Norwegian Cruise Line Reviews

Year Started: 1966
Ships in Fleet: 13
Category: Mainstream

Summary: With the recent introduction of new ships the third biggest cruise company in the world. Free-style cruising, elaborate dining options and surprisingly good entertainment.

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Norwegian Cruise Ships

7 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic

Good for: Seniors. First-time Cruisers.

16 Reviews

Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard

Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.

2 Reviews

Good for: Value for Money. Group. Families.

27 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean Western

47 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean

Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.

98 Reviews

Regions:Bahamas

Good for: Group. Singles. Families.

56 Reviews

Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Disabled Travelers.

3 Reviews

Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mediterranean Western

Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.

81 Reviews

Regions:Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, Bermuda

Good for: First-time Cruisers. Value for Money. Children`s Programs.

28 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean

Good for: First-time Cruisers. Value for Money. Teens.

40 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean Western

Good for: Teens. Seniors. Families.

63 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico

Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Families.

73 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast

Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
4.00
from 538 reviews

Cuisine

Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms

Staterooms

Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities

Nightlife

Shore Tours

Itinerary

Alternative Dining

User Reviews

538 User Reviews of Norwegian Ships
spent Chtristmas on the Epic
Publication Date: January 4, 2016

a lovely ship, took me four days to finally find my way round. Entertainment good, we booked it all the day after we arrived so it was sorted and booked. Excursions expensive we paid for three and it cost us about 250$ in American dollars. Wegot a;;l inclusive on a drinks package and we were glad we did the drinks were expensive, ok if you only have two a day.......the fidge in the room was expensive so don t touch. All in all we had a good time, would I go again , no, done the Spirit ad the Epic, .......the Spirit was nice but not too much entertainment ....but not as busy......

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Service
Publication Date: January 3, 2016

The service was very bad, food was just ok excursions were cut short because of several excuses. When a bar tender doesn,t know the drink special and says I don't know what do you want? And when they do know over charge you, its time to leave. Rude waiters rude bar tenders room steward is only reason I give them two stars otherwise be 0. Cabin was clean and very nice. Won' t do NCL again. Too many other choices. They all go to same places chose wiseley,

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Remodelled Ship with LOTS of New Staff
Publication Date: December 25, 2015

I'll say at the outset that a 3 on Norwegian is often a 5 or better on a Carnival or similar. We enjoyed the cruise a lot and there were clearly some very strong high points. However, we also experienced some unusually bad service for Norwegian. I believe most of these issues will work themselves out over the next few months but they were still part of our cruise. Our Daughter got married right before the cruise so we had her and our new son-in-law along with us, but only saw them at dinner. They had a wonderful time. We had both a Balcony and a Mini-Suite this time.

What was tremendous:

1. The remodel of the ship - The ship had just come out of dry dock a few weeks before our cruise and most of the public areas and main restaurants / garden café had been completely redone. My initial reaction was simply: "Wow". They did a fantastic job on the Gem. This was our third time on the Gem and the difference was striking. The ship is absolutely gorgeous.

2. The Cruise Director - Drew was our cruise director

and had been our cruise director on a previous cruise. He was personable to everyone, very visible to the passengers as a whole, and does a wonderful job at making everyone feel at home. We were somewhat disappointed in the offerings on the ship given the number of sea days but I didn't see that as a cruise staff issue as much as a Norwegian planning issue. It was great to see him again and he did a lot toward helping many people enjoy their cruise that much more.

3. The Thermal Suites - I hesitate to say this but if there is a thermal suite available, sign up for it... it's one of the few great deals post cruise payment you'll find. It made the difference for us on those many sea days with little to do.

4. Cabin Steward - Arvin was absolutely fantastic. He was attentive without being hovering, he did his job efficiently and very effectively and used his time to advantage. He is also the best towel-animal folder we've ever seen! Given that there are about 5 days at see on a 10 day cruise, the cabin steward becomes a game changer if they know how work in between the "cracks of time" they are given and Arvin was simply amazing.

5. Garden Café - I have to make a special point to note the Garden Café which looked amazing and not "circus-y" like others we've been to and had a wonderful selection and a tremendous staff. We don't normally do a lot of the café but (see negatives) we did on this ship and found it to be a life saver. Well done to the chef's and staff; they made a big difference.

6. The Casino - This may or may not be your thing but I'm not a big gambler but like to play a bit on the ships. It's less stressful and I can admit I don't know what I'm doing and get some valuable guidance from the dealers. There were many great staff people in the casino with my favorite dealer being Sasha. He's not only a very good person, but we had nice conversations and he provided me some nice guidance from time to time. This was not an unusual experience in this casino and the I could tell the casino leadership were a bit part of it. Well done!

Neutral:

1. The Spa - We did have a couple of treatments and they ranged from very good to not so good. The spa staff was nice and the thermal spa was small, but good. Overall though, it really didn't move the needle for us; although it has in past cruises.

2. On-Board entertainment - Highs and not so highs. We had a great ventriloquist and Tim Kaminski was also on board which was a great highlight of our cruise. The "troupe" was overall talented and good but I did not find the shows they did to be a "destination event". No knocks here, just not a "wow".

Most Notable Negatives:

1. The Dining and Dining Service. Before I detail some challenges, let me say that this was the ABSOLUTE BEST Garden Café we've ever experienced. The service was very good, the food was excellent for the café. Think family casual dining at its best. That said, the other main dining rooms were no where near the Norwegian Standard. The Main Dining room was passable for dinner although the service was generally lacking. For lunch, the menu was completely unattractive (too few options, strange choices) and the service was very poor. We did go in for breakfast one morning and it was "ok" although you couldn't get a toasted bagel anywhere (new toasters perhaps?). The Pay Per restaurants were very much hit and miss. La Cucina was good enough. Le Bistro was very good. Moderno was a bit of a train wreck (Norwegian, we've been in Moderno now three times... maybe it's the wrong concept for you) and Cagney's was excellent. Seating, in general varied from a short wait to confusion with the hostesses. That said, we enjoyed things generally but having had 8 cruises before, service and quality were lacking throughout the dining experience.

