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Sail Date: July 2013
I read the prior reviews and was prepared for mediocrity. I agree with previous reviews: 1) the rooms are comfortable but a little on the small side, fellow guests reserve chairs all day and the pools are on the small side. Other than ... Read More
I read the prior reviews and was prepared for mediocrity. I agree with previous reviews: 1) the rooms are comfortable but a little on the small side, fellow guests reserve chairs all day and the pools are on the small side. Other than that, I give Norwegian a 10/10. Rock of Ages was an amazing show and wished we would have seen it twice. Traveled with wife and 2 boys, age 10 and 6. There was so much to do that we never needed one of those scarce chairs by the pools. Highlights from my kids point of view: 1) Ropes course 2) Splash Academy (esp in the evening, we did not mind at all) 3) The food (esp the Garden café, we preferred Taste) 4) Having their own adjoining room 5) The water slides 6) Rock climbing 7) Spiderman and trampoline 8) The Bermuda beaches 9) Shuffle board 10) Room service 11) Desert 12) Splash pool party 13) Giant television in the Atrium we did not eat in any specialty restaurants and found the complimentary venues excellent. Never a wait and the service was terrific. No complaints about the buffet and loved the Irish pub (great chicken wings 24/7) as well as the hot dog carts. My advice for Bermuda. Skip horseshoe bay beach (unless you like crowds) and go 1/2 mile further and hit Warwick Long Bay Beach. No crowds and amazing beach. Overall, could not have been more pleased with Norwegian. Yes, there are 4000 guests but with some many activities and such a large ship, we almost never felt crowded. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
My wife and I booked this trip to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary which occured during the cruise. Here is some context: while it was our first cruise (yeah, I know - pretty amazing especially given the extensive cruise experience ... Read More
My wife and I booked this trip to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary which occured during the cruise. Here is some context: while it was our first cruise (yeah, I know - pretty amazing especially given the extensive cruise experience of so many of the people posting on this site - but one has to start sometime) but we are not atrangers to travelling. I've travelled extensively internationally during my career, we've done a lot of interesting vacation trips in Europe and Asia, and we lived in Asia for a couple of years. So the comparisons we drew from the trip were from land based hotels, resorts, and restaurants. We picked this route for a couple of reasons: Norwegian free style dining, ability to drive to New York rather than fly, I've been to Bermuda on business but have wanted to go on vacation there, and the Breakaway seemed like a a cool ship. There are a number of detailed fact based reviews about the Breakaway (kudos to Gambee - after reading his ultimate review we knew so much of what to expect), so I'll take these few minutes to write about what we did and what we liked, and why. First the cabin. We booked a balcony, because we wanted to use our room as an oasis to which we could periodically retreat from all of the hustle and bustle of the ship. So we got a mid ship balcony, deck 10, aft, port side. We got a lot of great suggestions from the Norwegian reservations guy we worked with to book the trip, who asked a lot of questions about the kind of stuff we wanted to do during the week. It turned out to be a very quiet room. There were cabins above below (public areas create sound!), it was near the aft elevator bank (this is big ship, that saves time), and as luck would have it, we were docked portside in Bermuda so that meant we overlooked the dockyard activity. We spent a lot break time out on our balcony - what a great place to have a bottle of wine. Sometimes good times are defined by little things - like the afternoon when we were sitting out and we saw a pod of dolphins coming by very close to the ship (glad we brought our stadium binoculars!) or the Wednesday morning the ship was arriving in Bermuda. We had ordered room service breakfast for 6:30 and sat out on the balcony eating breakfast while the sun rose, as the ship was making its way through the zigzags of the channel through the reefs, as the sun rose over the ship and the Bermuda coastline. Another bonus was watching the fireworks from our balcony on Friday night - they shoot them off port side. The cabin seemed reasonably big, it was well laid out and it was easy to unpack all of our stuff, store our bags under the bed, and the bathroom seemed well designed with lots of storage space and bigger than a lot of the bathrooms in European hotels we've been in. We enjoyed the included restaurants. We had dinner in all three MDRS throughout the trip - the Manhattan dining room twice. We walked in to Taste and Savor and got seated right away. Once in Manhattan we had made reservations and were seated at the time of our reservations, and the other time we walked in and were seated right away. We always had tables for two. A comment about reservations - I had thought that one could only make reservations at the specialty restaurants. One night we had bookings for Rock of Ages and Second City with about 2 hours in between, so I called the reservation line that morning to see if I could make a reser for the Manhattan room and it turned out that we could. The person I spoke to said that they take resers for up to about 35% of the availability. That was great to be able to make that reservation - it was the only evening we sort of had a tight schedule. Otherwise waiting would have been a good excuse to enjoy the bar. (Not that we realy needed excuses!)I wouldn't describe us as buffet fans, but we really ended up liking the Garden Cafe and the Uptown Grill. The main reason is the way they are structured - with food stations rather than long buffet lines, with the chefs cooking for each station right at the station; the food was always fresh and attractive looking. And if you wanted something slightly different, they were always happy to make it for you while you were there. I have to say the Asian choices were great- one lunch I had a nice spicy Thai coconut curry that was fairly respectable. We tried one of the specialty restaurants - Le Bistro - and really enjoyed it. The food was a cut above the MDRs (which in their own right were pretty good), the presentation was great, and the service was also great. It was well worth the $20 p.p.surcharge. We had dinner there on Sunday night, and they gave all the bookings that night a bottle of house wine. We had had a couple of cocktails before dinner, so the house wine seemed pretty good. If we were to sail on the Breakaway again, we'd try some of the others - we just didn't have time. The Uptown Grill at the top of the ship is open for breakfast and lunch, and seemed like a great find. As others have noted, this ship can feel crowded and we sailed on a peak week at peak capacity, and the Uptown Grill always seemed to be calm with lots of open tables. It's a great place for al fresco breakfast and lunch, and it has its own bar too. Stuff to do on the ship. There were far more things to do than we could possibly fit in a week, especially with 3 days of port time. We had sort structured our week by booking a number of bigger things in advance - Rock of Ages (they did a good job, it was a good musical and we liked the 80's music), Burn the Floor (less impressive - the cast is a group of super dancers and the music is good, but there is no plot line to string it all together), and Second City (it was an Improv performance and really hilarious). Other random stuff: we both went to one of the martini tastings - it was fun to try things we would probably never order - and seriously we felt we got a lot of bang for our buck. Theoretically they were 2 oz martini tastes, but those regular size martini glasses were pretty well filled. The white wine tasting was fun too. We balanced all this good eating and drinking with the spa and gym. We both got massages and my wife also got a facial. The treatment facilities were on a par with very nice resorts. While they weren't cheap, we thought the pricing was pretty reasonable. We knew we wanted to book massages, so we went to the spa on the first Sunday afternoon after boarding and lunch, and they had sort of an open house with tours of the whole facility. I liked the gym - it's pretty neat to be on a machine with a sea view! I used my gym time every morning to also catch up on world news on the TV imbedded in the eliptical machine. The gym could have been bigger, but with going almost every day, the only time I waited for a machine was Monday morning (around 8:30) and that was for about 5 minutes. All the other times, while the place was busy, I was able to get an eliptical machine right away. Going to the pool area and getting a lounge chair isn't high on our list of stuff we like to do - so the fact that this is probably the most hotly contested real estate on the ship didn't bother us. For somebody who does like lounger time, though, be prepared to go early (especially in a peak week like we were on). I would usually be done in the gym around 9-9:30 and noticed that the pool area loungers were really filling up when I'd go walking around the pool decks while cooling off. I did get up my nerve to do the slides, though, and was glad that I did. There is something, well, breathtaking, to have the bottom drop out beneath to launch you into the big slide. It was pretty cool. Bermuda was a fun place to be for three days. On Wednesday afternoon we took the ferry to Hamilton and explored all the shops and stuff near the waterfront. We ended up having dinner at the Pickled Onion Pub and Restaurant (they are related to the Dockyard Brewery, so you can get that great local microbeer there too). We had a table on the balcony overlooking the harbor. Thursday we took a ferry to St. Georges. What a neat town 18th century town. It deserves its designation a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We took the train tour of the town and the area and afterward had a great lunch at Wahoo's Bistro which is on the main street about halfway between the ferry pier and the town square. Apparently there is a local fish called wahoo, and the place is named because they specialize in it. We had a table on their deck which goes out over the water. We would go there again. Friday we concentrated on the Dockyard area. I've always wanted to do a swim with dolphins thing, and DolphinQuest from Hawaii has a research outpost in the Dockyards less than 10 minutes from the ship. It was pretty amazing. I did the 30 minute dolphin swim, where you are with about 5 guests and one of the DolphinQuest people. I learned so much. It was worth the $210 (I booked it there, not through NCL) and bought several of the photos they shot of me with with the dolphins. This brings me to booking all the shore stuff. It was really easy to do ourselves. There's a ferry ticket office on the pier shortly after you get off the ship. We had researched St Georges and bought our tickets for the tour we took there at the tour office on the town square. And as mentioned above, I booked DolphinQuest directly. The savings from doing this organizing ourselves compared to the NCL excursion pricing was significant. Cruise Critic - since this was our first cruise, this was our first time exploring Cruise Critic. I found this site to be so valuable in getting a lot of suggestions and knowledge of what to expect on board. But there's more to it than that. A friendly Cruise Critic member had organized the CC Meet and Greet which took place in Cagney's on Monday morning. It was fun to meet her and several other people who had posted on the roll call. NCL provided nice food, but more importantly most of the senior officers of the ship came and spoke, and made themselves individually available. They handed out their contact info, and sincerely seemed to want to know about anything they could do to help solve problems etc. I spoke to one of the senior officers at length - I was curious about how stuff worked on a ship - and amazingly enough a steward later that afternoon delivered an invitation from him to a reception to meet the captain that evening. It was nice meeting the captain. It's worthwhile to go to the Meet and Greet!I could write for hours as memories come back, but let me wrap with a few notes on things I'd like to see Norwegian do a bit better. First and foremost, given that virtually all North American and Western European countries have gone smoke free, it was quite a negative surprise to encounter indoor smoking. It seemed like a giant step back in time, and not a fun one at that. We'd really prefer it if NCL would go completely smoke-free indoors. And I would suggest that for balconies as well. Why? It's no fun to have smoke rolling in to our cabin through our open balcony door. We paid a lot for this cabin, and having a completely smoke free environment would have been a lot better. The other thing we would suggest is more comfy chairs on decks such as the Waterfront/Deck 8. There is a lot of space where the restaurants are not, which could be great for reading, lounging, and having a drink. All things considered, it was a great trip. We really enjoyed it. We'd like to do another cruise, and hope to do so soon. If you have questions, we're happy to try to answer them.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
My husband and I sailed the Breakaway to Bermuda on July 7th. We both had a great time and really enjoyed the ship. Following is a somewhat lengthy out-take of our week. The most standout pluses for us were the ships entertainment and the ... Read More
My husband and I sailed the Breakaway to Bermuda on July 7th. We both had a great time and really enjoyed the ship. Following is a somewhat lengthy out-take of our week. The most standout pluses for us were the ships entertainment and the ships officers. The Breakaway can keep you going, going and going! There was so much to do we didnt even make a dent in all the Breakaway had to offer. We did see Rock of Ages (saw the original on Broadway and really liked it and thought Breakaways production did it justice), Burn the Floor with great dancing and a Sexy edge to it, and Second Citys Late Adult show, we are fans of Second City. The Aqua Park and Sports Deck by day can satisfy the adventurous type and after dark the nightlife on this ship reminded me of Vegas. Unlike most of our other cruises, where around midnight after all of the headliner shows, the only action is found in the casino or at one of the discos, and as you walk around it seems like most people went to bed, NOT so on The Breakaway. This ship was still jumping after midnight. At night you can wonder from one lounge to the next checking out all of the live music; Jazz, Dueling Pianos, Fire and Ice, DJ sounds and shows. There was energy. You had people milling about and having a good time. If one of the venues was too crowded, you just mosey on over to another one where you could find some space. The Officers were seen everywhere and I mean everywhere and they were involved and were intent for everyone to have a great experience. I spoke with many and it seems they have heard the previous complaints and were trying ways to address and correct them and it seems they are on the right track. Yes there were some negatives, but most we were prepared for or they were so insignificant and could not affect our overall experience. For instance, usually on sea days we spend time by the adult pools, unfortunately, as has been reported, the pool is just too crowded. Its not even that you have a hard time finding a lounge chair (which if you are not out there scouting early will be true); we didnt even bother to look since everyone was sitting elbow to elbow it just did not seem at all appealing to be crammed in like that to sit near a pool that was jam packed with people. I would imagine if not sailing in the peak of the summer season this would not be as much of an issue, but this was July and it was hot! Though Spice H2O was not AS crowded, it too was crowded as well. We did spend a couple of hours sitting up there in the waterfalls (there was no available loungers when we arrived) on one of the sea days and that satisfied our need for a lounge by the pool experience. With the water slides, rope course, etc. you can find other things to do on your sea days, some are free like trivia, some have a cost associated with them like the tastings and the casino. Sailing as Platinum on NCL we really enjoyed our perks. With priority embarkation we were on the ship by 11:20 after arriving at the Pier at 10:45. We were able to leave our carry-on baggage in our cabin upon boarding and went to have lunch without having to drag our bags along with us. During lunch in Taste/Savor (not sure which one it was) they announced that the cabins were ready (this was somewhere around 1:30 PM) so after eating we went back to our room. For an inside, 8415, the cabin was small but was quite comfortable for 2 adults (our cabin did not have sleeping for 3rd or 4th guest and would imagine it would feel very tight with others in the room). Found the bed to be extremely comfortable, the bedding had a creamy feel to it! Loved it. Our luggage arrived while we were there (before 3:00 PM) so we were able to get our unpacking complete (knowing there were no drawers we brought extra hangars and pretty much hung all of our clothing). We met our cabin steward, Anthony, at this time. I made some requests: extra ice and emptying of mini-fridge. Anthony said to just take the things from the fridge and place them on the floor under the desk and assured me he would not charge us (before we disembarked we replaced everything, and as Anthony promised, we were not charged). BTW, Anthony was an amazing steward! They conduct a very quick and painless muster drill (they swipe your key card to insure attendance and if you dont attend you will be required to make it up the next day). For Sail Away we grabbed a cocktail and headed out to the Waterfront and sat out by Fat Cats. We thought this was a great peaceful spot to watch the Statue of Liberty go by but if you want to experience going under the Ver. Bridge you will need to be on the upper decks. As Casino Guests we were invited to and attended a welcome aboard party which was held at Fat Cats after sail away. They served cocktails and snacks and introduced themselves. The casino opened shortly after. The casino is large compared to other ships but the layout was not to my liking, broken up into different sections, sort of like spokes on a wheel. The casino workers were friendly and the dealers were a lot of fun. Did not see much winning happening on the slots (actually I did not see any hand payouts and I spent a lot of time in there, but maybe they happened when I was elsewhere, but usually you hear about those wins from others). This was my first sailing with the new CAS program and level drink cards, the experience was not all that different. Some of the cocktail waiters were fussier about the free drink card rules than others but not where it was a problem. We had our CC Meet and Greet at 11:00 in Cagneys on the first sea day. We had a great turn out of members, as well as the Senior Officers (minus the Captain he does his own M&G look for it in the Freestyle) and Crew. It was an enjoyable event and I urge others to join their roll call and attend this function. We met some delightful fellow travelers that we hung out with here and there throughout the week and really enjoyed their company. I was also told by several other attendees that issues or concerns they were having magically disappeared after meeting the Officers at the M&G We attended the Martini Tasting at Shakers Bar twice during the sailing. There was a good turn out and we had a great time. Ended up seated with some delightful cruise critic members. We like these events as it is a nice way to meet and interact with other cruisers, not to mention how the liquor loosens everyone up which makes for some good laughs. I will say that I would have preferred a different venue for this event since the seating at this bar is in groupings and the chairs are very high-backed which prevents you from socializing with those around you. Unlike the Malting Bar where they held the Margarita Tastings the seating there is more theater style, great for interaction. It was $15 per person (plus gratuity) and you received 4 martini samples. The first was about  a glass and the last sample was practically full. I believe all of the tastings were $15 per person. My DH attended the beer tasting once during the week. He said though he had fun, the samples were a bit lame; Coors Lite, Miller Lite, nothing special. BTW, you can attend these tastings and not participate in the fee drinking and just enjoy the information and the laughs. You can also share a tasting with someone. We tried to get as many different dining experiences in as possible since there are so many on this ship. We went to the Manhattan Room for dinner somewhere around 8:30 the first night. I was a little concerned about the reported wait times in the MDR from previous cruisers and was quite happy to discover there was no wait at this time. There was also no lobster tail on the menu as previous cruisers reported. Though I did miss the lobster (just the idea of it I guess), we really enjoyed dining here; we were impressed with the decor and we had a table for two on the edge of the dance floor by the band. Had a nice dinner and bottle of wine and even did a little dancing! This was the only night we dined here and would have liked to have had at least one other dinner in Manhattan but with so many dining choices we never got around to it. We ate at LeBistro twice as this is our favorite restaurant and we always eat here at least once. Our food did not disappoint us. For the first time ever on one of the nights I ordered the Coq au Vin (I usually have the lamb which I did the first night we ate here) and was blown away by how delicious this dish was. I like