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822 Norwegian (NCL) Caribbean Cruise Reviews

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 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
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
Chose this cruise because we wanted to sail on the new ship. Encore is a beautiful ship but lack of pool space is a serious problem! And to top it off, Vibe now has fee which really is not right, especially because there was never a seat ... Read More
Chose this cruise because we wanted to sail on the new ship. Encore is a beautiful ship but lack of pool space is a serious problem! And to top it off, Vibe now has fee which really is not right, especially because there was never a seat at the pool. We loved Teppanyaki!! The food was outstanding as was Cagney’s! Los Lobos was not very good and the service was terrible. The buffet was always delicious and fresh. The behind the scenes tour was very well done and we really enjoyed seeing how the ship operated! Everyone was so friendly! We loved the shows in the atrium and saw the Beatles three times! They were fantastic! We also loved the Choir of Men! We only did one shore excursion and it was okay. The stop in Puerto Rico was a waste of time. We walked around but there was not much to do and shore excursions were way overpriced for what they were. Overall, we had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We enjoyed getting away to the warmth of the Caribbean and overall enjoyed our cruise very much. Getting on the ship in New York was tedious since they were diligently checking all passports to see if people came from or traveled to the ... Read More
We enjoyed getting away to the warmth of the Caribbean and overall enjoyed our cruise very much. Getting on the ship in New York was tedious since they were diligently checking all passports to see if people came from or traveled to the Corona Virus infected areas. It took over two hours to be processed and by that time the only area open for lunch was the buffet which my husband and I had already agreed to avoid. What we didn't like about the buffet area was that the crew did not serve the food as we have experienced on other cruise lines. Instead, they just had tongs out in front of all offerings and each person in line touched them, one after another. Even with the "Washy Washy" stations we found it to be too unsanitary and avoided it. The crew was efficient and very courteous and we have no complaints at all there. We were on the Gem about 6 years ago and it appears to have been upgraded in numerous areas. We had a balcony room and the bathroom and shower were new as well as the closets in the cabin. The King bed was very comfortable so we give thumbs up to our accommodations. One of our chosen perks was Specialty Dining so we had the opportunity to try 5 of them. Our favorite was La Cucina (Italian cuisine) and we ended up going there twice because it was so delicious. We had excellent entrees at Cagney's Steakhouse, but the side dishes were cold. We actually pointed this out to the person in charge so they could correct the issue, but when we spoke to other passengers later in the week who had also gone there they said the same thing. No one at our table of nine ate them and since the menu was ala carte each side had a price tag of $7.00 apiece. This was a pricey waste of money. I'd avoid the side dishes at Cagney's. Le Bistro (French) was very good also. The Creme Brulee was one of the best I've ever had and I'd actually recommend the filet mignon dish here. The Dover Sole that I happened to choose was rather bland and too pricey for what was served. The only specialty restaurant that we were disappointed in was Moderno (Brazilian). The salad bar was very nice and we really enjoyed the Parmesan encrusted pork loin and the grilled pineapple, but some of the meat offerings were very tough, such as the sirloin and the lamb. The entertainment aboard was not particularly outstanding, but adequate. The comedian in the Stardust was funny, the country western review was great, and the juggler was talented. The rest offered in the main theater was bland. However, there would often be two or three shows in different venues offered at the same time rather than spacing them out so you could only go to one and miss all the others. Except for live music poolside once we hit the warm weather the music in lounge areas didn't really start until about 5:00 pm or so. If you weren't a person who wanted to listen to a lecture, play Bingo or participate in Trivia or Deal or No Deal there was a void in entertainment during the early afternoon hours between lunch and dinner. We opted to take two beach excursions while in port. The best bargain and experience was The Carlise Beach Break in Barbados. We got a short bus tour of the island and upon arriving at the beach we were offered a rum punch or a bottle of cold beer, had a lounge chair and an umbrella, all for a cost of $49 per person. The other beach we visited was Magan's Bay in St. Thomas. Another lovely beach, but didn't compare with Barbados. This tour cost $59 per person and did not come with any extras. Renting a chair was an extra fee and no umbrellas were available. There were numerous picnic tables so we were able to drop our beach bags there and simply lie on our towels on the sand. We only had 2 hours to spend at the beach here because our ship was leaving port at 1:00 pm which didn't leave us much time to enjoy this pretty island. Disembarkation from the Gem was confusing. Once we received our colored luggage tags the day before there was little communication from the ship as to how disembarkation would happen. We didn't know where we should gather to wait for our color to be called and didn't know where the gangway was going to be set up and what deck the exit point would be. If you were in your room you couldn't hear announcements and had to open your cabin door to hear anything. We just felt instructions could have been clearer to make the process go smoother for all concerned. Overall, we enjoyed this ship and would travel on it again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The itinerary and the place of embarkation. the ports we visited would of been nice to stay longer. I enjoyed the anytime djnner. My inside cabin steward was great. Always spoke and always used the first name to say hello. I think that ... Read More
The itinerary and the place of embarkation. the ports we visited would of been nice to stay longer. I enjoyed the anytime djnner. My inside cabin steward was great. Always spoke and always used the first name to say hello. I think that I will cruise again out of New York and will cruise with Norwegian many more. The cruise was a great time to meet new people and a time to enjoy the cruise with my partner. The staff did everything to keep ya happy and the Washy Washy lady was great. With the Corona virus going on it was good that the cruise line checked your passport to see where you been to keep everyone safe. Oh yea having breakfast everyday in the dining room was a great asset before going on the islands. The casino needs some smoke filters in there. Thank you Norwegian Cruise company for a great trip Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Enjoyed restaurants especially La Bistro had 2 excellent experiences there. Loved the ship size felt lines were not as long as on Escape and Breakaway. Cabin space small compared to other ships especially since we had a family size one. ... Read More
