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.

3 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.

64 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico

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

73 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast

Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
3.97
from 543 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

543 User Reviews of Norwegian Ships
Nickel and dimers
Publication Date: October 31, 2016

First allow me to comment that the service and the food on the Norwegian Star are pretty good. The staff members are friendly and helpful. We had dinner in five specialty restaurants and the quality and service of each of them were excellent.

That being said, I have a number of complaints about how the NCL as a cruise company treats its customers based upon comparing some 30 plus previous cruises (only the second with NCL):

1) The very first negative issue that came up was the cost of the water packages that are offered are way too excessive. We were carrying a 2 liter bottle of water on board during embarkation and was told that it was prohibited – first time that has EVER happened! When we looked at purchasing water on board, we were told we could buy a “water package”. I am sorry but bottled water for up to $5.50 per liter is price gouging. And, if you take into account that you are prohibited from carrying on water from either the embarking port or any ports-of-call, you may say that the pricing is almost like extortion. By

the way, the bringing on of soft drinks was also prohibited.

2) To make matters worse, if you ask for a pitcher of water between 10:00 AM to 6:30 AM, there is a $7.95 convenience fee. As I mentioned previously, I have been on 30 plus cruises (only my second with Norwegian) and I have NEVER been charged a convenience fee for any room service, let alone for a pitcher of water.

3) Speaking of the room service “convenience fee”, you can order a breakfast consisting of juice, coffee and associated muffins, rolls, Danish. However, if you add eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, or anything hot, the $7.95 “convenience fee” is added. Again, in the 30 plus cruises I have been on, I never incurred a fee.

4) NCL may notice that there is not much activity going on in the casino most of the nights and days at sea. Perhaps it is because smoking is allowed throughout the casino. Customers that did not gamble would find refuge at the casino just so they can smoke inside rather than outside. This adds even more smoke to what is already a smoke filled room. Apparently NCL does not understand that the MAJORITY of people are now non-smokers? Perhaps if it changes the policy – or at the very least designate a small smoking section – it would see more activity. I did not go to the casino whatsoever due to smoking odor, but my wife did. This cannot be healthy for the patrons OR the workers in the casino.

5) As for the casino, my wife was charged a “convenience fee” for shifting money from our account to be used for gambling. We have never received such a fee on any other cruise line. 3% for using your credit is outrageous. What’s next: a convenience fee for charging drinks and other purchases on the ship?

6) In my opinion, there should be more activities provided on sea days. What is being offered is rather weak in terms of quantity. Those that are offered seem to be satisfactory.

7) I don’t understand the tax policy. 10% taxes throughout the cruise were placed on purchases such as beverages. We were first told that the tax would go away once we left the Port of Barcelona and into international waters. However the tax never went away and I spent an additional $178.01worth of “taxes” – which I never paid in the past.

8) My wife and I had the Premium Beverage Package. It is amazing to me that water and premium coffees are not included whereas other cruise lines include it. Soft drinks are included – why not bottled water and coffee?

9) I was also told that if I have a cappuccino in the restaurants during a meal, I would not be charged. However I had breakfast in the Versailles, asked for a cappuccino and was charged $3.95. I was then told that it does not include breakfast. WHY?

10) When I am having dinner or otherwise ordering a glass of wine, I noticed that there were two “pours” – a regular one and a larger one. When I ask for the larger one, even though it is less than the $15 maximum allowed, the server will only give me a smaller one. I am told that because I am on the package I can only get the smaller one. WHY?

11) I also purchased a “drink of the day” Moscow Mule, which sold for $7.95 rather than the usual $10.95. When I received my bill, I was being charged the $10.95. When I asked why I wasn’t charged the $7.95, the server said the $7.95 was for those people who are not on the package and because I was on the package I was being charged full price. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! WHY ARE WE BEING CHARGED THE MORE EXPENSIVE PRICE?

12) The fees for the excursions also seem to be on the very high side. Examples:

a) While we were in Messina, we were able to get a taxi to go back and forth to Taormina while the driver waited 2 hours for 20 EURO each. Yet NCL was charging $219 for a visit to Taormina plus Mount Etna OR Taormina and a Sicilian Vineyard. Adding Mt. Etna or the Vineyard for $200 more seems to be pretty expensive.

b) We took a Hop on/Hop off tour in Athens for 20 Euro. The NCL charge was $49 (40 EURO) for the same tour.

c) We took a Hop on/Hop off bus in Iraklion for 15 Euro, which brought us to Knossos. The entrance fee was also 15 Euro. So for 30 Euro we were able to see not only the ruins at Knossos but also the city. The cost for the Knossos and Village life was $109.

d) The hotel we are staying at in Rome arranged a taxi to pick us up at the port for 130 Euro for the 4 of us and brought us directly to the hotel. NCL is charging $85 per person – or $340 for four – to go directly to the airport.

There seems to be a lot of “policies” that are different from place to place and from time to time on board the Norwegian Star – none of which appear to be available to the customers in any written form. Too bad the only people that know about them are the staff members and not the customers – and even then there was no consistency from staff member to staff member.

It is obvious that it is Norwegian’s policy to “nickel and dime” its customers to the absurd. As I mentioned, this is only the second trip I have taken with Norwegian whereas I have taken 30 or so with other cruise lines such as Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Carnival. In addition, we had another couple join us on this particular cruise – their first one in quite some time. They, too, noticed the petty add-ons and exorbitant charges and fees (along with other passengers, I might add). My suggestion to NCL would be to listen to and understand its customer base. It should be more transparent with the fees they will charge on board so the consumer can make a logical evaluation of pricing amongst the cruise lines. We do not mind paying for service and quality. Just don’t “nickel and dime” us on petty fees and over charge us for excursions. It appears that NCL is striving to become the Spirit Airlines/EasyJet of the cruise world.

