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Agatha Lacroix

Age: 65

Occupation:Retired Travel Agency Owner

Number of Cruises: 158

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: June 24th, 2001

Itinerary: Circle New England

Booking: I booked this cruise at the last minute on the Wednesday before the Sunday departure of this cruise. My husband, who was recovering from some surgery, said he felt like a cruise. So I had been lucky in finding this cruise. Naturally booking that late, I received a bargain price ($237 per person for the 7 day cruise) on a lower deck inside cabin. I was assured that the document pickup would be at pier-side. Air Arrangements: As we booked the cruise so late we were unable to consider any advance airfare discounts. I decided to try priceline.com. I was able, in about twenty minutes time, to get a $275.00 per person roundtrip fare on Northwest from SFO to LGA, with a plane change in DTW eastbound and a plane change in MSP westbound. The tickets were "e-tickets". The air arrangements went flawlessly. We departed SFO at noon and arrived at LGA at 11:00pm on the night before the cruise. We stayed over in NYC and boarded the cruise the following morning at 10:30am. On our return we departed LGA at 11:40am and were back in SFO right on schedule at 5:00pm. Boarding: We arrived at the pier armed only with the reservation number. Being Latitudes members, we went to the Latitudes desk where there was no line at all. The agent quickly determined that we were not on the passenger manifest and called NCL Central Reservations in Miami. She quickly came back with the information that we had been assigned cabin 6012, and completed the check-in process. We were on board within 10 minutes. Although we did not know it at the time, we were headed for a very big hassle, as we had just been assigned to the wrong cabin. Luckily, by habit we do not check baggage. We each just rolled on board with our 20" carry-on sized suitcases and a single carry on bag. The cabin was a small outside on the Promenade Deck. Being hungry, we referred to the "Freestyle News", and were directed to the Lido/Pool Deck restaurant called The Big Apple on deck nine for lunch. As we were early, there was no line and the meal was OK but a typical cafeteria-style meal. Not having been on the Norwegian Sea in a year or so, we decided to explore the ship a bit. In doing so, we found that they were also serving lunch in both (the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas) dining rooms as well. Had we missed that in "Freestyle News"? Most probably we did. Had we known the correct info, we would have chosen one of the dining rooms. We arrived back at our cabin (6012) to find the telephone ringing. It was reception. A very excited woman named Melinda was calling to tell us we were in the wrong cabin. Luckily, we had not begun to unpack. Before I could ask what she wanted us to do, she told me she was coming right up to the cabin. That was surprising and disturbing, as I could sense in her voice on the telephone that she somehow thought we were doing something wrong. Moments later she arrived at the door, asked us to gather our belongings, and said she was moving us. No further explanations, just the rather abrupt statement: “You're in the wrong cabin and I am moving you.” Well we headed for 7235, one deck up and that cabin was also occupied. She was obviously baffled and as asked that we come down with her to the Reception area (the Crystal Court on deck 4 mid-ship). There we sat for 30 minutes while Melinda and her associates huddled in a back office. Finally we were approached by the Assistant Front Office Manager whose name as Armand. He announced our cabin was actually 2140 and asked why we went to cabin 6012. Though it was unsaid, his inference was that we were trying to pull something. We explained that we had been assigned 6012 by the Latitudes Check-in Desk and had been given boarding passes for cabin 6012, which I showed him. He was firm that our cabin was 2140. That did not bother us at all. That is what we had paid for and we were happy to have that cabin. So the boarding process was greatly extended for us, we did an unnecessary “baggage drill,” and we were left with a feeling that they still thought we were attempting to grab a cabin that was not ours, which was totally ridiculous. Day One: We held the lifeboat drill uneventfully, and departed New York's Pier 88 on time under sunny skies. The passage out the harbor was nice with good views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Verrazano Narrows bridge etc, accompanied by a pleasant commentary from the bridge on the PA System by the Cruise Director. Day Two: This was a day at sea, as we headed toward Halifax, Nova Scotia. We had great weather and smooth seas. Day Three: This was our day in Halifax. Lots of people left the ship on NCL's Shore Excursions. We think the shore excursions are highly priced and we don't really like traveling on a crowded bus with 42 other passengers. So, we strolled 12 minutes down the newly completed boardwalk that is right on the harbor's edge to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum is excellent and it includes a large section on the Titanic which is very interesting. Senior admission to the museum was $5.00 (Canadian)per person. We enjoyed a two hour visit to the museum. When I purchased the admission tickets at the museum box office I asked the young lady what other things we might visit in the same area. She suggested that we visit the Alexander Keith Historic Brewery located about 3 blocks away. So after enjoying the Maritime Museum, we walked down Water Street to the Brewery. The Brewery dates back to 1825 and is housed in a very historic huge stone building. The