Cruise newbies are considering to book with NCL: Your thoughts?


My partner and I are considering going on our first cruise this year. The fact you can travel the world in an easy way sounds perfect for us. 

We've heard a lot of lovely stories about NCL but we are still not sure it will be the right cruise line for us (It's hard to choose, there are so many!). 

We are in our early 30's and the most important thing for us is the portfolio of activities offered on board and the quality of the food. 

What are your thoughts about the food? Is there any speciality restaurant you would highly recommend? 

We've seen this comp to win a Western Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian Epic (, we entered (you never know, with a bit of luck...), but really, we felt in love with the itinerary and are considering booking it anyway. Have you already experienced this one? What are your thoughts on Norwegian Epic? 

Thank you all for your help, it will be really appreciated! Happy


Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line NCL

7 Answers

I enjoyed the food the two times I was on Norwegian Pearl. I liked all the specialty restaurants I went to except the Italian one. It was very "plain" and I wouldn't recommend it. (I didn't try the French one). My recommendation is Cagney's steak house, the Brazilian BBQ, and Teppanyaki (Japanese Hibachi). There is also French, Japanese, and Italian. I don't think the Italian was worth the price.

From word of mouth, videos, and reading ship reviews it looks like the restaurants are about the same on all the NCL ships. I liked the Buffet as well. I didn't try any of the main dining rooms.

I thought the crew on the Pearl was wonderful. As far as entertainment I'm only interested in comedians and game shows. I enjoyed those on the Pearl. I don't attend the musical products but I'm sure someone here will have input on that.

The big thing I like about NCL is their freestyle cruising. It's a very casual and fun atmosphere.

We enjoy NCL. We cruise out of NY.

Many of the reviews for the Epic have been poor. I haven't experienced the ship myself, so take that info for what it's worth.

Some people hate the FreeStyle experience, but the truth is, many ships have adopted similar styles. It usually has to do with MDR dining requirements.

For Europe I'd suggest Celebrity Cruise lines. Celebrity is higher end with a well traveled upper middle class client base. The ships are modern elegance with great service, great food, good lecture series on longer cruises and tends to have less kids on it.

The Epic has a lot of poor reviews but some good ones. I myself have done 3 NCL cruises and over 20 cruises on other lines. If you go on NCL I'd strongly suggest you get the premium dining package as In my opinion the MDR has bad service and bad food. On the mega ships you need reservations for restaurants before you get on the ship. With Free style dining you eat where and when you want and wait in line for the free MDR. On other cruise lines you can have assigned seating so you have a set dinner time and set table mates to get to know over your cruise.

I like the idea of Freestyle. I have not been on NCL in a long time. Consult an experienced TA if you are really in a quandary. For me the itinerary is mot important. Enjoy your cruise and let us know how it goes.

I have sailed on NCL many times, but never on the mega ships. I have always enjoyed myself. If you enjoy the dining experience I would suggest the dining package. My favorites are Moderno's and Cagneys steak house.

Whatever cruise line you take enjoy!

It all depends on your taste. If you like the idea of dressing up for dinner then maybe Holland America or Celebrity are for you. For me personally, I love being able to wear shorts to dinner.

My wife and I just got off the Epic (our first with NCL) and loved them so much that we have already booked another (this time on the Gem).

Most of the negative reviews tend to focus on the people and the effect of over 4000 guests on the level of service. Seriously?!?!? How do you not know that there will be over 4000 people (not counting staff) and then whine about it in a review? I really hate people in large numbers and I was apprehensive about booking this cruise. I caved because it was what my wife wanted (how we are both happy after 24 years of marriage) Wink

I only had an issue with the sheer number of people on embarkation day. Forget using the elevators that day. Other than that I really didn't mind the other 4,498 guests on our cruise. I had no issues booking shows or the specialty restaurants. It took a few minutes at work after we hit the 90 days to cruising mark and a few minutes with the iconcierge app for the few things we had to book on board.

We ate at the buffet, O'Sheehans, taste (MDR #2) and three specialty restaurants. The food was great at all of them. The only complaints I can come up with is the steak I had at taste. It was an ok NY Strip (definitely not a high quality one) and one slow waiter at O'Sheehans.

The staff were great and I tipped above the instant service fees that they charge you. If you knew me you would know what a compliment that is.

Really though it comes down to what your preferences are and just how many people you want to be around.

My partner just did a 7 day and it was HORRIBLE. DONT DO IT. go anything but NCL


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