I recently sailed on the Norwegian Sky. The only other cruiseline I had been on was Princess. Let me just say, they DO NOT COMPARE!! Let me explain...
I'll start with embarkation. We stood in line for hours! The explanation was that it was due to heightened security because of 9/11. the odd thing was that the security checks were a laugh the whole time. My picture ID and birth certificate were barely glanced at when we went through each stage of security. Also of the 15 or so windows available to assist passengers only about 5 were running. And they constantly stopped our line to assist "Latitudes" (previous passengers) members even though they had their own line with at least as many windows open. We got on board at about 3:00. From start to finish it took about 3 hours.
Our cabin was unacceptable from the start. We had an inside cabin and were not expecting a palace. We were also not expecting skid row. The smell was unbelievable. It was a very overpowering smell of cigarette smoke. I have been in bars that smelled sweeter! We immediately compalined and were told that there were no available cabins. They said that they would "sanitize" the room. That meant changing all linens and bedspreads, washing the walls and shampooing hte carpets. We were told to stay out of the room for one hour. After an hour we returned to find that someone had sprayed air freshener and that was it!!! We again went to the purser's desk and complained. They said that they would do it again. This meant another hour out of our cabin. We were not dressed to go in the dining room since we had not had access to our luggage, so we missed dinner that first night. After an hour we returned to find that nothing had been done, but that they miraculously had another cabin available. It smelled fine but we noticed that it did not have the same storage cupboards as the other. We had a great deal of trouble stowing all of ou things. We later found out that this cabin was a crew cabin and was not to be given to passengers.
The food was a dissappointment. Don't get me wrong. I was able to find good things and gain weight, but it lacked imagination and variety. The buffets did not impress me at all. There was a limited variety and oftern they served the same things over and over. evidently Norwegian cannot afford croutons for salads either. And the dressing???? All types were watery!! The breakfast buffet boasted the same foods over and over including Norwegian's own "egg soup" I have never seen so much liquid in eggs before. NCL offers free ice cream "sundaes" each day for a two hour period. It takes about that long to stand in the ONE line they offer. And chocolate syrup and jimmies (all they offered) to me do not make a sundae.
The entertainment was most likely their strongest point. I enjoyed the quality of the shows very much. They offered two showtimes each night and the lounge offered ample seating.
We liked to Freestyle cruising in some ways and not in others. We were a party of two and never waited for a table. We like to dine on the early side (6:00 - 6:30). We liked not having to dress up if we didn't want to. The only things that we didn't like were not getting to know other passengers and the loss of the personal touch when you don't have the same server. We were only asked once if we would like to dine with other passengers.
The staff was variable. Some were quite nice and efficient while others were surly rude and oblivious to being able to assist. I asked one crew where the fitness center was and he replied " Over ther somewhere I think". We had some great staff in the dining room and some terrible staff too!! No consistency.
It was very difficult to get a seat at the pool. I suspect this is a problem on many cruiselines but the Sky only had one pool and there were days that you could not find a place in the sun or the shade. Its no fun walking and walking ot find a place to sit!!
One of the most disorganized things we witnessed was the tender service to the private island. They started giving out tender tickets (standing in line again in a lounge!) at about 10:30. We got ours at 10:45 and did not get to the island until 1:30. The buffet barbeque closed at 2:00 so anyone who came after us did not get lunch. At the island there were no places to sit. We signed up for snorkeling but didn't do it because there snorkel area is in very rough water. I am a strong swimmer and did not feel comfortable with it. They did, I must admit, refund our money right away when we told them that we did not feel comfortable.
Overall I would give it a 4 on a scale of one to ten. So in my opinion, if you are going to spend the money on a cruise, consider a line other than Norwegian.
Will write a review on the Sun this afternoon or tomorrow, but got back yesterday and had exactly the opposite experience. I was looking for the negative and just couldn't find it. Most I talked to on the ship loved every bit of it. Of course some had problems and were disappointed. I wouldn't think 2000 plus cruisers all loved it. As for comparing it to the princess, one of our group had cruised 32 times, twice on Princess. one time loved Princess the other hated it. Our embarkation took less than 15 minutes. Will detail everything later.........Nita
Our embarkation for the Sky was 15 minutes, start to finish. I thought that the weakest part of the cruise was the entertainment! I don't understand missing dinner the 1st nite, it is casual dress and the way you boarded would have been fine! I think that you're elaborating. Crew cabins are on different decks and look completely different from the lack of carpet to the 6 bunks per cabin for crew. I doubt that you had a "crew cabin". I am sure that after you received your tender tickets you no longer waited for your numbers to be called because the tenders complete the numbered tickets in 60 minutes and then it is free boarding. I do agree that the buffet on the island should be extended past 2 pm, we also had no lunch that day because we were relaxing too hard and did not join the lines when it was chow time. Did you know that a feature of Freestyle is for you to request the same table/waiter each nite? You can also request tablemates if you wish, not wait to be asked. It sounds to me that you are an inexperienced cruiser and needed to do more research before you booked your cruise.
