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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t worth it unless you drink a lot. Basically, the amount we paid in service charges would have paid for our drinks anyway. Free airfare meant a horrible itinerary, causing an overnight in a hotel that wasn’t free, baggage fees and seat selection costs. Excursion credits we only used twice because NCL excursions are so overpriced that even with the credit they were more expensive than a local guide. The specialty restaurant freebie was probably worthwhile, just to have some variety, though we would have been happy to just do three nights instead of five. And the WiFi package was a joke, since the WiFi didn’t work most of the time. The good: I was afraid 4 days at sea was too many and that we’d be bored, but the games and activities kept us busy. The musical entertainment was very good. I did like the itinerary and the ports of call. The not so good: 1. Seating comfort. Our mini suite cabin had a couch/convertible bed that was so hard it was uncomfortable to sit on. Plus, if you leaned back, it would start to slide forward to create a bed...basically making it impossible to use to watch tv or just relax. The seating in the theatre was horrendous. I stood during one show because I couldn’t take it anymore. The couches in the Spinnaker Lounge also were uncomfortable, canting forward so that you slide off of them. What is wrong NCL? 2. Communication. NCL did absolutely NOTHING in terms of education about the Panama Canal. Wasn’t that the purpose of the trip? The library had no display. There was no lecturer, no channel on tv with the history. Nothing. In fact, no announcement as to when exactly we were going through the canal and suggestions on when to get up or where to view. It was pathetic. Besides the canal, they did a very poor job about all the ports—the only maps we got were incomplete shopping maps. The excursion info was incomplete as well. There is no excuse for people to wonder about the timeline of the excursions, it should be up front. People on the Panama Canal ferry had no idea they would be taking a bus for an hour and a half each way. A bus with no restroom, by the way. There were plenty of people who didn’t know we were tendering at Roatan. NCL had two signs ( with conflicting info regarding timetable) in the entire ship. Why? Why don’t they use the elevator monitors for something useful rather than just listing the floor number? That might be a good place for daily announcements. And why make people run around to the dining rooms to see the menus? Just post them on the app, or on the monitors. Have more monitors around the ship...make them touch screen! It’s 2019 for crying out loud! All NCL seems to care about is selling you something. 3. I guess we drew the short straw with regards to our cabin steward, we never got an introduction to the room. The little sign with his name and extension showed up partway through the cruise. We had no room-service sheet. He always forgot a washcloth, or other towel, etc. we did complain and the towel animals started showing up, but unfortunately he grossed me out because he replaced the paper doily on the glassware, even though the glass was used. He did this 3 times. Made me wonder about the cleanliness and standards. 4. $19 for 4 ounces of robitussin. Lots of people developed coughs, and they take advantage of it. That’s just mean. 5. Food was generally ok. The beef and lamb were particularly good. I thought the Asian food was good. The bread was awful...no good crust, not good texture, the soft serve ice cream was not worth the calories. Our best meal was at La Cucina...excellent pasta, and ask for gelato. I felt much of the food was under salted, leaving it flavorless. The accompanying sauces were little dots on the plate. The mixed drinks were generally very good. The service in the dining room and bars was good. 6. I don’t know how embarkation is supposed to work, but it was hideous. The terminal did not have enough seats. The announcements were difficult to hear ( again, why not use monitors?) and it took way too long. Embarkation at Cartagena was a mess. Disembarkation was rather disorganized as well...lots of people crowding the stairwells with nary a crew member organizing it, Overall, I’m glad we went, as we wanted to go through the Panama Canal, but NCL didn’t convince us to become regular cruisers. ( last time we cruised was 20 years ago with Princess to Alaska. That was wonderful.) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Choose for the Panama Canal crossing. The entertainment was good overall. The meals were medium good but not noteworthy. We ate in buffet, both main dining rooms and 3 specialty restaurants. Only Cagney's was worth the money. ... Read More
Choose for the Panama Canal crossing. The entertainment was good overall. The meals were medium good but not noteworthy. We ate in buffet, both main dining rooms and 3 specialty restaurants. Only Cagney's was worth the money. Desserts with the exception of ice cream were uniformly disappointing. The shops devoted too much space to high end jewelry and perfume (money makers?) and nothing to makeup or sundries or candy. Liked the shore excursions we took and fond them very enjoyable. Staff was very friendly. Enjoyed cruise director Dave and the Captain too. the hypnotist/comedian was not anyone I would want to see again. Jennifer Fair was delightful once again. the production band and cast did a very good job. Atrium music bounced up to the internet cafe and was deafening! acoustic issue. Although recently refurbished, The Star seemed drab and and the decor old. Overall we had a good time but are unlikely to choose another NCL cruise unless family or friends invite us to sail with them. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are health conscious vegans and one of us has a gluten allergy. In January 2019 we sailed aboard the Princess Regal on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. We went with relatives which didn’t give us much time for us to enjoy being on ... Read More
