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  #1  
Old June 13th, 2005, 04:31 PM
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Default NCL Sea Review 6/4/05

Norwegian Sea 6/04/05



This was my first trip on NCL. Iíve previously cruised with Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean.



We are Houstonians and so were able to drive directly to the dock. They had a convenient luggage drop off area with porters waiting to assist and parking was less than 50 feet away as well (long term parking is 49$). The unloading, waiting in the quickly moving line, registration and getting on to the ship were all easy and accomplished in about 20 minutes.



One thing I really liked about this ship was how they greeted you at the entry with spray on hand sanitizer (this was also at each food station in the cafť and at the entrance to all restaurants).



We dropped our stuff in our cabins. (category FF) These cabins were the tiniest Iíd seen yet on a cruise line. There were no refrigerators, which bummed me out since I like to keep cold drinks handy. The shower was just big enough to fit into but there was no way I could pull the curtain and still turn around without it gluing itself to me. It worked fine without the curtain though. Also there was just one plug in the room on the desk behind the phone. I was glad that I brought the extension cord. I was also glad Iíd brought the table fan as the ac didnít seem to be working very well and we had it all the way turned down. My 5 yr old insisted on sleeping naked on top of the covers he was so warm.



Dining:

We then made our way to the Seven Seas dining room for lunch. The dining room was mostly empty with only about 4 tables occupied total. We were a party of 7 and they tried to seat us at a table for 6. We politely asked if we couldnít perhaps sit at the table for 8 directly next to the table for 6. The hostess said no we could not as that table had no waitress service. We politely mentioned that all the waitress would have to do is turn around to serve that table as well and of course we would be more comfortable at the table for 8. The hostess again said no so we sat at the table. I was flabbergasted that they would actually persist at squishing us together for no reason and hoped this didnít set the tone for the whole trip.



The food was fine. Not amazing. Not bad either. All the meals we had in Seven Seas were palatable with the exception of a vegetarian curry dish one day which I couldnít eat and so traded meals with my husband. He couldnít choke it down either. The service the rest of the week was good as well. I had no complaints there. I love the freestyle idea but I did miss someone knowing what I liked already as on previous cruises.



We dined in the Four Seasons dining room only once. The view and atmosphere was nice here but we ended up with a waiter that I can only describe as sullen. He argued with my sister because she wanted ice cream from the kidís menu instead of a dessert from the adult menu and then took his sweet time getting it. After a 20 minute wait for the ice cream, we inquired about it to the girl refilling our tea and she went to him and reminded him. He appeared to be arguing with her about it. He eventually brought it over but set it down roughly and left without a word.



We dined in Pasta Cafť once and this was very good from the food to the service to the atmosphere. Very pleased here.



We ate at Le Bistro once as well. This was definitely the culinary highlight of the trip. The food was MUCH better than anything elsewhere on the ship. I had a wild mushroom soup that I have to say is probably the BEST mushroom soup I have ever had in my life.

The surf n turf was amazing as well and the service was superior.

I was sorry that weíd scheduled our meal for the last day of the trip. If we had gone there earlier, we definitely would have made a repeat visit.



Room service: Ugh. Donít bother.



Entertainment:

The shows I caught were very enjoyable. The casino was large and well stocked with slots and gaming tables. The bingo was fun and I love those machines they have now that do all the work for you. Sadly I didnít win any of the games. J But I had fun playing. Game room and library: stock as usual was on the slim side but Iím still waiting to be on a cruise ship that takes this room seriously. Art auctions were good and I came away with 3 free pieces of artwork. The movies shown during our trip in the theatre were Can we Dance, Ray and Taxi. I think there was another but I donít remember. The band poolside was good and the ďvibeĒ around the pool was fun too. The pools were all salt water which was a bit of a drag. I much prefer the fresh water pools. They had two pools. The main pool had cool sides all around where you could sit or lay in about 3 inches of water. The interior however was 6 feet all over. The second pool also had the surrounding ďsplashĒ area (much larger area for this one) and then a 3 foot depth side and a 6 foot depth side. This was the childrenís pool. Both my 2 year old and 5 year old had no issues in this pool aside from the salt in their eyes.



