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7 Norwegian (NCL) Rotterdam Cruise Reviews

We flew the day before from London to Rotterdam with British Airways, It is so easy so have a direct fight from London. We arrived in Rotterdam and made our own way to the Hilton Rotterdam by tramway. The cost was around 3.50 euro per ... Read More
We flew the day before from London to Rotterdam with British Airways, It is so easy so have a direct fight from London. We arrived in Rotterdam and made our own way to the Hilton Rotterdam by tramway. The cost was around 3.50 euro per person. We booked an executive room as you pay a bit more but receive a lot more advantages like drinks and nibbles, breakfast. On the morning of the mini cruise, we walked all the way to the ship to burn the calories from the breakfast. That way we could also see the hull and the design from Peter Max. I found the design very nice. The embarkation process in Rotterdam was very disorganised. No proper lines to enter the cruise terminal, nobody from NCL around. Dutch people who don't know where to start a line and just jump in or push to get in front of you. The port of Rotterdam staff need to go to the USA for some training. We were handed a colour card to give you access to the ship as they arranged boarding by colour. When we finally arrived in the terminal, we went directly to the Latitude check-in area. One lady was asking us to wait while the checking agent was asking for us to go to the desk. Again no organisation. We finally boarded the ship 30 minutes after we checked in. When we arrived aboard, one of us went directly to the room to put or bags and the other one went to book the restaurant Moderno for that evening. We were in a mini suite and we could not really tell the difference with a normal balcony stateroom. Just that you have a larger bathroom and a better shower. The balcony was very small. Tea and coffee facilities were available in the room. We went for lunch to the Garden Cafe before the rush. The food selection was amazing. You could find for every taste. Asian, Indian, pasta, sandwiches, salads, burgers,... The quality was excellent too. For me one of the best buffer at sea. We started to tour the ship. The ship was very clean, all the staff aboard were smiling and saying hello. This is going a long way with us and from that we can see that the staff is very happy. The ship was very nice. Maybe a bit of lack of space at the pool area. I could not imagine a day at sea in the Caribbean. It would have been packed. The pools are very small too for a ship of this size. The boat drill at 3.30pm was a bit chaotic. The sail away from Rotterdam was very nice. For dinner we went to Moderno, the Brazilian restaurant. The service and the food were excellent. Well worth paying the $20. If you are a vegetarian, do not go there as you would only be able to eat the salad bar. After dinner, we went to see the show. We were a bit disappointed that Rock of Ages was cancelled due to the lead singer being a bit sick. The replacement show was excellent. 10 out of 10. Again one of the best show at sea. In the evening, we walked around the ship and discover the ambiance aboard. We went to the martini bar and decided to have a cocktail there and listen to the pianist. The lady had a great voice. A shame that some rude Dutch people could not stop screaming. They were drunk and they should have been asked to leave the area. Also one inconvenient from the area was the smell of people smoking in the casino. The morning of disembarkation, we decided to go to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. The place was full and this with only 2000 passengers aboard. I could not imagine if the ship would have been full. We didn't have the choice than to seat in the outside area. Disembarkation was again a bit chaotic. Would I spend a week aboard NCL Breakaway, maybe I would. I am not decided yet. Did it get the wow factor like our week aboard Oasis of the Seas. No. Did it get our wow factor to compare with NCL Epic. Yes. My 3 tops on this one night cruise: - The great staff of Norwegian Breakaway - The excellent food served - The excellent show My 3 downsize: - The checking was disorganised - The smoking areas inside the ship and outside the ship - You can't find a quiet corner if you would like to read a book Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
NCL newest ship The Norwegian Breakaway just completed its first 1 night cruise from Rotterdam to Southampton and I was one of the lucky ones on this maiden cruise. I will give you a full and detailed review of the ship. Firstly the ... Read More
NCL newest ship The Norwegian Breakaway just completed its first 1 night cruise from Rotterdam to Southampton and I was one of the lucky ones on this maiden cruise. I will give you a full and detailed review of the ship. Firstly the ship itself is much better looking than its sister Epic but still its not so eye catching as some may want. The Waterfront promenade from what I saw does not seem to offer more than seats outside an restaurant or entertainment venue. There is the ice cream parlour on this promenade. When the ship sails in warmer climates the limited number of seats outside will be taken quickly or maybe pre bookable. I think that this a let down. Inside the 3 deck Atrium which houses the majority of entertainment, dining and services is in my opinion very plain. This is the same all over the same, it just very plain in decor. Nothing that says wow. By putting more dining and entertainment venues this has made all them all small. For example the Bliss night club was packed and there were only 1575 guests on this short cruise, what will happen when the ship is full. The same goes for dining options The Mahatten Room with its dance floor and one of the 3 main dining rooms was 'red' ie fully booked for 2 hours and Taste and Savor (the other 2 main dining rooms) were nearly full. This leads me on to the Buffet which on boarding was a bit chaotic again not enough seats and the rectangle layout is not so good. Again this area is not themed and lacks any decor. The food in all dining options was good, cooked well and enjoyable. Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy Dinner Show is worth the $29.99 standard seating fee or $39.99 premium fee. The menu is a set menu of 3 courses starting with a Salad, followd by Surt n Turf (jumbo battered prawns with steak, a piece of broccoli and half jacket potato with the inners taken out and reput in masked) followed by a Trio of little cakes/desserts on a long dish. The show itself lasts 90 minutes and this is non stop so you have to watch and eat at the same time, there are no pauses such as in Cirque Dreams on Dinner. There is no speaking in the show and no such story line- just very good acrobots, over 300 costumes and recorded music. This is still very enjoyable. I was in a Studio stateroom/cabin and these are bigger than on Epic. I was actually surprised on the size of them and at a push you could just fit 2 adults on the bed. Just like on Epic the shower and toilet are separate. Some of these cabins have connecting doors. Rock of Ages was not shown on this cruise and instead we had the other Broadway show they perform 'Burn the Floor'. if you like Strictly Come Dancing you will like this. Along with singing it mainly consists dancing, more dancing and more dancing. Not really my cup of tea but it was performed well. The casino on the ship is the biggest at the sea with more slot machines than I saw in my whole Las Vegas trip. The machines start at 1 cent a spin going up to $25 for those with deep pockets. There are a wide range of table games from the usual Roulette, Poker etc. The outside pool is on the small side again more space is taken up with the 5 big water slides than fill up half of the top deck. They were open but it was a bit cold to use. The Ropes courses with The Walk The Plank was good and enjoyable though the crew said that if the sea is anything more than choppy and the slip is slightly moving up or down or rocking this will be closed. It is too dangerous otherwise. The Spa with the worlds first Salt Bath at sea is large and well equipped with also houses the gym (on two sides, one has a seaview the other hasn't just a mirror). A day pass for the spa was $20. Fat Cats and Slaam Allen (from Epic) was onboard and performing and still as good as I remember it. Duelling Pianos is back along with the Comedy Club. Bliss Nightclub is too small and only about 10 seats. Breakfast in Savour main dining was good but service was bit on the slow side and they were not busy. Crew on this were as the cruise director put it 'The Best of the Best', the majority had transferred from Epic. I saw a lot of faces I had seen before. I was lucky enough to see a range of cabins/staterooms as they were getting ready for Travel Agents ship visits, the suites are well equipped but have tiny balconies. Overall a good 1 night cruise but the ship is not so pleasing to the eye inside and NCL in making so many different things to do/eat have made so small that people will not get a seat or even get in a venue. Any questions please ask. Quality of Food 4 OUT OF 5 Entertainment 4 OUT OF 5 Shore Excursions n/a Staff 5 OUT OF 5 Children's Facilities N/A Onboard Activities 4 OUT OF 5 Cabins 4 OUT OF 5 Overall Rating 4 OUT OF 5 Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Overnight, Rotterdam to Southampton There's no doubt about it: Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship. The crew are wonderful, the food is excellent and the entertainment is probably the best you'll ever see at sea. The bad news is ... Read More
Overnight, Rotterdam to Southampton There's no doubt about it: Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship. The crew are wonderful, the food is excellent and the entertainment is probably the best you'll ever see at sea. The bad news is the embarkation at Rotterdam took almost four hours and was the most chaotic we've ever encountered in all the years we've been cruising and the disembarkation at Southampton wasn't much better. And the much-vaunted "wave" cabins leave quite a lot to be desired. It has to be said, though, that the positives far outweigh the negatives and even though it was just one epic night on the Epic, my wife and I had a fantastic time (when we finally did get aboard). So let's get the negatives out of the way first. To be fair to NCL, there was a technical problem with a propeller shaft on the ship, so part of the delay in checking us in may have been down to them deciding what was going to be done. The fault meant that our voyage took about five hours longer than scheduled (though for us that was a bonus as it meant we got to sample even more of the ship!). But we had to queue in a long line for almost two hours outside the terminal to have our documents checked and be given a coloured card before we were allowed in to the building and up the escalators to actually check in. We then queued in another long line for another hour, listening to announcements calling for passengers with different colour cards to begin embarkation, before we were finally all told that it was actually the check in that was by the colour of our card and we should all sit down till it was called. As we did, more and more people came up the escalators and joined the long line we had just left! Total chaos with a complete lack of any organisation. Getting off at Southampton was nearly as bad - just one gangway was open to get everyone off, and because everyone's key card had to be scanned a huge queue soon built up. Fortunately someone had the good sense to open another gangway further down the ship but it still took almost 45 minutes to disembark. All this is (hopefully) a one-off with a port NCL don't use very often (Rotterdam) and a new ship. But a much bigger negative is the "wave" cabin. They have curvy walls and where the wall curves out, the wall in the adjacent cabin curves in, and vice versa. The theory is that by putting the bed in the space where the wall curves out, the cabin can be narrower and deeper