Enjoyed restaurants especially La Bistro had 2 excellent experiences there. Loved the ship size felt lines were not as long as on Escape and Breakaway. Cabin space small compared to other ships especially since we had a family size one. Our family size ocean view cabin on the Escape was such an impressive experience that we were expecting the same on the Gem. Also no lower deck outdoor space to enjoy as on the bigger ships. Hopefully when the ship gets refurbished they will improve that. Service was excellent throughout the ship. Entertainment could be improved also missed the dueling pianos which showcases on the larger ships. Last year we saw the Choir of Men twice. Such a phenomenal show hoping that it would be on this ship but disappointed that it was not. All and all our experience was a very pleasant one and looking forward to the next Norweign cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We booked this cruise based on the itinerary. We were particularly keen to visit Curacao, which offered a whole day on the island. Alas, things changed. We were scheduled to arrive in Curacao at 6AM (you read that right) and depart at ... Read More
We booked this cruise based on the itinerary. We were particularly keen to visit Curacao, which offered a whole day on the island. Alas, things changed. We were scheduled to arrive in Curacao at 6AM (you read that right) and depart at 1230PM. One port was excised all together. No believable explanation was ever extended. We were, in a word, miffed. We resolved to make the best of it. Multiple reviewers have used the "Good, the bad and the ugly" structural method. It is appealing, save for the done-to-death feel. I wanted to shift the focus - "The steaks were tough as Sister Sara's Mules." Maybe "Norwegian will show you a good time...for A Fistful of Dollars." "Once Upon a Time in the West...ern Caribbean." Nah. That's too much work for what was a fabulous cruise. We took the Southern route, anyway. Norwegian Epic is a big, clean ship that looks a little odd. The "Haven" spaces is plopped just above the bridge in a blockhouse-style architecture. It does funky things to the ship's lines. No matter, we weren't aboard because it was pretty. The ship itself is easy to navigate, logically put together, except... Some ships are built around a promenade deck. Epic seemed built around the casino, which emanated cigarette smoke two decks above it. Boarding was stupid easy. We arrived precisely at the time on our boarding pass, in an area frequented by "Phone App" drivers, documents in hand. We never stopped moving, to the point we were juggling pens and papers filling out the "I haven't had a Corona in weeks" forms on the fly. Thirteen minutes, from when we got in line to enter the building and when we crossed into the ship. Pro tip - we were dumped into the Deck Four ingress/egress point, which jammed up in front of the elevators. Gentle "excuse me" requests didn't work. We had to push our way to the staircase. The food on board was excellent, with the usual cruise ship caveats. Portions in the MDR (we chose the Manhattan) fluctuated, sometimes modest, sometimes generous. There was acceptable variety most nights, sometimes really good dishes were offered. Service was quick and efficient, although the servers weren't as conversational as other lines. It was unusual if a server would linger for more than superficial pleasantries. They did keep our wine glasses full! The specialty restaurants offered food that was about the same level as the MDR. Cagney was fine - the steaks well presented. The Italian restaurant was also good, the food rich and flavorful. The hibachi restaurant was disappointing - way way too much reliance on soy in the seafood dishes. The steak, however, was incredibly good. The buffet - standard. Nobody does scrambled eggs well. The omelet lines moved quickly, and smaller ready-made omelets were available. Multiple sanitizer stations were available, so one could hose down your hands after handling tongs. There was enough variety to allow an excellent choice of options. The coffee was surprisingly good, plentiful and many stations available. The pastries were okay, except for the muffins - to absolutely die for. Best ever, on any cruise ship. We liked the cabin layout, although a couple of features were perplexing. There is plenty of storage space, the bed was very comfortable and - once the guy in the next cabin explained the system - the lights were wonderfully useful, with a logical pattern. The bathroom layout, with shower and head in different enclosures, worked extremely well. The sofa, if that's what it was, was useless. It had a sort of wave design that created an angle every place one might sit. Annoying. Our cabin attendant was fantastic. Helpful, efficient and very nice. She made our stay very comfortable. The bar service was spotty. We found a covered area on the pool deck to read and write, spending hours there over four days. We got bar service once, and had to attract the attention of the server to get it. Often, they would walk past us with a thousand yard stare. Getting served at the pool bar was an exercise in patience - the bartenders worked hard and had a system, but by mid-afternoon the other cruisers were pushy and very loud. Service in the other venues were about average, with the wait staff not always in evidence. We went to one show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It was lavish, to put it mildly. It was loud, flamboyant and unpredictable. It was also touching in spots. We loved it! The music and dancing were amazing, the cast extremely talented. Total recommend. The port calls - erratic. Aruba cabs were expensive, and service in the beach bars slower than even island time might suggest. St. Lucia was a traffic nightmare, and we were lucky. Groups of people were still coming aboard 30 minutes after we were supposed to shove off. Curacao was easily negotiated on foot. We loved St. Kitts - pay attention to the folks hawking bus tours. They are excellent, well worth the $20 per we spent. Debarking - as stupid simple as getting on. Ten minutes. We were not sure about Norwegian once the itinerary changes took place. We were ready to be disappointed. They delivered an excellent product. We enjoyed the whole voyage, in spite of ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Last year we sailed on the NCL Getaway this same week. This year we tried the Epic. I loved this ship. It is huge (aren't they all?), and pretty. We chose a cabin layout with the bed closest to the balcony, which allowed us more floor ... Read More
Last year we sailed on the NCL Getaway this same week. This year we tried the Epic. I loved this ship. It is huge (aren't they all?), and pretty. We chose a cabin layout with the bed closest to the balcony, which allowed us more floor space upon entering. Passing the foot of the bed is strictly a one way zone! The cabin had a lot of storage space, and the toilet - shower - sink configuration worked beautifully for us. The enclosures are frosted, so for a couple or a family with younger children this should not present a problem. We found everyone on staff to be friendly and helpful. Spanish was probably the most heard language. Some of the waiters and bar staff were difficult to understand. Perhaps we are just losing some of our hearing facilities. The shows were superb, especially the adult comedy shows. We loved Spice H2O, and locating open loungers was not a problem. The same can be said for the loungers by the central pool. We saw very few children traveling this week. We used the Casino a lot! This Casino is really large for a cruise ship. If you like to gamble, you will not be disappointed with the options in this casino. The food was good and plentiful in the Garden Cafe (the 24/7 buffet). Le Bistro was fantastic!!!!!! La Cucina was not. And I will be polite here and say no more about this restaurant venue. Perhaps we just experienced it on an unfortunate night. In general I would give the food on this ship an A-. The ship was very clean. The general announcements over the speakers are difficult to understand, again because of the language accents. Our balcony was a wonderful space, large enough to hold 4 if necessary, and more than comfortable for the two of us. We chose not to upgrade our cabin because I had chosen it with consideration of location. We were in cabin 13201. This was very close to the elevators, which we rarely had to wait for! I would go back to this same cabin without a hesitation. I would chose to sail on this ship again. It was clean, friendly, well laid out, and smooth sailing! I find it imperative to do thorough research and planning before boarding a ship. I use a small three ring binder to hold all documents and scheduled events and excusions for each day aboard. Many guests complained about not being able to acquire excursions or reservations in restaurants, etc...This is the result of poor planing on the part of the guest, not the ship's staff! Do yourself a favor by taking care of all the details before you board, then just relax and enjoy beauty of the sea! