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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This past January, my friend and I were looking for a fun way to escape our winter weather and see another part of the world. We ultimately chose to do a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint. It fact, it was ... Read More
This past January, my friend and I were looking for a fun way to escape our winter weather and see another part of the world. We ultimately chose to do a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint. It fact, it was absolutely awesome! We were very fortunate to book a cruise that was reasonably priced, included free flights and transfers, as well as a specialty dining package (complementary dinners in four of the ship's exclusive restaurants). Our itinerary was amazing: leaving Los Angeles, with stops in Mexico (Cabo and Acapulco), Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Columbia and finishing up in Miami! I highly recommend it!! It was an excellent blend of sightseeing, history, beach life, and natural beauty. We explored some ports on our own, did a few excursions with the ship (one to Antigua, Guatemala and the other, an eco-tour in Costa Rica), and arranged a few taxi adventures with others we met on board. It worked out really well. I was a bit worried about choosing an inside cabin, but I ended up loving our cozy stateroom. Special shout out to Arnold who was warm and personable took great care of us every morning and evening. The entertainment and the recreation team (Roberto, Phillip, Una, Marta, and others) were absolutely A-1!! Every single performance in the theatre was impressive and showcased so many excellent musicians and dancers. Morning, noon, and night, the upbeat and hard-working staffers were SO MUCH FUN!! While we indulged in a custom made omelet most mornings from the buffet, we explored various venues at midday. We ventured to O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill only once and were underwhelmed, so from then on, tended to pick and choose lunch most days from the Garden Cafe. We opted to dine at the Versailles dining room for most dinners - couldn't understand why so many went to the buffet instead. The food and service at the Versailles was outstanding, offering a delicious array of starters, entrees, and desserts. To help counter the effects of all the great food, we circled the deck several times a day, took the stairs every time we moved from deck to deck, and even went to workout when we had time. I was really impressed by the facilities, especially the gym. During our days at sea, we spent a lot of time by the Oasis pool; reading, sunning, and watching the passing parade. Things really came to life when there were groups performing there, or when the crew organized games or a bit of dancing. All 'n' all, mine was a great first cruise and I look forward to booking another trip in the near future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We signed up for this Panama Canal cruise in May 2017 while we were cruising with NCL in Alaska. After our 20 months wait, this cruise was finally a reality. We arrived a day early to ensure our flight was not delayed due to winter weather ... Read More
We signed up for this Panama Canal cruise in May 2017 while we were cruising with NCL in Alaska. After our 20 months wait, this cruise was finally a reality. We arrived a day early to ensure our flight was not delayed due to winter weather and stayed at a hotel in San Pedro, CA. We had a fun time in San Pedro and would recommend it for a pre-cruise day before hand. Things started out perfectly as we arrived at the Los Angeles Cruise Port on Friday 04 Jan 2019 and quickly went through the embarkation process. This was the smoothest we've experienced during our six (6) cruises. Our Kudos to all involved. The NCL Star is the same size of ship that we've sailed on with RCCL and NCL so we were prepared for it and easily found ourselves at home on it. The Star looked attractive, clean, and well maintained considering the constant use it is put through. The crew was seen actively cleaning all areas daily. We found dining to be excellent to outstanding. We are not pampered guests from our daily lifestyle so we appreciated the hospitality shown to us in all dining venues on the Star. Did we like everything they offered? Of course not, it depends on our likes and dislikes. Did we find really yummy food? Yes, just about all the time for every meal. More Kudos to the Star's chefs and serving staff. We dined in both MDRs, the Garden Cafe Buffet, O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill, Topsiders Bar & Grill, Cagney's, La Cuchina, Moderno, Teppanyaki, and Ginza Asian Dining Room. Our only dining complaint was our meal at the Ginza Asian Dining Room. The group of five (5) of us were all disappointed with the taste of the food served there and recommend NCL take a closer look at the taste of the items offered there. This one unsatisfying meal did not over shadow the rest of the great food we experienced on the Star. Entertainment was a designed to fit most people on board. The two nightly shows (7:30pm & 9:30 pm) in the Stardust theater ran from 40 minutes to one hour long. The only drawback was uncomfortable seating. The ship's Star Show Band was outstanding on stage and then when they played jazz in the Bliss lounge at different times. The ship's singers and dancers worked hard to please everyone with their four production shows as well as the other performances they supported. Well done ladies and gentlemen. We loved the juggler Randy Cabral. The other musical groups that moved throughout the ship provided a good mix of music and some of them became our favorites as the cruise went on for two weeks. The cruise director Roberto was all over the ship involved with a little bit of everything each day. He was very personal, easy to approach, and made us feel welcome on board. Kudos to Roberto. His staff conducted themselves in a similar manner so there was smiles and fun to go around daily. You just had to find something that fit your interest. We've worn ourselves out doing too many excursions on past cruises so we limited ourselves to whale watching in Cabo. The operator of this excursion was Cabo Wave who provided an outstanding time for two (2) hours. We highly recommend this excursion. At the other ports, we were happy to visit the shops that were available there. The Panama Canal crossing was our MAIN EVENT and it was fantastic! NCL brought a narrator on board who provided details of the canal crossing process which took ten (10) hours to complete. Thank you NCL as this person was invaluable for making this the most memorable event of our cruise. Looking back at the two weeks we spent on the NCL Star it was a trip of a life time. Our expectations/wishes for a great time were met and exceeded. We would recommend this cruise to anyone seeking another cruise adventure. Well done NCL Star and crew! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and ... Read More
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and entertainment well below prior sailings with NCL. Food was mediocre and the Big Screen TV area had seating for about 80 people on a ship transporting over 2000...go figure. Television viewing in-room was on a very small screen with one movie station, one tv station other than 3 news and 2 sports. walking deck 7 frequently had closed areas for maintenance though none was witnessed. Upper decks were often closed for high winds. given the fact the ship traveled at 23 knots I have come to expect high winds to be a given on Cruise Ships. Why else surround the deck with glass panels? Cagney Steak restaurant served my steak RARE and draining blood.... although ordered MEDIUM. Even after sending back to kitchen for additional cooking it came back medium RARE...less blood but at least warm in center...the baked potato was well cooked and delicious. I should not complain though as it was a complimentary dinner for my Platinum traveler status and it came with a very good Australian wine. The Vintage Railway shore excursion in Costa Rico was well below advertisement. After discussing with the onboard representative they offered a 30% discount...which never showed on room billing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same could be said for the disembarkation in LA - what a disaster. Whilst the cruise itinerary, restaurant and bar staff were great, the food lacked variety and was very limited - one of our friends is diabetic and it was very limiting for him (NCL you have done better than this). Being on the ship for 18 days - some variation in the buffet section for lunch and supper would have been welcome, the breakfast was not much better. The fruit provided on board was generally disgusting. We basically had the same food for 18 days. The ship docked in very remote industrial ports resulting in additional costs for travel into town - almost forcing the NCL excursions on us. In one case we were to dock in Puntarenas but were taken to Puerto Caldera and advised that it would cost $15.00 per person for a bus into Puntarenas. The live bands and musical entertainment was the poorest I have experienced on a cruise ship to date. The internet service provided was expensive and slow. The positives - the cabin was clean and well serviced. The staff ( with exception of the administration) was excellent. The narrator providing us with facts and information on the Panama Canal was excellent. Overall - the ship is showing its age - not what I expect from our preferred cruise line! you can do better than this NCL - I know this because I have experienced it in the past. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of healthy options to cater for most tastes. Something was very wrong on this cruise, Foid was very often warm or cold , most dishes in heavy sauces, plain fish mon existent . Salads were unpleasant. Presentation overall was simply not up to cruise standard. Speciality restaurants were a mixed experience, Le Bistro and Moderns were best. O’Sheehans’ fish and chips was horrible, not at all the same as a few years ago . Cagneys was v disappointing, salmon was uncooked inside. Mushrooms were inedible and unpleasant. Main dining rooms were ok , but very time consuming and lacking in fruit and veg, so only went a few times. Garden buffet staff are amazing, all waiting staff and room attendants were wonderful . Reception staff are doing their best, but are not v knowledgeable. We asked for a table on our balcony so we could order breakfast, they said our mini suite is too small and that we should eat breakfast in bed/- finally we were provided with a table, Excursions were well priced . The Chiva fun bus in Colombia was fantastic. Code farm in Guaramala excellent. The cruise director did not seem to be very proactive compared to our past cruise experience . Entertainment slots tended to be 45 minutes only in public areas . Captain Fafalios was wonderful and we felt safe in his hands . Our main disappointment was the strange food in the buffet , and the level of sparkle from the cruise director. Disembarkation took far too long - around 90 mins of standing in line , we feel this could have been better managed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We ... Read More