We are health conscious vegans and one of us has a gluten allergy. In January 2019 we sailed aboard the Princess Regal on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. We went with relatives which didn’t give us much time for us to enjoy being on the boat or for relaxing. We needed another cruise and fast! However, we had limited funds having just cruised. We choose a 14 day repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Star which departed Los Angeles and sailed through the Panama Canal with Miami being it’s destination. We went on “the cheap” getting an interior cabin which we do not mind because the darkness helps us sleep longer and better. To save money we used the "Let Us Choose" option where Norwegian selects a cabin for you. The ports of call ranged down the Western Mexican coast, with stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, passage through the Canal and last stop in Columbia before heading to Miami. We did not take any tours since we had seen Mexico on other cruises and enjoy having the ship to ourselves when others are ashore. The Star had a historian give several lectures on the Panama Canal history and someone narrated during our passage through the Canal. Both were very nice. Traveling as vegans (avoid foods containing meat or products from animals), always poses a challenge. On the Princess Regal the Main Dining Room offered a vegan menu each night and gladly adjusted for gluten intolerance. The Princess had assigned seating and dinner times which worked well for us. Our waiter became familiar with our special needs and things flowed very smoothly. The Princess morning buffet had mixed greens as well as beans and several types of breakfast grains. They also had non-dairy options on the buffet. The labels above each buffet item had a “V” if it contained no animal products and /or a “GF“ if not made with wheat gluten. On the Norwegian Star, the buffet selection was more limited and we frequently went to the main dining room if we wanted something “green” in the morning. No dish on the buffet had identification as to whether it was vegan or gluten free. Non-dairy and/or gluten free items were available upon request but often took a while to get from the buffet staff. The Norwegian Star has a Free Style approach to dinner. We explained our special dietary needs to the restaurant manager and he introduced us to their special diet coordinator. He was great! At first, we would tell him what we desired for dinner but later just gave him the freedom to create meals with the chefs. The meals were very good and exciting to see what we would get that evening. However, with Free Style dining, you never knew how crowded the restaurant would be at any given time and most of the time we had a new waiter who was unfamiliar with us and our diet. English was not spoken well by some waiters so explaining each night that we had a special meal became tedious. Some nights meals took a very long time to prepare particularly if the restaurant was unexpectedly crowded. The Princess approach with an assigned waiter, assigned dinner time and vegan menu was much more efficient and pleasant for us. The entertainment on the Norwegian Star in our opinion was not as good as some other ships we have been on, however, one show by the ship's production cast was outstanding and among the best I have seen. The Star’s exercise room and decks for walking were superior to many other ships. We enjoyed the Star’s indoor movie theaters rather than the Princess ship design which features an outdoor screen for that “drive-in theater” experience. Overall we achieved our goal of being able to enjoy leisure time at sea and remain healthy. It was a good cruise but from our perspective it could have been better with a few simple changes by Norwegian. It was our first experience with Norwegian so we do not know if our experience is representative of other Norwegian ships or cruises. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
It went through the "new panama canal". It was amazing to see and enjoy the passage. Other parts were not so amazing. The casino was the poorest we have ever seen at sea with very tight slots. Bingo was a joke they did ... Read More
It went through the "new panama canal". It was amazing to see and enjoy the passage. Other parts were not so amazing. The casino was the poorest we have ever seen at sea with very tight slots. Bingo was a joke they did not do a roll over and a last game grand prize winner. the real winner was norwegian. In place of over $5000 the final coverall got $1000,not bad, but not was expected. The ship is confusing to get around, all of the hot tubs have no shade so it's early morning or later at night. Entertainment was spotty, comedy was good , havana was good, magician was good, jersey boy's was a bust in my opinion, and the cavern was good. As for the food it was great, with the exception q which served some poor dry brisket. Would recommend gagneys and teppanyaki. Both were exceptional and worth the cost. Disembarkation was the worst experience of our 25 plus cruise's. This was not norwegians fault,it was cause by the port of los angeles. The most un organized mess i have ever encountered. Porters laughing at people in line waiting as they breezed by to a special line where they and their cruisers were they had no waiting saying for a few bucks you could be gone by now. Union i assume. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Pro: Entertainment is great. Best shows anywhere. Helpful staff. Observation lounge is perfect place to relax. Lots to do throughout the day and night. Taste Restaurant is the best for a quiet dinner. Waterfront ... Read More
