All I can say about my October 7, 2007 Canada/New England Cruise is that I should have gotten off the ship before it departed. The cruise was a terrible combination from a cruise line that really doesn't care about its clients, and feels that as long as they keep advertsising there will be another "sucker" coming on board. So who cares?
Food If its food that you're onboard for, plan to spend your money in the "Freestyle" dining rooms. Freesyle=NO-STYLE and if you plan on eating in the "FREE" dining rooms, you might as well eat at Denny's or your local nursing home. Just a quick look at a menu could substantiate this Bland nonsense menus made to sound different, but just re-hashing poor quality food.
The most ridiculous experience was at my first meal, If one could call it a meal. One of the main dining rooms was recommended to me while boarding. The room was called Windows on this ship and there were windows, but any other similarity to a dining room stops with the tables, chairs and the place settings. It was to be the send-off luncheon, for this long awaited vacation. I sat in this beautiful room, with white tablecloths, a full 9 piece formal place setting, wine and water goblets and a very efficient waiter, who promptly approached the table. I requested a wine list, and while perusing the list I realized that the list started at 30-plus dollars a bottle for regular "vin Ordinare" (table wine). I ordered a bottle of wine ($36) and then opened the hardbound menu to find a choice of Hamburger, Hot Dog, Club Sandwich, and some ribs; not exactly dining, and I was lucky that I didn't order the $100 bottle.
We promptly got up after lunch to make sure we had reservations for the rest of the cruise at the so-called FREESTYLE=NO STYLE dining rooms at a cost of $20 per person per day PLUS GRATUITIES. You can't figure how much of your service charge will be going to these waiters, and I can't give a $1.00 tip to someone who took their time and showed knowlegeble service to try and make the cruise enjoyable, so I tipped them an additional $10-$20 per dinner, because it's not their fault that no one really cares about the food in the "steeridge class" which we began to call the rest of the food on board. Breakfast and Lunch Buffet in the room they call Raffles was just attrocious. I watched one day as a staff of no less that four "chefs" (at least they were dressed that way) were taught how to make a sandwich. Ask me for the pictures. It was just amazing.
Accommodations Well, since we left our home in Florida at 5AM to get to the dock in NYC, so after the lunch experience, at 2pm the cabins were cleared for us to get in them. Upon searching for my inside cabin #9577, which looked great online, I found that I had to climb over a mountain of luggage. The cabin looked as advertised but trying to take a nap proved impossible. The noise of everyone's luggage being taken off the freight elevator that was directly on the side of our cabin was ridiculous. Each and every piece was bounced off my cabin's side wall. After hearing one bang after another on our wall for a half hour and being an experienced cruiser I knew what the last night of the cruise will have in store for me when the process gets reversed, ran to the Customer Service Desk (at least that's what they call it)
They immediately pointed to a sign that said (ship is fully booked) but that wasn't good enough, so I demanded to speak to someone higher up the NCL Spirit Chain! To no avail, I was left with the option of getting off the ship or just dealing with it! I opted for getting off, but trying to look for my wife who was then being directed to the lifeboat drill proved to be of no avail and as soon as I found her I was told that the ships gangway was removed so I had to "Deal With It." But I was also promised that the "noise situation was now under control."
Second morning (Our nice and quiet day at sea) was worse. We found out that the room service dishes are cleaned right next to our room. After stopping the steward from clanging the dishes, the noise still continued. We went into the hall (7:15) to find a door directly behind our bed marked no access. It was there that we found 4 or 5 guys in machine overalls climbing into the air-conditioning vents and clanging tools, chains and whatever. IF YOU WANT I CAN SEND THE VIDEO OF BOTH THESE GUYS AND THE DISHWASHER GUY. I was told that they were a special crew from Taiwan, who didn't speak English, and that they will start later tomorrow. Well, with my video of the morning's surprises I went to the "Desk" again and was told again, sorry. I showed them the sound video and the noise firsthand, and all they offered was a second guarantee of quiet or I could get off in Halifax.
Quiet Enjoyment If it sounds like I am harping too much on the quiet thing, you must be told at this point I don't sleep much, I play all evening in the casino, enjoy fine wines and dining, enjoy theater, comedy shows, TV, exciting excursions, and just having a good time.
