The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

I tried the most controversial Norwegian Cruise in the Caribbean and it was definitely not what I expected. On boarding day, the chaos and confusion at the cruise terminal were overwhelming, with people yelling, cars honking, and blocked entry points to the parking garage. Despite the initial chaos, I remained positive and hopeful for a great cruise experience.

My wife and I were in search of a vacation that wouldn’t keep us away from our 14-week-old baby for too long, so we decided to take the risk and book a four-day Norwegian cruise. We boarded the Norwegian Joy, a ship built in 2017 and refurbished in 2019. Before embarking, we had checked Cruise Critic reviews and noticed some concerns about the embarkation process, including long lines and lack of seating in the terminal. Unfortunately, we experienced these difficulties firsthand, with Norwegian Cruise Line providing limited communication and organization. Despite the rough start, we made the most of our cruise experience, enjoying the amenities on board and exploring beautiful destinations like the private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Overall, I would rate this controversial Norwegian cruise experience as a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Embarkation Day

Chaos at the Parking Garage

On embarkation day, the author describes a chaotic scene at the parking garage. People were yelling, cars were honking, and entry points to the garage were blocked. It was complete chaos, which was not what the author expected on the start of their vacation. After a long 5.5-hour drive, the author anticipated encountering some obstacles that might prevent them from boarding the ship on time. However, despite the chaos, the author remained positive.

Author’s Positive Outlook

Despite the chaos at the parking garage, the author maintained a positive outlook. They recognized that embarkation day can be filled with excitement, with families ready to relax and a huge ship docked in port. The author’s intention was to have a great vacation, and they were determined not to let the chaotic start dampen their spirits. They remained optimistic and looked forward to the experience ahead, focusing on the potential for a memorable trip.

Choosing the Controversial Cruise

The Author’s Desire for a Short Trip

The author and their wife wanted a vacation, but they didn’t want to leave their 14-week-old baby for too long. They decided that a shorter trip would be more suitable for their situation. They believed that a four-day cruise would strike the right balance between taking a much-needed break and being away from their baby for an extended period. They were hopeful that they would be able to enjoy some rest and relaxation before returning to the demands of parenthood.

Risking the Controversial Cruise

The Norwegian cruise that the author chose was considered controversial. They were aware of the mixed reviews and ratings on Cruise Critic, with some negative comments about the ship. Despite potential issues, the author and their wife decided to take the risk and go on the controversial cruise anyway. They believed that personal experiences could be different from online reviews, and they were willing to give it a chance. They were excited to sail on the Norwegian Joy, which had been recently refurbished, and see what the ship had to offer.

The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

The Norwegian Joy

Ship Overview

The Norwegian Joy was built in 2017 and refurbished in 2019. The author was excited to see the updates and improvements made to the ship. They were particularly interested in experiencing the new additions firsthand. The ship had a capacity of over 3,800 guests, and the author was eager to explore the various facilities and entertainment options on board.

Check on Cruise Critic Reviews

Before their cruise, the author turned to Cruise Critic to gather information and insights from other passengers. They discovered a range of opinions, both positive and negative, about the Norwegian Joy. Some reviews mentioned problems with the embarkation process, such as long lines and lack of seating in the terminal. The author understood that the cruise might have its challenges, but they were hopeful that their personal experience would be different.

Embarkation Process

Problems with Embarkation

The author’s embarkation experience aligned with some of the negative reviews they had seen on Cruise Critic. When they arrived at the cruise terminal, they found it severely backed up, causing confusion and discomfort among the crowd. The lack of seating in the terminal was evident, with elderly guests and breastfeeding mothers struggling to find a comfortable place to sit. This lack of space and accessibility made it challenging for passengers to navigate the terminal and settle in before boarding the ship.

Difficulties Faced by the Reviewer

The author described the embarkation process as rough. With nearly 4,000 guests on board, the terminal was crowded and stuffy. It was clear that there was not enough staff or seating to accommodate everyone. The lack of communication from Norwegian Cruise Line added to the frustrations. Passengers, including the author, had no idea why they were unable to board the ship and were left standing in the terminal for hours. Overall, the embarkation day experience was far from smooth or organized.

Extra Charges for Bringing Wine

Another unexpected issue during embarkation was the discovery that Norwegian Cruise Line charges extra for bringing your own wine on board. The author was surprised by this additional cost, as they had believed that bringing a complimentary bottle of wine was allowed. However, the new rule required passengers to pay $15 per bottle if they did not have the beverage package. The author found this policy to be odd, considering Norwegian Cruise Line’s reputation as a luxury cruise line. They compared it to experiences at high-end hotels and resorts, where bringing your own bottle of wine is usually welcomed without additional charges.

The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

Accommodation on the Ship

Small Room with Limited Storage Space

The author’s cabin on the Norwegian Joy was small and had limited storage space. This was expected on a cruise ship, but it posed a challenge for the author and their wife, especially with a baby. They needed to ensure they had enough room for their belongings and supplies for their child. Despite the size limitations, the author appreciated the cleanliness of the cabin and the effort put into maintaining a comfortable environment.

