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1,182 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

As a first time cruiser, I was apprehensive about this trip. It could not have been better. Living in NJ, we left at 11:00am and reached the pier at 11:45am. We were greeted by a porter who took our luggage & guided us to the ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I was apprehensive about this trip. It could not have been better. Living in NJ, we left at 11:00am and reached the pier at 11:45am. We were greeted by a porter who took our luggage & guided us to the embarking station. We sailed thru the photo, doc check and credit card area (just a tip-complete the customs form BEFORE going thru this area) and were on the ship by 12:20pm. After a quick look around, we went up to the buffet to grab lunch. We were pleased with the selections. Next,they were offering tours of the spa and we tagged along. All of the facilities were beautiful and the massages sounded great but VERY expensive. Our room (stateroom w/balcony-deck 10) was ready at 2:00 and we found our luggage already there. The room was immaculate and having the balcony gave us the feel of a larger space. The shower had a glass door which gave some privacy. There was a shelf above the bathroom sink that easily fit most of our toiletries. The closet was stocked with hangers and we had plenty to spare. By putting the suitcases under the bed we had no problem with space. We brought soda & water but didn't really need it. Hubby bought the soda card-worked out fine. The only problem that we had with the room was that it took 2 days to get the cabin steward to remove the fridge contents. We tried to take advantage of a lot of on board activities-Had a ball at both margarita clinics-good buy too-4 drinks for $15. Met lots of interesting people from around the world. Did some of the trivia games- lots of fun- art auction (do people really spend that much money on art on a cruise ship?) Went to Makeup clinic-( a real push to buy the product).The ship entertainment was very good-Second City comedy was probably the best, but Bollywood and the Dance Troupe were very good too. I liked the fact that they came out after the show to visit with the audience & take photos. Matt Baker,the cruise director, was outstanding. Where he gets his 24/7 energy, I don't know! Pool activities were hampered on several occasions by rain, but when it was nice, the staff made the most of the time-hairy chest contests, ice sculpting, calypso band, barbecues, pool olympics, etc. Also went to the towel animal making class-fun to watch. The lounges were nice places to relax, the main band (Best of Friends) always drew a lot of people. They sang a nice mix-Beatles, Eagles, Show tunes, light music, etc. Drinks were cheaper there too. The pool was always pretty full-people had to make up for the rainy days-I enjoyed the hot tub even though it was a little crowded. The smaller section of the pool-the 4' had a very steep ladder which was hard to get into. The food was good-not great. Free style is nice, but you still have to make reservations at the specialty restaurants. I had the best salmon ever at Aqua. My daughter loved the Italian and my husband liked Cagney's (cover charge) the best. The Venetian was great for sit down breakfasts, but avoid the pasta with almond in alfredo sauce for dinner-Gooey & absolutely no flavor. There was never a problem with a jean issue-saw no one in jeans at any meals. The Staff- everyone- was wonderful-friendly,courteous, accommodating, and many staff members even remembered and called my granddaughter by name. Tours- we did the Long boat tour in Bermuda with a stop in Hamilton-very good history of area & plenty of time to shop. Parasailing on the private island was great- but nervewracking-skip the City tour & Pirate Museum in Nassau- going thru poor areas with debris & decay is not an enjoyable site. The Museum was very good though. My daughter did the Atlantis tour & said it was great. We docked at 8:00am, had breakfast at 9:00, thru ship debarkation & customs by 10:00am and home by 11:00. It can't get any better! Overall Opinion- Beautiful,immaculate ship,wonderful staff, lots to do, food quality & selection needs to be upgraded. Met wonderful people-even one of our cruise critic members! Too bad NCL doesn't have a meet & greet for us! Am already planning when we can go again!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Norwegian Dawn - Bermuda/Bahamas 06/03/2006 This was our first ever cruise, we chose NCL because of free style cruising, price and sailing out of NY. Embarkation I am not a US Citizen so when we arrived we got to go on the Non-US ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn - Bermuda/Bahamas 06/03/2006 This was our first ever cruise, we chose NCL because of free style cruising, price and sailing out of NY. Embarkation I am not a US Citizen so when we arrived we got to go on the Non-US line which was much faster and pretty much got to walk straight on to the ship. We arrived at about 2pm so got to go straight to our room. The NCL staff at the port were very friendly and efficient. The Ship The Dawn is a beautiful ship and was very easy to navigate around; we were in an aft balcony cabin on deck 9. It was very spacious and well organized, and having a balcony was great. I spent quite a bit of time reading on the balcony. All the staff we met were very friendly, courteous and helpful and all were smiling. The entire ship seems to be very well maintained and very clean. They seem to be very conscientious about hygiene and health, which is very reassuring. Our only complaint with NCL was the itinerary. We did have one small issue with our cabin, in that the bed sheets did not seem to have been changed