We left New York on the 9th December on our first cruise with NCL. We have cruised before; once with Carnival and numerous occasions with RCI. I guess that any comparisons whether conscious or not will be against these two cruise lines.
First off I have to say that we really enjoyed our cruise. We liked Freestyle dining and enjoyed the options it gave us. We had no problems about getting a table when and where we wanted it and we liked to eat around 8 to 8.30pm.
Thought it might be easier, rather than giving a blow-by-blow account, to look at what we saw as the positives and negatives of the cruise.
The food…we enjoyed the food throughout the cruise both in the restaurants and in the buffets. We enjoy our food, are not particularly picky but do eat out regularly so I am comparing it to that. The portions are plentiful but we did find it more ‘prescribed’ than on RCI. The staff, although wonderfully pleasant, was less able or willing to go ‘off menu’. Having said that, I think freestyle dining has so many positives that when I take my next RCI cruise (already booked) I know I will feel a frustration with the more rigid approach to dining.
The crew…cannot rate them highly enough. From the officers to the cabin staff, I never saw ONE of them without getting a smile or greeting from them. I truly believe this comes from ‘the top’ and without a doubt the ship is well managed
The kid’s club…my son who is 11 is a seasoned ‘kids clubber’ and even though he went to this club less than he has done before I put that more down to age and the fact that he is getting more confident about making his own way around and doing his own thing. He thought the two girls that took his age group were great. They were fair, got to know the kids very quickly but took no nonsense in terms of any bad behaviour. All in all, a success.
The bars…we thought all the bars were comfortable and welcoming even on the occasions when they weren’t very full. The lighting in these places makes such a difference and I think NCL have got it right. It’s a shame that on some nights a great band like Modal Magic were playing to small audiences in an empty Dazzles. I think they deserved better as their voices were fantastic and they sang some great soul classics.
The passengers…what a nice bunch! Typically British, we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves, but even so everyone we spoke to was pleasant and friendly. There weren’t too many chair grabbers or table huggers, no gangs of teenagers or over-excited kids…wonderful. On top of that, I lost a very expensive watch at the pool (completely my fault i.e. don’t take your best jewellery to the pool and don’t then wrap it in a towel, forget about it and drop it on the floor!!). I assumed it had gone for good, but no, some kind person handed it in and the ents. Director brought it to my stateroom. That is after the pool attendants had gone through the towels in all of the towel bins. Thanks to you all!!
New York as an embarkation port…I know it was really handy for many passengers but for us we felt we lost too much sunbathing time on the way to and fro from the Caribbean. Yes, I know we could expect nothing different in December but in future I think we will sail from Miami.
New York as a disembarkation port…Aagh what a nightmare. Never again!!
Size of a mini-suite…I think if I hadn’t sailed on some of the newer RCI ships then this would not have been an issue, but this room felt quite tight. Especially once the sofa bed had been put up. We ended up putting the sofa bed away ourselves as soon as we woke up so it wasn’t a massive problem, but the room wasn’t my favourite bit (except the bathroom which was well-designed)
The entertainment…this is such a personal taste thing I know, but for us the entertainment was at best, patchy. The Jean Ann Ryan dancers (hope I’ve got the name right) were good in the stage show, as were Modal Magic. However I thought the comedian was atrocious and the magician we saw looked amateurish (as I said only our opinion). Got to say though, if you go to the main ‘broadway’type shows look out for the two featured dancers. They are spectacular
The creaking of the ship…the noise of a ship at sea lulls me to sleep and I love it. However I have never been on a ship that made as much noise as this one. When the sea was choppy, it was almost funny to listen to the noises in our cabin. I cannot believe that this is not some kind of design fault in the fitting out of the ship. I have to say though that this cacophony never made me feel that the ship was anything other than safe.
So all in all, a great cruise . Hope this review is helpful. Let me know if I’ve raised any questions.