Luther A. Myrvold
Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: January 31st, 2002
Itinerary: Sydney to Auckland
The Norwegian Wind is an attractive ship. The 130’ stretch causes some strange features, but the ship is well appointed and well maintained. The soft goods, carpets, drapes and upholstery, were all in very good condition. The color schemes were soft and pleasing. A welcome feature is the promenade deck which goes completely around the ship. Jogging around the ship is not only possible but expected. The pool, hot tubs, pool bars and basketball/volleyball facilities on the top-most decks are spacious and pleasant. They were not used much on this cruise because of the weather. Even the lunch barbeque by the pool, usually a daily event, happened only about 5 times. The barbeque lunch was really good, though.
The captain and the other officers on the bridge are true professionals. Their ship handling was superb. They charted courses around bad seas and bad weather. Holding the ship steady and still up close to a waterfall in the Milford Sound was a marvel.. Docking the ship between two other ships with few feet to spare on either end in Christchurch was an amazing feat of ship handling. The ship officers were visible about the ship, friendly and approachable by the passengers. The hotel and F and B staff were mostly Filipinos with the Indonesians a close second. Many were Rumanians. As a frequent traveler in the Philippines, I find an easy and comfortable relationship with Filipinos.
The cabins on the Wind are all the same except for the suites on the top deck, one single cabin and two larger handicap cabins. The only difference among cabins is whether they are inside, or outside, with balcony or not, port-hole or windows. The interior dimensions, lay-out and furnishings are identical except for color. The cabins have good moving-around space, but are a bit tight in drawer and closet space for two for 14 days. Its not really a big problem. The lounge space by the windows added much to the cabins feeling of space. The Wind’s web site gives a good view of the cabins.
I have been on two Star cruises, and Star has always had non-assigned dining. Its only logical that when Star Cruises bought out NCL that “free style” would be implemented. The “free-style” dining works well, and I like it. I usually had coffee, juice and a Danish for breakfast at the pizza place up on the pool deck with a small group of regulars. Since the weather was cold and often rainy, not many were there except for us fresh-air nuts. Great company! Lunch was usually a fast bite at the Sports Bar buffet between tours. It has a nice variety each day and every y day, but nothing special. The Indian curry dishes there are milder than the “secret sauce” at a fast food joint. What a shame.
I usually had dinner in the Terraces for international fine dining or the Trattoria for Italian style. Service was always very attentive and correct, food was good to very good, depending on day and menu. Beef was excellent as was the lamb and seafood. Usually the veal was good, but once the veal was tough as shoe leather and the sauce did not improve it. The chocoholic buffet was offered only once in the 14 days, and at midnight. This was too late to be really enjoyable, but there was a great variety of chocolate offerings. The pizza next to the pool bar was pretty good and always fresh, and an afternoon beer and pizza, even in cold windy weather, just hit the spot. I dined in the Bistro three times. A reservation is usually best with the Bistro, and dinner costs a very reasonable $10 per person, The service and the ambiance here were superb. The second time I went, the Maitre D’ asked if I wanted my usually table. Usual? I was there only one time before. Cherries Jubilee table side is a neat experience.
The show room presentations were varied and generally good. Each show was presented twice in an evening. Every show of the 14 nights was different, ranging from song and dance productions, magicians, solo singers, comedians and once a troop of acrobats. The ship’s band is award winning. The music on the ship everywhere was absolutely top notch professional. The other entertainment venues were awfully good. I particularly liked Fred Marlman, the Coffee Bar pianist. He is personable, talented and a joy to listen to. Most nights I was in the Coffee Bar with the regular fans when he performed. He even ran his own music trivia contest! He has been aboard many NCL ships, and has good stories of the musicians he has know.
The Casino on the Wind is a casino: noisy and glitzy with machines and table games enough. The casino was never crowded at any time. The passengers on this cruise were not a gambling crowd. The Disco near the casino was also not popular. This was probably because there were so few young passengers on this cruise. I think I saw maybe 8 teenagers and even fewer youngsters. The cruisers on this cruise were definitely old.
Every day, at sea or in port, was memorable. Shipboard activities such as bingo, trivia, vegetable carving, finance lectures and dance lessons well run by the mostly American activities staff. As far as ports of call, Hobart was particularly noteworthy. As the ship docked a local school’s children ‘s choir on the wharf sang an entire program with solos and little dances. The local cops’ bag pipers were on the ship performing just before we left port. The city itself and its people are friendly and outgoing. I would consider returning to Tasmania for days of exploration and vacation. The tour to the koalas and Tasmanian Devils was a high point. Children just melt with the koalas. Bring the cameras!
All in all, this was a top notch cruise at a very good price. I would do it again next year, except that NCL is pulling all of its ships out of the Western Pacific and SE Asia for the 2002-2003 cruising year.