2. "Enrichment Activities" - I'm not actually sure what it fully meant here, but I'm choosing to rate this based on the daily activities available while on-board. This cruise has a total of about 5 full days at sea. That's a lot of time at sea. We, thankfully, know to reserve the thermal spa and spent a lot of time there. That said, other than sitting by the pool or paying for additional things (like bingo, the Casino, paid for movies, etc), there simply wasn't a lot to do. Normally this isn't much of deal and we find some things to do, but frankly, with 5 days at sea, we need more. Yes, I can go to the daily trivia things (which take 20 - 30 minutes), I can walk, etc.... but where is the REAL enrichment. And why does anything that is remotely interesting cost so much extra. Instead of showing continual "commercials" for the photo gallery etc in the Atrium, how about providing some sessions on the "history of the Caribbean" or the pirates, or something more than kids playing Wii. it's 5 whole days at sea.... throw us a bone!

3. The Art Gallery - (Caveat: We collect art from multiple sources and ARE a VIP with Park West). One of the things we like to do on board is to attend the art presentations and the auctions. We've collected quite a bit over the years and, while we don't always buy, we enjoy the environment and seeing new works as well as the process of others collecting. This has been true for 7 of the 8 cruises. This was the exception. Perhaps we've been lucky and have never had the "pushy" group on our cruises. I'm not sure. We have always enjoyed meeting the art gallery staff, talking art, and, no question, they are initially assertive about understanding what we like, what we might be interested in etc. But, I've never felt put upon or pressured. Again, until this cruise. I don't like to use names so I will leave them out. The auctioneer seemed to love to hear himself talk, the auctions were incredibly painful to be a part of because of how long things would be drawn out just to try and pressure people to buy, and the entire staff was very, very pushy. There was also no acknowledgment or recognition of our prodigious collecting and when I did suggest some interest in a piece or two, rather than being engaging, it was like talking to used car sales people. I attended one event and tried to go to another but finally had to leave after about 20 minutes because of how poorly things were being run. So, that probably leads to the lack of enrichment activities as well.

Yes, there were some negatives. Most of these, were already recognized and were being dealt with while we were onboard. I believe by late Feb to Early March, this will be a 4 rated cruise. We happened to catch it right after it had some out of dry dock and I think we were the 3rd cruise. There were clearly many crew on board that were experience their first contract; much more than we traditionally see and I believe this contributed to the issues. I have all the confidence in the world in Norwegian and we can't wait

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The Chill and Perils of Booking a Guaranteed Cabin
Publication Date: December 17, 2015

The Chill and Perils of Booking Guaranteed Cabin on a Cruise Ship

I was booked on a guaranteed cabin on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, Breakaway, through an agency Ucruise. The smiley agent told me that I will be assigned on level 5 to 8 and assured me that since I book and paid for in full, 4 months before the cruising date, I will, very likely, be assigned to a cabin on the higher level. So, I paid for the booking in full then and even told the agent to request a cabin on the higher level.

20 days prior to the cruise date I received the cruise package and found that I was assigned to the bottom level. I called the NCL reservation supervisor, Brandy, to cancel my booking and she told me that this booking is 100% non-refundable. She also said that if I wanted any cabin other than the bottom level, I will have to pay extra. Technically anyone booking this guarantee is assigned to the bottom level unless you have paid extra. Clearly indicating that the cruise line can use “cheap dummies” as the ship’s ballast along

with the sea water pumped in, to stabilise the ship for the comfort of those higher paying passengers on the higher levels.

In the event of a power failure, God forbid, the poor passengers on the bottom level are not only ship’s ballasts but will be swimming in their “doo doos” or someone else’s since the toilets cannot flush properly and water from the upper levels will drain down towards them, as evidenced on the cruise ship towed in on the Gulf of Mexico. These ships are nonetheless mechanical machineries and are operated long hours on days, months and years.

To protect my health and sanity, I have decided to walk away from the $2296 paid 4 months ago for this booking. This message is written to warn others thinking of jumping into a cheap cruise offered by this deceiving guarantee.

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Enough of NCL
Publication Date: January 2, 2016

Hawaii is gorgeous and worth the trip. NCL is not worth it, and we are Gold members but this is the last time. There was a pervert on board taking pics of underage children, asking them to do cartwheels while he snapped away. Security did nothing and could care less for the safety of the passengers. The food is average and the shows are all singing, dancing and flitting.

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Remodelled Ship with LOTS of New Crew
Publication Date: December 25, 2015

I'll say at the outset that a 3 on Norwegian is often a 5 or better on a Carnival or similar. We enjoyed the cruise a lot and there were clearly some very strong high points. However, we also experienced some unusually bad service for Norwegian. I believe most of these issues will work themselves out over the next few months but they were still part of our cruise. Our Daughter got married right before the cruise so we had her and our new son-in-law along with us, but only saw them at dinner. They had a wonderful time. We had both a Balcony and a Mini-Suite this time.

What was tremendous:

1. The remodel of the ship - The ship had just come out of dry dock a few weeks before our cruise and most of the public areas and main restaurants / garden café had been completely redone. My initial reaction was simply: "Wow". They did a fantastic job on the Gem. This was our third time on the Gem and the difference was striking. The ship is absolutely gorgeous.

