We are platinum status with NCL so we've cruised a lot with them, and this is our third transatlantic cruise, so I believe my expectations were in line. There were a lot of small things that demonstrated how badly the ship was run. For example, the Navigation channel on the TV showed the wrong port. Service (with notable exceptions) was some of the worst I've experienced on any cruise or most hotels. Many people were sick, including my husband and myself, although the medical staff were good and came to the cabin.
4 out of 5
The New York Cruise Terminal is pretty efficient to embark. The traffic getting into the terminal is usually crazy and the baggage drop is chaos. But once you actually get into the terminal it goes fairly smoothly.
Food and Dining
2 out of 5
The service in the "included" dining rooms was barely above awful. Instead of refilling empty tea or water glasses, they were picked up and taken away. By the time you could get someone's attention, you'd finished your meal. The one time we ate at Indigo (we cancelled subsequent reservations), we waited more than 20 minutes for dessert and finally left. While the bartenders were pretty attentive, the servers at the Spinnakers were always too busy talking to each other for us to get a drink. After the third evening, we just started going directly to the bar. The food at the buffet was good and plentiful. However, there was an outbreak of stomach illness on the ship, so the buffet stopped being self service so it was agonizing getting served. Because of the illness, all restaurants stopped having anything on the tables (silverware, salt & pepper, etc.), so you had to wait for those items and/or ask for them. Our meal at La Cucina was surprisingly good (based on previous cruises). We ate at Le Bistro five times because both the service and the food were quite good. Room service was an absolute joke (see note in Service below)
2 out of 5
Because of the rough, weather, many of the outdoor activities were cancelled.
4 out of 5
The entertainment was good. Because it's a small ship, the choices were somewhat limited.
We don't have kids.
Service and Staff
1 out of 5
Our room steward was a rock star and our server in Le Bistro was terrific. Most bartenders except at the Mojito Bar (where we arrived 20 minutes before dinner to have a cocktail and couldn't get served) were attentive. Room service was an absolute joke. We were confined to our cabin for 2.5 days and all our meals came from room service and not once was our order correct. I was supposed to be drinking fluids and it took more than two hours to get an order of ginger ale and iced tea. All other service on board ship needs a serious overhaul.
2 out of 5
I give this is poor because somewhere between 50 and 100 people got severely ill with stomach issues. Some had to go to the hospital when we made it to port. That being said, the ship layout is good and easy to navigate.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
It was well sized, convenient with storage, and allowed us ample room to spread out during the voyage. We were confined to our cabin for 2.5 days because of illness, so having a bit of extra room was helpful.
If you have a choice of ships for your itinerary, choose a different ship.
We took the excursion to Hon Fleur, which is a nice sea-side town with lots of small cafes. It was pouring down rain, so we didn't enjoy it much, but as it was my first day off the ship (after nine days at sea), I enjoyed it.
We visit London often and knew we could catch a train from Tilbury to London. It was a mile to the train station. There were more than 100 people waiting for the bus (which no one knew when it would arrive or how much it would cost), only 10 taxis circulating around the terminal (we never saw one). We finally walked to the train station (I have severe arthritis and my husband has a heart condition). There were more than 100 people ahead of us trying to buy tickets. We were told later by the train staff that the Pearl was the biggest cruise ship ever in port and they clearly were not prepared to handle the number of people.
My husband and I took the Romantic Bruges excursion and enjoyed it. But by that time, he was coming down with the stomach virus that was plaguing the ship. Combined with the intermittent rain, it wasn't as good as it could be.
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