We chose this cruise, quite frankly, because it was the only cruise that had the size of room we wanted during the time frame we needed. We knew absolutely nothing about Norway, but had already done a Mediterranean cruise and wanted to do ... Read More
We chose this cruise, quite frankly, because it was the only cruise that had the size of room we wanted during the time frame we needed. We knew absolutely nothing about Norway, but had already done a Mediterranean cruise and wanted to do something a little different. We had no idea how much we would end up loving it!
This was our first NCL and their service and attention to detail is some of the best we've experienced. We also booked during a sale, so included in our room was the unlimited beverage package for 2, 125 minutes of internet (or a $125 credit toward the $175 unlimited internet package, which is what we did -- you can just have only one device logged into the wifi at once), $50 shore excursion credit per day, paid gratuities for 2, a $150 on board credit, and 5 restaurant credits for 2 people (will explain more down below). The unlimited beverage package was amazing (we had never had it before) because we never worried about whether or not to get a drink -- but had it not been included, I do not think we would have gotten it because it is $89/day + gratuities, which would be hard to justify as most drinks are around $9 (unless you are drinking 10+ drinks a day!).
Because we had a suite, there were several perks included in it that will make it hard to cruise any other way. First, when checking in in Hamburg, we got to skip the line and go through the priority line (which no one was in) and it probably saved at least 45 minutes as the regular line was VERY long. Next, they had our butler (Camylla) escort us from the check in, through security, and on to the ship to our room and gave us the run down on everything. She was amazing! She would check on us every day and ask us if we needed anything or had any questions. She also brought us a snack every afternoon. There was reserved seating in the balcony for the shows each now for the suite & Haven people and the Suite & Haven guests got to eat breakfast in Moderno's and lunch in Cagney's, which was great!! Although the Garden Cafe (the buffet) had a larger selection for breakfast and lunch, having the quiet and secluded restaurants to eat at was much more relaxing.
As stated above, we got to eat at 5 of the speciality restaurants for free because of the sale that we booked during. We bought the 5 dining package for our daughter (was around $100) so it would be paid for her too. We booked it with Carlos (the concierge for the suites) on the second day, but we should have booked sooner because a lot of the times we wanted were already full (specifically Tepenyaki, which we could only get into at 9 pm on the second to last night). We normally would not have gone to the speciality restaurants since the main dining is free...but since it was included we did it and I'm so glad we did! I will list them below:
Cagneys Steakhouse: My daughter and I both got the filet mignon (rare) and it was one of the best we've ever had!! Ricardo was our waiter and he was the best!! My daughter asked for honey mustard for the truffle fries and they didn't have any so he made her up some on his own!!
Moderno's Brazilian Churrascaria: If you like this type of restaurant (where they have a salad bar and then they come around and shave meat off the skewers at your table), then you will love it!! The food was great, but it is just way too much food for us.
Le Bistro French: Probably our favorite!! The atmosphere is amazing and the food is some of the best. French onion soup, escargot, duck, lamb, chocolate fondue served in a pineapple bowl are just of few to name!
La Cucina Italian: Also one of our favorites, but it was not very crowded when we went so not sure if it was an off night or just not as popular with others. My daughter said it was the best caesar salad she's ever had! I had the beef carpaccio as an app and the osso bucco as my entree and both were incredible!! The bellini's are so good too! We never did this, but apparently La Cucina serves as the overflow room to sit in for the Garden Cafe.
Tapenyaki's Hibachi Grill: This was so fun, even though we could only get in at 9 pm on the second to last night! They can only hold around 100 people/night, so it fills up quickly. We sat by a great family, but it is a little hard to hear each other because it's so loud. The food was some of the best hibachi we've had, but we were so full from the rice by the time our meat/seafood came that we could barely eat it!
Grand Pacific: We ate here on the first and last nights. Not sure if we didn't like it as much because it really is not as good, or if it was just because we had such great experiences at the specialty restaurants! I think it is the latter...because the food was still good--just not as great/unique/fun as the others! The service is great, in the sense that it is fast, but the waiters seem a little more stressed (rightfully so -- it is a big place!) and they do not know the menu as well because it changes every night.
