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NCL - No quality for money

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Mar 29th, 2009, 09:32 AM
  #1
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NCL - No quality for money

On a recent 9 day cruise - Southern Carribean March 09 - I found the food quality equal to hospital or nursing home fare bland with no flavor and not much variety. The shows needed refreshing were stale. The wait staff and the room stewards were not friendly and working on autopilot. Don't ask for anything, you will get the deer in the headlight response. The ship itself was tired, carpet pulling apart at the seams, the hull need painting.
I believe the auto-tip requirement has led to staff that have no reason to respond to guest.
Also had to dodge cleaning carts in the hall at all times of the day and night. Had to always walk past dirty linen and dirty dishes in the halls. The carts were never put away!
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Mar 29th, 2009, 10:06 AM
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Actually auto tipping works on other cruise lines. If no one seems to care then maybe morale is down and you have to find out why. I don't think its the auto tipping however. I mean every Princess cruise we have taken and they do auto tipping as well, has had one huge consistenty and thats been the level of CS and that comes from the top. I'm sorry to hear of your bad experience.
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Mar 29th, 2009, 04:32 PM
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Which NCL ship were you on?
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Mar 31st, 2009, 08:43 AM
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cd
 
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Ditto, what ship?
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Mar 31st, 2009, 02:21 PM
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Celebrity is also on the auto tipping system. Seems like everyone is going that way. However, you can always goes to the desk and change the amount up or down. It is alwatys an option that was made available.

Other than the auto tip, we also gave extras to people who offered great service, and especially to those who may not get a lot of money from the tip pool. Example: the staff who works at the pizza, burger places. We have always tipped extra when we see fit and when we think the service is deserving.

In terms of food quality, the shows on stage etc; that has nothing to do with the tip pool.

I have not been on a Norwegen ship so I can't comment on their quality but I did heard from personal friends who had been on Norwegen ships that they were not at the same level as Celebrity or Princess.
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Apr 1st, 2009, 06:06 PM
  #6
 
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Yes, all of the major cruise lines have auto tipping. I personally like it, because when you have some people who just do not like to tip, it kind of keeps them from skimping. I travel with a friend that loves to drink and gamble. Spends 50% of his bill on drinks. But when it comes to tipping, he huffs and puffs, even if the service was awesome.

I also have been on NCL and yes their boats could use a little TLC. But remember that some of these older ships cannot compare to the newer ones in cleanliness.

And food on the cruises is always to the taste of the cruiser. What one person finds bland, one finds amazing. Personally, I liked the food on NCL. They did a good job with the variety. But as with all cruise lines they tend to under season. There are a lot of people who do not like spicy or salty or seasoning at all. So if you season on the bland side and allow everyone to make their own seasoning choices everyone wins.
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Apr 2nd, 2009, 03:51 AM
  #7
 
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We just returned from 4-night cheap NCL cruise and did not experience the service problems you describe (see my post with title about realistic expectations). As far as your specific complaints, I would never care about the hull needing painting - how did you ever notice that? I have found cruise shows stale and irritating on 4 different cruiselines - so I just don't go to them.

The food on our cruise (Sky) was the weakest point, but by ordering carefully we were always well fed. One thing I learned on this forum was to leave a small cash tip for the room steward on first AM ($10 or so) with a note and any special requests. Great service is always the result.
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Apr 8th, 2009, 08:52 AM
  #8
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The ship was the Jewel. I would not have been disappointed if I had not previously sailed on the same ship earlier. The service, and food were night and day in differences.

This was my third NCL cruise. In the past had great service, great food and great shows. Everyone just seemed tired!! Most were counting the days to the end of their 9 months sign-on.