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Hoping you are comfortable, because this one will be a long one... This year, we decided to try a cruise to see if it was 'for us.' With some destinations in mind, and only a specific date range free, we searched for options. ... Read More
Hoping you are comfortable, because this one will be a long one... This year, we decided to try a cruise to see if it was 'for us.' With some destinations in mind, and only a specific date range free, we searched for options. We chose Norwegian because it had an excellent record for cleanliness, and high ratings for customer satisfaction, and because the Epic was going to destinations we wanted to visit. We spent a week on the Epic, departing from Puerto Rico and sailing to Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and back to PR. As we had not been to San Juan before, we added two days to walk the Old Town and see the sights. We both found that really enjoyable, and appreciated the warm people and learning about the history of Puerto Rico and the role it has played over the centuries. One thing we had not considered was that the original itinerary included Bonaire, so when that was removed (prior to our purchase of the cruise), it meant we spent an entire day at sea, going in circles between Aruba and Curacao, burning fuel and going nowhere. I imagine it is the less expensive option to port fees, but it seemed a bit nonsensical to be so close to these ports and not be able to spend more time in one or both of them. Overall, it was a pleasant experience. We selected a mid-ship cabin with a balcony, specifically on the port side to get the best views and sunsets on the return portion of the trip. The cabin was fine, personally, the split bathroom setup was not an issue. Lots of storage and closet space, two North American plugs and two European plugs under the counter, and USB access on the side of the TV. Another outlet is located inside the mirror over the sink. The beds were comfortable, and we ordered extra pillows. We travel with a recharging kit that uses a USB hub and several phone adapters to maximize valuable outlets. In this case, we didn't need to use our European adapters for the Euro outlets. We were able to charge two phones, one camera battery and a laptop using the kit and the North American plugs with ease. One other thing we travel with is a small USB powered fan to move air in hotel rooms. This was a lifesaver in the cabin as it was so warm outside that opening the door at night for a refreshing breeze did not work out as planned. The AC was strong and appreciated. The ship was clean. Really clean. We booked in November and researched cruise lines and their records for norovirus issues, and Norwegian was the best. The Epic had no reported issues for years, which increased our confidence. And now with the coronavirus issue, we noticed cleaning and disinfecting underway at all times and in all the public areas. It was good to see the cruise line's prevention practices were in place. Boarding and departing the ship at every port was quick and efficient. We spoke with others after the cruise and learned that this was unusually efficient, so perhaps we were lucky. The ship itself is huge, and it was full, so probably over 5000 people with crew included. We eat early, and the various restaurants were always available, yet busy. We dined at the 15th level buffet for breakfast, and enjoyed fresh fruit, omelettes and perhaps a few more potatoes than we should have. The variety is good and allows for a different meal each morning. Lunch was generally light, but the dinners were where we had the most interesting experiences. Our package included three premium restaurants, and we chose the Japanese, Brazilian and the French restaurants. In theory, these were good choices. In practice, not so good. To be fair, the Japanese restaurant was pretty good. Our chef was entertaining, the service was fine and the food was great, especially the steak and prawns. The chicken was overcooked, but I'd rather it be a bit tough than under cooked, so maybe I am being a bit critical. The Brazilian restaurant was where the wheels fell off the cart. Having visited Brazil and having dined at one of their steak houses, I can confirm the Brazilians know their meat and how to prepare and present it. Every cut at this themed restaurant, from the lamb to the steak was saturated in salt. Some cuts were wrapped in bacon and cheese, not something one would see in a Brazilian steak house. At the end of the meal, my plate was filled with half eaten pieces of meat, a waste of food as well as a disappointment. We had a similar experience at the French restaurant. Our inquiries on alternatives resulted in advice to plan ahead and give dietary notice 24 hours in advance, which seemed a bit of an overreaction given the concern. In the ship's defense, the Executive sous chef came out to see what could be done and was very pleasant. In fact, pretty much everyone was pleasant, they just were unable to provide salt free options. Preparing foods in advance is understandable given the number of meals made each day, but some flexibility needs to be in place as well. Where the ship excelled was in the complimentary restaurants. We found the service and the food in Manhattan and Taste to be superior to the themed specialty restaurants, and the servers were able to provide food that was not salted. So if you find yourself not able to secure a reservation in the specialty restaurants, all is by no means lost. Entertainment was good. The Cirque show was very entertaining, and intimate as it is a small theatre. The food at that show was pretty mediocre, and getting a glass of wine seemed to be asking too much, but the show was worth the time spent. We popped our heads in to see the Priscilla and Burn the Floor shows, but ultimately left as they were not our style of entertainment. Really enjoyed the Howl at the Moon comedy shows, with three comedian/musicians taking requests from the audience. The included on board wi-fi was a struggle, not so much because of the coverage, which was fine but as it was a metered connection and the process of logging in and out was unreliable, so minutes were lost and stress was gained. There are options to purchase more time, but it isn't cheap, so keeping within the original allotment was our plan. And, we were a bit surprised with how much direct sales there was on board. It was constant, everything from pre-paying your next cruise to all of the various products for sale on board. For us, it was too much, we don't appreciate being bombarded with sales pitches. And, Norwegian is persistent with their direct marketing at home, as well. We receive a solicitation about every ten days for upcoming cruises. It really is excessive and counterproductive. The four ports of call were all pleasant. We walked around town and hit a beach in Aruba, and just walked around in Curacao. We went on two shore excursions in St. Lucia and St. Kitts. The Island Splendour on St. Lucia started out interesting, but turned into a series of brief stops intended to flog souvenirs. It became a bit shabby toward the end. We took a city tour and beach transfer on St. Kitts, and the driver was excellent and provided good information on the island and the capital city, and then dropped us off at a wonderful beach for a few hours. We learned at the beach that a cab ride from the ship was about $3.00 each way, so that is a much more affordable option if an afternoon at the beach is on your agenda. We went to Frigate Bay, just east of the port and it was very nice. Overall, a good experience, and a good way to see several islands. Would we cruise again? Perhaps in a different environment such as a river cruise, but probably not in this format. But, you have to try everything once, I have been told. 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Sail Date February 2020