2. The Cruise Director - Drew was our cruise director

and had been our cruise director on a previous cruise. He was personable to everyone, very visible to the passengers as a whole, and does a wonderful job at making everyone feel at home. We were somewhat disappointed in the offerings on the ship given the number of sea days but I didn't see that as a cruise staff issue as much as a Norwegian planning issue. It was great to see him again and he did a lot toward helping many people enjoy their cruise that much more.

3. The Thermal Suites - I hesitate to say this but if there is a thermal suite available, sign up for it... it's one of the few great deals post cruise payment you'll find. It made the difference for us on those many sea days with little to do.

4. Cabin Steward - Arvin was absolutely fantastic. He was attentive without being hovering, he did his job efficiently and very effectively and used his time to advantage. He is also the best towel-animal folder we've ever seen! Given that there are about 5 days at see on a 10 day cruise, the cabin steward becomes a game changer if they know how work in between the "cracks of time" they are given and Arvin was simply amazing.

5. Garden Café - I have to make a special point to note the Garden Café which looked amazing and not "circus-y" like others we've been to and had a wonderful selection and a tremendous staff. We don't normally do a lot of the café but (see negatives) we did on this ship and found it to be a life saver. Well done to the chef's and staff; they made a big difference.

6. The Casino - This may or may not be your thing but I'm not a big gambler but like to play a bit on the ships. It's less stressful and I can admit I don't know what I'm doing and get some valuable guidance from the dealers. There were many great staff people in the casino with my favorite dealer being Sasha. He's not only a very good person, but we had nice conversations and he provided me some nice guidance from time to time. This was not an unusual experience in this casino and the I could tell the casino leadership were a bit part of it. Well done!

Neutral:

1. The Spa - We did have a couple of treatments and they ranged from very good to not so good. The spa staff was nice and the thermal spa was small, but good. Overall though, it really didn't move the needle for us; although it has in past cruises.

2. On-Board entertainment - Highs and not so highs. We had a great ventriloquist and Tim Kaminski was also on board which was a great highlight of our cruise. The "troupe" was overall talented and good but I did not find the shows they did to be a "destination event". No knocks here, just not a "wow".

Most Notable Negatives:

1. The Dining and Dining Service. Before I detail some challenges, let me say that this was the ABSOLUTE BEST Garden Café we've ever experienced. The service was very good, the food was excellent for the café. Think family casual dining at its best. That said, the other main dining rooms were no where near the Norwegian Standard. The Main Dining room was passable for dinner although the service was generally lacking. For lunch, the menu was completely unattractive (too few options, strange choices) and the service was very poor. We did go in for breakfast one morning and it was "ok" although you couldn't get a toasted bagel anywhere (new toasters perhaps?). The Pay Per restaurants were very much hit and miss. La Cucina was good enough. Le Bistro was very good. Moderno was a bit of a train wreck (Norwegian, we've been in Moderno now three times... maybe it's the wrong concept for you) and Cagney's was excellent. Seating, in general varied from a short wait to confusion with the hostesses. That said, we enjoyed things generally but having had 8 cruises before, service and quality were lacking throughout the dining experience.

2. "Enrichment Activities" - I'm not actually sure what it fully meant here, but I'm choosing to rate this based on the daily activities available while on-board. This cruise has a total of about 5 full days at sea. That's a lot of time at sea. We, thankfully, know to reserve the thermal spa and spent a lot of time there. That said, other than sitting by the pool or paying for additional things (like bingo, the Casino, paid for movies, etc), there simply wasn't a lot to do. Normally this isn't much of deal and we find some things to do, but frankly, with 5 days at sea, we need more. Yes, I can go to the daily trivia things (which take 20 - 30 minutes), I can walk, etc.... but where is the REAL enrichment. And why does anything that is remotely interesting cost so much extra. Instead of showing continual "commercials" for the photo gallery etc in the Atrium, how about providing some sessions on the "history of the Caribbean" or the pirates, or something more than kids playing Wii. it's 5 whole days at sea.... throw us a bone!

3. The Art Gallery - (Caveat: We collect art from multiple sources and ARE a VIP with Park West). One of the things we like to do on board is to attend the art presentations and the auctions. We've collected quite a bit over the years and, while we don't always buy, we enjoy the environment and seeing new works as well as the process of others collecting. This has been true for 7 of the 8 cruises. This was the exception. Perhaps we've been lucky and have never had the "pushy" group on our cruises. I'm not sure. We have always enjoyed meeting the art gallery staff, talking art, and, no question, they are initially assertive about understanding what we like, what we might be interested in etc. But, I've never felt put upon or pressured. Again, until this cruise. I don't like to use names so I will leave them out. The auctioneer seemed to love to hear himself talk, the auctions were incredibly painful to be a part of because of how long things would be drawn out just to try and pressure people to buy, and the entire staff was very, very pushy. There was also no acknowledgment or recognition of our prodigious collecting and when I did suggest some interest in a piece or two, rather than being engaging, it was like talking to used car sales people. I attended one event and tried to go to another but finally had to leave after about 20 minutes because of how poorly things were being run. So, that probably leads to the lack of enrichment activities as well.

Yes, there were some negatives. Most of these, were already recognized and were being dealt with while we were onboard. I believe by late Feb to Early March, this will be a 4 rated cruise. We happened to catch it right after it had some out of dry dock and I think we were the 3rd cruise. There were clearly many crew on board that were experience their first contract; much more than we traditionally see and I believe this contributed to the issues. I have all the confidence in the world in Norwegian and we can't wait

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Cruise was Good, but Bermuda was Beautiful!
Publication Date: August 9, 2015

his is a long review, so grab a coffee and put your feet up ...

