Number of Cruises: 12
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Majesty
Sailing Date: November 18th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Majesty Cruise Review
My wife and I took the Norwegian Majesty November 18, 2006 cruise out of Charleston. Between the two of us we have 12 cruises and pretty much know what to expect. This cruise had several things going against it; some was beyond NCL’s control while others were NCL’s fault.
Let’s start with what NCL could not control: the weather was VERY windy causing high seas and ended up closing the port of Georgetown, Grand Caymans. NCL had no way to control this and did the best they could to make amends for the closed port ($50 ship board credit per cabin). For the credit due to the closed port I thank NCL and say that they were very proactive in offering the passengers something despite the fact that the closed port was beyond their control.
Now on to the problem that NCL could control. When we were in line to check in we were given a letter explaining that there was some problems with the engine/drive shaft and that the ports were going to need to be switched around; Key West would be the first port now and Grand Caymans would be last. The letter also gave a $50 ship board credit per cabin for the inconvenience. We were disappointed we would not be in Key West for the sunset and Duval Street at night. Our frustration is not that there was a problem but that the problem had occurred weeks before our cruise and NCL made no attempt to contact passengers to let them know of the problem. NCL should have sent a letter stating the problem and offering each passenger a choice whether to continue with the cruise or be given a credit for a future cruise. While it sounds like a lot in the end I think most people would have continued with the cruise. NCL also offered 1 hour open bar the night we got back on the ship from Key West.
The next choice NCL made was to stay in the port of Cozumel for two days when Georgetown was canceled. NCL could have bought a lot of goodwill if once the port of Georgetown was canceled if they did the regular stop in Cozumel then went back to Key West. By heading back to Key West they could have done the stop as was scheduled. For us it would have been nice to see sunset and Duval Street at night. However for one family that had booked the cruise expecting to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with a grandmother that lives in Key West who had not seen her new grandchild it would have been a special gift. In the end, NCL made a monetary decision to stay in Cozumel where we can only assume port charges are less.
NCL’s biggest mistake was that they provided little to no information about what was going on with the ship's problem. There were rumors about what the problem was and whether it had been fixed. You could ask three different employees including the information desk and get three different answers. NCL could have helped their cause simply by putting an update in each of the schedules they provide under your door every morning. Considering the cost of a copied page is less than $.01 a page and there are 730 cabins onboard the cost would have been $7.30 a day. Even if the cost was $.10 a page ($73.00); I consider that a small amount to maintain good communication between the ship and the passengers. The best way I can explain how poor communication was is that even now after a 7 day cruise I am not sure what the engines/drive shaft problem was only that it significantly slowed the ship down. If NCL had been proactive in their communication many of the rumors and frustration the passengers experienced may have been avoided.
Embarkation: The ship was late getting in from Bermuda because of the engine/drive problem. Because of that we were only able to drop off the bags early and then walk around downtown Charleston. After about an hour we went back to the drop off and were able to get in line. You take a shuttle from the drop off location to the terminal. Once you exit the shuttle you then stand in line to go through the x-ray and metal detector. Once through we quickly met with a NCL rep that entered information into their laptop and gave us our key cards. The whole process took less than 45 minutes and we were onboard.
Room: We were in room 4017, which is category M-Inside Stateroom. The room was large and we felt it may have been the biggest stateroom we have had in all our cruises together. The bathroom was a little on the small side but was functional. The sacrificed room in the bathroom to make the stateroom bigger was smart.
Ship & Public Rooms: The ship is an older ship that has been stretched and refurbished. They did a very good job across the board. The décor is more current than the other older ship we have been on. The art work is lacking but most people don’t care about that. The ship is very easy to get around with most everything seeming to be exactly where it needs to be. If there is any complaint about the public rooms it would be two columns in the theater obstruct your view. NCL has done an excellent job laying out the ship.
