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Sail Date: January 2018
We were looking forward to our first NCL cruise for a year and can say (among many others we encountered who echoed the same sentiment) that we will not be returning. The Norwegian Epic had it's bright spots, but overall we were more ... Read More
We were looking forward to our first NCL cruise for a year and can say (among many others we encountered who echoed the same sentiment) that we will not be returning. The Norwegian Epic had it's bright spots, but overall we were more disappointed than anything. Lets start with the ship itself. Embarkation was typical. A few delays, but the ship holds thousands of passengers so some waiting is to be expected. Once on the ship, catching an elevator is almost as difficult as hitting the lottery. NCL really needs to increase the production on these things. If you're looking for a vacation where you never close your wallet, well you've found it. NCL charges for so many things. Most shows, some seminars, games, bowling, any offered classes - it's all extra. This is in addition to the restaurants, which some are not only an initial fee, but the menu is also a la carte. The Garden Café (buffet) seating is ample, but the food was often cold and average. O'Sheehans turned out to be our favorite spot. The drink prices and drinks themselves throughout the bars were highly inconsistent - we got the same drink for 2 different prices and two completely different tastes within half an hour one day - one $3+ more than the other. You're charged $17+ for a 6 pack of water, which the crew then confiscates from you upon returning from certain ports. Totally logical. You're required to have a ticket for even the complimentary shows, and making reservations for tendered ports is definitely encouraged. NCL's highly touted 'Freestyle Cruising' is actually quite regimented and limiting due to this setup. The pools are very small and narrow, deck chairs were consistently reserved with towels beginning very early in the morning, and the crew stacked them up relatively early in the evening. The shops, art gallery, and sundries shops have all the typical cruise items. The ship overall was HOT everywhere other than the 5th floor. Our stewards were very friendly, fast, and attentive. They kept the cabins very nice. We went to the Svendka Ice Bar which is open in the evenings with reservation, costs $23+ (entry fee and 2 drinks included), but is definitely fun to see. There's things to do on the ship, but at the same time, there's not really a lot going on. NCL really just counts on spending money at the bars and specialty restaurants as your entertainment. Let's talk about ports. Our first port was NCL's private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. The beach was nice enough, but it's really the only thing to do, which is great if you're looking forward to a beach chair and swimming all day. There is a small straw market which takes about 15 minutes to see the entire area, and a complimentary bbq or taco lunch. Past that, you have to pay for anything else. This is a tendered port, so be sure to get in line on time. Guests of The Haven are also given preference over the rest of us cruisers and taken to the front of the line regardless of how long others have waited. Our 2nd port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Corporate NCL seriously needs to walk thru and see the condition of this port. We docked at a pier which appeared to be an old dilapidated freight port. We then had to walk a good 20 minutes down a mountain on a crumbling sidewalk full of holes, trash, beggars, congested with speeding drivers, locals handing you 'gifts' and then demanding money, locals attempting to take you for a ride/tour, physically grabbing and holding onto your arms and hands, and offering/attempting to sell all types of drugs and stuffing small bags of them into the peoples pockets who made the mistake of buying whatever the individual was selling. The word 'No' is totally disregarded by the residents. Once you finally reach the town, you find a downtown that is filthy, crowded, more narrow sidewalks, stores full of cheap trinkets, and locals who stand out front and harass you to buy something. To top it all off, Jamaica was under a State of Emergency and Travel Advisory during our trip due to crime, which NCL conveniently forgot to mention. We turned back within an hour. 90% of our ship was also returning due to the same thoughts about Ocho Rios so at least we could travel in more of a pack for safety. NCL needs to remove this stop from their itinerary immediately. It is not somewhere visitors need to be. 3rd port was George Town, Grand Cayman. No complaints. A very nice port town, ample shopping, nobody bothering you, clean, beautiful water, and lots to do in addition to shore excursions. You're on a tender here also, so arrive in ample time. 4th port was Cozumel, Mexico. Cozumel's water was clear in spots. We docked at 1 of the 2 piers and the better shopping seemed to be to our south, we just chose not to take a taxi. The shops were clean, but not much variety. More locals bothering you to come into their stores and the agent prior to getting back onto the ship snatched a fellow passengers money out of her passport when checking ID's, attempted to hide it, then claimed it was a joke, but this port was still a monumental