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Alaska, NCL Joy, May 25


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We had our second cruise on May 25 to Alaska on NCL Joy. Here are some random thoughts about this cruise. Our first cruise was last December to the Carribean on RCL Vision of the Seas (a small and outdated ship). I made no attempt to make it objective and all thoughts are very personal. 

 

1. The Joy ship is huge. Due to the temperature (the weather was nice though), many facilities (kids water park and water slides) were not open to the passengers most of the time, which defeated my original goal of getting a fun ship for the family. 

2. The kids club (Splash Academy) has no windows. I took the time to check out their activities while my kids were there -- most activities were illy organized. After the very first visit, we had to force our kids to there. The counselors appeared to be very inexperienced. When we cruised with Vision of the Seas (there were windows to look out), my kids loved going to the kids club.

3. The two shows "Footloose" and "Elements" were fantastic!

4. The internet worked great (fast and stable) and I did not encounter any issues at all -- much better than that on VOS (which was very spotty). I was able to trade my free 250 minutes to unlimited basic internet from the NCL app on my phone (for $125 credit).

5. The onboard activities were terrible! The singing and the dancing programs for passengers were extremely badly organized. My wife was quite let down as she enjoyed the wonderful dancing programs at VOS and had great expectation before our Alaska journey. The organizers were not enthusiastic at all (and here I put it in a very positive way).

6. The main dining rooms, Manhattan and Taste (did not have the courage to try the third one),  were extremely terrible. The service was slow and rude, and the food was bland. Before our trip, I read somewhere on this forum that the food in the main dining room was cold. Yes, it was true.

7. The buffet place was similar to that on VOS. Lots of choices.

8. I read somewhere from this forum that the crew on Joy looked overworked. Yes, that's exactly the feeling we had while we were onboard.

9. The go-cart was great fun for the family.

10. The free "game" that was projected onto the wall at the Galaxy Pavillion was great fun for kids. They drew their own animals and used the scanner to scan the drawing, then the 2D drawing became a 3D object and was projected on the wall. 

11. Not too many people played in the huge Galaxy Pavillion room. I think it's a waste of space.

12. The Arcade room was way better than that on VOS. Kids loved that.

13. The spacious "chandelier" place was a huge waste of space.

14. We loved our balcony room. We used the balcony all the time -- especially since the onboard activities were so bad, we stayed at our balcony frequently.

15. No 24-hour free dining. I, unfortunately, had to work from 9 pm to past midnight and could not find a place to get something light to eat. On VOS, there's a burger/pizza place to grab something to eat at midnight.

 

Conclusion: The overall service and onboard activities definitely are subpar compared with those on VOS. The entire crews were also inexperienced compared with the crews on VOS. I regretted booking this trip for my family for the precious family vacation and we will never cruise with Joy again.

A question to experienced NCL cruisers: Is my experience unique to Joy, or is it universal to all NCL ships? ...

Edited by JasonShen
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1 hour ago, Charlesw1968 said:

I was on the same cruise and like an  idiot I spent the extreme extra money and got the owners suite in the Haven. I totally feel that I was robbed by NCL.  I will never cruise with them again!!!!

You actually had more than an OS, it was a Deluxe OS.

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4 hours ago, JasonShen said:

We had our second cruise on May 25 to Alaska on NCL Joy. Here are some random thoughts about this cruise. Our first cruise was last December to the Carribean on RCL Vision of the Seas (a small and outdated ship). I made no attempt to make it objective and all thoughts are very personal. 

 

1. The Joy ship is huge. Due to the temperature (the weather was nice though), many facilities (kids water park and water slides) were not open to the passengers most of the time, which defeated my original goal of getting a fun ship for the family. 

2. The kids club (Splash Academy) has no windows. I took the time to check out their activities while my kids were there -- most activities were illy organized. After the very first visit, we had to force our kids to there. The counselors appeared to be very inexperienced. When we cruised with Vision of the Seas (there were windows to look out), my kids loved going to the kids club.