Pro: Entertainment is great. Best shows anywhere. Helpful staff. Observation lounge is perfect place to relax. Lots to do throughout the day and night. Taste Restaurant is the best for a quiet dinner. Waterfront promenade deck has great sitting space with comfy chairs and sofas. Also has two outdoor bars. Con: Ship creaks a lot. Deck 9 right over noisy deck 8-avoid deck 9 cabins. Crew very busy and limited guest interaction. Disembarkation took almost an hr just to get off ship. Food ok but nothing special Cagney’s and Manhattan restaurants extremely noisy. Guest Services promises to resolve noise issues, but issue kept reoccurring. Gift shops kept selling the same stuff everyday. No rotation with fresh products. Cookies only available in evening in buffet. Cabin storage is mostly shelves, not pull out drawers. TV channel selection very limited. Navigation info on TV was sometimes very inaccurate. We would not go out of our way to cruise on this ship again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. The reason for the low score for NCL is that there were lots of little things which were not as good as other cruise companies and they added up to make a big difference. Firstly the good: The organisation of the Freedom dining is fantastic. We only had to wait (briefly) for a table on a couple of occasions - the rest of the time it worked like clockwork. This is down mainly to the ladies who work at the front desk. They do an exceptional job. The staff in the dining rooms were all fantastic. Hardworking and always cheerful. No mean feat! The chinese restaurant is included rather than the usual cover charge and we thought the food was superb. The presentation of the food in the main dining rooms was the best we have seen There were proper showers in all of the rooms (not just shower curtains) The bad: The menus in the Chinese and O'Sheehans never changes nor does it in Grand Pacific at lunch time. Not too bad if you are on a 7 day cruise but this was 19 days of the same choice. The drinks are very expensive The ship was late in to nearly every port. Sometimes just by 15-20 mins but it messed up our plans (and on two of the occassions this was when the ship was only travelling a short distance between ports) Disembarkation was a shambles with poor communication. They put on too few tenders when needed so that it took us until after 1pm to get off the ship when we had to be back on board by 4pm. We paid for an upgrade to an ocean view room and yet all we could see was a lifeboat. There was no warnings about it being a partial view. There was insufficient shade on the ship so there was always a battle to be up early enough to grab some. They have a great lounge at the front of the boat where you can sit in the shade and cool and look at the view but insisted on running bingo and other talks in there all through the day despite having other areas that would accomodate these things. They even had to draw the blinds in the room to make it dark enough to see the projector. The talks about the ports and countries we were visiting were awful. The entertainment in the bars was not to our taste and hardly varied. No gala type dinners so no lobster or other special food. Food was the worst we have had on a ship (not bad like other reviews have said - just not as good as other ships) The food in the buffet was not great and was very repetitive. All of the entertainment was geared towards Americans (even though they were in the minority on the ship). I understand that they are usually the majority so I guess it would be too much trouble to change things cruise by cruise. Guest Relations were terrible. They handled a minor complaint so badly that it ended up being a big issue. They have zero authority and a terrible attitude. One thing that isn't the ships problem but is worth mentioning is that we like to share our table with others in the evening. Clearly most people who choose NCL don't like to so it was rare that we managed to get a table with other people on it. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for the destination (the Panama Canal) and the season (February when it was -32C at home. We booked just 2 weeks before sail date and booked a guaranteed balcony cabin. We did not get to pick our cabin. I never ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the destination (the Panama Canal) and the season (February when it was -32C at home. We booked just 2 weeks before sail date and booked a guaranteed balcony cabin. We did not get to pick our cabin. I never actually was told the cabin number by Norwegian. I found it somewhat hidden in the cruise docs. Meanwhile, I was getting emails asking me to bid on upgrades. I found this extremely annoying. It felt like they were selling off better cabins that might have been mine. I hate the feeling that I am being charged as much as possible for every little thing Norwegian charges for its specialty restaurant ($30US per person) and does not seem to have enough seating in its general dining rooms for