Just really different - and not in a good way
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Apr 8th, 2009, 08:57 AM
  #9
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Gail - I glad you had a good experience I did not find my NCL cruise to be cheap but inline with the cost of other cruise lines. I don't agree with "pre-tipping" but do tip extra when I received great service, I even tip in the main dining room. But when you arrive and your room is dirty - dirty dishes under the bed and sour lemons in the refrigerator it is really hard to believe that the room stewards are paying attention to detail. If the room would have been clean and our request honored I would have tipped. I am not stingy with tipping - but don't believe in bribing
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 11:25 AM
  #10
 
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Could not agree with you more, toadstar3. I did a 10-day Caribbean cruise on the Jewel last year. NEVER AGAIN. The food was atrocious...some of it (even in upcharge restaurants) was inedible. The ship was pretty, but there weren't enough deck loungers, staff was lackadaisical at best, disembarkation was a cluster-#@$% at every port, and I got really sick of being accosted with the hand sanitizer everywhere I went. Maybe I got spoiled cruising on Celebrity, but NCL has seen me for the first and last time.
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Apr 24th, 2009, 05:15 AM
  #11
 
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The comments on entertainment are interesting. We find that it is all pretty much the same regardless of the line or ship and wondered if there were just one or two production companies that sell packages to the cruise industry. Most seem to have a small orchestra but much of the noise comes from pre-recorded music. We still enjoy it though, the dancers seem to be enjoying themselves and they relay the feeling to the passengers.
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Apr 24th, 2009, 07:37 AM
  #12
 
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I think the experience totally depends on the crew. I was on Celebrity - and their shows were outstanding (and I'm not really a "show" fan).... On Crystal - everything was outstanding, and on Princess - some were pretty good. But, it does kind of make sense that if you're at the end of your contract, you might get a bit antsy.... All of us have had a bad experience at one time or another, but since you've cruised before, I'm sure you probably still enjoyed your cruise and made the best of it...
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May 2nd, 2009, 05:23 AM
  #13
 
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We were just on the Pacific Princess for a two week Amazon cruise and our friends went down to the Pursers desk and PULLED THEIR TIPS..and tipped only who they wanted to.. Gail.. we were on the first trans-canal with the Sky.. and will be doing the NCL Gem which I hear is a very special ship.. that and the Jade.. I'm hoping that we find Jane L. Powell. What matters to us is the food (fantastic on the PP) and ports..but everything else on this ship was second rate compared to our Celebrity cruises..We had always heard that Princess and Celebrity are equal.. well, I'm here to tell you they are not..Princess is below Celebrity, even in cleanliness.., worst room steward in 25 cruises..
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Jul 14th, 2009, 03:25 PM
  #14
 
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NCL Sky was a disaster. Just sailed on the SKY from 7/6 to 7/10 and it was my 6th cruise and my 1st on NCL--Never again! the food was in fact awful. Limited choices in the main dining room and none of them very good. We cruised in a group of 9 and FREESTYLE CRUISING does not work. Reservations were only available before 6 or after 8 on the day we boarded the ship. When we tried to change plans, it was before 5:30 or after 8:45! The food at the Italian restaurant was good, but the service was absolutely horrendous. A very nice waitress, but thoroughly incompetent. Even when her supervisor came over to help she just could not handle this group of 9. (This has never been a big deal on other cruise ships--and at this restaurant we were paying a premium!) When we opted for the main dining room the 2nd and third night, the food was terrible, bland and the service was just as bad. We ordered a minimum of 3 bottles of wine each day and never found a wine steward who knew anything, much less was servicable. The wine usually took over 1/2 hour to be served. (Imagine the money they would have made if they were on top of this!!) The waiters in the main dining room were no better than the first night and actually rude. One waitress actually told me I could not have my steak "medium/medium well" i would have to have it pink or well done. (SOR-RY...) When one of the meals came incorrect, another waitress asked us if we had ordered it correctly or perhaps we had placed the order as it had come out...On the last night we went to the LeBistro French Restaurant where for the first time we got a pleasant and competent waitress and a good meal. Breakfasts were awful, lunches not much better. (our BLT's--and it was just 2 of us that time at lunch--were served 45 mins after the order was placed...) the buffet food was downright inedible. If you want to diet, go on the NCL sky. If you want to be ignored, go on the NCL Sky, if you want to have your camera stolen at the excursion desk at the private island, go on the NCL sky. If you want to find hair of all lengths and tints in your shower drain, or left over clothes from the last cruise under your bed, go on the NCL sky. If you want to be bothered by "housekeeping" 5 mins after receiving your room service, go on the NCL sky. If you never want to cruise again, this is the cruise for you! Disaster, disaster!
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Jul 15th, 2009, 07:23 AM
  #15
cd
 
