Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: May 24th, 2003
Itinerary: New England/Canada
This was our first and last
cruise on NCL. We have sailed with Holland America before. In comparison,
Holland America offers 5 star accommodations and dining every night without
missing a beat while NCL is just three stars. Loved the ports.
Embarkation: This ship was scheduled to start at 8 PM and leave the port at 11 PM. Unfortunately embarkation was a horrible fiasco. We did not get on the ship until 11:45 pm after waiting for 6 hours at the pier in New York. A representative from the ship, I assumed an officer, advised us that customs and immigration had not cleared the previous passengers and because they could not get off the ship, we could not get on. That certainly is understandable, but we were not offered updates during our long wait. We came to learn later in our cruise that this spokesperson was not an officer at all, but a member of the production cast. Were we not worthy of an explanation from a higher ranking member of NCL’s team? There were not enough chairs for all of the passengers to sit down during this extended wait. There were inadequate bathroom facilities for the over 1500 passengers. The brought out some sandwiches and beverages, but it was an inadequate dinner. We realize that NCL is not responsible for the Pier facilities and the actions of the Immigration department, but NCL’s response to the passengers needs and concerns fell very short. I would have expected an apology, at least for the inconvenience. Many of the passengers we met during this wait many other passengers who were told the embarkation began at 1pm.
The food: The quality and quantity of the food was inadequate. On the first night, only margarine was offered at the meal. We were told there was no butter. Yet the next day there was butter! On Monday afternoon, the Big Apple Cafe ran out of hamburger buns. When we asked for more buns to be put out (there were at least 2 dozen hamburgers still in the tray) we discovered that the crew can suddenly become remarkably deficient in the English language not only with the passengers, but also with fellow crew members. After several minutes, a large bag of bagels were brought out and offered in the place of hamburger buns. There were occasions where the food was just inedible and returned. Many of the salad selections in the Big Apple Café appeared as though the chef had carelessly thrown random unappetizing ingredients together. We realized how unsatisfactory the food was, when while in port, we thought of “treating ourselves” to a meal not made on the ship. The same steak was offered several nights in a row, but just called something different each time. Hamburgers and Hotdogs were available on both the poolside BBQ and in the Big Apple Cafe everyday. The was little variety.
The ship: The cabins are small. We booked last minute and had an outside cabin, "GG" class on the Biscayne deck. There was enough room to unpack everything. You really only want to use the cabin to sleep in. The linens were old, tattered and thread bear and really should have been replaced. There could be more seating in public areas. The week we sailed the weather was poor so no one was really using the outside decks. That made all the other inside public areas crowded.
Freestyle cruising: I like meeting other passengers. The conversation every night was how we were all dissatisfied with the ship, the food and the crew. We had something in common with everyone we met. The hours that the restaurants are open are too short, so I don't understand why the called that freestyle as well. You can not sleep in and still expect to get breakfast. Lunch ends at 2:30 pm. The room service menu is too limited. A 15 % gratuity is automatically added to all bar bills and separate gratuities are expected on room service. NCL adds a $10 per person per day charge to your bill to cover tips. I don't believe the crew works harder than theory need to because they get this automatic tip. If you want to go to shore you need to deal with long waits on tenders. But NCL did their best to coordinate that. While at Martha’s Vineyard, we waited for over an hour for a tender to return us to the ship. I don't like having to wait for a table and having slow service which happens often on this ship. You can, if you want pay extra to go to Le Bistro. The brochures said that it was an extra $10.00 per person, but once on ship, it was $12.50. We talked to other passengers who said the service and food was much better than in the other restaurants. But I don't think you should have to pay extra for that. The Seven Seas restaurant is by far the quieter and offers better service, although still slow, of the two restaurants on deck 4. Both restaurants offer the exact same menu. But if you don't arrive when they open at 5:30 expect delays. The shows start at 7:30 and you will not get a seat in the lounge unless you eat fast and skip dessert.