than standard cabins but appear to be as spacious. The reality, though, is that it doesn't. Both my wife and I had the same thought when we first stepped through the door: "It's a bit narrow, isn't it!" Even worse, there's a "no passing zone" bottleneck at the foot of the bed, which means that even with just two people in the cabin, you're forever getting in each other's way. I don't know how a family with children would manage - or even if I could for more than a week. Another big problem is the lack of a proper bathroom. The tiny washbasin is situated in the main part of the room, not far from the "no passing zone" at the foot of the bed, while the shower and toilet are opposite each other just inside the room's doorway (both concealed by sliding translucent glass doors). More modest types can spare their blushes with a curtain that pulls across to hide the area from the rest of the cabin but it does mean that when you have a shower all the water that normally ends up on the bathroom floor now ends up on the cabin floor. It's not helped by the fact that all the towels are stored by the washbasin in the main cabin anyway. So if you forget to pick up a towel before you step into the shower, stand by for a flood! The plus about the cabins, though, is that they are nicely decorated in an elegant, modern fashion, there's plenty of storage space and they have quite a big flat screen LCD TV. And the bed is really comfortable. Five stars all round in that respect. Now for the positives. Apart from the flaws in the cabin mentioned above and the embarkation/disembarkation Norwegian Epic deserves five stars all round. I don't know whether NCL picked the crew from the best of the crews on their other ships, but it certainly feels like they did. And best of all everyone we saw looked really happy and excited to be working on the Epic. We tried to sample as many of the dining options and as much of the entertainment as we could in our limited time and it was all excellent. We had (a very delayed) lunch in the Garden Cafe buffet after lifeboat drill on the first day and the variety of food available was probably the best we've seen in any ship's buffet. Lunch on the second day (because of our extended voyage time) was in the main Manhattan Room restaurant and again was first rate - and made even more enjoyable by a special performance of Legends In Concert, an excellent tribute show featuring the likes (or should that be look-alikes) of Madonna, Elvis, Tina Turner et all. And for breakfast we went to O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill, the 24-hour cafe, and had their excellent country breakfast. And as for dinner, well, we had it at the very best show we've ever seen on board a ship - and one of the best we've ever seen on land either: Cirque Dreams. Think Cirque du Soleil in a much more intimate fashion and then some. It's billed as the first "big top" at sea, and it's a dazzling two hours of acrobats, muscle men, trapeze artists, music and comedy all taking place in a 10ft-wide circular area in the middle of the room just feet away from the audience at their dinner tables. Even the waiters take part in the show - as do some lucky people plucked out of the audience by the cast. Like me - I got to play the bells in one of the musical numbers! Before that, we saw the excellent Second City comedy and improv show, from the legendary Chicago breeding ground of many of America's top comedy stars, like Bill Murray and Tina Fey from 30 Rock to name just two. It's very American and as there were a lot of Dutch, German and French passengers on board the audience was quite small - but those who didn't go missed a damn fine show. After Cirque Dreams we tried to get in to see the end of the Blue Man show but the theatre was packed out, so instead we stopped by Howl At The Moon, billed as "the world's greatest rock 'n' roll duelling piano show," for one quick drink and were certainly glad we did - we were still there two and a half hours later having fun singing some of the greatest songs of the last 50 years in another amazing show. So there you have it. Norwegian Epic, the good the bad and the beautiful, and definitely well worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
What a trip certainly the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY. Let's get the UGLY out the way yes the EPIC will never win any prizes for her external looks - slab slided like many with the Garden Villa's perched on top adding to the odd ... Read More
What a trip certainly the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY. Let's get the UGLY out the way yes the EPIC will never win any prizes for her external looks - slab slided like many with the Garden Villa's perched on top adding to the odd look. The trip on Sunday to Rotterdam was a breeze we got the Eurostar at 1157 and caught our connection in Brussels at 1518 and were in our Hotel room by 1710 so 4 hours 10 minutes allowing for time difference. Hotel Manhattan was in a great location and for a small charge we got an upgrade to the executive floor with free bar. Let's say we more than drank the amount charged. Ate out at a restaurant suggested by the hotel and the food was good. On Monday had a good breakfast - which was to prove a smart move. We walked down from the hotel knowing that their should be some good options for photos as we crossed the Erasmus bridge. So first sight was a bit of the GOOD and the UGLY, GOOD the EPIC is here, UGLY the external view of the EPIC. As we crossed the bridge it was busy with locals taking pictures. After crossing we were treated to the Erasmus bridge opening. Crossing the bridge gave the first suggestion of problems as a few people stopped us to say they were late getting off. On the E-ticket boarding was from 1000 we got there about 1045. The GOOD - first ticket and passport check nearly empty and get our colour card and head upstairs, the BAD - upstairs in Rotterdam Cruise Terminal very busy odd think I but we find a seat with another group of Brits and do what the Brits do best - yep