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Your opinions--NCL "worst cruise company" per travel agency comment???

Discussion in 'Norwegian Cruise Lines' started by bren_2009, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. bren_2009

    bren_2009 Guest

    I have been on one cruise to Catalina and Ensenda on Carnival. I love it! My husband and I are planning a May cruise for our 20th wedding anniversay. I really want to go to Hawaii and NCL has a cruise there the week we are available. However, I have heard so many negative things about NCL that I am afraid to book it.

    My sister has been on several and thinks that Carnival is the best one around. She used to love Royal Caribbean but after he honeymoon on Royal Caribbean last year, she said that she would never use Norwegian again. I guess she said that food was terrible and the entertainment was not very good.

    I am not sure that I like the "freestyle" dining concept. New to me. I have heard that the food is not very good, sort of like fast food and you have to wait a long time and it's often cold, when it arrives.

    I have heard that the ships are very dirty and the staff is not impressive.

    Also, a travel agency that we have been talking with has said, "NCL is the worst cruise company at this point" and he would not recommend that we make a reservation. He said that at one time, they were considered one of the best, but in the past 5 years, that has all changed. What is he referring to?

    Any feedback would be very much appreciated!
  2. Calgon1

    Calgon1 Guest

    OK.I'm a little confused ...

    What does her honeymoon on Royal Caribbean have to do with no longer liking Norwegian???

    Anyway, every cruise line, like 'beauty' is in the eye of the beholder. I am a 'Latitudes' member (past cruiser with NCL), but am no longer a fan of the line. Years ago, Norwegian had a very good product. Unfortunately, over the past few years it has gone downhill. I do believe that they 'nickle and dime' the passengers, with extra charges for services that their competition provides gratis. 'Freestyle Cruising' - OK. We've all seen the commercials .... all the other lines are regimented. You are told when to eat, where to go and what to do; but, on NCL you set your own schedule ... eat when and where you want, with whom you want, go wherever you want, anytime. Horse-Hockey!

    Freestyle Cruising means you don't have a set dining time or table. You show up at the restaurant of your choice, and are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. If the dining venue you choose is full, you'll have to take a number and be called...

    This is the same as every other line offers. The only exception is that with the others you can get a set time, table and dining companions. If you book early dining (your best choice) then you can implement your version of 'Freestyle Cruising' whenever you want. If you're ready to dine at the early seating, great, your table is reserved and you won't have to take a number and wait... If you're doing other stuff, running late, or are just not hungry when early seating begins, no problem. You can show up at a later seating, and ask the Matre d' for placement at any open table. I have never been turned away. Or, if you don't want to eat in the main dining room(s), there are always plenty of other venues available ... lido deck, poolside grill, specialty restaurant, pizza station, etc.

    I guess one thing to bear in mind. Let's look at NCLs advertising from a marketing point of view. If you have a product to sell, and the quality is not very good, you have three choices. 1) Get out of that business, 2) Improve your product, 3) make your product look good by downgrading and making your competition look bad, or 4) lower your prices to the point that the customer will accept the lower quality goods. In my opinion, Norwegian Cruise Lines has chosen options 3 and 4.
  3. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    First of all, as a travel agent let me say, I have always thought it very uprofessional to make comments like your Travel agent made. Each line has pros and cons. The most important thing, in my opinion, is for a travel agent to match clients with the right cruise line or vacation based on asking questions. There are lines that I do not like and will not cruise, but that doesn't mean my clients will not enjoy the experience...The only time I would express my personal opinion is when a client asks me outright, what I thought of a ship if I, indeed had been on it. I will add one more thing, for whatever reason and no one seems to have the answer, some AAA agents will not even sell NCL products. It apparently has to do with business disagreements.

    No, NCL is not the worst line in my opinion. There is no worst line right now and NCL has the youngest fleet of all mass marketed lines. Their ships, like most lines go out full almost every sailing, they offer features that other lines do not and offer great ratres.
    Does this mean they are pefect or the right line for eveyone? Absolutely not. LIke all lines they have some problems. For a few years they were trying to operate 3 ships in Hawaii, all under the American flag which caused some real problems, primarity with service. Now they are only operating one ship, the reviews are much better. Cruising Hawaii is a little different than any other cruise one would take. It is very port intensive and the ships become more of a place to eat and sleep than a truely resort experience.

