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27 Norwegian (NCL) Expedition Cruise Reviews

* The Jewel: Not that old of a ship, but seems a bit old/dated. Caribbean colors & theme throughout (sails there in winter) which didn't quite get us in the mindset for Alaska. One thing I really missed was a quiet, ... Read More
* The Jewel: Not that old of a ship, but seems a bit old/dated. Caribbean colors & theme throughout (sails there in winter) which didn't quite get us in the mindset for Alaska. One thing I really missed was a quiet, 'common' inside area with comfortable seating to enjoy the views. Restaurants have peripheral windows if you are lucky to score one when dining, the buffet has a wall of windows, as does the Irish Pub. Magnum's has windows, but for some reason, the decorator decided to make high backs on the (very uncomfortable) benches so if you are sitting in one of the chairs opposite the bench, all you see is sky. One quiet place with a view is the library, but sssshhhh, must be quiet so this isn’t the place to gather for a nice, relaxing conversation with a fellow traveler. And it was always full...wonder why? Guess others wanted a quiet space apart from the bars! So, if you aren't eating in a restaurant/buffet, go outside, but the chairs aren’t too comfy. I think the ship could benefit by having groupings of comfortable seating with a view where one could read, enjoy a coffee or drink, without having to go to a bar or restaurant. RCL had this & it was really nice. The mustering exercise was useless. RCL’s was top-notch. * Freestyle dining: NCL makes it sound so great, but everyone tends to want to eat at the same time so why not have assigned seating times to avoid rush times, relieve stress off the staff, etc.? Service staff friendly, but service is definitely slower during peak times. Plus, the atmosphere & ambience is so relaxed it seems to diminish the 'specialness' of cruising. Even though NCL pushes 'freestyle', & they have an 'optional' dress-up night, we saw a number of couples/families/individuals dressed up every evening. I think when people decide to go on a cruise, they want to dress up. We decided we weren't a fan of the freestyle dining. * Restaurants w/surcharges: If you prefer dining in a more refined & quiet atmosphere, without a bunch of little ones running around, this may be a great option. These 'upscale' restaurants have a suggested dress code, but we never witnessed it being enforced so why have it? Baseball caps & flip-flops kind of ruin the ambience. In the end, it still rankles me that these options have a cover charge on top of the cost of the cruise itself. Perhaps all cruise lines do this these days?? * Food: HUGE disappointment. Average & sub-average are the best descriptors. Very institutional. I did expect (hope?) that on an Alaskan cruise, they would offer indigenous seafood ie. Salmon, halibut, king crab (the salmon offered was Atlantic salmon) but to no avail. Buffet is great if you want lots of options; wonderful for kids, teens & people who just have to have piles of food. We only did lunch here; the soups were consistently awful. Salad bar was passable. B-fast in Tsar's was consistently good. Tried the Irish pub for b-fast one day & lunch the day we boarded - ick. Avoid this place. And no Irish beer in an Irish pub?? Open dining rooms had a few items that changed daily, majority of the menu remained the same. Ho hum. Beware of the descriptions: Cherries Jubilee is nothing but vanilla ice cream with canned cherries (pie filling?) on top. Option: hit the paid dining restaurants for dinner. Quite a clever plan on NCL's part. Based on previous cruise experience, we opted not to purchase the paid restaurant dining package because cruise ships are known for their awesome food. Mistake. We ate at the French, Brazilian, and Japanese restaurants, with the best of those being the French Le Bistro. Food beautifully presented and prepared. Japanese (Benihana-style) was least favorite. Miso soup horrible, main meats overcooked, green tea dessert was yucky. Brazilian food decent, many options. None of the paid restaurants we went to rose to the standards of fine dining or what you think of when thinking of dining on a cruise ship. Good, certainly better than the buffet, but wonderful and delicious? Nope. If I went to them in my hometown, I wouldn't return. On RCL, I remember having wonderful midnight food buffets with beautiful fruit displays and carvings - nothing like that here. Also, restaurants have limited hours. Judging from other online reviews, it seems NCL is gaining a reputation for sub-par food. * Staff & service: This is where the Jewel shines. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable. Waitress in Le Bistro said she had been w/NCL 13 years; that says a lot about the organization. *Final thoughts: Alaska is beautiful, people we talked with in shops & tour guides/leaders were very friendly & welcoming. The Jewel was very disappointing, average. You can't put a price on memories, but our experience on board the Jewel did not provide a good return on investment. We will not sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had looked forward to sailing on Norwegian's Breakaway since last year. New ship, new feature and it offered so much promise. Sadly, the hype doesn't live up to the reality. Food was mediocre at best. Never heard or ... Read More
We had looked forward to sailing on Norwegian's Breakaway since last year. New ship, new feature and it offered so much promise. Sadly, the hype doesn't live up to the reality. Food was mediocre at best. Never heard or experienced lobster night not being served in main dining but as part of the buffet. Saw our cabin steward when we first went in to cabin then not again for 3 days. No turn down service on first night, ice bucket never filled more than 1/4 way even after leaving a note asking. The only decent place to get a steak cooked medium was Le Bistro. Everywhere else, was browned or bloodied. room service menu very limited and you get charged for late night service. Your healthy options are non-existent. You will load up on carbs and sweets so you will easily put on the 8-10 lbs. they seem to take pride in. Burgers are good, yet sausage, bratwurst and links are under cooked. Don.t eat at La Cucina. You will get better Italian food anywhere else. Informed a day prior about a low sodium request. Their solution was to serve it dry, no sauce at all. Nothing Italian about it". In the 24 hours, prior, no attempt to make a Marsala sauce with a bit less salt? Shows are limited. Theater is small so u need to book reservations. Same shows as well. Burn the floor well done...Rock of Ages...lacked energy and a plot. ..Comedian Michael Finney was very good. second City was fine. Captain was very impersonal. Posed for pics one day for a total of 15minutes...barely spoke at Latitudes gathering and lacked enthusiasm when he did. We are used to crews also initiating "hello", not the case here. When one did ask about things which were you experienced on past cruises and enjoyed, standard answer "This is the Breakaway"..... Which I determined, forget the niceties, we do things our own way, when we want to and forget the cruise experience you used to enjoy. Water slides are fun and obstacles course was a blast. Liked the adult only Spice H2O. Next cruises...smaller ship with more better food and service ratings. Read the reviews and trust the poor to middle. They are more accurate. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are experienced cruisers. We've been on the major lines, but this was the first on NCL. (Full disclosure, I sailed on the Norway many years ago.) The ship is new and bright with all the latest features. I really liked the Freestyle ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers. We've been on the major lines, but this was the first on NCL. (Full disclosure, I sailed on the Norway many years ago.) The ship is new and bright with all the latest features. I really liked the Freestyle Dining program, but we kind of missed getting to know our servers. Here are the pros and cons of this voyage: Pros: Nice cabins. Comfortable beds. Friendly staff. Good food. Wonderful shows. (See the Illusionarium. It is very good.) Well laid out. Good for kids, including water slides. Comedy at Howl at the Moon was great. Cruise Director, Joel was fantastic. Multi-talented. Cons: Too many days at sea. Shore excursions are way too expensive. Drink costs are outrages. Would like to be able to reserve seats for second comedy show. Drinks were too weak at the pool. Disembarkation was a breeze. You can carry your own bags and get off quickly. I would said NCL again, but only if we had more ports. We sailed with a 21 year old and a 17 year old, who enjoyed the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I would like to start by stating the fact that I have done extensive world travel, but have only been on 12 cruises. Just wanted to get that out there to inform you I'm very familiar with world travel and services of all walks of ... Read More
I would like to start by stating the fact that I have done extensive world travel, but have only been on 12 cruises. Just wanted to get that out there to inform you I'm very familiar with world travel and services of all walks of travel in other countries be it business or pleasure. The last time I took a NCL cruise was in May 1993 on the NCL Majesty to Bermuda and once I got off that ship I stated "NEVER AGAIN"! The service,shows,staff moral,and the food was dismal at best! We also had a person med flighted of the ship by the US Coast Guard who died from a diabetic medical aliment. No fault of theirs just saying. 20 years later....I tried them again. Here goes, my father pasted away not to long ago and I figured I'd take my 75 year old mother on a cruise trying to get her interested in traveling and getting her out of the house, maybe start traveling with her friends etc? I told her expect the worse and HOPE for the best from NCL! It was her first cruise and she loved it! I can not say enough about the friendly staff on the NCL Dawn! They were great! Whether you were walking on the deck in the hallways or our room steward Carl they were VERY helpful and very accommodating. The ship was immaculate! Oh I should mention I'm a clean freak! Not Monk.......but a close second. Food: We made restaurant reservations 30 days before we left because we read the pay restaurants we all booked up by the time you got on board to make them. We ate at Cagney's and the Le Bistro. The Fillet Mignon was the best piece of meat I have ever had in my entire life and that is no exaggeration and the Le Bistro was very, very good as well! Now that being said the food in the Venetian and the buffet were also very, very good! If you are on a restricted budget and money is tight the on board inclusive restaurants are perfectly fine! You aren't missing out, the food was great and the service was excellent the smallest of details were met. The second our water glass depleted they were right there to top it off. The service was excellent and I can't say that enough!! My mother spilled her water at our first sit down dinner, I felt like a parent for a week.... man that was painful! anyway I digress........the staff was very attentive and gracious and went overboard:) to clean it up and made her feel comfortable joking etc! no big deal! I usually sample all the food at the buffet to get a good feel of what they are good at and not good at. EVERYTHING was great!!!! The logistics of feeding 2,200 people in a short window of time keeping everything fresh and warm whether reheated or not and timely and good is a feat in it's self!!!! I do wish they had the menu on the TV like they do on the other cruise lines. They do have the menus in the buffet entrance for viewing. Shows: OK to be honest with you I've been to Vegas over 55 times in the past 42 years. I do have family out there and have seen my fare share of shows and been back stage etc. So that being said it's hard to compare, but I'm not really interested in them I go mainly for the significant other. The shows were as good as they get and the best I've seen on any cruise ship. They were very good and you will not be disappointed. We saw BOllywood, Tim Kiminsky the comedian twice and he was clean and very funny! Deal or no Deal was funny and so was the newlywed game show. The band by the pool was just OK.......a little loud but maybe my age is showing here? I didn't go to the other shows but did hear they were very, very good from other people we met aboard. Disembarking and embarking: Getting on and