Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: May 24th, 2003
Itinerary: Canada/New England
We sailed out of NYC for the 7 day Canada/New England trip. This cruise actually was only six days because of fleet week in NYC. The ship did not dock from the previous cruise until 5PM. Then it took forever for the passengers to get off. We were stuck on the dock (warehouse) until almost midnight. There were many angry passengers. Came to find out that the cruise was originally supposed to leave at the normal time of 4PM, but NCL changed the scheduled departure to 11PM because of fleet week. I purchased our tickets at the last minute, so I was aware of the late departure. It was a bad start to the cruise and I think many people were unforgiving and let the late departure ruin their trip. My only complaint was the lack of communication over what was going on. There were 1600 people stuck in this warehouse and only one NCL representative (a dancer at that) was trying to tell people what was happening. She was great and I felt so sorry for her, she was doing her best to keep us informed and she was getting abused by some very rude passengers. I think the cruise director should have come out with a bullhorn to let everyone know what was going on. On the positive side, the crew was absolutely amazing that first night. They kept the restaurants opened until past 1 in the morning and the bars were open even later. They really did a great job and I know that they were all tired from being up all day.
I do have to say that sailing out of NYC at night was breathtaking. It had been cloudy earlier that day, but it cleared up and the buildings with the lights were beautiful. The Statue of Liberty was amazing. We certainly would not have had those great views if we had left during the day.
We got on board, I went straight to the onboard credit desk and then our stateroom. We were on the second level near the front and everything was fine. I liked the room because it was close to the elevators and stairs. It was a fairly small inside cabin, but this being my fourth cruise I knew what to expect. The bathroom was smaller than some of the other ships I had been on, but it was OK.
Our itinerary took us to Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport RI. All of the towns were neat, but the weather was not so good. We took some tours that we arranged on our own when we got off of the ship. The excursions seemed a little pricey so we chose to go it on our own, so I won’t detail any of those because NCL wasn’t responsible for them. I will say, however, we compared notes with some passengers that took excursions and we saw the same things for about half the cost. By far Newport was my favorite.
More notes on the ship itself. I could tell that this was an older ship, but the staff (except at dinner) more than made up for it. My main complaint is about freestyle dining. While I love being able to eat with different people every night, I found the wait staff to be quite lacking. You have a different waiter each night and to me the service seemed very slow and that they did not seem to care about customer service. We had long waits for refills of drinks and we almost had to beg to get some alcohol. I feel that having the same waiter at dinner gets you better service because they are working directly for your tips, not getting tipped out of the “tip pool.”
Overall, I had a great time. But I was determined not to let anything bother me on my vacation. Outside of the restaurants at dinnertime, I only received bad customer service by one person. And I am sorry to say that she was from the United States. She was giving attitude every time I had to deal with her. I also noticed her giving other passengers a hard time, so I don’t think it was just me. It is a shame to have so many wonderful crew members from around the globe, but get a bad attitude by someone from your home country.
I don’t know if I would cruise NCL again because of the freestyle cruising concept. Dinner to me should be one of the highlights of the day and I enjoy the service that I have received on other cruise lines with the same wait staff each night. I have cruised NCL before, but either it was before the freestyle concept or that staff on the other ship was just more attentive. Of course, my first cruise was with Disney, which was wonderful, and they are the standard that I judge my other cruises by.