That`s it ? Can you submit your thoughts on cruising the Canal, maybe some ports? Surely it can't be all about the food and tips.
Review by carrenojesse
In response to review, Johngold says ...
Fortunately the experience reported by the original reviewer has not been our experience at all. We have cruised on NCL more than on any other line and one of the reasons we like them better, (not saying the others are not good) is the Freestyle dining. I don't know where the mention of all of the extra costs come in. That is simply not true. The tips are built in to the standard gratuities charge which to the best of our experience is the same on all cruise lines. One fixed fee per day regardless of the dining room. Sure, the specialty dining rooms charge a cover but that is the same for all cruise lines.
Personally, and this is just our preference, we like Freestyle as it means we don't have to bother with formal dressup nights. Every evening at dinner is the same dress casual and the same as it is on all the other lines.
On to the Panama Canal. Our passage was on RCL. That was our first experience on that line and it was fine. As to ports, it probably will differ with each line and cruise schedule but our first stop was Cartagena, Columbia. There are the usual choices of shore excursions. Since my wife and I are into photography and sightseeing, we chose the city tour. At Colon Panama (the day before entering the Canal) we had a bus ride from Colon to the Pacific side of the country and did a city tour of Panama City. One option to be considered at this stop, even though you will be seeing the canal passing through, a tour which shows the insides and the history and making of the canal looks like an interesting one too. We did not take this one since we could only manage one excursion that day, but from what info we saw of it it looked very informative and interesting.
Our passage was a through passage and not a round trip. We started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended st San Diego. So for those passing all the way through there are several stops on the Pacific side. We did zip lining in Costa Rico, water rafting at another stop, kayaking and snorkeling at Cabo San Lucas as the highlights.
The passage through the canal takes about eight to ten hours and that offers excellent opportunities to experience the rising and lowering of the locks several times as well as offering a good range of other sights to enjoy.
Monique and I did the Panama Canal on the Island Princess, and we loved it. We cruise also with NCL and enjoy the freedom the dining options gives, although on picture day we do get dressed up a bit......
All cruisers should know what their tip options are before cruising. I prefer to prepay but still you have the tips per bill on drinks. If one is aware of the charges that can be incurred during the voyage. I may start a thread on that topic.
I will have to agree with the OP that in order to get good service and food on NCL you have to go to one of the specialty dining rooms at added cost. The Line, slow service and poor food quality in the MDR is what makes NCL the bottom of my list when picking a cruise line.
The complaints about tipping I can not understand, the daily tips and the auto bar tips are standard on all lines.