Year Started: 1966
Ships in Fleet: 13
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.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, Bermuda
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Value for Money. Group. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Disabled Travelers.
Quebec City!!! Tres belle - tres bien!! We loved every minute of it...it was entertaining, comfortable balcony state room made it scenic, and the food was phenominal.
For those of you driving into Boston, parking while on the cruise is an issue. A cruise companion suggested a package deal on stay123.com - we picked the Best Western in Quincy, car remains there, and the free shuttle got us to the pier at about 12noon we were IN our cabin by 1230. We loved our family suite on the 10th deck. Spacious and the dual sinks were fabulous. Our butler Gary took great care of our needs, champagne on ice added to the luxe!
We had lunch at Cagneys, slow svc but good food. We were seated at 8pm for lobster dinner,which took about an hour to serve,lobster was fine. Waiter was a little weird, flaky, maybe high? For the rest of the trio we chose the Aqua dining room instead. When we got to the room at 2pm,our bags were waiting for us.
We ate at Bamboo and La Cucina - extra fees but worth it. We really enjoyed the "Neil Diamond"performance.
Room svc breakfast most days was outstanding! Lobster in Portland was great!ll van tour in Halifax with a local guide.
Quebec City took hours - we should have used the concierge. The Dawn docked far away from old town. There were 3 other ships in that day. We checked into our hotel and them explored the lower and upper town areas. What a beautiful city.
We flew back to Boston Logan and the same Best Western picked us up to get back to our car. The whole trip was seamless. We loved the cruise were impressed by the condition of the Dawn. The service was outstanding.
Here is the review I sent to the CEO of NCL, Kevin Sheehan. Below that is another matter of greater importance that you should read before considering NCL.
The Balcony Room was beautiful, but space management was poor. 2 people navigating around the room to get dressed and such is a problem. The person who cleaned our room (9566) was inconsistent at best. Polite, but the little things were missed consistently. My wife had to stir her coffee 3 mornings in a row with her toothbrush as no coffee stirrers were left. The room was never vacuumed and crumbs, lint and such were on the floor the entire trip. One morning when I was showering there was no Shower Gel in the dispenser leaving me to shower with shampoo. The quality of the Turn Downs at night was unprofessional. The bed was wrinkled and such. Not nearly the quality as Carnival Cruise Lines. Upon arriving on the ship our room had no Towel Animal on the bed, nor did it the first 2 days. This is a nice welcoming touch that leaves a lasting impression on new cruisers. On Carnival youare also greeted with a Welcome Basket of Bathroom Supplies like Razors and such. Great Advertising and Co-branding. The inventory in the refrigerator was incomplete and there were lot's of missing items. We told Guest Services and they assured us it would be taken care of. The Room Porter told us this was because they were throwing expired items away and it would be taken care of. We constantly throughout the trip had to note improper inventory to guest services and check our bill to ensure proper billing. Some of the inventory list, like Nuts and Cappuccino was never stocked.
The Venetian and Aqua Dining Rooms also had Food Quality and Service issues. The food was staged properly, but arrived cold at times. The Deserts were a disappointment. Even Chocolate night. I can never remember being on a cruise and not remembering one eventful meal or desert. We only remember Lunch Appetizers the first day in the Venetian. The Calamari and Vietnamese Egg Rolls were great. The Coconut Souffle one night was fantastic. My wife constantly wanted to go to the Buffet. She hates Buffets, but honestly the quality of the food on the Buffet was superior to the Dining Room. Except for the Pizza. Undercooked crust and inconsistent sauce and ingredient distribution. At times the Staff at both venues seemed disorganized and confused. Three times they delivered wrong meals going from table to table asking if it was their meals.
The Help on board was very Polite, but should make more of an attempt to "Connect" with guest that they come in contact with on a daily basis. On Carnival we were "Anytime Dining", but Employees we came in contact with on a regular basis made a connection with us. We have pictures with several and over a year later remember their names and quality of service.
Signing up for the Presumed Murdered Show was a disaster. A long disorganized line of unhappy guest not knowing where or how to navigate the system. They could have used a system like at banks with the ribbon roping and signage to help.
There was one woman who seemed in charge of activities running the Bingo. I walked over to her and asked the pricing well before the event and was told I should sit down and wait as everybody would be told at the same time. She then walked away. VERY RUDE AND UNPROFESSIONAL. We never attended Bingo the entire Cruise due to that. Lost Revenue for NCL.
One note on the description of the 24 hour "Food Court" on the Dawn. It seemed more like a description of a Mall Food Court with many 24 hour Food Type Options, Food Stations and Self Seating as opposed to small "Comfort Food Restaurant". Also, we went early one Morning (around 6:30am) to get Breakfast as the Dining Room and Buffet were not open yet. We were told that there was no "Food" until 7am as the Cooks were not ready to do Breakfast that early. We could have only Coffee and Pastry. If that is your only non-Room Service 24 Hour Venue "Food" should be available 24-7.
On the Entertainment there was was change of Venue on a show that could have been better advertised, but that is minor. The Second City Group was great, but an early show had a "Blow Up Doll" skit in it that I heard many parents "explaining off" to young children. This was not a late or adult show. Perhaps a warning on the signage about possible adult material. 99% of the crowd was laughing hysterically, but that 1% may have an issue.