from the previous sailing, but we made a complaint to the room steward and it was rectified immediately. Itinerary As this was our first cruise I think we were a bit disappointed with the itinerary, probably because we had such high expectations and we didn't realize how long a day at sea could be. If we cruise again it will be on an itinerary with less sea days. We had 3 which was too many for us. Bermuda was our first port of call and despite rain, we still went on a glass bottom boat snorkel trip and then had time to take the ferry into Hamilton. And had a great time, we would definitely like to go back to Bermuda. We then had another day at sea, which we decided to spend in the Spa, mainly because the weather wasn't great and the pool deck was too loud and crowded. The Spa was practically deserted with its own pool and 2 hot tubs. The next stop was Great Stirrup Cay, we got tender tickets the day before for the 2nd tender of the day but decided to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast before heading over. We arrived at 11am and were still able to find 2 chairs under an umbrella. We went snorkeling which was great and swam with rays and enjoyed the beach BBQ. Nassau was a bit of a let down, we arrived in the evening when everything was closed and there was nothing to see or do, the whole area seemed very seedy and run down. The next day we went to Paradise Island which was ok but not very interesting. I don't think I will go to Nassau again. Food We pretty much ate nearly everywhere so here is a brief run down. We found alcohol on the ship to be very expensive even compared to NYC. We did not get the soda card as for us it did not work out as a good value; I think we spent less then $15 on soft drinks when the card cost $45. Venetian -- one of the main restaurants. We ate lunch here on one of the sea days, though very beautiful, the service was terrible as was the food and menu. We never ate here again. Impressions -- one of the main restaurants. We had dinner here on formal night; the atmosphere and service were very nice, though it took a long time to get a glass of wine. We had the steak and lobster, everything was good and it was very relaxing, especially when compared to Venetian. Le Bistro -- Pay restaurant $15 per person. I loved Le Bistro, it was very quiet and the service was excellent as was the food, also who can beat sitting next to an original Van Gogh. If you go here definitely try the chocolate fondue, it is to die for. Cagnys Steak House -- Pay restaurant $20 per person. Service was slow, but the food and wine was excellent as was the atmosphere, highly recommended. We can't decide if Cagnys or Le Bistro was better. Garden Buffet -- Included restaurant. We ate breakfast here every day, good selection and made to order waffles and omelets. Lunch and dinner selections were ok, but got boring after a while as they didn't really change. Trattoria -- Included restaurant. Only open in the evenings when they converted part of the buffet to make an Italian eatery. Atmosphere was ok, as always service was good, menu was a little limited but if you like salad and fresh pasta it's pretty good. Salsa -- Included restaurant. Salsa was a bit disappointing, we had heard a lot of good things about it. It is located in the atrium and there is usually a band or piano playing below the restaurant which is nice. Service was ok, but the food was terrible. And we did not go back. Blue Lagoon - Included 24 hour fast food joint, very good wings and fish and chips, but service was very slow and disorganized. Entertainment There seemed to be a lot going on on the ship, but we didn't take part in any of the activities. We attended an art auction out of curiosity, and saw the Bollywood show which was great kind of a spin off of Moulin Rouge. We also tried out the casino and hung out by the pool and in the spa. Overall We enjoyed ourselves, but I am not sure we would cruise again. We did not like being on the ship's schedule and prefer to go off and do our own thing. After a couple of days, the ship felt a bit claustrophobic. If we go on another cruise we will look at the itinerary very carefully as we would want more time in the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
We went with NCL because we were honeymooners and liked the freestyle cruise atmosphere dealing with the food. We did not want to have to eat with other people! We also liked the itinerary, I wanted to see Bermuda. Getting on the ship ... Read More
We went with NCL because we were honeymooners and liked the freestyle cruise atmosphere dealing with the food. We did not want to have to eat with other people! We also liked the itinerary, I wanted to see Bermuda. Getting on the ship was bad, we sat at the pier for 4 hours, the ship did not get back into port until 11:00, one hour late. I would suggest getting there early, no later than 12:30 or you will be sitting in line forever! Once on the ship we went straight to our cabin, Mini-suite AF on deck 11. Our luggage was delivered less than an hour after we got to our room. Our room staff was great! We never really gave them enough time to clean the room, but they managed with what time we gave them! Reservations: Make the week's reservations on the first day. We made the mistake of waiting till that day to try and get in at one of the speciality restaurants. We only made it to Cagney's ($10 pp cover charge) and Salsa (both of which were amazing) We ate in the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch and ended up there for dinner most nights too! The soda card was worth it ($50) and sneak some alcohol on if you can because the drink prices were outrageous!! Look for the late night 2 for 1 deals in the casino to get you money's worth! Bermuda was beautiful. Take the bus to horseshoe bay and then hang around the dockyard. I would skip the private island. It was hot and crowded. But the fish come up and swim around your legs, so if that is something you like, then go for it. Nassau was such a short time, we went to Atlantis and did enjoy that. The public beach nearby is very nice. Went to Senor frogs and got a $13.00 margarita! It was fun though! Do the express disembarkment we were out within an hour of docking. Matt Baker was the Cruise Director, he was ok, but his staff was great. Go to the pub crawl and the trivia nights. Overall the ship was beautiful and the staff was great! Don't tip because it is already included with your drink bill and at the end of the cruise ($10 pp per day) We will cruise NCL again, once you are Lattitude members you get better perks and easier check in and out! Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Prior to taking this cruise, we had studied the CC board intensely. One common theme we found was that the food and service were sub-par. WERE THEY ON THE SAME SHIP WE WERE? Embarkation was a bit of a mess due to the Dawn returning to New ... Read More
Prior to taking this cruise, we had studied the CC board intensely. One common theme we found was that the food and service were sub-par. WERE THEY ON THE SAME SHIP WE WERE? Embarkation was a bit of a mess due to the Dawn returning to New York 3 hours late. OK, that happens. The weather had been pretty bad the past week up here. But one that was over and they started calling passengers by class, things went smoothly. (One issue though: NYC is VERY serious about scanning baggage. We thought we could carry on all of our bags, but were forbidden to do so. One of the NCL employees got us a supervisor that explained our bags were too big to fit in the X-Ray machines. OK, I can understand that. So we checked our bags and went back to wait until we were called.) Once we got on board, we went to the Garden Cafe to eat and wait for our rooms to be ready. They were actually ready earlier than they said. We decided to book a balcony suite, the lower end of the food chain. All I can say was that the room was remarkable. On our last cruise (NCL Majesty 8/05), we book an oceanview cabin. It looked like a cabin on a ship, and we had to climb all over each other just to get in and out of bed. The upgrade was well worth it. The walls were wood-paneled, the room was big enough to move around in and the bathroom had an actual tub with a shower. The sink area was a nice size, all things considered. The toilet was in a little space with a sliding door for some privacy. The beds were pushed together to make a big one (Queen-szie I think!) And there was a sitting area with a couch that folded out to a double bed. There was also a table and two chairs. This was separated by a very nice, very heavy room-darkening curtain. Next, there was a sliding glass door leading to a nice-sized balcony with two recliners. It was a wonderful room all around. We tend to keep to ourselves a lot, so the fact that the Oasis pool was always overcrowded and loud didn't mean much to us. Everybody there seemed to having a good time, though. Just not our cup of sake'. We had a very lucky break in the position of our cabin. We were the last cabin on the right side of the ship. We were five feet away from the Spa. They had the most incredible heated Lap Pool along with a HydroTherapy Spa and a regular hot tub. We started every morning in the Hydro Spa and the Pool. What a way to start your day! Take note, they have started charging for the use of this Spa it is $15 per day or $60 per cruise. Well worth it from our perspective. They also has a very nice workout room that is free to use. The food we found to be very good. The Garden Cafe is typical steam-table cafeteria food. Except it was a bit better quality. They always had a Deli Counter and a Vegetarian line. The all night restaurant, The Blue Lagoon, was much better than what we had on the Majesty. The Majesty was an open deck grill with hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. This place had class! The Blue Lagoon had Shepherd's Pie, Singapore fried noodles, Cantonese fried rice, fish and chips, along with the usual fare of hamburgers and hot dogs. Great food, especially after a night of drinking! The three main dining rooms had very nice decor, especially the Venetian Room. I heard many complaints from people that the menu was always the same in all three restaurants. Duh! These are the ship dining rooms. The could have had plastic walls and fancy names like DINING ROOM 1, etc... I give NCL points for trying to make your experience different in any way they can. The food at the three main dining rooms (Venetian Room, Aqua and Impressions), was all very good. And the service was excellent. The specialty restaurants were also excellent. Salsa had some of the best Tex-Mex I've eaten. The Tapas selection was great! Cagney's Steak House was wonderful, and worth the extra charge (so I believe). The Bamboo restaurant had a very good Sushi Bar, with all you can eat rolls for $10/person, along with regular sushi at ala carte pricing. We are sushi-lovers and did not go for any other asian cuisine there. Maybe next trip! Le Bistro was a fabulous encounter. There are four masterpieces hanging in the restaurant, including one Van Gogh. The food was marvelous and the service was impeccable. The bars on the ship had a different motif. All were great. One thing I would like to mention: They did not push drinks like they did on our last cruise. They were around when you needed one, but were always polite and never pushy. One of our favorites is Gatsby's, with a 1930's motif. We had a wonderful time almost every night there. The have an incredible entertainer named