Kids Clubs:

My kids were looking forward to this trip having loved the kidís clubs on Princess. This time round my 14 year old was very disappointed with the teenís club. However, I really think this had more to do with not making a ďconnectionĒ with any potential friends than the activities that were on offer. This of course isnít anything the cruise line can control.

He had brought along his xbox just in case something like this happened and so he was happy playing xbox games for most of the cruise (?!)



My 2 yr old and 5 year old both loved the club and my 5 begged me to sign them up on a port day that we were staying on the ship (Cozumel). So we did and it turned out that they and their 9 year old cousin were the only children signed up for the port day. They still did okay but I felt guilty having them in there and kept checking on them in case they wanted to leave. When I checked in at 2:40 pm, they still hadnít had lunch. I asked the counselor when they would have lunch and she said soon. After I picked up the kids at 5 pm they said they were starved and had only had ice cream to eat all day. HmmmÖ I never did confront the counselor about that but felt sure my kids were telling the truth by the way they scarfed down dinner. That was the last port day I put them in the club. They enjoyed it overall and the 5 year old thought it was better than the Princess club too. I have the schedule if anyone would like to see it.



Services:



Cabin Steward: I saw our steward a few times and each time he was pleasant. He wasnít very accessible for anything we needed and I really missed that call service button on the phone that we used on Princess. Whenever we needed him, we had to hunt through the hallways and ask around until we could find him. Our room was cleaned on occasion but not every day as it seemed like the times he wanted to clean our room always clashed with us either sleeping in, my daughterís naps or her early bedtime.



Massage:



I had the mini hot stones massage and it was bliss. Loved it ! My sister had the full body massage and didnít like it because they wouldnít dim the lights so she felt like she couldnít relax.



Tours:

We didnít do any of the shipís tours. We did our own thing in every port except Belize which was probably a good thing considering how much it rained. In Belize we had booked the Shark Ray Alley and Barrier Reef tour through Coral Breeze.



Coral Breeze staff were all great. We had brought the kids along thinking it was a simple on your own snorkel. Its not. Its actually a snorkel tour where you swim behind the tour guide through the reef. This was a bit more athletic than Iíd figured to be and everyone in my party with the exception of my husband (a strong swimmer) missed seeing the fish and coral for the most part as we were too busy either trying to keep up with the group in the strong currents, trying to fix our equipment or generally trying not to drown. It was a great tour and a memorable day but I definitely wanted people to be more prepared for it than we were. Two of the CB crew took my younger kids out in life jackets and let them splash around the boat so my husband and I could both take the tour. We had originally planned to have each of us take turns snorkeling while the other watched the kids but the way the tour was set up didnít allow for this.



We then went from the coral reef to shark ray alley. The crew through sardines and small bait into the ocean to attract the sharks and rays. The sharks came, ate the food and left before we even got into the water. The rays hung around and are actually quite social. There were tons of them swimming around us and the CB guide brought one up for petting (slimy). The water here was about 4-5 feet so you could stand up but the currents were pretty strong and quite a few of the people in our group, including me, kept getting slammed back into the boat. I ended up in the propellers a few times. Luckily I didnít get cut. Overall the tour was a lot more physically demanding than I had expected. Iím not sure how much this had to do with the tropical storm brewing in the gulf.



Our second to last day on the ship, I woke up with bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye). Not sure where I got it but I made sure to be careful what I touched and notified the Shipís crew so they could heavily sanitize my room for the next bunch of people.



All in all the trip was okay. Iím a bit conflicted about our next cruise and if we should try NCL again. I think itís well known that the ships that leave from Houston & Galveston are not the best of the line for NCL or Carnival. Iíd love to hear thoughts from anyone that has sailed both the Sea and one of NCLís newer ships. We could just go with the tried and true Princess and Royal Caribbean.

Bottom line isÖit was a cruise and therefore a good thing.

Hey, we could have been at work!

Cristin
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  #2  
Old June 13th, 2005, 04:42 PM
johnql johnql is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packerpatriot
Iím a bit conflicted about our next cruise and if we should try NCL again. I think itís well known that the ships that leave from Houston & Galveston are not the best of the line for NCL or Carnival. Iíd love to hear thoughts from anyone that has sailed both the Sea and one of NCLís newer ships. We could just go with the tried and true Princess and Royal Caribbean.
First, thank you for taking the time to post your review.

