February 2015 - Norwegian Getaway to Caribbean - Eastern
We were really excited about taking this cruise. New ship, piles of snow in New England to escape, a couple of nice ports to experience, what was there not to be excited about?
Once onboard, the first thing that hit us was how crowded the ship was. This was our first time on a ship with 4000+ passengers and it was a bit overwhelming at first. The Garden Cafe was mobbed and finding a seat was tricky. Completely understandable on boarding day.
Since this was a new ship, we decided to take the tour of the public areas with the cruise staff to get the lay of the land. We met in one of the bars on deck 6 to begin the tour. Decks 6, 7, and 8 are open in the middle of the ship. There is a large chandelier in the center that spans the 3 floors with spiral staircases. Deck 6 houses Le Bistro and Headliners comedy club. Le Bistro has some tables outside the restaurant in the center of the ship to mimic a sidewalk cafe. On Deck 8, there is shopping, the photography area, and more of the upcharge restaurants. The layout was really done well for the most part with one major exception, the casino.
The casino is located on deck 7 in the middle of the ship. The smell of stale cigarette smoke permeates the entire middle of the ship. The carpeted floors, the walls, and everything in the area reek. I couldn't imagine sitting in the sidewalk cafe outside Le Bistro with that smell. It only got worse as the cruise went on the casino was open. Now the stale smoke was replaced with people actively smoking, right in the middle of the main passageway of the ship. Simply walking through this part of the ship would make your clothes and hair smell like a cigarette. NCL needs to fix this.
The outside areas were really nice. Deck 8 has The Waterfront, an outside area to walk around complete with bars, dining, and even a gelato window. This is a great place to just sit and have a drink or something to eat that's a bit more relaxing than the pool deck. This was a fantastic addition and something that was really done right.
Being a large ship, reservations were required at the shows and all the specialty restaurants. This goes against the Freestyle Cruising we've come to expect on NCL. Our reservations for Legally Blonde were on Thursday night and we couldn't get into La Cucina for dinner at all since it was completely booked. We've sailed NCl several times in the past and nevr ran into a problem getting into a show or specialty restaurant. This was a live and learn moment for us.
All in all, the cruise was just OK. Given the crowdedness and the stench in the center of the ship, we will not take this cruise again. It really was the worst experience we've had with NCL. However, a bad day on a cruise is still better than a good day at work.