We wanted to do a cruise to the ABC islands and we used our cruise next deposits for this cruise on NCL EPIC. First the good - we loved cruising out of of San Juan. That port draws in older crowd and that suits us. There were minimal 20 ... Read More
We wanted to do a cruise to the ABC islands and we used our cruise next deposits for this cruise on NCL EPIC. First the good - we loved cruising out of of San Juan. That port draws in older crowd and that suits us. There were minimal 20 yr olds on the cruise. We loved the ports and the crew on the Epic is the best I've seen in 25 years. The bad: the Epic may be the worst ship I've ever been on. The rooms are terrible, very narrow with the bathroom inside of a closet. No surprise NCL has only one of these in their fleet. She has no mid-ship elevators. So if you book mid-ship like we did (and payed extra for!) you will be walking a lot as you have to go to the bow or stern for an elevator. We still had a great cruise because the staff on this ship is top notch. The itinerary was good but I have to call out NCL on some major problems. They cancelled our port to Bonaire. On the island of Curacao we arrived at 6 am and departed at 12 pm. There was no time to see Curacao. We then arrived in St. Lucia the next day at 2 pm at 8pm. NCL's handling of the itinerary was completely unacceptable. That said we cruised with many terrific people and a great crew...we loved the cruise but NCL could have made it even better without the gafs on the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Any Ratings listed will be on a scale of 1-5 Stars. The main purpose of the review is to give you ratings wherever possible and focus on the ship. Day 1 We got to the terminal around 11 am. Encore took up terminals B&C. Naturally ... Read More
Any Ratings listed will be on a scale of 1-5 Stars. The main purpose of the review is to give you ratings wherever possible and focus on the ship. Day 1 We got to the terminal around 11 am. Encore took up terminals B&C. Naturally we went to the wrong one, but there were no signs saying that one was for odd numbered decks and the other for even. We had our sea passes within 15 minutes of arriving, but had over 30 minutes wait to get on the ship. We went to the Local Bar to wait for the cabin to be ready. We have a standard balcony cabin. The bed is really comfortable, the shower is nice and there is lots of storage space. There are three outlets by the desk and a USB port on each side of the bed. The muster drill went off pretty well. We had ours down by the Main Dining Room. Everything being digital these days, made it go smooth. Afterwards, though was like a herd of cattle with everyone scrambling to the elevators. The problem with that is that people in wheel chairs get trampled. That is sad that some folks can be so inconsiderate. We spent the rest of the time getting to know the ship and we had supper at a BBQ restaurant. Food and service get 5 stars. Day 2- At Sea Day Bit of a bumpy ride last night. We had breakfast at The Local Bar, which is open 24/7. They serve breakfast longer than the buffet and are closer. The food gets 4 stars and the service gets 5. Very limited menu, but very quick. Good coffee and real orange juice. Good day for a nap. We had supper at Ocean Blue, which is a sea food restaurant. Again service gets 5 stars. The Appetizers, soup and desert were excellent, but alas, the entrée’s only rate a 3. We had 6:00 reservations and let them know we were going to the 7:30 show. They were very prompt to make sure we were done in time. We also used our free bottle of champagne which came with the cabin. The show was Choir of Men and it was really, really good! I don’t usually like musicals, but this one was centered on a local pub. If you have a chance to see it, give it a look. Day 2- San Juan This is a little bit misleading as we don’t get to port until 5:30 and leave at 11 pm, so most of it will be after dark. We turned our clocks ahead last night, so we are 2 hours ahead of back home in Wisconsin. Once again we had breakfast at The Local Bar and once again the service was fantastic. We finally made it up to deck 16 where the pool and buffet are. Met several from our group there. The pool area was packed. The important thing is, I found the soft serve ice cream machine! There are several of them and they serve hard packed ice cream too, when the buffet is open. It seems that most of the best venues are at the other end of the ship from our cabin. We had supper at Teppanyaki, which is a Japanese restaurant. It is worth trying once for the entertainment value, if nothing else. The food is really good, though, so not to worry. The chef cooks the food right in front of you. They have a lot of stations and they are divided in half. One chef does one side (8 guests to a side) and another chef does the other. They have to time it right, because the chef banters and jokes with the guests. The entertainment gets a definite 5 stars and the food gets a 5. Day 4- St. Thomas In port all day, but it is very hot and humid outside. We are staying on the ship and taking pictures as we have been to this port more times than any other. We had breakfast in the buffet and were disappointed. Usually we like their breakfast. We did get there a little late, but they started closing down early. They weren’t putting fresh food out. Coffee was good but they had the orange juice switched over. The French bread was dry. Hopefully I can give you a better report the next time we go. For now, it gets 3 Stars. Dinner was at Cagney’s. We had the dining package as one of the perks, so it included a bottle of Champaign. Both of the steaks were perfectly cooked and tender. 5 Stars. Day 5- Tortola Finally, a port we haven’t been to! Good long day in port. We had breakfast at The Local again, with very different results. The service was not very good. I asked for eggs over easy and got them scrambled. Both of our eggs weren’t warm and we had to send them back. We had to ask for the toast and butter. Much different than the 1st 2 times we were there. The Assistant Maitre”D came over and was basically annoying. He was annoying again when we went back for supper. Our excursion was a tour of Tortola and we almost didn’t go. First of all, it was a very hot day and I don’t do well with heat. The coach we were going to be on was open air. But the coach was also very high and no stool was provided to help people get on board. Lynette has bad knees and there was no way for her to board. This excursion was rated as level 1, meaning anyone should be able to do it. We really lucked out here, because we were able to get on 1 of the air conditioned coaches which was lower. It was a very nice tour. Tortola is a British possession, although the driver said it is owned by the people. They drive on the left. Lots of hair pin curves. 