I've been on the Sea in addition to both the Dawn and Star. As far as ships are concerned, there is no comparison. Assuming you prefer newer (and larger) ships, the Dawn and Star are fabulous. I enjoyed my Sea cruise, but it wasn't particularly special. The number and diversity of the alternative restaurants on the Dawn and Star are great! The main showroom is top-notch; the casino is bigger, brighter, less claustrophobic and better-ventilated than the Sea's; the cabins are generally roomier; and the buffet area puts the Big Apple Cafe to shame. All in all, it's a very different experience. If you enjoyed the Freestyle aspect of your Sea cruise, I would encourage you to check out the Dawn, Star, Spirit, Sun or the soon-to-be-launched Jewel.
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  #3  
Old June 13th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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We've sailed on both the Sea (2 times) and the Sun (once). There is definitely no comparison between the cabins on the 2 ships. As you mention, the ones on the sea are tiny, which didn't end up bothering me however. I think the square footage for our KK and H category cabins on the Sea was around 110 square feet. For our BA balcony on the Sun, we had over 190 square feet -- quite a difference. The showers on the Sun, however, aren't significantly larger than the ones on the Sea.

I do think the freestyle concept works much better on the newer ships, also. With the added variety of restaurants (I think there are 9 on the Sun), we never had trouble getting seated immediatedly at dinner time, which was normally between 5:30 and 6:00. I also agree that on our recent Sea cruise, the food was not quite as good as it was on our 2 previous cruises. It was still very tasty, but didn't leave us with the same "wow" factor of the previous cruises. It's also possible, however, that with 3 cruises in 16 months I'm becoming harder to please .

One suggestion I do have, is that if you find a waiter you particularly like, you can request to be seated in their area. We have done that on all 3 cruises, and ended up with something much closer to the service that I understand you get from traditional cruises with the same wait staff. For example, my son requested the cheese & fruit plate the 2nd night out. Each time we were seated in that waitress' area, it was served to him about as soon as we sat down. Sort of a way to get the benefits of freestyle cruising with the additional traditional service. The downside, obviously, is that if your favorite waiters' area is already full you will be forced to make the choice between waiting until a table opens up, or agreeing to be seated in another area.

On our recent cruise on the Sea (5/14) the room steward (Santiago) was by FAR the best we've ever had. I guess we got lucky! The ones on the Sun were almost invisible -- the room was taken care of just fine, we just never saw them. Santiago, on the other hand, was frequently in the halls, and always greeted us by name.

Before abandoning the NCl experience, I'd suggest trying one of the newer ships. Our experience on the Sun was great, and we would really like to try the Sun again out of New Orleans, or the Jewel out of Miami. So many ships, so little time & money......
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  #4  
Old June 13th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Thanks John and Ute. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
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  #5  
Old June 13th, 2005, 07:35 PM
CandWDiva CandWDiva is offline
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Default ? RE: Shark Ray Alley

Cristin,

"We then went from the coral reef to shark ray alley. The crew through sardines and small bait into the ocean to attract the sharks and rays. The sharks came, ate the food and left before we even got into the water. The rays hung around and are actually quite social. There were tons of them swimming around us and the CB guide brought one up for petting (slimy). The water here was about 4-5 feet so you could stand up but the currents were pretty strong and quite a few of the people in our group, including me, kept getting slammed back into the boat. I ended up in the propellers a few times. Luckily I didnít get cut. Overall the tour was a lot more physically demanding than I had expected. Iím not sure how much this had to do with the tropical storm brewing in the gulf."

You said this is the one you booked through the cruise line? My husband and step-daughter (17), along with some other friends, are thinking of doing this excursion. The main draw is swimming with the sharks. Would you still recommend it - even with the sharks leaving, the strong current and everything?

Has anyone else done this and experienced the same thing as Cristin?

Thanks!
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Old June 13th, 2005, 11:10 PM
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Beckster Beckster is offline
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Default Thanks so much for the NCL Sea review !! Couple of questions????

