March 2016 - Norwegian Star to Caribbean - Western
I was so excited to try NCL. Booked a 7 day cruise with my mom (87 years young). She has had great experiences with NCL in the past and wanted me to see how great they are. Well, it didn't work out that way.
Let's start with the over priced mid-ship balcony on deck 10. These are the smallest rooms my mother or I have ever encountered. The room is only 166 sf, of which a third is the bathroom and closet. The twin beds and trundle bed take up more than another third. Throw in the TV and table with chair and you really have no room at all. Also note that there is no bureau, only a single closet.
Next we experienced the free style dining. Service was questionable to poor every meal. One hostess was seating passengers while she kept one hand in her pockets. Another waiter rolled his eyes at me when I placed my order. Several times the order was incorrect. All rolls were cold, never served warm. The food was poor to fair. The vegetables were previously frozen and improperly prepared (shriveled and dry) and the Cordon Blue was one step below the frozen meals we buy in the local grocery store. Having talked with many other passengers, we heard the same reviews of the service and food. Note, the Ginka restaurant was excellent in both service and food.
NCL also used misleading nomenclature in their daily brochures by stating 24/7 dining without having dining available 24/7 except when ordering Room Service (which has a $7.95 fee each order). Beware of the free style dining dress code. Shoes and shirt are required, however sleeveless "shirts" are not considered shirts. In the Main Dining after 5:00 PM, shorts are not allowed, unless you are female and carrying your drinks with you. After 11:00 PM the only food available is in the sit down dining and all buffets are closed.
The pool was a joke as it was smaller than most backyard pools. Granted there were four hot tubs around the pool, but the pool itself was tiny. They had two water slides, but only had them open on occasion, and I never saw both open at the same time. The hot tubs were limited to six persons and no food or drink. However many times there were ten to twenty persons in each hot tub and with glass bottles and mixed drinks in glasses. One evening I walked by the pool after it was closed and saw a drinking glass and a glass bottle both on the bottom of the pool. I noticed that my dress code for the restaurants broke the rules and were enforced, but those who are buying the drinks were allowed to do as they pleased.
One of my favorite things on a cruise is the nightly comedy shows. Too bad NCL only had two shows in this seven day cruise. I tried to attend one of the shows but the lounge was so over crowded that I couldn't even see the stage or walk into the lounge.
On a positive note, the shows in the theater were good, even though one was a single stand up comedian and another a hypnotist. There was no enforcement by the crew to make sure passengers wouldn't interrupt the shows by arriving late. Every show had people walking in during the show up to a half hour after the shows started.
Speaking with many of the previous NCL passengers on this cruise, almost every one of them commented that the crew treated the passengers as if the passengers were an inconvenience rather than guests. So many commented, "This is the rudest crew ever".
Now for the nail in the coffin. I spoke with the supervisor of NCL excursions and he made a special call to housekeeping to make sure my m other would have a wheelchair available to get from the ship to the excursion. Being safe, we checked on the morning of the excursion and the cruise director called housekeeping, who were already on the pier, to confirm the wheelchair. My mother and I weren't allowed to bring her scooter on the tender, but we managed to get to the pier. We had to walk the length of the pier to get to the NCL tent where they refused to let my mother use the wheelchair! We managed to walk, stop, and rest until we reached the excursion. On our way we met three other NCL cruisers riding their scooters which were brought from the ship via tender.
I will not let this keep me from cruising in the future. Unless I have a free cruise with NCL, I will never use their cruise line again. I have always had better success and treatment on Carnival and will continue to support them in the future.
BEWARE: NCL now offers unlimited drink packages which appeal to many. My personal guess is with this, NCL will become the new "party" cruise. Be prepared for everyone to drink from the minute they embark until the minute they disembark. I think it is great for them to party, however the alcohol creates some truly unwanted actions on board.