Dan Hodge. He is a true showman. If you go see him, tell him Dan send his regards! For those of you who enjoy a good cigar, the Havana club is right there. They have some great cougars, but the don't really stock what they say is on the wall. Just go to the humidor and pick a nice one! The casino was done very well, lots of slots and Black Jack tables (my game), also 3 Card Poker, Baccarat and the increasingly popular Texas Hold 'Em. Someone I met on the cruise won $1400 there! The time on Bermuda was too short! Our last cruise had us docked at St. George for 3 1/2 days. Eight hours wasn't enough. We took the ferry over to Hamilton and walked around. We found this fabulous restaurant in Hamilton called the New Captains table. It had the best fish I have every eaten, no joke! Give them a try when you go there. You won't regret it! The snorkeling and Beach Party at Great Stirrup Cay was nice. It was just too hot for us! We went early and were back on the boat by Noon. It was nice to have the boat to ourselves. One thing to beware of: DON'T"T LEAVE YOUR FOOD UNATTENDED! If you walk away for even one minute, there will be a flock of birds descending on your food like locust. We say it happen twice. Two people left their food to get beers, and 200 birds descended! Where is Tippi Hedron when you need her! The other time, the people sitting in front of us at the beach left to go swimming, and about 50 birds cleaned their leftovers! The only thing I didn't care for was the trip to Nassau. It got there at 8PM and we had to leave at Noon the next day. On top of that, many of the stores that were going to stay open past 8PM did not. Mostly the T-shirt joints and the jewelry store. Despite the supposed discounts, I think a lot of the prices were not reasonable at all. Hello Kitty earrings were $600! Granted they were platinum and diamond, but still... We had an excellent time overall I don't understand all of the complaining. One guy was complaining about EVERYTHING! Come to find out, someone else chose the trip and also paid for it. Where is the gratitude? We had a wonderful time. The food was great, the service was excellent. We could not have asked for a better vacation! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My wife and I took a family cruise with my family on the June 17th cruise of the Dawn. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean before we were excited to see how traditional cruising would match up with freestyle cruising. Here are our ... Read More
My wife and I took a family cruise with my family on the June 17th cruise of the Dawn. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean before we were excited to see how traditional cruising would match up with freestyle cruising. Here are our experiences.... Getting on the ship in New York was very easy, quick and not a problem at all. We took a bus service to the dock, we were immediately greeted by someone who took our luggage and told us it would be in out room by 7:00 or so. We walked in waited in in line for about 5 minutes, checked in got our sea passes and were on the boat in no time at all. As for the ship, I have to say it first impression it was nicer, bigger and laid out must better than the Royal Caribbean ship we took, which was the Serenade of the Seas. Once we could get to our rooms, about 2:00p.m. we were again surprised at the size of the room and the bathroom (seasoned cruisers will know what I mean). Now for the rest of the cruise here are our pros & cons... Pros: The rooms were huge and bathrooms were big for a cruise. Much more restaurants to try than Royal Caribbean. And not just pay ones, free ones and the food was excellent. The staff was great. Here's a little tip, if you want to just have a drink, go to the Salsa cafe. They have these little areas where you can sit and ask for some salsa and chips. It is a great place to sit and relax. Great Stirrup Cay was unbelievable! Get there early to get a chair and a raft. The rafts are a lot of fun, grab a drink and just float around all day. We saw 2 shows, Bollywood and the opener. Both we very good and the cruise director Matt Baker was very funny. Cons: Very few thing to comment on. One was the pool situation is a disaster. We were at sea for 4 days and every day it was a battle to get a chair. My advice is to be a "Chair Hog" Get up at 7:00 a.m. and go out and get a chair otherwise you will not have a chair or a spot to sit all day. There is really no tip here it really is that bad. Second downfall is that other than the Blue Lagoon and room service, there is no real "pick on" food. After a good booze feast we all like a little chips or something and it really is hard to find something at midnight. So overall how did we like it? GREAT!! It's vacation how could you not. Comparing the two are like comparing apples and oranges. I think NCL is more fun if you are going with people or family. We had a blast. The Spinnaker Lounge is a ton of fun every night, Great Stirrup Cay is amazing. Is the food 5 star restaurant, no but is it terrible food, no. It very, very good. Does the waiter/ess wait on you hand and foot, no, but they take good care of you. Rooms are clean, food is excellent, alcohol is alcohol. My advice is if you are looking for a romantic getaway and want to be pampered and get the royal treatment, go on Royal Caribbean. It is a lot more romantic, the wait staff gets to know you, it's more of a relaxed laid back feel. If you are going with people or family I highly recommend NCL & freestyle cruising. It is more a fun, partying feel. More bars, more theme things, more to do with people. I loved NCL and the Dawn. Great trip great vacation, great ship, great time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Norwegian Dawn Review Sail date: 5/27/06 