Thanks for the review. We leave on June 25 on the Sea. I am kinda wishing I booked a better sounding ship. I have done NCL freestyle on the Sky to Alaska and wasnt impressed. But like you said any cruise is better then working. DO they provide any shampoos, soap in the rooms? I dont like the combo body/shampoo in a wall dispenser. Last Carnival cruise on the Triumph in Oct we got many sample products and that was GREAT ! Im so hoping the staff is more friendly and helpful on our cruise, cause I look forward to being greeted, pampered and waited on . Isnt that why we TIP??? The SKy experience we had wasn't too pleasant being the ship had a virus the week before we were on it. So buffet's were not serve yourself and NO chocolate buffet ! Did they have any dueling pianos or a great sing a long piano bar?? Not a somber type piano player if you know what I mean. We found one on the last cruise on the next to last night and wish we found him earlier that week. Thanks for the review, it was very entailed !!!
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  #7  
Old June 14th, 2005, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckster
DO they provide any shampoos, soap in the rooms? Did they have any dueling pianos or a great sing a long piano bar?? Not a somber type piano player if you know what I mean.
Beckster,
They had the soap/shampoo dispensers. No bottles of shampoo or soap on offer but I didn't ask for any so maybe if you ask? you'd get lucky. I'd bring my own anyway if I were you. As for the piano bar...the one we went to in Oscar's was pleasant but the few times we were in there it was mostly as background music. I witnessed no sing-a-longs or dueling pianos. Sorry.
Cristin
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Old June 14th, 2005, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CandWDiva
You said this is the one you booked through the cruise line? My husband and step-daughter (17), along with some other friends, are thinking of doing this excursion. The main draw is swimming with the sharks. Would you still recommend it - even with the sharks leaving, the strong current and everything?
I would still recommend the tour at the external companies prices. At NCL prices??? No Way ! We booked with Coral Breeze Limited because they were MUCH cheaper than NCL for a more comprehensive tour.

You might want to pose this question in the Belize section under ports. I'm sure you will receive more feedback there. Good luck whichever you choose.

Cristin
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  #9  
Old June 14th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packerpatriot
Norwegian Sea 6/04/05



This was my first trip on NCL. Iíve previously cruised with Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean.



We are Houstonians and so were able to drive directly to the dock. They had a convenient luggage drop off area with porters waiting to assist and parking was less than 50 feet away as well (long term parking is 49$). The unloading, waiting in the quickly moving line, registration and getting on to the ship were all easy and accomplished in about 20 minutes.



One thing I really liked about this ship was how they greeted you at the entry with spray on hand sanitizer (this was also at each food station in the cafť and at the entrance to all restaurants).



We dropped our stuff in our cabins. (category FF) These cabins were the tiniest Iíd seen yet on a cruise line. There were no refrigerators, which bummed me out since I like to keep cold drinks handy. The shower was just big enough to fit into but there was no way I could pull the curtain and still turn around without it gluing itself to me. It worked fine without the curtain though. Also there was just one plug in the room on the desk behind the phone. I was glad that I brought the extension cord. I was also glad Iíd brought the table fan as the ac didnít seem to be working very well and we had it all the way turned down. My 5 yr old insisted on sleeping naked on top of the covers he was so warm.



Dining:

We then made our way to the Seven Seas dining room for lunch. The dining room was mostly empty with only about 4 tables occupied total. We were a party of 7 and they tried to seat us at a table for 6. We politely asked if we couldnít perhaps sit at the table for 8 directly next to the table for 6. The hostess said no we could not as that table had no waitress service. We politely mentioned that all the waitress would have to do is turn around to serve that table as well and of course we would be more comfortable at the table for 8. The hostess again said no so we sat at the table. I was flabbergasted that they would actually persist at squishing us together for no reason and hoped this didnít set the tone for the whole trip.



The food was fine. Not amazing. Not bad either. All the meals we had in Seven Seas were palatable with the exception of a vegetarian curry dish one day which I couldnít eat and so traded meals with my husband. He couldnít choke it down either. The service the rest of the week was good as well. I had no complaints there. I love the freestyle idea but I did miss someone knowing what I liked already as on previous cruises.