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Not bad, just not exceptional either.
Publication Date: October 16, 2016

Our room porter and the service in the dining rooms was excellent. The bartenders were hit or miss, unfortunately, mostly miss. The casino was in the center of the ship and allowed smoking so most of the ship smelt like an ashtray. The adult pool was too small and thus too crowded. The waterslides were great. Too many young children ran around the boat unattended in the bars and nightclubs, and I wish there were more adult only floors and that the areas that were supposed to be adult only were better regulated.

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Our Dream Cruise became our Biggest Nightmare!!
Publication Date: September 23, 2016

Our dream cruise became our biggest nightmare!!

We took our 5th cruise with Norwegian last August. My mom had a reaction to a glass of wine she drank and was sent to the cruise medical center against her will. The medical center hooked her up to an IV, EKG and catheter and wouldn't let her out. They gave her tons of medicine and blood thinners that she didn't want. Then they kicked her off boat the next morning (Day 3) claiming she had a heart attack. They sent her to a third rate hospital by ambulance in Florida. We had her checked out at home. Her heart is that of a 40 year old and perfectly healthy. She never had a heart attack and has no heart damage. Then we got the medical bill from the 16 hour visit in the medical center... $11,600.00 for ONLY 16 hours in their medical center. We have never seen such charges anywhere in American hospitals. I opened a dispute with Norwegian via certified mail, email and online case submission. I was promised an answer in 10-15 business days. I finally heard today (Day

27). They have decided to do NOTHING to rectify the situation. They will not remove the medical charges for the malpractice that they performed nor are they offering any cruise discounts or credits for future cruises for my mom or any of us.

I will NEVER cruise with NORWEGIAN again!

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BEWARE Security Issues galore
Publication Date: August 2, 2016

I am currently on the Norwegian Gem, headed out of the private island, Great Stirrup Cay, to the Bahamas.

This morning an elderly passenger reported being pushed down a flight of stairs: my wife, son and I saw him on the floor, dazed.

This afternoon on the private island, my wife was attacked by a group of teen passengers and her hand was cut by a thrown rock, requiring sutures. So far, the ship denies any knowledge.

We are being billed for the medical services, my wife cannot swim for the remainder of her birthday vacation and she needs to have the sutures removed when we return home. Ship has done nothing so far. Vacation ruined, Norwegian could care less.

Life guard at private island beach did nothing. Security at private island beach did nothing. Norwegian staff on board doing nothing. If you value your life, this is probably not the ship for you.

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Don't get hurt
Publication Date: July 26, 2016

My husband fell two days before we were to leave on our Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary. He broke his hip. Johnny the cruise consultant told me to call Customer Relations and talk to them about a credit. Well after getting my husband home and settled I called. No way would they give us a credit and the man was rather annoyed that I would even ask.

I only asked for a credit not the whole amount but NO THAT WAS NOT POSSIBLE.

Every other agency, airlines, hotels and car rentals gave us a refund but not Norwegian any even give us a credit. Even though we booked another cruise for the same time next year. I have sailed Norwegian before but it won't happen again. Just be ware they only want the money all $6000.00 plus.

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Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Dawn
Publication Date: June 27, 2016

Last year I was planning to write a review about my bad experience with Norwegian Sun during my cruise to Alaska but later decided not to do it. This year I took another cruise with NCL on Norwegian Dawn to the western Caribbean. It was the last trip of Norwegian Dawn before the multimillion dollar renovation and it came as no surprise that the ship was outdated and stained. But my review isn’t going to be about that, just let me mention that we did not use the pool and jacuzzis because they were old and dirty. Hopefully these problems will be fixed during the renovation, so there is no need to mention them.

But the renovation project by itself brought up another completely different problem normally not encountered on other ships. NCL decided to save time and money and start renovation during the cruise by performing some work at sea. It was very inconvenient and annoying having piles of plywood stocked on decks, workers removing old paint and repainting, and so on. Some of the passengers reported workers entering their cabins to perform work on their balconies.

Lesson learned: do not book

a trip on a ship right before it is scheduled for dry dock.

Now on to things that can’t be fixed by renovation. First of all, I could not stop comparing this ship to a Norwegian Sun. Even though the Norwegian Sun is smaller than the Norwegian Dawn (78,309 GT vs 92,250 GT) inside, the ocean view and balcony cabins on the Sun are bigger than on the Dawn. Our tiny oceanview cabin was entirely occupied by the bed, leaving us no room for any movement other than going in and out.

The cabin service was almost nonexistent. On the sixth day of our cruise we ran out of soap - both hard soap and body wash. We discovered this only when we returned from the offshore excursion, and it took three phone calls to the Help desk and a lot of waiting to get the supplies.

The entertainment was boring even compared to the Sun and the TV on board the ship was running same the movies all 10 days.

We all know Latitudes Rewards Program is not the best in the industry. For example, as a silver member on Cunard I receive one free hour of Internet, and I do not have to buy any of their Internet packages. As a silver member on NCL I receive only 30 minutes free and only if I buy the 250 minute Internet package. But when I bought the 250 minute Internet package on Norwegian Dawn I did not receive my Latitudes rewards. I tried to talk to several people: the Internet manager, Help desk, and the Hotel manager without any results. The Internet manager I talked to first was very rude and did not listen to my complaint at all.

To be objective I should mention a few good things about this cruise. First and foremost the food was not bad at all. We loved the Le Bistro and Modesto restaurants and the food in the main dining restaurant and buffet was OK.

Of course buffet could have had more variety, and some improvements could be made, like advising the waiters not to grab plates without asking permission.

The ports of calls we visited during this cruise were also good. In my opinion it was a very good combination of exciting destinations to reach in one cruise. But this brings me to another matter often discussed on various forums by fellow passengers: not enough time in port. Even when our ship was scheduled to be in most ports from 8 AM until 5 PM the real timeframe for the passengers to be offshore was from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. In most ports sometimes even less. This is definitely not long enough to enjoy time offshore in a new port. Sometimes the distance to the next destination dictates a short time period that the ship can stay in port. Not in our case. Four of our ports of calls where in very close proximity to each other, sometimes less than 200 miles

(the distance from Costa Maya to Cozumel) but we still did not stay in port long enough. I wish Cruise companies will reconsider their position on this matter.

