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37 Norwegian (NCL) Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

We are longtime NCL cruisers. We enjoy the freedom of making choices day to day while relying on the excellent service. For this cruise the destination was definitely the highlight. The scenery and the wildlife were incredible. The ... Read More
We are longtime NCL cruisers. We enjoy the freedom of making choices day to day while relying on the excellent service. For this cruise the destination was definitely the highlight. The scenery and the wildlife were incredible. The NCL Bliss made experiencing this beauty even more special with the introduction of their beautiful Observation Lounge on deck 15. It was such a lovely experience sailing in Glacier Bay. In addition the Captain made the bow available for picture taking. That was a special treat. The inclusion of Park Rangers to provide the history of the area and to assist in pointing out wildlife was fantastic! We were able to see a family of five bears come right down to the water. Once the Park Rangers pointed them out, they were easy to see but would have been missed otherwise. We enjoyed meals in most of the specialty restaurants with LeBistro continuing to be our favorite. We enjoyed Jersey Boys in the theater and would have liked to see more production shows rather than smaller lounge venues. Our cabin was perfect. We were in an aft balcony and enjoyed the extra room and lounge chair. Service was excellent and all crew we interacted with were knowledgeable. Shore excursions were fantastic; we enjoyed the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and a Salmon Bake. In Skagway we rode the White Pass Railroad and experienced the Yukon, a definite highlight. In Ketchikan we took a boat trip to experience the Totems and eagles. We received a BIG bonus because there were many whales in the area and we were able to see them breach, and even sleep. Absolutely fantastic. Loved the cruise! Looking forward to the next one on the new Cape Town South Africa to Singapore sailing in March :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We did the Norwegian Epic cruise out of Barcelona, Spain on July 14 - July 21, 2019. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about the cruise after reading so many negative reviews on cruise critic BUT it was WONDERFUL!!! In fact, I joined ... Read More
We did the Norwegian Epic cruise out of Barcelona, Spain on July 14 - July 21, 2019. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about the cruise after reading so many negative reviews on cruise critic BUT it was WONDERFUL!!! In fact, I joined cruise critics roll call and was able to gain a lot of insight from other travelers on what to do and things that others had learned. We are avid cruisers and Disney is one of our favorite cruise lines but we decided to do Norwegian because of the price. I will attempt to give an overview. We boarded in Barcelona. We took a cab from the airport to the port. It was a fixed price of 36 or 39 euros. Check in was so smooth and fast! I did the on-line check in prior to us leaving and it was one of the fastest check-ins that I have experienced. The ship was very well maintained. I did not see dirty or stained areas. We were on floor 8 in a balcony cabin. I did not care for the lay out of the room but we only got ready and slept in the room. There were 3 of us in our cabin. I did not like the frosted shower-like doors for the toilet area but we lived with it. Once again, we just got ready and slept in the room. The dining was amazing. We had 3 free specialty dinings (for the first 2 of us) and we paid for my daughter. We ate at La Cucina, Le Bistro, and Cagney's. The food and service was superb. This was our first time to ever do any extra charge restaurants because I think you already have so much on a cruise, but since it was free, we tried it. I will say we loved it!! You felt so special, at ease and relaxed and knew you had one-on-one service. BUT, there free dining is also amazing. There is such a variety of foods. The buffet had a different them each night. (Mexican, Mediterranean, Grilled, Italian and I don't remember the others.) Also, there was a person making fresh, made to order crepes at the buffet. That may have been all nights but I used it Tuesday - Thursday for sure. Everyone in the dining rooms and dining areas were very attentive. The dining rooms and buffet areas were beautiful. They all had windows where you could look out and view the water. The front dining room at The Garden Cafe buffet was beautiful and all windows. LOVELY VIEWS!! The food reminded me of when we first started cruising 20+ years ago and that was what you looked forward to. I cannot give an honest opinion of the activities because we were off the ship each day in port and by the time we came back, got ready, and ate, we were ready to crash for the night. We did go to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but left. I knew it would have drag queens but there were too many other things that I felt were inappropriate and were not for me nor my family. We did see a comedian and he was funny but they really needed to use a larger venue because we were packed into one of the areas and there was standing room only. We missed Burn the Floor and we choose not to do Cirque Dreams because we did not want to pay for a show. We saw the Beatles Mania show and it was enjoyable. Our cabin steward was very nice and always checking on us. He checked with us each day to see if everything was OK and if there was anything that we needed. I did want extra blankets and when we got back to the room, they were on our bed. Everyone on the ship, from guest services to the gift shops, seemed pleasant and friendly. I know some people asked about laundry and ironing of clothes. They have a laundry service on the boat but of course it is high. On Wednesday, there was a flyer in the room that advertised that you could fill a bag with clothes and they would be washed and returned to you by Friday. The cost was $19.95. We did fill a bag with our underclothes and tshirts and they were washed and back in the room by Friday evening--all for $19.95 You do have to write the special or promotion on the bag of laundry in order to receive it. I will try to give a run down of what we did each day. We did not book any excursions through Norwegian. We used outside tour companies that were less expensive and fewer people. I gave them a poor on shore excursions because of the prices. I learned this a few years ago when we did a cruise around the Greek Isles. Day 1, we embarked on Sunday in Barcelona and Day 2, Monday was a day at sea. Thank goodness for that!! We were exhausted after our flight from the US. We slept in and just roamed around a little on Monday. Every other day, you are at a port. The day of rest helped us--- I don't know if I could have gotten on in Civitavecchia and then had to do ports with no rest, if I could have made it! Day 3 - Tuesday was Naples Italy. We used Italy Tours and booked Pompeii, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast. There were 14 people in our van and it was wonderful. Our driver met us at the port, we loaded into the van and started our tour. We got back to Naples about 1 1/2 hours before we had to be on board, so there was time to go into Naples if you wanted. Day 4 - Civitavecchia (Rome)--We did not book a tour because we visited Rome for several days in 2016 so we did our own thing. We got off the ship and there were many people at the port where you could book tours or take a bus to Rome. We got on one of the Smart Tours buses and once the bus was full, they brought you to Rome. You were dropped off at a point near the Vatican and then they gave you a time to be back and the bus picked you back up at the same spot and brought you back to Civitavecchia to board the ship. The cost was 23 or 25 euros per person and you had to pay cash. They did not accept credit cards. When we got on the bus, it was almost full so we only had to sit about 15 minutes before leaving. From what I heard, some people sat on the bus almost 1 hour waiting for others to get off the ship and board. You may want to keep that in mind. Italy Tours had some small group tours for Rome but since we had spent several days here a few years ago, we just walked and revisited some of our favorite things and took our own tour. :) We stayed far away from the Vatican that day because it was Wednesday and the Pope was doing mass so it was VERY CROWDED. Make sure to get gelato. This will help cool you off and Rome gelato is so very good. Day 5 - Livorno - We did a small group tour with Italy Tours. There were 7 of us in our group plus the driver. We did the tour called the Best of Florence and Pisa. Our driver met us at the small port (it was very easy to find him) and we went to Pisa first and then to Florence. We got to Pisa by 8:15 and the first group allowed to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not until 9:00 so we were able to get our tickets and be in the first group to climb the tower. Walking and viewing the grounds was great! It was a highlight for us to be able to climb to the top of the tower. After doing this, I would suggest being in the beginning groups. The lines get longer as the day goes on and it gets HOTTER!! Also, you could not bring any bags in the tower. You had to lock purses and backpacks up in a secure area before climbing the tower. We then went to Florence and met up with a guide and were put with some other group for this guide. Florence was beautiful and even with the other group, we were still only 15 and our guide. Our tour company offered to add the skip the line tickets, which we purchased, and went to the academia to see the original David. The additional group of people that we joined up with in Florence did have an elderly lady who had trouble walking and keeping up and those persons eventually left the tour and said they would go on their own. Florence is an amazing city--the bridge with the shops on it is just amazing. Day 6 - Cannes - We did not do a tour with an outside company (but if you start early enough, you should be able to). You have to tender into Cannes. Make sure to book your tender early and don't waste 1/2 day on the ship waiting to catch a tender to get off. Once in Cannes, we went to Monaco. You can take a train from Cannes to Monaco and it is about a 50 minute ride. If you decide to do this on your own, here are a few tips that we learned the hard way! :) To get to the train station, once you walk out of the port area and get to the main road, take a right. When you get to the Cannes tourism office (it is a big mirrored building on the right), take a left onto the street that is across from the tourism office. You will walk several blocks down that road and then you will see the train/bus station. If in doubt, ASK. Once inside, DO NOT try to use the kiosk to buy your own tickets. Go in the station and go to the ticket office to the left (it is inside more glass doors and it has a working AC). Once inside, pull a number ticket and wait for your number to come up and then ask the agent to help you buy a ticket to Monaco. It was 36 euros for all 3 of us. BEFORE you board the train to Monaco/Nice, make sure you find the yellow VALIDATION machine and validate your ticket. I think you get in major trouble if you do not validate your ticket before boarding. If you don't see a machine, ask someone where to validate the ticket and they will show you. Take the train to Monaco and then follow the signs (brown, historical) to the palace. There are lots of things to see and quaint little shops near that area. We did not go to the casino but that is also available. When you are ready to leave Monaco, you can get off the train in Nice on the way back to Cannes and do some wandering there. We did not do this because we lost time trying to find the train station and getting the wrong kind of ticket and having to switch out. If you have plenty of time, others say this is wonderful to do. We spent all of our time looking around Monaco and then we were having to sprint to make it back to the ship!! Day 7 - Palma De Mallorca - To be honest, when we booked this trip, I had never even heard of this place. I was thinking in my mind that we would probably be so tired from our other tours and adventures, we could just stay on the ship. DON'T STAY ON THE SHIP!!! This place is beautiful. It is the largest island in all of Spain. Once again, we did not book any tour. There are shuttle buses that take you from the port to the town center. BOOK YOUR SHUTTLE RIDE BEFORE SATURDAY MORNING. The shuttle ride from the ship to town is $15 per person. Book your shuttle Thursday night or Friday. If not, you will spend a long time in line on Saturday morning to buy a shuttle ticket. For those who do book their shuttle ticket prior to Saturday morning--when you get off the ship and you see a LONG line of people that look like they are waiting to get on a shuttle, do not go to the end of the line and get in line. These are the people who are waiting to purchase their shuttle ride. Let someone know that you already purchased your shuttle ticket, and they will tell you to go straight to the shuttle bus. Meaning, you will by-pass this long line of people who did not pre-purchase. Once you ride the shuttle, it will bring you into town near the church. There is a hop-on hop off bus tour you can buy here that will bring you around the entire island. I think the HOHO bus tour was 18 euros per person. This island has many sights to see and some amazing shopping. It is beautiful and I think it would be a great place to visit on a future vacation. Once again, this was an AMAZING CRUISE, with amazing food and ports of call. For all of those who are concerned because of the negative reviews, my advice would be to ignore them and go expecting a great time and have an awesome vacation. We loved it and will definitely be trying more Norwegian cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with ... Read More
