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2,752 Norwegian (NCL) Caribbean Cruise Reviews

Chose cruise for stops. Excellent time crew excellent travel during Coronavirus craziness endless cleaning on ship they really made us feel safe. Captain made decisions not to port in port Rico due to uncertainty! Sailed up to ... Read More
Chose cruise for stops. Excellent time crew excellent travel during Coronavirus craziness endless cleaning on ship they really made us feel safe. Captain made decisions not to port in port Rico due to uncertainty! Sailed up to Cape Canaveral embarkation was fairly smothered considering circumstances!! provided transport to air port and we were not charged anything extra for extra days at sea!!! Excellent job NCL!!! We will definitely cruise NCL again !! Epic is a good ship for multiple stops not best ship for sea days no enough outside venues!! We have been on getaway multiple time and enjoyed the water front part of ship !! NCL is a fun cruise line for me and my wife they have good entertainment and a great staff most bar tenders on board made great drinks!! We’re a little picky we don’t like extra sweat mixers in our drinks and most time they adjusted to our taste!! Also food was great no complaints there Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We wanted to try another cruise line - we had only sailed with Celebrity before this. The ship was about the same size as our previous ships. The decor and common areas were nice and we had no complaints. The Garden Cafe food was less ... Read More
We wanted to try another cruise line - we had only sailed with Celebrity before this. The ship was about the same size as our previous ships. The decor and common areas were nice and we had no complaints. The Garden Cafe food was less than stellar. We ate one lunch here and one breakfast. The breakfast was good - the other meal was terrible. We did have great service and food in the Venetian main dining room. We like having the Irish pub open - to have a drink or a late night bite. This was nice. Hated the casino - as we are non smokers and this was bad with smoke !! The Cigar Lounge and Champagne Bar area -- were just as bad. We couldn't ever try these areas because of the smoke... absolutely terrible !! About half of the ladies restroom door locks did not work. Overall - they did push the sanitizing hands thing all over the ship - but most times the public restroom areas were not very clean - paper towels littering a lot of the floor. The entertainment was good. We went to most shows and tried most of the venues on the ship - besides the areas that were "smoky ". Service was ok. We were lucky enough to find a great waitress in the Venetian and requested her section nightly. Our room steward - never really touched base with us - but would say hello in passing. Customer service in the other areas of the ship were good. We did talk to a lot of people who were repeat Norwegian Cruisers - who told us not to judge Norwegian by the Dawn and this trip -- as they were disappointed too. We do plan on trying Norwegian in the future per this advice. Overall - our cruise was OK. Was not stellar - but we do love cruising so it was a good time. If you don't have a good time on a cruise - its your own fault ! We always meet and talk to so many people !! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Post cruise report: To start, I have to say the sanitary precautions on the cruise were outstanding. Every single day the crew washed down all the walls, doors, railings, etc. in every corridor, you couldn't walk two feet without ... Read More
Post cruise report: To start, I have to say the sanitary precautions on the cruise were outstanding. Every single day the crew washed down all the walls, doors, railings, etc. in every corridor, you couldn't walk two feet without tripping over a hand sanitizer dispenser, and the "washy-washy" (really, they say that) staff were constantly spraying your hands. They were worse than the perfume ladies at a Macy's, lol. You couldn't even get your own beverage at the buffet. A staff member had to dispense it and hand it to you. I was really very impressed. In addition, we brought our own clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and a bottle of surgical soap to wash our hands. This was our first cruise on Norwegian and it was nothing short of amazing! The ship, staff, food, etc. were all first rate. I did upgrade our cabin to what they call an Owner's Suite for our 27th anniversary. The package included a 900 s.f. suite with both a forward facing and side balcony. We had a butler, personal concierge, 3-meal dining package (the specialty restaurants are outstanding), unlimited drink package, and wifi included. Owner's suite guests also get 3 full size bottles of liquor in the cabin as well as the refrigerator kept stocked with water, mixers, etc. I had also asked for a pitcher of unsweet tea and lemonade (the lemonade was fresh squeezed) in the fridge and the butler kept it refreshed every day. He also brings an afternoon snack every day - we asked for sliced fruit and a variety of meats and cheeses. You get priority check-in and the concierge meets you at the check-in desk and escorts you to your cabin and you don't have to wait in any lines. There was also priority disembarkation. Included was both breakfast and lunch in one of the specialty restaurants - we did not eat a single meal at the buffet or the main dining room. All this for only $2,000 per person for 7 days. For what we got and being made to feel like royalty, I thought it was a bargain. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose epic because It was my first cruise and wanted a huge ship and heard norwegian was a good line. The crew took such good care of us to keep us safe from the corona virus to ensure that we all had a healthy fun cruise. Restaurants ... Read More
I chose epic because It was my first cruise and wanted a huge ship and heard norwegian was a good line. The crew took such good care of us to keep us safe from the corona virus to ensure that we all had a healthy fun cruise. Restaurants were FABULOUS. The entertainment was over top notch. Tables always clean and available.captain worked very hard to keep us safe and made sure we found a port to dock to as soon as he possibly could due to the corona virus .he was definitely a great and courteous captain. Sooo much to do on the ship. Excursions were great. Loved the eco hike and beach at st johns.came with amazing long unexpected boat ride which really made the excursion extra nice along with the amazing paradise beach in st John's and perfect hike. Zip lining in st lucia was so much fun!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We had booked a trip to China in early March. Since it had to be rescheduled due to C-19, we looked around for a cruise. The 7-day Southern Caribbean on the NCL Epic sailed from SJU, which I've never visited, and the ports of call ... Read More
We had booked a trip to China in early March. Since it had to be rescheduled due to C-19, we looked around for a cruise. The 7-day Southern Caribbean on the NCL Epic sailed from SJU, which I've never visited, and the ports of call were 83% new to both of us – so, we picked it. We had a nicer-than-expected experience to Cuba the first time we were on Norwegian in 2018; the word "Epic" sounded famous and grandiose (little did I know at the time that the fame was yesteryear's news - this ship, while massive, is beginning to show its age). Also tempting was a "free" pkg: beverage (premium, but not the top one), 3 specialty dining nights, “shore excursionS”, and 250 minutes of internet - in quotation marks because the fine print revealed they aren’t quite as generous in reality. They charge you the 20% service upfront for the first 2 up front; the bev pkg is regularly priced at $99 per day, while dining is $99 for the 3 nights; so even the gratuity for the bev pack is a whopping $140 per person for the cruise. Frankly, unless you are aready a ripe candidate to join AA, I wouldn't pay to get it - $99 (or $119 with tip) of drinks per day, even at cruise ship prices, is a lot. Now, when it's "free", sure, I can drink $20 worth easily day in and day out. And yeah, there are some sore points even in the freebie (more in a sec) Likewise, I personally won’t spring $33 for specialty dining per person per night (+ tip of course). – better to save my money for when I’m NOT on a cruise, since “specialty” does not always mean “superior” when compared to the alternative (regular dining). The internet was tricky, and while not Flash-like, not as slow as feared. The “shore excursionS” was just $50, for ONE of us – try as I may, I could not come up with any excursionS that would justify the plural number; I forfeited that $50 so that I could save more money buying my own excursions. Even before Viator came on the scene big time, there have always been options that are less expensive and/or restrictive. We spent a couple of days in San Juan before the cruise, did some prep work booking our own excursions while we were there, and looked forward to the cruise with great anticipation. Please be sure you know where you board in SJU, as there are two different cruise terminals, and they are not exactly next to each other. Embarkation was one of the smoothest – a bit of walking, but practically no line, and made even better by an enthusiastic agent. In the interest of brevity (too late, you might complain!), I’ll quickly cover some general areas and focus on a few aspects of this cruise in more detail. You already have my thoughts on excursions. Entertainment was fine, with many options when it’s a ship this size. The two main shows in the Epic Theatre were good to very good. Tthe dueling piano sessions are always helped by the free flow of liquor (guests and artists), and the mentalist guy was impressive in blowing your mind. I cannot comment on any of the kids’ programmes; the water slides were not always operational (they’re fine), and the hot tubs are always crowded. and (as usual) not nearly hot enough. I like the fitness room too – seems to be enough at least for the cruise crowd I was with – not crowded at all. So now, onto the other areas (other than Cabin, which is found below). DINING The use of melamine immediately sets them down a notch: Princess, too, had that, but Celebrity had “real” plates. I’d say the Garden café was generally 3.5 to 4 stars, if you can overlook the crude way in which they treat their esteemed guests: to wit, cantaloupes, water melon, pineapples, and honey dews are all skin on, and hewn to Brobdingnagian proportions, hard to deal with when the knife is dull. We tried both Taste and Manhattan, and yes, the latter is a touch more exclusive and refined. The selection was, again, not as bad as reading reviews would have led me to believe. I had a very nice pepper steak one evening, even the French fries served with it ruined it a bit. Try to stay abreast of dining room/café hours, as that “last resort” buffet on the pool deck outside of the Garden Café is pretty much, well, last resort. That pool bar is easily one of the busiest as well, particularly during the day. Believe it or not, they offer as “specialty” dining, sushi, and a teppanyaki place – places you’d pay probably half the price if you were on terra firma. The 3 we chose were French (C+), Cagney (A-), and Italian (B+). Again, I would NOT pay extra for any of these, but since it’s a so-called freebie, we did it. So how “special” was it? Just to give you an idea… the appetizer at Le Bistro looked similar to the one we had at Taste the first night. I ordered it just for comparison. Result: taste is about the same (yup-that unmistakable chlorine smell is !) – fancier presentation, and one fewer scallop. What do you think: worth it? I’d say only the Cagney experience was “special”: larger, Riedel wine glasses, some selections that are more special (grass-fed New York). That’s why it’s the most booked. If you want Cagney’s, at YOUR time/date, book it as soon as you get on board. It is on wine, and wine pricing, that I want to spend a minute or two explaining, as it is absolutely THE worst foot NCL puts forward. Never mind that they have those wine stations in the garden café designed to gouge the unaware (a Simi Cab, which you get at Publix for about $17, $5.50 for 1.25 oz., and $22 for 5 oz.!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world). So let’s say you dodge that pitfall. NCL has more. Remember the drink pkg: FREE drinks, incl. wine, up to $15 a glass. This is where they get you. You notice there are some wines that are $8/9/10, and then you see a few at $16, $18… a glass. RESIST THE TRAP. They are designed to catch the unaware. You’d think in any establishment, the pricing would be more or less consistent. Not when they want to play “Gotcha” at NCL. I have the facts (I took pix for later research). Those $8/9/10 glasses are generally priced at a quarter of a full bottle of wine (Luigi Bosca Malbec, or the Recanati or Gerard Bertrand Cab, among others, $9/$33, the Torres Crianza, $10/$35). But once you move PAST the $15 price-point, LOOK OUT!!! The Badger Mtn Cab, or the John Wine Cotes du Rousillon, par exemple, $16/$29, or a 1.8 ratio! The point? They are trying to move you into those higher-priced wines, where the mark-up PER GLASS is unreasonably and disproportionately higher. They think you’re stupid. I resent that. Don’t be! SERVICE One thing we’ve observed in our last 3 cruises this past year is that, while on Princess or Celebrity, the staff are pretty damned close to letting the guests pass first in the corridor, NCL is probably doing an 80-20. No biggie, you might say, but worth noting. Staff friendliness was not helped by the draconian measures taken about 5 days into our cruise with food – so, I’ll try not to discount it too much – but it ran the gamut of friendly to indifference. The training, though, is ostensibly lacking. When we dined at Le Bistro, I thought I’d start with, you know, a glass of Dubonnet on the rocks, arguably the national drink along with Pernod and Ricard. “Doo-fun-nay”, our cute waitress from Peru asked, quizzically, “I don’t think we have that”. Likewise, waiters would pretend know what wine you’re talking about, and either bring the wrong one, or come back to ask you again. The way their system is, wait staff often give the impression of being harried or disorganized. Our one notable bright spot was Miguel at La Cucina the last (or what WOULD have been our last) evening on board. He was polite, professional, and very much on top of his game. A gem, and a reassuring footnote on … whatever. I don’t think I’ve made it a habit to slip someone a $20 for one meal (OVER and above the mandatory gratuity we were charged!) Our cruise WAS affected by Covid-19. Day we were to dock in SJU, we were turned away - had to sail to Port Canaveral instead. The 2 extra days of cruising did not cost us extra (although they really could have tastefully handled the $15 pp/per day gratuity as long as the staff DO end up getting their share) - they handled that part alright, arranging for buses to get us to MCO. The main reason that my wife and I were less than pleased overall is summarized this way: NCL/Epic treat customers like they are stupid, math-challenged ignoramus (or is that ignorami); that may or may not be true with the majority of customers, or perhaps fellow pax are just too loaded to care, but the way NCL tried to play "gotcha" with your money is just offensive. That's why I did not buy any future credits, tempting as those deals were: it is not at all clear in my mind that we'd be three-peat customers after that cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise because the dates matched spring break-I am a professor and had the opportunity to travel (when we booked- we did not know that COVID-19 was on the horizon). We booked on "Black Monday" and got a really ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the dates matched spring break-I am a professor and had the opportunity to travel (when we booked- we did not know that COVID-19 was on the horizon). We booked on "Black Monday" and got a really good deal with 3 specialty meals, wifi, a beverage package and 50 dollars off shore excursions. Embarkment was excellent. I wished I has listened to the ship orientation-it took me days to understand processes that I should have learned! Our suite was great on the 9th floor with a balcony. The two of us friends have Celiac disease so were quickly connected to the dietary specialist who took such good care of us. We were not able to eat at the buffet because NCL does not label its food, but we had wonderful meals at the sit down restaurants including three at speciality restaurants. We upgraded to the best beverage package and enjoyed fabulous wine bottles with each meal. Our beds were comfortable. Our room was tended to twice a day. In getting off the boat for island days-we would never know we were on the giant ship! Few if any wait times or lines. Really amazing. We took one NCL shore excursion to the Virgin Gorda that was very very well done! I would say our service was good to excellent. We loved the entertainment especially "Pricilla Queen of the Desert" and the Circ show. We got the Wifi upgrade which may have been worth it for two professionals who needed to stay connected to work. WIfi on cruises is slow and frustrating but we did use it when we could. We left on our cruise just before the serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic came to light. We were not offered cancellation or rescheduling. Once on the ship the crew did lots to keep us safe. We had no virus on ship with 5000 plus passangers and nearly that many crew. I am grateful to NCL for the care they gave us. We were the last sailing of the ship for months. Now, some criticism, mostly of the ship: *The pools are not satisfactory in terms of space, depth, or temperature. There are really no handicap accommodations for swimming. *Pool bar service was far too slow and difficult *Pool area service staff seemed to be avoiding taking orders rather than trying to serve. Our ship was diverted from Puerto Rico to Cape Canaveral due to the COVID-19. Apparently we needed a 3 day quarantine. The NCL crew and staff handled three more days with poise and grace. They treated us with the same kindness we had during the scheduled days of our cruise. BRAVO NCL! You did an excellent job in a tough situation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I recently returned from a cruise with my family on the Norwegian Epic. Our port of call was San Juan. We were originally scheduled for a 7 day Caribbean cruise, but it turned out to be a few extra days due to the complications of the ... Read More