I've sailed NCL's Norway and the Grand Princess and had 2 wonderful cruises. We're booked on the Sun and have friends who sailed on her a couple of months ago. As much as I loved the Grand and got great service, I must say that the waitstaff on the Norway was even friendlier and more efficient. I'm sorry you had so many complaints, but I can't dismiss an entire cruiseline based on this information, nor am I sure I'd been so upset about these same issues as you appear to be.
I have sailed NCL, compared to RCL, Princess and HAL they stink. The food is worse than the other lines, but not much worse. The service is not nearly as good. They push drinks like mad, and charge for more things than the other lines. Would I go on them again? Highly doubtful as I prefer more value for my money.
luvbeach, what ship were you on? Never did anyone push drinks at us, ask of if we wanted something, of course, that I expect, but pushy absolutely NOT. What do they charge for, others don't? The internet use is 75 cents per minute compared to $1.50 on Carnival, the spa treatments are about 75% of what I have paid elsewhere, drinks are awful, but same as all lines. Shore excursions about the same, that's why we do our own. Someone has said they charge for ice cream as does Princess and HAL> Princess charges you if you put casino chips on your sail and sign card, not NCL. I am sure they do charge for somethings other lines don't but mostly NO> you can't compare them with HAL as they are geared to different types of cliants, I do prefer them to RCI, but could have had 2 bad experiences on RCI. Food was better on NCL and cabins larger. BAsically everything else was about the same. Nita
Nita, we sailed on the Sun and the Majesty. On both ships drinks were pushed on us all the time. Neither of us drink alcohol and were constantly having to tell the same stewards that we did not want a drink. How many times does one have to say no before it gets through? They COULD have cleaned away the glasses that were left by the people sitting there before us, but that was evidently too much to ask. We wanted to take part in aerobics classes but found a $5 charge for that to be rather crass. We have never been charged for that on other ships. We use cruise ships for what they are, a mode of transportation to get to different ports of call. Food is not a big deal for us as we will eat just about anything and have found the food on most lines to be about the same. We just felt that we were overly pressured to buy high priced drinks on our NCL cruises thats all. I agree that the cabins are larger, but we are not in there except to sleep and change clothes so thats not even a plus for us. Taking all things into the equation I don't think NCL is as good as some of the other lines. We would sail them again if they are going somewhere we want to go, but only if the price was right.
Luvbeach, as for not as good as some lines, you are right there, but each line attracks different types. My daughter was not charged for basic aerobic class and we just didn't have the experience you did with the drinks. The only bad experience we had with drinks and I mentioned it in my review was I ordered a Vodka and Grapefruit juice by the pool and they brought it in one of the large $6.95 glasses. I only ordered one other drink by the pool, but specified, small the next time. There were plenty of cocktail servers I agree, but I didn't find them pushy nor did I find glasses sitting around. Maybe the complaints about some aspects of freestyle have sunk in and they have cleaned up their acts. I don't know.........happy cruisin,,,,,,,,,,Nita
One more thing then I will keep my mouth shut, the charge for Aerobics, I believe that charge was for Spinning, not basic aerobics, at least that is what my daughter said. Did you get charged or did you hear this or read this elsewhere? If you did get charged you need to report it to either your credit card company or directly to NCL. By the way maybe the Sun has changed since you sailed her. When was that? Nita
Nita, it was for an aerobics class. They were also charging for "fresh" squeezed orange juice. Thats another thing that is not charged for on other lines that I am aware of. We refused to pay for either. Since NCL is a subsidiary of Star lines out of Hong Kong I do think they are adding charges that other lines don't to pay off the huge debt they took on when they bought NCL.
