This was a great cruise with an exceptional itinerary. Although NCL could not control the weather, I am sure they would like to take credit for 13 days of "beyond exceptional" weahter with temps in the upper 50s, 60s to low 70s each day and blue skies, with only 1 day of rain that happened to be on a sea day, so no big deal.
There were some hurdles and issues we had to deal with such as a noisy AC/Heat unit that made it tough to sleep for the first 4 nights until NCL finally replaced the inside accuator. 4 days of having to deal with high alert sanitize issues, a crowded buffet in the morning, very warm temps inside the communal spaces of the ship (Spinnaker, most restaurants, lounges, etc.) that fell on deaf ears when we asked if they could lower the temps to a more comfortable level. All in all, these minimal issues do not, at all, override what was a fantastic 14-day cruise!
5 out of 5
Since there were issues with the TA part prior to our scheduled cruise, we opted to arrive at the port around 2:00 on departure day, Saturday, 5/11. We waited about 5 minutes and were whisked quickly through check-in with no issues.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
I would give 5 stars but due to the heightened sanitation issues from the prior cruise that resulted in the NCL Pearl's workers having to dish out food at the buffet, the lack of menus in the MDR or specialty restaurants, except for paper versions, but all-in-all, we dealt with it and had wonderful meals in the MDR and specialty restaurants. We spent "drinking time" mainly at Shakers and had exceptional service from Oliver, Julius, Melchior & Guillermo, along with Arturo from the Casino Bar.
4 out of 5
The hot tubs were great as were the golf driving nets, but the golf clubs need a bit of an upgrade.
5 out of 5
We really enjoyed the entertainment from the Irish singer, other musicians, magicians and the impersonators (Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Elvis) who really got the crowds involved.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Superb across the entire ship from our wonderful room steward, Rommel, to the multitude of bartenders, ship staff, washy washy attendants and other staff personnel who were very cordial throughout the cruise.
4 out of 5
The ship is nicely laid out and easy to maneuver around after a couple of days, but there are some areas that could use some touch ups - buffet could use some more places for people to sit, the lobby area can get fairly congested as well. We weren't big fans of Bliss Lounge as it was very dark and had 2 beds (not sure why) that were poorly situated and should be removed.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We have cruised before and know the limited space that is available, so we maximized what we had by using the drawers, open areas and the good size closet (with 21 hangers). After entering the room, the small hallway could use some brighter lighting.
We cruise based on itinerary and aren't so concerned about the ship, though we do take into consideration the size as we have mainly cruised on larger ships. However, the smaller ships are also fine with us.
We spent a day earlier in Amsterdam and thoroughly enjoyed this vibrant, scenic and walkable city. Just beware of the massive amounts of bicycles in Amsterdam! We did Keukenhof Gardens, a canal boat tour and Ann Frank house.
This was a tender port but we didn't have any issues or delays. We traveled to the "Old Course" at St. Andrews to experience the home of golf without golfing. It is a quaint town with plenty of nice architecture, shops and restaurants. This also included a stop at Glamis Castle, which was very impressive and provided some great photos.
We really enjoyed Bergen, Norway as the town was what we envisioned about Norway. Unfortunatey, we did book an excursion through NCL - Hardanger Ford that even with out $150 per port discount, was rather expensive and not worth the significant amount of bus time that it took. I would've preferred to just stay in the town of Bergen and walk around.
Flam is a cute and tiny little town that is home to an amazing railway experience that traverses up the mountain side with plenty of waterfalls and vistas that overlook clear streams/rivers, along with a stop to see a "huge" waterfall.
This was by a very far margin, our favorite port during out cruise. It really helped that we had blue skies and temps in the mid to upper 60s. The ride into Geiranger from Hellesylt is simply breathtakinly beautiful - from the numerous waterfalls, huge Fjord formations, and snow capped mountain tops to a cute and quaint little Norwegian town - stupendous! We did the Eagle Road (twisty turny switchback) to views that were amazing, along with a bus drive up to Dalsnibba Mountain that was also a bit of an adrenalize boost with its winding roads that got us up to 1100 meters high. Unfortunately, due the the signficant snow at the top, we were unable to get to the 1500 meter mark. However, this was, by far, one of the most amazing pieces of earth that we have ever witnessed. The photo ops were everywhere and were all very inspiring to see.
As for the port itself - 1 star as it is in an industrial area with nothing but cargo containers, other ships and some construction going on. However, since we have been to Dublin before, we just opted for transportation into Dublin, some time and $ well spent at Guinness after a few proper pints, some shopping, a great dinner at FX Buckley Steakhouse on Crow Street in the Temple Bar area, lots of walking around, but well worth it to experience such a great city.
Tilbury is also an industrial port. We did the "London on your own" tour via NCL that included bus transportation into London. However and unfortunate, the day of our tour (Thursday, 5/23) also happened to be election day as well. Traffic was horrible due to protests, road closures, etc. What was supposed to be 6.5 hours of time in London ended up being about a little over 4 hours. However, we jammed in the London Eye, a scaffold-covered Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, to scenic and walkable parks, a quick pint and some fish & chips sealed the time. We hope to visit London again but with more time.
Outstanding! We did "Bruges in a Day" excursion via NCL. This was our 2nd favorite port (Norway #1). Bruges is clean, easy to navigate with plenty of cafes, chocolate, shopping, lace and waterways where you can take a nice canal ride of 30-minutes for only 10 euro. The architecture is visually impressive.
5 out of 5
We opted to carry off our luggage and were off the ship by 7:30 am with no delays at all.
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