About Us. We've been on 10-plus cruises, and this was our second time to Bermuda on Norwegian. We were celebrating our 38th anniversary with a Twin River Casino free cruise. Apparently, all that money we lost at the Casino finally paid off.

The ship departed on Friday and was originally scheduled to arrive in Bermuda on Sunday at 11:00 am. However, this was changed to 1:00 pm a few weeks before we sailed. On the other end of our time in Bermuda, we were scheduled to leave at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, but for some maintenance or mechanical issue, we spent an extra night in Bermuda, leaving Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. Believe me, no one complained about the Bermuda bonus! In fact, as we sailed away, we got to see both the Norwegian Breakaway and Celebrity Summit sail by on their way to take our place.

Embarkation. Living only an hour away from Boston, this port is an easy one for us. We were dropped off by a relative, making it unnecessary to park the car.

A friendly porter promptly greeted us, but at first glance, it was unclear where to go next. Norwegian could do a better job of announcing which appointed time slot is currently boarding. A long line was forming to enter the building, but as it turns out, it was unnecessary to queue up unless it was your turn. So unless you have priority boarding, it really makes no sense to arrive super early ahead of your assigned boarding time. Once inside, getting through security and registration was a breeze.

First impressions. The Dawn, for the most part, is a very attractive ship. The atrium, the first thing you see when boarding, is really beautiful. It's not as grand as some of the center hot spots on some ships, but it's classy and elegant - a perfect place to gather with friends, and sounds from the piano on the main deck reaches to the restaurants and public spaces on the atrium's upper levels. Cozy window seating nooks on decks 6-8 give guests a quiet place for reading or gazing at the ocean. Tasteful artworks adorn hallways and stairways, and colors throughout the ship are tastefully muted. It's worthy to mention that this ship has a promenade deck, a classic ship feature that seems to have vanished with the new and larger ships being introduced nowadays. This one has colorful wall murals all the way around, too.

Notably, I did see a number of clogged or out-of-order toilet facilities throughout the cruise in the public areas, as well as missing stall door locks.

Fellow Passengers. Couples appeared to be in the minority, as we observed a large number of families, from infants to senior citizens, as well as many large groups. Many folks, as you can guess, were from the Boston and New England area.

Cabin-Category BA Balcony #10672.

We paid to upgrade our complimentary interior to a balcony. We found the cabin to be similar in size to most other standard ship cabins, with the benefit of a small sofa. Storage could be a lot better, though it was fine for the two of us. There are shelves in the closet, but they're a real pain to access with the hung clothing in the way. The one thing we did miss was a desk and the drawers that typically come with one. The balcony itself is tiny, barely enough room for the two chairs and pint-sized table that occupy it. In fact, the one area of the ship I saw in need of a major facelift was the balcony floor. I'm not sure what the floor covering was, but it looked dirty, worn and downright gross. It didn't stop me from spending a few afternoons out there enjoying the sea air, though. The bathroom was clean and modern, but the layout was odd and could be a definite problem if you're a super sized person. The already small space is split into 3 sections - the sink, the shower and the toilet. A half wall with glass door divides the sink and shower to the right, and an identical one divides the sink and toilet on the left, hence three sections. The shower is great, plenty of room to move. The sink space is adequate, but the toilet section, however, is crazy tight. If you're tall, be prepared for your knees to hug the wall. If you're really wide, some creative maneuvering will be required. I get what NCL's trying to do here - allow more than one cabin occupant to use the bathroom space at the same time. Unfortunately, the space is really too small for that purpose. Bring a hanging bag for your toiletries, because there is very little storage space by the sink.

Crew & Service. Our cabin steward, Roy, provided excellent service, kept our ice bucket filled and our cabin clean and orderly, all with a smile and some great towel animals. In fact, we found the crew, in general, to be friendly and eager to please. “Washy-Washy”, as the crewmember with the spray bottle of antiseptic is called, greeted us every single time we walked through the buffet, even though squirt dispensers are available everywhere. Whether this was antibacterial overkill or a friendly reminder to keep hands clean, I’m not sure. But “washy-washy” got really old fast.

Pool. There is one main pool on this ship. It's not very big and gets really mobbed on sea days. Arriving early in the morning is key to getting a lounger. If you snooze, you lose. Plus, if you come early, you'll have the pool to yourself. In fact, on our final sea day, after moving the clocks and gaining an extra hour, we noticed many chairs were saved by 7:00 a.m. By noon, every chair was filled or claimed. I do give credit to the crew, as we spotted them bagging a number of items from long-vacant chairs. Due to 4-10 foot sea swells, the pool was closed on the first sea day - but not before we had a chance to ride the pool's "waves" that were crashing over the side of the pool. What a thrill it was, being tossed to and fro, akin to being in the ocean. It wasn't long, though, before the pool police came and kicked everyone out for fear of someone getting hurt. A word about the poolside hot tubs: we tried one out after we boarded, and it felt like heaven. The next day they were scalding hot. A few comments by guests to the crew resulted in the hot tub water being reduced to the proper temp for the remainder of the cruise. In addition to the main pool, there is a kids "T-Rex" pool, slide and splash area. We had no little ones with us, but the kids looked like they were having a blast when I walked by.

Side note about the pool area and one pet peeve of mine: Spray sunscreen. It should be banned. Maybe 25% of it actually sticks to your skin; the rest vanishes in the ocean breeze or into the eyes or lungs of your fellow pool or chair occupants. Especially amusing were the folks who both sprayed and then hand-spread the stuff, defeating the whole purpose of spray sunscreen in the first place. Do everyone a favor and reach for the tube or bottled lotion instead.

