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856 Norwegian (NCL) Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Reviews

My sister and I worked hard to find the vacation of a lifetime that our family of nine could all enjoy, including our 80 year old physically challenged mother who was gifting us this trip, our husbands, three 20-something kids and my 15 ... Read More
My sister and I worked hard to find the vacation of a lifetime that our family of nine could all enjoy, including our 80 year old physically challenged mother who was gifting us this trip, our husbands, three 20-something kids and my 15 year old daughter. A fabulous experience seemed to present itself in an NCL Spirit 11-Day Holiday Celebration leaving Rome on December 22, 2019 that would take us, together, into new ports and the New Year. We booked our cruise and airfare directly through NCL Group Sales assuming that by doing so we would be ensured efficient and safe travel from our homes in New Jersey to meet the ship in Rome prior to sailing. When the booking information arrived, we were immediately concerned because some of our children were booked on flights different from the rest of us and horrified that we had to figure out ourselves that the flights you booked them on were not even going to put them in Rome until the day after the cruise set sail!! We called more than once as we were very concerned that there wasn't enough time between the flights in Lisbon, especially with a special needs traveler, but were assured all would work out well. We could not leave the day before, as we had hoped, since one of our college students had a final until 7PM that night! Uggh. We were right! We did not land in Lisbon until 6:25AM, at which point there was no way possible to make our connection on the next flight which closed its door at 6:40AM, especially as we had to clear a customs and immigration entry point with an hour long line. We were dismayed to learn that there had been a 10AM flight out of Lisbon all along and, had we been booked on that from the start, it was much more likely that we would have made it to the ship before it was scheduled to depart at 5PM. Of course, the 10AM flight was full by the time we were stuck in Lisbon and could not be accommodated. Utterly disappointed, we came to terms with the fact that we would have to wait to board the ship in Venice, missing the first few days of fun and excitement that the rest of the travellers would have at embarkation. We were rebooked on a Tuesday, December 24th flight from Lisbon to Venice. While still in the Lisbon airport Sunday morning, we tried desperately to reach anyone at NCL to help us and we left urgent messages for our Group Sales agent Shanice, which were never returned. The call to NCL’s emergency numbers took several tries before we finally reached someone at Total Travel Marine named Tania. Tania explained that she was just at a call center but would forward our information via email to NCL and advise them that we would be meeting the ship in Venice. Tania's email, which I have a copy of, clearly states our phone number and asks for someone at NCL to call us as soon as possible. To date we have heard from no one at NCL. We had pre-arranged for a van to pick the nine of us up at the Rome airport Sunday to transport us to the ship and since it was too late to cancel, we were charged for the missed pick up. Luckily we were able to schedule with the same company for pick up at the Venice airport on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, when our next flight was scheduled to arrive. All of these calls and efforts to reschedule our vacation had us at the airline counter until after 1PM. Exhausted, confused and frustrated, the nine of us trudged to the Lost Baggage area of the Lisbon airport expecting to retrieve our luggage. Another two hours later, the search for our luggage began but no one could find any information on them anywhere. By 6PM we finally left, being told by TAP that “there were well over 2,000 bags in their holding” but that ours would be located and placed on our flight two days later to Venice. On Monday, December 23rd, I tried to call our NCL group sales agent again in Florida, at an hour that I assumed the US staff would be working. While I was never able to reach her directly and left several more voice messages, I finally got to a general customer service agent. I cannot tell you how flabbergasted I was when she actually said to me, “had you purchased your travel insurance through us, we would help you but since you didn’t, once your ship left port, you are now considered a closed case”. Is this really how NCL has trained their customer support team to respond to travellers in distress? On Tuesday morning, Christmas Eve, we left the hotel at 4:20AM and headed back to the Lisbon airport to make our 6AM flight. At the Lisbon airport we went directly to the wheelchair area to get mom assistance but were told we would have to wait. We gave it until 5:30AM but concerned at how long it would take us to get to the gate, and afraid to miss our flight, we grabbed a chair and pushed her ourselves. We finally settled into our flight to Venice, exhausted, dirty and stressed but ready to grab our bags and meet our cruise and begin our holiday together. Two hours later, watching an empty baggage carousel spin by with no luggage in hand, we dejected made our way to the lost luggage counter at the Venice airport. We told the agent that our ship would be in Venice until 5PM on Wednesday 12/25/19 and she assured us that our nine bags would be flown to Venice in time to be delivered to the ship before we set sail again. After dealing with this, we headed out of the baggage claim area to meet our driver. It was now just before noon and although our ship was not due into Venice port until 5PM, we figured our best option was to be dropped at the port and wait. We arrived at the gate to the port around 12:30PM only to be advised that the ship had hit bad weather between Rome and Venice and would not be arriving until after midnight and we would have to stay in another hotel overnight and meet the ship the next morning. So Christmas Eve would not be spent celebrating on our special cruise, but instead in a cheap hotel near the port of Venice, cramped three to a room. We were now also on day three in the same clothes and we did not have anything nearly warm enough to wear, nor any toiletries and we could not board a cruise uncertain that we would ever have our necessities. We found a local mall and purchase a few necessities that we believed we would need until our luggage would be brought on board later the next day. Later that night, I called the Lost Baggage Service to track our bags and was asked to email them a copy of our cruise itinerary, which I did. The next morning we were finally delivered to the ship where we boarded and found our staterooms. My mother and children (a 21 year old man and 15 year old teenager) were booked to share a balcony room. Once the beds were opened at night, there was literally no room to move. The floor was nothing but bed and my son had to climb over my daughter to go to sleep! I can’t even imagine that this is not a safety hazard waiting to happen. When we boarded, NCL staff did provide us each with a bag that contained a tee shirt, a tiny toiletries bag and one ticket each for free laundry service (the best part of the bag!). However, the shirts were all one size (XL) which were too big for most of the women and too small for two of the men. Christmas evening dinner in the dining room was very nice, although we thought it would have been even nicer if we had the special outfits we had purchased and packed to wear for pictures since we had a 20 Picture Package that we had chosen as our on-board promotion. That did not seem to be much of an issue, however, since no photographer ever came into a public space we were in the entire time we were on the ship. The two times we had pictures taken were when we got off the ship in a port or if we found the photographer and their backdrop in the main lobby. This too had been a disappointment as we had first been advised that we could choose the Soda Package in our room as our on-board promotion since we do not drink alcohol. I was even quoted that we would be charged $17.49 per person for the 11 days in service charges, to which I had agreed. When I did not see that package on my itinerary closer to sailing, I was then informed that this was not actually a choice I could have made, that the only choice would have been to choose the “free alcohol package” that would have cost me $400 for the stateroom in service charges. REALLY?? Clearly this package was made available to some travellers, why not to us? Of course, by the time we sailed out of Venice on Wednesday evening, our luggage had not been delivered as promised. We were assured it would be flown to Dubrovnik and would meet our ship the next day, Thursday, 12/26/19. On Thursday morning, 12/26/19, we headed into Dubrovnik for a day of sightseeing. Freezing cold without our warm clothes, we bought some more warm things to wear for the day. Upon arrival back on board at 5:00PM, we were advised that two pieces of our family’s luggage had arrive on board, but the remaining 7 bags were hopefully going to be found and brought on board before we left port at 10PM. By 9:30PM the ship had already started moving and no luggage had been delivered. The next day we tendered into Kotor. By now it had been six days without our belongings and little more than a change of underwear and a toothbrush. Our first stop that morning was to a pharmacy because, by now, my husband had a headcold and needed medication which I would have had if I had any luggage. As soon as we got near a local restaurant with free WIFI I checked my email to discover I had received a notice from the Lost Luggage company stating that our bags had been delivered and the case was considered closed. Since we had only received two of our bags by that point, we were quite concerned and immediately had to tender back to the ship, missing any opportunity for real sightseeing in Kotor. Back aboard, we called Lost Luggage again and were advised that all of our bags had been sent to Venice but that seven of them had then been re-routed to Munich for some unknown reason rather than delivered to the ship with the first two! Almost an hour more was spent on the phone with the agent from the Lost Luggage company before he advised me that our bags would be flown from Munich to Pisa where they would be sent by courier to meet the ship when we arrived in Livorno on 12/29/19. So, on top of everything else we had missed already, we missed Kotor as well. We spent the next day, Saturday, 12/28/19 on board the ship in our barest clothing while having our bits and pieces washed