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Age: 47

Occupation:Corporate Account Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Crown

Sailing Date: December 18th, 2005

Itinerary: Valparaiso - Buenos Airies

This was my first cruise and I was therefore apprehensive about how things would go. Norwegian Crown is a Freestyle Cruise Ship and I was confused as to what to take to wear, as it seemed there were no guidelines. However, it turned out to be better than expected. Some people dressed up, particularly as it was over Christmas & New Year and some chose to remain casual and it did seem to work. My own guidelines would be to take for the evening some clothes you would wear if going out to a nice restaurant and you can always dress it up or down to suit yourself. The few people who turned up for dinner in very casual clothes, i.e. jeans were in the minority, but it is definitely not a formal cruise.

I liked the size of the ship and it was very clean. The staff were totally delightful and the young man who looked after our cabin was most charming and helpful. We were on deck 5 and were pleased with the cabin. There was plenty of storage space & a bath as well as a shower. If you like to blow dry your hair I would suggest you take your own dryer as the one supplied is painfully slow. There were two wardrobes, one containing a safe and both with extra drawers. Two easy chairs and a small table were also utilised every day.

The laundry service is efficient and the complimentry room service is useful if you are unwell and just want to order something light to eat or if you just fancy a cup of tea.

I was very disappointed with the food on this ship. The Seven Seas Restaurant was nicely laid out and the menu sounded great, but the food arriving at the table did not meet expectations. I had been concerned about putting on weight on the cruise, but I needn't have worried, because the food was not nice enough to tempt me to overeat. The Yacht Club where they serve buffet style food was similar to a cross channel ferry cafe. It was also dark and smelt of fat. There were some tables near the front window where it was lighter and you could eat outside which was pleasant. The Bistro Restaurant was very good, but attracts a $15 cover charge per person. Chopsticks was fine the first time, but the main course was inedible the second time. The Pasta Restaurant was very poor. My Bolognese sauce was just like minced beef in gravy with no tomato flavour at all. My husband asked for ice cream and they said they didn't have any, which seemed odd for an Italian type place.

We also found the alcohol very expensive. The cheapest bottle of wine was $22. And they add 15% service on to all alcohol purchases. As we sailed out on the first day, I had a glass of Italian sparkling wine and my husband had a Pina Colada. The bill was over $18. They are also very strict about taking alcohol on board and if they find you have any when they scan your bags, they confiscate it until the end of the cruise.

We also found the excursions to be overpriced and as there are taxis at most ports, I would suggest that many of the trips could be done more cheaply. We generally managed to do most trips with a saving of around 30 - 50%. One tour we did take was to see the penguins on the Falkland Islands. This was well organised & cost $119 each for two and a half hours. At Chacabuco we took the Journey into Patagonian Nature Tour on the recommendation of the tour adviser on board. This cost $89 each and was a joke. We were taken in a coach to a visitor centre and shown pictures of all the wildlife and birds in the area we were going to be walking. We were split into three groups of about 20 people and taken for a 500 metre walk through some woodland. We did not see a single bird or animal, which wasn't really likely in the circumstances. We were then taken to a Quincha where we were served local cocktails and tapas like food and treated to dancing. This was very good, but not what we expected for a 'nature' tour.

I feel I must warn you about Montevideo. Under no circumstances should you walk from the ship to the town. We know of twelve people from the ship, including my husband and our friend who were attacked by robbers and had phones and wallets stolen during the day. The Police were excellent & caught our thief, but most others were not so lucky.

If you are in Buenos Airies, I can recommend the tour to a Tango Show. It goes to the Ventana Show and dinner is included along with wine. For $49, this was exceptionally good value. I thought it would be very touristy, but we all enjoyed it immensely.

The entertainment on board was reasonable in the evenings and Fabio Zini, the guitarist was most memorable. The dancers were also very talented. There was music & dancing later in the evening on the top deck.

We had a few lectures by Zanna Smith during the cruise, which were interesting. Generally though, I think they could have done better. For instance, they showed a good film in the afternoon when we were in port and then there was no film on the days at sea. It did not make sense. Some people complained, but were told they could watch a film in their cabin!!

We also went down for the advertised wine tasting only to find they were charging $10 to take part. Talks on health and beauty seemed to be aimed at getting people to spend money in the Spa. We were told that the bingo was expensive by a few people although we did not take part ourselves.

The internet cafe has four computers and a range of packages. The set up charge is $3.95 plus 75cents per minute. By the time you had logged on and sent a couple of e-mails you would be looking at $10 minimum.

There was a well stocked library with comfortable chairs and good window views.

Perhaps because it was Christmas, there were a lot of children on board and towards the end of the cruise they were starting to be very annoying. They would sit on the stairs, play in the lifts and block the corridors. They were probably bored, but the older people on the ship were not happy.

There were some people on the ship who had previously sailed with NCL & seemed happy with it. The ship visited some interesting places and the Captain did well to get us into the places where the glaciers were. For my part though, not only will I never sail with NCL again, but I will never go on a cruise again as it has put me off.

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