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kabo
So very sorry about your experience on NCL. On our last cruise with RCCL we had marvelous food, grade A service and rooms. One of our tablemate couples enjoyed the cruise but stated more than once that they were frequent cruisers of NCL and that it was their favorite cruiseline. Go figure...so hard to explain how some are so bad and some so good...could the destination have anything to do with it?
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Jul 15th, 2009, 01:14 PM
  #16
 
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Is NCL that inconsistent? Actually kabo's complaints sound just like what I heard from a pal of mine about his first and last NCL cruise last yr. Overall it seems NCL has improved however. That is the ratings on cruisecritic some yrs. ago were the pits. We're talking 2-3/6. They have improved but it seems there are still issues to fix and maybe the most important has to do with their attitude about CS. Hopefully they will turn this around.
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Jul 16th, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #17
 
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We just got back from a seven day cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl. Our experience was nothing like what was described here. I admit to reading similar stuff before we left and was not overly optimistic, but my concerns were not valid.

Our room was clean when we arrived and housekeeping did a good job. I never encountered any rude or indifferent service throughout the cruise.

I was worried about the food. We found the food to be very good and we never ate in the specialty restaurants. Each night, there was an item on the entrée and dessert menus from Cooking light which was a nice alternative. The buffet food was okay -- nothing special but not horrible and certainly could never be described as inedible. I think the only negative thing I could say was that it was frustrating to have to find a table at the buffet, which could be a challenge.

We thought the Pearl had an excellent itinerary for Alaska. The shows were enjoyable. Our kids loved the cruise.
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Jul 17th, 2009, 02:12 PM
  #18
et2
 
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Cruised the DAWN 3 times and will not cruise it again! The first 2 times (plus the one NCL Spirit cruise)were incredible and wonderful! Those of you seeing Free Style for the first time aren't seeing what started the whole venture. It was soooo much better until recently. There were no reservations, a small fee only for a specialty dinner not the whole specialty restaurant and the food, service and entertainment out did Carnival in most everything!It wasn't a party ship, but had opportunities to have a good time-lots of night activities. It wasn't a Kids Cruise ship, but always had the special pool and kids activities for them, leaving the adult pool for adults and older children. It always had a relaxed, non schedule kind of agenda and met most every need in entertainment, culture and excursions with little impact on the pocketbook. So why have I changed my mind about the Dawn? It is now the ship that is trying to become "like the others" and failing at it. Reservations in Main Dining halls AND fees everywhere! Food that suggests true cuisine and fails. Entertainment that is the same over and over again. Kids in the adult pools-diapers and all! Spa filled with those that drank way too early in the day and probably never paid for the spa rooms. Drinking games (Pub Crawl)in the middle of the day leaving participants drunk, loud and obnoxious!No towels at the pool. No lockers in the spa. No room in the dining room. Sitting us with complete strangers! (whatever happened to Free-Style!)No benefit to being a Bronze Member (4 cruises with NCL) What a mess. I have written the company and told them that they had a good thing going and have ruined the uniqueness of their plan. I will not travel Dawn again and, from the reviews here about other NCL ships, may not travel NCL again.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 09:30 AM
  #19
 
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"Reservations in Main Dining halls AND fees everywhere!" - what do you mean fees everywhere? Food is included in the cruise' price, should be at least one restaurant without additional fees?

"Sitting us with complete strangers!" - isn't this what is expected at freestyle, and done on all ships at breakfasts and lunches?
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Mar 13th, 2010, 09:47 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Here is a thought. How about NO tipping. I expect fantastic service. That is what i have already paid my money for. I expect the cruise line to then pay the staff a sufficient salary that they will want to provide excellent service. It is not up to me to pay for my cruise and then take on the payment of their staff for them.
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