I recently returned from a cruise with my family on the Norwegian Epic. Our port of call was San Juan. We were originally scheduled for a 7 day Caribbean cruise, but it turned out to be a few extra days due to the complications of the virus outbreak. Everyone was temperature scanned before entry on the vessel to be sure no passengers had a fever. The staff was very, very diligent keeping everything clean and sanitary. All condiments were removed from the tables, and all the buffet items were given to the patrons from the crew. (The crew was wearing gloves, and with smiles on the faces). I'm sure this was a difficult task considering they were most likely working extra shifts to cover all the extra requirements to feed everyone in the buffet area. The condiments were handed out individually in small containers. Everywhere you looked, there were crew members cleaning every surface. Elevator buttons, casino machines, handrails, tables, walls, everything. I even witnessed two people hand scrubbing every stair on the escalator. We were given constant updates on the current situation in all of the ports we visited. When our vessel tried to return to San Juan on the last day, an announcement was made by the captain about the current situation. He stated that if we were to port there that we would of been quarantined for a minimum of 3 days on the island possibly up to 14. He decided to return the vessel to Port Canaveral for us to disembark. We were then told that every cabin would receive an hour of free Wi-Fi and a free phone call to make changes to our return travel arrangements. Our drinking package was extended along with our vacation for two days at no extra charge. The cruise line also offered to pay the difference for our return flights home, and chartered buses for everyone to the Orlando airport. I believe they also chartered a private flight for any passenger returning to San Juan. All in all I was very pleased with the professionalism and the quality of service from the Norwegian cruise line employees during the stressful time! I would highly recommend them to anyone considering booking a future cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise on 2/6/20 based on the itinerary and low price that went even lower after we booked. We flew into Puerto Rico on Friday, 3/6 and satyed3at the Caribe Hilton (amazing) while enjoying the forts, Old San Juan, some great ... Read More
We chose this cruise on 2/6/20 based on the itinerary and low price that went even lower after we booked. We flew into Puerto Rico on Friday, 3/6 and satyed3at the Caribe Hilton (amazing) while enjoying the forts, Old San Juan, some great restaurants and an excursion to El Yunque rainforest. EMBARKATION Arrived around 1:00, got tested for temperature, checked in on priority (Platinum), filled out some paperwork, got our key cards and were on the ship within 15 minutes of our temp check. DISEMBARKATION Not as smooth, but once we figured out what line to get in, we waited about 45 minutes and then were about the first 100 or so people let off. Going through customs was easy (no paperwork or questions) just held our passport by our face and walked right through. DINING Ate a 5 of the specialty restaurants and enjoyed each except for La Cucina where it took us 1.5 hours just to get served 2 courses. We ate mainly in Taste for breakfast but for a couple of early morning meals at the Garden Cafe. BARBADOS Did NCL Excursion with bus transport to Carlisle Bay Beach (beautiful) that included a welcome drink, lounge chairs and an umbrella. ST. LUCIA Did NCL Excursion for Soufriere by Land/Sea that was phenomenal. Our tour guide, Cindy, was fantastic and knowledgeable about the island and its history during our journey via small bus along the numerous twists/turns and elevated changes with a few stops to see the Pitons and amazing water views below, with our final journey via catamaran to view the Pitons and scenic coastline. ANTIGUA We booked our own excursion to Blue Waters Resort for $65 pp that included use of resort facilities (pools, beaches, water sports) but no food or drink. If you want the all inclusive the cost is $150 pp. NCL charges $349 pp (includes transportation) but we only spent $18 total for the 15-minute ride via cab from the port. You need to book this via phone directly with this beautiful and luxurious resort. TORTOLA/BVI We booked an excursion on our own via Kuralu Too for a small group (we were 2 of 20) that included 2 great snorkel spots and then almost 4 hours at Jost Van Dyke where we enjoyed the food & drinks at The Soggy Dollar Bar, the beautiful beach and warm water. ST. THOMAS We did the skyride that is but a short walk from the cruise pier that provides a quick, enclosed gondola ride to the top, while providing some amazing views at the top. Afterwards, we took an open air cab ($8 pp) to Magen'd Bay Beach to soak up some last minute beachtime at this Top 10 rated beach. ENTERTAINMENT Howl at the Moon - 5 stars! Burn the Floor - 5 stars! Epic Beatles - 4 stars SERVICE 5 Stars across the board but for a brief service glitch while eating at La Cucina. Our room steward, Irwin, was fantastic, pleasant and did a great job. We received greetings duiring our long walks in the room hallways from everyone each time we passed them. We secured POSH passes and got more than our $ worth ($59 pp) especially as our cruise was extended 2 extra days. INTERNET 1 star as I truly hope NCL addresses this really bad system they use. This was never more under the spotlight than when we were told at 6:30 AM on the day we were to leave Puerto Rico on Sunday, 3/15 through Tuesday, 3/17 where trying to make a call or change a flight via the internet were next to impossible. The extra 60 minutes were a nice gesture but were virtually useless when needed. PUERTO RICO A beautiful island that provides a rich Caribbean history, great restaurants, bars and our hotel (Caribe Hilton) was a resort we will go to again. We were upset that our ship was turned away on 3/15, and felt especially sad for the many PR People that were so close to being home, yet wre turned away like rest of us. NCL Thank you for a great cruise, wonderful service and getting us safely to Port Canaveral (no extra costs). We look forward to cruising again on NCL! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
NCL Gem Review 3/6/2020 through 3/16/2020 Sorry, this is a long one. I almost did not write it. I mean with so many more serious things on our minds lately. But then I thought, this cruise was exceptional and maybe people need to ... Read More
NCL Gem Review 3/6/2020 through 3/16/2020 Sorry, this is a long one. I almost did not write it. I mean with so many more serious things on our minds lately. But then I thought, this cruise was exceptional and maybe people need to hear that. 4 Adults in the Garden Villa Suite 14000. Both my husband and I are platinum plus latitude members. We had booked an H3 months prior but once our travel agent told me the H1 was all of a sudden open, I bid on it and my bid was accepted 4 days prior to sailing. So at the last minute we invited my sister and her husband who had sailed on the Gem with us in 2013 and they said YES! We also invited my brother and his wife but he had strep throat so no way… bummer. We had an extra bedroom which we joked about if someone drank too much we would not let them drive home ;) We left New Hampshire at 5:30 on the morning of our cruise and arrived at the Port of NY by 11:30. An easy Friday drive. We dropped off the bags, tipped the porter and parked above for $400.00, for 10 days, very easy. Except that we parked in the first parking area and it was way too far away. My husband had his knee replaced about 5 weeks ago so it was a long walk back to the ship. Once they took our temperature we were escorted to the Haven area and had to fill out a medical questionnaire. We were processed very quickly and then we saw RAVI! Ravi is an amazing butler we had for 2 sailings, many, many years ago. He greeted us and told us he already had Mr. M’s Guinness on ice and he asked about our kids … Ravi is one of those special people you meet in life that you just do not forget. And we were so happy he would be our butler once again. I will say here that this is what NCL does best. They have incredible staff that they are able to retain. Ravi has been with NCL 19 years. We went directly to Cagney’s for lunch while they finished preparing our suite. The Garden Villa is wonderful. In the past the colors were vibrant either blue, green and gold, or Orange Red and gold which might be a bit loud for everyday, but absolutely perfect for a Caribbean cruise vacation. Plus there used to be a very cool circular leather sofa. They refurbished the Villa a few years ago and the new colors are tasteful and neutral. A bit more upscale but rather subdued, IMO. And circular sofa is now just a solid oversized sectional. Comfy but dull. The Garden Villa is huge. 3 bedrooms all with their own bathroom. One is definitely the master suite with an enormous soaking tub. I will not bore you with all the details of Garden Villa, it is just as awesome as you have heard. We were kept well hydrated with 6 bottles of alcohol, and all the boxed water, soda (Pepsi products only) juices and mixers we could want. We had a few parties and they allowed us to purchase extra beer, wine and more bottles of liquor. Service: In a word, Outstanding. Ravi kept brining us food and did not mind us planning parties and our room stewards Patrick and Teddy were wonderful. They kept the Villa and Sundeck pristine. One thing that changed in the space was the courtyard area. When we sailed last we had a very private top deck. Now the Top deck is half the size and the people in the 15000 can actually look over and see us from the steps of their hot tub. It was very odd and invasive. And the Sauna never really got hot. And the master bedroom was always very cold. Our concierge was Alex from Croatia and he was excellent. Alex made our spa reservations, dining (often at the last minute) and showed us to the special seating at the Stardust and much more. He also ordered local flowers for me on behalf of my husband, with the instructions "something local and funky" he did not disappoint. It was fabulous. Ravi our amazing butler went above all expectations. We always had fresh fruit, cookies, midnight blt’s, chips and pastry platters. Ravi also brought us hot breakfast every morning from Cagneys. steak and eggs, omelets, waffles with cream and berries, OMG Ravi spoiled us. He gave us suggestions for dinner and shows, reminded us of parties and many little things that made this particular cruise so very special. The first 3 nights this ship was rocking. It was white water all day. The cruise home was just the opposite, slow and calm and very nice. Friends of ours were getting married on this cruise, which was the primary reason for this trip to begin with. So once we got the Villa we had about 72 hours to re-plan a wedding / reception. We got signs created by ETSY and had a local printer make 2 so all the guests could sign one. Then we ordered everything “peacock” theme we could get our hands on. Plus a shiny gold