Dining. We didn't eat in every venue and did not purchase a dining package, beyond one night in LeBistro. Here's our take on dining choices that we experienced:

The Venetian: Since we liked the classy European look of the Venetian, we chose this complimentary venue for dining on most evenings. Food and service were both good and met or exceeded our expectations most nights. Of particular note was a roasted turkey dinner my husband had one night that he couldn't stop raving about for the rest of the cruise.

Buffet fare: The Garden Cafe served standard buffet fare. My husband enjoyed the fresh, hot omelettes at breakfast and we both thought the coffee was good. The rest of the breakfast and lunch entrees were standard fare, and we found it was hit or miss whether the food would be appropriately hot or lukewarm. The pizza, hot dogs and make-your-own sandwich station were all good. NCL went the extra mile to please their little guests, with a buffet section just for the kids, with pint-sized tables, chairs and even a buffet counter just their height. Very cool, indeed!

Bamboo: This complimentary Asian restaurant was a nice addition to the dining options on board, and we thought the food was good. Unfortunately, the service was slow the night we dined there.

Le Bistro: We celebrated our anniversary at this specialty restaurant. My husband had the beef tenderloin, and I had the pork tenderloin. His was excellent, and mine was good, but nothing special. The room itself was darkly lit, so much so that our neighbors at the table next to us pulled out their cell phone in order to read the menu. Service was on the slow side, but the waiters redeemed themselves when they brought out a cake for us and sang - in tune, I might add. The anniversary cake was delicious, with a raspberry filling, and the best and biggest of any of the dessert celebration cakes I've had on any other cruise line.

Blue Lagoon: We came here for a quieter place to eat on several occasions, both for dinner and breakfast. The menu is limited, but it was a good place for a meal or snack when we felt like getting away from the noise and bedlam at the buffet. Plus, it's conveniently open 24/7 with a convenient self-serve coffee station.

Java Coffee Bar: I was in the mood for a cafe mocha one afternoon and tried this specialty coffee bar. I sat a while listening to the piano player and waited for quite a while for a server to come by, but then gave up and went up to the bar. It took a while to get my coffee, but it was delicious and worth the extra cost.

Bar Service: We didn't have a beverage package. Even though we drank more on this cruise than most other port intensive cruises we've done recently, we still didn't come close to what we would have paid for NCL's beverage package. Except for the lack of attention by staff in the coffee bar, we had no trouble getting a drink at any other venue, and waiter service was especially good at the pool.

Entertainment and More...

"Elements". This was by far our favorite show. We loved the choreography, with interpretations of earth, wind, water and fire very well done. Seating in the Stardust Theater, where the big shows take place, is pretty tight, but fine for an average-sized adult. For more roomy comfort, arrive early and grab one of the balcony upholstered bench seats.

Second City Comedy. We missed the adult version, but did catch the family show. We had mixed feelings about Second City. Because most of their improv depended on ideas from the audience, some material was funny, and some fell flat. Honestly, we've laughed harder at other comedy shows. Maybe the adult version was better.

Wii Bowling Tournament. We used to bowl in a league in our younger days, so this was a fun way to spend an hour and reminisce. I'm happy to say I beat my husband 3 out of 4 games, too. On the downside, I'm not sure how this could be called a tournament when the crewmember that ran it didn't really organize anything, nor did she stick around for the entire thing. It wound up just being free play.

A word about karaoke, Wii and other video activity: Unlike some ships where these activities sometimes take place in large-capacity venues where large numbers of people gather, here on the Dawn the electronics and hardware are set up in a tiny corner of a small pub. It takes the thrill out of winning when no one is there to witness it.

Name That Broadway Tune Trivia. This was a fun way to pass 40 minutes, and served to remind us that we didn't know as many Broadway show tunes as we thought we did.

Martini Tasting. We arrived early to the tasting but apparently missed the official "sign up" for this extra-fee event, and no announcements were made as to how to join in. While the martini expert was giving her talk, and others around us were enjoying their martinis, a waiter came around and asked us if we wanted a drink, to which we answered, no, we would like to join the martini tasting. They kindly made a batch for us and a few other latecomers. It was definitely worth the wait - they were delicious and made up for the lackluster welcome.

Casino. We did throw a good amount of cash down the giant money pit, but did make sure to have a voucher left to cash in on the last day so it would at least feel like we won something.

Musicians: Overall, the music was good. Of particular note, the jazz band was excellent with a dynamite piano player. The band at the pool provided the right island and pop blend. The duo was pleasant, and the piano man did a fine job. The party band we heard in Spinnaker's one night had potential, but we didn't stick around because they were too loud.

Disembarkation. Norwegian's Freestyle plan of exiting the ship looked good on paper, but in all actuality, it was more like a free-for-all, resulting in one long line from the gangway that snaked almost completely around deck 7 of the ship. Picking up your own tags and choosing the time you want to leave sounds good, but either not enough time was called between groups, or everyone just disembarked whenever they felt like it, resulting in the crazy long line. The smart people were the ones relaxing in chairs waiting for the line to come to an end when they would just get up and walk off. I'll remember that strategy for my next NCL cruise. On the positive side, we spotted our luggage right away from the escalator in an area pointed out by helpful agents, so at least that part was a breeze.

Bermuda.

Royal Navy Dockyard. Having previously been to many of the tourist sites, such as Crystal Caves, Botanical Gardens, the Zoo, etc., we decided to stick around the Dockyard on the first day, visiting the Maritime Museum and walking the perimeter around the grounds of the old military fort. It's a great place for a bird's eye view of the cruise ships docked at the Royal Navy Dockyard as well as the folks swimming, snorkeling and sunning at nearby Snorkel Beach. We stopped and rested at the Dolphin show located in the Museum grounds and watched some excited guests in the water with them. In all actuality, it was a hot, sweltering afternoon, and we were looking for any piece of shade we could find. Having enough sun and heat, we stopped at the Frog and Onion for a break. It's a touristy and pricey restaurant, but it was convenient, the atmosphere and food were good, and the drinks refreshing on a hot Bermuda day.

