Occupation:Construction Project Manager
Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: September 17th, 2006
Itinerary: Vancouver - Hawaii
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Wind Cruise Review
On September 17th, 2006, my wife and I
boarded the Norwegian Wind for a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii.
As past NCL passengers, on both the Star and the Jewel the following review is
based on comparisons between our first two NCL cruises and this most recent one.
The lineup to clear security and U.S. Customs was not very long and was very smooth considering that 2 other ships were also boarding passengers at the same time as the Wind. Once we cleared customs we were told that the Wind was not yet ready to board and we were directed to a waiting area. Passengers boarding the other two ships continued on to their ship.
The waiting area was quite small and did not have enough seats for all the waiting passengers. There were only 80 seats in this room, clearly not sufficient to accommodate all the waiting passengers, and especially in view of the fact that most of the passengers were over the age of 70 and would certainly have appreciated the chance to sit.
On our past NCL cruises, we have waited to board the ship and it has always been quite comfortable as snacks, juices, coffee and water were always available. None of these items were available… not a great first impression. (There were water coolers being prepared as we were called to board, so I assume there was water available to passengers boarding later than us, but snacks, juices etc. were no where to be seen.)
The final registration and key card / picture process was very efficient and we were off to board the ship.
Our stateroom was a standard obstructed view exterior room. The stateroom was actually much larger than the standard rooms that we have had previously on the Star and Jewel. There was no refrigerator, which was a bit of a disappointment. The water from the tap in the stateroom did not smell or taste very good, water from all other locations on the ship was fine. Air conditioning worked well and kept our room cool for the entire cruise. Overall the room was very nice. Our cabin stewards provided excellent service throughout the cruise.
We decided to seek out the restaurant reservations desk. We had decided that we wanted 7:00PM reservations so we could have dinner and then make it to the late show in the Stardust. First we were told that the two main restaurants, Four Seasons and Terraces, do not accept any reservations between 5:30PM and 8:30PM…. And second, we were told that the two specialty restaurants, Le Bistro and La Trattoria, do not accept reservations at 7:00PM.
WOW!…. Well, the crewmember working the reservations desk explained that for just the two of us (as opposed to a larger group), getting a table in one of the main restaurants at 7:00 would not be a problem, we would not require a reservation, simply show up and we would be seated as it would not be very busy. I accepted this and we proceeded to book our reservations in the specialty restaurants for 6:30PM. (This is never an issue on NCL’s newer ships, purpose built for Freestyle Cruising)
We decided to eat in one of the main restaurants for our first night. We arrived at Four Seasons to find it completely packed with guests and a waiting list of over 30 minutes, with the exact same scenario at Terraces. We had never experienced this on either the Star or the Jewel. Extremely unimpressed, we made our way to the Sports Bar & Grill buffet.
>From previous experience we try to avoid dinner at the buffet at all costs (breakfast and lunch are fine, just not dinner)… this dinner simply reinforced our beliefs. The poor selection, temperature and quality of food combined with the very small and inadequate eating area made for a disappointing first meal.
Other meals on this cruise ranged from good to disappointing. We made 3 reservations at Le Bistro. Our first meal was below average. The service was less than impressive. It has been typical on previous NCL sailing that the waiter or waitress always has an assistant, this waitress did not, and the service suffered. Both cutlery and water glasses were returned during this meal. The water glass had a large lipstick mark on the rim, and one set of cutlery was marked and spotted. We did not experience any of these disappointments on either of our previous cruises. The food was good, but not spectacular. During our second visit to Le Bistro, we enjoyed excellent service from Avelino and his assistant Marcial. The food was again good, but not up to the standards set by other Le Bistro restaurants on the Star and the Jewel. Based on our first two meals at Le Bistro, we cancelled our third reservation.
The food and service in La Trattoria was excellent, and met the NCL standard throughout our cruise.
Breakfast was generally available in three locations. A la carte, or ‘sitdown’ in Terraces, and buffets in Four Seasons and the Sports Bar & Grill. The comments made previously about the Sports Bar also apply to breakfast. The buffet in Four Seasons was nice, but good luck finding a clean table. There were plenty open, but staff was lacking to clear and clean these tables, we were forced to sit and eat at a ‘dirty’ table at least 5 mornings.
Service in Terraces was slow, and often inaccurate. Cutlery, glasses, dishes were also returned as dirty in this restaurant. Combine this with a room lacking sufficient air conditioning and ventilation in the morning sun, and it made for a less than pleasant breakfast experience.
The entertainment on this ship was, for the most part, excellent. Our cruise director Ricky Matthews and his staff were outstanding… the best of our three NCL cruises thus far. (Note to NCL: Get Ricky and his staff onto a different ship… preferably the Dawn in March 2007)
Our lone complaint about the entertainment is “The Comedy and Juggling of Jeffrey Daymont”…. The words ‘comedy and juggling’ cannot be used to introduce this ‘entertainer’… I’m sorry, but Mr. Daymont is clearly not ready for cruise ship entertainment yet.
Ship Decks / Exterior
On our previous NCL cruises there has always been some type of live poolside entertainment in the afternoons. Unfortunately, for sailaway day and 3 full sea days following, there was no live entertainment… this is not a misprint, 4 days of no entertainment. On day 5 (sea day 4) they brought out Waclaw Koneczny. As this ship sails to Hawaii, Mai Tai’s and Coronas flowing, NCL decides to bring out an accordion player… now don’t get me wrong, it is possible that Mr. Koneczny is the best accordion player in the Pacific but……need I say more?
The Caribbean band ‘Flex’ boarded the ship at our first port and provided great poolside entertainment for the remaining 3 days of our cruise. Unfortunately, the remaining 3 days were all port days… we were extremely disappointed in the lack of poolside entertainment.
Our bar waiter Sailesh, who provided our drink service at the pool deck area, also provided our poolside entertainment. Sailesh was wonderful, his sense of humor and excellent service went a long way to making our poolside time very enjoyable. (Note to NCL: Get Sailesh onto a different ship!)
The reclining sun / lounge chairs on all of the upper decks were an embarrassment to NCL. Most were missing nuts, bolts, or some piece of the structural support; nearly all were, in one way or another, in need of repair or replacement.
If you enjoy walking the ‘promenade’ deck, you will find that deck 7 is quite nice except that the aft/starboard area of this deck must be avoided at all costs. The sewage smell (of which I have read in other reviews) is nearly unbearable in this location. This unpleasant odor also infiltrated our stateroom on a couple of mornings. Obviously there is some type of vent in this area. Although not the fault of NCL, it requires mentioning, and is simply one more reason that NCL must remove its name from this vessel as soon as possible…. More explained later.
We took advantage of the “Express Walk Off” option, and loved it. If you are able to take care of your own luggage, we would certainly recommend this option. We were able to leave at our leisure, and not have to worry about locating our bags in the ‘great sea of luggage’.
The ‘Retiring’ of the NCL Wind
At the end of this winter cruise season, the NCL Wind will be stripped down and refitted as a gambling ship to sail the waters of southeast Asia under a different company name.
In my opinion, this fact goes a long way to explain the poor service and other issues we have experienced. It does not, however, absolve NCL of the requirement to continue to provide the same standard of service that they have established on their newer ships.
It is clear that NCL is simply letting this ship go.
Unfortunately the September 17th sailing of the Wind has cost NCL numerous past and potential future customers. If I were to base my future cruising decisions solely on this past sailing, I would not be booking another NCL cruise before trying the other options.