at the laundry so that we had clean clothes again to wear when we arrived in Livorno on Sunday, 12/29/19. We spent the day Sunday with a tour of Lucca and Pisa and returned to the ship at 6:30PM, initially excited to hear that our bags were finally waiting for us at our stateroom, then utterly dejected to discover that one bag had been completely destroyed and was being held together with packing tape. Two others had been damaged to the point of having to be replaced as well. We spent part of our day in Barcelona purchasing new luggage in order to repack for the trip back home. We began this trip with the highest of hopes for an unforgettable family vacation. Unforgettable is certainly what we got. We are BRONZE level NCL cruisers who would have been one day short of reaching SILVER level when we disembarked at the end of this trip and couldn’t wait to begin thinking about where that next adventure would be. As of today, because meeting the ship in Rome had been taken away from us, we only got credit for 8 days on the ship and although I assume that we will be financially compensated for the missed days, the cost to my Latitudes account is just one more way we are feeling let down by NCL. Fruthermore, had we known at booking that the Spirit was going into dry dock at the end of our trip for a complete refurbishment, we would very likely have made other vacation plans from the start. What a difference this ship was from the NCL Gem, a previous NCL ship that we sailed on. While their staff, as always, was courteous and professional, we noticed the little touches that were missing. As I mentioned, no photographer throughout the ship. No towel animals ever appeared in any of our rooms on any night. My daughter’s dinner order placed the night before (she has a life-threating nut allergy) was forgotten one evening so that she had to wait for her dinner while everyone else was served. Even the chocolates put out at the dining hall on Christmas were old and stale (they had already turned white inside the wrappers!). We were on the Norwegien GEM from Christmas to New Years Eve so we had a reasonable expectation that the Spirit would be a similar experience. We could not believe that after the hubub of midnight passed on New Years Eve, there was not a morsel of food available to ship full of drinking passengers! Truly not a cracker or a cookie, the buffet room was locked up tight. While the lost luggage fiasco was technically not NCL's fault, the bottom line is that we spent a great deal of money booking our trip as a whole unit directly with NCL because it was our belief that NCL would be best qualified to ensure we were safely and reasonably delivered from our home to their ship. Had we realized how “hands-off” their group sales and travel departments would be as soon as our check cleared, we not only would have booked our own flights, and now know to do so for the future, but we probably would have booked either through a separate travel agent or with a different cruise line altogether. Travel insurance will cover the cost of a hotel or new piece of luggage, but when we were scared and stranded in a foreign country in the middle of a voyage that a company scheduled and booked for us, it is hard to believe that NCL's customer care policy is to "not care". We found out after returning home that NOT taking the cruise line's insurance policy was one of the smartest thing we could have done for ourselves. Frankly, although it saddens me to feel like this, it is very likely good-bye from our family to the NCL family. There are just too many other cruise lines we can choose from who we hope will treat us like we matter. I only hope that when I share this story, it will save other families from making the mistake we made. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We picked this cruise for the itinerary. It was my pre-PhD graduation present. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth at the ship. We had to tender in two ports, which took much longer than expected. We spent two days in Rome ... Read More
We picked this cruise for the itinerary. It was my pre-PhD graduation present. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth at the ship. We had to tender in two ports, which took much longer than expected. We spent two days in Rome before the cruise. We enjoyed all of the ports, but it was difficult to figure out what would be open on the holidays in Venice and Barcelona. Because of the dry dock our cruise was shorted by one day after we booked. We tried to take the offered OBC instead of the provided hotel afterwards and our travel agent didn't notify NCL by the deadline. We got off the ship and boarded buses to the hotel quickly, but it went downhill quickly from there. They dumped about 600 people at a hotel between 7am and 9am with no information, just a conference room to wait in. There was no communication from anyone and there were no NCL representatives present. We didn't get a room until 3:30pm and it was only because we complained that we had been sitting there for more than 6 hours. We were told that we could go into Rome, but it was a 1.5 hour walk or a €30 taxi ride. The did provide us lunch the day we got off the ship and breakfast the next morning, but we were on our own for dinner and had to take a taxi because there were no options that were walkable. We wasted out last day in Rome because we were never given any clear information and were stuck at a hotel far outside the city. NCL had plenty of time to make better arrangements or give us information, but failed. Weather was chilly, except in Barcelona and Monte Carlo, and we had bad storms with lots of wind for the first two days on the ship. The storms delayed our arrival in Venice. The ship was old but in good shape. It headed for dry dock immediately after our cruise. Entertainment was good. They did a special Christmas show one night plus the 3 production shows. Elements was our favorite. The buffet is extremely small compared to what we are used to. There was less variety in what was available for each meal and from day to day. We ate at Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, and Cagney's and all were good. We ate in the main dining room for the rest of our meals and it was good too. We had the beverage package and found it frustrating. We could get any drink we wanted, but couldn't get a can of soda or a bottle of water. This just felt cheap to us, because we could get a full can of soda, but it had to be poured into a glass to give to us. One night my husband was feeling seasick and wanted a can of ginger ale to take back to the cabin to drink overnight, but it had to be poured into a glass. We will be back to Europe, but it is very unlikely that we will sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I just came back from a 7 days Mediterranean cruise with my family by NCL. My cabin was very nice and comfortable. The food was the best of the 3 cruise lines. However, entertainment, shopping and customer service were the worst of ... Read More
I just came back from a 7 days Mediterranean cruise with my family by NCL. My cabin was very nice and comfortable. The food was the best of the 3 cruise lines. However, entertainment, shopping and customer service were the worst of the 3 other lines. The shore excursions were very expensive. What bothered me the most was the bad smell in the elevator. It smelled dead fish. The embark and disembark were great. When I got home I noticed that several pieces of my jewelry were missing. I cruised many times with different cruise lines but it was my first time with NCL and the first time I had my belongings missing as well. So I decided to google if anybody had the same experience, and to my surprise, It is overwhelming the number of cases of theft in-room cabin. I am hating myself for being so naive. I guess I learned a lesson! I would not go cruise again with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Our last 5 cruises in a row have been on various Norwegian ships with various itineraries. They were all excellent. We like Norwegian because it is economical, has great ports of call, have sufficient time in each port and do not have ... Read More
Our last 5 cruises in a row have been on various Norwegian ships with various itineraries. They were all excellent. We like Norwegian because it is economical, has great ports of call, have sufficient time in each port and do not have specific dinner times. However, on this cruise we had a few issues. Our toilet didn't work off and on for a couple days, some of the dining room staff in the Windows dining room seem to be indifferent (Garden restaurant was better) and our last port of call Livorno/Florence was cancelled inexplicably because of high winds. The toilet was fixed (the ship is going in for an update soon) but in the interim we had to go up a couple floors to the public washrooms (none down near the rooms). Our room steward was excellent (we tipped her separately) as was some of the table clean-up staff which we got to know and talk to but some the Windows dining staff and some counter staff were terse and short with us. Our last stop Livorno was cancelled because of high winds even though the weather report said it was fine a couple of hours later. We returned to Civitavecchia a day early and had to scramble to find transportation to Rome and find something else to do in Rome (we spent 3 days there at the start). My wife had private transportation booked to Florence (Norwegian transportation and tours are generally over-priced) but couldn't get all her money back. Announcements on the ship were difficult to hear and there was only one live show, the rest were singers singing old songs and acrobats. My wife likes to do the painting classes but they were painting the same picture she did in 2013 and 2016. This was our worst experience yet with Norwegian but is 5 out of 6 acceptable? Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Some elevators did not work. The Floors in the buffet are old tile which is slippery when wet, we saw more than a couple of falls, even by crew. We hit rough weather and the captain shut down the midship elevators because he said they ... Read More
Some elevators did not work. The Floors in the buffet are old tile which is slippery when wet, we saw more than a couple of falls, even by crew. We hit rough weather and the captain shut down the midship elevators because he said they were unsafe! Out dated interior cabin. Stains in bathroom. The room Stewart was very nice and did a great job. The Internet cafe worker was rude and unhelpful, he couldn’t waste his time with the passengers. When we received the final billing they had given us our cabin and then part of someone else’s, when we told them they had made mistakes they were rude. The dining room service was unorganized and to many mistakes were made. Even though it’s an old ship it should not be in this condition. The shore excursion team did an excellent job getting everyone to the right buses, and that was the main reason for taking this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Food poor. either overcooked or meat too tough. taste so so. hot food at raffles always not hot, just luke warm. dining food not interesting, and boring, sometimes may take long time just waiting for food. the best food was in blue ... Read More