Gosling Sunset Rum Cruise. We booked this independently, and it was a lot of fun. The rum expert from Gosling gave us an informative overview and sample of a variety of different rums, and by the end of the cruise, we were all feeling pretty fine! Great rum, gorgeous sunset, and a happy crowd of other rum lovers made it an enjoyable evening!

Ferries/Bus. We bought a one-day pass for the busses and ferries, and began Day 3 by taking the ferry from the Dockyard to St. George. The last time we visited St. George was in 2008, when the Norwegian Dream docked there. We walked around this quaint, historical town for a while, noticing how much quieter it is now that the cruise ships no longer come here.

Next, we grabbed a bus to the famous Swizzle Inn, a Bermuda must-do every time we come here. We grabbed a table on the upper deck, dined on what my husband described as the "best fish sandwich he's ever had", drank a pitcher of rum swizzle, and watched the people come and go. It was a great way to spend an hour or two away from the scorching heat.

We followed up lunch with a bus ride to a beautiful nature reserve called Spittal Pond. Due to the intense mid-day heat, some health and knee arthritis issues, neither one of us were in any shape to navigate the entire area. Therefore, while my husband took a nap in the shade, I grabbed my camera and a monopod to help me down the hilly path and was rewarded with the most beautiful scenic rocky cove. I sat and watched the sea waves crash for a while and then walked the path along the pond a bit enjoying the flowers, birds and serenity, before making my way back up the hill. Spittal Pond is a bit off the beaten path and doesn't draw many tourists, so if you are a nature lover or bird watcher, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful haven. With the exception of a couple of other wanderers, I had the place to myself. We left Spittal Pond, waited for a bus, and made our way back to Hamilton. Tired and hot after a long day, we didn't spend any time in Hamilton, but hopped the next ferry back to the ship.

Horseshoe Bay. A gorgeous beach, fine pink sand, crashing waves, rock formations, colorful birds, and the clearest aqua blue water to be found anywhere; it's no wonder it's the most popular beach in Bermuda. We arrived by taxi around 10:30 a.m., found a partially shaded spot by the rocks to lay down our towels, played in the waves, dried off and left by 12:30, as the crowds arrived. We've been to other less-crowded beaches on previous visits, but this was our first time at Horseshoe Bay. In fact, if it weren't for the extra time given to us in port, we probably would have skipped it again. I'm so glad we didn't because it was one of the highlights of our cruise.

Shopping. We aren't big shoppers, but I do like to bring something home for the kids and grandson. I found the Dockyard Clocktower Mall sufficient for want I needed. So while the hubby relaxed on board, I hopped on the free trolley and made my way around the Dockyard. It's not the quickest way to get around, but on a hot day, it's nice to be shaded and perspiration-free. The Mall carries a mix of touristy stuff as well as Made-in-Bermuda items. Plus, I paid a quick visit to the Rum Cake and Hand-Blown Crystal factories, so I was happy to help the local economy.

Final Thoughts: There are relatively few options for cruises from Boston, and this one is an easy one, which is why it’s so popular with families – a cruise to a warm destination with no expensive flights and an easy drive for most folks. As with our three previous visits to Bermuda, we lucked out with some gorgeous, tropical weather with hardly a passing sprinkle. This was a relaxing cruise, as all Bermuda cruises are. It's a pleasure to dock for multiple nights in one port with the ability to come and go with no deadlines. While not the best cruise or ship we’ve had the privilege to experience, the Dawn was much nicer than I expected it would be, and we enjoyed the cruise, food and service. In fact, another certificate for a free Norwegian cruise appeared in our mailbox upon arrival home, practically guaranteeing our future return to Norwegian!

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Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Publication Date: April 23, 2015

Our recent (April 6, 2015) cruise on NCL was not a pleasant experience. I will lay out the pros and cons of this cruise.

Pros

3 out of 5 of the islands we visited were nice. St Kitts, St Thomas and Antigua were nice stops and offered some very pretty beaches and interesting historical sites.

The bathroom of the mini suite that we stayed in was very generous and had nice amenities.

The cabin had some nice appointments and very generous storage.

The weather was very nice, high 70’s to mid 80’s everyday.

Cons

When we arrived at the ship we were given a letter that indicated that 5.78% of the passengers on the previous sailing had come down with acute gastroenteritis (about 125 people) and if we didn't want to travel on this cruise we would be given a credit on a future cruise (we flew in from California so that meant we would forfeit our airfare and have to buy another airfare if we were going to take their credit).

Because of this problem we were allowed to board the ship about 2:00 PM, but no one was able to go to their cabins

until they were thoroughly cleaned. We got in our cabin at 5:00 PM. I assume this means they disinfected all the cabins. Over 2,000 people were on the ship and could not go to their cabins and were trying to get lunch. You can only imagine the chaos.

Due to the need for sterilization throughout the entire cruise you couldn't touch anything when you were getting your food at any of the cafeteria style restaurants. You were handed a plate and utensils and you had to stand in line while waiting for the staff to dish up your food. As an example if you wanted catsup on your fries or burger you had to stand in line so the person manning the catsup bottle could squirt catsup on your food. If you were in one of the sit down restaurants and wanted salt you had to wait for your waiter to bring a salt mill over and they put the salt on your food. I can understand the need for sanitation but this was carried to the extreme.

While the cabin was roomy and clean the couch was one of the most uncomfortable things I ever sat on. It had about 2” of foam on top of a board and when you sat down you would always hit the board.

