms. What to say but such a BIG disappointment. Rude, unattentive, and unaccommodating. FYI you need reservations for freestyle dining in the main dining rooms if you are a party larger than 5 people. Even then be prepared to wait up to 2 hrs. They only do reservation before 6 or after 8. So much for eat when you want and where. The only "when you want" is at the buffet. We didn't do any excursions through NCL. We bought the 3 day combo pass and used the buses and ferries. We went to Horseshoe Bay 2x (beautiful pink sand and water!!! We wasted time going to the dirty and raunchy Snorkel Park near the ship in King's Wharf. Don't go. Cigarette butts everywhere, broken glass and they play xrated music with families there. Also ventured to the original Swizzle Inn out by the airport. Arrive before 6pm to get a table. Swizzle Inn and Swagger out! LOL Our "mini-suite" was larger than a balcony and comfortable for the 4 of us. If only it was clean! Our balcony had hair everywhere and dirt and grime and dirty, sticky glass. There are NO suite benefits in the mini-suite as I was assured by NCL's booking department. It is NO different than a balcony cabin other than its' size. Dining - I highly recommend Cagney's!!! $20 per adult, $10 for kids 12 and under and kids I believe under 5 are free. Service was EXCELLENT as was the food. The extra $10 for lobster or crab or any other upgrades are worth is because you get 2 lobster tails or an entire bowl of King crab legs!!!! La Salsa was the same with EXCELLENT everything - now $10 per adult, $5 for kids 12 and under and the same for 5 and under (free). Impressions was also very good (same fee as La Salsa). The Sushi Bar was really good!!!! $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids 12 and under. Blue Lagoon, the diner, has the BEST chicken wings!!!! Service is a bit slow but they are so overworked there and you cannot fault them! It could be 2x the size and it will still be packed. They do serve breakfast there and not too many people know this so it is very good! The Venetian - YUCK! Service was terrible as were the portion sizes and the lack-luster food! I mean you are with children, have a personality, it wouldn't kill you! Honestly, only the caribbean staff or staff from India or Indonesia made any effort at all to smile or play around with the kids. We didn't do the kids club but many happy children were marching around the ship all painted up and sing. Entertainment... We did the magic show and the kids enjoyed it. The comedian is very inappropriate for the kids! So, in summation. Would we travel with NCL again? NO, NO, NO. Would I recommend them for your first cruise, sure why not. You will only move up from NCL with any other cruise line. The service you received in the paying restaurant is the service you get on ANY OTHER CRUISE LINE on any give day/time in any of their restaurants. I believe something has been lost in translation with the "FREESTYLE" concept. The old school staff know how to treat you but the newer, younger and primarily Filipino staff haven't a clue!!!!!! Disembarkation was also a breeze. We chose the Red tags which are the last ones off. Be prepared to be off by 930 because we thought we'd be off later because on embarkation people were still getting off at 1030! One more thing. My in-laws have been traveling to Bermuda for 40 years. Their last visit was 5 years ago. They were VERY disappointed at how RUDE many of the locals were. You really get the feeling they DON'T want you there nor do they want or need your business. Horseshoe Bay was beautiful but I certainly wouldn't travel that distance just for that!!!! We have been to Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Maarten and Martin, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Cancun, Cabo, Oaxaca, and so many more. We have stayed and cruised at these islands and found the people so very nice!! So, if you haven't cruise with NCL- go for it you will be in for a pleasant surprise on the next cruise line you book. If you have, well make the best of it and enjoy time with your family as we did! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I have been on previous cruises with Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I traveled with family including a child of 8 and a handicapped person. Lets start out with embarkation. I gave this a 5+. It was the smoothest embark on to a ship ... Read More
I have been on previous cruises with Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I traveled with family including a child of 8 and a handicapped person. Lets start out with embarkation. I gave this a 5+. It was the smoothest embark on to a ship I have ever encountered. We were greeted with champagne and/or OJ. Nice touch. I arrived in NY by 11:00am, on the ship and eating lunch by 12:00pm. That was the highlight. The restaurants, exception of Aqua and Venetian were all extra money. I paid more for this cruise than any previous cruises and I have to pay for dinner???? Reservations were only taken for 5:45pm and 8:45pm, otherwise you had to wait in line. The menu at the "FREE" restaurants were limited, guessing that you had to pay extra for different meals. The only drinks offered, iced tea and water. Not even soda or punch or lemonade with meals. When asked if my daughter could have milk or juice with dinner, it was brought after she had