The ship was not as "Sparkling Clean" as most. From a health standard it was fine, but dirty windows, stains on carpeting, fingerprints on mirrors and such lead people to believe the important health standards are also not met. We did not as we could see the important things seemed done. Again lasting impressions.
I dot not want to sound all negative. I understand that this was the first Bermuda Trip of the season out of Boston and things need tweaking. Several things were Great, but outlining those does not help NCL address the things we and other guests we spoke to felt were lacking and would effect Guest Loyalty. The Captain and Crew should be commended for their handling of the ship through the huge waves and winds to Bermuda. Although we could feel the motion it was far superior to most cruise lines. As stated earlier the food on the Buffet was far superior to other cruise lines. The Entertainment was also Great. Far Superior to other cruise lines. The Movie availability and quality in the room was fantastic. PLEASE put the Movie Schedule in your daily activity handout though as the channel with the information display it every 20 minutes. The Bed was Comfortable and Huge. The Bathroom was well laid out. Storage was plentiful. The Coffee Maker was a nice touch. We would have liked to experienced other Dining Options on the Cruise back, but due to my tooth injury that was not an option. Perhaps that experience would have left a better impression on our "Dining Opinions".
**As a note one week after coming home we received a credit card charge for $12.08 for 2 beers that were not re-stocked in the Wet Bar. We informed both the Porter and Guest Services, but were still charged. Several calls to Chase and NCL got the charge removed.**
More importantly is how NCL treats Guests with issues. We dined at the Captains Table on the 23rd. I bit down on a piece of buttered bread and there was a hard foreign object in it that broke my tooth. Yes, right in front of the Captain. NCL sent me to a Dentist on Bermuda who could not fix it. I was assured the matter would be handled. When I got home I contacted NCL Claims. She referred me to Holly Hasselman. After 5 weeks of documenting everything I got a registered letter stating NCL found no liability on their part. I have since sought out Legal Counsel. NCL didn't even address the full day we lost in Bermuda, nor the lost enjoyment of the cruise. If this is the way NCL chooses to treat their Guests then my wife and I will vote with our feet and use other Cruise Lines. Our best advice to Cruise Critic Members is to stay away from NCL as they really could care less about you after they have money in hand.
Subjectectiviry is te name of the game here but for yours truly at least, everything came together to make this by far, the best of the four cruises on which I've ever traveled.
The fact that this was a Crusiemates Cruise had a ton to do with it's success, of course, but we were all so saddedened when our host Trip and her husband Bruse had to leave and fly back because of illness. Thankdfully they are both well along the road to recvery. That being the casew, there remained so many other positive facets.
Let's break it down into sections with my cabin mate being first. I was honored to share a handicappped cabin with Curisemate's famous Patriarch, Ray Boudreaux not to mentntion being a guest in his home. Ray as many of you know, is one in a million and his family, especially daughter Celeste, is not far behind.
Our cabin was as a handicapped cabin; large bright, airy and had a quite large balcony that easily incorporated Ray's scooter which truly surprised me. Additionally, the large shower sported a fold down bench seat if necessary along witn a folddown towel rack. It was significantly larger than the standard "wave" cabin. Heaven knows there was tons of drawer and hanging space.
One of our party had the single supplement cabin and to be quite honest, while being despite being small, still sported a full sized bed and had very interesting mood lighting.
Of course the cruise was made by Chef Matt Sigel of Hell's Kitchen Fame who along wit his lovely wife did not only didn't plate a "nibble" of his creations on several occasions as is de regeur but provided what amounted to a complete meal which was both an unexpected and pleasant change! Not only are Matt and his wife likeable people they hung out with us throughout the cruise.
There is no doubt that Matt will shortly enjoy being a top culinary draw in his own venue. Better yet he is a born instructor and keeps ones interest glued to his entire presentation.
While outwardly (to me at least) probably the ugliest vessel to ever sail the seven seas, one doesn't usually stand and watch a ship pass by. What the ship offers in entertainment and attractions more than makes up for it's outward appearance and is enough to keep one occupied for two or three weeks. While most of the restaurants are "extra charge, the fee is certainly not exorbitant and I well worth it. That being the case, O'Sheehan's and the main dining rooms plate outstanding meals if you're either on a budget or elect not to utilize the almost twenty other restaurants.
Thanks to Matt and Cruisemates own Editor, Paul Motter, complete tours were conducted of both the galley and the bridge replete with introductions to Captain and high ranking staff. Most galley tours are conducted between meals when one can't see what is really going on or "get the feel." The tour Matt and the Head Chef provided were right in the middle of dinner service and that is in and of itself, something not to be believed.
In essence, as the Epic being prologue, Norwegian Cruise Lines will certainly become a future consideration for this cruiser.
And if you truly want an extra special time, you truly must cruise upon a Cruisemates Cruise. You will be certainly glad that you did!