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Deplorable Experiences and Conditions on Norwegian Pearl
Publication Date: June 3, 2016

Please allow me to begin by stating that all issues being brought forward below were all very well documented with guest services on the ship. Sadly they had not much care of the issues.

1) Stateroom Plumbing Issues: On day 1 prior to heading to dinner in Summer Palace, we were about to shower in our stateroom; at which time when the shower was turned on our entire bathroom flooded due to a clogged drain line. Foul unsanitary water, hair and disgusting chunks of brown sewage like stuff literally flooded our entire bathroom compartment. This backup came directly from the drain under our bathroom sink. I immediately contacted guest services, at which time no response was provided to us. I then had to subsequently contact guest services no less than 5 additional times; with me having to become very angry with them as to their total lack of care or response. I was forced to literally yell at them to get a plumber to our room ASAP; so that we could get to shower and head to dinner. The plumber did not arrive for about 1 hour by which time our bathroom

was completely flooded with unsanitary debris. I had to literally beg guest services to move our Summer Palace reservations out for about an hour and a half as a result of this mess. Once the plumber was finished, we then had to wait another 30 minutes for our stateroom attendant to come and clean & sanitize the bathroom; so that we would finally be able to shower in it safely.

2) Stateroom A/C Air conditioning issues: On or about the 4th day into our cruise, our stateroom air conditioning was not cooling our room. We contacted guest services more than 8 times about this issue over the next few days; to which they kept leaving messages that everything should be fixed now – when in fact it was not. I finally had to request an officer to our room about this issue; to which he responded by bringing us a box fan. You heard it right; a box fan was brought to our room and left there for the duration of our cruise. In addition, another A/C repairman came to our room and removed the ceiling plate over the A/C system in order to aid in bringing more airflow into the room. So we were stuck in a room for the duration of the cruise with a giant hole in our ceiling with unsightly wires and controls visible; all for very little to no improvement. Nothing like heading to Central America on a modern cruise ship with little to no air conditioning; and a giant box fan as the ship’s resolution to this!

3) Stateroom Sanitization Issues: From day one it felt like our stateroom had never been turned-over or properly cleaned. We had complained numerous times about the following issues. The bathroom constantly smelled of urine, our mirrors and glass on hanging photos was never cleaned, our sheets were initially very dirty on day one and seemed like they were never initially changed. I had our stateroom attendant and a housekeeping manager look at them; who also agreed that they were totally unacceptable. The bed skirt had brown marks (looked like feces) on it from day one; at which time a call was made about this. The carpets were musty and dirty and appeared like they had not been cleaned in a very long time. Our cabin safe was broken during the cruise; and security personnel couldn’t get it working right. Overall it felt like our stateroom was one of the poorest examples of cleanliness; having a similar feeling to that of a low budget unsanitary motel!

4) Nazi like treatment by a security officer: Upon embarking the ship after a long wonderful day in Costa Rica, I was asked to swipe my card and place my belongings onto the x-ray scanner. I was then directed to enter through the metal detector; at which time the machine beeped. I immediately realized that I had forgotten to remove my cell phone from my pocket. The security officer on the other side started yelling at me stating “ You will never do this again, do you understand me, you are causing others to be inconvenienced by this! Do you understand me, you will never cause this to happen again. Put your arms out to your side, I need to wand you down.” As this was happening I immediately went into defensive mode and told the officer to stop speaking to me in this manner. I further stated to him that I was the guest, and under no such circumstance would he behave like this to me. I stormed off and went directly to my stateroom, at which time I contacted the Hotel Director at extension 8888. He listened to my experience and had the director of security, Neil Moss contact me a couple of days later. Mr. Moss also took my report and stated to me that this behavior by the officer was totally unacceptable; and that he would be carefully addressing the matter. Mr. Moss later caught up with me in person to personally introduce himself to me and offer his apologies. He and I had run into each other a few more times casually onboard; and I must state that he was the most pleasant officer I have ever encountered. He made me feel like a guest should feel; after being accosted by this Nazi like officer earlier.

5) Mandara Spa Men’s Thermal Suite Deficiencies: My partner and I both paid for the unlimited access package to this area for the entire cruise. The condition that we found in the men’s private thermal suite was absolutely horrific, unsanitary, in dis-repair and with black mold present. I have taken photos of these areas and the deficiencies noted below; and will be including them in this report. Each and every day we found that there were dirty towels laying everywhere, water sloshing around in the corners of the floors throughout, black mold present under each step entering into the cold plunge pool, wooden splinter conditions present in the dry sauna from lack of maintenance, the men’s shower area being in complete dis-repair from day 1 through day 16 of the cruise. More specifically, the service personnel were attempting to replace glass shower doors the entire time we were onboard the ship during daylight hours. They were noisy, messy and had a total lack of care over being quiet so that the guests might be able to relax. My partner on numerous occasions had stepped on broken tile pieces and or metal shavings simply left all over the shower floor areas inside and out; and subsequently brought them to the attention of the spa managers and personnel. Their response was non-caring and somewhat to the tune of why are you bothering us. In addition, the male thermal suite attendant “Adrienne” did nothing the entire cruise except sit on one of the soaking tubs (the one that has a tile cover over it) and watch movies on the television. Every single time we entered this area, he had adjusted the television to Hollywood movies being played; and sat there and did nothing other than watch movies. He never did any cleaning, picking up of towels, nor minding that there were guests trying to relax on the chaise lounges. In one conversation with him, he even stated that NCL was “paying us much less money than they used to, and because of such being onboard as crew was very un-motivating for staff.” In fact on one day a guest complained that the drinking water tasted like bleach; to which he did nothing about. It did in fact taste tainted, and I personally went out to the spa desk and let them know about it. They did nothing in response, and left the tainted water in place. We witnessed many other spa guests complain of many similar experiences within the men’s thermal suite area; to which they were also mostly ignored, based upon follow up conversations with them. Please review the many photos of the men’s thermal suite, attached at the bottom of this complaint; for reference to these male thermal suite deficiencies. Please note that these photos were taken when nobody else was present; in order to preserve privacy. As a result of all these problems that we had experienced, my partner and I had a lengthy conversation with Shannyn Coetzee, the spa manager to which she empathetically apologized for all of such misgivings; and further stated the day before the cruise ended that she would be refunding our full $398. Paid for access to the thermal suite. She stated that it would show up on our final bill as a credit, which it still has not yet shown up.

