As with previous cruises (and future booked ones for now) I'm traveling solo, and this was my second annual Christmas cruise. Going into this cruise I was a little worried, I'd just gotten off the Harmony of the Seas which I ... Read More
As with previous cruises (and future booked ones for now) I'm traveling solo, and this was my second annual Christmas cruise. Going into this cruise I was a little worried, I'd just gotten off the Harmony of the Seas which I loved and wasn't sure how this would compare, especially given that this would be my first back to back with the second week being very family heavy for Christmas. I'd read some reviews leading up that were largely negative about this ship and the service. I'm happy to say that my experience overall was really fantastic.
I stayed in the "Studios", the rooms are small but I'm someone that's only in them to sleep, shower, and change so the size didn't bother me. I find them well laid out and more than suitable for my needs, but if you're someone that needs space or natural light, probably not for you. Room steward was a ninja, I swear I'd leave my room in the morning to go grab coffee and by the time I got back to shower it'd have been completely cleaned/remade. The lounge area is small, never got much use outside of the solo meetings, but having decent coffee nearby was a huge bonus.
Solo meetings - this is a tale of different weeks meaning different crowds, and different levels of success. Week 1 we had a fantastic solo host (Gabi) and a generally fun group of people. While there was some fragmentation into smaller subgroups in general everyone got along really well and there were plenty of enjoyable group dinners. Week 2 was a different story, the solo host (Tim) was great, but I did not click with most of the group and never attended any meetings after the first. I did run into a few people who were traveling solo that I drank with (or attended shows/dinner), but the get togethers themselves I didn't click with.
MDR - Overall good. The only real issue was one night in the Manhattan room we had two tables of 10 and due to some delayed courses/confusion on how to handle it/etc, dinner took almost three hours. It was handled though by the solo host (Gabi) who was joining us and never repeated, in fact for the rest of the week anytime I was in the MDR service was impeccable and near constant checkins by servers and maitre d to make sure everything was taken care of. Food wise, keep your expectations in check, it's not 5 star dining, but the food is good and generally well prepared. I never had problems getting modifications (less meat, more vegetables usually) and overall an enjoyable experience.
Specialty dining - Unlike the first week where most of my dinners were in the MDR, one in a specialty, the second week I ate strictly at specialty dining for dinner. I went to Wasab (2), Le Bistro (2), La Cucina (3), and Teppanyaki (1). Fantastic experience across the board. I'd have likely switched out the third La Cucina for something different, but with it being Christmas week reservations were difficult to get. Likely could have walked in and gotten a table anyways, but I also really enjoyed the food there regardless. No complaints about specialty dining and it is a substantial step up from MDR food.
Garden Cafe - Not really a breakfast person so only stopped in here for lunch, and mostly because it was the best source of salad on the ship. I'm used to a very vegetable heavy diet and was able to satisfy my cravings for those here.
Bars - I'm a simple man, I generally pick 2-3 bars that I'll frequent on a ship and stick with those. My preference comes for ones that aren't too crowded, that I can find a place to read nearby, good service, and good drinks. Most of my week was spent at the Vibe bar, Syd Normans on the Waterfront, Syd Normans, and occasionally Shakers. Unlike some reviews where people complained of a wait to get a drink, I don't think I ever had to wait more than a min or two for one, outside of insanely crowded bars like the one in Headliners during Howl at the Moon.
Vibe - One of my goals was to get Vibe passes so I'd have an adult only area that didn't have a smoking section. Goal achieved, and they were able to sell me a pass for the second week during the first week so I didn't have to worry about getting one. For me, Vibe is totally worth it. It's generally quieter, _fantastic_ bar service, everyone up there was incredibly accommodating and helpful, making sure drinks were always full and you had everything you needed. The wind was pretty horrific a few days and the hot tubs could be warmer, but I would not hesitate to get them again.
Entertainment - SIX and Burn the Floor I love. I saw each at least 4 times over the two weeks and completely enjoyed them each time. You can disagree with me, personal taste and all, you'd be wrong, but you can still do it. Bands (Queen Flash and Syd Norman house band) were great, I spent a lot of evenings there the second week. Comedy shows, hit and miss, there were a couple I enjoyed but a lot weren't my style / too tame / etc. Overall I never lacked for anything fun to do though.
Overall - Loved it. Staff was friendly and seemly went out of their way to make sure you had a great time. (Getting photos with the casts of Six and Burn the Floor was honestly a highlight of my week) Food, entertainment, drinks, cabin, etc, all great. Was it perfect? Of course not, things went wrong but they were always taken care of. I'm on vacation, as long as the ship doesn't capsize, what goes wrong isn't done on purpose/maliciously, and it gets taken care of, I don't much care. Will I cruise Norwegian again? Yup, I completely will. Read Less