chicken but never really get excited eating it, this was really special and I think my new favorite at LeBistro. We found the service exceptional both nights, however, as we were leaving one night we came upon a couple we met at our M&G who were dining there as well and they had nothing nice to say about their dining experience. They said they found the Hostess intrusive, the food orders came out not in the right order, and they were not happy overall. They had a table right by ours so assume they had the same servers as we did. We, Happy Customers/Them, Not Happy! Whatever! Dinner at Cagneys, we both had the Filet, medium rare. I had Bearnaise sauce on the side my husband the Peppercorn Sauce and both of us liked it very much. I had the Split Pea Soup (love the rich decadent creamy flavor of this old favorite) but I was disappointed in Cagneys version as theirs was in a clear broth and the peas were firm. It didnt taste bad, just didnt taste like traditional split pea soup. The crab salad app I thought was delicious as well as the side of mushrooms. Our table at Cagneys overlooked the dance floor of the Manhattan Room. We dined this evening somewhat early, 6:45, and noticed the dancers below were pretty much all under the age of 10 at that time. Our assumption was if you are looking for a more sophisticated dinner and dance experience in the Manhattan Room you should probably dine after 8 PM as we did on the first night. We had dinner at the Noodle Bar one night since I read so many good things about it. The food was very good. Fried pot stickers (our favorite) and steamed dumplings for starters, Seafood Ramon and Beef Fun Chow as entree with some lovely dipping sauces on the side. The portions were nice and very affordable the bill was about $17. Well worth it. Dinner at LaCuccina. The decor in the restaurant was so charming. The service was outstanding. The bread and dipping sauces, loved. The pizza (as an app.) loved. I had grilled shrimp, it was okay. DH had lobster over fettuccini, just okay. Not an overwhelming culinary experience, but not bad and I would definitely dine here again just for the decor and the apps and desserts alone. We dined (by special invite) at the Haven Restaurant for dinner one night and were really quite impressed with the meal. We both ordered the Filet, medium rare, and it was just as good as Cagneys (probably was the same). Sides and service were great as well. I suspect Haven guests ate very well this week without ever having to venture to any other venue. Did the Buffet at Breakfast for quickness and convenience. The made to order omelets were very good, but we did wait in line for about 20 minutes which defeated the quick concept so only had them once. They had a nice selection of everything breakfast - fruits, cereals, eggs, pancakes, meats, etc. so if there is a long line (there are 2 omelet stations one on each side) you will not go hungry with the other choices. OSheehans for lunch twice. This is such a fun place, with the games and bowling and bar. Not sure I like eating here as much as the traditional blue lagoon but the old favorites, wings and things, are available here. I had fish and chips one day and chicken pot pie the other and both were very good. The Seafood Take Out Window is only open sea days and we did not get around to it until Saturday, the final sea day. I regret our delay as I would have snacked here way more often. Loved the crab on toast and the lobster sandwich. Love the itinerary of this trip as you get to spend 3 days in Bermuda. It is such a pleasure not having to rush back to the ship and doing your own thing. It was very hot, no occasional cool breezes this week as you sometimes may find in July. We went to Horseshoe Beach by bus the first day and arrived around noon, it was somewhat crowded but we found ourselves a nice spot. Day two we ferried over to Hamilton and caught the #10 bus to the Aquarium and Zoo. This was such a nice trip and if you are not in the mood for a beach day I recommend this, especially for a hot day as there are many shaded areas in the zoo and the aquarium is all air conditioned. $10 per person, takes about 2 hours or so to do both. Afterward we headed back to Dockyard and had lunch at Frog and Onion and then we went to the new mini golf course right next to Snorkel Park. This really was the nicest mini golf I have ever seen, unfortunately it was way too hot and we baked out there. Upon our return to Bermuda we will definitely visit the course again BUT we will do it at night when the sun goes down. They were charging $15 per person. Our last day in Bermuda my DH went to Port Royal Golf Course with a ship tour (he does this on every visit and raves about it) and I stayed on the ship and enjoyed a wonderful massage in the Spa. Ahhh! The week seems to just fly by and before you know it you are packing up your cabin and filling out your customs form for disembarking. Though we took our sweet time eating breakfast and walking as slow as possible, we were off the ship and outside waiting for our ride by 9:30.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Embarkation:  Pulled into the parking lot at the cruise terminal around 1130 and found a parking spot with no problems. Loved the exterior look of the ship! At the time, there were no porters to be had. We brought our own bags downstairs. ... Read More
Embarkation:  Pulled into the parking lot at the cruise terminal around 1130 and found a parking spot with no problems. Loved the exterior look of the ship! At the time, there were no porters to be had. We brought our own bags downstairs. The line was moving then it stopped. It took us over an hour to finally get on the ship.We travelled with our three year old daughter and my mother in law. Got cabins. 13838 and 13840. Great location mid ship and ther are no inside cabins across from us. Above us and below us are balcony cabins too. They do allow smoking on the balconies, but we were lucky in that we didn't have any neighbors that smoked. Our room was sufficient. Plenty of storage in the closet, under the bed for luggage and even under the sofa bed. We also found cabinet space in the desk, entertainment area. Mini-bar fridge and individual coffee maker were nice too. Ask your steward to remove the booze and you have a fridge big enough for some water bottles. Balcony had two seats and small table. Nice to sit out in port and in the early mornings. Bathroom had plenty of storage, shower with a glass door and foot pedals for shaving. Fitness Center and Spa: The fitness center is divided into two separate areas, one for cardio and one for weight equipment. I never had a problem using them around 730. The second sea day there was a wait around 9 when I went to take TRX. There are two other rooms, one for group fitness and one for Flywheel. TRX is offered on sea days and was $45 for the three days and they add gratuity to that too. Flywheel is $30 bucks a class. My hub, an avid cyclist enjoyed the classes. Flywheel is offered on all days, but may not run if there is not enough people signed up. They also offer some free classes and some other type of classes that are fee based. Best bet is to go to the center on the first day and pick up the week's schedule of classes to plan your week. By the way, TRX and Flywheel are only 45 minutes. Spa: I booked my deep tissue and hot stone massage on the last day. I requested a male therapist and got Newman. He was fantastic! Got all my knots out and did a great job, very professional. The spa it self was nice. The receptionist led me into a waiting area with big,comfy, loungers with thin partitions in between each lounger. You are waiting with others who are scheduled for treatments, could be a better set-up in that regard, but overall a pleasant experience and Newman was great! Splash Park: A blast for my three year old complete with a decent size kiddie pool in the middle. She loved it and spent hours there.  The other pools were decent sized lots of chairs and areas on deck 15 and 16. Restaurants: The breakfasts items at the Garden Cafe did not change much during the week. They always offered the same items and plenty of them...eggs, Benedict, omelette stations, oatmeal, fruits, Danish, pancakes, waffles....lunch and dinner items changed more often. We ate at Taste and Savor. They offer the same menu, but have different chef's specialties every day. Actually all the restaurants offer their own same menu everyday. We thought the sushi was very good at Wasabi. We also enjoyed the raw bar at Ocean Blue. We made reservations before we left for Ocean Blue the restaurant. At the time I made our reservation, the upcharge was 35 a person. By the time we cruised it was 50 a person. We have no problems paying an upcharge and actually like the variety that it brings, but were somewhat disappointed in Ocean Blue. Service and ambiance was excellent. I thought for the price of the upcharge, they should offer lobster and other sea delights, worthy of the extra $$$. Room service: tried taking advantage of room service twice during the week and at different times for different things and was told 45 minutes for both times. Is that a standard answer? Deterrent? Well, it deterred us and we ended up getting other food. Shows: Cirque was excellent. The food was okay. It was a fixed menu. If you have kids that do not eat chicken fingers they have some other options. We paid for premium seats, but regular seats are fine. Doors open 30 minutes prior and we got there at 520. The place was already 1/2 full. Get there at 5 and you will probably be in good shape. Burn the Floor was also excellent. You do need tickets for all the shows. The only one they charge for is Cirque. We also went to Fat Cats one night and blues were very good. I wanted to get tickets for Second City, but they were always late times available. The earlier shows were sold out. If you really want to get tickets for certain shows, do so ahead of time. They do not charge and you are not penalized if you don't show up. There is always some kind of entertainment going on. Fire and ice were very good. Plenty of grand pianos around with various musicians playing tunes. Bars: We thought they were all very good and each had something different to offer. I liked Shakers the best. They had an eclectic variety of martinis. The Waterfront: Love the concept! If it is windy or high winds, the waterfront is not open. On the days that it was open, it was fabulous. There is something to be said about having a drink and watching the waves go by. Like being on your own personal yacht. They do allow smoking out there, so just be aware. My favorite time on the waterfront was when we were leaving leaving Bermuda and caught the sun and sea of glass. We were having martinis and slowly watching Bermuda fade away, relaxing, priceless. Aqua park, trampoline, zip line, plank, monkey park. My hub did all of these and thought they were all great! Dora and Sponge Bob: for all the hype of having them on the ship, I thought they could have done more activities with the kids. They did a pajama jam one day, which I heard was okay and the food not so good. Meet and greet with Dora and Diego another day, Sponge Bob another day, story time with Dora another day. I guess I expected them to be around more. They need to bring The Bubble Guppies on board. Overall, we thought the ship was very easy to navigate and quickly learned our way around. The interactive screens throughout the ship were a great idea. You can check what's going on, restaurants and show availability and make reservations with a swipe of your card. The ship is grand and beautiful. We thought the staff was excellent. They were always there to greet and smile. Disembarkation: We opted to drop some of our bags the night before. We have always walked off in previous cruises, but had to much baggage this time around. They put colored tags out the day before corresponding to times to get off. We got the last of the 915 tags. They actually started calling our color at 830 and we disembarked got our bags and were back at our car by 920, nice! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This is our 2nd cruise on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda. On both occasions we had a fantastic time. On this cruise we decided to go with a suite, and the whole process was wonderful. Our suite # 12506 was conveniently located ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda. On both occasions we had a fantastic time. On this cruise we decided to go with a suite, and the whole process was wonderful. Our suite # 12506 was conveniently located to Cagney's, the Casino and the Stardust Theater. The food was awesome and we had most dinners in the Venetian with one night at the Teppanyaki, which I would highly recommend. Most days we ate breakfast at Cagney's since we had a suite this was made available daily for breakfast and lunch. We loved the atmosphere at the Bimini Bar in the afternoons. This place was hopping in the afternoons with the lead bartender keeping drinks flowing and everyone entertained. (bar closed :-)--The kid making the hamburgers and hotdogs at the Bimini did an awesome job and we all thought they were the best tasting hamburgers on the whole ship. The entertainment has improved greatly since our last cruise, and I would say is on par if not superior than the other two cruise lines we have used in the past (Royal Caribbean and Carnival )..First class entertainment!.. We were treated like royalty by Jennifer our Butler. She was very attentive and hard working. We felt pampered by her and she was always only a phone call away. In summary, we can't wait for our next vacation and we plan on booking another cruise with Norwegian!. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Arriving at the port in NYC was easy and boarding was not difficult. We traveled as a group of 4 - my DH and myself and good friends who were married the day before. CG (new bride) had never been on a cruise. I have been on 4 with NCL, ... Read More
Arriving at the port in NYC was easy and boarding was not difficult. We traveled as a group of 4 - my DH and myself and good friends who were married the day before. CG (new bride) had never been on a cruise. I have been on 4 with NCL, this was my DH's third with NCL and RG (groom) had sailed previously on the Dawn. We spoke on the drive to NYC of all of our past experiences which were all exceptional and we were so excited! We boarded the Breakaway loving all the hoopla, taking in all grandeur of the magnificent ship. After dropping our carry on's off in our individual cabins, we broke apart our little group to do individual exploring. My DH and I raced to the spa because we have always purchased spa packages because we enjoy the less crowded Jacuzzi's and sauna. After purchasing our package we were given a tour of the facility which was awesome. Love the salt room and the area was just spectacular. I reserved a massage and we continued to explore. Hungry, we checked out the Garden Cafe. This turned out to be our salvation for this cruise. I embraced the buffet for the first time ever on a cruise and enjoyed people watching as well as it's variety of food options. During these first hours on the ship, I viewed everything like a kid with a new toy. During the walk around, I really took in some first impressions. The Breakaway is extremely easy to navigate (much easier than the Dawn-LOL). It is clearly marked and the touch screen menus are located in various, easily accessible areas that will navigate you from where you are standing to where you want to go. Prior to this cruise, I had downloaded Iconcierge on my iphone and was unable to use it on the Dawn. Now, I was able to use most of it's features after getting some help from the IT manager and myself and the groom paid $7.95 each for the messenging service. This never worked appropriately and ended up being one of several instances of inconsistency with services on the ship. On day 5, I finally went to guest services to be refunded as we could never use it appropriately. They referred me to the internet manager - who referred me to guest services. At this point, I had too many issues going on with the ship and basically told guest services that I was tired of the run around and to please figure it out between the two of them ( as I pointed to the manager across the way - they could see each other for pete's sake). It was refunded. Second impression is that for such a larger ship, many of the venues and areas were much, much smaller. The auditorium is small and without a balcony. The pool area has also been downsized (this might be the breakup of adult vs child areas and the addition of water slides). There is still 4 Jacuzzis but a much smaller salt water lap pool. The dining rooms are smaller (except Cagney's), Garden Ca is the same size. The casino is much larger, but has some issues. It is $100 to enter a Texas Hold Em tournament (opposed to $60 on the Dawn) and you can buy in 4 times. This really makes it difficult for the vacationer who wants to play as opposed to the heavy hitter with money to throw away. There is many more slots - but $1 and 2cent and 1 cent machines. Only saw about 4 or 5 quarter machines. I was particularly irritated by the amount of people who were playing 2 of the most popular machines at the same time without any NCL representatives saying anything with people waiting. I do not smoke and I, personally did not smell the casino until I was near it. On the first night we made reservations and ate at Moderno. This began a slow downfall in regards to our restaurant experiences. It began well, we ordered drinks and then we waited and waited. I finally grabbed another waiter and asked if anyone was going to serve us food as we continued to watch skewers of meat passing our table with no one offering. I actually grabbed one with a skewer and asked for us to have some. He looked at our table without plates and we all emptied our bread plates and said we were hungry and to just please put meat on the plates. We finally got the sides but we never were given the pork option. That was our first encounter with restaurants. The next morning my DH and I ate breakfast at Savor, one of the main DR's. We waited and waited and finally received breakfast. DH's eggs were cold and my waffle was actually still frozen. We got one refill of coffee and decided to go to Garden Cafe to get our own. The buffet was wonderful throughout the entire cruise both in selection and quality. The second night we ate at O'Sheehans and that was okay. Service again was slow so I had to dismiss the waitress when she brought out dessert because we were missing events we wanted to participate in. We ate at Manhattan one night and, unfortunately again, had a dismal experience with dry Mahi Mahi and overcooked meat. We did eat at the raw bar one night as our companions were pushing us to eating outside our comfort zone. That was an amazing meal with amazing service. Our companions were able to secure reservations ( by calling each day and checking for cancellations) at OceanBlue and raved about both the food and the service. We tried Taste (main dining room across from Savor and it's twin) one night and had a pleasant meal with timely service. On our last night at sea we finally ate at my very favorite restaurant Cagneys. I have raved for years about our experiences here and was so excited - until I read the menu. The prime rib, which I have been waiting one year for, is now gone. So bummed. I had shrimp cocktail for appetizer and received 3 large cocktail shrimp and for dinner had the ribeye that was perfectly cooked medium rare. Desserts were also very good. Service was not good and our waitress even seemed irritated at the end of our meal. Cagneys is much larger on this ship, larger and much noisier. I have always eaten at Cagneys on the last night because I enjoy an intimate dinner before returning to life as we know it. That was not possible here. Other areas of interest was the much hyped Ice Bar. We experienced this on our first night for $20 per person. As we were gowned with parkas and gloves, we were herded like cattle into a meat locker that was skimply decorated with ice sculptures. We were given en masse, two drinks each served in a ice glass. It was so crowded with people - including children- it was not enjoyable at all. The spa was exceptional and I loved every single moment I spent there, and I spent a lot of time there. The salt room is amazing and the pools and Jacuzzis equally so. It was relaxing and comfortable. Now, let's talk Bingo. Ever since I was exposed to a Bingo game on my very first cruise on the Majesty, I have been a cruise Bingo nut. I love the game. NCL has totally dropped the ball on this experience on this ship. Bingo was either held in the Manhattan room which was a mass of tables and chairs and difficult to see the one main screen or it was held in a small cramped Comedy Club that had no room for people. The Bingo staff had technical difficulties with each Bingo game and several staff members had no idea on charging or products. The last Bingo game with the cruise giveaway was a complete disaster and it was held in the small cramped club. Really- the biggest draw of the cruise and they held it in a venue that could only comfortably hold 1/4 of the people that came. I felt so sorry for little old ladies that were forced to stand for 15 - 20 minutes waiting in line in order to hopefully get a seat. What a shame. The biggest let down for me was the staff. We had an awesome steward that met everyone of my expectations. He was communicative and conversant and always smiling, unlike most of the other staff I encountered. Staff would smile if you smiled at them but in performing their daily duties and watching from afar, there was no smile. I was also privy to a Officer (uniformed staff member) publicly berating a staff member in the Garden Cafe. That was the first time I had ever seen that on any cruise. I don't know if I had unrealistic expectations because I have had awesome cruises on the NCL Dawn and that we have grown accustomed to happy staff but I do know that this is far from what I expected from this cruise. I know many people are thinking, well why didn't you tell them. Here's the kicker. For the first time ever, I filled out one of the notes to the manager and I very nicely explained the good, the not so good and ways I thought they could improve on customer service. I left my Name and Cabin number for them to contact me. I heard nothing from them! I am so upset about this. On my last cruise, people we were traveling with had some concerns and were contacted immediately. So this is my review. I would still like to remain loyal to NCL and I certainly am loyal to the NCL Dawn but it really has struck a blow to my confidence in providing me with what previously was excellent customer service. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Well let me start by saying that it was great vacation. Bermuda was great, and relaxing for a week was amazing. As far as my review of the boat, I will break it down day by day. Day 1: Embarkation was fantastic. My fiance and I arrived ... Read More
