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99 Norwegian (NCL) Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

This was our first time on NCL. Positives: The ship is well cared for, beautiful, and clean. Our stateroom was midship interior, our room steward was very attentive, helpful and courteous. The ship never felt to crowed other than ... Read More
This was our first time on NCL. Positives: The ship is well cared for, beautiful, and clean. Our stateroom was midship interior, our room steward was very attentive, helpful and courteous. The ship never felt to crowed other than disembarking at ports. The food was not terrific, but far from poor. The specialty places were fantastic as well as the service in those spots. The ports were each interesting, each different and each had plenty to offer. The excursions were averaged priced, and we had a nice variety to choose from. The shows were fair, a lot of the same old thing. Negatives: Prior to the trip, I had several issues with buying onboard credit on their website, resulted in constant calls to the company. The internet is $209 for 1 week! Every other ship we’ve been on has been under $50 for a week. They even charged me $.50 to print my boarding pass. We felt we were nickel and dimed to death! We've cruised before on other cruise lines, and never had such issues with constant charges. We prepaid gratuities, bought a specialty dinning package, and photo package months prior to this cruise. We’ve kept receipts, as well as emails with all of our on board credit, etc for proof. We bought a wine package called Viva Vino (4 bottles of wine no corkage fee $119.00) we purchased this within an hour of getting on the ship. My husband bought me a rose later that same afternoon. This was the start of our charge issues. The wine package was charged under the complimentary dining room and it was priced $129, not $119 as advertised. The rose was $6.00 and not charged until 2am on the last night, not the 1st night as bought. They will charge you a convenience fee every time you use the casino. They range from .04-.50 each time! They tried to charge us for each photo, until I requested a refund, providing them proof of the prepaid photo package. Excursions: We bought a Whale watching tour, at $178 per couple, the owner issued refunds or future tickets to everyone on that ship EXECPT NCL since we paid NCL, we were told NCL would compensate us the same. It wasn’t easy! I tried to be reasonable with the excursion desk, and was blown off, even laughed at. It wasn’t until I started to cause a small scene that they took me serious, which resulted in a letter to all on the excursion, offering future tickets. If you want to partake in 50% of the ships daily activates, other than the pools, or outdoor activities. it will cost you something. Bingo, deal or no deal, murder mystery, onboard games will cost. When we left the ship we were given a total bill. Then 2 days later my credit card was charged 2 times, with 2 different amounts, both different from what I was given. I’m currently disputing both charges. Bottom line is we won’t be cruising with this company. We felt like it was more of a hassle and constant double checking, when it should have been relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose Norwegian again because of recent good experiences and this particular itinerary. From the first day, we were burdened with a room directly under the Garden Buffet, where they apparently spend all night moving food, washing ... Read More
We chose Norwegian again because of recent good experiences and this particular itinerary. From the first day, we were burdened with a room directly under the Garden Buffet, where they apparently spend all night moving food, washing dishes, etc. It was unbelievably noisy and right over our cabin. All night long. Coupled with very mediocre food, particularly tasteless desserts, problems with getting credit for our prepaid items, spending way too much time with Guest Services....they just don't have their act together on the Dawn. Worst experience in our 19 cruises. Entertainment (other than Second City) was sub-par, worst comedian we ever saw. Very very limited activities on the Canada portion of the trip, like they knew the older crowd weren't sophisticated about being entertained. Absolute minimal communication from the captain on weather or sea conditions. We were sad and frustrated, having had other good cruises with Norwegian. This experience will absolutely turn us back toward the other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Wanted to cruise to Quebec.It almost turned into the cruise from hell.For a ship that had been refurbished a year ago it looked like what they did was just add more extra cost restraunts. Then on the first day when flushing the toilet. It ... Read More
Wanted to cruise to Quebec.It almost turned into the cruise from hell.For a ship that had been refurbished a year ago it looked like what they did was just add more extra cost restraunts. Then on the first day when flushing the toilet. It flushed but the incomeing water didn't stop stop running. Causing the toilet to over flow and flood the bathroom, hall of cabin,and under the door into that hall. We then had to deal with a wet floor for a couple of days. In addition to that while working on the toilet they somehow turned the water pressure up and every time it was flushed it sprayed up allover the seat and seat cover. Took another half day to get that fixed. If that wasn't bad enough every night at about 10:30 when the restruant above our cabin closed it sounded like they were renovating it until nearly midnight. dragging furniture across the floor and banging on on it.It took a week of complaining before I was finally able to talk to someone who promised to look into it. It didn't stop but was a little bit less noisy. NCL is out to squeeze every dime out of their cruisers as they can.An example is charging $3.49 for a single 12 oz.can of pop. Unless you are young or enjoy getting your eardrums damaged don't go to most of the entertainment in the showrooms. I guess they think the majority of the people on board are teenagers. It wasn't that good anyway. I certainly wouldn't have paid to see most of the shows. Having been on 11 cruises before this one I was extremely disapointed in the food in both the main dining room and even less in the buffet . They even asked you to pay extra for the more premium dinners. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our first cruise with NCL, and it will definitely be our last.We chose this cruise based on itinerary and dates. On paper the price for a balcony cabin looked very good. On arrival the cabin bed was a double although I had ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, and it will definitely be our last.We chose this cruise based on itinerary and dates. On paper the price for a balcony cabin looked very good. On arrival the cabin bed was a double although I had specified 2 singles on booking. It took over 3 requests to reception and the cabin steward to get them split which was finally done very late at night. The cabin itself was smaller than we are used to, but very clean and well appointed. This lack of communication set the pattern for the whole cruise. I am gluten (wheat) intolerant and had advised NCL in advance. In the buffet I had to ask 3 chefs for gluten free bread until I found one who understood. They then sent another member of staff to another part of the ship to find and prepare my bread. It took on average 20-30 minutes to be prepared even though I always asked for it on arrival in the Garden Cafe, and I had usually finished my meal by the time it arrived. I asked the chefs if dishes contained wheat, and 2 of them actually argued over whether it did! On other cruise lines GF bread is supplied quickly without fuss, and dishes are clearly labelled GF. The meats were not just rare, they were raw and dripping in blood. I filled up on salad, fruit, rice, chips and jelly. The food was mostly cold or tepid apart from freshly cooked omelets etc. We ate in Cagneys Steakhouse 3 times as we had the speciality dining package and I less worried about dishes with wheat and I could order my meat medium well done. We did not use the main dining rooms. There was little or no real entertainment during the day, and there was little to do except drink in bars or eat all day, which was difficult as we do not drink. The trivia quizzes were very simple and boring, and we were constantly encouraged to spend money in the spa shops and art auctions. The evening entertainment was slightly better, but most of the shows were jazz and swing influenced and the singers, particularly in the bars and lounges were flat. The comedy juggler and the Comedy Group were decent. We will continue to cruise, but will return to cruise lines which offer a higher level of service, Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
the cabin we were in was not clean, blood stain on sheets, missing drinks in mini bar( if not checked, might have been charged for it, informed customer service, then the steward comes back in to fill the bar but still missing some ... Read More
the cabin we were in was not clean, blood stain on sheets, missing drinks in mini bar( if not checked, might have been charged for it, informed customer service, then the steward comes back in to fill the bar but still missing some drinks... always check before and after... check your sheets before using bed... side note.. do not get your cruise from any representative because they do not give you the full benefits and promotions of the cruise), the stairways are a little too small and steep. The cruise director is not too friendly and not at all entertaining. The food they served was hit or miss depending on what time of the day you are going, The only saving grace are the waitress and waiters who showed a lot of professionalism and great cust. service...( Hazel, Toledo, and Macapagal, tks for the service), the ship itself had a good division of areas which was an attraction..Lattitude membership had no real value.. (.We used epic twice in europe, first time, just me and my wife from civitavechia, and second time with whole family ( 16 people),Epic is definitely better than the gem overall... We would not sail with the gem again even if we found a good deal... Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Starting with dining ... The best meal we had was in Le Bistro on our last night. Food was very good, wait staff was excellent, especially Carl. The Garden Cafe was very well run and the food was usually good. We had breakfast there ... Read More
Starting with dining ... The best meal we had was in Le Bistro on our last night. Food was very good, wait staff was excellent, especially Carl. The Garden Cafe was very well run and the food was usually good. We had breakfast there every day and there were several handicapped reserved areas. Moderno was also good quality food and service. We did not have any good meals at Magenta. The food was adequate at best and several meals were sent back each night due to temperature or quality. Cagney's was abysmal, especially as one has to pay extra to eat there. O'Sheeans food was average, however the wait staff was not at all pleasant! We were unable to go to Grand Pacific as there was no obvious wheel chair access. Free Style seems to mean that one has to make a reservation at 'any' eatery even if not specialty dining. We were unable to make reservations at Orchid as all were full every day. In general, the bar staffs were friendly and helpful at all the areas though it was difficult to determine individual bar hours. We booked one shore excursion, and did not get to go on it as it was 'over-booked' and only 3 of our 7 could have gone. The choice then was do not go on an excursion or go on the last one available. We went on the second excursion, however my father, who travels in a wheelchair, could not get off the bus as the tours were not wheel chair accessible. We were not told that at the beginning. Our cabins were clean and neat. Our cabin staff, especially Felix, were most pleasant and accommodating. Most live entertainment was well done, however the 'Veteran's Activity' scheduled for Monday, 6/30, never happened. Over 25 vets and families waited for over 30 minutes and no program. We did our own. There were many issues getting on and off the ship, with long waits and no staff to assist with the wheel chair. The passport check prior to leaving the ship in Portland Maine was a farce. We were in line for almost an hour for a 30 second passport check. In general, this cruise line did not meet our expectations based on advertising. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Going to Canada and New England we were hoping to eat lots of lobster and seafood only to be disappointed that the president of the company removed all lobster and crab from the menus. Really? The food was mediocre and not much variety. ... Read More
Going to Canada and New England we were hoping to eat lots of lobster and seafood only to be disappointed that the president of the company removed all lobster and crab from the menus. Really? The food was mediocre and not much variety. The shower door in our cabin rattled. The TV went out daily. The lounge at the top of the ship with all the glass, the main lounge was constantly closed for private functions. The shore excursion to Halafax dropped us off and told us to find our own way back to ship. The personnel on the ship were great it just seems that poor decisions are being made by management. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We chose NCL because we were very happy with our previous experiences, on the Jewel to Alaska and the Epic in the Mediterranean. However the Dawn is a major disappointment. The embarkation process took almost 2 hours and we were ... Read More
