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Sonya

Age: 56

Occupation:College Professor

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Crown

Sailing Date: July 9th, 2006

Itinerary: Bermuda

We have cruised many times before, however never on NCL. I had heard mixed reviews about NCL, especially about the food. Our travel agent told us that breakfast and lunch would be ok, dinner so-so. I was a bit concerned but felt we could manage. Our main goal was to spend time in Bermuda. This was our fourth time; we cruised twice before with Celebrity Cruises, once with Princess Cruises. We found the Norwegian Crown to be better than expected.

Embarkation-disembarkation
No problems with embarkation. Slight delays with disembarkation, no big deal.
NYC really needs to fix up the Westside piers!! (This is no fault of NCL). It’s a disgrace to come back to port and see those rusty things. I much prefer leaving from that location than to travel to Brooklyn or New Jersey, so I hope a renovation will come soon.

Services
The service was ok everywhere. I think that the mandatory tip of $10 per person per day, distributed among the staff, leads to a decrease in attentiveness. The staff really does not have an incentive to go the extra mile for the customer. On the other cruise lines we have traveled with, cabin staff always introduced themselves, knew your names, greeted you in the hallway when they passed you, etc. This was not the case on the Crown. We met the housekeeper several times in the hallway and she greeted us in a perfunctory, impersonal manner. Service in the restaurants was similar, efficient (most of the time), but impersonal.

The boat
The Crown is a small boat, easily manageable. It has all the basics of a bigger boat. I like a medium-sized boat the best, but this was ok. You can avoid the elevators if you like and just walk up and down the stairs.

Cabin
We had cabin 8046, listed as a cabin with an obstructed view (the lifeboats). However, it was not bad at all; you could look right over the boats and see the water/harbor, whatever. The cabin was spacious and clean. It did not seem that our sheets were changed even once during 7-day cruise. The closets were large. The bathroom had tub and shower and always hot water. Soap and shampoo all came out of containers. I do miss the bars of soap and bought a bar of soap in St. Georges and we used that the rest of the trip. Towels were refreshed every day and if you took a shower in the afternoon, there was a clean towel in its place in the evening.

Hygiene
I have never seen so much attention being paid to keeping one’s hands clean!! In the eating areas and in the bathroom, you were reminded to disinfect your hands. Good habit!

Food
Contrary to what our travel agent told us, the food was good at all meals. Dinner in the restaurant was very good. We had steak, pork chop, and even lobster one evening (they brought seconds when my husband requested it). One caveat: do not order fish. Maybe because of the quantities cooked, but fish dishes are dry and tasteless. The cream soups (both hot and cold) were delicious, French onion soup lousy. Desserts were very good; they have sugar-free desserts as well. There is also a “light and healthy category” at the top of each menu with chef’s selections of healthy dishes from that evening’s menu. I ordered one of these dishes and discovered to my surprise that it came with french fries. Not healthy!! I think NCL needs to spend more effort in designing healthy meals and be very precise in describing its content, especially important for those on restrictive diets.We ate lunch and dinner mostly in the Seven Seas Restaurant. The Yacht Club’s food was so-so, many fried dishes. Ice cream was free in the afternoons, better than on some other cruise lines who charge for ice cream. Some good afternoon snacks, cookies, cake etc. It was hard to find fresh apples, oranges and bananas. They were usually in the back of the display and hard to reach. Coffee was good and strong.

Specialty restaurants
We only tried Chopsticks, it was ok, but not worth a return trip. We planned to go to the Bistro the last evening, but the dinner offerings in the Seven Seas restaurant looked good so we skipped the Bistro.

Eating off the ship
NCL has an interesting concept whereby each passenger receives a $5.00 coupon with which they can order a $25 lunch at local restaurants (you receive a booklet). We did that and really enjoyed it. It encourages you to try to eat on the island. Too bad that they give you only one coupon per cruise. I went back to the desk the following day and was told, no more.

My only complaint is that NCL automatically charges the passenger for the $5.00. Unused coupons must be turned in at the desk before the boat leaves Bermuda. That is not right. There should be a way for them to validate the coupon if the passenger wants to use it and then charge the person, not to charge them automatically. If you do not use it and forget to give it back, you are out $5 per person.

The rest of the ship
The library had a very good selection of books and good opening hours as well. There were only chairs in the library, not tables or desks. One could sit in the hallway outside where people also played card games, but there were constantly people walking by.

News: On other cruise lines, you would get a one pager with daily news. Not so on the Crown. You had to sign up and pay a good amount to get a written overview of the news (sometimes it is better to be blissfully ignorant on your vacation!).

The Casino. We stayed away from the casinos as much as possible, only because of the persistent smell of smoke. I wish that NCL and other cruise lines would institute a no-smoking policy in all public places, and wrote that in my comment sheet to them.

Shops. Ok, the usual, but less of it.

Spa and exercise area.
We did not use the spa. There was a very good selection of exercise equipment which was not used all that much. I never had a problem finding a machine.

Decks and shady places.
It is really hard to find a place out of the sun and when you do find a spot, hang on to it! We noticed that there seemed to be soot from the ship’s chimney landing on some of the back decks.

Bermuda
The highlight of each cruise for us is always Bermuda itself. It is a gorgeous island, people are friendly, not out to cheat you. For transportation on Bermuda itself, we bought a 3-day bus/ferry pass for $28.00. It pays for itself very quickly and it is great to go places this way, especially on the ferries. It’s a real necessity as well since most roads outside of the cities/towns have absolutely no sidewalks, not even a shoulder and you risk your life walking along the roads!! Make sure to tell the bus driver where you want to go and to announce that stop since they ordinarily do not do so and you have no idea where along the route you are.

Beaches
I’m sure each person has his/her favorite beach, ours is Job’s Cove, a small, intimate beach which is almost closed off from the ocean by big rocks and where the water is very quiet, lagoon-like. We head there every time we go to Bermuda although we tried the other beaches as well. If you take the bus to the beach, you leave from the main bus station, all clearly marked. One suggestion, one block away (ask people) is a supermarket called the Marketplace. Get a nice sandwich, some fruit and a drink and you can have a delightful picnic at the beach! (we did)

Shopping/sightseeing
I was looking forward to going to Trimingham’s, my favorite department store, right on Front Street, they always have good sales. I had mentioned this to several passengers as well. To my consternation, the store was out of business and boarded up! Other stores are more specialty stores and are quite expensive. In St. George is a great drugstore near the dock. They are open late and carry everything at reasonable prices (that is where I bought a bar of soap and a hairbrush, which I had forgotten to bring). There is a lovely park on Par de Ville road, less than 5 minutes from the ship. Locals have their lunch there as well. It is pleasant to sit on the grass with a drink and a snack!

Cruise with NCL again?
Yes, we would, knowing its limitations. We received good value for our money. We did not have the horrible experiences that some people describe who went on an earlier cruise.

 


 

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