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NickCanadian

January 18th Escape- Good, Bad and the Ugly

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Me, DW, and three kids took cruise with in-laws and extended family and friends on this cruise as per my recommendation to cruise with NCL.

 

background- 9th cruise with previous cruises on NCL, Princess, Carnival and Holland America. First cruise in 2008 on NCL Dawn.

 

Shareholder of NCLH and as such, I am happy with this cruise as a shareholder but not as much as passenger.

 

tidbit- made small talk with an NCL corporate person who was on vacation. Asked about increased prices recently and expressed concern. He said that the new direction at NCL isn’t focused as much on simply filling rooms, but only filling rooms at a profit. Much like hotels and airlines, they want full ships, but NCLH is no longer going to sell rooms at a loss in hopes to make money on add ons as those who usually pay the lowest prices on the cruises don’t spend spend any money on board. Focus on casino guests and those who pay for rooms and packages with the alcohol as those guest tend to spend the most on board. Take this for what’s its worth, but as a budget cruisers, this sucks, but as shareholder, I understand. 
 

the good- choir of man was amazing and best show i have seen on nine cruises, chocolate butter tarts in main dining

room, ship in good shape, crew working hard, crew talent show- waitress singing Whitney Houston song was better than all the singers who performed in ‘after midnight’ show by a long shot. Due to her skin colour and nationality, she will continue to serve tables when she should actually be performing in the main shows, but I guess that’s how the world works. New style pizza was good (not as good as Princess, but much better than the old ncl pizza), no bacon police like on Carnival. O Sheehan's service was fast and the wings and fajitas were good. A cruise is better than no cruise, but this cruise was okay, but not great. Harvest Caye was great. Aviaries in Costa Maya good. Monkey and sloth manawaka park decent in Roatan.

 

the bad- is it possible to say they are serving ‘prime’ rib and instead serving less than prime, rib roast? Prime rib at buffet terrible! It was whitish colour. Gone are the day’s of two days of prime rib in the main dining room as on the Getaway two years ago. Available at o Sheehan’s two days, but again, I doubt it was ‘prime’ rib. Main dining room menus have gone way down hill. The bbq grill plate was literally uneatable. Ribs were terrible full of hard fat balls, the chicken was a chicken thigh with no meat. it is very obvious that they are trying to push everyone to the specialty restaurants and or buffet/o Sheehan’s and it appears to be working. During peak dinner times, no lines ups and lots of empty tables in manhattans except for one night. All specialty restaurants jammed full for entire cruise (good news as shareholder bad as a cruiser). Ziaed from Tunisia and Richelle from Indonesia were great service in taste/savor dining rooms. With the added level and more passengers, no new deck space was added and impossible to find a place to sit outside after 730am on sea days. Kids complained about water slide (yellow) hurting feet and back due to seams not being flush. 30-45 min line for the tube slide. Costa Maya has turned into a major tourist trap. Much different than my first visit there back in 2009/2010 ish. Can even sit down on a chair anymore without min 20 an hour spend. Previously you could sit because the pool, but understandably, they wanted to monetize the seats. Roatan west bay beach, avoid like the plague. The beach vendors just don’t stop bugging you to buy their Chinese junk.

 

the ugly- the elevator waits were atrocious. I didn’t pay the most for a cruise I have ever paid (good news as shareholder that prices have been going up) to walk flights of stairs when that is what I do all day at work. It called vacation. Escape added a floor to the getaway design and added no new passenger space or elevator capacity and it shows. To go along with that, there are so many damm scooters everywhere. Does NCL check to ensure these people actually have a handicap? Like. Handicap sticker on cars that require a doctors note? Miraculously they would jump out of their scooters to walk the entire buffet circle! I thought Disney was getting bad, but man, it’s like everyone is handicapped now. Only one room steward now vs two as in the past. Went for dinner every single day at same time and room was never turned down to put kids to bed even after asking to have room turned down by 8pm. Shower drain very slow to drain and literally created a bath inside the shower stall (for feet that is) and water coming out of shower during first night ship motion. Advised room Steward twice and nothing done about it. Bathroom smelled like fish. Turned out it was the toilet scrubber and steward finally replaced it and smell gone. Cruise staff running ropes course are rude and arrogant. Always looking for reason to shut down ropes course. Said too windy, so I asked what speed is too windy and wouldn’t answer me as I also had a Kessler to see if they were BSing. So the unknown wind speed closed down the ropes course when the apparent wind speed was about 15 knots as per cruise specs on the tv. Wanted to remove all tips because of these 5 or 6 dbags but didn’t because other crew members worked so hard.
 

I purchased cruise next from

my Getaway cruise, but this time I didn’t purchase cruisenext. I think I’m done with cruising but will continue to invest in NCLH as we are making money hand over fist. The nickel and diming is so out of control on all cruise lines and it ruins my vacation constantly being asked to spend more or add charge this or that. When it’s hard to get a decent restaurant quality meal at the main dining room, that is my breaking point.

 

sun country airlines to rsw and then rental to MIA and shuttle to port and same reverse.
 

anyways questions ask away.