We chose NCL because we were very happy with our previous experiences, on the Jewel to Alaska and the Epic in the Mediterranean. However the Dawn is a major disappointment. The embarkation process took almost 2 hours and we were allowed to jump ahead because we are latitude members. Because of my knee replacement I was patted down by a man, I have always had a women, this made me very uncomfortable and I was not asked if I preferred a woman. (This may have been a port security problem, so NCL may not be able to change this). However, they could have made the lines run smoother it was just mass chaos getting on this ship. The food was horrible, cold, and at times raw. Not sure how you can turn out raw french toast but they succeeded at doing so. Often times the wait staff in the Venetian Room did not have a clue what table they were waiting on or where the food was to be delivered. We were not sure if the staff was new or just didn't care anymore since they were short timers. Room service did arrive when requested but the coffee was cold. They also have started to charge a service fee for ordering room service if it is more than pastries. The entertainment was the same duo and single singer every night. Jose and Patti would be okay a couple of times but when they are also the main event for one night it was just too much of them. Allen was good but at several shows every night and it gets to be overkill, NCL needs to spring for more entertainment. Quit counting the number of broken toilets after I reached six for the women. Would have liked to think that they would have attempted to fix them while we were in port but that did not happen. The ceiling by the Star Bar leaked and it wasn't even rainy. My husband did not see the bucket in the middle of the floor and kicked it over as there was no warning sign. Sorry NCL the bucket was almost full anyways, so he emptied it for you. Disembarkation was ridiculous at best as they made us walk outside and around almost the entire ship. The lines were not even moving and they were calling the next group to line up. The Jewel and the Epic need to teach the Dawn how to do things better. If you are thinking about cruising NCL I suggest you wait for one of their fire sales as they practically will give the cruise away and include the ultimate drink package or other perks of you choice. Because we bought well in advance we were rewarded with being told that they could not compensated us for our advance planning and if we wanted the drink package we would need to pay full price. The service charges per day have also increased, but NCL was nice enough to let us prepay the older rate since we booked early. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Just got back from a cruise from Boston to Quebec City. Not impressed at all with NCL and will not cruise with them again. This cruise was my 7th cruise, I am 54 year old. We have cruised this line before, aprox. 5 years ago and ONLY ... Read More
Just got back from a cruise from Boston to Quebec City. Not impressed at all with NCL and will not cruise with them again. This cruise was my 7th cruise, I am 54 year old. We have cruised this line before, aprox. 5 years ago and ONLY chose this line because it had Prince Edward Island, as one of our friends we were traveling with, wanted to see this port. Getting on the ship was pretty good. We had a embarkation time of 11-11:30 am. checked in but weren't allowed to board for another hour. We had the drink package and ordered cocktails. Beware that if you order drinks while in port or in U.S. waters, you will pay an additional port charges on each drink. (not in the fine print). I noticed that the bar waiters were few and far between compared to previous cruises I have been on. We had to go to the bar most of time and order our drinks there. I'm guessing the "Drink Package" may not be profitable for NCL? The cruise staff seemed so busy interacting with each other than with the passengers. This was surprising to me as I had never had this experience before on any cruse line. Have things gotten so laxxed in the last 4 years? NCL now has a service charge for room service, which we didn't know before we cruised. You can order coffee and rolls and not pay the charge. We opted to dine in Cagney's at and additional $34 per person and what a disaster. over 3 hours and food not worth the extra money. Our room steward was the best part of the cruise. He was very attentive! BEWARE: you should make reservations in the dining room for dinner. We did this and boy am I glad we did. The first night the line to get in without reservations was at least 100 people long. If you have reservations you can go to the desk in the actual dining room and not stop at the top podium. Service in the Aqua dining room was much faster than the Venetian dining room. Food not that great. Not horrible, just ok. They don't have the chocoholic buffet anymore? And not once for dinner did they offer lobster. Don't let the benefits or "free" inclusions sway you to this cruise line, although the ultimate beverage package was the best thing this cruise had going for it. Getting off the ship, took over 3 hours. Lots of angry people. It would be nice to take a cruise and not feel like the cruise line is always trying to get in your pocket. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Norwegian has a lot of work to do. Personally I do not like freestyle as it is really just a way to cut regular service and hope you pay more for the specialty dining. The lineups for dinner were horrendous unless you ate at very odd ... Read More
Norwegian has a lot of work to do. Personally I do not like freestyle as it is really just a way to cut regular service and hope you pay more for the specialty dining. The lineups for dinner were horrendous unless you ate at very odd hours. The cafeteria became a zoo as people abandoned the dining rooms. When you did get a meal it was generally pretty good. Some restaurants, like Bamboo, served slop, we were very disappointed. And to be expected to add 18% gratuity to everything was a bit much. NCL is just downloading wages to the customer. Gratuity should bea reward for service not as a compulsory expense. Shore excursions were good but rushed which I know is pretty standard. Our room was well cared for and the ship was clean. So clean that they covered our window for three days while they removed paint outside our room starting at 9am. Since the window view cost extra I expected some compensation, none was offered. The entertainment offerings were on par with previous cruises. Our next cruise will be with another provider. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I will start by saying that I have been on many cruises with many different lines. This cruise was choosen for the port stops with only 2 days at sea. This part of the trip was brillant, with great port stops and lots to see and do once ... Read More
I will start by saying that I have been on many cruises with many different lines. This cruise was choosen for the port stops with only 2 days at sea. This part of the trip was brillant, with great port stops and lots to see and do once off the ship! Now, the experience on the Dawn was much different than I had experienced on other cruise ships in general. For starters, we were never given any emails prior to sailing that 3 of our port stops had major time changes, and/or shorter port stops. Next, we found it very difficult to use the NCL website to reserve for speciality restaurant, shore excursions, etc. Sometimes the website just would not process the on-line orders, and we would have to start all over and try again. When we called NCL with this problem, we were told that they are in the process of upgrading their website (really, for the last 6 months?) Once on board, you must pay $ 15-$20 corkage fee per bottle of wine (depends on size) for ANY wine you bring onboard. Every other cruise line I have been on will let you board with 2 bottles for your stateroom for "free", but NCL doesn't care where your going to drink it, it still equals a fee for them. There is also a $ 7.95 service charge for room service, unless you want a bread/muffin and coffee (no fruit, just juice) then it is free. The bar, speciality restaurants, spa etc. is a automatic 18% service fee, and daily gradtitutes of $ 13.50 pp on top of that. In the staterooms, there is no hair conditioner or body lotion available. There is only 1 bath towel per person, and we were never given turn down service for 14 nights. So much for being pampered on vacation, and having the usual tolietries available in the cabin. The speciality restaurants are only "average" except for Cagney's Steakhouse, which is worth the extra fee. The overall food in the buffet and dining room is nothing special (fair to poor rating) and the same entrees are repeated many times during the cruise. The cookies were like rocks, and tasted like they had been frozen, and then defrosted and were stale. The ship looks sad and worn, and I understand they are going to change some areas next month (mentioned during the Cruise Critic party), but the entire ship really needs a facelift. The entertainment area had a few good shows, but half of the time was nothing special to see or hear. The ship lacked interesting activities, and I was quite happy that we only had 2 sea days! We understand that NCL has its new ship "Escape" coming out in a few months, and were told about this many times during our cruise. That said, after this experience, we will not be boarding anymore NCL cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We chose this cruise for the ports of call & mostly they did not disappoint. Many other things however, did. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but this was our 1st time on NCL - it will probably be our last. The port ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the ports of call & mostly they did not disappoint. Many other things however, did. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but this was our 1st time on NCL - it will probably be our last. The port excursions we booked independently were well organised, unlike the 2 we booked through NCL, which were chaos. Passengers were milling around with little or no information given and delays were the norm. On a trip to Perce from Gaspe, passengers were left standing in pouring rain with no shelter for over 45 minutes and there was total confusion regarding which bus to board as some were told to look for the same number bus, while others were to look for the same on-board guide. The buffet was very lacklustre and food often lukewarm, even when it hadn't been standing long. Salads were boring, with little variation in ingredients. The best salad buffet was in the Brazilian speciality restaurant. We paid for 5 meal speciality dining, but wish we hadn't bothered. Compared with other cruise lines speciality dining on the Dawn is not very special. Cagney's is quite good but our first fillet steak was served cold and had to be sent back. Food in the complimentary Venetian and Bamboo restaurants was good, but our 1st experience of Bamboo was a shambles, as soup arrived before the appetisers, then our entree arrived when we had just started on our appetisers. We got the feeling the staff were looking for an early finish. Luckily our next experience was much better and the food good. This is also the 1st cruise line which has charged us for room-service, apart from a basic coffee & muffin, which was free. However, our order arrived promptly, whenever we did order. NCL's website needs a lot of work, it is not user friendly and lacks information especially re: onboard entertainment which mean't we missed some of the better shows because we had dining reservations which clashed with them and they were only on once during the cruise. Show times changed often, sometimes only 1 showtime, sometimes 2 but only 2 hours apart at 7 & 9 pm, and sometimes 2 different shows on same night, so no chance to make the most of the onboard entertainment. Also, details in the daily activity sheet were often incorrect. Crew were mostly very friendly, helpful and efficient, and our Room Steward Russell was excellent, but management needs to get its act together as organisation left a lot to be desired. This was a back-to-back cruise & we had an overnight in Quebec. On returning to the ship after spending the evening ashore, we found the one (quite steep) gangway blocked by some very elderly passengers. Their flight had been delayed and on a very cold evening they were trying unsuccessfully to pull their luggage up the gangway in order to board the ship. There were no crew available to help them and my husband and other passengers returning to the ship had to pull their luggage up the gangway and also help them to walk up the steep slope. I have never seen such blatant disregard for passenger's welfare on any cruise line. Need I say more, I don't think so. Some of the Dawn's crew did tell us that no other NCL ship is so badly organised, but we are not sure we want to take a chance. Disembarking was also chaotic, passengers disembarking and embarking were in the same area and the queue for taxis to the airport was blocked constantly by porters trying to put luggage on board. After an hour, when disembarking passengers were getting more & more frustrated, someone took matters into their own hands & organized coaches returning to the ship to take passengers to the airport. Not sure if anyone missed flights because of the chaos, but it was a possibility. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Norwegian Gem...New England Cruise. Sept. 2015 The beds were horrible! No box spring..just a metal bottom. mattress was very used. dipped in the middle. was topped with a foam pad. when we complained, we were given bed pads folded in ... Read More
Norwegian Gem...New England Cruise. Sept. 2015 The beds were horrible! No box spring..just a metal bottom. mattress was very used. dipped in the middle. was topped with a foam pad. when we complained, we were given bed pads folded in half, placed on the mattress. when I complained again, I was given the bottom floor of a baby crib...folded and placed under my mattress, which made it hard as a board. the staff were very nice, except for several bar tenders. I do not drink alcohol on a regular basis, I prefer soda. so I paid $57 for unlimited soda for a 10 day cruise. most of the time, when I presented my prepaid cup to a bar tender...you could tell they were not happy and seemed bothered by waiting on me. 2 ignored me and 1 was slightly rude. I did find one friendly bar tender in the atrium, so I went there every time I could. the food was good and there were plenty of choices. the person that took care of our room was very nice. there were not enough activities that were of interest. the shows were cheesy. bingo was disappointing. however, most of the live music was good. Cyndi McLeod trio was great! smoking was allowed in the casino. I am a smoker, but could not stand being in the casino because it was just too smokey. My mother does not smoke, so she did not enter. While sitting in a bar area, listening to live music....the smell that seeped out of the "cigar room" was not good. Poor organization while trying to get people ready for immigration. Had way too many people stuffed in a tiny waiting area for too long...to get off the boat for a shore excursion. Once off of the ship, the areas we visited were great! Disappointed that the outdoor pools were not heated. This was my first time on a cruise and it was a poor experience. Very disappointing. I may try a cruise again, but not with Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