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Shelly Vavrin Western Caribbean February 5, 2012
Don't bother to go on this ship. It is dated, worn, complicated to get around, balcony's are a joke, room service was not eatable, and the bathrooms are made for midgets. Getting on board was lines and waiting. Open buffets were located in areas that make a high school cafeteria look like a 5 star restaurant. The staff was not knowledgeable about where things were located. You needed a map to get around the ship and had to go up and over and down to get to some locations. Scooters for handicapped passengers were left in the hallways outside their rooms, creating difficulty in walking down the halls with passengers coming in the other direction. The balcony was small, very worn, dirty floor, room for two chairs and a tiny table. Room service food was totally disgusting and not worth it. The specialty restaurants were empty and constantly pushed on you. I was well when I boarded the ship but after a few days got a respiratory infection and two weeks later still had a cough. The ship knewthere was a virus on board and had people at locations to wash your hands "washy washy", give me a break, we aren't in kindergarten! The shops were way overpriced and nothing compared to the Carnival Legend that we sailed on in November 2011 out of Tampa. The bathroom was big enough for a midget. If you are handicapped in anyway, forget it. The service in the restaurants was slow and the staff like machines. We have cruised several types of ships and NCL, particularly Star will never ever see us again. Save your money and don't bother...
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Guy Stewart Western Caribbean November 13, 2011
Wow! Where do I start. We just spent a LONG week on the Norwegian Star. Here are just a few of many complaints and comments. Rooms are noisy, the music kept us awake. Boom! Boom! Boom! In the room on many occasions. The rooms are obviously not built well to isolate sound. (9th floor). Anytime dining is designed to drive customers to dining rooms you have to pay for. You have to wait in line almost every meal and are given a beeper so you can sit around for a half hour while waiting for food. This is all designed to make you pay for one of the specialty restaurants in my opinion. The food in the "FREE" dining rooms is mediocre at best. The same menu for the entire week, thin little steaks, very limited selection, waiters don't really care to wait on you because they know they are not working for tips because $12 per person, per day has already been added to your bill. (which I promptly went to the desk and had removed asI did not authorize it to be put on my card. The staff on the desk did their best to try to talk me out of removing it but I insisted and got it removed) (this practice alone will make it so I do not cruise with Norwegian again)
At one point they closed one of the two "free" dining rooms to use the room for another function, making hours shorter so that you were forced to pay to eat in the specialty dining rooms.
Cigarette and cigar smoke EVERYWHERE!!!! You can't sit on a deck chair without someone sitting down next to you and lighting up a cigarette or worse a cigar. At one point a lady sat down at the table we were eating at and lit up a cigarette!!!!!
The tiny little pool (only one pool) area was smoking as well so every time you walked past the pool you had to inhale smoke. It made it so you didn't want to go near the bathtub sized pool at all.
Ship is tired looking and feeling. Lots of things need attention, rugs in halls are dirty and ragged, Beds are extremely uncomfortable.
Unsanitary things with cafeteria. Juice dispenser required hands on. Dirty buttons that everyone had to touch. People dumping water bottles in juice and coffee dispenser drains and rinsing bottles and refilling.
Poor organization throughout ship for moving crowds. Photographers blocking isles in atrium. Ship excursions were extremely inflated. We took exact same tours for 1/3 the cost that ship wanted. People in the Bars seemed to intentionally made soda flat and undrinkable that was served for soda package. $52 spent and soda was never drinkable. Free ice cream hidden at one end of the ship and closed lots of hours Tiny little area for kids. Puny little 13 inch tv in room Ship is primarily focused on extracting every penny possible out of it's guests with little concern of what the guest gets for value for their money.
Rooms very small but did have a nice bathroom.
Stores very tiny with poor selection. Everything on the ship is overpriced.
Pitiful attempt at a movie screen hung over a bar with crappy picture and sound with very little seating
Every other seat is broken in theatre. You sit down and often you were almost touching the floor due to a broken seat cushion. The entertainment was very good however.
We certainly will not be returning to Norwegian any time soon. We have cruised many times on Royal Carribbean and have loved it every time. Norwegian has a long, long way to go before they come close to Royal.
Just experienced a wonderful cruise to Greece aboard the Jade. I can't say enough good things about the Staff our accomadations and Food this Ship offered. I would recommend Norwegian Cruise Line to anyone looking for a first class experience.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Marty Western Caribbean November 27, 2011
Cruise Review - Norwegian Star 2011
We sailed on the Norwegian Star out of Tampa, Fl. on Nov. 27, 2011.
Overall, this was a great cruise for us. Given my health and mobility problems, the ship is a little longer than I like. Hard for me to get around. But, well worth it. We had previously sailed on the Dawn, which is the Star's sister ship. There were several differences, even though the basic layout is the same. The gift shops on the Star were not as nice as those on the Dawn. Not really a problem, since I don't cruise to shop. The 24 hour restaurant, called the Blue Lagoon, was significantly better. Instead of plastic tables and chairs and mediocre food, as it was on the Dawn, the Star's version was very nice. Fairly elegant atmosphere and the food was quite good. We even ate dinner there one night, as I was too tired to do anything else.
In general, the food was better than I had expected. Very disappointing the first night, but then it did an aboutface and was generally quite good. They had even solved the problems of stale bread and poor desserts, which we had experienced on the Dawn. And the Market CafÃ©, their name for the Lido deck buffet, was surprisingly good. I could have eaten every meal there and not felt cheated. Good variety and most of what we tried was very tasty.