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with Carnival. Like many of my cruises, I sailed with my 76 yr old father who has some health issues. —And although, it’s a cruise to spend some father/son time together as we live in different states, he usually goes to bed quite early, and I enjoy the night life well into the wee hours of the morning… So, inevitably It ends up becoming a “singles” cruise for me. Before I describe the ship and everything else about this amazing cruise, I think it’s important to point out a Difference with Norwegian as I see them.... First off, this is not going to be a doom and gloom review... As I do view this cruise, and ship very favorably.... But I’ll start out with a fundamental disagreement that I have overall with NCL. As Compared to the other lines that I’ve sailed with....(Twice now with NCL), they are the Kings and Queens of overly casual. Very few people dress up. I guess that I’m a rare traditionalist millennial when it comes to this opinion....I wear a sport coat often to work, and that’s in south Louisiana where it’s needless to say, quite warm for most of the year. I also, as a bachelor enjoy when women take the time dress up. Cruising is the last romantic way to vacation. There’s something about going to sleep at 2AM with a bottle in your hand in the middle of a beautiful ocean and awaking in an exotic location somewhere in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. Buuuuttt, in a nutshell, I guess that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “Freestyle Cruising”. —It’s not so much the dress attire that turns me off, it’s the fact that very little if anything is structured at all. For instance, virtually every other cruise line particularly my 2 favorites (Celebrity and MSC) have two main entrainment shows per night. —You organize your dinners(whether it’s a specialty restaurant, or one of the main dinning rooms around whichever show that you choose to attend.) —It’s a real simplistic way to cruise. There’s no overthinking it...It comes a little more natural. Freestyle cruising is more like trying to decide most of your shows, dinners, and evening hour activities on the first day of the cruise or even pre-cruise. Nothing is actually “freestyle” about it... You’re forced to decide your show times, or speciality restaurant times or even dinning room times in some cases by the end of the first evening unless you want your dinner at 11pm. I get what Norwegian is trying to do with freestyle cruising. —I understand that they want to give passengers options...And I truly see why they’ve had so much success doing this... **But I also see why other lines have been reluctant to head in their direction. And I get it now. ON TO THE POSITIVES: The EPIC might be the perfect cruise ship for the Mediterranean. It’s not quite Norwegian’s best or biggest ship. As I thought that the ESCAPE(which I sailed in 2017 was nicer and much more updated and had better social gathering points and creature comforts and cabins). But it has all of the things that modern cruisers want(including me). Plus your itinerary, and getting to see some of the cradles’ of civilization(especially those in Europe) is something to greatly credit. Although the ship holds over 4000 passengers, you rarely ever feel crowded. That’s a small advantage to a ship that was built 10 years ago, as opposed to some of the newer ships that are only a few years old that I’ve taken recently. The ship was also refitted 5 years ago... So you hardly notice any wear and tear at all. The ship also flows very well. Unlike some of the newest ships, there’s very few instances to where you can’t walk from one end of a deck to the other. —It really helps with getting around. EMBARKATION: A+ If you’re reading this about to take a Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona or Civitavecchia, do yourself a favor and opt-in on the transfer from the airport to the cruise port. —You can do this directly on the NCL website. Well worth the $50(round trip) per person. So $100 total for two people. We were sailing out of Barcelona and took the transfer charter bus from the Barcelona Airport to the cruise port(which took around 20-25 mins or so with traffic). —It’s only about 10 miles apart. It really is the easiest route to go. The cruise port check-in was a breeze. Maybe 20-25 mins from entering the port to stepping on the ship. Barcelona only has 3 cruise ships on a Sunday, so it doesn’t seem to back up with people quite as much as Miami, or Lauderdale. Also, we arrived pretty early at the port as our flight was a red-eye into Barcelona. (We were on one of the first transfer buses from the airport to cruise port)....And credit to Norwegian for allowing you into your stateroom by noon. It was great to set down cary-on bags and get a view of the stateroom before exploring the ship. THE SHIP ITSELF OVERALL: A- I found the ship pretty easily navigable. My advice would be to take the time to really explore the ship on the first day, and you should be pretty good to go by day two. I tend to explore any ship that I sail as much as I can on the first day and make it a point to have a drink at every bar. —That usually gets you around pretty well ;) My advice, if you’re sailing the Mediterranean, and flying in that day from the U.S., make sure to do a little exploring around the ship before you pass out for your cat nap before the vacation begins. STARTING FROM THE TOP The Pool Deck(s): A+ The Pool Deck is spacious, and really has A TON of deck chairs that they’ve found every nook and cranny to put in. Like most cruises, deck chairs fill up quickly with towel clips, bags, and magazines holding chairs for sometimes hours before they’re actually occupied. But, I legitimately found very little overcrowding on any of the pool decks(including the actual pool deck 15). There was always available lounge chairs at any time of day(including sea days). Like the majority of newer NCL ships, slides and kiddo pool areas take up a large portion of the deck, but they really weren’t a nuisance(even if you’re looking for less kids and more relaxation).... If somehow the slides or kid areas near the main pool do bother you, EPIC smartly made “Spice H20” which is a smaller pool deck towards the back of the ship also on deck 15. —It’s an adult only pool. But I seriously found plenty of relaxing areas in the main pool area. Spice H2O also has several nighttime parties throughout the cruise. There’s also a Pool deck up high(even if you’re not a Haven passenger) on Deck 18. You access this via the main pool deck right near the outdoor part of the Buffett. Not much on 18 except deck chairs. The Bars/Lounges/Clubs: A- EPIC really does have a solid variety of bars to satisfy most tastes. I really enjoyed “Shakers Martini Bar” as the best overall bar itself. VERY VERY good drinks. It’s also near several of the speciality restaurants on Deck 7, and is right above the casino and near the theater. “Shakers” also has several pianists who play sing along music in a subtle non-annoying way. My other favorite drinking spot on the ship was “Bliss Ultra Lounge”. It typically starts off in the evening as a karaoke bar, and transcends later in the night to a full night club. Trust me, if you’re young and single, this is most likely where you’ll find your cruise romance lol. There were other honorable mention bars as well. The main pool deck bar(name escapes me as I write) is one of the largest pool deck bars at sea. Although it’s probably one of the most crowded on the ship, again you rarely have to wait more than a min or two before your drink order is taken. Also, if you’re a big craft beer person, O’Sheeans Irish Pub is very popular. O’Sheeans also has bar food like wings, cheese sticks ETC... Casino, Shops, and General Areas B+  As it’s well published, NCL EPIC has one of, if not THE largest casinos at sea. It seems to go on over half of the entire Deck 6. Stretching from Manhattan Main Dinning Restaurant(rear of the ship) all the way to O’Sheeans Irish Pub(which is mid-to-forward of the ship) If you like the tables, slots, or simply watching the action like me, It’s truly a massive entertainment center of the ship. If you’re a player, this is YOUR SHIP. SHOPS: Some of you might not care much about the shopping of the ship considering the destinations within your itinerary. I found the shops decent. (Not great/not bad)… The best store in terms of variety on the ship is the cosmetics and fragrance store(don’t remember the name). The watch store also has a pretty good variety. Other than that, nothing really comes to mind. Seems to have fewer shops and duty free alcohol stores or much smaller than ships equal of Epic’s size. —Not a big deal as like me, I’m sure very few of you choose a ship for the shopping. GENERAL AREAS: The general areas on Epic are pretty good minus one glaring exception…The vast majority of newer ships have main promenades(which serve as the central gathering points of the interior of the ship). —You’ll typically have bars, a dance floor, restaurants nearby, and a view of either 3 or 4 decks at one time. --Those of you who like Celebrity know that that area of the boat is near the martini bar on Solstice Class ships, and the Edge. Those who like MSC know that that area is around the Swarovski Staircases. NCL EPIC doesn’t seem to know where to send people in the interior, and it almost spreads people out too thin, limiting the action and interaction between passengers. Again, seeming to cater to the “Freestyle” cruising idea. In other words, “you choose wherever you wanna go”....Even Norwegian’s newer ships like the ESCAPE do a better job having a true main promenade. Again, some of you might roll your eyes at that, or think that I’m knit-picking on that one. But, if you cruise often like me, and aren’t necessarily entirely loyal to one line, you might get what I’m trying to say. The interior of the ship is very very nice though with lot’s of variety. No complaints at all about the condition of the ship, or the décor. All very nice! –I’m sure that this was improved during the refitting in 2014-2015. THE FAMED AND CONTROVERSIAL EPIC STATEROOM LAYOUT DEBATE: B+ Like pretty much all cruise ship cabins, it was small and served it’s purpose. Like I said earlier, I am a 32 year old bachelor... and although I always get a balcony room on any ship that I sail on, I can’t tell you that I ever spend much time in my state room other than to sleep and get dressed. But, for what it’s worth, the state room was very nice, and modern. You are on a cruise ship to have a good time, and be around other people, and get some sun. —You can’t do any of those things by staying in your room. One huge plus is the closet/drawer space. —Amazing for your sized stateroom. On to the big debate about the bathroom lol... I’m sure that most of you have read the controversy over the bathroom set up. There is no doubt that many others have nailed the fact that it is definitely unconventional....The toilet is on one side of the entrance of the stateroom with a sliding fogged glass door for privacy. And the shower is virtually a twin copy of that on the other side. Then, the sink is just outside of the shower openly in the stateroom. —I really think people overly pan this situation unfairly. —It’s really not that bad. One big argument to play the devils advocate for those hatters of this situation is that if you’re a married couple, one spouse can shower while the other is using the sink to get ready without being on top of each other like you’d be in a regular cruise bathroom. Also throw a kid into the room with that couple, and it’s logical and realistic that a wife can be doing her makeup at the sink, the husband is showering, and the kid can still use the bathroom all at the same time without stepping on each other. What other conventional stateroom can you do that in??? It’s really NOT THAT BAD. Buuuuutttt, strange layout nonetheless. THE PASSENGERS AND CREW: A+ This cruise had a very fun crowd! I was absolutely shocked at how many millennials and Gen-“X”ers were on this cruise considering the expense for American’s to take a Mediterranean cruise, and the added costs associated with traveling to get to Europe in the first place. But, there were many young professionals on the ship. Norwegian seems to do a great job at attracting younger passengers without stooping to the spring break Carnival college kid crowd. Although there were lots of younger people on the ship, NOT ONE AGE GROUP seemed to dominate the masses. One of the most balanced cruise crowds that I’ve ever seen. I was shocked at how balanced the crowd was. Also, tons of single millennials on the ship to hang out/flirt with. I’m not saying that I was necessarily looking for a “target rich” environment… But It certainly makes things more interesting if you catch my drift haha. ***Although, I have no data to back up my numbers…. I would guess that the age of passengers on the ship was: 30% Gen X, 25 % Millennials, 20% Baby Boomers, 15% Seniors, 10% Gen Z/Children Nationalities on board were: 45% of passengers were American, 40% European, 10% Latin-American, 5% from other parts of the world. Crew: I cannot say enough great things about the EPIC staff! These people, no matter whether they’re a stateroom attendant, buffet bus person, or an officer were simply perfect. They’ve mastered the art of service. I would give you specific examples, but we’d be here all day. One thing that I’ll point out was the bartenders were great! All were friendly, fast, and after a few days would remember your drink. —Truly remarkable for thousands of people circulating in and out week after week. SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS, MAIN DINING ROOMS, AND BUFFET My father and I ate at 5 of the 7 speciality restaurants on board. This isn’t super typical of everyone who adds speciality dinning to their cruise, as most people will eat at between 2 or 3 restaurants. In no particular order, opinions/grades on the 5 that we ate at: * Le Bistro (French) B+ The food at Le Bistro was pretty good. Not great. I heard several others sitting around us that they were really enjoying the cuisine but there’s a huge caveat for me with the fact that I’m from Louisiana and live in New Orleans. Please understand that I have access to some of the best French food available in the US on a daily basis. * La Cucina (Italian) A+ The food at La Cucina was excellent! Great starter salads, beautiful charcuterie board/antipasto and ton’s of Italian favorites. I had the veal and it was excellent! * Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant B- The meal was decent. But Not nearly the best Chinese food that I’ve had at sea. Much better Chinese on Celebrity Equinox....Called “Silk Harvest”. Their biggest problem is that they are missing some of the American favorites of Chinese. No General Tso Chicken and many other thing’s that Americans would expect from a Chinese restaurant. * Cagney’s Steakhouse D+ Unfortunately one of the worst meals that I’ve ever had at sea. I ordered my ribeye “medium”, and it came out still mooing. Also, the ribeye was 50% fat. I love ribeyes and cook steak often at home, and understand that that cut of meat will have extra marbling, but this was absurd. My father ordered his steak medium-well, and it came like a piece of leather. We both ended up just eating our salads and sides(which were fair at best), and cast aside the steaks. —The staff tried to make it right though. (Plain and simple, Cagney’s just sucks. Tried it on the NCL Escape as well, and thought the exact same thing). —You’d think a steakhouse would be one of the easiest to operate. * Teppanyaki (Japanese hibachi) A+ This was the second best meal that we had behind La Cucina. The food was excellent, as was the enjoyment of the hibachi experience. And the hibachi chef’s were entertaining and hilarious. The food was excellent. Great variety of Steak, chicken, shrimp, muscles, veggies, and rice. ***As you can see from above, 4 of the 5 were good, with 2 being great. Very disappointed in Cagneys on both the Escape and the Epic. MAIN DINNING ROOMS: A+ There are two main dinning rooms on EPIC. “Manhattan” and “Taste”. Manhattan is a little dressier with a little bit more formal setting. Whereas Taste is a little more laid back with more of a traditional menu. We only ate at Manhattan once, and both really liked it. —Very similar menus and atmosphere to other comparable ships. BUFFET: A+ Good choices for breakfast and lots of variety. Pretty typical for a mega ship buffet, but added variety. They seem to a little better job on breakfast than other lines (particularly with omelette stations)... They have omelette stations and other quick to order stations all over to try and get it to you fast. Although we only ate lunch once at the buffet, again there was a good variety of American favorites and various salad bars, and other ethnic cuisine. One thing that we loved was the burger/grilled items outside near the pool deck. Easy to grab lunch and to get back to your deck chair. ENTERTAINMENT: B+ If you remember my opening, you know that I don’t particularly care for “freestyle cruising” because of having to schedule everything so early... Nothing is more prevalent of that than the main theater shows on EPIC. THE SHOWS: “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "Burn the Floor," are the Two main headliner shows in the theater. Both were entertaining and high energy. Really liked “Burn The Floor”. Drag isn’t necessarily my thing, but still thought Priscilla was hilarious. Unlike most cruise lines, I do give NCL a lot of credit for their (what I call) “sub-shows”. —Which are smaller venues with comedians, or other shows within smaller venues around the ship. The best show on the ship hands down was called “Cirque Dreams Epicurean” Held in the “Spiegel Tent”. —Which a smaller dinner theater near the main theater. Given the small theater and the rapid changing of the various stages, you feel like the actors and acrobats are right on top of you! It’s interactive as well! There is a charge for this show as they serve dinner as well. It was about the price of a specialty restaurant. Book early! The shows fill up rapidly and were sold out for most of the cruise. Another “sub-show” was “Howl At The Moon” located in Headliners Comedy Club —Free and open to anyone, three musicians play various instruments and take requests from the audience for hours... They were AWESOME! Plus, you can come and go as you please. They typically play for about 4 hours. 