BEWARE!!! - Beyond is another dimension, you have just crossed over into The Norwegian Gem, The Twilight Zone. Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do!!!!!!! Could this really be REAL?? Embarkation NIGHTMARE!!! Four cruise ships in port and the ... Read More
BEWARE!!! - Beyond is another dimension, you have just crossed over into The Norwegian Gem, The Twilight Zone. Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do!!!!!!! Could this really be REAL?? Embarkation NIGHTMARE!!! Four cruise ships in port and the Manhattan Cruise ship terminal is paralyzed. Hundreds of people are delayed in the terminal with no place to go while the process is HAULTED. An announcement is made that the embarkation process will have to WAIT. Oh No, Why and for how long??? Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do........ You have entered the confines of THE TWILIGHT ZONE Now you enter the Norwegian Gem. A ship designed like no other I have seen, and this was my 17th cruise. You finally, and I do mean FINALLY get to go on board The Twilight Zone, I mean the Norwegian Gem. You fight for a table for lunch, but I was sorta use to that. Looks normal so far I guess. Little do you know that the staff aboard the Norwegian Gem doesn't realize that their ship is STRANGELY DIFFERENT than most all other cruise ships, and not in a good way. Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do...... You get to your stateroom and it seems like it is the smallest room I have ever been in on a cruise ship. No matter, I turn on the TV, but what is this??? Shore excursions are playing for two days into the voyage for the Bahamas, but we are going to Nova Scotia. Can we really book those? Perhaps in another dimension in space and time. The Twilight Zone begins....Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do...... Time for dinner. The Grand Pacific is tiny. Nice but tiny. What is this? I have to take a buzzer and wait 45 minutes to enter? Oh no, what is this line for? Oh, this line is the line to wait for a buzzer. Well, at least I have my buzzer. How can this be? The Gem has green dots on the dining board suggesting all is well BUT IT ISN'T. I ask in disbelief. "Why does the message board say all is ok for the Grand Pacific when it is clearly not?" The reply? Oh sir, you can't rely on that board, disregard it. Ok, but why HAVE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE???? This can't be happening. I must be in the Twilight Zone. No matter, I am FINALLY in for dinner. I order onion soup and Prime Rib. MISTAKE!!! But I didn't know, really I didn't. The onion soup was broth with a little crouton like cheese and bread in the middle. No onions, little cheese, little taste. Ok, skip that. My medium Prime Rib didn't look like Prime Rib. Didn't taste like Prime Rib. Is it Prime Rib? Just terrible and paper thin. No matter I am done. Time for the show!! On nuts. I missed it The wait for dinner was so long that the show is over. What? only one show tonight? No matter I am tired so we will go rest in our stateroom. I know our bed will be turned down and maybe a candy treat awaits. Enter the stateroom, but our cabin steward hadn't been there. In fact I haven't seen him. Do we have one? No matter, I will turn down the bed myself. Nice towel animals. But wait, where are the towels in the bathroom? No matter I'll call our cabin steward. He must have forgot. How do I do that? There is no number for Housekeeping. They don't want me to call!!! I'll call the front desk, I hope zero works on the phone!! What's this?? I have to disassemble the towel animal to use it for the bathroom because he is out of towels? Do Do, Do Do, Do Do, Do Do... I will go to the front desk and see if the staff realizes this is the Twilight Zone Ship. They don't realize that their ship is different than any other cruise ship I have ever been on. I have to enlighten them as they seem nice enough. It is my duty. Oh wait, they don't understand. You mean there is no waiting for dinner on other ships? ( NO THERE IS NOT). Surely our food is top notch, isn't it (WORST I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED). The Norwegian Gem suffers from lack of attention to details, poor organization mainly from a poorly designed ship and weird things that happen constantly that shouldn't happen. One thing is for sure. The Norwegian Gem has taken every possible step to remove anything that would cost them an extra dime. Case in point - No bar soap in the bathroom (UNLESS YOU ASK FOR IT). Many other examples. Try to get coffee? They have coffee but no cups. Cups but no coffee. Coffee and Cups but no cream or milk. I walked around with a coffee cup with milk but no coffee. I'll just sip the milk. Spoons? what are they? None of the silverware comes with spoons. No matter I will use my fork if I could only find coffee. No matter, my vacation is over. Gee that Carnival cruise we took last years sure looks pretty good now. Back to reality the Twilight Zone Cruise is over. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Review of Norwegian Dawn two-week round trip cruise from Boston to Quebec, October 5-19, 2012 This was an extremely disappointing cruise, given the many beautiful ports-of-call offered. I take partial responsibility for the poor ... Read More
Review of Norwegian Dawn two-week round trip cruise from Boston to Quebec, October 5-19, 2012 This was an extremely disappointing cruise, given the many beautiful ports-of-call offered. I take partial responsibility for the poor experience: I booked this cruise for my wife and me as a relative bargain through an agency I had used successfully before. They failed me this time. First, the highlights of this mixed experience: The autumn colors were spectacular. New Brunswick, New Foundland, and Bar Harbor sights, in particular, offered a wonderful display of mountains and turning leaves. Quebec City is quaint and historic, and worth a trip by itself. We only had a day there, however. Canadians everywhere greeted us warmly, provided helpful directions, and made us feel welcome. We experienced no problems with money exchanges, credit card acceptance, or red tape. Entertainment aboard the ship was usually very good. Ship entertainers Jose and Patti and Ariel Jacobe delivered a wide range of music favorites from the sixties to the nineties, and performed equally well in different venues from an intimate bar area to the large Stardust Theater. The ship imported excellent outside entertainment groups, especially the Second City comedy troupe, who nailed every rehearsed and spontaneous performance. The much-hyped Freestyle Cruising means you sit wherever you want at dinner, and you needn't gussy up in suits and ties and dresses for a table in the dining rooms. That's a plus. The ability to make dining reservations creates an added benefit. Several guest relations officials actually tried to help us find an acceptable room. (No luck, but we appreciated their efforts.) I won $100 playing roulette at the casino. Now, the reasons we will never, ever again, sail with Norwegian: 1) We were crammed into a small, crowded, noisy cabin with a porthole--not the window room we expected from our communication with EO or Norwegian. Compounding our misery, the room sat far forward, so we caught every bump along the way, and there were many. The first night, a telephone in the next room rang eight times every four minutes, from 11 pm to 3 am. As we learned later, that room was used for storage. Sleeping late was also out of the question. When the ship docked, front end motors kicked in, or the anchor chain went down, and the noise jolted us awake. I remember thinking, "So THIS is hell!" We tried desperately to buy an upgrade to a decent room, but none was available. The guest relations staff offered us virtually the same crowded, forward room one floor up. We declined, as we didn't want to repack and unpack to live in the same conditions. 2) The name Norwegian signifies a brand; it has nothing to do with the nationality of the ship, as a vast majority of the supervisors, servers and guest relations personnel are Filipino. We estimated that at best, 60 percent of them spoke understandable English. That two-out-of-five crew members spoke minimal English led to many communication problems. We often stopped a conversation by saying: "I do not understand what you are saying." This happened even at the Guest Relations Desk. 3) Communication throughout the Norwegian Dawn remained inconsistent. Guests couldn't depend on the "Freestyle Daily," the ship's newsletter, for accuracy. The newsletter incorrectly printed times, venues, and other basic information in every issue. For example, the Casino seldom opened when the newsletter said it would. The newsletter hyped a free liquor-tasting in the gift shop at six pm; the gift shop opened at eight. As for the room television information, that, too sent mixed messages. And finding the outside temperature posed a challenge. On one channel, the temperature streamed quickly across the top of the screen every five minutes. Why wasn't it posted constantly on the home page? Overall, mixed, poor, communication in an organization constitutes a management problem, and the Norwegian Dawn has a serious management problem, in my opinion. 4) This ship didn't merely nickel-and-dime its guests--it twenty-and fifty-dollared them. An egregious example was the ballyhooed indoor hot tub, lap pool, sauna, and steam room. On other cruises we've taken, these are expected free benefits. Not on the Dawn, which socked us with a $110 spa fee to use these amenities. I reluctantly forked over the cruise card, figuring the cost amortized to about $10 bucks a day over the two-week cruise. But after a week, the Dawn spa wanted another $110. I declined with a few choice words about value. 5) The food was good, but not great, as we've enjoyed on other cruises. Wait service varied from very efficient to lax. We found the best meals and service in the large Venetian Dining Room, where reservations are accepted. However, we constantly fought to be seated at a table that wasn't next to a coffee stand or kitchen entrance. The worst food and service is in the Blue Lagoon, a 24 hour restaurant serving sandwiches, soups, snacks and beverages. At times, a waiter leaned against a post, ignoring all customers, while two other busy waiters scurried about serving an impatient crowd of diners. Both times we went there the waiters brought the wrong orders, and the hot sandwiches were served lukewarm. 6) A typical cruise ploy was the surcharge to dine in the Dawn's signature restaurants. Only Cagney's steakhouse was worth the extra cost, which was $50 for two. The others we sampled-- Bamboo Chinese, La Cucina Italian, and Le Bistro, French--were mediocre and not worth the surcharge. They were quieter than the very noisy Garden Cafe cafeteria and the other dining rooms, however. 7) Most cruise-sponsored tours were overpriced disappointments. We enjoyed our own planned excursions around Portland, Quebec and Bar Harbor much more than the Dawn's relatively expensive tours. Example: the Dawn's sponsored bus tour of Prince Edward Island took us through miles of ordinary rural areas and back-and-forth across a long bridge. The tour guide noted a new Wal Mart. The bus stopped for a half hour at a cheesy gift shop with a statue of Anne of Green Gables for a photo op. 8) We dreaded disembarking from the Dawn for tours. It felt as if the crew searched for the most inconvenient ways for the mobs to line up, and mis-communicated those. For example, we'd be told to go to deck five, but the exit was on deck four; the crew lined up the passengers on five for the crew's convenience. When the ship anchored in a port, the passengers were packed into the Dawn's tender boats, which are ironically named. Getting onto and off of these rocking craft became an adventure, notably for the elderly. 9) We also dreaded the preludes to the large entertainment programs in the Stardust Theater. To find a seat, audience members needed to arrive a half an hour early. During the wait, we were subjected to the constant pitches of the cruise director to buy ship lottery tickets. Just $20 for five of them, or whatever. The winner would receive a five-day cruise on the Dawn. After a week of this harassment, we joked that the runner-up would win a ten-day cruise. And we quickly tired of the pseudo-gaiety of the Cruise Director's staff who badgered everyone "to make noise and put your hands together for the band one more time" at least six times after a performance. Frankly, with everything amped above comfort levels, we needed less, not more, noise. All of the above may sound like carping of a first-time cruiser, but my wife and I have been on seven cruises between us, and we rank this one number seven--the worst. We heard the same rating during an elevator encounter. The poor guy's cabin air conditioning had quit, and, not receiving any relief from Guest Relations, he took a blanket to a common area to sleep. Security harassed him all night. And on our final day, in the line to disembark in Boston, we met a third dissatisfied passenger who said this was his 9th Norwegian cruise, the worst, and his last one. He had our total empathy. Misery loves company. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Background Info: My wife and I are fifty and took this cruise out of Manhattan for our Anniversary. We are middle (maybe upper middle) class family and have traveled. We have stayed in motels/hotels/resorts/very nice hotels. We eat out ... Read More
