Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Majesty
Sailing Date: September 9th, 2007
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Majesty Cruise Review
My wife and I booked this cruise on short notice, so we didn’t
have time to read a lot of reviews before making the last-minute arrangements.
Once I did start, I was confused by the fact that the reviews were all over the
map. Some people gave it a single star and were quite scathing. Others gave it a
5+ rating and seemed quite enthusiastic. After having taken the cruise, I had a
better idea of what’s going on.
All the reviews we read were unanimous that embarkation was easy. This is true, unless you have a bag pulled by security! We had one tagged to be checked and I was pulled out of line to witness it being opened. It was discouraging to watch everyone board while I waited with 2 dozen other passengers for someone to come and start the examination process. It took about an hour to get through the exercise. I watched bottle after bottle of alcohol get removed from bags. In my case, it turned out to be nothing more dangerous than 15 copies of a book I had written. It seems that they formed a solid block on the x-ray and, security being what it is, the exam took place. Ironically, I found out later that I had a Swiss army knife in my carry on. This passed unnoticed by the examiners. The cynical among you will say that bringing your own drinks on board is the biggest danger the cruise lines fear.
When we did board, we were sent up to the 10th deck buffet to await the availability of our rooms. This is unfortunate as I feel this is the least attractive element of the ship. There is little space to sit and the buffet itself is small and poorly thought out. For example, you have to lean pretty far in to get your food and the lip of the trays was always very messy. Also, there is very little room for you to circulate in the area. Anyone trying to move against the flow is facing a struggle. From what we saw, the servers here seemed very poorly motivated when compared to the Seven Seas dining room where we took most of our meals.
After a couple of disappointing attempts to eat in the buffet, we abandoned it as a lost cause and went only to the Seven Seas. Perhaps we were influenced by our perception of the physical space, but even the food seemed bad here. In contrast to our last cruise on HAL’s Amsterdam where we used the buffet most of the time, we simply could not enjoy it.
Fortunately, the Seven Seas was a great alternative. The service was very good and the food excellent. By going at off-peak times, we rarely had to wait more than a minute or two for a table by ourselves. The food was a nice range of options; well served and presented. My only negative is that the portions were on the small side. Given that you could have asked for as much as you want, this wasn’t really a problem. It may even be a good thing as we didn’t gain an ounce this trip.
My wife was quite happy spending time in the smokey casino. She did need to change and shower as soon as she left each time though as the tobacco odor is very strong. One thing I really missed while at sea was a good reading nook. The library is tiny and uncomfortable and there didn’t seem to be other spots to curl up with a book. While in port, the promenade deck usually had a few available chairs and was a good spot. Of course, we didn’t spend all that much time on ship during the day while we were docked.
Our room was as small as reviewers had said. Good enough, but very hard to keep tidy as storage space was at a premium. In contrast to other ships, the room stewards were just OK. They did the job, but you never had the sense of them going out of their way.
Bermuda itself is a lovely country and the idea of spending a few days is an attractive alternative to the one island a day style of cruising. It takes no time to orient one’s self, especially if you have spent a little time with the guide book beforehand.
The town of St. George is tiny, old and quaint beyond belief. Make sure you spend some time roaming the tiny streets and looking at the lovely gardens and houses. We were often greeted by friendly cats, including a 3-legged girl who hopped like a bunny. Strolling around was a great way to fill a few hours. Other than that, a few churches, the town hall and shops are all you need to see here.
Just outside town is Tobacco Bay beach, and St. Catherine fort and beach. They’re about a 15-minute meander up from the dock.
On another day we took a bus to Hamilton, the capital that is about 45 minutes away. All the buses stop here and you can transfer if you want to travel further. We went to the Botanical Garden and Horseshoe Bay beach; both accessible by the number 7 bus. A day pass is only $12 and will serve you well.
We also spent Wednesday evening in Hamilton for the Harbor Nights street festival. There is one in St George as well on Tuesdays. Being an avid chess player, I had been in contact with the Bermuda Chess Association. They helped me meet up with Bermuda’s top player for some 5-minute games at the street fair followed by drinks nearby. Chess is like golf inasmuch as you can always find kindred souls anywhere in the world.
After dealing out a few copies of my chess book, drinks and hand shakes preceded our boarding the late bus back to St. George. It should be noted that there is only one per hour later in the evening and that rush hours are as frenetic as they are elsewhere in the world and are to be avoided if at all possible.
While on the ship, we didn’t really find the entertainment or other activities to our liking. Nevertheless, we are both pretty good at keeping ourselves entertained and this wasn’t a big problem.
Both coming and going, the seas were a bit rough. Your seasickness pills will come in handy here. The ship itself is older and not very luxurious. If you look closely, you’ll see a lot of frayed carpet and rust spots. However, it was kept clean and sailing on her was enjoyable enough.
I think the low ratings come from those who have been spoiled by other, newer ships. If you want to find fault with the Majesty, it won’t be hard to do. You can fill pages with all the negatives. Still, there’s enjoyment to be had if you lower your expectations to match the price you paid for your cruise. At the price we found, you have to be ready to put up with some inconveniences and, especially, less luxurious surroundings than you might be used to. The difference between this ship and NCL’s Spirit and Dawn, to give 2 ships with which I am familiar, is night and day.
So, an acceptable ship, saved from being a dismal experience by the beauty of Bermuda.