When searching for a cruise, this one showed up in an email with a price that couldn't be passed up. The cruise experience, along with the visits to places we might not otherwise see, was a big positive. The accommodations, public ... Read More
When searching for a cruise, this one showed up in an email with a price that couldn't be passed up. The cruise experience, along with the visits to places we might not otherwise see, was a big positive. The accommodations, public spaces, entertainment, and excursions were all good. The tour operators contracted by Norwegian were excellent, with knowledgeable and friendly guides who offered insightful commentaries about their homes. We were sad when the two weeks ended, but have already booked another cruise with Norwegian.
The bad was a collection of minor incidents and annoyances that didn't ruin the trip but did make some experiences less than they could have been. The big issue was the service in the dining room. We ate dinner in the Grand Pacific dining room most nights (one night in the Alizar dining room was enough; too crowded and too noisy). The menu was OK, with a standard offering that didn't change (a steak, spaghetti, and a couple of other dishes). The changing menu offered some dishes that were interesting but others weren't anything that we couldn't get in one of the nicer restaurants at home. For the most part, all of the dishes were tasty, well-prepared, and a decent serving portion. However, the service was only adequate. Had we had that level of service in a regular restaurant, it would have been difficult to leave even a 10% tip. We were seated and given menus, someone asked us what we wanted to drink (usually water and/or iced tea), drinks were served and our order was taken. Once our food was served, there was little interaction with the waiters. If we were lucky, we had our drinks refilled but that was rare. Then our plates were cleared, we were given dessert menus, served desert, and that was pretty much it. There was no checking to see if the food was OK (one meal was too salty for my wife and when she commented to the waitress about it, there was no offer to make up for it). All in all, there was not much interaction with the wait staff.
It was disconcerting to not be allowed to bring bottled water onto the ship, only to find out that it was available for sale at exorbitant prices. Yes, one could get water from the drink dispensers, but there was also a sign (largely ignored) that said, "Please do not fill water bottles here." There were other instances where it felt like Norwegian was working hard to part guests from their money with little value given.
The ugly was the tender collision in Falmouth harbor when returning to the Jade from an excursion. Passengers were shuttled to and from the landing from the ship anchored out in the deep water of the harbor. The trip in that morning was fairly smooth but a weather front moved in that afternoon, bringing wind and rain showers. We returned from an excursion (provided by Norwegian) and boarded the tender at the landing in the city. The trip started slow, but due to the waves and wake, water started coming in the badly sealed front windows, soaking the passengers in the front row of seats. Eventually, people attracted the attention of the second crew member, who came down to try to stem the flow of water by holding a towel against the window. Water continued to flow over the front of the tender and down the sides, making it difficult to see out. With a full load of passengers and high humidity, the inside of the windows fogged up, including the pilot's, further reducing visibility.
Once we passed the large crane on a barge on the right (heading into the harbor proper), the pilot increased his speed, which made the trip much rougher. The tender plowed through a number of waves (increasing the water coming in the front windows) and crashed into wave troughs. Despite the poor visibility (it looked like it was also foggy outside but it was hard to tell through the windows) and rough ride, speed was not reduced. The pilot was even having trouble seeing, due to the amount of spray, the ineffective windshield wiper, and fog on the inside of his window (he tried several times to wipe it clear with a towel). Several passengers yelled at the pilot to slow down, that he was going too fast.
Suddenly there was a loud bang and a hard jolt to the side. Someone yelled, "He hit the tanker!" (another ship anchored near the Jade). We continued on without reducing speed and I caught a glimpse of another tender out the window in the door. Apparently, due to poor visibility, the pilot did not see the other tender and we sideswiped it. We continued on at the same speed, even as passengers yelled at the pilot to slow down. The collision occurred about 20 minutes into the trip.
We finally lost speed as we approached the ship since two tenders were at the landing. Because the water was so rough and choppy, it took several attempts for the pilot to back the tender into the landing and get it tied up at the appropriate spot.
There was much chatter among the tender passengers when we got back on the ship, with many people upset about what had just happened. Many headed to the service desk to file a complaint about the actions of the pilot, who put two tenders in danger. While waiting in line, we encountered passengers from tender #6, the one that was hit. One person took it upon herself to approach the service desk for the group to avoid having 20-some people mob the desk. Initially, she was told by the customer service clerk that if something happened off the ship, it wasn't Norwegian's problem. The woman pointed out that the collision occurred between two Jade tenders that were operated by Norwegian employees who were returning passengers from Norwegian-sponsored excursions, so therefore it was indeed Norwegian's problem. Eventually, a security officer arrived, followed by a manager type, and the matter was somewhat sorted out. The group was asked to move to a conference room adjacent to the theater, where it was met by the Staff Captain. Everyone was offered a chance to submit a statement about what they experienced, but nothing has been heard since then about the status of the investigation or any actions Norwegian might take.
This was not a great end to an otherwise nice trip. The collision was upsetting and should not have happened had the pilot been operating the tender based on the conditions (going slower in poor visibility conditions). The matter wasn't helped by the initial indifference of the crew and staff.
The collision was one glitch in an otherwise fun trip and while it wasn't a pleasant experience, it has not put us off cruising again nor selecting Norwegian for our next cruise. We are already looking at a future cruise with our sons and families. Read Less