Probably the biggest factor in our enjoyment of the cruise, though, was the attitude of the crew. Almost every person working on the Star was cordial and very friendly. We got smiles from virtually everyone we encountered. And that is contagious. Passengers who receive lots of smiles tend to offer their own. So, the general atmosphere was welcoming and pleasant.
In particular, the Cruise Director, Jaimie, and her assistant, Christine, were very professional, yet warm and friendly. Christine was especially open to engaging passengers, not just for activities, but to answer questions or just chat. Great team.
Okay, day by day. The embarkation was a tad rough. Happened to arrive just when it was mobbed and that is nobody's fault. I was worn out by the time we got on board. Got a bite to eat at the buffet, then rested a bit and unpacked. The main dining rooms now use a beeper system, like many restaurants do. I don't know if it is the economy or just the random nature of cruises, but the MDR's were packed every night. We were standing in line to get a beeper when a man gave my husband a hard shove. He turned around to confront whoever it was and it turned out to be a friend who lives about Â½ block down the street from us! He and his wife were traveling with another couple, who are also neighbors. We had dinner with them twice during the week and that was definitely the icing on the cake for us.
I had a very hard time the first night, as you had to walk down one deck after your beeper went off. Very painful for me. The next day, I received a new cruise card that would take the elevator down to the level of the dining room and then gave us priority seating. It made dinner a lot easier for me and it was not something I had asked for or even knew about. The maitre d' apparently noticed my problem and gave me a way around it. That was a gracious nicety, especially since it was unexpected.
The wait staff in the Versailles (the aft MDR) was exceptional. Every night, we received service as good as or better than traditional dining on past cruises.
Day 2 was Roatan, Honduras. This is one of our favorite ports, but we had been disappointed the year before on Carnival, when their ship docked at Mahogany Bay. Really disliked that. But the Star docked in Coxen Hole. We had signed up for a tour that went to an island where they offered snorkeling. It was called Maya Key Resort, though the name of island is Anthony's Key. We were a little afraid that it might be very hokey, but were very pleasantly surprised. It is mostly a wildlife refuge for local critters. Rental on the snorkeling gear was very reasonable. There was a long dock, with a snorkel area marked off. A shallow reef, with a lifeguard keeping an eye on things. Not great snorkeling, but still fun. My DH went for the swimming pool, then we walked around. The animals were in very large cages, so that they had room to run around and there was a simple wooden rail to alert people not to feed a hand to the jaguars. The howler monkeys were not confined, but lived on a smaller island across a small inlet. We even had a baby howler monkey run right between our legs. We then had a tasty lunch, which was included, then headed back to Coxen Hole. Walked around a bit in Coxen Hole, then back to the ship.
Day 3 was Belize, again a favorite of ours. In spite of the cruise lines all trying to discourage people from going outside of the "safe" zone, which is mostly overpriced tourist stuff and bars, we went out back to the Flea Market, which is primarily a craft market. Locals are friendly and, since this used to be British Honduras, they speak good Englishâ€¦.although their local patois is beyond me. My husband is a hand drummer and had drummed with the locals in Roatan, then again in Belize. He knows their rhythms and loves communicating with others via music. I did pay a visit the Loom Store, which sells fabulous locally made textiles. Can't afford the rugs, but the decorative pillow covers are amazing. Not cheap, but they look well worth their price.
Day 4 we were in Costa Maya. Skipped the high priced enclave and took a cab to the nearby town of Mahahual. This was originally a tiny fishing village, then became a tourist spot. Got completely wiped out by a hurricane and rebuilt. But, it is still a very laid back little town. One street, with a second one being built. On one side of the "main drag" is a row of shops and cafes. The other side is a beautiful, nearly pristine beach. One of the prettiest in the Caribbean, in my book. We both had luxurious massages, lying on tables on a gorgeous beach, followed up by a swim in clear blue waterâ€¦.heavenly. Did a little shopping, mostly looking for unusual Christmas gifts. They have expanded the compound to add a "downtown" section. Totally fake and filled with stores selling Mexican souvenirs. The sad thing is that all of it is leased or subcontracted to outside vendors. From a very selfish point of view, that's fine, since it leaves Mahahual uncrowned and the vendors there will bargain heavily, trying to compete. But, it does seem wrong to take advantage of the locale and totally exclude the local population. It can no longer be a fishing village because of the big ships coming in, so the cruise lines have made the local dependent on tourism, then won't allow them to sell things where most passengers go.
Day 5 was good old Cozumel. Used to be my favorite, but just so crowded now, with multiple ships each carrying a couple thousand passengers all converging on a smallish town. We docked close enough to downtown to just walk to the plaza, then hit a couple of favorite stores. Or tried to. One had disappeared. One minor annoyance was that most places now charge you to use their bathrooms. Given that you used to have to bring your own toilet paper, I thought that was ridiculous. Found one that did not charge. But, I was getting desperate enough to almost pay to pee. Still had a good, if low key, day.
Last day was a sea day. Rough seas again, although not as bad as the first day. We had enjoyed the deck band all week. A group called Xcite from Trinidad. Not your usual steel drums, but those guys could, and did, play anything.