eaten. This cruise line is the cheapest I have ever encountered. I had my condiments applied for me, c'mon, can't I have more ketchup, syrup, whip cream? If the restaurant states that it is open till 10:00pm...the doors are shut by 9:15. I found many of times there was no where to eat. Are you kidding me???? The Blue Lagoon is open 24-7, but it has seating for 20 people. The Garden Cafe has two sides for buffet lines. My cruise was sold out and for the most part only one side of the buffet was open(for 3,000 people). The staff is friendly, but distant. They are not expecting the extra tips so give mediocre service. My cabin stewards were helpful, friendly and accommodating as were the staff at the Kids Crew. But the dinning staff were there just to serve. There weren't enough of them either. Every night our waiter was overworked with tables and dinner often took 2 hours. On previous cruises, by day 2 your wait staff knows your drink preference and has it waiting for your arrival to the table. Each night I felt compelled to tip the waiter for his hard work. More $$$. Kids Crew.... My daughter had a great time with them. There were 700 children on board. My only complaint,(and this is not with the KC staff)it is with NCL, no beepers. I'm guessing NCL is to cheap to provide enough beepers. Not even to handicap children. I was forever running back there to check on her. Again, not staff problem. Loved the activities. On Disney Cruises, there is a cabin card swipe so there can be no confusion of what child is with who and of course they have beepers and phones. Only a sign out signature system on NCL that is not checked enough. Security in Kids Crew should be improved. My daughter was brought out to another family, who has a daughter with her same name. NOT GOOD. T-Rex pool is small with one crew member enforcing the rules. C'Mon people, it says no swim diapers. If you child is wearing them, stay home. They are to little to enjoy a cruise. And parents the T-Rex pool and hot tubs are for children. At one point there were more adults in the TREX hot tub than children. Good Grief! The entertainment was below par. Jose and Patti were the highlight for shows. EXCELLENT. They were unfortunately located in a small lounge. Never enough seating for their show. The main shows at night were horrible. One was about South Beach music and another Bollywood. No thank you. We left both. Our cabin was on deck eight. We heard the Salsa restaurant trio singing all night in our cabin. I have never been on a cruise where you heard everything surrounding you. Above, below, in the hall and the lounge midship. The lady in the cabin next door had coughing fits throughout the night, every night. FOR HANDICAP PEOPLE.. The ship has alot of dead ends. Only certain elevators go all the way up or all the way down. Hallways to cabins are small/thin for a small travel scooter. Restaurants were to small to bring scooter all the way to some tables. Bermuda was beautiful, would go back there in a heartbeat. The people were eager to help you find a beach, shop , dine. Wonderful Island to visit. Weather was awesome. Beaches were spectacular. THE ONE BIG BIG PLUS I WILL GIVE NCL....YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DRESS UP FOR ANYTHING. CASUAL ATTIRE IN ANY RESTAURANT. SOME PEOPLE DINED IN JEANS, SOME IN SHORTS, SOME IN SWIMSUITS. Disembarkation was easy and swift. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
The only reason we sailed on NCL again was to go to Bermuda and sought of use the cruise ship for a hotel since it docks there for three days. How could we go wrong? It went wrong!!! Embarkation- The pier was a mad house with taxis and ... Read More
The only reason we sailed on NCL again was to go to Bermuda and sought of use the cruise ship for a hotel since it docks there for three days. How could we go wrong? It went wrong!!! Embarkation- The pier was a mad house with taxis and traffic on the west side by the port, that was no fault to NCL. Checked my bags and the process was pretty smooth got on the ship in under an hour. Went up top for a couple frozen drinks and then got swarmed every 5 minutes for the next hour by as many as 5 waiters asking if we wanted another, they push the souvenir glasses with the drinks for 8.95 and the refill is 6.95, but make sure they know you already have a souvenir glass otherwise another 8.95 one will pops up in your face, it happened to me I was double souvenir fisted. I'll take it over having no waiter service at all, but really it was too much. Did you say soda card? nah they don't push that one at all. If you like soda ask for it because that deal is actually now a secret. Ship- Is very nice but very hard to navigate around as there are dead-ends on certain floors. Very colorful and cheerful Food- Was pretty good we opt'd for Salas three nights which had good mexican food, we ate in Bermuda the nights we were there. We recommed the Pickled Onion in Hamilton- the food there was excellent.Entertainment- The had some nice shows, Jose and Patti were our favorite band. Customer care- This is where NCL falls behind other cruise lines and for that alone we pulled back our tips and tipped those who did a good job making our vacation more enjoyable. FYI pulling your tips back is like a crime -"I have to get my Supervisor for you to do that, the smaller people get forgotten when