Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Sailing Date: March 31st, 2002
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
We have just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the Norway. It was our first cruise and some of the things that were disappointing may be the result of a reality gap between promotional material and the reality of any cruise. We found the ship itself to be charming. We were on the Fjord deck (2 from the top) but didn’t have the same problems that the earlier reviewer described. We were happy with our obstructed view because we had been upgraded and were expecting a dungeon cabin. We spent quite a bit of time in our stateroom, napping and watching the movies in the afternoon. Our bathroom was fine and surprisingly water pressure was good in the shower. There were three in our cabin (2 twins and a very old rollaway) but it was not crowded (relatively speaking of course). I liked our location because we could easily access the swimming pools and sun decks and the International Deck where we ate many buffet meals.
The good: The wait staff is professional and well trained (although we had one very grumpy waiter upstairs in the Leeward dining room who didn’t appreciate our arriving for lunch at 1:40 – the dining room closed at 2:00), I thought the food was good and the effort is made to present a varied menu. Our steaks were cooked to order and our waiter made an effort to engage our children in trying new things from the menu. The Great Outdoor Restaurant on the back of the International Deck was a huge convenience for us. Traveling with teens who ate at very irregular times would have been stressful if we had had to appear properly attired at regular hours for dining room service. The kids could eat breakfast and lunch in the swimsuits at a convenient time. The food was surprisingly varied and a higher quality than I expected although most people opted for burgers, hot dogs and fries. I enjoyed the itinerary of the ship as well. I found the ship to be well maintained and very safe. I appreciated the feeling that the teens could go anywhere without having to worry. I also felt very safe anywhere at any time. The Fitness staff had a varied selection of classes and activities. They really made the effort to get or keep you in shape during the voyage. Wish I had participated more!
The not so good: My main complaint is something that NCL may not have had that much control over and that is the caliber of the passengers. Again, perhaps this is a reality gap but I did not expect such a Wal Mart crowd. I actually felt sorry for the crew at times because the people they were serving were so obviously oblivious to the niceties and general customs of travel. Before you accuse me of being a snob I am referring to things such as a grown man appearing for breakfast in the dining room in a sleeveless tank top (wife beater). I do not think he should have been seated. In spite of notices saying “No shorts after 6:00”, etc. people were seated in the dining room regardless of their attire (including blue jeans). Any group of 2000+ will have a variety of people but I felt that I was on a four day Carnival Cruise which had offered a two for one coupon with any oil change.
My second major complaint was the constant hawking of goods and services to try and add a buck to your bill. I felt like I was at the county fair and better hang on to my wallet. The pushiness and commercialism of the attitude made me less able to relax. The internet café was a total rip off. Drink specials were silly. Evian water being pushed before excursions. Haagen Daz ice cream “available” (PS, there’s a charge.). I hate being nickeled and dimed and I certainly felt that way.
The entertainment was so-so. I didn’t attend many things but our tablemates were very critical of the revues. I was expecting very professional entertainment so I was somewhat disappointed here. Onboard activities were very stale. A version of “Who wants to be a millionaire” was tedious….like a very old Vaudeville act. One of the activities listed was Beading. When I checked it out I found passengers with plastic cups of Wal Mart beads and a rubber band which had been cut in half. This would have been subpar at Vacation Bible School. That was the last “activity” I went to.
Would I cruise NCL again? Not until I had tried other lines to compare experiences. The size of the Norway is a disadvantage in docking because the tender procedure is time consuming. We waited until open tendering (no ticket required) and had little problem. It is a beautiful ship and the last of it’s kind so I am glad we have done it. My children enjoyed themselves immensely and that was the point. If you are looking for an upscale, glamorous travel experience this is not it. But if you want to have a relaxing trip on a beautiful ship you will not be disappointed.