I have a lot to say. Just got off this boat yesterday and overall had a great time. So I'll start off with the beginning.
Embarkation - This was so easy. We showed up about a half hour earlier than they asked us to and we were ... Read More
I have a lot to say. Just got off this boat yesterday and overall had a great time. So I'll start off with the beginning.
Embarkation - This was so easy. We showed up about a half hour earlier than they asked us to and we were able to get on the ship within an hour of getting onto the port. This included giving our bags away, walking up and filling out the forms, waiting in the maybe 20 minutes line to get our cards and then waiting for our number to be called to get onto the boat. At no point did I feel frustrated by any waiting, and we didn't have any VIP special treatment or anything. This part seemed super organized.
Once we got on the boat it was our #1 goal to get the weekly spa package because we have heard those can sell out. I think we might have been the first people to actually sign up because the person near guest services was just standing there waiting for us. That took no time at all. Then we went upstairs to sign up for shows. Once those things were out of the way, we got some drinks at the atrium (drink package) and I was surprised that the regular drink package included a more expensive brand like jameson caskmates and bulleit. Drink package was really a highlight of the trip. I was able to get a glass of johnnie walker gold for $6, and a very solid woodford reserve old fashioned at the tobacco bar that is included in the package.
Getting into our room (regular balcony) did take longer than expected. And once we did, we noticed that it wasn't quite clean. For instance the drawers under the couch had enough dust on them that it was very noticeable. Like they haven't been dusted in weeks. There were a few other dusty areas which don't really bother me very much but my gf who is a germaphobe really was turned off by that. Otherwise, we felt that the room itself was nice and roomy. We had a coffee maker, but no coffee, so I'm not sure what the point of that was. We ordered a pot of coffee every morning to drink on the balcony anyway. On that note, the breakfast that they will deliver for free was adequate. Nice fresh fruit plate and some other items like pastries and cinnamon rolls were good enough to get us going. We ordered room service one very late night and it's a flat fee for only $9.99 plus service, so we ordered a ton of stuff. Everything was tasty. The burger was the best.
One thing we knew we would love even before we got on this ship was the variety of different bars and places to eat at. We were making a point to visit each one, or as many as possible. This is nice if you like to have a change of scenery and vibe. Each bar seems different from the next. It's not like other cruises where all of the bars have the same drinks or same liquors. The brew house as a TON of beers and the whiskey bar has some very high end whiskeys. Margarita bar has specialty margaritas, etc. I found the service at the unique-type bars to be very quick and friendly. The service at the more typical and high traffic bars was very slow and painful at times. Sometimes just getting a simple whiskey/coke took 15 minutes because there's about 8-10 people ahead of me all ordering some kind of drink that needs a blender or to be shaken, and most of the time there's only 2 bartenders at these bars. It's annoying when you've been tipping someone the whole trip and they know that your typical drinks takes 15 seconds to make, but they'll ignore you in favor of the other handful of people ordering more complex drinks like mudslides, daiquiris, margaritas, etc.
I have to mention that I drink a lot and I took advantage of the drink package, and less than a handful of the bartenders remembered me despite me tipping for most of my drinks. Most of them were not smiling and I could feel that they were overworked. They need more staffing at these bars. Me and my gf were assuming that there could have been a few bartenders that got sent home due to having chinese passports (coronavirus scare). That really was the only thing that made sense so that's how we rationalized it.
The dining, in my opinion, ranged from very good to excellent. The taste/savor/manhattan meals were usually very good, while the specialty dining (cagneys steakhouse, food republic (sushi), moderno (brazillian), le bistro (french) were all top notch and again, you really felt like you were in a different restaurant instead of just being on one big boat. The service at these places were excellent as well. ALSO the garden buffet was wayyyyy better than either of us expected it to be. We ate at o'sheehans irish bar for 2 meals and they had really good bar food there. Recommend the reuben, nachos and wings. We definitely gained too much weight on this ship.
We had a few gripes that I felt could have been avoided with just some better service.
For instance, our cabin was never really made well. Every day it was something new.
Sometimes the garbage was taken out, sometimes it wasn't. We almost never had the same amount of towels that we asked to be replaced. Toilet paper wasn't refreshed. Just really simple things that should be checked off on every check list and were just annoyances to us. The fact that they charge you $15 per day per person, on top of the daily cash we left for him, made that feel even worse for us. We know we can complain and pay less but we didn't want to ruin this guy's life. We were talking to some other passengers on the cruise and they were saying their service was top notch with people cleaning their rooms twice a day sometimes. So I'm guessing it was just an issue with our guy.
The most disappointing aspect of this cruise for us was the entertainment.
The show After Midnight is a BORE. I felt really bad for the performers. The tap dancers were great at their craft and there were a few singers who had phenomenal voices. They all seemed like very good actors too in their speaking parts.... But the story is AWFUL. There is literally no story, no humor, no suspense. I sat in the first few rows and about half way through I noticed some people behind me getting up and leaving so I turned around thinking how rude, but then maybe half of the audience was either dozing off or had already left. What a terrible show. I felt like i wasted a piece of my life sitting there.