improvement from Ocho Rios. Onto our mini suite cabin. The Epic's staterooms have a 'Wave' design and it just doesn't work in all the rooms. The beds were at the front of this room and were practically in the bathroom area. You could lean over and wash your hands in the sink. The beds can't be separated further than 6 inches because they are locked in a curve, the bathroom and shower are across from one another on either side of the room and the sink is outside of the bathroom area. The shower and toilet are separated from the rest of the cabin by a curtain with the sink and mirror outside of the curtain. The bathroom is small, beyond small. We had 3 cabins - all in one day! Our first cabin the air conditioning barely cooled, but the main problem was the cabin flooded in the very early morning hours due to something going wrong in the wall from the neighboring cabin's plumbing. We had a temporary cabin in the afternoon which was a regular balcony cabin. Due to the wave setup, this room was very small - spring for the mini suite. We were then moved late that night to another mini suite where the air worked and the beds were at the end of the wave by the balcony doors, which was WAY more efficient. And this room didn't flood! The Head Guest services manager did rectify the entire bad situation which we were satisfied with. The room itself is decorated in warm tones with mahogany and plentiful storage, the balcony is larger than most ships, so the appearance is nice, just not so much the aesthetics. We wanted to love this ship and this line. Unfortunately, NCL misses the mark and they're not worth spending the money on. At least the Epic sure isn't. They're trying to be luxurious, but have yet to master simplicity. First cruise with NCL, last cruise with NCL. Epic fail. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was out first cruise on Norwegian. We have mostly cruise with Carnival in the past so I was curious to see how this stacked up. We were pleasantly surprised with this ship. It took us some time to figure out the layout of the ship, ... Read More
This was out first cruise on Norwegian. We have mostly cruise with Carnival in the past so I was curious to see how this stacked up. We were pleasantly surprised with this ship. It took us some time to figure out the layout of the ship, but once we did, it was easy to navigate. It was not as crowded as I thought it would be but cruising in January will do that. We loved the bars and restaurants. We were a little unfamiliar with how to book shows. We didn't do any of them because they were sold out and we didn't feel like waiting in the stand by line. No big deal....we found other things to do. My kids ages 12, 9, 7 were with us on this cruise. My younger 2 kids LOVED the kids area and always wanted to go. My older son wanted to go to the teen club, but he wasn't 13 yet so he would have been with the younger kids and didn't want to do that. He played basketball a lot and hung by the pool. Speaking of the pool, they were nice. Nothing fancy. Enough seating. Slides were fun. The service on board was amazing. Everyone we encountered were very friendly. We are booked on the Getaway in March and can't wait. We will definitely be sailing with NCL again. We book all of our shore excursions through outside vendors and they were all perfect!! So much cheaper. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
we chose this ship because of the Haven, our second trip in the Haven first class area, very quiet, peaceful awesome staff, very clean. embarkation and all ports was great, first on, first off, no lines or waiting, on tender ports escorted ... Read More
we chose this ship because of the Haven, our second trip in the Haven first class area, very quiet, peaceful awesome staff, very clean. embarkation and all ports was great, first on, first off, no lines or waiting, on tender ports escorted by staff to tender no waiting it was great. The food is very good in the Haven waiters excellent very attentive, down side they did let in outside passengers who were very noisy, loud, disruptive on 3 occasions, apparently approved by a first officer. outside activities very loud in main part of ship, very crowded, we spent very little time outside of the Haven due to this, it was nice to attend 2 shows with reserved seating for Haven guests. We did not get to go to Naussa due to weather but did 2 ports in Mexico instead which was ok but very similar ports, we did 2 ship excursions, ok not great. Jamaica was ok but only let into locked area due to security issues. We would go again on the escape if in the Haven, the rest of the ship has very small noisy crowded public areas. Drink package was great, internet slow 125 minutes only, very unclear on putting deposit on next cruise, different information from different staff, in the Haven 2 different deposits need to be put down to get the $500 credit and only $100 goes to expenses and outside it is $250. It was cloudy, windy part of cruise so only ate in Haven outside dining twice, when weather is nice great dining area, only on the Escape. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Chose this cruise for the Panama Canal and the price. It was several thousand dollars less than our usual choice of cruise ships. It started out as an embarkation nightmare. A half hour to check in followed by an hour waiting to board then ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the Panama Canal and the price. It was several thousand dollars less than our usual choice of cruise ships. It started out as an embarkation nightmare. A half hour to check in followed by an hour waiting to board then an overcrowded buffet with a long line. It reminded me that four years ago it was the same thing. NCL still has not figured out a smooth embarkation process. After embarkation we fully expected it would go down hill from there, but it didn't. Actually the cruise itself was quite nice. The quality and selection of food was slightly better than passable. The presentation was better than the food itself. No shrimp coocktails or escargots like on Celebrity. The french onion soup I have loved on Celebrity was watery, tasteless and cheeseless. We missed having breakfast on the fantail off the buffet. no such thing on this ship. fortunately, we learned that the breakfast experience was better in the Versailled MDR. The open dining approach worked well if you timed it right, but arrive at 7 pm and you could have a half-hour to hour wait for a table. After trying to eat at aropund 7 and catch the 9:30 show, we figured out it was best to east at 5:30 and catch the 7:30 show. Our cabin and balcony were smaller than on Celebrity. No room for lounge chairs. The bathroom was okay, especially the shower but the commode was tucked into a small area where you barely had room to sit. i pity some of those heavy folks you see filing their plates at the buffet. Absent a handicapped cabin, there is no way they could fit. I must say however that the wait staff and the cabin steward were wonderful. The other staff all around the ship were friendly and helpful. it was clear to us that they had been well trained in that regard. The ambience in the free dining venues was very nice. The Versailles MDR was lovely, but cold and noisy. We found our niche in the extension of the Aqua dining room where we dined almost every night (11 out of 14 nights). It was warm, cozy and intimate. Not a lot of space Best part of the cruise was the entertainment. it was top notch. The NCL house company was wonderful. The singing and dancing were as good as we have seen. The performers worked hard and it showed. The ports left something to be desired. Cartagena, Columbia was okay. The best part was the port istelf, stocked with flamingos and parrots. In puntarena, Costa Rica, all we did was walk off the ship and shop for a few hours in the stalls in port. large selection and good value. In Corinto, Nicaragua we took an excursion to Leon, which was horrible except for a lovely lunch in an old hacienda. In Acapulco, unless you took an excursion to see the cliff divers, the city is an absolute slum. Cabo San Lucas, on the other hand, is very touristy with nothing but shops, restaurants, bars and boats with plenty of choices for whale watching or other marine activites at reasonable prices. and it is very clean and safe - a pleasure to walk around town. Of course the Panama Canal itself was wonderful. A speaker joined the ship in the morning and left in the afternoon after providing a detailed history of the canal and how it works. That's what we came for and it was great. Bottom line, the difference between NCL and Celebrity was obvious, but we chose to save a total of $4,000 by sailing on NCL and we got what we paid for. But never again will we go through that embarkation process. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked this cruise along with friends (now Family) that we met on previous cruises! The only thing that made this cruise enjoyable was that we were not alone. Sub Par food outside of specialty dining. This ship was horribly ... Read More
We booked this cruise along with friends (now Family) that we met on previous cruises! The only thing that made this cruise enjoyable was that we were not alone. Sub Par food outside of specialty dining. This ship was horribly designed. The Gem is a smaller ship that feels so much bigger because of the ships design. My Girlfriend had a spill in the first cabin we were in 2 nights of no sleep due to a crying baby in the cabin next to us. She got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom lost her balance, fell and cut her head open. We went to the medical center on the ship. the doctor stitched her wound and then proceeded to stitch gauze over the wound. when I questioned this he told me it was to secure the gauze. I'm no doctor but i'm sure this could have been accomplished by wrapping the gauze. this required a return visit to cut the gauze out. which cost an additional 250.00 on top of the 850.00 for the initial visit. Margaritaville has a 15 cover charge just to sit down now. i preferred it when you could go in and pay ala carte. still trying to figure out why even with the dining package you have to pay $18 per person to eat there and can't order the best thing on the menu without paying for it. It just seems like you pay more and get less. I think the next time I cruise it will be with a different cruise line. There was a Terrible rock band on the ship. seemed like they were thrown together not an actual band. just not fun. And hard as I try I have a big problem with the cruise directors staff barely having a grasp of the English language. Most announcements are hard to understand. I'm sure there are plenty of people that speak clear English that would love a job like that if the pay was fair. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