off the ship was effortless they have it down to a science! There have plenty of NCL greeters as you walk into the terminal and very helpful if you have any concerns or questions. It took no longer then 10 minutes for the both of us to get our pictures taken, ship cards issued, and paper work completed. We sat down in a designated area and were told we would be boarding in 1 hour and in exactly 1 hour we were on board. Getting off I always take the latest time luggage tags which in our case was GREEN 10:00AM, this way by the time we get off there is no waiting, no traffic and we just get in the car and drive off. We were the last 50 people or so off......out of the 2200, this seems to work great when cruising for me anyway. We were off the ship and on 93 south in under 30 minutes and I had to walk 2 blocks to get the car in the parking garage. If I used a credit card I could have saved 10 minutes but I paid cash and you have to park out side their office and walk in, it is mainly automated, little note: go to the machine just like they have at the airports and pay there with your credit card you will save a little time. Nothing to do with the cruise line of coarse. It was very reasonable $115.00 for a week:) That is a deal! NY, they charge $350.00 for the week at their cruise terminal.ooocch! One other thing the drop off is also very easy they have dozens of porters at the drop off area to help take your luggage. I suggest you wear your dress closes getting on the ship the luggage will not get to your room before the first sitting in the main dining restaurants at 5:30 and the first night is lobster and filet Mignon. They require you dress smart casual, slacks, shoes, shirts with collars. not tongs, flip flops, tee shirts etc in the main dining areas. But you will see this throughout the cruise they don't really enforce it. Our luggage arrived around 8:30.OK, here's the only thing I can say and that's it. I noticed in the buffet line they put 1 cook with 2 burners in each station in the center of the food line. He makes the eggs anyway you want them, the omelets etc. I noticed people backing up in the line and I asked them if they were all waiting for omelets..... the vast majority of people left the line and went around us. They should have the nylon dividers like at the airports that direct them omelet and egg line only. Every day this happened. Now, the other cruise lines I've been on actually have several separate cooking stations specifically for omelets, eggs,scrambled eggs,pancakes,french toast,crepes,waffles etc. separate from the buffet. They also have 4-5 cooks with burners in each station always going and the lines move very, very quick. Also watch the bills, the gratuity is already automatically added on every charge, they fold the invoice in half obstructing the view of that. I saw the total and added a 20% tip and then unfolded the invoice to see they already took it. They got me once and only once.:) These are the only things I found that could be address and suggest and I would make. I had to really think about finding any negatives. In closing it is very convenient leaving from Boston if you live in the area. Flying to connect to get on a cruise ship is added stress and expense for hotels,cab fare,limo fare,food etc. They make it very, very easy getting in and out and the parking garage is very close. There are police everywhere no need to worry about any crime problems. I would suggest bringing several credit cards to Bermuda they do not take discover, Amex and a few other cards and some stores are on the Euro chip which is different from our mag strip. Bring travelers checks when possible for safety. The gang problem has been brought under control there from what I hear and what I've read. We did not experience any problems at all! I've been there 4 times and never had any problems day or night. I suggest getting the day passes for the buses and the ferry's for $15.00 a day it's well worth it. If you buy more than 2 day passes you get a better discount. Also contact your credit card company and let them know you will be leaving the country and going to Bermuda so they do not shut the card off thinking it's fraud. Also buy the extra med flight insurance some cards offer it free of charge,Some card companies (auto enroll) automatically charge $17.00 or so when you purchase jet tickets, train tickets, cruises etc. We also purchased the cruise insurance for $85.00 each which also covers med flight,lost luggage, cancellation in case of illness etc. These med flights can cost upwards of $75,000 dollars or more and yes they have a doctor on board every flight. Because we are use to getting great health care here, you can not expect to get that in other countries and your health insurance is nor recognized in those countries generally speaking. Also fill out a (on vacation documents) with your local police department and they will keep an added watch on your home if no one is there while your gone. I never have the time, or take the time to write reviews, however, I learned a lot from this web site prior to leaving and figured I would return the favor. I hope this helps!!!! enjoy your trip safe travels! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NCL BOSTON TO BERMUDA AND THE CEO DESERVES A HIGH FIVE!!!!! He was on the undercover boss and they run it on the ship. He has done a great job! Hopefully you'll see for yourself! Bon Voyage! PS: They accommodate the handi capped, so bring your scooter! You can drive it all over the ship.:) The 4 elevator banks were always available and a bit faster than I remember no waiting lines.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I dont' mind spending money; I just don't like wasting money. And I think I got a very good value on the Jewel to Alaska, departing from Seattle. The base price was almost too low for the quality of the experience. But I made ... Read More
I dont' mind spending money; I just don't like wasting money. And I think I got a very good value on the Jewel to Alaska, departing from Seattle. The base price was almost too low for the quality of the experience. But I made up for it with Spa treatments, excursions, bar bills, gambling. BUT, that was my choice. Did not use their speciality restaurants, I thought they were a waste of money. The food in regular was good and wait staff professional and attentive. Entertainment good enough, and their big show was fabulous, like Circus de Soli. Musical entertainment could have been better. The ship was extremely well maintained and clean. A lot of emphasis on hand washing. My 'window' room was fine, a lot of storage space. The staff very nice and attentive, especially the two cruise directors, Matt and Patrick. What I thought was strange about the cruise were the fellow passengers! Most dressed very casually, like they were going to the Mall or worse. Only about 20% wore jackets, nice dresses for 'formal' night which I found un comfortable, since we were of them. It just seemed the people didn't get it, people didn't dress 'date like' for the nice reastaurants and clubs on board. The Jewel did everything it could to offer that higher level. So I wonder- Is the clientele just changing, and Cruise line shouldn't even try to make it special? I guess bottom line- no need to bring cocktail dress, nice pants and tie would do. I'd like to see people dress up some in the evening. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We stayed in an aft Balcony of the ship - a great spot. The Star made a good impression, but not the excellent impression as I have had on other cruise ships. The ship's excursions are pricey. Thank goodness, we did good in ... Read More
We stayed in an aft Balcony of the ship - a great spot. The Star made a good impression, but not the excellent impression as I have had on other cruise ships. The ship's excursions are pricey. Thank goodness, we did good in shopping for outside tours in our pre-cruise planning. They are both cheaper and tour group sizes are small. And with a embarkment from Copenhagen you sure want to ship around for your pre-cruise and post-cruise planning in Copenhagen for it is extremely expensive. Leaving the ship for a port excursion needs to be better organized for safety and efficiency, because everyone wants to begin their excursion tour time as early as possible. The deadlines to be back on the ship always seem to be too early. The embarkation from the Copenhagen Freeport pier seems remote. If you plan to take the train to Nordhavn station to get there, beware that you will need to lug your baggage about 0.6 miles to the ship. A free shuttle offering would have been great . On my next cruise, I will be particularly thinking about booking on some smaller size cruise ship. Seems like the smaller vessels are able to moor much closer to the cities visited that might allow walking distance hop-off and hop-on. While the free style dining was convenient, we didn't get the truly great menu selections as offered on other past cruises. The first night we were offered lobster which is probably the high point. While the menu did offer a local dish from the locale, it was not impressive. While the breakfast-lunch=dinner buffet was good, its selections were routine consistent each day, with none of those surprises that we pleasantly experienced in the past. We only happened to stumble into the "Chocolate" evening on the final Monday evening - we usually pay attention to announcements, but we missed this one somehow. State room quality was great. And our porter took care of us. Ship check-in seemed different than past cruises. There was no fanfare or first-rate hospitality available for the long lines of people. The receptionists desk onboard the ship somehow struck me wrong with very curt attitude. Entertainment was fair, particularly for a trip through the Baltics where it is particularly cool, and everyone stays typically inside the ship. Only the last night of the cruise was there a theater show that was truly worth seeing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on ... Read More
Husband and I planned this trip for about 9 months to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We had always wanted to visit Hawaii and felt like doing a cruise and visiting several islands was the best experience for us. I read every review on Cruise Critic and Trip Adviser for months! My sister says I could be the tour guide as I had learned so much. But that is the key to a good trip, learn as much as you can about the places you plan to visit so you will know what to expect and understand. We arrived in Honolulu on Thursday, May 2, 2013 from Dallas, Texas. There is a 5 hour time difference so we were plenty tired. We stayed two nights in the Wyndham Royal Garden. We are Wyndham owners so I used some points to book the hotel. It was very nice; about 2 blocks from the beach. We rented a convertible for our stay in Honolulu. Loved driving the island with the top down. Honolulu was our least favorite of all the places we visited because it was so commercialized. We walked Waikiki beach Thursday evening and it was beautiful. Friday we ate at IHOP (eating at fine restaurants is not a priority with us) then drove to the Dole Plantation; took the train ride; very enjoyable. We drove around to the North Shore, stopping at a fruit stand and buying fresh mango!! The we drove to the Polynesian Culture Center and visited for the afternoon. This was so enlightening of the many cultures of the islands. We drove on back to the hotel Saturday, we drove to Diamond Head and parked at the base. We walked through the tunnel and made some nice pictures. We then went to Bishops Museum; it was ok. We drove the car back to the airport off-site location and they shuttled us to the pier. That was a big plus!!! Embarkation went very smoothly. You could feel the excitement in the air. All the cruise staff were out to meet and greet you and make you feel special. Our cabin was on the 4th floor. I was very apprehensive at first and tried to change the room prior to sailing, but no rooms were available. The room was great. Some of the restaurants and Hollywood Theater are on the 5th floor, so we could walk to them. But we were low enough that we did not hear any noise either. So it was great. Karl, our room steward was so friendly and kept our room in top shape. We ate at the Liberty, the Skyline and the Aloha Buffet mostly. We ate at the the Cadillac Diner for their desserts:) Food was fabulous everywhere and service was very good with the exception of Thursday night in the Liberty. It was just a little slow that night, but nothing to gripe about. Shows: Oh What A Night was so entertaining. I have seen the musical 'The Jersey Boys' and realize this group is not quite that caliber, but these guys are not far from it. Do not miss this show. We Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My wife and I are both seniors 60-564 years old. This cruise was to celebrate her 60th Birthday and retirement as well as our 40th anniversary. We never took a real honeymoon and have always wanted to have gone there.We looked at cruise ... Read More