8-11PM is clean in case kids are there. After 11PM is uncensored(which is more enjoyable) Speaking of Comedy....One MASSIVE negative which robbed my ENTERTAINMENT GRADE OF BEING AN “A” was no comedy show at all! —Not Even in the comedy club! —I’m not sure if this was just for this cruise, or whether NCL plans on ceasing comedy shows or what the deal was??? MISCELLANEOUS POSITIVES: -I found a lot less nickel & diming on EPIC. -One of the biggest varieties of speciality dinning, along with free speciality dinning options. -The ship really does well with excursions which is important when you’re in Europe given the language differences. -NCL Might have the best premium drink package on earth! Way less expensive than Celebrity and MSC, and you can order virtually anything. They also don’t “drink count” as I call it. In other words, if I ordered two drinks at a time, I didn’t need two cruise cards. They just did it(Believe me my friends, that is rare) MISCELLANEOUS NEGATIVES: -The WiFi was the worst I’ve ever had at sea. Mind you that both my father and I bought the premium unlimited packages on that. Had to constantly re-boot and try for sometimes 7 to 8 times to just to sign on. I get it, I was on vacation and some of you will say that I should’ve unplugged. But, I’m in management with a media company and have to check my email once a day during weekdays for emergencies even when on vacation. -No free bottled water. —Seriously. With a premium drink package, you can order all the Patron, Grey Goose, or Johnny Walker Blue Label you want, BUT NOT bottled water unless you want to pay out of pocket. Otherwise, you get a glass of tap water. Never seen that on 17 cruises except this. IN CLOSING: This cruise was amazing because of the three main factors. 1.) The itinerary, 2.) the people on the ship 3.) the crew. Yes, the ship is nice. But you’d be dazzled by some of the newer ships that other lines have come out with recently. I give the overall grade of B+ to the entire cruise. Inconsistencies in the food, the WiFi, freestyle cruising and a few lesser things narrowly cost EPIC an “A”. —Still a great cruise. Cheers to you on your next voyage! -Matthew from New Orleans, Louisiana Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on ... Read More
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on Tuesday...Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth! That being said..... I didn't have big expectations for the ship, although the Norwegian Sun was refurbished in 2018 and the public rooms and cabins had the refreshed look, the feel of the ship was still old and out dated. Also, I wasn't aware that every passenger on the ship had the free drink package...so really, this is a "drunk" cruise. Beware! It felt like a half step up from a Carnival party cruise. On that note, one thing I was disappointed in was that there were no enrichment activities available during the day, such as classes or tastings, etc., that I have always enjoyed on other cruises. I believe that that this is due to the open bar policy, and Norwegian doesn't expect that a bunch of drunk cruisers would have the need for learning anything. They did have PLENY of BINGO though! yay :( I upgraded to a balcony cabin so that we could receive the "Take all" package offered to balcony guests. This is where I had the most problems with this cruise. BEWARE BEWARE!!! This offer included the top shelf drinks package, 100 minutes of WIFI and specialty dining for all nights of our cruise. There was also a $50 credit for a shore excursion for ONLY 1 passenger per cabin, but because most of the excursions cost a lot more than needed to be, we opted to not book one. The only package to be worth this upgrade was the drink package. We did enjoy top shelf alcohol (Grey Goose and Hendricks martinis, and a very nice bottle of champagne at dinner. at no additional charge!) very enjoyable! As far as the specialty dining, I made reservations for the Cagney's steak house the first night, followed by the Italian restaurant the 2nd night, and the French place on the 3rd night. After reserving these dining options, I was prompted to add them to a shopping cart, and then 'check out'. So, if you don't have the dining package like I was offered, you would see the cost of the restaurants in your cart, and have the option to pay the upgrade as these specialty places are not included in the included cost of the cruise. In my cart, however, the extra cost for my reservations came out $0.00, so no extra charge for the 3 nights dinners. Or so I thought! On the first night we had an outstanding dinner at Cagney's complete with a fantastic bottle of wine and absolutely exceptional service from our waitress Rhoda! We couldn't wait for the next specialty dinner. However, When we arrived for our table the next night at the Italian restaurant, we were informed that we had been entitled to 1 specialty dining experience for the length of the cruise and we had used that the last night, and it would cost us each $40 additional to eat there. I brought my printed payment proof document down the customer service desk to find out what was up and was told that according to my cruise card we were only assigned 1 specialty experience. I then showed the annoyed rep that I had made the 3 reservations and that the payment came out to $0. This is where I really feel that Norwegian has lost my business forever...back and forth the reps went with each other for over 20 minutes, only to conclude that they didn't feel that we had the bookings according to the "Ultimate Dining Package" that I had upgraded to receive, only reservations. Anyway, I got the same response as many other passengers I had talked to, that they would send a message to the Miami headquarters, and hopefully receive a response the next day, or later. This made me really confused as I asked how was that going allow me to eat at the specialty restaurants without having to pay for them as my package entitled me to? Needless to say, we never heard one word from customer service, or from the Miami office since and it left me with a very disappointed feeling overall for the cruise experience! Also, the "free" WIFI was useless, as neither me nor my roommate was ever able to get a web page on our phones or my tablet...just kept loading, while using up the free minutes! Very inadequate system. In conclusion, I know that this is a way too long review, but I am just trying to warn folks to beware of the so called 'free perks', as they may not be as expected. This cruise cost us over $800. each for 3 nights. I feel that we could have saved a lot by booking on Carnival for a similar, but much cheaper experience! Thanks for listening. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially ... Read More
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially breakfast. The buffet was very predictable. Every day for breakfast they would have the same basic breakfast items. No variety, no additions. Only the same basic breakfast items you would get for breakfast at your standard hotel. No steak with your eggs. The only meats they offered, every day, was sausage and bacon, period. No specialty pancakes, if they had them at all. Just basic breakfast food. Anyone that’s been on other cruise lines knows they usually mix it up in the buffet to give the passenger variety, but not on Norwegian. The food was extremely predictable and simple. They tried to insert some variety into the dinner buffet but it was just the same food with a different name. Main Dining Room: We ate at Savor on our first night. The receptionist didn’t even look up at us when assigning our table. The service was extremely slow. Our entire dinner took 2 hour and 37 minutes (yes, we started timing it because it was so slow). We needed refills on our drinks and our waiter had to do the refills after we asked 3 times, then he apologized because his assistant just “disappeared.” It took exactly 18 minutes to serve our kids deserts from the time they picked up our dinner plates, they had jello for desert. We tried the Tropicana room next and the service was a little improved. Specialty Dining: We tried Moderno, the Brazilian Churrascaria. The room was very nice. The waiters were also pleasant but the food, the meat, was mostly very bland, very little flavor. We decided to try Teppanyaki next, the hibachi restaurant. Teppanyaki was fantastic. The food was worth every penny and the chefs were great. We ate at Teppanyaki twice during this cruise. Buffet Issues: The staff at the buffet appeared unengaged and unmotivated. There was no sense of urgency with anything with this staff. After passengers would finish their meals, the tables would not be cleaned off for a while. Several times we had to sit at a dirty table, with the previous passengers dishes, because there were no available tables to sit at. We would be halfway through our meal before anyone came to clean the table off. Also, throughout the entire cruise, food would go empty at the buffet and there was no one there to restock the food items. This occurred with the pizza and the specialty food every day. I started taking videos and pictures of empty buffet areas with passengers waiting for food in order to send to Norwegian. I also complained to one of the crew managers in the buffet and he stated he was in charge of the seating areas in the buffet and the chef is in charge of the food, and this is a common problem with the chef’s staff that also frustrates him. Also, the buffet food is routinely cold. Kids Splash Academy: Every night the kids Splash Academy would hit capacity and no additional kids would allowed in. Here’s my issue with this. Number 1, this was a Florida spring break cruise with a lot of kids. Number 2, Norwegian knew it was a spring break cruise and knew exactly how many kids would be on the cruise. Number 3, using historical data, Norwegian knows the percentage of passengers with kids that typically use the Splash Academy. And Number 4, Norwegian booked several adult only shows on the cruise. Taking all this information into account, Norwegian failed to adequately plan for a high number of kids on their cruise during times when they were showing adult only shows. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to take their passengers’ needs into considering. Norwegian should have had a backup plan for overcapacity in the Splash Academy, especially on adult only show nights. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to anticipate. Definitely not a family friendly cruise line. Norovirus: And to top it all off, my son was running a fever towards the end of the cruise. I called the front desk and ask for someone to take my son’s temperature or provide a thermometer so we could take his temperature. We were told it would be $150 to have my son’s temperature taken. I thought this was completely ridiculous. Once we returned home we found out my son had the Norovirus and Adrenal Virus. I can’t believe Norwegian would want to charge $150 just to take someone’s temperature. I can guarantee you that certain other cruise lines do not charge you for something this routine and simple as taking temperature. I can honestly go on and on but I won’t. Put simply, this cruise line is not worth the time or money. This is my first Norwegian cruise, but my 12th cruise overall and I can tell you, this cruise line is at the bottom of my list. Prior to my cruise I read a lot of great Norwegian reviews and I just can’t figure it out. Maybe they were first time cruisers or maybe these are folks that just don’t get out much and didn’t have anything to compare it to. Don’t get me wrong, the ship is beautiful, where I believe Norwegian fell short is with its people, its staff. The human factor made this a horrible cruise for us. Cruise are your own risk with Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Needed a two bedroom to travel with a snorer. The ship is huge. Food in the Haven was excellent. The Manhattan room was very good but didn’t return because the band was very very loud. The Burn the Floor show was great but didn’t ... Read More
Needed a two bedroom to travel with a snorer. The ship is huge. Food in the Haven was excellent. The Manhattan room was very good but didn’t return because the band was very very loud. The Burn the Floor show was great but didn’t see others. I have been on many cruise lines and never experienced one before this one that charges for the better shows and charges for cocktails and umbrellas on their private island. REALLY?? With our drink package on their island we were offered beer but all alcohol otherwise you had to pay for. Fortunately we did find some shade so didn’t have to rent the umbrella. The biggest disappointment was at St Thomas. We had to be back on the ship at 1:30. So after taking an excursion we had to get right back to the ship. I did really enjoy everything about the Haven’s cabin, dining room, clubs and bar but the only criticism is when the band starts playing on deck 15 the piped in music at the Posh club should be turned down so you don’t have to listen to two songs at the same time. We would have enjoyed hearing the live music only. Also the service in the Haven was top notch. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I really enjoyed the cruise, overall. It felt a bit like a summer camp for adults, which I'm still deciding whether or not I liked. Two of the dining room staff even sang "wash your hands" songs with their guitar as we ... Read More