Obstruction at Cabin Door

One issue the author encountered with their cabin was an obstruction near the door. There was a pole that made it difficult to enter and exit the room. It was inconvenient and added an extra step every time they wanted to leave or enter the cabin. While it was not a major problem, the author noted it as a minor annoyance that could have been avoided.

Lack of Communication

The author also mentioned a lack of communication regarding medical-grade fridges for breastfeeding mothers. They found that the communication from Norwegian Cruise Line regarding this important amenity was lacking. It caused additional stress for breastfeeding mothers who had to search for suitable places to nurse their babies.

Ship Facilities

Beautiful Observation Lounge

One highlight of the Norwegian Joy was the beautiful observation lounge. The author was impressed with the design and aesthetics of the lounge, which provided panoramic views of the surrounding ocean. It was a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the scenery, especially during sunset or sunrise.

Multiple Bars and Nightclubs

The ship had multiple bars and nightclubs, offering a variety of options for guests to socialize and have a good time. The author appreciated the range of choices available, as it allowed them to find the atmosphere that suited their preferences at any given time.

Go-Kart Track and Galaxy Pavilion

The Norwegian Joy offered unique entertainment options, such as a go-kart track and the Galaxy Pavilion with virtual reality experiences. These were exciting additions to the ship, providing guests with different activities to enjoy during their cruise. The author was intrigued by the opportunity to participate in these experiences and looked forward to trying them out.

The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

Long Lines for Activities

Crowded Activities

As mentioned in the Cruise Critic reviews, the author experienced long lines for activities on the ship. This was especially evident during embarkation day, where many passengers were trying to access different facilities and services. The author observed that the lines for various activities could be quite long, causing delays and frustration. This aspect of the cruise did not meet the expectations of a smooth and seamless experience.

Waiting Times

During their cruise, the author encountered waiting times for various services and amenities. These included waiting in line for food at the buffet and experiencing delays in receiving orders at certain dining venues. While waiting times are not uncommon on a cruise ship, the author noted that they were more significant than anticipated. It affected their overall experience as they had to allocate additional time for waiting rather than fully enjoying the activities and amenities on board.

Dining Experience

Overall Good Experience

The dining experience on the Norwegian Joy was overall enjoyable for the author. They had a positive impression of the food quality and variety available. While there were some minor issues, the author appreciated the efforts made by the staff to provide a pleasant dining experience for guests.

Issue with Small Cups at Lunch

One issue the author faced during lunch was the use of small cups for drinks. They found this to be inconvenient, as it meant constantly refilling their cups. While not a major problem, it was a noticeable aspect that detracted from an otherwise satisfactory dining experience.

Fantastic Experience at Le Bistro

The author had a fantastic dining experience at the French restaurant, Le Bistro. They praised the delicious food and exceptional service provided. This dining experience stands out as a highlight of their cruise, highlighting the potential for exceptional meals on board the Norwegian Joy.

The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

Great Stirrup Cay

Beautiful Private Island

The author visited Great Stirrup Cay, a private island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. They found it to be a beautiful destination, with pristine beaches and turquoise waters. It offered a tranquil escape from the usual cruise ship setting, allowing guests to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Time-Consuming Tender Process

The author noted that getting a tender to and from Great Stirrup Cay was time-consuming. The process involved waiting in line and potentially experiencing delays in accessing the island or returning to the ship. It was an inconvenience that affected the amount of time the author could spend on the island and enjoy its offerings fully.

Disappointment and Conclusion

Over-Promised Luxurious Experience

The author expressed disappointment with the over-promised luxurious experience on the cruise. They compared it to a “Spirit Airlines of the Seas,” suggesting that the treatment of passengers fell short of the advertised standards. The chaotic embarkation process, long lines, lack of communication, and additional charges for wine brought on board contributed to this sense of disappointment.

Controversial Cabin Experience

The author mentioned booking a controversial cabin and recommended watching a video about it. This implies a unique or unusual cabin choice that might warrant further exploration. The cabin experience played a role in the overall cruise experience for the author, and they felt it was worth highlighting separately.

Surprising Cruise Moments

In addition to the disappointments, the author mentioned experiencing surprising moments during the cruise. They suggested watching a video to learn more about these unexpected experiences, enticing readers to seek out additional content to get a more comprehensive understanding of their journey.

In conclusion, the author’s experience on the controversial Norwegian Cruise in the Caribbean had its ups and downs. While they faced challenges during embarkation and encountered issues with the cabin, they also found positive aspects in the ship’s facilities and dining experiences. The Great Stirrup Cay visit added an enjoyable element to the cruise, despite the time-consuming tender process. Overall, the cruise fell short of the promised luxurious experience, but it still had its moments of surprise and enjoyment. The author’s rating for the cruise experience was 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Most Controversial Norwegian Cruise Experience in the Caribbean

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