Background Info: My wife and I are fifty and took this cruise out of Manhattan for our Anniversary. We are middle (maybe upper middle) class family and have traveled. We have stayed in motels/hotels/resorts/very nice hotels. We eat out often and have been to some very nice restaurants in the past. This was our third cruise in a twenty year time span. Hotel Info: We stayed in Manhattan prior and post cruise. That I will leave up to you and your needs in accommodations, Manhattan can have very pricey rooms. I like to arrive early and leave late so plane problems do not make me miss the boat (and vice versa). Ship Info: WE took the NCL Jewel Nova Scotia cruise in October to see the fall foliage. We had a balcony room (10040) on the starboard side (the boat left in the afternoon giving us a great view of the Statue of Liberty from our room. On return in the early morning the other side had a night view from their room (But you can always go up on deck). Activities: The Fall foliage tour was a bust. The leaves had not turned and the cruise ports are boring without it. Hint: Next time I will wait and check the internet maps, when I see the leaves have changed we can hop a plane and take a ground tour or drive. Service: I hate to say it but the service on NCL was really really BAD. I can't say the crew was rude, they always say please, thank you, Sir, Madame. But getting them to do it with a smile. it's more of an attitude. I got the impression the crew is not happy with their jobs. About half 50/50, give poor (slow) service or look unhappy. The other half are fine, and occasional bad service can be over looked, but 50/50 does not come close to cutting it. Embarkation/ Disembarkation: Getting on was fine, we waited in line about half an hour but getting off was a mess, I felt like they were throwing us out with the bath water. No they did throw us out. This might be the N.Y. Port Authority area but it still reflects on NCL. Leave extra time (over two hours) to get off the ship, get your own bag (no help), and catch a cab. It was sad to watch the older passengers trying to haul one or two big suit cases three blocks and then have to cross a busy N.Y. intersection with construction going on all over the place. Thanks NCL, the last impressions are the lasting ones. Stateroom: The ship is newer and the room is quite nice, small (O.K. real small) but nice. Not spotless clean (crew again ) but fine. For a Ship designed in the 21st century to have a tube T.V. (not flat panel) and to have 7 channels of programming is beyond poor. You might say people do not go on a cruise to watch T.V. But what if you have children or get ill and have to stay in the room or as we did, have bad weather and miss a port leaving you with an extra day at sea. HINT: Bring your own bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, lotion. The ship either does not provide it or its really cheap quality. The internet is wiifi (75 cents a minute.no.. not a miss print a minute) unless you bring your own Ethernet cable (how many people travel with their own cable!) Dining: I was going to call the food Home Town Buffet with a Waiter, but Home Town Buffet is not that bad and you never see the waiter. Just poor, really sad, a disappointment. Too be fare to the cook (chief um no cook) to feed two thousand people three times a day more or less at the same time is a big order. I would say its more NCLs fault for supplying low quality, low grade food. HINT: All the food comes from the same kitchen, does not matter where you dine. Same quality and same service, I observed the same person as my waiter in the dining room one day, cleaning up on the buffet deck the next. Entertainment: The show and music performances on the ship were great. In fact I was surprised by how good it was. I am also glad I have something good to say as this review is getting to be a downer (waaaaa). HINT: This is where you have to look at the average age of the passengers. The cruise director knows in advance the age and picks the entertainment to match. I'm sure the D.J. did not want to play that music, he was told what to play (I hope). Summary: So anyone going on a cruise looking for an all inclusive trip, dont look at NCL. From before you even get on they try to nickel and dime you to pay extra for everything. It just gets old after seven days (would you like your coffee in the collectors cup only $5.95 extra). One review I read before the trip had the right attitude. She said that her suite was great and they ate every meal in the pay extra restaurant and it was a great cruise and the service was just the best. It's just the person who chooses to stay in a balcony room and does not want to pay extra at every meal have to suck it up. As long as you know before you go..then you can't complain. If you are looking for a moving hotel room that has a great and I mean great view (O.K. it's a small small moving room), ours came out to be $430 a night, in Hawaii you might get that hotel room, in Halifax Nova Scotia you could get the whole hotel floor, then this cruise might be for you. To me the problem is that you need accountants involved i n your business decisions. NCL though is run by accountants and accountants don't make the best PR decisions, so you feel nicked and dimed. I will try another cruise line next time. Hint: Be careful when you are comparing prices between cruise lines, NCL charges a mandatory tip, not only on your stateroom, also on your bar bill, every time you get a beer a tip is included, mandatory. Also when you go to the pay extra restaurant, dont think you can order whatever you want off the menu, the good stuff is another extra/extra charge. So it all adds up and can make the cruise line that seemed to cost more at face value be about the same price. 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Sail Date October 2011
I. Background Information -- We are a couple in our late 30s that travelled with her brother & her sister-in-law on this NCL Jewel cruise ship that took a 9-Night Canada / New England cruise on October 1, 2010. We've got 12 ... Read More
I. Background Information -- We are a couple in our late 30s that travelled with her brother & her sister-in-law on this NCL Jewel cruise ship that took a 9-Night Canada / New England cruise on October 1, 2010. We've got 12 cruises under our belt, so have a goodly number of other cruises to compare this one with. We've sailed on 5 NCL ships, 3 RCCL ships, 2 Carnival ships, 1 Princess ship, & 1 Holland America ship. Even though I'm about to rate this the LOWEST 2-Star rated ranking of all of my 12 cruises, I was still determined to make the best of it by participating in varied game shows, theatre shows, and dance parties. All my other cruise ship experiences I have rated either 3 star or 4 star ratings. This is MY FIRST rating I have given a 2 star (lowest rating).....just for the reader's comparison. Reasons are all listed down below. II. Hotel Information It's no secret that hotel prices in New York City are astronomical, but being the probing shopper I am, was able to clinch a $79 rate at the LaGuardia Airport Hotel, which was within walking distance of the American, U.S. Airways, & Delta Airlines terminals. They also have a courtesy shuttle bus, too. The motel is adequate; nothing extravagant, but enough to spend one night's rest. It's a 3-star motel -- just average. I always ask for a quiet room as half the rooms face the busy, noisy highway on Ditmars Blvd. III. Travel to Port of Embarkation If you're taking this cruise from New York City, I recommend you to find a shuttle or shared transportation with others to cut-down on the ground transportation costs from your motel to where the cruise ship's pier terminal is on Manhattan's West side. Otherwise, if you don't want to do business this way & are looking for private transporatation, & you're feeling the need for a cabbie, then always go with the YELLOW cab, which has better rates. You'll generally pay between $30 to $40 WITH the inclusion of tolls & tips, total, and it generally takes between 40 minutes to 50 minutes to get there from near the LaGuardia airport. Tack-on additional time if you're coming from the JFK airport, and it will cost you more. Generally the costs from LGA airport with a yellow taxi are metered rates from LGA airport & not a flat rate. You'll find that traffic will come to a complete stop & stand-still at times when in the streets of Manhattan. IV. Ship Information The NCL "Jewel" cruise ship's inaugural year was a 2005 build, making it a little over 5 years old at the time of my sailing on October 1, 2010. It has a passenger capacity of 2,376 based upon a double occupancy of cabins. The length of the ship is 965 feet, has a gross tonnage of 93,502, a crew of 1,081 & diesel electric engines. The maximum beam is 105 ft, and draft is 28 ft. Now....at the time of my sailing on the NCL "Jewel", the ship was limping at reduced speeds, so much so, that it altered our itinerary resulting in approximately 6 hours LESS of TOTAL time in all ports combined. This was due to excessive wear in the thruster bearings of the ship's azipod propulsion system. This problem is due to be fixed in late November 2010, when it will be dry-docked for repair. However my cruise was greatly disrupted because of reduced time in ports, meaning we didn't get to do the tour excursions we planned. This attribute, along with other considerations, results in a lowered rating of my overall cruising experience because of this mishap in travelling at reduced speeds & partially ruining our itinerary & limited shore excursions due to lessened times in port. V. Stateroom. We were eventually booked in to a Oceanview cabin on deck 5 of this October 1, 2010, 9-Night Canada / New England sailing. I'll go in to detail on why I've rated this sectional lower than my previous cruises. A.) The GOOD -- #1.) GREAT air-conditioning and climate control meant we were always comfortable, temperature-wise, while in the stateroom. #2.) GREAT shower space in the Oceanviews & Balcony staterooms of the NCL Jewel ship; however, watch for the lip above the floor getting in & out, or you could stub your toe badly! #3.) Big picture window on Deck 5; as compared with obstructed views on Deck 8 (lifeboats) and some smaller porthole windows on Deck 4 & some on Deck 5 #4.) Water pressure in the shower head was good. B.) The BAD & the UGLY -- #1.) Very cramped-space design in the toilet area of cabin meant wall was right up to my nose, with an unjustified wall between bathroom sink & toilet which consumed even more room. This has to be the POOREST designed and most cramped toilet space I'd ever been in with regards to the toilet configuration. I'm 6' 2" and even people who are obese are going to have problems getting in and out of this toilet area due to very restricted space. #2.) Water pressure in the sink was very weak -- only a trickle. #3.) Sink was plugged a good deal resulting in slow drainage. When I dispatched maintenance to clear the slow-draining sink, they had the NERVE to deposit all this GOOPY-GOO in to our toilet which STUCK to the toilet bowl and would not flush down!! What NERVE!!! This was disgusting!!! It only became dislodged after the stateroom steward handled the mess! #4.) Shower drain also exhibited slow drainage & had to dispatch maintenance again to rectify this problem. #5.) On our final day of cruising, the toilet stopped flushing. Now we've seen this before on other cruise ships, so these kinds of toilet flushing systems are apt to occasionally not working, BUT....the maintenance man who came out was NOT friendly, and his work flooded the edge of the toilet's floor and this flooded water bleeded in to the carpet of our entrance door for the first 1 1/2 ft of carpet next to the door. Fortunately they cleaned it up right away and were on top of it, but these 5 problems noted above are what I consider to be excessive problems with the stateroom's maintenance & designed combined together, so I've reduced points in this category to only a 2-star rating out of 5 overall in this area of my evaluation. Did I mention one of our lights in our stateroom hadn't been replaced for several days?? Maintenance was ONLY dispatched when I TOLD them to come out. It should have been the stateroom stewards' responsibility to dispatch maintenance without me HAVING to ASK them to come out. So, the service was far from stellar, since I had to keep placing work orders myself, for which it should have been the stateroom stewards job. VI. Dining Okay, historically, I've always enjoyed a goodly number of meals on previous NCL ships in years gone by. However, NCL's crown *IS* slipping!! In particular, I've noticed a few changes in the menu selections. There were at least 2 or 3 times when I reviewed the dinner menu in the main formal dining rooms and shook my head, and saying the menu option choices do NOT look good on this go-around on at least 3 different days for dinner. So that's when I ordered the steak, or other items from the "Always Available" menu. A.) The GOOD ~ #1.) In particular, I enjoyed the many BREAKFAST selections in the Garden Cafe'. This is the restaurant in which I refer to as the "Mad House Buffet Line" -- The Garden Cafe, because it is a mad house and easy to run in to others. Choices here were abundant and well-tended to in the morning. However, as usual on every ship, finding a place to sit was next to impossible, especially on this crowded ship. Every ship I've been on has this problem. The ship designers NEVER---NEVER design these places with enough sitting areas in the buffet. It is what it is, gang! #2.) I really enjoyed the steaks & prime rib selections in the main formal dining rooms, (Tsar's Palace Dining Room & Azura), on the NCL Jewel cruise ship. Steaks were consistently GOOD, and some of the most tender steaks I've ever had on the NCL ship's fleet in my past 5 NCL cruises. Only wished they'd douse the steaks with more gravy as that peppercorn gravy is always a delicious gravy! So this is where NCL excelled! #3.) We did audition the Tango's Tex-Mex specialty restaurant. I really enjoyed the beef fajitas, and asked for extra salsa & sour cream to go with it all. The mexican rice & refried beans were really fresh & the Southwestern Egg Rolls were really great too! On the last couple days of the cruise this was 1 of 2 restaurants that was given away at 2-for-1 pricing. Mama's Italian was the other, which we didn't go to. We sampled the lobster tacos. It was a bit too creamy & rich for me, but others may find a liking to it. So, overall, I give a GREAT thumbs-up to the Tango's Tex-Mex specialty restaurant. Glad we did it! #4.) The Blue Lagoon restaurant -- This was a GREAT choice for any time of the afternoon, evening or late night. I really enjoyed the food here, thorougly, and menu selections were excellent