Edited by NickCanadian

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Thanks for your review. It's a shame they are keeping prices high. 

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Why would you be selling a room at a loss? The only loss is to sail with an empty room regardless of the guests onboard spend.

 

Choice 1: sell the insides at a discount last minute and make something.

Choice 2: sail with empty insides and make nothing.

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Hi Ziggy,

 

airlines well with unsold seats all the time. At a certain point they will not sell the seat or you would see seats for 5 dollars. For instance, I know that the rock bottom price for DTW to MCO is about 49 USD. I have never seen it below that price yet spirit flys half full aircraft weekdays on this route and never lower then price below that 49 dollar threshold. 

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One more UGLY. The hamburgers in the dining room, osheehans and buffet are terrible and are nothing like they were.

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39 minutes ago, NickCanadian said:

Hi Ziggy,

 

airlines well with unsold seats all the time. At a certain point they will not sell the seat or you would see seats for 5 dollars. For instance, I know that the rock bottom price for DTW to MCO is about 49 USD. I have never seen it below that price yet spirit flys half full aircraft weekdays on this route and never lower then price below that 49 dollar threshold. 

 

I don't understand your point, it is better to sail (or fly) with a sold seat than an unsold seat.

 

Most people know it it common practice for airlines to oversell seats to balance out the no-shows, if they then have too many passengers they offer very nice incentives to take a later flight, I have been offered upto $300 not to fly with a free hotel stay included on many occasions.

Edited by ziggyuk

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Thanks for your honest review. The higher prices are understandable to a point, but not when combined with a decrease in quality. Nice to have a ship that isn’t overcrowded. Cheap, bad food is a deal breaker though. I don’t choose to eat in the MDRs. If the specialty quality continues to decline I’m out.

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4 hours ago, NickCanadian said:

 Miraculously they would jump out of their scooters to walk the entire buffet circle! 

I had to laugh at this.  On my cruise in January I watch a lady drive her scooter up to the stairs, get off, and scamper up the stairs.  Obviously had no problem with the stairs not sure why you'd drive one of those around.

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Handicaps are not always obvious or visible. Maybe a person has an issue with standing for an extended period, or walking certain distances, maybe sudden dizzy spells if vertical too long. Don't judge on what you think is the obvious, but do get out of the way of those scooters, some of those people will run you down.

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25 minutes ago, Beer Belly said:

Handicaps are not always obvious or visible. Maybe a person has an issue with standing for an extended period, or walking certain distances, maybe sudden dizzy spells if vertical too long. Don't judge on what you think is the obvious, but do get out of the way of those scooters, some of those people will run you down.

Very true.  Same with the supermarket scooters.  Some disabled people can walk short distances but need assistance further.  There are some very disabled people that don't have parking passes or scooters.  And then there are those who are mildly disabled and use everything at their disposal.  My sister has M.S. and she has a disabled parking pass but does not use it. She is afraid someone will see her walking and vandalize her car thinking she is not disabled.

Edited by david_sobe

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Wasnt meant to create discussion about scooters, mostly an observation. I do think those that require scooters should have proper documentation from a Doctor as having such as a scooter does provide provide front of line access, as I always allow them on elevators etc first. I don't have as much faith in humanity to believe a few of the users are taking advantage of the system, much like the support animals on airplanes which have created modern day Noah's ark of the skies.

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Was thinking about a couple other non-categorized observations..

 

We were constantly reminded that towel animals were no more due to 'environment' concerns. I find this hard to believe from a cruise ship that burns 65,000 gallons of bunker fuel per day! washing the towels of 2000 plus staterooms would literally cost 10 gallons of fuel use on the large generators and i believe this has more to do with the man hours of managing the towels/folding etc. I suggests for environmental reasons that is the boat is slowed by 0.1 knots per hour on the way back to Miami would result in savings of hundreds of gallons of fuel and provide more environmental benefits (I don't personally believe in man made climate change resulting from trace amounts of a gas in the atmosphere). The other benefits is that we wouldn't arrive in Miami at 4 am using bow thrusters that woke up the entire group of people we were travelling with 2 hours before our alarms were set (6am).

 

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I was on this sailing too. This was my first NCL cruise, with all my others being on Carnival. I'm feeling a bit indifferent. I didn't hate it by any means but I didn't necessarily love it either. I will say that embarkation and disembarkation were good. The food was excellent in my opinion. We ate at Moderno, Cagney's, La Cucina and Food Republic. We loved having the drink package and were also pleased with the flights that NCL arranged for us. Having a cabin on the front of the ship was a nightmare for docking. The entire room rattled like a jackhammer and we were on deck 11. We were very disappointed with Harvest Caye, that was a wasted day for us. All in all I liked the ship but found myself missing the "fun ship" vibe of Carnival. I would sail NCL again if the price and itinerary were right but I'm not wowed by them enough to be searching for my next cruise with them either. 

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14 hours ago, ziggyuk said:

Why would you be selling a room at a loss? The only loss is to sail with an empty room regardless of the guests onboard spend.

 

Choice 1: sell the insides at a discount last minute and make something.

Choice 2: sail with empty insides and make nothing.

