12 days on Joy Panama Canal

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 38

Overall rating:

3.7 out of 5
Norwegian Joy

12 Night Panama Canal Partial Transit (Miami Roundtrip)

Sail date: February 02, 2020

Ship: Norwegian Joy

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

Cruise was great, Joy was beautiful, staff fantastic, but embarkation and transportation to airport was horrible. I'll try to avoid Miami port in my planning.


1 out of 5
Worst ever for 5 NCL cruises. I understand the terminal port had to be changed last minute, but 4,000 passengers waiting in a very crowded space with 1500 chairs for 2 hours was very poor customer service.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

2 out of 5
Restaurants were very nice, good food, service impeccable and staff intentive. I found it difficult to make reservations for specialty restaurants before 8pm. We ended up dropping Cagney's and hoping to get in. By the way, the Q was excellent BBQ, and I'm from KCMO. Reccomend the Q and the peach cobbler dessert.

The Local

4 out of 5

Good food, quick! Great wings, burgers, salads and pretzel balls. Con: I hate pub tall tables. 1/2 the restaurant is tall table.

Garden Cafe

4 out of 5

Good food, usually short lines. Tip: have to ask for fresh baked cookies at the scooped ice cream stand.

Cagney's Steakhouse

5 out of 5

Excellent service, great steak.

Savor Restaurant - Main Dining Room

5 out of 5

Savor and Taste are basically the same. Nice place for dinner. Limited hours, plan ahead.

Q Texas Smokehouse

5 out of 5

I'm from KCMO and Q has great BBQ. Brisket, pulled pork, ribs and sides are excellent. Deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler are a must. Huge meal!

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
As usual, the pool was very crowded. I did not use the other activities.


4 out of 5

Nice place, some winners, not me. Tip: great lil snack bar in the back.


5 out of 5

Needs more club chairs but, great place, great fun, great entertainment.


5 out of 5
Footloose, Elements and Beatles were great in the theater. The comedians at The Social were good. Loved the Atrium evenings with the talented Arvin and Let's Groove. The game shows were hilarious! Cruise director DanDan and his staff were amazing. Highlight was the 1st ever, Bocelli and Groban tribute show with Arvin and extremely talented vocals by Cruise Director DanDan.

Social Comedy & Night Club

4 out of 5

Plan ahead, need reservations!

Service and Staff

4 out of 5
All wait staff was great. They were personable and friendly. Our room steward was mostly invisible. No ice or towel animals the entire 12 day trip.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
I like the Joy, basically 3 sections. Easy to get from Aft cabin to bow buffet or theater using deck 6, 7 or 16. Elevators were busy, but not bad.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Prefer the bed close to the RR and couch by balcony, but not this time. Three in cabin and always in each others personal space in middle. Need more storage space. The Joy standard balcony was bigger than the Getaways.

Ship tip

Enjoy the quiet places like the waterfront couches morning/afternoons. Make all dinner and show reservations month before cruising. Try the Q, it is great.

Ports of call

Miami, Florida

2 out of 5
Crowded, worst embarkation ever. 2hr wait, no seating.

Willemstad, Curacao

5 out of 5
Lovely port area.

Kralendijk, Bonaire

5 out of 5
One of my favorite places! Not touristy yet.

Oranjestad, Aruba

4 out of 5
Busy, busy, busy. Leave port, make a right, about a block. I love Aruba, shop for great Tshirt prices. Found a KC Chiefs Super Bowl Champs tshirt and hat.

Cartagena, Colombia

4 out of 5
Welcoming and friendly! Accessible Cartagena tour was meh. Not much time anywhere. Watch out for street vendors!

Colon, Panama

3 out of 5
Warned to not leave port unless on excursions or hire a taxi for $6hr as protection.

Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal)

5 out of 5
Nice to have the entire transit on big screens all over ship or view from the decks. The Canal pilot on board gave narration, information and history. We were given certificate that we had been thru the locks of Panama Canal. Joy was the 1st large cruise ship to go thru.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

4 out of 5
Did the railroad, eco canal cruise. The RR was authentic, old timer plantation ride. The canal trip was sad. Lots of boats in one area stirring up the waters. We were right beside the hiway. Didn't see much, a few birds and 1 sloth.


3 out of 5
Disembarking was smooth. NCL had arranged transportation to airport. 300 people, 1 bus, standing in Miami sun on blacktop for 90mins. Bus company unorganized, NCL staff disappeared. A couple older folks went down in heat and port staff slow to respond with medical care.
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