May 28 - June 3, 2006
Out of New York City (Cape Canaveral, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay)
My third cruise, previously on Celebrity Horizon (NYC to Bermuda) and Coral Princess (10 days Port Everglades to Panama Canal)
Embarkation - I live in Eastern Central New Jersey and my daughter lives in Union, New Jersey so I drove up and picked her up and we drove to Port Imperial in Weehawken and parked the car for $9.00 a day in the parking lot. Because it was Memorial Day weekend and Fleet Week we did not breeze through the ferry terminal however the line was long to get tickets and we had to wait. We did make the second ferry so we actually only waited about a 45 minutes total. We saw a couple of other cruisers and they walked to the ship however I would highly recommend taking the taxi to the ship its only $5.00 plus tip.
We arrived at the terminal at 12:30 and our luggage was checked immediately. There was a very short line, however, my daughter had put her passport in her luggage so she had to take the freight elevator down one level and search for her bag. The attendant was nice and told her not to be embarrassed because she wasn’t the first that day and wouldn’t be the last. When she came back up about a half hour later the line was like Disneyland. So it took us almost two hours from that point to enter the ship.
The Ship - Gorgeous is the only way to describe it. Immaculate everything sparkled and gleamed. Sometimes confusing to get to Windows and the Garden Restaurants but I think it was because of brain numbness from the beautiful sun. The main dining room Windows is a beautiful breathtaking restaurant and the follow-up dining room the Garden Restaurant isn’t far behind. We kind of peeked at the specialty restaurants LeBistro, Shogun and Cagney’s and they were all charming. The spa is nice but way overpriced so we didn’t blow any money there. You can use the sauna and steam room for free. There are two swim against the current pools that always appeared to be empty. The gym looked adequate and you worked out over looking the ocean. There is a running track clearly marked with arrows so everyone goes in the same direction. On deck Seven it has a lovely wooden deck for lounging but there is never enough padded wooden lounge chairs to go around (maybe 14 on each side of the ship). The internet lounge fee was also way overpriced. For 15 minutes (which was a special) it was $8.25 however they didn’t tell you about the connection fee of $3.95. There is only one store which is very small but carries the amenities you might need. The liquor store is even smaller but appeared to be fully stocked. One jewelry which had its grand opening called Emeralds.
The Cabin - We were in Cabin 4580 with a port hole. I had actually booked an inside cabin and we were upgraded to the outside porthole. It was nice but the balcony is really the best way to go. The cabin was spacious and had many nooks and crannies to put things away in so for two women we had plenty of space. Hangers were maybe 10 but we double hung everything and the suitcases fit under the beds. Of the three ships I have been on this bathroom was the very best. Large shower with a sliding glass door. Plenty of hot water and water pressure was great. Single sink with some glass shelves for toiletries and a shelf underneath for more storage. The toilet area also had a sliding glass door. I brought an electric power strip and my daughter brought her own hair dryer and we had no problems and we did not blow any fuses. There was a coffee pot along with coffee, sugar and creamers if you wished to make coffee. No refrigerator. We did have a problem with flushing, we had to hold the knob in and wait or just walk away and eventually it flushed. The first day it didn’t work at all so I reported it and at the same time I ordered two egg crates for the mattress’ (the beds are hard as rocks) and two robes all were taken care of when our beds were turned down. Our luggage showed up before the life boat drill. After the drill there was a set of luggage outside of our door with the Room 4580 tag on it so the owners must have been upgraded and the new room tag was not put on them but they were gone by 9:00 p.m. We never met our room attendant until the next night which I thought was strange. She knocked on our door as we were getting ready for dinner to introduce herself.
Alcohol - every drink was watered down and I heard that comment from a lot of people. One night I went to the Bier Garten and asked for Harveys Bristol Creme on the rocks and he didn’t have it and was put out that he had to walk down to the Raffles bar to get it. Then I requested an ashtray and I got a dirty look and never got the ashtray.
Food - The food was a huge disappointment. Here is my review of the various restaurants:
Raffles the buffet, the first day there was nothing to drink but water and they had basically run out of almost all the food by 3:00 p.m. So we picked and tried it again the next morning. Watered down orange juice, cranberry juice, cold pancakes, syrup containers were empty but large refill jugs just sitting there but no one filled them, runny scrambled eggs, toast and rolls hard as rocks, cold hash and bacon that remained consistent so we stopped eating and chose yogurt, cereal and fruit instead. The coffee to me was great because I don’t like it strong and bitter. The tea selection is Lipton regular or herbal teas. I wasn’t thrilled with the salad bar because they didn’t have a selection of lettuce it was the greens I don’t like and can’t eat. It just seemed like the food items were barely warm or cold. The pasta station was individually prepared for you so it was hot and quite good. As was the waffle station and omelet station (they really should add another waffle and omelet station). Fruit cocktail - I have never in my entire life had fresh fruit cocktail with the watermelon seeds not removed to me that was just plain laziness on the chefs part and improperly prepared.
Barbecues - if I never smell barbecue smoke again I hope its not for a long, long time. Every day it was another barbecue by the pool. The sail away I didn’t even bother because the lines were ridiculous so the next day I did. I was dying for a hot dog. I chose a hotdog that looked well-cooked but it was sitting in the warming pan with about 1/4 inch of water but I thought that was so they wouldn’t dry out. Yeah right. One bite ice cold threw it away disgusting. The hamburger was tough and cold also threw that away and never tried the barbecue again until the Private Island because I was starving and it was the same thing so I choked down ½ of it and threw the rest away. I think they had barbecues every day to fill people up so they would eat less of the restaurant foods.
