We chose this cruise for it's Southern Caribbean stops. It's a very big ship and with that are challenges different than other cruise ships. From the start, things were weird. We had 11 people in 4 cabins working with an NCL ... Read More
We chose this cruise for it's Southern Caribbean stops. It's a very big ship and with that are challenges different than other cruise ships. From the start, things were weird. We had 11 people in 4 cabins working with an NCL agent to reserve. We saw that friends and family travel free - not so much. We understand that there's a per person fee, but we found that to get 4 people in a room, we had to upgrade to a family room and the cost difference nearly used up all of the "free" for our 2 people. You can get a glass of wine with your drink package, but don't get a bottle - that's not covered. We were told that, when we called to make a reservation before embarking, the $50/$100 per room is applied, as opposed to making the reservation on-line. Not so. We had to pay the full price for each excursion and the Bonus was applied only after the excursion was taken. A letter explaining this was provided on day 3. This meant that my family who budgeted based on the reduced rate had their Credit Cards rejected because they did not have enough in that account to cover the full price and had to come up with $300 cash for their account. It all resolved by the end of the cruise, but having the information before hand would have helped. The cabin setup is just weird and cramped. There are actually many storage areas, under couch, in wall cabinets...so take time to find them all. Still, even with the bunk up, on the family floor 13, it's a very very cramped area. With the bunks down, movement is nearly impossible, with the bunk ladder in place, movement was impossible.
Food was not as good as on other NCL ships - even in specialty restaurants, much of the food was dry and overcooked or either bland or SPICY. Note that there is only 1 menu for children (the same at all restaurants) and using that is free but if your child is bored with PBJ, Hotdog, tenders or burger and wants some of the specialty items from adult menus, you get to pay for that food ala cart. Knowing this ahead of time would have made a difference in our planning. Service at restaurants was often slow or missing or crazy. My 7 year old order came out, in total, before even our appetizers arrived. One of us missed dinner to go with her once she was done - since there was then nothing for her at that restaurant. At Moderno, a drinking glass broke. A waiter picked up the big piece but left the mess and the rest of the glass on the table. We never saw him again. Teppanyaki was kind of fun, but so loud. Only one section of the Cafe and O'Sheehans were open late night/all night. Spice H2O was a total bore - even before the rain on White night - there was virtually nothing happening. The setup at that location was crazy. Stadium seating surround the pool turned dance floor - so adults were on display when swimming. Getting to the Sports area meant kids had to go through Spice - despite big signs saying "must be 18". The Spider slide was for kids over 42" and under 120# and was broken. The sports deck is obviously under used. Climbing wall needs some organization. The Repel site is not used. The smaller climbing walls were not used. My 7 year old made it to ring a bell and then froze and for nearly 20 minutes clung to the wall - in tears. One crew member finally got her to let go and slowly slid her down, but we couldn't figure out why someone didn't go up and get her. Splash for my 7 year old was so bad she didn't want to go. With more boys than girls - the special events turned into high energy gym for kids - no fashion show, no paparazzi. Bliss music was so loud (guess that means high energy) we couldn't talk and it's too loud to dance. Entertainment was slightly different than we found on other ships, but essentially the same shows with different performers; worth seeing once but not more. Neighbors openly smoked in their cabin. When they didn't stop we complained but nothing was done until we were able to prove that they were actively smoking by staying in our cabin until they smoked and then called. The odor was so obvious that the steward " should have" reported. Trip hazards exist on several stair landings. These we reported but none were repaired and no warnings or closings were provided. Elevators on our floor had 2 broken and once set of buttons broken. Waits were often very long. While the music deckside was fun, the fun ended at 10 or so. On other cruises, the fun competitions mid-ship were packed - not so much. Bars had few common drinks, so finding one we liked required going to back to only that bar. Excursion team was great. Excursion experience - not so much.
Several NCL excursions were not as advertised. Moderate effort "Touch the Piton" was a walk through a garden - with a few steps. Moderate "Virgin Baths" received warnings that the lines were long and if you didn't get to the baths before it was time to leave, no refund is provided. Pirate ship didn't have planks to walks, nor cannons to shoot. Some snorkeling had fish and turtles because they feed them when we were out. Others didn't feed - but still saw creatures. Descriptions did not define their plan. Some snorkeling crews provided boundaries with what to expect within each, other held us tightly packed in one area. 20 days before we left, we get the letter telling us to get notarized signature from both parents for our granddaughter. No explanation in the letter or from reservation staff for how to handle it with her missing mom, but most of the service group was very friendly, quick and helpful. We did have trouble leaving the ship on 3 occasions because neither mom nor dad were with us. Took a while to resolve even though we explained that all approvals and authorizations, including temporary power of attorney were on file with this ship. Once, they didn't want to let her off the ship.
Embarkment and disembarkment were smooth. Crew was in the right places, helped, directed, smiled, sang. All in all, though the cruise had some wonderful moments and we had a generally great time, we won't be going back because the food, entertainment and much of the crew were not good or fun. Certainly don't want to see the same things, again. Read Less