We're 40- something couple, have enjoyed NCL freestyle and decided to try an aft penthouse suite to maximize our relaxation on our first visit to Bermuda. After reading alot on CC about the NCL suite experience, my DH and I felt ... Read More
We're 40- something couple, have enjoyed NCL freestyle and decided to try an aft penthouse suite to maximize our relaxation on our first visit to Bermuda. After reading alot on CC about the NCL suite experience, my DH and I felt well equipped to anticipate what it would be like. I guess that even with all that we read, there's still a "learning curve" to adjusting to the suite perks, but admittedly it's an easy adjustment! We were on a much needed vacation...
Before mentioning anything else, I want to say that we were on the cruise where the distressed sailing ship rescue of 5 people occurred on 10/29 in the middle of the sea. What a dramatic event that was to experience (and we were just watching!), and NCL should be extremely proud of the captain and fantastic crew and their efforts!!! Way to go! OK, here's our review...
NYC: we arrived 2 days early and enjoyed NYC, went to a broadway show, saw Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, the Occupy folks (quite interesting, lots of police presence), and were able to go into the 911 Memorial, which was of course very moving. Great food, both fine dining and street food.
Embarkation in NYC: We purposely stayed in a hotel that was walking distance to the port, and walked there to arrive around 11 am. I knew that we'd get checked-in at the VIP lounge, so specifically mentioned to the NCL check-in attendant that we were in a suite... unfortunately, for whatever reason she
directed us to the Latitudes line, where the check-in lady eventually then escorted us to the VIP lounge where we got our keys and waited to be escorted on board. While we were there, we could hear that our original group number to board had been called, so we could have boarded earlier if we just kept on going ourselves in the Latitudes line... a small thing, but then it was compounded by the fact that I needed to help show the escort to where our cabin was located (aft.... penthouse, no, that way...), so not the best embarkation experience by comparison to what we were expecting. However, we made our way to Cagneys and that's where the magic began...breakfast and lunch there every day was fantastic.
Suite experience: We met Gaurav, our butler, and he answered all our questions and was great to meet, however he clearly had just come down with a cold and sounded and seemed to feel miserable, so that made us feel so sorry for him - - and I think that impacted what we asked him to do for the rest of the cruise (NCL, maybe allow for a substitute if a butler is ill??). Through the cruise he responded to our very few requests, however there were days that went by when we never saw him, so we were surprised by that (and concerned that he was feeling more ill, didn't want to bother him, etc.). The concierge David was excellent in the few times we asked him to do anything - - remarkably, early on in the cruise he recognized us in the atrium as we were killing time with our pager, waiting to get into the MDR; and he said "follow me" back to the MDR and got us seated immediately - - that felt VIP indeed! Our steward Eduardo was the highlight for us, extremely attentive, always around, and commented to us that we were so EASY - what else could he do for us?? He really went out of his way for us, and he's a Gem (no pun intended!)!
Food: Cagneys for breakfast and lunch is by far the best part of suites from our perspective - we never set foot in the buffet on this cruise (this is a good thing from our perspective), and we SO enjoyed the incredible food and service, and the solitude of that space. It made us both get up earlier than usual on vacation, which is saying alot! The Cagneys team is fantastic.
In MDR, it seems that NCL has definitely scaled back in food quality from our previous NCL cruises (e.g., don't offer a steak if the one you'll present is thin and disappointing); but service was always great! We scaled back our food expectations, but sadly. For room service, we ordered the $5 pizza one night and were disappointed - sure it's big (too big), but so few choices and so uninspired! NCL, please improve/expand the 'zza menu, and it will be so much better. Late night grilled cheese from the kids menu was fantastic - - definitely recommended! Blue Lagoon was great for catch-meals, and our Anniversary dinner in Teppanyaki was "the bomb". Too bad that MDR doesn't come close.
Other onboard thoughts and suggestions:
- fitness area was great! Well equipped, and we could always could find an available treadmill.
- seas were rougher than we anticipated, be sure to bring bonine or other meds to ward off any missed fun on the ship!
- on sea days, the Atrium becomes a tacky marketplace with gold-by-the-inch and watches. Please discontinue this, NCL.
- we always enjoyed the captain's announcements, but oftentimes he would end with an 'advertisement' for some onboard thing like a special lunch or bingo event - - NCL, please let him focus on communicating about navigation and weather, only! We felt bad for him, and it reflects poorly on the cruiseline to have him do it.
- entertainment: we went to a few shows, liked Brenda Kaye the hypnotist and Justino/magician and wife acrobat very much! Second City was good, I think improv can vary and have good days/bad days so we'll cut them some slack. Music we heard around the ship was always very good. Pub Crawl counts as entertainment, great fun as always!
Beautiful Bermuda: it really is. Weather was great, snorkeling at Tobacco Bay was our highlight, and the sea-glass beach by dockyard was an unexpected cool experience, too. Ferries seemed much better than the buses, and we might take a taxi tour next time to manage our time even better. Bermudians are so friendly, and as the ship was leaving Bermuda, people were standing at the dock waving and saying "come back to see us again!" We'll be back.
Disembark: due to the exciting and dramatic rescue of the day before, and the rough seas and storm, we got into NYC later on Sunday morning than expected - - the suite perk of priority disembark came in handy and allowed us to get off the crowded ship much sooner...a real blessing.
All in all it was a great cruise with some unexpected ups and downs, all relative when you factor in the perspective from having been in a suite and the expectations that come along with that level of stateroom... thank you for reading my review, we highly recommend Bermuda as a cruise destination! Read Less