Just like Butlins at sea.
NCL never again. The organisation throughout the ship was non-existent. The eating arrangements were the poorest we have experienced on any cruise ship. Unable to dine in the dining rooms at lunch time any day. All dining rooms were closed, the only place opened was outdoors. The evening menu in the dining rooms was the same every evening unless you chose the "Chef's special" Hard luck if you did not like the dish. This cruise is a total rip-off - 15% added to every drink regardless of choice. Also 12 dollars per person charged every day as a service charge (for cleaning your cabin and the use of dining facilities.
The staterooms were clean and the cabin staff friendly and efficent. The entertainment staff were good particularly Robert and the entertainment fairly good. The Cruise Director seemed to go over the top in making announcements in so many languages which became irratating.
The biggest complaint is the excessive $12 per person per day service charge. Tipping should be for extra special service provided not for staff that have not served you. You can get this removed but take care, we phoned the guest relations desk as instructed to get this charge removed as we tip staff as we go along. We were told to go to the desk on the morning of departure and they would print us a new invoice with the charge removed. We stood in a long line for over half an hour but had to leave as our coach for disembarkation was leaving. They still took the money from our credit card account. When writing to NCL they refused to reimburse this charge despite the explaination and we had asked on board for it to be removed. Customer Services were almost offensive in their reply refusing to address several complaints. All 10 of our cruising friends will not now use NCL again. There are rules but they are not enforced. Such as not saving sun loungers.
The standard of food in the main dining room was not up to cruise standard. Also at peak times there was a queue and you could miss the show. You can book but again only if there is a space at the time you want. It would appear it is yet another ploy by NCL to get passengers to pay to go into other restaraunts. NCL will probably get away with this for first time cruisers but any one who knows that the service, food and good management should be of a better standard would not use NCL. Finally, don't change currency on board they levey as 25% charge.
Travel operator: NCL
the food was what you wanted it to be, your choice, if you dont find what you like then get a fishing rod.
The cabin staff were fair but not good, although you got that welcome which meant remember to tip me on your departure. one tip for them get it right... and you may recieve a good tip.
The drinks were expensive including the water.Shore excursions we found to be good, with exception of greece, the guide was more interesred in guiding you to a silver shop.
One port that needs avoiding is Alexandria, the ship berths near a canal which has to be highly dangerous in its hydrogen chloride gas content which is evident as the tide flows.
Very dissapointing was the absolute rip off of the on ship bingo, if they paid out as much money as they did compared with what they took in then they would be linched in the UK. they should all waar masks..
We also had a steak at Cagneys steak house, terrible thats all I have to say.
One thing generally the crew and staff were all very good, and the shows on board were sometimes brilliant odd one rubbish. but you cant please all.
you pays your money you takes your chance.
overall though it was good.
remember pay your gratuities up front and they are half price, otherwise $12 a day.
everything you buy on the ship attracts a further 15% gatuity on top of that.
Travel operator: NCL
The Weather was warm and sunny; the organised tours were conducted in a professional manner considering the number of people involved. The crew were very courteous and helpful
The cleanness was very good despite the usual issue with Egypt.
We brought a package holiday and our Luggage was lost on transfer from Amsterdam to Istanbul along with 15 other people. The ships staffs were very helpful and collected the luggage from an early morning flight. Until the luggage arrived they gave us an overnight travel bag. I understand from other passengers that this was a usual occurrence with NCL.
All brought aboard alcoholic drinks were confiscated. The on board price for a drink were comparative to UK upmarket Hotel prices plus 15% service charge. I did not see many people buying drinks. They have out priced themselves
The daily service charge was $12 per night per person which is the most expensive we have come across
The food was very bland. The food in the café was with more choice but it still a steak and chips cruise
The ships excursions were not value for money charging around one third more that we would normally pay.
NCL have invented many ways to charge for additional items including the on board shops although the on Board Jewellers seemed value for money?
The security in Egypt was very tight with lots of suited body guards with concealed machine pistols; police diverting traffic for us and the Tourist police every where. The Egyptian Security seemed very professional and well rehearsed.
The Entertainment varied ranging from excellent to very poor in the case of a comedian who’s claim to fame is that he met Benny Hill
We chose this cruise for the destinations but I think will try another some one else in future rather that NCL.
Travel operator: NCL Jade
First impression was a very clean ship and smart looking inside cabin. The safety drill was given straight away then you were free to tuck into the delicious bbq and listen to the group as we sailed out.
The first shock we encountered was the price of the drinks 9$ for a cocktail, this price shock was evident throughout the cruise whichever way you turned. Excursions are always expensive on cruises but NCL prices were the highest we had ever seen. Having previously cruised with Thomson , Island cruise and Ocean Village I thought perhaps going slightly up market we should expect the increase, but everyone we spoke to felt the prices were unreasonable.