3. The two shows "Footloose" and "Elements" were fantastic!

4. The internet worked great (fast and stable) and I did not encounter any issues at all -- much better than that on VOS (which was very spotty). I was able to trade my free 250 minutes to unlimited basic internet from the NCL app on my phone (for $125 credit).

5. The onboard activities were terrible! The singing and the dancing programs for passengers were extremely badly organized. My wife was quite let down as she enjoyed the wonderful dancing programs at VOS and had great expectation before our Alaska journey. The organizers were not enthusiastic at all (and here I put it in a very positive way).

6. The main dining rooms, Manhattan and Taste (did not have the courage to try the third one),  were extremely terrible. The service was slow and rude, and the food was bland. Before our trip, I read somewhere on this forum that the food in the main dining room was cold. Yes, it was true.

7. The buffet place was similar to that on VOS. Lots of choices.

8. I read somewhere from this forum that the crew on Joy looked overworked. Yes, that's exactly the feeling we had while we were onboard.

9. The go-cart was great fun for the family.

10. The free "game" that was projected onto the wall at the Galaxy Pavillion was great fun for kids. They drew their own animals and used the scanner to scan the drawing, then the 2D drawing became a 3D object and was projected on the wall. 

11. Not too many people played in the huge Galaxy Pavillion room. I think it's a waste of space.

12. The Arcade room was way better than that on VOS. Kids loved that.

13. The spacious "chandelier" place was a huge waste of space.

14. We loved our balcony room. We used the balcony all the time -- especially since the onboard activities were so bad, we stayed at our balcony frequently.

15. No 24-hour free dining. I, unfortunately, had to work from 9 pm to past midnight and could not find a place to get something light to eat. On VOS, there's a burger/pizza place to grab something to eat at midnight.

 

Conclusion: The overall service and onboard activities definitely are subpar compared with those on VOS. The entire crews were also inexperienced compared with the crews on VOS. I regretted booking this trip for my family for the precious family vacation and we will never cruise with Joy again.

A question to experienced NCL cruisers: Is my experience unique to Joy, or is it universal to all NCL ships? ...

Food can be terrible or extremely bad but extremely terrible is a new one for sure. 

Is this typical for NCL?? When it comes to service and entertainment, no not at all typical. Remember you are talking about a ship that is new to the fleet. It takes times to iron our wrinkles.

 

NCL is noted for its good entertainment and generally good service. Food is subjective for sure. As for on ship activities, port intensive cruises will offer less activities as people are busy touring and when not touring are quite often tired. We found the same thing on our only  Alaskan cruise. For that reason we never repeated Alaska. 

 

I am hoping you will not judge the line by this experience and I am sorry you had a bad experience. I have never had a truly bad cruise. It does seem like you found a few positive things to say. Let's hope there are more positives as the ship crew learns the hopes a bit better. 

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6 hours ago, JasonShen said:

15. No 24-hour free dining. I, unfortunately, had to work from 9 pm to past midnight and could not find a place to get something light to eat. On VOS, there's a burger/pizza place to grab something to eat at midnight.

 

Was the Local not open 24/7? The Local/O'sheehan's is typically open 24/7 on other NCL ships.

 

As for the rest of your experiences, I would say some are more true across the fleet than others. The kids clubs are usually VERY popular on the larger ships and I have heard tales of parents having to drag their kids away from them or spend less time with their kids on board than planned because the kids were so desperate to go there. I suspect this issue, along with the poor food quality and the "overworked" look of the crew all are specific to the Joy, since it is a newer ship (to the Western market anyway) and many of the crew aren't "settled" yet. Also, I am not sure how many crew members were moved from the Chinese market with the ship, but those who served the Chinese market may me disgruntled or disoriented by the change.

