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88 Norwegian (NCL) Pacific Coastal Cruise Reviews

My wife and I sailed on the NCL Pearl during a "Pacific Coastal" aka repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC. This was our 7th NCL cruise and the 2nd on the Pearl (last being a 2014 cruise to Alaska). We chose this ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the NCL Pearl during a "Pacific Coastal" aka repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC. This was our 7th NCL cruise and the 2nd on the Pearl (last being a 2014 cruise to Alaska). We chose this cruise for some rest and relaxation on the ocean. We flew into LA from Seattle and took the NCL sponsored bus directly from the baggage claim to the Long Beach embarkation port. Boarding the Pearl was uneventful and our room was ready shortly after lunch. Compared with prior NCL cruises, we felt some improvements have been made mainly around the food. The Garden Cafe buffet had a rich variety of food include fresh fruits. The cruise was not full so the seating areas were rarely packed. The main dining room had a typical rotations of daily entree specials which ranged from very good to average. It did not appear that any meal had any wait to speak of. We ate at specialty restaurants La Cucina and Cagney's, both of which had some very good dishes. Of note, NCL deserves praise for upgrading their desert offerings which we felt were subpar in the past. Despite being a short 5 day cruise, NCL provided a rich assortment of entertainment options including the expected trivia contests (we were so bad at name that tune that the Pianist Jim awarded us prizes), Deal or No Deal, Bingo, Casino tournaments and sporting events. The highlight for us was the Legends in Concert show, part of the Las Vegas production bringing rotating cover artists on board - our show with an Elton John, Michael Jackson, and Madonna tribute artists was excellent. The Pearl Production cast also put on a great finale "Pure Variety" with a wide range of musical hits. The Pearl lived up to NCL's reputation of providing a wide selection of entertainment choices. The ports we visited (San Francisco and Victoria) were both cities we have traveled extensively in the past so we did not do any organized excursions. In San Francisco, we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge (taking a public bus to the visitors center) and in Victoria we wandered around downtown for a bit. The Pearl appeared to be very well maintained and had great facilities such as a well equipped gym, nice walking and separate running tracks, and a variety of public areas although the chilly temperatures dissuaded many from enjoying the pool deck. The staff was very friendly and worked very hard to make everyone enjoy their time on board! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I have always sailed RCCL in the past - have done the Vision, Voyager, and Oasis class ships. Recently, I decided to sail NCL and choose the Pearl (Jewel class). I prefer this size ship and now am only sailing NCL due to butler/concierge ... Read More
I have always sailed RCCL in the past - have done the Vision, Voyager, and Oasis class ships. Recently, I decided to sail NCL and choose the Pearl (Jewel class). I prefer this size ship and now am only sailing NCL due to butler/concierge in the suites. The mega ships are beautiful but due to size, I do not find enjoyable. I understand and I am amazed at the operation of the mega ships. On RCCL Allure: embarkation was very long process, long lines, and reservations were not available for shows or specialty dining. At times there were very long lines to enter the comp dining facilities so it was not the relaxing cruise experience I desired. Imagine moving 5,000+ passengers (amazing feat) but those same people that want to eat at the same time, travel elevators, see shows can be overwhelming...However, it is mitigated if you upgrade to suite level cabins. I have to say that if you are willing to splurge suites make the difference. I sailed on NCL Pearl (Garden Villa) and it was a 5 star experience for me. The service was stellar. The ship is dated but it will get a refurbish soon. The complimentary dining was very good and the specialty restaurants were also very good. All staff we encountered were great and always had a smile. I also liked that there was not a photographer pressing constantly to take pictures. I find that annoying since we all have cameras today and they still charge a lot of money for pictures that we might buy if the prices came down a lot. I also enjoyed NCL free style cruising because some days I may want to eat early and some days late. I prefer to be more spontaneous and not tied to a dining schedule. I like the perks of a suite - priority embarkation/debarkation; daily snacks, personal requests, great dining reservations, assistance and guidance on shore excursions without waiting in lines to discuss. Left messages for concierge if busy and they followed up immediately. Celebrating birthday, anniversary, or special occasion? Your butler/concierge will make it special. We celebrated last minute birthday and they arranged all the food and decorations in the suite and that was such a special touch. They all made us feel special and welcomed and now I am hooked on the "suite life"!!! I have to say the ports were nice but I enjoy the aspect of cruising, dining, relaxing just as important. I never felt cramped on the ship and no overwhelming crowds. Many restaurants, bars, library, entertainment and decent fitness area to keep me busy. Just booked the same ship for 12 day trip in October. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We just finished our trip on the NCL Jewel. I learned one thing I can state with absolute certainty. When a person on the staff uses the phrase, "I will look into it.", they are really telling you to go away because they ... Read More