The glass on the veranda was very dirty and was never cleaned. (I’m sure that the person who was supposed to clean the glass was handing out catsup in the cafeteria!)

The service in the restaurants was OK at times and very poor at other times.

It seemed like the entire focus of the cruise was SHOPPING. There were presentations on how to buy precious gems, watches and art but not ONE presentation about the islands we were visiting or any information about the Caribbean. Our last cruise was to Alaska on Holland America and we had many presentations on the wildlife of the area along with presentations on the locations we visited and glaciers etc. The only thing we could find out on this cruise was where we could buy diamonds and watches on the islands we visited.

The NCL shore excursions we booked were spilt 50/50 we had one fairly good on and one fairly bad one. The excursion to the Virgin Gorda Baths on Tortola was a real bust. The rocks were neat but the snorkeling was terrible. No coral, no fish and the boat was a joke. Their idea of refreshments was to throw a case of bottled water on the counter on the way back to the ship. The two stop snorkel in St Thomas was nice but too short for my liking. We only had about 25 - 30 minutes to snorkel at each stop. The excursion cat was very nice and good refreshments but as we were coming back to port the captain informed us that the crew worked for tips and the recommended tip was $15 to $20 per person!!!

The Shore excursion we booked ourselves in Antigua was with Scenic Tours Antigua and I would highly recommend them. Very informative and pleasant. It was a great tour of the island.

As for the other islands Tortola was hard to get on and off of because you had to use tenders. It was a long and uncomfortable experience. Martinique is an island they could very easily skip. You are docked in what has to be the ghetto part of the island. We asked for directions to a grocery store from a port official and the last thing he said to us was “BE VERY CAREFUL” and I know why. While nothing happened to us the surroundings made you very nervous. It was not nice.

Tipping. You are assessed a $12 per person gratuity per day on the cruise, that was $240 for us for the cruise. We had the Ultimate drink package and an 18% tip was included in the package for every drink BUT there was still another place on the bill for an additional tip. Every up charge for a restaurant had a place for an additional tip. I think that gratuities have their place but this cruise took it to a new level.

In summary Freestyle cruising is not necessarily free, informative or fun. The focus of the cruise was buy buy buy and tip, tip, tip! Buy your duty free liquor, watches, diamonds, tanzanite, and art at prices that are not that good and if you don’t buy on the ship, we will tell you where to buy them on shore (the same vendor that was on the ship). I happen to be in the market for a watch and most of the watches I looked at could be purchased cheaper at Costco even including taxes.

My recommendation is to stay away from NCL and go with a cruise line like Holland America that caters to educating you about the places you are going not trying to pull more money out of your wallet.

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single costs
Publication Date: March 4, 2015

book price 799 inside cabin.

i pre booked it, put in 1 traveller and price came up 1499.

THATS A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT !!

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Mexican Riviera aboard the Norwegian Star
Publication Date: January 25, 2015

Hey Cruisers!

Our December Mexican Riviera (7 night) trip onboard the Star was a blast. The crew were terrific and the ship was fun to explore. We visited the usual ports- Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan.

A little background on us: I’m 41, hubby 51, and our son is 6. We cruise 2-3 times per year, mostly with Princess and Carnival due to geographic availability (we like to drive to port- it’s so much more affordable and convenient, especially with a small child). We cruised on the Star around 2007, just before it was refurbished when the ship was doing a slightly different itinerary. We booked in this cruise 8 months prior to sailing because we got an incredible deal on a mini suite, for the price of a balcony on most similar itineraries. Our hobby is to film cruise ships (link at the end of this video), so we often spend considerable time in the first few days onboard filming as much of the ship as possible.

Impressions of the Ship:

The ship is ready for a refurb and an update, but is certainly not falling apart. We liked the layout, but

in some areas (finding dining rooms), it got confusing.

The Cabin: Mini Suite 11002 is at the very end of the hall, forward, starboard side. It was SO quiet and peaceful as it’s in a low traffic area. You will see more officers coming and going from the bridge entrance next door than you will see other passengers. Our room steward was amazing, and used our names from day 1. He made the trip special. The mini bar and bathtub in the suite were wonderful, but our favorite part was the silly little coffee pot that we got to fire up every morning. No rushed calls to room service, or runs to the buffet or coffee shop for coffee. LOVE!

Day by Day Review:

Embarkation Day was smooth and the terminal staff were friendly and warm. We were in the first 10 groups to board (around noon or so), and because our stateroom wasn’t ready, we explored the ship and grabbed lunch at the buffet while my husband ventured off to start filming the ship before the crowds hit. To our disappointment, the kids buffet area was closed. Our little guy had been looking forward to it, but it’s no big deal. The layout was nice, which minimized crowds, and we all found something we enjoyed. I LOVE the Indian food they serve daily and ate it with my salad pretty much every time we visited. I get the sense that it isn’t popular because there were never many people at that end of the buffet, but it’s delicious and healthy. After lunch, we settled in to our stateroom, a reasonably priced mini suite that we loved and unpacked. Dinner in the main dining rooms on night one on most ships is always “interesting”, with lines, changes, etc%u2026but this ship was particularly frustrating. The lines were really long to get into main dining at Aqua, passengers were cranky, and in hindsight, we’d have booked Cagneys or another specialty dining room to start the trip off right. Oh well, live and learn. The food in Aqua on night one was sub par compared to other ships, but we had read this here on cruise critic, and fully expected it. Throughout the cruise, we learned what to avoid on the menu and what time to dine (7pm or later). There ARE great menu items, you just have to be patient. I think this ship puts more quality emphasis on their specialty dining than their main dining rooms, and the dining room food suffers. Don’t get me wrong, we’d sail on this ship again in a heartbeat, and overall, enjoyed the food once we figured it out.