I can't understand why you would be charged for a basic aerobics class when not one other person I have even known was charged. As for the OJ, I have not a clue about that. Not only have I cruised 4 times on NCL, my family on other NCL ships, freinds as well as the agency I worked for booked NCL as often as RCI and Celebrity. Never has anyone but you been charged. I think they made a mistake, and glad you didn't pay. Nita
Nita: I, too, am left wondering why you defend even the slightest complaint against NCL. "Luvdbeach" is absolutely right about the $5 aerobic class. My wife and I just sailed the Star, and ANY "organized" activity in the fitness center cost $5. Want to walk a mile with their fitness guru? $5. Want to take part in aerobics? $5. When I got on one of their stationary bikes, I half expected the display to light up with the message "Please deposit $2 for 10 minutes". NCL is very generous, however, as you can pay them $20 and then attend all the organized classes you want. However, they didn't charge for basic use of their fitness center, although I don't doubt that had I said "hello" to their fitness instructor I would have been charged $5. And no amount of money would have bought a smile from their unbelievably unfriendly staff. Defend NCL all you want, but the bottom line is this: NCL is cheap and chintzy. Fresh squeezed orange juice, although you seem to want to argue the point, was $3.50. We saw the sign, we declined. Is all this reason to trash NCL completely? No, hardly. But, neither is your method of telling all who criticize NCL that they don't know what they are talking about. Apparently you didn't hit the fitness centre all those mornings you were skipping breakfast during any of your "glorious" cruises on NCL. I'm thrilled for you that you love NCL and whatever way you are indebted to them, but your credibility is suspect when you defend NCL by stating someone was "wrongfully charged", because I've seen the price lists that are posted on board the ship. Oh, and to rebut your upcoming posting telling me how wrong I am about these "extra charge" issues, no, I don't need glasses, I'm not illiterate, and I have never owned a small white dog named "Forgea" or "Hokget". Most importantly, you won't ever bump into me, because unlike the less-than-clear idiot with the "phone me complaints" who is getting a "free" trip from NCL (impossible!!), we learned the first time and won't repeat the mistake of traveling with NCL and their substandard level of service.
Good morning Robert, I see you posted at 2am, maybe you should have been in bed cause you certainly were not reading my reply nor luvbeaches very closely. He never said a word about the Star but was referring to the Sun as I was. I did not question the fresh squeezed OJ prices, I have no clue. I never saw any sign about the cost of OJ and although I do defend NCL agaist those who are so angry they are not thinking clearly, if you read my reviews both here and on Cruisecritc.com you would see negatives as well as possitive. I am sorry you had a bad cruise, if Michael chooses to take his free cruise that is up to him plus I doubt, as upset as he was he would have claimed he is getting a free cruise if he is not. Hope you can afford to cruise on Crystal next time, maybe it would be more to your liking.........Nita
I've been on NCL twice and have my 3rd cruise scheduled with them. Last year we went on the Grand Princess. Let me state we loved Princess and NCL equally. Princess gets the prize for drink-pushing, though. Many staff members gave us disapproving glances when we passed up bar drinks as we don't drink alcohol. No one on NCL did that. Do I believe that on the Grand the staff are all rude drink-pushers and anyone who cruises her will have that experience? No. Blanket statements that imply "always" or "never" are inaccurate and ridiculous in any situation.
As far as aerobic classes on the Sun, the Freestyle Daylies do list which classes cost extra, and while spinning is $5 and the personal training is extra, practically all have no fee. Interesting that at cruisecritic there's a whole thread about the fitness classes, and not one other person had the experience of every class costing extra. Maybe it's time to get those prescription lenses checked. The Grand had their own brand of nickel and diming which I think is a trend we will see continue. It goes along with the territory of lower rates to get on the ship in the first place. Enjoy yourself on Radison, Windstar, Crystal or some other line that is more inclusive and much much more than you paid for your cruisefare and all extras on NCL, but stop looking down your nose at those of us who can enjoy ourselves on almost any cruise.
