I have recently returned from the 10 day Hawaiian cruise.
We were told that this ship is low on the totem in Norwegian's fleet, but we found it to be perfectly satisfactory.
On some NCL discussion threads I have read of dissatisfaction with the attitude of staff, so I would like to comment on our experience.
Passenger service, from being met at the airport to our return there was excellent.
The ship is spotlessly clean. Cabins we quite adequate and well maintained. We got new towels every day whether we threw them on the floor or not, and the staff came in morning and evening.
The staff was diverse, many from Eastern Europe, so many were not familiar with some of the subtleties of the English language. Almost all were helpful and friendly. But not in an ingratiating manner with hands out for tips.
My complaints would be about policy set by head office.
Freestyle dining was a blessing, but the menus, determined in Florida, were not. The three main dining rooms all had the same menu. As the voyage went on, they became more and more pretentious.
It is not quite accurate to talk of a piece of codfish garnished with gooseberry sauce sitting on a few bits of raw carrot, but that sort of thing.
We were saved by the Sports Bar and Grill - a buffet akin to a cafeteria in a department store. Rough and ready, noisy from five TVs showing football, hot, but plenty of food.
On alcohol, NCL can be compared to the robber barons of old.
If you are caught trying to sneak a bottle of wine aboard, it is confiscated. It is easy for them, as they search bags whenever one gets on the ship. This is called Security Check.
The price a drink with a meal was unreasonable, plus the 15%. Even in duty free International waters.
Initially we viewed the $10 a day add-on with some outrage, but were pleased at the end. It is a tidy way of doing it.
At no time did the staff show any hint of soliciting tips. At one meal, when I couldn't bear to eat codfish and gooseberry, the waiter produced an excellent meal for me. I thought this worthy of a gratuity and he was surprised and appreciative.
We all know that we get such bargain cruise prices because the foreign registered ships pay low wages. We have been told that on NCL's US registered ships, which pay better wages, the service is bad and the staff are aggressive tip-wise.
I do not own shares in NCL. I am merely a wrinkly/OAP/senior citizen who has been on his first cruise. It is far more cost effective (that means cheaper) than independent travel or organized tours.
On the evaluation form at the end of the cruise I told them that I would not go on any more NCL cruises because they gouged me for my glass of wine.
I see that in the spring this ship will be on the Vancouver-Alaska run. We are looking forward to it.