So many things were closed early and I believe it was from the fact that there is so little staff to man them; from the slides, to the sports areas, the buffet, and the bars. The food quality was not good and not what you’d would have expected from NCL.
This was our kid’s first cruising experience. We had been telling them about all the experiences, food, entertainment, movies, and towel animals. It was so disappointing that none of their expectations were met. I know that not all expectations can be realistically met, but it would have been nice to have had a few of them realized. At least we had the four ports of call, all which they enjoyed immensely.
Last but not least, we paid for a picture package before the cruise. We received our USB drive at the end of the cruise with the 23 pictures we wanted. The issue is that almost half of the pictures were corrupt/bad. I emailed their ‘after the cruise’ customer support and they sent me a link to download all of our pictures we had bought, even though the stated reply time is 4-6 weeks.
We will most likely try a different cruise line next time.
3 out of 5
Sailed out of Miami We contacted NCL early about my daughter having Autism (she can have a difficult time with lines sometimes). They said they would provide quick entry onto the ship via special arrangement. However, this did not really happen (not completely). We were able to go through the ‘handicap’ line to do the initial registration / to get our ID / entry card. However, after that we were left to stand in the rest of the line.
Food and Dining
1 out of 5
Service was extremely slow. Every time, we went to one of the 3 included main dining venues (Savor, Taste, or Manhattan), it would take us 2+ hours from time we sat down to the time we left. We would end up waiting lengthy amounts of time for orders to be taken, drinks refilled, and food served. The food at the main restaurants was only slightly better than the buffet. Our orders at these venues were usually wrong, but since we did not want to wait another 45 minutes to an hour to get replacements, we dealt with it. The buffet wasn’t any better than a typical Golden Corral, which isn’t saying much. Real seafood was only available if you paid extra to dine in one of their specialty restaurants. On most cruises you have at least one night where you get to have lobster and/or prime rib or other premium items, complimentary. Never on this cruise! The additional cost for those restaurants were quite expensive, I could understand if the cost was a marginal up charge that represents the cost difference between what was included as standard fair and the cost of the premium experience, but it was not like that. I use to look forward to the dining experience and the food on cruise ships; I did not on this ship! Again, I believe the service being so slow overall was due to the fact that there was not enough staff / crew; which means this is an upper management problem. I also could not believe that 90% of the buffet was closed down at 9:45 p.m. with very little variety offered.
Overall, the food at the complimentary restaurants and buffet was very basic and not that inventive. Again, it could be compared to Golden Corral.
Drinks seemed watered down. I do not know what the deal was but I was not getting to same effect from the amount I was drinking as I would have at any other place. Most of the bars seemed to be closed sporadically, especially up on the top deck. I wish they would have had a drink of the day like many ships do, but I did not see this.
Bottom line, if you want good food, you will need to pay a lot of extra money by dinning at the speciality dinning.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar and Grille
1 out of 5
This is not Irish food! I had heard you could get an Irish breakfast, nope. The wings were not very good and fries were not thick enough. I've been to Ireland many times and was looking forward to this venue but was very disappointed.
2 out of 5
Most of the movies that were shown on deck were not new or even recent, for example one of the nights they showed “Forest Gump”. On other cruises we have had most of the movies include titles that were recent releases. Also the only venue that I know of that showed movies on deck was on Spice H2O (adult’s only area). Not exactly a good place for family to watch a movie!
All pools were ice cold. The hot tubs were only slightly warm (maybe 100-104 Deg F); on some hot tubs, the air bubbles did not even work. There were only 4 hot tubs (stated capacity is 6 people) on the main deck and another 2 on the adult’s only Spice H2O area. So this is a total capacity of 36 people for a 4000 person ship. The Spice H2O deck was a joke. They could have easily added more hot tubs to this area. The kid’s pool was even a bigger joke. It was more like a wading pool. The slides were usually closed down for maintenance. We didn’t get to use the slides because every time we were in swim cloths, they were closed. All the pools and hot tubs closed early, around 9:45 PM.
The Spice H20 deck was included, but again it was not very impressive (just a smaller version of the main deck). There were two other adult only decks but you had to pay extra to use them. On other cruises their adult only decks were much nicer and were included at no additional cost. Also, the decks you paid extra to use still closed by 10PM! What? Again, I think NCL under thinks / under planned their pool and top deck areas. These should have activities going on with the bars, hot tubs, and pools staying open until midnight or 1 AM. Movies should be playing until then or later.