cake topper and balloon letters, lots of peacock feathers and favor boxes. Ravi got us extra vases for peacock bouquets and table cloths. The grooms and friends had already planned to have the wedding and reception in the Bliss and had the menu already planned, they also had gorgeous gift bags with custom printed candies and fancy glass peacocks. After speaking with Alex and Ravi the wedding / reception was relocated from the Bliss to the Villa with 54 guests PLUS the ship photographer Jillian was just wonderful. She took loads of pics and guests could go to the photo gallery and ask to view the Baker wedding to purchase their own pics. We were docked in San Juan and the ship was finally still. The wedding was perfect. NCL provided drink servers and someone serving horderves (sp) and Ravi had help at the Bar. The wedding cake was chocolate mousse and the best I ever tasted and I am kind of a cake snob  During the cruise we had 2 more slightly smaller parties in the Villa and Alex and Ravi provided plenty of great finger foods and desserts, it was awesome. Dining: I loved all the food Moderno, LeBistro were excellent and Teppanyaki was fresh and fun. I did not eat the buffet but really enjoyed Sheehans and the MDR’s. The only disappointment was La Cucina. The pizza was OK but it should not be a “specialty” restaurant, IMO. Ports: Sorry, I do not know. We had been to all of them before, so we did not get off the ship. We took the time to enjoy the hot tub and I got some work done. Work: I had pre-purchased the fastest internet package for $249.00 but when I went to log in the package was not there and I needed it so I agreed to pay $349.00 for the same package. Alex was able to fix this so I was not charged extra. I brought my desktop with 4 travel monitors (all fit in one rolling carryon) and I set them up on the desk overlooking the pool area and the sea … it was perfect. I was able to work a couple hours a day and check my emails and it made my vacation so much better, knowing I was not facing 10 days of work upon returning home. And with the Covid-19 scare taking over the world while we were away it was doubly important for me to be able to communicate with our clients and online followers. Our business is event management and we had scheduled a huge Spring Arts and Craft Festival in MA for the following weekend. Then the Governor of Massachusetts prohibited gatherings of over 50 people so we had to act quickly to suspend ad campaigns and notify our artisans and update our website, etc, etc. If I did not have this package I do not know how I would have dealt with it. One thing to note … I could not get my new fancy wifi portable printer to work. If your device does not have a screen it will not work with the NCL wifi system. But luckily Alex allowed me to email any docs to him and he printed them for me. Awesome. Another cool thing was loads of first run movies on demand at no additional cost. I played a little Texas Hold em in the Casino and this was the first NCL ship where sometimes there were not enough players to have a game. We saw 3 shows: Blazing Boots, Get Down Tonight and some kind of amazing acrobat show with a comedy clown who only whistled and he brought the house down. The shows were the best I have ever seen at sea. The cruise director was terrific, seemingly everywhere. Sorry I do not recall his name. We danced a little with the excellent house band at a couple of the 10pm poolside parties. We got VIP treatment all the way but there are less free parties, no more chocolate buffet or towel animals or bowling … and that was fine by me. The staff on the Gem is the friendliest on any ship. Everyone knew my husband … they greeted him by name, Good Day Mr, M., Good Evening Mr. M, etc. I mean everybody from the guys with suits and gold bars on the shoulders to the waiters and maintenance men … And if there was a bar that did not serve Guinness they would get it for Mr. M. Disembarkation: We were escorted off by Ravi our butler who handed us off to some port women who thought they could bypass the line and they did, sort of. It was a little odd. Then they walked us into the Customs office who had no idea why we were there … but just asked if we did a lot of shopping (NO) and said ok we are good to go. We found a young man with a cart and he took all our luggage up to the parking area. It was eerily quiet … I walked all the way to the first parking area where mine was the only vehicle there. If you have ever cruised out of NYC you know the chaos of trying to get off the ship while 2500 people are trying to get on the ship. Well we were the final cruise on the Gem until Mid-April or when Covid 19 is over, so it was quiet and odd. It was strange on the ship, knowing that most of the people working were uncertain if they would have a job the next week or where they were going and if they were sent home chances were very high that their home country would put them in quarantine in a hospital for 2 weeks. I felt so bad for these hard working professionals who, through absolutely no fault of their own, may lose their career and way of life. And I dearly hope this pandemic does not end such a magnificent industry. It was such a remarkable cruise that I will treasure these memories and hope to return to make more. Hope all stay well and stay home … for a while anyway  Till next time. Juried (Terry) PS On the final sea day here was a medical emergency that called for a med-flight. All of the outdoor furniture was secured from our courtyard to prepare but the Helicopter instead went to the front of the ship and safely picked up a passenger. We were less than 200 miles from NYC so this person must have been very ill. I hope he or she is alright, we never heard. It was incredible to witness this operation in the open water. I will attached a photo and if you look closely you can see the helicopter hovering. Stay well. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Good itinerary, but this ship design is bad. My husband's feet hung off the bed by about 6 inches. No other Norwegian ship has been like this! The room is cramped, with no real bathroom, just a cubicle for shower, cubicle for ... Read More
Good itinerary, but this ship design is bad. My husband's feet hung off the bed by about 6 inches. No other Norwegian ship has been like this! The room is cramped, with no real bathroom, just a cubicle for shower, cubicle for toilet and the sink is out in the open, waking everyone up when you wash your hands if you get up in the middle of the night. No shampoo, conditioner or body lotion. Only two main staircases fore and aft, instead of 3. This is worrying for this size of ship. The buffet is all the same items repeated 5 times along the center and both sides. There is no quiet place to eat outside from the buffet. All the outside railings have plexiglass so you have to peer between the panes to see clearly. The food and drinks were good quality, but we found ourselves defending Norwegian to quite a few first time cruisers with them, trying to tell them this ship was not 'normal' compared to the rest of the fleet. The staff were all lovely. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We choose this cruise because it was the only Caribbean ports not yet seen. Absolutely hated the Epic. Only two banks of elevators for the entire ship (front & back). Waited way too long to finally get an open space and then it ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was the only Caribbean ports not yet seen. Absolutely hated the Epic. Only two banks of elevators for the entire ship (front & back). Waited way too long to finally get an open space and then it felt like sardine container. Took stairways all too often (more than I actually wanted since we were on deck 17 in the Haven). Ship staff, the facilities, and the food were all excellent as expected. This was a 7 day cruise and packed with ports. However, only 2 of the ports had enough time in port to really appreciate the port. Way too rushed and could have easily removed 1 of the ports. Overall I would rate the cruise as a 4 out of 5. We will cruise NCL in the future but the ship I rate a 2 out of 5 and will never cruise on it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Ok so we (group of 12) choose this ship and cruise line for the ports it was going to. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and after this cruise with NCL I will he going back. I had read several reviews about this ship after I booked ... Read More