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We hesitated to tour Nicaragua since we had to fill out a health form for that country. The entertainment was better than I expected as well. However, each entertainer sold their CD, book, etc. and I would have thought the pay by NCL sufficient. We did a couple of cruises on Royal Caribbean and did not experience this. We did not opt for the internet on principle. It should have been free. I had a phone plan but it would not work on the ship. I had to go onto the pier in order to use my iPhone. We were pleased with our cabin and out attendant, Julius. He provided great travel tips and service. However, the rest rooms in the public areas needed more attention. The one on the 12th floor in the area of the buffet smelled of urine and had trash on the floor. The corners had built up filth. I cannot say the same for some of the Guest Services personnel. They had to "check with their superior" too frequently. They apologized profusely if something went wrong and said it was because they had never been in that port before. Not an excuse. NCL should have provided orientation. I got conflicting information between them and the Shore Excursion personnel. The specialty restaurants were outstanding. However, the two main dining rooms and the buffet left a lot to be desired. We, fortunately, are not drinkers but do enjoy an occasional one. The drinks were very expensive and included a tip and another charge of some kind. Needless to say, as with the internet, we opted out. There were a lot of activities but many of the programs tried to sell special offers after a presentation. It seemed as if every time we wanted to do something extra, there was a hand holding out for more money. I even learned that we could have had the $14.50 charge pp per day removed!!!! Didn't do this because I think the crew who don't deal directly with passengers should be rewarded as well. But, why put this on if it is more or less optional. Frankly, we have been spoiled by Viking river and ocean cruises. The initial price may be higher; but, as you know, very little is extra. Free water, WiFi, included excursion at every port, free wine, beer, soda with meals, umbrellas, robes, listening devices so that all can hear the guide, etc. The personnel treat guests with kid gloves and we are never left to wander around having to ask where we should be for an excursion. I have not yet totaled up our trip but it will be equal to or more than Viking. Also, the location of the Guest Services and Shore excursions were right off of the Atrium where there were activities and music and a noisy bar. I felt I had to shout to be heard and had to ask for things to be repeated. On Viking, the staff had desks and passengers were able to sit down and have a decent discussion. On our last trip, we left an iPad at a hotel in Madrid. They bent over backwards to get it returned to us. Embarkation was speedy and rooms ready in a timely manner. However, disembarkation was not. The line to get off the ship was stalled and an announcement was made that they would not be calling any color categories for a while. Our tour of LA was supposed to start at 9 o'clock. We did not leave the terminal until 10 and our excellent guide had to cut corners to be able to see what she thought was most important. I noticed that she did not receive many tips which was a disservice to her because this was not her fault. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise because we made up our minds not to let the above get to us. But, no, I would not choose NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. Freestyle cruising fit our plan as we didn't want to dress up every night, although we did a couple of nights. As newbie cruisers, I would say it's all about the ship and the crew and the people on board. We are in our early sixties so our expectations were folks our age and older. For the most part, that proved to be true. People who have had many cruise experiences see the cruise in many different ways comparing one to another. Food, entertainment, ports of call, etc. First off for me, I've never been surrounded by so much food. It was good. Speciality dining was fun! There is no reason to complain. Just pick something else! The crew and all the staff want you to be happy. They take their job seriously. Entertainment was all day and into the night! Something for everyone. Beautiful people who truly try to make your vacation memorable. Really enjoyed the "hot white" party. Service was excellent. They washed and folded my clothes for a fair price. The spa was superb! I would recommend it to anyone. It's expensive, but for a vacation to get ones mind off the work waiting for you at home-- a bargain. I gave my wife the 18 day spa pass and that was a bargain too! The Gem is truly a wonderful ship. I read its fact sheet. Its' crew international. Really makes it fun. Norwegian in my mind strives to be a class act. Sign me up- I'd do it again. I didn't think about work once. Therefore it was a true vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled or made me feel welcome. I'm a former hostess- so this bothers me. My cabin steward kept my room clean, but even though I'd put the "Make Up Room" sign up by 7AM (I'm an early riser)- the room was never made up until 10AM. Also, I go to bed early- and my room was never made up in the evening before 9PM. Given that it was an 18-night cruise- The cabin steward should have recognized my routine but didn't care. I had to ask for things and he wasn't friendly until the last night of the cruise- when he probably hoped for an extra tip. I didn't give him one because he hadn't gone the extra mile- like most cabin stewards do. I generally tip extra, but not this time. Ship- the ship was in very good condition- there were some places that needed repainting on the exterior and my friend's cabin (5096) had what looked like mold on the ceiling. It turned out to be paint but it was unsightly. Internet- You can pay $.99 a minute or you have to buy a package. The only way to get the 24 hour unlimited use is to buy a package for the entire voyage. Expensive. Entertainment- I was never bored. There were plenty of activities to participate in. Show that I went to were very good. I loved Brad Stevens the pianist. Food- I dined for most meals in the Grand Pacific Dining Room. We usually showed up between 5;30- 6:30 and there wasn't much of a wait. The meals were hit and miss. Meat dishes- steaks and ribs (and even the Hungarian Goulash) were inedible. Too tough. Perhaps the head chef is a vegetarian but he needs to have someone taste test the food. I'm sure there were many complaints and plates of food sent back to the kitchen. I ended up referring to this as the "bird and fish" cruise because those dishes and the vegetarian dishes were good. The bananas foster were bananas cut lengthwise and plopped into butterscotch and rum. Gross. My "key lime parfait" was really key lime mousse. Tasted good but did not resemble a "parfait". The corn fritters were flat pancakes with a kernel of corn in each one. The salads were lacking in anything other than mixed greens and they ran out of spinach midway through the cruise. Le Bistro was good- but the cost of the food was excessive- given that meals are included in the passage. The up charge shouldn't be $17.99 for a good steak. The buffet was ok. The outside burger stand was good and on sea days they did really nice bar-b-ques by the pool. The best dish was a seafood medley. Yum! Drinks- I thought the price of wine was reasonable. I noticed my chardonnay was cheaper at Magnums than other venues. Don't know why. Unless you are a full-fledged alcoholic- don't bother with a drink package. Average drink price is $10. Excursions and Ports Curacao- We pre-purchased $60 resort passes (through Resorts for a Day) for the Hilton Hotel. It was fabulous. They welcomed us- provided towels and we were free to use the beach and pool areas. Our passes included $25 food and beverage vouchers, which was enough for us to drink four drinks and split a delicious Quesadilla. Highly recommend this place. Taxis to and from the Hilton were $20 each way. Aruba- We winged it and were so glad we did. There are school buses (decorated with graffiti) offering $25 pp island tours. We went to a rock formation, a church, a lighthouse (where there are food and beverage trucks. Get a fruit smoothie for $5- delicious!). Then we were dropped off at Eagle Beach for two hours and then returned to the ship. It was awesome. The beach chairs rent for $10. Santa Marta- very poor industrial port. Our excursion to a waterfall was underwhelming and there was too much walking (and wading through streams) for some of the passengers. I'm only 53 so the mostly shaded walk didn't bother me (it's over a mile each way) but my 71 year old travel companion it was too much for- especially with wading through the streams 8 times. I should have read the fine print about shoes getting wet. The waterfall may be more impressive when there isn't a drought but it was puny. The banios (toilets) were very gross and you have to pay $1 to use them. Norwegian should drop this port IMO and do two nights in Cartegena. Cartegena- Loved this city. Very pretty architecture. The vendors are ridiculous though. My suggestion is ignore them. Someone in my group made the mistake of buying something and then was swarmed by other vendors. To get away from the them- nip into on of the Juan Valdez coffee shops (Columbia's Starbucks). The coffee is good and inexpensive. They only take pesos or credit cards. Shops took US dollars though. Panama Canal- Wow! Was a wonderful experience. I got up early and managed to score a seat at the bow in Spinnacker at 6:45. Transit started around 8AM but it was neat waiting in line for the Canal. Sailing through the lake while eating lunch at one of the aft window tables in the Grand Pacific Dining Room was one of my favorite trip experiences. Costa Rica- We went to an animal rescue with NCL where we saw many birds, moneys, and animals. We were treated to fresh fruit- which was very delicious . Highly recommend Nicaragua- We went to the Botanical Gardens and Leon with NCL. Our guide Gabriel was very good but the trip to and from was long and we were underwhelmed with the Botanical Gardens. There were no flowers at all. The only thing worth seeing was the green parrot. Guatemala- I stayed onboard. I'd had enough of long bus rides through poverty stricken areas for a lifetime at this point. Manzanilla- We went on the NCL excursion to Barcelo Karmina Resort. This was close to the ship and a very nice all-inclusive which we enjoyed. The town however is industrial and polluted. I think NCL should take it off the itinerary. Puerto Vallarta- I stayed on the ship but if you like to shop there is a big mall and a Walmart. Cabo- Great way to end our trip. Tendering was fast and easy. The town is beautiful. We went to Casa Dorada resort with NCL. Our tour group had access to a hotel suite which we could access from the pool area. We had a complimentary buffet lunch and a free beverage (any). I had a Bahama Mama which was good. Margaritas were good too. Make sure to be out on deck at sailaway to watch the whales. We saw many, many whales. This was a great way to end our trip. I'd go back to Cabo. Overall- I had a great time on the cruise and would sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from ... Read More