We just finished our trip on the NCL Jewel. I learned one thing I can state with absolute certainty. When a person on the staff uses the phrase, "I will look into it.", they are really telling you to go away because they don't care enough to help! This canned phrase, used by most of the upper staff, is simply a polite way they use to say I will do the bare minimum to make you go away! The primary reason for my lack of satisfaction in from three events. One involving my 15 month old son getting sick, one involving people smoking on the balcony two rooms toward the bow of the ship in front of ours and the third being terrible service in the Tsar's Palace restaurant. The biggest problem was the horrible, rude incomprehensibly poor behavior and judgement of the staff when my son threw up in his stroller directly next to the registration desk. Let me paint the picture. We were headed to dinner at Azura with me, my wife our 4 year old and the baby. The baby erupted and threw up all over himself and his stroller. Nightmare! It was terrible and we didn't know what to do. We wanted to clean up our son, but to move him without a towel would have spread the puke everywhere. Had we pushed him back to the room in the stroller we would have spread vomit through the whole of the ship. We didn't want to do that. We used all the wipes we had and were begging for something to help clean up our son and stroller. We were literally next to the desk and we asked for help three times! The lady who we talked to treated us horribly and did not communicate the situation properly to housekeeping. We literally were stranded next to the desk for 20 minutes before help arrived. We asked three times for help during this time! All we wanted was a towel to pick up our son and clean the vomit from his whole body and stop the pooling vomit from spilling. She responded with a curt, I have called housekeeping twice when we pleaded for help. She then went back to helping other guests in line despite our mini crisis. No less than three members of the staff walked by us and did nothing! After 15 minutes and having asked twice for help and being treated rudely, we got help from the desk supervisor who called housekeeping again to let them know it was an urgent matter after I stepped into the front of the line and loudly demanded help for the third time. After that they were there in 5 minutes. No parent should ever have to sit in a high traffic area of the ship, next to the registration desk and be treated in a similar fashion. Shame on the front desk for being so poorly trained and so incredibly rude. This was gross negligence on the part of the staff. It was embarrassing as a parent to have to sit there and wait so ling for help with people walking by us the whole time, not to mention the helpless feeling of not being able to pick up and comfort our crying son as we didn't want to spread the vomit everywhere. I complained about the treatment at the front desk and I got the standard, "Let me look into it"! The first person I spoke to said, this does not meet the criteria for compensation, what do you want me to do. At that [point in time I had asked for nothing and was simply registering a complaint about the behavior and the indifference of the front desk as a whole. The assistant hotel director, a nice man but his response was "I'll look into it" We also got the same from Hotel Director after leaving a note in his box... Ill look into it! They sent an empty gesture of a bottle of wine and some chocolate covered strawberries. They should have been more attentive to the baby and us as parents. They should have offered some compensation for the incompetence! The second problem was they were essentially non responsive to the passengers smoking on the balcony. The lady in the room in front of ours took pictures of the people in both of the next two rooms smoking cigarettes and also, what smelled like pot on the balcony. Again, we were traveling with a 4 year old and a baby and could not open our door because of the smell of the two different kinds of smoke wafting into our cabin at all hours of the day and night for most of the cruise. I spent over $500 to upgrade to a balcony room we could not use. It was terrible. They should have fined the people in the other rooms and credited the upgrade in full back to my account! The third problem was that the service staff in Tsars Palace was rude and did some really gross things. The biggest problem outside of the disinterested service and lackluster meal was when the server put her entire hand into my older son's ice cream, wiped it on her leg and then served it to my son hoping we didn't see her stumble and put her hand in the ice cream. After she dropped it at the table and asked if we needed anything else we asked her for a different ice cream as we saw what she had done. She lied to us and said she was already going to get a different one, but her actions of putting it on the table and starting to walk away was not what had actually happened. Other than these problems, the ship was nice, but dated. The elevator third to the right in the aft of the ship was broken and made several people get stuck. Besides that, the staff was cordial and nice for the most part. The service was generally lacking, but it was a full ship. Our room steward, Hilary, was awesome! He made the trip for us and was a real pro at his job! He was wonderful! Chin Chin was really good, with the appetizers being better then the main courses. Azura was fantastic with great service and really attentive waitstaff. The buffet was really great and we enjoyed our times when we ate there. The Great Outdoors on the back of deck 12 was an amazing place to have breakfast and we did so everyday! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
From the minute we stepped aboard the crew was friendly and went that extra mile to be helpful. The ship was very CLEAN and the mini-suites were very spacious. The soundproofing was great in that you do not hear the noise from the room ... Read More