6) Poor crew member morale, experiences, attitudes and Asian racial slurs: We had so many inconsistent crewmember experiences on the ship; ranging from okay to just downright rude and offensive. One crewmember in the buffet area was talking to us, and when we asked how he liked working for NCL; he stated, “it’s like being in prison.” Another crewmember we spoke with in the Summer Palace dining room stated that this ship was nicknamed the “Filipino Slave Ship” ever since NCL has recently started making cutbacks and major changes. Crew morale appeared to be at a very low point for guest experience from our normal level of expectation. Everywhere we went we seemed to run into unhappy staff members; who just made us feel like we were on a very different NCL cruise this time around. Here’s the thing that really set us off. Every day upon entering the Garden cafe, the greeters use a very racist slogan; that could be construed as downright rude and offensive to those of Asian descent. I am Caucasian but found this to be downright ignorant. Here is what they say upon entering: “Washee Washee, Happy Happy, Smilee Smilee, all the time; and then they repeat it over & over & over again. The term “Washee Washee” is very much so a racist slur brought on against those of Asian descent, with reference to historical connotations of the Asian race doing nothing in life other than laundry. In fact several years ago, Abercrombie & Fitch was sued for using similar slang against Asians.

7) Summer Palace breakfast problems: We went to breakfast in Summer Palace the day before the end of the cruise with a friend that we had met onboard. Upon ordering our breakfast, we received cold toasted bagels 30 minutes later; with our waiter stating that he had to leave and that another waiter would be taking over. He further indicated that he was leaving because he was being called by a member of staff; to answer to why he was 4 minutes late boarding the ship in Huatulco. He further indicated that he most likely was being fired. Why should we as guests become aware of such issues? We then sat there, 3 of us waiting for breakfast until 1 hour and 15 minutes had elapsed. Absolutely no food ever arrived and no waiter to explain anything. We walked out of the dining room with no breakfast; and our friend made a very large scene to the maître-d up front about this issue. They explained to him that one of the crew in the kitchen was sick and vomiting; and this was the cause for the problem. This is something that would be totally unacceptable to bring to the attention of a guest. Who wants to hear details about vomit in the kitchen? We all then went up to the Garden café; where I personally addressed a ship officer about this incident. The officer took notes while I spoke and I never heard anything after that.

8) Embarrassed by Maître-d in Teppanyaki in public: On our 3rd visit to Teppanyaki a few days before the cruise had ended; we brought a friend with us to eat dinner here. We were all having a nice time and ordered our food; at which time the Maître-d came over to our group of 3 in front of many people and proceeded to bring up to our friend that there was an issue with his stateroom card regarding finance. He stated that our friend would have to visit guest services right away, at which time our friend stated out loud and very angry “Serve my food and I will take care of this matter later!” The maître-d complied with such but left our party in complete embarrassment for the rest of the meal. I can only imagine what the other parties at our table and around us were thinking. My partner & I had purchased a dining package; so we weren’t sure what was happening with our friends card, but under no such circumstance should this have ever taken place prior to serving the meal!

9) Malting’s bar lack of service & attitude by one crewmember: On various occasions we met friends here for a cocktail and found that one crewmember (last name Rizzo or something close to that) would never come over to serve us. We always had to walk over to the bar and ask for a server to come and take our drink order. This crewmember had attitude and an overall demeanor of an angry resting face. It was obvious that he was unhappy with his life, his job and of the guests that he was there to serve. One night my partner asked if he could have some popcorn; to which he responded jokingly “Do you thing you are at a movie theater?” We were all taken back by this comment but just passed it off like he was kidding; except that my partner never received any popcorn.

10) Garden Café Horrible & Disgusting Food, Service & Smells: The absolute most disgusting place on the entire ship was the Garden Café for so many others and us. The food was mainly cold, 1/3rd of the selections were always Indian, the chefs loved to put mostly mayonnaise dishes out where they were not on ice or cold areas, the soup serving area always smelled like dirty feet, and there was never anywhere to sit without walking a mile. The dining areas in Garden Café have outdoor furniture that is way too large for the areas; making it near impossible to even get to any table. There were chairs at both ends of every single booth in these areas; which is a complete fire hazard and not up to US safety standards. The tables were always dirty and never cleaned off. When a crewmember did finally come to clean off a table, they used this dirty little blue doily towel to only wipe little dirty areas on tables. Under no circumstance did we EVER see any crewmember completely wipe off an entire table after clearing it off. It’s no wonder why the United States has your rear-ends on the line about the Noor Virus. Your nasty crewmembers don’t bother wiping off the tables in the most important area; the area with the most people eating. This is totally unacceptable, disgusting and comparable to 3rd World sanitation practices. Rest-Assured this is one are of deficiency that I will be filing a follow-up report with the proper US Health Dept. agencies about.