This is our third NCL Cruise out of five cruises. We selected this itinerary because we had not visited the Western Caribbean area yet. We had great weather for the cruise although it was a little cooler than our past "winter" ... Read More
This is our third NCL Cruise out of five cruises. We selected this itinerary because we had not visited the Western Caribbean area yet. We had great weather for the cruise although it was a little cooler than our past "winter" cruises. Our embarkation was flawless. Our cabin was clean and fully stocked when we arrived. We ate in the main dining room the first night and the food and service was very good! During the cruise we ate in 4 "specialty" restaurants and were only disappointed when we ate in Cagney's Steakhouse. I found the steak tough and bland. Generally the food at all the other venues was very good. We enjoyed the entertainment on the boat, although the seats in the Breakaway Theater leave much to be desired. I have found high school bleachers more comfortable. With the help of Tyrone at the Shore Excursion desk, we found appropriate excursions for each port we visited. We loved the Island stops and had fun on the boat and bus tours. This was our second cruise on the NCL Breakaway and we like the ship. This cruise was better than the last, possibly because we were already familiar with the layout and offerings. The biggest drawback, and this may pertain to all these mega cruise ships, it the lack of seating available in the common areas. If they close off the outside decks due to high wind or bad weather (like they did on our return trip), there is not enough seating for everyone so you end up walking around with no place to sit or are stuck in your cabin. With a three day cruise home, this gets old real fast. This situation was serious enough, in my opinion, that it prevented me from giving the cruise five stars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
A half charter of "grown and sexy" was booked at the same time as my cruise. We were not informed of this fact and at least 3 public areas per day were blocked off for this party. Had I known all areas would not be available to ... Read More
A half charter of "grown and sexy" was booked at the same time as my cruise. We were not informed of this fact and at least 3 public areas per day were blocked off for this party. Had I known all areas would not be available to us, I would have never booked. The "quiet" areas had people from this party who had speakers attached to their phones blasting music. I complained to guest services who told me there was nothing they could do. The pool deck was closed to the public twice for private events during our cruise. A staff member grabbed my son by the arm to escort him off of the pool deck during one of these parties. I had a aft facing mini suite directly below the 12th level aft facing deck where several of the private events took place with loud music. Guests from the party were throwing items down onto our balcony. Miserable cruise!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
I really wanted to love this trip. I was soo excited to cruise after a terrible experience with Royal. But alas, this trip has left me wanting...more? Maybe feeling a bit let down. We cruised out of Miami to Honduras, Belize and two ... Read More
I really wanted to love this trip. I was soo excited to cruise after a terrible experience with Royal. But alas, this trip has left me wanting...more? Maybe feeling a bit let down. We cruised out of Miami to Honduras, Belize and two islands in Mexico. The weather was terrible (nothing they can do about it but seemed to be the consensus of sailing in January so maybe they could have picked different ports). The sailing itself was pretty choppy and at night I felt like I was rocking and rolling. We had a balcony room on deck 14 (14268, so sea sick). Very quiet. Never heard anything from buffet upstairs. Room was pretty small, no way it could fit 4 adults (we were two adults, a 4 year old and 8 month old). Crew: Amazing. Every single one was so nice and helpful and available. Big shout out to Amanda Stapleton from Taste who took extra good care of us and our dietary restrictions (kosher) on such short notice. Robert, our room steward, for being so awesome. My daughter loved the towel art. Stateroom: Small (clearly). Bed was soooooooooooo uncomfortable. Not enough storage space for 4 people. Food: In one word...bland. The first two days the food was good, until you realize they are serving the same exact thing every single day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As well as serving the same things in Taste, Savor and Tropicana as they do in the buffet. Kosher food was pretty gross. Think tv dinner in the microwave type of food. Wasabi sushi bar was okay, fish was good quality but I think they used half an avocado for our order of 8 adults (left us uninterested in trying the other restaurants). Margaritaville was so good. Coffee at the buffet was TERRIBLE. Watered down version of watered down coffee. The coffee bar at the Atrium was okay, also not really strong. Drinks were strongest at Margaritaville and the bar in Spice. Everything else was kinda hit or miss on the alcohol. Ports: Leaves a lot to be desired. Honduras is so poverty stricken, it's