My latest cruise was on the Norway in April, 2001. I had previously sailed on the Celebration and had a great time and great service and great food. I had heard that NCL was a step up from Carnival and had high hopes. It did not turn out that way. With glee the cruise director announced that over a quarter of the passengers were under 18! The crew did little to try and at least keep the kids from running through the halls at night. The level of service was not bad but was rather impersonnal. A few people stood out just by being friendly. Maybe that is what I missed. I liked the personal touch I felt on the Celebration.
I would have liked to see, on both trips, a history or cultural lecture about the ports (Not the normal port lecture). On the Norway the ship historian did speak for a few minutes about the Norway but that was 1 day out of the 7 day cruise!
I also noticed that many people were not acting in the more refined manner that I had expected. Perhaps we passengers are getting back what we are putting out. For me, remembering service staff persons names and asking them how they were doing kept my coffee cup full and brought me a smile each time I saw them.
You need to try a Holland American Line ship if you want to experience some of the sophistication and attention you are missing. My previous cruise was on NCL's Norwegian Dream a couple of years back. I enjoyed the voyage and had a good time. However, when I sailed HAL's MS Veendam last March, there was no comparison to the level of service and quality that HAL offered over NCL.
HAL has a reputation of serving older clients that is well deserved. The older clients appreciate the finer things in life. They are the target audience of the Holland American Line. At least, they have been the traditional clientel. Now HAL is aiming toward the younger set as well. My cruise on HAL has a good mix of all age brackets represented. HAL cruises cost a bit more so that helps to diferentiate the mature cruiser from the "Carnival" Clan.
There have been some noteworthy complaints on some HAL ships. Hopefully, these issues will be cleared up. I experienced no major issues on my cruise. After sailing HAL once,I now limit myself to the HAL brochures for future cruises. I have heard too many negative comments about the constant lines and numbers of people onboard the mega-ships and I have no desire to be one of them.
I sail to get away. I enjoy cruising and meeting people, but I'm not looking for "Woodstock on the Waves". If HAL keeps up the service that I experienced and corrects the few problem areas and
insensitive staff members, they have a waiting clientel-base to take the place of those senior cruisers that have boarded that"Cruise Line In The Sky".
Give Holland American Line a try, and maybe, just maybe, some evening we will pass each other by, some night, in the "Crows Nest Lounge".