4 out of 5
Our USB drive that we were given with our pictures was partially corrupt when we got home. NCL did provide replacement digital pictures a few weeks later after we complained. Overall, the back droppings they offer are really just plain. Most are not 'cruise' releated.
2 out of 5
The main reason we booked this cruise boat was for the Rock of Ages, which did not play. We were told that it would not be playing 3 weeks before the cruise. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was. I can guarantee you that NCL knew how long this musical would be offered (I’m sure they had a contract that spelled out specific dates) and never told anyone until it was way too late to change our booking. Burn the Floor was great, which I was also looking forward to as well (but was not the main musical I was planning on). The new musical that replaced Rock of Ages is called Six. I feel that the overall writing of the play was poorly done and incoherent. It is supposed to be all about ‘girl power’. It seemed to be more about ‘girl defeat’, focusing more on how the women in the story were mistreated and oppressed. The songs were good but other than that I didn’t think too highly of it.
I felt the ships director was OK but not overly spectacular. He could have done a better job of having a better variety of activities offered on the ship.
1 out of 5
Joke. Should have more hot tubs and better hot tubs (you know, ones that get hot). Hot tubs should be open until late in the night!
2 out of 5
The ropes course was fun. However, be warned it is not opened much. Also, if you are overweight at all, they will force you to weigh yourself in front of them. The miniature golf course was ok but very much showing wear and tear.
The kids club was nice if you have a child 10 or under; our son had a good time there. Our 12 year old was bored by it and didn’t spend that much time there. Our 13 year old didn’t think too much of their teen club as well (she said the other teens also were not that happy). So our two oldest kids found themselves quite bored most of the time on the ship. Also, we didn’t realize NCL was doing away with the towel animals, they claim it is for environmental reasons ($$). But if you want to have this experience for your kids, just ask your room steward and they will most likely accommodate you.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
We noticed quickly that the crew worked hard! The problem was that there was not enough crew. There were nearly 4000 passengers and only about 1400-1600 crew, many of these were of course behind the scenes (kitchen, engine, etc.); the number of crew to passengers seem to be under par with most cruises we have been on. It showed!
4 out of 5
Even though the ship was recently refurbished (2018), it was already showing signs of wear. In our cabin we saw many places that had chipped boards and stains. The slides were almost always closed for ‘maintenance.’ I did like the overall design of the ship, with almost everything you need either on floors 6, 7, 8, or 15. It made it easier to find stuff (just 4 possible floors). Some ships require you to go up or down a floor in order to cut across certain areas; we did not find that to be the case here.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Our room was a family cabin, accommodating 5 people (2 adults / 3 children). It met our needs for a place to sleep and change cloths. The bathroom had a full tub and was very roomy; however, the tub was quite small. A small gripe: we were told that we were NOT allowed to decorate our cabin door. The small amount of decorations we had was mainly to help the kids distinguish which room was theirs. What was more disappointing about this was that we saw other doors that were decorated in the more expensive part of the ship.
Don't go for the food or entertainment, go for the ports.
Use Bodden Tours (arranged ahead of time)- scheduled a private tour guide. Our guides name was Jerry. This was the best thing about our entire cruise. We went to the animal sanctuary, rum cake factory, Bananarama for snorkeling (on our own) and beach time. The only thing we were not very happy with was the resteraunt our guide took us too. It was very expensive and not that great.
We toured Chacchoben Ruins with Native Choice (arranged ahead of time). Our tour guide was Edwardo. He was very knowledgeble and excellent. Our daughter was having some issues and kept coming to us, privately, trying to help us out with her. It was very much appreciated.
This was our shopping day. We went right outside the port area to the MEGA store and some street merchants before returning to the port area to shop in it. I would not recomment go to the street vendors unless you really like to haggle. They all had almost all the same stuff that was very over priced initial. They just would not leave you alone. I would have looked a lot longer and bought a lot more if they could have left me alone! Next time, I will be telling them - give me your best price and I will go to the other shops and if no one offers it for less, I will be back!
2 out of 5
1.5 - 2 hours to disembark. Wow, never experianced that.
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