Well let me start by saying that it was great vacation. Bermuda was great, and relaxing for a week was amazing. As far as my review of the boat, I will break it down day by day. Day 1: Embarkation was fantastic. My fiance and I arrived at the port at 11:30 am, walked right through security with no lines, and walked right up to the friendly NCL worker to check in and was on the boat right after. Next was exploring the ship. We immediately walked to the off limit areas just so we could see them before we would be kicked out. The vibe beach club did not look like it was worth the money and I couldn't have been so right. Every time I walked by during the week it was dead. It is also removed from everything and there is no entertainment so it would be very boring in there. To me not worth the extra money. We walked into all the specialty restaurants and what stuck out to us the most was Cagney's and Modorno, and not in a good way. The other restaurants have their own decor that elaborates on the theme or the restaurant, but not these two. It almost looks like they needed a place to put them and just threw them above the Manhattan room and put the sign up with table and chairs. There is really nothing else. Very boring. When I got to our stateroom is was decorated for us saying "congratulations" that was bought from our families as we got engaged the day before at central park. It was great to see the room was ready and decorated. I did not find the rooms to be "smaller" then usual. Its a cruise ship, the rooms have always been small. I did notice however that the shower was bigger! (or at least it felt bigger) Also, don't fret, the balcony was perfect size, it fit 2 chairs and a table comfortably. We did not feel crammed at all. The sail away party was fun. Normal sail away party. It was the most involved the Cruise Director Julie was involved all week. (more later) We left 30 mins late, and when we did, black smoke came out of the smoke stacks getting some people. Thus to say guest relations line was pretty crowded with people who looked like the just got out of a coal mine. We ate at Savor for lunch that day, and the food was good. no complaints. Taste and Savor are identical. Very casual place. Not my style for dinner. Taste, savor and Manhanttan room all have the same menus. Later that night, we went to the Manhattan room which was very nice. Defiantly the best included restaurant in my opinion because of the atmosphere. There was a live band play nice background music and one night when we were there they even had the people from burn the floor dancing. That night we went to see burn the floor. To me it was ehh. After the second dance it started getting repetitive. Also, there were no popular songs so it wasn't fun to watch. If they would of took a page from dancing with the stars and had covers of popular songs it would of kept me more interested. The rest of the night I spent at the craps table! :-) Day 2: I woke up early to go for a nice run. To my surprise the track area was very crowded! ( its vacation people your not suppose to exercise :-p) After a few miles I went back got a shower, and went up to the buffet for breakfast. The omelet station is a popular stop, and rightfully so. They were very good and were actual freshly cooked eggs. I enjoyed the french toast and sausage, but was not a fan of the rest, esp the pancakes (not regular buttermilk pancakes). After breakfast we went off to the pool. It was cool and windy so we couldn't really tan by the pool. The group stayed outside until lunch time. I snuck of to go to the meet and mingle. We had a big turn out and even the CEO showed up. It was cool to talk to him and I even got my picture with him! Side note about pool, I noticed the cruise staff didn't have many games going on outside and found this to be a bit disappointing but was hopeful for the rest of the week. We went back up to the buffet for lunch and it was good. After that we went to the battle of the sexes game. Terrible turn out and the cruise staff did the best they could but it just wasn't meant to be. Back to the casino for us as there was not much planned in the freestyle (which seemed to be the theme) and then dinner. We saw second city's 9pm show. It was ok at best. The one tiny girl really brought them down. She was really really really bad at improv, which is their entire act. I am a big fan of comedy so I was let down by this. And guess what we did after this..The casino! Then we went to bliss for a night of drinking and dancing. Day 3: Woke up a little later this morning after a long night :-) My fiance and I decided we would splurge and get a couples hot stone massage. Well, you couldn't pay me to go back. It was by far the worst massage I have ever received and for the extremely over priced price you pay, you would assume at least a good product of better, but I have to tell you it wasn't any thing worth the money. I complained but they offered me to come back and they would take 10% off a newly purchased massage ( no thanks!) After breakfast I went up to the Basketball court to play. Was disappointed the nets were not the standard ten feet. They were probably around 8 feet.. Oh well it was still fun. Afterwards I went to go try the water slides! Very fun. the big guys are intimidating, but so fun! After we dried off we went inside to grab lunch at Oh Sheehans and watch deal or no deal ( its $20 a card and unless you are extremely lucky its almost like donating money, not worth it.) That night, we saw the Circa Dreams show! All I can say is wow! The food was fantastic and the show was absolutely amazing! After the show we went to see second city do the late night show of the second city, and again,, ehh. The same lady drug them down. We went to bed after this because we had to get up early to go to Bermuda the next morning. Day 4: We woke up and grabbed breakfast and went on a tour of the island. We didn't get back tot he ship until dinner time and we had dinner in the Manhattan room and then went back out to harbor nights! pretty cool stuff. it was an early night for us as the casino wasn't open and the cruise staff had nothing going on. Day 5: Went to horseshoe bay for the day and the dockyard when we got back. That night we went to Modorno. We sat on the waterfront which was super nice! It was great to sit outside and enjoy a nice meal. It was a lot of food but they came around with the non beef items for the first half hour and then came by once with each beef item and that was it. So between that and the decor I was a little disappointed. Afterwards we went to go see rock of ages. OMG! It was amazing! In the beginning of the week they had technical difficulties and had to cancel the shows of that day but ours was right on point! Very Very Very good! Day 6: We went to Hamilton for a little souvenir shopping for a few hours by furry and were back by lunch. We hung out by the pool and hoped for a sail away party but there was nothing. The cruise director Julie was harder to find then the CEO of NCL and the captain. She was irrelevant and never showed up to 95% of the events, and the ones she did show up to she was very scripted and her appearance was short. There was not a lot of things planned by the cruise director and staff. I was not very happy about this. Of the things planned they were very unorganized. Oh well. That night we went to the 80's party/ fireworks in Spice! Wow, the place can only hold maybe 1k ppl max, well the near 4k people on the ship want to see them and it was jammed packed and not really fun. The fireworks were really cool, but they need to open up additional viewing areas because the entire ship all jammed into the back of the ship in a small area is not a good idea. Day 7: Finally got to do the ropes course! So cool! I was scared to death to walk the plank, but I did it! Twice! So cool. After that adrenaline rush, we went to La Cuciana for dinner. Wow! Amazing. Atmosphere was great, service was great, food was amazing. Decor was also very cool. Defiantly the best restaurant on the boat. Food was good, service slow. Later we did the quest game show. It was suppose to be in spice but it was raining so instead of putting it in another place where the can make sure no young kids walk by, the put it in the atrium, thus PG-13ing the whole event which means it wasn't as funny as it could be. Again, on ever other cruise I have ever been on, the cruise director was in charge of this game, but not on this cruise. Other random things: The bath towels and washcloths were so rough and not soft and comfy. For people dealing with sensitive skin or sun burn, this is a huge deal. Slam Allen was great, check him out (don't remember what night we went to see him) The ice bar inst as cool as the pictures make it look. Your in an industrial sized freezer, with two ice sculptures in it. Other then that its just a freezer with a bar in it. Could of made it cooler. Was def disappointed. Ocean blue was a hot ticket, if you want to spend the money make your reservations in advance or run to the reservation desk right away. Like I said the cruise staff barely had any activities going on and when they did they were all at the same time. Out of all the cruises I have been on I thought Julie was the worst cruise director I have seen. This was disappointing because a cruise director is such a big part of the cruise. Overall the ship didn't have a wow factor. I remember going on the Allure of the Seas and every step I took I was amazed! Not on this ship. It reminded me of an refurbished regular ship. Nothing to spectacular. Also, the waterfront is over-hyped. Very plain. Overall I wasn't impressed with the cruise. It was fun and the shows were good. But for all the hype, it was alright at best. Hope there is not to many typos, it's getting late! Any questions let me know and I will be happy to answer anything for you! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
With gratitude to my fellow cruisecritic members for their past reviews and responses to my trivial questions, I happily write my review of the NCL Star. The Star crew is professional and friendly. The activities and shows were ... Read More
With gratitude to my fellow cruisecritic members for their past reviews and responses to my trivial questions, I happily write my review of the NCL Star. The Star crew is professional and friendly. The activities and shows were entertaining. The food was delicious. We had a great time. Do I have any complaints? Yes, but only one minor one. The ship layout is somewhat confusing. For example, you can only access the kids club from deck 13 aft. However, this in no way affected our wonderful cruise and I highly recommend the star for your next vacation. A quick study of the deck plans of the ship or attending the tour of the ship on the first day (which we did not take advantage of) should avoid confusion. Below, I will try to touch upon key highlights. As I already mentioned the crew was professional and friendly. Always greeting everyone with a smile and kind words. I had the best room steward in all of my 7 cruises. He greeted my family of four in the hall on the first day with a handshake and without looking at any notes, greeted us individually by name before we could introduce ourselves. The room steward knew my children loved to see towel animals and made towel animals every night and many times twice each day! The officers were friendly, professional and ubiquitous. I personally witnessed several officers (those that all passengers were introduced to during the first night's show) walking the ship throughout the day checking on the passengers, including the hotel director, food and beverage manager, executive chef and maitre d' at aqua. The NCL Star's cuisine was wonderful in terms of taste and variety. The Star offers several different restaurants included in the cruise fare, all offering a myriad of delicious choices of food. On my past cruises, my family has generally had most meals at the aft dining room, the more formal of the dining rooms included in your fare. However, this time we generally chose to eat at Aqua as we preferred to not have dress up nightly. We always had wonderful, attentive and friendly service and never really had any wait. We had heard rave reviews about the specialty restaurants which were available for a nominal charge. We chose to celebrate our last night at Moderno. The experience and food were wonderful. A perfect way to enjoy our last dinner. NCL Star offers a wide array of activities, including some fairly new improvements to kids club activities including lessons and the use of circus equipment-- stilts, chinese yo-yo, devil sticks, and lasso and the use of the sports deck for sports activities. All the children seemed to enjoy the actives. The adults and children seemed to enjoy the pools, slides and hot tubs. I personally saw the staff asking children to leave an adult hot tub and pointing the children to a different hot tub. This is first I can recall ever seeing on a cruise. Nice to have an adults only hot tub by the main pool. The pools were crowded but no more so than on any of our other cruises. The theater shows were all entertaining and ranged from extremely talented acrobats, to a magician, Shark Bait- a comical juggling group and the Second City improv group. On a final note, this was the first cruise I have taken where the crew had cold towels and cups of water waiting for passengers upon reboarding the ship while docked in Bermuda. Unexpected but appreciated. Also, this was the first cruise I have taken where popcorn was served. My children loved getting little bags of popcorn after the nightly shows. The Star shines brightly throughout. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I first sailed Norwegian Star during its maiden season when it sailed the Pacific around the Hawaiian Islands and Fanning Island. Lots of changes were made but I still had fun recalling key events on that first cruise aboard here. Car ... Read More
I first sailed Norwegian Star during its maiden season when it sailed the Pacific around the Hawaiian Islands and Fanning Island. Lots of changes were made but I still had fun recalling key events on that first cruise aboard here. Car service picked me up in Forest Hills, Queens at 11:00 am and I was sitting down for lunch in the Versailles dining room by 12:30 pm. Needless to say it was an uneventful trip into the city and pretty painless check-in process. And this was without having edocs printed. All I had to do was fill out a blank luggage tag for the porter and right past the entrance to the terminal was a desk I was directed to where I showed my passport and an NCL rep filled out a sailing contract with my name, booking # and cabin and off I went. I found the ship to be in spotless condition. I don't think I've seen more immaculate public toilet facilities. A nice touch is that a hand sanitizer dispenser is positioned outside. The other noticeable (positive) feature is how friendly the staff is and that extends all the way up the ladder to the ship's officers and most importantly, the captain. Sean, the hotel director is every bit as friendly and accommodating as I had read on these boards. It seemed that he and his colleagues were frequently found touring the ship to make sure not only everything was functioning properly but also that the passengers were content. The final outstanding feature was the weather which cooperated, I'd say about 80% of the time. We had a cloudy and windy final day in Bermuda and the final sea day had its share of clouds and choppy seas (ever so slight), although the ship performed beautifully and the ship remained stable. I had booked the cruise as a last minute bargain where the price was way down and no single supplement was charged. So of course I wasn't assigned deluxe accommodations but my inside on deck 9 right before the forward elevators was a pretty good assignment. Unfortunately the cabin had a few flaws. There was quite a bit of vibration, some coming from the bunk bed which was attached to a wall. My cabin steward said he would try to fix the problem but it didn't work 100% of the time. Fortunately, I always bring ear plugs so at least when I slept it didn't annoy me. But still, when you're trying to watch tv or read it can get on your nerves very quickly. Secondly, the a/c just would not shut off no matter how I adjusted the thermostat. Well, better that it wouldn't shut off than not turn on. I managed to get used to it but I think I heard others discuss having the same problem. Fortunately, the public rooms on the ship were not affected. But the cabin layout was fine and the bathroom is a decent size for a cruise ship, especially the stall shower. Water pressure from the tap was strong but not so much in the shower, just adequate. Back to the subject of noise, I found that this ship was just too noisy for my liking. The dj really pumped up the volume at sailaway so that no one could carry on a conversation. And this was at the Bier Garten which is nowhere near to the speakers. Same thing was true outside by the gangway when the dj blasted music as the ship was getting ready to leave Bermuda. The atrium was also a trouble spot as demonstrations were held there and even the classical music group felt the need to raise the volume so that while dining at Moderno you could not hear your table mates. The ironic thing is that my hearing isn't so hot so I can't imagine how someone with good hearing managed. It was way too intrusive to me and I found it difficult to find a place to settle down and read or listen to my iPod. Another issue I had is that for the 3 days no deck furniture was permitted out on deck 7. This is supposedly out of a safety issue which I respect but nevertheless since it's my favorite part of cruising was a major disappointment. However, it turned out that someone had set up a few chairs for the first 2 sea days before Bermuda so I managed. On the sea day returning from Bermuda, I borrowed a chair from the pub but after a while 2 crew members came by with a lounger and offered it to me. I asked if I could have an upright chair instead and they came back with a deck chair with an adjustable back. So I did manage to have a comfortable spot. I'm sure anyone who was on this cruise and reads this report will know who I am. Food was almost a non-issue for me because you are probably going to run into it. There was always something to find to eat (even pop corn and hot dogs in the pub). Even on 2 evenings when I slept through dinner the good old reliable Blue Lagoon was more than adequate to substitute for the mdr. The 3 evenings I did eat in Aqua were very good. Prime rib was especially delicious and quite a generous slice and thankfully not fatty at all. I also enjoyed to the point of overindulgence, the spaghetti bolognese which is available both at lunch and at dinner. Lobster is served on the first night of an NCL cruise and it wasn't bad at all. You only get half a tail with a piece of red snapper on the plate, but I knew this and requested another half lobster tail. It was served on the same plate (I hate when they have to give you another entire plate for presentation purposes. It's such a waste). In addition, my waiter was standing by with another half tail which I didn't request but also didn't refuse. However, when he asked if I wanted more, it was time to cry "Uncle!" This waiter, Indra is so cordial and one evening brought out a special Indian dessert (sweet carrot pudding) the chef had prepared for the staff. The people at the next table who was chatting with were also offered some and they said they were so thrilled to be sitting next to me an experience this wonderful dessert. I believe it is called Gajar Halwa. As a Platinum Latitudes member I was given a certificate good for dinner for 2 at a specialty restaurant where the fee was no more than $20. per person. In addition, a complimentary bottle was wine was included. I asked Sean, who already speak highly of, since I was sailing solo if I could have 2 separate dinners for one instead. In an instant he called over Kati, the restaurant manager and set it up with him and there was no problem. In fact, every time I ran into Kati he immediately recited my cabin number, never once forgetting. So believe me when I tell you that these guys do their best. One evening I dined at Le Bistro and the other was at Moderno, the Brazilian steakhouse. I was a bit disappointed in both, although Moderno has an excellent soup and salad bar, which might be the problem. When you are ready to sample the meats you've already eaten enough. I would have been happy with a small steak by then. I also found the meats to be over-seasoned. NCL does tend to be too liberal with the salt shaker and this was no exception. Working backwards, lunch was either taken at the sit down affair in Versailles, the grill by the pool (the fresh melons and pineapple were awesome) or Blue Lagoon. I went into the Market Cafe (buffet) once and only sampled a few items and decided I wouldn't bother going back. As for breakfast, the reliable Blue Lagoon and serves up a wonderful breakfast. Not much variety but the food is cooked to order and everything comes out right. I've had many a screwed up breakfast in cruise ship dining rooms (hear that RCCL and Carnival) but somehow Blue Lagoon gets things right. And their bran muffins come out warm (the tops are what you want). If you