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from the shore excursion team - were fantastic at managing mobility issues. Lots of disabled restrooms, staff was always eager to assist. The room was clean, and had enough room for a family of four, and our balcony was fantastic. Our steward Biency was always available, always called us by our names, consistently asked us if we needed anything and was generally accommodating. We always had what we needed in our room and it was made-up/turned-down at good times. He was a true highlight. The restaurants and bars were always well stocked and had a good selection. I would like to see the service at O'Sheehan's improve and some additional things added to the menu (a BLT or club sandwich, onion rings, guac & salsa for the nachos etc). Also the quality of the food at O'Sheehans varied dramatically every time we went in. The shore excursions and the shore excursion team were below what I would expect for the price point. I feel like that NCL should have staff that is knowledgable about the excursions because someone on the team has taken it and has done a write-up for the other members of staff & made notes that cruisers would find helpful. They were clueless with answering questions and just kept repeating what I could already read on the app. We also waiting in the theatre one day when the SE staff walked way without calling our tour. When a man asked about it they waved their hand as they walked away and said, "oh yeah, that one is ready, you can go." Also, the activity levels were useless and not at all indicative of the actual difficulty. I ended up injured on a shore excursion due to their ignorance and their attitude was "oh well." NCL needs to ramp up the ports of call for this cruise and have better timing at ports. Having to drive an hour or more at most ports just to see places of interest is a hassle. A Panama City stop would have also been a good choice for this itinerary. There were 20 kids on this cruise and I felt the Splash Academy struggled to manage this small amount even with all their staff. I don't know how they do with a boat full of kids! We kept repeating instructions to keep a certain chid away from our child but we constantly got feedback that they kept letting them interact and therefore had continued negative occurrences despite our instructions. To be quite honest, our child was harassed by this other child and the staff only reacted when my child retaliated. The staff didn't really feel like they knew much about children or how to redirect their behaviour. I would like them to get more training on conflict resolution because their solution seemed to be to throw their hands in the air. Having said all that, the ship was a great size, the Panama canal portion of the itinerary was worth it for the narration and information alone, the dining and bar staff was consistently fantastic, and some of the excursions were well worth the time and money. This was our first time on NCL (we've done two other companies in the past) and I feel that it was good enough to give it another go, should my complaint about the excursions get resolved. There were a lot of long time cruisers complaining on this cruise but we didn't feel that our experience was negative overall, just some training for Shore Excursions and the Splash Academy. Everything else was great. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I ... Read More
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I taken these trips individually, one cruise 11 different countries; We also went thru the Panama Canal which was just place i heard and read about and wonder what that looks like, I was lucky to have experience it, it was awesome. While we were at sea going from one country to the next the ship did not disappoint they kept us quite entertained with lots of food, games, seminars, swimming, the spa, the Casino and first class live stage performances, thank you Norwegian Gem I really enjoyed myself. My state room was lovely with a king size bed and the service was impeccable, after 18 days of having being catered to I am still trying to get back to normal now that I am home. I traveled by my self because most of my friends were not able to get away for such a long period of time but I never felt alone the staff and the other guests were all very friendly and I felt very comfortable, can't wait for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by the pool on the "sea days" so you could enjoy the pool and sunshine! With 10 "ports of call" there was ample opportunity to enjoy shore excursions mixed in with relaxing by the pools. We had only been to Cabo San Lucas before so the other 9 ports were all new to us and real treat to discover. We especially enjoyed Guatamala. Who'da thought? And of course the Panama Canal was extra special. We added an extra day in New York City to begin and L. A. at the end and really enjoyed this addition to our trip. It really added extra relaxation and excitement to our trip. Overall, I believe our experience with Norwegian was great and I'm really happy that we upgraded to a mini suite for that little extra cabin space. I had booked a balcony and then submitted bids to upgrade and managed to get upgraded. We will forever remember this cruise for the people we met and all of the fabulous experiences on ship and on shore. In addition, we would like to thank the wonderful crew members!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? ... Read More
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? There are always a few bumps in the road but generally it was terrific. I'm disabled, traveled solo and use an electric wheelchair and had to cancel my whale watching tour in Cabo because they have to tender there and can't take the electric wheelchair but apparently no one realized that when I bought the excursion. Overall, NCL was very helpful finding me shore excursions that were accessible. I especially enjoyed the Tarcoles River excursion in Costa Rica. Food was good, buffet was a little cold from time to time but I always found something to satisfy my taste. I noticed the last day on the breakfast buffet the "Mountain of Bacon" dwindled to a small pile.. Guess that was their way of saying "We're done feeding you folks" lol. Magenta was very good, Cagney's and Moderno was excellent. The staff was always friendly and helpful. I especially enjoyed the very helpful bar staff at the Java Cafe. My cabin steward Andrean was always very helpful and smiled all the time. He would brighten every day. Entertainment was ok. I enjoyed the performance of "Swing" the most. There is a little monotony that sets in during an 18 day cruise but I always found something to do. I wish they could find a way to do a better variety of TV shows. It's very limited. I downloaded a bunch of movies and shows from Netflix and Amazon on my tablet. Be aware they are time limited so pay attention to how long you have to each them. We saw lots of whales and porpoises after we left Cabo from the ship so that was fun. There was a nice mix of people on board, quite an international group. I heard one lady complain the people Spanish too much. Apparently the fact we were in Latin America escaped her. Generally friendly, I meet some very interesting people on board. We had some nice conversations. Folks were always helpful with wheelchair of I needed a hand. In Puerto Vallarta, we did a walking tour and the sidewalks had ramps but some were step and not flat, kinda scary. They had to help me walk down one that was too steep, but the tour operator and fold on the tour were helpful. The tour operator's and bus drivers were all excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship ... Read More
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship balcony on th 9th floor.The ship was impeccably clean and our room was cleaned regularly and efficiently.The wait staff couldn’t do enough for us.The bar tenders knew us by name and were extremely friendly and attentive.The ports of call were great and the Panama Canal was an experience of a life time , including the sites and ongoing commentary .We were graced with phenomenal weather throughout the cruise .We ate at the specialty restaurants( Le Bistro and Cagney’s steakhouse) and we’re extremely pleased with both. We enjoyed the Grand Pacific as well as The Magenta.The Garden Cafe was great for breakfast and lunch and offered great variety.The outdoor poolside bbq was equally great offering wonderful daily themed options..We had the ultimate beverage package and I would say our only disappointment was that bottled water was not included . I would highly recommend this cruise and NCL Gem will not disappoint . T & M from Montreal Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ... Read More
