If you don't like long lines, you may want to reconsider. This is just from my personal experience, but my cruise preferences may not be the same as yours. I'll write about both the good and the bad experiences I had on this ship to help others make an informed decision.
2 out of 5
This is where the fun begins! For starters, we had four with us, including a seven year old. The governmental side of the embarkation process was a breeze, we had no issues with that at all. Our issues came with the Norwegian side. I understand that they wanted to screen everyone for Coronavirus, and I appreciate that. However, we had to wait in line for two and a half hours because of this. On other cruise lines, we would have been on in an hour tops, so why did we have to wait so long this time around? Would I cruise out of this terminal again? Absolutely, but not with Norwegian.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Food was good, there was plenty of variety in the buffet, but a lot of food was repeated. Even in the dining rooms, the choices never changed. On other lines, I enjoy trying new foods, and they even change 2 or 3 of the entrees out but keep 2 or 3 of them to make sure that there's at least one thing you would probably like.
If I wanted to try something new, I had to pay a $15 cover charge to go to a specialty restaurant. Even the offerings in the buffet line got to be very redundant.
If you wanted to eat in a specific dining room, you had to make reservations. I get that. What I don't get is why it takes two hours to eat in the restaurant, when on other lines it takes you less than an hour? Last year, I went on Adventure Of The Seas (RC), which is comparable in size. I NEVER waited more than an hour for my food!
We did a Shore Excursion to NASA, so on that night, we got a reservation for 8:30, not knowing when we would get back to the ship (our All Aboard was at 8PM). We made it back early (around 6:30), so we called to see if we could get our reservation moved up. We were told no because the reservations had closed due to the restaurants opening, but we were told that we could show up and they would seat us if they had room. If you call a restaurant on land and ask to move the reservation up, chances are you can do it, why not here?
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea
5 out of 5
By far my favorite restaurant, but again, under utilized. It's on Deck 17 so not many people know it's there. We never had any issues getting a table. What came as a shock was that in every other Margaritaville we've been in, they ALWAYS had Jimmy Buffet music playing, but why not at this location?
4 out of 5
Very nice space for programs that have a large pull! Trivia was held here, and we had no issues finding a spot to sit!
Savor Restaurant - Main Dining Room
2 out of 5
The menu options never changed and it took us an average of 2 hours per night to eat dinner due to slow service. I've never seen this happen on any other ship, including the megaship I went on last year (Adventure Of The Seas), so why was it an issue here?
The Manhattan Room - Main Dining Room
2 out of 5
I got the same service here that I got at Savor, which was a 2 hour minimum service time frame, and the meals here and at Savor were redundant. On the last night, I ordered a refill of Diet Pepsi.....I'm still waiting for it!
The Observation Lounge
5 out of 5
This under utilized lounge was by far my favorite spot. Never had redundant food, no crowds, and never had issues finding a seat! Plus, it had the best views of NYC!
3 out of 5
Very crowded, and the food offerings were very redundant.
3 out of 5
Many of the activities (bowling, go carts, Laser Tag, etc.) had and extra fee added to them. If I'm already paying for the cruise, why would I want to pay more to use some of the attractions?
I didn't go on the slides this time because a.) the weather was too cold and b.) every time I went to the water park, I saw a few people get stuck on the slides. They really need to rethink their engineering of the slides. Some of the turns have you projected to go up, which water, naturally doesn't help you do. If there isn't enough water to carry you up and around the turn, you'll slide backwards, which can be dangerous. If they didn't have you projected to go up, you wouldn't have this problem.
Pools were great, there was room for everyone. My little niece (the aforementioned seven year old) loved the water park. There was one incident where a child did get hurt, but thanks to some observant passengers, the child was able to get the medical attention he needed right away.
Tradewinds Tax-and-Duty-Free Shops
3 out of 5
This venue left a lot to be desired in terms of variety. A lot of it has things geared towards adults, and I get it. However, if you've got a family with kids, you won't find much here in terms of souvenirs. I have a nephew I was trying to find a souvenir for, and it was hard enough shopping for him, let alone his sister, who was on the ship with me! Plus, a lot of the items that were of interest to me weren't even put out on display until the blowout sale on the last day.
3 out of 5
I work in the recreational field, and as a recreational professional, I felt that there was a lot to be desired. First of all, they didn't have a heck of a lot of variety with the activities offered. Usually when I cruise, I like to see a variety of activities offered. I know not everyone is going to like everything, and that's ok. But if I'm walking around the ship and have a half hour to kill, I might pop in on a trivia game or dance class. They played a lot of "Deal Or No Deal" or "Bingo", both of which you had to buy cards for.
With that said, I work in the recreation field with senior citizens and was inspired by a movie trivia comedy game that they hosted. I would love to try it with my seniors at work.
"Jersey Boys" and "Six" were FANTASTIC! "Six" is about the six wives of King Henry the VIII (Catherine of Aragon, Ann Boleyn, Anna of Cleves, Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr). This was my niece's first, and favorite of the two, Broadway shows! This was a new show for me as well, and I was pleasantly surprised.
"Jersey Boys" is one I've wanted to see since it came out. The actor playing Frankie Valli did a fabulous job! This show certainly did not disappoint.
With that said, the sound was way off. There was no sound tiles, which means that there was some dialogue that couldn't be heard. Picking up on this and using my Musical Theater background, I started to look at how the actors were handling the mics to see if they were holding them correctly, which they were.
All that being said, the theater was way under utilized. The only other time I saw it was when my niece was in the circus for the kids (see more below for the feedback on the kid's program). Even during disembarkation, unlike other cruise lines, they weren't allowing the passengers to wait in the theater. Now I understand the acts have to rehearse, and I respect that. But there must be times when a performer isn't rehearsing, surely they could use that venue for something else as well.
