My husband and I have cruised at least two dozen times. We have cruised Carnival, Princess, Royal and Holland. We prefer the freestyle type of cruising thus have mainly used NCL and Princess. We have always been very pleased with NCL, especially our cruise to Alaska a few years ago. This year we chose Hawaii. I had read the reviews and thought that surely they would have their act together by the time it was our turn. Nope. Let's start with the end of our cruise to give you a perplexing observation. The morning of debarkation we were leaving our cabin around 8 a.m. to have breakfast before we headed to the airport. The stewards were very busy cleaning cabins that were already emptied and the halls were strewn with their materials. Now, lets go back to our embarkation. We checked through very nicely (Latitudes members) and got on the ship around 1 p.m. We did not get into our rooms until AFTER 4 p.m. with the pending safety drill at 4:30 looming. We grabbed our life preservers and ran to the drill. Our luggage didn't get to us until 9 p.m. I ask you...if the stewards are cleaning at 8 a.m. at the end of the cruise, how could it take so long for someone to get into their cabin? And so it went with the rest of the cruise. Very, very unorganized. The staff was friendly enough, but it was clear they were very much understaffed and not able to handle a ship that was booked solid. You need to book your reservations at specialty restaurants as soon as possible. We found them booked within hours of the opening time afforded to make these reservations. The "freestyle" dining was shot on this cruise. Why? The main dining room was at least an hour wait so if you didn't make reservations at a specialty restaurant you were stuck in the buffet. More on the food later. We discussed our feelings with many fellow travelers and felt that the best way to deal with the situation was to accept the ship as a traveling hotel and leave it at that.
Also, we found out that NCL owns the excursion company...we always book through the cruiselines as insurance in case of a late return or dissatisfaction and did so this time, but in our prepackage hotel stay booked with a local company and found them to be far superior. NCL seems to have the whole arena locked if you want to Island hop instead of spending time crossing the Pacific to get there on other cruise lines.
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on external web sites.