Sadly, the show band was nowhere near as good. The trumpet player, whom I think was also the Music Director, could not play in tune. He even played in an entirely different key at times when they were playing in the Atrium. But, the entertainment in general engaged us. The first show was so-so to me. But, for the first time in years, I actually went to every show. And they just kept getting better and better. The show on the last night was amazing. Have not been thrilled by a cruise ship show in a long time and that was a great way to end the week. Tried to go up on deck for a last stroll looking at the stars and almost got blown off my feet! Very windy. But since we love just being at sea, that was fine, too.
Debarkation was fairly easy. You had to pick up your luggage tags by the purser's desk. But, you could pick your color based on what time you wanted to debark. I liked being able to choose rather than have the cruise line decide when you should leave.
Last, I must mention our cabin steward, Alex. He was sheer perfection. Friendly, and very accommodating. Plus we rarely had to ask for anything, and when we did, we had it asap. But, I swear the man reads minds.
Overall, one of the best cruises in my lifeâ€¦out of around 35 cruises. Felt good to feel like we truly had a great vacation.
NORWEGIAN PEARL NOVEMBER 27TH 2011 This was our 7th cruise, the first one on Norwegian and we were looking forward to experiencing the difference between them and Carnival and Princess, the other two lines we have sailed on before. Check in was very similar to all the other check in’s we have experienced, long lines and waiting, so nothing new there. I did like it that the Ship’s officers were waiting onboard to greet us as we stepped onto the ship and walked along the deck to the atrium doors. The atrium was much smaller then any we had seen before, this wasn’t necessarily bad or good, just different. We made our way to the Lido deck, I know the deck was called something else but to me it is always the Lido deckâ€¦lol. Pearl, my wife and I sat down and enjoyed a burger and fries, delicious! My first thought was, if the burgers are this good, I can’t wait to try the rest of the food. After my cousin Tom and his wife, Christine and son Christian joined us we went sight seeing. As a foot note, Tom andhis family didn’t know we were coming on this cruise. We wanted to surprise them and we were hoping they had boarded before we did, but they caught us as we stood at the boarding counter at check in. The layout of the Pearl was different then any of the other ships we had sailed because it wasn’t associated with Carnival Corp. like Princess and Carnival are (Basically same designs). The ship, while not gaudy in colors, was beautiful to behold and the dÃ©cor was amazing. The Bliss lounge was my favorite, it had a oriental flare with seating that looked like beds and 4 bowling lanes, 2 on each side of the lounge. The Stardust Theater, while roomy was cramped for leg room and if you sat in the middle of a row you could forget about ordering a drink as there was no room for the bar staff to walk to you and deliver your drink. The Spinnaker lounge was uniquely designed, but there wasn’t really a bad seat in the room. Bar City was a big area for watching sports and having drinks with your friends. The casino was spacious and easy to walk through. I didn’t have any luck in the casino and it seemed there were very few big winners. The Lido deck had 2 swimming pools and 3 hot tubs. There was plenty of seating and I liked it that there were very few places here for sun bathers, they were up 1 deck, so it was easier to walk thru the area. The one thing I wanted to do but never got around to was try their big water slideâ€¦it looked fun! Our room was a ocean view, a first for us, 8590. It was a obstructed view cabin having a lovely view of the lifeboatâ€¦lol. I did like the lay out as it was side ways from what most cabins are. You walk in and the bed is on the right and the closet and bathroom is on the left. Plenty of storage room in the closet and vanity, no problems there and the bathroom shower was amazing. I’m 6’3” tall and weigh 300 lb’s and normally I can just soap the walls and spin around in most showers to suds up, this shower actually had a door on it and plenty of room to move, ahhhh so nice. The toilet was a different story. I have already stated my size! I barely had room in the toilet area, another area with it’s own door I might add, but I barely had room to bend over andâ€¦well you know what I mean, I actually used a public toilet down the hall a short piece instead of our own toilet when I actually had to sit down on the toiletâ€¦if u catch my drift. But over all the bed was comfy and the room was of good size. Our room steward, Mike, did a okay job. The biggest problem we had was getting our beach towels replaced each night but other then that he was very responsive to our needs and remembered our names from day 1. What we really loved about the room was it’s location! It was on the 8th floor not 25 feet from the elevators and the Blue Lagoon dining room. This dining room was the best kept secret on the ship for breakfast for most of the cruise. It had most of the selections of the main dining room for breakfast but it was really less crowded and the service much faster. We never did eat there for lunch or supper because it just served comfort food and the food was so good elsewhere. Since I am on the subject of diningâ€¦..There are two main dining rooms on the ship. One, The Summer Palace, was huge and grand! It looked like somewhere a King would dine. The 2nd main dining room was called Indigo, which was much smaller and reminded me of dining in a nice restaurant somewhere. Both served basically the same menu, however, service was much faster and better, in my opinion at the Indigo then at the bigger Summer Palace. It was at the Indigo that we met our servers Budi and Julie. We enjoyed their service very much on the first night and then found out that we could ask for them every time we ate and they would serve us, NICE!! Â Budi and Julie even came and served us even when they were not scheduled to work or were on standby, how cool was that! We had figured that with Freestyle cruising we would miss having the same people waiting on us in the main dining room like we had on Carnival and Princess so to us, this was like having your cake and eating it too. We also was