Ok so we (group of 12) choose this ship and cruise line for the ports it was going to. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and after this cruise with NCL I will he going back. I had read several reviews about this ship after I booked and pretty much except a few who had really bad experiences everyone was spot on. Getting on and off the ship was a pretty smooth process when your trying to get 2500 people on. If you like music the entertainment was excellent. Howl at the moon is a must! It's from 9pm to 1am 4 nights on ship. Singing dancing and drinking it's a really fun time. After 11pm it does tend to get a little R rated. Beatles show is really good and lots of other lounge type singers who were very good also. Food and wait staff was top notch, being a party of 12 they accommodated us great. Cagney's and Le Bistro are a must. Cruise director and staff left a lot to be desired as far as making your time on board fun. We booked all but 1 shore excursion with AAA and were very glad we did. Smaller group size for less money. Aruba we grabbed a taxi 16.00 for 6 people to go to the beach and shopping. Note beach chairs and umbrellas are very costly on the beach. We paid 50.00 for 1 umbrella and 2 chairs. On Curacao we paid 5.00 for 2 chairs and a umbrella. Curacao had the best beaches and clearest water by far. We booked with a company called Compass on Bonaire for a sail and snorkeling trip. Well worth the money. Super professional people who new a lot about the history of the island. Also took us too a remote place to snorkel. On the way back it was beer, water or rum punch and lite snacks. Did the Diamond falls botanical gardens excursion on Saint Lucia and it was just ok Way too long of a trip about 90 minute drive to arrive at falls. The worst thing about this ship is the cabins. It's the main reason I would never book again on the Epic. When you open the door your shower is on the left and your toilet is on the right. There is a small curtain to pull to block view from rest of the room. The sink is at the foot of bed. The bed is a curved shape so if your over 5'7 your feet will hang off the foot of the bed. You can only have one person moving around the cabin at a time or you will be constantly getting into each other's way.( very narrow) I like to sleep in or nap before we eat dinner and with setup its impossible for my wife to get ready without making a ton of noise. Most ships have a small bathroom to shower and get ready in away from main part of the cabin. Not the Epic. Also if you have to get up to use the toilet at note since it's right by the bed you hear that loud flushing sound everytime. What we all said was they made these way to small so the could get a few more people $$$$ on board. Lastly since they are now offering the drink package almost free on every cruise, be prepared to see your share of drinks after 10pm. Also are balcony cabin was on deck 9 towards the back of the ship. We heard the ships engines loud on and off when we were pulling into a port. Mostly between 6-8. No sleeping when this was taking place. If you book than ask for a cabin towards the front of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I choose Norwegian lines because my 1st experience on Dawn was excellent. Obviously, I cannot say the same on the Epic. Comparing to Dawn, Everything from the welcome with exception on a few was not as exciting. Room seemed tinier. Keep ... Read More
I choose Norwegian lines because my 1st experience on Dawn was excellent. Obviously, I cannot say the same on the Epic. Comparing to Dawn, Everything from the welcome with exception on a few was not as exciting. Room seemed tinier. Keep bumping into my partner to get from one place to the other. Shower was separated from toilet area and even the sink was apart from both these areas and oh so very small. Found it very difficult to put my makeup on because there wasn’t a good mirror for this purpose like on Dawn. Not enough Elegant restaurants to choose from. Did not like the fact to always have to go though the smoky smelly Casino area to get to where I was going. The Director and crew was not as nice either. I mean this was the Epic!! Expected way more. Ship was rusty and being painted on stops. Entertainment was great. Loved The Epic Beatles and the Colombian 4 Blue band on the pool deck. They were the best! But all in all very disappointing on my wedding anniversary celebration. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose NCL and the Epic for their southern Caribbean itenerary. This was my first cruise and I was worried about the size of the ship and the reviews of the bathroom layout. First of all, for a 4000+ person cruise there were only a few ... Read More
I chose NCL and the Epic for their southern Caribbean itenerary. This was my first cruise and I was worried about the size of the ship and the reviews of the bathroom layout. First of all, for a 4000+ person cruise there were only a few times where I felt that crowds were an issue. That was normally at the buffet when we weren't in port. I scheduled dinners away from the buffet each night which was never an issue. I actually really liked the room. It was super clean. There was a lot of storage and the bathrooms we're not at all an issue. It was actually nice that you didn't have to wait for someone to finish showering to use the sink or toilet. Between the curtain and frosted glass, privacy was not a concern. The shows (Burn the Floor, Cirque, and Pricilla) were all good. Not at all at the same level as what you would see in Vegas, but still a really fun way to spend an evening. I absolutely loved Pricilla. The ports were all nice and different. We did excisions at 3 of the 5 stops. I wish I would have scheduled more. All and all it was an awesome trip and I'm ready for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This is my second NCL cruise, and like the first one embarkation & disembarkation was the smoothest of all the cruises I’ve been on. (Been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, 15 cruises in total) This ship never really felt crowed, ... Read More
This is my second NCL cruise, and like the first one embarkation & disembarkation was the smoothest of all the cruises I’ve been on. (Been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, 15 cruises in total) This ship never really felt crowed, except a few times in the Garden Cafe - When people are breathing down you back to get an extra piece of bacon (I’m positive they didn’t run out of bacon). I thought all the bartenders were very attentive, specialty dinning was awesome, especially Moderno. My ATV excursion was cancelled the day before we arrived in St. Kitts - So we walked around, and that was a disaster. I’ll preface it by adding that we did that last year, and enjoyed the shopping area, and ventured into the town - and completely enjoyed it. However, this year we were bombarded by taxi drivers, monkey handlers, and hair braiders. And when I left the tourist shopping area, I become very concerned of suspect people watching and eyeballing my wife and me - So we immediately left and got back on the ship. Room service was very good, but my mini-suite was not worth the money. Very narrow, and the toilet and shower were situated separately, in which I would call a “pod”. Very strange!!!! And the deck for a mini-suite was on the small size. (I’ve had mini-suites on multiple ships and cruise lines, and this was the worst. Overall, we love cruises, and we’ll be on Breakaway in May with the entire family. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
The Epic is a wonderful ship. We will certainly consider sailing on it again, if it's going where we want to go. The public areas are well-done. We loved Cirque and Burn the Floor. My only complaint regarding entertainment is that ... Read More
The Epic is a wonderful ship. We will certainly consider sailing on it again, if it's going where we want to go. The public areas are well-done. We loved Cirque and Burn the Floor. My only complaint regarding entertainment is that they need more performances for things like the comedy club and the Beatles so that more people can actually attend them (very limited seating in the Cavern Club). It was easy finding seats at places like Maltings and Shakers, even when live music was playing. We did all of our shore excursions through NCL. We especially loved ziplining in the rainforest of St. Kitts. Some of the boat/snorkeling trips were too crowded (especially the one in St. Lucia). The Thermal Spa is wonderful. We spent at least an hour a day in there. For dining, we had breakfast at the buffet, which was fine. We had one lunch at the buffet, which wasn't as good as breakfast, and didn't go for lunch there again. Most of our lunches were at O'Sheehans or one of the MDRs, when not eating on an excursion. For dinner, we went to Taste and the Manhattan Room once each and did signature dining the other nights. Thoughts on those: Manhattan Room and Taste: The food was delicious. We liked the smaller portions as it meant we actually had room for dessert! Moderno: Brazilian style meat place. The "salad" bar is amazing with the basic salads, shrimp salad, an antipasto section, cheeses, and much more. They do the typical green side up when you want more meat and red side up when you don't want any. The dessert was incredible. Cirque: Entertainment and wonderful food. This is a fixed menu: prosciutto with cheese and greens, filet mignon with onion straws, and trio of desserts plate. La Cucino: The scenery is incredible, as you are at the front of the ship, looking over the water. Loved the bread. The food was upscale, with fine touches. I had the shrimp ravioli with lobster sauce. Yum! Teppanyaki: Japanese Hibachi grill. Our grillmaster was very entertaining, singing back and forth with grillmasters at other grills. The food was perfecto! Cagney's: This was our only truly disappointing meal all week. My steak was tough and uneatable. I ate about half of it. The french onion soup was good, though... Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Having cruised with Norwegian before and hailing from Wisconsin, the beverage package and destinations were a big draw. After reading the reviews on the Epic (like I do before I go anywhere on vacation) I was pleasantly surprised. All I ... Read More
Having cruised with Norwegian before and hailing from Wisconsin, the beverage package and destinations were a big draw. After reading the reviews on the Epic (like I do before I go anywhere on vacation) I was pleasantly surprised. All I had read about was the crowded conditions and long waits for the elevators as well as the poor food selection. Our group of 3 couples never ran into any of those problems. If in fact you were a late riser or had to be the first one off the ship in port you would run into a crowd in the breakfast buffet or in the line off of the ship,but that’s to be expected. Everyone of the crew was VERY friendly and the first to wish you a good day. Food was very good in the 3 specialty restaurants we ate in as well as all the other food venues we tried. Cabin was on 9th floor,balcony mini suite. Plenary of room and storage unless your holding a square dance. Toilet and shower pull the curtain if you feel the need. All the port stops were nice with the exception of St. Lucia. To many people with 4 cruise ships in port. St. Kitts very nice with the best prices and nicest shopping opportunities of cruise. In closing a vacation is all that you make it.If you choose not to have a good time don’t blame the ship. For the money it’s the best deal around!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My wife and I joined friends on the Epic in march 2020. This was our first cruise. Sailed out of San Juan. Easy and organized embarkation and disembarkation. We stayed in balcony suite 11056. We liked it. Loved the Brazilian ... Read More