4 Stars for the tour. We stopped an hour at a beach. Fortunately, they also had a bar and shopping. As mentioned, we went to The Local for supper. Overall, I would give the food 4 Stars. Days 6&7- At Sea. Not a lot to report for the last two days. We ate breakfast at the café one day and The Local Bar the next. Both were very good, so that erases the bad experiences we had at each. We had supper at The Oservation Lounge one night The Local the other. So we did not eat supper at the Garden Café or the main dining room the entire cruise. This is a first for us. It was mostly due to the fact that we had the dining package for a perk. Friday afternoon, see saw a ship band Guns and Rojas. They were good. We had heard them before and weren’t impressed, so it must have been the style of music they were singing. This time they were doing a Frank Sinatra tribute. In the evening we went to see a comedy show that was quite good. One of the groups that we got to really like, during the cruise, was Jelly Bean Duo. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS • CABIN- 5 Stars; Very spacious for a standard balcony, lots of storage space, bed was comfortable. • CABIN STEWARD- 4 Stars; He did his job, or most of it, but seemed very late each day. Friendly enough to talk to. • FOOD QUALITY- 5 Stars for Specialty restaurants and 4 Stars for complimentary. • FOOD VARIETY- 4 Stars; They don’t seem to have the variety they used to have. They can no longer list breads and rolls as their specialty. They didn’t serve smoked salmon for breakfast and we never saw escargot on the menu for supper. Little things like that add up • ENTERTAINMENT- 4 Stars. Choir of Men and the comedian were terrific. We saw 3 of the house bands and 2 of them were very good. Not a lot of options. • FOOD SERVICE- 5 Stars; In spite of the few problems we had • BAR SERVICE- 4 Stars; It depends on where you are and when you are there • BARS- 5 Stars; A lot of the bars were at the other end of the ship so we didn’t spend much time there. The Local has a limited beer selection, so I had to stop somewhere along the way to get the beer. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. My sister and I decided to take a cruise together. Overall, the service was great, the activities were fun and we had a great time. However, after reading the reviews of the cabins, I wasn't ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. My sister and I decided to take a cruise together. Overall, the service was great, the activities were fun and we had a great time. However, after reading the reviews of the cabins, I wasn't very optimistic about the accommodations. We had a "large balcony cabin". The previous reviews were spot-on in terms of what to expect for that room. The cabin was long and skinny. There was so little room between the end of the bed and the vanity that we couldn't get a suitcase through and had to unpack at the entrance to the room and carry everything to the closet. And you have to turn sideways to get past the bed. Walls are curved. As such, the beds cannot be separated more than 2-3 inches, so if you aren't comfortable sleeping that close to someone....don't choose this type of cabin. The beds are short. I'm 5'4" tall and my feet easily touched the end of the bed. The "toilet stall" is very narrow and cramped. We chose to use the restrooms in the public lobbies for "number 2" as the ventilation left something to be desired, and it was really too small in there to practice appropriate hygiene. True, there is a curtain to pull across the shower area for privacy, but you still have to dry off outside the shower. The frosted glass leaves little to the imagination. You can't see details, but you can still see a naked person. The curved sofa made no sense, as it was uncomfortable to sit on, and faced the closet. It is supposed to be the third bed, but when it is pulled out it is still too short for an adult. There is plenty of storage space. The balcony was huge and about the size of half the room. The cabin steward was amazing. The only other real complaint was that we allowed NCL to make our airline arrangements. My sister lives in Seattle. I live in Atlanta. We docked at 5:30am but NCL booked us on a 4:45 flight out of San Juan. Instead of a direct flight back to Atlanta, I had a connection in Charlotte along with my sister. That wouldn't have been so bad, but NCL booked her connection so that, one we deplaned, she would have 35 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other and board her connecting flight, with absolutely no leeway for delay. Well, the flight was 45 minutes late leaving San Juan, so she missed her connection. So...due to NCL trying to save money and putting us on a late flight with a tight connection, her trip home to Seattle took over 24 hours. I will never trust a cruise line with my airline arrangements again. Also to note....the pools on this ship are very small. There are 4100 people on board this ship, and the two swimming pools on deck 15 would probably accommodate 20 people each at any given time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Choose this cruise as it was to go to St. Martin. However the itinerary changed. Did research on the vessel and activities before going. Found San Juan hotels to be expensive as we went a day early. I used Costco travel to book the trip, ... Read More
Choose this cruise as it was to go to St. Martin. However the itinerary changed. Did research on the vessel and activities before going. Found San Juan hotels to be expensive as we went a day early. I used Costco travel to book the trip, it was easy to use and offered lots of perks. The photo package alone was worth the money. We found that the excursions were very repetitive as the were all volcanic islands. The restaurant’s aboard were fantastic, the quality of the food was great. We had a chance to talk with the executive chef on the second day on the ship and were very impressed with history. The boarding process went smoothly as we as the disembarkation. Entertainment was very good, we enjoyed almost every show on-board. My wife would have liked to see the Beatles group performance however it never started before 2200. This is very late if you have excursions booked. Overall we would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Just returned from a week on Encore. It is a fabulous new ship with tons to do on it and decorated to NCL's high standard. Unfortunately for us we chose a school holiday week, being from the UK this was unknown to us. However, with ... Read More
Just returned from a week on Encore. It is a fabulous new ship with tons to do on it and decorated to NCL's high standard. Unfortunately for us we chose a school holiday week, being from the UK this was unknown to us. However, with that said the 1000+ children on board didn't really bother us, other then sitting on stair cases and running the cabin corridors, then I did get a bit peed off with them! With all the things to do on this ship like Go carts, VR room and Laser Tag it is always going to attracted more families. We had an inside cabin (13665) which was plenty big enough or the 2 of us and was fine as we don't spend much time in there. It was spotlessly clean and had everything we needed. The reason I haven't given this ship 5 stars is due to the lack of quiet sunbathing space. H2O has been removed on this ship to make way for the VR room so that leaves Vibe, which I refuse to pay extra for! We spent our sea days sitting on the Waterfront, this has now also turned into sun bathing deck as some people were laying on towels on the walk way or dragging chairs out blocking the walk way in order to catch some sun. I am aware that there is always space available on the pool deck but it is far too busy and loud for us. We ate at Taste, The Local (breakfast) Garden cafe (lunch), observation lounge (lunch), Teppenyaki, Cagney's and Los Lobos. All were great with wonderful service. The only negative i can find is that Cagney's is so over booked that they are always running late with tables and its far from a nice relaxing environment to have dinner, tables crammed in and even spilling out into the A List bar. All the entertainment we seen was really good, Choir of Man is unmissable and we loved Jim Badgers humour! Unfortunately we didn't make it to see Kinky Boots but I heard others say it was great. Over all we had a great time, met some great people really liked Encore but it wouldn't be my first choice of ship in future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The laser tag and speedway are very cool but quite expensive. They seem to have taken the place of other free activities like basketball etc. which we missed. There are not enough chairs on the Pool deck perhaps forcing people to pay for ... Read More
