7 Night Western Caribbean (Charleston Roundtrip) Sail Date: January 05, 2008 Ship: Norwegian Majesty Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 10 years ago
At first I was very excited. I bought the seven night cruise for me and my boyfriend for Christmas, and as he'd never been on a cruise before, we were both eager to embark.
Before I go further, I should tell you that if you decide to go on this cruise anyways and it departs from Charleston, SC, make time to go the restaurant called the Marina Variety Store, located minutes from the port. The food was phenomenal and it will be the best you have on the entire vacation. The food on the ship was so bad that the first thing we did upon disembarkation was go eat there.
Anyways, the ship was noticeably smaller to others I'd seen or traveled on, but I was prepared for that and it didn't seem like a big deal. I was curious about what the "Freestyle Cruising" would be like, without the reservations for dinner or tipping. Anyways, we soon found out what we were in for. The stateroom was the smallest I'd seen, which would have been fine, but for the fact it was dirty, in poor condition, and lacking several necessities. My boyfriend's bag was confiscated because they said it had prohibited items in it. He went through a very long and involved process to find his bag, and when they opened it to check, they couldn't find anything in it that had caused it to be confiscated. The vacation steadily declined throughout the night, during which we had our first experience with the terrible food and waitstaff, and the next day, when we discovered how filthy the ship was--and then we had out first disastrous experience with the ports of call. Getting off the ship for the ports of call takes hours, and is done in the same order every time, and we were consistently the last allowed off the ship. The only way to get off at a reasonable time is if you purchase one of the excursions, which we didn't do, but heard they were awful. By the time you got off the ship, you only had a few hours before you had to be back. And as for the "no tipping" rule--it's not true. Anything and everything you order has an automatic 18% gratuity added to it, which is not optional and cannot be removed. We ended up paying more money this system than when you tip at the end on other cruises, and the service was entirely undeserving of any tip at all.
The disembarkation process wasn't really addressed except in a seminar that wasn't advertised, and we had to call information the night before to find out about it. So much for the "freestyle disembarkation"; we were given a window of about an hour and 15 minutes to get off the ship carrying our luggage; if we didn't carry our own luggage, we had to put it outside the stateroom by 2 a.m. the previous night. There wasn't enough time to eat. But at least customs was quick...
The gym and spa were located right next to a little disco, which was constantly loud and brought drunk and obnoxious guests staggering around whenever we were working out or getting a massage.
I have never been so disappointed with a vacation. Words cannot express what a disaster "freestyle cruising" really is.
Food and Dining
1 out of 5
Our first night eating we were very optimistic. The items on the menu sounded great, and we ordered one item each from each category as expected. But each course that came out was horrible. Not only was the quality abysmal, but the portions were the tiniest I'd ever seen. We aren't pigs by any means--I'm 21, 5'5", and 110 lbs., and I was constantly hungry on the ship. My boyfriend had a much worse--and more dangerous--time of it; he's a type I diabetic. So that first meal, he took what he assumed was enough insulin, and after the meal, discovered he'd taken way too much insulin. Because of that, and also because we were both starving, we ended up going straight from the Four Seasons to one of the buffets, where the food was even worse, but at least we could have as much as we wanted. The room service was pitiful--anything halfway decent cost a lot, and they would only make them at certain times, and would take hours to do so. The alcohol was also beyond disgusting.
1 out of 5
This almost seemed to be a type of weight-loss cruise; the food quality was horrible and the portions were tiny, and they were constantly advertising their weight loss seminars, held at various times during the day, every day. I never went to any of the night programs, but I heard they were awful. The library had some books I was interested in, but the glass panels covering the books were always locked and I could never find anyone with the key. The band was awful. The pools were occupied by screaming children most of the time--even the adult pool, where children aren't allowed--and the staff never seemed to care. The announcements made over the system were consistently inaudible, and they wouldn't play in the staterooms.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
With the exception of the spa staff and the staff at the information desk, who were truly great, the staff on board did a lousy job and had lousy attitudes. When we started ordering more than one entree due to the tiny portions, the waiters would give us nasty looks, and some would even try to protest. There were no exceptions. When my boyfriend would try to do the polite thing and order for me--which I enjoy--the waiters would attempt to interrupt him and get me to order instead. The cocktail staff outside would disappear with a drink order for anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour. A cocktail server lied to me and said the 18% gratuity didn't go to the staff but to the ship--a masseuse in the spa later told me that he'd lied. The spa staff really were fantastic, though nothing ruins a massage more than when it's immediately followed by a high pressure sales pitch for the ridiculously overpriced products they just used.
3 out of 5
As I mentioned before, the ship was small, which isn't a particular problem. But the place was filthy. There were stains on the carpets and the decks were in poor condition. Most of the time whole sections of the decks would be closed off because they were varnishing the rails. Sometimes they would put up a wet paint sign, but sometimes they wouldn't, which meant it was always a risk holding a handrail on stairs located outside. Our first day sunbathing on the sun deck, I somehow got black filth--dirt, maybe soot, who knows?--ALL over me within five minutes, and immediately had to go shower. I brought several pairs of heels, which proved to be a huge mistake, because on the decks, the weird blue plastic flooring was missing pieces about a half-inch wide all over the place, which meant my heels were getting caught every few steps and I was constantly worried about falling. The elevators were disgusting and the buttons didn't always work, which was a bizarre disaster.
Cabin / Stateroom
1 out of 5
Upon arriving in the stateroom, we discovered there were rust stains dripping from the window, cigarette burns on the bedspread, the phone didn't work, and we seemed to be missing information that should have been there, like the list of phone extensions for services and the breakfast order form for room service that was mentioned in the information book. No one pushed our beds together that night, so we had to do it ourselves. When they pushed them together the next night, we discovered they wouldn't use fitted sheets, just a regular sheet tied at the corners, which slipped off as soon as someone got in bed. The beds were constantly moving apart, which was beyond annoying. We never were given the breakfast room service forms. The phone was kind of fixed at some point. If we left our towels on the floor when we wanted new ones, half the time we'd come back to find the used ones hung up on the string in the shower.
As with most ports of call, all the emphasis was placed on the shopping, which we weren't really interested in. We wanted to do things that weren't touristy, which was a little bit of an ordeal, but doable. The cab drivers were obstinate and took lots of convincing to take us anywhere other than Seven Mile Beach. But we ended up going to a restaurant called the Lobster Pot, which had good food, but the menu was better for dinner.
Don't Miss: The Lobster Pot
We went jet skiing at Paradiso Beach, which was a tremendous blast and reasonably priced. Cozumel is always a beautiful place, but it's better experienced from a local all-inclusive resort than a cruise ship.
Don't Miss: Jet Skiing
Key West was gorgeous. I fell in love with this town and we're debating going there for an extended vacation this year. We went jet skiing, which was a blast once again. We also went to a restaurant called the Roof Top Cafe, which was the best food I've had in years, and I'm not exaggerating. We sat on the roof and it was a beautiful night with a great view. The little neck clams and duck wonton appetizers were phenomenal, and so was the herb dusted goat cheese salad.
Don't Miss: Roof Top Cafe
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