everyone who wants to eat there. We were asked to take a pager and wait 45 to 60 minutes for a table. The Ginza Oriental dining room is very small. We managed a table once in the 14 days. There was always a line up. It isn't really that good. I also hate that I paid $5US for a bottle of water and they won't let you bring water from shore claiming security issues. We found the staff were excellent. They were always smiling and helpful. The main dining room staff, Versaille, seemed the most most harassed and over worked and least cheerful. I have some concern with the buffet restaurant were almost everything is self-serve with poor quality tongs. I saw people give up trying to grab sausages with thick plastic tongs and use their fingers. I also saw a passenger take a pair of better tongs with her from a shrimp dish and use them on the rest of the buffet possibly contaminating the whole buffet for anyone who has a seafood allergy. We found most of the food rather bland, very salty and rather boring. There were somewhat spicy curries on the buffet but they were there every day. I found the entertainment was mainly louder than it was good. The DJ and the Latin group were able to drive me from the pool area. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Main Entertainment was very good to excellent but entertainment in main areas of ship was awful. Food good with very good variety. Service good. Can’t prove it but food on shore excursions gave both of us Montezuma’s Revenge. ... Read More
Main Entertainment was very good to excellent but entertainment in main areas of ship was awful. Food good with very good variety. Service good. Can’t prove it but food on shore excursions gave both of us Montezuma’s Revenge. TV in room had very limited and intermittently unavailable programming. Tiny stateroom with no sitting area or sofa. Onboard activities very limited and too many tried to sell something or had fees. Game show hostesses were annoying with hard to understand Eastern European accents. Tiny pool. Limited common areas for relaxing. “Free” Ultimate Beverage Package a total rip-off. Mandatory $20 per person per day charge for gratuity. Very nice main theater. Smell of cigarette smoke in many public areas. Ship staff overall were very good. Chaotic process for finding ship sponsored (and other) location of transportation for shore excursions. Very elderly passengers. Median age definitely over 70. Probably over 75. Aerialists, Magician, Thomas John, Levena B Fox and production shows were excellent. Hypnotist not very good. Female Comedian very good. Good shore excursions. Many options for bars and restaurants although too many of them are an extra charge. Terrible smoking in casino kept me away. Captain was very informative and kept us on schedule. Limited seating in complimentary restaurants. Always a line and forced to wait. Too few tables for 2. Pressured to sit with others. Disembarkation was chaotic. Very long lines. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
This is our 1st cruise with Norwegian but we have cruised several times before. This was the longest cruise at 14 days however. We had been informed to Star had recently been renovated. Ship was very clean. Staff was efficient but not ... Read More
This is our 1st cruise with Norwegian but we have cruised several times before. This was the longest cruise at 14 days however. We had been informed to Star had recently been renovated. Ship was very clean. Staff was efficient but not very friendly. There were exceptions like Ivan our room steward. There were parts of the ship that should/could have had service but didn't - the front and back of the ship where sunbathers were. Not one waiter ever came by to ask if you wanted anything. Yes there are bars near by but you would have to leave your chair,etc. to go get something. Also no light snacks at any of the bars - spicy corn nuts at Gatsby and Sugar cane only. Eric in the Tiptop bar is very nice. There's only one casual dining room (Agua)where shorts are acceptable, all the rest require reservations,long pants/collared shirts and are either ala cart or specialty priced. We came on the cruise to relax and be casual. But I didn't come on a cruise to eat at a cafeteria which the upstairs buffet reminded me of. It was crowded and noisey. The specialty restaurants were very nice though - Le Bistro was excellent and so was the Moderno - a meat lover's dream. Gapo our waitperson there was wonderful. The salad bar at the Moderno was amazing. I would have been glad just to eat that. I have come to realize that I do not Asian fusion cooking. The Ginza was a complete disappointment. The sushi rice was not correct (too sweet) and the tuna texture appeared to have been frozen. I understand that we are on a ship and frozen fish would/might be required for health safety but then do not serve sushi to consumers that will know the difference. Or when we are in port buy local fresh fish from the area. That would have been exciting to try instead. O'Sheehans was a hit or miss. I ordered buffalo wings 2x's and they came to the table cold and overcooked both times. Have your waitstaff learn how to pour a pint of Guinness beer as well. It is different from regular beer. I should not have to tell them how to do it at a place called O'Sheehans! The Tradewinds shopping area had lovely clothing. Prices were actually quite reasonable in comparison to other cruise lines. Both a few items there. But the toiletry selections is very limited. You should expand it to include more things that people either forgot or ran out of . I bought some lovely earrings and lost a back - couldn't wear them because you didn't sell any replacement backs. No AA or AAA batteries or phone chargers. Another missed opportunity. We met 2 lovely couples from England and Australia on our cruise and being with them made any of our disappointments bearable. However, not sure if we will do Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We cruised to Panama Feb 1st, 2019. The ports where great. The food and activities on the ship was lacking. The food in the buffet was terrible and the same food was served daily. The food in the specialty restaurants Ginza and Osheehans ... Read More