The laser tag and speedway are very cool but quite expensive. They seem to have taken the place of other free activities like basketball etc. which we missed. There are not enough chairs on the Pool deck perhaps forcing people to pay for the beach club. The main dining rooms were every bit as good if not better than the specialty restaurants. We loved the deck 8 big blue couches and chairs and camped out there on all at sea days including the day that was supposed to be the private island, some usb plugs by all those chairs and sofas, may be helpful. Perhaps a dock at the private island would be a good idea rather than tendering so people can actually use the private island because it seems to be cancelled often due to safety issues with tendering. Our stateroom was very well appointed and our attendant was great. All the bar staff treated us well. The Chocolate Cowboy as he liked to call himself at sugarcane mojito bar outside on deck 8 was awesome. The cruise director was fine when we saw him, but not the best one we have ever had. Tortola needed to be way longer, no one wants to go snorkeling at 7:30 in the morning, especially when anyone who checked the weather report knew we weren’t getting off the ship the next day at the private island. We really enjoyed the Choir of Man, Kinky Boots was good but not for smaller children, we didn’t see the one you had to pay for, because really, we paid enough already, entertainment should be free. Overall, you have a beautiful ship that with a few tweaks would make me try again. For now, I will stick with Royal Caribbean or Disney. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience a brand new ship. I’m glad we cruised on the Encore. It’s a stunning ship. There is lots to like, but some legitimate drawbacks in a couple areas. I would cruise again with NCL, ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience a brand new ship. I’m glad we cruised on the Encore. It’s a stunning ship. There is lots to like, but some legitimate drawbacks in a couple areas. I would cruise again with NCL, but probably not on this particular ship. A bit about us. We are in our early 50s and do not have children. We like cruises, but every vacation is not a cruise vacation. We have taken cruises with Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Viking (a river cruise). This was our second cruise with NCL. The ship is indeed beautiful and offers to many choices of activities, dining, and entertainment. Our cabin (10226) was a mini-suite with a balcony. It was large enough for a couple. For a family, it would be tight. (The sofa could turn into a bed, and there was an upper bunk that could be pulled down from the ceiling, if desired.) The bathroom was the largest one we have ever had on a ship. The shower is nearly full-sized and a most welcome improvement over the telephone booth style showers we have encountered on some other ships. The shower head was quite fancy. It featured different spray options. Water pressure was good and the range of water temperatures was excellent. There is a trough-style double sink. A double sink was useless for us, but it could be helpful for a family. There are two dispensers in the shower: one containing shower gel and the other containing a combined shampoo & hair conditioner. Both my husband & I have short hair, so this was not a big deal. If you have longer hair, you might want to bring your own hair products. The shampoo/conditioner did not rinse as “cleanly” as I would have liked, but this was a minor issue. There is no standard waste receptacle in the bathroom, which I found odd and inconvenient. Instead, there is a very small waste container in a drawer below the sink. The bed was comfortable. There was plenty of storage space for two people. The TV worked well, but it seemed a little small. If you enjoy quiet time on your balcony, this is NOT the cabin for you. We were located two decks above the Sugar Cane Mojito Bar on the Waterfront. I could hear the bartender shaking drinks. As long as the bar was open, it was quite noisy on our balcony. Speaking of the Waterfront, I was looking forward to this set-up as it sounded like a great idea…in concept. We never saw anyone dine outside the specialty restaurants on the Waterfront. It was either too warm, too windy, or too chilly…and we were in the Caribbean. There is lots of seating scattered throughout the Waterfront, and these areas were popular with families and large groups, and probably people looking to escape interior cabins. I missed having a deck that we could walk around the entire ship, as we have done on other cruises. There is nothing comparable on the Encore. (The jogging track above the main pool area is a joke.) Many reviewers have commented about the lack of pool space and deck chairs, and this is very fair criticism of this ship. There is not nearly enough public pool and deck area for a ship with this many passengers. The hot tubs were packed full. The music was way too loud. It gave us a headache just to walk through the area. We did not pay for the more exclusive pool area because we never use the pools, so I can’t comment on conditions there. Some have commented about poor service on the Encore. That was NOT our experience at all. In nearly every instance – wait staff, our cabin steward (Elan), spa, guest services, and excursions, the service was outstanding. In most cases, the food was very good. Food in the specialty restaurants was OUTSTANDING. We ate at Cagney’s, Onda, Q, Los Lobos, and the American Diner. Food in The Local Bar was okay. I did like the set-up. Food was a little bland there, except for the hot dog. The basic level wine & alcoholic beverage package was included in our cruise fare, and worked well for me. I’m a wine drinker and fully enjoyed the wines (had to be less than $15 per glass) that qualified under the basic package. Without prompting, the wait staff always offered to refill a glass. The Garden Café (buffet) was my least favorite eating area. There were lots of choices, but it was always way too crowded and difficult to find a table. Pizza ordered through room service was okay. We've had much better pizza on other cruise lines and ships. The Observatory Lounge on Deck 15 is a GREAT space. It is really a unique area of this ship. It is a quiet space where many families gathered to play board games or complete puzzles during the sea days. Singles and couples read books there, or just sat and enjoyed a drink. There was always an abundant and varied offering of snacks, desserts and other food items – all complimentary. The panoramic view is amazing. The spa was nice. I enjoyed two different massages there. Ask for Raj. Yes, they do subject you to the usual sales pitch, which always annoys me. I would pay more just to avoid the stupid sales