Food poor. either overcooked or meat too tough. taste so so. hot food at raffles always not hot, just luke warm. dining food not interesting, and boring, sometimes may take long time just waiting for food. the best food was in blue lagoon chicken wings, but the service was very slow, waiters always seemed not in good mood, actually they were too busy sometimes, need more waiters. Cancel a port under good weather. they may need a more accurate weather forecast system. They forecasted and knew that day was a rough day. why did they still arrange the big performance show Elements on that day? of course, it got cancelled, dangerous for the dancers. they need more signs for embarkation, sometimes may need to go around and around to find out the way. room was clean, but just the tap water of the sink in the bathroom got yellow sometimes and we need to let it run for a while until it's clean again. and the flush button of the toilet sometimes was not working. we need to wait and tried and tried again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise because of the number of days, sea days and destinations. We prefer cruises with minimal sea days. The ports and shore excursions were great. NCL has finally begun to use personal audio devices to hear the tour ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the number of days, sea days and destinations. We prefer cruises with minimal sea days. The ports and shore excursions were great. NCL has finally begun to use personal audio devices to hear the tour guide with larger groups. The main dining room & buffet were average to fair. Sometimes there was a wait in the dining room to get coffee refills, etc. and the food was sometimes hot, sometimes warm, and unfortunately sometimes cold. The selections in the buffet and dining room were plentiful for soups, salads, entrees and desserts. The specialty restaurants were great, except for the Teppanyaki which was the worst I've ever had on shore or on a cruise. Steward for our room was superb and very friendly. He changes our towels sometimes more than once a day and our bed was always made up. We did hit a storm and had one port missed, but that wasn't NCL's fault. Can't blame them for bad weather. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
A Cruise to the Holy Land on the NCL Spirit We traveled to the Holy Land from Rome on the NCL Spirit on December 2, 2019. We were wondering how we would perceive this older, smaller ship since we had just disembarked from the brand new ... Read More
A Cruise to the Holy Land on the NCL Spirit We traveled to the Holy Land from Rome on the NCL Spirit on December 2, 2019. We were wondering how we would perceive this older, smaller ship since we had just disembarked from the brand new MSC Grandiosa. Without going into details, the Spirit was perfect for this port-intensive trip, the passengers were much friendlier, the food and restaurants better, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been nicer. I was surprised how nice the Spirit looked, considering that it is going into an extensive drydock in early 2020. It will be absolutely splendid when it is finished. Keep in mind that the NCL Spirit is regarded as a more adult ship for port-intensive itineraries. Even with the renovations, it isn’t going to have all the bells and whistles of the newer, large ships that cater to families. Embarkation at the Port of Civitavecchia We were on an MSC ship right before this cruise and had one evening to stay in the port. We chose Hotel Borgo del Mare that provided free shuttle service to their hotel and back to the port. My husband was under the weather, so I ventured out to the pharmacy and grocery, which was about a 20-30-minute walk. The signs were all in Italian, but I survived the cultural experience. The hotel was somewhat isolated, but the weather that evening was pretty rainy, so we wouldn’t have ventured out to explore anyway. Next time, I would stay closer to the port. Our day of embarkation was rainy, but the luggage drop off was inside, so the weather didn’t affect much. December is still going to have cooler weather with some rain, so this is to be expected. The processing was quick, and we were on the ship by 11:30. The Asian décor was rather garish but will be removed next month. The ship was decorated for Christmas, and that made the décor somewhat better. The staff mentioned that most will be happy to see the removal of that ugly fountain on deck 7, the seashells on the cabin doors, and the horrid statues by the staircases. Cagneys will look quite different as they are removing the private rooms. We went to the Windows Dining Room for a quiet lunch. Our luggage was delivered quickly, and so we unpacked and then explored the ship. With three sets of elevators, we almost never had to wait long. Cabin We booked an inside cabin midship on deck five as this was a port intensive cruise in the cooler weather. No need for a balcony! It was a great choice as it was quiet, with no public areas above or below the cabin. The storage was more than enough for two people, the bed and pillows were comfy, and the bathroom was clean and an adequate size, and the water was always hot. The small couch, used only for our suitcase and bags (upholstered furniture often reeks with germs) and pictures were quite old. The picture above the bed was labeled “Super Star Leo,” which went back to the Spirit’s earliest years before it was acquired by NCL. Our attendant introduced himself right away and was always pleasant and efficient. Restaurants and Buffet We preferred to eat at Windows because it is quieter than the Garden Restaurant and is open for all three meals. The menu and food would be rated between good and very good. The buffet is called Raffles, and the food was also good, and remarkably, we could always find a place to sit. There are many tables on the outside aft of Raffles, but of course, the wind and weather affected its use. The Blue Lagoon Café (known on other NCL ships as O’Sheehans) is available 24 hours a day, but the seating consists of hard benches, and the foot traffic makes it quite unatmospheric. This café will be redone and expanded during drydock. Pity the poor waiters who had to deal with serving in this hectic environment. The specialty restaurants are all very good. We liked Cagneys and LeBistro the best and ate there five times. We had the five complimentary dinners plus the two Platinum Latitude dinners. We missed our reservation at Tempanyaki because we arrived late back to the ship. La Trattoria was fine, but it is really just a section of the buffet they isolate for the dinner time. We didn’t try Shogun or the Sushi bar. Fellow Passengers This group was about the nicest I have ever traveled with. People struck up conversations in the elevator and seemed to be having a good time. My CC friends liked almost all aspects of the cruise, but a few other passengers complained about the food. I don’t agree with their views on this topic. This cruise also reinforced the importance of getting to know other people on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. Our group of about twelve, which planned many excursions together, really bonded. We toured together, often ate the evening meal together, and played games on sea days. Another nice feature was that we looked out for one another. This was especially evident when one single woman fell on an excursion and had to return by taxi to the ship for stitches and a possible concussion. One of our group volunteered to go with her. Another time, when the ship didn’t notify us about a time discrepancy, we worked hard to notify one another about this problem. Our group evolved from the Cruise Critic Roll Call. For our joint excursions, we met at a lounge and disembarked together. These wonderful people looked out for one another, played games on sea day afternoons, often ate together, and became good friends. We set the expectation to be on time, and everyone happily complied. May I suggest that on cruises like this that the roll call folks keep chit chat and other personal issues off the roll call board? Arranging a junk food exchange took the group down another alley and was hard for any new folks to find the helpful information. Also, once the sailaway or other events are planned, only provide a bad weather option if it is outside. One person decided on her own to change it, and that split the group in two because it was supposed to be in Champagne Charlies (bad weather place as it was rainy) but she moved it to the noisy Galaxy Lounge. Communications broke down because of this. Also, if you are a solo traveler, it is probably best to just work with the whole group rather than try to arrange solo events. The ship tries to assist solos, and we were always happy to include any single people who wished to dine or travel with us. On our last TA in 2018, the solos were the ones who organized game times on sea days. We were invited and loved joining them. If you are the “lead person” who organized a private tour, it is really nice if you take some responsibility and try to get others’ contact information. I attempted to do this with my van for GTI, and the group evolved into a very nice travel and dining group. Those who gave me their contact info probably had a much better experience. We had each other’s’ backs! The NCL App was very helpful in keeping us in good communication. For just $9.99 for the trip, it is a great idea and good value. The light on the cabin phone for voice mail didn’t work (I verified this with CS), so it was even more important to get the App. The public areas never seemed too crowded except in the evening at Champagne Charlies. At times, there weren’t many good alternatives, and this was a place that had reliable entertainers. The crew were almost all very pleasant and helpful. I met a few very nice customer service people who handled issues with a smile and competence. The officers tended to not be noticeable, but as long as they are doing their job, I don’t really care. Entertainment Since this was a very port intensive cruise, the entertainment wasn’t a huge factor, but we still had a good time. The lounge entertainment was good, depending on the group. Hotwire, the Acoustic Soul Brothers, and Ian, the pianist, were our favorites. The Latin Fiesta Duo