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  1. I look at it like this, I have to make a decision, do I want "big time" entertainment, that requires reservations, waiting in line, or more generic fun shows like Playlist Productions or similar on other lines designed to be fun at the time, but not Cats and something I can walk into at my leisure? When we cruise, it is to have a relaxed and easy good time. If I want big time, we go to Las Vegas. This is us: Vegas=planning=stress. Cruising=ahhh. So if the shows "suck" so what? I still watch pretty people with cool sets sing cool songs and dance around energetically enough to entertain. And if that is no good, I do karaoke. Or games. Or a poolside movie. Or see a comedian. Or meet with friends. Or go to the hot tubs. Or sit on a balcony and read. Or go to the piano bar..see where this is going?
  2. As long as your goal is to relax and have fun, a positive approach will handle it. So expect to have fun, just like I said, frame it in that context. Mission is not a perfect cruise. Mission is to have fun. i am just being objective based on 21 cruises, a rookie to some of you.
  3. I disagree. MDR food is not the same on each line. It is not even the same on each ship. Lunch in Savor was pretty good. And the burger in Savor vs. The Local was completely different meat. Yes, Beatles Tribute played in theater the last night. I did not attend. Back to MDR food-Princess is better in our opinion, but it carries recipes by Curtis Stone on Ruby and Royal, (maybe others.) It shows. However if I might theorize I believe Norwegian is the only mainstream line that does fully anytime dining. This might affect execution, whereas Princess knows upfront how many to expect at a certain time. It is certainly easier to cook, if you have a guest list.
  4. The big question first, would I book her again? The answer is not in current configuration. I would like to state that this opinion is based on preferences, and should in no way dissuade you from booking, nor give you concern if you already have. Like just about any cruise, count on having a good time. But leave it at that expectation. Broadly, just having a good time. First the Noro rumor thing. Did not encounter it. What I did find was a ship clean enough to eat from the floor. Whether there was Noro or not, I can't say. Seemed fine, and they were very cautious. Big problem 1. Buffet. Not appealing to me. Weird choices, (turkey parmigiana?) bland food, fractured configuration. The Indian food was good. The rest was an odd mismash of pork, boxed pastas, canned veggies, and believe it or not, bologna. Solution? Observation lounge. For some reason, perhaps proximity to The Haven, the buffet there, while limited, was higher quality and fresher. Nice sandwiches, meats and cheeses. Big problem 2. Daytime activities. Not enough that did not require a fee. This was a recurring theme. Solution? Go to port. Sea days were slightly better. Big problem 3. MDR was a letdown. Choices were fair, if dated, however execution we found lacking. Solution? Specialty dining. Eh, speculate among yourselves as to why the food, in our opinion, was so drastically different from MDR to specialty. Q was magnificent, as was Food Republic, Teppanyaki and Cagney's. Ocean Blue was fair but lacked the fresh fish on the menu in several cases. Some of it had been replaced with other fish. For instance, Branzino, to Rainbow Trout. Big problem number 4? Space in The Cavern for Beatles tribute. As one might expect, the show was crowded, sometimes up to an hour before. We counted 70 seats, and on one night, management actually closed access to the room. Solution? Get there early. Very early. Big problem number 5. Hard beds. Solution? Egg crate. Inelegant but worked. But compared to Princess, however, the room comfort is in our view lacking. Positives? Plenty. Cryptic Duo was fantastic, and very friendly, the Beatles tribute was good, but again, the venue is small, somewhat claustrophobic to me, and the acoustics do not compare to The Social. Clinton Jackson the comedian is a national treasure. Clean, warm, hilarious. Carl Guerra is a comedian. That is all I will speak about him. Footloose is fun. Choreography was a bit sloppy. But it was fun, so for those less familiar with the workings of theatre, the dancing will be less noticeable. Nice vocals, excellent sets. Seats we did not find comfortable. Drinks were fantastic, terrific bartenders. Service sometimes slow. Atrium is usually overcrowded, which is unfortunate, because all of the trivia and games are done there. Roberto the cruise director is very friendly. Mona and Pedro with the entertainment team are sweet but shy. Lido is lacking. Tiny pool area, huge floor area. They smartly use this as seating for pool bands. Spice H2o is a great place for hot tubs and such, but is busy. So we did not find this ship to be great for lido loungers. Also, no food whatsoever on Lido expect for buffet. No outdoor hot dog grill, burgers, nothing. For those familiar with Princess and Carnival you will notice. The local, is uh, food. Reubens are good, overall a limited menu. They do not allow to go. For $7.95 you can have room service. This is a common theme, the nickel and dime aspect to me. After a while it just gets to be grating. Room service, fee. Sauna, fee. Cars, arcade, laser tag, fee, fee, and more fees. American Diner serves much of what I remember the Local once serving when it was O'Sheehan's on other ships, but as a specialty charge. For Burgers and Mozzarella sticks, for reals? Predictably, we saw few people in there. I would guess it will close or be replaced. Venues in general we found lacking. I mean literally-there just is not enough of them. This is perhaps due to so many restaurants taking up space. We did not use go carts, laser tag, or the virtual reality arcade. We don't cruise for that. Personally, we would prefer a basketball court and some more pool options. The Social is a nice place to see comedians, do karaoke, and dance at night. Again, somewhat smallish and really, there is only that, The Cavern, and the Atrium for events other than the piano bar and Joy theater. Maltings Whiskey is a nice space you can drink in but no activities are held there. Mostly this is a ship for eating and drinking. We did step into The District, a brew pub, for the piano bar, but again, you guessed it, small. And reservations. Oh the reservations. You have to book constantly; restaurants, shows, laser tag, go carts, it is anything but freestyle to have to book ahead of time, in my opinion. So because of the venues, an unappetizing buffet, weak MDR the lack of outdoor space, and persistent upselling, nickel diming, we would not book again. However, this is my opinion. We did have fun. We did not go a whole week with no fun. We met nice people, made friends, learned new things, and relaxed. So don't read this and think your trip will suck. It will not suck. A few adjustments like the solutions I mentioned go a long way towards mitigating the issues I spoke about and it always help to not be uptight. I just feel, as a vacation investment, Norwegian does not stack up to other products in terms of offerings or consistency. It is not as polished as Royal Caribbean nor as fun (action packed) as Carnival. That said, I do not want to leave the impression that we are ruling out ever using Norwegian again. We find their Jewel class ships to be the perfect combination of amenities and size. And no reservations needed for shows is a plus. If however, you are booked on this ship don't be discouraged, it is just one opinion among many and there are plenty of good things about this ship to look forward to. Make sure to kick off your Sunday shoes when you embark.