    I hope this helps a little, if you have anymore questions I am sure we will all be able to help..

  4. Cruizer

    Cruizer Guest

    I have been on two NCL cruises lasting a total of 21 nights. I have eaten in all of their free restaurants and most of their optional extra cost restaurants. I have cruised five times on Carnival and I have eaten at two of Carnival's optional extra cost restaurants. I have also cruised four times on Royal Caribbean, but I have not eaten at any of Royal Caribbean's optional extra cost restaurants. So I have some personal experience with the cruise lines you are comparing.

    My worst meal was in the main restaurant on the NCL Star. The food was not bad, it just that if I had to rank all the on board dinners I have eaten, the one in the main restaurant on the NCL Star would be at the bottom of my list. I also ate two meals in the main restaurants on the NCL Jade and they were better. As good as an average Royal Caribbean main restaurant meal. In my opinion, comparing the free restaurants, Carnival is slightly ahead. The waiter in the free NCL Star restaurant that night was lacking. Fortunately the assistant waiter went above and beyond.

    Is the food and service in NCL's optional extra cost restaurants better than the food and service in the free restaurants? Of course it is. Would you pay extra for the same quality food and service. By the way, the food and service in Carnival's optional extra cost restaurants is also better than the food and service in its free restaurants. By the way, free means included (you do pay for it, it is included in the price of the cruise).

    With traditional dining, you are assigned a table and dining time. With Freestyle you do not eat at the same time and table every night. How well this works for you depends on how well you understand the system and can make it work for you. Personally I can make the system work very well for me. So I don't experience any of the problems other do on NCL. Nonetheless, I prefer to have the set time and table, which is why I only have two cruises on NCL. If you want to eat at the same time and place as 1200 other people, you might have to wait a short amount of time. How long? I don't know, the longest I had to wait was five minutes. Why? Because I arrived at the restaurant five minutes before it opened. Okay, I did wait longer at Blue Lagoon on the NCL Jade. However, I was first in line and there were empty tables. The reason for the wait was a staffing issue. I have had other five minute waits, but that was because either I was early or others were late. Otherwise my longest wait was the length of time it took to clear the table (two minutes?).

    Check the Daily Compass (the ship's newspaper) as it will list restaurant specials. These specials are either two for one or half price at certain times of the evening. Of course these are the slow times. On the Star it was the first hour the restaurant was open. On the Jade it was the last hour. I had a lot of half price meals on the Jade, but only one of the Star.

    So, the key to Freestyle is planning and flexibility. If nothing else, it is at least worth a try, just to experience it. Even though I prefer the set time and table, I still went back a second time for my Panama Canal cruise - and I'm glad I did. And I also read all the negative reviews prior to my first NCL cruise. I was concerned, but went with an open mind and had a good time. Good enough to book NCL a second time for two weeks through the Panama Canal.
  5. Cruizer

    Cruizer Guest

    Oops - I forgot my best advise. This applies to any cruise. Go with a positive attitude.

    Go expecting to have a good time and you will. Go expecting to find problems and you will.
  6. tc1

    tc1 Guest

    My family and I just finished cruising on the NCL Dawn. I have to say that our experience was great. The entertainment was the most enjoyable I have experienced so far.Shore excursions were fine.

    I thought the food in the Aqua restaurant was good although we had eaten at 3 of the specialty restaurants we found some part of the meals lacking in those. I will qualify my comments by saying I am a chef of 35 years in not only fine dining but also down home style of cooking so I tend to be more critical. We enjoyed the Freestyle concept but I do admit I missed having the same wait staff on a regular basis.

    We were upgraded to a penthouse for a slight fee the week before we left so had butler and concierge service as well. The staff was excellent in their attitude and other staff whom we came across were always pleasant and help full.