 

Generally the theater entertainment on NCL is top-notch, but some of the other on board activities can be hit and miss. On the larger ship, the real challenge is the lack of venue. They do most of the game show type activities in the Atrium which can get very overcrowded. I have also heard that there are fewer educational-type activities on NCL versus other lines. Late night/theme parties seem to be really well done on NCL overall.

 

I am really sorry you regret your trip. I have never come close to regretting a cruise with NCL so far, but I imagine it would be quite the disappointment to do so.

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We were in port with you at Icy Point Strait, on the Jewel.  O'Sheehans was open all the time.  Kids were in the pools most every day, even though we had to tinder at Icy Point it was a short trip.

The Jewel had incredible shows!  The lead singers were fantastic, and we didn't have to make reservations to see them.  Meals were  okay, not super but fine.  

The activities crew were enthusiastic, and things were fun.  Dancing with the Stars type program was hilarious, and these type activities were always held in the observation lounge so enough space for audience.

I don't think your experiences were typical of NCL, but rather those of a Mega ship.  We had a very enjoyable cruise on the smaller Jewel so perhaps your family might be small ship people too. 😊

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4 hours ago, JamieLogical said:

 

Was the Local not open 24/7? The Local/O'sheehan's is typically open 24/7 on other NCL ships.

 

 

 

Ah, yes. When I was working on the ship at midnight, I came here to ask where I could find a quick bite. People suggested Local (perhaps it's you -- thank you for the information) and I did check out the place. Unfortunately, Local was not what I had in mind -- I went to the library to work after a shower and was in very casual clothes (not in PJ) so I only wished to find a place for a quick bite and then went back to work. VOS had a stand providing DIY burgers and slices of pizzas at midnight that suited my purpose well. Local was more like a bar place where you want to find a place to sit for a while past midnight -- which was good but just not what I wanted during those situations.

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8 minutes ago, Sauer-kraut said:

We were in port with you at Icy Point Strait, on the Jewel.  O'Sheehans was open all the time.  Kids were in the pools most every day, even though we had to tinder at Icy Point it was a short trip.

The Jewel had incredible shows!  The lead singers were fantastic, and we didn't have to make reservations to see them.  Meals were  okay, not super but fine.  

The activities crew were enthusiastic, and things were fun.  Dancing with the Stars type program was hilarious, and these type activities were always held in the observation lounge so enough space for audience.

I don't think your experiences were typical of NCL, but rather those of a Mega ship.  We had a very enjoyable cruise on the smaller Jewel so perhaps your family might be small ship people too. 😊

 

Thank you for sharing your experience! We definitely will choose smaller ships in the future. (And yes, I saw Jewel at Icy Point and I told my wife that I almost booked that ship ... in an envious tone.)

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5 hours ago, JamieLogical said:

As for the rest of your experiences, I would say some are more true across the fleet than others. The kids clubs are usually VERY popular on the larger ships and I have heard tales of parents having to drag their kids away from them or spend less time with their kids on board than planned because the kids were so desperate to go there.

Kids club on the Sun (many years ago) was good. But it sucked on the Jewel a few years later. 

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On 6/17/2019 at 11:16 AM, jfbbarry said:

Did you happen to take the schedules for the Kid's club- can you please share the activities sheets for the week?

 

Sorry that I did not see your post until just now. Also sorry that I did not keep the activities sheets for this cruise as I was not sure how much exactly this ship followed the agenda.

 

Let me also take this opportunity to provide some details for this specific kids club, for the record and for those parents who care. I spent about 30 minutes total during the middle five days out of the 7-day cruise to observe the kids club activities. By observing, I meant that I was standing about 20 feet from the group, PAST the transparent swing door at the check-in counter (got permission from the counselors at the kids club). I might be one of the few parents who had too much time to do so ... Anyway, in one occasion which was supposed to be a group dancing activity, for about 6 minutes since it started, all I saw was the two counselors dancing by themselves, swinging around the room, providing no guidance or interactions whatsoever to the kids in the group. The kids simply ran around the room by themselves. 

