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  #1  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 01:11 PM
Cruise Mama Cruise Mama is offline
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Default 1st flamingo back from the POA Repo Cruise

Please be patient with me - just been on a relaxing vacation in the Hawaiian islands and I am not used to the new boards!

We arrived late last night into SFO and are in Morgan Hill (until we leave for "real home" tomorrow). I miss all my flamingo family - they are still "enjoying" the hospitality of the island of Oahu. I am here in real life and there was no room service coffee this am - nor a balcony to drink it on!

A LONG review will be coming! Let's just say - everyone had a great time - the crew on board our ship - Myrick and Ane (deck 10 forward stewards WOW) Nelly (Breakers Bar) Adam and Jasper (Crossings) THE PHOTOGRAPHERS - Heather, Heather, Ashley, Ben, Dimitri - (all now official flamingos) - James Deering, Al, Sterling, Patti, the reception desk staff - the waiters - the room service --- it's all good.

As far as "unhappy crew" just like passengers that didn't have a great time - they get off and go find something else to make them happy!

Everywhere - everyday on this trip - everyone tried to make it right. Was it always "right"? No - but this is a new venture, with new crew - many (but not all) unfamiliar with a cruise job. Just like people who have never taken a cruise there are things to learn every day! They want to make it right and are figuring it out.

Our family of 8 and my brother and his 3 children are happy we went. We all had a fantastic time - have incredible memories.

Until the review - here's a few tips:

On the ship -

1. BUY THE PHOTO package!!!! (we got over $1000.00 worth of photos for only $199.)

2. You CAN make arangements with the restaurants to eat at a certain time - at a certain table (be willing to take their suggested time and place)

3. Breakfast at the restaurant is better than the buffet - does take some time but not as long as dinner.

4. Eat early and see the later shows.

5. The dinner does take time (1.5 to 3 hours) depending on how many are in your group (this doesn't count waiting to be seated - see above)

6. Room service works! LIMITED items though!

7. Never found the Longboard bar - or the Plantation Club - they are there though.

8. Blue Hawaii - the happening spot!!! (so crowded to pass through to get to the other end of the ship - so walk the deck)

9. Outrigger Lounge - view and service!!!!

10. WATCH the dailies to see the open/close times of the bars and lounges (the places we liked ended up closing too early).

11. WATCH OUT for young girl who claims "my daddy owns NCL" - she tends to spill on you, knock you over, push ahead in line, put soap in the hot tub, throw clothes down the atrium, hog the deck chairs, pile her plate with BBQ, bid on your art auction items, lose your laundry, win at your bingo game, take the towels from your stateroom, push all the buttons in the elevator, run through the halls, save seats at the shows, come screaming into the spa complaining about her haircut while you are trying to have a relaxing treatment, win all the wobble clocks, cheat at the trivia games, eat all the pizza, bananas, pears, melons, boxed cereal, AND add charges to your stateroom account.

On the islands -

Hilo - Akaka Falls - get Ice Cream at Mr. Ed's Bakery on the way back!!! then Volcanoes National Park.

Kona - Walking tour then - Parasail with UFO!!!!! - and snorkel at the "beach" in front of the hotel - watch out for sea urchins (ouch)

Maui - Four Winds II Snorkel (morning is Molokini - afternoon is Coral Garden - both great!) then Lahaina for shopping, eating, shave ice, and surfing lessons with Dukes surf School!

Kauai -- THE BEST OF ALL THE ISLANDS - Kipu Falls Adventure (all day and totally worth it!!! - Ben and Kevin!!) also Backcountry Zipline for the wild ones.

Don't forget the free shuttles to Hilo Hatties and Walmart on each island. Most of all enjoy the Aloha spirit - it was great - you won't want to come home.

more later - aloha,

Cruise Mama
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  #2  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 01:25 PM
LouChamp LouChamp is offline
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CruiseMama, thanks for the summary. Welcome home...we are waiting for the full report but the summary was enough for us to enjoy as an "appetizer"
All the best
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  #3  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 01:38 PM
alexMD
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Wink More please!

I know you just got back, but... you know... you're vacation's over! Get that nose to the grindstone and give us greedy CCers a big review!