    Our booking agent worked with us over the months before to find us the best deal she could.
    Would I travel again on NCL. Yes understanding that the food is the same quality as RCCL and Carnival. Would I book with another cruise line? Yes, because we all look for that better deal and new experience.
    Would I recommend NCL? Yes because they provide the same if not better experience as others in their price class.
    Overall I think the comment made to you was unjustified and probably based upon limited exposure.
  7. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    sorry, I have to disagree with you on the "just walk in and ask for a place to sit" this may have worked for you, but it isn't good advise to give others as it is not the policy of most lines..most lines have gone with some form of flex dining, that is true, so "freestyle" is offered in some form by all mass marketed lines, just not the same way. As for cutting prices, you obviusly haven't prieced cruises lately...Every line is running unbelievable rates rigth now: Pincess, as little as $499 per person plus government taxes to Alaska. NCL has nothing like that, HAL is running similar rates on their 2 for 1 sailings...Plus tell me, where in NCLs advertising they knock other lines...???

    You have every right to your opinion of the line, we all have opinions, but I think your facts are a little subject...

  8. coodav

    coodav Guest

    We will be on the Pearl March 8 to the Western Carib. I just want to say Cruizer wrote a great review. This will be our first NCL cruise. You do get concerned when you sometimes read some of the reviews but I couldn't agree with Cruizer more. Go with a positive attitude and how can you not have a good time. Beats the heck out of shoveling snow in Maine.
  9. Barry

    Barry Guest

    we go almost every year on a NCL cruise,. most recently to Alaska 2008. There are so many erroneous comments I couldn't possibly begin to tell you what that TA says is crazy (AAA?) The negative ad must've been the one where they show people in 'lock-step' order for dinner, etc. I think it's funny! (tho misleading maybe-most other lines are trying anytime freestyle whatever)

    I think their humorous way of advertising even on the ship is great.
    Example: paper across toilets first day says "you want to flush what?" LOL
    I think that is a great way to warn folks what NOT to put in the ole flusher.

    ahhhh irreverent humor. Works for me. :)
  10. Coasty

    Coasty Guest

    Having been on a number of cruise lines they all have their +&-. We have been on NCL twice and have two more booked for future cruises. We found the ships to be clean, friendly staff, good food in the free restaurants and great food in the pay ones. If you take an attitude on the ship, take the one that this cruise will be the best ever. When you go on the next cruise, take the same attitude. Remember, a bad day at sea is much better than a good day at work.
  11. Lisa63

    Lisa63 Guest

    This indicates that you would be on NCL America, which is run differently than NCL due to the American flagging. As Nita mentioned above, there were issues a few years ago when NCLA had more than one ship. I haven't seen many reviews lately.

    In my own experience, I find it best to keep my expectations in line about the ship I'll be sailing. For example, in 2006 we took three cruises -- one each on Celebrity, Carnival, and NCL (not NCLA). We had lower expectations for Carnival and NCL, as compared to Celebrity, and had a great time. Had we judged everything on our Celebrity experience, we might have been disappointed in some (but not all) areas.

    Let us know of your decision.
  12. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    I love Lisa's attitude and Coastys plus as Coasty mentioned, get to know those who work on the ship, it make a big difference. Remember they really do want to be helpful, they love to talk to you, especially about their families and their home country. Take a little time and you wil be amazed how well you might be treated..

  13. PEB

    PEB Guest

    If you are talking a 7 day cruise of Hawaii with NCL it would be with NCLA the Pride of America. The ship was remodeled in 2008. the route is an excellent one. The ports all have something different to offer. Some of the crew are great people and some not so great. Some of the policies on the ship come from corporate and they are not always passenger friendly. Yes you can have a great cruise on the Pride of America and have some great memories just do not look for everything to be perfect.

    This is from a former employee of the NCLA cruise line who did work on the America for a while. It is all in your attitude if you have a great cruise or not on any cruise line but with NCLA you may have to be a little more lenient.
  14. George C

    George C Guest

    NCL has my vote, and I used to love NCL took the Norway 7 times, it was a great ship.
  15. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    based on what?