 

Whether this was fun for the kids is not my point. When kids got a chance to run around in a group they are always excited. I am also not saying that the onboard activities need to be very educational. But I was indeed surprised that it was so un-educational and unorganized. Of course each cruise line and each ship is different, but I was deeply impressed that there was a volcano explosion experiment in our previous (also the very first) cruise and how much my kids loved going to the kids club every day, which made me wrongfully think that it was the norm. I know there will be defending members but I was merely stating my very limited but first-hand observation.

 

 

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Thank you for the feedback. We are cruising end of summer so hopefully the counselors will have their act together. 

There will be 13 and 9 year olds in our group. 

Do you recall if the kids were offered the go-carts or laser tag as an activity?

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21 minutes ago, jfbbarry said:

Thank you for the feedback. We are cruising end of summer so hopefully the counselors will have their act together. 

There will be 13 and 9 year olds in our group. 

Do you recall if the kids were offered the go-carts or laser tag as an activity?

 

I read somewhere on this forum about the go-carts or laser tag activities for the kids at the kids club. That did not occur for our cruise (I asked the counselors and also double checked the activity sheets). In view of the number ratio of the kids and the go-carts, I doubt they would do that.

 

I think there's an age limit for the kids club, which probably is 12. You might want to double check if that's important for you. Our kids are way below the age limit and that's why I am not 100% sure. 

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Hey JasonShen,

 

We were on the same cruise as you and really enjoyed ourselves.  Here's a link to my review:  https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=658573

 

It was only me and my husband so I didn't experience the kid's club but you are right about the pool deck - it was cold and windy for a lot of the cruise and the water slides weren't open much.  But I saw many crazy kids in the pools and hot tubs with parents either in the pools with them or waiting with towels on the outside.  It's Alaska so I wasn't expecting to spend much time up there but it was COLD when I was waiting for my race on the go-carts.

 

We really enjoyed the entertainment.  Like another poster said from the Jewel, the "Dancing with the Stars" program we watched was hilarious and even though the Atrium was crowded, if we didn't find a seat in the Atrium we went up to the Local and viewed the action from above for the different events we watched or participated in.

 

Did you ever go up to the observation lounge?  There were board games available and I saw lots of families up there.  There were also several events in the Atrium for families, like the cupcake demo, etc.  Since our kids are grown and we don't sail with them or the grandkids, we weren't specifically looking for family activities but there seemed to be things available for the kids to do all around the ship.  

 

We also enjoyed interacting with the crew.  We really didn't have a bad meal other than the buffet - it didn't come close to what we experienced on the Bliss.  And our room steward was the best!  He was new to the ship and had a training one day and made sure we knew that someone else was taking care of our cabin that day but to let him know if there were any issues when he came back in the evening.  He was so awesome.  We've only cruised NCL but I feel the crew was really great and this is what we've experienced on the other NCL ships that we've sailed on.  JMO

 

 

 

 

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On 6/20/2019 at 1:07 PM, JasonShen said:

The kids simply ran around the room by themselves.  Whether this was fun for the kids is not my point. When kids got a chance to run around in a group they are always excited. I am also not saying that the onboard activities need to be very educational. But I was indeed surprised that it was so un-educational and unorganized. Of course each cruise line and each ship is different, but I was deeply impressed that there was a volcano explosion experiment in our previous (also the very first) cruise and how much my kids loved going to the kids club every day, which made me wrongfully think that it was the norm. I know there will be defending members but I was merely stating my very limited but first-hand observation.

When our daughter was younger (now 16) we noted that it was more "free play" than structured.  They did stuff like make pizza, paint, etc. but for the majority they just played. We only have one child, so we didn't mind as she needs time to play with others her own age.  So lesson learned, now you know, NCL is more "free style play" (pun intended).

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