October 2015 - Norwegian Epic to Europe - Western Mediterranean
I have been on several cruises before (all Disney/Big Red Boat and Royal Caribbean) and really enjoyed this cruise. The multiple areas, activities, bars, and restaurants were a real treat for us in regards to taking care of our "down time" onboard between cruise locations.
The staff was friendly, but there were few that were really excited to be helping us it seemed. The food was ok, but there were a ton of choices, and the locations and excursion choices were great.
Our biggest issue was the lack of communication or knowledge of what was going on. Here are a few instances:
1. We had the UBP (Ultimate Beverage Package) and you still get a receipt with a "charge" on it after every drink you order... when you arrive and get your first drink, you feel like you're getting charged and your UBP isn't working-- causing some worry on my part.
2. We have the 4UDP (4 Meal Ultimate Dining Package) as well and did not get an itinerary or list of the restaurants and times we had pre-chosen before arriving on the ship.
3. To compound with #2 above, when we arrived on the ship, everything stated that we were on the 5th day (even though we were on our first, essentially giving us the exact same information as the Barcelona boarders) and the information provided on the APP and through the team was only good up until that last date and then started over with the rest of the information on the next boarding of the Barcelona group. This really made us feel like we were second class to them. Cruise experiences (especially free-style cruising) should feel like it's tailored to each group of people arriving on board.
4. Departing was difficult in Rome if you wanted to do an excursion as well. The staff wasn't quite sure how to handle this (since we weren't doing an excursion that had a set non-port drop off location) and the information provided on getting to the train station from the port was also unclear. We had to go through 3 different people to figure out what luggage tags we needed and we ended up having to talk to our tour guide and porters in order to really figure out what we needed to do in order to get to where we needed AFTER the excursion.
5. The app/TV was helpful on what was going on onboard and with your account, but again, like #3, only gave you the Barcelona timeline information.
6. The additional gratuities and service charges for meals/drinks/shows were not conveyed and described as well as they should have been ahead of time. When choosing our meal package, we were not fully aware that there would be an additional service charge billed with each meal we sat down to be served for (including "free" meals at TASTE & Manhattan Room) and the additional 18% gratuity already included in drink costs/meal costs was also quite confusing as to whether we should tip additionally or not and felt like we were obligated to anyways.
Overall, we'll definitely cruise like Norwegian's again (it was awesome and we love the fast you wake up in a new location without the hassle of traveling via air/rail/bus)-- but I really think the communication level needs to increase between the cruise line and it passengers on what is to be expected in terms of costs, process of boarding and disembarking, etc.