ever feel peckish, cookies, coffee and tea are set out in the Atrium by the cafe. In addition a waiter walked around at various times with pound cakes. Why NCL is setting up complimentary stuff where you order premium coffees at a fee is just astonishing (although coffee connoisseurs will always be willing to pay for the good stuff). Funny thing about that pound cake is that on another NCL ship the waiter said you were obligated to purchase a coffee in order to get any. As a final mention, you should try the steaks at the sailaway barbecue (if you can handle the noise. lol). Entertainment was very good on the ship and I especially appreciated having the ship's orchestra play jazz sets on days when they weren't needed in the theatre. I even asked them in the atrium if they played any Jobim (the Brazilian responsible for the bossa nova). Not only did they say yes but asked me if there was any particular song I wanted to hear and a few moments later they were playing it. I'm not the recreational type, which you probably gathered by my preference to veg out on a deck chair but I do enjoy swimming. Unfortunately this was a problem as the Star has only one pool in the main pool area. The room for a second pool is taken up by either a few water slides on one end or terraces for loungers on the other side. So sea days were just crazy. I prefer ships that have a separate pool area for adults only so you aren't constantly trying to avoid the horseplay. I was a kid so I know how they play but with that given there should be a place where you can get away from it (like the Solarium on RCCL ships). Secondly, on the first day in Bermuda, I went to the pool in the a.m. when everyone was off the ship and the pool temperature had to be in the low 70's, if that, and not the 84 stated on the in-cabin tv Ship's Log channel. Happily, Sean and company happened to walk by me on the pool deck during one of their rounds and I mentioned this. Next time I tried the pool the water was much better. We had a small turnout at our Cruise Critic Meeting but Sean and company plus the captain himself paid a visit. We were given a card with each dept. member's phone extension. Plus we filled out an attendance sheet and were sent invitations for a private tour of the bridge on the last sea day which yours truly slept through. (Doh!). The restructured Latitudes reward program elevated me to Platinum and in addition to the 2 free dinners at the specialty restaurants there were some other great perks. I got a free bag of laundry done. I came home with 3 garments needing laundering. I could leave me suitcase as is and be ready for another cruise (those 3 items were placed in a plastic bag and then packed in my carry-on so don't worry!). I also received a nice bottle of Merlot in a fruit basket, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries with chocolate sea shells, and several private event invitations (won another free bag of laundry during the past passenger party raffle!). Disembarkation came all too soon. It's a pretty smooth operation. I was able to sleep until 8 am. I skipped breakfast and just got myself over to a public room in time for my luggage tag color to be called. We ran a little late but I was in my apartment by 10:30 am so that was pretty good. One final noise issue. While waiting in the Stardust Theatre to disembark the same video was played over and over again with the same stupid NCL theme playing. I wasn't the only one annoyed by this. It's almost up there with water boarding (Karl Rove, take note). As for Bermuda, I never stepped food on her this trip. I've been there before and only became tempted on the final day to head over to Snorkel Park but the weather wasn't really snorkel weather (overcast and windy) so I remained on board where I didn't have to shell out $15. for a lounger to look at the same beautiful water. This cruise was a totally impromptu affair and despite my cranky complaints I hope you also noticed what I really enjoyed about the ship (forgot to mention how smooth the bed linens are and bath towels that don't feel like sand paper). If I had to pay top dollar for this cruise I would probably look elsewhere but I'd also grab it if I were offered a similar rate and just handcuff Sean to me (Oops! That may not have come out the way I meant it to.) Right now they are not waiving single supplements just lowering them and offering an on board credit so the rate is still a good $500. more than what I paid so I don't think it will happen again. I guess you have to be there at the right time (just like the weather). Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
My husband and I are in our Mid 40's and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd with NCL. We flew from Maine to NYC on Friday and stayed at Hotel Novetel in Times Square. Did the OnBoard "See it All Tour NYC" (highly recommended). On ... Read More
My husband and I are in our Mid 40's and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd with NCL. We flew from Maine to NYC on Friday and stayed at Hotel Novetel in Times Square. Did the OnBoard "See it All Tour NYC" (highly recommended). On Saturday at noon, NCL shuttled us to the pier. Embarkation - Went smooth, even though it was a long line of passengers ahead of us. Once we got our boarding pass/room card, we went directly on the ship. As soon as we got on the ship, we asked an NCL staff member where the Tsars dining room was. She said to us the Garden Cafe was that way. My husband said "OK, where was the Tsars dining room?" Then she pointed in the opposite direction. LOL. Once we were in the dining room, we were surprised there was less than 50 people in there. This was around 1 pm. Lunch was good and before we were done, an announcement was made that our room was ready. Cabin -- We had a balcony 10th floor in the front of the ship. The room was adequate and clean. The bathroom was more than big enough. The bed was very comfortable and we loved the pillows. People had made comments that the TV was very outdated, but for the amount of time we actually used it, it was fine for us. Our room steward, Mariano, which my husband made the mistake and greeted as Ricardo once (LOL) was very nice and accommodating. We were impressed that he remembered our names when he greeted us everyday. Each night, he would make us a unique towel animal that we had never seen on prior cruises. Very impressive. Food -- We ate breakfast in the garden cafe most mornings, we found it to be very good. The omelets that were made to order were very good. We liked the homefries. My hubby liked the orange juice they had. We did find the coffee everywhere to be a little weak, but we do like it strong. We ate in the Main dining rooms 4 of the 7 nights. We found the food to be very good at both dining venues. We really thought the fried spring rolls with dipping sauce were outstanding. The potato and cheddar soup and cream of broccoli was very good. Main course, we thought the strip steak and baked potato which is available everynight was good. Hubby had pot roast one night. He said it was flavorful, but very dry. I enjoyed the pasta dishes. Hubby tried the spaghetti carbonara for the first time and loved it. The last night, we both had prime rib. Hubby asked for an end cut and liked it. We didn't care too much for the selection of desserts. I did like the cheese cake. We resorted to ice cream with chocolate sauce most nights. On the first night, we had reservations for Mama's Italian. We shared a pizza as an appetizer, half pepperoni, half chicken and spinach. It was very delicious. Main course, hubby had the chicken parm which was excellent. I had Penne and Meatballs and I had wished I got more pizza instead. I thought the meatballs where very dry. The tiramisu and flourless chocolate cake were outstanding. On Thursday, we went to LeBistro and ordered cream of mushroom soup and onion soup. We both enjoyed it. We both ordered the Filet Mignon and thought it was delicious. Hubby ordered the Crème Broule. He thought it was excellent. I ordered the Flourless Chocolate cake and thought it was the best dessert I ever had. Highly recommend this restaurant. Definitely worth the price of $20 each. We tried Blue Lagoon a few times and liked the roasted tomato soup. Thanks to the past reviews we read, we went during the day to try the hot brownie sundae. It was delicious. Entertainment -- We had went to every show in the evening except the hypmotist because we got in late from Universal Studios on Monday. The first night was the Welcome Aboard show. It was very entertaining. The second night was the Band on the Run which was really good. The fourth night was Duo Eleglia. We were amazed at the arial acrobatics. They even showed a video of them when they first met and got married. It added a personal touch to the show. The fifth night was JP, the comedian/magician. We had a lot of laughs. We liked how he did his comic/magic while interacting with crowd which was very cool. The sixth night was LeCirque Bijoux. This was a combination of Due Eleglia and the NCL dancers. We thought they very talented Cirque performers. The last night was the Variety show. This was a combination of JP comedy/magic and the NCL cast performing music of Abba. At the end of the show, the cruise director and department heads performed a comical act as well. Very enjoyable. Being a Beatles historian, my husband was pleasantly surprised that the band Next Stage was performing a Beatles tribute one night in the Atrium. We went and sat at the Blue Lagoon, which is upstairs with an open view of the band. They played everything from Meet the Beatles to Abbey Road. It was a great time. The band was very good. Casino -- Every night after the shows, we went to the casino and played our favorite table game Three Card Poker. The first two days we did very well. We were up $1,100, but the following three days not so good, down $400. The last two days, we made a nice comeback to finish the week only down $300. Over the course of the week, we hit 6 three of a kinds and 4 straight flushes. The entire casino staff was very friendly and we got to meet some interesting/nice people. We were surprised to see the same casino supervisor, Cecelia that we met last year on the Epic. She even remembered us. Ports of Call -- Port Canaveral -- we took a bus through NCL to Universal Studios and spent the day at Islands of Adventure. We had been there many times before, so we knew which rides we wanted to do. They had updated the Spider man ride, which was awesome. We also got drenched going on Jurassic Park. Thankfully, we did that ride in the beginning, so we were able to dry off quickly. This time we got to experience the Harry Potter ride. A very long line, but it was constantly moving and it was well worth the wait. The ride was unbelievable. Highly recommended. Great Stirrup Cay -- This was our first time going there. The tender was a little hairy even though it was a nice day. We spent a few hours at the island just laying in the sun and enjoying the water. We were very impressed at how clean it was. We went back to the ship early to spend some time by the pool with it not being so crowded. Nassau -- we did the Discover Atlantis and Beach Break through NCL. We took a shuttle van over to Atlantis and the tour guide gave us a quick review of where we could and couldn't explore. We ended at the Atlantis beach near the ocean. Even though it was a beautiful day, it was very windy and the water current was strong. We then went over to the Atlantis lagoon which was much more calm. Had a couple of drinks and stayed a few hours and had a good time. We got a lot of nice pictures of the resort and the dig area. Beautiful resort! Disembarkment -- Before disembarkment, we were able to wake up early enough to get some really nice pictures of the NYC skyline when the ship came into the harbor. We were waiting to hear our Aqua tags to be called over the intercom. When it was finally called, it was about 20 minutes later than scheduled. Once off the ship, we were able to find our luggage pretty easily, but then we had to wait in a long line to go through customs. We had paid NCL for a shuttle to the airport. This was a little disorganized because the shuttle was not properly labeled so we had walked by it at first. I would have to say that my husband and I really enjoyed this cruise thoroughly. I really think it was the combination of the NYC port, NCL staff/entertainment, and the weather that made this cruise very enjoyable. I am definitely planning our next trip to be on the Gem next year. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
As a first time cruiser, I was very pleased the officers of the Norwegian Gem and the Norwegian Cruise Line put the safety of the ship, crew and passengers first and foremost (due to potentially bad weather in Bermuda) and chose to go to a ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I was very pleased the officers of the Norwegian Gem and the Norwegian Cruise Line put the safety of the ship, crew and passengers first and foremost (due to potentially bad weather in Bermuda) and chose to go to a safer location. I was also impressed and have absolutely no complaints concerning the crew of the Norwegian Gem. They truly did go the extra mile to make us as comfortable and the trip as enjoyable as possible. When we got to the dock, there was a person handing out what we found out later to be the change in itinerary. However, she was alone, not readily identified as an NCL employee and had a large number of people around her asking questions. Since the crowd was so large, we followed the signs into the dock area along with hundreds of others. While in a very long and slow moving line, our traveling companions asked an NCL employee about a different line for "Latitude" members. The NCL person was rather short and stated something to the effect they should have paid attention when they entered the dock area and they would have to go all the way back to the entrance. We were already well into the check-in line, so they chose to stay. After about 15 minutes, one of our party began to feel bad and her husband asked the NCL employee again if there was any possibility about going to a shorter line. At that point, the NCL person became abusive and insulting. Her absolute arrogance and rudeness was astonishing. Not a good start to something we had been looking forward to for a number of months. NOTE: I filed a compliant with NCL about this and was told the staff in the pier area was not NCL's but worked for the Port of New York and they would past my comments on to the Port of New York. I pointed out the person in question was dressed like a NCL employee, wore a NCL nametag and represented herself as a NCL employee. I suspect my comments will not go any further than the person working their customer service center. NCL could save a lot of money by doing away with this useless function. Due to the change in itinerary, I do not feel we received very good value for our investment. The change was a huge disappointment, although not NCL's fault. Port Canaveral was our first port call and was a waste. There is nothing at the port - northing. The day trips were to places we had already been (Disney, Universal, Kennedy, etc.), so we ended up staying on the ship while it was tied up at the dock. A very expensive hotel! The second stop was NCL's private island. Wish we had gone there instead of Port Canaveral. The third stop was Nassau. My wife and I had been to the Bahamas before and didn't particularly care for it. It had not change and was a disappointment. We thought we would explore Nassau, but the traffic was terrible, the sidewalks were non-existent in most places, it was very hot, nothing was open until nearly 10am and there wasn't much to see near the docks. The straw market was full of junk (most made in China). We finally went back on board the ship about 2pm because we were leaving at 6pm and did not want to get stranded and be unable to get back to the ship on time. We could have taken a cruise out of Jacksonville or simply flown to the Bahamas for a lot less money. The daily activities were of little interest while at sea until the last two days. The ship was set up to go to Bermuda. Everything in the onboard stores was all about Bermuda. They did not have a very good backup plan for going somewhere else. Too bad -- poor planning. We went to a couple of shows and they were a bit of a disappointment. The sound system drowned out the vocalists. Ok, but not great. Food ranged from spectacular to not very good. The first night out I had absolutely the best Key Lime Pie I have ever had. The eggs benedict at breakfast were probably the worst I have ever had. We ate in two of their specialty restaurants -- service was great, food was fairly ordinary, prices were very high. We will probably take another cruise and may even go on a NCL cruise. It was a disappointment, but not a total disaster. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This was our fourth NCL cruise and our experience on the Gem was another great trip. We drove in from Connecticut, parked at the pier and checked in using the Latitudes line in NYC, very easy. Boarded at noon and had lunch at the Grand ... Read More
This was our fourth NCL cruise and our experience on the Gem was another great trip. We drove in from Connecticut, parked at the pier and checked in using the Latitudes line in NYC, very easy. Boarded at noon and had lunch at the Grand Pacific dining room. The sail away out of NYC is always enjoyable and it was very good to see the World Trade Center tower going up. The two sail days before arriving in Bermuda were so relaxing. We did "whatever"! They had a murder mystery lunch on Tuesday in Le Bistro by Second City which was great fun. Second City has been all of the NCL cruises and they never disappoint. The three days in Bermuda were great. We had been to Bermuda twice before but only for a single day each time. This time we were able to some old favorites and explore some new things. The first day in Bermuda we had contacted the Restless Native Catamaran cruises before we left and arranged a tour. It was a 3.5 hours tour which included about an hour snorkeling in a private cove with warm cookies and rum swizzles. We had done this previously through NCL and this time we booked directly with them and it was great. Thanks Tanis and Maureen! Our second day in Bermuda we bought the 2 day passes at the Dockyard and took the ferry to St Georges'. Bermuda is very easy to get around and the people are very welcoming. We saw a public dunking at noon which was fun to watch. Explored a bit, and then took the bus and stopped at Swizzle Inn. They aren't kidding when they say swizzle in, stagger out! I'm glad I wasn't driving. On to Hamilton for some more shopping, and then back to rest at the ship. It was very humid but other than that, the weather couldn't have been better. Our last day in Bermuda was spent at Horseshoe Bay Beach. Took the bus and walked down the hill. There was lots of surf and it was much quieter since the other two ships were leaving earlier than the Gem. The two dollar charge to go back up the hill was well worth it! We will definitely be back to Bermuda. The Gem was beautiful, very clean. The staff was SO attentive. I need to specifically mention a few folks. Our room steward, Christina, she greeted us by name every time we saw her. Although we didn't ask for much, she was always accommodating and we always had ice. Sinan, the cruise director was wonderful.. Very approachable. On the first night in the Grand Pacific restaurant, we met Jennifer who became our favorite wait staff person. I had learned from previous cruises that certain desserts are served on certain days,( this has since changed) so I asked when the crème Brule with the chocolate ganache was to be served since I didn't want to miss my favorite dessert! She advised that the Crème Brule was only available in Le Bistro and then she went and got me one. When she delivered it, she said she'd spoken with the chef and he would make me one with the ganache the next night. And so he did (he made me two actually) Yum! Superior service. The rest of the meals, she greeted us by name. Similar service and a divine meal at Le Bistro when I requested Shrimp cocktail and it was only available at Cagney's... they brought us 3. No problem. The maitre d was excellent. I chose a meal with an additional $10 surcharge on top of the $20 surcharge and was so glad I did. The Fruits De Mer with lobster, scallops and shrimp in light cream sauce over a puff pastry was SO good. My husband had the chateaubriand and it was also excellent. We also tried Tequila's which was very good. They had a frozen Margarita special every night and I took advantage of that many nights! Although we don't always attend all of the shows, we did see the comic, Richie Minervini, the hypnotist Brenda Kaye and the second city performers and they were excellent. My husband met up with Richie later in the week and had a good conversation with him. Nice man. We did buy the certificate on board and are discussing where to use it next year! Love Freestyle with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
My boyfriend and I left out of NYC on the Norwegian Gem headed to Bermuda on September 25. Everything from embarkation on was excellent. We were nervous because Hurricane Ophelia was supposed to hit Bermuda right when we were scheduled to ... Read More
