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mdsgu

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About mdsgu

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Baton Rouge
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    RCI, NCL, Carnival

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  1. We were on this same sailing (Breakaway over Thanksgiving). This was not our first NCL cruise, nor our first cruise on a megaship; we sailed on the Escape in 2016. However, after all our cruises, this one ranks the absolute worst for service. Our cabin steward was fine, but the restaurants were terrible and the bars were worse! Twenty minute waits for drinks? Yes. Hour-long waits in the MDR -- after being seated? Yes. Having to ask three times (on more than 1 occasion) for iced tea? Yes. Missing dining room reservations? Of course. Someone told my father-in-law he just had to understand that they were overbooked that week and understaffed. Puh-leeze -- these ships know exactly how many guests they can hold and well in advance. Staff accordingly. I have never, in all my cruising (see my signature) adjusted the DSC, but I did on this one. I didn't remove it entirely, but I took back half. We have another NCL cruise in May out of Rome. I can only hope it is better!
  2. NCL is really picky about moving tables around. They just don't like to do it. They are more likely to accommodate you in the MDRs than in the specialty restaurants, though. For large groups, I highly recommend reservations every night.
  3. mdsgu

    First time NCL cruise

    Make your dinner reservations as soon as they open. Not sure what you mean by weird bathroom -- NCL usually, at least on newer ships, has nice bathrooms with glass showers -- no curtains to deal with. NCL's "premium" liquor isn't very premium, unlike Royal. The Rebellious Fish is their unique drink, but don't bother with it.
  4. mdsgu

    No so Epic Cruise...

    Our recent Breakaway cruise was similar. Short-staffed bars, poor service in the restaurants, even the specialty ones! Worst service ever on a cruise. Heck, even Carnival can (and does) do better.
  5. We chose this particular ship and itinerary because of the departure port. We like to "get out of town" for Thanksgiving, and the Port of New Orleans is easy enough to get to. In addition to my immediate family, my parents, parents-in-law, and sister & brother-in-law went on this trip (a total of 10 people ranging in age from 8 to 85). We had all cruised on the Escape in 2016 and enjoyed it. Embarkation wasn't bad at all. Getting to the port is a little bothersome just because of traffic. However, once our taxi dropped us off at the port, boarding was a breeze. We walked right through the lines and up to the desk where we checked in. We then marched ourselves over to the waiting area where we literally sat down for 1 minute before they called us to board. All in all, it took less than 20 minutes from the time our taxi dropped us off to walking onto the ship. We had dining reservations made for the whole week, because of our group size. We had had to make them on 2 separate reservations because the online booking engine won't let you reserve for more than 6 or 8 people, depending on the restaurant. This same thing happened on the Escape, and we were able to just combine them once onboard. On the Breakaway, however, that was too complicated for them. They kept our MDR reservations together, but changed all our dining times from 6:30pm to 5:30pm. We were informed we'd have to check with LeBistro, Cagney's, and Moderno about those seatings (Cagney's and Moderno were no problem, but LeBistro didn't work out so well). Our rooms were ready pretty quickly. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 10 (10728). It was fairly roomy with just enough storage. The hallways are very narrow, and the room doors open out, which takes some getting used to, but everything works pretty well. The balcony itself was somewhat small, but we don't use it much. The bathroom was particularly roomy, and the shower is a glass enclosure with a glass door -- no flimsy curtain to fight with as you bathe! The ship gives you a sense of deja vu if you have ever been on Escape. They are almost identical! Very nice, with faux wood, plush carpeting, and pleather furnishings in the Atrium. Outside of LeBistro is a 3 story area with a glass staircase and color-changing chandelier. The only issue there is the smell of smoke wafting down from the casino. My wife says the interiors remind her of a boutique hotel -- not garish, Las Vegas-esque neon and metal like some older Carnival boats. On to service -- where to start? In a word -- almost non-existent. Let me say that our cabin steward was fine. Our cabin was always clean, and our beds were made twice daily. We always had clean towels and he exchanged our beach/pool towels each day. Nothing spectacular, but certainly more than adequate. Bar service was atrocious. If they had more than 1 bartender at a bar, it was unique -- even the pool bar had just 1 server. And don't expect many roving bartenders to come and take a drink order, either. We found one server in the Atrium who would keep coming around in the evenings (because we tipped in cash), but there was never one on the pool deck. Our first night dinner was in Manhattan, which wasn't bad. My sister has a gluten intolerance, and the manager (Lilly) took her order for the second night so she could ensure that my sister would have a gluten-free dinner. No problems. We went to Taste on Monday night. After being seated and our orders taken, we were forgotten about. After an hour, we grabbed another waiter, who seemed completely put out at having to worry with our 10-top. My father-in-law yelled for a manager after a warm salad was flung in front of my mother-in-law, and cold appetizers (that were supposed to be hot) were served. Lilly arrived, who, to her credit, "took the bullet" and profusely apologized. My sister's gluten-free spring rolls (ordered the night before) never arrived because, it turns out, they don't exist (on the Breakaway). Drinks had to be requested two and three times before they were delivered. Tuesday night was dinner in Moderno -- which has no problem seating 10 people, and the pasadores brought around a profuse amount of meat. Wednesday was in Savor, and the service went back downhill, similar to Taste, except it didn't take quite an hour to get our first appetizers. Lilly had arranged to move our Thanksgiving dinner, on Thursday, from Savor to Manhattan. Of course, when we arrived, the host, on the way to our table, informed by wife that we would have to be split into 2 different tables, at which point she put on the brakes. She informed him that we had made a reservation months in advance due to the size of our group, and that Lilly had personally assured us about our reservation for Thanksgiving evening. They finally "found" a table way in the back by the windows, which was a pain because my mother uses a wheelchair. My wife told the waiter he would just have to inconvenience all the other diners on the way to the table and get them to move to allow my mother to pass. Surprisingly, he did just that. The bar server offered us a bottle of sparkling wine for our trouble, but we declined as we all had the UBP. Friday night, we ate at LeBistro. The hostess there, Jovana, obviously prides herself on not accommodating groups. "Vee just can noot seet more dan 8 peeple." We pointed out that she could easily move one table to allow us all to sit together. "Vee can noot do dat." And they didn't. We had to sit at two different tables. At least the bouef was good. Saturday night was Cagney's. They also tried to sit us at two tables, until we pointed out that they had just sat a group of 12. Magically, a table for 10 was found. Drinks were slower than ever. Service was so slow, my kids fell asleep waiting on mac and cheese. The filet mignon was not as good as the tenderloin at LeBistro the night before. Rather disappointing. Cozumel was Cozumel. Very commercialized and Americanized. We wound up going to Mr Sancho's on the spur of the moment. It wasn't bad. Service was good, very good, actually. The kids enjoyed the water toys and the food, especially the ceviche, was tasty. Belize wasn't very nice. Rather drabby. We heard, after the fact, that NCL had cancelled all the water activities due to bacteria (raw sewage). We didn't have an excursion planned and we just walked around the port area for an hour before tendering back to the ship. Harvest Caye is a beautiful island, though obviously not authentic. My daughter, the little daredevil, of course wanted to fly like Superman over the beach, so she and I walked over the the Flighthouse. The price, not too bad ($89 for adults, $69 for kids), covered both a zipline tour and the Superman flight. It was fun, and she enjoyed it. After that and a short dip in the pool, it started to sprinkle, so we all headed back to the ship for lunch. Costa Maya is very rocky, similar to Bonaire. They have a very built-up port area, but we didn't venture beyond that. It was rather crowded with the Breakaway, the Pearl, and the HAL Rotterdam in port at the same time. We ate at the buffet once, and that was one time too many. Everything was cold and tasteless. Splash Academy was CROWDED. Once, to check my daughter in, we had to wait a few minutes until someone else checked out. My son didn't want to go, but my daughter (age 😎 loved it. She partied like a rockstar Sunday through Thursday nights -- she wanted to stay until final call at 1:30am, but we didn't let her stay past 11:30 except for one night, and then only to 12:15. Disembarkation was, happily, quick and easy. Getting a taxi was easy. The trip served our purpose -- to get out of town. We enjoyed all the family time and being able to unplug for an entire week. The service was very very disappointing. After as many cruises as we have been on, we expect more. Norwegian really let us down on this trip.
  6. mdsgu