to Bermuda and The Bahamas Background information: I traveled on the NCL Dawn with my 76 year old mother. She picked this cruise line after seeing it on The Apprentice and because it sailed out ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn Review Sail date: 5/27/06 to Bermuda and The Bahamas Background information: I traveled on the NCL Dawn with my 76 year old mother. She picked this cruise line after seeing it on The Apprentice and because it sailed out of New York City and seemed like a good value. I booked air travel from my home in Texas on my own to New York, met up with her (she lives in NYC) and we traveled on our own to the port. Stateroom: We booked guaranteed outside and got a cabin on deck 8 with an obstructed view, though we could see out very well. The room itself was comfortable. Bathroom had shower only and with just a curtain to separate it from the rest of the bathroom, it more or less flooded the bathroom with every shower (there are drains, but depending on the motion of the ship, they didnt get all the water). The cabin had a small table, plenty of storage space for clothing, and a vanity area that I used more as a desk. It has the only electrical outlet in the room. I wish Id brought an extension cord or power stripthere is only the one power outlet in the room and I have way more than 1 gadget that needed to be recharged. It is a grounded (3 prong) outlet. There is also a 220 volt outlet for the hair dryer and coffee maker. Ship Info: The ship is a beauty. Very new, clean, nicely decorated. There are a ton of public rooms on the ship and all are very nice. Only complaint is that it was tough to find a lounge chair in the sun (or even the shade). Not nearly enough chairs for the size of the ship and despite the posted signs saying it is not allowed, people reserved them all day long by leaving their stuff on them. Dining: The food was the worst part of the experience. The food in the main dining rooms (Venetian, Aqua, Impressionsall have the same menu each night) was not very good at allmeat and fish were routinely overcooked (if you want medium, order medium rare). I was disappointed in nearly everything I tried. A lot of the items are variations on a theme (I swear I had the same fruit cocktail 4 times with different names but tasting exactly the same). Even the desserts were often a disappointmentorder 2 or more so youll find something you like. Portions also were small. Food temperatures often were not right either. We didnt get to try the specialty restaurants (getting a reservation after the first day on board was nearly impossibleapparently the rest of the passengers had heard how not-good the food was in the main restaurants and had made advance reservations). The food at the buffet reminded me of the cafeteria at my college, which isnt a compliment. But there was plenty of food there and it was almost always open. We ordered room service for breakfast most days and it was delivered on time or early (they call first, which is a nice touch). It was an acceptable continental breakfast. Activities: Bingo is completely insanefor $75 you could purchase a wireless computer with 72 cards on it that you just hold and watch as it automatically records the numbers called and tells you when you are 1 number away and when you have bingo. You can buy the regular paper cards (3 per game for $25 or 6 for $35) but the only people who won at the 1 bingo contest we attended all had the computers. The casino was equally priceyonly a few slot machines took quarters, the rest were dollars. The nice thing is that the casino is at the far end of the ship instead of in the middle of everything like on most ships. We went to a few other on-board activities (mostly on sea days) and they were enjoyable and interestingparticularly a class on improving your memory. You have to pay $60/cruise (or $15/day) for access to the indoor lap pool, sauna, hydrotherapy pool (it rocks) and relaxation suite. The pass is money well spent. I often had the place to myself in late afternoon and evening (its open until 10pm). If you want a quiet place to swim laps, relax, or sit in the hot tub or hydrotherapy pool, its a great investment. The fitness studio was a great size and I enjoyed using it very much. There were a dozen or more treadmills, 4 elliptical machines, and a collection of bikes and stair-climbers, plus free weights and Cybex equipment. Classes (which I didnt try) are offered for a fee (yoga, Pilates, spinning). Service: Our room steward was very friendly and did a great job, though I wish hed kept a more consistent schedule of when he came through in the morning and evening. My mother spent a good deal of time in the cabin (she was hesitant to venture out alone and didnt always want to do what I was doing) and she didnt want to be in his way, though she often was. If we knew when generally he was going to be making up the room, we would have been certain to be elsewhere, but it varied by several hours depending on the day. We tried all three main restaurants. The food is the same, but service was best in Aqua (its the medium-sized dining room). But even there it was often rushed and inattentive. My water glass often sat empty for 5 minutes or more and on a couple of dining occasions it didnt get refilled unless I asked. The waitstaff were generally nice, they just seemed overwhelmed and werent working as a team. Often people were waiting to be seated when there were plenty of empty tables because the hostess didnt have anyone to show the people to their tables. I didnt understand why she didnt just do it. We waited about 10 minutes one night when we were told no one was available to take us to a table. Entertainment: We didnt go to a lot of the shows, but the ones we went to were generally good