Alazar's: Never ate here, but it is a smaller/less casual version of the GP main dining room and the menu looked good!
O'Sheehan's: Ate here twice and the fish and chips were outstanding! Just the right portion size. They are open 22/7 (only closed between 4am-6am), which was great for the days that we ate lunch after 3 (when the Garden Cafe closes) or after 2 (when Cagney's closed for the suite people) and we didn't want to eat in the GC.
Jasmine Garden: never ate here because my husband doesn't love Chinese food (we had to convince him to go to Tapenyaki's) but it was always packed so I'm sure it is good!
Garden Cafe: This is the buffet. We ate here for lunch on the first day and on a couple of the port days. The food really is great quality and they have a wide variety of cuisines! They serve lunch until 3, "snack" from 3:30-5:00, dinner at 5:30. For dinner they have a crepe station and the nutella crepes are excellent!!
Plenty of bars to go around on the ship. Spinnaker Lounge had great views and was where they held Bingo (which was a little overpriced to be honest, although it was enticing with the great prizes) and the nightly dance parties (we never went to, but if you are into that they looked fun!) Bliss Lounge was always a great place to stop and get a drink before dinner because it was in a good location. I would recommend getting a glass of wine before dinner and bringing it into dinner because there is a bigger selection of wine at the bars than there is at the restaurants! "The Great Outsider" was a bar in the very back of the ship on 12 outside and it had the best mud slides!!
We actually went to the shows every night, which is something we have never done before! The acrobat act (I think it is called Duo Mistika) was really great and got a standing ovation! The magic show actually ended up being pretty entertaining as well! The cruise performers were pretty good (not the best we've seen but certainly not the worst) but the "Elements" show on the second to last night was outstanding!!
The cruise director, Richard Matics, was great! He always remembered us when we saw him around the ship and he was very present!
We ended up not buying any of the shore excursions because we just really did not have time to research it before hand and then the only ones left were either too pricy or we just weren't interested in.
Alesund: we hiked up to the look out point -- highly recommend! It was a steep hike up the way we went, so make sure you just take the stairs up instead of hiking the long way (unless you want the exercise like my husband and daughter who did it twice).
Geiranger: this day was the best for having the front balcony! Absolutely stunning views through the fjord. We just sort of walked around and my husband and daughter did a 10k hike (the red trail), which they said was difficult but worth it for the views! This day probably would have been the best for an excursion.
Olden: We did the glacier sightseeing bus (looks like a hop on hop off bus) for around $30/person. This was awesome!! It takes you out to a view of the glaciers and a few other spots. If you want to go to the actual glaciers, though, I would book it through an excursion. My husband and daughter (again) hiked up to the top of a mountain to a look out point and said it amazing views and not too bad of a hike! Wifi tip: the coop grocery store (about a ten minute walk) had free wifi.
Bergen: Probably would have been our favorite place except for it was POURING rain the whole time! We did the hop on hop off (around $30) just to get out of the rain, but it was a good way to see the city. We also went through the fish market, which was fun!
Cons (really not bad things, but just things that could have been better!)
-the wifi did not work very well except on the two days at sea. I think it was because we were in the fjords and the mountains were high...but not completely sure. Really wasn't a big deal because it was great to not spend time on our phones, but if you need to access for work then it could be an issue!
-there were not great TV stations. Again, not a huge deal because we didn't have much time to watch TV anyway, but it is fun to watch movies in our room usually and there was only one movie channel that didn't play the best movies. We could check out DVD's from our butler, but we never actually did because we never had time! This may not be an issue for some people, but they didn't have Fox News and only had Sky News and CNBC, which were not great. But again, it was probably good to have a break from the news world for a week!
-There was a walking deck on deck 7 that went all the way around (3 laps = 1 mile) and a jogging deck on 13 (5.5 laps = 1 mile) and both were great!
-This may seem random, but the carpet outside of the staterooms had fish that were swimming toward the front of the ship. It actually was very helpful in remembering which way we were heading!
-Getting off and on the ship at the ports (on deck 4) always went very smoothly!
I'm probably forgetting things, but overall it was one of the best cruise experiences we've ever had and will definitely cruise with NCL again! Read Less