My wife and I joined friends on the Epic in march 2020. This was our first cruise. Sailed out of San Juan. Easy and organized embarkation and disembarkation. We stayed in balcony suite 11056. We liked it. Loved the Brazilian Restaurant, Cagne's Steakhouse and the Hibachi Grill. We would recommend eating at all three. Casino was nice. Our cabin Porter Alan was AWESOME. Every staff member we had contact with was pleasant. Bars were crowded but we managed just fine. Danced the nights away. We were slightly overdressed. Not that we dressed to the nines....... but most people were in extremely casual clothing. We both loved sailing the Epic. Ports of Call were San Juan =okay ...it was the port of call. Oranjestad was nice. Curacao was fun. In Bonaire we should have walked the town but didn't because we did an excursion. St Lucia was okay and St Kitts was fun. We went on a few excursions. One was in utvs in Curacao....would not do again. Just say No. Another no go was the St Lucia Rainforest Tram. Our guide was the sweetest most informative girl. Just did not make up for the boring ride. The Zip lines there sounded like people were having a ball. Many venders at most port of call wanting to take you on adventures. We both thought that on our next trip that is the way we would go. Way more freedom to change plans that way. Our best excursion was one the wives found and talked us into around the island of Bonaire. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I was on the Epic for back-to-back- cruises March 1-15, 2020. This was the last cruise before NCL shut down for at least 30 days. Fortunately, there was no illness on this cruise and a good time was had by all. I am a frequent cruiser ... Read More
I was on the Epic for back-to-back- cruises March 1-15, 2020. This was the last cruise before NCL shut down for at least 30 days. Fortunately, there was no illness on this cruise and a good time was had by all. I am a frequent cruiser with NCL and have always had a good experience with them. I do not understand how people can write such negative reviews about these cruises. Everyone, without exception, was very pleasant to deal with. The staff were always cheerful and willing to help. Embarcation in San Juan went very smoothly. I am a Platinum Lattitudes member, so there were no lines to speak of. They had many people checking folks in for the cruise, much more so than on some previous cruises I have been on. I was on the ship in no time. I ate in most of the specialty restaurants and Cagneys is, by far, the best of the lot, in my estimation. The food in all the restaurants, including the main dining rooms, was quick to arrive, hot, and perfectly cooked. I had a mini-suite stateroom on deck 11 and it was great. Tons of storage and a very nice-sized balcony, much bigger than on some of their newer ships. My room attendant, Irving, was always around, always willing to do whatever was needed to make my stay comfortable. The shows were very good, both Burn the Floor, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The comedians were better than some I have seen on past cruises. The ship is large, but I never had trouble finding a seat in any of the venues. I gamble quite a bit, and I will say, the casino on the Epic seems a bit tighter than on some other NCL ships, but I still managed to have a good time. All in all, I had a great time on the Epic. I am already booked on the Pearl in November for their Panama Canal cruise. I am hoping that this virus business settles down and allows us to travel again soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose to do an eastern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Encore because of the destinations. We were quite unhappy with multiple aspects of the cruise starting with the 2 hour boarding process. The rooms seemed significantly smaller ... Read More
We chose to do an eastern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Encore because of the destinations. We were quite unhappy with multiple aspects of the cruise starting with the 2 hour boarding process. The rooms seemed significantly smaller than the Carnival cruise. We even booked a more expensive balcony room but still preferred our basic Carnival room. This ship is new to the water and we were not impressed at all with the amount of motion the ship had. Granted we did have rough weather, we have had rough weather on other cruises and never felt it as much as this. The entire trip had a lot of unappreciated motion even by my standards (I am a sport fisherman). The cost structure is designed to give the bare minimum and charge additional for most commodities. Im sorry, but if I buy a drink package I would like to be able to get a bottle of water without paying $5 for it. The pool was closed at times because it was a liability with the amount of sway of the ship. We spend approx. $5500 in cruise and airfare fees and were not even allowed to do our main destination (Bahamas) because the tender boats could not get to the ship. However right next to us there were (2) Royal Carribbean ships that had a dock on their private island and were able to disembark. No compensation was given. Their lack of infrastructure on their private Grand Stirrup Cay made us spend a day on a rough sea instead of the prime destination. I would say about half of the usable deck space on the ship was reserved for an even higher cost package which limited the majority of the ship to (1) adult pool. Lounge chairs, chairs, and even pool deck seating was next to impossible unless you went out at 7am to reserve a spot. The food was also much better on Carnival. Our specialty dining package allowed us into (3) restaurants of our choosing with caveats. Reservations to some places needed to be made months before even boarding the ship. In addition to that multiple menu items had additional costs above and beyond buying the premium dining package. All in all we were quite disappointed with this ship and will not use it or potentially Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our 17th cruise, our 2nd on NCL. I was really excited when I booked this cruise over a year ago on this new 'amazing' ship, but alas it did not live up to my expectations. Embarkation was fairly fast, we arrived at ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise, our 2nd on NCL. I was really excited when I booked this cruise over a year ago on this new 'amazing' ship, but alas it did not live up to my expectations. Embarkation was fairly fast, we arrived at the port approx. 10:30am and they started letting us board at 11:30, then the race begins. If there are any shows, meals etc. that you want to attend you have to rush to different venues and stand in long lines to try to register. Our first goal was to buy Vibe Beach Club passes. This was held in the Barbeque restaurant Q Texas Smokehouse. We got tickets #83 & 84. Lucky, I thought. Choose wisely as it was extremely windy up there the entire cruise. There is no cover if it rains, a few umbrellas if the sun is intense. Bar service there was good and I did love the very quiet hot tubs. We did not spend enough time there to warrant the $209/pp price tag though. It did offer a retreat from the disastrous pool deck though. When buying the passes they did mention numerous times that it was not refundable!! The lines for the comedy were way too long, and by that time we were tired of standing around and waiting. I was able to score only one night at the comedy show on the NCL app. Thank goodness I booked Choir of Men before we sailed or I wouldn't have gotten into that one either. I wish they would have had everything available on the website to book pre-cruise; entertainment, go-karts, laser tag etc. I would have tried more activities. Cabin-MA14170 mini suite- very small cabin- one tv-small balcony-weird storage under mirrors and counters. The bathroom was quite nice with a large shower no bathtub. Not much different that a typical balcony cabin though. You have to pay for good movies, or 3 channels with other movies that you cannot schedule or re-start. The dining on the ship was very good. We ate at specialty restaurants Teppanyaki-awesome so fun entertainment, Cagney's-very good, and LeBistro-very good. Note: the 4-6oz lobster at Cagney's was not worth the 22.80 upcharge. I barely had enough to share with my DH. The rest of our meals were typically at the Taste DR or The local. Nice food and choices but no frills and don't ask for anything not on the menu, they typically can't accommodate. Escargot was only available in LeBistro. The bar staff on this cruise get's my highest praise. Those people work like maniacs trying to keep up with the demand on all those drinking packages. Sometimes there would only be one bartender on duty with 10-15 guests all waiting to order. Some cruisers would get angry, but there is only so much a guy or gal can do. Cudos to Bong-mojito bar, Mary Grace-A-list bar, Lovely, Atec, Ida(sp), Thomas, Daniel-Observation bar; amazing, amazing people how hard they work and their pleasant attitudes. Port stops were fair- San Juan (didn't even get off) we first arrived at 5:30pm. St. Thomas did the Champagne Cat Snorkel-nice, Tortola did the Baths-nice but long cat ride to get there and back. Lucky the water wasn't too rough. Great Stirrup Cay-sailed right by, was too windy to tender. RC had two ships tied to their dock at Coco Cay (lucky they bought a pier) Overall, though, it was a nice cruise. Vacation is always good. I would definitely NOT sail on the Encore again unless they made some huge changes (more pools, scrap the laser tag and go karts etc. etc.) I do not understand what they mean by Freestyle cruising, there was nothing free about it except the dress code in the dining rooms and restaurants. That's what brings me back to my title. Choose your ship wisely for what is most important to YOU. I thought I did, but definitely learned my lesson. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
