Wait staff, ship's officers and crew, security & maintenance, as usual, are all top notch. Management is just the opposite. From 6 hours on the phone over 5 weeks unsuccessfully trying to get a return call from a ... Read More
Wait staff, ship's officers and crew, security & maintenance, as usual, are all top notch. Management is just the opposite. From 6 hours on the phone over 5 weeks unsuccessfully trying to get a return call from a "supervisor" at the NCL Air Department to rectify air connections that flew us into a City 200 miles from the port on the wrong day to condescending, rude, in-your-face "service desk" managers who couldn't communicate effectively and blamed you for their errors. We overheard one loud argument that would later echo our sentiment exactly. He was yelling "This is your mistake, not mine. I shouldn't be having to work for YOU to straighten out YOUR errors on MY vacation and spend MY time trying to resolve YOUR problems." They called security on him. We smiled and thought, well, he probably could have handled that better..." Little did we know that a day or two later we would find ourselves in the same position and being goaded by these very same incompetent, argumentative "service personnel" about our credit card and saying roughly the same thing and ultimately having to "go to work" on our vacation to correct yet another error by NCL. (I guess they figured since we let them get away with taking our $200 in airfare they'd attempt to go back to the well for more.) Ours is far from the only observation on the web that over the last 5 years, while the day-to-day personnel continues to remain gregarious, friendly, courteous and competent, there has been a tectonic shift at the Helm of NCL's home office & bean counters resulting in business management that just gets more pathetic with each passing cruise. Not vessel management, "hospitality" management.
As for the air department in particular, don't waste your money. Read the plethora of negative reviews about this cruise and those who've been snookered into the Montreal/YQB switcheroo. Since no one would return our calls, we finally just wrote off the $200 airfare as a loss and booked ourselves into Quebec (YQB). NCL may have taken our money, but we refused to let them steal our joy. We spent 4 fantastic days enjoying Quebec Quebec City, and wished for more to be honest. Sadly we listened to horror stories each day of people with similar experiences who had to find their own way to the port from some far away city or who sat for hours on the side of a major highway, the bus rocking from the traffic whizzing by their broken down bus. They said it was terrifying thinking about becoming a statistic. One reviewer said it took NCL 12 hours to get them from Montreal Trudeau to the ship. It's so laughable even the comedian made their misery the butt of several jokes in his act. So if you think they'll actually treat you differently than all the other thousands of guests they've hoodwinked, then the joke'll be on you. One day NCL is going to screw over the WRONG attorney who's going to file a class action suit over their "bait and switch" tactics and false repeated claims that "there aren't seats into Quebec," to which we responded, "We've got 4 windows open with 4 different airlines with flights from 4 different cities into YQB all with empty cabins, so don't sit there and lie to me. I'm looking at planes I could play ping pong in and never hit a soul with a serve." It's a shame management is slowly sinking what was once a fine cruise line.
The ship's older design must have been originally for the Caribbean or Mediterranean as the only observation areas are outside. A lot of women don't like their hair being blown around after they've fixed it up. There's no area aft to sit and watch the horizon recede. The ship has mysterious humps in the floor, odd, dead-end nooks and crannies and there is no bridge viewing room like there is on Jewel-Class vessels. The curries on the buffet were, as always, excellent. Healthy choices on the buffet were plentiful. Main dining rooms were on par with other ships in the NCL fleet. Specialty dining went from totally inedible in Los Lobos (other reviewers agree) to "OMG, this is the best meal I've ever eaten!" in the Italian Restaurant (La Cucina?) The manager Vaughn, was fantastic and very observant, not to mention funny. He's a true asset to the company. All of the ports were enjoyable other than maybe Halifax and simply because it's such a big city and industrial port. I mean there's nothing WRONG with Halifax, it's just not very walkable it's so large. Bar Harbor or Portland were likely our favorite, due to Acadia and the breath-taking views from Cadillac Mountain and the views of the lighthouses from Fort Williams. Still, each port was charming in it's own way. Quebec City is worth a week.
Don't let NCL entice you into cheap airfare only to find they didn't give you time to explore this fascinating world of old and new. I'm told the entertainment on board was good. I don't go on cruises for food or entertainment, but my wife and other party members enjoyed the variety of shows. The pool deck was generally lightly populated due to the chilly temperatures. The library is in an odd, but very quiet place. I liked its location. Not alot of traffic due to it being isolated at the start of a U-shaped hallway of forward cabins. It's kind of where the health club "class" workout room is often located on the Jewel-Class vessels. We did not find the Ultimate Beverage Package to be a very good deal for us because we don't drink a lot so a beer or glass of wine would wind up costing $50 when you averaged it out per diem. And forget finding a Mountain Dew when you wanted one. I mentioned earlier the attentiveness of the staff. I should clarify that I mean wait staff, room stewards, etc. If you see an officer or security personnel, they are almost always approachable, congenial and helpful. On the other hand, any "hotel staffer" in one of the dark, business-like suits - is a waste of your time. The only solution they can offer is to write an email to the home office, because they have no authority to provide any solutions for you. Your room steward on the other hand can answer 90% of your questions and solve the majority of your issues, just remember all he did for you at the end of the cruise. Same with the food services. If you ask for something politely, if it's on the ship it will magically appear at your table generally within a reasonable time. Not always, but generally. A lot of it depends on your attitude toward your server. One final tip - and it's about tips. When we wanted to acknowledge a staffer who went above and beyond, we would add an amount above what was included in our prepaid tip package to the paper receipts at the restaurant only to learn that those tips went into the general pool for all workers, thus eliminating what we were attempting to do, which was let someone know we appreciated their specific extra effort. After learning that, we always carried a little cash around and looked for opportunities to make someone's day when it was deserved. I hope I can remember that the next time I cruise with Norwegian. They may be the American Airlines of the cruise industry, but they're cheap - sadly in more ways than one. Read Less