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David Boyes

Age: 50

Occupation:Journalist

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Jade

Sailing Date: 2009-06-28

Itinerary: Western Meditarranean

My wife, two children (age 11 and 13) and I spent a very unsatisfactory fortnight aboard this floating rip-off tub between June 28 and July 12, 2009. Someone else on this website has provided a critical review of this specific cruise, and I would endorse their views. However, I would like to add the following:

1) SHORE EXCURSIONS - Utterly extortionate. Some of the organised trips would have cost us more than $800 (yes EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS) for a day's guided visit to Rome. We opted for the 'Rome On Your Own' option - i.e. we took the ship bus and toured Rome ourselves - at a 'mere' $460. Passengers wishing to use their own initiative and walk or take taxis when in ports are discouraged from doing so. Maps, when provided by NCL, for ports of call are hopelessly inaccurate, which also discourages the go-it-alone mentality. Free courtesy buses from some ports to town and city centres were sometimes not advertised, which also discouraged those not wanting to be ripped off or those who like to do things themselves. In Livorno (for Pisa and Florence), the Italian authorities do not permit pasengers to walk through the port, so NCL laid on buses - and had the cheek to charge $10 per head.

2) THE DEAREST BOOZE AT SEA - The cheapest bottle of wine available (apart from a Rose at $24, and who wants to drink that every day?) was $28 PLUS a 12 to 15 per cent service charge. Also, the vast majority of wines are red. If you like, white, you struggle. Beer and soft drink prices varied across bars but, suffice to say, they were all far too high and subject to service charges.

3) SEARCHES AND SCANS - When coming back aboard after a day spent in a port, security staff will X-ray scan your bags for illicit alcohol and confiscate any they find. Other cruise companies do not always do this. Your body and carrier bags will be searched too. It is a humiliating and unnecessary procedure.

4) QUEUES - Norwegian Cruise Line should be renamed Norwegian Queues Line. Rarely have I seen a company so inept at handling large volumes of people. Queue to go ashore, queue to go back on the ship, queue for a hotdog, queue to get back your booze at the end of your holiday. Oh, yes, and a big queue of people complaining at reception. At Barcelona, the queue to get off the ship ran half way round deck 7 (believe me, that's a big queue). It took well over an hour for NCL's over-zealous security system to process all the passengers and get them ashore. Furthermore, no priority is given to disabled people or those with babies - absolutely reprehensible.

5) COMPLAINTS - Make one (or make several) and no one will deal with it. We complained about the treatment of the disabled and those with babies queuing under a blazing sun in Cannes while trying to get back aboard. Nobody got back to us. We complained about the fact that our complaint was not being dealt with and, you guessed it, nothing happened. Customer relations? It's an alien concept.

6) FOOTBALL REGALIA - Rangers, Celtic, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea (the usual suspects) were represented by numerous booze-filled, tattooed individuals wearing their kit. These passengers obviously thought this was acceptable attire for a cruise liner - and NCL did not disabuse them of this notion, even in the 'posh' dining room The Grand Pacific, where, in formal dress one evening, I sat beside a child in full Barcelona FC strip and an adult wearing a Brazil national top and football trainers.

7) RESTAURANTS - Difficult to reserve a table in the main restaurants because everyone else is trying to do the same, having been scared off by outrageous cover charges at the 'speciality' restaurants.

8) SWIMMING POOLS - The towel policy (i.e. you are not supposed to 'book' a sun lounger by leaving a towel on it) was not adhered to even once. We had to monitor our children's safety while they were in the pool from a distance away because of the selfish actions of others that were not challenged by NCL, who stated at the start of the cuirse that this kind of conduct was prohibited. One pool had to be closed and cleaned twice because a child did the toilet in it - despite the fact that kids who are not potty trained were not supposed to be allowed into the pools.

9) THE GARDEN CAFE - This is supposed to be the main, day-to-day restaurant. Except that it is not a restaurant. It is like a student refectory or canteen. Hideous!

Some of the poor, underpaid staff were absolute gems on this massive ship and our criticism is not directed at the majority of them. They could not have been more helpful. But NCL have a sin to answer for. There were other horrors, which I have omitted for reasons of space. We spent a fortnight being wary of being ripped off at every turn while trying to hide from football-top wearing types and those who liked lager at 9.30am. Cruising - yes. Cruising with NCL - NEVER. My travel agent is dealing with this matter now.

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