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Schedule -- What Schedule? We showed up at the docks in NYC an hour early at the advice of our travel agent and were immediately confronted by a letter that said the Bahamas destination has been changed and that we would not be going to the Bahamas. When I expressed concern over why I was not notified, their reaction was: "you can always cancel".
Don't they get it? You cant just expect that people will cancel a vacation that required significant coordination, planning and scheduling. To make matters worse they did not even keep to the schedule they gave us at the beginning of the cruise. Every day they would throw a change up to the following day's schedule. Since docking at the Bahamas was canceled we were supposed to spend two days in Miami. At the last minute they changed the schedule to one day in Miami and two days at sea. STRIKE 1!
Primary and Only Activity -- Eating When on board, we started to look at what the ship had to offer. My expectation was that aside from eating there would be a plethora of other activities such as Salsa and Ballroom dancing, etc.... When I started to tour the ship to see what it had to offer, I was amazed that anything worthwhile and of interest to us had an additional price tag associated. Now mind you I am not talking about excursions like NASA or Scuba diving. I am referring to activities like Yoga and spinning classes at the gym. Furthermore, the activities I did attend were pathetic attempts at what it was they intended to accomplish. All efforts by the cruise line was put into marketing and getting you to pay for the activity, once paid for, the quality of the activity was so poor that it was not worth pursuing.
By Wednesday the cruise director didn't even bother to post these activities and from that point on, aside from eating, the pool and the occasional movie there was nothing else to be done.
Along the same lines a tremendous effort was put into the promotion and marketing of off shore excursions. These excursions were extremely over priced and as with the activities above, they were poor at best.
For example, we took a snorkeling trip that as all things on the ship required additional "incidental" charges. We showed up at the snorkeling location and they gave us the gear. When I asked for who the guide was, I got a dumb look. When I asked where the marine life was, the man behind the counter pointed to the ocean. When he saw my annoyance at this he said "I don't know, you should ask someone else". When I asked whom I should talk to, the response was "someone else"! Needless to say the snorkeling was poor with minimal marine life. Especially when there were 2000 people on the beach and in the water. STRIKE 2!
Dime, Nickels and Pennies Point to remember about NCL -- All Inclusive means food and board only. A request for water, soda, tea, or coffee garners a "Can I get your Card?" response. Many of the restaurants require reservations and have a cover charge of $20.00 per person. This ended up being very annoying. The majority of the efforts were put into promoting the for pay restaurants. It took us a while to realize that there are three restaurants on board -- Venition, Impressions and Aqua, which do not require a cover charge. STRIKE 3!
Better than a high school production The shows were so-so. All cast members could sing and dance, but there was no soul to the shows. The entertainment was nothing to write home about. Since the shows were not that important to me, I am not going to give them a strike on this, though you should not go on the cruise expecting to be entertained.
One of Life's most dangerous activities -- Cruising with NCL! On Thursday evening after leaving Miami a day early, we encountered a storm. The Captain decided to forge ahead and aside from the waves outside all felt normal on the ship. Within a few hours that had changed and by 7:00pm the ship was rocking and bucking violently. Anything not tied down, including furniture, was being thrown about the ship. The impact of the storm outside was such that the ship started creaking from every joint. From creaks and the moans, this ship was alive and suffering with the noises it was making.
The captain's announcements went from: "everything is normal and this is not unusual" to "Everything is under control" The ship stopped being a vehicle of leisure and the passengers and crew bunkered down to weather the storm. There was a feeling of real concern among all. After nearly 24 hours of punishment the ship's aft quarters gave. Glass broke flooding approximately 20 cabins and seriously hurting several people. After that, the captain turned the ship to get out of the storm. Personally, I was OK with weathering the storm for a few hours. But after punishment that lasted so long the results where not a surprise. STRIKE 4!
On the positive side, the food in the for-pay restaurants was good and the service in the restaurants and rooms was excellent. The crew work their tails off and it seems work a grueling schedule. They did not look like they enjoyed their Job.
In conclusion: There are two ways companies can go wrong. One: An organization does not have it's act together. Two: an organization is extremely structured to the point of being disengaged with what they want to accomplish. NCL is the second. Their focus is parting you from your money, not showing you a good time and in the course making some money at it. They have dissected all of their processes to ensure anything and everything leads back to additional charges. It is abundantly clear that is the most important factor for them.