gossip and moan about the situation. So suddenly just about 1140 they start calling card colours - GOOD. Hang on why aren't those people getting through passport control - BAD who knows as they call more colours. Then a message if you have checked in please sit down until called for embarkation - BAD - problem no seats left as they are filled by new comers so terminal is starting to heave. So our colour is called about 1210 and like all good Brits we charge as a group to the queueing ropes. They had two separate queues each served by about 20 terminals - GOOD think I. Hang on why are all those people still not through passport control - possible BAD looming. BAD - apology announcements start for delayed check in and boarding. I feel an UGLY coming on. UGLY - an announcement - we have suspended check in - so we stand for nearly an hour in the check in queue. Then the announcement we dreaded "EPIC has a problem which will not effect safety but will delay arrival until 1730. You have an option to cancel with refund and cruise credit, if you travel NCL will refund up to 100 euro's per person towards travel arrangements". Suddenly embarkation starts for some and the check in queue moves only 3 in front nearly us. BAD - why are they not calling people forward. UGLY - check in systems and ships security card scan system has failed another 45 minutes going no where you could cut atmosphere in terminal with a knife. By this time rumours of queue outside terminal and facebook and twitter are getting messages from all angles and sources, NCLs facebook is battered black and blue by all and sundry. GOOD - we are on the move again and checked in. Then through yet another passport control and we are on board. GOOD as we feared this cruise would be cancelled after the previous announcements. Who is to blame for the fiasco hard to tell, I think terminal panicked and started check in too early leading to the overcrowding, NCL did not help by not supplying information in the terminal. The Cabin We had a stern facing balcony cabin (9294). First thoughts were that it seemed smaller than the similar Eclipse cabins. OMG look at the toilet and shower - could be interesting. Oh look there is a modesty curtain that will be good sound proofing then. The shower and toilet were functional and the shower powerful. The big but here is the basin is the wrong side of the curtain so when you come out the toilet you touch the curtain before you can wash hands - probable noro virus source in the future I think. Good sized TV with stop start movies, a geek lovers phone to play with. 2 euro and 2 usa sockets hidden in a cupboard with a hole to feed cables up through - an idea which really works and keeps cables tidy. Tea and coffee in the cabin, storage ok not brilliant but not bad, Comfortable bed and some interesting lighting used. Balcony a good size but tiny table. As stern is vertical all balconies are private and cannot be looked down onto. Safe and minibar also in cabin. Hairdryer is powerful. Overall a good cabin if you can see past the shower toilet arrangements. In this instance you want the bed nearest to balcony, not the toilet area. And yes cabin is curvy. Pictures including a using toilet (with clothes on) example later. The vibration at night was terrible and when sailing the noise on the balcony very loud. I would not recommend a stern cabin and would certainly not book one. Many of the NCL favourites are on board we sampled the following. The Garden Cafe for late lunch on Monday and Tuesday breakfast. Very well organised and plenty of duplication of stations so no wait time. Quality of food was good. Head Waiters and Assistant Head Waiters wear head milkes to keep the area flowing and direct you to available seating the highlight is the bow facing sitting area with marvellous views forward. The Moderno Churrascaria Restaurant is a Brazilian style restaurant where your servers serve the meat from skewers. You start with a huge self-service salad and soup bar. Once ready for mains you have a green card face up and the servers start. There is a constant stream of food until you flip the card to red to stop the mains. You also get some sides of rice, garlic mash and re fried beans. Desert was a coconut creme caramel. This is something we have always wanted to try and the experience did not disappoint. More than worth the $18 per person surcharge. For Tuesday lunch we ate coming up the Solent in the Manhattan main restaurant. This is very contemporary styled with understated colours in fact a very beautiful dining room. As an added bonus the Legends (tribute acts were playing) and were really good. They had played the previous evening too and the dinner show or dance concept is a good idea. Bars and Entertainment We sampled a couple of the bars and found the service and selection good. I will add prices when I get the receipts out. H2O spice could be great on a warm evening. We tried the ice bar and enjoyed the experience. The $20 surcharge included 2 strong cocktails so was probably a fair charge for the 45 minutes you do need to book though. Bliss Ultra lounge is a very modern nightclub concept and was really busy. Projected the DJ onto a smoke screen at the front entrance before you go in - very quirky. Howl at the Moon in the comedy bar was great duelling pianos and a lively crowd so was great fun a simple concept that worked. Blue Man group Simply superb and great entertainment we really enjoyed their show. I think the Broadway at sea concept will really catch on across many companies. If pre-booked for the Blue man group you just present your room card at the entrance to the theatre There was lots of live music around the ship. Deck Space There were seats on the promenade deck but with the lifeboats hanging here next to no view. Top decks had a myriad of places to find a lounger as well as multiple flumes and pools, which looked great fun. Other Areas Spa is very large spa and gym certainly bigger than any we have seen at sea with all the usual facilities. Gym included a squash court which has now become an additional gym area rather than a squash court. Theatre - Not as large as you would think comfortable seating and drinks holders at each seat. Casino - verrrrryyyyyyy verrrrryyyyyyy verrrrryyyyyyy large. Shops - A wide selection laid out differently to other ships and they still manage to get the $10 tat out. They were selling at duty free prices with no VAT added. Photo area - Lots of screens but we never managed to try them. Other cabin types We did see into some of the other cabin types and there was not a great difference in size between them. Some had a bath behind the Perspex screens very odd. The studio rooms are a good concept and probably an OK size for one - a full king bed is in there. The lighting changes colour so if a single cabin not to sure about the love lighting mode. Unfortunately we could not get into the suites. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As we only had one night on board to sample this new ship from NCL I can only give my impressions on what we managed to see and do in the limited time available to us. So very hard to choose which ones to go and do but in the end this is ... Read More
As we only had one night on board to sample this new ship from NCL I can only give my impressions on what we managed to see and do in the limited time available to us. So very hard to choose which ones to go and do but in the end this is the review of our encounter with the not quite finished Norwegian Epic. I will start with the check in as this seems to have caused a bit of stir amongst many people. Our e-doc suggested that embarkation would start at 10.00 a.m. We arrived just after this and initially everything seemed to be running smoothly. We were given a colour coded card (orange) at the initial reception desk outside the terminal and then passed through security in all under about 10 minutes. It was then upstairs to wait for our colour to be called for the actual check in. We waited for near on an hour before the first colour was called and check in started. We were about the fourth group to be called forward. It was only then that the announcements started, initially asking people who had already checked in to take a seat and await their colour to be called again for embarkation. We checked in without problem and moved back to the area we had first waited only to find that now there were no longer any seats available, meaning we had to stand to wait. All the time the girl on the PA was asking people to sit down await the next stage. Quite where she expected us to sit, "God only knows! Anyway not long after that they announced that they were closing the check in desks, we assumed that this was because of the bottle neck that we were now caught up in. Possibly another hour passed before the big announcement was made about the new arrival time at Southampton. Full refunds were offered to those who had arrangements which meant they could not cruise along with an offer of up to €100 per person for any addition costs incurred. All this was conveyed by means of a typed letter which was handed out by NCL personnel. Not a problem for us and more of a bonus as it meant we had an extra 7 hours on board. Eventually embarkation did start but only after another long wait. All in all it took us over 4 hours to go through the embarkation process and when you consider what was going on behind the scenes then I don't see this as a big deal. I have read other stories of people who turned up later and didn't even get into the terminal building until after 1.00 so can only consider our selves lucky by comparison. Given the unprecedented circumstances, I am in the opinion the NCL handled it well enough, sadly though not well enough for many others. After we got on board it was a case of finding our cabin. We found moving round the ship very easy. The main through fares on the lower decks have ample room for all to get around and they also feel spacious too. There are one or two pinch points but none that will hold you up at all. Very interesting to see a pair of escalators between decks 6 & 5. The lifts at the aft don't stop at 5 but you can take the stairs down one flight in that area. The main elevators we used were at the aft and opened directly onto the main central area on decks 6 and 7. I thought this worked well and again gave the impression of space. The decks which contained accommodation had the usual set up for lifts and stairs. Surprised to see the buttons on only one side, not like the new Celebrity Solstice class ship where they are on both sides of the lift door. We found our cabin (9257) but unfortunately the seapass would not open the door. It was a case of going back down to customer relations and getting new cards issued. We were not the only ones that this had happened to either. First thoughts upon gaining entry to the cabin were "Wow". The wave balcony cabin certainly does look fantastic. A mixture of dark wood and mirrors with buff colour upholstery and worktops intermingled. There is loads of storage and hanging. 2 full height mirrors. The one nearest the balcony giving the impression that the balcony is even bigger than it is. Every little area seems to have a space to store something, even the back of the sofa has doors which house life jackets and extra bedding. There are coffee/tea making facilities in the cabin and the sockets are cleverly hidden under the worktop behind a door with a cable port to allow you to stand items on the top. A mini bar and safe are also incorporated into the wall of units which I personally think looks really impressive. I would give the cabin10 out of 10 for design and layout of this area. Now the bad bit, the washing and toilet area has been totally cocked up in my opinion. I will start with the layout of this particular area of the cabin that we stayed in. As you walk into the cabin from the corridor there are opaque glass doors and panels either side of you, one housing the toilet and the other the shower. Both cubicles are accessed by sliding doors and there is a non carpeted wet area between the