Thanks for posting.
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  #4  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 02:01 PM
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cnmiranda cnmiranda is offline
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What a terrific review so far Cruise Mama! Looking forward to your full report! I'm soooo glad you can make restaurant ressies! Glad you had a great trip
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  #5  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 02:12 PM
sydsmom sydsmom is offline
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What is the photo package? I saw something on your roll call thread (yes, I was a lurker enjoying your chat) and called NCL and they acted like I was crazy. I always buy all the photos anyway so a package would be great. Do you buy it on the ship or before you go? Thanks

Last edited by sydsmom; July 3rd, 2004 at 02:12 PM. Reason: grammar
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  #6  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 02:41 PM
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gardencat gardencat is offline
 
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Cruise Mama
Thanks for posting so promptly after disembarking.
Sounds like you took your great attitude with you and made a great vacation of it. Did you love Hawaii? Did you feel like you got a good taste of it or are you still hungry for more? (Hawaii that is not the food. )
I'm really looking forward to reading your full review once you have a chance to get it up.
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  #7  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 03:29 PM
Weeburn Weeburn is offline
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Did the little girl have red hair and freckles? (remember Captain Stubbings daughter? What was her name?)
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  #8  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 03:42 PM
Cruise Mama Cruise Mama is offline
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Okay - I see you are all asking questions so it will have to come little by little as I do laundry here at my brother's house (imagine 12 people 12 days of clothes!!!!)

By the way - laundry - NOT on the ship - they were having a little trouble getting it organized - SO just pack enough - or do it when you port if you must (I just brought along woolite and did "little" things in the sink)

Let's see - Islands - Well I must say we enjoyed Kauai the most!!! sad that the second day we only had a few hours.

Photo Package - buy it at the photo gallery on ship $199. for ALL PHOTOS of you (and your cabin mates) on the entire cruise - they are great at taking lots of candid shots and are especially good at Formal, Sunset, activity - and those all important - "Hey Heather - take a picture of us!" As far as NCL knowing anything about the photos - like the spa they are a separate service and are contracted with NCL - so take my word for it - they are great!



here's a start - BUT please remember - some of our cruise will not apply to future cruisers - we were the only cruise to cross the pacific and have all those glorious sea days!!

Embarkation - we were shocked when we arrived at the pier in SF and we were ushered straight on to the ship. At least 3 hours before we expected it!

Some passengers were surprised by the fee per day - whatever you want to call it - WE KNEW about it MONTHS ago - when we booked the cruise we knew it would be there! Surprised though by the fact that our 2 year old (who turned 3 on the cruise) started getting charged on his birthday (3-12 year olds $5./day)

If you don't want the bottled water ($3.00) used by your kids - have it removed. ALSO - no drink card sodas through room service ($3.00) Go to the bar to get them. Smoothies (on the teen passport program) are NOT in the "souvenier" cups (therefore much smaller) but there is a bartender - that likes some passengers - it's your task to find that bartender!

Have your card keys hole punched at the reception desk - get a lanyard and hang them around your neck. Lost cards are a pain!!!!

Don't want your kids (or cabin mates) charging - block their cards.

Fish on the carpet swim to the front (foreward) of the ship. So you can find your direction when getting around.

No clock is correct on the ship - and there are none in the cabins (play a trivia or urban legends or pool deck activity and win a wobble clock - to keep in your room)

Drop off your carryons and tour the ship so that you don't miss any of the hidden treasures. Make your specialty dinner res. We ate in the Palace the first night (prime rib - who needed to pay the extra to have a great meal!)

Food and drinks are available right away - we started with the buffet - heck - it is buffet - works if you want it to. Not our first choice - but the kids either used it or called room service (pb&j or ramen noodles - and always hot chocolate!!)

Muster came soon enough - make sure the kids know which deck and station letter so that if they aren't with you they know where to go in the event of an emergency (it is imprinted on your card) We had a few whistle blowers! (ew) They do take roll so make sure you go and get it over with! (no pictures allowed here)

We came back to find our luggage - all of it - not bad for a group of 12!

Adequate storage space - I brought small spring rods to add another hanging space in the closet. (I also packed all the childrens clothes in 2 gal zip lock bags (by day) with a small hanger therefore it went right up on the rod and they were organized in the closet) the hangers were also available for drying clothes. Luggage stored under the beds - but the stewards would take your bags and stow them until the last day if you wanted. We used them to catch souveniers and dirty clothes.

By the way - we had two balconies and two inside cabins across the hall.

Got to go switch laundry - I'll be back
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  #9  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 04:49 PM
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cruiseone2003 cruiseone2003 is offline
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Default Welcome back to reality!

Cruise Mama,

Thank you for the update and it does sound like things improved. I was on the 11Jun 2 night T/A sailing and the 13Jun 5 night from L.A> to San Francisco although the service was not the greatest, the crew did try hard to make it right. I was a bit worried since I have a young couple going on their honeymoon on the 25Jul sailing, any fun suggestions for them?
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  #10  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 05:20 PM
alexMD
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Wink More info -- you can answer between loads.