pitch and health “coaching”. To the question “What are you doing to reduce stress?”, I responded, “I am taking this cruise.” Raj thought that was funny. We went to Choir of Man on the Encore. I highly recommend it, and we generally don’t get all that excited about musicals and shows. The cast was incredibly talented, and the music was infectious. The entire audience was participating by the latter half of the show. We also enjoyed the piano player (can’t recall his name) in the Atrium. There were a lot of children and teenagers on this cruise. Nothing against children and teenagers, just against parents who don’t believe in teaching their children to respect others and behave reasonably. There were quite a few “entitled” young folks on this cruise. My husband summed it up, “I know I sound like a grumpy old person, but I never hear these young folks say ‘thank you’”. We tried the race track. It was fun, but once was enough. I think most people would have been much happier with this ship if the space dedicated to the race track was instead dedicated to more pool and lounging deck space. Don’t bother with the Internet and Wi-Fi packages offered on the ship. Connections (when available) are SLOW. Ditch the electronics and use it as a good excuse to unplug and get away. We participated in shore excursions offered by NCL in San Juan, St. Thomas, and Tortola. We did “Sips & Bites” in San Juan. I was hoping for more history about San Juan and Puerto Rico. Instead, the guide got really detailed about the “art” of “craft cocktails”. I love a good cocktail, but this guy acted like they were finding a cure for cancer -- took himself way too seriously. We had some nice cocktails and appetizers, but definitely not worth the price for this excursion. In both St. Thomas and Tortola we opted for the standard minibus tour of each island. On the St. Thomas tour, they forced way too many people into the wagon. Be prepared to get to know your seatmates very well. Due to choppy waters and poor weather, the Great Stirrup Cay stop was cancelled and became a sea day instead. By this point in the cruise, I was getting stir crazy and ready to get off the ship, so that was my least favorite day. The disembarkation process was very disorganized. Embarkation was okay. Many cabins were not ready until 3:00 or 3:30 pm. In summary, I'm glad we experienced the Encore, but I don't need to experience it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We go for the newest ships, often sucked in by the gimmicks plus the itinerary. In this case it was the race track and laser tag and the chance to try a new line. This was our 8th cruise -- previously we've been on Disney, Royal ... Read More
We go for the newest ships, often sucked in by the gimmicks plus the itinerary. In this case it was the race track and laser tag and the chance to try a new line. This was our 8th cruise -- previously we've been on Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. For our "free perks" I had selected 3 specialty dining (Cagney's, LeBistro, Ocean Blue), 250 minutes of wifi, and the drink package. Food I felt was on par with other lines except not many complimentary choices for lunch. For example nothing on the pool deck except the buffet. I've never done specialty restaurants before. It's fine if it's included but I wouldn't pay for them. Main dining room is perfectly sufficient for us. Staff I felt was on par with other lines. Typically if you're friendly and treat people with respect they respond in kind. Not very happy about all the extra activity fees. $10 for laser tag. $15 for race track. $30 for an hour in Galaxy Pavilion. They should let everybody do each thing once and pay for extra times. I ended up paying almost $400 for activities for the four of us (including a $160 arcade pass). Thankfully my wife thinks the spa is too expensive and didn't go there. I waited a year in order for my kids to be tall enough for the race track but my youngest still wasn't tall enough. But at least they have double car sessions and he could ride with me. Note even though this is supposed to be "free style," you seriously need to plan out and reserve dinners, shows and activities -- especially laser tag, race track and escape -- if you want to be assured that you can do them. So planning was actually a little tiring, especially since many items you can't reserve until you get on board. We had intended to do the escape room but I didn't book it fast enough and all the slots disappeared by day 2. But it's just as well based on the feedback I've read. I didn't realize until after I booked that all these gimmicks seriously impacted other areas on the ship. For example there is no adults only area unless you want to pay extra for the Vibe. There is just one small pool and a small shallow one for the kids. And four small hot tubs (capacity of 6-7 adults but typically was full of kids). This is the first cruise I ever went on where I didn't get in the hot tub. The pool was salt water so my kids didn't care to go in a second time as it burned their eyes and tasted nasty if it got in their mouths. The tube water slide was fun but we only did it once. Not really worth waiting for 30 minutes each time. The Ocean Loop slide is a failure due to poor design or implementation only people weighing 130 lbs or more could go on it. And even though I'm well over 130 lbs I failed to go through the first time. The second time I took off my rash guard (shirt) and made it through. And lounging space on the pool deck is extremely limited. Since we prefer shade it wasn't a big issue for us. The tv system and app is decent but doesn't have the ability to book certain things and you can't cancel anything either. So I had to visit guest services a number of times. If the app was more comprehensive this would not have been necessary. Texting via the app worked well. I think this should be a complimentary feature, not $10/device. The free wifi was so-so but it generally worked well enough. Trying to limit kid's accounts was very difficult. I couldn't put a dollar limit, it was either leave open or close it. I closed it just to be safe but that caused various problems (for example it wouldn't let me book laser tag for my son even though I was using my card to do it). So I shouldn't have bothered. My kids know enough not to charge stuff wantonly. I had only been doing it just in case. At least the kids activities and kids club was not an extra charge. We didn't use it much but my younger son spent about 5-6 hours total there. He enjoyed it enough to ask to go back after the first time. For some dumb reason they didn't properly accommodate smokers at launch so they scrambled to add an outdoor smoking area on the pool deck. They should have planned for this in the first place. I love that the main casino is smoke-free. You can actually walk through it without gagging. We thought the shows and entertainment (Choir of Men, Kinky Boots, Beatles) were quite good and entertaining. I refuse to pay extra for a show so I didn't attempt to see Prohibition. Bottom line is go for this ship if you are interested in race track, laser tag and galaxy pavilion. Or the overall itinerary. But if you won't use those anyway pick a ship that has the adults area (Spice H2O) and more space for the traditional areas. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Not a cruise line devotee - i book for itinerary - so the 10 day caribbean out of NYC fit the bill to get some warmth and a break from old man winter with no airplane travel involved - last did NCL in 1989 on the Norway (anyone remember ... Read More