Then there was the billy joel/elton john piano player who played 3 billy joel songs, 2 elton john songs, a bee gee's song and something else I can't remember, and then finished up with the piano man. His choices of songs weren't so bad but he completely butchered most of the songs he played. For instance he played Vienna by billy joel, one of my favorite songs of his. If you know that song, it doesn't have any crazy rock solos but for some reason this dude felt like every song needed to have a 1 minute extended intro and outro with random piano solos intertwined all over the place. Also he is the kind of singer who likes to sing lyrics way after the place where they belong in the song, making it impossible to enjoy, but then he tells us all that we can sing along if we want LOL. There is no way to sing along with that. He was absolutely terrible. His only redeeming quality was the stories he told, which I enjoyed. Also we have to add that the food at the supper club where he played at was also our least favorite meal of the trip.
The dueling pianos was hit and miss. The piano players were super talented but they knew a lot less songs and had to pass on a lot more than I'm used to seeing. They were very funny though and seemed to have decent chemistry with each other.
The DJ's at the various clubs were really bad at reading the crowds. It was obvious most of the trip that the crowd who was attending the dance parties was very into recent hip hop and pop music but for some reason the DJs liked going on 90 minute REGGAE sets even though barely anyone was feeling it. This is not just my preference. I totally get that you need to play the crowd even if that means playing stuff I don't like, but that wasn't the case here. People kept peeling off with every reggae song that would play and we were all joking that if their goal was to empty out the dance club (skyline bar) early those nights then they accomplished their goals.
Then they have this spice h20 adults only area in the back of the ship, which LOOKS like a nice area. But they have a grotto that wasn't working most days and then some other days the water was freezing when it's supposed to be hot tub temp. By the way, the grotto was like baby pool depth, which unsurprisingly meant that adults would bring their kids in there to play and nobody would ever kick the kids out. So this is supposed to be an adults only quiet area (with two very obvious signs as you're walking in stating so), but hey yeah bring the screaming kids lol. Everyone I talked to said they probably should have had changed that area to be non-quiet with some kind of music playing back there. It only seems right as this is the same area that they have the outdoor night parties, so it is already equipped with some very nice speakers/sound system. And most of the time there's people chatting up in the tubs and at the bar smoking or playing dominos. Nobody was treating it as a quiet area. So why not play some music? Weird.
The main pool area has music and two hot tubs. So that's where someone like me who is complaining should go, right? Well one of the tubs is adults only but most of the time there were little kids playing in both hot tubs. And the hot tubs are smaller than most other cruise ships I've seen. Can fit maybe 6 regular size people comfortably. 8 had to be squished in. The beverage service around pools/tubs were more or less non existent. We'd see someone walking around every once in a while but making eye contact to get someone's attention seemed impossible. The biggest complaint we have about the main pool area is that the entertainment coordinators don't seem to understand that if the one pool in the back is the "Quiet area" then the other pool should probably have more exciting entertainment. Most of the time the music at the main pool was categorized as "mellow" or sometimes not even any music. And there were only a few silly contests like best legs or biceps or whatever. And if this is where you have the highest amount of people hanging out for drinks then you need to have more bartenders. There are 2 bars for 2 levels of people hanging out and most of the time there were only 2 bartenders at each bar, and no wait service roaming.
There were some fun games and shows in the atrium area. And we participated in some of the casino tournaments which ended up being super fun even though we lost.
The casinos had a great variety of games and the table minimums were $10 most of the time. We didn't play a lot (3 of 6 days) but there were enough openings where we could get into a dice/black jack or other table game whenever we wanted. We don't play slots but it seemed they had a ton of slot machines. I can't comment whether they were recent or not. The casino hostesses were all very friendly, probably our favorite employees who we met on the ship.
Commenting on the ports is tough because of the local issues i'll talk about below. We got off at roatan, belize, and cozumel. We did catamaran snorkling at roatan, which was a real fun time. Then we wanted to do parasailing at belize but it was too windy so they cancelled it. The activities they had at the private island for us were fun though. Very nice beach and great pool with swim up bar. There was a mini-zoo there that was free. There was a ton of activities that we didn't get into. Seemed like a fun time for most people. At cozumel we did a dolphin activity so we didn't spend much time at the port. Although we did go to senior frogs for a quick drink and some nachos which is always a fun time.
Getting off of the boat was delayed by HOURS for two of the 4 port days because "local authorities' wanted to make sure that coronavirus wasn't being spread to their countries. I understand, and that's probably not anything norwegian could have done anything about. It was only a minor inconvenience and didn't make us miss much time due to our personal schedules. People who had earlier excursions probably were more annoyed than we were, but not much you can do there.
As I mentioned earlier, we got the Spa for the entire week and we used it every day except for one. It was definitely a highlight. The heated stone beds and therapeutic pool was amazing. The big pool is heated like a hot tub and has all sorts of different jets to get your spots. And the steam room was probably the best steam room i've ever been in.
We didn't work out at the gym at all but the equipment looked better than what's at the gym we go to lol so either we need to change gyms asap or the ship had some good stuff here.
Overall we had a great time because the goal for us at this point was a very relaxing trip. If you're going more for the entertainment, you'd be disappointed. But if you're looking just to chill, overeat, overdrink, hit the ports for excursions, and spa it up, then this is probably a great cruise for you. It's priced well and the food and drinks kept us happy. Read Less