Fell short of a bucket list crusie.

Norwegian Joy Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 20

Overall rating:

3.6 out of 5
Norwegian Joy

16 Night Panama Canal (Los Angeles To Miami)

Sail date: January 17, 2020

Ship: Norwegian Joy

Cabin type: Suite

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

This was a one time trip for us due to cost and time. Very disappointed in itinerary changes and even more frustraed that there was no communication from NCL to notify us of them. We won't use NCL again unless it is a last minute deal and we don't care where we go. The cruise itself was good but didn't meet our expectations for a bucket list cruise. Which we picked very carefully. I imagine that the all mighty dollar was the reason behind many of the changes.


3 out of 5
On the first page of the itinerary package it indicated not to come prior to noon. We arrived at about 11:00 to find a long line not moving. The doors opened at noon and then the line moved relatively quickly. We were probably on board within 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the doors opened.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The main dining rooms, buffet and the local were all average food compared to the other cruises we have been on.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
Tried laser tag and the go karts, both of which were an additional cost. They were fun and worth the $10-$15 per person that we paid. It was fun to watch deal or no deal, even if you didn't participate. Purchase of the audience card was $29. We really enjoyed the movies under the stars...especially the popcorn. They should have a location to pick up additional bags or bigger containers of the popcorn. They had an escape game once each week and I was disappointed we didn't try it.


4 out of 5
We enjoyed both shows in the main theater. The nights we didn't attend the main theater we spent in bars or the atrium. Our favorites were Cryptic Duo and Arvin. Dan Dan, the entertainment director did a show with Arvin and it was spectacular. Main theater seating didn't have enough drop to the next level so if someone taller sat in front of you it was difficult to see.

Children's Programs

No children

Service and Staff

4 out of 5
I felt the staff was accommodating and friendly. Every place we went one or more staff member acknowledged us.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Very clean!

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Cabin was a mini-suite. Don't let the description fool you. The cabin and balcony are the same size as most ship cabins, small. The difference came in the size of the bathroom. The shower was terrific. I wish I had it in my home. It was about 2 feet x 4 feet with several different spray patterns that included jets at your ankles, knees and waist. Then there was a hand held waterfall shower head with adjustable spray options that would slide from about 4 feet off the floor to 6 feet off the floor.

Ship tip

Casino charged 3% if you used your room card for money to play.

Ports of call

San Pedro (Los Angeles), California

3 out of 5
Enjoyed the Queen Mary. Had the opportunity to tour a room. I wouldn't book a stay in one of the rooms but highly recommend visiting.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

3 out of 5
We booked pirate capers. This was as expected. A party boat with open bar and lunch. Passed by the arch, sailed along the coast for a bit and had the opportunity to snorkel. Nothing to see while snorkeling however. Caught a water taxi from the tender drop off to cross the inlet. We paid $6 but the ticket said $1 so be a better bargainer than me. We did not book through NCL.

Mazatlan, Mexico

5 out of 5
We really enjoyed Mazatlan. We did not book an excursion and just followed the blue line. We walked about 8 miles around the town. We went to the market thinking it was an outdoor market but it was in a warehouse style building with agressive vendors so we quickly left. You can find a walking tour on line that gives history of buildings. Don't miss Nidart. It is on the corner by the theater. The address is Calle Libertad Centro Historico 45.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

3 out of 5
Our excursion ended up being early than initailly planned ane we slept in later so we didn't get to see anything of the town. We did whale watching and it was spectacular. We saw 15 to 20 whales and they stayed close the entire time we were out on the Zodiak. There were only 8 on the excursion and the zodiak could have held two more individuals. It was covered so there was shade. I We didn't take our good camera because I thought we would get wet. We did not. I do wish I had know so that we could have gotten better pictures. We didn't use NCL for the excursion.

Acapulco, Mexico

1 out of 5
Booked a speed boat ride last minute through NCL. The speed boat was nothing more than a ski boat. Boat broke down. I felt the cost was high, $99 for our experience. Had drinks/food at a resort. Don't know how safe it was as those who wanted to go snorkel across the street had to be escorted.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

4 out of 5
Hiked an active volcano. Was very disappointed that NCL didn't offer the Tikal by air for our trip. It was quite a bit of riding on a bus and not much to do close to the port.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

3 out of 5
Booked a 10 in 1 tour which was a lot of time on a bus once again. Would have liked to have stopped and wandered in a few more places.

Panama Canal Transit

3 out of 5
Because the Joy is such a large ship we used the new locks and the old locks couldn't be seen. We knew this but the initial itinerary included a stop in Gatun Lake so we could do excursions into Panama to see the old locks. This stop was change and their was no notice about it from NCL.

Cartagena, Colombia

4 out of 5
So much too see. We went with Dora and we would stop for a few minutes to see something then back to the bus. She was a terrific tour guide. Next time I would like to spend more time in one location.

Miami, Florida

2 out of 5
If you don't drink and you are not a beach lover, I haven't found much to do. We caught shuttle to Fort Lauderdale


3 out of 5
There were lines, but I always expect lines.
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