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ports that I had not been to before and after this 44 day voyage I enjoyed this ship and it’s staff very much. I had a great and memorable experience from really every department onboard. Spending that much time on board the ship I think I really got to know the cruise director and recreation staff well. Some even remembered me from my previous September 2018 trip on this ship, or perhaps the bicycle helped them remember too. Security staff definitely remembered me and the bike from September. But I was really surprised with how many of the overall ships crew called me by my first name when just walking by even though I had very little interaction with them. For me, during the cruise I always kept in mind that for most of the staff on board they are here on a 6 month contract and even though they don’t have a day off and work around 10 hours or more a day, they still start every day as if their goal was to make sure that my trip was going as best as it could. I didn’t do any drinking or gambling and I think I booked a total of 0 shore excursions and purchased about the same amount of photos but I still had a great time. Yes, the bike played a huge roll too. Since there was a lot of overlap on the ports that we would be visiting, when in port, I treated the 1st leg (west bound journey) as an exploration trip and the east bound journey I applied what I learned and explored the port more efficiently. The bike also helped a lot. Regarding the bicycle, it’s a folding bike, (specifically a Citizen Miami). The bike retails new for $275.00 but I purchased off of craig’s list for $100. I upgraded the original seat to a gelled saddle and I also brought with me: a helmet with a GoPro, an air pump and lastly the padded seat underwear. I also know now that I should bring a bike tire repair kit too, however I was able to find a bike repair shop while we were in Santa Marta, Colombia that replaced the tube, tire and the shop had WiFi for a total of 16,000 Colombian Pesos (or $5.16 USD). While not in use the bike went under my bed, and I didn’t have to worry about checking in the bike at the airport as luggage since I was doing a round trip from NY. I walked the bike on board and there was no additional fee for bringing it. Yes I also received many offers from the crew about purchasing the bike from me. I can not put to words on how welcome the cruise ship staff made me feel while on this entire voyage, but it was really great. Every department did a fantastic job. I think security had the toughest roll as they get the least appreciation for keeping people safe especially as people were climbing over ropes, railings and each other during the panama canal transit which lasted about 5 hours. The cruise director staff came in a close 2nd as they have to keep everyone as happy as possible over the entire journey but in my opinion every crew member on board did a fantastic job. I enjoyed the food very much, but my problem is really with portion control. I felt that Breakfast in the grand pacific dining room was the right way to start my morning. Glen, the only female waitress on board named Glen is the best waiter on board this ship. In regards to the evening entertainment, I would try to go to both evening shows whenever possible but I would sit in 2 totally different areas in the theater which gave me a totally different perspective of the show. Special shout out from me is included to the sign language interpreter they had on board for the east bound (LA-NY) journey. While she wasn’t meant to be part of the entertainment she was both very entertaining, informative, educational and really added a layer to the show that I had never experienced before. I learned later that some times, like for the ventriloquist or comedian, a rehearsal performance is not available so the translation is just live action and there is no pause button available to look terms up. It was also really nice to talk and interact with the entertainers when they weren’t performing on stage. While the Gem’s cast performers can also be found working in places like the ship’s library, the guest performers were friendly and approachable in all areas of the ship like the gym, restaurants or even just random encounters in the elevators and hallways. Yes I also encountered people who were not enjoying the cruise, but from my perspective they were either asking for too much, just ignorant of the rules and policies, just totally missed stuff that was clearly listed in the daily schedule or just really novice cruise ship travellers (aka noobs). But yes I also had the upper had when it came to ports that we had visited before so I knew what to expect. I myself knew that I had to be a bother to the ship’s hotel director because I kept stopping by his office looking for his secretary’s signature for the ship’s scavenger hunt but kept running in to him instead. But he seemed ok with it or at least understanding and just kept telling me to keep trying to find her each time I visited. Lastly, I highly suggesting doing the behind the scenes tour for a great perspective on what goes on onboard and how and why things operate as they do. It’s free to do for platinum latitude members. Thank you very much for a very enjoyable voyage. I’m strongly considering doing this voyage again next year and I hope you next voyage on the Gem is just as enjoyable. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I have sailed with NCL twice before and each time we have had minor issues but this time it was a total nightmare. Service was well below sufficient, staff was incredibly rude, 2 out of the 11 nights we were awoken at 4am with a ... Read More
I have sailed with NCL twice before and each time we have had minor issues but this time it was a total nightmare. Service was well below sufficient, staff was incredibly rude, 2 out of the 11 nights we were awoken at 4am with a technician outside our door for 45 minutes doing some work to try and get the toilets to flush. The boat was extremely rocky to the point that they had to put out barf bags all over the ship. This was obviously not their fault but then I heard from staff members that the stabilizers weren't working? The pool was like a huge wave pool and they left if open much to our surprise. People were flying around and although it may have been fun was extremely dangerous. Finally, during the second day of this they decided that they needed to close it down. There was a kids club and one sports deck as this is an older and smaller ship. They would take the kids out of the kids club to the sports deck and kick all the kids/young adults off the only place on the ship for them to hang out for 1-2 hours at a time. Terrible planning for a Christmas cruise that is obviously going to have children of all ages on the cruise with nothing else to do but play on the sports deck. Some young adults were in the hot tub - well behaved- and simply sitting inside the tub as the sports deck was closed yet again. There were 7 in the tub and 2 sitting on the edge with their feet hanging in the tub. The lifeguard, who was not even watching the kids in the pool most time called security because there were more than 8 kids in the tub (although two were sitting outside the tub)and was going to ticket these kids? What a fiasco. I spoke with the safety supervisor and he was extremely rude to me. He didn't like the way that I was standing while I was talking to him and called me out like I was his child. Keep in mind that I am a grown adult with three teenage children. My husband, on another occasion, was in the public washroom and a cleaning attendant came in and told him to hurry up because she needed to get in there. I don't even know what to say to this one?I spoke with the Staff captian regarding this incident as well as many others that occured - too many to name here and he simply said "oh, sorrry and by the way what nationality are you?" He wanted to know if I was Amrerican because he said that they get sued all the time by the Americans and they have to be careful?! I told him that I was a Canadian - not that it should have made any difference. I have sent an email to NCL and was told the resonse period would be 15 business days. I am at 33 business days! Apparently there is a BACKUP for this particular ship!!! Well that says it all doesn't it? Apparenlty there were mechanical problems on this ship for the two sailings prior to mine (but it appears that they were indeed NOT fixed for my sailing either). So extremly dissappointed in the lack of service both while on the ship and now. We have sailed on over 20 cruises - will never go back to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose the Panama canal cruise on the because it listed Belize and Costa Rica as some of the ports. Stability:Norwegian Jade is small and the ship seemed to sway even with the small waves. I have been on The princess in much rougher ... Read More
I chose the Panama canal cruise on the because it listed Belize and Costa Rica as some of the ports. Stability:Norwegian Jade is small and the ship seemed to sway even with the small waves. I have been on The princess in much rougher seas and not felt it rock like this ship. It could not dock in Costa Rica which was disappointing. Cruise Itinerary;The 11 days had far too many sea days and just a few hours in each port of the 5 ports we saw on 5 of the days .The sea days did not include many interesting topics but instead seminars just appeared focussed on selling excursion ,diamonds or art. Restaurants:We were given fresh cutlery with old food stuck on it more than once . Hair in the food in the buffet as well as in sit down restaurant. We liked the Alizar restaurant the best. The Jasmine disappointing.O sheehans good for 24 hr food.Waiters were excellent.I would rate food as better on Princess . Norwegian maybe equal to or slightly better than Carnival in regards to food but worse in regards to cleanliness,You could find drinking water only when restaurant is open no containers of drinking water anywhere else unlike Princess or carnival that had areas where lemonade and water was available. Evening Entertainment was excellent better than Princess. A lot of staff were from other countries and some had limited fluency in English. Princess had better items on sale in the ship stores at better prices Shore excursions; Prior to embarkation; cruise consultant and pre board shore excursion staff had limited knowledge .You were put on hold hung up on several times and they appeared uninterested and even slightly rude unless you were buying without asking questions.We booked the excursions before we got on the ship and avoided long lines on board ,We were allowed to cancel 48 hrs before the excursion. Belize stop was Harvest Caye a Norwegian privately owned area -seemed artificial to me.Similar for Costa Maya port in Mexico both did not make you feel you saw the country. Some of the excursions in Roatan snorkeling in Westbay was enjoyable -Glass bottom boat in Belize was interesting not a lot of colourful fish to see but if you don't snorkel this is at least an option to see the coral etc. The ship going through the Panama Canal was interesting. Gatun lake a long drive and saw a few animals but atleast saw a little bit of the country during the few hours stop . Hop on Hop off in Cartagena gives a quick view of the city. Shore excursion are available in most ports even if you have limited walking ability so this is a big plus. Would I recommend this cruise as value for money - probably not Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary and although the boat, food & service were pretty sub-par, ports we did get to visit were great! Travel time to and from the excursions ate up the entire time at the ports which really ... Read More