and better than previous cruises Ive been on. The cruise director was a nice enough guy and pretty funny. Shore Excursions/Itinerary: I think this is a fairly new itinerary for NCL. We sailed from NYC, at sea, in Bermuda 8-4pm, at sea, GSC private island 8am-3pm, Nassau 8pm-following noon, at sea, back to NYC. Bermuda is beautiful and a million times nicer than most of the Caribbean (more beauty, less poverty, super-nice people). I did the Rising Son Catamaran Sail & Swim excursion. The crew was fun, but the boat was crowded. Decent snorkeling at the beach where they stop. Plenty of rum punch. The private island was OK, but again not nearly enough lounge chairs (they had maybe 50-75 of them and all were taken by the time I got there, and I was on the second tender). The rest are sand chairs where you are sitting up straight. There were more than enough of those, but they arent as comfortable. I was surprised to see so many fish with all the people in the water. Take a packet of cereal with you if you really want to see lots of fish (but be warned that they will swarm youtoss the packet a little ways from where you are if you dont want to see the fish THAT close up). Also, be sure to pick up a tender ticket the previous day as soon as they start handing them out, or youll be stuck on the ship for hours waiting for a tender to the island. Nassau was nice for shopping, no really incredible deals but good duty-free shopping. Some of the shops were open from 8-10pm on the night we docked, but downtown was pretty abandoned and unless you wanted to take a taxi to the Atlantis, there wasnt much to see or do. The following morning I went ashore to shop at 8:45 and discovered that the stores open between 9 and 9:30. We had to be back aboard at 11:30, which didnt leave much time. If you chose a shore excursion in Nassau you would have had no shopping time at all. Embarking/Disembarking: In general, the cruise was very well organized. There was minimal waiting on either end of the cruise and plenty of helpful people around. NCL seems to have thought through ways to avoid crowding, except when it comes to their restaurants. I took the NCL transfer back to the airport and my mom grabbed a taxi without a problem. One other thing to note: if you arent from NYC, you might think twice before booking any cruise that departs from there. The vast, vast majority of the passengers were from New York and they were generally rude, pushy, impatient, loudeverything New Yorkers are famous for. Having grown up in NYC and then living in the Midwest and then the southwest the past 18 years, it was interesting for me to watch the non-New Yorkers on the ship react to the New Yorkersits a clash of cultures (and FYI, the New Yorkers dont think theyre being rude at all, its just their way). If you dont think youd like living amidst a NY crowd for a week, think about departing from somewhere else. Summary: All in all, Id say we got what we paid for, which was a value-priced cruise on a very lovely ship and a nice time away in beautiful places. The food and service in the dining room was the only downside, but if you booked early for the alternative restaurants, you might have a better experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Just returned from the Thanksgiving cruise on the Spirit and we had a truly wonderful time. The ship is really beautiful and interesting, and as many people have said is like a smaller version of the Dawn. I see that there are quite a lot ... Read More
Just returned from the Thanksgiving cruise on the Spirit and we had a truly wonderful time. The ship is really beautiful and interesting, and as many people have said is like a smaller version of the Dawn. I see that there are quite a lot of negative reviews cropping up, I was expecting that, as there were many unhappy people on the cruise, complaining about various things, and whilst I agree there is room for improvement in some areas, our cruise certainly not spoiled in any way. I have only cruised twice and of course am no expert, but I have traveled a lot and taken many vacations overseas, and have yet to find a vacation that is completely problem free - I think how you handle it depends on your vacation enjoyment. We arrived at the pier around 11am. We were in our cabin by noon. We are both non-US citizens and Latitudes members and there was some initial confusion as to where exactly we should go; up the stairs, sent back down, sent back up, sent back down. Blimey, I'd had a work-out before I even got my keycard!! We were also very lucky and managed to get an upgrade; we had booked a G cat. porthole cabin and were upgraded to a D cat. window cabin which was great, however that lead to confusion later - more on that to follow. But apart from that everything was hassle free and after a celebratory glass of wine in our cabin and unpacking the items in our hand luggage we headed to Windows for lunch overlooking the Hudson River. After that we explored the ship some more, viewed some menus in reception, enquired about formal night(s) and after learning that there was no discounted price for any of the specialty restaurants decided not to rush into booking them straight away until we had a plan of action. It was very cold for sail-away; we persevered until the Statue of Liberty before finally giving up and going to Galaxy of the Stars for the passing under the Verrazano Bridge. By now it was after 6pm so we headed back to our room to see if our luggage had arrived. It hadn't. Was this because of the wine we packed we wondered.......? But no, it was because of the cabin upgrade, our luggage didn't follow us. So we went to the original cabin, and sure enough, the luggage was there outside the cabin all alone so we decided to just take it ourselves to our