Buffet: The buffet is simply put, the absolute worst buffet that I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The options are few, the food was tasteless and poorly presented. It reminded me of the buffet in the movie Vegas Vacation. There was a sandwich/sub bar that you could get a sandwich made. The one time I had a sandwich it was pretty good. Their hamburgers and hot dogs are also pretty good and are served at the back of the boat.
Dining Room: There are two dining rooms: Four Seasons and Seven Seas. Both are on the Atlantic Deck (5). The Four Seasons is beside the purser’s desk in the middle and the Seven Seas is located in the back. For breakfast and lunch Seven Seas is the only one open. The breakfast menu is the same the entire cruise. Lunch menu does change but always had hamburgers and hot dogs as an option. We did not like the Seven Seas because it was in the back over the engine/props and it vibrated the entire time. Every dinner we did in Four Seasons. The dinner menu is the same for both restaurants. We found the menus acceptable but nothing special. We never found the menu to have more than one item that we wanted. The food had decent flavor but was not what we have come to expect on cruises. I only got one entrée (except for the surf and turf) and one desert the entire cruise which is a rarity for me. On most cruises I get two entrees each meal and multiple desserts. I ended up gaining no weight this cruise, where I usually gain 10-20lbs.
Room Service (Food): Room service was lacking. There is a limited menu and they do not offer other items. Once I tried to order a ham and/or turkey sandwich and was told that they can only make what is on the menu. We used room service twice and both times it took almost 1 hour to get our food. That is only a little longer than what it took on other cruises but is still a long time when you are hungry.
Wait Staff: The wait staff was only acceptable. It was not the wait staff's fault though. They always seemed to be working and trying to get out food as quickly as possible. NCL has the waiters serving too many tables which slows down service often resulting in empty glasses, waiting for drinks, and slow food. Being freestyle dining you usually have a different waiter each time. Some of the waiters are fun while others seem to have little to no personality.
Freestyle Dining: We really enjoy freestyle dinning. Instead of feeling like we are on a schedule we can go eat when we want. The only downside is that you don’t get to know your waiter and you waiter doesn’t get to know you. On other cruises the waiter knew what we wanted to drink with dinner and would have it waiting for you when you arrived.
Room Stewards: Our room stewards were fantastic. Again we were in room 4017 and the stewards were Renaldo and Dom. Every time we walked down the hall they greeted us by our names. How they are able to memorize every ones name and greet them by their name the first time they see you I do not know, but it is very impressive. Again Renaldo and Dom were FANTASTIC.
Tipping: NCL charges a $10 per person per day service charge. I am mixed on it. It is nice not to have to figure out what to tip, find the money and envelopes. At the same time it is also a little frustrating not to be able to direct tips to where you feel they should go. Several people said they should just include the tip in the cruise cost and have a “No Tipping Necessary” policy like Holland America use to have.
Drinks: I am from the south and am an ice tea drinker. Their tea is pretty BAD and bitter. I could not get the tea to taste okay so drank water most of the cruise. One evening the table next to us got tea and was mixing five packets of sugar with each glass (@ 10 oz). Their drink prices were reasonable. They offer a bottomless soda card for @$42. If you drink a lot it is a good buy (5+ drinks a day) otherwise it is cheaper to buy the fountain drink ($1.25). We decided the best price for sodas was by the can ($1.75).
Conclusion: This cruise was disappointing. My wife and I agree it was the worst cruise we have taken. Even if the weather was nice it still would have been the worst cruise. NCL cuts corners between the food and staff that other cruise lines do not. NCL is cheaper in cost than most cruise lines and you get what you pay for. I will not say we will never cruise NCL again but will most likely pay a little extra to cruise another line we have had better luck with. We did enjoy the time away and the opportunity to meet many different and exciting people.
If I had a cruise scheduled anytime in the near future on the
Majesty I would contact NCL to see if the engine/drive shaft is completely
repaired and if not ask for a credit on a future cruise.