Overall I had a wonderful first trip to Europe, first week-long cruise, and first time sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line. They really impressed me with the food and service especially, and I can't wait to sail with them again.
4 out of 5
Embarkation was pretty simple; there was some confusion with the lines to get our luggage tags, but it worked out. Because we were priority especially, we didn't have to wait too long in any lines and were on the ship and eating in O'Sheehan's before we knew it.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Every single dining venue that we tried was excellent - except for the buffet. The glasses and plates seemed to always be very dirty, and the desserts that I tried were almost all bland and pretty tasteless, honestly. But other than that, what an excellent variety of choices on this ship. O'Sheehan's and Ginza are both complimentary and delicious, and the main dining rooms were beautiful and had great food (especially dessert! try the chocolate lava cake!). We also dined in three specialty restaurants: Teppanyaki, Cagney's steakhouse, and La Cucina. They were all wonderful. I see a lot of people ragging on La Cucina, but we thought it was delicious and we'd go back in a heartbeat.
4 out of 5
We took part in Disney trivia (kind of lame - they use a DVD game that my sister and I used to play over a decade ago), the newlywed game, towel animal making, and ship officers' Q&A. Besides trivia, these other activities were fun! I also really enjoyed the classic NCL white hot party on the lido deck one night - they picked great music! The pool was great and surprised me by how large and deep (around 5.5 ft) it was. The hot tubs were also a welcome way to relax after a long port day.
5 out of 5
Entertainment is one of Norwegian's strong points. Although there were parts of some shows that were kind of hokey, in general every single show was wonderful and many steps above what most would consider a 'cruise ship show', and we went to all but two shows. My favorite was White Magic, a illusionist/contortionist couple that just blew us away with their talent.
Did not travel with kids
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
I was blown away by the service provided by several crew members, especially our cabin steward Jovi. This was only my second cruise so I don't have much to compare his service to, but I hope all of my future cabin stewards are as wonderful as him. Every time we saw him in the hallway he greeted us by name and unlocked our door for us so it was open by the time we reached him. He met our requests and answered our questions as though we were almost friends - not a bother at all. Our room was always made up quickly and he did a wonderful job. If you are booking an interior or oceanview, consider booking a cabin near ours so hopefully it will be in his section!
4 out of 5
One thing about the design I don't love is coming from the back of the ship, unless you go all the way to the top deck first, at least based on where our cabin was, you have to walk all the way through the buffet to get to the pool area. It was annoying to dodge people getting their food just to walk through to the pool. It's also a smaller, older ship so those that love megaships might not love it - however I liked the intimate size and not having to walk for ages to get to different places. As mentioned the buffet had a horrible standard of cleanliness, but other than that the ship seemed clean and inviting to me.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Our cabin was very small, even for an interior but this is probably because of the ship's age. We also could have used a few more drawers for our clothes as opposed to open shelving, but we made it work. It was clean, dark which was good for sleeping, and the bathroom was a good size with an actual door on the shower instead of a curtain. I wouldn't recommend our particular location, because it was right above the Spinnaker Lounge where the DJ plays music late into the night... I learned to fall asleep to the beat of the music lol!
Though Ginza is complimentary, they do take reservations which we did not realize until the last night when we tried to dine there one last time and it was booked full. :( Be sure to reserve there if you want a sure chance, especially on the last couple of nights. Also, if you want to try the Teppanyaki grill, reserve it as soon as you can. Each reservation time slot can only accommodate 12 people at a time.
Also, if the lido deck is too crowded, a great place to get some sun is the large deck at the back that also serves as the helicopter pad.
As far as the cabin goes, I'd definitely recommend Jovi's section, but maybe not if you want complete silence in the evening. It's a toss-up for me because he was that good.
Venice is exactly as you'd imagine it... except the crowds. There are throngs of people almost everywhere. Sometimes you can find a quieter alleyway or street, but it was uncommon when we were there. There are pushy salespeople selling everything from roses to sticky silicon creatures to selfie sticks (ugh). Just try your best to ignore them or say no. I'm not saying I didn't like it though - I loved it. The city is beautiful, charming, and it's nice to be away from cars and motorcycles. We also went to the island of Murano - known for its glassmaking. It's like a smaller, quieter version of Venice. Very cute and we had our best meal in Italy there. I'd definitely recommend bringing a good camera, both for day and night. I took some long exposure nighttime shots that I was pretty happy with.
Dubrovnik was beautiful. We did a Cruising Excursions excursion that took us to a beautiful overlook of the city and ocean, and then back to the old town for a tour and sightseeing. It's a beautiful old town with lots of limestone and marble, which seemed to be a theme throughout the ports on this itinerary :)
The NCL excursion for a hike on the city walls was beautiful but wow! Don't be fooled by how easy 3/4 of a mile sounds - it's a steep hike with uneven footing throughout, even though there are steps most of the way. I was wiped out. The views when you get to the fortress are well worth it though. You're so high up the cruise ships look like little toys. One tip: if you want to save some money don't book an excursion here. We did get a small tour of the old town as well as the hike, but if you just want to hike do it on your own: it's 3 euro per person.
Unfortunately it rained while we were here, so even though we had an excursion through Cruising Excursions, it wasn't quite what any of us had hoped for. Instead of a guided tour through the ruins, the rain meant we just had a guided tour through the museum on site. It was still interesting though. Once the rain died down we hopped over to the ruins on our own before returning to the tour bus, and it was so neat to see where the Olympics began.
We did a Cruising Excursions tour here, which took us to Acropolis Rock and a short hike to the top to visit the Parthenon. What an amazing piece of ancient history. I couldn't believe I was actually there. Also - the views from the top of the city below were fantastic - we got lots of panoramic photos. Then there was some shopping and eating when we got down into the city. It's very busy but nice to be able to walk around for a little while in the area we visited.
Not only did we tour Diocletian's Palace, but our excursion took us to a town about 30 minutes outside of Split called Trogir. I don't know what it was about this town, but I am convinced I could live there for a while. It was absolutely charming with a beautiful harbor, cute wine bars and restaurants, and fun shops. This was a great port day.
5 out of 5
Easy as pie. Since we had priority we were walked right off the ship. We could get off anytime before 9:30 without having to worry about listening for a particular color to be called. We enjoyed breakfast, walked around for some last pictures, and walked off. We spotted our luggage as soon as we got into the terminal and then it was off to the People Mover to head back to the bus station area in Venice.
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