We had sailed on Regal Princess last year and had a wonderful time. As soon as we returned, we booked a cruise with our kids on Carnival for March 2018. After a few weeks, we decided we didn't want to wait two years before sailing ... Read More
We had sailed on Regal Princess last year and had a wonderful time. As soon as we returned, we booked a cruise with our kids on Carnival for March 2018. After a few weeks, we decided we didn't want to wait two years before sailing again, so we asked our travel agent to try to find us a good deal sailing to the Eastern Caribbean for just the two of us. He found us a couple good deals. One was with Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and the other was with Norwegian Epic. I had heard many bad things about Norwegian and many good things as well. We had gone on a Royal cruise for our honeymoon back in 1999 and enjoyed that, so we wanted to try Norwegian. It also had the Ultimate Beverage Package included so we chose Norwegian.
I did all sorts of research on this ship and the cruise line itself. I saw pictures of the rooms and read a lot of reviews. I discounted the very bad ones and paid attention to the ones who gave unbiased reviews. I was looking forward to the cruise for over a year and finally it was time.
On Saturday morning, we woke up in the hotel and I looked out the window to discover a lot of fog. You could not see the street below as the fog was so thick. I didn't think anything of it and we went about getting ready to go and checking out of our hotel and going to the car rental place to drop off our rental car and get a shuttle to the cruise port. When we got there, we discovered that everything was running very behind since the fog from that morning had not allowed the cruise ships to dock at the port so by 10:30am, they still hasn't disembarked their other passengers. It was a real mess. This port is also very small and has very high traffic. Normally the bulk of the passengers get off the ship before the new passengers show up at the cruise port. In this situation there were people leaving the ship and coming to the ship at the same time. Norwegian handled it as good as they could and after waiting in the warm terminal, eventually the fire marshal told them to allow us into the building. Once we were allowed in and got processed, we were on the ship by 1pm. Not bad really. Apparently they sent out emails to the passengers saying not to go to the port before 12:30 however, being from Canada, we did not have access to phones or email so did not get this message. They are not responsible for weather so I do not hold this against them.
Once we got on board, we went to the Lido(Garden Cafe) on deck 15. We grabbed some food and ate. After which we decided to go to our rooms to see if we could get in. Our room was actually ready which was a pleasant surprise. The room itself wasn't pleasant. We got an inside cabin to try to save some money, after all, you don't spend much time in your room anyway right?? Well, it was a very small room which I was expecting. I don't hold that against them either. The thing I do hold against them is the whole bathroom situation on this ship. Whatever designer decided that this bathroom design was a good idea is hopefully no longer working on cruise ship design. This is the worst idea for a cruise ship bathroom i have every seen. The toilet is in a "room" of it's own. I use quotation marks as it is not really a room more like a closet with opaque doors that show your silhouette to any other people staying in the room with you. There is however a red curtain you can pull across for privacy but really it is not any sound proofing. The shower is the same with the opaque walls and door. There is absolutely no privacy. If you are traveling with someone other than a spouse, it is very awkward. I found it awkward even with my spouse. Bathroom time is not something I like to share with others and in this case, you have no choice. This is the main reason for the low rating on the cabin. Our room steward, Marlon, was awesome!!! He saw us every day and made sure we were happy with the room and always asking if we needed anything. He was fantastic and that if it was based on service, the cabin would have had a much higher rating.
The food on the ship was okay. It was a million times better on the Princess ship but it was okay here. I am speaking of the free food. It was typical fare. The service was okay too. Nothing to be too excited about. There was one time in particular in the Taste dining room that our waiter had an extremely large amount of cologne on and therefore all I could taste was that in my food. I also have strong allergies to certain scents and this was one of them so I needed to go back to the room to get allergy medication in order to continue with our evening.The best place for us to eat on the ship was O'sheehans. This was by far the best food on the ship for free. I have to say here that we are people of simple taste, so for me to give the food a bad rating, it based on my tastes. Some people who enjoy fancy food, might think this food was great. This is based on my tastes and my likes only.
We did spend a little extra and made reservations at Teppanyaki and it was absolutely my favorite meal on the ship. I got the chicken and filet mignon and it was the best tasting meal (especially the steak) I have ever eaten in my entire life. I like my steak well done which I am used to getting a tougher steak because of the way I like to eat it. But this steak was the most tender, juiciest steak I have ever eaten. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone!!