was geared to the Hispanics onboard. We enjoy dancing so the Galaxy Lounge was our favorite. There were quite a few dancers on board. The one place I just don’t get is the Maharajah’s Lounge, and I doubt it was in vogue twenty years ago. It featured big heavy velveteen drapery, dumpy upholstered couches, and lots of hammock type seating. No wonder it was often a ghost town, but it took up so much space. The casino smoke that drifted into it made this lounge unusable. I sure hope this place is turned into a functional dancing lounge at drydock! The main theatre entertainment was the weak link of the cruise, but this was a very special, port intensive and tiring 13-day cruise with only three scheduled sea days. I didn’t see any production shows because I believe I missed one due to fatigue, and the other two were canceled because of sea conditions. The performers put on a cabaret show as a replacement. The Spirit has a very nice card, reading, and computer rooms. The Galaxy Lounge is available during the day for a variety of activities. The cruise director was one of the least visible and frankly maybe one of the worst we have ever seen, but her staff were attentive and ran many nice games and activities. The ship itself never seemed crowded, and even exiting and reentering the ship at ports was never a problem. The pools were rarely used because of the rain or cool temperatures. We had one major issue with the ship concerning their not adequately notifying people that the ship time and the time in Kusadasi Turkey would be different. It was listed in small print in the daily as a “travel tip.” If it hadn’t been for a member of our small travel group noticing this issue, most of us would have been an hour late for the private excursion. I’m not sure if the ship didn’t care about those not going on their ship excursions, but the importance of this detail should have been clearly communicated. Perhaps NCL was just reinforcing their preference for passengers to take ship excursions. Ports of Call Our itinerary was absolutely wonderful. We chose to use private excursions or just walk around a few ports ourselves rather than use large ship excursions. The companies we chose were really great and highly recommended. It is so much preferable to go with a tour company that you can ask questions of beforehand by email. The guides were always waiting outside the ship as they promised. The smaller vans can get in and out of traffic better than the large buses, and you don’t have to wait for the always late for the types who are problems on almost every ship excursion. So much better to travel in a van with seven to eighteen people rather than 55-65 people on a large bus. I have no idea how the tour guides kept their groups together, especially in places like the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Also, those number stickers the tour groups must wear are like flashing red lights for pickpockets. Naples, Italy A few of us went to Pompeii by using a City Sightseeing Bus (HOHO) designated just for Pompeii. The specially designated bus met us at their center drop off point, which was an easy walk from the ship. We had purchased our vouchers before we left the states, and it was a great, quick way to get to Pompeii. The cost was $15.00 pp round trip. The drop off point in Pompeii was at the entrance near the tourism office and you purchase the single ticket entry to Pompeii. We used Rick Steves audio guides supplemented by his written walking tour instructions. Easy peasy! The map given at the entry site is a bit too complicated. The Pompeii site is, of course, wonderful to see, especially with the free Rick Steve guides. The ride back was equally easy, and we walked around the commercial center for a while. Athens and Corinth One of the CC members found a full day trip split between Athens and Corinth. Our driver who gave us some background information didn’t enter the sites with us, and in retrospect, it would have been better to have a tour with a guide. Corinth, an hour away, was an excellent choice. We toured the ancient ruins of Corinth and the museum, viewed the remarkable Corinthian Canal. It is amazing to think that the ancients dragged ship over this land before it was turned into a canal in the 1800s. The most special time was a stop at the ancient pier of Conchae were the Apostle Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla left Corinth for Ephesus. We were the only ones there, and it seemed so authentic. The hour drive to Athens was marred by the traffic coming to a standstill in the downtown area. It seems some group wanted to do a spontaneous protest, so the streets were gridlocked on the way to the Acropolis. It was nice with a smaller van as the driver could take some side streets. One thing that strikes visitors is an incredibly large amount of graffiti in Athens. It is quite a tragedy, although some people view some of the vandals as street artists. No building, private or public, is safe from the graffiti, and they even paint on ancient ruins. Most is done by vandals as gang tags or to support sports teams. Despite being seniors, we were in good enough shape to walk to the top, but it was quite cold and windy. That might be a surprise to those who go during the summer! Of course, it was spectacular, but watch out for those very slippery large rocks. We went to Mars Hill, which is where the Apostle Paul spoke to groups who wanted to learn about the gospel. Because of the previous traffic issues, we did not get to go to a few other, more minor areas. Kusadasi, Turkey Before our trip, I have to admit to being a bit concerned about our safety in Turkey. We hired a great company Magic Steps Tours for their “Enjoy Roman Ephesus and Its Christian Heritage” tour at 55 Euro per person. That included a full day and a delightful buffet lunch at a Turkish restaurant. All tickets were included. We had a great guide name Ugar Duman who met us promptly at the terminal. We went first to the House of the Virgin Mary, where tradition says Mary went to live after Jesus died. Then, we spent several hours at the ruins of ancient Ephesus and the Terrace Step Houses. After that, we went to the Basilica of St. John, which is an amazing ruin with a baptismal area with steps for full emersion. Friends who went on the ship excursions usually saw just the main ruins but just walked or drove past the Terrace Steps and Basilica and didn’t go to the House of the Virgin Mary. We got it all on this tour! Excellent guide! Lindos, Rhodes, Greece The city of Lindos is spectacular and an easy walking port. After exiting the ship, just follow the wall to either the Virgin Mary Gate or the Marina Gate to enter, and the Grand Master’s Palace is an easy walk. Tom’s Port Guides has a detailed guide on how to walk the highlights. We went to the Palace and the wonderful archeological museum, which was an ancient Hospital for the Knights of St. John. As a Christian, this town gave me a great appreciation for the Crusaders. While not always perfect, they did save most of Europe from the Muslims/Ottoman Invasions. There are many delightful shops and restaurants to enjoy. The cobblestones on the Street of the Knights are a challenge. Limassol, Cyprus We had another wonderful, private tour with Spanos Bus Tours for 38 Euros, pp. It included: Kolossi Castle (Foto stop), Kurion Archaeological site, Paphos UNESCO Tour (European Capital of Culture 2017), Petra tou Romiou - Aphrodite's Birth Place Rock, Santa Solomoni Catacomb, Ayia Kyriaki church and Saint Paul Pillar, Paphos UNESCO Archaeological Park, House of Dionysos Mosaics, and free time in old Harbor and Medieval Castle (restaurants, souvenir shops, cafeterias) Another great day by a knowledgeable guide. Ashdod, Israel I arranged a private excursion for a group of eighteen cruise critics with Guided Tours Israel. They are a very highly rated company that communicated very promptly and at a very reasonable price. Most of their tours are $99 per day per person. We had to endure a rainy day, although the sun came out as we entered Bethlehem with our tour guide Yanothan, a very accomplished historian and guide. At first, the checkpoint was closed, but our driver called around to find an open one. Bethlehem is in a Palestinian controlled area, so we were turned over to Lahdo, a pleasant Armenian Christian from Palestine. The church in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas are very crowded and resemble nothing what the area looked like 2,000 years ago. The line to the crypt was very long, and we didn’t have the time or inclination to wait. The tour in Jerusalem wasn’t quite what I had hoped for as the city is tense and intense. Even the Via Dolorosa, the path where Jesus walked, didn’t seem real because the ancient path is below the modern-day streets. The exact path is more of a tradition rather than fact, and some stories related to the stations of the cross are not found in the Bible. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is under the custody of three Christian groups: the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations. They share custody of the church, where tensions often run high over control of its various sectors. Centuries ago, the imposing iron key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was entrusted to two Muslim families. The arrangement dates back to the time of Saladin, the Muslim conqueror who seized the holy city from the Crusaders in 1187. He wanted to exert the Muslim’s control over the church. We also visited the following sites: Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Mount Zion, Room of the Last Supper, Jaffa Gate, Western Wall, Arab Souk, and the Christian and Jewish Quarters. Haifa, Israel Our second day was much more enjoyable as the weather was clear and sunny and we were in the countryside. We visited Nazareth and the famous Basilica of the Annunciation, Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha (site of the miracle of the multiplication of the fish and loaves and the Mount of Beatitudes. We stopped at St. Peter’s Restaurant for lunch (not included in the tour price.) Also, we stopped at a Kibbutz and their store, which offered better prices than we had seen anywhere else. The third day out of Haifa was customized and not part of GTI’s usual offerings. It ended up being a great choice considering the trip to the Dead Sea, and Massada was a very long one, and it was a bit cold for swimming in the Dead Sea. Our first stop was the Roman Caesarea (Maritima) on the west coast between Haifa and Tel Aviv. We visited the Roman ruins and the best-preserved Roman theater in the land of Israel. We then went to the top of Mount Carmel in Haifa to view the Baha'i Gardens and the Haifa Bay. Because we had a bit of time, we made a stop at the aqueducts on the coast. Stunning! Next, we