two. Closing the area off from the main cabin there is a curtain which pulls across to obscure the goings on behind. Unfortunately, this does not cut down any sound especially from the toilet cubicle, either when flushing or conducting any other business. There is a small gap at the top of the doors by the sliding door track which seems to allow all the noises going on behind the panel to transmit to the rest of the cabin. The toilet flush seemed particularly loud even with the door closed. In order to then wash your hands you need to pull the sliding door open to get to the sink. You could argue that you need to wash your hands every time you go into the cubicle but it still seems an odd configuration. The sink is very small and when washing your hands, water goes everywhere including the bed! I feel this set up will not be very popular with many people staying in these cabins. A solid hinged door panel to the toilet in the style of the rest of the cabin would have been more appropriate. The shower I can live with but the toilet is a different matter. Indian shadow puppets spring to mind. I could tolerate this set up on a cruise but would have to say it not ideal and considering it is a brand new ship and design then some questions need to be asked especially WHO likes to been seen sitting on the toilet? Due to the short amount of time on board we elected to eat within all the free areas. The food in "The Garden Cafe" was on par with our experience on Celebrity Equinox and the layout enabled easy access with little or no queuing and the food was of excellent quality. Our only grumble was with the free drinks, the drinking water had a very strong taste of chlorine and the tea selection was short of other ships as there were some favourites missing. The other area we ate in was O' Sheehan's bar and grill (open 24 hours) which we found the fare to be very tasty albeit a bit slow on service. All the other eateries were only viewed and looked to be nicely laid out; maybe we will sample these in the future. The evening entertainment we booked was the Blue Man Group and we can only say is, what a fantastic spectacle. Not to be missed and thoroughly entertaining. The theatre is compact and the stage can be viewed well from all areas. Whether it was because of miss management or under staffing but no body had their booking checked on entering so we could have on this night just turned up and gone in. We were not able to view the Spiegel Tent and were turned away a couple of times when we asked to see inside, one can only assume they want your money before they let you see inside. The pool area has some really cool looking water slides which will give many folk hours of fun. Slightly confused by the amount of shaded sun loungers, there seem to me to be more shaded ones the ones in the sun but having said that we never got to see the area on Deck 19 as it was closed because the area had not been finished. I think that the kids will love this ship; the areas dedicated to them appear to be well thought out and look very appealing even to an adult like me. I am not quite sure what to make of H²O area, nothing happened here while we were on board and can only assume that it will be more of an evening venue with a big screen under the stars. To summarise, the Norwegian Epic will undoubtedly be talked about for some time to come and sadly not everything will be positive. The bathrooms in the cabins will cause much debate and can only be a negative thing for what I consider a really great ship in other areas. I would consider her for another cruise but the price would need to reflect the negative. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was a Scandinavian mini-cruise, outside of the Jade's usual Mediterranean schedule. It had an interesting itinerary and departure/arrival was only 20 miles from our home. DW and I were new to NCL, but not new to cruising (4x ... Read More
This was a Scandinavian mini-cruise, outside of the Jade's usual Mediterranean schedule. It had an interesting itinerary and departure/arrival was only 20 miles from our home. DW and I were new to NCL, but not new to cruising (4x Carnival so far). It seemed a good way to get acquainted with NCL and see if the freestyle concept suited us. We booked direct with NCL Europe, initially an oceanview stateroom (5100). The upsell fairy contacted us 2 months before departure and we upgraded to a mini-suite (11022) for a very good price. Day 1 - embarkation Rotterdam (Netherlands) Easiest start of a cruise ever! No long-haul flight to the USA, just a short 25 minute drive from home. We arrived around 12:15 PM at the (historic) cruise terminal in the center of Rotterdam. It was a typical Dutch scene: disorganized, yet oddly efficient. The actual embarkation was a breeze, we were on board in under half an hour. Thank you fellow CC'ers for the advice to head for the main restaurant for lunch! There were no seats left at buffet, and having lunch in the quiet Grand Pacific dining room was much more comfortable. There were only a dozen or so people in there. It was almost too quiet - I overheard the maitre d' saying they should direct more people to the dining room. At 14:00 we could enter our cabin ("mini-suite") on deck 11 fwd. Great location: quiet! Above us was the card room, no noise whatsoever from there. The cabin itself was very comfortable, about the size of a Carnival balcony room, only with a larger bathroom and balcony. Everything was in good working order. There was also a lot of closet space. We had two issues: one on the balcony chairs was broken (it took a full day to be replaced) and we only received two small towels on the first day (we had to call for extra). No complaints about the cabin stewards except for the lack of contact. Unlike our Carnival cruises, we hardly ever saw the cabin stewards. They didn't make an introductory chat and somehow we always seemed to miss them while they were on their shift. Life boat drill at 16:00 consisted of gathering in the theatre with your life jacket on your lap. After the usual announcements, we were instructed to put the life jacket on - a little difficult since you're cramped in your seat. With the drill out of the way, the party started and around 17:00 we left the cruise terminal. A cruise ship this large is a big event for the port of Rotterdam (the only get dozen each year) so lots of people were waving us out. There was even a fireboat throwing large arcs of water as a added bonus - quite a spectacle. Rotterdam is about 10 miles inland, so we had to sail an hour or so on the river (passing many more waving people on shore) before getting to the North Sea. PA announcements we made in English, Dutch and German. Side note: I think NCL should have emphasized that the spoken language on board their ships is English. 