serving comfort food -- Chicken Wings, real beef burgers, chicken fingers, fish n' chips (french fries), hot dogs, and I ordered every one of these selections and scarfed it all down but good! The service was really fast at 9 PM, and the food always fresh. This place was much better managed on the Jewel than it was on the NCL Sun. Overall, I'd rate the food quality in the main formal dining restaurants as Above-Average for the "always available" items, and right around average for other changing menu items, and would rate the menu OPTIONS or SELECTIONS in the main formal dining room as BELOW-average; hence the 3-star rating right at about average. You will definitely find LOTS of fish selections available on this NCL Jewel ship as it seems like there's fish available everywhere on the menus in the main formal dining rooms! B.) The BAD ~ #1.) As I mentioned at the start of this sectional, MENU selections in the main formal dining room were UN-appealing and not what I considered attractive. There were some menu item selections that I needed translations for, as I didn't even know what it was on the menu??? Sure wish they'd start speaking English on the menus, and start serving normal food. #2.) Let me explain to you the FreeStyle Dining experience: It only works well when you come to dinner at the NON-peak dining times in the main formal dining rooms. During PEAK, busy dining times of between 630 PM & 730 PM, the whole FreeStyle dining experience collapses & breaks down. (How so??) I'll tell you--->> The first thing NCL tests you on is your patience! Don't come between 630 PM & 730 PM, or else you'll be WAITING a long time, and won't get to be seated right away! On our 1st night, we arrived at the main formal dining room at 7 PM. Get this--->> We first had to wait in ONE line just to get a beeper/flasher device. That took about 5 - 10 minutes. Then, once we got the beeper/flasher notifying device, we had to wait another additional 20 - 30 minutes JUST to be seated! This is just unacceptable! So Free Style does NOT work... repeating.... does NOT work during the PEAK, busy eating period times in the main formal dining rooms roughly between 630 PM & 730 PM, give or take 30 minutes on either side of those times. Now you know why traditional dining still does exist today on several of the cruise lines. Good thing for me, I usually eat at opening times around 5 PM, so I can get to go to all the shows the rest of the evening has to offer. #3.) We also auditioned the specialty restaurant "Chin Chin" or Asian Fusion. Being that we are well-versed with how Chinese food is supposed to taste and my partner and her people are Asian, we know what to compare with. My girl has always said, "When the cruise line sticks with something simple such as meat & potatoes, it turns out well. As soon as they try to cook complicated, international food selections, it becomes a fiasco!" Let me first apprise the reader that the menu lists that Jasmine rice is served. This is WRONG & FALSE!! I know how Jasmine rice is supposed to taste & what its texture is supposed to be. It has a wonderfully fragrant smell and is sticky white rice. The rice that was served, instead, was low-grade, low-quality American white rice, like Uncle Ben's. My partner & her Asian friends just laughed at it, knowing it was not authentic. What a BIG disappointment -- HUGE. However, to most Americans not well-versed with how this food is supposed to be, it may just very well pass you by, going unnoticed by many of you, but we know better! Also, there was a lack of authenticity to the Kung Pao Chicken and Szechuan Braised Beef menu selections. When we did more probing, we found out that the chef in Chin Chin was actually a Filipino chef and NOT a Chinese chef. It showed, as all the food we ordered was not authentic and as her people put it -->> The taste is "JUST NOT RIGHT -- NOT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE". I whole-heartedly agree. I was very much disappointed with this Asian Fusion, Chin Chin restaurant, as it just wasn't right -- the whole taste and the lack of jasmine rice. The only good I can report was that the ambience was bright and cheery, and there was a nearby atrium down below that's decorated beautifully on the descending stair case from above. #4.) On a final note, this has been a problem not only on this ship, but in other recent cruises as well. What happened to water glass refilling in the main formal dining rooms & crumb scraping??? Years ago when I first started cruising, water glasses were always refilled timely, (without the need to ask), and crumbs were always scraped from the tables. What happened??? Nowadays, I always have to tell them to refill water glasses, and ONLY once did I see crumbs scraped from our table. It seems that NCL is getting out of the customer service business.... no more chocolates on pillows & no more towel animals either!! I don't need and don't require these last 2 features, but it'd be a nice touch for NEWBY cruisers to see & experience, what I once experienced a long time ago. Sheesh!! I think we're beginning to see a revolutionary change in the cruise line industry whereby instead of it being special as it was many years ago, that it's becoming usual and commonplace. And when that happens, it's not special anymore; the service becomes like the airlines -- only the most rudimentary basic services offered. As a side note, this is also the MOST dressed-down cruise line of all of them, too, so if you like casual wear and NOT formal wear, then you'll actually be pleasantly pleased with NCL's philosophy on dress code standards, as they're the most lenient of all the cruise lines, though I still don't think you can get away with shorts in the main formal dining room during dinner time. Lunch & breakfast is fair game though for shorts. I, for one, actually like the relaxed dress-down standards, but I trust many women would like to dress-up. Women, this ain't goona happen much on this cruise line! VII. Activities This is an area difficult to comment, as this was a very port-intensive cruise, having no sea days until the end of the cruise, so we were off the ship during all the port days which was 6 out of 8 days. However, I do have one BIG bone to pick with the Cruise Director Shona: DON'T TAKE AWAY THE QUEST GAME SHOW from your cruise activities!! The cruise director told me the reason she took it out was because it was not the right demographic of audience of people. Let me suggest that in my own personal experiences, I have found many people from all walks of life, & ALL AGES that DO ENJOY this game show! After all, they enjoyed the hypnotist shows, with a full house, even at the 1015 PM late night show. Quest game show is right along the same alley! So....don't take the wind out of our sails! KEEP the Quest Game Show in the portfolio of activities!! Also, I'd have liked to see more game shows, as we had with Cruise Director Pedro on our NCL Sun cruise in April/May 2010. Take your cues from him, as he has a LOT more action-packed set of games incorporated within the activities section. VIII. Children's Clubs This is another area I cannot comment that much on, as our party had a 1-year-old baby, which was NOT eligible for the children's clubs. NCL will not baby-sit children UNTIL they become at least 2 years old, and then they will take responsibility for entertaining children & youths all the way up to teen-agers, free of charge in most instances, unless you want NCL -- the cruise line -- to take care of the children "after hours" or while in port, and then you must pay for those 2 times; otherwise it is free for most other times. IX. Service. A.) The BAD #1.) Here is yet another area in which I feel that NCL's crown is slipping, overall, with some notable exceptions listed down below in "The Good" sectional write-up. I have to say that this is one of the fewest cruises in which I can actually say that the NCL crew & staff onboard the NCL "Jewel" was not really the friendliest bunch on the whole, big picture. Smiles were only offered when I smiled first. Otherwise staff behaved as though they did NOT want to be there on the ship. As I said, earlier, when we had a plumber come out to service our toilet, on the last sea day, not only did he not smile, but he actually frowned, like I murdered his family member, and didn't even offer to say "Hello" or "Sorry about the problem you're having". How cold & insensitive, I thought. #2.) In other areas, I got a reaction when I asked our stateroom steward to bring us soaps for the rest of the cruise, instead of using the bath gel, and he offered resistance in doing so. I'm old school, and I use bar soap instead of bath gel. I got a grief-stricken face from him, (Jesus Garcia), when I asked for bar soap in the future instead of bath gel, like it was such an inconvenience. Where's the customer service?? It has died. Jeez! #3.) NCL just doesn't seem to be training or insisting that their staff maintain a polished customer-service focused personality. This has become an obvious oversight on NCL Jewel. A.) The GOOD There are some GREAT stories though, that I can offer, and special recognition is due for which I will mention where credit is most due and deserving. #1.) The Group Event Coordinator on NCL Jewel -- I think her name was Elwynn OCampo -- was most outstanding! She is the 1st and ONLY one I've seen organize a tour of the bridge & of the galley for our cruise critic community. Never, have I seen BOTH the bridge tour & galley tour offered on any of my previous 11 cruises, so a big kudos goes out to her! I hope I got her name correct. I wrote it down on paper but lost the slip. Anyways, she's a great group event coordinator. #2.) Carlton or Carlson Kennedy from Jamaica was the FASTEST restaurant server in the Azura dining room. I had asked him to expedite our dinner so's we could make it to the evening shows, and not only was he fast with us, but he was lightning-speed fast with other tables as well. I've personally never seen anyone move as fast as he does in the dining room. Came to find out he's been doing this work for 8 years, and I name-dropped him to the Maitre' D's, complementing his fine, outstanding work! #3.) Also Genevieve Baylon from Philippines was outstanding in the Tsar's Main formal dining room, always offering outstanding service in a timely fashion as well. I learned she has many friends on the ship, too! #4.) Service in the Blue Lagoon restaurant was speedy-quick & accurate when I was there 2 nights in a row around 9 PM. The Maitre' D there ran a tight ship there, as I caught her reprimanding one of her servants over some sort of issue, (surprisingly in public presence), but it does prove the system does work, as the orders were accurate, speedy, and the food was fresh & very tasty. X. Entertainment I have mixed feelings here in this sectional, resulting in just an average rating. When the evening shows were good, then they were really good to GREAT, but when the shows were bad, they were also really bad, too. Let me hash this out down below in the shows featured. A.) The GOOD Of course, the best cream-of-the-crop, goes to the hands of Massimo & Alesia in the show entitled "INCANTO" & again in the show entitled "Le Cirque Bijou". I personally greeted and complemented these two athletic gymnasts. The fact that these 2 are a married couple adds a nice finishing touch as well! These 2 shows were, without a doubt, the best 2 shows on the ship, and it showed in the crowd's pleasing standing ovations, applause and attendance. I was always up there in the front 2 rows for all the shows so I could see everything. Other good, decent shows included the production show entitled, "Band on the Run", 2 hypnotist shows by Brenda Kaye, & Ross Bennett's FIRST show ONLY in the big Stardust Theatre; (not the 2nd one in the Spinnaker Lounge). I'm not going in to the details of each show; you can just watch them on your own, should any of these shows appear on your sailing, which you won't get all of these shows, as the contracted performers jump from ship to ship and sailing to sailing at various dates in time. B.) The BAD Okay, the good news to report in the Bad news sectional of the entertainment column is that there were MORE good shows than there were bad shows. The worst show was the vocalist show in the Stardust Theatre. I've heard a lot of vocalists come on stage in the big theatre shows on lots of cruise ships in the past, and the vocalist on this ship, I think needs to be retired, as she's past her prime. She didn't even dress well either. It's a bit embarrassing to say this, but I was actually a part of this show on stage, and I'm still calling it the worst show of the bunch! I got to participate in 5 shows total; 2 in the big Stardust Theatre & 3 in the Spinnaker lounge, so even though I'm rating this cruise as the lowest rating, I was still determined to make the BEST out of it, and enjoy it to the best of my ability, even in spite of the many flaws. I also did not care for the guitar & drum player from Ireland, either. It was just run-of-the-mill general musician playing, similar to what you'd get in any one of the bars or lounges throughout the ship; nothing great; nothing out of the ordinary; just a different genre of music. I didn't even bother with his 2nd show in Spinnaker lounge. Second City cast: Well, what can I say about this cast?? They're trying. It's like the little engine that could! They're trying to make a show hoping it will stick to anything and entertain folks and please them, so I credit them for trying. After all, it's not easy to get up there and do un-scripted, un-rehearsed shows off the top of your head, and the creativity required to do a script-less show probably requires more talent than both you, (the reader), and I think together! I didn't see all of their shows. I think they had 3 shows in total. I saw the first one on-stage in the big Stardust Theatre and 1 of them in the Spinnaker Lounge, Deck 13, Forward. The one in the Stardust Theatre I felt was better. As for the 2nd-to-last show, the Juggler, I was actually disappointed. I've seen far better juggling scenes than I saw with this juggler. Most everything he juggled was just 3 items, until the end when he juggled the numerous rings. He did jump out in the audience to enhance his show which I think caught a number of folks by surprise, and tried to crack some jokes, but it just didn't come together in my opinion. I've seen better jugglers on other ships and other cruise