From the minute we stepped aboard the crew was friendly and went that extra mile to be helpful. The ship was very CLEAN and the mini-suites were very spacious. The soundproofing was great in that you do not hear the noise from the room next to you or out in the halls. The service from all the crew was given with a smile and they were responsive to any requests. Dining was a pleasure as the food was well-prepared, tasty, variety, and proper temperature when served. We ate at Le Bistro twice and the service was outstanding and presentation perfect; the ambiance is refined and quiet. NCL's policy of "do it your way" was so great allowing us to chose when, where and with whom to eat. I have been on many cruises and this one will stand out as an EXCEPTIONAL in value, service, dining, venues, etc. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
If you have never cruised, or are a pro, I am sold on the Norwegian Line. Everything went smoothly and effeciently--the entertainment, spotlessly clean cabin, polite and informative service personnel, and, of course, the delicious food. ... Read More
If you have never cruised, or are a pro, I am sold on the Norwegian Line. Everything went smoothly and effeciently--the entertainment, spotlessly clean cabin, polite and informative service personnel, and, of course, the delicious food. We had meals at three venues: the topside Buffet, where the abundant food coices make it an adventure to browse and pick; and at the elegant Tsar's Diningroom, with it's large menu, but where I ordered a steak, perfectly grilled, that was not on the menu; and at the supurb French bistro, where they even served perfectly-garlicky snails. Kudos for another wonderful memory. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Norwegian Jewel cruise, reposition from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, Sept. 29, 2015. Cabin 5052 This was our second cruise on the Jewel, in addition to cruises on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers, with other cruise lines (plus ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel cruise, reposition from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, Sept. 29, 2015. Cabin 5052 This was our second cruise on the Jewel, in addition to cruises on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers, with other cruise lines (plus several less-pleasant ones on Navy ships). For comparison with our first cruise experience on the Jewel, see http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1920121 . Generally, those comments still apply, except where noted otherwise. I provided courtesy copies of that review twice to NCL management. They did not reply. Considering the extremely competitive nature of the cruise ship industry, that is both surprising and disappointing. I learned that NCL management is interested in hearing from their customers only when it involves additional income. Our cruise documents were more helpful than before. The departure pier was specified, along with its address, but the destination was listed only as “Los Angeles”. In actuality, the Pier is in San Pedro, which is within Los Angeles, but considered a separate area by some. The Long Beach airport is closer than the Los Angeles airport. It could be a better choice for some passengers, who might not consider it, because no specific information was provided about our arrival location. With no help from NCL, I located our destination pier, which was important to us, because of travel plans following the NCL cruise. Our cruise documents now made a distinction between “boarding” and “departure” times, which was helpful. The documents for our previous cruise had used the terms interchangeably, which led to considerable confusion as to when we should actually appear for the check-in process. The cruise documents now said that boarding would be at noon, and that we should not arrive more than an hour earlier. Based on our previous experience, we arrived at 10:30, and found 100-150 people ahead of us. As before, there were many staff members to guide and assist passengers. We boarded a bit before noon. A printed guide to the ship was available in the check-in area. This was a change from our previous cruise, and very helpful. Some passengers received one-sided copies. Be sure to grab a double-sided one, as it has helpful information, and a rudimentary map of the ship. NCL’s website now has better maps of each deck on their website. They can be downloaded, if you know how. However, they’re in the PNG format, rather than the more-common JPG format. I downloaded and converted the deck plans for each deck, then transferred them to my smart phone, for easy access. Look here, if interested: https://www.ncl.com/cruise-ship/jewel/deck-plans. From our previous NCL cruise, we knew that most passengers would head immediately to the Garden Café buffet for lunch. We had lunch at O’Sheehan’s, which was nearly vacant, though almost full when we finished our lunch. The place has an Irish bar theme, and good menu of “pub grub”. No draft beers were available during the cruise, nor were advertised drinks that required draft beer. Luggage was delivered to our cabin by 3:00. An orientation tour of the ship was offered at 1:30. We’d taken the tour on our previous cruise, and found it very helpful. The tour on this cruise included only a visit to the assembly stations for abandon ship drills and a lengthy tour of the spa, where spa staff members explained the wonderful services (additional cost) available to us. The tour was disappointing, and seemed to be largely an excuse for marketing the ship’s spa. Even worse, the tour was led by a person with a very thick accent, who was difficult to understand. After the mandatory abandon ship drill (life jackets not necessary), many passengers headed for the bar. The scene there was very dis-organized, with the bartender making no effort to serve passengers in their arrival order. Rather, he served the persons who yelled loudest. With many passengers having taken advantage of a promotional beverage package, this was totally foreseeable, but apparently not a concern for NCL food and beverage managers. A better system wouldn’t have been difficult to devise. During the cruise, we observed other situations where it became apparent that “crowd management” is not one of NCL’s core competencies. I understand that the Jewel spent some time in a shipyard in 2014. I noticed