75% of the pax were from Holland. Now, the Dutch are often commended on their foreign language skills, but we did notice a language barrier between the crew and the guests. While this provided sometimes hilarious scenes (we overheard someone ordering "sunshine" eggs), most of the time both crew and guests were a loss for words. There were a lot of Dutch people who simply didn't speak English well enough to convey a simple request, let alone keep up a decent conversation. This was especially noticeable at the stage shows, where almost no-one picked up on the jokes. The language barrier was a minor issue, though - everyone got along just fine. NCL had appointed a Dutch-speaking host by means of the very nice Tammy (actually half English, half Dutch) who translated the cd's (Karen Maybury) announcements and acted as interpreter on several excursions and activities. That evening, we had dinner in Alizar (the casual dining room). Most nights, we opted out of dessert in the dining room to have a crêpe & ice cream at the buffet upstairs. After that we explored the public areas of the ship and called it a night. Note: we don't hang around in bars or discos, we prefer watching a movie or reading a book. Day 2 - at sea Breakfast in the buffet. Here comes our biggest gripe: the Jade didn't nearly have enough seats available during breakfast or lunch. No matter how early or late we arrived, all seats were always taken. There was additional seating at Papa's (Italian specialty restaurant), but that meant several long walks (100 yards) from the buffet with our plate and coffee/tea in hand - there were no trays! - so it was quite inconvenient. We never had problems finding a seat on Lido deck at Carnival ships, so on this point NCL was quite a letdown for us. Throughout the cruise we participated in several trivia quizzes (when we could, we teamed up with a gentleman from the US and two ladies from England) and won most of them - yay! Host Ken had a wicked sense of humor. Other on-board activities that day were equally enjoyable, from the pastry demonstration to the NCL U history lecture. I liked the bridge viewing room, with a large window that provided a view into the bridge. There were also digital display screens, one showing our position on a moving map and another showing the speed, heading and other technical data. Dinner in the Grand Pacific dining room ('formal night') was good. We had crème brûlEe for dessert, since we had tasted that in the demo earlier that day. After dinner we saw "Showdown" in the theatre. This was a singing contest where the audience voted for their favorite artist. We were pleasantly surprised at the vocal qualities of the performers. There also was a late night comedy show (Lenny Windsor). Day 3 - Oslo, Norway The Jade arrived right on time and at 08:00 AM we were the first people of the ship. Customs had cleared the ship, but the announcements hadn't been made yet. As we walked up to the gangway, the crew simply let us out. We bought our Oslo Passes at the cruise terminal (discounted price: NOK 176), took the water bus to Bygdøy and visited the Viking ship, Kon-tiki and Fram museums. Since this was a Monday, most other museums in town were closed. We did a little shopping in Aker Brygge, then took a tram to the city center and walked down Karl Johan Gate, where we grabbed a quick sandwich at one of the many eateries. We spent some time on the grounds of Akershus Castle, but the interior was closed because of a special event. After a brief visit to the Grunerløkka area we went back to the city center before making our way back to the ship. We sailed for Copenhagen at 18:00. Dinner in Grand Pacific again. We preferred it over Alizar, mainly because it was lighter and more spacious. We went to the theatre for a show with juggler/comedian Pete Matthews. Too bad most of his jokes were wasted on the crowd. I guess they missed their subtitles! Day 4 - Copenhagen, Denmark We were scheduled to dock at 11:00 AM. That gave us plenty of time to sleep in, have breakfast and take a Dutch trivia quiz with host Tammy (the lady translating the announcements). The only downside was the ship's location: Freeport. The main cruise port, Langelinie, is closer to town, but there were 2 other ships already in port, so we had to travel a little further. After docking, we left the ship as soon as we could. We had bought a Copenhagen card online so we could hop straight on the #26 bus to the town center. We exited the bus at the Little Mermaid statue, walked around the Citadel (Kastellet) to the resistance museum. There, we found two city bikes (they take a DKK 20 coin that is returned when you park it at another bicycle stand). We drove through Nyhavn and Rosenborg to the Round Tower. Nice view around the city, even though half of the viewing area was closed due to construction. We walked a long way through the shopping streets (Købmagergade and Strøget) to the Danish Design Center and the Glypotek Museum. We then spent some time in Tivoli and around 18:30 we took the bus from the Rådhuspladsen back to Freeport. After dinner at Alizar we went to the theater to see the magician. There was an surprise performance by a Danish folklore group acting out several H.C. Andersen fairy tales. They put on a very nice show that was greatly appreciated by the