My boyfriend and I left out of NYC on the Norwegian Gem headed to Bermuda on September 25. Everything from embarkation on was excellent. We were nervous because Hurricane Ophelia was supposed to hit Bermuda right when we were scheduled to arrive, but everyone on the ship did a great job of updating us on the weather and possible re-routing options (Florida & Bahamas). This was my second cruise with NCL (first on the Jewel in May of 2010) and my bf's first with NCL. We were not disappointed at all. The at sea days were fun, and there is never a dull moment on the ship. If you want to make the most of your cruise participate in as much as you can! We did the Pub Crawl, Toga Party, White Hot Party, No or No Deal, Texas Hold Em Tourney, and so much more. The shows in the theater each night are definitely worth seeing. I was a little skeptical about only going to one port but Bermuda was the most beautiful place I have ever been. The weather turned out to be hot and sunny all three days, which made it pleasurable. We took the city bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach (1/2 hr ride, but you have to get tokens in the visitor center by the bus stop BEFORE you leave, the bus doesn't accept money!!) Most beautiful water and scenery I have ever laid eyes on. Their isn't much of a "downtown" with restaurants or bars near the ship so we spent the evenings back on the ship. We also went to to Snorkel Park Beach right near the ship dock but it is TINY and crowded, plus you have to pay $5 pp to enter. It was a nice option though for our last day because we didn't want to venture to far away before we had to board. Staff on the ship is extremely friendly and go out of their way to help you with anything they can. Food is pretty good, we ate in 3 specialty restaurants and were not disappointed. We will be booking with NCL again!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
DH (52) and I (50) traveled first week of August from NYC to Bermuda. This was my 2nd sailing on the Gem and I was not disappointed. We stayed in the Owner's Suite, 9504, a fabulous cabin, and enjoyed all of the VIP treatment. ... Read More
DH (52) and I (50) traveled first week of August from NYC to Bermuda. This was my 2nd sailing on the Gem and I was not disappointed. We stayed in the Owner's Suite, 9504, a fabulous cabin, and enjoyed all of the VIP treatment. Embarkation and Day 1: Arrived at the pier around noon, and within 20 minutes, thanks to VIP boarding, we were on the ship and eating lunch at Cagney's. As we walked on the ship heard the announcement that the cabins were ready (this is the first time that I experienced rooms being ready before 2PM, and from what I heard is the new norm, which was a very nice surprise). After lunch we immediately went to our cabin, popped the bottle of chilled champagne that was waiting for us, and made ourselves comfortable in our fabulous temporary home for the week (DH made a video tour of this amazing suite and the link is provided below). We met our butler and told him a couple of things that we would need, like ice all of the time and our DVD choice, etc. and then we visited the private courtyard area, now known as The Haven, to take a look around and a dip in the pool, which was very quiet and relaxing. At 3:30 it was time for the lifeboat drill, which was painless, took only about 15 minutes from start to finish. At 4:00 we were invited to the VIP sail away party on Deck 14; so while sipping the champagne which they served, we watched the NY skyline in all its glory as we set sail. Have sailed out of NYC probably a dozen times, and still am awed by the sights leaving New York's harbor. After the sail away party at about 5:30 the shops opened and we did some liquor tasting and duty free shopping. Went back to our cabin and found our suitcases waiting for us. Quickly unpacked and got ready for dinner. That evening we had dinner in the main dining room, Magenta; they served the lobster dinner this night and we enjoyed our meal. We then went to the show to see the comedian, Jeff Harms, had ourselves some laughs and then headed over to the casino for a few hours. Day 2 - First sea day, Monday: After an amazing breakfast at Cagney's, we attended our Meet and Greet which was at 11AM in the Star Bar. We had about 20 CC members who attended, as well as the ship's Senior Officers. I believe a good time was had by all, and it was wonderful meeting everyone from the roll call and seeing some of the officers that I had sailed with in April who were still on board. Personal Note: There are many wonderful things about the Gem, but at the top of the list has to be its Officers and Crew; they really go out of their way to make your cruise incredible. Some of my favorites: Captain Roger, so personable and interesting; Hotel Director, Sean, has to be my absolute favorite, he is so charming and accommodating and it shows in his smile how much he enjoys his job (he is also incredibly handsome with the perfect amount of humility - a very winning combination). Jean Michel will be taking over as HD during Sean's current vacation and we had the opportunity to get to know him and I am confident those who sail with him will have an excellent cruise. Jenny the Assistant HD is as sweet as sweet can be; Joseph, F&B, always a pleasure, and Sinan the CD who is filled with energy, humor, friendliness and just a lot of fun. Afterwards we had lunch at Cagney's. At 1:30 we headed to the main pool as I had convinced by DH he belonged in the Sexy Leg Contest which they held poolside. Though he did not win the event, he certainly gets my vote for the sexiest legs. Lots of laughs, lots of fun, again a good time had by all. The daily was jam packed with choices this first sea day and it was impossible to do all of our favorite things so we had to make some hard choices. Wanted to definitely do the Martini Tasting (this was at 4 o'clock) and also the Pub Crawl (to be held at 8:30), but after my 5 martini samples followed by cocktails with our new found cruise friends and then the Latitudes' Party at 7 PM we never made it to the crawl. Instead we entertained some friends in our suite and a few minutes of 10 PM, before it closed, we went to Magenta for dinner. By the time we finished, 11:30ish, I just wanted to sleep... which I did. DH still had energy and continued his night with some gambling in the casino, until after 4AM, God bless him! Day 3 - Tuesday: We wanted to sleep in so had our breakfast in the cabin and lounged about a bit. Because of his late night in the casino, DH needed to lounge about a bit more than me, so I headed off to morning trivia and then Bingo (they gave out free bingo card for this session). After he caught up on his beauty sleep, DH met up with me about noon and we headed to lunch at Cagney's. Delicious. Believe we started cocktailing again and hung about with our fellow cruisers. We visited the casino for some slotting, then headed back to our cabin to shower and change for our dinner at Le Bistro. This has to be my favorite restaurant. I had the rack of lamb, DH had the steak, we shared a wonderful bottle of wine, all accompanied by excellent service. After dinner we saw a little bit of the show then I headed off to the casino to play some three card poker. (DH had an early tee time the next morning in Bermuda so he retired after the show and left the job of closing the casino up to me. I did not let him down!) Day 4 - Wednesday, Bermuda: Had breakfast from Cagney's delivered to our room at 7 AM. Eggs Benedict topped with crab cakes for DH and I, delicious of course, and then off he went to meet up with the golf excursion group at 8AM. Left alone, I kept myself busy; shopping in port until noon, then back to the ship for some soaking up of the sun by the incredibly empty main pool. I had a quick lunch at the buffet and then off to my spa appointment. They had a $129 special on this first port day which included a 50 minute massage followed by a ½ hour facial. Since I was functioning on 4 hours of sleep I found it very easy to doze off during this heavenly treatment. Afterward went back to the cabin for a shower and a "real" nap and DH returned from golf at about 4:30. He said the course, Port Royal, was amazing, and though it was a particularly windy day, he still was pleased with his score. Got ready for dinner, but first headed off to the Bliss Lounge for a VIP party for suite guests. Party was very nice and then afterwards we had dinner in Magenta. After dinner we took in the comedy show, and then headed up to the pool area to listen to the band play classic rock. They were very good. Went to Spinnaker to see Dancing with the Gem Stars, pretty funny, then off to sleep about midnight. Day 5 - Thursday, Bermuda: Had breakfast in the Great Outdoors since all other breakfast venues were closed at 11:30 (though Blue Lagoon is always open), then took the No 7 Bus to Horseshoe Bay. The beach was crowded, but from what I understand, not as crowded as the first day. We rented beach chairs ($21 and $10 is refunded when you bring chairs back) and sat on the shore line with the waves crashing over us. Very relaxing. This day the surf was rough and they had riptide warning signs posted, as well as Man of War signs. Lifeguards seemed very vigilant and we did not spot even one jellyfish, though we were surely keeping an eye out for them! Stayed on the beach for 3 hours or so then headed back to the ship for showers and "nap" time. This evening, we were honored with an invitation to have dinner with Captain Roger and his Senior Officers so we headed over to the Bliss Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails and then off to the Grand Pacific for dinner. Dinner was excellent as was the company with flowing wine and conversation. My DH sat next to Captain Roger and thoroughly enjoyed his mealtime companion. I sat on the opposite side of the table with other senior officers and had a lot of laughs. After dinner we headed to the show, Second City, which was very funny. At 10:30 it was time for the pool deck party so off we went. Back to our cabin about midnight and sat on the balcony enjoying the lights and sounds of Bermuda at night. Day 6 - Friday, Bermuda: Up early and off to Cagney's for breakfast before heading out to explore Kings Wharf. Went by Dolphin Quest (you do not have to pay any fee to just observe the dolphins) and enjoyed watching these amazing mammals and those who were experiencing their paid for interactions. Toured the Naval Dockyard grounds and museum and then afterwards headed over to the Frog and Onion Pub for some local libations. Did a little shopping and then headed back to the ship. We had requested that our butler have double orders of the jumbo shrimp cocktail from Cagney's waiting for us in our cabin, and happily they were sitting in our fridge upon our return. We sat on our balcony, port side, as the ship prepared for sail away, enjoying our shrimp and keeping an eye out for any "runners" as the ship prepared for sail away. Fortunately, we did not see any so assumed everyone made it back on. This evening there was another Latitude Party for Silver level and up, so we headed to Bliss Lounge, chatted with our fellow cruisers and amazing officers and then went to the casino for some slots (was suffering from the 2 day withdrawal since the casino had been closed while in port). Dinner this night was at Teppanyaki and we totally enjoyed the food and show. After dinner it was off to the White Hot Party where we stayed awhile and then back to the casino for some more three card poker. This was another fantastic but late night for us. Day 7- Saturday, Sea Day: Slept a little late and had our breakfast in the cabin. After breakfast we decided to do our packing since we would need to leave our luggage in the corridor after midnight and did not want to have to think about it on this, our last day. We headed out for a late lunch and then swung by the casino. DH was a bit tired, so left me at the slots and went back to the room to read and rest. Met up with DH and our new cruise friends at the 4 PM Martini Tasting. This one was held at the Star Bar which was a much better venue then the tasting earlier in the week at Magnums Bar. Afterward, went with our friends to cheer them on at the Whiskey Tasting. Dinner tonight was at Tequilas, where we dined with Jean Michel, the soon to be acting HD. The food and company were fantastic. After dinner headed to the Farewell Show, and laughed out loud while watching "Fountains". Though I had seen this act before it did not diminish its comedic effect. At about 10:30 DH was tired and headed off to bed, and I headed to the casino for my farewell bets and to see my "casino buddies" one last time (you tend to gamble with the same group all week long as everyone has their favorite table games and gambling friendships develop). Sunday - Disembarking: We woke the next morning at 7 AM and the ship was already docked in Manhattan. We headed to Cagney's for our final breakfast, Steak and Eggs this day (what a nice piece of filet it was too) and then off to the Reception area to deposit our Freestyle Cards. Went back to our cabin to grab our carry-ons and then met our Concierge at 9:15 for VIP disembarking and our farewells to the Gem. Summary: Yes, there were some things that were not perfect (our butler could have been better at times, oh well, but our concierge Ana Marie was a doll) or things we would have preferred to have been different, but nothing of any true significance that would interfere with the good time we planned on having this trip. Food is a topic where there is always some debate, but honestly with all of the choices, you can never go hungry. The Gem was clean and well kept and the crew worked hard to keep the ship well maintained and her passengers happy. The main pool was very crowded on sea days, but this is a focal point of afternoon entertainment, so just gather around with everyone and enjoy the festivities and when you've had enough you can go to a quiet place. I noticed there were always empty lounge chairs on Deck 13, both in the sun and the shade, whenever I passed by (which was often since we went back and forth to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch most days, lol). Fortunately, the casino was kind to us this week and the weather cooperated totally. DH and I both agreed we had the best time! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNZRZKP_-mM Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our first cruise with NCL, we've always cruised with Royal Caribbean but really liked the itinerary so we thought we'd give it a try. There were four of us...two couples all in our late 20's. Getting to the pier ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, we've always cruised with Royal Caribbean but really liked the itinerary so we thought we'd give it a try. There were four of us...two couples all in our late 20's. Getting to the pier was really easy and once we parked (for $30 a day) and got checked in it didn't take long to board the ship. We were able to get on a little after 12 and took the time to walk around and explore. The ship itself is really nice, all the bright colors and cool furniture make it really fun. Then we went to get lunch at the buffet which we found to be complete chaos no matter what time we went so we tried to avoid eating there as much as possible. Our room was nice, we had a balcony but our room steward must not have had enough time to finish cleaning because there was sand all over the balcony and coffee still in the coffee pot. Other that that it was nice. Our friends had a junior suite on deck 11 and got woken up ever morning to chairs on the pool deck being moved around. For dinner we ate at the specialty restaurants 5 of the 7 nights which were all delicious. Just didn't feel like waiting for a table in the main dining rooms for food that wasn't that good. Bermuda was beautiful, I've been there many times and it's by far one of my favorite places to go. We got a 3 day bus/ferry pass and just did our own thing on the island. The staff was great...(bartenders, waiters, room steward) everyone was so friendly and always had a smile. The cruise director not so much, never saw her interact with anyone, her staff on the other hand was a lot of fun. There were always a ton of activities going on especially at night...from the disco party, the white hot party and the pub crawl. We were never board. Getting off the ship was crazy, we did the express walk off and had to wait in a line for 45 minutes. There didn't seem to be any direction no one was there to direct anyone. Overall it was a good cruise. I heard a lot of people throughout the trip saying how unhappy they were with different things and a lot of people were not happy with the $12 automatically taken from your account, For us...we had fun. Would we sail with NCL again? If the price and itinerary were good than yes. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was my 3rd cruise i have been on and def the first and last time with the Norwegian Gem. My first two cruises were with Carnival (one with family, one honeymoon) and both were way better than the Gem.PROS-Entertainment was goodCabin ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise i have been on and def the first and last time with the Norwegian Gem. My first two cruises were with Carnival (one with family, one honeymoon) and both were way better than the Gem.PROS-Entertainment was goodCabin Stuard was very very nice, made our cabin up very quickly, knew our names right away, always greeted us Staff was usually niceGetting on the ship was fairly easily and not stressful. Didnt have to wait on a long line at all! Our rooms werent ready until 2, which was kinda annoying, having to wait around with our carry ons until our room was ready but other than that, getting on the ship was easyCONS--Didnt get a towel animal every night (every night except the first and last night)-Didnt get mints with our towel animals (we did on Carnival)-We got a balcony stateroom, MUCH smaller than Carnival, especially the bathroom! NO clock was in our room, so in order to know what the time was in there we had to turn on the TV or look at our watches, etc. sounds like its not a big deal but it was.-TV was super small, had barely any channels-Food in the "Garden Cafe" was not good at all. Was not organized, no "beginning and end" start of any lines, people would cut you, etc. Food was the same every day and wasnt that good at all. Also, in order to find a table you basically had to walk as far away as possible and walk outside in order to find a table...and to find one that was actually clean.-Food in the "Magenta" restaurant was "okay". If you got ice cream for dessert, it came melted. I had way better food at Carnival than on the Gem.-If you wanted to buy alcohol on the ship, instead of them delivering it to your room (like they did on Carnival) you had to wait in a long line the last day of your ship to retrieve it. It was a pain especially since the last day of your trip you do not want to spend waiting in a line.-If you ordered necklaces on the ship (the ones that they make for you) you again had to wait to get it picked up the last day of the ship (on Carnival they made them right in front of you and got them right away!). They said they woudlnt be ready until the last day after 3PM but we went to the booth about 1:30 to see if they would be ready (heck it was only a few hours before what they said, it wasnt like we were coming days earlier and asking if they were ready) And they were like " NO they are not ready to pick up until after 3PM in the gift shop" which thye NEVER told us before. Good thing we went over there and asking them that question-They were really big on "cleaniness" but EVERYWHERE you went people were coming at you and spraying sanitizer on you, even though they had the self-using ones right next to them. I would use them and then tell them i dont need to be sprayed and they would spray me anyway which was really annoying. Also the sanitzer was sticky and didnt make my hands feel clean at all.-Although the staff was very nice, none of them knew very well English. If you asked for a "Bud" they would look at your with two heads and go "What??? What???" If you work on a cruise ship you figured they would understand what Bud is by now!Overall, i was with my husband and family so i had a great time with them. I still love "cruising" but would NEVER go on a Gem again. Carnival was much more enjoyable and the next time I book a cruise it will be with Carnival. Plus i'm sick of hearing "WASHY WASHY!!" NO WASHY WASHY GEM! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Just recently returned from our cruise to Bermuda aboard the Gem. Prior to this cruise, I was looking for reviews of the Garden Villa Suites but couldn't find much. Hopefully this review will help other in the same position. Lots to ... Read More