I understand the logic.  There is a certain price point where it is more profitable to sail with an open cabin then to sell it for so cheap that they cannot cover the cost of the food, service, etc. that the people will consume.

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we were on this ship a few months ago and thought the food was good, had no issues with O'sheehan burgers.  I do notice that on their newer ships, the actual forward elevators are dedicated to the Haven, so that the rest of the ship only gets 2 banks of elevators, which is indeed annoying.  It's also annoying being in a forward cabin and having a really long walk to the 'forward' elevators.

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FYI "prime rib" is beef from a specific cut ("primal cut") between specific ribs of the animal.  It does not imply USDA "prime" rated beef. 

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Our last cruise was 4 years ago, just one steward, I can’t remember previous ones. The specialty restaurants are packed now because it’s a popular perk, in the past they were t busy even though they were much less expensive than now. I think there are a lot of scooters on cruises because it’s a good vacation for those with mobility challenges.

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My wife and I are from Canada, we did not find the price that expensive for the cruise with a balcony room. What is expensive considered? If we are allowed to talk about that here, if not never mind. 🙂

 

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Thanks for your review and observations.

 

I'm from eastern Canada.  I've just booked my first Norwegian cruise.  Have done 1 Disney and 3 RCL cruises before.

 

I see from reading up on the Norwegian threads that many of the perks are somehow included, but I don't think the Bev package is included in the cruise we purchased.  Is the Bev package pricing for NCL in the same ball park as RCL for those who did both?

 

Thanks

dp

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I am from Montreal, I believe the free booze package as I like to call it, is only if you booked a balcony room of a certain category.

But I could be wrong... can anyone confirm this?

The package included in my deal is it covers any drink that would normally cost up to $15 us. So thats most of what I like to drink... so I am ok with that...

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8 minutes ago, RobInMtl said:

I am from Montreal, I believe the free booze package as I like to call it, is only if you booked a balcony room of a certain category.

But I could be wrong... can anyone confirm this?

The package included in my deal is it covers any drink that would normally cost up to $15 us. So thats most of what I like to drink... so I am ok with that...

 

 

I just recently booked a Studio Cabin and received the alcohol package.

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We were on Escape out of NYC back in Sept. and we were @ O'Sheehans twice.  Once would have been enough for me after the first miserable meal, but my partner has this thing for "Irish Pubs" (HA!) so we went back a second time - and it was worse.

 

We had that nasty prime rib you mentioned .. rubbery, fatty, a measly thin slice .. and barely warm .. and the baked potato was a reheat leftover from some day prior .. theres no masking an old potato.  Sloppy plating, barely any butter or sour  cream to mask the over the hilll taste.       Servers both times were terrible too.  Im usually very lenient with this on cruise ships, but these 2 giggly silly acting girls .. forgetting drinks, bringing out the entree before the apps (which were also gross ..  the chips & spinach-artichoke dip and the wings) .. .  just a sloppy mess of a dining option all around ... i would never go back to O'Sheehans.  Lunch the next day was just as much of a chaotic mess.

 

On the other hand the other dining venues we went to Savor and Taste were wonderful .. great service too.   As was Bayamo and the Italian place (forgot the name).  

 

NCL should be embarrassed by that disgusting prime rib  .. which they tout and advertise all over the ship  .. and by O'Sheehans too.

 

Absolutely loved the made to order breakfasts up in Margaritaville in the AM .. so peaceful and tranquil up there while the hordes of people in the buffet fought each other over bacon and waffles.. lol.   We ate up here most every AM.     

 

Loved the cruise and the ship, though .. and found NCLs service overall better than RCCL.   We will be back on NCL for sure.

 

 

Edited by F27TW

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17 hours ago, ziggyuk said:

Why would you be selling a room at a loss? The only loss is to sail with an empty room regardless of the guests onboard spend.

 

Choice 1: sell the insides at a discount last minute and make something.

Choice 2: sail with empty insides and make nothing.

They are trying to change customer behavior.  They probably have data showing cruisers moving to more last minute cruise deals rather than booking early.  I remember RCCL announcing this a few years ago.  I found this article from 2016.  The economy is doing well right now so travel companies are taking advantage of this, especially bigger companies like Disney.  During the next recession, you will see the policies change again.    

 

https://skift.com/2016/02/03/royal-caribbean-ceo-says-last-minute-discounts-are-not-coming-back/

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46 minutes ago, dpostman said:

Thanks for your review and observations.

 

I'm from eastern Canada.  I've just booked my first Norwegian cruise.  Have done 1 Disney and 3 RCL cruises before.

 

I see from reading up on the Norwegian threads that many of the perks are somehow included, but I don't think the Bev package is included in the cruise we purchased.  Is the Bev package pricing for NCL in the same ball park as RCL for those who did both?

 

Thanks

dp

 

Log into your NCL account and select Summary.  It will display what you signed up for.  See below.  If you are not signed up, you can still call and add it.  You would need to pay the $19.80 per day per person gratuities charge for everyone in your cabin over 21.  Its not really worth it to buy outside the perks.  Cost is $99/pp/pd plus 20%.  You are looking at over $1600 for two on a 7 day cruise.  

 

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