Last sailing before shutdown

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 19

Overall rating:

4.4 out of 5
Norwegian Joy

7 Night Mexican Riviera (Los Angeles Roundtrip)

Sail date: March 08, 2020

Ship: Norwegian Joy

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 12878

Traveled as: Family (young children)

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

Much needed break from reality. Could have been more enjoyable if more heat/sun on the sea days. But glad to have the break before COVID19 put a pause on the industry.


1 out of 5
This was a mess. First off, I wasn’t sent luggage tags. So I knew I needed to get them once there. There was no signage where to get them. Because of a mix of COVID19 and incompetence we were in a line of 1000’s. First outside, then inside. The inside queue was worse organized than outside. My wife had surgery on her hand two days prior, some port employee saw her hand and escorted us to the special assistance line, bypassing the longest line of confused and upset people I have ever seen.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
We weren’t able to go to Tappanyaki because it was all sold out before we were able to book. So book early. The general trend is to move premium food over to specialty restaurants. It’s unfortunate, but with free at sea we were able to sample three specialty restaurants, Food Republic, Le Bistro, and Q.

Food Republic

4 out of 5

This was our first specialty restaurant that we went to. It was a much enjoyed change of cuisine. My wife and I both enjoy Asian fusion food. This hit the spot.

Q Texas Smokehouse

4 out of 5

Very generous portion sizes. Things ARE bigger in Texas. I had the sampler for dinner. Save room for dessert though. The pecan pie was 1/6th of the whole pie.

Le Bistro French Restaurant

5 out of 5

The waiter was professional and courteous. He started by asking us if we had any other plans for the night. We did, so he had us on our way by the time he said we would. I had the steak. It was the best steak I’ve ever had. I almost shed a tear after I finished my plate, it was surreal.

Garden Cafe

4 out of 5

Decent selection and very fresh food. Catered to various tastes, Italian, Asian, Indian, North American etc.A good go-to for a quick bite.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
Pulse Fitness Centre - Very clean. I went to the gym regularly. It’s got a number of treadmills, stationery bikes, spinning bikes, ellipticals, minimal machines (should press, lat pulldown, pec deck, abs machines, quad/hamstring machine) so you have to wait when busy, yoga mats to warm up on (which I didn’t want to use because I didn’t know how often they were cleaned), freeweight dumbbells, barbells, about 5 benches and a power rack. There’s also a TRX rig, to do pull-ups and chin-ups. They have a spin bike room, but didn’t host a spin class.

Mini Golf

3 out of 5

It was a bit windy when we went, but all things considered was a bit too easy.

Aqua Park

4 out of 5

My 5y/o son and I enjoyed the water slides and salt water pool. He’s still learning how to swim, and they had a floatation vest that fit just right. He had a blast.We went as a pair, twice, down the Ocean Racer. Safety was paramount. We also spent at least 30mins watching others go on Ocean Loops. Taking guesses who’ll make it and who won’t. 120lb posted minimum. From what I saw, a 135lb man barely made it.


5 out of 5
The onboard pianist were amazing. The Beatles tribute band was as if I went in time and saw the Fab Four myself. I was only able to see them in the main theatre for the finale show, as the two other times they were at the Cavern, it was packed right to the doors. There was a Columbian guitar and cello pair in the observation lounge. Very skilled, enjoyable to watch, my son laughed when the cellist would slap her cello. Footloose and Elements were both joys to watch. PL Cheung’s magic was amazing.

Race Track

2 out of 5

Went in a doubles kart with my 5y/o son. It was more enjoyable for him, but I already drive an electric car (2018 Nissan Leaf) so it wasn’t as special for me. I watched others in single karts. It was frustrating for competitive drivers to be constantly slowed down by slower drivers. Staff telling slower drivers every lap to pull over to the right, never worked. In a game of fastest lap, this was a wet blanket. For 11laps or so, the value for money just wasn’t there. Go to laser tag instead, you’ll get more exercise too.

Laser Tag

4 out of 5

I had more fun doing laser tag than I thought I would. 28 kills, only 8 deaths. 855 points.