I really enjoyed the cruise, overall. It felt a bit like a summer camp for adults, which I'm still deciding whether or not I liked. Two of the dining room staff even sang "wash your hands" songs with their guitar as we walked into the breakfast buffet each morning. The ship itself was a bit older, so there were some rooms that smelled a bit like feet, Dazzles, in particular. Completely understandable, but I might consider a newer ship if I decide to continue cruising in the future. The staff was very friendly, and the service was truly excellent. We chose to purchase the special dining package. If you are a foodie, I highly recommend this!! It was SO well worth the extra money. The Bistro was my absolute favorite of the three, but we truly did enjoy each of the special restaurants on the ship. We had one night in the main dining hall - it was significantly lower quality! It felt more like standard catering at a mediocre wedding. I may have made the mistake of ordering pork belly, because it was pretty hard and crunchy, and tasted absolutely nothing like pork belly. I should have stuck with a simple pasta or chicken dish. I will say that the house cabernet on the ship was really quite good - this was a really pleasant surprise! We didn't take advantage of the shows as much as we probably should have. I'm a performer myself, and have spent so much of my life in that arena, so it can sometimes feel like I'm judging the performance more than relaxing and enjoying the show. That being said, the performances were very good, and the performers were very talented! My favorite excursion was our stop at Nassau. We chose to spend the day on Paradise Island, and purchase the passes for the waterpark at Altantis. It was pricey, but it was definitely worth the cost. Side note - TAKE THE TAXI from Nassau to Paradise Island!!! Do NOT take the water taxi. It will take up an hour of your day (at least), because they wait until the entire boat is filled before leaving. It's also really rocky, so when you're packed in there like sardines, it gets pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly. Other than our poor decision on that, we had an amazing time on the island. I actually want to take a trip to Paradise Island and spend the week there with my whole family. The Atlantis water experience really did feel a bit like walking through paradise. The multiple pools (beautiful) and water rides were maintained incredibly well. Everything was very clean, and didn't have that typical waterpark smell. The grounds were impeccable. We wanted to spend a little time at the casino, but that fell flat when we discovered that they don't have poker tables! This was a bit sad for my me and my husband, as we love to play Texas Hold Em. Maybe I'll put a little bug in Atlantis' ear about that one. :) Overall, a nice experience on Norwegian Sky. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this ship because of its Spa. The spa is well worth the charge for the week. We. wanted a relaxing cruise for the week before Christmas. This was a big ship with anything you could want. We ate at a few of the specialty ... Read More
We chose this ship because of its Spa. The spa is well worth the charge for the week. We. wanted a relaxing cruise for the week before Christmas. This was a big ship with anything you could want. We ate at a few of the specialty restaurants which were all good. Eat outside on the Boardwalk for a special dinner. We planned the sunset for our Italian night dinner at La Cuisine. Very good meal. The best was the Steak House with a great steak and wonderful deserts. Teppanyaki was fun and food good. We enjoyed the race cars one day. There is a $10 charge for this. There is mini golf and 2 fun slides for all ages. One slide uses tubes and one is a body slide. The one show we really enjoyed was Jersey boys, the rest were ok.. The crew on the ship were very nice but seemed a bit unexperienced. The up-charge restaurants had the experienced staff. Cabin had lots of storage space. We were mid ship deck 15 and I don't recommend this area. At about 1 AM to 2 AM there was a constant sound banging coming from above us. Choose deck 13 I heard from others they did not hear this banging. We were in cabin 15830 which had lots of storage and a nice deck. The two ports we stopped at were Tortilla with beautiful beaches and St Thomas with shopping for us. Too windy to stop at Nassau and we just cruised home from there. We enjoyed our week aboard this ship and would recommend this cruise for a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I wanted to sail on one of the new big ships and the Escape fit this bill. With outside dining and beautifully designed rooms it was wonderful. The food is a big improvement over some of the smaller ships. This trip went to Bermuda and ... Read More
I wanted to sail on one of the new big ships and the Escape fit this bill. With outside dining and beautifully designed rooms it was wonderful. The food is a big improvement over some of the smaller ships. This trip went to Bermuda and we were there for parts of three days. So it was a more restful itinerary than others where you are in a different port every day. Bermuda was beautiful with pink sand beaches and lovely people. No hustle no hassle compared to some Caribbean Islands. You can rent scooters and travel the island. St Georges is a UNESCO site and is a charming seaside village that you can walk around and see forts and visit lovely beaches. The weather rained a little but cleared up most of the time. I would visit Bermuda again and spend more time. Hats off to NCL for a great ship and a wonderful itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our first time sailing with Norwegian. I did have some concerns leading up to the sailing after having read some of the reviews, but I had nothing to worry about. Embarkation and Disembarkation were easy. Consider doing the ... Read More
This was our first time sailing with Norwegian. I did have some concerns leading up to the sailing after having read some of the reviews, but I had nothing to worry about. Embarkation and Disembarkation were easy. Consider doing the self-assist disembarakation if you can manage it. Self-assist is the first group off the ship. We were off the ship and cleared immigration in minutes. We had a balcony stateroom on the starboard side. Our steward Nelson was excellent. The room was clean, quiet, spacious with lots of storage. There were two minor issues with the room, but they were dealt with promptly by Housekeeping and Guest Services. As part of our booking, we had two free promos: Ultimate Beverage Package and 3 specialty dining options. My boyfriend loved the mango daiquiris. For the specialty restaurants, we chose Cagney's steakhouse, Le Bistro and Moderno. Each was a different dining experience which is what we were looking for. Highlights: Cagney - the grilled sea bass and bison steak. Make sure you get the bison steak medium rare, as recommended by our server. Le Bistro - the duck and chocolate napoleon dessert Moderno - the Brazilian cocktails were tasty, but strong. Meats were delicious, but I was impressed with the salad bar selection. MDRs were great too. We had breakfast most days in Seven Seas. We had dinner our first night on the ship at Seven Seas and had a wonderful server, Betina, look after us. Thank you Betina. The buffet was the wink link for me. There were some good options, but I found it mediocre at best. Itinerary changed just before we boarded. Instead of Great Stirrup Caye in Bahamas, the port became Key West and that suited me fine. Ports: Key West - we went out on our own and walked and walked and walked all the way to the southernmost point and back. Lunch was enjoyed at a local restaurant. Havana - went out on our own and walked and walked and walked. We ended up at the waterfront and old fort. Not touristy in that area at all. We enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant. As a Canadian, I was always told that Cuba was great, but the food was lousy. Our lunch was delicious. We had a seafood platter and roasted chicken dinner. The sangria was outstanding. The owner and staff couldn't be more accommodating. Remember to visit the Artisan Marketplace in Havana. I picked up some nice pictures for framing. Harvest Caye - Took a shore excursion to a chocolate factory. The shore excursion description is deceptive. The chocolate factory is a cacao family run farm. They showed us how they made chocolate and took us on a tour amongst the cacao trees. Please note there is steep climbing involved so wear proper footwear and it's not a good tour for anyone with mobility issues. We had a traditional belize lunch at a restaurant. Delish. Picked up a few gifts. Marie Sharp hot sauce is outstanding. Final stop was a Mayan village to see how they lived and we learned how to make corn tortillas. Lovely people, very welcoming. Costa Maya - shore excursion to the Cacchoben mayan ruins. Arturo was our guide and the tour was Informative and interesting. All in all a wonderful holiday. Just remember to bring a hat, lots of sunscreen and maybe a few extra pieces of clothing because it was Sunny and HOT. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
To avoid Florence we cruised to cape Canaveral and GSC instead of Bermuda. Captain Giovanni did a remarkable job keeping us safe! He totally avoided rough seas. Each day was beautiful in the 80's and very calm seas. We missed ... Read More
To avoid Florence we cruised to cape Canaveral and GSC instead of Bermuda. Captain Giovanni did a remarkable job keeping us safe! He totally avoided rough seas. Each day was beautiful in the 80's and very calm seas. We missed nassau to give us 3 days to return. But as they said, "the ship is the destination". And it certainly was. No kids to speak of on the cruise since school started. Just a few toddlers. That's why I always cruise when school is in session. The escape has a couple of new venues. Food republic and tapas. Both were excellent! Great sushi at food republic. Had lunch there twice. Tapas had wonderful small plates. Had the lamb sticks and they were excellent. Try the dates wrapped in bacon! Delicious! Prices were very reasonable. quality of food and service at main dining rooms was great. Cagney had the same quality of food as the main dining. Not impressed. In fact the lobster bisque had a very odd flavor and I couldn't eat it. Had a lobster at the seafood restaurant. It was just ok. But everything else was wonderful. District brew house was a nice place to relax, read and have a beer. I never eat at the buffet on any cruise so I can't comment here. Saw the dinner show choir of men. Great show! Served beef Wellington which was very good. Well worth the price. I didn't care for the brat pack. Not my cup of tea but the performers were very talented. The story line was weird. But all other shows were very good. Wine lovers was ok. I really don't care for wine so I guess this was my bad. I had the UDP but I only have one drink a day so this was a waste, but it was free. My cabin Stewart was wonderful! My room was always made up when I returned. The staff on the entire ship were happy, friendly and couldn't do enough for you. Even though we missed our original port and missed nassau I must say this was the most enjoyable cruise I've had. Btw... This was my 15 th cruise (most on NCL) and I usually cruise solo. I'm 69 yrs old. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was my 2nd NCL cruise and my 6th cruise overall. Embarkation went relatively smoothly. Took about 25 minutes from curb to ship. My wife and I had a standard interior cabin. It was extremely functional but did lack storage space. ... Read More
This was my 2nd NCL cruise and my 6th cruise overall. Embarkation went relatively smoothly. Took about 25 minutes from curb to ship. My wife and I had a standard interior cabin. It was extremely functional but did lack storage space. There were absolutely no dresser/cabinet drawers for clothes storage, just one modest sized closet so my wife lived out of her suitcase. Make sure you don’t bring a jumbo suitcase that doesn’t fit under the bed, otherwise your space will decrease even more. There are two usb chargers by the bed that are convenient for charging phones/kindles/etc. Also included are the safe, phone and tv which were all functionally easy to navigate. The bathroom, unlike the bedroom, seemed to have a slightly better than average size feel with a glass shower that seemed slightly bigger than other showers I have had on cruises. For two people there was plenty of room for our toiletries. Due to our specialty dining package we were able to eat at most of the restaurants on the ship: Complimentary restaurants of Taste, Savor and Manhattan room are the Main Dining Rooms (MDRs) and are all similar in service and menus, just a little different ambiance. I found the service on par with what I have come to expect from NCL, friendly and professional but not overtly warm like other cruise lines. Unlike with a standard dining time, you end up getting different wait staff unless you specifically request someone. The freestyle dining is extremely convenient for two people but when you dine with more than 4 people I’d advise making reservations if you plan on eating during peak dinner times otherwise you could wait for 20-30 minutes for a table to open. The food at the MDRs was hit or miss, some great tasting options, some just ok and some blah. This isn’t a problem though because if you do not like a specific dish, you can always order a second option which the staff is happy to bring you. The Local is the 24 hour complimentary restaurant that serves pub style food. The food is ok and the menu is limited but serviceable. Service is again professional and friendly. The Garden Cafe (buffet) had plenty of food options but I didn’t find anything at the buffet that was spectacular. My favorite part of the buffet was the fact that they had multiple egg/omelet stations that would cook your eggs to order. The buffet crowds could be overwhelming during peak food times and made it difficult at times to find a seat. If you get desperate you can ask staff and they will assist you in finding a place (we needed to do this once). Observation lounge also had a mini buffet which was usable for snacks. We were also able to try Le Bistro, Cagneys, and La Cucina as part of the dining package. You MUST make reservations before you set sail or immediately upon arrival at the ship or you will probably get locked out. Food quality in the specialty restaurants on NCL never disappoints. It also shows that you need to pay for quality when you can taste the difference in the tiramisu from La Cucina compared to the MDRs. A few critiques for the specialty restaurants compared to my other NCL experience 2 years ago on the Escape. Service was not even close to as good. At Le Bistro the waitress actually pushed for extra gratuity (which I always give but didn’t appreciate it being forced). At Cagneys the person in charge with wine disappeared on us twice to the point I had to ask for him to be