September 2015 - 12 Night Grand Mediterranean (Barcelona To Venice) Cruise on Norwegian Spirit
Review of 12-day Mediterranean Cruise
I sent the attached to NCL, but was very surprised to hear nothing back. They must not care if comments are negative. I also have comments regarding Air Canada, but I will send those directly to the airline. Below is the letter I sent to NCL.
To Whom It May Concern:
Re: Norwegian Cruise (Spirit) – September 18-30, 2015
Room 9566 (Mary S. Riolo)
I took the general survey yesterday, but it did not allow enough room, so I am sending this to you as well.
To start, I want to tell you that this is my 4th cruise, but the 1st with Norwegian. I travelled with 5 other family members and for 3 of them, it was their 1st cruise. We all purchased the ultimate beverage and dining package and requested and received balcony rooms.
Boat was clean and had many restaurant/bar options.
Food was the best we have ever eaten on any cruise line (for the 3 of us who have cruised before and for the 3 newbies – they loved it).
Staff were friendly and courteous (except for one hostess in La Trattoria, but that was handled by your cruise manager).
Arrival/departure times were pretty much on target. Getting on and off the boat was easy in all ports.
Had to make a medical emergency stop on the way to Venice, but it was handled efficiently and quickly and we docked in Venice on time. Impressive.
Daily drink specials were delicious.
Our restaurant experiences were all excellent and we ate in several of the restaurants for dinner – Shogun, Le Bistro, La Trattoria, Cagney’s. We frequented Le Bistro and Cagney’s several times – staff were phenomenal as well.
Our steward Derek, (room 9566) was amazing. Not only was he very friendly and courteous, but able to answer all of our questions (unlike many of the staff at the service desk), and kept our room spotless and comfortable.
Shows were very good.
Events in the The Galaxy of Stars were fun and entertaining.
When we began to shop for a Mediterranean cruise, we were convinced to go with Norwegian because the agent not only gave us a good deal, but assured us that our rooms would be together and that the dividing panels between our balconies could be removed so we could have one big balcony to sit out on altogether. This vacation was a long time coming for us, and we lost two members of our family in 2014, so it was very important to us that we were together as much as possible. When we arrived at the ship and saw that the panels had not been removed, we inquired and received 3 different answers from 3 different people. Bottom line, we were not able to have the panels removed, which was very disappointing to all of us. This was a HUGE factor in our booking with NCL and we felt we had been misled.
We had a continuous problem with our toilet in 9566. We had to make several calls throughout our stay and by the time they sort of fixed it, we had been on the cruise for 10 days! My guess is they were unable to fix it entirely, but did not want to admit it.
We purchased the unlimited beverage/dining package, but were never told that it did not include water or coffee (from the Café). We found it utterly ridiculous that we could not get bottled water or a café mocha without being charged. We were told if we put liquor in the café mocha, there was no charge. It made no sense since liquor is far more expensive than coffee and water that these two items were excluded from our package. For the tours, you had staff selling bottled water for $4.50/bottle, but as soon as we got on our tour buses we were offered free bottled water. Do you really think that this makes sense?
Bar service was slow all over the boat. On the first day at sea, when you had everyone on board, there was only one bartender making the drinks at the upper bar by the pool (we got up early to get chairs right by this area so we could get our drinks quickly). He was extremely fast, but when you have dozens of people coming up to order drinks, and only 1 person making them, we had to wait a long time for our cocktails.
Went to change American dollars to Euros at your desk and found out you charge a $10 commission – ridiculous. Fortunately, I did not have to utilize it after all and was able to change my money in the ports with no commission.
The staff at the service and shore excursion desk are not as knowledgeable as they should be. We often found them unable to directly answer our questions, or try to ‘go around’ it and did not get a straight answer. One or two of them even seemed to get frustrated by our inquiries and that made us a little concerned.
Most of the tours were very good. However, one tour in particular stood out as bad…Istanbul. Our tour guide ‘Lily’ seemed to be very knowledge, but it became clear she was not in the mood to take us around and was only out for herself. Here is what happened…
She told us we would not be able to go into the Blue Mosque because of the holiday, but when we returned we found out that the tour bus right before us got to go in.
She took us to a different mosque, which was very beautiful, but when you spend all this money and expect to see the famous Blue Mosque, it is disappointing.
She took us next to St. Sofia and the museum, but after giving us information, just left us to go around to wherever we wanted and said she would ‘take us’ to specific vendors to buy souvenirs, which she later did.
The last stop, a rug market and jeweler – she insisted that we would have to go into the rug making demo, and it would only last 15 minutes, and then down to the jewelers. We ended up being there close to an hour (felt it was rude to leave in the middle of the rug demo, and jewelers who were trying to sell us stuff). When we finally escaped (yes, I said escaped), we found we only had 20 minutes left to shop. This was an all-day tour and she left us only 20 minutes for shopping. My guess is that she receives some sort of commission for taking us to these particular vendors. In all honesty, to my knowledge, no one bought a rug or jewelry because we had such a short time to shop in the market around the corner, and aggressive sales people are actually a turn-off. And truthfully, we found the prices outrageous. When we finally went to the market to shop, having such a short time, we had to rush thru to try and make our purchases. We were ‘attacked’ by many vendors. I have travelled to Europe before and I know some salesmen can get very aggressive, but we have never seen anything like this. One of them actually chased us to our bus – very scary. And, my cousin was cheated out of $40.00. She purchased 3 small rugs at an agreed price of $40.00. The salesman took off with her money, and then another one came by and took all the rugs out of her bag saying they were his rugs to sell and she couldn’t have them. Obviously a setup by these two salesmen to get money out of the Americans. Upsetting to say the least. Could not wait to get out of Istanbul. Found Kusadasi so much nicer and the sales people were not pushy, very helpful and gave us some great deals. We ended up purchasing what we wanted there.
As a whole, we had an amazing time (spent an additional 5 days in Italy after the cruise to visit family). However, I cannot honestly say that any of us would take a NCL cruise again. We would definitely consider a Mediterranean cruise again, maybe with some different ports, but not necessarily on NCL. The food was the one great thing you had going for you, but the rest was a little disappointing. We had many friends and family who could not wait for us to return to tell them what we thought as they want to do a cruise next year. We will be honest and forthcoming with this info and let them decide who to go with.
I hope you will take these comments into consideration to improve service a bit, and consider including water and coffee in your beverage packages.