some improvements in our cabin, which was near the one for our previous cruise, and of a similar class. Our previous room was 5068. I remember noticing only one single 110-volt electrical outlet previously. Now, I found three single outlets, plus a “razor only” outlet in the bathroom, above the mirror. I still recommend bringing a multiple-outlet tap and/or extension cord, as you may have more electronic devices, or want to use only one location for powering them. The bed was very comfortable (the beds were joined, per our request), with firm mattresses and soft pillows. As before, no guest guide was provided, leaving us to discover everything on our own. The shower controls are a clever, but unconventional arrangement, where the left knob controls the water flow and the right one controls the temperature. After an airline career that included both international and domestic layovers, I do not recall seeing a similar arrangement in any hotel. An explanation in a guest guide would have been thoughtful. The actual water temperature varied significantly and unpredictably during showers, providing an incentive to keep them brief. The room was compact, but very adequate, with lots of storage and two small desks. Our room category was “OB” (Ocean View, Midship, Deck 5). Several television channels are available, though there is no channel guide or information about them. The movie and cartoon channels are not identified. Three news channels are available: MSNBC (very liberal), Fox News Channel (very conservative), and BBC (very British, and with a lot of sports programming), plus a few that seemed to show movies and cartoons. CNBC is also provided, though it lost credibility with most investors after the 2008 recession (I watch Bloomberg at home). Several shipboard channels are available. Interestingly, most of these are very grainy and snowy. One is from a webcam mounted near the bridge. Another channel shows the ship’s position on various maps, along with interesting information about the ship’s course and speed, plus weather-related information. It includes the current time, which is otherwise displayed only on the room’s phone (very difficult to read), the pool deck, and the sun deck. You may wish to bring an alarm clock, unless you want to rely on the phone’s wake-up call. Other channels tout shopping and shore excursions, and one shows videos of entertainment from previous days. Individual reading lights are located above the beds. Sadly, they are flood-type lights with frosted covers, and not very effective. If you want to read in bed, you should consider bringing a battery-powered reading light, as there are no electrical outlets near the head of the beds. Another change from our previous cruise was a small refrigerator with an “honor bar” inside. No pricing information was provided until Day 3, when a list was tucked into the refrigerator’s door. “If you have to ask the price….” As before, the carpeting for passageways in the stateroom areas is different from that in public areas. An easy way to remember your orientation is that the fish images on the carpet are swimming toward the bow. Also, stateroom numbers increase as you move aft. Food is plentiful on the ship, though the quality seemed to vary more than we remembered from the previous cruise. While most of it ranged from pretty good to excellent, some was nasty. Coffee had not improved from our previous cruise. It retains the honor of being the worst coffee I have experienced – even after careers in the Navy and the airlines. I used the espresso machines in the Garden Café buffet, which were okay. I’m not a coffee snob – I buy my beans from Costco. With only a couple of exceptions, all of the ship’s staff were very friendly and competent. Most were from developing countries, and appreciate this employment opportunity. The ship has almost 1100 crewmembers, from sixty countries, to serve about 2500 passengers. Entertainment on the ship is plentiful and very high caliber. We enjoyed all of the performances. Of special note is the Jewel’s “Show Band” (house band), led by Larry Lockwood. He is a gifted trumpet player. Another favorite was the “Awesome Twosome”. A welcome improvement from our previous cruise was the placement of deck plans on each deck, for guidance in finding your destination. They are located in the passageways on either side of the elevators/stairs at most locations, and on most decks. These are in addition to the profile views of the various decks on the ship. At the forward end of the port (left) passageway on Deck 11 is the Bridge Viewing Area, which provides a daytime-only view of the ship’s bridge, along with repeaters of electronic chart display information used by bridge officers. Unfortunately, no explanation of the information is provided, and passengers are not allowed to hear radio conversations. Instead, there is a repeating video of the ship’s construction process. Based on my career as an airline pilot, I know that many passengers are interested both in understanding the technology and in listening to radio conversations, especially in congested waters. While impressive and current, maritime chart display technology is many years behind that used by commercial airliners. Some information provided by NCL is incorrect, mis-leading, or contradictory. We learned to verify everything. One is the issue of reservations in the complimentary dining rooms. Guidance clearly states that reservations should be made only for large groups. In fact, the Restaurant Reservations desk will accept reservations for smaller groups. We learned this the hard way, after appearing at Tsar’s Palace without a reservation. We were told to expect a fifteen-minute wait, and were given a buzzer. Twenty minutes later, we inquired about our status. We were told that the hostess had just buzzed us (either she hadn’t, or the buzzer had failed), and were seated immediately. We watched several couples with reservation arrive and be seated immediately while we waited. Another is the issue of onboard shopping discounts for Latitudes members (NCL’s frequent traveler program) in the duty-free shop. Our