Gael, well put. To me, the most important part of cruising is the passengers and crew. If they are having a good time I do also. Some cruisers love HAL which is a great line, but not for me as it is a bit too subdude. I want to be busy, having fun, hearing laughter (well not in the hallways at midnight or later) enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and be free to do what I want, when I want. That's why the freestlye is what I need. As for the nickol and diming I think you are correct .We will see more freestyle type of sailing. The newer ships will include more restaurants with extra charges, special orders of any kind even maybe room service will cost a bit extra, etc. That's ok as long as we still have the choice as to whether we want to participate. A good example was the horse racing on the Sun. It used to be we had horse racing all days at sea, but now they auction off the horses first. They pick up a bundle right there yet no one has to bid. The same with Bingo, cost has sky rocketed, you still have the option of playing or not and what about those scratch off cards. Someone will win a cruise sooner or later, most of us get nothing. If we are dumb enough to buy them (which I am) than we deserve what we don't get...... As for choosing NCL over other lines I have slight problems with Carnival and RCI. Carnival has a place and some very nice ships, but a bit too glitzy and too much partying for me plus I think the food is boring. Others think it is fine. RCI has gone overboard with size. Everytime I sail on RCI I have to wait in lines so long at the buffet that I am afraid they will close before I get there and the size of the cabins are a joke. Does this mean I will never sail them again, of course not. I will just think about it a bit longer.........Off my high horse for today,,,,,,,Nita
>>The only things that we didn't like were not getting to know other passengers and the loss of the personal touch when you don't have the same server. We were only asked once if we would like to dine with other passengers. <<
Just a thought, but--Maybe the crew was looking out for the other passengers??
Boatsie, we never got asked if we wanted to sit with others? One of our cruisecritic friends were only asked once about sitting with others. Good point, I wonder though if this is due to so many earlier complaints. People were saying they were asked and would be seated with those 1/2 finished with their dinner. Just a thought. Nita
Thats a good point. I certainly would not like it if I were seated with folks who were almost finished with their dinner. Nor would I want someone to be seated at my table in the middle of my meal. Thats bad form on both sides.
>>Boatsie, we never got asked if we wanted to sit with others? One of our cruisecritic friends were only asked once about sitting with others<<
I sailed on NCL Sky last summer and loved the "freestyle" since I just wanted to sit at a table for two. EVERY NIGHT when I requested a table for two I was asked, "Do you want to share a table?" and EVERY NIGHT I said, "No thanks." Two key reasons I never wanted to share a table was 1) I didn't want to share those DELICIOUS dinner rolls with anyone else and 2) I didn't want to take the chance of being seated at a table with someone who constantly b**tched about what a lousy cruise they were having (i.e., the likes of the top poster). Worked out beautifully! The rolls and my dining experience was great!
Right on both accounts. We sail sometimes with grand daughters. Both are into eating healthy to some degree, one said when she left for college last year she would not gain the freshman 15 and didn't. The other is an athlete. But let me tell you about the dinner rolls, forget getting even 1/2 when they are at the table. Think that is their favorite part of cruising, bread, bread and more bread. As for bad table mates, which is worse, the ones who B--ch all the time or the ones who won't say a word? At least I can talk back to the whiners.............Nita
>>As for bad table mates, which is worse, the ones who B--ch all the time or the ones who won't say a word?<<
Both, that is why I like sitting at a table for two. If given the choice, I would take the quiet ones over the the ones who B--ch; although it would be tempting to reenact the "James Cagney/Grapefruit" scene with the people who constantly complain. I would probably get a standing ovation. (non-movie buffs are scratching their heads at this point)
Wow, nice message you left. I am going on my first cruise, a 16 day South American cruise on NCL. I think that you are right on, when you say..."It sounds to me that you are an inexperienced cruiser and needed to do more research before you booked your cruise."
I am reading these messages to gain that understanding. I spoke to an old travel agent at a party about my cruise, and he said that a 16 day cruise was way wrong to be my first cruise! I think he's correct.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your advise. You added great insight. And I think the original poster was on target too, from their prospective. I hope to have a better point of view. Thanks,
>We use cruise ships for what they are, a mode of transportation to get to different ports of call. <
Well, that's odd, because everybody I talk to explains that the cruise is about the cruise, not about the destinations. I was surprised to see how little time they allow you on land. My mother when I was a child, was less restrictive as to when I needed to return to home. How can you learn a place when you have to be back by 8pm?
cruising is what you make of it. Some choose a particular cruise because of the intinerary, others the food and service, others the cost, etc. I put itinerary toward the top although I agree you can't see an island or location in a few hours, you can get a feel for it in a very short time. This is especially true when we see how small some of these places are. Second to itinerary for me is friendliness of the crew and passengers. I can only judge this by past reviews and talking to others unless I have cruised the line previously. Third is variety of activities and entertainment. Food, though I love to eat isn't much different from ship to ship and the size and amenities of the cabins are last on my list. Of course price falls in there someplace, probably second or third. I like to sit with others, but sometimes think the table for 2 isn't such a bad idea. Meet the other passengers in other ways. We have had some really bad table mates in the past. Some good, but 1 bad experience can almost ruin a cruise if you let it, Freestyle dining gives you an option.