audience. The magician (Stephen Garcia) that came on afterwards was pretty good too. Day 5 - at sea A lazy sea day with two trivia quizzes and another history lecture. We took it very easy: eating, reading, watching TV (the CBNC Cruise, Inc documentary!) and sleeping. What more do you want? Had lunch at the buffet where we actually managed to get a table near the action stations. I happened to be near the bridge viewing room as the captain made his afternoon announcements, so I briskly walked up there and watched him as he addressed the ship. After dinner (Grand Pacific) we packed our bags, then went to the final show: Variety Showtime. There were encore performances by the magician and the comedian. Then the social hosts came on stage dressed in toga towels and proceeded to imitate the Trevi fountain by spraying each other with water - it was hilarious. After that very wet performance, the captain, senior officers and crew said their thanks and goodbyes. The cd came on one last time saying this had been a great cruise and they'd enjoyed our company very much (although it must have been somewhat of a challenge for them). After the show we hurried over to the chocolate buffet. What a sight! We admired the sculptures (both ice and chocolate) and indulged ourselves a little. Yes, only a little. Oh well. Moving on... Day 6 - debarkation When we woke up around 07:00 AM, we were already on the river to Rotterdam. We had our final breakfast of the cruise watching our country pass us by. The only major issue occurred that morning. One of the fun things about cruising is getting to know other people. However, on the Jade this concept was taken further by delivering the invoices (expense account statement) unfolded and face up at the door sign of each cabin. We could see other guests' proprietary information such as full names and of course a detailed list of what everyone had spent during the cruise. Up until the point that we removed ours, fellow cruisers could read our statement as well. Needless to say, we promptly reported this to the purser's desk as we value our privacy (don't we all?). After quick post in another thread, I learned that this is not the usual way to deliver invoices, so I guess this was a thoughtless action by the crew member involved. We arrived back in Rotterdam around 08:15 AM and we were scheduled to disembark at 10:00 AM. From our balcony, we watched the busy shore side activities. Our color was called at 09:45 AM and after a little wait on the stairway (it turned out we were called too early) we were whisked through customs and were outside at 10:05. Bye, bye, NCL Jade!Bottom LineYes, we had a good time on this cruise. The ship was great, the cabin was very nice, the food was good, the on-board activities were entertaining and the itinerary was interesting. There were some issues, but all but one of them too minor to ruin a vacation over. As said earlier, we wanted to see if the freestyle concept suited us. We didn't care too much for the specialty restaurants (we feel we'd paid enough for the cruise as it is). While being flexible in dinner times is a good way to cruise, the lack of seating during breakfast and lunch was a big disappointment. Also, we missed our daily chats with cabin steward and wait staff. Our verdict: we're not sure we'd sail with NCL again, unless they happen to have a great promotion. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We just went on a short repositioning cruise from Rotterdam, the Netherlands to Southampton, UK. We flew into Rotterdam from London in the morning of sailing. It's a public holiday in the Netherlands, which we didn't know. My ... Read More
We just went on a short repositioning cruise from Rotterdam, the Netherlands to Southampton, UK. We flew into Rotterdam from London in the morning of sailing. It's a public holiday in the Netherlands, which we didn't know. My wife and I wandered around with all the shops closed. The lunch was done in the Burger King. The cruise terminal is not far from city centre, which only took us 10 minutes from Central Station on the tram.The tram crossed the maganificent bridge with the view of NCL Jade. We arrived the terminal with excitement. However, I have to say the embarkation process was the worst I had experienced. They had special lines for VIP/disabled/suite passengers and the normal passengers in other cabins, which were standard for all other embarkation process I had. However, all 'non-special' passengers were handed out different colour tags and were checked in according to that. Hence, there wasn't a system of 'first come, first served' and lots of confused people waiting around. The loud constant multi-language announcement certainly didn't help the situation.We embarked on the ship eventually after two hours sitting and waiting around. The cruise experience was getting better. They handed out welcome drinks to all the passengers getting on to the ship. We booked an inside room, which was adequate for our short 3-night cruise. The big draws of this cruise were NCL freestyle and numerous restaurants available on the ship. After tasting the different menus of the restaurants, we decided to try one in this short cruise. We went to Jasmine for the first day and had free meals in the main dining room for the other days. The presentation and quality of the food and services were excellent and the choices were as wide as we could imagine.The ports of calls were interesting (Le Harve, France and St Peter Port, UK) and we would normally not go to those places without this cruise. Out of the two, St Peter Port was more interesting personally.The disembarkation process was a breeze. We enjoyed our breakfast in the main dining room and were off the ship by half past nine. Then we took two-hour coach trip back to London.I would definitely recommend NCL freestyle cruising. You can dress up whatever you want and go wherever you want to eat and entertain yourself to whenever you want. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
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