11) Summer Palace Dress Code Dilemma – Pants/No Pants LOL: My partner and I have always worn proper attire in the dining rooms; however there appears to be major inconsistencies within the Summer Palace regarding such. One such evening we were with a friend who happened to be wearing designer shorts; to which he was denied entry due to their “Very Strict Dress Code Requiring Pants”. It was very embarrassing for him and he never ended up eating with us that night; however he did make one thing very clear to the Matre-d; and that was there were two women in front of us in line that were wearing shorts and were allowed to enter. So essentially women with shorts were acceptable, but men were not? Additionally, the Maître-d told myself and my partner later on that evening that on the first couple of cruise days and the last couple of cruise days; that they make exceptions and allow for shorts to be worn. Thus I have a dilemma with this; what is it, Pants or No Pants, or sometimes pants, or only pants for men, or no pants for women. This is absolutely hilarious and I hope a comedian does a skit about this one! After all, it supposed to be “Freestyle Cruising NCL”; however it’s not so Freestyle any more with this huge Pants Dilemma! As a test of this, I called down to Summer palace on the last night of the cruise to ask if it was okay to wear shorts to dinner; since I had already packed everything up for departure. They asked what kind of shorts was I wearing, to which I responded what exactly do they mean? They said dress shorts or regular shorts; at this time I was laughing so loud that I just simply hung up the phone on them. I went down to that evening with shorts and had no problem entering. So now it’s dress shorts, regular shorts, no shorts, shorts for women, no shorts for men, “GO FREESTYLE!”

12) Big $10. Sale in Le Bistro – Very Dangerous: A few days before the cruise was coming to an end they announced a huge $10. sale in Le Bistro restaurant. When we arrived for the sale it the line was out the door. The allowed for this tiny restaurant to become so jam-packed that people were quite literally crying about being crushed. There was only one way in and the same way out and it felt like people were not being controlled at all; and a total free for all of any amount of people were allowed to enter. This was a very dangerous situation for the public to be in; and most definitely could cause injuries, death or severe circumstances if there ever would be a fire or other hazard onboard. Essentially if that were to happen, rest-assured Norwegian that most everyone in Le Bistro would have ended up DEAD! This should have either taken place in a larger area, or there should be personnel to control admittance to a certain number of guests at a time. I will also be reporting this issue to the US Coast Guard; as I would hate to ever hear of anyone being killed or injured on a cruise ship as a direct result of such mass chaos.

In final, we are absolutely appalled by the horrendous experiences mentioned above that took place during our cruise. We will NEVER be sailing on NCL again and will be sticking with other lines in the future. This cruise was the final straw for us with regards to NCL. It would seem that NCL couldn’t any longer keep up with the competition. I strongly urge your upper management to take a cruise on any of the Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean etc. lines; in order to personally compare their services to that of NCL’s. I would be willing to bet that you feel like you are in deep trouble company-wise after you experience what these other lines are doing for their guests. Shame on you NCL for losing care of your customers!

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Norwegian Escape - My experience could have been better!
Publication Date: April 7, 2016

My family and friends were excited to board the cruise ship. However, things would change for us during the safety drill portion of the cruise. To start, one of the representatives who was designated to show our section the rules of safety, was very rude. We happen to be sitting in the wrong spot as she would scan our card and what she said to us was quite offensive. We stated that we didn't know where to go and she said, as we got up to move to the right area "have some respect". Now both my friend and I promptly informed her that what she had implied was offensive, unnecessary and unprofessional. As we were able to stand in the back of the casino the daughter of my friend who has had some leg issues, was directed by her mom to sit down on the floor and that's when the same crew member approached us again, this time she was told "do not converse with my daughter". From that point forward this crew member and one of her peers began to obviously try to intimidate us by a mean

steer down as they talked about us amongst each other, while hundreds of people were waiting to here from the Captain for our next orders.

Now I could go on, as my husband and I would speak to different crew members and they would not part their lips to speak back. It had gotten to the point as our seven day cruise got underway, that we thought it was because we are African Americans and there were not many of us on this particular cruise. Even when venturing off the ship at port, St. Thomas Island the people in the local stores were also not very friendly.

I'll close for now, but I will say this, we have taken many cruises, one of which was the Royal Caribbean and if I had to compare the service with a smile, friendliness, courtesy etc. I would not recommend Norwegian Escape at all. Very let down after spending pretty good money on and for this cruise experience.

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NCL Getaway - Very Nice Surprise
Publication Date: February 18, 2016

NCL Getaway

12/13 – 12/20/15

Western Caribbean

We had just finished a cruise on the MSC Divina a week before going on this cruise, so it’s only natural that I’ll be comparing some of that cruise with this one. Please keep in mind that on the Divina, we were in the Yacht Club, whereas on the Getaway, we were in a standard junior suite, but not in The Haven, which is comparable to the Yacht Club

This was our 50th cruise! Definitely a milestone in our cruising career. We decided to go on NCL as we hadn’t been on any of their new ships for several years and even though we had just done the Western Caribbean a week earlier, we did this cruise more for the ship than the itinerary. On our MSC cruise, we were docked right next to the brand new NCL Escape in Nassau and this got us excited to sail on its sister ship, the Getaway.

As with our last cruise, we parked in the Safe Cruise Parking lot at 650 NW 8th Street in Miami. Price for this was $7.99 per day. We got there about 1:30pm

and since we were the first ones on the van, we had to wait about 20 minutes to fill it up before we departed the lot. We got to the pier about 2:00pm and found the line for checking in to be about a 45 minute wait – longer than we expected and much longer than we would have liked. Once on the ship, we found another line to get on the elevators. There are only two sets of elevators, one forward and one aft, on this ship. With the exception of tender times, this was really the only time we found the elevators to have a crowd.

We got to our junior suite on Deck 13 and found it ready for us. The size of our suite was basically exactly the same as our deluxe suite on the MSC Divina. Neither of these is what I would call a junior, mini, or deluxe suite since they are just a tad bigger than a regular balcony cabin. For example, on the larger RCCL ships, a junior suite is roughly 1-1/2 times the size of a balcony cabin, whereas the junior suite on the Getaway is only bigger in the bathroom area and not in the main part of the cabin. However, what makes this suite really nice is the size of the bathroom. It is larger than a regular cabin with a two-sink basin and a large shower with a full-body shower unit that was awesome! It had 6 small body directional shower sprayers along with a large rainfall shower head and made for a wonderful shower.

The suite itself is nicely appointed with an average-size closet. One thing we liked on this ship was that the TV is in the middle of the suite and not in the far corner from the bed as was the case on the Divina.