Latitudes letter stated that the discount did not apply to “watches, alcohol, tobacco, and sale items”, implying that it would apply to other items. Our traveling companions learned that it actually applied only to NCL logo items. Depending on where you look, a $7.95 service charge applies to all room service orders, only those outside of 6:30 to 10:00 am, or to everything except beverages and baked goods ordered for breakfast. Take your pick…. The last day’s newsletter explained the procedures for disembarking in Los Angeles, and how to clear U.S. customs and immigration screening. That was of only academic interest, since we’d already cleared immigration and customs during a port visit to Astoria, Oregon. Since that stop, we were considered to be in the U.S. I suspect that this was standard protocol for the Los Angeles-based cruises to Mexico, and no one thought to change the information. The same incorrect information was repeated on an internal television channel. The PA announcements on the morning of arrival made no effort to correct the error. It didn’t cause specific problems, but probably left some passengers confused. In Astoria, the entry process for U.S. citizens was efficient and much quicker than advertised. For non-citizens, it was pretty much a disaster. The Cruise Director continued calling more groups to join the line, even though it already contained a few hundred persons. NCL must bear most, if not all, responsibility for that mess. On a positive note, there was considerably less presence of the very annoying photographers. I appreciated that. NCL is very proud of their “Norwegian Concierge” smartphone app, which is said to work only aboard ship. Most likely, it is intended to work with the ship’s Wi-Fi system. Presumably, it will offer information about the schedule for shipboard activities. Attempts to launch it in the embarkation area resulted in an invitation to launch it after boarding the ship. It didn’t work there, either. Ship’s staff said that the company was still working to implement it. It’s a great idea, as it might be used to publish the daily menus for the various restaurants on the ship, which were otherwise impossible to find, short of actually visiting each restaurant, and then only for that day. Compared to our 2013 Alaska cruise, the Jewel experience was better in some areas, and worse in others. It’s very disappointing that NCL is uninterested in comments from customers, unless it involves additional revenue. I won’t bother with sending them a courtesy copy of this review. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We are from Seattle so we took Cascade 510 Amtrak the morning of the cruise. It left from King Street Station. A beautiful train depot, wonderful ride up along the coast and a quick $10 taxi ride from the train station. Boarding the ... Read More
We are from Seattle so we took Cascade 510 Amtrak the morning of the cruise. It left from King Street Station. A beautiful train depot, wonderful ride up along the coast and a quick $10 taxi ride from the train station. Boarding the ship has changed a little and the process was ok. Canada Place can be tiring. On board we found our cabin, 11002 on the starboard side at the front. It was a Mini-suite. The bath tub was scary, walls so high as to be dangerous. Won't ever book a room with the "luxury bath" again on Norwegian. The closet is facing into the room next to the bed. Awkward. And the television is maybe 20", really? The bed was wonderful. A full size sofa as it is also a sleeper sofa. Also there is a coffee maker in the room. There is now a Service Charge for Room Service $7.95. Except you can order coffee and Danish for early morning the night before for free. We did not order room service. We did go to the premier steak house "Cagney's". $29.95 for steak, if you want surf and turf, it is another $10. Not elegant, less then expected. Service was not on par with other cruise ships we have been on. Biggest Complaint, we have to shell our lobster. Dressed up and grab ahold of a shell to remove the meat, Really? Carnival does is for you, at the table in their main dining room for no extra cost. If NCL want to promote their "extra" dining venues they need to step up the experience. The dining room was for the most part ok, however, don't put Lamb Shank on the menu then keep some one waiting 1 1/2 hours to say sorry it is still cooking, so we had prime rib, it was very good. Just not a good experience. Buffet upstairs was always a pleasant surprise, a wok bar, wonderful. strawberry self serve ice cream. Avoid the roast pig, a whole pig, really tough. Eggs Benedict every morning, hot and perfect. They must have a good children's program, rarely saw any children. They did do a fun parade around the pool one day. Only saw one show and it was great. Nice theater. NCL treated Cruise Critics very nice, had name tags and juice, coffee and pastries. Several members of the staff came by to say hi. First time the crew went so far out of their way for us. Nice touch, it was noticed by all. Victoria Canada is always a wonderful city and being we were the last ship of the season they were still in full service mode. Lots of taxis, buses and people to welcome us. Astoria is a hidden gem. The little logging town has truly embraced the cruise ship tourists. A nice walk to the main part of town. For the ones on tours they had a good selection. We docked in San Pedro, LA. Getting off was a breeze as we had cleared customs in Astoria onboard the ship, nice. Super Shuttle was a nightmare. I won't use Prime Time because they are so disorganized, now Super Shuttle seems to be the same mess. All in all, it was a very relaxing cruise. We are planning our next cruise and it will be on the Pearl. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have sailed with NCL several times & we have done this itinerary before as a repositioning to/from Vancouver and the Mexican Riviera return to L.A. This is the first time that we have done both as back to back. Coming into San Pedro ... Read More