surprised as we never had to wait to be seated. We did make reservations the 2 times we ate in the pay for restaurants. We ate in the Italian restaurant, La Cucina and the Japanese steakhouse Teppanyaki. LaCucina was very good and the portions very nice. The nice thing here it was only $10.00 each to eat here. Teppanyaki had come highly recommended from another couple we had talked to in the elevator. They told us the show that the chefs did alone was worth the $25 dollars we paid to eat there. I guess that couple had never ate in a Japanese steakhouse before because it was the same old same old and I didn’t think the food was all that good. The food in the Indigo was awesome! I can tell you right now, I have never had better food on any cruise ship! Everything we ate was delicious. The buffet, The Garden Caf’e was very good and we ate breakfast there once and lunch and late night snacks a couple of times. There was also a grill at the rear of the ship and also out by the pool area that had really good burgers, dogs and fries. They even had a BBQ grill set up twice cooking Burgers, dogs and chicken that was fabulous. The entertainment on the ship was also very good. From the singers to the dancers to the comedians, all were excellent. There wasn’t a big production cast or orchestra like we have seen on other ships. What Norwegian has is a small troop of dancers, some very good singers and the Second city Comedy group to entertain you as well as a juggling act called Sharkbite who were super good and funny and a stand up comedian who was very good... There wasn’t a piano bar pianist leading songs but there was a guy playing a guitar called Tino who was very good and was fun to be around in the lounges where he played. Â There was also a Mexican singing group who played latin music and another group who played the 70’s and 80’s dance parties. There is also a huge screen T.V. in the atrium. This T.V. must have been 20 ft tall and they had the NFL games on there on Monday and Thursday night. They also played Wii on this big screen with players 3 timed your heightâ€¦cool. My cousins son, who is 15 didn’t think much of Norwegians teen program. There were very few kids on the ship and fewer teenagers, so he was kinda bored. We all did do the bowling together and let me tell you, if you think bowling is easy on a rocking ship, you have another thing coming. You could have a ball headed right for the pocket and all of the sudden it would veer right or left, whichever way the ship rocked. Either way it was fun! Christian, as we all did, loved the free icecream, whether it was from the machine or hand dipped. We visited Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, MX. We enjoyed the beautiful beach at Great Stirrup Cay. There is still a lot of building going on but it didn’t interfere with all the fun. Norwegian had 3 big tender boats so tendering was a snap. We visited Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios Jamaica. We had been there before but wanted to visit with my cousin and his family. This time we brought our swim suites and enjoyed the pool and waterslideâ€¦.nice. We were real lucky at Grand Cayman. The water was too rough for ships to tender where the cruise ships normally tender from so we moved to another part of the Island where we was able to tender. This area didn’t have many tenders though so the Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships who were there too were not allowed to stop there and had to cancel that port of call. We did the Dolphin encounter and sting ray excursion through the ship and had a blast. I really enjoyed being up close with the Dolphins and sting rays and would highly recommend this excursion. At Cozumel, Mexico, our 3rd visit there, we did the X-rail excursion thru the ship and had a great time. These X-rails are not easy to drive with standard steering and a small steering wheel that can be ripped from your hand at anytime when u hit a rock. The wife and I really had fun driving it though and we also visited a secluded cavern and went for a swim in the crystal clear water there. I will warn everyone nowâ€¦you will get muddy and the shower off area is less then desirable back at the main building being pvc pipes with holes drilled in them outside with no privacy. We were sad to see the cruise end as this was definitely our favorite cruise we have been on. Debarkation was easy, the only problem was there was a lot of foreigners on this ship so customs was really slow. We definitely will sail Norwegian again. We loved the freestyle concept and would like to see it continue to expand industry wide. The overall crew was wonderful. Not overbearing but catering to your needs and wants and they seemed genuinely happy, unlike many cruises we have been on.
About us: semi-retired professionals, not too fussy, 39th cruise, 13th on NCL, and second on PoA. Cruised with two other couples, all seasoned travellers.
Our cabins were extended balconies, deck 11 forward. Our cabin ws 11526
We arrived three days early to adjust to time and see the sights on Oahu. If you plan on doing a tour of the Missouri at Pearl Harbor, arrive early. They only sell a limited number of tickets and there is no reservation system - first come, first serve. We arrived at 8:30 and got tickets for the 10:30 tour.
We booked a car through Thrifty on all islands except Kona, and had first rate service and vehicles. Be sure to become a Blue Chip member before leaving home and you will go to a special line. We never had a single person in front of us and the rental processing took about three minutes. You will also get a second driver free. It is usally a $12 fee. This does not apply on Kaui, but when I complained because this had not been in my rental agreement, they took it off. In HNL they willshuttle you from the airport rental office to the pier. the bus runs continuously. Be sure when you rent the car that you pay very close attention to where the office is, because the map in the brochure they give you is wrong and it is not near any of the other return sites. Gas was about $4.59/gal
We stayed at the Aqua Palms and it was okay. Very convenient to Waikiki but noisy, with difficult parking and an overworked desk staff. It got great reviews on Trip Advisor but did not live up to the rave reviews. For $99 a night with a beach view and IHOP breakfast included, it was a good deal, but not the great boutique hotel represented in the reviews.