Not a cruise line devotee - i book for itinerary - so the 10 day caribbean out of NYC fit the bill to get some warmth and a break from old man winter with no airplane travel involved - last did NCL in 1989 on the Norway (anyone remember her?) - and had gotten mixed reviews since then - but figured what the heck, let's give her a try THE SHIP: the gem is one of NCL's smallest ships - but with 2700 people onboard is probably the biggest ship i have ever been on - but most of the time nothing felt crowded - the ship is in very nice shape and she is a pretty ship - kept clean - only saw minor wear and tear ( a ripped cushion here, a broken seat there, but nothing outrageous) - with the abuse these ships take on a weekly basis it's understandable - like i said clean - with the disease scares lately there is a large push to keep the passengers from being unsanitary - but some of them are just plain slobs (trying to walk barefoot into the restaurant, leaving empty dishes on the stairs, grabbing slices of cheese with their bare hands (thats what the utensils are for) ) - so all in all we liked the ship EMBARKATION: This was one of the biggest problems and a warning for future NYC sailings - the previous cruise got in a few hours late - we heard 2/3/or/4 hours late - so naturally we had to wait extra long to board - so 2700 people jammed on a warehouse/dock - yes NYC's piers leave much to be desired - do you think the cruise line could've broke down and splurged on some sandwiches, pretzels, chips or granola bars - NOPE - this could not have been the first time this has ever happened - no preparations - there was one vendor in the area selling food and obviously sold out - so no lunch for us that day because when we finally got on board three hours late - they shut down the restaurants for an hour to prepare for and do the muster drill - not a good way to start - TWO CAVEATS to learn from this - if sailing out of NYC in winter be prepared for bad weather to screw up plans - we boarded late as the ship came in late and then later on we lost a port due to more bad weather - also - always pack a snack just in case embarkation is delayed - particularly in NYC as the piers have nothing available THE FOOD: probably our biggest complaint - it wasn't bad - but it was very unimaginative - the menu is meat-centric and geared to the "all you can eat, eat all you can" crowd - being vegetarian (and my wife a fish eater) - it was very very unimaginative - first off - they threw meat into everything - at the lunch buffets the prepared salads and pastas - all had meat thrown in - a nice pasta salad doesn't need ham - a serving of salmon doesn't need bacon sprinkled on it - if you are looking to eat healthy - it is a bit of work - and there is more to vegetarian dining than pasta, pasta and more pasta --- then of course - there was the "food descriptions" - a cherry pie would come out blueberry, bagel chips would be pita bread, arugula would be mixed greens, if you asked the servers to explain something they were baffled - i ordered a cafoutis (sp?) dessert one night but asked first what is was like - no clue - (flan-ish for those interested) - and lastly (let me get the complaints out of the way) -- no menu changes - on a ten day cruise - sit down lunches and sit down breakfasts always the same menu - so for example the only veggie option at lunch was a frittata (or ask them to take the shrimp off the pasta) - for ten days - that gets fairly boring We had the 4 free speciality dining package - so we did that - but honestly except for tepanaki i could not see paying the ala carte prices for that food - it was just as unimaginative as the main dining rooms - and don't worry about each night if grand pacific or magenta has the better choices - they are the same - just a change of scenery... THE ENTERTAINMENT - this really shone - very energetic entertainers - and very talented - the 3 shows were all good - although blazing boots was obviously geared to the "meat crowd" - the guest performers again were mostly top notch - a singer, magician, pianist, comedian and aerialists ... a good mix for the ten days - the theater was probably the best i've ever been on on a ship - it is a theater - not a re-purposed lounge - so not a bad seat/obstructed view in the house THE STAFF - mostly every one was friendly, helpful and good at their jobs (with possibly the wait staff being unknowledgable being the worst crime - a few unhappy faces at times from the wait staff but everyone is entitled to a bad day THE CABIN - if you're expecting a huge suite - you're gonna have to pay for one - we had a regular balcony cabin and it was fine - yeah it's small (yeah it's a cruise ship) - but lots of storage/shelves and once it got warm the balcony was our hangout anyway ACTIVITIES - the schedule was crammed with games/activities (I think alot geared towards kids and families as well as adult activities) - we really didn't do much of it - but it was there if you wanted it - one thing we did do which we highly recommend (it was pricey) - was the behind the scenes tour - and if you have an inquisitive kid with you take them along - it was well worth it SHORE EXCURSIONS - they are always hit & miss - but ours were mostly hits - i think i can review them elsewhere on the website - but here's a quickie - SAN JUAN - bioluminescent (sp?) kayaking - very cool to see - not as extravagant as they make it out to be but if you love natural things, it is cool (as well as the experience of kayaking in the dark) - ST KITTS - hiking to souffa stone mtn - maybe a mile round trip - straight up and straight down with some rock scrambling - watch for the ants at the top they will climb up you and bite - great home made food at the end and a chance to meet with some locals and see an abandoned sugar mill - SAN LUCIA - souffra/diamond falls - we loved the botanical garden - but it is a long drive to get there - and too many little 5 minute stops here and there that drag the drive out - we didn't bother with the hot springs as we wanted to walk the garden more - you can spend a good hour there - but it was over an hour drive each way - this excursion needs some tweaking ANTIGUA - kayak/snorkeling - great tour guide (Christal) - snorkel wasn't the best but saw some fish and coral and just enjoyed being in the water - the kayaking was fun - and the kayak center afterwards was very relaxing - one of those excursions you wish was longer because it was so good THE GYM - last but not least - not everyone's place to go on board - but it was fine - had a good mix of machines - and the scenery out the windows was inspiring Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Love to get away from the cold in Cle! Embarkation experience? Ship (Gem) got in to NY late, so embarkation was delayed perhaps a text would have help .I wouldn’t have gone to the pear to stand in line for 2+hr! Ship ... Read More
Love to get away from the cold in Cle! Embarkation experience? Ship (Gem) got in to NY late, so embarkation was delayed perhaps a text would have help .I wouldn’t have gone to the pear to stand in line for 2+hr! Ship experiences Food good, drinks even better Onboard activities Enjoyed: the comedian Frink Townson (sp), Bourbon tasting, and the thermal suite. Dislikes: Unruly teenagers talking over the pool/hot tubs .running up and down the halls banging on doors! Service & Staff : Room Steward Budi was great! Room 11626 Ship Design & Cleanliness: Cleanliness was great but ship’s layout and design was hard for me to navigate, had to go down floors to get to the elevators to go to the thermal suite. In the front of the ship! Got mix up many times, contemplating blaming my drink package LOL Rate your cabin: 11626 closes to elevator & Stairs. No noise from above. Didn’t like the bathtub, hard to get in & out, Preferred a shower .Balcony extremely nice. Share a tip about your ship: Don’t go out of NY in Feb (NE STATES WINTER BREAK FOR KIDS!) Unruly teenagers !!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
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