May 2016 - Norwegian Escape to Caribbean - Eastern
This was the first cruise for my wife and I* (* I took a cruise in 1968 aboard a Matson ship, the SS Lurline from Los Angeles to Hawaii, but that was a whole different experience 47 years ago).
The ship is stunning and enormous (7th largest cruise ship in the world). Our cabin was very nice, with a massive balcony and nice location. Our room steward was great.
As a first time cruiser, I was disappointed that Norwegian's position seems to be, "we guess you'll figure out what you need to do on your own." The elevators were extremely slow. The food was good, to very good, but not great. I expected at least high-end Las Vegas quality (like the Paris)--but it was still good.
Avoid Bingo, it's a rip-off and a joke. The shows are good, not great.
The pool area is so crowded we avoided it during the day, preferring to go there very late afternoon. The slides were a blast.
We drank a lot on the trip, having secured the Ultimate Beverage Package. Thank God. We would have spent $2000 more without it. H20 and Skyline were a blast, with very good (and very over-worked bartenders.
I realize this ship cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, but I wasn't personally interested in being the one to pay for it. They hit you with fees left and right. The Manhattan Room is "included" dining, but two espressos after dinner is another $10. The service fee is insulting as well. We also got a few random fees here and there.
The last day sort of left a sour note-- A) Nassau was disappointing; I would have preferred to spend more time in the Virgin Islands. Additionally, since they had never authorized my credit card in Miami when we left, I decided to go settle my account the last night of the cruise (assuming it should be done before we were already docked in Miami). So I did--then my wife and I went to dinner--chaos ensues. Our cards have been "de-authorized." We had ordered drinks, and waiter brings us water instead, notifies us our cards are closed, and was very rude about it. I had to leave my wife at the restaurant and go to Guest Services to re-authorize our cards by placing $100 on our account. I found this quite insulting and was pretty vocal about it upon returning to the restaurant. The manager came up and apologized profusely but our waiter was pissed.
Finally, we were interested in buying souvenirs the last night on board, but discovered that they did not allow cash or credit card purchases. This was quite odd and we just didn't buy them.
Also, As first-timers, we had to figure out the luggage/debarkation/tag system on our own.
Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. We likely will not take a cruise like this again (I would likely do a Western Caribbean cruise) because I want more port time, It seemed that we could have stayed far longer in St. Thomas (we went out to sea for 12 hours for a 60 mile trip to Tortola). I was told it was so NCL could open the casino and make more money.
The $20 here and $20 there has got to stop, and constant barrage of sell-sell-sell needs to stop.