We dined in the Four Seasons dining room only once. The view and atmosphere was nice here but we ended up with a waiter that I can only describe as sullen. He argued with my sister because she wanted ice cream from the kidís menu instead of a dessert from the adult menu and then took his sweet time getting it. After a 20 minute wait for the ice cream, we inquired about it to the girl refilling our tea and she went to him and reminded him. He appeared to be arguing with her about it. He eventually brought it over but set it down roughly and left without a word.



We dined in Pasta Cafť once and this was very good from the food to the service to the atmosphere. Very pleased here.



We ate at Le Bistro once as well. This was definitely the culinary highlight of the trip. The food was MUCH better than anything elsewhere on the ship. I had a wild mushroom soup that I have to say is probably the BEST mushroom soup I have ever had in my life.

The surf n turf was amazing as well and the service was superior.

I was sorry that weíd scheduled our meal for the last day of the trip. If we had gone there earlier, we definitely would have made a repeat visit.



Room service: Ugh. Donít bother.



Entertainment:

The shows I caught were very enjoyable. The casino was large and well stocked with slots and gaming tables. The bingo was fun and I love those machines they have now that do all the work for you. Sadly I didnít win any of the games. J But I had fun playing. Game room and library: stock as usual was on the slim side but Iím still waiting to be on a cruise ship that takes this room seriously. Art auctions were good and I came away with 3 free pieces of artwork. The movies shown during our trip in the theatre were Can we Dance, Ray and Taxi. I think there was another but I donít remember. The band poolside was good and the ďvibeĒ around the pool was fun too. The pools were all salt water which was a bit of a drag. I much prefer the fresh water pools. They had two pools. The main pool had cool sides all around where you could sit or lay in about 3 inches of water. The interior however was 6 feet all over. The second pool also had the surrounding ďsplashĒ area (much larger area for this one) and then a 3 foot depth side and a 6 foot depth side. This was the childrenís pool. Both my 2 year old and 5 year old had no issues in this pool aside from the salt in their eyes.



Kids Clubs:

My kids were looking forward to this trip having loved the kidís clubs on Princess. This time round my 14 year old was very disappointed with the teenís club. However, I really think this had more to do with not making a ďconnectionĒ with any potential friends than the activities that were on offer. This of course isnít anything the cruise line can control.

He had brought along his xbox just in case something like this happened and so he was happy playing xbox games for most of the cruise (?!)



My 2 yr old and 5 year old both loved the club and my 5 begged me to sign them up on a port day that we were staying on the ship (Cozumel). So we did and it turned out that they and their 9 year old cousin were the only children signed up for the port day. They still did okay but I felt guilty having them in there and kept checking on them in case they wanted to leave. When I checked in at 2:40 pm, they still hadnít had lunch. I asked the counselor when they would have lunch and she said soon. After I picked up the kids at 5 pm they said they were starved and had only had ice cream to eat all day. HmmmÖ I never did confront the counselor about that but felt sure my kids were telling the truth by the way they scarfed down dinner. That was the last port day I put them in the club. They enjoyed it overall and the 5 year old thought it was better than the Princess club too. I have the schedule if anyone would like to see it.



Services:



Cabin Steward: I saw our steward a few times and each time he was pleasant. He wasnít very accessible for anything we needed and I really missed that call service button on the phone that we used on Princess. Whenever we needed him, we had to hunt through the hallways and ask around until we could find him. Our room was cleaned on occasion but not every day as it seemed like the times he wanted to clean our room always clashed with us either sleeping in, my daughterís naps or her early bedtime.



Massage:



I had the mini hot stones massage and it was bliss. Loved it ! My sister had the full body massage and didnít like it because they wouldnít dim the lights so she felt like she couldnít relax.



Tours:

We didnít do any of the shipís tours. We did our own thing in every port except Belize which was probably a good thing considering how much it rained. In Belize we had booked the Shark Ray Alley and Barrier Reef tour through Coral Breeze.