Senior Admission there was $6.50 (Canadian) per person and included a great and highly detailed tour of the historic brewery complete with actors acting as combination 1840 brewery workers and tour guides. It was very enjoyable and ended in the tasting room (the Stag's Head Pub) where we were treated to entertainment and generous samples of their beer. We returned to the ship along the same pleasant boardwalk. Day Four: This was Bar Harbor Day. It is a nice stop in a small, very typical Maine, seaside village. We strolled around town, had a bite to eat, and enjoyed the small town flavor of this typical Maine village. Day Five: This was Boston Day. Having lived in the Boston area, we stayed on the ship. NCL did the usual shore excursions and also had a Shuttle from the ship to historic Quincy Market in the downtown area for $8.00 per person roundtrip. Day Six: Martha's Vineyard was the destination of the day. It was fun and we had nice weather. However, prices in town were very high. Day Seven: Newport, Rhode Island. Again this was a nice port filled with more pleasure boats than we have seen anywhere in the world. The weather once more co-operated and we had a great day strolling around along the historic docks and visiting the fabled mansions. Final Day: We arrived back in New York harbor and were docked right on time at Pier 88. The weather was good and after a pleasant breakfast, disembarkation went flawlessly. Because of our 11:40am flight out of LGA we were off the ship in the first group at 9:10am. Since we once again rolled off with our own bags, we avoided the “baggage drill” in the huge arrivals hall and were in a cab and on our way to LGA within 7 minutes. Freestyle Cruising: Like a lot of other folks we actually prefer traditional cruising, but we have learned how to make Freestyle Cruising work for us. On the first evening in the Seven Seas Dining Room we went early. Having a nice window table for two with a wonderful waiter (Diana from Indonesia), we immediately made a standing reservation for that table and that waiter for the balance of the cruise. So while other folks were searching for tables for two near a window during the week, we had our table, our view, and waiter every night and it was delightful. Be aware that most of the tables for two are quickly taken with “standing reservations” (such as we made), and soon there are no tables for two available after Wednesday or so. Food and Service: We found that the food in the Dining Rooms was excellent. Yes, it is mass market food, but it was excellent with good presentation style as well. We did breakfasts on the Lido/Pool Deck (Deck 9)where NCL had nice omelets and fresh fruit stations in addition to the usual cafeteria line breakfast. We ate our lunches and dinners in the dining rooms, where the luncheon service and food were, in our opinion, much better. We did not go to the one alternative dining venue, Le Bistro, where there was a daily cover charge of $10.00 per person, and the menu never changed. Entertainment: There were three production numbers by the Jean Anne Ryan Dance Company which were wonderful. Other entertainers included Jeff Petersen, a humorist/magician who was excellent, Donnie Abraham, an excellent vocalist in the style of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, and two comedians (Phil Tag and Rodney Johnson) who were not memorable at all. The Cruise Staff: All of the cruise staff were young (mid thirties or less) and enthusiastic. They did a good job and kept things rolling. We enjoyed the Cruise Director, Rich Cleason. Shore Excursions: We felt that NCL's shore excursions were overly expensive and lacked variety. Port and Shopping Information: Unlike the Caribbean where you are buried in port and shopping information, this is a cruise where there is very little port and shopping information. Fellow Passengers: If you are selecting a summer cruise in this price category be aware that there are going to be hordes of children on the cruise. Our cruise had probably 30% children. It made it a different kind of cruise that had us feeling like we were on a typical Carnival cruise. So please be aware of that "change in flavor" which is typical with low priced summer cruises. Toward the end of the week, the pre-teens and teens were obviously becoming bored and there were a few instances of vandalism and taking over the elevators that were unpleasant. Ship Maintenance and Cleanliness: We had not sailed on the ship for over a year. We had expected that they would have overhauled the very constricting traffic patterns in the Lido/Pool Deck Café (The Big Apple)which had really slowed the service on previous cruise, but they had not. It was still just as crowded. The ship was generally clean but there were always areas that I could find that needed attention. There was also a lot of rust poking through, here and there, on various deck sub and super structures, cranes, davits etc. Ports: The port selection of Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, Martha's Vineyard, and Newport is very pleasant. However be aware that the ship docks only in Halifax, Boston, and New York. At other ports NCL used contract tender operations. The tenders were large and the tendering operations went smoothly, but it still takes 2 to 3 hours before tender tickets are not used and one can come and go at leisure. Overall Cruise Evaluation: Overall, this was a good cruise experience, if one takes into consideration the bargain price, and the summer crowd of children. The service staff was excellent and has good attitudes. It is a mass market cruise. Do not expect a Silver Seas cruise experience. It is a good value for the money. Just be aware of what you are purchasing.

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