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary and although the boat, food & service were pretty sub-par, ports we did get to visit were great! Travel time to and from the excursions ate up the entire time at the ports which really stunk! In all honesty, this may be our first and last cruise with Norwegian or any other ship all together since it left such a “bad taste in our mouths.” We felt that there wasn’t enough to do on the boat UNLESS we wanted to incur more charges. (Bingo, Deal or No Deal, yoga... nothing was included) We paid extra, a lot extra ($3500 on onboard charges) for specialty restaurants, spa services and other miscellaneous games, taxes etc. only to be greatly disappointed in the quality. Beyond the control of anyone was the 11-15’ wave swell that lasted about 8 of the 11 days. Because of the rough seas, not only was the pool closed at numerous times, but we could not dock in Costa Rica. It took them over 30 minutes of sailing AWAY from port to even tell anyone- pretty sure we’d figured it out by then! My daughter visited the teen club and barely spent time in there because she said there was nothing to do in there other than video games and foosball. The only glowing review we can give of this cruise was our room steward Roberto and the spa staff. Other than that, waaaaay too much money spent on a basic boat where we felt we got nickel and dimed every where we turned. And why on earth are there little to no trash cans? Empty cups, plates and food were left about for what seemed hours at a time. Never once when sitting on deck did a staff member approach us to ask if we needed anything. Does no one work in the boat? Just overall not a pleasant experience at all. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We had a group of 12 of us sail aboard the NCL Jade over Christmas and New Years for an 11 day Panama Canal Cruise. Food - We had 4 specialty dining reservations to use on our cruise. We did the Teppanyaki and Cagney's which were ... Read More
We had a group of 12 of us sail aboard the NCL Jade over Christmas and New Years for an 11 day Panama Canal Cruise. Food - We had 4 specialty dining reservations to use on our cruise. We did the Teppanyaki and Cagney's which were very good. Teppanyaki was entertaining and the food was good. Cagney's was very good, steak was tender and cooked perfect. Service in both these restaurants was good. We also did Moderno and La Cucina. The service was good in both but the food left a lot to be desired. Moderno's salad bar was great but the meats served were very dry and tasteless. La Cucina just didn't do it for us. Now outside of these specialty dining restaurants we ate in both the Pacific and Alizar dining rooms. We made reservations due to being a group of 12 rather than taking our chances on going in at anytime and trying to get a table large enough for us. The service in the dining rooms was atrocious! Other than the hostesses welcoming you no one even said hi. The servers would come right over and expect you to know exactly what you want without even time to review the menu. Often your drinks would arrive after your meal. God forbid they ever come back and check on how you are or ask if you'd like another drink. The food was not good and the combinations of items was bizarre, almost seemed like what ever was left from the buffet earlier in the day or the next day was thrown in as the side or to create a recipe. We ate at Jasmine Café one night for dinner and it took over 30 minutes from the time we were seated for anyone to even come over. O'Sheehan's was so bad one day my cousin went down to the buffet and brought up some pizza and small stuff for the kids to eat so they could stop waiting. The buffet was repetitive and not very tasty. Activities and Entertainment - Let's start by the only activity is the pool, there is really nothing on this boat to do. The kids were so bored. The kids club was a bit too babyish for the 9 and 12 year old. The teen club was pretty good for the 15 year old. The 19 and 21 year old were bored to death. The best shows were those that involved the audience in the spinnaker lounge such as Newlywed Game and Dancing with the stars, these were very entertaining. The planned shows in the theater were ok. This boat might be ok for a short cruise but after 11 days all we wanted to do was get off. There is not even a movie screen out at the pool or anywhere on the boat. The gym was very small. I paid for unlimited classes, $80. I would not do that again as they were only $12 per class and I only ended up going to 3. The pm times always conflicted with dinner and the am times only worked for non port days. Customer Service - did not exist! The cruise director was very nice and always around other than that though I am not sure I had a single staff member say hi or how are you throughout the 11 days. Wait service at the pool was only on the pool level, and since there was nothing to do on the ship except the pool that is where everyone was and most days you need to go 2 decks above the pool to get a seat. Ports - Columbia - The port itself was very nice, they did a good job here. You could just come off the boat and enjoy the animals in the port. We took a cab into the walled city, about 25 dollars each way. Leave the port to get the cab, if you get one of them inside the port gates they want $120 and don't believe them when they tell you that you won't be able to get a cab back. I recommend having international on your phone as we used Google Translate to communicate with our cab driver. We walked around ourselves without a guide and it was fine. We did need to find an ATM because most all the stores only took Columbian Pesos. Panama - Get up early and go to the Spinnakar lounge for a front row seat as you go through the locks. I also recommend spending the money and doing an excursion as it is the only way to get off the boat at Guatan Lake. We did not and regretted it. Once you get to Colon you can get off, but this port was horrible. There was a casino, a restaurant and a couple of shops. Harvest Caye - This port was great. We opted to rent pool cabanas and enjoyed having an area to ourselves with couches, tables to eat at and shade. Getting a chair at the pool did not seem to be an issue though. Be aware though the cabanas are for 5 people and they will not let more than 5 in. We just relaxed here an enjoyed the pool. Plenty of other things to do on the island though. Roatan - We did a private excursion to Little French Key and it was wonderful. They were at the port to pick us up. Short drive to the "ferry" which is just a small floating dock to bring you across to the private island. Very nice lagoon type area to swim and snorkel in. Costa Rica - Our ship skipped this port, they told us the swells were too high to dock. This was very disappointing as we had planned a private excursion to Cahuita National Park. Costa Maya - Not knowing what to expect we booked private transfer to a beach resort. If I were to go back I would not spend any money here on an excursion. The port itself is very nice, large and lots of activities. Get off the boat early and grab chairs by the large free pool. The aviary was great at the port and worth the $12. You can also swim with dolphins. Plenty of places to eat and drink. Even though they say there's a beach there is really just chairs overlooking the water, not really anywhere to swim Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My daughter asked us. It was fun to be with the grandchildren. Really high waves. Our room was nice. The excursions were disappointing. We really did not get to enjoy any country. Resorts offer better excursions and you don’t ... Read More
My daughter asked us. It was fun to be with the grandchildren. Really high waves. Our room was nice. The excursions were disappointing. We really did not get to enjoy any country. Resorts offer better excursions and you don’t have to wait in lines as often. The pool on the ship was not greAt and very overcrowded. I thought the food would be better. The people that worked on the boat were wonderful. I felt they were underpaid and overworked. We tipped them a little extra. Some of the restaurants were better than others. We really liked the French restaurant. The shows were good but the casino was too close to the theatre and the Smokey air carried over. We have traveled extensively throughout the US, Asia, and Europe. This was the most expensive trip we’ve ever taken and it was so disappointing. We hardly got a glimpse of any country. I felt like they were always trying to sell us more on every excursion, Deal or no deal, bingo, art activities etc. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
There are a number of areas where this cruise ship disappointed me, and did not provide value. For starters, the nearly $300 internet service quality was abysmal. It was so difficult to connect, and when connecting was possible, the ... Read More
