Keith Douglas Miller
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Majesty
Sailing Date: March 6th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My cruising experience in the past was with the US Marines on Navy ships, so this was my first time on a large commercial cruise ship. I had been unable to find any reviews of this particular cruise, so I hope you'll find this to be informative.
My fiancee and I booked this cruise through a group travel agent. I had a hard time getting a valid answer from NCL regarding bringing wine aboard before we sailed. In the end, I didn't bother. (Their brochures are misleading.) Don't try to bring booze - you'll slow the embarkation line down and they'll make you feel really, really stooopid! (Ask the guy in front of me!)
This ship is in good condition considering NCL's Freestyle embarkation/disembarkation process. There really is very little time for the staff to clean the staterooms between cruises and it showed. I found our cabin steward who promptly made it right. They both were very friendly and helpful, but hard to locate without hanging around the head steward's office.
Embarkation in Charleston is down to a science now. (I had friends who took the same cruise 2 months earlier.) From the time we pulled up to the post authority to the time I had a drink in my hand was less than 2 hours. NCL prefers credit cards to set up the onboard account. I had them but opted to use traveler's checks. They don't take them at the port - you have to go to the purser's desk directly. Cindy Watters was the pleasant purser I used, and I saw her every morning to get a copy of my account. You'll want to do this as most people do not look at their receipts, and drinks are somewhat pricey, especially after the 15% auto-gratuity is lumped on it. We spent a total of $1279 in 7 days, but Amy likes to party and I couldn't resist a bottle of Merlot every night with dinner. Wine is expensive (cheapest @ $20), but it is everywhere else too. You can leave an additional tip if you really like the service. We didn't and tipped cash occasionally, but we were also very discreet about it as the ship frowns upon this practice.
The hot tubs are about 85 degrees. The pools were cold, but are saltwater and small, so I never went in them. Ditto for the hottub. The upper sun decks stay constantly busy (and dirty too), but they do a good job of offering quality food with what they have to work with, and an attempt to clean was made every night. (We had about 900 spring break college kids on the ship. Enough said.) The drinks at the topside bars are ok. The drinks get better as you go below. The Polo Lounge (Raphael Bailey from Grenada) was the best, and right down from our room. Our room was an outside cabin (#643) and noise was minimal, although we occasionally heard our neighbors late at night. If you drink, ask for plastic cups below in the Rendesvous or Polo Lounge and keep them. They're 4 ounces larger for the same price and they'll refill them upstairs for you when you order another drink. Otherwise you pay the same for less. You can get a drink sticker for unlimited soda fountain drinks (only) for $28.75. Figure out if you'll drink that much before you buy one. Amy did and I think she used hers about 5 times. I had brought a large coffee mug and found ice tea, coffee and water for free on Deck 10. They'll also put coffee in the casino in the mornings which is nice if you're on a lower deck. Less of a walk for java. Ask the bar staff about special drink deals. They had a 16 ounce cup in a "coconut monkey" that cost $10, but every drink after that was $4.75 until the end of the cruise. 16 ounces of Dewars & Soda costs them more than $4.75.
The two main dining areas are the Seven Seas and the Four Seasons. We enjoyed the latter a little better for dinner as it was somewhat smaller and they seemed a bit more attentive, although the service overall was excellent to outstanding in both. (Ask for Deepak in the Seven Seas!!) We did dine one night at Le Bistro and left after the second course. The service was just not there and the food was identical to the other restaurants (and I have a culinary degree, so I'm not just being crass about it). Don't ever get up and leave if you don't want the full attention of EVERY staff member on the ship, though. (In the end, I garnered two bottles of wine out of it from the maitre'd, Sanjay Gupta, so the $25 spent to eat there kinda paid off, I guess.) The restaurant is just located in a bad area - adjacent to the main concourse and only separated by a waist-high wall, which is a corporate oversight. I felt like a fish in a bowl. Save the $$$ - eat at the other restaurants. Lunch down below is FAR better than the buffets. Dinner dining is resort casual and no jeans or shorts, PERIOD. They stuck to it. Good for them.
Ports: Grand Cayman, boring. Not much to do unless you snorkel, like jewelry or want to hide large amounts of cash. We came back on board early and had fun hanging out with the crew that stayed behind.
Cozumel, Paradise Beach Club. Owned by Americans. No cover charge nor any charges for snorkeling, chairs or any water sports! They ask that you eat and drink, but they weren't pushy about it. We spent $120 there just for good measure and it was well worth it. This is not offered by NCL - I found it on the 'net. Taxis are familiar with it, even though it's new.
Key West, it was spring break. Crowded, little time in port. Disappointing as we really like it.
Overall I'd cruise again on this ship and with NCL. The cruise staff and director Bruce Kidd did a great job and the food is very good. There's bound to be detractions on every cruise, but I feel like we got our $$$$ worth. I did realize at the end that NCL really stands for No Cash Left! If you like the casino scene, do it early. Odds change on the third day. Oh, and wait to shop the ship stores until the end. They mark most items down 50%.