Our son went with us on this cruise and the couch served as the third bed in the suite. The cushion was a bit hard, so we requested a topper for it. The egg-crate foam padding made it a little more comfortable. Our bed was a bit softer than our bed on the Divina and we found it rather comfortable. Because we were in the Yacht Club on the Divina, we were offered a pillow menu, whereas in this suite we were not. (Not sure if they are offered a menu pillow in the Haven area or not.)

The balcony was the same size as a regular balcony with two chairs and a small table. Again, smaller than the comparable junior suite on a newer RCCL ship.

The first order of business would have been to get something to eat, but by the time we got into our cabin it was almost 3:00pm and everything was closing because the lifeboat drill was scheduled for 3:30pm. We were on Deck 13 and had to go down to Deck 7 to the Bliss nightclub for the drill. Unlike every other drill we’ve done, we were permitted to take the elevator down, which made it nice for Nancy, since it’s tough for her to do stairs because of her bad knee. And also, unlike on the Divina, we did not have to take our life jackets with us. When we entered our assigned area, they scanned our sea cards to verify attendance. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before they explained how to put on the lifejackets and then we were dismissed. Overall, the whole process took less time than what we’ve experienced on other cruises.

As soon as we were done, we went up to the buffet area to see what was available. We found the buffet to be very nice, well laid out, and the food was rather good. We much preferred this buffet to the one on the Divina because it had plenty of space to walk around and allowed for a smooth flow of traffic.

Of course, as with just about every cruise, the first thing I wanted to try was a piece of pizza. The slice I had on the Divina was not very tasty, but this one was actually pretty good. And as is usually the case for us on the first day, we chose to make a small chef’s salad to hold us over till dinner. We didn’t want to fill ourselves too much because they were having prime rib in O’Sheehan’s later that evening.

After eating, we went up to the top deck to watch as we left port and then took a stroll around the ship.

There are a lot of activities for children on this ship – enough to keep them happy and, as those of us with kids know, if the kids are happy, the parents are happy. The first thing you notice when you get to the upper decks is the 4 big waterslides. Two of these have straight drops and provide a great thrill. The other two are spirals types and while not as fast, are very nice. There’s a %u2018getaway’ bounce for younger kids where they are attached to bungee cords while jumping on a trampoline.

The next thing you notice is the massive rope course that goes from one side of the ship to the other. It is quite extensive and definitely a thrill even for those of us in our 60’s. I was actually quite proud of myself for doing it. I was fitted with a climbing harness that is attached to two ropes suspended from a metal channel above each of the challenges. It was interesting to watch others give it a try; some were very apprehensive, while others had no fear. It was especially fun to watch people approach the plank. This is a takeoff on the old %u2018walk the plank’ as it’s one 4” wide plank that extends out over the side of the ship about 12 feet with nothing except the water about 150’ below! You walk out to the end, face outwards, and then pull on a string to have your picture taken. Looking straight out or down is very challenging for those of us with a fear of height. You then turn around and face inward so the ship’s photographer can take your picture. However, at $24.95 for each picture, it’s a little pricey.

Among other activities, there is a 9-hole miniature golf course and a small climbing wall that wasn’t open as often as many people would have liked. There is the teen night club, video games, and there’s a 2-lane bowling alley – cost is $5 per game. The balls are similar to the ones used in duckpin bowling and the alley is much shorter than normal.

We felt the ship is very well designed with many venues throughout to satisfy the most discerning traveler. There is a large selection of dining options from several complimentary areas and the many specialty restaurants ranging from ala carte menus or per person costs from $20 to $30. There are three %u2018main’ dining rooms; the Tropicana dining room is unique in that it has a dance floor for those who like to dance while having dinner. The other two dining rooms, Savor and Taste, are much smaller, more intimate dining rooms that have a specialty restaurant feel, yet have the same menu as the larger dining room. We purchased a dining package for $59 each that allowed us to eat at 3 specialty restaurants. We ate at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, which was good but a little disappointing, and Moderno, which is the Brazilian steakhouse, which was good, but also a bit disappointing. As with most of these types of restaurants, the servers walk around with meat on skewers to carve as you need. Problem is as they walk around, the meat gets cold, so by the time they get to you, it’s not as hot as you’d like. We also chose Cagney’s Steakhouse, which was very good and our favorite of the three. The only real comment we had to make about Cagney’s is that while the food and service was very good and we thoroughly loved it, we had to ask ourselves is it worth $30 per person for the experience. This is a personal decision given that a really nice steak dinner at a good restaurant doesn’t cost all that much more. But I guess this argument can really be made about the charges for any specialty restaurant given the price is in addition to the food that has already been paid for with the price of the cruise. Personally, I don’t mind paying a small fee for the experience, but it appears to us the fees are getting higher, while the food in the main dining rooms are decreasing in quality. All the while, the number of specialty restaurants are increasing and cruise lines are highly pushing the options.

With that said, our favorite complimentary dining areas was O’Sheehan’s. Decorated in an old English pub style, it’s very warm and comfortable with plenty of TV’s around showing the latest sporting event, so we were able to watch the nationally televised footballs games during our cruise. They had a breakfast menu, which was the same as the dining rooms. For the regular menu, the appetizers consist of fried mozzarella cheese sticks, which I couldn’t get enough of, buffalo wings (both mild and hot – although we did not find the hot to be very hot at all), spinach artichoke dip, and country style soup. Main courses had fish & chips, chicken pot pie, chili dogs, hamburgers, fish sandwich, corned beef on rye, tuna salad sandwich, and a few other options. It’s open 24 hours a day, which was great, especially for those late-nighters. While we really loved this restaurant, the one thing we did not like was it was across from the two-story atrium area that was always noisy and, as such, O’Sheehan’s was rather noisy as well. It would have been much nicer to have a wall to separate the restaurant from the rest of the noise. I have to say this is now our all-time favorite complimentary specialty restaurant of all our cruises.