We cruised to Panama Feb 1st, 2019. The ports where great. The food and activities on the ship was lacking. The food in the buffet was terrible and the same food was served daily. The food in the specialty restaurants Ginza and Osheehans was over cooked and dry. Not worth eating at all. The desserts all over the ship where dry and unsweetened. Just aweful! They need to fire the person in charge of the food on board. One of the worse food experiences I have ever had on a cruise ship. The entertainment on board on sea days and in the evening needs to be improved. The ships Dj was aweful. He needs to be let go. The staff was friendly and the ports great. This is an older ship and this itinerary caters to older people. We felt like we where the youngest people on the boat. This could account for the lack of “fun” things to do. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We wanted to sail through the canal. The price and dates worked out for us. We have sailed on numerous cruise lines. The star was average, nothing exceptional. We scheduled offshore activities through the internet. Meals were fine, ... Read More
We wanted to sail through the canal. The price and dates worked out for us. We have sailed on numerous cruise lines. The star was average, nothing exceptional. We scheduled offshore activities through the internet. Meals were fine, but no lobster meal anywhere. Entertainment was nothing exceptional. Usual activities onboard. Good narration through the canal. Music was loud, hard to find a quiet place. Not many children aboard. Accommodating layout. We would probably choose a different cruise line next time. We had some great shore excursions, but did not purchase any through the ship. Good choice of ports, some concerns with tender service. In tendered ports, be sure to sign up early, as gold and platinum cruisers get preference. If you have scheduled excursions off the ship, you may need to call ahead if seas are choppy, as tenders are limited. Overall this cruise was acceptable, great experience, going through the cana!. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Our first experience on a "frestyle" cruise. Not a fan because it often meant long waits in the main dining rooms. Average age on this sailing was 65 and so most activities were focused on that age group, which we are not ... Read More
Our first experience on a "frestyle" cruise. Not a fan because it often meant long waits in the main dining rooms. Average age on this sailing was 65 and so most activities were focused on that age group, which we are not part of. Would have liked more variety. Seems like all there was is bingo and trivia. I also found it unprofessional for crew members to be eating at public dining spaces,. We mainly chose this cruise for the panama canal experience and the variety of ports. We were not disappointed. We only wish some ports had more time, even if it meant eliminating some. Food was ok. Main buffet lacked variety. The main dining was loud, lacked variety and service slow (although did improve a bit towards the end). Our favorite was the poolside bbq they offered on most at sea days. They also had a good variety of food areas, Orchid Garden was a favorite. Specialty dining was nothing really that special except for Moderno which was EXCELLENT!! Spa experience for us was a pedicure. The service was very good but they were very pushy trying to get us to buy products and other services. Totally turned me off to going back. Bar staff was inconsistent. We ordered mojitos at 3 different bars and they made them 3 different ways. We did, love the staff at the atrium bar. Entertainment was good, however seating in the Stardust was uncomfortable. Variety and value of the excursions we booked was excellent. Overall our experience was good. We realize the challenges there must be for a cruise line to keep people happy, fed and entertained for 19 days. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
The big attraction of this cruise was the itinerary: LA to New York taking in the Panama Canal and the ABC islands and lots of other places along the way, plus 19 days in the sun in mid-winter. I've cruised about a dozen times ... Read More