My wife and I are both seniors 60-564 years old. This cruise was to celebrate her 60th Birthday and retirement as well as our 40th anniversary. We never took a real honeymoon and have always wanted to have gone there.We looked at cruise options on all lines but did not like the days at sea on other lines so we opted for the NCL Pride of America which was strictly limited to the major Hawiian Islands. We started out on Oahu with a week long stay at the Disney Aullani Resort in Ko-Olina during that week we visited Pearl Harbor as well as several other major attractions on Oahu. It was a great week in preparation for a great cruise. We arrived at Pier 2 at about 1130 am on embarkation day, 27 April 2013. The ship was shining in the sunlight and looked great. The check in began about 20 minutes later and by 1215 we were checked in and on board. The process was well organized, and hassle free . Once on board we began exploring the ship. Everything was clearly marked and we made out way to the balcony cabin. # 9120 Starboard side. It was ready for us and neat and clean. Our luggage was delivered by 200 pm and we put things away and continued our exploration. The staff was helpful, courteous and polite.We made our way to the forward pool deck for a sail away barbecue and a great music show,by the ship band. Later that night we ate at the Skyline dining room and had a waitress named Jessica she was great and also told us the ship had just underwent a 30million dollar facelift . She was great and we gave her an extra cash tip for her great service, we subsequently had her several other nights by request and she was great each time. We also met our cabin steward that night gave him 20.00 the first day and told him another 20.00 on the last day. Need less to say our room was made up quickly each day with plenty of fresh towels and turned down each night great service. The excursions were all great and booked thru NCL a little pricey could maybe have done it cheaper myself thru tour companies. All the included food stops,were ok, at least a B grade the exception was the Cadillac Diner which was mostly slow service with so-so food. The staff their seemed to be dis-interested, they needed a good Greek Restaurant owner to manage that staff. All the entertainment was great and the cruise director Silas and his staff were entertaining. With all the shows and bar entertainment on board you were overwhelmed with activities . All the negative reviews about this cruise must come for people who expect the moon. This cruise met or exceeded all my hopes and expectations. With the exception of the Cadillac Diner negative experiences it was great, imwould highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the islands without the headaches of airports. Leaving the ship was easy, simply place the colored luggage tags corresponding to the time you wish to depart ans your bags are waiting for you in the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Exotic Western Carribean. NCL Dawn Cruisers: Ccboltie (52) and DD Katie (22) Day 1 After waking up in the middle of the night due to daylight savings time, we landed in Tampa at 9 am. We took a taxi to the port and were able to ... Read More
Exotic Western Carribean. NCL Dawn Cruisers: Ccboltie (52) and DD Katie (22) Day 1 After waking up in the middle of the night due to daylight savings time, we landed in Tampa at 9 am. We took a taxi to the port and were able to check our luggage with a porter. We walked to channel side and found a little chocolate shop. The pastries were great but the iced coffee was pretty bad! We were able to check in at 10:30 and boarded within the hour. It may be the easiest check in ever! We had lunch on deck then sided to go to our room. The cabin is definitely smaller than carnival but the bathroom was better. We decided to do the spa tour, with the hope of winning a prize. The gave some short demonstration and the hot stone massage felt great, but at $195 I think I will pass. Of course it is one big sales pitch, but the prizes sound awesome. After a mercifully short boat drill (no life jackets required). We went on deck and snagged a drink (my first BBC) while the ship sailed away from Tampa. Then back to the spa for the prize drawing, since you needed to be present to win. There were less than 100 people, so our odds were pretty good. Alas we did not win a prize, but I was impressed with the gym and spa. Katie signed up for a TRX class for 8 am the nextday. We like to dress up, so we did. There was definitely a line for the Venitian but the gave us a pager. We went to the reservation desk and made dinner reservations for 7:30 each night and by then our table was ready. We had a little table for 2 and the service was very prompt. Hard to believe it but I almost miss that first awkward dinner of meeting your table mates. The onion soup was average but I have to say the surf and turf was quite good. The cheesecake was definitely better than the chocolate torte. After a short walk around the deck, it was time for bed! Day 2 I have read some complaints about the beds, but I have to say I slept very well. We woke up early, oh wait we need to turn the clock back an hour so it is really 6 am. We decided to get coffee and watch the sun rise. I was surprised at all the early risers in the cafe. We made our way to the quiet zone at the front of the ship. It was quite windy but we persevered and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise! What a great start! I did an hour on the treadmill while Katie took her class TRX class. She said it was well worth the cost of admission. After the M&G we found a couple of deck chairs. It was a very windy day and the ship was really rocking. The pi'a coladas were frosty and the sun was shinning. You couldn't ask for more. We spent the afternoon on deck and realized that spray sunscreen was a mistake. We both ended up with odd sunburns where the spray must have blown away. We happily put on our cocktail dresses and scored a glass of champaign. I couldn't talk Katie into a photo with the captain but we did a formal portrait. Then on to Gatsby's for a champaign cocktail. Dinner reservations made the dining experience much more pleasant. The Cesar salad was crisp and the NY strip was cooked to perfection and the green beans were tasty. The deserts were once again disappointing. Day 3- Roatan, Honduras We turned the clock back another hour, so of course we were up fairly early. Breakfast on the Garden cafe was very good and I think the omelet was even better than the dinning room. It is a little overcast, hopefully it will clear up for our tour. We watched the ship come into port. The music had a very jungle like beat and the native dancing was entertaining. We booked the Dolphin encounter and swim at Anthony Key Resort with NCL, and Katie is really looking forward to the experience. Twelve of us boarded the van for a short ride to AKR. The resort itself was gorgeous. We took a short boat ride to Bailey Key where we entered the crystal clear bay to meet Out trainer and the gorgeous Gracie. We learned about dolphins including the fact that they weigh 500 lbs and eat 40 lbs of fish a day. Our group of 5 had many opportunities to pet her. After our hug and kiss shots the let us grab our own cameras. We had plenty of photo ops and got to see Gracie do several jumps with her daughter. Then we donned our fins and snorkels. A trainer guided us through the most amazing experience. We swam in the bay, which is home to 20 Dolphins. The soon came to play and we were told to dive down and grab some sea gradd, the dolphins will take sea grass right from your hand. There was a baby who was quite curious and sure enough she took it right from my hand! They seemed to enjoy interacting with us. It was so much fun to see Katie dive down and twist and turn, the dolphins loved it too. The dolphins love were free to come and go as they pleased. It was definitely something I will remember for a long time. Katie said it is the closest she will ever come to being a mermaid. We were then escorted to the gift shop where we purchased the amazing photos for a very reasonable price of $50 w all of our pics. I had plenty of time to grab our passports, since they had a stand set up to prove a stamp. All in all an excellent day in Roatan. A short nap was in order. After dinner we went to the Cirque du Soleil style show with Jocko & Maria. It was both graceful and athletic. We quite enjoyed the performance, It made Katie want to go to circus school! Then it was on to dancing with the dawn stars. Alas Katie did not get picked but it was fun to watch! Day 4 -Belize City Another dreary cool day. We obtained tender tickets and made it to shore easily, no long waiters. We checked in with Eco tours and had about a 40 minute wait. I was optimistic that the sun would come out, but that never happened. After a 30 minute boat ride, we made it to the island. The girls thought it looked small, but it was exactly what I expected.it was so windy and cool that it was hard to appreciate. The sea was quite rough, however the call soon went out for those who wanted to snorkel. We took a boat out to the reef and were all given a life preserver. I thought I would wrap around my wrist so that I could dive down but after the first big wave I quickly put it around my waist as did the others in our group. The water was quite warm and visibility wasn't bad but the wind and waves made it a struggle. The guide did his best to point out what fish there were and he dove down several times to bring up sea creatures. Although I saw some interesting coral it was difficult to enjoy with the conditions. We finally made it back to shore and I can honestly saw we all were just greatful to make it back. The small silver lining was that we were no longer cold. After a long wait in the BBQ line we were told no lobster, just chicken. Although tasty, it was another disappointment. In hindsight, I am surprised that they took us out to the island, it would have made more sense to cancel and offer us a different tour. I can see that in good weather it would have been paradise, but we were ally quite happy to leave and head back to the ship. We were able to get right back on the ship and were more than ready for a nap. We had 7:30 reservations for Cagney's. the atmosphere and service were outstanding and the food was top notch. The crab cakes were delicious, although Katie didn't care for the lobster bisque. I opted for the filet and famous parmesean fries with truffle oil and Katie had the small filet with a lobster tail, an extra cost but well worth the extra $8. The food lived to it billing and the Coffee made in a French press and was the perfect end to the meal! Back to the room for a quick change into our whites and up to the pool party with the "white hot angels", yes the cruise staff actually had on wings. It was without a doubt the best pool party I have ever been to on a ship! We all bought a coveted blinky cup (mission accomplished) Day 5 - Costa Maya I was on deck in time to see the ship dock, I definitely get the fishing village vibe. And lookat that, the sun is out! So excited for our day at Maya Chan! After a short bus ride we arrived in paradise. The resort is very natural and we were quickly shown to our palapa. We bypassed the welcome punch for the special of the day, a watermelon daiquiri. It was a beautiful sunny day, but very windy. I quickly found on of the floats and hit the water. Yes there is sea grass and the surf was quite churned up, but it did nothing to detract from our day! In fact, it just seemed very authentic. There was plenty of privacy if you wanted it, but we chose to chat with some of the other CC folks. We opted out of the snorkel since the seas were again quite choppy. I watched as the chopped my coconut for a fresh coco loco, which they delivered to us in the sea. We moved on to watermelon margaritas and they were absolutely delicious! The ratings on trip advisor are well deserved! The taco buffet was superb. Be sure to try the sea bass cook in white wine, butter and garlic, it was fabulous. Katie did a 30 minute massage and she said it