lines. XI. Port & Shore Excursions This is the one area that actually got me most upset, because of the inept handling of the Shore Excursion Department who bungled our tours in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada & again in New York City. The axe really needs to be dropped hard on this inept shore excursion staff!!! We signed-up for 2 tours in Sydney at 1 PM and 330 PM, and when we got our tour tickets, they mishandled our tour times and assigned us 1 PM meeting times for BOTH tours. How does that happen?? I even showed them my confirmed times. All they could offer was that the tour operator CHANGED the time of the tours at the last moment and no longer offered tours at the time we signed-up for. So, as usual, none of it is on NCL; they're just going to wash their hands clean of it all, and so it all has to be the fault of the tour operator, huh?? This really angered me, big time! It was bad enough that we missed doing our original tour because they stripped 2.5 hours of time away from us at Sydney from a limping ship travelling at reduced speeds, then we get double-bungled again in Sydney by throwing us 2 tours at the same time which is impossible to do, & didn't get our tour times correct, even when I showed them proof of documentation of the times we signed-up for! Then, the tour in New York City got cut short into HALF the time we should have been given because of incompetent staffers getting us off the ship so terribly late in disembarkation in New York City that we only got half a tour instead of a FULL tour. Again, NOT happy with that result, and NEITHER WOULD YOU BE, if you were in my shoes in these 2 botched ports of call! I'll give you a run-down on the tours we did on this 9-Night Canada/New England cruise. #1.) Newport, Rhode Island ~ Chose the Vanderbilt's tour which took us to the Breakers & Marble House. I think I enjoyed this tour the best out of the entire crop of 7 tours we did on this cruise. Opulence is well-established in viewing the Newport mansions. Only downside is that you're not permitted to take pictures inside the mansions. #2.) Boston, Massachusetts ~ Chose Scenic Boston & Harbor cruise. The harbor cruise basically takes you to see panoramic views of the CBD of downtown buildings of Boston, to where you can capture some pictures out on the open decks of the boat, and if creative enough, you can get pics of you and your partner with the backdrop of the city. The scenic motor coach of the tour takes you for ONE stop at Trinity Church; otherwise you're on the bus the whole rest of the time. Fortunately we were dropped at Quincy Market with enough time for me to walk around on foot to visit the Freedom Trail and the burying grounds, Old North Church, Paul Revere's house and one or 2 other places. Good thing I went on foot on my own at the end of the tour in Quincy Market, because I was able to get far more pictures that way than I would at the mercy of being "stuck" on a motorcoach, with reflective glass all over the place ruining any would-be pictures. #3.) St. John, New Brunswick, Canada ~ Here I went with Bay of Fundy Up Close. There was a short walk to the museum and although they spent some time explaining the Bay of Fundy Tides which approach 50 ft, in the upper-most part of the Bay, they also spent too much time talking about other parts of the musuem such as the whales and marine life. I'd have liked them to show a video on the tides and videography on the tidal extremes, which didn't happen. The boat portion of the tour did live up to its name. We did get very close to where the St. John river meets with the Bay of Fundy and got to see the Jet Boat tour in action. The portion of the Bay we saw has a rate of tidal change of 5 feet per hour, either up or down & an intermittent slack tide, too which lasts for about 45 minutes! This was pretty neat and interesting to see this outside our Oceanview stateroom, too, watching our window go below the cement pier, and then rise above the cement pier late in the day! Since we came in at near low tide, I did take pictures of the water line marks at the pier showing the differences. #4.) Halifax, Nova Scotia ~ The only really big-hit highlight I found here was the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which displays the Titanic 1912 Exhibit and the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Extraordinary real-time artifacts are placed on display with the Titanic exhibit, and it has been noted that famed film-maker James Cameron visited this museum prior to making his film on the Titanic as he had the sincere desire to "get it right" on the facts of Titanic's ship design, colors, and appearance, by taking notes & cues from this museum! You are permitted to take pictures of the Titanic exhibit along with viewing a real deck chair recovered from the ill-fated ship's maiden voyage in April 1912. There are other interesting artifacts recovered from the wreckage of the Titanic including children's shoes, life vest pieces, gloves, and kitchen artifacts, shortly after the Titanic sank way back in 1912. They're not replicas, but instead real-time pieces of recovery. In addition to the real deck chair, they've even created a replica chair for you to sit in! This is an excellent museum & I highly recommend visiting this Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, if you have a desire in learning about maritime incidents at sea, as there's much more than just the Titanic & Halifax explosion exhibits. The fee was nearly $9 American dollars at the time of October 2010. The rest of Halifax, we visited with the HO/HO bus. The public gardens were a complete joke & waste of time -- nothing special there. There was also a Museum of Natural History that may interest the reader for which we visited on the HO/HO bus. I found some interesting displays & tidbits. Then, there's the brewery you can visit for about $16 U.S. It's the Alexander Keith's beer brewery. I auditioned 5 samples of their different ales including an ale that had a coffee / chocolate flavor. It was interesting to say the least! It was only $8 US dollars to sample all 5 ales, at 4 oz. each. So I passed a good time there! If you do use the Gray Line HO/HO bus, be mindful that it's not well-managed at the initial bus stop, especially when you're competing with 2 or 3 other cruise ships in port & the lines get long -- NCL long, that is!! Your wait for a bus may become excessive like 30 minutes or longer as the line gets really long for all 3 routes. Consider boarding your HO/HO bus by walking to another destination where the line is much shorter. #5.) Sydney, Nova Scotia ~ We got screwed by NCL on this port of call as they bungled our 2 tour excursions & had to cancel one of the tours because of their inept handling of our tour times which conflicted with one another which were originally NOT supposed to. Shame on you, NCL!!! Shame on you!!! We were stuck with our 4th choice, Sydney Highlights. Don't even waste your time with this particular tour called, "Sydney Highlights". Just a complete waste. You only get off the bus at an Indian museum, which was uneventful and totally missable. Thanks for screwin' us over, NCL!! Our original tour we wanted was Taste of the Cabot Trail --OR-- Grand Tour of the Bras D'or Lakes, Baddeck, & Alexander Graham Bell, but both tours cancelled because of a limping ship that cut our time in port by a full 2 1/2 hours short, voiding-out the possibility of those tours! #6.) Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island ~ Here we chose Island's Finest, Anne of Green Gables, and Lobster Lunch. This tour was a let-down. Unless you're an avid reader & a disciple of L.M. Montgomery's books, then this won't be such a memorable tour. The highlight for us was the lobster lunch. We enjoyed it so much that we actually paid to order another round of lobsters for all of us, at a great bargain price of only $15 each!! And yes....this is a FULL-sized lobster of about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, with claws -- and the whole bit! The restaurant is in a beautiful setting overlooking a river with picturesque landscape! We did go inside the Green Gables house, but nothing really moved me about it. I suppose you'd have to read the book in order to appreciate the house & its setting. She was an internationally renowned author having her book published in like 17 different langages as I remember, so maybe historians and older folks who have an appreciation for historic, memorable books by L.M. Montgomery would be best happy with a tour like this one. Aside from L.M. Montgomery's works & Green Gables house, there's really NOTHING of any interest to see in Prince Edward Island, as this port is pretty much totally missable, too, as well. We were taken to the red cliffs for a quick photo stop, but after seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as I have, this seems like nothing at all! #7.) New York City ~ Again, because of terribly TARDY disembarkation, once again by NCL, our tour got cut short here in New York City. It was supposed to be a 5 hour tour; instead it was a 2 1/2 hour tour -- half the time for which we paid for. I'm working on getting a refund for this tour at present time, October 11, 2010, for NCL's incompetence in handling disembarkation & embarkation, which was a continued problem throughout the cruise. In this tour, our first stop was at Top of the Rock in Rockefeller's Center, 70 stories high for a bird's eye view of the city of New York. It was crowded up there, but still manageable. We were afforded a short time there and also again in Rockefeller Plaza, but then that was the end of the free time. The rest of the other time was spent on the motorcoach going over a limited area of streets, and even repeating streets we'd already seen. The bus did not stop for a picture stop at the United Nations & a cathedral as it promised to, because our tour was cut short to only 2 1/2 hours and should have been 5 hours instead, because of the awfully slow & unacceptable tardy disembarkation time, getting off in New York City. XII. Disembarkation This was a REAL hardship on all involved: The crew & the thousands of guest passengers aboard the NCL "Jewel". Alright let me tell you something here: I've cruised with NCL 5 times, (& other cruise lines 7 times). Here's the ONE attribute I can tell you about NCL. NCL can handle the crowds of their smaller ships pretty well. This is the NEWEST & BIGGEST NCL ship I've been on, and what I can tell you is that NCL has EXTREME difficulty in handling the LARGER crowds. They're totally incompetent in managing large crowds. Time and time again, they ineptly handled the larger crowds on this NCL Jewel ship, with super LONG wait times. It wasn't just once. Once would be forgiveable. But it was time and time again. At our first port in Newport, Rhode Island, the line to get back on to the ship was ferocious!! We waited 45 minutes to get back on to the ship when re-boarding. Some complained it took a long time to get off the ship, but we were okay there, and didn't have that problem. Then, next port of call in Boston, Massachusetts, a SECURITY BREACH was violated!! When we boarded the ship near the end of the day, NCL was NOT EVEN screening baggage or personal effects people brought back on board the ship. My girl pointed that out to me! This is a MAJOR SECURITY BREACH!! (And why did they do that, you ask??) They were LATE, super-late, with getting people back on-board the ship again here in this 2nd port of call for the 2nd time! It took us 30 minutes in line to get back on the ship again. Good thing for me, I make the best of it by chatting with people in line to make the time move by faster. So I say again, the first thing NCL tests you on is your patience....! I didn't so much pay attention to the other ports of call afterwards, but these 2 ports really stood out. Then, for a 3rd time they bungled the dis-embarkation process, again, in New York City. We were between 1 to 2 hours LATE in getting off the ship, because of the incompetent disembarkation staff & their inept handling of the entire New York City disembarkation process, causing our 5-hour tour to only run 2 1/2 hours long. There must have been a number of people complaining about the long lines and long wait time, because about 2-3 days before the end of the cruise, everyone was given a FREE drink coupon, good for any espresso, alcholic drink, or specialty drink to be used at any of the bars, restaurants, or at the coffee cafe. So you know they admitted their mistakes. Bottom line--->> NCL Jewel is completely inept at managing large crowds and I even saw where they were using only one gangway to manage these couple thousands of guests, when there should have been at least 2 gangways in operation. So for these reasons, I've docked the embarkation/disembarkation category down to the lowly 1-star rating. XIII. Summary. Although I've ascribed the NCL Jewel the lowest cruise ship experience rating, of only 2 stars, I can tell you, the reader, that it *IS* the prettiest NCL ship that I've been on, and that compares with the Wind (retired), the Spirit, the Sun, & the Star, so the ship's beauty is a wonderful, astonishing feature that you will enjoy in the event you decide upon NCL Jewel. However, this is the first ship I've seen charging for use of the sauna, indoor jacuzzis, & steam room, although there is a free-of-charge steam room available for use too, but NO sauna for free, and NO indoor jacuzzi for free either. Surprisingly, I don't believe there's an indoor pool either. NCL needs to get with the program and improve the managing of large crowds for disembarking/embarking, needs to manage the busiest crowds in the main formal dining room where there's too much wait time during peak periods of dining, insist on better customer service with better attitudes meant for people who want to be on the ship, & get a competent shore excursion staff that adheres to the appointment times originally promised, in original reservations! Also, revert back to the attractive menu selections in the main formal dining room we had on the Sun cruise ship in May 2010. At least we didn't need translations, and the food was identifiable & appealing back then. You're heading in to the wrong direction with these unappealing menu selections in the main formal dining rooms. Some may view this writing as a negative, but I believe it's a positive. It's because of writings like these that will help aid the cruise line in getting back on-par in the right direction, and point-out their mistakes rather than me sugar-coating my cruise experience like so many others do. I refuse to do that. I tell it like it is. When it's good I mention it above; when it's bad, I point that out too. In this particular case the bad outweighed the good, even though I made the best of my cruise. After all, what would this world be like if we all sugar-coated and said everything was great all the time?? The cruise lines would only slip-up, fall in to a rut, & not improve. Author: weatherguy Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our cruise to Canada and New England aboard Norwegian Jewel was below our expectations. We had cruised on Norwegian previously to Mexico and had a good experience once we adjusted to "free-styling". We are experienced ... Read More
