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Honored Contributor
Posts: 33,581
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

My Norwegian Cruise Review

[ Edited ]

DH and I were on a cruise the week of March 19 aboard the Norwegian Sky which is an all-inclusive (meaning all alcohol is included).  We flew out of Cleveland on Monday, March 19 and arrived back home on Friday, March 23. 

 

We chose to fly into and out of Fort Lauderdale because flights were cheaper.  We flew United and had absolutely no issue with our flights.  In fact I booked basic economy flights and we were upgraded to mid-economy on the flight home so we had a lot more leg room.  That was kind of nice.  The weather in FLL upon arrival Monday was 82 which was just a tad better than the 26 it was in Cleveland upon take-off.  LOL

 

We used Jiffy Jeff car service to take us from FLL to Miami.  It was about a 30 minute drive.  We were the first drop-off at the Norwegian dock.  The embarkation process couldn't have been easier.  It was about noonish when we arrived and there weren't a lot of people checkin in at this point.  We got right through without issue, got our seaport cards and boarded the ship.  I was carrying a LUG bag with a bathing suit, cover-up and flip-flops for both DH and me to change into since typically it takes a little bit for luggage to get to your stateroom.

 

We were hungry so we hit the buffet.  We both got a drink and I had a really nice salad.  About 1:00 our stateroom was ready so we headed there and changed and then went to the pool area.

 

It turned out we hit some spring breakers.  In speaking with crew members we were lucky. The week prior to our cruise they had about 1100 spring breakers, we had about 200 and the week after they had about 1300 booked.  The 200 that we had on our cruise were enough to deal with.  During the day they weren't too bad but they were incredibly rude at night at the shows.  They were talking through the shows, constantly walking in and out of the theatre, climbing over people to get seats.  At night we avoided the nightclub/pool areas they would be in.  We didn't see too many younger kids at dinner in the main dining area.

 

Our first stop was Grand Bahama Island (Freeport).  I was shocked when I woke up and saw where we were docked.  It was like I was docked in my hometown.  It was disgusting.  It was all industrial looking.  We got off the boat, went through some of the shops and came right back to the boat and hung out by the pool area.  It seemed like there were a lot of people on the boat who either got off for a very short amount of time or didn't get off at all.  My husband and I headed to the deck where guest services was and encountered 2 spring breakers, with luggage packed, getting kicked off the ship.  Not sure what happened but there was a lot of Norwegian personnel and security with them and they were escorted off the boat. 

 

The next day we were in Nassau.  That area was much prettier.  Again we got off, went to some shops and went back to the boat.  It was much less crowded so I think a lot of people chose to stay off the boat that day and sight see.  We were supposed to leave at 6pm but an announcement was made that there was a delay.  We finally left at 7:30 and word about the ship was that a few people didn't make it back to the ship at the designated time and we were waiting for them.  Whether that was true or not, I don't know.

 

The next day we were supposed to be at Great Stirrup Cay, the private island of Norwegian.  About 7:00 a.m. we were woke up by a ship announcement that it was too rough for them to bring the tender boats to us and get us to the private island so it was going to be a day at sea.  We were highly disappointed.

 

DH and I got ready and hit the pool deck where breakfast was and geez was it chilly.  People were laying on beach chairs wrapped in the beach towels and guests were walking about in sweatshirts and jackets.  It was very, very windy.  I pretty much had a jacket on all day while sitting in the sun.  In the evening the wind died down and it got nicer. 

 

Friday we pulled back into Miami about 7:00.  I went to one of the outside decks to check-in for our flight and couldn't believe how chilly it was once again.  My phone said it was 52.  We got in line to self disembark and used the same car service to get us back to FLL for our noon flight. 

 

All in all it was a nice trip for my 50th b-day but I'm not sure I would ever do this type of a cruise again where the booze is included.  I know I would never go again when there was any chance of being with spring breakers but there were also some really rude drunk older people as well.  One woman caused quite a commotion at the show the first night yelling about the Eagles winning the Super Bowl and she just wouldn't stop.  The comedian didn't know what to do.  Then they had a dance contest with guests and crew members and the same woman caused a slight scene again trying to get into the contest after the contestants were already picked.  The final night at the show there was an extremely drunk 60 yo man standing behind us talking and yelling out comments throughout the comedian's act.  I think maybe if people actually have to pay for drinks maybe they aren't so inclined to get so drunk. 

 

This was our second cruise and DH and I had said we thought next year we'd go right to a resort of some sort but now he was talking about another cruise.  The last time we did Royal Caribbean.  I'll do a comparison in another post.            

Honored Contributor
Posts: 14,201
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

@Lipstickdiva

 

We have cruised several times, we disliked NCl tremendously, the room was smaller, the Freestyle dinning imposed on our quiet time we always felt as if we had to run to the next activity. The food was average

 

We loved Celebrity and cruised with them 4 times

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive what could go right.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 18,681
Registered: ‎10-04-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

@Lipstickdiva, what a great review.  I've never been on, or will go on a cruise, but you did a great job painting that picture.  You didn't get sea sick with the winds?  Very good!