hunted down. I think one time that he disappeared it was due to the fact that he personally had to find glasses to serve dessert wine so it wasn’t necessarily his fault, but whatever the reason, they were uncommonly large wait times. Finally in La Cucina our server did actually disappear to the point I had to ask for help from someone else regarding closing out the check and storing the purchased wine during dinner. To summarize, food quality 5 out of 5, service 2 out of 5. Maybe we just had an off week with the staff. We also tried Cocos. Espressos and desserts were both good and the servers were extremely warm and friendly. Although not an extremely busy place, if you want a quality dessert or espresso it is worth the experience. Entertainment and Activities I find NCL does a fantastic job with quality but there can be a problem due to crowds. If you don’t make reservations when you first get on the ship (or before) you will miss out on a lot. We didn’t get to experience the racetrack or laser tag as they were booked solid after day 2. The two shows (again make reservations) of Havana and Jersey Boys were fantastic quality, just a little below broadway quality. The Beatles show I enjoyed and thought they did the band justice. When they play at the Cavern Club, get their 30 minutes early otherwise you will not get a seat. One person in our group has special needs and went to a bunch of the ship activities (trivia, dance parties, game shows) and the crew was fantastic for them. The person always felt welcomed and involved. It was a pleasure to see the person so happy. The crew and cruise director were amazing. Although this was an Alaskan Cruise I must say during Caribbean cruises this ship will have the same problem as the Escape with deck space/pool space. With the Haven taking up a good piece of the ship, the rest of the pool deck will be overwhelmed on Caribbean sea days. I highly suggest if you find crowds and noise to be a problem to purchase a thermal suite pass. Observation Lounge I must say was a fantastic outside the box idea that works. Bliss takes up prime cabin space to dedicate a huge area of the 15th floor to an observation lounge with food and drinks served. People play cards and board games, listen to live music, read books and fall asleep in this relaxing public area. It was always in use. Thermal suite! My favorite part about NCL. For $200 a person pre cruise you can purchase a week pass at the thermal suite. It gives you access to a quiet area with floor to ceiling windows across the back of the ship, your own hot tub, your own heated pool, cushioned and heated chairs, sauna, steam room, salt room, cold room, etc. It makes my cruise. As for the Casino, NCL finally solved the problem plaguing all cruise ships, the smoke emanating into the public areas. On the Bliss the smoking section is completely sealed off in its own room and even walking by the room itself the smell of smoke is minimal. Fantastic job. Truthfully the only area with a smell problem to public walking areas is in 6,7,8 by the restaurant Ocean Blue which for some reason doesn’t have a solid wall so the whole area smells like fish. Ports - Alaskan Cruise was definitely unique with their ports and what you experience. Also you must have more clothes for this cruise then almost any other because of the different environments. You need shorts and short sleeves in Seattle, bathing suits if you want to try the pool or have a thermal suite pass, pants and short sleeve depending on the weather, long sleeve shirts and jackets for some areas in Alaska. Just something to keep in mind. You will get wet in Ketchikan as it will always rain but it was not a heavy rain for us. More of a misty rain. We only did the lumberjack show which was fun. That said any excursion I heard was quality, just can be pricey. Juneau was my favorite port on the trip. So many bald eagles on the trip from town to Mendenhall glacier. The glacier was pretty cool to see but the star of the trip was the waterfall which you can practically walk up to and almost touch (1-2 mile hike). The waterfall makes you feel how powerful Mother Nature can be. If you feel up to it, you can pay to be flown on top of the glacier. Everyone who did raved about the experience. In Skagway we did the train excursion. It was an amazing experience to take a train from sea level to 3000 feet in the air to the summit. In July it was cold at the summit and it was pretty amazing to see the walking path miners took to the summit and picture how they survived. Victoria was a pretty town. Ship gets there late (4 PM) so although the souvenir shops are open, not everything stays open for the cruise tourists. It is worth taking a walk around or going to the gardens. To summarize my experience, I found the room small but serviceable, food quality ok to great but food service below average at the specialty restaurants, and entertainment great but you need to make reservations otherwise you will lose out on experiences. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I would never recommend anyone to go on this cruise line. NCL Escape was horrible, from the service to food. Lets start off with the dinning experience. It is freestyle dinning, which means you go when ever you want to eat. We waited every ... Read More
I would never recommend anyone to go on this cruise line. NCL Escape was horrible, from the service to food. Lets start off with the dinning experience. It is freestyle dinning, which means you go when ever you want to eat. We waited every night at the table for 2 hours to get our food. Then when it came to the food, it was just horrible. I think I could have ate better at Wendy's or a fast food restaurant. And instead of the dinning room we actually went to the buffet because it was better food then the dinning room and we didn't have wait for 2 hours to get it. I have never seen this on a cruise. If you ordered room serve there is a $7.25 service charge every time they bring it to you. Next the breakfast is only served in three restaurants and at the most they stay open to 930am. Of course there is the buffet again that you can go to till about 1030am for breakfast. If wanted the real experience of a cruise ship dinning you had to pay extra for the special dinning, which is not right. There are two pools for about 4,000 people that are packed all the time. The amenities around the pools were ok, which were the following: jacuzzi hot tubs, slides, rope course, mini golf, basketball courts and jogging track. Now when it came to the shows, you had to put reservations in for them. If I wanted to do that I would have gone to NY or even Las Vegas. I paid for the shows when I booked the cruise, why would I have to have reservations. And there was only one good show on the ship and that was Brat Pack. Service on the ship was just horrific. Like said above the dinning service took about 2 hours to get your food. The bar tenders would see you and walk right by and not ask if you wanted a drink. My wife and I order some pictures and the pictures were 3 different ones. Some how the guy at the picture place thought we wanted 3 of the same one, so we had to go back and re-print them. The manager would not even give the pictures to us for free or even a discount for the inconvenience. The cabin service was good, but hard for the stewardess. And what I mean by hard is that he never knew what time we were going to be at the room or back to the room. Overall, the cruise was just bad. We will never use NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Some background: My husband and I are in our late 20’s/early 30’s. We have been on 5 Disney Cruises sailing on each of their ships at least once and 1 cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. Disney is the line that we took ... Read More
Some background: My husband and I are in our late 20’s/early 30’s. We have been on 5 Disney Cruises sailing on each of their ships at least once and 1 cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. Disney is the line that we took our first cruise on. We also got engaged, married, and took our honeymoon all on Disney cruises. It is safe to say that Disney cruises hold a very special place for us because along with many memories, Disney cruises excel in almost all areas that are important for us. For this reason, I will mostly be comparing what we experienced on the Norwegian Epic to DCL. We were shocked that this Norwegian cruise met Disney standards in many areas and even, dare I say because I feel like Walt himself is turning in his grave, exceeded what we have come to expect on a Disney Cruise. Of course, there were things that we did not love about this Norwegian Cruise, which I will get to. We also sailed with my mother and father-in-law who have been on the Norwegian Jade plus close to 50 Disney cruises (you can see who we got it from). Also, our trip was booked through a timeshare and for this reason, we did not have any “free at sea” offers and we also were unable to book our rooms close to each other. Boarding: We had a boarding time of 11:30 – noon. The longest wait that we experienced during the entire process was waiting in the line of cars to get into the parking garage. After that, the process was absolutely seamless. From the time that we got out of the car to the time that we walked onto the ship was about 20-25 minutes. I do have to make a note that part of what I love about DCL cruises is that, on each of their ships, you enter directly into the atrium with a beautiful chandelier, grand staircase, and statue of the ship’s mascot. It seems that on all other ships, you enter onto the deck and then your first introduction to the ship is a view of the elevators which is not nearly as grand of an entrance. Room: My husband and I and his parents booked 2 standard inside cabins. Their room was on deck 14 forward and ours on deck 13 midship. My in-laws room was located between the 2 sets of staircases and we were concerned that the room would be loud, however they reported that their room was nice and quiet. We were very pleased with our room. I thought that the size was perfect for the 2 of us. We felt spoiled coming from the Majesty of the Seas where the room was so small that you could not get off of both sides of the bed and my husband would have the crawl over me if he needed to get out in the middle of the night. The bathroom was a little strange and I would not want to sail in that room with anyone except for my husband, but it made no difference since it was just the two of us. It was nice that the different floor plan provided for, it seems, a slightly bigger shower than we have seen on other cruise ships although the round tub/shower on DCL is still my favorite. I was really impressed by the bed. It was nice and firm and very comfortable. We could hardly even tell that the bed was 2 twins pushed together. The pillows were full and soft. I do wish that the comforter was a little thicker or that they provided an extra blanket. I was disappointed with the TV. We do not spend much time in our room during cruises, but we do enjoy watching a movie before bed and there was very little to choose from. The TV was also so high that you could not see the screen well when lying on the bed. Our room steward, Bernard, was awesome. One day we slept in until 11am and I thought that we wouldn’t have our room attended to until that night, but less than 2 hours later, it was spotless! Whenever he spotted us in the hallway he always greeted us by name. In fact, we never passed one stateroom host without a smile and greeting. Food: There are so many places to dine on this ship! We visited many of them, but did not have time to go to them all. We missed Manhattan room, Tepanyaki/sushi bar, and Moderno. We had the 3-night dining package and so we dined at the specialty restaurants 3 nights and then at the complementary restaurants for the remainder of the time. Overall, our entire group was extremely impressed with our dining experience. The food exceeded our expectations. We never once had to wait for a table even at the complementary restaurants where we did not have a reservation. I was a little disappointed with the service. While all of the service was very quick, the wait staff was not very friendly or engaging. I expected some better, more specialized service in the specialty restaurants, but that did not happen. It was pretty clear to me that they did not want to be there and were just going through the motions. We had made reservations for 3 specialty restaurants before getting on the ship, but did change the reservations twice while on-board. This was done easily by either calling the reservation desk on the stateroom phone or stopping by the reservation table right outside the buffet. Buffet - The buffet was great and we dined there for several breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. This is one area that I think that the Norwegian Epic excels above DCL. The food was fresh and tasty. We loved that the buffet was open for dinner. On Disney, the buffet turns into a sit-down restaurant at night. It was nice to have something quick and easy for dinner without having to rely on just hamburgers and hotdogs. We also loved the small buffet that was open for several hours between lunch and dinner and also late at night until 11:30. My husband and I quickly developed a love for their cookies, especially the oatmeal raison! A downside is that the buffet did tend to get busy and the lines for the main rotating dishes would get very long at times! We learned to get there early. The buffet was scheduled to open at 5:30pm for dinner, but we noticed that they would usually open about 10-15 minutes early and so we made a habit to arrive around 5:15pm and get through the line and grab a table before it got crazy. Taste: We dined at Taste once for lunch and once for dinner and were pleased with our meals. Service was quick but not overly friendly. I had the soda package and I had heard that it was impossible to get refills due to the wait staff being so busy, but I did not find this to be true. I was brought a new soda 3 times during dinner without having to ask. We did have an unpleasant interaction with the hostess at Taste during Breakfast, There had been a time change the night before and we thought that we had set our clocks appropriately, but had not. When we arrived, the kitchen was closed. While the mistake was our fault, I do not think the level of rudeness that we experienced from the hostess was called for. While we did not experience breakfast at this restaurant, but my in-laws did and spoke highly of it. O’Sheehans: Dined here twice and my husband and I were both underwhelmed. Service was OK. The first time I dined there, I ordered a hamburger. A waiter came by shortly after with a tray of food and asked if I had ordered wings. I told him no, that I had ordered a hamburger. He then took a burger and fries from his tray and placed it in front of me. I removed the top bun and rearranged some of the toppings which were falling out of the burger. A few seconds later, another waiter came up and grabbed my plate and said “no, that one isn’t yours”. I called after him to tell him that I had already touched it, but he was already on the other side of the restaurant giving it to another customer. My burger arrived a short time later. The second time, we had finished our entrees and waited about 25 minutes for our desserts. We could not find our waiter so we asked another waiter who was passing. He apologized and delivered our desserts in a matter of minutes. The food was alright, but not very flavorful. The best was the brownie cheesecake with caramel marshmallows. Shanghai/Noodle bar: We dined here on the last night of our trip. We were pleased. Service was quick and accurate. The food was hot and tasty. La Cucina: Our party had one dinner here on the first night and we were impressed. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was nice and quiet. Le Bistro: This dinner was both hit and miss. Service was pretty good and the food was presented beautifully. My husband ordered the mussels for his appetizer and they were terrible. I did not taste them, but both he and his father agreed that they did not taste fresh and almost tasted as though they had gone bad. My mother-in-law got the sole for her entrée and although the taste was good, it was so overcooked that she needed a knife to cut it. The coffee that we were served after dinner was gross. We all agreed that it tasted terribly burnt. Not one of us finished our cups. There were however several dishes here which we enjoyed. The lamb that I ordered for an entrée was delicious and was more tender than the sole! I think that this was the meal that we were most disappointed in. The atmosphere was really nice at the beginning of the dinner, but it was ruined a little when we could here songs such as “YMCA” booming from the atrium. Also, I think that the bowling alley may be above Le Bistro, because several times, there were loud noises from overheard. Side note, this is no fault of the restaurant, but I was annoyed that at the table behind us, there was a young woman who was dining by herself. I guess she got lonely because she took out her phone and proceeded to hold a 15 minute Skype conversation at the table while she ate. Also, this is one of the 2 restaurants on the boat with a dress code (the other being the Manhattan room). It is not strict, but they do require pants (although nice jeans will suffice). Cagneys: Our whole group agreed that this was our favorite meal of the cruise. We each commented that our steaks were excellent. The appetizers, sides, and desserts were all perfect complements. My husband ordered the Tomahawk and said that it was cooked absolutely perfectly and is among the best steaks he has even had. My prime rib was also amazing! Some in our group even went as far to say that their meal was better than Palo which is a pay extra restaurant on DCL and my favorite restaurant of all time. I do not think I can go quite that far! Entertainment: I actually think that the nighttime entertainment was what really set this cruise apart. On Disney Cruises, there is never much that goes on after 9pm or so at night. Since many of the passengers are families with young kids, nighttime entertainment is not Disney’s focus. On this cruise, my husband and I were out past midnight for 5 of the 7 nights which we loved! We really enjoyed the comedian. I was a little disappointed with the “newlywed/not so newlywed” game. This is always my favorite show on a cruise and part of what makes it so fun is the host. On the Epic, the cruise director hosted this show and while he was very energetic, he just was not funny and sounded scripted. Also, instead of having the couples do a funny or embarrassing task to win their place on the stage, they just drew the names from a bucket which meant that the couples were not nearly as outgoing as they usually are. We enjoyed some of the daytime entertainment such as a short beginners Chinese class. It was a little disappointing how many of the daytime entertainment activities involve an extra charge. They had a painting class, but when we went to check it out it was $30 per person. Plus, the example was not that impressive to begin with. As far as the big productions, we did not go to the Cirque dinner show as there were so many other places to eat for free, although I did hear good things about the show. We went to Burn the Floor on our second night. The dancers were world class and absolutely amazing, but the show was kind of weird as there was no story line at all. Just, what felt like random costumes and sets. I still very much enjoyed the dancing. My absolute favorite show was Pricilla Queen of the Dessert. I loved it so much that I went twice. I made sure to sit right up at the front the second time because I wanted to see the detail of the costumes. This show was hilarious and top notch. Side note, the second time I went, all of the reservations were sold out. I decided to try and go anyways and arrived about 15 minutes before the show. I was let in immediately and there were plenty of seats although I think some of my luck had to do with the fact that it was a later show at 10pm. We also attended the Dueling Pianos show in the Headliners comedy theater twice and it was awesome. The crowd was energetic and the musicians were talented and entertaining. I do wish that they provided some additional bar staff because the room was packed. There were about 2-3 servers running around like crazy, but it took quite a while to get any drinks. Ports: Tortola: Getting onto the island was a breeze. Literally just walked straight off. We strolled around and explored the shops which were not too interesting. We found a martini cigar bar at the end of the small shopping area on the right called Aromas. We spent a pleasant few hours relaxing here and enjoyed using the free internet to check in on our puppies back home. My husband ordered a few beers and a cigar and I had 2 dessert martinis. I was happy to find this place because when I went to order a dessert martini on the ship, they were $18! The martinis here were a reasonable $10. From there we tried to find a book store, but were unsuccessful. Our exploration did lead to us stumbling upon an area with a great view of the ship. To get there you can just walk to the left once you get off of the boat and through the parking lot until you get to a rocky beach area. St. Thomas: Again, getting off the ship was quick. St Thomas has many more shops, but after we had been through 25% of the stores, we didn’t find anything new. Same bags, magnets, shirts ect. We then took the skyride and got an amazing view of the island and all of the ships in port. We wished that we had done this earlier and had time to sit and enjoy a drink while taking in the view and fresh air, but unfortunately, we had to be back on the boat by 2pm. Great Stirrup Cay: This is Norwegians private island and does require passengers to tender. We realized on the 3rd day of the cruise that you have to make a tender reservation if you want to get off of the boat early. This was done easily by call the box office on the stateroom phone. I have never made a tender reservation before and was surprised that you are assigned a letter and not a time. Due to this, we did not know when we would be getting off of the ship and had to pay attention to the announcements. The tendering took longer that I expected however this was mostly due to rough seas which is obviously outside of the cruise line’s control. The process was very organized which I appreciated. There was no pushing and shoving with people skipping in line and not knowing where to go. We hung out in the atrium and waiting until our letter was called before heading to the theater. From there they released us row by row to board the tender. The island was beautiful and we were thoroughly impressed. We have been to two other private islands including Disney’s Castaway Cay and Royal Caribbean’s Cocoa Cay and if we had to choose where to spend a day, I think I would pick Great Stirrup Cay. The island was well laid out. My mother in law walks with a cane and she had no difficulty navigating the island. Cocoa Cay on the other hand was underdeveloped with lots of unmarked dirt paths. We were impressed with the availability of chairs and plenty in the shade. I loved that on the bridge that takes you to the cabanas (which looked amazing), there is a nice view of the ship. My husband and I went for a short swim. The water was cold, but enjoyable once we got in. I was glad that I brought my swim socks which have thin rubber soles as some of the beach area was a bit rocky. The island buffet was pretty good with a good selection. The line to get back onto the tender was long, but moved quickly once boarding began. Disembarkation: We decided to put our luggage out the night before. If you do want to have your baggage taken off for you and also want to get out early, make sure to pick up your tags several days before the cruise ends as the early ones always go quickly. The early morning was a little stressful as my husband did not sleep well and decided to go explore the ship around 4:30 am. Que the panicking wife when both myself and my father in law searched the ship for an hour and could not find him. We eventually found him and I warned him that under penalty of serious bodily injury, he is not to do that to me ever again. After an early breakfast at the buffet we gathered our things and sat in the atrium lounge until our tag color was called. We walked straight off, gathered our luggage, and were waiting in the line for customs within about 20 minutes. We had a little hiccup when we realized that our stateroom host had not left a customs form in our room and we had completely forgotten about it until we saw everyone else pulling there’s out. We easily found a new form before getting in line and were in the car heading home 15 minutes later. Overall Impression: Obviously choosing a cruise really depends on what you are looking for. My husband and I agree that we have enjoyed this cruise the most. While the level of service was not quite what we have come to expect on Disney, the combination of the entertainment, food options, and price difference really set the Norwegian epic apart. We even booked a credit for a future cruise on board and hope to sail on the Norwegian Escape next December. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I should have taken a cue from the long lines we stood in to even get checked in and onto the ship. My 2 daughters and I had a mini balcony suite (with emphasis on mini). It was tiny. I cannot imagine what the interior staterooms ... Read More
I should have taken a cue from the long lines we stood in to even get checked in and onto the ship. My 2 daughters and I had a mini balcony suite (with emphasis on mini). It was tiny. I cannot imagine what the interior staterooms were like. Whomever designed those rooms should be stripped of whatever title they hold. The bathroom is right in the room with only a smoked glass rounded-shaped slider to put into place to use the toilet and another one to use the shower. They are about the size of the facilities in an RV. There is absolutely no privacy since you can certainly see (and hear) the person inside through the glass and see when they stand, sit or whatever. Ours had a curtain, but other people told me they did not even have that. There is barely room to walk in the cabin....tiny, tiny, tiny. This is a huge ship and with the tiny rooms it holds a lot of people, but does not have enough elevators to accommodate them, so expect a long wait time. You cannot even take sealed bottled water on-board unless you have a "written" statement from your doctor. If you want water, you must purchase it on-board for the low price of $7.95 per bottle or $26.95 for HALF a case (that's 6 bottles, mind you). The very first night on-board we asked our cabin steward for coffee packets (there was a coffee maker which made one cup at a time in the room, but no coffee). He informed us that they were out of coffee packs but we could order room service coffee at no charge. When I called, they said room service coffee was $9.95 (after breakfast) and we could only get complimentary coffee in the morning. Next morning I was on hold for 35 minutes and was told it would be 30 to 45 minutes wait and $7.95. We told them it was supposed to be complimentary because we had no coffee in the room. We had to hold again until they could confirm that. Our cabin steward was great and did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. He was always at our beck and call and was always friendly. The staff on the common areas were not nearly so friendly. I have been on cruises where EVERY staff person ALWAYS spoke. No so on this cruise; most of those "in charge" did not even appear to notice us guests. Another thing, it was my understanding that if you dined in the complementary dining rooms, you could order anything on the menu....not so anymore. The "better" entrees now have a hefty up-charge. And, there are more up-charge restaurants than complementary ones. We bought the 3 meal up-charge package and I must say the three up-charge restaurants we chose (Cagneys, LeBistro, & Moderno Chiaroscuro) were excellent. I am not a prude and go to NY and Atlanta to see Broadway shows. However, the show in their big theater, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," was so vulgar and offensive we could not sit through it and got up and left. Why a cruise line would book that kind of show for a cruise (other than gay men) is beyond me. However, the show "Burn the Floor" was exciting and well done by a talented cast. We thoroughly enjoyed it. This was my first cruise with Norwegian and it may very well be my last. If their other ships are like the Epic, I am not interested in sailing with this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I chose this cruise to celebrate my anniversary, NCL still gets excellent ratings so I went with them for our first cruise. The itinerary was Florida, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay (yay!) Two weeks before departure, there was a departure ... Read More
