7 Things Cruisers Are Saying About Norwegian Joy

norwegian joy member impressions reviews
Norwegian Joy is the line's newest ship sailing in Alaska. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Several months ago, the Cruiseline.com team sailed Norwegian’s new-to-America ship, Norwegian Joy, and shared our opinions on everything from dining to cabins and design. This week, we read through a hundred reviews written by Cruiseline.com members to see what cruisers have to say about Norwegian’s newest ship in Alaska.

1. The ship has notably nice showers.

norwegian joy cabin stateroom shower
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

While the cabins themselves seemed to be a mixed bag with our members as far as size and quality, plenty of reviewers made a point to mention how nice the showers are. No matter which cabin cruisers booked, they were happily surprised with the size and layout of the shower in the bathroom. And we would have to agree - for a cruise ship shower they’re large and have glass doors instead of a dreaded shower curtain.

"Mini suite was roomy and well designed. Bathroom was huge and the shower was a full size with all Amenities." - AndySam (read review)

"Loved our balcony room. The bathroom was a little larger than other ship’s. Shower was really nice." - rstewts (read review)

"Good size. Nice balcony. Shower was awesome. 6 jets and shower head. Mattress was not great. Everything was clean and fresh." - Kathy0330 (read review)

"Very nice sized room, comfortable beds and pillows and a nice sized bathroom with a bigger then normal shower." - GoldenGirl1 (read review)

"More room than we were expecting, comfortable king bed, but the foldout was terrible. Shower was nice, and the cabin had lots of storage." - caseylackey (read review)


2. Cagney’s steakhouse has polarizing mixed reviews.

Norwegian joy steakhouse dining cagney's specialty restaurant
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

The American-style steakhouse is a staple on many mainstream cruise lines, and Cagney’s on Norwegian is often praised for being one of the best. However, reviews were quite varied for the venue on Norwegian Joy. While some travelers were more than happy with the fare, multiple members went out of their way to specifically mention that the prime rib was better in the buffet than at the ship’s specialty steakhouse.

"We ate in Cagney's, the Q and the Italian specialty restaurants and they were excellent." - Serenity0901 (read review)

"Cagney's twice - first time awesome - second time service was horrible. Two and a half hours to eat. Le Bistro was the same - horrible service and another 2 and a half hour meal." - aurora611 (read review)

"Buffet-for the most part average to above average for any buffet. The prime rib was hands down better than the Cagneys Steakhouse. My porterhouse was tough and gristly. My wife argued with the maitre'd regarding the correctness of the cooking of her steak. Her crab cake had 8 pieces of shell and the crab came out of a can... at a specialty restaurant?" - dadavis7 (read reviews)

"Negative was the steak house. Service was slow and the food was about what you can get in the dining room on other ships at no charge. Took 30 minute to get a rare steak, sides came 20 minutes later than steak and had to ask for them. Then another 20 minutes for our desert." - tammymhicks7 (read review)

"Some restaurants were excellent like La Bistro and Cagney's Steakhouse but some others were not well managed." - Think (read review)

"Food for most part was excellent, except, found prime rib on Friday night in the buffet was better than the prime rib in Cagney's." - Charlie24now (read review)


3. The buffet exceeds expectations.

norwegian joy garden cafe buffet restaurant
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

While nothing is agreed upon 100 percent, the majority of our Norwegian Joy-sailing members found that the ship’s Garden Café buffet exceeded expectations. People lauded the casual restaurant for its vast variety of dishes and unique offerings each day. However, many noted that as with most cruise ship buffets, it was hard to find a table during peak mealtimes.

"Excellent variety of food from which to choose. Sometimes difficult to find seating in the area." - Francir1 (read review)

"We loved the variety and quality of food! We were amazed at how much variety the buffet had, and most everything was very good." - mcpsing (read review)

"One of the best ship buffets I've encountered. The service hours are strict, so double-check the schedule before you assume it will still be open after a show. It can get crowded at busier times. I never had to wait in line much, but the seating would fill up. I usually brought an extra sweatshirt in case I thought I'd need to find a seat outside." - Stevegan (read review)

"Buffet was good too. It was kind of a free for all at peak times but that was the number of customers eating there. Norwegian Joy did everything right to accommodate the sometimes high volume of people at the Buffet." - jsigmont (read review)

"The buffet was constantly changing it up so it wasn’t boring." - PearHunter (read review)


4. Laser tag is worth the money.

norwegian bliss laser tag course activities
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Joy has some really unique activities that are hard to find elsewhere at sea, including a go kart track and laser tag course. Plenty of reviewers fell in love with the laser tag, even those who had apprehensions about it ahead of time. Several people recommended waiting until the sun sets to play, since it’s easier to aim when you can actually see the lasers. We here at Cruiseline.com had a blast playing in broad daylight, but we’d have to agree that the experience would be even better at night!

"Laser Tag was so much cooler then I expected from pictures. It is a great set up and I would highly recommend to play at night, their are laser pointers on the guns but you can’t see these during the day so aiming is harder." - clhamdavis (read review)

"The activities such as the race track and laser tag are really fun, but involve a fee." - jlj1953 (read review)

"My kids really enjoyed the Race Track. It was definitely worth the small expense. Laser tag was fun too and worth the money." - TylerStevens (read review)

"Go karts at sea!!! Laser tag. Virtual reality. Great fun for all the family." - twilliams3856 (read review)

Tip: When it comes to enjoying the virtual reality games in the Galaxy Pavilion, multiple members warned that you shouldn’t do them on a full stomach. Many of the games are incredibly realistic, and left participants feeling queasy afterwards.