was do amazing I decided to try myself. It was so relaxing with the sound of the surf and the ocean breeze. It certainly lived up to the billing and at $25 was an absolute bargain! All too soon 3 pm arrived and it was time to take the taxi back to port. There was no better way to spend the day, I highly recommend this resort. Great drinks, food and service, Maya Chan exceeded our very high expectations. We can't wait to go back! Day 6 Cozumel Every 5 weeks the dawn tenders and unfortunately it was our turn this week. We waited almost 3 hours to get to shore....evidently they usually have 5 smaller tenders but the seas were too rough so the needed to bring in larger tenders. We had reservations for the day at Mr Sanchos for the all inclusive. When we arrived at almost noon, we discovered that our chairs had been given way since they didn't think we were coming. The resort was very crowded with 8 ships in port, but the beach was beautiful so we decided to stay. The drinks were strong, the sun was shining, the water was crystal clear and the food was delicious. Once the crowd started to thin the manager brought us a lounge chair and even managed to provide an order of the coconut shrimp, which was amazing. There were plenty of water sports available but we decided to soak up some sun. After a rough start I have to say we ended up enjoying the day, even if it was too short. We more than got our money's worth and this resort has something for every one from young to old! We had some time to shop and of course get a drink at Senior Frogs. They brought the ship in to dock, which was definitely better than the tender! Day 7 - sea day We began the day once again with breakfast in the garden cafe, the custom on let's are our favorite! We snagged chairs by the pool. The sun was out but the breeze made it a hit cool, I don't think we have to worry about sweating! Final thoughts: The ship was nicely appointed and the staff was friendly. There was a wide range of ages and a fun spring break vibe. The food was good for the most part, although the deserts were disappointing. The best part of this trip was the island ports, Roatan and Costa Maya were our favorites! I am not sure the "free style" atmosphere is for us, since we enjoy more traditional cruising. I give this trip a solid "B" Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
The Pearl (and her staff) was Awesome (Mar 18th to 25th) The ship and crew- We took the seven day cruise out of Miami to Western Caribbean and loved it. The ship was very festive, clean and up to date which made for a perfect week. Our ... Read More
The Pearl (and her staff) was Awesome (Mar 18th to 25th) The ship and crew- We took the seven day cruise out of Miami to Western Caribbean and loved it. The ship was very festive, clean and up to date which made for a perfect week. Our mini suite was very comfortable with a great view and a nice size balcony. The Pearl's crew was awarded best staff of the fleet and we could see why. We were in good hands with Captain Rune Myre, he was just chosen to speak to the U.S. Congress representing the entire cruise industry. Cruise director Julie (really her name) were great and her staff was everywhere with a kind word and friendly face. They made it about you, we will never forget the welcome back party in Cozumel! Our cabin steward Michael always had a friendly word and every request was met with a smile. The food -- NCL has made an effort to upgrade the Freestyle dining. They added a destination themed Chef's special, I really enjoyed the Jamaican flavored pork chop. We ate in the main dining rooms (Summer Palace and Indigo) several nights and just happened to get a window table for two every night. We enjoyed great food and even better service. We tried two specialty restaurants and they may have had a little better food, but sadly our service was actually worse. We had breakfast in Garden Cafe on excursion days and a sit down breakfast in the Summer Palace on sea days, they were both good. The Chocoholic Buffet is always fun on the final evening of the cruise. Lunch was had all over the ship and always plenty good. I greatly enjoyed the Bavarian themed meal in the back of the ship our last sea day. The entertainment - Oh What a Night and comedy juggler Charles Peachock received standing ovations. Comedian Darrell Joyce had the crowd roaring. Second City improv was pretty much the same as last time. The Pearl Production Cast's That's Entertainment and Encore are high energy singing and dancing. The final Farewell Variety Show was very, very good; it was a great celebration and send off. The two days at sea were filled with activities, but we mostly relaxed on the decks. The excursions -- Great Stirrup Cay: NCL changed the way you board the tenders and it's much better. So much has been added to the private island since our last visit, it was fun to explore. We did the Eco-tour and really enjoyed it. Jamaica: We had booked an excursion with NCL, Jamaican Bobsled and Dunn's River Falls. The bobsled was fun and Dunn's River Falls is beautiful (but challenging). I heard so much about going through all the local vendor shops and being harassed, but we just said no thank you and kept moving. Cayman Islands: I had always wanted to visit the famous 7 mile beach and the Tiki Beach break was a perfect way to do that. It is truly beautiful, but not very swimmer friendly. Cozumel: We took a taxi to Chankanaab National Park. I snorkeled and my wife enjoyed the beautiful sandy beach, we definitely would recommend. Disembarkation - We chose to walk off with our luggage at 10:00 and it was easy. Cruise Critic Meet and Greet: NCL really did a nice job of hosting in Cagney's; furnishing complimentary beverages and pastries. We were surprised when cruise director Julie showed up with 11 department heads. And after they leave, who shows up but Kevin Sheehan the president of NCL!! He spent about 10 minutes talking with our small group and then had his picture taken with us. What a nice, down to earth guy who is obviously very passionate about NCL. It was truly a pleasure. Thanks to Mitzgurly for setting it up. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
So,I prepared with extra antibacterial soap, Dramamine, cruise insurance, info on excursions prices, and due to a previous CC review where they claim there is smoking every where I brought a bulky air purifier. I have asthma and allergies. ... Read More
So,I prepared with extra antibacterial soap, Dramamine, cruise insurance, info on excursions prices, and due to a previous CC review where they claim there is smoking every where I brought a bulky air purifier. I have asthma and allergies. Im glad to say, I never once got asthma nor allergies and certainly did not need the purifier. There was NO smoke through the cabins, and I know people are allowed to smoke but they have to have a great system that sucks in the air on every room. We stayed in an instate room, I do not know about balconies, I just know they have a pull out bed and a little more specious. So, needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. Embarkation wait time about 20 min wait,however disembarkation is a different story because customs takes their time, so careful if you have a plane to catch, u just gotta leave way early 730am. Stirrup Cay: Not too impressed, glad I didn't spend any money there enjoyed the dance classes, we saw iguanas, it is still a good time, if u want more quiet keep walking through the shore and you will find it. Many people walked around the island, I dont think any tours are really worth it there, but that's my perception. First aid: I did visit first aid station at stirup cay, they were nice and free (I scratched my knees). Also visited first aid station in Dunns Falls in Jamaica, (my allergies) they gave me over the counter allergy medicine for free and no hassles (very impressed) this is unique to me so, I doubt anyone will need to do so. Practice common sense, everything is very safe but I did see a pregnant woman climbing the falls, that was scary to watch. The ship experience is awesome, there is always something to do for everyone. I thought the "not so newly wed game", "the quest", "dancing with the pearl stars", the "juggling show" were awesome. Mystery game I didnt do, but people like it. A couple of shows are good too but Im 30 I thought if I was older I would have enjoyed more. But, for sure there is always something going on for my age group and younger, white hot party, latin party, karaoke, Caribbean parties and there are kids on most (not all) of those parties, there are no overly drunk people (drinks are expensive) there are about 2 or 3 shows that are for adult only shows. Kids: We didn't take our kids this time, but there were 2000 kids, we were at full capacity. Kids seemed soooo happy and I thought if I would had brought my 12 yo son, I would have let him walk around with friends. After the second day you will see the kids walking around in groups once they get to know each other, very very safe and entertaining. I did not hear any complaints about kids club for smaller kids either. FOOD: The food wasnt that great, but there is something that you will like and you will probably over eat so be prepared for that. Scrambled eggs were very runny, but there are omelet stations, usually about 2 or 3 people wait time. They have 3 or 4 main dining rooms and restaurants for free. If you do not eat at any paid restaurant, you will still be satisfied. Mambos wasnt that great, Cagneys is a steakhouse, and TOTALLY worth the money. Truffle oil french fries were awesome, Crab cakes OMG!!!, Fillet Mignon you do not need a knife, different cuts were awesome too, yes we went twice lol. The cover price is $25 and Cagneys is the most expensive one. Casino: We won a few hundred dollars on blackjack. We entered the blackjack tournaments only $15. They had a $500 price (I didnt win,I was 3rd place). We also bought bingo etc, the pull tabs are just a way to get you to the casino once you cash them in. Dress code wasn't strictly enforced, I liked that...lol I liked that we didn't have schedules to be dressed a certain way etc. However, many people along with the kids choose to dress up which is nice. Service was excellent, clean rooms, friendly staff. Over all I'm very satisfied. I'm doing a research paper on carnival and royal Caribbean's finances so, I know how tight for cash they are so, NCL probably is too however, I didn't feel that they were trying to get my money all the time. The service was excellent,and I will totally recommend to anyone. Cant wait to get back. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was a lovely cruise from NYC to Bermuda. My tips are: Not every extra fee restaurant was better than the free dining options but at the same time I was not ONCE disappointed or regretful I spent the extra couple of bucks. Well ... Read More
This was a lovely cruise from NYC to Bermuda. My tips are: Not every extra fee restaurant was better than the free dining options but at the same time I was not ONCE disappointed or regretful I spent the extra couple of bucks. Well worth the money was Cagney's Steak House, Sushi, the French place. Check the wine list then decide whether or not to bring your own at a $15 per bottle fee. Example...This cruise had Paraduxx for $96. I can buy Paraduxx for $40 + $15 to bring it on the ship for a total of $55 AKA a savings of $41. Don't be enticed by a "free" bottle as some reward unless you know what it is. Friends had a free bottle for booking with some agency and the free bottle was straight up gross. If you're going to get a balcony you can take pieces from the sofa that rolls out into a bed and make a nest outside. HOWEVER - be aware they spray down the windows when docked and if your neighbor spill something next door your nest might get wet too. Also be aware there may be a person in the maintenance rover that runs along the ship. If you're shy you may want to close the drapes before getting naked in your room - of if your like me you'll wait until you hear the guy outside and throw it open. Luckily the people in the maintenance rover are strapped right too it so they don't fall too far. If you can reach behind the lowest drawer in the closet unit sometimes you can find treasure from the previous guests - or as in my case a pair of granny panties and a lady's shirt. We had a bonus sock under our bed too and we were not billed for any of those items - BONUS! See the Man from Mars act - he's hot and his lady assistant is hot too. And they do all sorts of flexible sexy maneuvers that would be cool even if they were not hot. The drink is always better when you tell the bartender what kind of alcohol you want in it and "house" won't get you the best drink. Spend a minute cleaning your windows or ask some one to do it for you on the first day. When they hose them down they don't dry them so you get water spots and it can be distracting. Overall, I loved my vacation on the Gem. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was a disappointing cruise in many ways. However, to be fair, I will mention the good points first. Embarkation was easy and uneventful. The cabin we booked was a mid-ship balcony and it was very nice and I thought spacious. The ... Read More
