Comedian/Actor Bill Bellamy
Well now is a good enough time to talk more about that reservation system we were supposed to use to attend concerts. A few weeks before the cruise, we received the concert schedule in one of the email newsletters. Traci and I had already printed the schedule and circled the performances we wanted to see that week. There were artists with whose music we were familiar and some artists of whom we had never heard. I used YouTube to check out some of the artist unknown to me before the trip. In most cases, I loved what I saw on YouTube. Now that we were onboard the ship, Traci and I headed to one of the kiosks to reserve our concert picks.
The first kiosk we tried was having issues. It kept kicking us out to the main screen. We tried Norwegian’s onboard mobile app but the reservations page was not yet available. We waited in line at another kiosk. There were only two people in front of us but boy did it take a long time. When it was finally our turn, we understood why. Every time you reserved a show, you were returned to the main screen to start the process all over again by sliding your room key card into the slot and navigating the series of booking screens. We planned to sign up for at least two concerts per day for that week. I noticed that not all of the performances we planned to see were available on the kiosk. At the time, I figured maybe those artists had last-minute schedule conflicts and were not going to be performing on the cruise. We would learn the next day through word-of-mouth that these artists would indeed be performing. It was just that their concerts could not be booked through the kiosks for some reason. Theirs could only be reserved at certain restaurants on the ship. Ugh! What happened to one-stop-shopping? Nonetheless, we signed up for all of the shows that we could via the kiosk at the time. We were lucky to have accessed it so early. As Traci and I explored the ship, we saw long lines of people trying to make concert reservations at kiosks, the box office, and restaurants. These lines wrapped around corners and up the stairs. At some point, an announcement went out over the ship PA system that there was no need to stand in lines. It said that you could make reservations from your cabin TV. I felt sorry for people who got out of line to try this because the TV reservation system definitely was not working. People continued waiting in lines around the ship for hours as the system got bogged down and eventually crashed all together. To say that people were angry would have been an understatement. This was not the way to start an expensive vacation.
R&B singer Angie Stone
When the system eventually came back online, the reservations filled up quickly. Even if you had handed over your list to one of the hospitality desks to make your reservations, there was no guarantee reservations were made. People were showing up to venues thinking they were good to go only to be told their reservation was not in the computer. If you did not have a reservation, you had to stand in the stand-by line. Passengers venting their frustration to Capital Jazz Cruise staff and Norwegian staff was a regular occurrence. The stand-by lines were very long. One day Traci and I actually took turns holding our spot in a stand-by line for over two hours to see a comedy show. I am not sure what got into us that day. Yes, we did get into the show. On Day 2 of the cruise, we received a letter in our cabins from Capital Jazz apologizing for the reservation issues of Day 1. Capital Jazz outlined things they would do to accommodate those who were not able to secure show bookings such as broadcast performances on the large screens in the Atrium and on Deck 16. The letter also indicated that some of the concerts could be watched on your cabin television. They have done this on past cruises; however, they did not broadcast anywhere near as much this time.
This was my second time on a Norwegian ship. My first experience with the cruise line was on one of their older ships and it was my least favorite cruise experience. I was excited about the newer Norwegian Getaway. Unfortunately, Norwegian continues to be my least favorite cruise line. In case you are wondering, Royal Caribbean is my favorite.
The Norwegian Getaway is huge and in great condition. There are many restaurants and amenities. So why is Norwegian still my least favorite cruise line? I think part of my issue is that the cruise experience has been watered-down in recent years. This seems to be more noticable on Norwegian ships than others on which we have sailed. Traci and I tried eating dinner in the dining room twice but both times there was not much of a selection and the food was not that good. The service was ridiculously slow. They've done away with lobster night. Instead you can order it for $25. There seems to be a push to get you to go to the specialty restaurants where you have to pay extra. Traci and I do not do the specialty restaurants. We stick to the complimentary restaurants since they are already included in the price of the cruise. Our favorite complimentary restaurant was O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill which services wings, burgers, fries, etc. It just does not seem right to go on a cruise and have your favorite meals be fast-food style offerings.
Another aspect of cruising that we missed is meeting other passengers at meal times. The hosts and hostesses on other cruise lines will seat you with other passengers unless you tell them you prefer a private table. Norwegian always gives you a private table. As a result, the only time we met other passengers was when we were standing in lines.
We had a nice mid-ship balcony stateroom/cabin (#9244). What was different about the cabins on the Getaway is that you needed to put your cabin key into a slot near the door to turn on the electricity. I was always nervous that I would forget to take the key with me when I left the cabin but fortunately this never happened. Anyway, I had no complaints about our cabin or our cabin steward.
our cabin: 9244
Do you remember me mentioning that nagging question in the back of my mind about the venue sizes on the ship? Well, it turned out to be a problem. While there were more show venues on this Norwegian ship than on the Carnival ships that were used in the past, the venues on Norwegian were smaller yet there were nearly 1,000 more passengers. Some of these venues were set up for serving meals during shows. The two that really stand out in my mind were the Illusionarium where the daily comedy shows took place and the Tropicana where the brunches and dinner shows took place. There were always long stand-by lines outside these venues. The same menu was presented every day. Furthermore, there were issues with obstructed views in the Tropicana as Traci found out after waiting in the stand-by line for almost an hour to see Smokey Norful only to get a seat where she could not see the performance.
The dinner show/brunch show idea probably goes over well on a general cruise where the passengers do not cruise for the shows. However, on a music theme cruise, the opposite is true. People do these cruises to see some of their favorite artists perform. The tables in these venues just seemed to take up space that could have been used to get more people into the shows. I mentioned this to one of the Capital Jazz staff members one day while Traci and I were waiting in a stand-by line. He liked the idea and said he would bring it up at their daily meeting. I am not sure if it was because of my suggestion to remove the tables or if someone else had the same idea but I noticed the next day that the tables were removed from some of the smaller venues and the chairs were arranged concert-style. Unfortunately, the tables were not removed from the Illusionarium and the Tropicana. There continued to be long stand-by lines outside these venues and frustrated passengers for the rest of the cruise. There were some additional late night comedy shows added in attempt to accommodate those who were not able to get in during the original time slots. As for the musical concerts, there were no additional performances added. I think Capital Jazz could have alleviated some of the frustration if they had simulcast/replayed more of the concerts on the cabin televisions like they did on their past cruises. They did not do much of that this time for some reason. Continue...