    Use your Amex Platinum

    Or just book through AmEx Platinum Travel. They do a very nice job, and they throw in the LeBistro dinner automatically!
  7. The AT&T package is good, but it only works IN PORT. It does NOT cover calls made or received when you are at sea. You have to keep that in mind.
  8. mdsgu

    UBP - taxes while in port

    Just about all US ports charge some kind of tax, but it usually just pennies, and it is only until you leave their territorial waters. The one that gets you more than others is New Orleans. You'll get charged Louisiana taxes from the time you board until about midnight when you actually get to the Gulf of Mexico.
  9. mdsgu

    "ODD" THINGS YOU LIKE ABOOUT CRUISING/NCL

    Not sure how "weird" it is, but, after visiting so many islands, I absolutely love sea days. There's nothing I have to do and I have all day to do it. Mix in the drink package, and it's just about perfect.
  10. Our experience has always been a different MDR menu each night, but the lunch and breakfast menus do not change.
  11. mdsgu

    specialty dinning package

    Our upcoming Thanksgiving cruise will be our second NCL cruise with the specialty dining package. Last summer, on the Escape, we really enjoyed Cagney's, Le Bistro, and Moderno. I would recommend skipping lunch before going to Moderno! Le Bistro is perfect for a quiet, relaxed dinner -- don't rush it. Cagney's is, of course, excellent. We've never tried the teppanyaki place (not our thing) or the Italian restaurant. When is your cruise? Booking usually opens up 120 days prior to departure.
  12. mdsgu

    On Board Account

    If you don't cash out the last night, they will send you a check for the overage. After sailing the Escape last year, I had about $100 left in my account. I received a check from NCL about a week later.
  13. mdsgu

    Swimming with Dolphins....Caribbean Ports

    We did it in Nassau. It was fun, but quite expensive, and the photos you just have to buy almost double the price.
  14. Yes, in the US, if the meal is "free" or "comped" for some reason, it is still customary to tip on the cost of the meal.
  15. mdsgu

    Unlimited Arcade

    It was all done over the phone with a live operator. But my CC was charged $112 ($56 x2). I requested an amenity statement from NCL (through my TA), and it shows just the children with the package.
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