This was a disappointing cruise in many ways. However, to be fair, I will mention the good points first. Embarkation was easy and uneventful. The cabin we booked was a mid-ship balcony and it was very nice and I thought spacious. The steward we had assigned to our room was very professional and went out his way to help his guests. This young man was head and shoulders above any of his coworkers in regards to making the customers feel comfortable and happy. The Mandarin Spa was very nice and the masseuse was very professional. The spa experience was my first and I was quite pleased with the service. The food staff was just the opposite of the steward. They were not very pleasant to their customers and seemed to be unhappy as a whole. They were not attentive at all. If you wanted a glass refilled you had to call them over almost every time. I was served orange juice in an obviously broken glass. The waiter acted as if it was no big deal. The food was mediocre in all the regular price included restaurants. The menus didn't vary much between the two included restaurants either. We did try the Italian restaurant and it was pretty good. The buffet was very disappointing. The food was bland and there was not much variety. The presentation of the food there reminded me of a high school lunch room. The service from the information desk was almost non-existent. We tried to call down to get the menus from the restaurants to decide where to eat and got transferred to another number 4 times and never got an answer on the menus. Another time we needed an address to try to have an emergency credit card mailed to the ship's next port and the person at the desk said we'd have to walk down to the desk to get the address. I still can't imagine how hard it is to read an address to someone over the phone. We were also supposed to port in Grand Cayman. We pulled in to port under windy conditions. The Carnival Victory was tendering her passengers to port when we got there. We were told that we would not be able to port because it wasn't safe. I was disappointed but tried to understand taking the Captain at his word. The only problem there was we were only offered a rum punch for not getting to port and the was only offered for a one hour time period that night. Two days later we were due to port at Great Stirrup Cay. NCL's privately owned island. The winds were much stronger but yet we were able to tender ashore here. I expect the fact that NCL was not charged a port fee here and all profit goes into their pocket had some bearing on safety in this port. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We took a cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Norwegian Spirit ~ really disappointed in the level of service and on board entertainment. Maybe I am spoiled as I cruised on the Epic last year (as my first cruise)where the entertainment ... Read More
We took a cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Norwegian Spirit ~ really disappointed in the level of service and on board entertainment. Maybe I am spoiled as I cruised on the Epic last year (as my first cruise)where the entertainment was TOP notch, the level of service was immediate with positive results. Not so with the Spirit. Where to start? Specialty Restaurants: On the Spirit there is no quiet dining. All the Specialty Restaurants are open to passageways and a lot of noise. Entertainment: Comedy Acts, Group singing ~ just not interesting. And beware, the Spirit provides "Adult" entertainment in the form of a male review and Burlesque (I think this is what they called it). Service: The service people at the main desk and excursion desk were not helpful if you had a problem. Please remember that everyone pays, within a range, the same amount to be on the Spirit BUT Norwegian has this "Priority Tender Service" if you book your excursions through them (I didn't see anything in Norwegian's literature stating we would have to wait for the "Priority" passengers before being let off at a tender port). If you book a private excursion you need to make sure the start time is not before 10:30 am because that's the time you'll be able to get a tender ashore. The port schedule was great and this is why we booked with Norwegian. The other issues made our time on the ship and getting on and off the ship a tedious pain with no resolution. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I received a promotional invite from Caesar's Palace for a "free" trip on either the Epic or the Jade. Since it was his big birthday, my H choose the Epic because his grandparents came from Italy. Free ended up costing me ... Read More
I received a promotional invite from Caesar's Palace for a "free" trip on either the Epic or the Jade. Since it was his big birthday, my H choose the Epic because his grandparents came from Italy. Free ended up costing me $500 USD with the upgrade taxes and fees. But that was better than the full price of $2600 USD. I really cant complain overall about my experience on the Epic. I ready nearly 100 of the reviews before we left, and was somewhat concerned about the negativity of these boards regarding the Epic. Yes the ship is BIG and it was full, but there were no crowds in any of the venues or restaurants. I did not experience any of the hogging of the pool chairs, but then the weather was not exactly warm enough to sit by the pool. Yes the pools were small but then I did not go to Europe to sit by the pool. Living in California, I can stay home to do that. About the only place that was crowded was the spa, and there were chair hogs there, but only in the afternoon. Go after dinner to avoid the crowds I learned. If you really liked the spa experience I would recommend buying the week long pass. The massages and other services rates were more than what I pay at Caesar's Palace, which frankly has probably the best spa I had ever been to and ten times bigger and better than the Epic. What really frosted me about the spa was on day that the 20% discount was offered, it turned out to be a joke. The ship then charged not only 18% VAT but then told you (after you have already made the reservation and showed up for the treatment) that there was a mandatory additional 18% service fee. So a 100 minute massage and treatment without the 20% discount would have cost $366 USD which is about $116 more than the same treatment (with the same product line of Elemis) and the same massage costs at Caesars Palace. Not cool in my mind. Especially when you were not warned at the time of booking about the 36% additional. Frankly, that is the only negative things about the cruise that I experienced. Food was ok, not exceptional, and yes the buffet was crowded and noisy. Ate dinner there one night, breakfast there one day and then never went back. Had breakfast most days at Taste, which while repetitive, was good. Ate dinner all but two nights at the Manhattan, which was ok except for the first night's paella, which was great. Ate at the Brazilian restaurant one night, and the food was excellent. My H big complaint was no decent movie theater, and tv movies were expensive and no choice. Also he was upset about the tv not having any US based sports (as in not ever the score of the World Series games) He also thought the shore excursions with NCl were expensive, and we got better service, smaller groups and a better time booking with people I had met on CC trips with Rome in Limo. I have cruise before with Carnival (three times) and Princess (three times). I would overall rate the Epic much better in all categories that Carnival (except for deserts cause NCL deserts were unremarkable) but not as high quality as Princess (where I never had a bad meal, or room, or poor service) except for one thing: the casino. The Epic Casino is beautiful, smoke and all, and the machines do pay off. The service was excellent in the Casino, from drink servers to the clean up crew, to the casino hosts, even more attentive than most of of the Harrah's properties. And having been sent on this cruise via Harrah's "dime" I can honestly say that I did feel like I was in a big Las Vegas style hotel the entire week. So if your idea of cruising is to eat yourself sick, this is not the ship for you. It is not quite and restful, nor is it designed for lounging by the pool. If you have "bathroom issues", you will find the rooms claustrophobic and no matter how much closet space there is, you wont like it. But if you are adventurous, like to gamble, and a fast paced daily tour schedule, this is the trip for you. Only be prepared for needing another vacation as you will come home exhausted from a week on the Epic, especially if you live on the west coast of the US like I do, Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After reading reviews, i was a little nervous about entertainment and customer service aboard this ship. I was gladly mistaken! Customer service was great! The staff, no matter what rank, would have conversations with the fellow cruisers. ... Read More
After reading reviews, i was a little nervous about entertainment and customer service aboard this ship. I was gladly mistaken! Customer service was great! The staff, no matter what rank, would have conversations with the fellow cruisers. Public areas were always clean and well kept. In the main dining rooms, were great. I did notice that the staff were more polite in Palace, not so much in Crossings. Il Idagio was very tasty. Although the tables in this restaurant were tiny, it was nicely set up. All the restaurants were never crowded. The buffet restaurants were always adequate with food and staff were always cleaning up all the time. The restrooms were always clean and stocked. Entertainment was good, not great. I thought the shows in stardust, that included dancers, could have been better, although husband liked them. My favorite were shows with comedian Rich Purpura. Trivias were very good. Interesting questions. Our favorite staff member was Elena from Romania and Erin. They were really polite and always helping out. The adult quest show was was good. The only thing i did not like about the entertainment is that they did big events in small areas of the ship, such as the adult quest show. The white hot party was a blast. Fun to watch and fun to join and dance. We did not get to go to the cruise line's private island due to high waves. This is not the cruise line's fault. They did do a good job by changing the itinerary to accommodate more shows and entertainment. Bbq buffet was moved to the pool deck. The $5 24/7 pizza was very good. The room service menu was indeed very short compared to other cruise lines, but delivered adequately fast. Room attendant did very well adjusting my personal sheets due to detergent allergies. Daily itineraries were delivered on time every night. Boarding and unboarding the ship was done very fast. No waiting long times. Overall, the ship exceeded our expectations of a small cruise ship. There was always something to do or relax. I would give this experience a 4/5 stars Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We chose this cruise because it left from our home port of Tampa and had stops at four ports. First impression was not good as we had to wait to check on to boat for two hours. Once on board the first thing I noticed when getting to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it left from our home port of Tampa and had stops at four ports. First impression was not good as we had to wait to check on to boat for two hours. Once on board the first thing I noticed when getting to the cabin areas was the strong smell of stale smoke. We got to our room and one of the first things we noticed was the tiny T.V. The room itself was decent sized, had a large window, was airy, bright and the housekeeping staff did an excellent job. Through out the course of the day we discovered the soap dispenser in the shower did not work, the safe couldn't be locked, and the beds were little more than camping mattresses. Most uncomfortable bed on any cruise I have been on. When we left the room to explore the ship we noticed areas where the carpet had worn through and could not find any comfortable seating though there were many types of seating and on deck found there to be many deck chairs placed from bow to stern. After exploring the ship we went to the Red Lion pub to watch a football game but due to loud feedback from wall mounted speakers we opted to go elsewhere. Continuing on to dinner in the Aqua dining room the food was satisfactory but the service was indifferent. In fact, we went to the Blue Lagoon restaurant one evening and ordered a hamburger with lettuce, Tomato, and grilled onions. What was delivered was a plate with three slices of tomato and a small serving of grilled onions, and nothing else. This was the case throughout the trip. The food in the dining rooms and buffet areas did not vary much from day to day. If you wanted any variety you had to go to a specialty restaurant and pay an additional fee. We also went to several shows which were satisfactory with my favorite shows done by Second City. The other on board activities were about what you would expect.Finally, our trip was interfered with by a hurricane so consequently we got an additional day at sea and missed going to Cozumel. That is understandable but what bothered me was the lack of communication from the Captain about the storm and what course of action the ship would be taking. In Roatan we were notified our shore excursion was cancelled as we were leaving the boat to go ashore. In Costa Maya our shore time changed from 9-5 to 7-3 and the explanation was they needed the time to get back to Tampa. But cruising to Tampa the ship was traveling at 14 knots yet when they left Tampa they cruised at 19 knots so I did not understand why the change in Costa Maya. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I are not habitual cruisers although we have 4 previous holidays with 4 different companies. We booked this cruise out of New Orleans because we wanted a few days staying there prior to sailing. We joined the queue to ... Read More
My wife and I are not habitual cruisers although we have 4 previous holidays with 4 different companies. We booked this cruise out of New Orleans because we wanted a few days staying there prior to sailing. We joined the queue to register, and it was long, but we were impressed at the efficiency of the staff. The ship itself was clean and well maintained. The cabin that we had was small but that did not bother us because it was just somewhere to sleep. The dining was acceptable, although there was little variance between the menus in any of the restaurants. As people have previously mentioned the ships director, Kyle, was the most irritating and ignorant man we have encountered. He constantly preened himself; self congratulated himself and generally looked down on the people who effectively pay his salary. We said good morning to him on two occasions and he just waltzed past us with his nose in the air. The entertainment outside the theatre was largely debasing. Without exception all the game contestants were Americans, as if nobody else existed which is just as well because during one particular so called game show, grown women were on their hands and knees barking like dogs, totally insulting. All this supervised of course by, (look at me my name is) Kyle. The entertainment in the theatre was excellent. The skills involved with the trapeze and the Broadway show were truly exceptional. We did not like the comedian however; he may have been funny if we could have understood any of his jokes. We went to Henry's bar each teatime to take part in the trivia quiz; sadly 90% of the questions were about American subjects which ruled us out of having any chance, nevertheless it is a great venue to meet people. The ratings we have given for entertainment is slightly misleading, as we have said the theatre is worthy of a 5, but the entertainment in the Galaxy of the stars for example we would rate as a 1. Shore excursions were a complete waste of time and money, perhaps with the exception of Belize which at least offered some insight to life there. Roatan on the other hand was nothing but a slum. We ventured no further than 25 yards outside the port gates and turned back, such was the level of insecurity we felt. Overall this cruise is made for, and caters for Americans. I cannot recommend it for Europeans. NCL are off our list, there is better quality out there. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My husband and I just returned from a 7 day Pride of America cruise in the Hawaiian Islands. This was a trip I planned for 25 years. In 1986 I flew into Honolulu with anticipation of visiting 4 islands in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I was ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 7 day Pride of America cruise in the Hawaiian Islands. This was a trip I planned for 25 years. In 1986 I flew into Honolulu with anticipation of visiting 4 islands in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I was quarantined for 10 days of that 2 weeks with the measles. I vowed, like MacArthur, that I would return. After much research, we determined that the most effective way to go in the time allowed would be on NCL Pride of America. We decided to use the ship as a floating hotel and avoid airports and checking in and out of hotel rooms. We were traveling from Maine, so we decided to arrive 3 days early to enable our senior citizen bodies to recover from jet lag. Our stay at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach was wonderful. It is well located within walking distance to most everything on Waikiki Beach. Our ocean view room had a great view and we actually saw Pride of America arrive in port. Much of the fun in planning this trip involved joining and participating in the Cruise Critic Forum Group. There were members from Canada, Australia, and points north and south in the US. We had months of trading ideas, making excursion plans, and getting to know each other. We all finally met face to face on the first day on board POA at a Meet and Greet set up by Rachel, the POA Group Service Coordinator. I will have much more to say about the hospitality shown by the POA Staff to our Cruise Critic Forum members later in this review. First, before actually beginning to give a review of the POA, I would like to explain why this cruise is impossible to rate against any other ship or itinerary. It is very unique. Everything is expensive in Hawaii. Everything must be shipped, so you pay freight for almost all consumables. By law, this American flagged ship must have a high percentage of US citizens. They must earn a minimum wage and overtime. There have been complaints on this Member Review Site about the shortage of help and poor service. Carey, the POA Hotel Manager, explained his dilemma. Hiring and training is an on going process, needing to adhere to US rules and regulations. It takes 90 days or more just to get the proper security clearance for a new employee. Then training begins. Many new employees have been using this as a stepping stone, so it is a constant turnover process with periods of help shortages. This is a unique situation in all of the cruise industry. It is the price we pay to have the US port of Honolulu and not need to spend 3 sea days on sometimes rough seas from a foreign port. Pre-Cruise: We spent 3 days in Waikiki. This gave us time to adjust for jet lag and recover from the 18 hour flight from Maine. First morning we had a delightful, if expensive breakfast at the Outrigger Reef. For dinner we arranged to eat at Duke's Canoe Club. The view there was lovely of Diamond Head, but the food was only mediocre for the price and it was very noisy. Second day we made arrangements with Paradise Cover Luau to be picked up to attend their luau. My only advice about this is don't do it if that is what you are planning for your trip. Save your money and go to the luau offered by NCL. The Paradise Cove luau was just short of a carnival and the drinks were watered down. Not worth the high price charged. We received lots of good feedback from those who attended the one on the cruise. The third day my husband went to the Arizona Memorial while I did the a 5 hour Hummer Movie Set Tour. Both tours were set up through Tom Barefoot's Tours on line. The company picked us up at our hotel and made all necessary arrangements for us. Both tours were well worth it. The Army Museum next to the Outrigger Reef is a good take. We only allotted ourselves an hour before embarkation to do this and wish we had more time there. It is an excellent museum about the history of Oahu and the military in Hawaii. Embarkation: We arrived at the dock at 1:30 PM. We splurged on this trip and booked a penthouse suite, so we were escorted onto the ship to meet our concierge and butler. They offered Champagne and snacks while Jim, our concierge explained the suite experience. Cruising in a suite is really worth the price. You get special treatment and rarely need to wait in any line. Form our initiation meeting with Jim and our butler, Mathew, we were escorted to the Lazy J for lunch. If you are a suite dweller you have the advantage of breakfast and lunch served there every day. It is a wonderful advantage. They have the best breakfast on board the ship. Our suite was a bit smaller than other suites we have had, but it was quite nicely laid out with a large bathroom with a full tub, separate dressing area, king sized bed and a living/dining area. Our suite was really special because the deck was located beneath the Bridge. We could see the officers through the side and floor windows of the Bridge. We have several pictures taken of the Captain and his officers. The Captain even waved a couple of times. Our butler, Matthew and stewardess, Lucia were absolutely wonderful. I just wish I could have brought them home with me. I do not know when Lucia ever ate or slept. Every time I opened our suite door she was in the hall as though she were there just waiting for us to make a request. Meet and Greet: Rachel arranged our Meet and Greet for 3:00 - 4:00 in the Napa Wine Bar. It was wonderful finally meeting our new friends from the Cruise Critic Forum. Rachel Donnelly was wonderful to have arranged for so many of the POA Staff to take the time to introduce themselves to us. We were invited to attend the VIP Cocktail Party the following afternoon and then received an invitation to dine with the officers at the Liberty Restaurant on Tuesday evening. Rachel and the other officers really outdid themselves to make our experience with POA truly memorable. We had VIP treatment the whole way. They were very concerned about changing the image given sometimes on the Cruise Critic reviews and arranged to have all of us meet with them to give a critique before disembarking. For the most part all comments at this meeting were favorable. Dining: We had 2 dinners in the Liberty Dining Room. Both experiences were very nice. Food and service was good. Our second dining experience there was with the Hotel Manager, Carey and the Paymaster, Tom. These officers could not have been more hospitable. This was a fun evening and very memorable. Dinner and service was impeccable. Little Italy was good, but not worth the extra surcharge. Service was very good, but the food was nothing to write home about. Jefferson Bistro was a huge disappointment. We were looking forward to experiencing a great meal and it was less than mediocre. My husband swallowed very hard when presented with the bill. We are moderate drinkers and only had 2 glasses of wine with our meal, but it was an outrageous price. We get 4 or 5 star meals in New England for the price we paid. We do not mind paying the price if it is worth it. This was not. Aloha Cafe was like having a go home place to run to. We were usually so tired after our days on the islands that to have the Aloha to pick up a bite to eat was wonderful. We found the food very good. The atmosphere is a little crazy and uncoordinated. There is a huge variety to choose from and everything I tried was very good. I would recommend offering some more variety of desserts. I enjoyed Freestyle Dining given the itinerary we had. This was our first experience of true Freestyle, so it was a day of two to get accustomed to it. I missed the social sharing of sitting with the same people and sharing the days' experiences with them every evening though. It is also a nice thing to have the same wait staff every day too. We adapted nicely. Overall the ship is really beautiful. She is showing her age and getting a little tattered around the edges. She is in need to refurbishing soon. We had maintenance issues almost every day in our suite. They were always promptly addressed, but this should not be issues the cruise passenger should be made to deal with. I have been on many cruises and this was the only time there were so many maintenance issues in our suite. This is a clue, to me, that POA needs to take her time off and get refurbished. She is a lovely ship and the staff is very proud of her. She should get her face-lift and sail proud. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Originally, I booked Israel. That would have been great. Then my wife packed up and left after 18 years of marriage. My GF didn't want to go to Israel, so I changed to the Panama Canal with NCL. I had never been on NCL before, but ... Read More