The big attraction of this cruise was the itinerary: LA to New York taking in the Panama Canal and the ABC islands and lots of other places along the way, plus 19 days in the sun in mid-winter. I've cruised about a dozen times with several different cruise lines and on varying sizes of ships and although this was not a bad experience I'd put Norwegian at the bottom of my list and would only cruise with them again if the itinerary was really special, like this one. I've given an overall "Average" rating because, while some aspects of the trip were very good, others were not so great. The check-in experience for me was good as I did not have to stand in long lines at any stage and there was only a short wait for my cabin to be ready. The cabin itself was a bit tired and there was no chair, though clearly space for one: a dining chair was delivered later when I asked about it and I was told the tub chair that should be there was damaged. Don't know why it hadn't been replaced without me having to ask for it. The bed linen was badly pilled and really needs to be replaced. Mark, the cabin steward, was excellent but as I was at the end of his line of cabins, it was often late in the morning/evening before he got to mine and this was sometimes inconvenient. The shower was a good size but the wc was awkwardly positioned at an angle and a large person would have had a problem with it. The Garden Cafe was just a scrum and I avoided it most of the time, unless I was after a quick snack outside of peak meal times: chaotic lay-out with people going in all directions and then hard to find a seat. I didn't try the specialty restaurants but ate in both the Magenta and Grand Pacific dining rooms, which have the same menu. I found the chairs in the Magenta uncomfortable so preferred the Grand Pacific. Several reviewers have commented on the wating time to get in there but I never had a problem of more than a few minutes, which also applied the night I went to the Magenta. The staff in the Grand Pacific were excellent and I never felt that the wait for food was excessive. And even when it was busy there was no pressure to vacate the table. The food was good if not spectacular. It was my go-to for breakfast and dinner. Lunch is served there on days at sea but I didn't try it as the buffet on deck was also very good. My main complaints about the ship are the lack of quiet spaces, the on-cost of drinks and services and the hard-sell on extras from the spa, shore excursions and future cruise departments. The Spinnaker lounge is a lovely space but it was hard to find a time when it wasn't being used for a noisy bingo session or a game/quiz of some sort. The same applies to the atrium. I don't mind the odd game of bingo but the cost on the Gem was extortionate compared to other ships I've been on. Drinks were also more expensive than other ships. I went to a couple of the talks in the spa and gym and they were basically just sales pitches for spurious weight control plans or orthotics, both at outrageous prices compared to what can be had on-shore. The Cruise Director and staff were very much at the cheap package holiday end of the market. The future cruising offer was not a good deal and merely a way of getting money out of you now. The shore excursions I did were OK but the talk on them on the first day was poor, being all about where to shop and ignoring those ports where there was no fancy shopping. If you were not going on one of the ship's excursions, they really weren't interested in you and there was no information about the port, what to see or how to get about. The port lectures were not helpful, being mainly historical with the lecturer's holiday photos and bad jokes thrown in. Other ships I've been on have provided some combination of a port talk on what to see/how to get around/maps/shuttle buses to the centre if the port area is beyond easy walking distance. As other reviewers have mentioned, the tender service to shore was slow in Cabo and a complete shambles in Puerto Vallarta where there were 3 other ships docked and we were at anchor with only one tender allowed in at a time. Was this a cost issue? Then when we finally got ashore over an hour after the scheduled tour time there was no one there to direct us to the the start point for our walking tour. I didn't go to the entertainment every night as I don't much like hypnotists and ventriloquists but I recognise there was a good variety on offer for a 19 day cruise. The song and dance shows were very good but I was surprised to learn that they only do 3 per cruise, however long the cruise is, which meant more of the pianist - good but not worth 2 shows - and repeats of some of the other performers. Also, I didn't think it was good to have the dancers en masse on the sun deck in the afternoon, generally being noisy and disruptive for other passengers; nor did I appreciate hearing one of them in the spa, while I was having a manicure and he was getting his hair cut, going on about how much he hated the shows. I chose the unassisted disembarkation and that worked well. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because of the canal transit and that did not disappoint. Get a balcony state room as you get a real experience from the balcony of the locks and transit. We ate at all the specialty restaurants as we had the package. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the canal transit and that did not disappoint. Get a balcony state room as you get a real experience from the balcony of the locks and transit. We ate at all the specialty restaurants as we had the package. They were all very good with excellent service. The entertainment was top notch, with great Broadway style shows and funny comics. It was a real shame that the pool deck was a disappointment. First of all, they were scraping and painting above one pool and small flecks of paint were floating in the water?!! No effort was made to screen off the maintenance, which was above the grill and the pool! I did not swim in that pool after seeing the paint flakes floating in it. But, both pool were unheated?! According to the life guard, the pools were replaced with sea water every night?! This was to keep them clean?! They were consequently freezing even in very hot weather. Unacceptable. Also people would reserve loungers by placing items on them and then walk away. The pool deck staff did nothing about this and on at sea days it was hard to find a spot to sit in the sun and then take a quick shower as the pools were really too cold. In frustration one day I complained to one of the guys on deck and he went around and collected a few towels but basically did nothing to help me. We often went up top away from the pool to sit away from the very loud group with a terrible female lead singer who sang everything flat. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Started cruising with NCL in 2010 thru the Canal on the Star. Enjoyed it a lot. Glad we have those memories because the rehabbed NCL Star is not worth booking. Lazy crew or maybe a bad attitude. Also they removed the Spinnaker lounge ... Read More