There are a number of areas where this cruise ship disappointed me, and did not provide value. For starters, the nearly $300 internet service quality was abysmal. It was so difficult to connect, and when connecting was possible, the speed of the connectivity was atrocious. In asking the internet cafe manager for help resolving our issues, he gave some truly absurd reasons as to why we were experiencing such sub-par performance: "Turn off your VPN. That should solve most of your problems." - I use VPN at work & home ALL THE TIME and NEVER have any problem with WiFi. So why would that suddenly be a problem on the ship? "Don't stand too close to a window when trying to connect to the internet." - WHAT? How is that even a thing? Given the small size of our stateroom, anywhere we stood could be considered "close to a window". As an aside, I work for a software company and have lots of technical experience, so if someone like me was experiencing so much difficulty & frustration, I imagine other non-internet savvy passengers were truly disheartened. On to my next complaint - the temperature of the food. Having once owned a restaurant & been a Certified Food Handler in Los Angeles County, I happen to know something about this. The temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow is known as the "Danger Zone", and is defined by food safety agencies (such as FSIS - the US Food Safety and Inspection Service), as between roughly 5° to 60° C (41° to 140° F). There were many, MANY items in the Norwegian Jade's buffet that were served WITHIN this Danger Zone temperature range. It's therefore probably not a coincidence that a number of people in our party were having stomach cramps, diarrhea, and other discomforts throughout the cruise. Finally, there's no self-service laundry on board this ship! We were a party of 20 people with many kids, and the parents really wanted to do their own laundry, rather than having to pay $20 for each bag of laundry submitted. It was very disappointing that this wasn't an option, especially since I thought Norwegian's "freestyle cruising" concept was supposed to be family friendly. I'd categorize not having self-service laundry facilities as being family-unfriendly. On the positive side, stateroom service was outstanding, and I commend the captain for putting passenger safety ahead of corporate profits the day he chose to skip docking in Costa Rica because of the ship's inability to dock safely. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to go big this year for my wife's 30th birthday which falls right after the year end holidays, so this itinerary was a great fit. Being a multi-holiday cruise, I get why the fare was jacked up so much to an extent, but the ... Read More
We wanted to go big this year for my wife's 30th birthday which falls right after the year end holidays, so this itinerary was a great fit. Being a multi-holiday cruise, I get why the fare was jacked up so much to an extent, but the price did not match the quality we received in my opinion, even for an inside room. I feel bad for the people who paid for Haven rooms on this cruise. We were pushed to download the NCL app before embarkation to help with restaurant reservations and excursions. The app basically did not work the entire trip, and I don't recommend you waste your time with it because it provides either incorrect or no information at all. I wish they would incorporate the freestyle daily into this app and stop wasting SO MUCH PAPER. We must have thrown away a full ream of paper by the time the cruise was over. I want to start off by saying that the crew really helped save this cruise for us. Of the five NCL cruises we have been on so far, this one had the best crew hands down and we really hope to see some of them again on a future endeavor. Rakesh (Sugarcane), Jennifer (Moderno), Vincent (Cagney's), Christina (Cagney's), Robert (Sugarcane, Topsiders, Amazing), Elinda (Moderno, Garden Cafe), Ida (Sugarcane, Topsiders) all made our trip memorable. I love when the crew has fun with guests and each other and this combination of people up at Sugarcane (where we spent a large amount of our time) really made for some great laughs. Again, these members of the crew saved this review from being a 2/5 or lower. The Sugarcane gets its own paragraph. This is the best part of the refurbishment on all the older ships and is a hidden gem which not many people seemed to know about on this ship. Located previously where the Star Bar was on Deck 13, this is where all the best drinks are poured. The nightly bartender, Rakesh, was super personable and a blast to talk to each night. The mojitos were excellent and we definitely got our money's worth on the ultimate beverage package. Around 5 PM every night, we would find ourselves at the empty bar and the ten or so chairs would never be filled. Definitely a highlight of the trip. This was our first trip on the Jade, however we had been on the Gem in the past (pre-refurb) which is basically the same ship. For a ship that was refurbished in 2017, it was a bit disappointing. Our cruise director was Vincent Teschel, who was personable but seemed a bit standoffish. Our assistance cruise director was, now that I think of it, I have no idea. On previous cruises we'd get to know our assistant director because they are always jamming bingo sessions down your throat, but not this one (bittersweet, I guess?). I honestly don't recall seeing our assistant director at all during the 11 day journey, and only remember hearing her over the PA on embarkation day stating that our rooms were not ready. The ship has been retrofitted with all the core offerings that the larger breakaway and higher class ships have (Cagney's, Sugarcane, etc) and it shows that these places were jammed in where they don't really belong. Sugarcane and Moderno on deck 13 share a space which is too big for a bar and too small for a restaurant. Moderno has roughly 40 tables and the other half of the room was empty seating areas meant for the bar, which rarely had people sitting there. Cagney's across the hall awkwardly has surrounding windows which everyone on the jogging track can just look into. I felt like an aquarium animal sitting there. Entertainment was mediocre. During days at sea, there was really nothing interesting to do but eat and drink. The three shows we saw, Elements, Blazing Boots, and Palace of Lights were good. Other than the night entertainment, the standard bingo and other lame activities were offered. We stayed in an inside room and it was fine. The updated furnishings were a nice touch and the LCD TV was new and nicely mounted out of the way. Really your standard inside room, nothing noteworthy to mention here except the two twin beds pushed together were extremely uncomfortable. Additionally, we opted for the 11th deck aft which was a mistake. Directly above our room was the Great Outdoors bar area and starting at 6 AM every morning, we were awoken by the sound of chairs being dragged back and forth on the deck. Also being aft with the butt of the ship didn't help with the rough seas during the first half of the itinerary. This was definitely the roughest cruise we've been on to date. The room was often warm and we kept the AC on the lowest setting at all times but still woke up sweating some nights. The sway during the first couple days was very jarring and multiple times while we were out at Sugarcane, bottles and glasses were falling off the shelves and counters. Even the crew was not prepared for the amount of rocking the ship was doing. We opted for the spa pass for the entire duration of the cruise and paid for it before embarkation to save a few bucks as opposed to buying on-board which was a mistake. If I had toured the facility before purchasing the pass, I wouldn't have gone for it. I hadn't really researched the spa post-refurbishment and assumed it was more like the spa areas on the breakaway class ships with big, open unisex areas as opposed to separate male/female locker rooms. Once you enter the spa doors, you need to navigate a maze of rooms to get to the locker room or unisex area, which is anything but relaxing. The unisex area had a measly eight radiant heat chairs, which were always occupied and one of them didn't even work. We often found people reserving the chairs while they were in the therapy pool or just off in their locker room and the crew were not enforcing the rule that this is not permitted. The water dispensers were often empty or filled with warm cucumber water, which was gross. Generally, I'm disappointed that the refurbishment didn't prioritize making the unisex area bigger like the Breakaway class ships. I personally feel that in 2019, having large sex segregated areas are unnecessary. My wife and I spent most of the time in the spa separated because there is no shared sauna or steam rooms. I also don't understand why there needs to be 50 massage rooms, more of this space should be dedicated to the thermal suites as I doubt there is that much demand for that many individual rooms. I do not recommend the spa. The fitness center across from the spa was good and barely had anyone in it. There are a large number of treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters and weight machines. We inquired about using the spin bikes during non-class times and were told we were not allowed to use them. Why? If we wanted to participate in a spin class, it was going to cost us extra. Again, why? Food is always an important factor to us when cruising, and we were again disappointed with the specialty dining offered on this cruise. Previously we have sailed on both the Dawn and Breakaway/Escape which offered many more options and the food overall was higher quality than what we received on the Jade. Getting dining reservations past the first day was near impossible. This cruise had ~2600 guests and reservations filled after the second day (I was told), however if you went to any of the specialty restaurants (besides Teppanyaki) there were tons of open tables throughout the night, yet the restaurant reservation board was red every single day. The food was mediocre at best and I'm glad we opted for the 5 meal dining plan as paying a la carte wouldn't have been worth the asking price. Specifically, Cagney's was a major letdown compared to what we've experienced on other ships. The steaks and sides were just okay, nothing compared to what we experienced on the Dawn, which were some of the best steaks I've had to date on land or at sea. Honestly the best dining was at Alazar, which we visited probably five or six times throughout the trip. I feel like the post refurbishment Garden Cafe was way smaller than I remember on previous jewel class ships. The food selection and quality was meh with too much emphasis on Indian cuisine (probably due to the executive chef residing from India). I'm someone who couldn't care less about the ports and docking for the most part, but my wife is all about the destinations, and the ports we hit (and couldn't hit) were underwhelming. Cartagena, Colombia - This was the best port by far, with a lot of rich history and great excursions. This is one of the few ports where it doesn't feel like you're just being dropped at an Americanized shopping haven. We took the hop on/off bus tour which I felt was worth the money and provided a nice overview of what the city had to offer. The old town area was very interesting with many places to shop and experience the culture (COFFEE). Colon, Panema - Why bother with this port? There is a Subway sandwich shop and a grocery store, that's it. We got off the boat to take a picture in front of the Colon sign, walked through the grocery store out of pure curiosity, and got back on the boat. A major waste of time. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - We were unable to dock here due to rough seas. *shrug*. Harvest Caye - A very nice island that is privately owned by NCL, however your beverage package DOES NOT apply here. Why? If you want to do anything besides sit on the beach in a normal chair (covered cabana chairs extra, of course), you're going to be nickeled and dimed for it. Roatan Bay, Honduras - Another very touristy location which we had to tender in order to get to the island. Standard shopping and bars, really nothing special to see here. Coasta Maya, Mexico - Very touristy location, standard bars, shopping and excursions. In conclusion, NCL let us down this time around. It has become very clear to me that NCL is cutting corners and nickle/diming on the older ships to help pay for these new mega ships they are pumping out. Everything has some kind of charge associated with it, and they push you so hard to put down more deposits with CruiseNext. We visited the desk to inquire about a sailing on the Joy, and the amount of hidden fees and gratuities was just asinine. Scaling back the Latitude Rewards program and making it harder to obtain points is also disheartening. Since returning to shore I've explored booking another cruise and again stop the process due to the amount of hidden service and gratuity fees and misleading cabin prices. NCL needs to overhaul their booking process, website (which is TERRIBLE) and pricing model to be more consumer friendly. 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Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise for it's Itinerary to the Panama Canal, Columbia and Central America. We read reviews of the Norwegian Ships, and ports, and most importantly past word of mouth reviews. The Freestyle cruising is fine, but we ... Read More
We chose this cruise for it's Itinerary to the Panama Canal, Columbia and Central America. We read reviews of the Norwegian Ships, and ports, and most importantly past word of mouth reviews. The Freestyle cruising is fine, but we were unable to choose the restaurants, because they were all filled up from the 1st day of the nearly 2 week cruise. The food overall, was the same, whether you ate in the specialty restaurants, the buffets, or the main dining room...just plated and served differently. The food was average at best. The constant "time-share" promotions that bombarded us for re-booking another Norwegian cruise were a major turn-off. The Room was nice, but we spared no expense and chose a larger room with a balcony, previous cruises gave us that insight. The staff on board seemed quite stressed and un-happy. The room was clean, but not spotless. Mirrors not cleaned from previous cruise, missing towels, pillows, etc. And lastly, the a la carte style of cruising, where you have to buy a various assortment of "packages" for your beverages, dining, and activities was seriously overpriced. We chose NOT to purchase these packages, and to just pay the entire amount at the end, and were pleased with our choice. You would need to drink 10 alcoholic beverages per day per person to break even on the adult beverage plan. And we had an incident with overcharges by waiters wanting bigger tips, then not giving us the receipts. This was corrected by the Food and Beverage Manager for the ship, but it took a week to get a hold of him. And lastly, this was a Holiday Cruise, several paper streamers does not make for holiday decor. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise for the itinerary, specifically a chance to experience the Panama Canal. I was not disappointed. There was a thorough explanation of the workings of the canal as we went through. The other ports were fine, the ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary, specifically a chance to experience the Panama Canal. I was not disappointed. There was a thorough explanation of the workings of the canal as we went through. The other ports were fine, the Gumbalimba Preserve in Honduras was another highlight for me. The ship was clean and though reportedly recently refurbished, it was somewhat dated. The cabin was small, but adequate. This was my first NCL cruise and I was told by some who had cruised with them before that the Jade was not a good representative of the line as a whole. I am taking the word for it and purchased a Next Cruise package. First the Positives. I prefer to sail on a ship the size of the Jade. Even though it was completely booked, there were no long waits for the elevators or the restaurants as there are on some of the larger ships. All staff and crew I encountered were thoroughly efficient and polite. I found the service excellent in all the restaurants and enjoyed the food. I had the specialty dining package and enjoyed all of the specialty restaurants. I also enjoyed the buffet. I purchased a Thermal Suite pass and it was well worth the money. It was peaceful and quiet and a good way to escape the crowd at the pool, especially on days at sea. There was an extensive list of activities that I enjoyed, a special shout-out to Vincent the Cruise Director who brought a lot of fun and energy to the cruise. I especially liked the dance lessons. Neutral The Two Oceans by Railway excursion was pleasant, but I don't think it was worth the price. You spend more time on the bus getting to and from the train than on the train itself. Also there really was not a lot to see from the train. The negatives I have previously cruised on Royal Caribbean during the holidays and in comparison, the meager Christmas and New Year's decorations on the Jade were totally underwhelming. Likewise, I found the entertainment disappointing. The juggler was excellent but the other entertainers on the ship were amateurish. Dee Jay Cee Jay, however, is a fabulous DJ and lots of fun. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
NCL Jade was a great ship, staff were very friendly especially in the O'Sheehans restaurant. We had a handicap oceanview on deck 8, cabin 8602 which was listed as obstructed view. Except for a view of the top of a lifeboat, the ... Read More
NCL Jade was a great ship, staff were very friendly especially in the O'Sheehans restaurant. We had a handicap oceanview on deck 8, cabin 8602 which was listed as obstructed view. Except for a view of the top of a lifeboat, the view was not that obstructed. My only down comment was in regards to the handicap room was where they sent us for lifeboat drill. Instead of directing us to O'Sheehans down the walk way from the cabin we were sent to deck 6 dining room, where only 1 of 4 elevators would go to that level. Needless to say we never went to that restaurant for dinner. We had the drink package, 4 specialty dinner package, and setup unlimited wifi. We visited the Moderno (brazilian steakhouse), where the best food was the sirlion steak & pineapple. Cagney's - wow great steaks (on our next cruise we will here more than once). La Cucina - italian, was just so so. Teppanyaki - can't go wrong here, always good. It was great the ship had an Adults pool - though the occasional parent took their kid there. As with any cruise people are very rude about getting out there early and marking chairs, then not returning for 1/2 the day. Even though all cruises make reference to being able to remove towels after 1/2 hour, most people do not. Bingo is overpriced, and deal or No Deal is fun but kind of dull, and suggestion of you matching cases not very likely. Most I saw anyone match after 4 games was 4. Harvest Caye - caught a Beach Villa on early booking of tour for $350 which was a steal (once onboard it goes for $599). Best tour we did. Bad comment for Harvest Caye was the shops - my partner got caught purchasing a chess set for ($150), which store owner proclaimed was their best price, then saw same in Costa Maya for only $40. Buyer beware on this stop. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We are a family of 5 (NCL platinum) and split into two mini suites for this trip. Embarkation We drove down from North Carolina (I know, ridiculous but we wanted to visit friends in South Florida before the cruise). Parked in the ... Read More
We are a family of 5 (NCL platinum) and split into two mini suites for this trip. Embarkation We drove down from North Carolina (I know, ridiculous but we wanted to visit friends in South Florida before the cruise). Parked in the garage about 10:15 a.m. and hauled our luggage to the nearest porter to be brought on the ship. Waited in a pretty crowded waiting area for about an hour (we were in boarding group 2) and then headed onto the ship. The ship We had been on the Jade before for a European cruise a couple of years prior. It's a smaller ship which we prefer as there are fewer people and it’s easier to move around. The ship is in good shape and with a couple of minor exceptions the crew was friendly and helpful. Unlike other ships we have been on, the fitness was usually busy but not overcrowded. We never had trouble getting on a cardio machine. The stretching/free weights area is tiny but it usually is on ship gyms. We did not use the spa. Dining We had specialty dining for 4 nights as part of the package-we did Moderno twice (the kids really like it), Cagney's, and Teppanyaki. Great food and good service in all specialty restaurants. The Garden Café was not usually too crowded and we never minded walking through to the Great Outdoors to get away from the hordes. We ate in Alizar and Grand Pacific a few times and O’Sheehans for lunch and breakfast. For some reason, this is the first time we had eaten at O’Sheehans for breakfast on any cruise and it was a very pleasant, relaxed experience. The Kids My son had just aged out of the Splash Academy. He LOVES the Splash Academy and was excited about trying out the teen activities (Entourage). Unfortunately, because he was the youngest, he had a hard time fitting in with the older kids and did not love the many scavenger and other “hunts” that were the planned activities. It would have been great if Entourage had more open hours so kids could come in and play foosball and PS4 without having to participate in group events. My daughter is 17 and wanted nothing to do with the Teens area. She mostly hung out with us. Entertainment We attend the shows mostly as a diversion for our 17 year old. There are usually a couple of good performers and