I chose this cruise to celebrate my anniversary, NCL still gets excellent ratings so I went with them for our first cruise. The itinerary was Florida, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay (yay!) Two weeks before departure, there was a departure from this - no Great Stirrup Cay. I understand this happens quite often. I was extremely disappointed as this was to be the highlight and I do not care for Nassau, and then truly upset when a rude rep named Barbara basically said too bad. Not even a small onboard credit was offered for removing the best part of this trip and therefore changing it completely. Cruise specialist Mauricio kindly took my call, and after chatting with him, I decided to go anyway. Here's what I liked: -Beautiful, clean, well-appointed ship with many attractions -Fabulous views on deck and one you can walk almost all the way around (8). -Lovely, clean cabin with more space than I ever expected -**Most important: Gracious, smiling crew members who hustled very hard to make the trip great (thank you all!) You are all very great and your efforts were much appreciated. You made the trip such a pleasure**Very comfy bed; I slept like a baby every night -Fluffy towels and extra bedding and pillows in cabinet -Many included dining and drinking options, including supper show -Delicious food at nearly every meal and excellent drinks (get the package!). I particularly enjoyed Taste, Savor and Moderno. Superb service - thank you! Manhattan Club was an interesting change of pace but too large for my taste -Fun show in theater ("Rock of Ages") - quite entertaining and funny -Movie on huge screen every night, plus favorite movie channel on TV with really good films. And here's what I wasn't wild about: -Crowds everywhere - 4,000+ folks plus crew riding with you. That gets old after a few days at sea -Way too many running children and little crying babies. (A careless child flopped into me by accident on the second day and kicked me hard in the ankle, and his mother pretended not to see. No apology from either. I saw stars, and it still hurts today.) Why so many kids? -Crazy crowded and confusing main buffet with no beverage service. Your food is cold by the time you find a seat. Now go back and get a beverage. Kind of like eating in a large commuter hub with a nice view. Also, salmon mousse rather than salmon, next to capers, egg and onion. Really? -Long, long - did I say long? - wait for cruise services is very frustrating, especially on embarkation day, and you *will* have to go there, trust me -Not everything you are told is true (examples: tips are not optional [which is fine, but say that]; your room key is demagnetized [no; it's perfectly fine, but your account is locked]; the raffle is closed [just ask another crew member], and so on. -The casino is a complete joke. Just hand over your gambling money and leave. You will never win a dime. Go get a drink. Or two -Few dining missteps, such as woman in supper club opening a cabinet drawer and revealing a full silver sauce dish (!). It takes hours to eat there - two and a half at least. -Child-sized adult pool and four hot tubs that are always occupied (sometimes by children, although they are adults-only). We skipped them. Pool rarely used. -Upselling and supplementary charges at every turn. Skip the "champagne" "art" "sale" - Chris should be selling used cars. He knows little about art - most offerings are truly hideous - and is quite rude. ("All Dogs Go To Heaven" sold? It must have Braille I did not see because a sighted person wouldn't touch that with a barge pole.) Never saw a drop of champagne -Getting on and off the ship can be a long ordeal, so either go early or much later, unless you enjoy lines (complimentary!) All in all it was a fun time, but please don't sell Great Stirrup Cay then take it away. Over and over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
The cruise it self was very good. the only thing that could have been better would be more earlier shows/ party having them at 10:30/11:30 till early in the next morning then docking at 7- 8 am and needing to leave then ship to get to any ... Read More
The cruise it self was very good. the only thing that could have been better would be more earlier shows/ party having them at 10:30/11:30 till early in the next morning then docking at 7- 8 am and needing to leave then ship to get to any excursions you booked. you either get very little sleep or miss going to the shows/party. Also would be great if the buffet changes a bit was mostly the same food every day. our cabin had cobwebs on the picture frames, a vent by the bathroom was falling apart. The pay restaurants was a fair value and very good food. we didn't have to book any reservations either and was seated quickly and had great service. all the staff was super friendly and gave excellent service. as for entertainment i felt it was to little. if you wanted to play deal or no deal,bingo, which they did every day of the cruise be prepared to shell out the cash. as for tv its mostly ncl channels with 1 or 2 hbo channels so dont expect to watch much. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
the cruise comes out of n.y makes it very easy for us. There are things we don't like about N.C.L. One is that each time we go on the cruise we find out that less food items are available either at the complimentary restaurants or ... Read More
the cruise comes out of n.y makes it very easy for us. There are things we don't like about N.C.L. One is that each time we go on the cruise we find out that less food items are available either at the complimentary restaurants or on the buffett. Restaurants that were complimentary before like uptown grill is now Margarittsville where you pay. We also dont like on the breakaway that many events are planned at H2O which is an outside venue, In bad weather they are either cancelled or moved to the atrium which is much smaller and a very public venue. The shows do not change we have been on the breakaway a few times the past 5 years shows are the same, very disappointing. The inside rooms are small but our biggest complaint is that there is very limited storage space for clothing especially if going on 7 or 10 day cruises. We are always happy with the crew they are friendly and very helpful. We would like more dancing options earlier than 10:30 in the evening. With all said we always have a good time and keep on going because it is convenient coming out of New York Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Embarkation on the Getaway was rather lengthy, until my roommate noted that I was a gold member/didn't realize that and there was a very short line for those folks. Keep your eyes peeled for your status as it will save you easily ... Read More
Embarkation on the Getaway was rather lengthy, until my roommate noted that I was a gold member/didn't realize that and there was a very short line for those folks. Keep your eyes peeled for your status as it will save you easily 45 min. Don't ask, disembarkation was dreadful! So many people and they made no good attempt to repair the lines to a fair and decent order. Entrance on the ship was rather confusing and disorganized but whatever. We made it to our room 9449 to check it out, seemingly well located. Room was satisfactory and the bathroom seemed a little larger than usual as was the shower. This is a large ship so be prepared for mucho walking. The entertainment/food floors are all located on 3 lower floors. I still was confused by the end of the cruise and still checking on the location of the rooms. I didn't think there was very good information by the elevators on what was on each floor. But elevators were readily available. The best part of the cruise was the FOOD!!! Wow, wow and wow is all I can say. Everything I ordered was great all the week. Having the drink package, I ordered the irish coffee on the dinner menu. Sometimes added a shot of Bailey's to it. I don't usually drink at home but I must admit I enjoyed experimenting with the different alcoholic beverages. There was never a problem getting a beverage with the package, twice I ordered a drink for someone else.2X. It was kind of fun to be able to do that. Due to a problem the first night, a practice for Burn the Floor going on at 1230 am to 130 am, we were given a free dinner at Moderno, a Brazilian style restaurant. I don't recommend Moderno. Was disappointed. The only meat that was good was the lamb. The lobster bisque was full of lobster which you could collect up at the bottom of the bowl. My compliments to all the chefs in the restaurant and the buffet. The last nt, I decided to go upstairs for the buffet. OMG it was incredible. They served prime rib cut fresh and yummy lamb chops. I actually spent time looking for the head man so I could tell him how impressed I was with the buffet dinner. I usually complain but need to step that up a notch when the food is such good quality! The cruise director Silas is probably the best I have ever seen and I've been on over 35 cruises on all the lines. He is very professional and very well spoken. The Reception Desk deserves merit. There are always many many employees working and it's always a short wait for service of any kind. There is even an employee talking to the folks in line and answering questions. I would suggest that they leave out the days program so you can pick up an extra one rather than wait in line. The books in the library are horrible, old and unpopular. Gosh what are they thinking??? Looked like there were updated travel books if you wanted to research. And the staff person who works the library opening doesn't appear to like his job and wishes he wasn't there. I suppose library is not a top job. I took an off the ship tour of Belize for $15 negotiated. 7 other people joined me. It was great. Very poor country. Sad to say. One of our group needed a pharmacy. So while they were out of Crestor, I did remember to ask how much Viagra was. Price was $2.50.each. Got home and asked pharmacy at Walgreens how much one Viagra was and it was $60. That's crazy. Keep that in mind. There is a small market area out of the main building and I bought a few things there. I also bought a beautiful lacy necklace that was made by one of those women communes to impower women. Mahajual,. had been been there before and wanted to return to the beach walk. Lots and lots of interesting stalls with good and negotiable prices. I got a short massage from a lady named Maria. If you can find her, you will be very happy. The last time I was there, I had a male who was quite horrible. Maria is about half way down. She's awesome. . I didn't think activities were very good on the ship. And the movies that were in the atrium were mostly for children. There wasn't a child in the room. They need to step up activities and their movie selection to a more adult level. I would go again on the Getaway. I really liked Silas the director and the awesome food. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian and our second cruise on the Getaway. Overall the experience was good. The ship remains clean and the staff was helpful. On-boarding was smooth and off-boarding was good too. Our room was as ... Read More
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian and our second cruise on the Getaway. Overall the experience was good. The ship remains clean and the staff was helpful. On-boarding was smooth and off-boarding was good too. Our room was as expected and well maintained by Rommel. The service by Dona at Margaritaville was excellent. The largest detractor is the cigarette smoke that permeates 678 Ocean Place. The casino is located on deck 7 and unfortunately, the smoke spoils the dining experience at Le Bistro on 6 and the shopping experience on 8. I'm a poker fanatic, but gave up my gambling habit that week to avoid the casino. Love that the H2O Spice area is off-limits to kids. I'm sure that we'll go back to that ship on a future cruise. We sailed with Princess in April. They offered a third party service in which our luggage was picked-up at the port and delivered to the airline for the trip home. It was nice not having to hassle with bags during our trip home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We just returned from an amazing week aboard the Pride of America. We went with my in-laws. Ages 53 to 78. We all loved it. I read many reviews prior to going on and was a little worried about the service of the staff from previous ... Read More
We just returned from an amazing week aboard the Pride of America. We went with my in-laws. Ages 53 to 78. We all loved it. I read many reviews prior to going on and was a little worried about the service of the staff from previous reviews BUT there was NO worries. From beginning to end, we were greeted, treated and pampered with a warm welcome and smile on their faces. Our room was extremely clean with fun towel characters when we returned each day.. We stayed in room 4094. We had a window. One thing I read was the windows were not clean. No it wasn't spotless but we could see out of it though. My guess is if they wash them every week, once you set sail, they will be dirty anyway. But, I'm not a picky person when it comes to clean windows. I enjoyed having a window to peek out. It was cool to watch the waves. We ate at the buffets and dining rooms. We all agreed that we would stick with the buffets for breakfast and lunch and do dining rooms in the evenings. Only because it's quieter and we can dress up a little more which is fun for a stay-at-home Grandma to do. We ate the Skyline a few times. No extra fee unless you order something off the menu with an extra fee which my husband did every time. Surf and Turf and he said it was worth every penny. We also ate at Cagney's Steak house. Food was excellent. Up to you whether it's worth the extra money. Our steak at Skyline was just as good. Entertainment. We went to the main shows every evening. We all thoroughly enjoyed the shows. Excursions. We did three. Snorkeling - Big Glove in Kona (something like that). Zip line in Hilo and River Float/tube in Kauai. We enjoyed all of them however we would not do them again as we would just rent cars and sight see on our own next time. You can rent cars for $40 a day and tour anywhere. Rent snorkeling equipment on your own and snorkel anywhere or hike wherever you want. Just our opinions though. The river float was our first time to do this. It was great. If you haven't done this before, we would recommend doing it. Just get a morning tour so book early...months in advance or try for a Friday tour if possible so then you can rent a car Thursday and tour the island. The water is cold...don't be intimidated though. You get used to it within a couple of minutes. if you have a long sleep rash guard, that may help. If you haven't snorkeled or zip lined before, then we also would recommend it but if you have, then we would say, rent the car and tour. This was our third time to Hawaii and it's worth seeing the sights. We also went a day early and toured Pearl of Harbor which is well worth the stop. We did the walk off which was extremely easy to do. Woke up, had an early breakfast and grabbed a taxi. This was cheaper than the bus. We dropped off our luggage, rented a car for the day for a total of $37.00 and drove around the island for 5 hours until our flight. It beat sitting in the airport for the day. This was our third trip to Hawaii in 5 years. The other two times we rented homes for a week on Maui and a week on Kauai. We highly recommend the cruise to see more islands but definitely recommend renting a car, buying the books Kauai Revealed and Maui Revealed to tour the islands. These books are great to show you many hidden treasures on the islands. The only complaint/recommendations we have for you would be to bring a sweater with you as it is very chilly in the shows but they are worth seeing....so don't miss out on them. The other would be the price of beverages. A strawberry daiquiri is $10.00 and a soda is $3.40. I'm not a big drinker but that seemed high. Actually made me wait for a pop until I left the ship. Thank you Pride of America for a wonderful week filled with memories I will cherish forever. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We took a cruise last week on the Norwegian Breakaway. Our original destination was supposed to be Bermuda (1 full day and 2 half days) but due to Hurricane Nicole, our destination was changed to Port Canaveral (half day) and Nassau, ... Read More