The choice of food was always plentiful, nicely presented and tasty. I particularly enjoyed trying the chilled soups on the evening menu(yes they were supposed to be cold). We did not try the restaurants with added charges as we thought NCL were taking enough from us already what with the 15% service charge per drink. Feel they could have done away with a couple of these extra eateries as there was not enough room in the bars for everyone to be seated, so extra bars would have been nice.
The nightly shows in the Stardust theatre were enjoyable, the singers were very talented and there were a variety of acts from circus type balancing, spanish flammenco, magician, comics and a couple of West End type shows. Something for everyone.
The staff aboard the ship were some of the most polite staff I have ever encountered whilst cruising, hard working and happy in their work. The cabin stewards work a 10 hour day , 7 days a week with little time to go ashore (they were brilliant).
One more thing I must mention is the quietness of the ship in terms of movement and engine noise, you hardly know you are moving. Even on a rough evening the movement was minimal.
All in all a good cruising experience and I would go again but save harder for drinks, excursions etc.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook Cruises
Our first evening we ate in the main dining room (Pacific) - there were only a few guests when we were seated and what seemed like more than enough staff to cope comfortabley with the service. We waited and waited and waited for our food, whilst observing the staff running around like headless chicken achieving nothing. When our starters eventually arrived they were tastless and uninspiring the steak which followed would have made good shoe soling material and the vegetables were conspicuous by their abscence. We declind desert and thought we might try the self service for desert - equally uninspiring.
Following our first disappointing dining experience we decided to try the speciality restaurants for the following 4 evenings of our cruise - we tried the French, Cagney's. Jasmine Garden and the Italian restaurants and to be quite frank the experience was little better. However to add insult to injury our experience and treatment in the Italian restaurant was unbelievable. We were greeted by the female head waiter who showed us to our seat whilst continuing a conversation with another member of staff and gesticulating with her hands to guide us to our table. The sun was setting very low and shining in our eyes on approaching the table and my husband on three separate occasions pointed this out to her requesting a different table. After getting no response from her verbally (she was still continuing her conversation with the other staff member) - she continued to gesture with her hands (now in an impatient way) for us to sit at the first table totally ignoring my husband's requests. Eventually my husband gestured to her that the sun was in his eyes and she then reluctantly and curtly responded to our request. The meal was perhaps on a par with that of our first night in the main dining room, but our treatment was far worse. Both my mother and I ordered Veal Masala which was cold and tough (how can that be when veal calves don't live long enough to develope into tough meat) we left most of our meal and our head of restaurant waiter added further insult to injury be approaching us to say she had observed we had not enjoyed our meal and had made a reduction in the cover charge. However this was not done in a gracious way, infact she was very intimidating in her manner and agruementative saying "perhaps you do not understand Italian food" I explained politely that we did, infact my husband is half italian and my mother had lived in Italy for many years. She was extremely rude and surly to say the least.
Our experience in general of the waiting staff was very poor (with the exception of the french restaurant) and this was reflected in my going to the customer service desk before leaving the ship, to request they remove the service charges from our bills. This was again a poor experience of customer relations, the member of staff who took our complaint with an attitude which was unbelievable, did not offer even the meerest hint of an apology. She did remove all of the service charges at my insistance and we did tip our stateroom attendant personally for his excelllent service. I might add they also charge an additional gratuity charge on every bar and restaurant transaction.
I have to say the cruise entertainment was quite good but not in comparison to RCL. NCL will not be getting anymore of our cash.
Travel operator: NCL
Travel operator: virgin
Travel operator: ncl
We cruised on the Jade for 14 nights from Southampton to the Med on 30th May. Embarkation was a bit of a nightmare. To beat the real queues get there by 11.00am, they will let you into the cruise terminal and commence boarding before 11.30am. During the peak boarding time (12.00 – 2.00pm) the queues are very, very long and it will take well over an hour to board! The other option is to board between 2.30 and 3.00pm when queues are shorter, taking about 30-45 minutes. Don’t worry about the fact the documents say you need to board by 2.00pm, you don’t and it helps immensely if you have already completed your embarkation details on the NCL web-site beforehand! The boarding route is very hot, no air conditioning there.
Our first impression was that the décor looked a bit OTT, because the ship was built for the Hawaii cruising area. After a couple of days you do get over that, and it does not seem so bad. Certainly the ship and cabins are well presented and maintained and, relative to the star rating of NCL, of a high standard.
