Where do I begin. I have sailed on every cruise line except Holland America and Princess, but this was my first Norwegian cruise. I selected it because it fit the timeframe we had, was within budget, (we thought!), and it was one that I ... Read More
Where do I begin. I have sailed on every cruise line except Holland America and Princess, but this was my first Norwegian cruise. I selected it because it fit the timeframe we had, was within budget, (we thought!), and it was one that I have never sailed with before. I'm retired from the military, and thanks to smart financial planning and investments, and while owning my own company, I am free to travel at my leisure. So, I'm a easy-going guy and try not to let little things disrupt my attitude.
My fiance´and I decided to take our 4 boys on a cruise for Spring Break, so I booked the cruise in early January. Because of the number of people, we booked 3 cabins. This led to the fact that when I tried to log in to their website, to view excursion options, I could only see one cabin. I called the 'help' line and was informed that for each cabin I had to create a separate log in and password. So, that meant 3 log ins for 3 cabins. Trying to book dining reservations and excursions was a nightmare. I had to have three tabs open, all of them NCL.com, and toggle back and forth to make sure all three cabins could get the same times as the others. Then, there was the dining. You could not book a table for more than 5 people at a time at the "specialty" restaurants, so I called again. They said that we had to split the reservations up into 2 groups. So, what happens? They can't give both groups the same times at two of the restaurants. The representative assures me that it is ok, and that when I get aboard, they will work it out. WRONG! One restaurant could only accommodate us per our reservations, so we ate apart. The other one had to rearrange half of the dining area to accommodate us.
With the website itself, it was hit or miss as to whether I could access certain pages, especially the excursions. You are supposed to be able to click on the port and see only the excursions for that port, but more than half the time, I would click on a port and it would log me out and send me back to the home page. Now, multiply that by 3!!!
Time to throw a curveball at Norwegian. My 20 year old son decides he doesn't want to go, so now I have to call NCL again, and rearrange the entire reservation. I cannot say whether they were frustrated for certain or not, but I can say that they were certainly confused. It was as if I was discussing quantum physics to a second grader. I explain that, since you technically have to have one adult per cabin, we will now only need 2 cabins, one for 3 boys, and one for 2 adults. And in this one cabin for 3, I need 3 beds. They said, no problem. Each cabin would have a pull-out sofa.
We get to, and on, the ship with no problems. I have to give them a credit card to charge expenses to. I had paid for everything in advance, and we had a $250 ship credit per cabin, so I wasn't too worried. What I had failed to purchase was beverage packages. Neither my fiance´or I drink a lot, especially with our children present, and our kids drink water for the most part. As we are waiting to disembark, we adults decide to have a couple of drinks while the kids are exploring the ship. Well, as soon as I saw the price of these 8oz. drinks, I decide a beverage package was not a bad idea. I see a station that is selling beverage packages, so I go over and talk to the guy. The Teen Soda package online was $49, now it is $79, AND doesn't include water! I passed on those, and told the guy that I wanted a Adult package...no problem. Instead of the $249 online price, it is now $487. I get one package and just order for the two of us on it. Three days into the cruise and a phone call from the front desk. It seems that their crew person made a mistake in not telling me that I had to buy a beverage package for EVERYONE in my party or not at all!!! So, they revoke my package. So much for Freestyle cruising!
We go to the cabin that the boys are staying in, and when they tried to pull the sofa-bed out...no bed! I go to the front desk and explain the problem, they assured me that it pulled out, and that they would send someone down to show us how. The person arrives, and guess what? No bed! I went back to the desk and was kindly told that the ship was full, and that there was nothing that they could do. I said that I booked, and paid for a cabin with three beds. Finally, they said it would be taken care of. Later, we go back to their cabin, and housekeeping has brought a piece of 1 inch thick egg crate foam to "make the sofa more comfortable". I continued to complain and was finally told that they would bring a roll-away bed down. The desk manager called later to say that the boys had refused the bed. When asked if this was true, they said no one ever asked them if they wanted one.
Meals were a joke. It was always the very same thing every day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hopefully, you found one thing that you liked, because that was what you were having for the duration of the cruise. Our experience with the specialty restaurants was just about as bad. We went to Moderno, (Brazilian), one night, and our server comes over and points to a serving bar and explains that the salad and appetizers are there, then proceeds to remove the wine glasses as if he anticipated that no one want wine, (which we did). I ask him if we could order a cocktail, and he just points to the salad bar and walks away. Now, I have lived in Brazil, and I know what the food is supposed to be like. But, I also am aware that theses places are only imitations of the authentic ones. My fiance´and I ordered a authentic Brazilian Caipirinha, (finally), and this was the worst Caipirinha I had ever had. These drinks are very simple to make. I make them myself! But, they could not get it right, or even close. The meat was overcooked and tough, or over-spiced. I don't mean spicy as in hot, I mean loads of garlic, rosemary, salt. You couldn't taste the meat.
I will give credit to the Italian restaurant, La Cucina. The service was great, the food was excellent, the meal was timed so that your entree didn't arrive while you were still eating your salad, etc.
There are many other little things that I could pick apart, but why would I need to? I can overlook the little things, but let's be reasonable. And, to top it all off, my credit card was charged almost $700, in addition to the $500 ship credit.
I had one bad experience with Carnival in the past. It was my first Carnival cruise, and before all of their problems at sea. The room I saw online when I booked, and the one I got, for my 2 sons and myself, was nothing close. But, they made it right, free of charge. Because of that one incident, Carnival had always been at the bottom of my list. Well, step aside people, because Carnival is moving on up, and we have a new player on the loser board! Read Less