Norwegian Epic Cruise Review to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Contributor Level: Deck Hand

Experience
4-6 cruises

Review
1

Helpful Votes
2

4 out of 5

Great Cruise, Neglected to Deliver Complete Information

Sail Date: October 28, 2015

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Balcony

I have been on several cruises before (all Disney/Big Red Boat and Royal Caribbean) and really enjoyed this cruise. The multiple areas, activities, bars, and restaurants were a real treat for us in regards to taking care of our "down time" onboard between cruise locations. 

 

The staff was friendly, but there were few that were really excited to be helping us it seemed. The food was ok, but there were a ton of choices, and the locations and excursion choices were great. 

 

Our biggest issue was the lack of communication or knowledge of what was going on. Here are a few instances: 

1. We had the UBP (Ultimate Beverage Package) and you still get a receipt with a "charge" on it after every drink you order... when you arrive and get your first drink, you feel like you're getting charged and your UBP isn't working-- causing some worry on my part. 

2. We have the 4UDP (4 Meal Ultimate Dining Package) as well and did not get an itinerary or list of the restaurants and times we had pre-chosen before arriving on the ship.

3. To compound with #2 above, when we arrived on the ship, everything stated that we were on the 5th day (even though we were on our first, essentially giving us the exact same information as the Barcelona boarders) and the information provided on the APP and through the team was only good up until that last date and then started over with the rest of the information on the next boarding of the Barcelona group. This really made us feel like we were second class to them. Cruise experiences (especially free-style cruising) should feel like it's tailored to each group of people arriving on board. 

4. Departing was difficult in Rome if you wanted to do an excursion as well. The staff wasn't quite sure how to handle this (since we weren't doing an excursion that had a set non-port drop off location) and the information provided on getting to the train station from the port was also unclear. We had to go through 3 different people to figure out what luggage tags we needed and we ended up having to talk to our tour guide and porters in order to really figure out what we needed to do in order to get to where we needed AFTER the excursion. 

5. The app/TV was helpful on what was going on onboard and with your account, but again, like #3, only gave you the Barcelona timeline information. 

6. The additional gratuities and service charges for meals/drinks/shows were not conveyed and described as well as they should have been ahead of time. When choosing our meal package, we were not fully aware that there would be an additional service charge billed with each meal we sat down to be served for (including "free" meals at TASTE & Manhattan Room) and the additional 18% gratuity already included in drink costs/meal costs was also quite confusing as to whether we should tip additionally or not and felt like we were obligated to anyways. 

 

Overall, we'll definitely cruise like Norwegian's again (it was awesome and we love the fast you wake up in a new location without the hassle of traveling via air/rail/bus)-- but I really think the communication level needs to increase between the cruise line and it passengers on what is to be expected in terms of costs, process of boarding and disembarking, etc. 

Cabin / Stateroom
Cabin was great.
Loved the separate spaces (bathroom has the shower and toilet separated, unlike most other cruises I have been on)
Balcony was great
Bed and bedroom space was great.
The storage was ample.

Only thing we were disappointed in was not receiving a folded towel animal/item every night. We only received 4/6 nights.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Felt like second thoughts upon arrival from Rome. No big welcome like the Barcelona group received. All our information stated "DAY 5" as well and felt like it was the Barcelona's group cruise we were crashing in on. As for disembarkation, it was not a pleasant experience for us. Again, it felt like we were second thoughts on what needed to happen and it didn't help that my boyfriend and I decided to do an excursion (last minute) that wasn't one of the excursions that had non-port drop off option. No one knew that luggage tag we needed and until the 3rd person we talked to, we got clarity on what we needed to do in order to disembark (got black luggage tags, was told a time we should plan on being off to make sure we got to our bus at the same time as the rest of the group, and also got our bus numbers prior to the experience). However, we still we not able to get clear information on how to handle getting from the excursion to the train terminal afterwards. We ended up getting false information from an employee which was (luckily) advised differently by our tour guide and some porters. We figured it out, but I think the employees definitely need to be trained on this type of experience (I'm sure we're not the first or last to try it)
Ship Quality
Clean and well designed. Great work
Destinations and Excursions
Destinations were great. Some of our tour guides were absolutely amazing as well (and they were tipped accordingly), but also had a couple terrible tour guides. The amount of excursions available was great, but seeing an multiple choice option with a place like Barcelona would be amazing for aggressive travelers (i.e. Monserrat in the morning, quick tour of Barcelona highlights in the afternoon)
Onboard Activities
There were a lot of the exact same things going on every single night and not much change from the night before. It could really use some variation.
Children's Programs
Didn't experience. (No children) But it did seem like they were out of the way from the adults for the most part (which is fantastic)
Entertainment
Same things happened every single night it felt like-- I think there needs to be more variety instead of just Howl at the Moon, Karaoke, Bingo, etc.
Service and Staff
Everyone was kind on board, but felt kind of neglected on our arrival. Barcelona arrivals were greeted with a large party and antics, but our Rome group was kind of just shuffled on like we'd been on for a few days. Really disappointing to me (who brought my boyfriend on his first cruise) since I am used to the big goo-rah given when new groups board not he previous cruises I have been on. **TIP FOR YOUR APPLICATION: Have a feature that adds the things you want to do to a calendar to send push notifications to your phone-- i.e. Howl at the Moon is on a 8pm and I like it or save it as something I want to attend, a push notification goes out 5-10 minutes prior to remind me to get over and down there. This would be a great feature to help keep track of time on the ship for things you want to do. Same thing goes for dinner reservations or disembarkation for excursions... knowing times and getting notifications would help keep track so people do not miss them by accident when "free-style cruising"**
Food and Dining
Food was great in some of the specialty restaurants, but I felt like there were better choices and flavors in the basic free dining.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Do off the beaten path if you have been to Rome before. Otherwise, time is best spent there unless you have more time there afterwards. Otherwise, Off the Beaten Path excursion was AMAZING.
Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy
Too much to do in very little time. Florence is huge, so save Pisa for another time if you haven't seen it before. Also, I highly advise taking a Florence on your own tour to just deal with the costs associated with getting there from the Livorno port-- you not only get a ride there worry free, but you also get some great tips and information from a tour guide before arriving to help plan your travels around the city.
Cannes, France
Nice is only worth an hour (there isn't much to it) and Monaco is great, but only needs a few hours as well since it's so tiny. Having a tour guide and bus to get you around is great.
Palma De Mallorca, Balearic Islands
Not much to do here, but luckily you only have a few hours in the port.
Barcelona, Spain
Definitely need a lot of time here-- amazing place though
Naples, Italy
Amalfi is beautiful and having someone like to navigate through the winding coastal road is a treat-- it would be very scary on your own or without someone who isn't well-versed in the road. Pompeii is great too but you only get a small taste of it.

Tip

Book excursions ahead of time so you get your tickets all at once and all times are known right off the bat.
Beware of the hidden charges.
Drink package is 100% worth it.



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