Our cruise to Canada and New England aboard Norwegian Jewel was below our expectations. We had cruised on Norwegian previously to Mexico and had a good experience once we adjusted to "free-styling". We are experienced cruisers, 5 different lines over 13 cruises now. So here's the list in categories THE SHIP ITSELF1. Never, on any of our cruises, have I ever NOT been able to sit on the toilet in my stateroom. I'm 6'2" and physically could not fit (no knee room) on the toilet. Its designed at a 45 degree angle for some reason and would have been just fine mounted straight on. Otherwise, the bathroom and specifically the shower was quite spacious as stateroom bathrooms go. 2. Because of the Freestyle cruising emphasis on specialty restaurants, a high percentage of public area on the ship is dedicated to dining. When the weather got bad and the outside decks had to be avoided, the congestion in the public areas was remarkable. Don't think I ever saw a ship's library totally full before. 3. The ship allegedly, has issues with the thrust bearings on one of its azipods(propulsion system). So NCL cancelled the stop at Corner Brook Newfoundland, very disappointing, but to make it up those already booked, every stateroom got $100 on-board credit. So hey, stuff happens. Here's the funny thing though... we kept an eye on the ship's speed for the entire cruise... our speed over the ground (SOG in nautical terms) never exceeded 15 knots. That was it, 15 knots TOPS to Newport, Halifax, Quebec City and Sydney. After we were done with Sydney, NS and on our way to NYC... miraculously the Jewel became capable of making 22 Knots which is very close to her fastest possible top speed. So tell me again why NCL cancelled Newfoundland if she was able to haul that fast even in rough sea conditions? I have a theory, below. DINING 1. If you've never cruised on NCL before understand what "freestyle cruising" means... -Every day, when dinner time comes(you choose when that is, fair enough) you have to make a decision on where to eat, it becomes a topic of discussion every day, so if you like to keep busy with stuff like this you might like it. -Choose the wrong time to go to a restaurant and you will wait in line. They have TV monitors around the ship to help you see which restaurants are busiest and how long the wait might be. Maybe that dining strategy you and the family have been discussing all afternoon now has to be changed. -You never get to be known to a particular waiter/waitress so if you like feel like you're something special in the dining room, you'll just have to settle for using your imagination. 2. In all fairness, the food on-board the Jewel was quite good. Specialty restaurants we used on this trip were the Sushi Bar, The French and Tex-Mex restaurants. Not sure that there was any difference between the quality of the food at the buffet and the main dining rooms. ACTIVITIES and CRUISE STAFF Here's where I had the most problem with this cruise. 1. Every day you get a "Freestyle Daily" which tells you all about upcoming events for the next day. After a couple days on this cruise I started to categorize and keep track of the items on the schedule that were involved in raising more money from the passengers. "NCL U" NCL University is evidently all about educating people about alcohol. $$ programs at the gym, $$$ at the spa, $$$ at the shops, $$$$ at the poker tournament or bingo. You get the picture. I've never seen it so blatant and in-your-face on any other line OR on the NCL Sun(my only other NCL experience). 2. Back to the events again... there was a very high percentage of NON-events listed to make the list look fuller... I'm sorry, "Bridge with your fellow passengers" is not an event. Enjoy ping pong pool deck. 3. TRIVIA LOVERS.... don't bother with the Jewel. No one really cares about it. Poorly prepared trivia quizzes, repeated questions, staff that didn't know anything about the subject matter. They had a new system of people getting initials on a card for participating in an organized activity and an extra one for winning a quiz and then accumulating those signatures throughout the cruise. Evidently those with the most signatures at the end of the cruise got to choose better prizes than those with fewer signatures. So after every organized activity you had to stand in line(an NCL tradition) to get the cruise staff person to sign your card. Many of us just didn't bother with it and hey, that's just fine with NCL, have to give away less stuff. 4. CONSPIRACY THEORY Here it is... After being sucked up to for for more money for 7 days, and then seeing that the Jewel was able to cruise at a full 22 knots, I concluded, as did many others aboard, that NCL cancelled Newfoundland because doing so would generate more revenue. All those people stuck indoors with plenty of ways to spend money, beats letting them go ashore and missing out on the revenue. BOTTOM LINE OR NCL____If you've never cruised on NCL before, do not look forward to excellence in any aspect of the cruise. Its pretty run of the mill service, food is good but not outstanding (unless you spring extra bucks for it). BOTTOM LINE ON THE JEWEL_____ Specifically on the Jewel, I think the cruise staff is lazy, inattentive and unmotivated by anything but raising revenue. Lets face it, all the cruise lines are hurting to some extent, but for me, NCL really rubbed it in my face. It will be a long time before I'll try NCL again. If you know your way around cruising, you know that "Freestyle Cruising" is just a marketing trick designed to attract those that have never cruised before. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I'm a veteran of several Princess and Holland-America cruises, so I've developed some expectations with regard to cruises. I decided to give Norwegian a try, but won't be making that choice again. The quality of their food ... Read More
I'm a veteran of several Princess and Holland-America cruises, so I've developed some expectations with regard to cruises. I decided to give Norwegian a try, but won't be making that choice again. The quality of their food and service fell far short of what I've come to expect from the other 2 cruise lines. I've come to expect a level of quality from the food on a cruise ship and felt very disappointed in Norwegian's product. The Dawn offers a multitude of extra-cost restaurants and it's obvious that those restaurants are where Norwegian's priorities are. Those of us who use the no-added-expense dining rooms or the buffet are left with food that rivals a Golden Corral or Hometown Buffet on land - and that's not good. From watery scrambled eggs in the morning (EVERY morning!) to dried out entrees in the evening, the ship's buffet was a disappointment. Table bussing could have been better, and tables & chairs are crammed far too close together. I've become accustomed to having "extras" like photos, shore excursions, and directed shopping pitched by cruise lines as a means of fattening their bottom line, but Norwegian took that to new heights. A normally free galley tour on other ships, became an extra-cost "behind the scenes" tour. The Sailaway Party from Manhattan was offered at an extra cost. Even some of the kids parties were offered for a fee. Our room was fairly clean, but furniture surfaces showed evidence of the previous occupants and the carpet was very much in need of shampooing. Our cabin stewards were fine and kept things in good shape. The ship's entertainment was uneven. Their comedian and Sinatra-style ballad singer were great, but the revues seemed aimed at an under-40 audience, rather than the predominantly 60+ crowd that populated the ship. Norwegian doesn't seem to know who's cruising. We booked only one shore excursion - in Halifax, NS - and it was great, but we found that doing our homework in advance for the rest of our destinations saved us a LOT of money, yet gave us a real flavor of each port. This was the first cruise in my half-dozen such experiences that didn't live up to the quality of the ports we visited. I found myself thinking of the ship as simply a means of getting from place to place, rather than a part of the vacation experience. If a Norwegian cruise is your first, or you don't mind pay $10-$25 extra for dinner, then the Dawn might be okay, but if you've cruised with other lines, you're in for a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My sister and I have always taken escorted tours with Globus,CIE,e.t.c. So this time we elected to cruise. We chose the New England/Canada cruise with Norwegian Spirit and really looking forward to our first time cruising. Embarkation this ... Read More
My sister and I have always taken escorted tours with Globus,CIE,e.t.c. So this time we elected to cruise. We chose the New England/Canada cruise with Norwegian Spirit and really looking forward to our first time cruising. Embarkation this was a nightmare as the ship was not ready for boarding. After 2hrs. we finally began to board but couldn't go to our rooms as they were not ready. We sat in the lobby for another hour.Stateroom we found the room to be cozy and the bed very comfortable. The balcony nice for two people.Ship Info the ship seems well maintained and the decor Asian and understated. That was fine for us as we are not into glitzy.Dining-the two main dining rooms are Windows and Garden. The menus are identical.We found the food mediocre at best and the daily selections disappointing. We ordered the shrimp cocktail one night and were presented with shrimp that were so tiny they looked like those one would get in a can. Very fishy so they went back. We tried their buffet restaurant Raffles for breakfast and at 6:30 am the food was cold and the scrambled eggs were some sort of egg substitute product. They haven't figured out how to keep food warm as we had the same problem at lunch. The selections were strangely disguised in highly seasoned sauces. All in all ,just bad cafeteria fare. We did have an excellent meal however at one of the specialty restaurants Le Bistro. It was outstanding but there is a cover charge for all the specialty restaurants and we felt cheated having to pay for good food.Activities these consisted of the usual lounging at the pool, playing shuffleboard, bingo and darts. We did attend the art presentation and lecture and found it interesting and enjoyable. Staff and Service-no complaints here. The staff was very accommodating and always pleasant.Entertainement-the theatre was always too crowded,not enough seating and people walked out on the magic and comedian shows as they were cheesy. We did go to the casino and had fun. There was a party that was soooo loud many left after a few minutes but there was a nice band that played in the lounge area where the gift shops are located. There are few shops and very high end so we just browsed.Shore Excursions We booked 4.The first was the Nova Scotia lobster lunch.It was very nice and the scenery beautiful at Peggy's Cove. We also enjoyed the Boston scenic and harbor tour. We were disappointed that we were unable to stop for shopping on these tours. Now for the nightmare tour in ST.John. This was a city highlights/harbor cruise. We boarded our tour bus and proceeded to do the city portion.We then boarded our boat for the harbor tour. When this was over I asked the tour guide which of the buses I should board. He told me there would be no bus and that it was a lovely day to walk back to our ship. I thought he must be joking as it was a mile to our ship. Everyone was angry as we paid 90.00 each and should be escorted back by bus as all the other tours. I forgot to mention that we had people with canes and walkers and I myself cannot walk long distances due to back problems. My sister has knee problems and we are both over 65 as most of us on the tour.It took us 40 min. to get back and I was in excruciating pain only to have to climb 3 uphill gangplanks. That evening was ruined for us as we were in too much pain to go to dinner. We stayed in our room and went to sleep as the TV only had 3 working channels.Disembarkation - this was better than getting on and we found our luggage quickly.We paid for airport trans.at booking so we waited for the same minivan that brought us there.However they decided to use busses and the process took over one hour. The driver takes us to LGA only to realize she can't drive us to our terminals as the bus is too high to clear the entrance !!!! Once again We paid for door to door service and instead we were all dropped off 1/2 mile away from the main terminal. So luggage in tow we all started the long journey to the terminal. If not for my sister's help I would still be there.We should not have purchased our transfer vouchers thru NCL we simply should have called a taxi but NCL told me the taxis charge double. This is not the case. I also need to mention that we never got to go to our last port Martha's Vineyard. The water was too choppy for tendering. I can't blame NCL for this but we were so disappointed. The excursion we booked was the only one that allowed time to browse the local shops,and soak in the local flavor-not to mention enjoy a nice seafood lunch. So We have no souvenirs or pictures of the main reason we booked this tour. This one had Martha's Vineyard on the itinerary. I admit I am a novice at cruising but I would have been happy if we could have docked somewhere else.Needless to say I will stick to my escorted bus tours . Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Oct. 14, 07 NYC-NYC via New England and Canada. This was my 15th cruise and my 1st on NCL. We are not picky eaters but would like hot food at least warm and cold food at least chilled. I must say the food was absolutely terrible, ... Read More