1) What do you mean "no laundry"... is that no self-serve laundry or no laundry period?

2) What are the specialty restaurants like? Which would you book for a really special dinner?

3) What kind of toiletries does NCLA provide in the suites?

4) How's the Butler service? What kinds of things does an NCLA Butler do for you that a NCL butler may not, and vice versa?
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  #11  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 10:41 PM
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furkidsmom furkidsmom is offline
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We just booked for next year. I have only cruised on Celebrity and have been a little worried about NCL and this ship in particular. Was the food good? Was the service good??
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  #12  
Old July 3rd, 2004, 11:27 PM
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cruiseone2003 cruiseone2003 is offline
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Default NCL Specialty restaurants

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexMD
1) What do you mean "no laundry"... is that no self-serve laundry or no laundry period?

2) What are the specialty restaurants like? Which would you book for a really special dinner?

3) What kind of toiletries does NCLA provide in the suites?

4) How's the Butler service? What kinds of things does an NCLA Butler do for you that a NCL butler may not, and vice versa?
Hello AlexMD, I can't speak for the Laundry service or Amenities/Butler service since I didn't have any clothes laundered and my cabin was not a suite however, I can tell you about the three specialty restaurants on board Pride of ALoha. All three are excellent! Certainly worth the extra fee in my opinion. If I had to choose a restaurant for a special occasion, I would choose the Kahili Restaurant, not only was the food declicious but the atmosphere was intimate with floor to ceiling windows. The dining room is long and narrow, tables for two against the window and these beautiful half moon shaped booths on the other side which give you a lot of space and privacy. The cuisine is Italian influenced. My second choice would be Le Bistro, another beautiful dining room more open than Kahili serving French/Mediterranean food. Pacific Heights would be the last choice, it didn't have the same level of service and intimacy that the first two had but the asian themed food was just as good. I would recommend going to see each restaurant when your board POA and take a look at the menu then make your choice, they only accept reservations one day in advance however. Hope this helps.
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  #13  
Old July 4th, 2004, 12:22 AM
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traceykp traceykp is offline
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Default Butlers on POA

AlexMD

The butlers were great!!! As far as I know Ryan and Chris are the butlers for all 14 suites. I know they were my butlers in 9075 and a friend's in 8001. I have never had a butler, but every time we called for room service, they were there.

Tracey
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  #14  
Old July 4th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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TheNightDawg TheNightDawg is offline
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Talking Hey CruiseMama...there you are!

Hey CruiseMama:
Great to have you guys back!! Yes, I did go through two weeks of looking at my calendar thinking: "Now they are in Monterey" or "Today they dock in Hilo." But I survived....although it did take me about a week to getting around to unpacking my suitcase, and of course, the hassle of explaining to all my friends who called to leave "Wecome Home" messages on my voicemail, and instead I answered the phone: "FRANK! What are you doing home?!?!" Then the need to relive the pain of the Cruise Bump once again.

Seriously, never held any envy for you guys....just always sent good thoughts your way and was hoping everyone was having a great time and getting to know the other Flamingo members! How did the shot glass/keychain gifts work out? The door nameplates?

At least my NOT being on the cruise gave you all a chance to win at trivia! Had I been there, I am sure I would be coming home with even more NCL coozies, frisbees, cups, keychains, etc!

Again, looking forward to hearing more about everyone's experiences!
Frank
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  #15  
Old July 4th, 2004, 09:24 AM
Traveler39 Traveler39 is offline
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Are you saying that there is no self service laundry on the poa and that the buffet is not very good... I have never been on a ship that the buffet was not very good... So it seems that this ship has some problems as compared to other ships?
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Old July 4th, 2004, 01:33 PM
Cruise Mama Cruise Mama is offline
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Okay - no self serve laundry - and the laundry service misdirected personal laundry and therefore many people went without for up to 3 days. We did get all our laundry back eventually. (only 24 hours late) - they are working on it and were very accomodating as far as the charges.

Sorry - I didn't mean for you to think that the buffet "was not good" Buffet food was buffet food. There was always something chicken, fish, salads, fruit, breads. Pizza even. The BBQ was the favorite (besides the room service) It consisted of steak, ribs (and they were fab! - sorry I pre-boil my ribs just like the ship does - the meat falls off the bone) chicken, dogs, burgers, veggie burgers. They BBQ'd 3 times. We felt there was no problem with the buffet - you could use it or not! I never saw anyone going without food. (well except for running out of bananas)

Frank - we did miss you! and ALL of us won! We got wobble clocks, bingo $, and more - thanks for letting the flamingos dominate all the games.