drove to the old Crusader port town of Acre for a visit to the Crusader Fortress. That was a real highlight, and we greatly enjoyed our time in the town. We had lunch at a simple restaurant and were given many bowls of traditional foods to sample with our meal. We were given far more than we could eat, and it was at a modest price. We found a shofar at the silver and metal works store. The last two days in Israel were quite wonderful, and I wish that Jerusalem had been a better experience. The tensions and sellers in the street added to the negative atmosphere, and I doubt it would have been much better on a sunny day. BTW, if you are an American and asked where you are from while roaming through Jerusalem, tell them you are a Canadian, especially if you are buying something. They will quote a higher price for Americans. There are some sour-looking types who seem to guard areas and ask tourists these questions. Crete We were supposed to take a ship excursion to Crete, but the ship canceled it for a good reason: there was a “Medicane” (Hurricane like conditions in the Mediterranean) brewing near the Straight of Messina and Italy, and we had to go through it. The captain needed to slow the ship’s speed while we went through the worst. Wow, was he right about his concerns! The ship and passengers handled the storm well, but at times all the outside decks were totally closed as were the buffet and elevators for a while. It as wild, but most handled it fine. Whenever a really wild motion was observed, the passengers all vocalized together- “Whoa!” The ones who didn’t too well were probably in their cabins, but it wasn’t noticeable. The evening production show was canceled for the performers’ safety. Most crew members said this storm was the worst they had every experienced onboard a ship. Lucky us. Debarkation The exit process on the final day was a snap. We chose to self-disembark, and it took about ten minutes with no processing needed. We stayed an extra day because we wanted to see Ostia Antica and are so glad we did! I have to say it is better than Pompeii’s ruins! We booked a Habicab shuttle, and the driver agreed to take us directly to the hotel after he dropped off his other passengers at the airport. We stayed at the Fly Deco Hotel in Ostia, which is right across from the beach. What a lovely town! It was all decorated for Christmas and we enjoyed walking in the lighted square that evening which was filled with activity. The Hotel was wonderful: new, stylish, great service, comfortable beds and pillow, and a wonderful free breakfast. I never say a honeycomb at a buffet before. Highly recommended. We were given our room early and stored our bags so that we could venture to Ostia Antica. Rick Steves strongly recommends this wonderful, massive ruin. We walked about eight minutes to the train station at Lido Central (just use Google Maps) and then purchase a ticket to go in the direction back to Rome. The stop for Ostia Antica is just two stops away. The RT tickets for two were just six Euros. Once off, just follow the footbridge over the highway, and the signage down the path is easy to follow. The cost of entry is twelve Euros per person. We used Rick Steve’s audio guide and his book tour to find our way around. All the signs are in Italian and English. It was like we had the place to ourselves because it is so large. We didn’t venture to the most westerly ruins and spent the whole day there. We had lunch at the café and enjoyed the wonderful museum and the gift shop. Be sure to purchase inexpensive books with overlays so you can visualize what Ostia Antica was like back then. It is so exciting that these areas of Europe continue to be excavated and more ruins are continually being found. The sun was shining, and it was a comfortable, glorious day in mid-December! I highly recommend that instead of spending your final cruise day at an airport hotel where there are few alternatives that you stay in Ostia which is quite close to the airport anyway! For ten Euro pp, the hotel driver took us the next morning to the airport. It was an easy 20-minute ride, and we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. In summary, we were very pleased with this cruise. It had a great itinerary and was a super value. While a bit dated, it is good to know that a nice ship will soon be made much better when it goes into dry dock. My last NCL cruise on the Jade was generally disappointing and might have been my last, but the Spirit renewed my enthusiasm for Norwegian Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Decide to go on this cruise at the suggestion of friends who were booking it. The ports of call were very good and the time in each port, except a few, was long enough to see the sights. The cruise staff were friendly and delivered ... Read More
Decide to go on this cruise at the suggestion of friends who were booking it. The ports of call were very good and the time in each port, except a few, was long enough to see the sights. The cruise staff were friendly and delivered superior service. The food selection was substandard as was the quality. The buffet often duplicated dishes from night to night and even the same night at different stations. The Teppanyaki and Cagney's Steakhouse were the two best, but you have to pay extra as they are "Specialty" restaurants. This ship is due for a refurbishing in early 2020 and I can see why. We booked one of the larger staterooms with a balcony, but there was hardly any storage space for clothes. They also did not seem to have sheets large enough to cover the twin beds pushed together to make one bed, as ours was consistently untucked at both sides and bottom of the bed. The shows we attended were OK and nothing to write home about. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because it was the end of the year and there were limited options. The port each day itinerary was fantastic and overall value for money was excellent. However the ship was dated, the staff were rude and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was the end of the year and there were limited options. The port each day itinerary was fantastic and overall value for money was excellent. However the ship was dated, the staff were rude and miserable at times, the entertainment was dreadful unless you were 70 years plus. The food choices were chips with everything, particularly at lunchtime. The cabin was very small and dated. Furniture table was broken. Bedside drawers were places sideways as not enough space which meant you couldn't use the drawer ! Did I have a good time? Yes it was a fantastic holiday, I met lots of people , saw so much of Europe in a short time and really enjoyed myself. Would I recommend this ship or cruise line ? No, I had higher expectations that the ship would cater for all tastes in term of food, bars, shows. Would I go on this exact holiday again. Yes I would, I don't think better value for money would exist on another holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
You'll see from my ratings that many of the ship ratings are ok. However, the Captain is incompetent along with some of his team. If you read the news, there were near riots on the Spirit in October. We were on the Spirit starting ... Read More
You'll see from my ratings that many of the ship ratings are ok. However, the Captain is incompetent along with some of his team. If you read the news, there were near riots on the Spirit in October. We were on the Spirit starting November 7th. Some of the same poor decision making, lack of communication, and poor seamanship plagued our cruise as well. First, the official Italian tide forecasts for Venice called for near record flooding TWO days before we were due to go there. It clearly stated that there would be no bus service, massive flooding, etc. No way to get from the Port to town, plus they clearly didnt need waves from a cruise ship. So what did they do....nothing, sailed almost to Venice to be told you can't dock..had no back up plan. Eventually, we sailed all the way back to Ravenna. This decision was obvious 2 days before. We could have planned for it, sailed to it and perhaps circled back to one other missed port. The worst two items though were totally controllable. There was a strong, near hurricane force rain band clearly marked on my phone radar. Had 2 hours of warning. The Captain didn't bother to do anything about it. Instead of turning into it, he let it hit a 12 story ship broadside. Ship listed 15 deg to starboard, and nearly everyone's, except ours, plates, drinks, etc hit the deck. People were screaming, etc. What a mess. The last item though, was just plain unforgiveable as it was so simple to address. The cruise staff told us that the best part of the trip was to sail into Kotor between the mountains. We were due to sail in at noon. Because of the schedule changes, the Captain decide to sail in at 630 am and leave at 530 pm...all in the dark. We were scheduled for 6 hours...he gave us 12...and we missed one of the best parts of the trip...total disregard for the passengers. There were several other issues with time changes, no port talks, etc. that just show this ship is poorly managed. The overall ship condition, lower staff, dining staff, etc. were very good. Too bad their management isn't at the same level of service. I would NOT go on this ship until the captain has been replaced. On the plus side, the Cabin was clean, and up to date. No signs of wear and tear. The mattress was comfortable. Like most of the older NCL ships, IF YOU DON"T BRING a European converter/plug, you probably won't have enough outlets to charge your electronics. A simple multi converter from Amazon does the trick. The overall ship condition was also in good shape. Cannot tell it is an older ship. Though we missed the "bed animals" which NCL discontinued due to "climate change", over all room cabin service was great. Our steward was really low key and didn't bother us, but he knew when we were out of the room, and took care of things. Main dining was ok. Highly recommend the Garden Room vs. the other main dining room. Smaller, better service, BUT much less motion in rough seas which we had nearly every day. Food wise was ok. Nothing bad, but nothing great either. Next to the issues with the cruise, the biggest disappointment was the Buffet. Breakfast was ok, but lunch was poor and dinner not any better. Probably the worse buffet food that we have had on any cruise. "cardboard pizza", limited selections, and would run out of the main carving entree. Desserts though were usually excellent! Specialty dining was also not what it used to be. There was nothing worthwhile on the Italian menu. Le Bistro was ok, as was Cagneys. Used to be able to get lobster, but not any more. Steaks were ok. Had a 3 dinner package which was enough with the limited choices. Mixed bag on shore excursions and shore excursion staff. The staff did a pretty amazing job adjusting schedules, adding new tours etc. due to the screwed up port schedule. However, they had one short cruise port presentation on the first 4 ports, and though they said they would have another,they never did. We would have changed at least one tour had they had a presentation. As far as the tours went, the Island of Delos, a tour from Mykonos was by far the highlight of the trip. The ruins are amazing which warrants its rating as the top Unesco sight in Europe. Through in the 250 friendly cats as a bonus. Messina with Taormina and Mt Etna would be the second highlight,but dress for it...65 deg to start, 25 deg on Mt Etna. Kotor, Dubronik, Pompeii, and Florence would round out the rest. Not impressed at all with Santorini or Corfu. All in all, if NCL addresses the issues at the top, this would be a great cruise due to the number of stops you are supposed to get to, and the quality of those stops. It is not a relaxing cruise as many of the tours leave early in the am and can last 9 hours, but if you want to take a lot of stops off of your bucket list on one cruise, it is a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We were not impressed with this old tired ship. Furniture is not only dated but worn out. It has plumbing issues so bad that with three hours notice we were told that drilling and plumbing repairs would be happening from 11pm-5am!! Sorry ... Read More
