Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: December 24th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our third "rerun" of this cruise. The two previous trips were on the "Sky", which is now in the far east. We booked this trip purely on the basis of price and convenience since we were traveling with our two daughters (16 and 19). The whole idea was to be together for a holiday. We did not choose this ship on the basis of quality; claimed or actual.
In all, I'd say this is probably my last cruise with NCL and this is pretty much related to the "freestyle" approach they market. I'd have to observe that the "poster kids" for this approach would have been a quite elderly couple using a sun deck refuse container for a lunch table after having given up finding anywhere to sit down. This ship does not have adequate outdoor seating to accommodate all those who wish to eat on deck. Additionally, they make waffles and omelets at temporary breakfast stations that consume deck space. It does not seem that the architecture recognized the need for this open space. The previous ship. "Sea" had lots of space for tables and chairs. Additionally, the cafe at the rear on the previous ship was much larger and had two identical hot food serving areas. "Dream" has a jury-rigged layout that replicates the previous single line in the corner of the space. This results in lots of congestion. The food also isn't very good. I'm pretty undemanding about what I eat, but aside from the croissants, I had given up on the breakfast. You could probably do better at McDonald's for the same items. We had breakfast about three times in the dining room and the food was better, having been made to order. I really gave up after coming into the Sports Bar 30 minutes before serving and witnessed heaps of food that would sit for 30 minutes on the steam table before being available for lunch. You don't need to be a professional cook to recognize what happens to food under those circumstances. The hot grilled food that was served on deck was better.
We ate all dinners in the dining rooms and found nothing really special about what we were served. Again, the "Freestyle" dining is not a plus. On Thursday I finally realized that the whole dining room experience was like a NASCAR pit stop. Be seated and zoom-zoom, stuff started flying. The "senior" wait staff is very polished, but the lower tier, who frequently serve the items, clear soiled dishes, and refill glassed are not very careful. At Christmas dinner they literally threw the plates in front of us, and followed this with liberal slopping of water and iced tea over our meals and the table. There was a lack of feeling that there was anything special about the experience. The food was unremarkable, and in the case of a few dessert items, clearly botched. The items obviously were not being sampled in the production process.
We did not go to the shows.
We very much enjoyed the airboat excursion in Belize, and Tabayana on Roaton. Our day at Playa Mia was not as good. The water was nice, but that was the end of it. The open bar access is offset by really horrible mixed drinks. The Mexican beer was pleasant, but I'm not a heavy drinker, so no money was lost on me. The available food was very nasty, and overpriced. The rest of the family tookone look at the Chimichanga I had bought and said almost in unison "you're going to eat that?"
So although we had fun on this trip, it was because we set out to do so. NCL and their "Dream" weren't more that "three hots and a cot" as far as we are concerned.