We have sailed with NCL several times & we have done this itinerary before as a repositioning to/from Vancouver and the Mexican Riviera return to L.A. This is the first time that we have done both as back to back. Coming into San Pedro (L.A.) we had the option of staying onboard, which was nice. But we chose to go across the port to the Ports-of-Call just to get out. This used to be a bustling community of little shops, but most now stand empty. We did browse through a great art gallary (Parkhurst Gallary) and a Jeweler, where we found puzzle rings (Middle Eastern style); worth the trip. The NCL Jewel has been into dry-dock & some public areas have been renovated since the last time we sailed on it. Improvements were made to the Photo Gallary, the Blue Lagoon was replaced with O'Sheehan's Pub and the Moderno Brazilian restaurant has been moved to Deck 13 beside Cagney's Steakhouse. The view from Moderno in the evening as the sun goes down is incredible. This space used to be a piano lounge & was rarely used before; good decision NCL, although our grandkids will miss the Blue Lagoon. The staff & crew are very friendly & eager to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Our Stateroom Steward was amazing. Tip: I often tell people that if you desire a robe in your stateroom, just ask your room steward & they will likey provide them. We were travelling with my aged mother who uses a wheelchair to get around. The crew was very attentive to her & assisted at every port, including tendering at Cabo San Lucas. We had no problem accessing any area of the ship & we loved that we could walk around the ship outside on Deck 7. Overall we always enjoy sailing with NCL & this trip was no exception. We recommend this trip to our friends & family, especially those who have not sailed before. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This is a long review and thank you for reading: please save yourself some time and look at the section headings to see if they’ll apply to your needs. This was my first cruise ever. While there were good points, the trip overall was ... Read More
This is a long review and thank you for reading: please save yourself some time and look at the section headings to see if they’ll apply to your needs. This was my first cruise ever. While there were good points, the trip overall was a disappointment and while I may take another cruise someday I do not plan to go with NCL again. Readers should note that I’m not a typical traveler, and some/all my complaints may be non-issues to many others. I went with my mom on this trip. It was her seventh cruise, first (and probably last) with NCL as well. Trip: 09/29/2015 to 10/04/2015 Itinerary: Vancouver, BC > Victoria, BC > Astoria, OR > Los Angeles, CA Trip Type: Pacific Coastal Re-positioning Who I am: In my mind it is important to explain who the reviewer is, so that readers can put what they’re reading in perspective to their own lives and lifestyles to see if it is relevant to them. I’m a 32-year-old male business professional from Minnesota without children—and doesn’t particularly care for them, either. While there weren’t a lot of kids on the trip, what they lacked in numbers many made up for in verbosity. I also don’t care for crowds, so that this was a sold-out ship didn’t help. Why I Travel: Photography. This cruise was part of a larger, 11-day trip we took, spending four nights in Seattle and a fifth in Vancouver, before I flew home from Los Angeles. In that time I took over 9,000 photographs. Unless doing portrait work, people are the enemy to most photographers, and most people are utterly oblivious to the shots they’re ruining on a ship. I also understand this is a non-issue for most people. I’m used to getting up at 5:00 a.m. (or earlier) just to beat the crowds whenever possible. Nickeled and Dimed: This trip was a five night/six day sales pitch, trying to drive my bill higher and higher at every turn. I felt like if they could have flipped me over by my ankles and shaken the money out of my pockets they would have. While I understand this is standard operating procedure for a cruise ship it is still disappointing. The Most Frustrating Part: The day before we were supposed to disembark the ship we received an envelope placed above our room number (between 10:00 a.m. and noon) with information inside stating that our shore excursion (and ride to the airport) was canceled. We went to the Shore Excursion desk to discover our options. The Shore Excursion desk was closed until 5:00 p.m., which led us to the Customer Service counter. We felt put off, and a gentleman at the desk was supposed to contact the Shore Excursion staff. We didn’t feel good about this. After talking with another guest, she recommended we go back to the Customer Service desk and talk to the lady with the three stars on her blazer. This person contacted the Shore Excursion staff. As we were returning to our stateroom the phone rang. We were able to choose a new shore excursion in Los Angeles with airport drop-off. Prior to talking to the lady with the three stars we had been stonewalled, let down, misdirected, or lied to by several other employees. There is a lot of “pass the buck” and broken communication on this ship, which is so frustrating. The Ship: Vividly decorated and while sometimes confusing in its layout it is a beautiful vessel. It is regrettable that passengers have to walk through the casino or shops to get from one end of the ship to the other on Decks 6 and 7, but I’ve been assured that this cash grab attempt is an industry standard and not endemic to NCL. I got many beautiful pictures from Deck 14, the Sun Deck. It was also a nice place to run away to when the crowds got to be too much. The Stateroom: We stayed in room 11042 (mini-suite), on the Starboard side of the ship. The staff split the bed for us after we arrived. This room was a lifesaver. The Garden Café on Deck 13 was often too busy to even get a table at, and we ate at least three meals in the stateroom, using the desk, coffee table, and sofa to accommodate food trays. Our stateroom attendant was very friendly, accommodating, but we always felt that our room was being taken care of last. I’m not sure if