CONS Ship design The go karts laser tag and the Haven take up to much space on the ship The burger diner under the track was empty every time we walked by Not enough pools and deck space The lawn chairs are set up so tight ... Read More
CONS Ship design The go karts laser tag and the Haven take up to much space on the ship The burger diner under the track was empty every time we walked by Not enough pools and deck space The lawn chairs are set up so tight it’s hard to get on them 1 small adult pool for everyone Tiny hot tubs People were crammed around the pool like sardines the music was so loud you couldn’t have a conversation The cabin was the smallest we’ve had on any cruise ship PLUS’S Food was great lots to choose from and good quality Service was good We liked the observation lounge lots of places to sit and read or just relax and look outside Choir of Men and Kinky Boots were great comedian was funny Beatles cover band was good We will definitely cruise on Norwegian again But won’t recommend the Encore The pool areas are the dealbreaker for us Way to crowded Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
NCL Encore - room 12605. 3/2020 Embarkation - showed up at 10:30. By 10:45 we were seated in a huge airport-like waiting area, checked in and ready for them to start boarding. With so many people, even on a day that was 60 degrees ... Read More
NCL Encore - room 12605. 3/2020 Embarkation - showed up at 10:30. By 10:45 we were seated in a huge airport-like waiting area, checked in and ready for them to start boarding. With so many people, even on a day that was 60 degrees outdoors, the area warmed up pretty fast. Cool water and unclean restrooms available. Group 9. Started calling #s at 11:08 am with people who required special assistance and priority boarding. 11:25 we were called and were on board in no time! Vibe club pass: Rushed to purchase vibe passes. We were #92 & 93. The cost of the vibe beach club for 7 days was $209 per person. The fee is non-refundable and you are warned of inclement weather closing of the entire area which may include rain or high winds. There is no pool. Only a misting station. On sea days there is extremely high winds. So much so, that 1 jacuzzi was closed off and even tho the sunning area on that side of the club was open, there was no-one who could stand the strong winds enough to hang out there. Fortunately, they did not close the entire area, but most logical adults could reason that unattended belongings would fly away if left in the high winds. They do give you clip-on, removable, brightly-colored wrist bracelets to wear in the club area. The attendants will ask you to put it on if you forget and will escort any non-wearing, non-paying guests out of the club area on the 1st days as they get to know everyone by name after only a day or 2. The area includes shade umbrellas but, as we quickly discovered, they are rarely put out for use. The winds are pretty intense on the top decks where the club is located and so they have a few issues. Even while in port, in Miami, they had to take the umbrellas down as they started toppling with the high winds. Jacuzzis fit about 8 people comfortably. There are no bubbles. Just warm (not hot) water. No drinks allowed in jacuzzi. The explanations was that drinks have toppled into the jacuzzi which then take 2+ hours to empty, clean, and refill the tub. On the plus side, if you bring your yeti cup, bartenders seem to be nice enough to fill those with your drink of choice or fresh water or alcoholic concoction throughout the day. I also saw them bring out pitchers of citrus flavored water to small groups with plastic cups to go with it. On the sea day towards the Bahamas, they were able to open a few umbrellas and played some soothing jazz music. Enjoyable weather and good times. Muster drill @ 3:30 in indoor air-conditioned area. Lasted 15 mins total. As always, if you would like seats, show up 30 mins before. If you’re ok standing for 15 mins, then wait for the alarm to ring then walk towards your muster station to have your card swiped for check-in. They demonstrate the exits and how to put on a life vest. And then the bars re-open. Taste of India and taste of China in buffet area towards back after you pass all the American fare. The food has been an excellent surprise in the buffet as the tastes and spiciness have been just right with absolutely no complaints for the buffet variety and seasonings. Ice cream cups and cones served during lunch with an options of 10+ flavors including rocky road. Also available towards the bow at the buffet is soft serve ice cream cones. On sea day, taco bar served towards the back area as well. Extra charges: $9.95 per device per week for unlimited text messaging with other passengers who purchase the plan. Make sure you bring your yeti cup, etc. water is not included on the beverage package and they charge $5 per paper bottle. (Non-refillable) Using clean glassware, you can refill your water bottle at the water & tea dispensing areas in the buffet area. Observation lounge still smells brand new. Like a new construction site. Huge living room type spaces for your small or large party of people. Cold cuts, sandwiches, fruits, and dessert varieties are served throughout the area up until dinner time when all food and drinks disappear. Beverages can be purchased at the bar or self-serve areas dispense lemonade, tea, and various flavored waters. The times we went to the lounge, it was very quiet library-like ambiance except the people hanging out at the bar. No music streaming. No piano playing. Very serene. People napping here and there. Except the unexpected cold sea day. The observation lounge on that day quickly filled with loud families and teens finding somewhere to hide from the cold winds. Brew house seats still smell of new leather. For your Latin music fix, hang out at the indoor & outdoor mojito bar area with comfy couches in the shade. Latin music plays when bar opens around 11:30 am at a pretty low volume with a variety of songs sprinkled around throughout the day until the live music takes over with the usual English music cruise ship sing alongs and requests in the evening. Entertainment throughout the ship consists of karaoke-type bands with a few instruments playing over the pre-arrangement along with a singer. Good for entertaining the masses but no great stand-outs overall. The encore theater has cooling fans at the back of every seat. Makes it a very comfortable temperature. As others have reported, shortly after 9:00 am, the running/walking track disappears under a sea of chairs. Deck 8 has “the waterfront” which includes a wooden floor all the way around the ship. Some people use this as a walking exercise area. No jogging possible as intermittent window walls are strewn about. Fun morning dance for sea days includes Zumba! Drinks are pretty good, varied, and strong. You can substitute tequilas, rums, etc in your favorite concoction to your liking. No frozen mojitos or margaritas available at most bars as bartenders inform us they do not have blenders at all the bars. Frozen sangria and frozen red wine blend available at the vibe as they have a slushy machine that dispenses those 2 drinks & an array of pina coladas, daqueries, and the infamous Miami vice. Paper straws provided for frozen drinks only - which quickly get soggy and give you that wet paper after taste every time you sip. So bring your own plastic ones if it takes you a while to get thru your drink or if you prefer to straw sip you beverages. BBQ smokehouse is the country dance place to be at night for all those country music fans. The food is ok. Plates served are much smaller than that of a usuals “authentic” Texas bbq place. But taste was good. Service was slow. They play 45 min sets from 8:30pm until way after midnight. Feel free to bring your boots and join everyone in the dance floor or just sit back in the bar and sing along! The NCL app is great but you still have to rely on the daily planner for the details on what the shows and activities are about. Also, you need to book your entertainment activities for future days at the screens around the ship as they don’t show up until 24 hours before the event on the app. And, unlike other cruise apps, other people in your contacts or room reservation cannot see what activities you like or plan to attend. Nor can you see the dinner menus at the public or reserved restaurants for the ability to weigh your options in the app. You can only see them posted at the restaurants or ask for a menu at each restaurant. Also, unlike other cruise lines, you cannot map your way to the next venue from the touchscreens around the ship. So a very useful navigational tool for these 1st few days is very much missing. In PR- walgreens & CVS store right by the pier. Needed some water bottles for the day & to take back onboard as empties for water storage for our beach day next day. Great shops with lots of souvenirs, travel size amenities & last minute gadgets. St. Thomas - do your research. Pick a beach and take a taxi from the beach. There will always be a taxi near any popular beach to take you back at whatever time you need. Usually about $10 per person each way. Most beaches have amenities with bars and restaurants nearby. Then take a stroll thru the shops at the pier. Remember that all jewelry purchases are negotiable. Tortola - we did the cruise line’s escape to Jost Van Dike. They pick you up at 8:00 am. Drop you off at 9:00 am at the soggy dollar beach area. Then pick you up at 12:15 for the 45 min boat run back to the ship. Because of the