We took a cruise last week on the Norwegian Breakaway. Our original destination was supposed to be Bermuda (1 full day and 2 half days) but due to Hurricane Nicole, our destination was changed to Port Canaveral (half day) and Nassau, Bahamas (quarter day). We were disappointed of the change but fortunately, the experience from the ship itself was able to make it for it. We arrived relatively early on Sunday the 9th to the Manhattan Cruise terminal to embark. The checkin process was easy and the line wasn't too long at 11:30AM. Once checked in, we were able to immediately visit our cabins and leave our luggage there such that we could go to lunch. Our checked luggage arrived later in the afternoon without any issues. The buffet area was as expected, crowded on the first day but we were still able to get a table. Our cabins were clean as expected. Our beds were initially separated but stateroom attendant was quick to push them together. My only issue with our cabin was that the button of our toilet was quirky in that it would only respond about half the time. It was a minor issue so we didn't bring it up. Once everyone was aboard and we had gone through the mandatory safety drill, we were informed that because of Hurricane Nicole, we would not be going to Bermuda. Instead, we would stay the night at port in NYC. We didn't know that we were going to Port Canaveral and Nassau until a few hours later. We heard that there was quite a ruckus at the service desk. For our troubles, we got $200 in non-refundable credit per stateroom. We also got about $29 in refundable credit per person for what I think is something weather related but it wasn't written out. The ship itself was pretty nice but the activity areas were smaller than I expected. The theater was particularly smaller than I expected. They held The Quest game show in an area of the ship that was no bigger than a quarter of the size of the areas that I've seen other ships hold it. The dining was mostly great. This was the most memorable and positive experience of this trip as it was probably the best cruise food we've had from all our cruises. The highlight of the experience was Seafood Night, which was held on the last night of the cruise. There was endless mussels, shrimp, scallops, and squid. Another memorable menu item was the Peking duck. It's not the best I've had but it was still a good and unique item. Our best experience was with the Shanghai Noodle Bar. However, that place is good when the ship is docked as that is when the casino closes and hence free from cigarette smoke. For the shows, we watched and enjoyed Burn The Floor and Rock Of Ages. They were worth watching again. There wasn't much I can write about the ports since we spent so little time there. The weather at Port Canaveral was still wet and windy. The ship spent only about 5 hours at Nassau. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise ship because it was a new ship and had never sailed Norwegian before. The ship did provide many fun things for our teenagers to do, like the multi-level water slide and the teen gathering room. The mini-golf was fun ... Read More
We chose this cruise ship because it was a new ship and had never sailed Norwegian before. The ship did provide many fun things for our teenagers to do, like the multi-level water slide and the teen gathering room. The mini-golf was fun as well. There was not enough time at the ports of call especially Tortola and Nassau. Although at Nassau, the pier was extremely long for someone with walking difficulties. It would be helpful if assistance would be provided to be able to get to shore using a small shuttle vehicle or assisted wheelchair. The food was only OK, however, for any of the top dinner choices you had to pay extra. We feel that the higher quality food and better menu options, i.e., lobster and steak, were only offered if you paid extra. We felt like the better food was provided to those who paid extra, those who didn't pay extra had the inferior quality or "leftover" food. For the most part the entertainment was very good but hard to make reservations as most were marked as sold out. The best entertainment was "For the Record - The Brat Pack" and "Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons Tribute". Both of these were excellent - the best we've ever seen on a cruise - high energy, great singing and loads of fun. There were just too many passengers to get around. Even to get on an elevator it took several attempts to find one not packed. Being one of the passengers who required a scooter, it was very hard to get around, especially through the hallways toward the outside of the ship and through the doorway. Getting around is very important, but was difficult on this ship. Only one swimming pool and always packed so unable to use it much??? Why is there only one swimming pool??? It was extremely crowded and not really usable for true swimming time. The cabin was very nice, but seemed small for an upgraded room. Our room steward, Jocelyn, was fabulous. She was always very pleasant, helpful and caring. She assisted our friend who has lost her luggage by taking care of the laundry promptly, so that at least the few items our friend had was cleaned and returned to her room promptly. Overall, our main disappointment was in the quality of food. We've been on many cruises and this one rates extremely low for the food options provided as "complimentary" for the "average" passengers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I cruised on the NCL's Dawn to Bermuda during hurricane season and loved it! This was my first cruise and I cruised with 3 other couples. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) updated us as they learned of the information of the ... Read More
I cruised on the NCL's Dawn to Bermuda during hurricane season and loved it! This was my first cruise and I cruised with 3 other couples. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) updated us as they learned of the information of the impending storms and through social media, encouraged us that they had our safety as their highest concern. I had a sea sick patch and the other couples used motion sickness wrist bands to handle the gentle tossing of the ship. Both were effective. One of the couples didn't use anything and didn't have a problem. Even though we were the only ship to make it to Bermuda in between Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole, the ship really didn't rock all of that much! We did need to leave 8 hours early to avoid Nicole which struck Bermuda head on as a Catagory 4 Hurricane, but anticipating that we might need to leave early, we did arrive 3 hours earlier than anticipated, giving us a full first day as well as a full 2nd day. This, in fact, worked much better than a 1/2 first day, a full second day and a 1/2 third day. Locals projected that we would leave early, and veteran cruisers anticipated it. I was surprised, but rolled with it, just being glad that NCL was taking care of us. We arrived on the island on Sunday, a day in which the shops are closed. The Royal Naval Shipyard had plenty to do, however, we rented scooters and off we went to explore Bermuda! First we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach, but so did everyone else! The riptides were particularly strong (due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew) and everyone was mostly sunning on the beach. One of our friends remembered from a past visit, a small cove nearby - Jobson's Cove Beach, a tiny, rock enclosed cove on South Shore in Warwick. Whereas I could not even stand in knee high water in Horseshoe bay due to the riptides, the cove provided a wonderfully safe shelter to swim, float and snorkel. And wow, was it magical!!! I couldn't believe that we found this! On our particular Sunday morning, we were the only visitors. There were amazing rocks to climb, water to safely swim in and sandy private spaces to enjoy. The large boulders completely surrounded the cove, breaking the riptide. By mid-day, one local family joined us, but that was it. At one point we looked up and saw folk on horseback riding by. Later we took our scooters and rode to Hamilton, the capital city. In Hamilton, we had a blast at the Hamilton Street Party filled with local food vendors and live music. It is intended to offer Bermudians the opportunity to enjoy each other and to buy local. Locals were welcoming and we had a blast. We did dash into a local grocery store which was open to purchase some fresh fruit to eat before we returned to the ship. Monday brought more touring on the scooters... we rode up and down the entire chain of islands. Having ridden to Hamilton the day before, on the second day, we chose to take the Hamilton ferry to get our day started. The ferry accommodates both passengers and scooters, but you need to purchase a second token for your scooter. We explored the island from Hamilton to St George. St George is not to be missed! The historic churches and architecture are beautiful, The shops are so warm and welcoming. And the beaches - so inviting. We stopped to eat at Wahoo's Bistro and Patio,a local favorite, and the fish chowder was amazing. At this time of year, we had our choice of seats with great views. We took a break from the rain (the weather changes often in Bermuda in October, but not to worry, the bad weather never lasted long) and ate inside while enjoying the picturesque view of the ocean. We took our time scootering back to the ship. Traffic was a little scary for me, a first time scooter driver. However, the locals were very patient and it really wasn't that difficult driving on the left side of the road. You really do get used to it! We returned to the ship for a late night dinner and some more great entertainment. At this point, the captain still believed that we would be departing at 5:30pm Tuesday. At 8am Tuesday, I was awakened with an announcement that the ship would be leaving port at 9am. Apparently, everyone was still on board. NCL Dawn worked with the local scooter company to return our scooters and keys. We stayed on board while the scooter company sent a box to collect our keys. This was particularly nice, because renting a scooter was not a "NCL Excursion" but they worked with us anyway. By 10am, our Cruise Director had rearranged a full line up of activities for us including some standard favorites as well as some new activities. I particularly enjoyed the wine and chocolate pairings, the martini tasting, BINGO and "Who Wants to Be a Bizzillionaire". This was particularly important, because not only were we now on the ship (verses being on land), but we were also limited to staying inside the ship and not using the decks and pools due to high winds. There were still plenty of places to sit and enjoy the majestic views, but frankly, I had so much fun, that I hardly even noticed! To me, it was a terrific bonus day on the ship! Being a first time cruiser, I have strong expectations. However, I did not expect that by the end of the cruise, the staff and fellow passengers would all feel like one big club. Between cruising with my friends from my hometown, my new friends though cruise critic and my delightfully unexpected newest friends that I met on the ship, I had plenty to enjoy. I never was bored and could have wished for even more time on both the ship and at port. A week isn't nearly long enough! As for the hurricane weather, well, the hurricanes worried more of my friends back home than anyone on the ship - for we were having too much fun! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The cruise was a back to back repositioning cruise. The first 5 days we cruised from Vancouver to Victoria to Astoria and on the Los Angeles. this part of the cruise was a little boring as the stops were not very interesting for us. As ... Read More
The cruise was a back to back repositioning cruise. The first 5 days we cruised from Vancouver to Victoria to Astoria and on the Los Angeles. this part of the cruise was a little boring as the stops were not very interesting for us. As B.C. residents, we have been to Victoria many times. We didn't feel it was worth getting off to spend money on food and transportation. Astoria looked just like home with no attractions that interested us. There were a group of tents with local people selling some amazing things. We purchased a few things and were happy for the little jaunt off the ship. Los Angeles was for debarkation and embarkation of other passengers. We enjoyed the lull onboard as others got off and got on the ship. We had a lovely chat with one of the waiters and made a friendship. After the new passengers arrived onboard, the cruise felt different. I heard that the ship was completely full. There were lots of children and lots of people in general. The mood changed and it was more hectic. We enjoyed most of the shows. The singers were not very good. The Cirque Bijou was amazing as was Luminesence. The comedian and magician were also excellent. We went to the late shows as there were less kids. Azura was our favourite dinner complementary spot. The food was mostly very good. The beef was always tender and properly cooked to the right temperature. The salads and soups were very good. There were a few appetizers that could have been executed better. The desserts were very good for the most part. The service was usually good. We loved the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Cin Cin was terrible! Our one and only experience in Tsars Palace was horrific. We were a table of 5 sharing. Everyone's food came at a different time, we were missing cutlery and coffee cups. Everything was a miss. The server was blaming other people and it seemed extremely unorganized. We were there for breakfast and never returned. O'Sheehan's pub was very disappointing. The fish and chips were limp and cold. The only good things on the menu were the wings and chicken tenders. We used it as our snack place between meals. The service was bad everytime! It was consistently bad every time. The only reason we returned was for the 2 menu items mentioned above and because we had time to spare. The window seats had amazing views especially if we were at sea. We ate at Moderna, the Brazilian restaurant. It was a great experience. The service was excellent and it was the first time we encountered a waiter with personality! The food comes out on swords and cut tableside. Most of the beef was overcooked for my taste, but the lamb, chicken and sausage were spot on. The starters buffet was excellent as well. We also dined at Le Bistro. There were hits and misses. The muscles were bland and served in a container too big for the amount of mussels. The escargot were too lemony and with not enough garlic. Our mains were both excellent. I had the rack of lamb. Cooked perfectly and so tender I could cut it with a fork. My fiance had the duck done 2 ways. Both were very good. The French onion soup was delicious as was the mushroom soup. The creme brullee was one of the best I'd ever had and I've had many! French press coffee in decaf rounded out my dinner. Excellent! The service was laclustre at best. The ambiance was great, but the bar outside the restaurant was noisy. Overall, I would say this was a good cruise. Good value for money as we got the drink package for free. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
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