By each set of elevators, they have touch screen TV’s where we could check out the nightly menus from the various dining venues, as well as make reservations for the shows. While we could make reservations for shows, specialty restaurants, and tenders on the TV in our cabin, the nightly menus were not available, which is something we would like to see changed.

Speaking of the TV, the selections of shows was a little better than some cruises in that they had the usual news channels, such as MSNBC, CNN, and Fox, but they also had a couple of channels showing current TV shows. They only had one movie channel – we like to see at least two or three. One thing that was strange is that while watching some of the TV shows, they’ll put on the current weather in various cities. Problem is, it was weather from the Summer months and we were cruising in the middle of December!

My wife misses reading the newspaper while on a cruise. On the MSC Divina, they delivered a shortened version of the Washington Post every day to our suite, which was great! Of course, we were in the Yacht Club and this was not something made available to all passengers. However, on most cruises, they provide a 4 to 6 page version of USA Today or something similar we can read to keep abreast of news in the U.S. Unfortunately, on this cruise, there was no news to be found, except on the TV with MSNBC and such.

There are only two pools on the ship; one is for adults only and it appeared they police this as we never saw any kids in the pool or hot tubs in this area. Of course, there weren’t a lot of kids on our cruise, so it would be interesting to see if this holds true during next week’s cruise when school is out for Christmas and the ship is inundated with kids. The other pool was rather shallow and definitely for kids. Right next to this was a water park for children and everyone seem to really enjoy it. We did hear complaints about the fact there was no large family pool, as we have found on most ships.

They had a %u2018party’ area on the back of the ship called %u2018H20’ where there was the large outdoor screen prevalent on most ships nowadays. We sat back there to watch Monday Night Football.

We tried to eat in as many different places as we could, but we still did not get to some of the other specialty restaurants as it tends to get a bit expensive with three people. So we never made it to some of the other areas such as Teppenyaki, Illusionarium, the Noodle Bar, etc. We heard from others they were very nice, but some of them, with the exception of the Illusionarium, were never crowded and not very popular. We thought it would have been better to do away with one of the not so popular restaurants and put a Mexican one in its place.

Speaking of Mexican food, that’s something we really love and were disappointed that we could not find at least some chips and salsa somewhere on the ship to enjoy with our beer and tequila. In fact, it wasn’t until the very last day of our cruise that we actually found some items in the salad area of the buffet to make some nachos for a snack.

Okay, enough about the food, let’s talk about entertainment. We went to both shows – yes, you read that correctly, there are only two basic shows offered in the main show lounge; Burn the Floor and Legally Blonde. They were repeated a few times to make sure there were enough seats for anyone wishing to watch them because the theater is relatively small compared to other large ships of equal size. In fact, we were very surprised as to how small it was given the size of the ship. Quite frankly, neither of the shows were worth the time. They were not very good and many people walked out because of their disappointment.

The spa area was very nice, but we thought the $119 for the use of the Thermal Suite for the length of the cruise was a bit much, albeit equal to many cruises.

The gym was very nice, but again, it was small given the size of the ship and the number of passengers.

The casino is separated into two areas connected by a hallway with slot machines. The gaming tables had a minimum of $5 bets. We did find it interesting they had 1 cent slot machines – don’t think I’ve seen those in decades! But the entire casino permitted smoking and as such, it all smelled.

Overall, the service throughout the cruise was very good. We never had any problems and did not hear any complaints. The only problem we encountered was with our nextdoor neighbors. They had two small children, ages 5 and 7, who insisted on jumping on the beds. This was very disturbing, especially the next morning at 7:00am! After being rudely awaken, I walked over there, knocked on their door, and asked them to keep the noise down as we were still sleeping. He apologized and the noise ceased, at least until later that night. Again, I walked over and asked them to have their children stop jumping on the beds. His comment was, “Kids will be kids.” I went back to my cabin and called security, who came up and told them they would need to control the children and the noise. That did the trick and we didn’t have any more problems. Customer Service did offer to move us to another cabin, which we declined, as we thoroughly loved our cabin steward. Plus, it would have been a hassle to move. I was impressed in that Customer Service contacted us three times to insure we were still happy with the outcome and even sent us some chocolate covered strawberries.

We had to tender into two ports; Great Stirrup Cay and Grand Cayman. They utilized large tenders, instead of lifeboats on some cruises, which made for rather quick and easy transport. The only time it was a problem was getting back on the ship in Grand Cayman. As usual, everyone waits till the last minute to get on a tender, so the line was rather long. Not a problem for us as we have our favorite bar on the second floor of a building overlooking the pier and we just chill out over a couple of beers and shots of tequila until the line gets short. Then we casually walk across the street and are among the last ones on the last tender.

I purchased an internet package so I could keep in touch with my clients. They offered one that was 100 minutes for $75, plus $3.95 connection fee. Because I bought it on the first day, they were also offering an additional 10 minutes with that package. The other packages available were; pay as you go - $.95 per minute, 15 minutes for $9.95, 30 minutes for $14.95 and unlimited for $29.95 per day of the cruise ($209.65). No matter the package chosen, the additional $3.95 one-time connection fee was charged during the first usage.

We knew that NCL allows passengers to bring soda and water onboard, so like many people, we brought a case of water and 3 six packs of sodas with us. For those not wanting to bring their own water, NCL offers a deal with 6 large bottles of water for $22.95, 12 bottles for $39.95, and so on. You can do an unlimited soda package for $6.95 per day per adult or $4.95 per day per child.

For those wanting a more spirited libation, they do offer a bucket of beer where you pay for 5 and get 6. Prices ranged from $5.95 to $6.50 per beer (plus the usual gratuity of 18%). If one is a big drinker, the unlimited beverage package is $64 a day per person and must be bought by each person over 21 in the cabin.

Unlike many cruises we’ve been on, this ship did not offer much in the way of live entertainment, such as a piano bar or classical music. Not a big deal, but we definitely noticed the lack of it. They did offer a comedy club, which we never got to try, but heard was very good.