We were not impressed with this old tired ship. Furniture is not only dated but worn out. It has plumbing issues so bad that with three hours notice we were told that drilling and plumbing repairs would be happening from 11pm-5am!! Sorry for any inconvenience! That’s about the attitude of the Ship throughout the trip. We had to be diverted from Venice because of flooding which was not Norwegians fault however where did they take us....to the nearest dump of a port no one had ever heard of...Ravenna Italy. There is absolutely nothing in Taveena so the ship arranged two shuttle buses to take approx 1200 passengers into town!!! We waited in the cold night over two hours trying to get on one of these shuttle buses then gave up. Food quality was so bad we finally took to eating at the buffet. That should tell you how great the restaurant’s are...the menu was almost the same junk every night with just a different way of preparing same. On five occasions we had to send the meal back to the kitchen as it came out almost cold. Out of thirteen shows only four could be considered entertaining the rest were fill ins with mediocre performances. Example was a chap from Germany who was basically a one man band. Hopeless. Cabins are very small and poor furniture in them. Our friends didn’t even have a chair for the little desk in the room. Shower had mold in the tiles. It was just awful. The only saving grace was our cabin steward who did his best to help us. Would we ever travel Norwegian again...not likely especially when they also make you pay for everything!! Water included. Drinks are the highest in the industry plus they add on a mandatory 20% gratuity charge. Average drink is around 13$ US!! And up. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Can you imagine- 14 day cruise with 12 port days and Norwegian in all their wisdom decides that instead of doing noisy repairs, and I mean noisy repairs- hammering on pipes, drilling, (we could hear worker putting tools in his bucket he ... Read More
Can you imagine- 14 day cruise with 12 port days and Norwegian in all their wisdom decides that instead of doing noisy repairs, and I mean noisy repairs- hammering on pipes, drilling, (we could hear worker putting tools in his bucket he was so close under our bathroom vent). Instead of doing these repairs during one of the 12 port days when the ship is empty, they decided that they would start at 8pm and work till the wee hours of the morning- for 3 nights- outrageous- who decides these things???? After complaining the first night they decided that a letter warning us of this disruption was sufficient- Ridiculous! Pulling into Kotor, Montenegro it is one of the most beautiful fjiords to sight see as you enter- 2 hours of bliss- NOT!!!- they decdided to shut the 270 degree window GALAXY lounge in order to facilitate some ridiculous tendering system for children- the average age on this cruise was 50+ yet they decided to treat us like 10 year olds. Who makes these decisions?? Cancelling an overnight in Venice- they took us to Ravenna and as the previous review states they providsed 2 buses to take off 2000 Px-- 2hr waits with a bus line that allows their drivers to just drive away for an hour union lunch break leaving us stranded for 2 hour waits- unbeleivable. My question is they new that Venice was flooded so why cruise all the way there to decide that they would waste a day driving all the way back south????? The food was not bad I must say, the decor is really tired considering it is from 20 years ago. Shogun restaraunt was a nice surprise - the entertainment was very amateur, their treatmment of smokers was atrocious- they have a smoking room that cigarettes are not allowed- they pinballed us up and down from the cold-80 km an hour wind and rain to a 20 seat venue on the Lido deck and policed it like little kids, yet never cleaned it- my wife cleaned the area many times, the first hour on the ship, a staff member was in the smokers faces giving trouble becuase we sat at tables with ashtrays that he says were out of his constantly changing borders. Welcome aboard! The smell of sewage was intermitent in the staterooms- the lies from customer service were rampant which is the most frustrating thing to deal with- just tell us the truth. I have never been on a cruise where so many bad decisions were made on the treatment of the passengers- it was only Norwegians pocketbook that mattered. The outrageous prices for water and $4.50 for a coffee were appalling Having to pay for minor port transfers that I have had for free on other cruiselines was insulting. $75.00 for Bingo with a prize of $165.00, Of course our cabin steward was excellent and without these hard workers there would not have been any redeeming qualities. The cabin was your standard inside cabin- older but really no complaints other than the noise and smell. Many Norwegian repeat cruisers were commenting that they would never cruise NCL again and after wirtnessing their greed and poor decisions on 2 cruises out of 3 is making us feel the same way. I just want to know who made these decisions???? Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I've given it some serious thought and a few weeks to cool down, but I still feel this way two weeks after disembarking, so here we go: Excursions: Most of our very expensive excursions were completely ruined by older people who ... Read More
I've given it some serious thought and a few weeks to cool down, but I still feel this way two weeks after disembarking, so here we go: Excursions: Most of our very expensive excursions were completely ruined by older people who were clearly mobility challenged and should not have been allowed on the buses for the activity levels described. Our Athens excursion did not include 1/3 of the promised tour because the city was blocked off for an event - we received no notice and no compensation for this reduction. Additionally, the Pompeii excursion was very clearly listed as challenging with no mobility impaired persons allowed and yet there were no less than SIX people with canes on the tour. We got to see about 2 acres of Pompeii before an old lady, who had been complaining about the difficulty of the terrain ad nauseum, fell in the road and had to be helped back out. Why are these clearly mobility impaired people allowed on challenging level excursions? Our money was basically stolen from us to support the needs of these other people. We at no point received the excursions we had paid for because of constant issues with mobility impaired persons. As far as other ports, missing Argostoli & Venice was a bummer, but not the fault of NCL. We very much enjoyed Ravenna other than the bus snafu at the end where we had to wait an hour and a half for the shuttle back to port. Food: The food in the specialty restaurants was fine - I'd say Outback Steakhouse quality, so not really a value for what I was expecting. Le Bistro was good, Cagney's was good, but had a super odd order of operations where you didn't get a drink until like 20 minutes in. La Trattoria was Fazoli's quality pasta and my chicken entree was so overcooked it was completely inedible. The dining rooms were, frankly, disgusting and the menu choices were awful. Once in Garden I was served a baked ziti dish, which for some reason contained raw carrots???? We kept finding very weird items in the food. There was no time onboard where any salad dressing tasted as it should have and all of them seemed to contain sugar for some reason?? It was as if no one in the entire kitchen staff had ever tasted what any of the dishes were actually supposed to be like. Also, in Garden we were given 2 salt shakers instead of a salt & pepper twice - the second time, after we waited about 15 minutes trying to get the attention of someone, my husband got up and walked to an unoccupied table to retrieve pepper at which point a staff member YELLED AT HIM. I guess that was the only way to get their attention. Outside of our specialty credits, we began to eat only at Blue Lagoon and the buffet because of bad experiences in both dining rooms. The choices for the buffet were bizarre, but occasionally palatable. Blue Lagoon was completely hit or miss. Our final meal there, they gave our food away to the table next to us who had just sat down and then didn't notice for a half hour, at which point instead of asking us what we had ordered they just started bringing random items to our table that we refused. When I got frustrated and repeated our order to them, they became very rude thereafter. When correct food was finally delivered to us, the waiter asked in a an angry tone if we needed anything else and I said no at which point he looked at me and said, "GOOD!" and then walked off in a huff. They also seemed to cook a big batch of fries and then double fry them in order to rewarm them when they were ordered, which made them like bricks. Several times we ordered something only to find that they had fried it in the same oil as the fish and it tasted gross. We ate at Shoguns once - I say ate, but really we got food that was so inedible that we got up from the table and went to Blue Lagoon. Our cabin steward was wonderful and much of the bar staff was lovely, specifically everyone at Champagne Charlie's (Christina, Timmy, Ferdinando, etc.) They really made our cruise