NCL gives priority to previous guests, if there’s a “tip culture” we’re not aware of that happens on the first day, or exactly why we were always the last served—and it could be as simple as a sick colleague that he was filling in for—but it was strange. He did do an excellent job. Tsar Dining Room: Gorgeous, but arrive 30+ minutes early to get a table anywhere close to a window. The food was generally delicious, but (and maybe this is a Minnesota thing) I had to beg to get coffee before dessert—and even then it sometimes fell on deaf ears. There is a rigidly-enforced order to which meals are served and deviation is strongly resisted. The wait staff was sometimes curt when a request was made. That said, the room was truly gorgeous, and the food was 20 times better than what was in the Garden Café. It was spoiled at times by screaming children, but this is a failure in parenting (remove your children when they’re awful!) and not NCL’s fault. Ship Amenities: I don’t swim, but prospective passengers should know that the pools are small. They have two hot tubs, which were heavily-used. The art is expensive but much of it beautiful at the auctions. Shows: I loved almost every show I went to (show up early! There’s fierce competition for good seats!), especially Band on the Run and Cirque Bijou. Both of these shows were in the Stardust Theatre on Deck 7 at the bow—the Tsar Dining Room is all the way at the stern on the same deck. Fred Bevill (comedian) in the Spinnaker Lounge (Deck 13) was terrific! Magnum Wine Bar: The ship is full of restaurants, bars, and other places to spend lots of money, but the best place on the ship—for me—was the Magnum Wine Bar on Deck 6. Fabrizio (piano player) regaled a healthy crowd every night while the fantastic Filipino bar staff bantered, mixed, smiled, shook, stirred, and delighted nearly everyone—these guys were awesome. From Elton John to Italian pop, Fabrizio has incredible range. The bartenders possessed all of the pizzazz that was missing from the restaurant staff, and embodied the spirit of customer service that was utterly missing from the Shore Excursion workers. Cruise Director: We flat out despised his persona. His voice was grating and he reeked of false smarminess. We’d even go out on our balcony to avoid hearing his voice during his daily briefings over the PA. We avoided him at all costs. Restaurant Staff: The serving staff in the Tsar Dining Room performed their tasks adequately. For non-managerial employees there was no joy, showmanship, or indication that they enjoyed their jobs. Mr. Messiah (in charge of the ship’s restaurants) was instrumental in helping me when no one else did—thank you to him. I don’t know if the staff was burned out from a long tour of duty, but morale is lacking and customer service was uninspired. Getting help was very difficult in the Garden Café. English barriers were a frequent problem for many of the staff. When I asked (begged?) for a tray, a worker cleaning up the counters by the beverage dispensers took his rag, cleaned off a spill tray, and offered it to me. I was (and still am) appalled that the tray wasn’t first sanitized through a dishwasher. Shore Excursions: We went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. While I did get a few good photographs the trip was an anguished frustration for me. There were many people when we arrived, and it was a full-on, Disney-worthy crowd by the time we left: people are the enemy for a photographer trying to capture delicate flowers, sweeping vistas, and lovely waterways. Astoria greeted us with thick fog that lifted as the day wore on. From what we saw it is a lovely town. I didn’t realize we’d be taking school buses from the Knapp school district or that our trip to Cannon Beach would be shortened so the buses could go back and pick kids up. I also twisted my ankle badly, but powered through the pain so I could get the pictures I wanted—though I’m still using photo-editing software to crop out the people I couldn’t work around. Los Angeles wasn’t what I expected. It is pretty, though. The tour guide on our bus was grating and obnoxious, but we got to the TCL (Grauman’s Chinese) Theatre and then the airport—the most important parts. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our first cruise from Vancouver to San Diego overall was very enjoyable. However, we boarded the ship two hours later than expected due to a malfunction of their computer system for check-in while at the terminal. What a nightmare! There ... Read More
Our first cruise from Vancouver to San Diego overall was very enjoyable. However, we boarded the ship two hours later than expected due to a malfunction of their computer system for check-in while at the terminal. What a nightmare! There had to be 4,000 people being manually processed for two cruise ships. Due to a late board we missed the "mustering" session for safety and received a letter that night stating it was mandatory and we must attend the next morning. We were there for the class at 10 am along with 30 other people as requested but the crew was a no show. This caused us to miss our only opportunity to explore a port in Victoria BC Canada. We watched the safety presentation on TV but weren't happy that not once but twice we weren't given the instructions in person. Glad we didn't buy the drink option. Our friends did and found there was no consistency in the quality of mixed drinks....a little watered down. Other than that, entertainment and main dining room food and service were great. The Café buffet for breakfast and lunch not so great. However we would sail Norwegian again. Kudos to the wait staff and ship's director for making our trip relaxing and enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was my 2nd cruise with NCL. First time beeing on the Epic. I was really impressed with the overall condition of the ship! After reading some reviews, knowing that this ship is one of the oldest in the fleet...The Sun was very clean, ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise with NCL. First time beeing on the Epic. I was really impressed with the overall condition of