Originally, I booked Israel. That would have been great. Then my wife packed up and left after 18 years of marriage. My GF didn't want to go to Israel, so I changed to the Panama Canal with NCL. I had never been on NCL before, but I figured they'd be just like Carnival and Royal Carribbean, which I have cruised many times. I couldn't have been more wrong. When my GF left me, I switched the cruise back to the Medeteranean, which I love. The dates for Israel changed, and I booked Greece, Turkey, and Egypt out of Rome. 10 days. Egypt was off the State Department warning list and they were scheduled for elections 6 weeks before the journey, so I figured it was safe. A month before the sail date, the military government refused to give control to the civil government and the announced that they'd retain the power to arrest and hold people with no charges and to summarily execute citizens and foreigners. RED FLAG. I called NCL. I wrote NCL. They wouldn't let me change the itinerary without a stiff penalty amounting to basically forfeiture of the entire amount. They assured me it would be safe. The week before I left, there were riots in Rome, Athens was burned out, and they were killing Christians in the streets of Cairo. Again, NCL promised it was safe. We saw the homeless packed on the streets of Rome, we saw burned out government buildings and cops in riot gear in Athens, and Cairo? We had armed soldiers and police on our busses and military escorts to the tourist areas. The cops said it was to make us feel safe. Not only did it have the opposite effect, but we actually weren't safe. My travel mate was assaulted by a camel guy and several of the other passengers we spoke to were groped in public sexually. The police and army were corrupt, attempting to extort money everywhere we went. The one exeption was Rosetta. While the town was poorer than border towns in Mexico, the people were nice and welcoming. I still didn't feel safe with the mountains of garbage and the lack of smiles on people's faces, but at least nobody accosted us. This was all very sad because it was literally one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, even with 6 continents and 55 countries on my passport; not to mention all 50 states. Also, NCL does this thing where they charge you $15 for washing 4 clothing items the day before they do a special for $30 for an unlimited number of items as long as you can fit them in the laundry bag, which is big. Additionally, there was no resin ship model in the gift shop. They were out. Who the hell runs out of ship models on a ship? It's the only ship I've sailed on where I don't have this souvenir. Not that I'll miss it. The bright part of the cruise was the crew. Hector and JJ from Cruise Director Jill's staff were amazing. The food was excellent and the activities were a lot of fun. They didn't mention the rules during the blackjack tournament, so I had to enter 3 times and won twice, but that really threw off my game for the final. I was ahead until the last hand. I bet wrong and lost, but if I had bet right, I would have won! Lesson learned. LOL. Got free champaigne anyway. My Elvis won the costume contest with my travel mate playing Lady Luck. Nice prize for that, but no trophies like they have on RCI and Carnival. I will never risk my life or go on NCL again. Well, maybe if JJ gets a cruise director job. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was the 13th cruise for my husband and I. We have cruised on Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Holland America. I cruises include the western Caribbean, southern Caribbean, Hawaii and Alaska. This was our third Alaska ... Read More
This was the 13th cruise for my husband and I. We have cruised on Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Holland America. I cruises include the western Caribbean, southern Caribbean, Hawaii and Alaska. This was our third Alaska cruise. My two other Alaska cruises were in May/June. I love the longer daylight days of early summer. On the Alaska Pearl cruise we covered 1583 miles in 7 days. My husband and I, and two friends booked cabins with an obstructed ocean view guarantee. I did not get a bump up in category and was assigned cabin 8529. We had a big window that was partially obstructed but we still had a great view. My friends got a two category bump up and were assigned a cabin with a port hole on deck 4 in the front of the ship. I was glad I did not get a bump up to that cabin. My room was relatively quiet. It was close to the Crystal Atrium so we heard the solo act Tino until 10:00 pm. Saturday 9/3/2001. Travel to Seattle. My husband, two friends and I arrived in Seattle at SeaTac at 4:00pm. We had a good flight on Frontier Airlines. We took the Central Link light rail from the airport to the Westlake station. That cost $2.75 per person. We stayed at the Westin hotel about 1 block from the Westlake station. After checking in, we walked 6 blocks to Pike's Market. Most vendors were closed for the day but there were many open restaurants. We had a nice dinner at Sound View Cafe. Sunday 9/4/2011. Embarkation. We walked to Pike's Market and found a nice restaurant to eat breakfast. We walked through the market and enjoyed seeing all the flowers, seafood and other items. It is a really neat market and less than a half mile from Pier 66 where the Norwegian Pearl docks. We walked back to the hotel and got our luggage then walked about 12 blocks to Pier 66. During embarkation, there was only one scanner x-ray machine to check the luggage going on the Pearl so the line was quite long, most of the staff at pier 66 was rude and cruisers got in a bad mood. Not a good way to start a cruise. Once past that, the line went smooth. We ate a nice lunch in the Garden Cafe (on deck 12) on the Pearl. My husband enjoyed climbing the rock wall and a swim in the main pool after lunch. Our luggage arrived at our cabin around 3:00 pm. The Pearl left pier 66 at 4:00pm and we watch from the outside deck of the Garden Cafe. The weather and scenery was beautiful. The seas were 3-4 feet. We went to the Indigo restaurant at 5:00 pm and were seated by the window. During dinner, we saw two whales. It was my husband's 53th birthday and the waiters sang to him. The evening show gave of us a sampling of the shows we would see during the cruise. The ship's singers and dancers, the comedy/joggling of Barry John and 'Oh What a Night' group performed. Friday 9/9/2011. Ketchikan, AK 6:00 am - 1:30 am. This was our third trip to Ketchikan. We left the ship at 7:30. If you have not been to Ketchikan, I suggest a trip to Totem Bright Park (10 miles to the North) or Saxman Native Village (3 miles to the South). Both have lots of totem poles. Ketchikan is home to the world's largest collection of totem poles. This time we did the 2 mile self-walking tour. We took lots of short breaks to enjoy the scenery and town totem poles. We did a little shopping then returned to the ship at 11:30. The weather was sunny with a little breeze and the temperature got up the 65 degrees. We ate lunch on the outside deck of the Garden Cafe on the ship. We enjoyed watching float planes, boats and the shoreline as the Pearl left port. We went to the Indigo restaurant at 5:00 and were seated by the window. I am so glad we sat by the window because we saw hundreds of Dolphins swimming by the Pearl. The seas were only 18 inches which made for a very smooth ride. We watched the ship's singers and dancers that night. Saturday 9/10/2011. Victoria, BC 6:00 pm - 11:59 pm. We had a nice restful day at sea. When we arrived at port, we caught a taxi and went downtown. The downtown area is about 2 miles from the port. The taxi fare cost $10 plus a tip. We roamed around the Parliament building and Empress Hotel. The Empress Hotel does not have a 'High Tea' in the evenings so we missed that. Many vendors were setup and saleing goods at the water's edge near the Empress Hotel. We shopped a bit and enjoyed watching float planes, Washington ferries, sailboats and river taxis in the Inner Harbour. We took a horse drawn carriage ride around the downtown area before returning to the ship. We stayed in Victoria a few days on another trip. There are many fun things to do in Victoria. Butchart Gardens and Craigdarrough Castle are just two of the very nice activities. Sunday 9/11/2011. Debarkation. After breakfast, leaving the ship was easy. We signed up for the BAGS program that takes your bags from the ship to the airport. Not all airlines participant. The charge was $20 per bag for the service. Our flight did not leave Seattle until 4:00 pm so we were able to do some more sightseeing before our flight. We had a good flight home on Continental Airlines. General: The Pearl's singers and dancers were almost average as far as cruise ships goes. I missed a live band with the show that I have seen on some other cruise ships like Carnival. 'Oh What a Night' group was really good. Do not miss their shows. Juggler/Comedian Barry John was good as well. The Stardust Theater has all stadium seating. We really liked that. The dress code for the evening main dining rooms was the most informal I have ever seen. Norwegian has been the least formal for years but blue jeans every night was the norm on the Pearl. I have to admit I dressed down on the two evenings that we were at port late but I dressed up on the two more formal nights. The Indigo and Summers Palace restaurants were about average. I did not go to any of the specialty restaurants. There were several specialty restaurants that you could eat at for an addition fee of $10-$25 per person. Breakfast at the Garden Cafe restaurant was almost always crowded. It was difficult to find an open table. There were several buffet stations so getting food was relatively quick. The food for breakfast and lunch was nearly the same every day but there was a big variety. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
NCL has a new theme- "I want to be your vacation hero." While we never thought we'd need a "hero," when Air Canada lost our luggage, the folks at NCL (who had no responsibility for this loss) turned out to be the ... Read More