Boarding: Arrived at the pier at 12:15 and there was quite a crowd but it moved quickly. We had two carry-ons, which the airlines allow and PoA allowed last time, but they decided one of them was too big and had to be checked. Unfortunately they did not tell me that until I got to the security check point and had to go back to the opposite end of the terminal to drop off my bag then come back and get in line again. Fortunately, we were VIP so the line was short. Security was similar to airport checks. We were then greeted with a lei (flowers for girls, shells for the guys) and photos taken. Checkin was quick and our total time from drop off to onboard was about 20 minutes. Rooms were not ready until 2:00. There was a bag drop at East Meets West restaurant, which is in the main lobby near the boarding area. Unlike our past NCL cruises, the dining room was not open, only the buffet. This was a disappointment since we always like to begin the cruise with a leisurely meal rather than the craziness of the buffet.
Cabin: nicely appointed with hair dryer, refrigerator, safe, and coffee maker. There is shampoo and shower gel in dispensers in the bathroom. The shower curtain is of the non-cling variety. The extended balcony has two side chairs, a tiny end table and two chaise loungers. Our steward had not conquered the art of putting beds together properly. He had put the gap guard between the beds, but had not put down the overlay on each side so there was a 4" ridge down the center of the bed. We asked several times to have it corrected but he never did. Likewise, there were no robes in our cabin and he said I'd have to call the front desk to get them (unusual since they are standard in balconies, and our friends had them in theirs) It took three days to finally get robes. The room was cleaned daily before noon but evening turndown some evenings did not happen til 9:00 pm. Ice was placed in the room during morning service which meant when we returned to the room in mid to late afternoon, most of it was melted. No ice was distributed at turn down. To get ice it was necessary to either go to the bar or call room service. None of these were horrific events (well, maybe the bed) but it was certainly a deviation from the service we have come to expect on NCL , Dining: I realize this is very subjective. We ate dinner 4 nights in Skyline (main dining room with more casual dress) 1 night in Liberty (main dining room with less casual dress) and 2 nights at buffet. The menus in both MDRs are the same. There is a nightly menu as well as an "anytime" menu. While there was always something I could find, I did find the new menus less exciting than in the past. The chef's special most nights was fish and always well done. The desert menus were pretty uninspired. Chilled soups were completely absent with the exception of gazpacho one night. This was a true disappointment. The food was well prepared and the presentation pleasing.
Service in the dining room was the worst we've had on any of our 39 cruises. Service was painfully slow. The average time between starter and entree was 20 minutes. Dittos for desert, which one night was 30 minutes and another night never came (our server, when questioned said she'd forgotten!) Coffee was usually not served til desert was almost done and one night they could not bring us coffee because they did not have any cups! There was no oversight of the table (refilling of wine glasses, water) and no notice of things like one person at our table of six not getting his entre. There did not seem to be an assistant waiter most nights, just the waiter who seemed very stressed and overextended.
There was entertainment most nights in the Skyline, which was always a pianist who played wonderful dinner music and he was occasionally joined by a vocalist or two. Very nice. However, the tables which bordered the stage area were always occupied by staff members. On occasion the wait staff spent a fair amount of time visiting with fellow staff members, ignoring the patrons. I had to get up and tap our waiter on the shoulder to ask for our water and tea refills after we had waited patiently for some time.
It is possible to make a reservation at the MDRs. We are early diners and usually arrived at the dining room at 6:00. and had little or no wait time. One evening it was 20 minutes, even though we let them know we were gold latitudes (the hostess haughtily told me she didn't care what level we were, there were others ahead of us). Wow. I can understand if the ship's policy does not favor repeaters but I was quite astounded by her lack of tact.
The staff was friendly enough, but we never had a waiter who had been onboard the Pride more than a few months. One told us the xact number of days he had been onboard and the exact number until he could leave. kind of had the impression these young people had signed on thinking this job would be a lot more fun and a lot less demanding. They would have made great camp counsellors- nice but more prepared for play than work.
The two evenings when we dined at the buffet, it was actually because we had all found the dining rooms the prior evening to be exhausting. Surprisingly, the evening buffets were some of our best meals-they even had my beloved chilled soups. A large variety of foods and attentive staff. The breakfast buffet had a very good variety of offerings and the coffee cart attendents were always entertaining. Very friendly and funny.
There is an aft buffet which has a scaled down sampling of the main buffet, but its hours are different. There is also a grill with burgers, hot dogs and all the extras.
Favorite spots: The Waikiki bar on the aft is a nice, open and quiet area. There is a small pool there with padded loungers, so it became our favorite place to relax. Pinks Lounge has a paino player most of the evening and it became a favorite spot as well.
The internet cafe is small, but adequate. The library and card rooms are larger than on many ships and quite inviting.
There is a chapel and Sabbath services were held there Friday evening. It was used for several meetings, but no renewal of marriage vows was listed as on some ships.