Windows - like I stated earlier this room is stunning. First night service was impeccable. We order drinks, the server explained the different breads in the basket, went over menu, food served promptly and was good. Would you believe that in the main dining room shrimp cocktail was only offered once and it was described as "Baby Shrimp Cocktail" you know those frozen tiny shrimps that you put on top of a salad well that was your shrimp cocktail 10 of them. We also had Veal Oscar with crabmeat stuffing (a teaspoon of crumbed crabmeat on top of the veal), Asparagus Sauce Bearnaise and potato gratin. This was very tasty. Grand Manaui Souffle with chocolate sauce - blah. We were asked to fill out the rating card which we rated everything as excellent. That was the end of impeccable everything in Windows. The next night was french night and I almost gagged on my beef order it was horrible and even the dessert left a lot to be desired. Then we had Carribean night and I tried the flank steak, it was warm but tasty. We gave up on Windows for dinner nothing on the menus made us say wow I have to have that. My daughter wanted to know where the rating cards were after the first night but they never appeared. I guess they get rated the first night and everyone is on their best behavior so they all get high ratings. We had breakfast here one morning because we had heard it was worth it. We waited for water, coffee, eggs over easy ate the eggs except for the yolks because we still didn’t get our toast and we had to remind the waiter and when it came the eggs were cold so why bother. They do serve real orange juice in Windows not watered down. That was our last visit to Windows.
The Garden Room we were there only one night for the Captains Dinner. We had the escargot (which was hot) and excellent, the lobster with asparagus quiche (which was warm) but edible and the apple crepes were tasteless but the vanilla ice creme was delicious. We would sit and wait for water, wait for coffee and tea, wait for dinner and wait for dessert.
Blue Lagoon - we actually went here about three times. It was the first and only place where we actually got hot food. The Won-ton soup was good and two different kinds of fried rice were excellent. Tomato soup was ok but strange and Shepard Pie was quite tasty. I hugged the waitress the first night and thanked her for our first hot meal since we had arrived and she was shocked.
Chocolate Buffet - it was held from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Windows. We arrived late (2:40 p.m.) due to getting off the private island late and felt we should clean up before going into the dining room. There wasn’t a clean table in the whole room to sit at so we sat with two lovely ladies from Buffalo. The deserts mainly all tasted the same nothing was wow gotta have more of that and that includes the famous fondue. Desserts mainly were all bland that I had tried except for some type of chocolate brownie the first night and a small light walnut cake that was luscious and the vanilla ice creme (excellent) that was served with the bland apple crepes.
Ports of Call
Cape Canaveral - we went to Sea World which was an hour ride but a nice place to spend the day and see dolphins, manatees, whales, penguins and get a hot meal.
Nassau - dirty and disappointing. We went for a walk along the Western Esplanade to a beach which I believe was Lighthouse Beach. So rocky you really can’t go in the water and huge dead rats on the beach so we left. We were going to go the Fish Fry but decided to take the #10 bus back to town as we saw more dead rats along the way. We took a horse and buggy ride for $20 per person not really worth the money. The driver pointed out trees, all the stores by name and the parliament house. We did go to the Restaurant upstairs in the pier building and had some conch fritters and conch burgers which were served hot and tasted unbelievable.
Private Island - the water was gorgeous. My daughter snorkeled all day. You are only on the island from about 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. because the ship sails at 2:00 p.m. They did have a party on the island the night before but we did not go. I did hear that they served cold pizza so I’m not sure if that is true. One of the tenders broke down so people were wall to wall on deck four waiting to get over for the night festivities.
Pool - never went in the pool. We did use the hot tub after our day at Sear World and the tub was lukewarm. People sit in the hot tubs all day long and just keep guzzling alcohol. I swear I never see them leave to pee. You cannot sit in a hot tub for three hours straight and not have to go to the bathroom. The pool deck is always packed so we chose the sun deck. What amazed me is there were not enough chairs for people so they started laying on the deck and the drink waiters were always bugging people to buy drinks but never once offered to help find chairs for the people laying on the deck.
Ships Doctor (gorgeous) - my daughter got sick with ears, nose and throat and the medical personnel were wonderful. The nurse said that its not very clear in the brochures but you just submit the bill to your medical insurance company and you get reimbursed. The doctor gave her an antibiotic, decongestant and throat spray and said that a lot of people on the ship had come down with this cold because of the heat outside and the air conditioning inside and getting water in their ears.
Debarkation - we chose the early debarkation where you are responsible for your own bags and were off the ship by 9:45.
My Opinions - Overall the cruise was restful, perfect weather and lots of sun and smooth sailing. Would I take another Norwegian cruise? No because of the food and service. Out of the three cruises I have taken Celebrity rates about the same as Norwegian on food and service. The winner is Princess on food, service, pampering and crew personalities. Because of the quality of service I never tipped above the normal $10.00 a day per person for anyone because no one on the ship deserved it (except the doctor and his nurse). On my Princess cruise (there was four of us) we all extra tipped waiters, drink servers and room attendants because they were so wonderful and kind and out going. Norwegian to me has sunk to the Carnival level (push watered down booze and a million announcements over the intercom (even in the formal dining rooms) to party and attend bingo, art auctions, etc) and Celebrity is a level above them but not by much. I talked to people from Philadelphia, Connecticut, Buffalo, New Jersey and Maryland and they all felt the same way about the watered down drinks and the dirty looks you got when you didn’t buy them, the cold/warm food, bland tasteless food and desserts and the overall service and the portions of food you got. None of these people will be returning to Norwegian to cruise.
The ship just doesn’t seem to have its act together and in a state of confusion. Towels and water for the beaches on Deck 7, disembark on Deck 4 just keeps you running up and down. No crowd control especially the night the tender broke down. Deck 4 was a mob scene. The ship vibrates where ever you are on it and maybe its because it is an older ship. Poor customer service in the buffet and dining rooms and not attentive to food at all. Just a ship run on confusion.