bearable by being so wonderful and going out of their way to provide the best service on the ship. I think I would have totally lost it if not for them. Speaking of bar staff - when you advertise a whiskey tasting, it should not contain FIVE VERSIONS OF JACK DANIELS. What the heck?? Who even wants that?? If I wanted 5 shots of Jack Daniels for $20, then I'd go back to college. Whose idea was this? It was like there was no oversight of anything from food to beverage. Half the beer taps were broken and the ones that weren’t only served three very odd beers. If you were going to choose one light beer to put on tap, then why on God’s green earth would it be Heineken?! Entertainment: We went to see one show, World Beat, the performers were all very talented, but we found to content of the show to be racist and offensive. For the fan dance, they literally chose the only white woman in the cast to perform it. So weird. It felt like we were somehow trapped in 1975 - the only music options were easy listening and jazz hits. Activities were things like bingo and weird trivia topics? I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Ship Condition: As to the condition of the ship? Whoo boy. It really needs that retrofit. Our deck smelled constantly of sewage. Our entire bathroom reeked for most of the journey and the hallway smell was nauseating. The elevators were at NO POINT usable because everyone on the ship was 90, apparently, and incapable of walking up a flight of stairs. The ship should have been put to dry dock months, if not years, ago. NCL had no right to charge money for this as absolutely nothing lived up to advertisement. I would have rather ridden a bus to our destinations. We were just... I can't even tell you how disappointed I was that we spent this kind of money on this cruise. We saved for a long time for this trip and it was utterly ruined for us. I will never sail with or spend money on Norwegian again and I have canceled the one future cruise deposit I had placed before sailing. My entire family was planning to sail a similar itinerary in June across 10 cabins for the graduation of my younger sister and have decided to cancel and go with another cruise line based on our experience. I hope something in this can be helpful, but mostly I feel like we at least deserved to have opinions be heard for how much money we paid and how little we got for it. I didn’t even bother to include here the difficulties we had initially dealing with phone CS and our flights.This was just an all-around bad experience from book to disembark. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because it deported from Rome Italy. We cruise November 7 -21 and travelled to Greece island, Santorini,Athens,Mykonos,Dubrovnik Croatia ,missing Venice for the flood. Going to Ravenna italy. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it deported from Rome Italy. We cruise November 7 -21 and travelled to Greece island, Santorini,Athens,Mykonos,Dubrovnik Croatia ,missing Venice for the flood. Going to Ravenna italy. Kotor,Montenegro,Corfu Greece Messina Italy,Naples Italy,Livorno Italy.i was so good to have lots options to choose from lots of different lounges and restaurant. The crew has to be the friendliest ever.The cabin was comfortable.Our cabin steward was very thorough on kept our cabin spotless. Breakfast was very good,dining experience was so good we had flavorful and mouthwatering dish white of quality wines selection. We enjoyed the very talented live band,we also enjoyed Stardust theater we had the best nights. The port and shore excursion was very good for the all the port we have been very professional and organize crew.Le Bistro specialty restaurant was so good we had the best French food and the best assistant metrodee. The best cruise ship. Thanks for the great time Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise as an experience of a lifetime. To see places such as Petra and the Suez Canal. We have traveled extensively over our life time. Our previous cruises were fantastic and we decided to try a different cruise line and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as an experience of a lifetime. To see places such as Petra and the Suez Canal. We have traveled extensively over our life time. Our previous cruises were fantastic and we decided to try a different cruise line and experience different countries by cruising. The first half of the cruise up until the end of the Suez Canal was as we expected. The shore excursions were very good. We visited Petra and Wadi Rum, which we expected to be our highlight of the trip. Although we enjoyed it I feel this could have been done better. For example everyone was not expecting it to be so cold. Everyone I spoke to had, as did I focused on the dress code for these countries and we were unaware of the temperatures we experienced especially at night. The service was generally very good however guest service’s staff were quit rude at times towards myself and a number of other guests. I understand it’s a very difficult job however customer service and staff training should prepare them for most situations. Dining option were good what let this down was the repetitive options offered and the service by some staff. Four dining experiences in the main dining restaurant were horrible with grumpy/angry staff who served us with an attitude fit for a roadhouse. The ship overall was very good the cabin also very good and the Cabin service was awesome Entertainment and activities were ok just needed more physical activities examples badminton, more dance classes. Photo packages so expensive that people we spoke to left with nothing as did we, which was very disappointing Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because it fit to our availability and because we liked the extraordinary itinerary with lots of highlights. We knew this ship from a previous cruise. The ship is huge but not as huge as other ships. Entertainment ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it fit to our availability and because we liked the extraordinary itinerary with lots of highlights. We knew this ship from a previous cruise. The ship is huge but not as huge as other ships. Entertainment is perfect and above the average. Free dining options are very good, especially in the a-la-carte Grand Pacific restaurant. Special dietary needs are perfectly handled. The variety of food is amazing; in 21 days we hardly had to choose the same dish twice. However it must be said that the way how dishes are prepared is very much American style with lots of cream everywhere. Taste is lacking. Pizza and pasta quality does not match ordinary European standards. Probably you can cruise with this ship not paying too much but if you ask for more they charge you a lot. This is the case for all kind of extra beverages. Alcohol is overpriced. For us it was a perfect way to stay away from alcohol which, when at home, we enjoy on a regular basis. However what made us really suffer were the totally overpriced excursions. Unless you are well-prepared and able to organize yourself your shore excursions, you hardly have any chance to avoid their way of charging you. The alternative would have been to onboard. But would you do this when it comes to a once-in-a-life visit to Luxor or Petra? Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My wife and I are, generally speaking, destination-driven. This itinerary really appealed to us because we had not been to the Holy Land, nor to the Middle East. The stops were interesting and historical. NCL, IMO, continues to ... Read More
My wife and I are, generally speaking, destination-driven. This itinerary really appealed to us because we had not been to the Holy Land, nor to the Middle East. The stops were interesting and historical. NCL, IMO, continues to nickle and dime us for every possible sale. At some point, you half-expected someone to get in the elevator with you to sell you something: excursions, spa treatments, specialty dining, drink packages, beverage packages, etc. etc. etc. etc. Yet, they can't offer a free bottle of water.....No, they can't, but oh, how about buying a water bottle package? (The running joke is that NCL stands for No Cash Left.) NOTE: Interesting that NCL sent us a questionnaire upon our return, but the "Comments" section link was either broken or disabled so that no comments were able to be delivered. Ship was nice, cabin was very nice. Crew was exception, in my opinion, throughout the ship, restaurants, etc. Pollite, helpful, professional (except for the first two days when EVERYONE is trying to sell you something. They make the hawkers in Jerusalem and the Valley of the Kings seem like amateurs! Initial boarding in Rome was horrible....seemed to have little organization, few updates. The local port debarkations were generally smooth, much better. Final debarkation was very smooth. Entertainment was NOT what was originally promised. When we signed on, I recall being offered Howl at the Moon and Million Dollar Quartet. Both were listed, neither showed. Excursions were good, but we are gradually learning that we can get good quality excursions from local resources and often at prices much less expensive than through the ship's offers. Use Trip Advisor to get a list of good, local operators with excellent reviews. Speaking of reviews, why are there NO REVIEWS on any of the NCL excursions offered? So, on balance, our (fourth) trip on NCL was good, not great. Cruise ports were great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We normally travel independently but this cruise was the cheapest way to get to Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Dubai in one trip. We were prepared for some last minute changes but luckily we made it to all of the scheduled ports. The ... Read More
We normally travel independently but this cruise was the cheapest way to get to Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Dubai in one trip. We were prepared for some last minute changes but luckily we made it to all of the scheduled ports. The staff were great, always quick to provide help and say hello. My favourites were Rose Marie, the washy washy girl in the buffet, always smiling despite working 24/7. The Captain was also great, loved his sense of humour and looked forward to his announcements. We took private tours or shared taxis at the Ports, the shore excursions are overpriced and I'd only take one if I was worried about making it back to the ship in time. Most of the shows were decent, food was good, not up to the level that it was in the 80's but you certainly won't go hungry. The muesli at the breakfast buffet was fantastic, please send me the recipe.. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We started in Rome & ended in Dubai. Boarding in Rome was very easy. I’m a platinum plus, so zipped right thru. Only one complaint. For some reason, every one of our umbrellas were taken out of our luggage when we boarded. ??? 3 of ... Read More