the people watching is at least as entertaining as the shows themselves. We don’t gamble and I’ve only been in the casino when I’ve gotten lost. Drink package Because we travel in two staterooms, we usually try to divide up the “free at sea” offers. This cruise each stateroom received two “free at sea” offers. My husband and I took the Ultimate Beverage Package and Specialty Dining. My Mom and the kids had 250 Internet minutes and Specialty Dining. We shared the 250 internet minutes and most days it worked though it was slow. Mom doesn’t drink alcohol but does like a virgin Mudslide and a Diet Pepsi once a day. The kids like Shirley Temples and Pepsis. We never had a problem ordering drinks for everyone with just one card. I always leave an extra tip (bring dollar bills) but I really don’t think I received any special treatment. Ports Cartagena We were most excited to visit this port and I wish that we had more time there. I would definitely go back. I had read all of the warnings about safety but we felt very safe the entire time. We got off the ship promptly at 7 a.m. and walked through the touristy terminal with parrots, flamingos, and a gift shop. We walked out to the taxi stand and negotiated for a van that would hold ten people. The driver was from Switzerland and spoke perfect English, good Spanish, and some German. We then recruited a German family to join us in the van. The cost was $5 per person and he took us to the Old Town. We wandered around the Old Town for awhile and walked the wall before it got too hot. I bought my son a Colombian soccer jersey for $10. Negotiations started at $45. We stopped for a snack of gelato and then walked to the Castillo (Fortress). There was quite a line to enter but we eventually made it up the hill to explore the very impressive building. ` I speak enough Spanish to get by but most people wanted to practice their English with me so I would speak in Spanish and they would respond in English. Everywhere we went took USD or credit card. We had no issues communicating except the cab driver on the way back to the ship did not speak English. I would definitely bring sunscreen and water. After the Castillo, we had to back on the ship by 1:30 so we caught a small cab back to the cruise terminal (terminal de cruceros). Negotiated price was $10 total but traffic was so bad and it took us so long (35 minutes-should have been about 10-12 minutes), I gave him $20. Panama Canal/Gatun Lake We got up at sunrise to watch the ships enter the locks. It was very cool but honestly the return trip had a much better view for us and I could have slept in! Because only NCL excursions could tender from the ship and the shore excursions were not that interesting and were pricey, we stayed on board. A lot of passengers cleared out and it was a great day to just hang out and watch all of the cargo ships coming and going. For the return trip through the locks, we watched from our balconies and then walked in the Colon terminal just to say we had “been” in Panama. Colon terminal has a couple of photo ops and a pretty neat grocery store that we wandered through (it takes USD and credit cards) but we had a hard time stretching this out to even 45 minutes off the boat. We ended up just walking within the terminal area to get our steps in. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica This was the second most anticipated stop. We got up early so we could meet our private guide at 7 a.m. We watched the ship try to dock several times. Finally, the ship started to pull away and an announcement was made that it was not safe to dock and we would not be staying in Costa Rica. We instead headed early for Harvest Caye. We were NOT happy. I emailed our tour guide and he also expressed his disappointment and the economic impact on the entire area that was looking forward to hosting the ship. Harvest Caye Because we missed Costa Rica, we were on the ship for two sea days before Harvest Caye and we were ready to get off! Before we left, I reserved a 6 seater golf cart from Captain Jak’s for $55 for 4 hours. We bought ferry tickets to Placencia from the Shore Excursion desk (See story below about tender tickets for Roatan. Initially we were also told we could not buy ferry tickets on the ship but I kept asking different people until I was directed to Shore Excursions). Tickets were $20 per person round trip. We were given a set time (10:50) and told we had three hours on Placencia. I emailed Captain Jak’s and gave them our ETA and they offered to meet me at the docks. Once we arrived on Harvest Caye, I went to the ferry desk and asked if they had an earlier ferry. They did and we boarded about 30 minutes. I called Captain Jak’s and they were kind enough to meet us early. Once we arrived, we hopped in the golf cart and took off to explore the island. We stopped at the beach and several stores and had a great time on our self-excursion. The return ferry was scheduled for us at 1:30. We may have been able to get on a later ferry but they only have 61 seats and if we missed our guaranteed time and there was no space on a later ferry, it wouldn’t be good. We then spent a couple of hours relaxing and exploring Harvest Caye. We found seats by the pool and there were also tons of seats near the beach. There were lots of local vendors and places to eat. Roatan We used a tour guide we have used before, George Lemus of Roatan Custom Tours. George is fantastic. He speaks excellent English, is very responsive to emails, and has great ideas for activities. We toured the island in a large van, did a little shopping, and then hung out at Paradise Beach Club for $20/pp for the rest of the day. We walked down the beach and did some of the best snorkeling that we have done in years (we brought our own snorkel equipment). Great water clarity and lots of fish. Paradise Beach Club has a restaurant and bar and we ordered food for the kids and Monkey LaLas for the rest of us. They reported the chicken fingers were very good. My husband, Mom, and I walked down the alley to Omay’s local food stand. We ordered fried fish with plantains, rice and beans for $15 a plate. Two plates were more than enough for 3 of us. Costa Maya We had been here before and went back to Maya Chan. I can’t say enough good things about Maya Chan even though the day we visited the weather wasn’t great and the beach had a lot of sea grass (obviously, neither of which they control). The service is exceptional, the food AMAZING, and the location perfect. I got a massage (one hour-$45) and the kids played in the new pool, kayaked, built sand castles, and roamed around. There was another large party there but we barely noticed them. The taxi ride back to port was dominated by a couple who had imbibed too much and were the definition of ugly Americans but it just made for a teachable moment and a funny story later. My difficult-to-please 17 year old declared it the best stop on the cruise. Disembarkation We were scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. and since we were driving home (not a good idea), we wanted to get up and out early. Unfortunately, we were not let off the ship until after 8 a.m. We always use the walk off process with our own luggage and the line moved pretty quickly. Immigration was a cursory glance at our passports and if there was any customs scrutiny, I missed it. We were in the van and on the road by 8:40. Norwegian Generally As I mentioned, we are platinum with NCL so clearly we keep coming back. However, there are things that need improvement and now I just plan for NCL screw ups. One is the specialty dining reservations and transportation reservations. There are always discrepancies between what the NCL app says, our confirmation print out says, and the reservation desk says. ALWAYS, check and double check the times and names of any reservation and print out your confirmations. Second is the lack of communication. On the day we were tendering for Roatan, I found out in an email about 4 p.m. the day before from our tour guide that we were tendering. NCL did not mention it until the Daily came out that night. We have had horrible experiences tendering before where the ticket acquisition is unmanaged and chaotic and the lines are endless so I was immediately suspicious. I walked down to Guest Services to confirm that we were tendering. Yes, we were. I asked where and how do we get tickets? 7 p.m. in Bliss Lounge. Ok. So we drew straws to see who would go down to Bliss Lounge and wait in a long line for part of the evening to make sure we got tickets. But then I had another suspicion. NCL usually tells me the wrong answer at least once. So, I called down to Guest Services to inquire and was told that tickets would be issued at 7 a.m. the following morning before tendering began at 8 a.m. I then asked if we get priority tender tickets because we have platinum reward status. The answer was yes but she couldn’t tell me how we acquired the tender tickets with the status. She thought I could just show up. The next morning, I continued my fretting (as I noted we have been burned before on the tender process) so my husband dutifully went down to Bliss at 7 a.m. to get tender tickets. After waiting in line, he was told that because we are platinum, we cannot obtain tender tickets and we should just show up, flash our cards and we will have priority boarding. Theoretically good. However, when we did just that, the very nice dancer who was pulling duty as queue director did not know this policy. I politely told her what we had been told and then we just kept on walking to the tender. So, yes it all worked out. But I have been on cruises where it did not work out because of poor communication between passengers and crew and these situations could be easily avoided. Maybe NCL staff are trying to give me the run around. I don’t know. I really think it’s just the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing and then does not communicate internally to the crew and externally to the passengers. I should not have to hear from my tour guide in Roatan about our tender process before NCL tells me. Tips We have Tmobile and our package allows us to call the U.S. for .25/minute and data and texting are free. So anytime we were in port, it was great to check in and allowed us to preserve our 250 minutes over 11 days. We always bring lots of dollar bills and small denominations so we can tip and pay taxis and vendors easily with exact change. Water bottles are handy to take when in port and we always bring ziplocs so we can pack some snacks for our time off the ship. Read Less
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