Oct. 14, 07 NYC-NYC via New England and Canada. This was my 15th cruise and my 1st on NCL. We are not picky eaters but would like hot food at least warm and cold food at least chilled. I must say the food was absolutely terrible, especially in the Cafe for breakfast. Cold - eggs, toast, french toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits, etc. Hot - melons, salmon, fruit salad, etc. THEY MIGHT WANT TO TRY AND REVERSE THE PROCESS. The pay to eat places were not bad but shouldn't that be the norm for the entire ship? They say they cater to folks with allergies,my wife has celiac disease and can't eat food with gluten(wheat, bread etc) she informed the waiter and he assured her that what she was ordering was gluten free, he might want to look up celiac disease, she got violently sick within minutes of eating. I couldn't wait to get ashore so we could get something to eat(even went to McDonalds in Sydney) Believe it or not I lost 8 lbs. on this trip. I am going to write a new diet book, THE NORWEGIAN DAWN DIET. NOROVIRUS- This is a gatro-intestinal virus. They informed us on Tues. the ship had quarantined 10% of the passengers and crew, some folks even had to leave the ship. NCL seems to have a problem with this virus as I have read reviews about other trips and they have the same problem. Cabin Service- On the 15th I asked the cabin steward to replace all of the drinks in the fridge with diet coke as that is all we drink, he finally complied on the 24th. The cabins were not cleaned that well and the beds were very uncomfortable, probably because of the 3 inch mattress that we slept on. On the 22nd they took our bed spreads away and never returned them, I was told they were being disinfected because of the NOROVIRUS and we were not going to get them back. I had to ask for blankets several times,(go figure, North Atlantic in October) finally got them on the 25th. Several times there was only 1 towel. Entertainment- Great. The lady comedian Patty ?? was not that funny,(Rose Ann Bahr , Rosie O'Donnell like), the rest was good. Fire and Ice are absolutely wonderful. Los Tres Pilotos were very entertaining as well. The musical impressionists were hilarious. I did not catch the acrobats but people were raving about them. Plenty to do and show times were good. Tours- Try to make your own travel/tour arrangements. They try to use scare tactics(giving credit card #'s to people you don't know,untrustworthiness, miss the boat etc.)saying NCL needs to concentrate on other parts of the cruise besides trying to make money on the tours. We rented cars in 3 of the ports and had a wonderful time for about $45.00 use each time, as opposed to $150.00 . Granted we did not get the funny bus drivers but we had done our research ahead of time and had a great time, stopped when we wanted, ate when we wanted, shopped when we wanted, etc. In La Baie we asked the folks on the ground if there was any place to rent a car, they said no but we could take the shuttle bus for $20.00, what a rip. We should have looked around outside the tent because there were several cars with big signs in the windshield FOR RENT. We tried to get a refund, sorry Charlie. Internet- What a joke. SLOW, SLOW, SLOW. and expensive, of course they charge by the minute. I asked the rude lady that ran the Internet cafe if she had a lot of complaints about the lack of speed on the computers, she replied "sir,there is nothing I can about it, if you don't like it write to NCL about buying more bandwidth, I would be happy to sell it to them". I guess I wasn't the 1st person that had mentioned this to her highness. I don't think she was having a good day. If you can, wait til you get to shore there all kinds of internet cafes around or you can use the connections in the terminals as the crew does. Overall our trip was not that bad. We met some wonderful people. This more than made up for the ineptness of NCL in other areas of the trip. Would I take the Dawn again? Probably not. kevie Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was our 10 day NCL cruise we took on September 13th to New England and Canada. We feel like the amount of money we paid for this cruise ($4400.00 for a mini suite) was totally excessive for what we received. What we got was more in ... Read More
This was our 10 day NCL cruise we took on September 13th to New England and Canada. We feel like the amount of money we paid for this cruise ($4400.00 for a mini suite) was totally excessive for what we received. What we got was more in line with a ocean view or balcony cabin. Below are the areas of dissatisfaction with this cruise and NCL: Not only did we not receive concierge service (per NCL), we never saw or met our cabin steward (to this day we don't know who it was) The coffee maker worked sporadically. This was reported to housekeeping on the second day of the cruise with no results. We "fought" with the coffee maker for the rest of the cruise - most times it took at least ten minutes to get it to work. The coffee pot was not cleaned regularly, nor were new coffee packets left on a daily basis. Balcony not cleaned on a daily basis.  Room steward did not empty ashtrays on the balcony where we smoked.  No Robes or slippers offered. (cabins on both sides of us had them) No Daily fresh fruit or flowers (cabins on both sides of us had them)  No garbage can in the cabin To date we have never received our latitude pins Ordered extra towels for entire trip, only got them the first day (via note to steward which was the way we had to communicate with our cabin steward the entire cruise) Ordered extra blankets. When room was cleaned the extra blankets were rolled up in a ball and tossed on sofa or end of bed. (never folded) When room was made up, it looked like someone laid on bed after making it. TV was only a 13 inches stuffed in a corner of the cabinet. Telephone was hung on wall under TV cabinet making it impossible to see the numbers or direct dial buttons All though not listed or a big deal, our steward never made up animals with the towels but cabins on both sides of us had them. It's just a nice touch. We sent out laundry and dry cleaning and got back ours plus another passenger's laundry (took 2 days for him to pick it up after immediately notifying housekeeping) Departure transfer service had a driver that didn't know the airport and we were dropped off outside of the wrong airline arrival entrance on wrong side of the road at the airline arrivals instead of departures. We had to cross 2 busy arrival roads, hauling out luggage to get to the terminal. Then we had to rent carts to carry out luggage from arrivals down to the departure area. The driver drove around the airport 3 times looking for passenger airlines making one passenger miss her flight. He claimed the bus wouldn't fit under the canopies when there were other buses sitting under them therefore he let us on wrong side of road and at wrong airline. Our complaints were expressed to housekeeping with a meeting in our cabin. It was expressed on the last night of the cruise as my wife did not want any repercussions for complaining. ** Restaurant staff was excellent ** Food was very good ** Casino staff was marginal (many dealers spoke very limited English) We had cruised on NCL once before and although we liked the free style cruising concept, we thought the cabin, bathroom and balcony were too small compared to other cruise lines. We decided to give NCL another chance with this cruise since the itinerary was one my wife wanted to go on. However, based on our experiences during this cruise we will hard pressed to cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
I took my mother on a six night Canada/New England cruise in September of this year. I went through an online travel agent, and had everything arranged from my flights to the transfers to the ship from the airport in New York. When I ... Read More
I took my mother on a six night Canada/New England cruise in September of this year. I went through an online travel agent, and had everything arranged from my flights to the transfers to the ship from the airport in New York. When I arrived at the airport, I had been told that there would be a Norwegian Cruise Line Representative there to meet me and take my mother and me to the ship. There was no one to be found. I called Norwegian Cruise Lines and they said that they do not offer transfers from the Newark, New Jersey airport, where we were. I called my online travel agent, and they said that Norwegian said they had a transfer out of that airport, and that they would see what they could do. In the mean time, after waiting at the airport for over an hour, I had to get a taxi. The taxi got us to the ship right as they were doing the safety drill. As the ship left the New York port, we went to deck seven, and watched as we went past the Statue of Liberty. It was a very beautiful beginning to a trip that had started out so bad. The first day of our cruise was at sea. We explored the ship, but we were disappointed to find that there was not much of the ship to explore. There was one gift shop, two jewelry/watch shops, and a liquor shop. We resorted to going to the "scrabble room" and playing cards out of boredom. The second day we docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and were greeted by bag pipers. It was such and exciting experience. For our excursion we went to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. There was not much to do in Mahone Bay, but Lunenburg was just breathtaking. It had such vibrant colors, and interesting historical sites. It was a real joy to see. When we got back to the ship, we prepared for dinner. Every evening of the cruise we either ate at Windows or the Garden dining rooms. It really depended on which one we found first. Let me explain. In order to get to the Windows dining room from the rear of the ship, you had to go up to floor seven, then walk to the middle of the ship, then go down the stairs to floor six, and walk to the rear of the ship. If you try to get to Windows from the staircase at the rear of the ship, you run into a wall. I think over half the guests on the ship were lost eighty percent of the time just trying to find the dining rooms. The third day we arrived at St. Johns. We had to disembark the ship from a different deck than the one the previous day. This made the morning interesting, being that they had left the signs up from the day before, so many people were going down to the wrong deck. There were ship attendants standing around to assist, but they did not do so. A small wandering group of us asked a gentleman that worked on the ship where we were supposed to go, and he said in a sarcastic manner "Well, all I can say is that you are getting warmer." So our little group wandered some more until we found the deck we needed, which was of course the one the guy we asked previously was on. After we made it off of the ship, St. John and St. Martin was wonderful. At the end of the day, we boarded the ship, and began our wandering for dinner. The fourth day we went to Boston. It was a sight to see. There were a lot of great historical sites to enjoy, and then we took a cruise tour of the harbor. We had left our do not disturb sign in the key slot earlier that morning, because my mom had lost something that she was worried housekeeping might throw away accidentally. When we boarded the ship after touring Boston, we went to our room. Housekeeping was there, and pointed to our do not disturb sign and said "What is going on with that?" I explained that my mom had lost something that we did not want thrown away. I was quite insulted that we got drilled about why we put up our do not disturb sign. The fifth day we went to Martha's Vineyard. It was the best stop in the trip. The homes were so quaint, and the area was so pretty. When we got back on the ship, we decided to look at our photos that we had taken at the ports. We did not see one day of photos, so we asked the photo area attendant. He rudely told us that the photos were not put out for that day, and walked away. So overall, the ports were great to visit; it was just the ship, and people that we had to be with that were not enjoyable. Oh, and by the way, I still have not gotten a refund from Norwegian for the transfer that was not there to pick me up at the airport in Newark. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We were on the NCL Dawn cruise ship and chose this line because of the itinerary. Our mini suite was very nice and spacious and we boarded in New York. Embarkation was so easy and getting a cab from LaGuardia was absolutely no problem and ... Read More
We were on the NCL Dawn cruise ship and chose this line because of the itinerary. Our mini suite was very nice and spacious and we boarded in New York. Embarkation was so easy and getting a cab from LaGuardia was absolutely no problem and cost about $30 per couple with toll and tip. However - we were not impressed with the Free Style cruising. It is very difficult to be seated for dinner and the menus in the Main Dining rooms were very poor. The restaurants where you were charged a fee $15-$20 per person were delicious and we ate most meals there. We were 3 days into our cruise before we met our stateroom attendants. We got NO SERVICE for ice or replacement towels etc. without asking for it. We had one excursion ticket that we turned in for a refund 3 days before arriving at the port, but were still charged for it. Finally, we did manage to receive a credit. I recommend that someone cruising NCL pay close attention to their final bill as many errors occurred. Their web site is very hard to find answers to questions or to order Bon Voyage gift items (we ordered Red wine for a fellow passenger and NCL delivered white wine instead). The entertainment for our cruise was a juggler, a comedy skit act and a magician - not exactly entertaining. There is no on-board television viewing of your account, but however there are 2 free movie channels which was nice. At the spa and exercise area, there is no attendant - if you need towels - you get them yourself; if you have questions - you just figure it out; if you want to know how to operate the equipment - you ask a fellow passenger. Needless to say, we were very disappointed in the staff - but like I said in the beginning - maybe we are just not NCL Free Style Cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
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