Freestyle is the NCL brand, and the word is ingrained in your thinking from boarding to disembarkation (and beyond)!! The opposite of “free” is “pay” and I would rename their branding Paystyle as NCL’s clear strategy is to get many dollars on your spend account.
There are a number of restaurants for eating in, many for a supplement. The 2 main dining rooms, the Garden Café (buffet style), Tapas/Mexican restaurant and Blue Lagoon (the only 24/7 option) all carry no supplement. The menus at the 2 main restaurants were, for us, lacking in imagination although the food and presentation was fine. The Garden Café is no worse than any other buffet style restaurant we have encountered, and comparable with the premium lines. The Tapas/Mexican restaurant is excellent if you like that type of food for a change (we did, once each week). The Blue Lagoon is also good, with a limited and standard menu, and also an option for breakfast.
Regarding the supplement restaurants the only one we tried was Cagney’s Steakhouse, and we went back again a couple of times. The Italian, French and Asian restaurant menus did not appeal to our tastes but many said they were good. Every night they offer a 2 for 1 pricing in the Cagney’s and the Italian and French restaurants usually between 5.30 and 6.30pm, but occasionally between 6.00pm to 7.00pm. You need to book early the day before to get the later times.
We only did one ship tour, which was well organised and good value. Everything else we DIY’d as we normally do…..much freer to set your own agenda that way!! As far as getting on and off at ports it is well organised and relatively quick, apart from Gibraltar!! This is the cheap booze capital in the Med and NCL apply a very strict no bringing alcohol on board policy, and are extremely hot at picking off the smugglers.
Entertainment during the daytime is absolutely geared towards getting more dollars onto your spend account. Sunbeds, as always, are hard to come by in the pool area and one deck above during sea days and from mid-afternoon in port. There is another option on the deck which is 2 above the pools. Evening entertainment is varied, which means it will not always be to your taste or ours but….we are all different and in our view NCL try to cater for all tastes during the course of the cruise. Many complained about the entertainment in the main show theatre, but it was acceptable to us. Most of the people complaining were comparing it with the premium lines like Cunard, Holland America, Celebrity and Princess, but NCL is not a premium line but probably competing with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. We would say that Royal Caribbean is slightly better overall than NCL. There are many bars, and live music to suit different tastes in many locations throughout the ship. We enjoyed wandering around after the main shows and listening to music in these locations. We do not gamble, but the casino by all accounts meets the requirement and certainly takes up a large area in mid-ship deck 6.
Overall we were satisfied with NCL, relative to the price paid, and would use them again for the right destinations and price etc. We would assess their product as a star rating above Thomson and Island, and probably half a star below Royal Caribbean.
Travel operator: Self booked
Our first impressions were good and knowing its Haiwian roots thought the decor was not OTT. It was spotless and we often saw cleaning staff throughout the ship during the cruise.
The Freedstyle concept suited us very well. We do not like being told when we may eat and who with. You can eat in the main restaurants at dinner between 5.30 and 10.00 At busy times you were sometimes given a pager and could sit for a few mintutes until it summoned you. We also like the speciality restaurants and tried Cagneys $20pp(steak house) twice, Le Bistro $20pp (French), Jasmine Gardens $15pp(Asian). Eat between 5.30 and 6.30 and they are 2 for 1, a very good deal IMO. Tapanyaki $25pp(Japanese cooking show and food)really enjoyed the experience and would recommend if you havn't done it before. The Grand Pacific was our choice of restaurant for other meals (no jeans for dinner). Choices were generally ok and "always on" was steak, salmon, chicken and veggie as well as Ceasars salad so were satisfied. Breakfast we took in either Grand Pacific or Blue Lagoon, which was also handy for a mid afternoon snack when returning from shore. We do not like upper deck cafes because they tend to be crowded, but the choices look good.
The staff were excellent and couldn't do enough for us. It is such a pity that many passengers (100's)queued on the last sea day to stop the Service Charge. Will not go on about this as it is up to individuals but it seemed that once word spread that people were amending or stopping the charge, others jumped on the band wagon. Not a pretty sight and mostly Brits.
The onboard entertainment ranged from very goood to poor. Having said this I believe entertainment is a personal thing and one mans meat ect. There was always something to watch/listen to in the evening so we were happy.
One comment that has been made on this site and others is the "we want your money" ethos. It did appear that NCL had instructed their staff to sell, sell, sell. Whether it be T shirts, raffle tickets, Bingo, drinks, excursions ect ect it was a little over done. We never booked shore excursions because they are IMO over priced. We DIY either with others or on our own. More freedom, cheaper and more fun.
We enjoyed the Freestyle concept and would certainly go again - at the right price !
Travel operator: Self booked (internet)
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