4 out of 5
Good but under utilized. The handicap seats could be a little larger (we have two tall folks in the family, including me), and found the arm rests to be very short. We couldn't order drinks because the cup holders fell right under our forearms, so we could either use the arm rest or use the cup holder, but not both.This venue was not open on Debarkation Day, contributing to all the passenger traffic in the hallways. Why it wasn't open was beyond me. It was also not open for anything but shows, but on other cruise lines it was used for other activities as well, why was this not the case on this ship?
4 out of 5
My niece enjoyed the kid's programs, and loved being in the circus. However, it loses a star because on the last night, they decided to have a PJ party. There is a fire code, I understand that and I respect that...but a seven year old doesn't. On that night, we waited in line for over an hour with her, and when we finally got to the front of the line (there were like 4 other kids in front of her at this point), they closed the doors and told us we were welcome to wait for a spot to open up. She sat there and cried for an hour with the other kids who also got the doors shut on them. We were there on time, we got there by 7 and the party was set to start at 7:30. There were 8-10 other families who cut everyone in line and they got their kids in. Furious, we went to Guest Services after talking with the Youth Staff (who were sympathetic but their hands were tied, I get that) to complain. We were told that WE were the ones responsible for the crowd control of that line, and that the staff wasn't responsible. There was no way we were starting a fight with other families in that line.
However, my niece loved performing in the circus! She was one of the Feather Balancers, and loved it so much, she didn't want to take her makeup off!
My suggestion for them: they knew that this was School Vacation Week for many districts, why didn't they plan for it? They could have closed off part of one of the lounges or restaurants and held some kid's activities there.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
There were many that seemed not to care, and those that did care were in no position to help us. There was no communication between the crew and passengers either. I get that the schedule for the daily activities is delivered to the cabin every night, and I do read it. However, it would be nice to be reminded a few times a day of the activity highlights. I forget a lot of the time, and miss out on some of my favorite activities. Now I understand that they're announced over the loudspeaker in the common areas, but with everyone talking over each other, how am I supposed to hear them?
The three crew members who stood out were one lady at Guest Services, our Cabin Steward, and one of the Bus Boys at the Garden Café. Here is why for each of them:
Cabin Steward: This was my niece's first cruise and my 20th cruise. My family heard that they no longer make the towel animals for the cabins, which is a cruise tradition, however, the stewards would still make them if you asked them. We asked him to make them for my niece on the first day and he made them for her everyday. Her face would light up every time she saw one of the "stowaways"!
The Bus Boy: After waiting an hour outside the kid's club and being denied access at the PJ party, we took her up (still in tears) to the Garden Café. One of the Bus Boys noticed her crying and asked what was wrong. She told him and he said "Everyone cries on the last night of the cruise". He sat there for about 5 min. trying to cheer her up. Finally, he said he had to get back to work, and then came back about 5 min later with a dish of her favorite ice cream, and calmed her down even more, by mentioning how sorry he was for how she felt, and just letting her vent.
Guest Services Representative: We had asked before because it was never mentioned in any written material where to wait on Debarkation Day. We were told to wait in the cabin. We chose to use the Self Assist option, so after breakfast we went back to our cabin and waited for our tag color to be called. When it was finally called, we proceeded to the elevators as instructed. We waited for 45 min (please see below for reason regarding elevators) before proceeding on foot to Deck 7 as instructed (our cabin was on Deck 10). However, the line was backed up all the way to Deck 9! So we took the elevators down to Deck 6 and told the Guest Services lady what happened. She then got special permission to take us through the line the back way (using the employee elevators), making our Debarkation with one injured passenger (me) and one passenger with arthritis in both knees, much easier.
4 out of 5
Very clean, but due to the volume of passengers, they could use an extra elevator shaft or two midship. We had one injured passenger (me) and one with arthritis in both knees with us. We had to wait for at least 20 min. on three separate occasions for an elevator...even though our cabin was right next to the elevator shaft!
Cabin / Stateroom
3 out of 5
Cleanliness was excellent, and it was very spacious, even for four people. We never had issues with storage.
If you like waiting in long lines, this is the cruise for you! Also, if you plan on eating at Margaritaville, do so now, they will be replacing it by the end of the month with American Diner. If you plan to see the Statue Of Liberty, go to the Observation Lounge on Deck 15 on Embarkation Day. Also, if crowds aren't your thing, you can take food from the buffet down there or you can just eat from the buffet they set out there.
I've been to this port many times, and I love it each time. This was the first time my niece visited the port, and while we didn't sight see, she was in awe at the Statue Of Liberty and the skyscrapers.
Our ship arrived at the port at 10 AM, however, our tender number didn't get called until 3PM and we had to be back onboard by 5. I understand that weather can be a factor, but on all the other cruise lines I've been on, it's NEVER taken 5 hours to tender an entire ship in! An hour or two, maybe, but not 5!
I've been here several times before, but my niece hadn't. She loved seeing all the Palm Trees (this was her first foreign country). She loved all the free jewelry she got from Diamonds International, but her favorite store by far (and mine too!) was Del Sol! I think I created a monster by taking her there: she wanted to color change EVERYTHING! She got herself some nail polish and a t-shirt, and thought it was the coolest thing ever!
1 out of 5
After the experience with the elevators (see above under Service And Staff), we missed our charter back to the hotel (we were scheduled to debark an 8:15 AM and our charter was scheduled for 9:30 AM), we had to wait outside in about 35 degree weather for the next charter to come in.....45 min. later!
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