Well, most cruises, or shall I say all of the cruises I have been on, have offered me almost all of these. But not this one.
NCL must be the cruiseline for the retired Midwesterner who is just excited to see the ocean and have a good old fashioned sing-a-long as entertainment.
Casino: Closed nightly at 1:30-2am The dealers were amateurs who were being trained while they played live. It was just painful watching blackjack dealers who were using an automatic shuffler, and still fluffing their deals and failing to be able to count to 21 with any regularity. Crap dealers were worse, not knowing proper odds and payouts for the game; i.e., I watched a craps eleven 1x bet stay on the table for six throws.) It made for a very long, but short evening. The slots all had little signs stating high payout odds "Guaranteed Loose." When inquiring about what the slots payout percentage was, I just got a puzzled look.
Fine Wines and Dining: I have to say that as long as you were willing to pay for an upgrade to the alternative restaurants, the food there was just fine. The Tappenyaki restaurant chef was a little screwed up, serving us one slice of zucchini and a slice of onion first, followed by your meat or seafood, then followed 10 minutes later by rice, and then finally your appetizer of shrimp. I thought it was done in error, and went another night, but was shocked that it was still served totally out of order again. What I did notice was as the cruise went on the seafood seemed to be less fresh. Even though we went to Maine and Boston, it seemed as though the ship's provisions were only loaded on in NYC, and the lobster seemed to be just short of turning as the cruise went on. Again, at least they tried, but my bill for food and wine was almost the price of the cruise. $1,200 for the cruise and another $900 for food and wine.
Theater: I love theater, and the first day out I enjoyed visiting an area where you can see the history and pictures of building this ship (it's right behind the bridge, which you get to by going down a spiral staircase). The reason I tell you this is, I was able to see the construction of the main theater of the ship. All sorts of scenery changing trusses, Full stage turntables, lighting trusses and state of the art sound system.
Well, it was wasted here. One night the show was a juggling family, one night a comedian, one night a comedy troupe of second rate Second Cities who were great on the scripted portion of the show but couldn't improv at all, which is what Second City is all about. And, with the exception of the lead vocals, the music was all canned, but there was a band there during one of their shows filling in where they could. Oh, by the way, NOT ONE PIECE OF SCENERY. Just a few chairs for the 2nd City Guys, and a few risers for the dancers and singers. It all seemed sort of High Schoolish to me. BUT at the grand finale final evening, when the staff all comes out, well then they actually dressed the stage with a Norwegian Flag.
Late Night Entertainment: This was sort of a joke too. No X-rated comedy shows, and no live music to enjoy unless you enjoy a sing-a-long at the pub with an acoustic Beatles wannabe, or a show made up of the cruise staff (which seemed to me part of a lot of the "other shows". These guys were not hired for talent, but on their ability to call bingo. They were also ameteurish at best.
TV: Just a replay of the same, all day and night. Not even highlights of the day's happenings. Just lots of snow and poor jokes from the "cruise director".
Excursions: A sore point. If after reading this you decide to go, PLEASE DON'T GO TO THE SALEM WITCH MUSEUM. This was the sorriest excuse for a tour that I ever saw. It was nothing short of a total rip-off. The musem itself charges $7.50 for entrance fees but the tour was $65. The guide told us to nap on the way back, and going there was very busy helping our "lost" bus driver find out how to get there, while going over flower beds and curbs. THIS WAS A SIMPLE CROOKED DEAL. Upon approaching the excursion desk with the whole story of this trip (you wouldn't believe it) I was told that they know it's bad, but people still buy it.
NO offer of compensation etc. But that's NCL.
We have come to the conclusion that Freesyle is No-style. When you check out the daily activities of Basketball and Shuffleboard (my favorite LOL) the omnipresent words always appear in everything printed "or just take a nap." Well I don't vacation for naps AND WILL NEVER CRUISE WITH THIS POOR EXCUSE OF A CRUISE LINE EVER AGAIN.
By the way, we didn't concern ourselves about a single penny of refunds for this sorry excuse of a cruise. We want to remember just how bad this trip really was, and heaven forbid they offer us a free cruise.