We have sailed with NCL before and feel that they give fair value for the money. They have always treated us with respect, and we find their food and entertainment to our satisfaction. We missed a port in the Azores due to weather conditions, but nobody other than God is to blame for that. It was more important to maintain the safety of those on board than cater to our desires. The transferring of passengers to and from NCL's private island in the Caribbean did not seem to be very well organized. It was done by the assigned number system, and although we were docked fairly early in the morning, the last tenders from ship to shore were still going on into the early afternoon which was not so good knowing that the ship was leaving port at suppertime so those on the last tenders over hardly had time to dip their toes in the water before having to return to the ship. Furthermore, the island was very crowded and lacking adequate seating as another ship had arrived ahead of ours and those passengers therefore got the beach chairs and most of the sand. However, on the positive side everyone went and came back unscathed. Our worst day, in my opinion, was when everybody had to leave the ship to clear customs in Miami and nobody could get back on until the last person off had been checked by Customs and Immigration. Having to be corralled like cattle in a large, hot building with very limited seating for 7-8 hours for 4000+ people to be scrutinized was exhausting, especially given the number of passengers who used canes and walkers to get around. I know this is the C&I way of doing things and not the fault of NCL, but it was brutal for us old folks or anyone with back issues or young, discontented children. When it was time to reboard, it was astounding how many people didn't understand that the number cards they had been issued meant to wait until their number was called rather than biff others out of the way to get on first. The crew could have been more vigilant there, but we all survived the stampede. Then, once we were all back on board, we proceeded on to New Orleans which was the actual termination port which was equally as awkward due to the huge number of people, many arriving to board the outgoing vessel, and at the same time, many trying to get out of there to catch transportation to the airport. It took over 2 hours in the mob to get from where our luggage had been deposited to the door to pick up a taxi, and it was not a long distance! However, they are in the process of building a bigger, more user friendly building which is badly needed. We have sailed a lot in the past 12 years with 3 different cruise lines and have travelled by other means extensively, but the experiences in both Miami and New Orleans are the worst we have had. NCL has been a great company for us and we look forward to sailing with them again. To their credit, they sent out notifications in February cancelling the cruise we had booked around Japan for this fall due to the covid 19 crisis, and the money was readily returned aside from the sum we paid for the insurance, but we have to get that back from the underwriter who does not seem to understand that it is immoral to retain an insurance premium for a product that no longer exists through no choice of our own. Again, not NCL's fault. We are thankful for their concern.
One criticism we do have is that lounging areas around the ship for a quiet game or book reading were woefully inadequate. That forces folks to hang out around the bars which, of course, promotes sales, but is a problem for those who just want to spend some quiet time outside of the confines of their cabin. And there is also the atrium where the same folks claim a seat every day from arising til retiring, and even enjoy their afternoon nap in situ....like in a nursing home. The ship is beautiful, but lacks areas for peace and quiet. Even the library is too small and noisy with card players and games to facilitate a relaxing read. We all paid to be there, and we should all have a turn to use the quieter zones.
We were pleased with our room. We have tried all categories over the years but find that mid ship on a lower level works well for anyone with motion instability issues. Our steward was both attentive and sweet, and we both appreciated everything he did to ensure our comfort and safety. It was always very clean and well organized.
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