Started cruising with NCL in 2010 thru the Canal on the Star. Enjoyed it a lot. Glad we have those memories because the rehabbed NCL Star is not worth booking. Lazy crew or maybe a bad attitude. Also they removed the Spinnaker lounge and replaced it with cabins, without increasing places to relax. Bliss Lounge is dark with uncomfortable seating. Game rooms are gone. Players use seats in the Cafe. Also gone were the mini-suite mid-room curtain, basically making it a large balcony cabin. Food is mediocre, meats are tough and gristly. Even at Cagney's. Would have like chopped fruits instead of whole fruit. I don't want an entire apple or orange. I'd like a little bowl of mixed fruit. And the noise. Don't get a mini suite under the pool area. Maybe bowling would be quieter - less chairs to slide alone. Not enough bars. And Gatsy's musicians were too noisy for conversation. Even though they were asked to tone it down. I can usually find something good to say, but I can't! Don't sail the Star; not worth the money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
1. Orange juice tasted like powdered OJ with artificial sweeteners. 2. 24 hour Pub O'Sheehans not open 24hours. Breakfast starts at 6 AM but staff won't let you sit there before 6AM. 3. Coffee is free at O'Sheehans ... Read More
1. Orange juice tasted like powdered OJ with artificial sweeteners. 2. 24 hour Pub O'Sheehans not open 24hours. Breakfast starts at 6 AM but staff won't let you sit there before 6AM. 3. Coffee is free at O'Sheehans pub but they charge you for the same coffee at O'Sheehans bar. The pub will not deliver the coffee to the bar. 4. The"Cruise Norwegian" app shows the restaurants but doesn't show hours or menu. 5. The"Cruise Norwegian" app only shows activities 24 hours in advance. 6. Changes to activities not shown on app. 7. Golf driving range had 2 right hand 3 irons and 2 left hand pitching wedges at one cage and the opposite combination at the other cage. 8. No video of activities shown on TV available for purchase. It would have been nice to get videos of bow cam. 9. Medical care extremely costly. Over $900 to be seen by on board medical personnel for flu like symptoms. 10. Texas hold em tournament structure leaves a lot to be desired. 11. Toilets broke several times. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I did not personally choose this cruise, but was invited to go with people who did because I wanted to experience going through the Panama Canal. Service for the most part was good. The free Wi-Fi incentive was a joke. Getting online was ... Read More
I did not personally choose this cruise, but was invited to go with people who did because I wanted to experience going through the Panama Canal. Service for the most part was good. The free Wi-Fi incentive was a joke. Getting online was nearly impossible. Onboard entertainment was enjoyable, but seating in the large theater was quite uncomfortable. Food ranged from awful to very good. I was shocked to discover that the “orange juice” served was nothing more than Tang. The real thing cost extra! Really?!? I paid thousands of dollars for a mini suite that didn’t include orange juice. Ridiculous! I was not happy. Going through the Panama Canal was amazing. I recommend reading the book “The Path Between the Seas” beforehand. I went on 6 shore excursions. Two were excellent, two were good, one was fair, and one was poor. I seriously doubt I will choose Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We flew to LA a day prior to the cruise, took Super Shuttle to San Pedro and spent the night at the DoubleTree hotel. They provided a free shuttle to the ship.This was my 32nd cruise, 2nd on NCL. Embarkation went smoothly and wait time to ... Read More
We flew to LA a day prior to the cruise, took Super Shuttle to San Pedro and spent the night at the DoubleTree hotel. They provided a free shuttle to the ship.This was my 32nd cruise, 2nd on NCL. Embarkation went smoothly and wait time to get on the ship was not too long but waiting for the staterooms to be ready took way too long IMO. The ship was clean and well maintained except the glass panels on our balcony were dirty on our arrival and never cleaned. The muster drill was the shortest one I've ever had to attend. BTW : NCL no longer allows you to bring any water or beverages [except bottled/sealed wine] on board and confiscated our 2 store bought small water bottles when we went through security. My mini suite cabin 11176 was under the Garden Cafe [as are most 11th deck cabins] and the noise from chairs scrapping the floor was loud and annoying especially during sleep hours.The cabin was large with good lighting, had USB ports in the 2 lights over the headboard and 2 by the desk near the balcony.Storage was not great,only 2 drawers, only 1 bedside table and several shelves. The closet was small for a 14 day cruise, 2 people