5. The crew members are among the best of the best.

norwegian cruise crew staff service
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

It’s not uncommon to find praise for specific staff members in a review, but we were pleasantly surprised to see just how excellent our members thought the entire crew was during their voyage on the ship. Friendliness and attentiveness earned the crew high praise in the majority of our reviews for Norwegian Joy.

"This was probably the best service that I have had on 17 cruises! The staff was always friendly and attentive! We especially loved our cabin steward, the servers at Savor and "The Local" and the staff at the race track." - jlj1953 (read review)

"All of the service people, the waiters, and especially our room steward were wonderful, friendly, informative, and saw to all of our needs. They all had wonderful smiles on all the time and they all worked so very hard." - mluersx5 (read review)

"Best staff I have experienced." - ktmenifee (read review)

"I thought the service was top notch. The bartenders kept me in drinks, the service in the restaurants was excellent. Our room steward was a very nice man and helped us a lot." - Serenity0901 (read review)

"Everyone was so friendly and concerned with cleanliness. They really made you feel welcome and appreciated." - PearHunter (read review)

"The best crew we have ever had. EVERYONE was friendly and very helpful." - twilliams3856 (read review)

"Everyone was professional and provide excellent service. I don’t think we were able to go more than 10 feet without someone greeting us and asking how our cruise was going. All team members were very engaging." - RegWoo (read review)

"The staff I encountered were all amazing. They help make my Alaskan cruise experience a memorable one." - PRsolocruiser (read review)


6. Cruisers either love or hate Footloose, but Elements is a crowd favorite.

norwegian cruise entertainment theater show elements
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line is well-known for their quality entertainment, and while many reviewers loved Joy’s Footloose main stage show, others thought that it was too long and the musical’s lead singers lacked the strength and endurance to carry such a lengthy performance. However, the shorter magic and acrobatics-infused show Elements received stellar comments from Cruiseline.com members.

"Footloose was excellent! Frustrated that we couldn't get into the comedy shows...sold out too quickly." - MrsandMrG (read review)

"Elements was excellent.. Footloose was good , but leading lady singer did not have the voice to command the show." - mistim30 (read review)

"Footloose was my favorite as I loved the 80s movie. There is some sexual innuendo and may be more of a PG-13 content. I found the dancers and singers enthusiastic with quality voices. Elements was a shorter show with a bit of magic and dance but the fast pace made for great entertainment." - amberc81 (read review)

"The footloose show was amazing and a must see. Great performance by the cast. The element show was another great hit." - PRsolocruiser (read review)

"Footloose is ambitious. Too long. Leads do not have the voices to carry a 90 min show. Supporting case has much better voices but don't have the "look" I guess to be the leads. Shame. Elements is visually beautiful. Chinese "magician" and his assistant are very dramatic and take up too much time. Acrobats are amazing!" - aurora611 (read review)

Tip: "Make your reservations for the shows as soon as you get on board, they fill up fast." - Cruiser47467939 (read review)


7. The ship is extremely well-maintained, but there are design issues.

norwegian joy spice h2o design adults only
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Members praised not only the ship’s friendly and helpful crew members, but also how clean and well-maintained it was. However, some design issues popped up in several reviews, including an insufficient sized smoking area, a tightly packed Spice H2O deck, a strangely empty lido deck, and — a common cruise complaint — overcrowded elevators.

"Joy is definitely 'the Cadillac' of all ships in every way!!" - khkiser (read review)

"There was often a restroom attendant cleaning in the many bathrooms and I saw vacuuming and cleaning of handrails by the stairs during non busy times so as not to interfere with the traffic." - amberc81 (read review)

"Outside at spice H20 unsheltered 12X24 area CRAMMED with people trying to get around chairs,umbrellas, ash stands." - cruzinnoni (read review)

"Everything was clean & well maintained. Elevators for the most part inadequate for 3,800 people. Used the stairs mostly which was awkward at times." - gwdonovan08 (read review)

"It took my husband and I a day or so to get used to where everything was, and the maps on the walls by the elevators were a very big help. The common areas were very clean and very well maintained." - mluersx5 (read review)

"Brand new still could smell the carpets . Beautiful woodwork and restaurants." - kingpin318 (read review)

"Pool deck definitely missing something. Weather made it a non-issue. Unless you want to use the hot tubs really not a place to go." - Charlie24now (read review)

"Public areas are open. You never feel crowded A beautiful ship." - twilliams3856 (read review)

"We both smoke and the only place to do so was at the very back corner of the ship away from everything. There was about 50 of us crammed in the corner. There was no shelter from the rain and the cold." - ddrewry3015 (read review)

"The Joy is a beautiful and well-maintained ship. The ships designed made it very easy to navigate." - PRsolocruiser (read review)


More Member Thoughts

norwegian joy observation lounge windows ship sightseeing
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Spice H2O: "This area looks to be smaller than the Spice H2O areas on the other Breakaway ships. But, it has a full bar and the giant hot tub which were great for this Alaska cruise." Observation Lounge: "This is such an awesome area, particularly for an Alaskan cruise. If I would have had an inside cabin, I would have spent even more time here." The District Brew House: "So many beers, so little time! Great entertainment, efficient bar staff." The Waterfront: "I love the Waterfront area on all the Breakaway ships. Even though I have a balcony, it's nice to walk along this area, or crash on one of the couches, as the world floats by." Sugarcane Mojito Bar: "I've fallen in love with mojitos after this place. We had the solo traveler meetups here and I'd usually pickup a bedtime mojito here just before last call." - Stevegan (read review)

"Q was really good. Their BBQ is excellent and the house band is the best on the ship." - aurora611 (read review)

"I loved this ship's design except for 1 thing. You cannot walk around the entire ship on any level." - biglarrrr (read review)

Pulse Fitness Center: "Lots of equipment to accommodate users even at the busiest times." - Francir1 (read review)


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