22 April 2018 – New and shiny
This is a Maiden Voyage. At least with paying passengers since I am not counting the sea trials and the sail over from Hamburg which I believe was the last port of call.
Boarding in Southampton yesterday was the usual mad house of people, luggage and strange directions. Getting onto the ship, I ignored the directions to the buffet and headed to one of the sit down restaurants which Norwegian always has open on boarding days. I was able to sit at a comfortable table, gaze out the window and relax away from the crowds.
In many ways, this ship reminds me of the MSC Seaside in terms of new, shiny and lots of distractions. In feel, it is closer to the more modern ships of Celebrity with steel, chrome, clean designed furniture and modern artwork.
There is no kitsch.
This is the first of three sea days.
The Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was held in the main dining and there were a lot of people present. Perhaps not surprising since there were over 325 signed up on the Roll Call. I faintly recognized a number of people from the NCL Escape TransAtlantic in the fall of 2016. Since I traveled in a fancy cabin on that one, I didn’t spend as much time out and about in the ship. This time I am planning on making full use of the ship.
The good things? Clean, shiny. Wait – I mentioned shiny before…. And they are sailing at slightly over half capacity so the ship doesn’t feel crowded at all. Sacrificing cabins, there is a huge lounge forward on Deck 15. Since my cabin is just down the hall, this serves as a close and favorite lounge. The seating is comfortable and the windows are floor to ceiling. Additionally, there is morning coffee and pastries as well as oatmeal. At noon there is fruit and sandwiches meaning one can snack without having to head up a deck to the buffet.
Downside – the same fools who thought the interior lounge next to the cigar room with a door leading to the smoking deck was a great place to stick a craft group on the Escape has assigned the same place on this ship. I wandered by, it smelled. I left in favor of being upstairs with clean air and light.
Also challenging, but the same on just about all the lines is the fact that you have to book the main entertainment. Rather than have a theater than holds thousands, NCL has elected to limit seating ~850 and perform multiple shows. There must be a formula somewhere that estimates based on age, country of origin and gender mix – how many of X passengers are actually going to book and show up at a show.
I am off to my cabin which is technically called a mini-suite. In reality it is an average balcony cabin with a really nice bathroom. The shower is walk-in with multiple shower heads and a real, sliding glass door. No cheap flapping curtain here. The balcony is tiny. The storage is fine for someone like me but would be inadequate for heavy packers or a party of three which this cabin would allegedly hold.