We started in Rome & ended in Dubai. Boarding in Rome was very easy. I’m a platinum plus, so zipped right thru. Only one complaint. For some reason, every one of our umbrellas were taken out of our luggage when we boarded. ??? 3 of them? Every port was easy on & off. Oman & Fujairah were shipping ports, so not designed for ships yet. But transportation were brought to ship. Food in buffet was great for breakfast. Same old complaints.. people would eat & then just sit. This made it difficult to find seats. We just went by pool. Beautiful & not crowded. Never ate buffet for dinner. Had 2 free upgraded. Loved Cagney’s. The Brazilian steak house was just too much meat. The Main dining room was fantastic. Even had my waitress from my trip on the Jewel from the year before. Always plenty of pool seats. Shows were great. Plenty of seats. Didn’t do casino. Staff was great as always. The Captain was absolutely fantastic. He got on the air every morning. Gave us cheery information about the days events. His humor was so uplifting. The meet & greets with the top staff members were a blast. All questions were quickly answered. Only one person made it a complaint session. They immediately took her aside & got the her information to see if they could help. She apparently bought some jewelry at a store the NCL tour guide recommended and it was fake. They said the guides are independent, but would help if possible. The port information was almost correct. Some were said to have shuttles, but then, the transportation cane right to ship. The worst port for unorganized tours was in Egypt. It was a mad house to get the taxis. Going back to the ship, it was one if my best cruises ever!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise to see as much as possible on a short trip. First mistake NEVER board in Rome. The port is a hole, the train serving it has no luggage space and when we arrived at the port the lifts were out of order so everyone ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see as much as possible on a short trip. First mistake NEVER board in Rome. The port is a hole, the train serving it has no luggage space and when we arrived at the port the lifts were out of order so everyone struggled with suitcases, prams etc up and down stairs. The transportation buses were old and cramped and again very little space for bags and no porters. We were in The Haven, very disappointing. The concierge was supercilious and never stood up to address you and seemed to question you when you reported something was incorrect. We had paid for a full drinks package with coffee yet the min bar in the suite was emptied as that was extra even though it was only filled with common beer, wine etc. Instead we could call our butler and get drinks delivered without additional charge but we could not open the fridge and use the mini bar ??? Similarly the I could ask for as much coffee in the suite but if I wanted a latte in a paper cup on deck I had to pay again, why ???? We had an allergy problem in our party and this was acknowledged by a letter in our suite on arrival yet no-one seemed to have informed anyone in the restaurant and every meal was like groundhog day repeating the same issues. There is NO allergy information on menus so be aware !!!!! Trips when tendering were slow, we waited 45 minutes from our designated time to board the tender. The ship was very noisy, rocked a lot especially in open seas and when docking shook a pot, I have never experienced this ever before. Everything in our suite reverberated a lot. Debarkation was a joke, queues everywhere, glad we were in The Haven for this. Dont bother with the Epic Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I chose this cruise as a short getaway. As this is a mega-ship and relatively modern I was expecting something great. Unfortunately it was a let down in almost all areas. The ship itself is in very poor shape. The outside is rusty and ... Read More
I chose this cruise as a short getaway. As this is a mega-ship and relatively modern I was expecting something great. Unfortunately it was a let down in almost all areas. The ship itself is in very poor shape. The outside is rusty and the crew were white-washing the hull when we were docked. The carpeting is threadbare in many areas, particularly the theatre and lounges. The furniture in most of the bars is worn and some has even been patched up to cover holes. The elevators kept breaking down and the buttons didn’t even work some of the time. The sun decks were being constantly sanded and patched up throughout the cruise and a lot of the public spaces were “under maintenance” for most of the cruise. The ship shouldn’t have so much maintenance going on while there are passengers on board. I understand minor things but this was unacceptable. The Epic isn’t due for dry-dock but it desperately needs it. I can’t believe this ship is only ten years old! My cabin was falling apart. The carpeting is peeling up. The cupboards and woodwork is all damaged. The TV wasn’t attached properly to the wall so rattled constantly. The panelling over the bed fell down on the first night due to the extreme vibration of the ship. On the second night the vent in the toilet fell down along with a wash cloth and broken plastic that had been stuffed behind it by someone. The air conditioning vent was also detached from the wall. I raised these issues with customer services and they said they’d send someone to inspect but they never did. The balcony was extremely rusty and the varnish on the railings was peeling off. The food was very good. Couldn’t fault it. I likes the grill/bar place on deck six and the buffet was very good too. Food could have been hotter but that goes for all buffets in life. The entertainment was excellent. I saw all the shows and they were all excellent, especially Pricilla. The other activities onboard were very average and the entertainment staff didn’t seem all that passionate. Something I really appreciated was the amount of live music going on around the ship. Most of the bars had bands playing and they were all really good, Before I boarded I called to cancel some shore excursions I had booked as I had visited most of the ports before. However when I got to my cabin the tickets for the excursions I had cancelled were on the side in an envelope. I had to go to the shore excursion desk and had to cancel them on board. I also had an issue with my onboard account and the staff who dealt with me were quite rude and abrupt. The crew in the bars and restaurants were excellent. I am a solo cruise and was always made to feel looked after which was really appreciated. Overall I was let down by the ship and by some of the staff. I think if NCL want to keep their reputation they need to invest more money into the upkeep of their ships. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Recommended by a travel agent. Cabin was for a handicapped person, which meant after a shower the entire bathroom floor was wet! Yuck! Shore tours were very expensive for what you got, not very informative, and poorly executed. ... Read More
Recommended by a travel agent. Cabin was for a handicapped person, which meant after a shower the entire bathroom floor was wet! Yuck! Shore tours were very expensive for what you got, not very informative, and poorly executed. Take a Scenic or Viking river cruise to find informative shore tours, these were a bust and mostly self-guided. What a rip. The bed wasn't particularly comfortable, the carpet heavily worn and not particularly clean. Mirrors and windows were dirty and didn't get cleaned on this short trip Cafeteria for breakfast was a 7 out of 10, limited seating was occasionally a challenge. The drink package was very expensive for low volume alcohol drinkers, paid $47 Cdn for 6 litres of water!! Specialty restaurants were very good, but expensive without the drink package. We still paid less than the drink package for two people but it was still $30 U.S. for three beers/wine plus $10 U.S, for access to alcohol. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The Epic has great food and bartenders, entertainment was good and many music venues to choose from. There is always something going on on board and plenty of lounge chairs to just relax if that’s what you are looking to do. The ... Read More
The Epic has great food and bartenders, entertainment was good and many music venues to choose from. There is always something going on on board and plenty of lounge chairs to just relax if that’s what you are looking to do. The specialty dinners were terrific and worth the money. The only downside is the size of the cabins are good for two passengers we had were three in a rear facing balcony cabin and the room is limited. The ships engine noise level in the rear of the ship at the H2O bar and next to the water slides is a bit too much and it gets way too loud for our liking. The breakfast choices at the buffets do seem to repeat a bit too much. We didn’t try the restaurants for breakfast but maybe that would be a choice to vary the food choices. Overall we had a great time and did like the free style dining and more relaxed dress code for the dinner venues. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
After reading some reviews on this site i was apprehensive about the cruise, but soon realized, that people complaining about this cruise are crazy! My Solo Cabin was very comfortable, and had more space than i expected! The Solo ... Read More
After reading some reviews on this site i was apprehensive about the cruise, but soon realized, that people complaining about this cruise are crazy! My Solo Cabin was very comfortable, and had more space than i expected! The Solo Lounge is a great place to relax, and make new friends. It was always stocked with refreshments and basic breakfast food. I didn't think i would - but i loved every meal from the buffet at the Garden Cafe, and never had a problem with seating. I Loved the breakfast options at Taste and tried to have breakfast there often, but on excursion days i ate breakfast at O'Sheehan's and it was great too! My dining package covered meals at Moderno, Cagneys, Teppanyaki and La Cuchina. I enjoyed all my meals at these restaurants but the Brazilian food at Moderno was by far my favourite! Just too many options to choose from and I couldn't find enough time to try out all the other dining options on offer! The shows i enjoyed the most were Pricilla and Burn the floor! Each and every staff member i came in contact with was friendly and attentive! I had the time of my Life! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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