  5. I asked a question related to how it affects my family and our cruise if the border is shut down. I did not offer my political opinions on it nor did I request any. I submit that any matter of national security that can affect the procedures of a cruise it is a pertinent question relevant to this site.
  6. What are the consequences if this border is shut down? Will we be allowed entry to Mexico? Will we be re-routed to a Pacific Coastal? What if we go to Mexico, it shuts down, and when we return we are denied entry?
  7. Every one of these posts turn into an argument without a thorough examination of the topic. I explained it in detail. I showed my numbers. I walk people through to show them it is not a scam. Because people had to sift through page after page of pettiness without objective truth, it seemed warranted. NCL is completely transparent. NCL is a great deal. Part of this is my response to the constant titles about nickel and diming against NCL. They have put out an amazing product at pricing that boggles the mind. They deserve better than poorly thought out hit and run aspersions (AM NOT directing that at a particular OP.) That goes for my own past opinions too, which I was wrong about. I'm wrong a lot. But I don't lie about it.
  8. This is a definitive explanation without an ongoing argument. So, no. I don't do flame.
  9. I will make this brief. My Wife and I looked at the Gem. The sail away rate was $429. That is called the X rate. X means no perks. Put another way, it is the rock bottom cheap price so no perks. NCL is VERY upfront about this. The rate that made us eligible for the drink package was $599. This, plus $270 for gratuities covers the drink package. The argument is that you have to pay extra for a room to be eligible. NO. You can buy a cheap guaranteed room OR upgrade yourself to a higher level of room. Therefore with a minimum level of room you become eligible for the package. This is no different than perks that require a "balcony or higher" booking to be eligible, as is frequently seen with "Free gratuity" promotion. Literally if we wanted the drink package yes it would have cost us $600 more than just going with an inside guarantee. But there is value to picking your room. And besides, this misses a larger point. I have myself debated this, however I have concluded that the value is superb IF you want to drink. Look at it this way-a top line cruise, (Jewel class is so much more relaxed than their mega ships) for $599pp and $270 to drink all week. Name me any other line that offers that deal. I'll wait. Certainly not Royal. Carnival not close. Princess? Nope. I have no problem with paying gratuities because the servers have to be funded. In business it is best to evaluate value more than semantics. The bottom line is if drinking is a joy for you, NCL is a fantastic deal. If it isn't it is really good, because their entry level pricing is the best of all the mass market lines. And they deliver on food, entertainment, and variety. So don't get into all that stuff about nickel and diming. It actually is not accurate. An NCL ship has every dining option of yore, plus free Asian fusion on some ships, plus an all night sit down restaurant, plus random free lido barbecues-in fact except for free room service, nothing much has been pulled from the passengers. And all you have to do is walk mid ship any time of day and get a sizable menu in lieu of room service. Then, order a drink. See where this is headed? I could not do a vacation anywhere in the world, all-inclusive, for the price NCL can offer. Maybe Dreams resort, with a special deal, maybe. But they won't have Jersey Boys. Believe that. Sometimes we prefer more sedate, so we don't go NCL. Sometimes we want Vegas with none of the strip, so we do. But don't get into your head NCL isn't a great value. Just know the requirements ahead of time, book, and relax. Have the will to chill!
  10. It was a cruise. It was a drivable port. It was a good price. The end. Seriously I read and researched. I liked the look of the menus, the investments in upgrades, the type of entertainment. I hope it works out. Some people on the same cruise have completely different opinions. Same cruise. After a while I had a hard time discerning objective from vindictive. It looks like a nice ship so i decided not to overthink it. I am optimistic but like with anything, I go with measured expectations.
  11. Patters are hard to find. Some I did it looked ok. On the fence sell me either way. I don't want boredom obviously, however I am maturing so Broadway is not boring to me. Subjective I know. It is odd to see so many posts about the same cruise from different people seem like different universes of experience.
  12. That is strange. One Ruby review claims OnDemand came on two days into the cruise. https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=638788 This is why I assumed it might have been rolling out slowly.
  13. I need to whether all staterooms were upgraded TVs/on demand, or just some. We tend to stay up late. Also how are beds? Thank you.
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