actually sad. Made the day pretty depressing driving around and seeing kids beg for money, laundry hanging in the streets. We went to the monkey/sloth thing, short lived and underwhelming. They said the father sloth died 2 months ago which is why the sloths weren't very interactive. The market on the hill top was cute. Stray dogs everywhere. Belize is a NCL owned island. Pool was big and clean, a bit cold. Kids water park was FREEZING. Beach is man made so the sand was coarse and the water went from 5 inches to 3 feet. Your food/drink package doesn't work so prepare to spend $6 on ice cream and $10 on every mixed drink. Costa Maya doesn't offer much but ruins. We have been there before so we are indifferent to it. Cozumel was the most enjoyable as we frequent Mexico and are well aware of what to do. We went to Paradise beach ($3 entrance!) for the day and had a great time. Ship amenities: Not much for kids I would say under 4/5. Kids club crew was a bit standoffish and didn't allow you to make your kid comfortable so we didn't use it for our daughter which was a letdown because most of the activities (glow party, pj party, spy night) were through the kids club and she couldn't join so she was pretty bored. Not much for little kids to do. Guppies playroom is tiny and smells like poop, toys don't look so clean. Spice (adult pool) is really spacious and nice, bar is great. Main pool kind of small for 4k+ people. Kids pool is so cold and small. Casino stinks of cigarettes, even when just walking through. Art auction was super cute. Tons of shows at night, some are not free but worth it. Atrium always has something going on. Harry Potter Trivia with Andre (cruise director) drew a huge crowd. Overall...I would possibly cruise with NCL again, maybe on the Epic (looks nice) and definitely not in January. I would prefer more for kids to do outside of kids club. After the 4th day my daughter was begging to go home because she was bored. We had a good experience just not what I thought it would be. The crowd is really on opposite ends, either older (think 70+) or families. Nothing really in between. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Went with family and grandchild. Boat good but too many people for space and services. Deck space not adequate on sunny day, not enough places to sit. Area around pools broken up and inadequate size for people to sit around. Too much of ... Read More
Went with family and grandchild. Boat good but too many people for space and services. Deck space not adequate on sunny day, not enough places to sit. Area around pools broken up and inadequate size for people to sit around. Too much of towels on chair idea with people not there most of day. Need clear off periodically. On wet days, we had a couple, it was crowded inside with nowhere to sit. Bars crowded but counter service quick and courteous. Grandchild had fun at kids pool but again this could get crowded and quard had to get larger kids out. Do not think there was enough kids water areas. Main pool too small to be any use for swiming, especially after there are more than two people in it. Son tried water slides and enjoyed them. Majority of restaurants are extra cost. Food in these was excellent and service was excellent. Cafes food was average quality with reasonable variety. Again too many people. Could have breakfast in lower deck included restaurants where one had space and excellent quality food. Shore stops were not as expected, and seen on other cruises. Only Cosumel stop was in port with many things to do. Two of “ports” were essentially private shopping and beach islands and not even close to mainland of country. Not a cruise to see countries or cities. Alaskan cruise and other Caribbean cruises stopped in towns/cities which one could explore. Entertainment was first rate at shows. Beverage package and gratuity package when purchased over a year in advance were a good deal. Price climbed drastically closer to cruise date. Usual stores on board with some deals. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Don't purchase shore excursion package from Norwegian. Pre-paid for package in which we were to receive a $50 per port credit for shore excursions. We were told "use it or loose it", but were surprised to find out that one of ... Read More
Don't purchase shore excursion package from Norwegian. Pre-paid for package in which we were to receive a $50 per port credit for shore excursions. We were told "use it or loose it", but were surprised to find out that one of our shore excursions was cancelled by the vendor (tried to reschedule different excursion with Norwegian to no avail) and Norwegian refused to refund the $50 credit to us or even transfer the credit for the next port. Raw deal that we prepaid Norwegian for something which they were unable to deliver on and we were bore the financial loss. Look into booking directly with the shore excursion vendors at a substantial savings rather than booking excursions through Norwegian. The ship was very nice, balcony cabin was comfortable and quiet, cabin steward was excellent, food was average with many restaurant options to choose from, entertainment on ship was sufficient. Enjoyed the week, but the raw deal on the land excursions will cause me to consider other options rather than Norwegian on future cruises. Read Less
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