We are planning a July cruise to Bermuda and want to SAVE money. NCL is the least costly option. We we've read reviews that said that NCL across the board is an inferior cruise line. I mean, how bad can it be? Let us know!!
There's three major cruise line corporations serving North America. I'd would rank NCL as the same as Royal Caribbean and Carnival.
But, both Royal Caribbean and Carnival own other lines too. Celebrity, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, caters to longer cruises and provides more services for its more expensive cruises. Holland America, Princess, Cunard, P&O, and Costa are owned by Carnival, with various degrees of better services and higher prices than what Carnival provides.
I wonder why almost all the cruise lines that provide better services at higher cruise prices have all been bought out by the three majors?
What's interesting is that in the late 1990s, Carnival tried to buy NCL, only to be thwarted by Star Cruise Lines, which was willing to pay a higher price.
Amost all of the NCL new ships, with the sole exception of the Norwegian Sky, now the Pride of Aloha, were originally ordered under a Star Cruises contract with Meyerwerft. The exceptions being the Jewel and the three to be built new Jewel class ships under a NCL contract, and the Pride of America. And those were ordered after Star Cruises bought NCL out.
There is very little difference between the 3 major cruise lines. As Ron says, there are other lines that cater to different niche markets and thereby set themselves apart, but they are all owned by the big three. So your experience is likely to vary about .001% overall if you cruise RCCL, NCL or CCL. On this board you are obviously going to find people who are attuned to every nuance of cruising and might very well pick a cruise based on things which do not concern you at all. For the vast majority of cruise travelers, however, each line is qualitatively and quantitatively as good as the next- you will find the price varies about .0001% as well.
That being said, it will be a cold day in hell before I waste my money or my time on NCLA, the unit of NCL that operates the Pride of America. That ship has had the worst reviews I have ever read- consistently bad.
I love NCL. I will cruise NCL this year again for sure.
I just returned from a cruise on Pride of America (Norwegian Cruise Line) and am completely disgusted with the service, the size of the cabin and the attitude of the staff. I will never ever cruise with this line again. I have cruised extensively with other cruise lines so do have some experience to campare this cruise line with. The ship was understaffed and the staff that was their didn't seem to know what they were supposed to do. The entertainment was terrible, the service in the dining rooms was almost non-existant. We had to ask for everything like rolls and coffee and sometimes it arrived and sometimes it didn't.
I'm sorry to hear you had a bad time on "Pride of America". But please note that Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America ("Pride of America" belongs to the latter) are two different brands. NCL America has been having major problems, mainly with its all-American crew and staff. Norwegian Cruise Line on the contrary has international crew and staff, and I have enjoyed lots of NCL cruises over the years.
We have traveled on 10+ cruises with a number of different cruise lines.
We just returned from a cruise on the Pride of Aloha. It was freestyle cruising and while the concept sounds good, it definitely did not work for us. Service in the dining rooms was very slow. We spent 2-3 hours there every evening we dined there. Going to dinner early and getting to the first show was impossible. They were very short staffed. Busboys were recently eliminated and the waiters had to bus their own tables, get water and coffee and take food orders. It was obviously too much for them. Food quality was okay but usually not very hot. Many people had long waits, standing in the hall, while many tables were sitting empty, in addition to the slow service. You can not make reservations for less than 8 people in main dining rooms. We solved that by reserving a table for 8 for our group of 4-6 people and sharing with anyone who was waiting and willing. Believe me, there were never any empty seats at our table. The people at the reservation desk found the extra people to fill out the table after we were seated. Food and service in the Bistro were fine, but really no more than I have grown to expect in the main dining rooms of many ships.
Some people had complaints about the cleanlines of their cabins. We did not. The refrigerator was either broken or not turned on but we didn't need it so didn't bother to check it out.
We had no complaint other than the poor meal service. The ship was attractive and the entertainment fairly good.This was a 'destination cruise' for us and we chose the ship mainly for lodging and inter-island transportation. For that propose it was fine. We will probably not chose NCL again, definitely not if it is Freestyle.
I just got back from my Western Caribbean cruise on the Sun. It's NCL, not NCL America. Would you believe almost every night we ate a full 6 course dinner in less than 1 hour? Course includeds; (1) Appetizer, (2)Salad, (3)Soup, (4)Pasta or Taste of, (5)Main Entree, and (6)Desert. It's true.
I haven't cruised on a NCL America ship, but what was said before is worth repeating, NCL and NCL America are two different brands within the same corporation. NCL America has to use 80% American crews, while NCL uses an International crew.
So please don't let the negative experiences you read about NCL America turn you off NCL. Luckily for most of us, NCL America cruises Hawaii only.