Coral Breeze staff were all great. We had brought the kids along thinking it was a simple on your own snorkel. Its not. Its actually a snorkel tour where you swim behind the tour guide through the reef. This was a bit more athletic than Iíd figured to be and everyone in my party with the exception of my husband (a strong swimmer) missed seeing the fish and coral for the most part as we were too busy either trying to keep up with the group in the strong currents, trying to fix our equipment or generally trying not to drown. It was a great tour and a memorable day but I definitely wanted people to be more prepared for it than we were. Two of the CB crew took my younger kids out in life jackets and let them splash around the boat so my husband and I could both take the tour. We had originally planned to have each of us take turns snorkeling while the other watched the kids but the way the tour was set up didnít allow for this.



We then went from the coral reef to shark ray alley. The crew through sardines and small bait into the ocean to attract the sharks and rays. The sharks came, ate the food and left before we even got into the water. The rays hung around and are actually quite social. There were tons of them swimming around us and the CB guide brought one up for petting (slimy). The water here was about 4-5 feet so you could stand up but the currents were pretty strong and quite a few of the people in our group, including me, kept getting slammed back into the boat. I ended up in the propellers a few times. Luckily I didnít get cut. Overall the tour was a lot more physically demanding than I had expected. Iím not sure how much this had to do with the tropical storm brewing in the gulf.



Our second to last day on the ship, I woke up with bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye). Not sure where I got it but I made sure to be careful what I touched and notified the Shipís crew so they could heavily sanitize my room for the next bunch of people.



All in all the trip was okay. Iím a bit conflicted about our next cruise and if we should try NCL again. I think itís well known that the ships that leave from Houston & Galveston are not the best of the line for NCL or Carnival. Iíd love to hear thoughts from anyone that has sailed both the Sea and one of NCLís newer ships. We could just go with the tried and true Princess and Royal Caribbean.

Bottom line isÖit was a cruise and therefore a good thing.

Hey, we could have been at work!

Cristin
cristin, you give a very fair and objective review of your cruise. After 16 cruises the Sea is one of my favorites just because of the crew we have found to be very friendly, but this is just my opinion. You are correct about the ships sailing out of Texas and New Orleans as well. Of course the Sun will be sailing out of NOLA starting the fall and is an awesome ship. It would be almost impossible to compare the Sea with one of Princess' newer ships. Do give some thought to trying one of NCLS newer vessels. I think you will be surprised.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckster
Thanks for the review. We leave on June 25 on the Sea. I am kinda wishing I booked a better sounding ship. I have done NCL freestyle on the Sky to Alaska and wasnt impressed. But like you said any cruise is better then working. DO they provide any shampoos, soap in the rooms? I dont like the combo body/shampoo in a wall dispenser. Last Carnival cruise on the Triumph in Oct we got many sample products and that was GREAT ! Im so hoping the staff is more friendly and helpful on our cruise, cause I look forward to being greeted, pampered and waited on . Isnt that why we TIP??? The SKy experience we had wasn't too pleasant being the ship had a virus the week before we were on it. So buffet's were not serve yourself and NO chocolate buffet ! Did they have any dueling pianos or a great sing a long piano bar?? Not a somber type piano player if you know what I mean. We found one on the last cruise on the next to last night and wish we found him earlier that week. Thanks for the review, it was very entailed !!!
I have to say I was surprised at the comments about the crew: this is one reason most people return to the Sea, it's the crew, but maybe becasue she is in her last month out of Houston things are changing. that is too bad. the shampoo thing is in the wall and DH doesn't like it either. I could care less. One of the most important things we can all remember is< what did you or we pay for this cruise? Of course you are not going to get a Celebrity experience on a small ship with budget prices? If we don't sweat the small stuff you should have a blast!!!! NMNita
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  #11  
Old June 14th, 2005, 03:29 PM
LindaLa LindaLa is offline
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Been on the Sea and the Dawn. You can not possibly compare the two ships. I don't think that the Freestyle concept works too well on the Sea. The Sea is very well maintained, but you can tell it is an older vessel. I have sailed on Celebrity and was not certain our trip on the Dawn could compare, but I must admit, it was a great trip. I just love Freestyle. They might not dote on you like they do on Celebrity, but that is not always a bad thing.
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  #12  
Old June 18th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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packerpatriot packerpatriot is offline
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Thank you for all the feedback. I won't completely close the door on NCL now but will consider something in the future on a newer ship.

Cristin
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