you do that, such as the Maitre'ds the waiters. You have to fill out this form why you want your tip money back-BLah blah blah--- I don't pay the salaries of people whom I don't even use or encounter on a cruise(such as the Maitre'D) we didn't go to the main dining room once, waiters I tip after dinner and drink waiters get tips on top of the 15% THEY ALREADY TAKE OUT- I NEED NCL TO STOP THINKING FOR ME- When you read the Casino part of my review you might understand a bit more.Casino- All I can say is Wow!!!!!!!! My wife and I love to gamble, slots and some table games and as long as the customer service is good, we will drop anywhere from two to three thousand in a casino on any given trip. We actually plan on losing that much going in. Ok -day one I lost three hundred that I brought with me on the ship and took out Five hundred from the casino on my casino card. My wife later that day lost all of her money and then took out one thousand dollars on her casino card. So if your doing the adding we lost ALL the money we brought on the ship and had fifteen hundred of their money in our pockets. The next day I lost some more money and my wife gave me a hundred dollar bill to play slots . I went to cash this money in at the casino window for twenties and was told that the Bill was no good that it was counterfeit. The Manager practically stared through me as if I was a low life as she checked it over about three times and said sir this bill is no good we have to take it for safe keeping and an investigation. Well you can imagine I began to lose it as I explained that I got the bill from my wife who got the bill from you. I was then told by the manager that there was no way we could have received the bill from them because every big bill that passes through their window gets checked in a machine and by hand. Well the way it was presented to me by them it was like calling me a liar to my face and I lost it. I went got my wife, who became upset because she knew exactly where she got those hundreds from and had to have the rest of the bills she was given checked and the BIG casino boss was called down from the back room. They basically told me that there was nothing that they could do for me at this time and that an investigation with the casino cameras would attempted to be conducted and if the investigation couldn't determine the origin of the fake bill that we were out the hundred dollars as it was being vouchered to the US treasury. I was pissed and their lack of customer care or even tact leads me to this statement I will never Ever Ever sail on NCL again!!!!!.......The Hundred dollars wasn't the problem it's how they looked and treated us which ticks me off.....Why????? Because later that night they left a message from on my cabin phone voice mail stating they caught on their cameras where the bill had entered the casino from one of their table games and in fact the bill was given to my wife by them in error and I could come and pick up one hundred dollars at my leisure from the casino, there was a simple we are sorry for the inconvience this may have caused you at the end of the message....... I am sorry but that's just not enough, if I could only explain how attacked we felt , when we were being told it couldn't be their fault ahhhhhhhhh, well no more casino for us and for what is usually a part of vacation that we enjoy, that part of our vacation was gone. Disembarkation- The secret is out everyone is starting to opt for the express checkout which had long lines running around the ship with conflicting directions from crew members scattered around the hallways. We were later informed that one of the elevators in the terminal was not working whiched caused the heavy delays getting off the ship. Bigger problem was there were no taxis outside the cruise terminal... Why ? Because the west side highway was closed due to a marathon in New York and many families had to drag luggage as many as two large avenues down to get Cabs that were stuck in heavy traffic jams. Where was NCL with any guidance or information for their passengers during this confusing situatation? Bottom line is they didn't care- We were all leaving why should they? Done with NCL -Royal Caribbean just booked two cruises next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Things we liked: The comedian, the magician, the shows. Overall the entertainment experience was very good, except for the one Karaoke Person (Marianna was here name) who thought she was the singing sensation of the world. She was OK at ... Read More
Things we liked: The comedian, the magician, the shows. Overall the entertainment experience was very good, except for the one Karaoke Person (Marianna was here name) who thought she was the singing sensation of the world. She was OK at absolute best. One night she walked off because she thought the song was out of key. OK lady, get a grip, it's Karaoke, not American Idol. That was annoying but fun to watch someone get so upset over Karaoke. The shore excursions were obscene as far as cost. For two people it would have been at least $150 for the meekest of excursions. If you want to do anything other than tour the Island, you will have to shell out some major $$$$. You would think Norwegian Cruise Lines could negotiate better rates being the big company that they are. I also learned that the port of call shop owners pay