Freestyle really means "We Dont Care"
Norwegian Jade Cruise Review to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Sail Date: July 05, 2014
Ship: Norwegian Jade
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Cabin Number: 8612
Traveled As: Family (young children)
Reviewed: 3 years ago
Being an avid cruiser and a Latitudes Silver member, I will admit that my last three cruises have been with Norwegian. Unfortunately, for them, my experiences allow me to say with clarity that the freestyle approach has resulted in very poor performance by most employees on our ships. Don't get me wrong; I am on vacation and very little will ever ruin my rest and relaxation. However I choose to sail with popular and long standing companies because I believe that I can depend upon the staff to provide me with consistent information that is accurate, as well as a variety of activities that will provide opportunities for fun. My recent sailing offered very little of these experiences. Staff are less than eager to perform beyond minimal expectations. Perhaps it is because they believe that families want to be left alone or that their incentives have been eliminated with the automatic gratuity charge that most staff share from a large pool (FYI you can visit the desk and refuse the daily charge so that you can "take care" of those who do go out of their way to make your vacation memorable). Serving staff bringing hot chocolate when you ask for a glass of chocolate milk, not being able to bring your main course as you like is( sauce on the side was impossible to understand), failing to adhere to the confusing posted dress code, deciding when the no shorts rule would be followed during dinner, and then being defensive when you call them on it is unacceptable. Excursion information was never accurate- staff were unsure of who or where were the best places to exchange currency, tender use was a nightmare because they force you to miss evening activities or wake up god early to stand on lines to get tender tickets to enjoy your day at port, and then disregard the order when announcing the tender use forcing everyone to rush the stairwell.Naturally if you booked an NCL excursion, you are taken care of but if you enjoy the port on your own, good luck being helped.
It is unfortunate that a popular line with a long history of excellence has declined in service for so long. Our child loved the camp and the staff but as parents, they changed the location for his age group on a regular basis resulting in kids being dropped off late and missing activities. I hear that other major lines will begin to experiment with a degree of freestyle as well. There may be some benefits but I caution them to abandon the traditional cruise experience entirely.
NCL is there to cater to a distinct population of clients. In my opinion, this population is the "fly by the seat of your pants, last minute planning, who cares about the rules" type of passenger. That's fine if this is who you are. However, if you want to eat in a dining room with people who are dressed appropriately, not have to pay larger than ever fees to try food that used to be on the main dining menu but are only in the specialty restaurants now, enjoy music poolside, or count on critical information being accurate, then head my warning- NCL isnt for you.
I doubt that I will sail with them again. What I give up for the freestyle experience is not worth it.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Avoid the line if you prefer the traditional cruise experience