Day 1 was a sea day, so I planned to take the latin dance (aka Zumba) class around 9am. The class was fun, didn’t cost anything, and was held in a lounge. It would have been nicer to have the class in the group fitness area of the gym, but the teacher (part of the cruise director staff) was adorable, and high energy. I even learned something new about cardio- she said you should keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose to preserve energy (avoid getting winded) when dancing%u2026hmmm%u2026I was skeptical about this tip, but it totally worked! Who knew?!

Following the workout, we decided to “try” the Latitudes party which was around 11am or so in one of the larger lounges. I’ve found most of these parties to be dull and overcrowded on most ships, so I was reluctant. This was only our second cruise with NCL, so I was thinking “how good can it be%u2026?”, we aren’t in a high tier of loyalty with NCL, but hey, let’s check it out anyway. It turned out to be the best loyalty reception on ANY line we’ve ever attended. Kudos NCL. The drinks were flowing generously, with spot-on bar service, and the appetizers were plentiful. We arrived a little late, but still found a seat, and were instantly offered a beverage. I had a few glasses of wine, and we enjoyed the cruise presentation, and games. The officers roamed the room getting to know the guests. When they learned it was our son’s birthday on this cruise, they said they were going to do something special for him. A few days later, on his birthday, a beautiful handwritten note and an adorable cupcake were delivered to our stateroom. It was such a thoughtful touch.

For the remainder of the day, we tried lunch Versailles (beautiful views at the aft of the ship). The food was okay, but we learned what we liked after a view days and it got better. Then we explored the kids pool area- super cute- at the back of the ship, and spent some time hanging in the hot tubs and meeting other families. It was too chilly to swim or enjoy the slides, but he hot tubs were just right- and a great temperature for children.

Now for the not so good news- dinner in the main dining rooms on the first night. Ug. This is not commonly a smooth operation on most ships but ew, the lines were unpleasant and the dining room (Aqua) noisy where we sat. The food was just okay, with some weird occurrences%u2026example: the kids pepperoni pizza had the most SPICY pepperoni on it. It was inedible and very odd. Our son likes a little heat, but this was bizarre. Also, some of the servers were terrific, while others were lackluster, slow, and never even offered drinks.

Day 2- Cabo! Yah! We love Cabo! We tendered ashore after the tender crowds died down mid day, and caught a water taxi to Medano beach to enjoy our standard afternoon at Billygans, a restaurant and bar with loungers on the sand. The vendors were plentiful and pesky that particular day, probably because our loungers were in the front row, closest to the ocean, so we didn’t have any cushion around us. We enjoyed tacos, calamari and guacamole, brought to our loungers along with Coronas and a tequila shot- for me. The ocean is the perfect temperature in December, not chilly like it gets in February, so we took swim breaks in the ocean in between lounging. After a few hours, our water taxi driver (he calls himself Six Fingers Tony, and has business cards to match because YES, he has 6 fingers on each hand) picked us up and took us back to the pier where we waited in a short tender line and boarded the ship. We decided, because of our unpleant dining room experience to book Cagneys, and were in for a treat when we were given a free bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner because it was “Norwegians night out”, the optional elegant night. Dinner was excellent (filet mignons were perfect) and we could eat at Cagneys EVERY night. They treated our son wonderfully, and made him mac and cheese (there is no charge for kids if they don’t order off the Cagneys menu- this was really nice for us). Of course, he was far more interested in my steak- as always! Here's our video review of Cagneys: http://youtu.be/P7wA6iP96Ig

After dinner, we hit the first production show, which was okay. We left early because our son was getting antsy and we found the production to be a little cheesey (they got better later in the week).

Day 3 we arrived in Mazatlan but decided not to get off the ship. We don’t care for Mazatlan, so we celebrated our sons birthday on board with a terrific day of watersliding and ordering smoothies and drinks by the pool, with relatively few crowds. We had a tasty lunch at the buffet and dinner at Aqua, the smaller of the main dining rooms. By this time the lines were under control and we were ready to give main dining another try. Service was a little slow, but the food was good (chicken parmiagana for me) and they sang to our son and brought a HUGE birthday cake for him.

Day 4 we arrived in Puerto Vallarta and contrary to our normal routine of getting off the ship and visiting a resort on a day pass, we just shopped at the port and got back on the ship- very unlike us, BUT we loved the waterslides and pools so much on the Star, that we just decided to save the $$ and enjoy the sunshine onboard. We had dinner again at Aqua and by this time, were really getting a hang of what liked and didn’t like in the dining rooms. The enteraintment that night was amazing. The show was called Marambolla (google it)%u2026the couple was so talented and their little son was adorable. Don’t miss this show if it is offered when you sail.

Days 5 and 6 were our final sea days. The motion of the ship was significant and I felt a little dizzy from these last two days, which I generally do since you’re cruising on the %u2018bumpy’ direction, northward. We enjoyed a few breakfasts in Versailles, read magazines, relaxed, napped, and danced on the decks with the cruise staff, took photos all around the deck and played in the arcade. The cruise director put on a fun magic show in the main theatre one night, which was entertaining and cute.

Debarkation was really smooth on our last day and although they ran customs through a lounge on the ship, which seemed slow, it ultimately ended up taking about the same amount of time to debark.

This was a terrific ship and we would love to try the Star again someday- the mini-suite was one of our favorite cabins EVER, for the price, and we’ll be back!

Here’s the video ship tour:

http://youtu.be/k8po5MOrHuY

And a little tour of the cabin:

http://youtu.be/IC7k59kkP30

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