March 2016 - Norwegian Star to Caribbean - Western
Just completed a seven day Western Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines and feel the need to write a few words. There were some things that were enjoyable (the weather, the destinations, family time) and many that were less so (drunk passengers partying loudly until wee hours), that NCL cannot take the credit nor the blame. Well, maybe the unlimited drinks package had something to do with that last one. Either way, here are my thoughts on the main items of the cruise.
Stateroom – we had a balcony cabin on deck 9. It was similarly sized and appointed as one we had on a Princess cruise. The bathroom was actually manageable. Not sure if the walls were especially thin or if our neighbor was hard of hearing but we could hear his television clearly, endlessly, all day, all week. Our steward took good care of us, even though we could be gone three hours in the morning only to come back and our room had yet to be made up. But I can only image his work load so slack needed to be given.
Food – God help me for saying this, but the food in the Market Café (aka the buffet) was better and fresher than the food in the sit-down restaurants. One got the feeling that the entrées off the menus were pre-constructed long before the cruise and stored deep within the bowels on the ship only to be retrieved robotically once ordered.
Tendering – If one hasn’t cruised before “tendering” means you have to take a smaller ship to get you from the cruise ship to shore. On NCL you have to do this at two of the four stops. It is a nightmare. In Belize it wasn’t too bad, because they had large, open-air ferries carrying passengers ashore and the lines weren’t obscene. But in Honduras, they use the lifeboat tenders. One out of four of these would break down and the ones that did work leaked like sieves. As one can image this did not engender confidence. To add insult, Royal Caribbean was docked nice and pretty directly next to where NCL passengers had to stand in line for an hour in the blazing sun.
Public Announcements – “This is Olga, your deputy assistant cruise director, with a very important announcement. Come join us in the Spinnaker Lounge for Bingo in 30 minutes! It’s so much fun!” Does anyone appreciate these?
Music/Noise/Cacophony of sound – Not sure what to call it, but NCL seems equate loud with fun. As you board the ship, they blast music. As you disembark, they blast music. As you stand in line waiting to tender, they blast music. Whether you are by the pool, in the grand atrium, or trying to eat dinner the live music plays like they’re on stage, not background music. The piped-in music was playing Janet Jackson’s “Nasty Boys” at 7AM during breakfast – loudly.
To sum up, Norwegian Cruise Lines is like that friend you have that always comes to your parties. You like her well enough, but she always gets too drunk and sings along with Cher too loudly. She thinks she’s fun and entertaining. She’s not.