Just recently returned from our cruise to Bermuda aboard the Gem. Prior to this cruise, I was looking for reviews of the Garden Villa Suites but couldn't find much. Hopefully this review will help other in the same position. Lots to cover so it may be a little long. There were 4 of us, my wife, myself and two college age kids. We have stayed in a suite before but decided to try the top suite this time.We did the "drive and park" at the pier. Did this on a Jewel cruise last year and found it very convenient. Unfortunately due to a Military event, we had to park one pier over from where the ship was docked. We ended up right at the end of the pier as well so were as far away from our ship as you could get. Not the end of the world but it was a bit of a hike from the car to check-in and the same heading back. If we hadn't over packed (again) it might have been easier. We dropped off our luggage and headed to the VIP check-in. In my opinion they've crammed way too many check-in positions along the whole counter. When you only have 2-3 feet to fit all the guests in your party, plus carry on luggage, some with strollers and wheelchairs, etc, it's just too crowded. It might have just been that the woman serving us was confused and had no personality. The guests/staff on either side of us where laughing and joking . They came in after us and left before us. All we got was yelled at for having an arm in someone else's picture. Maybe if we had more room, that wouldn't happen! I'm not sure why they don't do the VIP check-in in the VIP lounge. As soon as you check in they take you there anyway. The room is huge and there is hardly anyone in it. They always have food and drinks set up but I've personally never seen anyone ever partaking. By moving it over to this area, they free up space for the regular guest check-in which allows them to spread out as well. It also decreases the unnecessary foot traffic crossing the floor especially when it's crowded . I could care less whether I get on the ship 15 minutes earlier, but I think it would make processing all guests more efficient. Once we got to the VIP lounge, we met Ryan the Concierge. He introduced us to Roy our Butler. Roy immediately escorted us onto the ship. My wife was last in the line and we didn't realize until we were in the atrium, that she was stuck at the security check-in. Her card didn't work, which was a sign of things to come (will comment on the cards later). Roy had to escort her over to the service desk to get her card replaced. We eventually ended up at our suite. Roy gave us the opportunity to have a quick look around and ask any questions. We had to make our liquor selection right away. This suite includes 6 bottles of alcohol (plus a bottle of champagne). I asked if we could let him know a little later, but for some reason you can't. They have a list which you select from but you can try and ask for alternatives. We got what we asked for. They also allow you to choose a bottle of wine or 6 bottles of beer as a replacement for 1 bottle of alcohol. They showed up in our room a little later. The living/dining room is quite large. Each has seating to accommodate 8 people. The bar area has 4 stools. This area is where the Lavazza coffee maker and fridge are (as well as a little sink). We were very happy with the coffee maker. This one functioned with pods. You could make different coffee types, or tea. Roy kept a huge supply of pods so we never ran out. He kept the fridge filled with soda (Pepsi bands), milk (white and chocolate). We always put the extra orange and cranberry juice from breakfast in there as well.The desk in the living room has a laptop available for use. They need to update it as it looks like early (maybe mid) 2000's vintage. There is also a Bose radio/cd/dvd player which provides the surround sound and DVD player for the flat screen TV. They also have speakers outdoors in the dining area of the patio. We really appreciated this feature. They provide an assortment of cd's to play and recorded music stored on the Bose player. We brought our own selection of jazz cd's and didn't use theirs. There is also a recliner in the living room which is also a massage chair. Has it's own remote control! They have also included a baby grand piano in the living room. It has a player/recorder feature so you can play it yourself (and record if you wish), or use the player feature to have it play automatically. We had fun with it.The outdoor patio is two levels. There is seating, tables and lounges on both. The top level also has a hammock. They came every morning and put cushions out and they were put away when we got back to the room later in the evening. I guess you could ask them to be left out if you planned on using them later in the evening. The dinning area which is covered, actually only seats 6. The hot tub was filled and ready to go immediately. Just to be clear, the hot tub is cleaned and filled every week for the new guests. The water is always heated. Although we did find occasions when it was hotter than on other occasions. The hot tub in the Owners Suites on the 15th floor, requires filling and draining by the guest as the water is not continually heated. We got a lot of use out of our hot tub. The patio also includes a steam room. Not sure if the staff turned it on and off daily but it always seemed ready to use. The guest didn't have to do anything but sit down. The 3 bedrooms were at least as large individually as a balcony cabin. The 2 smaller had their own bathrooms with tub/shower combo, separate sink and toilet area. Each room has a flat screen TV and DVD player. Also a fridge. The balcony for these two rooms are quite large. Again bigger than a standard balcony. Both had two chairs and tables. The master bedroom also had a TV, DVD player and fridge. Funny the way the TV worked though. To turn the TV on or change the volume, the remote had to be pointed at the TV. To change channels, it had to be pointed at the sensor in the ceiling. Not sure why it is set up this way??? There is a small TV over the tub in the adjacent bathroom, although it was not working properly. The bathroom is quite large with lots of marble tiling. The tub and shower are both large enough for two people. There are two sinks and makeup/dressing table as well. A walk-in closet is also provided which is more than large enough. Both the bedroom and bathroom have sliding door access to the patio area. Each of the 3 bedrooms also has 2 safes in them. We spent quite a bit of time in our suite because it was so large and had so many amenities. The wall of windows in the living room overlooked the pool deck so we could always see what was going on. There is a reflective material on the windows so during the day you can see out but can not be seen (from the outside). At night there are electric blinds which can be raised for privacy. They have done away with the DVD library and now have pay-per-view movies. After asking, we were told we could we could watch 7-10 movies. The charges will be added to your account and removed later. Between the four of us we watched 8 movies. 7 were free and we were charged for the 8th. If you feel like watching TV, this is the only real choice as the standard channels offered, is pretty poor and lacks variety. You can also bring your own DVD's. I was concerned with a suite so large that staff might end up constantly coming and going but that wasn't the case. You can maintain a level of privacy if you wish because each bedroom as a card reader and the standard security deadbolt. There is also a doorway between the foyer and the hallway to the living. We always kept it open but you could close it limiting access to that area. Roy came in every morning and set up the dining room with a "pre-breakfast" (coffee, juice, pasties, fruit). He did this at the agreed to time while we were still sleeping. Didn't hear him at all. He also dropped off afternoon/early evening snacks every day. We had more food than we could eat. Luckily there is a scale in the bathroom to keep track of the "snacks"! And if there are particular snacks that you prefer, let your butler know (or they may pick up on it themselves), and you will get more of it.It took me a couple of days to figure out where all the light and blind controls were. Quite a few of the light are theatre dimming style (gradually dim). There are many 3 way switches as well. It's probably worth spending a bit of time initially trying to figure out what controls what and how.We ate breakfast and lunch in our room (on the patio) once each. Service by Roy was right on. We ate dinner in a few of the specialty restaurants. In order of quality from best to worst; La Cucina, Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, and Cagney's. We had 1 lunch and 2 breakfasts in Cagney's as well. Food and service in La Cucina were both very good (excellent Ossobucco) . The same with Teppanyaki. Plus the chef was quite funny. The difference between my top 3 rankings was small but Cagney's was inconsistent and not as good as it should have been (in both food quality and service). It would take too long to describe everything that happened in each so I won't bother. We ate one breakfast in the Grand Pacific. Food quality was good and service was excellent. The rest of the time we just picked up snacks in one of the buffet style areas around the ship. This food was as expected. It's pretty hard to keep a hamburger patty very hot or fresh when it was cooked 20 minutes ago and then left sitting in a pan under a lamp. The same with scrambled eggs, toast, etc. But that is expected so I don't have a problem with that.The entertainment on the ship was very good. At least the shows we saw. Dave Heenan was very funny. I'm still laughing at his "buns of cinnamon" joke! There is a separate balcony area on the 7th floor specifically for suite guests. This pretty well guarantees a seat if the show is busy. Personally I like the balcony view of the stage but some find it hard to see.The ship is very nice, and appears to generally be in good shape. There always seemed to be staff cleaning something. The crew are very friendly. Always saying hello as you pass by. Of course Roy our butler and Gigi (and her assistant who was never introduced to us) our room stewards, were very friendly. Always stopping to chat or ask if there was anything we needed. Ironically, they held a Suites get-together which includes Senior Officers and some of the ships entertainers. None of them seemed to mingle much (different from in the past). The only person that actually came over and spoke with us was Jill the Cruise Director. Ryan (the concierge) arranged a tour of the kitchen area for my son and myself (he's a chef and I'm an avid cook) with the Executive Chef, Hans-Peter. My wife asked Ryan if he could arrange it as she thought we might find it interesting. After that, when Chef saw us a around the ship, he would stop and talk. Of course asking how the meals were. We didn't utilize Ryan's services for much other than this tour kitchen tour. We made out own reservations, etc. We did ask him to verify a dinner reservation for us as there seemed to be a technical problem. There was no mention of a chocolate buffet, which lead me to ask him if they were having one and if he would be arranging early access for pictures, etc. He told me there would be but early access wasn't really required. He did say that he had a few other guests that he was taking in anyway, so we could join them. Seemed odd to me. Generally, he wasn't sending out invitations to events as we had experienced previously. On our last cruise as an example, we found an invitation in our cabin almost everyday to something the Concierge (Adrian) had a arranged. Not this time. My big problem with Ryan was during disembarkation. We got to the VIP area relatively early so we were close to the beginning of the line. Ryan told us to wait until the end when everyone had gone and he would escort us down. Maybe this was a perk of the Garden Villa?? Not sure or maybe he just knows a short cut. So they finally start letting everyone off. We wait for 10 minutes as everyone files past. No one left and no Ryan! We ended leaving on our own. Not that I care because this is what we had expected to do anyway. However we wouldn't have wasted 10 minutes waiting for the rest of the line and then probably another 30-40 minutes of extra compounded delay in baggage and customs because of all the additional people now in line. The funny thing is that the Garden Villa guests are entitled to limousine service back to the airport. We didn't even utilize this service but got stiffed on the ship. Lastly, you have access to the courtyard. Never very many people in there, including in the pool. The nice thing about the pool is that it is fresh water as opposed to ocean saltwater as in the main pools. They have a treadmill, stationary bike and a couple of free weights which I never saw anyone use, except for myself. No need to go to the main gym. They also have a stream room and hot tub. Didn't use these as we had them in our suite. We saw a few people eating in the courtyard over the course of the week but we didn't. They will bring meals from the menus if you so desire. During the day they have juice, coffee, water and a snacks available (it's help yourself). Roy saw us grab some M & M's once and after that he kept a bowl in our room filled with them.The following are some of the negatives in my opinion.Be careful with the water temperature. Not sure if the whole ship is the same way. We found the water got too hot in all showers and it could not be turned down. We actually asked them to adjust it (which was done). However after a few days of use, we could see it was better but still too hot. You just have to be careful (and be the first to get a shower). Also noticed a funny odour in the two bathrooms associated with the smaller bedrooms. A little bit like fish and little bit like sewage. It was there all week.I know they want you off the ship early on the last day so they can prepare for the new guests however, maybe they are a little too anxious. We found sometime during the last night, our hot tub was emptied and not available for use any longer. They also took away the flower arrangement and fruit bowl during the last evening while we were out. After breakfast, we went back up to our room to wait until our disembarkation time. We planned on having a coffee while waiting. Nope, coffee maker already dismantled. As far as I knew, we were still "paying" guests. We didn't even attempt to use the bathroom....just in case they shut off the toilet! :)This is the first NCL ship that I haven't seen the BIG sell taking place. Usually, they push all the packages, wine, soda, etc. Constantly taking photos including in the restaurants. Lots of advertising for special dinners; i.e., Jazz Brunch, The Best Of All, etc. We didn't see any of this on the GEM. Not that I want to be constantly bothered, but I did want to attend the Jazz Brunch. We didn't find out it was even held until a few days afterwards. As I previously mentioned, we didn't hear anything about the chocolate buffet in advance. There was 1 small line in the Daily for this event on the day it was scheduled. This is different than our experience on other NCL ships. If your interested in any of these events, you might want to ask the first day so you don't end up missing something.We had a heck of a time with our room keys (cards). We all had to have them replaced 3 or 4 times each. It was actually getting to be quite annoying. On one occasion while trying to settle our tab in Cagney's, they were unable to process the charge (with my wife's or my card). The server and then the Maitre'd spent 20 minutes with no luck. He finally called Ryan to get involved. Ryan brought us new cards. They actually processed the charge manually....all $13.00 of it!. The meal was already covered so the only charge was for a cappuccino and daiquiri. They should have just waved the charge considering all the inconvenience. Couldn't take it out on the servers, so we left a big tip on the table regardless.Generally speaking, the Garden Villa is a great room. There are a few things that NCL should replace or repair. You could spend all your time there if you wanted and not miss much. Do get out and see Bermuda though. The island is beautiful and the people are super friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Just got back from my second cruise so now I have something to compare with the first one. My first cruise was on the Carnival Victory to the Southern Caribbean and the second cruise was on NCL Norwegian Spirit to Bermuda. Both were 7-day ... Read More
Just got back from my second cruise so now I have something to compare with the first one. My first cruise was on the Carnival Victory to the Southern Caribbean and the second cruise was on NCL Norwegian Spirit to Bermuda. Both were 7-day cruises. I enjoyed the experience on Carnival "the fun ship" better than NCL although both had their good and not as good points. Carnival was a younger fun crowd and the ship was much nicer. The NCL Spirit was badly in need of a makeover and it felt very outdated. The cruisers were much older and many had oxygen or wheel chairs. On Carnival they prided themselves in never saying no to any customer requests and took it as a challenge to always say yes. On NCL they said NO to all the requests we asked about. 1. I needed an iron and they said only between 9am-9pm but we were catching a ferry at 9 in Bermuda so that didn't work. After a day on shore we came back and ate dinner but it was after 9 again so again no iron. Then they said we had to be in our room to get the iron and in the room when they picked it up within a specified time frame. If I had known this on the days at sea it wouldn't have been a problem. 2. There was only one electrical outlet and that said not for hair dryers. The other outlets were European and the desk had no converters because they were all checked out. Again I wish we had known to ask for an extension cord converter as soon as we boarded. We ended up buying one in Bermuda to use for my camera battery, cell phone, curlers, Ipod and flat iron and it made life easier! 3. I asked for some heavy cream (we were making Irish Coffees in our room). They said we have no heavy cream. That was untrue because many deserts had whipped cream on them but they said they could not give us any. 4. There was no laundry facility on NCL another nice addition Carnival had. 5. Asked for a fridge and was told no. The person I booked the cruise with at NCL said we would have a fridge in the room but no robes. Turns out we had robes and no fridge. 6. One thing I liked about NCL was there was no set time for dinner. On Carnival we had an 8PM set time but we were at a table of 10 people who were really fun and comparing our days off the ship was so enjoyable. We did not have to dress up on NCL but it was fun to do that on Carnival. The shows at night were better on NCL. Overall I liked Carnival best. NCL constantly had their hand out trying to nickel and dime you to pad the bill. Some of that happened on Carnival as well but not to the same extent. Tip: We saved money on drinks and brought "cruise rum runners" filled with red wine and Jameson's Irish whiskey and no one inspected our luggage (we did put locks on them). We re-filled them while in port and they passed the x-ray machine no problem. We also bought many drinks on board but it did help save some $. On Carnival we were able to buy tax and duty free liquor before we boarded the ship maybe because it was in Puerto Rico? Since we had a fridge in the room we were able to chill what we bought and had mimosas in the morning with OJ we ordered with room service. I also liked having some days at sea without being in a port everyday like we did with our Southern Caribbean cruise. You need some time to relax and enjoy the ship but I hated to miss going off the ship if we were in a new port. NCL took 2 days to get to Bermuda and 3 days to get back home so we had lots of relaxing time. The weather was beautiful every day so we enjoyed all the ship had to offer. One other tip for Bermuda: We docked at Kings Wharf and the things you could do there could be done in half a day everything else you had to take taxis, busses, or ferries. We got a three-day pass and could use the busses and ferries all we wanted. There was more to do and explore in Hamilton and St George so we spent most of our time there. Bus drivers were fantastic and helpful and the transportation was easy to use. The roads are narrow and many people were or felt car sick on the busses with the fast speed and twisty turns in the road. We stopped at Grotto Bay resort and stumbled on some caves that were beautiful. They had a walkway down into them and I was amazed at how beautiful they were. No one was in them and it was a short walk through each one but well worth it! We tried to get a drink there but the bartender totally ignored us so we walked up the road to the Swizzle Inn and had a drink there. That was a fun restaurant/bar. Another favorite was The Hog & Penny in Hamilton the prices were reasonable and the food was excellent. We went to the White Horse tavern in St George twice. The first time was a great experience our waiter was helpful efficient and the food was great. We enjoyed it so much we went back again this time we didn't have a good experience our waitress was terrible, we waited forever for food that was cold and so-so at best. I am glad I had a good experience the first time. We arrived on a Sunday and I was surprised that almost everything was closed Hamilton was a ghost town so we went back to Kings Wharf and some shops were open there. By ferry St George was about 45 minutes away from Kings Wharf. The ferries ran hourly but on Sunday the schedule was limited, to take a bus would have been 2 hours each way. Unfortunately we missed the first ferry Sunday because we didn't know the schedule and spent too much time trying to figure it out instead of just going to the ferry and asking so we missed the first one. The ferries fill quickly and once full they left even if it was before the scheduled time of departure. We found we should be at the ferry at good 20-30 minutes ahead if we wanted to be sure to make it back. All in all I enjoyed both cruises but Carnival is the line I'd choose next time I go. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
This was the very first cruise I've ever been on. I was disappointed in what I encountered. First the positive. The Staff were all extremely courteous and attentive. I could get used to be called 'Sir James' all the time! ... Read More