Children's Programs

4 out of 5

Splash Academy

4 out of 5

My son enjoyed his time there. We could tell he got screen time, so the next time we asked for no screen time. Afterwards, he’d come back with crafts that he had made. The coloured wristband they put on him had a sharp plastic button on it and it would scratch me or his mother. Apparently they charge $5 for a replacement, although our son found a way to slip his wristband on/off like an adult would take off a wedding band.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Our room steward was very professional and very friendly.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
With all of this COVID19 stuff going on, NCL went into safety overdrive. This was appreciated. Hygiene and sanitation was a lesson for the few restaurants that are still open to follow. Mandatory hand washing at Garden Cafe before “washy washy” hand sanitizer. Sometimes their automatic soap dispensers wouldn’t sense my hand, which was very frustrating when there’s a line of hungry people behind you waiting to wash their hands. I wasn’t alone, this happened to many. All other sit down restaurants was just a hand sanitizer before entry. Public washrooms/restrooms were clean and well serviced.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
It was “good” says my wife. She would have preferred the bed closer to the balcony and the sofa/pullout swapped where the bed was. The bathroom size was adequate for our party of three, it was what I’d expect for a balcony room.

Ship tip

Free at Sea vs Sail Away. I think I might do Sail Away next time and add a small wifi package and dining package. The $50 excursion per port is only on one person in the stateroom. The NCL branded excursions are way overpriced. Thing is, for the longer duration excursions/short stay ports, it’s still something to consider because you don’t want to miss your ship, especially if your passports are on-board.

Ports of call

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

3 out of 5
This was my biggest mistake of the cruise. I booked a non NCL excursion assuming it was on the same time table as the NCL excursion by the same name. It wasn’t. We did the same sort of things, but the NCL excursion left much sooner. It wasn’t until we were eating lunch did we ask when we’d be leaving to get back to the ship. Turns out our NCL shipmates that we saw on the beach had already left, and nobody in our excursion was on any cruise, and we weren’t scheduled to leave for another few hours, which would have caused us to miss our ship with our passports on-board. In a panic, Roberto made some calls, and spoke with some locals. We found someone to offer us a speedboat back to Puerto Vallarta for $350US. As a Canadian this was extortion. Then he lowered it to $300, then another man stepped in and offered a ride for $250US. We paid by credit card and sped back to the ship in good time. It only took 45mins. But he couldn’t drop us off where we picked up the original boat (which was right next to our cruise ship), instead we we were in town and needed a taxi to get us to the cruise ship. I speak some Spanish and ordered the cabby to take us to the port. I asked how much in Spanish. He said 200 pesos. I told him, 300 if he can go faster. By the time we got to the ship, we gave him 400 pesos. On time for passengers to return. The cruise didn’t leave on time, so it’s questionable whether or not we would have made it back without the speedboat.

Mazatlan, Mexico

5 out of 5
I really enjoyed my stay here. We walked off, got a shuttle out of the dock area. Walked through the shops to get out to the streets. Found la lina azul (the blue line) and followed it to the square. There we chatted with some friendly Canadian and American ex-pats volunteering their time to help tourists (look for them in blue shirts). While at the square, we stopped at a cafe with a patio to enjoy a smoothie (65 pesos each). We also walked into an artisan shop to enjoy their artwork. We were going to walk to the mercado but my son got tired so we walked back to the ship with him on my shoulders.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

4 out of 5
I’m not a fan of tendered ports, but this experience wasn’t bad. We were expecting to be on a 11am tender but were on shortly after 10:30am. We had booked an excursion from it was a private tour of Cabo and surrounding area. Pedro was our driver/tour guide. For $200US plus tax there abouts for 4hours. A glass bottom boat to el arco, then in a van to a nearby glass studio, then to a restaurant for a well portioned delicious authentic Mexican lunch and some free time to wander around a very clean village.


5 out of 5
NCL led disembarkation was infinitely better than the 3rd party that was hired for embarkation.
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