Everyone asked about the nameplates - the ship does recognize CC members. All door decos stayed up the whole cruise - I had a flamingo in a hammock that stayed on my door the whole 12 days and now belongs to the captain - so he won't forget the flamingo cruisers on this special trip (how could he - we made him pose for so many pics with us!)

Specialty restaurants - well - aside from the $15. charge - they were quieter and had less people - and no wait - since you had made reservations and your table was waiting for you! Dinners here lasted 1.5 to 3 hours - we think it depended on the # of diners and the amount of conversation/activity at the table. The food was not necessarily "better" - nor was it bad. The specialty menus NEVER change - the main dining rooms have a different menu every night (and in addition the standard chicken, baked potato, veggies, and caesar salad)

The breakfast in the main dining room was timely. Lunch was a toss-up (remember we had alot of sea days - in port we didn't eat lunch on the ship - sometimes we ordered room service sandwiches and took them ashore - don't forget to pack baggies)

Dinner was a work in progress - 1st night it took 3 hours - we had a table of 6 - ordered all courses - enjoyed all of them - got a chance to have great conversation - and hoped that the dinners wouldn't all take that long. It depended on who your server was, how many were at your table and what you ordered. They really tried to help speed things along when you were either trying to make the show - or pick-up the kids from the club. Didn't always work - but it wasn't bad enough to send us to the buffet or room service.

Hardest part for me was trying to eat together as a family. The largest tables in the dining room are for 8 - well we were 12 and so it never seemed to work out. We had the concierge make a reservation for us for John's 3rd birthday - that didn't work out and we ended up at two tables with two different servers and so we weren't in sinc for the meal. Matre d to the rescue - we were given the Captains table the next dinner nite and celebrated a day late - cake and all. (Thanks Adam and Jasper)

I hope that this is something they work on - the tables aren't movable and that is understandable - but we weren't a tour group - we were a family and wanted to eat at least a meal together - so I hope that we gave them something to think about.

Now I will go forward from where I left off yesterday - ports - whether tendered or docked - were trouble free. The tenders ran well and they were helpful getting us on and off carefully. Docks were no problem - remember to have your key out and off your neck so they can scan you on and off the ship. We had security screening at all stops - so be ready to surrender any contriband.

Speaking of contriband - we lost two bottles (remember we had 4 staterooms) of NCL provided (one for each stateroom) wine (not sure how) Maybe they thought we smuggled it aboard.

Got coupon books from my TA - they were all but worthless - I shared them with flamingo friends and they were able to use two of them in the spa - and I was turned down when I tried to use them - hey I did spend almost $400 there - oh well. Remember - the spa is contracted out and not an NCL service. I got a pedicure - with a bonus - a lady came in complaining (that is putting it VERY mildly - she was screaming) about her son's haircut - this was while I was having the pumice applied to my foot - well quite a bit of vigorous scrubbing later and I had a hole in my foot that took several days to heal - at least we were at sea and I could go without shoes. The body glow treatment that I recieved - didn't! except for the spot on my heel that didn't get rubbed in. And the "pamper package" - well - let's just say I have had better. I was offered "product" at each session. I don't think it was a very hard sell - but the look on the providers faces when I didn't fill in the gratuity line on the charge slip (even though there is an automatic additional "spa charge") was very telling. I prefer to make my gratutities separate (in cash) from my charge slips (just ask MANY members of the crew who did see me on the last day - they were surprised and grateful) Oh well - I didn't take the cruise for the spa!

Nice fitness center! - you could go it alone or sign up for ($) fitness eval and plan, or classes (pilates, yoga, aerobics, spin). The center was open 24 hours. The walking/jogging track was on deck 6 but people weren't always following that direction.

Basketball court, shuffleboard, golf, and ping-pong were available and in use by many.

The pools (saltwater main - freshwater kiddie pool with little waterfall) Hot tubs (4 on the pool deck - 1 at the kiddie pool) were always busy - they don't hold too many people - but that didn't seem to stop anyone from "filling" them up.

Pools were drained twice on our trip (as far as I remember) once for someone being "sick" in the pool and once because someone (a young person) put soap into the hot tub and it bubbled and overflowed into the pool.

Okay - I guess this is the best place for this to be brought up. and I think I have a right to as a mother of 6 - I was disappointed by the behavior of some of the children on the ship. There was an issue with an over 21 year-old providing alcohol to minors and there were definately some young people that weren't being supervised at all.