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,206
Registered: ‎08-08-2011

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

Thank you for your great trip report.  We have only been on one cruise (Hawaii) and it was also Norwegian.  The alcoholic drinks were not “free” on our cruise and I bought one drink (for $10!) because it looked so pretty in a pineapple!  But I think you are right about the connection between free alcoholic drinks and all the people who had too much.  

Honored Contributor
Posts: 33,581
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

@qualitygal, I did not get sick.  The second night as we pulled out of Freeport, it was rough.  They were putting barf bags (for lack of a better term) all about the ship including all the railings going up and down the steps.  I wore a patch behind my ear and I was fine.  Apparently that night there was a storm with lightening, thunder and rain.  We had no idea in our inside stateroom and never felt a thing that night but taking a shower earlier was kind of funny. Thursday night into Friday it was rough and I was woken up because of the movement on the boat.

 

@I am still oxox, I personally liked Royal Caribbean better between the 2 but I am looking at Celebrity for our next cruise, if we decide to do that.  We both like the smaller boats, which Celebrity does have in its fleet.  We aren't interested at all in the big mega ships.     

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,457
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

[ Edited ]

I'm a big time cruiser and have cruised all over the world (several of my cruises were 30+ days).  We primarily cruise Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and never Norwegian (by design).  One important thing we have learned is be counter intuitive when it comes to kids; we sail when they don't (no holidays, primarily as we do "shoulder" and repositioning).  I have been to 76 countries and consider cruising one of the most relaxing, comfortable and safest ways to go.  We usually don't take ship "excursions" but frequently set up our own with fellow passengers, either real time of online on Cruise Critic.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 33,581
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

I'd like to do my comparison between our NCL and RCL cruises and why I liked RCL better.

 

Last year we cruised with RCL on Empress of the Seas.  It is their smallest ship.  With this ship we had to either pay per drink or buy a drink package. We chose to buy the drink package.  I would never do that again because I didn't drink enough to justify the cost of an alcohol package.

 

Embarkation on NCL was quicker.  Disembarkation on NCL was also quicker. 

 

Norwegian Sky was a nicer boat overall with more dining choices and more bars.  I believe it holds just a few hundred more people than Empress of the Seas so they are both small boats.

 

I personally didn't care for the shared dining on NCL which we had for 2 nights and then we had private tables the other 2 nights.  Although both shared dining nights we did eat with really nice people, you could also have that go horribly wrong and end up with a miserable dining experience.  In fact the second night 2 of the people we dined with ended up being people we hung out with the rest of the cruise. 

 

The entertainment on RCL was far and above NCL.  The entertainment on this cruise was horrible.  The shows were amateurish at best and the comedian wasn't the least bit funny. 

 

Our cruise director and entertainment director on RCL were hilarious.  From the time our ship was pulling away from the dock in Tampa last year, they started playing music on the pool deck,  the dancing started and they got people involved.  Nothing happened on NCL.  The cruise director was a dud and I'm not even sure they had an enterainment director.  If they did, he obviously left no impression on us.

 

RCL had activities going poolside throughout our entire cruise.  We didn't participate but it was hilarious to watch.  NCL had nothing going on during the day at the pool at all.  They had some 2 piece band playing on the deck but the music was boring.  It was like late night lounge music, certainly not upbeat, party music at all. 

 

The games that were done inside the ship during the day on NCL were just blah.  The people running them had no personality, weren't funny and didn't seem that interested in what was going on.  With RCL we marked the schedule and made it a point to get to the game shows. 

 

The food on both ships in the main dining room and the buffet were about the same.  I can't say one was better than the other but the service in the main dining room was superior on RCL.  We had some really slow service in the dining room on NCL.   

 

We loved the movies on the outside movie screens on RCL and did miss that.  If you weren't interested in the nightclub or bars after the show, there wasn't anything to do on NCL. 

 

We did an inside stateroom on both cruiselines and the RCL room was better.  It was bigger and the layout was much better.  Our NCL room was like being in a closet.  You couldn't even get all the way around the bed because of the way they had a cabinet situated.      

 

There was really no direction at all from NCL when you disembarked at the various ports to do an excursion.  Heck, the boat wasn't even very clearly marked to get you off it at the ports.  Once you left the boat, you had to figure out where to go for your excursions.  RCL had people everywhere directing you to where you needed to be.  During the shows the night before they also gave specific directions about getting off at the port, where to go, getting back on time, etc.  NCL was a free for all.            

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,965
Registered: ‎02-07-2011

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

DH and I have done more than a dozen cruises.  One was on NCL and it was OK but not my first choice of cruise line.  Took Carnival twice and would never do them again. IMO the destination has a big influence on the type of passengers who will be on board and the Caribbean is a "party" place anyway so we avoid that area.

 

BTW our favorite cruise line is Holland America.  I will never go on those 3,000+ ships.  I would love to try one of the premier lines, e.g., Crystal or Oceania.  

 

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 14,201
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

@Lipstickdiva

 

We sailed on Century - which at the time was a larger ship, we cruised on that the twice, and I forgot we sailed Carnival once and it was as no bueno as NCL.

I worked for a travel publication and would recommended either Celebrity or RCCL

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive what could go right.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,568
Registered: ‎06-15-2014

Re: My Norwegian Cruise Review

Great review. Enjoyed reading it.