new cabin. What I didn't realize however at this point, was that my husband had pre-ordered some flowers through NCL and of course they didn't make it to the new cabin either. Without me knowing, he had gone to reception and enquired about this, and shortly after that the flowers were delivered to our cabin, and the message card a day or two later. The first night we ate at the Garden Room and had Prime Rib. I'm no expert on Prime Rib but to me, and my hubbie, it tasted great. After a couple of drinks at Champagne Charlies, which turned out to be one of our favorite places, we had an early(ish) night after an action packed day!! The food and restaurants in general we found to be pretty good. We actually preferred the decor of the restaurants on the Spirit to those on the Dawn. Granted, it wasn't always what you would call 'gourmet', but I never had a reason to complain about any of the food or the service. I haven't cruised with any other lines so I obviously can't compare, but we enjoyed pretty much every meal we had, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.... ....Apart from Raffles buffet that is, but I didn't expect great things here, we only went there for breakfast twice and it if you go at prime time it is utter chaos. But it was on the Dawn too. The food tasted good, the made-to-order omelettes were great, and once you'd fought your way through the crowds, avoided the children running round your feet, dodged the spills on the floor, finally found a coffee cup to put your coffee in, and ahhhhhhhhhhh you sit down to find that the food has gone cold. If you are able to go to Windows instead for your breakfast I highly recommend doing so. We tried two specialty restaurants; Teppanyaki and Le Bistro. Both were excellent and well worth the extra money, not just for the high quality of food but more for the dining experience. We had a wonderful four course dinner at Le Bistro which lasted two hours. I'm sure you could speed it up if you wished, but we chose it that way and even though we thought we would explode with all the food, we just HAD to order the chocolate fondue... La Trattoria was a bit of a disappointment, not for the quality of food but more for the small selection; I'm sure I've seen menus posted for 'made-to-order pizza' and other meat/fish dishes, but there are only five pasta dishes as entrees on the entire menu. No chicken parm either. It also isn't a separate restaurant, just a sectioned-off part of Raffles buffet, but with candles and Italian table decorations. The lights aren't dimmed though and it was just lacking something, even though they made an effort to give extra special service and a wine sommelier was available, I just feel they could have made it better decoration/ambience wise - although we noted that it was the same on the Dawn. Having said that, the pasta I had was extremely good, as were the breads and olives they put on the table to begin with. We both really enjoyed Windows and Garden Room for dinner; we were trying to cut a few costs here and there with this being an un-planned 'splurge' of a vacation and we were able to do this, with a nice mix of main restaurants and specialty restaurants, it worked out well for us. We spent about $500 less on our onboard account by doing this, cutting down on the expensive excursions and taking some wine on board for consumption in our cabin. But we still had an action packed time and didn't feel at all like we were missing out on anything. As for entertainment; we saw quite a few shows too, and enjoyed most of them. My least favorite was the last night; the farewell variety night, it just didn't seem to work and I expected more of a finale. I did however really enjoy the other magic shows, and the opera singer was very good. We spent a few late nights at Galaxy too; we saw the Liars club, the adults only comedy show, the 'ship n males', all of which were pretty funny. The only planned excursion through NCL we did was in Bermuda; the EZ Rider (or Lazy rider as I called it) bike and hike tour. It was fantastic!! Our favorite day in fact. The bikes are power assisted so even though you're pedaling, they assist you, so you can go up hills really easily. And I'm not particularly fit. They take you on a well planned tour for just over two hours through the hills of the west side of Bermuda and it is just stunning, the views are amazing. It feels really safe too, with the tour leader (an older chap) leading the way at the front, and his son at the back, you are well protected, and they are very patient. I think there was about 25 in our tour, ranging from teenagers to people in perhaps their 50's - all the locals wave at you and truck drivers honk their horns and we were all 'ringing our bells' back at them - it was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. In St. Maarten we took a cab to Orient beach; it was just gorgeous - we were there by 9am and drinking Bloody Mary's by 9.01 and it was just so nice and peaceful so early, we loved it and spent a lot of time bobbing about in the beautiful clear water. Be warned though, areas of this beach are nudists and they do wander from their area into the main part of the beach, ooh err........We left the beach a little early in time to try a jet ski in the main harbor - I have to say that riding around our ship on a jet-ski is a unique experience - we loved it! St. Thomas - We expected to dock at the main fixed Havensight pier but instead docked at Crown Bay, 3.5 miles away. But we didn't realize this, and set off walking from the ship to the shopping area, which turned out to be quite a walk and we ended up getting a little sunburned. Once there though, the shopping area is very pretty. The shops and little cafes are really cute and after lunch we went on the Sky-Ride