As in the past, we loved the private island, Great Stirrup Cay. It’s a beautiful day in the beach, plenty of chairs, and lots of bars and places to eat. As with all private islands, the further you walk from the pier, the less crowded it becomes. What most people don’t know is that there is a tram that goes from near the pier to the furthest point on the island, which saves a long walk. The only problem we’ve ever had on this island is finding a place in the shade. While they have plenty of chairs, there’s not a lot of shade. Luckily, we know a few out of the way places to go and usually manage to find a nice shady spot near a nice beach without a lot of people.

Overall, we found this ship to be very nice and would definitely recommend it to those with families or couples who like an inexpensive, but nice cruise with plenty of amenities, good food, and very good service. You definitely cannot go wrong with this ship. While we did not do the Haven on this cruise, we’ve seen the suites and the amenities offered. They are very nice and if one can afford them, it is definitely the way to travel on this ship. With that said, one cannot go wrong with just about any type of cabin as they are all very good for the money.

As I said in the beginning, we were just on the MSC Divina two weeks ago followed by a week off before going on this cruise, so it’s only natural we would compare the two. While we absolutely loved the Yacht Club on the Divina and did not do the Haven on the Getaway, which would really provide a true comparison, we feel we experienced enough on both ships to at least provide a relative comparison. With that said, we found the food overall to be better on the Getaway in the main dining rooms. There’s no comparison on the specialty restaurants, as we ate in La Muse, which is the Divina’s restaurant for Yacht Club guests only. So the Getaway was better for the many specialty restaurants offered. The service on both was very good. The Divina is a much prettier ship, but the Getaway has more amenities. If we were traveling with a family, we would prefer the Getaway. If we were traveling in a regular cabin, we would also prefer the Getaway. Being foodies while on a ship, we preferred the Getaway overall. However, if we were traveling just as a couple and wanted to be pampered, it would be difficult to choose between the Yacht Club on the Divina with the Haven on the Getaway. We have no doubt that both of them would provide a wonderful experience for those willing to spend the extra money, keeping in mind that alcohol is included in the Yacht Club whereas it’s extra in the Haven. We’ve toured the Haven area and it offers some very nice amenities for those who prefer a more pampered environment. The entertainment is much better on the Divina, but the Getaway has more amenities for families.

We were really glad we glad we took the opportunity to sail on the Getaway as we had a wonderful experience. I have no doubt that those who are use to Carnival would find this a very nice upgrade without paying a higher price. Those who are use to Royal Caribbean would find it comparable in many ways while incurring a slightly lower price.

You’re welcome to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. And when you’re ready to book your cruise (or land vacation), we’re here when you need us.

Pete & Nancy Peterson

Cruise & Land Specialists

Cruise Planners, Inc.

www.storybookcruises.com

dreams@storybookcruises.com

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Bad memories after the cruise on Norwegian Dawn
Publication Date: June 20, 2016

Last year I was planning to write a review about my bad experience with Norwegian Sun during my cruise to Alaska but later decided not to do it. This year I took another cruise with NCL on Norwegian Dawn to the western Caribbean. It was the last trip of Norwegian Dawn before the multimillion dollar renovation and it came as no surprise that the ship was outdated and stained. But my review isn’t going to be about that, just let me mention that we did not use the pool and jacuzzis because they were old and dirty. Hopefully these problems will be fixed during the renovation, so there is no need to mention them.

But the renovation project by itself brought up another completely different problem normally not encountered on other ships. NCL decided to save time and money and start renovation during the cruise by performing some work at sea. It was very inconvenient and annoying having piles of plywood stocked on decks, workers removing old paint and repainting, and so on. Some of the passengers reported workers entering their cabins to perform work on their balconies.

Lesson learned: do not book

a trip on a ship right before it is scheduled for dry dock.

Now on to things that can’t be fixed by renovation. First of all, I could not stop comparing this ship to a Norwegian Sun. Even though the Norwegian Sun is smaller than the Norwegian Dawn (78,309 GT vs 92,250 GT) inside, the ocean view and balcony cabins on the Sun are bigger than on the Dawn. Our tiny oceanview cabin was entirely occupied by the bed, leaving us no room for any movement other than going in and out.

The cabin service was almost nonexistent. On the sixth day of our cruise we ran out of soap - both hard soap and body wash. We discovered this only when we returned from the offshore excursion, and it took three phone calls to the Help desk and a lot of waiting to get the supplies.

The entertainment was boring even compared to the Sun and the TV on board the ship was running same the movies all 10 days.

We all know Latitudes Rewards Program is not the best in the industry. For example, as a silver member on Cunard I receive one free hour of Internet, and I do not have to buy any of their Internet packages. As a silver member on NCL I receive only 30 minutes free and only if I buy the 250 minute Internet package. But when I bought the 250 minute Internet package on Norwegian Dawn I did not receive my Latitudes rewards. I tried to talk to several people: the Internet manager, Help desk, and the Hotel manager without any results. The Internet manager I talked to first was very rude and did not listen to my complaint at all.

To be objective I should mention a few good things about this cruise. First and foremost the food was not bad at all. We loved the Le Bistro and Modesto restaurants and the food in the main dining restaurant and buffet was OK.

Of course buffet could have had more variety, and some improvements could be made, like advising the waiters not to grab plates without asking permission.

The ports of calls we visited during this cruise were also good. In my opinion it was a very good combination of exciting destinations to reach in one cruise. But this brings me to another matter often discussed on various forums by fellow passengers: not enough time in port. Even when our ship was scheduled to be in most ports from 8 AM until 5 PM the real timeframe for the passengers to be offshore was from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. In most ports sometimes even less. This is definitely not long enough to enjoy time offshore in a new port. Sometimes the distance to the next destination dictates a short time period that the ship can stay in port. Not in our case. Four of our ports of calls where in very close proximity to each other, sometimes less than 200 miles

(the distance from Costa Maya to Cozumel) but we still did not stay in port long enough. I wish Cruise companies will reconsider their position on this matter.

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