We also spent a little extra money to go to the Cirque Dreams dinner show. We have been to Cirque shows before and have not paid premium and have good seats. We didn't realize that by not paying premium seats that there would be some things you wouldn't be able to see. I would suggest paying the premium price so you don't miss anything. All in all it was a good time. Lots of audience participation. I would recommend this. The mean was okay. Not the best, but definitely good.
The entertainment. There were two main shows. Burn the Floor and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Both of these shows are terrific. The Priscilla show was offensive to some. I thought it was great and loved the message. I saw some people leave in the middle of the show. Be mindful that if you are easily offended or have a more traditional upbringing, you might not like this show, but if you are open minded, you will probably find this to be a great show.
My problem with the shows was that you had to book the shows either before you got on the ship or as soon as you got there. This ship has 4100 passengers. Regal Princess held 3600. The reason Epic said they had to make you book the shows was because there wasn’t enough room for everyone to see the show. Regal had a different show every night, twice a night and I never heard anyone complain of not getting to see the show. The fact that there was only two main shows meant the nights you didn’t have anything booked, there was nothing else for you to do.
Also, during the afternoon, there were hardly any enjoyable activities planned. Unless you want to sit and tan the whole time on the very crowded pool deck, you will have a hard time finding something to keep you busy. Since we had 3 sea days this made those days very long. This is the reason for the lower entertainment score. We ended up napping almost every afternoon due to lack of interest in anything going on onboard. When they did have something a little interesting it lasted all of 15 minutes. It felt like a waste of time to go and watch anything.
The ports. We went to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Both of these ports were absolutely beautiful, however, unless you book an excursion, there is not a lot to do in the port. We tried to talk to our kids in Tortola with the wifi but the wifi was horrible and kept cutting out. This isn’t a complaint, as it was free wifi but it was the only time on the cruise that we had access to free wifi and were disappointed we couldn’t chat with them very long.
We booked a snorkeling excursion in St Thomas on the Castaway Girl in Shipwreck Cove. The crew was very friendly and knowledgeable. The boat was great and the sail was peaceful and great. The complaint I have is that it was a guided tour so once you got off into the water there was a bunch of people all crowded around together so you kept getting kicked and bumped into so you could not enjoy looking down at the coral reef or the shipwreck as you had to worry about something kicking you in the face or banging into you. We spent a total of about 30 minutes in the water, not nearly long enough and it was really hard to see. I would never do a guided tour again. We did a snorkeling excursion on the Princess ship and it was terrific, we had gotten 45 minutes at two different sites and the water was so crystal clear you could see 40 feet down to the bottom of the ocean. I was disappointed with this excursion however many of the other people on board said they had a great time. So bear this in mind. This is my opinion only.
The last stop was on their private island of Great Stirrup Cay. We had a little miscommunication with booking tenders. Yes you have to book tenders to go to the Island. I didn’t realize you needed to book this and when I did discover it, I wasn’t sure how to do it. Once we booked, we were on the P tender. So we have to wait for A, B, C D, etc…until P was called. As it turns out when we went for breakfast that day we discovered it was pouring rain, therefore we weren’t decided if we would be going over or not. The captain came over the intercom to say that the weather wasn’t really co-operating and it was supposed to get windier as the day went on, but the tenders were going for now and they would keep an eye on the weather. We decided to go up to the pool deck to check the weather and decide if we would go over. When we got up there, the sun was out, so we made the choice to go to the Island. We went down to the tender to find out what letter they were on and they just told us to go to the tender. We got to the island in a little bit choppy seas and wandered through the little market area. We were on the island for about 20 minutes and had just sat down on a beach chair when the ship blew their horn and crew members were yelling at everyone to head back to the ship right away as they were evacuating the island due to the wind. Luckily we were able to get up right away and walk quickly to the tender area. We were one of the first 50 or so people waiting for the tender and as we look back, all you can see is about 2000 people lined up all over the island. It was crazy. Getting off the tender was a little difficult with the wind but we made it. It took them over three hours to empty the island. It seemed a little pointless to let us go over, but again, the captain wasn’t in charge of the weather so you can’t blame them for that. The crew pulled together a day at sea itinerary, but again, not much to do.
All in all, the crew was friendly and plentiful. The food was okay, and the entertainment that they had was great, but not plentiful enough and they did not have enough activities throughout the day so we were bored most of the time on the ship. I don’t think we will take another Norwegian cruise. At least not for a while. We will see what Carnival holds for us next time. Read Less