  16. Figee17

    Figee17 Guest

    I have been on 4 NCL cruises: 3 to Bermuda and 1 in Hawaii. We were on the Star, I believe (I can't remember) which no longer sails that itinerary. We were on it about 2-3 weeks after its inaugural sailing and it had some kinks to work out. The worst part was that we were unable to get off the ship at 3 of the 4 stops because the seas were too rough (we went in January)!!! To "compensate" for this, they gave passengers a $100 credit per stateroom. Of course, we couldn't get OFF the ship, so you couldn't use the credit on shore excursions or anything fun like that.
    I am not a fan of freestyle cruising, personally, but thats just me. My parents have been on 8 NCL cruises and have finally gotten sick of their poor customer service and the "nickel and diming' atmosphere others have mentioned. They had cruised to Bermuda on NCL one time and ended up in Maine because of a tropical storm. Obviously, there is nothing the cruise lines can do about it, but living in New England, my parents weren't thrilled to have paid for a nice warm vacation to be sent to places they had already seen and be cold! They understood there wasn't any other option and everyone on board was offered a small percent off of their next booking, which my parents took advantage of, but I am sure they are banking on people NOT booking again. My mother has had several complaints about them on her multiple cruisings and their customer service, especially once you are back home, is seriously lacking.
    I love Carnival and Royal Caribbean and am trying Celebrity this summer. Personally, I wouldn't choose NCL again if I had a choice, but if they were the only ones offering the itinerary I was interested, I suppose I would try again.
  17. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    If you and your parents realized there was nothing NCL could do about the change in itinerary why do you even bother to bring it up? You are right and the passenger were offered a chance to cancel altogether...of take advantage of a discount on their next cruise, No, NCL was not depending on people not cruising them again, what a statemen??

    You not liking Freesyle is a personal issue like you said. For some tradtional does work much better..Yes, the Star did have lots of issues the first 6 months they sailed...Thank God they eventually got ironed our. You couldn't use your $100 OBC? What about drinks, gifts in the gift shop, specialty dining rooms, spa? Didn't any of those things seem fun to you...??

    As for your parents giving up on NCL, I am sure they do have good reason, as for poor customer service after returning from a trip, welcome to the world of customer service..this is par for the course, regardless of ship, hotel or whatever and it sucks, I agree..Issues have to be addressed at the time, not aftrerwards. I am generalizing, I will not say, never can you get satisfaction after the fact, but it is much harder..

  18. Figee17

    Figee17 Guest

    The change to the itinerary that I mentioned (Bermuda being changed to Maine) happened while they were ON the cruise, so they were obviously not allowed to cancel all together. Again, I guess thats a risk you take when cruising or vacationing in general.
    I don't think that NCL is a "bad' cruise line, we just haven't had good luck on the cruises we've taken with them. The $100 on board credit in Hawaii just didn't seem to make up for the fact that we were only able to get off the ship in ONE port! Plus, it was per stateroom and there were three of us in ours. Plus, the spa was practically booked and made it hard to get an appointment and the treatments are mostly over $100 anyways.
    I think that NCL is a decent cruise line, like I said, we just had bad luck with the itineraries. Food was good, but I actually preferred Carnival's better. Again though, like freestyle, thats a personal taste, not something everyone will agree on.
  19. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    thanks for explaining that because a couple of times NCL as well as other lines have had to totally change itineraries because of weather. They do offer the option of cancelling. And yes, that is a chance we all take, I would rather have a capt that is looking out for us than one that says, I am tough, I will take us to the bad lands (I guess oceans would be a better thought)

    As for freestyle, as I said, it isn't for everyone, but it has imrproved in the past several years..There are still gives and takes involved. For the freedom of choice we give something up and for traditional dining we give up the freedom to eat when we want and where we want. i don't think there is a right or wrong way..

    As for food quality, again it has gone down on all lines in the past 5 or so years. For us, RCI is the worst, for some it is Carnival and others NCL. Food is just too subjective to fairly judge..

    Again, thanks for coming back and explaining. As for the spa being to booked, well unfortunately NCL can't do anything about that. They gave you the OBC< if you couldn't find something to use it on well what can be said???

  20. doctorhand

    doctorhand Guest

    My girlfriend and I are going on a 7 day cruise to Mexico on the Star. This is our first 7 day cruise, and our first time with NCL. We love to eat and drink and have been looking forward to the experience for months. After reading all of these comments, I am feeling a little discouraged. What is the deal with the dining? how much more are the exclusive restaurants? Are they THAT much better? I need a little help here. I want to get the most out of my trip and the dining experience.

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