The saloon, which is adjacent to the buffet and provides overflow dining area, has sporting events on the TVs there (these were channels not available in the cabin) and had nightly popcorn.
Latitudes: There was a lovely and helpful representative onboard. The main latitudes party was one afternoon from 5:00 - 6:00. The captain, who is quite a chatty guy, gave a wonderful history lesson on Hawaii, and drawings were held for door prizes. I did note that the spa did not contribute anything this time. The Wave, the show band, played very nice dance music and waiters circled with free maitais, and wine. Other drinks were available by request.
A VIP party was held but since it was at 7:00 pm, we were at dinner and did not attend.
Ports: The ports are the main reason for this cruise, of course, and it was a treat to overnight in Maui and Kuai. Disembarking began about 8:00 each day and went well. The ports are all in somewhat industrial areas so there are no grand shopping and dining areas at the dock like in the Caribbean.
Each port had circling shuttles for all the rental companies. Note: we did not disembark in Kona, and I understand this was not the case there There were also vans to WalMart and/or KMart as well as city shuttles and Hilo Hatties. In the terminal buildings were racks of literature and we found the tall skinny guides for each island to have good information, coupons and good maps.
Speaking of maps - get a real set of maps before you go, if you intend to drive. The rental car and guide books maps are not especially accurate and we lost some time because the maps were not quite right.
Maui - our special trip was up to the lavender farm. It is an easy drive and a beautiful place. They serve lunch but it must be reserved in advance. Google "maui lavender" and you will find their website. So calm and beautiful - you can see both sides of the island from the porch while sipping lavender tea and sampling scones.
Hilo - I think the VNP is a must see. Currently you cannot completely circle the caldron because of road work, but well worth the visit. There is a wonderful series of videos at the museum at the caldron. After the VNP, we headed to Akaka Falls. Beautiful and not a difficult walk - but not for the mobility challenged and no handicap accessility at all. Between the two areas, be sure to watch for the "scenic road" sign and take it. A gorgeous road with majestic overviews of the ocean and near the end a terrific food and smoothie stop. What's Shakin' is such a treat for lunch or a snack. The macadamia nut pie (little snack size) are heavenly.
Kaui - we drove to the end of the island and it was an especially windy day so the waves were spectacular. There were two delightful little churches we stopped at and had lunch at a shrimp truck across from a flea market. We spent the afternoon at the beach on the south shore. The second day we did a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian and it was the perfect end to our trip. Be advised that you cannot wear white clothing in the helicopter and can only take a bottle of water and your camera without the case. They provide you with a locked bag for your things at the office. The pick up point is at the Harbor Mall. If you book through the ship they pick you up at the pier, but if you book on your own you can take the trolley looking shuttle - or walk, it's only about three blocks.
Spa: The prices are much higher than the deluxe spas near my home, but we did use the spa as our Kona day excursion. The treatment was well done and facilities nice. The restroom in the spa area has a free sauna and steam room. They are small but fine. If you find the cabin showers confining you may want to shower in the spa where they are larger and there is also a very large handicapped shower.
Entertainment: The production shows were only in their second week. Brand new and very nice. The magician was good and comedian was pretty good. Second City was very entertaining. The music in the bars and poolside was the best I've experienced on any ship Bravo!
Misc: There was a buy 5 get 1 free wine program. Drinks were about the same price as nicer restaurants. Soft drinks were $2.00 plus gratuity. There is a soft drink program but I do not recall the price, except that it would not have been cost effective unless you drank multiple sodas per day. Security getting onboard each day is done in the terminal and very stringent. Officers, including Captain Buzz wandered the ship regularly and were very chatty. Shopping is not my thing, but there is probably less shopping area on this ship this most.
There were two Hawaiian Embassadors onboard to do informational talks each day. They were very informative and also did a commentary while we cruised the Napali coast. There is no casino or bingo due to Hawaiian law. There are meetings for Friends of Bill each day, a Friends of Dorothy gathering and there was a Veterans' meeting, although it was during port time, so my husband missed it.
Disembaking: The Pride uses the usual color coded tags, or you can self disembark if you carry off your luggage. VIP's can disembark at their leisure. Rooms had to be vacated by 9:15. The self-disembarking call was made at 7:45 and the first color was called at 8:00. To our disappointment, they no longer offer the EasyFly program, whereby you put your bags out and they were checked through with the airlines. Luggage storage is available at the pier and NCL offers excursions to late flight passengers which store your luggage and deliver you to the airport. Taxis and shuttles were easily accessible the pier. If you choose to shuttle to the airport, the big bus by Roberts is $6 per person.
Summation: This cruise was a disappointment because of our previous experiences with NCL. For some time the Pride has gotten very mixed reviews and we did our first PoA cruise with very low exectations but found it to be fine. As such, we thought this one would be the same and that poor reviews were often times by people with unrealistic expectations. I'm afraid, this go 'round I had to agree with many of them. I still feel the PoA offers the best value you can get for a Hawaiian vacation, but the service sector of this ship certainly needs some serious attention.
I have 2 options-drinks or tips.If I'm not allowed to take my prefer drinks with me-than I can't afford the tips,because I have to spend money for drinks which I don't like and my vacation will much below my expectation."Thank" you for this policy