early departure, there was no time to do anything else as far as shopping or sight seeing. Made it back just in time to re-board. Bahamas - great stirrup cay was completely skipped because of the high waves and wind conditions. Many months ago when we booked this cruise, we were ok with only 3 stops with Tortola being a long day as we figured we would enjoy the warm weather and hot sunny days on each island. We were not excited when the itinerary was changed just 2 months before the sail date to shorten the Tortola stop and include a Bahamas stop instead. As frequent cruisers, we know about the weather conditions in March in the Bahamas. And sure enough, it was not beach weather at the beginning of March. The outside temp was in the 60s. So maybe not a bad thing we skipped the cold beach water. Made the vibe beach pass even more worth the purchase! More activities were added to the daily planner such as Latin Cardio Dance class and more open times at the “for purchase” activities onboard. All excursions were reimbursed. Pool area was empty. Jacuzzi were full. NCL announces on its daily planner that you can access cruisecritic.com free of charge with no internet package to buy to post reviews. I have not found that to be the case. The main page comes up on my smart phone but once you click “boards” or “reviews” it freezes. Inside stateroom #12605: overall smaller than most ships we have been on. The location was fabulous! Right next to the elevators. There are only 2 main elevator areas on the ship - forward and aft. That’s it. The down side to having our room so close to the elevators was we could hear the kids running the hallways at night and the nighttime entertainment seemed to be funneled into the elevator shafts and dispersed into the hallways. Nice if you’re at the party. Awful if you need to get rest for a very early excursion next day. The neighbors across the hall taped paper decorations to their door (non-magnetic) and were allowed to keep them up the whole voyage. But not very many people did that. Suction cup hangers work on the inside windows of your shower stall but not the walls. Lots of hangers provided. You also have just enough storage space for 2 people. (Don’t think 4 could do it.) apart from the closet with a long upper shelf and 4 smaller side shelves inside the closet (one which is occupied by the in-room safe), you also have 2 small shelves next to the mini-fridge, shelving under the bathroom sink, shelving next to toilet area, and 2 night time shelves next to the bed. Along with a place for small, trivial accessories above the headboard. Disembarkation: The ship arrived super early at the pier because of the missed Bahamas stop. Arrival on all paperwork we had seen was 10:00 am. We were there well before 5:00 am. On the app’s “farewell” screen, they had a screen for information on disembarkation, immigration & customs, and final day info. None of those worked. Message was “oops. Content not found”. So had a hard time deciphering if they would let us leave early or what the status was. We took our luggage with us and made our way to the 7th floor gangway. They make us line up along the casino area. As much as they try not to let the smoke penetrate outside the smokers lounge, it still does & will affect those with sensitivity to smoke. Lines were long but moved quickly. We lined up at 7:15. We were allowed off the boat at 7:35. Out thru customs at 7:50. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our 5th cruise. 4th one with Norwegian. a quick trip to get away from the Candian winter. The ship is big. VERY big... almost too big. I found the ship easy to move around in... easy to find things.. but the pool deck was ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise. 4th one with Norwegian. a quick trip to get away from the Candian winter. The ship is big. VERY big... almost too big. I found the ship easy to move around in... easy to find things.. but the pool deck was insane. I had read reviews so knew what to expect... had decided not to buy the package for the VIBE package - thought I could endure it... I could not. each chair is side by side along with the others... they had attendants coming to ask for a drink (great) but you could not MOVE - let alone save a seat if you could find one for the hubby or kids. I spent my time on the pool deck sitting way to close to strangers alone - with my headphones on to drown out the conversations of strangers beside me. we saw choir man - GREAT. Kinky boots very good (had seen it on broadway before-held it's own). Ate at the Mexican place and twice at Q as we could not get a reservation anywhere else. Kids really enjoyed the Buffet and we went to Savoir 3 times. all very good. Never used any of the shore excursions - did those on our own. The room was a good size for the 4 of us. (two parents and two teenagers.) complaints about the room.... it was above the cavern night club... for an 'upgraded' room and the noise that came out of that club just didn't compute with me. we survived - but they really shouldn't sell that room at an upgrade due to the noise... The next thing that really made me upset was out 'neighbor had a marijuana habit. every afternoon and evening they would smoke up. the smell was disgusting and foul. we could not sit out on our balcony due to the smell. (now - we are from Canada where it is legal... but seriously??) smell wafted into our room as well so venting is obviously not tight. Again - we survived. But I would have really rather not had to deal with that every day - all day. we did the race track and laser tag. did not do the virtual reality (kids just used the video arcade) my husband used the gym - said it was huge and nice... but crowded in the am - I told him because everyone else has the same idea as him. I would NOT go on this ship again. too big - not enough space in the sun. Kids said they enjoy the rope course more as they can go on it for free (thanks for saving money kids!) and do rock climbing. they did the race track twice. and a few video games. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our(two of us) 3rd cruise with Norwegian (Escape & Getaway prior) and we did enjoy the crown jewel. There were many things we missed and many things that made us scratch our heads. Check in/embarkation was fast and simple as ... Read More
This was our(two of us) 3rd cruise with Norwegian (Escape & Getaway prior) and we did enjoy the crown jewel. There were many things we missed and many things that made us scratch our heads. Check in/embarkation was fast and simple as usual with NCL, though we were a tad confused as to why we were ushered to the waiting area for the Pearl and unable to hear the announcements for Encore boarding. After boarding we were in awe of how beautiful the interior was decorated and how large each of the areas were, enough space for many people with ample elbow room. Making our way to what we thought was going to be the only smoking section on the ship, other than the enclosed casino area, we were told there was an outside smoking section on Deck 16. Bravo NCL for accommodating the "outcast" we truly appreciated it. Though I do understand that some whom do not smoke still complained and I agree it could have been in a better ventilated area, but being close to the bar was huge plus. The weather could, of course, been better but that is not NCL's fault. it was very windy and the water was rough for most of the cruise, we have learned our lesson and will wait to later in the year to cruise again. Ports of call were great and un-boarding and boarding were simple as always. San Juan we took the Bacardi distillery tour (1/2 star for this one) was very boring. Not sure what we were expecting but this was not it. St. Thomas ( 5 stars) this is my favorite place on the planet and was very much looking forward to the this port once again. We did the helmet dive at Coral Park, it was little windy but the warmer weather helped beat the chill. The experience was amazing and the instructors were awesome. After we hung out at Cokie beach the water was so blue and so clear it was truly a much needed relaxing area. Tortola was the warmest day of the cruise, we took the "un"Speedy boat over to the Baths and spent about 2 hours swimming and exploring all the nooks and crannies. Due to the weather we were unable to stop at Great Stirrup Cay, which I kinda figured was going to happen once I stepped out on the balcony and saw the clouds and how choppy the water was. We made the best of the extra sea day and it turned out to be lucrative in the casino $$$. The food was outstanding, and coming from me who only eats once a day, that's saying something. Ocean Blue was by far the best sea bass I have ever had. Manhattan Room was so much fun (if you have a chance to have Franklin as your server, you will not be disappointed) Taste or was it Savior, whichever, server could not be bothered and was very rude, however the steak was very good. The Garden Cafe was very good and seemed larger on the Encore compared to the others, though partner says it wasn't. The things we missed; Spice H2O, this is just a great space on the other ships allowing only adults and is a welcome space to escape (no pun intended) from the family drama on the pool deck(s). We also missed the Irish Pub (who by the way was open 24 hours, unlike the Local which claims to be) food was better than the Local. Why we scratched our heads; All the up charges, talk about being nickle and dimed to death..good grief. We were also bewildered as to why some bars closed so early, this made no sense to us, with as many people that are on this ship and as many bars that are on it, no one should have to wait at an over crowded bar. Overall we were very glad we took this ship, though we will not cruise it again, we will step back down to either the Escape, Bliss or Joy. Thanks Norwegian for another great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
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