NCL has a new theme- "I want to be your vacation hero." While we never thought we'd need a "hero," when Air Canada lost our luggage, the folks at NCL (who had no responsibility for this loss) turned out to be the heroes we needed. Here's the story... We arrived in Copenhagen (luggage less) the day before sailing and had to spend our precious vacation time in a VERY pricy department store purchasing "basics." The following day we were told our luggage was still in "transit" and after a very smooth check-in, we arrived at the Sun's front desk (a bit harried and upset) to ask for assistance. We were immediately given new t-shirts, a "necessity bag" of essentials including toothpaste, brushes, deodorant etc., and coupons for free laundry. Then my husband requested to speak to the "person in charge" and Yahaira, group coordinator and a lovely, efficient and knowledgeable dynamo, and font of information arrived and assured us that she would be in direct contact with the airlines and the multiple port authorities to track our luggage. She then personally escorted us to the lounge, bought us a drink and helped calm our nerves. (This was during her most busy time of passenger boarding!!) Over the next three days she and hotel director Steven took time to find us on the ship and give us periodic updates on our luggage's travels. In the meantime our room steward, Sherlton worked after his late shift to take our dirty clothes to the laundry and return them early in the morning - before he actually started his work shift. We couldn't have asked for better service. Throughout the cruise we were constantly impressed by the friendliness, efficiency and professionalism of every crew member we encountered. This service is one of the main reasons we choose NCL. The Sun - What a lovely intimate ship! The Sun is large enough to offer private corners yet small enough to allow you to quickly reach a planned event. Its colors are muted - not too glitzy- and its Casino is just large enough so you don't have to wait for a slot machine or table (although Ken did miss the "Let it Ride" table.) We never waited more than one or two minutes for anything - restaurants, bars, gift shop etc. And the Champagne bar was perfectly located for cocktails pre-dinner or Showtime. As someone whose last cruise was on NCL's Epic I could appreciate the advantages of both large and smaller ships. The Sun did not disappoint. Rooms - We saw two types of rooms. Our balcony cabin was spacious and we spent several hours sitting out and enjoying the many ships that sailed by. On a European tour I would highly recommend a cabin with a view. Every day was a different city with views of medieval walls, crenellated churches and leaded glass windows hundreds of years old. On a personal note, the coffee pot was a welcome addition and made our morning more relaxing. I also would highly recommend the sideways inside cabin. Instead of the long narrow inside cabins, the Sun has several insides that have the door on the long wall and have a bathroom and closet to the left and a desk, drawers and another closet to the right. The far wall holds another closet, the couch, coffee and end tables, and two beds. This room would comfortably accommodate 4. Restaurants - By far the best addition to NCLs dining choices is the Moderno Churriscaria. A Brazilian style restaurant, it is a combination of a top-notch salad/soup bar and 10 varieties of meat carved from skewers tableside. At intervals that you determine by a 'stop" and "go" card on your table, your waiter arrives with steak, chicken, pork, veal, sausage, each more mouthwatering then the last. Please save room for their final steak selection. For us, Le Bistro never disappoints flavor wise but we do miss the yummy bread bowl that used to house the mushroom soup. Our lovely server (so sorry I've forgotten her name) offered knowledgeable advice on wine pairings and thoughtfully kept our main course warm when we raced out to the deck for photos of the Malmo bridge. If you want the best steak, try the cote' du Bouef carved tableside. It was worth the extra price. We also had a very nice dinner at the Italian restaurant and enjoyed the complementary Tapas (Spanish snacks) in Las Ramblas. The olives and cheeses were mouthwatering. The Seven Seas and the other main dining room were lovely and we enjoyed both a lunch and dinner there with good service from Roderick and a nice selection of food. At the buffet, breakfast was always a bit crowded at prime time (with many tours leaving at once everyone wanted to eat) but you can find seats in Las Rambles or out on the deck. Try the biscuits or the cinnamon buns. Entertainment - For us the Baltic cruise was mainly about touring the 6 countries so we missed out on most of the entertainment. We did enjoy the daily trivia, the Beatles show and the crazy "Skinny German Juggler" - both were entertaining. There are very few bad seats in the theater - it's a small venue -- but we had no problem getting seated. And I particularly enjoyed the "backstage ship tour." It was the first time I had seen the inner workings of the kitchen, crew quarters, and theater and was amazing!! Vacations can be many things-- relaxing, educational, challenging. The one thing a traveler never wants is for a vacation to be disappointing. Our vacation started out with a problem that the NCL team worked hard to solve and then turned our trip into one of our most enjoyable times at sea. Thank you Steven, Yahaira, Sherlton and the rest of the crew. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
NCL PEARL - Dec. 09 (Eastern Caribbean) We went to our honeymoon to the incredible NCL Pearl. It´s our first cruise and definitely our way to cruise. We loved freestyle cruising. We decided when to eat, when to sleep, when to visit ... Read More
NCL PEARL - Dec. 09 (Eastern Caribbean) We went to our honeymoon to the incredible NCL Pearl. It´s our first cruise and definitely our way to cruise. We loved freestyle cruising. We decided when to eat, when to sleep, when to visit shops, when to do whatever we wanted to.... EMBARKATION / DISEMBARKATION Very very fast, altough I thought that as for Miami Port, it would be slow. Not at all, It was hardly 10 min, and we were onboard the ship. Disembarkation was about 5 min and 5 min of customs, so it was pretty quick. FOOD Amazing!!!! We went to the buffets and a la carte restaurants, (GARDEN CAFE; SUMMER PALACE; BLUE LAGOON; INDIGO; SKY HIGH GRILL) Amazing food, clean. Eventhough it was the same food almost all days, there was plenty of things to choose that I hardly chose the same for two days.... Summer Palace, real good. Extra-charge: We went to Teppanyaki, Cagney´s, Lotus Garden and Le Bistro... All of them were amazing. Excellent service. Excellent food. They really are worth the extra cost. Choose the new package, I think it was 4 specialty restaurants for $50 bucks.... It´s really a must. SERVICE Excellent, way to go.... we were on our honeymoon, also ask for the honeymoon package, with strawberry´s and champagne, spa mandara massage and cake party. It was really good. The only thing we didn´t say was animal towels, so I kind of missed that. SHORE EXCURSIONS Samana,DR. We went to Cayo Levantado, incredible beach. The people selling stuff there are kind of desperate to sell, but you just have to continue walking or just tell them NO THANK YOU... Beach is really good and also piña colada! Some people told us that is better to go to Cayo levantado, if not, don´t go anywhere else, it´s really bad and nothing to see in town.... St. Thomas USVI Excellent, great shopping. We didn´t took a excursion, we went on our own to the town, and made some shopping... Really great place. Maybe on another trip we will go to the beach... Tortola BVI We took the Beach Break tour.... they take you to a small scenic drive and then 4 hours to the beach. It´s good, maybe because we got some rain, but it was just good, maybe better things to see. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas Excellent beach, music, piñas coladas, beers, buffet barbeque from NCL (included) so it´s real nice... great crystal water beach... a must see. ACCOMODATION Mini-Suite (a must), it definitely worth the extra 150 bucks.... you get a tub and larger bath. Also, on the 11th floor and close to most things... It´s really great. We are looking forward on cruising on NCL.... As for now, NCL EPIC 2011. We really want one on 2010, but we both work, so it´s hard... Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My wife and I were traveling with another couple. We stayed at the Confortel Barcelona Hotel the night before the 7 day cruise and also the night after the cruise ended. The room was clean but looked more like a dorm room than a hotel ... Read More
My wife and I were traveling with another couple. We stayed at the Confortel Barcelona Hotel the night before the 7 day cruise and also the night after the cruise ended. The room was clean but looked more like a dorm room than a hotel room - very austere. We took a taxi from the hotel to the dock on day of embarkation. The embarkation went smoothly accompanied by a glass of champagne upon entry into the lounge area on deck 7. Our luggage arrived earlier than some cruises we have been on. The staff and service was superb during the complete cruise. The food served was better than average and a wider selection than on other cruise lines. We especially liked the "freestyling" concept where you do not have to dress up for a formal night. The staff paid great attention to having cruisers use hand sanitizers upon re-entry to the ship and into food service areas - a big positive! The layout of the ship was very logical and easy to find your way around, which can't be said for some ships we have been on. We would highly recommend this cruise line if all the ships in their fleet (and staff) were like this ship. WE took advantage of NCL's shore excursion on 4 of the five ports. Our experiences were not bad but, in my opinion, a customized tour from reputable local guides at each of the ports would provide a more memorable and pleasant experience and for roughly the same price. Buses do not maneuver as easily as a van in some of the bigger cities and there is no waiting for stragglers to get on the bus. You can also take in more and spend more time at a particular location if desired, which is not an option on the cruise line's canned excursion. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
First and foremost I want to talk about the excursions. I would say don't book with the ship because it's overpriced and you'll sit on a bus with 100 other people and be on their schedule. Booking a private tour offers ... Read More
First and foremost I want to talk about the excursions. I would say don't book with the ship because it's overpriced and you'll sit on a bus with 100 other people and be on their schedule. Booking a private tour offers flexibility and convenience. I reviewed each port individually but I cannot say enough about Your Tour in Italy (www.yourtourinitaly.com). We booked all three days in Italy with Aldo (the owner) and were so very pleased with every aspect of his service. The cars were in great condition and very clean. Each driver was native to the area we visited that day which was key - they were able to provide personal accounts of each area we visited and recommend restaurants and shopping first hand. I read several reviews on this site looking for a tour company and Your Tour in Italy came up often. There were several companies with great reviews but Your Tour offered a tour in each Italian port. It was much more convenient to have 1 company to book with than 2 or 3. There were no hidden costs. We paid the driver at the end of the tour. We used travellers cheques so we wouldn't need cash but my conversion rate was different than theirs so I would recommend asking Aldo for the rate before you buy your cheques. Also we tipped our drivers/guides in cash (Euros). Please find the contact info below and see my specific port reviews for more details. Your Tour in Italy di Aldo Monti P.Iva n 02341610596 Via Ferrazza 986 04100 LT Rome Italy www.yourtourinitaly.com info@yourtourinitaly.com As far as the ship is concerned - it was very clean. We had a stateroom with a balcony and that was very nice. The bigger bathroom was worth it. The TV station selection is poor, there's about 5 options. The Internet was extremely slow and very expensive (you pay by the minute and it's about $1/minute). We never dressed up and enjoyed being casual the whole time. Restaurants: We tried the steak place our first night - Cagney's. It was $15 cover plus another $10 if you wanted seafood. The food was ok but not worth the additional cost. The king crab legs were not king crab legs and the lobster was a very small portion. We tried the Italian place our second night, it had a $10 cover. It was again - just ok. The food was not worth the cover. Our third night we tried the Mexican /Tapas place with a $10 cover and were again disappointed. We ate in the included restaurants from t hat point forward. The service in the restaurants was generally poor. We waited for a while for drinks and sometimes for anyone to even greet our table. You can get unlimited soda for a flat rate and if you drink a lot it's worth it. If you don't have that you will $2.50 for a can of soda. You can't bring any food or drinks on the ship so if you buy anything at a port they will hold it until you disembark in Barcelona (pretty standard for a cruise). There's a guy who gives "talks" about each port on a daily basis - he has good tips and knows a lot. It's worth your time for sure. Docking into Malta is beautiful, just make sure you're out there early enough. We asked the desk what time to be there and were given a time that was too late. We saw most of it but I would have liked to be on deck for the whole thing. They add a gratuity to your bill every day so DON'T TIP on every check. You'll be tipping twice. The conversion commission on the ship is horrible, change money before you go on your trip or in a port at a local bank. It will save you some money. You don't need Euros on the ship, everything is paid in USD. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
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