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Cynthia Bacon

Age: 30s

Occupation:marketing director

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Epic

Sailing Date: 2011-09-11

Itinerary: Italy and Spain

Overall, we had a wonderful time. It was due 100% to the cruise itinerary. Access to wonderful places like Pisa, Florence, Rome, Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast -- was the cruise's No. 1 redeeming quality. The nickel and diming for everything on the ship, like seltzer water or yoga class, was sad. My last cruise was 10 years ago, it seems that the staff were less enthusiastic than last time. I bet that has to do with the fact that they're not working for their tips much, it was all charged to our account automatically, every day. As for paying for "extras," like cocktails, virgin or not, I'd prefer to pay more in my main ticket price (with everything inclusive) than deal with the charges during/afterward. Our "tab" was more than $1,300 (for two ppl, I didn't drink much alcohol).

The food was average. We ate at three premium restaurants-- Teppanyaki, French Bistro & Churrascuria. French & Churascuria were good, Teppanyaki was not. Food in the regular restaurants reminded me of Dennys/Sizzler. Above average were the desserts. The pastry/dessert chef deserves a gold star for mass producing such wonderful creations-- some of my favorites: panacotta, chocolate mousse, flan.

I really liked our stateroom. The rooms were nicely designed. The bathroom had a full bathtub, that was nice. The bed was great. Loved the balcony. It was on the small side, but, adequate. The chairs could afford to be more comfortable on the balcony. The lighting and the drawer/closet space in the room was really great.

Since my last cruise in 2002, the onboard activities were lacking. Now, with additions such as the Cirque Dinner Theater & Blue Man Group, we were pleasantly surprised. Beyond those two events, the rest of the onboard activities were pretty lackluster. The cruise recreation director, Richard, was a clown. My husband and I cringed everytime he came on stage or talked into a microphone. Being glib is one thing, but, making fun of people and laughing at them, made me feel uncomfortable. I can handle a lot, I live in New York, but respect is something I appreciate most in another person. Perhaps, I respond best to someone who also acts like an adult. Maybe I have graduated from Norwegian. Maybe it's time for a more premium cruise line.

1) "Florence on your Own"-- do not recommend. They were supposed to drop us off in the center of Florence. We were dropped at the end of town. We had to walk a long distance (15 mins) from the bus drop off just to get to the muster point at the edge of town. Again, a long walk back to the bus at the end of the tour, too. The bus should be able to drop people off at a better location.
2) Rome-- did this on our own. Bought a train ticket for $9 per person, roundtrip. Took us from port to Rome. 1 hr train ride. We developed our own walking tour based on what we wanted to see. This "worked out really well for us.
3) "Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii" -- WE DO recommend. Capri was not as great as we wished, since long wait for funicular. Only spent about 40 mins of free time on Capri.
4) Mallorca-- we did this on our own. we walked around, found a great restaurant "La Cueva" for lunch, enjoyed siesta in a sunny, yet palm surrounded plaza, with a pitcher of sangria.

On the whole, we had a wonderful time. The major pluses-- the itinerary, the nice room, our balcony, the desserts, the two shows (Blue Man & Cirque), and my husband and I can entertain ourselves. The major cons-- nickel and diming, non enthusiastic crew, buffoon of a cruise director, lack of information for day 8 (disembarkation), excursions need enhancement, hard time finding loungers on sun deck, and the ship constantly tried to upsell on things-- photos, spa services, jewelry, art, shops. I'm on vacation, if I wanted to listen to commercials all day, I could have done that at home instead of go on a cruise. Leave me to my enjoyment without trying to shove "sales" for everything... it was not a high end experience. It was reminiscent of K-Mart blue light specials. Something you don't see in a place like Neiman Marcus. I think it's time to upsell ourselves to a more premium Neiman Marcus-like cruise line.

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