could not have hung all their clothes in there [my spouse used the shelves for most of his clothes]. The safe was in the closet and extremely hard to access. The bathroom was a good size with good pressure shower head in the bath tub which had sliding doors to contain spray.The lighting was not very bright.There was a magnifying mirror but it was permanently affixed about 4.5 feet high off the floor so I was not able to use it since I'm 5'8. The toiletries did not smell very good to me......seemed to be a stale odd scent which did not connote clean. Our cabin steward began making up cabins at about 0830, did not reach our cabin til about 1200 each day. He began turn down service about 5:30 pm and did not reach our cabin til about 8:30 pm. On the nights he turned down our cabin he left towel animals but used my fragile eyeglasses as an accessory on the animal which I thought was inappropriate. I don't think strangers should touch private belongings in a cabin. If my glasses had broken what would I do ? I can't read without 'em. The ship layout was good. One could actually walk all the way around the ship on the promenade deck ! We ate in the Garden Cafe often altho the food was not very good or ever very warm. We preferred eating in O'Sheehan's restaurant which had better food [also not ever really warm] altho the folks greeting you when you walked in were never ever friendly, always frowning.The waitstaff was very nice tho as were all ship staff we encountered on our 14 day cruise. The captain made a PA system chatty announcement every day. There were no guest lecturers on this cruise altho we had many sea days. There was a man providing canal information on the PA system the day of our canal transit which was very welcome and I learned a lot. The wifi was very slow and expensive. The shore excursions we took [only 2 this trip] were lame......way too much time on a bus with too little time at the destination. One excursion was advertised as taking us to a hacienda which in reality was not an estate or house but a large-ish open air tourist restaurant with the word Hacienda written on the siding.The tour guides were very good. The process of getting off the ship for excursions seemed inefficient and slow. There were ice cold damp washcloths available when returning to the ship each day, very refreshing ! Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise took a long long time. I imagine it was because of the government shutdown. There were only 3 customs officers available at passport control in Miami. It takes a lot of time for 3 men to process all those passengers. We took a free shuttle bus to the rental car center located at Miami airport to pick up our rental car. The shuttle was right outside the cruise port terminal and was very convenient. I'm not sure if we'll cruise NCL again. Our other NCL cruise was on Jade and the food was so much better on that ship I wonder why it seemed so poor on Star. Neither of us can be called a picky eater and food is not why we cruise but still..... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We sailed from Los Angeles and the transfer from the airport was ridiculously disorganized. It took forever to get the throngs of passengers onto motor coaches from the airport to the pier. We we not on the list, even though we were ... Read More
We sailed from Los Angeles and the transfer from the airport was ridiculously disorganized. It took forever to get the throngs of passengers onto motor coaches from the airport to the pier. We we not on the list, even though we were charged twice for the transfer. Once we got to the pier, things took a turn for the better and all went smoothly. The Star had been refurbished...all except the theatre. The entertainment was top notch, however ever third or fourth seat seem to be broken slanting forward. Not a great situation for anyone. Very little leg room if you are taller than 5’5”. Having said that, the cabin was great along with our steward. The overall service was okay, nothing exceptional. We are not overly fond of buffets and having sailed with Princess, I’d rank Princess higher than NCL. We had a dining package and really enjoyed Moderno. Teppanyaki was okay but LeBistro and La Cucina were sub-par. Had we paid extra, I would have been asking for a refund! We did shore excursions in Acupulco (Cliff Divers and Old Fort) which were okay. Two bay snorkel in Cabo San Lucas was fun. Antiqua on our own was a full day and okay. Beware of street vendors in your face at every turn! Old city Cartagena was amazing along with the Spanish fortress. Our tour guide was exceptional. The highlight of this cruise was passage through the Panama Canal. Informative narration and mind boggling engineering! Our captain and cruise director had personality plus. Always fun to hear what they had to tell us. “The voice from above” says the captain. Lol. I learned the hard way not to make ANY changes to the booking once you haves booked your cruise, the exception being adding dining and excursions. We were over charged on transfers and trying to get refunds is a very time consuming, slow process and it still was not done properly. Thank goodness credit card companies can dispute charges! Lesson learned. Disembarking and transfers to the airport went smoothly. We went with NCL because in-laws booked and invited us along. One and done for us with NCL. The itinerary was great, but I’d rather cruise with Princess. 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: 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
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