This was the very first cruise I've ever been on. I was disappointed in what I encountered. First the positive. The Staff were all extremely courteous and attentive. I could get used to be called 'Sir James' all the time! And that is the end of that list. Extremely short. It was all downhill after that and I scarcely know where to begin. Let's start with the food. The Raffles Buffet was okay, by the standards of a buffet it was even pretty good. The Main Dining rooms were mediocre at best. In fact it was really just parts of the buffet, served in a fancier setting. We tried one of the Cover Charge places, Cagneys Steakhouse, ambitiously priced at $25 per person, and some of the plates were $10 on top of that. We had the absolute worst Lobster Bisque ever. Horrible, horrible. We think it had a beef stock! I had a 'beef steak tomato' salad, made with some sort of hard red object that resembled an actual tomato. It's August. If you can't do a tomato then you should just give it up. The lobster was the spiny variety, and either they're tough normally, or the chef's overcooked them. Mixed reviews on the various beef offerings. The pool on the top deck was too small for the number of people who wanted to use it. There would have been enough deck chairs, except that people showed up at 6 in the morning and "reserved' them by leaving their towels on them. Every chair was taken, but well over half were unoccupied the entire day. This I blame mostly on rude Massholes who made up most of the crowd. But the Line could have enforced a 30 minute rule and removed towels. I tired very quickly of the incessant, in-your-face, sales pitches. They were hawking everything from Jewelry to pictures to other crap and it never let up. Far too much of that. If that one bar maid asked me one more time if I wanted a "drinky-drink" on the last day when I was feeling quesy I swear I would have tossed her over the side. Luckily she caught my green palor and the evil eye I was giving her when she started approaching. The drinks were no bargain. Free beer! Who doesn't like that? Of course the NCL definition of that means by a bucket of 4 for $39 and they'll toss in a 5th. A bargain! Real aluminum bottles too. Good stuff like Bud and Bud Lite and Bud Dry. And Heniken, skunked of course. They were pushing 2-1 Martinis in the Charlie Loungue and my party was working that hard. I haven't looked at my bill, I don't know how much they were, but the second you finished the 2nd they were on top of you. If I see another martini glass this year I'm going to lose my lunch. Some of the entertainment in the longue was pretty good though. The entertainment in the big theater was okay. On sea days you had to get there quick to get a seat though. If that were my only complaint I would have been okay. Some of us played bingo. I don't but I heard that they skimmed most of the money off and offered stingy prizes, which goes against the spirit of bingo. Typical of the whole money grubbing experience. We lost part of one day in Bermuda because of a storm in the area, but they turned the last day into a full day, so I suppose they deserve credit for that. Two days wasn't enough though, wish there were more. Some of our crew were old and slowed us down, otherwise we might've got it all in. I can recommend Church Bay for snorklers. The Swizzle Inn was something of a bust. And if you were thinking of the Crystal Caves there is a free near-equivalent nearby that someone in St George told us about. Take the bus to the resort just before the Swizzle - drawing a blank on the name, might'be been the Grotto. It's fancy and it looks like you shouldn't be intruding, but stick to the left and go back by the pool and there are two free, decent caves right there. Not bad. The only other positive advice I can offer is if you're getting the 2/3 day bus/ferry pass skip that first place you can do that, right off the ship. The line is long and slow and you can head over to the visitor center and get them quicker. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
A big city port difficult to navigate, hire a ride or be prepared to use GPS.Cabins clean and service to compare with all good reviews. Impressed by the staff of the whole ship to be friendly. I really didn't like the ... Read More
A big city port difficult to navigate, hire a ride or be prepared to use GPS.Cabins clean and service to compare with all good reviews. Impressed by the staff of the whole ship to be friendly. I really didn't like the variability of the dine around dinner stewards but that's the biggest drawback of the dine around option. The food has gone the way of the airlines. That is mass produced and variable in quality. We tried out the optional dining and the staff was more attentive, the atmosphere quieter and the food selection up to par with cruise fare of 10 years ago. Tried the Lido style serve yourself dining in the Raffles and there were lots of choices but mostly of low class. Probably the worst buffet deserts of any cruise ship that I have sampled. Of course with all the buffet choices one can find something you like in taste even though it is still cafeteria style. At an average of 1+ cruises per year I can say that this was the biggest minus of this ship. As a walker I appreciate an unencumbered large walking deck. This would have been deck 5 on this ship. But in the PM they block off this path by building out a dine under the stars area for optional dining. The public areas were mostly as expected but some serious flaws in design. The theater has cramped seats and no way for drinks to be served without passing them hand over hand. Of course for an extra fare (ala the airlines) you can have a seat on the front row where service is normal. The Estacy lounge hases few permanent seats and tables so they resort to straight back stackable chairs when the evening crowds show up. On our next cruise I intend to face a fare increase just to get back to the better dining experiences of years past. Since like most we shop for low fares overall, this means that we will budget ourselves to afford the optional extra fare dining experiences for the evening meals. The cabins were acceptable and the beds extra nice for sleeping. There isn't much new to write about Bermuda (been there done that) but the choice of cruise port docking outside of Hamilton is a serious drawback and we won't be returning ever again to this destination. Also a word of warningt about renting those convenient scooters from Oleanders. 30% of our party had serious safety defects with their scooters (broken brake cables and stuck throttles etc.)in spite of the hidden mandantory service and insurance charges they heap on the rentals. Next cruises will be on RC Freedom Of the seas and Star Princess Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We have cruised RCL,CARNIVAL and DISNEY. We cruised NORWEGION 10 years ago and swore we would not cruise with them again, but it was a large group so we caved and gave them one more shot, well never again. embarkation: This was fine we had ... Read More
We have cruised RCL,CARNIVAL and DISNEY. We cruised NORWEGION 10 years ago and swore we would not cruise with them again, but it was a large group so we caved and gave them one more shot, well never again. embarkation: This was fine we had no problems and were on the ship in no time. The ships lobby was nothing special and every night had to fight through photographers set up in main walk ways. Booked a balcony room and one inside cabin. When we arrived in our room the safe did not work, the phone did not work , the door to balcony gave us awork out to open and the bathroom smelled of sewer which was a running joke with 5 of the balcony rooms in a row that all smelled. They fixed the safe , the door, my husband fixed the phone and they fixed the bathroom for about 12hours on Friday and it was starting to smell again by Saturday. The bed was as hard as a rock, come to find out it was missing the soft padding on top of the mattress, everyone had this in their rooms but us, they gave us an eggcrate, not quite the same, sleeping was miserable. Thank goodness for the balcony or I would have gone crazy. Chairs on deck came at a premium , staking them out early was a necessity if you wanted a place to sit on any outdoor deck. The only draw back with a balcony room was smoking was allowed on balconys , and was quite annoying to be smelling cigar and ciggarette smoke while out there. The pool was a joke for the amount of people on the ship, always overcrowded, my daughter never went in. You coud pay for the spa and lap pool for adults only 20.00 a day. Disney has an adults only pool and hot tub thats free, it seemed as though everything was extra. Adults only hot tub on deck always had kids and rules were not enforced. We never experienced that on Disney ,adults only meant adults only and it was free. The food was mediocre at best, same menue every night in main dining resturaunts and that food was nothing special. Buffet was o.k nothing special. Specialty resturaunts we ate at were Impressions , not worth the money, and salsas which was better but not great. Friends ate at Bamboo and said that was excellent. If you want variety you had to pay for it. Freestyle just means you better make a reservation or expect to wait. Traditional cruising may have you eating at a set time , but whats the difference if you need to make reservation anyway. Personal service was lost in the dining rooms, it was not bad just hurried. Staff was friendly but ships facilties and food left little to be desired. The teen club was a joke, a tv and a wii, very poor facilties , the kids were bored , not alot going on. There were kids at the adult shows , it seemed that security was really lacking. If you have cruised other lines and have something to compare to , this is a bottom of the barrel cruise for premium dollars. We paid 4,400.00 for mediocre food and facilities, I've spent less for much better. Look into other lines, we gave Norwegion another try and were extremely dissappointed. Others that cruised with us said they would never cruise with Norwegion again. We had a good time with the people we cruised with, but the food and facilties on the Dawn were not worth the price paid for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Overview:Our first cruise was to Hawaii in May, 2002 on the Norwegian Star, and on May 1, 2009 our 8th cruise, all with NCL, was on the Norwegian Spirit.  This 7 day cruise took us from our home in central Connecticut to Boston where we ... Read More
Overview:Our first cruise was to Hawaii in May, 2002 on the Norwegian Star, and on May 1, 2009 our 8th cruise, all with NCL, was on the Norwegian Spirit.  This 7 day cruise took us from our home in central Connecticut to Boston where we boarded the ship that took us to Bermuda for the 2nd time.  We obviously are big fans of NCL, FreeStyle and the Resort Casual dress code.  This cruise was the first Boston to Bermuda run of the year by the recently renovated Spirit, replacing the 2008 ship, the Dream .Embarkation: It was very slow going, but we found no reason to blame NCL.  I've recently discussed the matter with an official on the Spirit, and was told it has gotten better, local authorities have been cooperative, but it's not yet perfect.  We arrived about 10:45 am, and joined a long line of cars that extended to the end of the terminal.  I'm sure the problem had to do with cars coming to pick up disembarking passengers, as well as those of us arriving early for embarkation, plus many taxi's, busses and limos.  I dropped off my two passengers and luggage at the main/center entrance to the terminal, with no porters in site.  I assumed they were busy with those getting off the ship.  Because I counted on porters, like there always are in NYC, my wife could not move all our stuff into the line waiting for porters, as there was too much with the 3 year old there, a stroller, and a rolling cooler we brought, since the cabin had no fridge.  There was still traffic to contend with going to the garage, driving to the 4th floor, and walking back, got me to the (very long) line at 11:10 am.  It did not move until 11:30, and even then it was slow.  The line at that time extended the length of the terminal!!  We noticed an extreme shortage of porters, first detecting only two, with very small luggage carts more equipped for a small hotel.  The porters moved slowly as well, and many around us joked they must have been on break, or a bunch called in sick, or there was a work slowdown.  Eventually we saw a total of 5 porters, mind you some of them were helping the busses as well, making long walks back and forth from the end of the terminal.  As we got closer we noticed passengers walking towards us and going directly to the porters, cutting a line that had to be close to an hour wait at that time and pace.  When it was nearly our turn we advised a potential line cutter where the line was and he scolded us for aggravating him.  We wouldn't allow the approaching porter to serve him, and directed him to our bags.  He then handed me his coffee to hold, saying he needed my help.  We joked about whether I could keep the coffee while he slowly put our bags on the rack, along with one other couples, and then handed his coffee.  He asked if I really wanted it, as his personality earned him the tip that I had put away.From there we went inside, directly to the counter via the Latitudes line, as I noticed a very lengthy line for others.  There were many staffers serving the Latitudes line, as I assumed that NCL had to pick their poison, and chose to give preferential service to their returning customers.  From that point on it was as smooth as ever, and we were stepped onto the ship at 12:20 pm and immediately consumed my glass of champagne.I hope this was a one-time problem, given this was the first cruise for the Spirit.   Weather/Beach Conditions:We arrived at the pier in overcast conditions, in the 60's, and we had some rain and cool weather until Sunday morning.  Sea conditions got pretty rough Saturday  morning, with many passengers sick and some staff as well.  Our granddaughter was down and out from breakfast time until early evening, but my wife who is often bothered by rough seas was OK.  Sunday and Monday were mid 70's with plenty of sun and partly cloudy conditions, and Tuesday was spectacular.  The "Daily" said 75 but it felt like 80.  The same went for Tuesday, as we enjoyed a great day in the sun, and shade at times.  Water temperature at the beaches were comfortable, probably around 70, which should have been OK for most New Englanders and Canadian friends.The Ship:We first headed to see if our cabin was ready, and found the hallway doors shut.  I found our cabin steward who advised me our cabin was ready so we dropped off our carry ons, and headed out.  We checked out the main atrium area to see what was happening there, and was impressed  to see it reminded me a bit of the Star with the glass enclosed elevators.   Lunch was at Windows, where we had a great Aft table, where our granddaughter (Sydney) enjoyed watching the planes take off from Logan.  Our next stop was the pool area on Deck 12, giving us a chance to also visit the Kids Water Park area, which was excellent with a wading pool, two water slides, and a hot tub.  Signs said 12 and under, but there were many young teens there, and the hot tubs rarely had little ones in it.  They also had a little play area for tiny ones to play in, all under shelter.  I never saw NCL staff around to enforce the age guidelines, but suspect they would have "policed it" if it became a problem.  In general we found everything on board we have been accustomed to, and though the layout was different, and some things were smaller, most everything appeared to be in excellent conditions, and of course it had the flair of it's Asian heritage.  Note one day we returned from port and found our balcony had been disturbed, and found that they had replaced one of the two glass panels on the outside.  I had heard they were replacing some of the thermal window panels on the ship, and for three days noticed carts with new glass on them around the ship.  Of course they are always painting something, and seemed to be focusing on varnishing, noting our balcony rails were done, and many spots on Deck 12.  One day we saw them doing some painting the hull. The only actually wear and tear I noticed was on our balcony ceiling, where the paint had some signs of rust.  A beautiful ship indeed!Our cabin. We were located in the first port side balcony on Deck 9, #9500, and really enjoyed it.  It seemed a little smaller than others in the past, but certainly served our needs.  After the first night, our granddaughter opted to let the stewards to refrain from opening the sofa into a bed, as it was clearly in our way, and our double had plenty of room for her tiny body.  She was also sea sick on Saturday, so it all worked out fine.  We had brought along a power strip to charge our cameras and phones, so never did need to use our electrical converter box we had from a daughter's European trip.  We also brought a small rolling cooler stuffed with family favorite beverages, and we filled them twice daily with ice to chill milk, soda, and juice.  Stewards offered to fill it each day, but because it was new and unfamiliar with it's ability to  keep things cool or if it would leak,  I got ice from them as needed.  Our cabin was spotless and never wanting for anything from our terrific stewards, other than the egg crate padding I requested Day 1.  Having the safe on the floor in the closet was a little inconvenient, but not a serious issue.  Drawers and closet shelves were sufficient for the 3 of us, as our hanging shoe rack came in handy.  We thank Rebecca Lambojon and Rommel Campo for the great job they did for us!  Sydney loved the towel animals!!The Crew:  As usual, the crew was spectacular.  We always wonder if each cruise will live up to the others, but we always seem to have great results.  I like to pay tribute to the best, but have to draw the line and do skip some deserving ones.  We often took the time to complete one of the two methods to acknowledge outstanding performance.  One was the form at most of the restaurant tables that you deposit at the main Information Desk on Deck 7, and the other was an "Over and Above" performance card that was left one night in our cabin, but also available at the main desk.  Sometimes finding their names is difficult because their name tags are difficult to read, their names hard to understand, or their names are not written on the table cards.Following are some of our favorites:  LaTrattoria - Maitre D's Harry and Marry.  Harry is actually Suharyanto from Indonesia, and was incredibly helpful and entertaining to our Sydney.  If you've got kids, I trust he will find you.  They also saved us that night when we could not locate chocolate milk on our first night, so went back to them when everything was closed, and Blue Lagoon had none.  We would have called room service, but the book in our room indicated it was not offered on Day 1, but we found it was available.  We came across Harry throughout the week, and we always enjoyed his kind words and warm personality.  Inegah Sayohey was great to us as well in Windows, as our Sydney reminded him of his two year old at home in Indonesia.  A duo we liked in Windows were Kelton Fox and Aldo Ray, who were especially accommodating to our needs for quick service one night as we were rushing to see a 7:30 pm show.  In Cagney's we enjoyed the service and smiles from Hostess Rashada Faustino, and Waitress Rogelizo Nanad from the Philippines .  Call her J. Lo if you see her!!  She actually remembered us from our Jewel cruise in 2005, when she worked in LaTrattoria.  Others that I will mention later on include the Hotel Director Frank Hasenwinkel, Champagne Charlies Bartender Gede, Concierge Erika Heim, Front Offce Manager "Bon" Villaluz, and Group Event Coordinator Bruce Van Der Boon.  Bruce will soon be filling in for Erika as Concierge.  Executive Housekeeper Ralph Lawson oversees the cabin stewards, and we have become recognizable to him, having been with him on maybe 5 of our cruises.  Thank him for having such clean rooms and accommodating stewards!!  Sydney's Kids's Crew councelor, "Sharky" was also a lifesaver for us, making her and us  feel comfortable in her presence.  Lastly is our great Captain Kenneth Harstrom, who we were fortunate to meet and speak with on several occasions.  It's incredible how outgoing and pleasant these people are, even knowing it is part of their job to make your experience the best it could be.  They always seem to out perform our expectations, even though we keep raising the bar.  On this cruise everyone was so nice to Sydney, that she became overwhelmed by it all.  She got very shy, but when she opened up to some of them, we know she made their day!!Kid's Crew:  This was our 3rd cruise with grandkids on board, but the first we had responsibility and a first hand relationship with the staff.  Our granddaughter was shy with most strangers the entire cruise, and reluctant to go off on her own to Kid's Crew.  But one night she decided she wanted to go, and for the next three days spent some time there each day.  We could not have been more pleased with the way the staff handled her, as we went back twice to check on her (discreetly) and she was having a good time.  Once she even wanted to stay a little longer.  Her prime counselor was "Sparky", and she took Sydney under her wing and was terrific.  They played games, watched movies, went to the theater as a group and many more activities.  They even had dinner together one evening.Dining:Cagney's - We had two great dinners, one lunch, and several breakfasts.  Service on each occasion was outstanding, while the staff proved to be as personable as they were efficient, and so kind and loving to our granddaughter.Windows - One lunch and two breakfasts, and one dinner, and again the service was terrific.  We tend to prefer the specialties because we are familiar with the menus prior to going, and the service is always outstanding.  We were not disappointed in any way on these meals or the service.  We had a tight schedule one night, and our waiters were great in getting us to the show with time to spare.  The sliced beef loin with Yorkshire Pudding and gravy brought me back to my youth, where it was a frequent Sunday dinner with my family.Raffles - One breakfast and two dinners, as I'm not a big buffet fan, but overall was quite satisfied with the food's quality and variety.  My service was not so good, kidding of course, because I wasn't too good at making my selections and delivering it to our table in a timely manner.  That's my biggest drawback for buffets, as some of it's cold, especially noticeable at breakfast, as toast. Is always a problem.LaTrattoria - One great dinner where food and service were outstanding as expected.  I've never ordered Tilapia, so this was a great opportunity to do so as plenty of backup was available.  It was quite good, but I still prefer to see Cod, Scrod, Haddock and Flounder on the menus.  My wife loves the many options available for your made to order pasta bar.  A special repeat mention for the Maitre' D and her assistant, Marry and Harry, helping get our first night off to a great start.  We had planned to return, but couldn't fit it in. Beir Garten - Disappointed I only worked in one lunch, as it was the only day we spent the day pool side on this cruise.  Love the speed and convenience along with the hot dogs, brats, fries, etc.Blue Lagoon -  Had one rushed dinner there due to running late on our evening plans, and made a couple of take out stops for quick bites.  Hot dog, chili, chili dog, chicken fingers etc. were very good, though was a little disappointed in the fish and chips this trip.  Too much breading for me.Room Service - Rarely comes into play for us, but with our little one down during the few hours of rough seas, the chicken soup and ginger ale came in handy, as well as a couple of other occasions for her chocolate milk, and a popular grilled cheese.  