the ship! After reading some reviews, knowing that this ship is one of the oldest in the fleet...The Sun was very clean, spotless and my oceanview stateroom was spacious enought. I was on deck 6A and if you are looking for a quiet aerea, this is it ! I really enjoyed beeing on that deck, since a few more steps up and I was already on deck 7. The 2 main dinning rooms were great, altought I had a preference for their Seven Seas dinning room. It is really nice, especially the entrance Hall! At both dinning rooms, food was pretty good. The only place I was dissapointed with food choices or quality was at the Garden Cafe...Compared with the Garden Cafe on the Epic, the one on the Sun was very limited... I also really enjoyed that the Sports Bar served food until very late at night! I also enjoyed a lot their Entertainment team ! Shows onboard were really good ! The Dancers as well as Tim Kamenski did a wonderful job ! Not to mention everybody else on board ! Also, since I was travelling just by myself, I really enjoyed the FOD meetings! Thanks to Jo Jo's and NCL for offering this on their ships ! Only dissapoitment was disembarkation...It took almost 2 hours to disembark ! We were lining up for really long...I Was able to got off the ship arounf 10 am... Also, I must admit that I had to call a few times their Customer Service Line for an issue with my booking 2 weeks before sailing...and I was really disappointed with the way they try to solved that issue...Finally, once on board, I found out that they had given me an extra onboard credit to compensate...So, nice touch...! Overall, I give a 9 out of 10 to the Sun ! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
To begin, we were given a stateroom on deck 9 which was two floors from the theatre. It was noisy about 12 hours a day (we were earing singing and musical instruments on and off from 12pm to 12am. When we arrived in our cabin, the safety ... Read More
To begin, we were given a stateroom on deck 9 which was two floors from the theatre. It was noisy about 12 hours a day (we were earing singing and musical instruments on and off from 12pm to 12am. When we arrived in our cabin, the safety deposit box didn't work, I had to call twice and ask to an employee in the hallway and 4 hours later somebody finally came to fix it. We also had a bunk bed in the room, but when I opened it the sheets were dirty. I then call to request a change of sheets to that particularly bed, 5 minutes later, somebody knocked on the door and give me some sheets for me to change them by myself! I called 30 days in advance to let them know that my boyfriend was lactose intolerant, we have cruised before and never had problems, but on this ship it was something else! When we arrive at the dinning room the first day of the cruise, I let our server know about the situation ( he acted like if he wasn't aware at all about the situation and told us that there was nothing that he can bring to him) Finally, one of the chef came at our table and offer roast beef with no sauce and salad without vinaigrettes! Every morning (even on sea days) the captain woke us up around 7:30am to let us know about a lot of pointless information like the latitude and longitude of the ship (seriously who cares at 7:30 am??) Also on sea days, the only activity was '' bingo time'', seriously not adapted at all for cruisers in their 20's. Our itinerary was Los Angeles, San Francisco, Victoria (Canada) and Vancouver (Canada), this ship didn't have a retractable roof over the pool, the temperature was so cold, so on sea days, we weren't even able to swim. There was also no area on this ship for adult only, so there was a lot of kids in the whirlpools (which wasn't relaxing at all). Therefore, we endend up at the spa for 40$us each to warm us up. The disembarkation was also a nightmare, it felt like all the passengers were leaving the ship in the same time. There was a endless line to disembark the ship. Like NCL wasn't use to the disembarkation process ( they are suppose to do it many times a year...), we thought at the moment that we got lucky that anything bad happened during the cruise because we didn't see how they would have handle the situation. The price of this cruise was pretty low, but with all the stuff that weren't included, like a relaxing spot (the only one was reserved to those who paid more than a thousand dollars for their 5 days cruise) or activities (beside bingo or art auctions loll ) or the poor quality of the shows onboard, we endend up with the conclusion that maybe the other cruise lines are sometime a little more expensive but you get more for your buck! Therefore we will never cruise with them again! The only pros of our experience on this ship was that this is a pretty recent one, so the design of the publics area and our stateroom was nice and pretty much up to date. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Chose this cruise due to price of ship and flight. Enjoyed the ports of call so much. Best show on the seas with the male and female acrobats that met in gymnastics school. Passengers were friendly and food was delicious. Especially ... Read More
Chose this cruise due to price of ship and flight. Enjoyed the ports of call so much. Best show on the seas with the male and female acrobats that met in gymnastics school. Passengers were friendly and food was delicious. Especially enjoyed Cagne's Steakhouse and the dessert buffet. Even unknown ports like Nanaimo and Astoria, Oregon were fantastic. Even went back to Oregon on land a year later to explore. The Marine Maritime museam there was excellent and educational. We knew about the tea time at Butchart Gardens and the excursion explorers were there to make it a future excursion! Do yourself a favor and book it yourself to $ave. Take the bus to the gardens for $2! It was so pretty that I want to do a destination wedding there. Not to be missed also is the Tillamook cheese factory in Oregon, though we did not do that on the trip, I've done it by land and it was A+. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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