Tomorrow will be two weeks since I left for Venice, Italy to embark on a week-long cruise with my family.
I’ve gone on two cruises before: once when I was about 5 years old and once when I was halfway through college. It’s safe to say I don’t have a wide range of knowledge when it comes to cruising. I also don’t have enough experience to feel strongly about cruising one way or the other.
I think going on a cruise is an efficient way to see a bunch of locations in a short period of time. You can pack in so many cities and sites without even having to try!
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip around the Mediterranean with Norwegian Cruise Line, but there are also some aspects that I felt could have been better.
If you’re considering cruising with Norwegian, here’s the lowdown:
PRO: The Food
When traveling on a cruise to another country, it’s normal to be wary of what you eat. Not because you fear getting sick, but simply because you may not like it! On top of that, you eat at least one meal on the ship everyday. If the ship has poor quality food, you could be in for a long week.
Anything I ate on Norwegian Cruise Line was delicious. Anything I didn’t like was due to personal preference, not lack of quality. (I wanted more bread crumbs on my eggplant parm and different cheese on my nachos. So what? Don’t judge.)
I had two meals on the trip that qualify as my “favorite.” Both very different, but so. Damn. GOOD. Toward the end of our trip, NCL hosted my family and I at Cagney’s Steakhouse. The steaks were to die for. I got filet mignon with garlic butter and a side of mac and cheese. The mac and cheese was the cheesiest, meltiest, gooiest creation I’ve ever eaten. My heart just warms thinking back on it.
My other favorite meal was at the sushi bar! We sat at the bar, ordered a few rolls for the family to share (and by “a few,” I mean 10), and grabbed a few plates off the conveyor belt. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, some sushi places constantly make half rolls, put them on a specific-colored plate, and send them around the bar via conveyor belt. It’s awesome. I imagine it would be a pain if there were more people around us eating off of the belt rather than ordering, but we lucked out.
The downside to it is that there were only two sushi chefs who were busy making sushi for everyone in the restaurant. It took a little while for the rolls we wanted to come around, but when they did, it was glorious. My personal favorite was the Rock N Roll, er, roll. Tuna, mango, spicy aioli, shrimp tempura on top! ARE YOU KIDDING?!
CON: Early Nights
Maybe my family and I weren’t looking in the right spots, but we couldn’t find much to do past midnight. The casino closed around then and so did most of the bars. O’Sheehan’s Pub was the only bar open 24 hours a day, but that was it—it was just open. From what we could see, there was no music or entertainment to go with it. The one night my mom and I walked by at 3:30 a.m. to go to the medical center (that’s a story for another day), it just sounded like one group on vacation together enjoying the bar. It didn’t really seem like something my parents, brother and I would want to take part in.
I say this every time I go on a cruise: if I was there with a group, or my boyfriend, I’d probably be more satisfied with activities and entertainment options. Keep that in mind.
PRO: The Service
Because this trip was meant to celebrate my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, we stayed in a suite. We were offered priority check-in, priority boarding, a butler, a concierge, and priority seating at restaurants. If we didn’t have shore excursions booked for every stop, we would have gotten priority tender boats, too!
Our butler, Cristopher, was the sweetest guy. We didn’t ask for much, which I think he was confused about. He was always telling us not to forget to call him if we needed him. When we did need him or when he stopped by to drop off information packets, he was an absolute delight. He was helpful, sweet, and always happy.
Our concierge, Armando, got us restaurant reservations when the time we wanted was no longer available from the front desk. He was responsive and made us feel like we had nothing to worry about. That’s always a plus when you’re on vacation.
PRO: Freestyle Dining
For those of you who have been on a cruise, you know they typically set you up with a dinnertime and a particular table you eat at everyday. Truthfully, that can be a bit of a pain. I love dressing up and heading to the dining room, but I like the idea of doing it on my own terms. Norwegian is perfect for those who just don’t want to stick to a schedule or dress code.
“It makes you feel more free to do whatever it is you want to do.”
The main dining room is a more fancy dress code, but the rest are super casual. The best part? You can eat whenever you want. You don’t have to worry if you want to stay at the pool a little longer or if you’re feeling hungry earlier than usual. It makes you feel more free to do whatever it is you want to do. Isn’t that what vacationing is all about anyway?
PRO & CON: The TV in the Room
I went into this vacation seeing the movie A Dog’s Purpose zero times. I came back from vacation having seen it a grand total of 4 times. One of my favorite movies is La La Land, which I was able to watch an additional 3 times.
One of the very few English channels on the ship ran the same movies on a loop. I’m pretty positive the loop shifted a bit throughout the week, but it was consistent. While they offered great movies, we were looking for a little something different to watch midweek.
They did offer us DVDs to rent, but we had to request them by 9 p.m. It’s our own fault for not planning ahead, but we would have liked to take advantage of that, especially since we were back at the room early. I totally understand service is quite limited in the middle of the sea, so I barely even consider this a “con”.
PRO: The Stops & Excursions
I almost have no words for the places we saw and the things we did. Each stop is going to have to be it’s own post, because they were all unique and extraordinary for specific reasons. We started off in Venice making our first stop in Kotor, Montenegro. Our next stop was Corfu, Greece followed by Santorini. We, unfortunately, missed the opportunity to stop in Mykonos, but we extended our stop in Dubrovnik, Croatia to make up for it.
We booked an excursion for each stop when we embarked on the first day of our cruise thanks to NCL. Let me just say I’m so happy we did. On cruises, you only get so many hours to see a city or area. What better way to do that than to follow a local guide? We saw so many parts of these countries just by going on the excursions instead of staying near the ports. I’ll go more in-depth about each spot in my next few posts.
(Spoiler alert: Dubrovnik was my favorite spot.)
All in all, we loved our trip around the Mediterranean with Norwegian Cruise Line. They made us feel right at home while guiding us through some of the most beautiful cities on the coast.
I couldn’t have asked for much more out of the vacation, and I’m positive others would feel the same way. I may not cruise a lot, but I’m certainly looking into future options with NCL.
*Norwegian Cruise Line provided dinner for my family and me at Cagney’s Steakhouse and offered a discount on any shore excursion we booked on board. All opinions are honest and my own.