to Paradise Point. At $16 each it was well worth it, the views are amazing and whilst sitting at the top having a beer we could see the Spirit all the way in the distance, and I was quietly thinking to myself, what if we saw it set off without us........Luckily it didn't, we were back in plenty of time, but took a cab back, as my blisters hurt from the walk there!! The Tivoli pool area - it did get VERY crowded. On the Thursday, Thanksgiving, as this was an 'at sea' day we thought we'd try the pool area for half a day or so and got up at 7.30 to get a good spot. Almost EVERY sun bed was covered with a towel/cap/book/you name it, but NO people. That annoyed me a little. As it turned out the weather wasn't so good later that day so we eventually gave up and did indoor activities and tried the hot tub later on the afternoon. I agree with the folks that have said there isn't enough room round the pool, all the room is at the back, overlooking the kids area, my photos will show you. The gym - I liked this gym, because the elliptical machines and treadmills overlooked the ocean, and what could be nicer? It does get crowded at peak times though, one morning at 8am I couldn't get on any of the above machines and had to try something else, but apart from that I liked it a lot. The Aqua Swim is a little strange - the concept of swimming against the current in a teeny pool is fine on land, but when you put that with the movement of the ship you're all over the place and can't really get a good workout. The Dawn Spa area was better for us, with the indoor lap pool and hot tub. Our cabin was fine; about the size we expected, the shower is better than ours at home and whilst there was definitely a lot of creaks and other ship noises throughout the night, that I can accept, but the herd of elephants in the cabin directly above us was slightly frustrating. The hair dryer, oh my word!!! Don't get me started on that thing. You can't take your own because of the voltage situation, so here's the solution; get ready down at the Spa. Have a leisurely sauna followed by a shower with plenty of space, and use the 'normal' hair dryer they have there. Much better than using that thing they have in the cabins. It was a bumpy ride. We noticed the difference between this and the movement on the Dawn almost immediately and put it down to either a smaller ship or time of year. I did struggle a couple of times getting around the ship or our cabin and found myself bumping into walls on more than one occasion. But fortunately we did not get sea sick, and our cabin was loaded with pills just in case!! I did see 'barf bags' allover the ship, in public areas, but didn't see anyone actually get sick, although a few did look unhappy. I'm not sure of the reason for the rockiness, I'm not experienced enough to comment, and I don't know why they didn't fill the pool on the Bermuda day; we didn't get back from our excursion until late and went straight for lunch upon our return so I didn't see. But what I did see later that day is the seas suddenly change and just one big bump made the pool go so crazy that within seconds all the children were panicking, as well as the parents of course, and when the crew were jumping in to drag out the kids it made you realize how serious this could potentially be. Now, scary as it was to see that, and the photo I've attached doesn't really show it too well (I have video if anyone wants to see) - but can you really blame the ship for that? I don't know - maybe you can - but that seemed to be the turning point for many people and after that I just saw groups of people complaining and saying they were unhappy with the cruise and were going to take back the $10 per day service charge from their account. It also seemed to be a turning point for the stability of the ship because from this moment it became completely stable and calm for the entire journey home, in our opinion anyway. Maybe they changed something at this point to accommodate for the rough seas, I don't know, but it did seem to get a lot smoother after this incident. Anyway, the absolute worst part of the entire cruise was trying to get off the ship. And I know that's normal for everybody, but more so for non-US Citizens. We had to be at the Garden Room by 8am. At 10am we were still there. There was a teeny little lady, with a teenier voice, trying to handle a crowd of 250 or more, and the system was just embarrassing. She whispered, then shouted, then screamed each person's room number to hand back their passports. Once she'd located the appropriate passenger, she had to climb over everybody's bags, suitcases, children, prams, strollers, legs, to give the documentation back. This took a loooooooong time. Once that part was over you had wait for the appropriate luggage tag number to be called. We were last. Surely there must be an easier way; how about a couple more crew? Would save a lot of hassle. With the line at Immigration, it was a three hour process. Talk about back to Manhattan with a bump. But we expected it, we had the same experience on the Dawn. And we are lucky enough to have a short cab ride back to our apartment. Overall we had a truly excellent time, sure, a couple of bumps here and there but it's all part of the adventure to us. I feel bad for all the folks out there that didn't have good time, that's a shame. But all I can do is tell you about our particular experience, and please, don't be put off trying the Spirit; in addition to hearing negative comments I also heard a lot of good ones too. For photos: http://spaces.msn.com/members/nicolanyc/ - click on the right-most icon under the small pictures to see the larger versions! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
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