Norwegian to promote their stores and services and stay open later than there normal business hours but The Cruise did not promote any of those stores on board to help out those local shop owners. That seems kind of shady to me. The whole "FreeStyle" experience as Norwegian calls it was a joke. I say that because their definition of "FreeStyle" means that you can do what you want, when you wants without being tied to a schedule as far a dining is concerned. They say you don't need to need to make reservations to eat. But if you don't you will not be eating until at least 8:30 every night and then you will miss the shows. So make your reservations. Also, the idea of charging more to eat in certain restaurants over another is kind of a joke. The best free restaurant is Salsa and the best "fee" restaurant is Le Bistro. If you plan on eating in any of the other restaurants, Cagney's (a steakhouse) is $20 per person, plus unto $15 extra per person depending on the dinner you choose. The worst was Aqua. This place promotes itself as a more healthy place, but none of the food had much flavor. The whole dining experience ruined the cruise. On a positive note, the wait and service staff was very friendly and very courteous. If you want to sit on the deck, they say you can't save chairs for anyone on any of the decks. However this is not enforced. I saw one lady save 6 chairs by herself while she waited on her friends, who never showed up. I thought that was rude but none of the staff would tell her that was against policy even when we asked them to inform her of that. Overall, it was an OK cruise, not outstanding. In retrospect we should have gone with a Royal Caribbean cruise. They don't have the $tring$ attached that the FreeStyle Cruises have. If you sail this ship, be prepared to spend extra money enjoying the type of food that other ships offer for free. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
May 11th from NY to Bermuda. By now most have heard about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred on our trip to Bermuda (Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death) and I want to say upfront that I thought the ... Read More
May 11th from NY to Bermuda. By now most have heard about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred on our trip to Bermuda (Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death) and I want to say upfront that I thought the ship's captain was pretty good about keeping the passengers abreast of the evenings events. And I can't blame NCL for the 40+ foot waves and 50+ mph winds we had to deal with all the way to Bermuda BUT I can place blame on them for not having any alternative "rainy day" activities planned. Think about it - the pools/hot tubs were drained all the way to and from Bermuda. Maybe the cruise staff could have found alternative activities for the passengers. As I would say to my friend - "There is always the casino". As a side note, they serve free drinks (well drinks and beer) to passengers playing using their casino card!! There was a rum tasting event in the Pearly Pub that was almost cancelled due to the weather??? It was in a bar what did that have to do with the weather outside?? As for food, I thought it was very bland and lacked choices. I had eggs and an english muffing most mornings and pasta and veggies most lunches. The night of "surf and more surf" was dry and over cooked and I love seafood. How sad for me.. The best dessert I had all week was vanilla ice cream and even that was not all that good. We went to Cagney's on Monday night (2nd night of the trip) and I asked for a glass of Pinot Noir to go with my dinner and they told me they only had 3 bottles left for the trip and I could only buy it by the bottle. 3 bottles?? We left NYC the day before.. I think I might have gained 1lb on my all you can eat cruise.. The cabin - I thought it was a bit small but adequate for sleeping. Thankfully we had a balcony so it gave us a bit more space. The ship was in the process of being upgraded during the cruise so mid-week we were given new pillows. They were more decoration that utility so I asked our cabin steward for another pillow. The ship should have compensated the passengers for their troubles - maybe an hour or two of free drinks? Maybe an onboard credit of $25 - 50 a person, maybe the staff could have engaged us a bit more.. Something. Overall this was a disappointing cruise but it wont stop me from cruising again but it wont be on NCL unless its free. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. This will probably be a long review wanted to warn you before you started reading.. So, to start at the beginning that would be Parking. Not bad at all pretty convenient actually. If only ... Read More
Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. This will probably be a long review wanted to warn you before you started reading.. So, to start at the beginning that would be Parking. Not bad at all pretty convenient actually. If only Embarkation was such a breeze. It was a LONG wait. Since I had to use the LR My hubby and friends got on line first. I was told I was NOT able to catch up with them and needed to stand at the end of the line. Not 2 mins later a group came that had the rest of their group in the front of the line came and the same woman told me 1 person to wait at the end of the line allowed these 4 people to go and meet their group. I was a little annoyed at that. Finally I catch up to the rest of my group to wait 1.5 - 2hours to get on the ship. We arrived at the port around 12:30 ish and we arrived on board and directly to our room at 2pm. Although people on the boards mentioned that the Venetian would be opened for Lunch on Embarkation day we were told it WAS NOT opened. Could be that we didn't get on the ship in time. Off to the buffet we went. After we ate in the buffet and headed back to our room ,after searching and searching for a free table to eat at, Our luggage had arrived. Over all that process was relatively painless. Next I would like to touch on the "FREESTYLE" dining. HATED IT! Unfortunately I am not an early bird especially on vacation so we were only able to obtain reservations one night in Salsas which was very good. But we got that on the last night on the cruise. The service in the Venetian was HORRID. After the 30-40 min wait for a table we were seated and the servers were not very attentive at all. We did not even receive water or bread for about 30 mins after being seated. I know service is different in "fancy' restaurants but that seemed too long to even get water. The servers helper kept apologizing for the servers attitude and rudeness. I appreciated the apology but I felt bad for the "helper". Okay its the first nite right... Lets assume they were "in the weeds" and we will give them the benefit of the doubt. 2nd nite in Venetian same issues.. long wait time bad service. Breakfast was even worse. Aqua had much better service we ate there most times after the Venetian fiascos. We did sit down at the Blue Lagoon is that what its called? To get "comfort" food one day and we waited over 30 mins for a server to come to the table next to us she said I will put this order in and be right back. We watched her put their order in and go to the other side of the cafe and clean unoccupied tables and 10 mins later still hadn't returned to take our order. Needless to say we left and didn't get our comfort food that nite. Next time we went we did get service. But the table next to us was delivered 3 plates of food that they didn't order. Actually they hadn't even placed an order yet. Unreal!!! Although the food was basically good. Not horrible but nothing to rave about either. The buffet was boring.. same food over and over. Entertainment: We did see Fredereni or whatever his name was he was good. Unfortunately most nites we were still trying to get seated or eating so we missed most of the shows. That was unfortunate I did hear alot of people say that Second City was great! Daytime entertainment? I couldn't find much I wanted to do that didn't cost extra. The things I did find were either during my sleep time or unfortunately when I was eating or waiting to eat so I didn't do much on the ship. I mean it does say something for the "entertainment" when all of the shuffleboards were full all day. Who plays shuffleboard on a cruise anymore. LOTS of people on NCL!!! That should be a clue Islands: GORGEOUS!!! The islands were beautiful and gave us something to do. Although after we came home from the Private Island I developed a severe reaction to something all over my face. In the brochure they said there was some poison tree on the island. I did ask the dr what the cure is for this rash and he said he never heard of any such "poison tree". This irritated me since it was in THEIR brochure. Anyway... In Nassau if you want to shop take a later Excursion as all the shops close at 5:30pm and you are in port till like 2amish. We just took a local bus tour of the island. Like i said earlier the island is BEAUTIFUL. In Bermuda if you like to shop alot don't take the bus if you need to get back for a PM excursion it takes quite a while to get there. What else is there to cover .. Perhaps the LARGE amount of people on the ship there were 800+ kids which put the ship at capacity at 2600 people. Although there were only a few that were mischievous I think just that they were there overwhelmed the room stewards and wait staff. I didn't find many friendly staff. The room steward although he did fill your request didn't speak hardly at all. The wait staff never smiled or at least most of them. Don't want to say NONE were but many weren't. Overall I wouldn't go on NCL again. The worst part was the lack of activities on ship. I really look forward to having things to do. Perhaps I just was being cheap and should have paid extra for things like the martini "club" and Margarita tastings and such. But I didn't feel like I should have to pay everyday for a fun activity. In closing I do want to say I did enjoy the itinerary and the ship itself was beautiful. I did enjoy the paintings on Deck 7 they were cute. I also enjoyed my larger shower than say Carnival or Princess but the room was smaller itself. I LOVED the balcony! But overall the service was underpar and the food was OK not great. The Maitre D in Aqua did tell us that the Dawn is the lowest rated ship in their fleet. I know the NCL ers out there that love freestyle will criticize this review but I wanted to share my less than enjoyable experience. I do want to say that a mediocre vacation is better than a good day at work! Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
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