She surprisingly would not eat the mac and cheese, so I tasted it and found it had some spice in it I could not detect, as it may have been some pepper or something with a similar kick.Meet and Greet: We had an enjoyable informal meeting with our Roll Call friends and NCL attendees at Henry's Pub, giving everyone the opportunity to mingle with each other and staffers like the very important Hotel Director, F & B Manager, Bar Manager, Cruise Director Paul Scally, and our Group Service Coordinator.  Of the 15 parties represented on our roll call, at least 11 were represented by the 25 or so attendees.  Special note on our CC'er "danimal", as I happened to witness him reaching out to an elderly passenger who fell one night in the Maharini's Casino Lounge.  Dan, an EMT, and his wife Jodi, a physical therapist, rushed to his aid prior to the arrival of ship medical personnel.  My understanding is he broke his hip, and was flown home from Bermuda. Entertainment:We attended each evening performance in the theater, and in general they lived up to our expectations.  I don't think the current productions reach the heights once experienced with the Jean Ann Ryan Productions, but they certainly provided us with an hour of high quality entertainment each night.  The Welcome Aboard Show previewed the upcoming shows on Saturday with 7:30 and 9:30 shows of "Showtime Tonight:  On Broadway" with the production company, leading to evening performance of the Comedy Showtime with Second City, Magician Richard Burr, The Cat's Pajama's, a one week gig by a unique vocal band headed off to make a DVD, the very popular "On the Radio" musical production, and closing out with two shows on Thursday, beginning with the Farewell Variety Show not unlike the opening night show at 7:30, and the International Crew Show at 9:30 highlighted by the appearance and special words from the Captain, accompanied by key staff members, and representative staff from all over the ship, led on stage by a parade of flags and inspirational music.  Our favorites were the Production Cast shows, and the vocalists who created background music through their vocals.  We do not go out of our way to watch magicians, but really enjoyed Mr. Burr and his wife.  Most of these performers can be seen in a variety of related performances and clinic throughout the week.  Just pay attention to the FreeStyle Daily, and announcements made at the theater.Our granddaughter's presence influenced our normal itinerary, but we did manage to enjoy some quality time at karaoke, the piano "martini" bar, Galaxy of the Stars, and the casino.  "Galaxy" does not provide the venue afforded the larger ships in Spinnakers, as it appears to mandate that you give up some of your time and other options to reserve yourself some of the scarce prime seating.  We did not do that, but I was able to catch some of a great "adult only" Cabaret Show there on Wednesday nightPort Activities:Our activities for the most part were structured around our granddaughter, Sydney.  Upon arrival at King's Wharf.  We decided to spend the day near the pier, and started out by heading to Snorkel Park.  We checked out a few shops along the way, mainly looking for a couple of beach toys.  She was happy we found a pail and shovel with accessories, and we found prices in general seemed very reasonable given our expectations for high prices.  Entry to the beach was free, though 2 chairs and an umbrella set us back $25.  They had other rentals available, though not everything was out.Partly cloud skies were a good start as far as sun exposure goes!  Temps were low 70's, and the water was said to be about 68.  After some quality beach time, we visited the little playground we had passed, and Sydney also spent a few minutes playing in the sprinkler.  We strolled around a bit more, and got some information on Dolphin Quest and the Maritime Museum.  Because it would only cost us a total of $16 to enter the grounds and walk around, we put it on our agenda for another day.On Monday we bought our two day bus and ferry pass, and headed for Hamilton.  We planned to take the bus from there to Horseshoe Bay, but we had a "snafu".  The first bus available was crowded and though it had a few seats left, there was no room for our stroller.  There was a slot for large items, but there was a stroller there already, and it was quite small.  The stroller would not fit on the next bus either, and the driver  would not allow the stroller to take a seat even though there was plenty of room.  It's a long story that finally worked out and we enjoyed a nice afternoon at beautiful Horseshoe Bay.  We were surprised at the poor attitude shown by both bus drivers, as were the locals we met and discussed it with.  We just had bad luck on that matter!!  Horseshoe Bay was terrific, water had some surf but with comfortable temperature.  A small cove sheltered by some large rocks is a great place for young kids.  There were a few Portuguese Man o' War washed up on the beach, but did not notice any in the water.  Back at the pier, we had been told there would be some activity on the streets of the Dockyard that night, but found the area locked up pretty tight.  It was a nice evening to walk around, but the time could have been better spent on board.  We took a ride on a horse drawn wagon, $50 for 45 min.  It could have been less if we waited for more people.  The driver, Sue, was a very pleasant young lady who gave us a nice tour, which included some facts and history of the area, and an interactive Q & A session throughout.On Tuesday we went to Dolphin Quest, where Sydney had a great time watching the Dolphins.  Though there was not formal show, we did watch them play for awhile, and then watched one woman take the Dolphin Swim which lasted over an hour, and she had the place to herself.  I think she paid $255, but got more than she expected.  They also had an option a family of three kids took, where they paid $60 for the first person, and $30 for each of the next two.  The "deal" was for a 5 minute greeting with the dolphins, but again they got more.  It was a brief interaction from the dock, but the pricing made it affordable for such a family.  We didn't have time to see much of the museum, but did walk the grounds, and took some pictures from there across the waterway to our ship, with old cannons aimed directly at the Spirit.  From there we did a little shopping at the Clock Tower Mall, and was impressed at the shops available and the modest pricing for souvenirs.  Time was short, but we found what we needed and headed back toward the ship to drop off the stroller before boarding the bus to the Swizzle Inn for a late lunch.Overall we really enjoyed our time on land, and accomplished our goals and then some.  Quality beach time, nice weather, a few drinks while enjoying the sun and warm climate, and Sydney had a great time and loved the pink beach!!Disembarkation: It started a little late, but went smoothly once we got the OK to walk off.  We were off the ship around 9:30, but traffic in the parking garage was a mess due to a broken payment machine at one gate.  It took me more than 30 minutes to return to the terminal to pick up passengers and luggage.  Signage in the garage is poor, as even with the exit problem they could have avoided the mess if there were signs or if attendants notified drivers of the problem.Other information:The local people we met in Bermuda were very friendly and helpful.Parking at Black Falcon was $105.Pepsi fans should note the Coke is gone!!Photo Frenzy was $119.  They later offered a $50 upgrade.The hot tubs on Deck 12 were utilized regularly.There was a free shuttle train/trolley that made a stop on the pier, convenient to the ship, but we never used it.NCL has excursions on a similar vehicle.I really have to stretch to find something to criticize, but if I did it would be the quality of the TV programming, especially since we had a youngster with us.  I'd think they could find something better than the Cartoon Network.  Also, following sports onboard is quite difficult, as ESPN is the sole option.  I wonder what it would take to have some basic network options available, even if there was a nominal charge.  We don't spend much time in our cabin, but we did spend more than usual this time.Closing Comments:Special thanks goes out to the Captain Kenneth Harstrom and the Hotel Director Frank Hasenwinkel for making this such a memorable cruise.  We also thank so many of the crew members who provided us with TLC, especially the tender loving care they provided from their hearts in making our granddaughter feel so special.  I highly recommend the Spirit, and enjoyed our stay at the Dockyard.  Though it did not have the quaint feel of St. George, it allowed for more convenient access to Hamilton and the South Shore area, and now that we've done it, I think we might prefer this cruise over the Majesty, the deciding factor being the size and amenities offered by the larger ship. 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Sail Date: May 2009
My Fiancee and I booked this cruise back in December when an online travel agency was offering a special of $150 on board credit (not to mention very low prices).  I began reading reviews here, and was a little put off by what some people ... Read More
My Fiancee and I booked this cruise back in December when an online travel agency was offering a special of $150 on board credit (not to mention very low prices).  I began reading reviews here, and was a little put off by what some people had to say, but I went into the cruise with a completely open mind.This was our first cruise.  Getting on the ship in Boston was pretty simple.  We did get to the terminal early, so we had to wait in line for a little while, but that was only because we arrived so early (around 11am).  When the line started to move we were on the ship within 20 minutes.  We made our way up to the Bier Garten (13th deck), and enjoyed a drink and the live music.  What a great spot that is!  Say hi to Jocelyn up there she is such a sweetheart!  The sea days were fun, we spent a lot of time exploring the ship.  The ship is beautiful, and there is so much to do.  It is what you make of it! We really enjoyed every minute, and thought service was awesome.  Everyone on that ship was aiming to make your time unforgetable.   We ate most nights in the Garden Room or Windows.  I thought the food was great.  We did eat at Cagney's one night, and it was delicious (BUT do not get the prime rib, it is very thin and not like what you get around here....their filet is AWESOME though).  We weren't a big fan of the buffet, but just because it was a little chaotic.  For breakfast definatly go to Windows, the eggs benedict is very good!  If you get hungry late at night hit up the blue lagoon their wings are awesome!!! Fish and chips in Henry's Pub are also very very good but they only let you order them if you are drinking (strange), if not they send you over to the blue lagoon. Champagne charlies is a great spot to enjoy a drink and some live music later on in the evening.  The shows were OKay.  Definatly something to do and enjoy.  We went to the comedy show, and since we are both younger (23 and 25), we found it a little too "clean" for us.  People did seem to enjoy it though.  The magic show was good.  We played bingo on the last sea day, it was pretty expensive, and although people did win the payout was only around $450 -when split 5 ways sometimes its still less than what you paid to play.  But it was entertaining none the less and we had a great time!  Bermuda was gorgeous what can I say!  The wharf is very nice.   Best bet is to get the 3 day bus/ferry pass (I think it was $26 each).  We took the ferry and bus everywhere, and it is so convenient.  Another tip while in bermuda, in the dockyard there is a park called - "Snorkel Park"  go snorkeling here.  It was fun and only $20 each for a full set of snorkel gear ALL DAY.  We saw lots of fish and had a great time exploring the reef.  They also have a bar and snack stand at this beach area.  When in Hamilton eat at the Hog Penny (get the bermuda fish chowder, they pour rum in it right at your table its sooo yummy)....we went to the Frog and Onion Pub in the dockyard, and although they have good drinksthe food was not that great...Trip home was smooth sailing.  For the price of this cruise you cannot beat it.  The ship is great, and the food was great.  We decided we wouldnt want to cruise any other way but freestyle.  We like being able to do what we want when we want, especially on vacation.  Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
We sailed on the Dawn from June 17-24 out of New York down to Bermuda and the Bahamas. We actually won this cruise for two people, but decided to bring our 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter to make it a family trip because we watched ... Read More
We sailed on the Dawn from June 17-24 out of New York down to Bermuda and the Bahamas. We actually won this cruise for two people, but decided to bring our 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter to make it a family trip because we watched the Regis & Kelly show last year and they had so many family activities, we thought it would be great fun for all of us. We upgraded the "free" cabin to a mini-suite. It accommodated the four of us reasonably comfortably, and the balcony was a big plus. PORTS/ITINERARY: I was quite disappointed with the amount of time we spent in ports. We arrived in Bermuda late and still were required to be back on board the ship by 3:00. None of the pre-arranged tours appealed to us, so we decided to do some exploring on our own. We got off the ship and headed to the tourist/transit information building just off the ship. There we bought tokens for the bus that brought us to Horseshoe Beach. That was one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, however, a word to the wise and adventurous: skip that main beach where it dumps you off and climb over a couple rocks and tidepools to get to your own, almost secluded beach. From there we took a private taxi ($12) to Hamilton and did some shopping. We bought liquor at a store that didn't even make us carry it back on board the ship - they delivered it to the ship for us so we weren't stuck lugging it around. We were at sea another full day and a half after Bermuda. We arrived at their private island - Great Stirrup Cay - after 11:00 a.m. (two or three hours late). Disembarking was a nightmare since the 'tenders' could only carry 300 passengers at a time and all 2,400 people wanted to get off the ship. It's a MUST to get disembarkation cards the evening before (and that line was an hour long, also), in order to get your place in the cattle call. It took us about an hour and a half between the time our number was called to step foot on land. The beach was SO crowded and the weather was unbearably hot. Beach rentals such as umbrellas and rafts are just one more way they attempted to nickle and dime us to death, so we passed. The beach is on the leeward side of the island, meaning no waves, no breeze. 2,400 people crammed onto a very small beach is no fun, so we left after an hour. The upside: the ship was practically empty, so we got a lounge chair at the pool area easily, which is next to impossible on sea days unless you go up at 7:00 a.m. to reserve your chair, which is against the rules, but nobody pays attention. Our next stop: Nassau, Bahamas. We arrived late into Nassau - around 9:00 p.m., but the generous merchants (who are in cahoots with the cruise line) stayed open until 11:00 p.m. so people could shop at their ridiculously priced stores. The ship was departing Nassau the next day at noon, so we had to get the kids out of bed EARLY so we could get out to enjoy the very small amount of time to explore the island. Again, we opted against the cruise-sponsored tours, and took a taxi to Paradise Beach to rent wave-runners (jetskis). Paradise Beach is the public beach right next to the hotel Atlantis. A word to the wise: bring cash if you want to rent jetskis, because the beach vendors don't accept credit cards. We had to go into the Atlantis hotel to get cash from their casino and getting back onto the public beach from their private beach isn't allowed. If you do want to rent jetskis, they ask for $120 for an hour, but that price is negotiable. We were in a hurry, so we rented them for a half hour for $40. THE FOOD: The ship is fabulous! The restaurants that charge a premium are well worth the extra money. I wasn't inclined to spend it at first, but after eating in the Garde Cafe (cafeteria style) for just one meal, we decided we wanted to splurge and eat well on our cruise. Another hint: make your reservations for ALL your restaurants right when you get on board. That way you can choose the days and times you want to eat. However, if you choose not to keep your reservations, they will charge you $5 per person cancelation fee if not canceled within 24 hours. Le Bistro was an amazing French restaurant. The food was scrumptious and the service was impeccable. Well worth the $12.50 cover. We ordered as much food as we wanted, which included two desserts each for the kids and appetizers, salads, filet mignon, etc. Simply amazing! Cagney's Steakhouse was also fabulous. The service was great and the food was as good, if not better, than Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We ordered a bottle of Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner for $85 a bottle, which is only $20 more than the winery charges. If you're a wine connoisseur, you'll understand that this was a worthy purchase. La Trattoria does not have a cover charge, but you do need to make reservations. The food here was also wonderful! Teppanyaki/Sushi was comparable to Benihana and the food was very good. Overall, the drinks were overpriced and not worth the $7-$10 they charge for them. We purchased a soda wrist band for our son for about $16 for the week and he was able to have free Coke or Sprite whenever he wanted it. We also purchased the coupon book of 20 "smoothies" for our daughter and it worked out to about $2 per smoothie. We all shared those because they were very sweet drinks. KID'S ACTIVITIES: My 9 year old son would have been placed in a group of 6-9 year old children had we opted for him to attend kids' club. Our 13 year old daughter would have been in a group with 13-17 year olds, so she decided to stick with us the whole time. Our 13 year old is on the young side of 13, so she wasn't interested in hanging out with 17 year olds. Toward the end of the cruise, all the teens were hanging out in the stairwells, which was beginning to get annoying. I was sadly disappointed that the only reason this ship gets good reviews for "families" is that parents can ditch their kids by putting them into these clubs (i.e., day care) and have time on their own. To me, "family vacation" means you spend time WITH your children. Quite frankly, there were absolutely no "family" activities. When we wanted to swim during the day on sea days, the activities around the pool were raunchy and completely inappropriate for children of any age. "Miss Norwegian Dawn" was a competition amongst men, who thought it was funny to gyrate their bodies and stick their swimsuit area in women's faces. Sorry - completely inappropriate. I'm not a prude and can laugh with the rest of them, but when my 13 year old daughter is trying to enjoy the one public pool that's appropriate for her age (and without a cover charge like the one in the spa), I am offended. The video arcade was a decent distraction, but if the machines "eat" your quarters (most of them required several quarters for play), it took an act of the sea gods to get someone up there to refund the lost money. ENTERTAINMENT: We found the evening entertainment on board to be pleasant. There was time for families to attend shows and then later, usually around 10:45 p.m., the entertainment was geared strictly toward adults - exactly as it should be. We were able to enjoy both family and adult entertainment and this was a big plus. The kids were safe in the cabin ordering room service at 11:00 p.m. Heck, they were on vacation too and don't get the opportunity to order room service twice a day normally! TIPPING: We were charged $10 per day per person over 12, and $5 per day for our 9 year old as gratuities. This was in ADDITION to the 15% tipping that is AUTOMATICALLY charged for any beverages. My husband didn't realize they were charging 15% on drinks and would add a buck every time he signed a receipt. We also tipped extra on premium dinners as the service was outstanding. LAUNDRY? Shockingly enough, there was a mini laundromat on our floor (11th). That was a mixed blessing because it meant I could do laundry if need be. All of the sudden, clothing rationing went out the window and I found myself doing laundry on my vacation. That's the life of a mom. OVERALL: The ship is huge, lovely, mostly clean (our stateroom's mirrors and windows were smudged, and we actually found a half eaten slice of pizza under our bed), but VERY crowded. I don't recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to get away from people. Take a Windjammer cruise if you want solitude. The cafeteria food is just okay, but you can get burgers, fries, fried foods, salads and the like cooked to order at the Blue Lagoon restaurant 24/7. Then there's room service, but the menu is quite limited and they're not willing to make any exceptions. We would get food at Blue Lagoon and take it back to our room if we wanted to sit because that restaurant was always packed. Would I take an NCL cruise again? Probably not. The one big benefit is the freestyle dining, but you do need to pay the extra cover charges if you want to eat GREAT food. I wouldn't recommend this ship to families who want to spend family time together, but if you are okay putting your children in day care, you can have adult time. The port visits were entirely too short and their private island was pathetic. And, although the two adults cruised for "free," all the upgrades and bringing the children cost over $3,600, so it wasn't necessarily "free." Read Less
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