12 Night Grand Mediterranean (Barcelona To Venice) Sail Date: April 17, 2013 Ship: Norwegian Spirit Cabin Type: Oceanview Cabin Number:4562 Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 5 years ago
Here is the exact text of the "comment" I left on NCL's survey site, when they asked me how I liked my just-completed cruise. I decided to let them know in as direct a fashion as possible. Hopefully this will help someone, or at least let them know what they are in for on an NCL cruise. Many of the things that rubbed me the wrong way may be endemic to the entire cruise industry; I don't know. This was my first 'real' cruise; I went on Carnival twice in the 80s, but I don't count them as a real cruise line. :)
"Dear NCL: I will never sail with your cruise line again. Your company is the most craven commercial enterprise on the high seas. At every turn, every corner, every MINUTE you are trying to get money out of us! "Buy our photos, buy a bingo card, buy some jewelry, buy excursions, book your next cruise NOW, don't miss out on our art auction where you can BUY something, make sure you book some time in our over-priced spa, don't miss our hideously over-priced sangria drinks at $26 a pitcher, and be sure to get a souvenir glass every day!" It never stops.
"Freestyle"? There is nothing FREE about NCL, and when it comes to food, calling the main dining rooms "Complimentary" is insulting. Yes, you've even figured out how to get more money out of us by creating 2nd-rate "specialty" restaurants that feature $20 and $25 "cover charges." Then making us want to try them by supplying lukewarm food and diffident service in the buffet and main dining rooms. And also making sure there isn't enough seating in the buffet area.
Further, as the Tech Daddy on the Huffington Post, I know what is possible for a satellite-based Internet connection, even at sea, The ship's Internet service is slower than dial-up at almost $1 a minute -- this is LAUGHABLE and embarassing. But you don't really WANT us using the Net while on board, do you? You want us gambling at the casino, or drinking constantly throughout the ship, or otherwise being out where our wallets are exposed.
As for the entertainment, it was strictly third-rate, with the worst collection of Italian and Russian has-beens on the high seas. And I thought Carnival was bad! I suppose your new signature show "Elements" would be considered entertaining if one has never seen a Cirque du Soleil show. For anyone who has, it's a pale knockoff at best. And Grazia Quaranta was so bad, we were both embarrassed for her. Your staff-based entertainers would have all been cut at the first audition round for either American Idol or Britain's Got Talent. Who is booking this stuff… a former KGB agent whose friend are out of work?
And who writes the Freestyle Daily that shows up in our cabins each day? Whomever it is, English is not their first language, and it shows. Badly. As for our floor staff, our cabin steward Earlan was either stoned most of the time or is just naturally out of it, the "enforced frivolity" was crazy-making, and the nonstop "party" music -- either live or canned -- in all public areas 24/7 was enough to drive us to hide in a dinghy. Even in your own self-proclaimed QUIET ZONE! (We finally complained loudly enough to get that turned off.)
Lest you think I'm just an "upset waiting to happen," let me assure you that is not the case. I do not have overly high standards, am a generally upbeat person, try to see the best in everyone, and am a "team player." I WANT everyone (including myself and my wife) to have fun, and don't expect that everything should be done the way I think they should be done. My complaints and observations are coming from that standpoint.
The only saving grace is that the officers were professional, the ship was generally well-run organizationally, and it was clean. And of course the ports of call were the main attraction, and all our days spent in port cities were just AMAZING. But the shipboard noise, the constant nickel-and-diming, the smarmy photographers that would follow you into a restaurant and not leave you alone (at one point I had to threaten possible violence to get him to leave), and just the "canned" nature of all of it were eventually so overwhelming that we mostly stayed in our cabin reading when not on shore.
The cherry on top? As soon as our account was closed, we got the "bum's rush" off the ship: no one to help us, advice on taxi's that were completely false, the hot water being turned off and someone banging on the pipes all night long until we left. It was symbolic of everything that is rotten at the heart of NCL, and it is why I will never again sail with you again, and will advise others to do the same."
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Some good, some bad, mostly "meh"
1 out of 5
All geared to gambling, drinking, and otherwise forking over cash non-stop
1 out of 5
REALLY bad. "Duo Platchkov"? Really? "Grazia Quaranta"? "The Ivan Kovalenko Show Band"? Wow.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
Officers good, floor staff really bad, other staff who only know their little area and don't know anything else. No one on NCL knows how to say "I don't know" however. They just… make stuff up when you ask them a question outside their area
5 out of 5
It's holding up well, and is clean
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Actually this was pretty good, surprisingly so. Bigger bathroom than you normally get, and the bed was comfortable
Same for Livorno. Skip the over-priced excursion and just get a cab driver to show you around. It's faster, better and cheaper, and you'll see both Florence and Pisa AND more in the time the tour busses have to go to just 1 place.
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