This doesn't mean there were children running all over (all the time) just that it was sad the ones that weren't being observed/monitored by their guardians.
There was equally a share of adults that were rude/impatient/grouchy. So hopefully the next cruises the passengers will be a little more considerate of the other passengers on the ship.

Air conditioning worked well - water flowed in the shower without the changing temp during the times I was in there - but there was a warning to test the water temp before getting in.

The sizes of the staterooms were adequate - we were truly only in our rooms to sleep and were very comfortable. We had three to a cabin and in our two inside cabins there were sleep-overs with as many as 6 to the cabin (it was 11 year old girls - they were happy)

We were able to enjoy sail away (under the Golden Gate bridge) in our friends Owners Suite - very nice and I think we had over 20 on the balcony!!

Sunset Kauai sail away was from a penthouse (aft) it too was incredible!

The days at sea we experienced more carpet being laid in the aft stairways. Many noticed the "aroma" of the carpet glue. No tape was noticed in the elevator shafts - but then we did spend more time admiring the view of the atrium than the elevator shafts.

We would just mention anything we had concerns about or took notice of to the staff and they were more than happy to take care of it.

Seems like this is long and I don't know if there is anything else specific anyone wants the answer to! I'd be more than happy to fill you in any more if I can - the rest of the flamingos should be arriving at their "nests" at various hours today! We all have different stories to share.

It's all what we make of it!
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  #17  
Old July 4th, 2004, 01:46 PM
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gardencat gardencat is offline
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Oakville Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,263
Default

Cruise MAMA
Thanks for taking time from doing the laundry and everything else, to post a detailed review.
Sounds like the spa wasn't the high point of the cruise for you. Strangely enough when I was on the Dawn the Spa services were wonderful! Guess every cruise and every ship are a different story.
I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation. Do you think the traditional dinning would work better with a large family group, or would you still recommend freestyle once they 'get the bugs out"?
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  #18  
Old July 4th, 2004, 02:11 PM
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traceykp traceykp is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Pleasanton, CA 94566
Posts: 68
Default Buffet food

I have to post this now, instead of waiting until posting my entire review. The buffet food was BAD!! If you like everything covered with gravy, it is good. On the first day, they had beef stroganoff (and fried rice) chicken smothered in gravy and a fish also covered with sauce. I do not eat gravy because I am allergic to MSG and it is usually in gravy. I decided to have a salad, and I had 3 salad dressing to pick from; there was watered down ranch (almost always loaded with MSG unless fresh), watered down thousand island, and watered down blue cheese. There was vinegar but no oil. I have never been to a ship buffet where kids were putting plates down after going through the whole buffet line and saying how badly the food "sucks". I did try the buffet other days, and it was always the same. The only time that we did not use room service for lunch was when there was the BBQ on deck and I was able to get a hamburger. Also, it should be noted that the POA ran out of pizza several days before the cruise ended. I feel this was unacceptable. The reason given me was that they didn't know there were going to be so many kids on the ship. How could they not know! They also ran out of bananas with a week to go.

I know that this sounds harsh, but the food at the buffets is about my only complaint. The staff tried very hard (with a few exceptions) to make everything work. I will post my full review after I return home on the 6th.

Flamingo Tracey
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  #19  
Old July 4th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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traceykp traceykp is offline
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Default What kind of suite

AlexMD

What type of suite are you in! If you are in anything other than and AA, you will have to pay for everything other than the 1 bottle of Champagne that comes with your room. Water is $3.00 per bottle and soda is $1.50 per can. You cannot even buy a bottle of liqueur on the ship unless you pay for 25 shots. The service, though, was great. You will love Ryan and Chris!

Tracey
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  #20  
Old July 4th, 2004, 08:06 PM
Traveler39 Traveler39 is offline
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Hello CruiseMama..... Thanks for your reports.... They are honest and provide us with a clear picture of this ship... You liked this ship and what it has to offer but it seems to me that it does not measure up to what I am use to on other cruise lines... We am sailing later in the year on this ship and I hope they improve the buffet and the little thing that I am use to... I am not impressed with fancy service in food service and special dining facilities or dinners that take three hours... Those are available to me several times a week when we dine out and they are available in Hawaii... What I want is a clean quiet room and a clean modern ship with the little things that I have come to expect from a cruise line... A gourmet pizza, a fresh hot sandwich and lemonade at the pool..Maybe NCL does not provide those simple services.... I have never been on a cruise where the buffet and the room cleaning was not above average and special little food items available everywhere around the clock...
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