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Published on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NCL named worst cruise line by consumer report

Norwegian Cruise Line has been named the worst cruise line in a report by consumer magazine Which?.

While Oceania and Saga at the top of the table scored 89% and 85% respectively, NCL got an overall score of 60%, leading the magazine to advise its readers to switch to Royal Caribbean if they want a 'big-ship' experience.

The ratings were based on a number of criteria, including customer services, passenger to space ratio, on-board facilities, cabins, food and drinks, and value for money. The full list is below.

"NCL sits at the bottom of our table, and while an overall score of 60% is no disaster, it's mediocre," says the report.

"Although there's praise for its 'freestyle dining', meaning there are no fixed times or pre-assigned seating, it (NCL) gets just three stars for passenger- to-space ratio: with some passengers complaining of queues for restaurants, slow bar service and booked-up entertainment. If you want the big-ship experience, Royal Caribbean (72%) offers more space and better facilities for a similar price."

The report, out this week, is also disparaging of TUI's cruise brand Marella, which scored 68% overall.

"With only three percentage points between P&O and its key mid-market competitor Marella (formerly Thomson), you may think there's little to distinguish between them. Look closer, though, and you'll see that P&O achieves higher ratings for on-board facilities, cabin quality and passenger-to-space ratio," it said.

"Complaints about busy dining rooms, small theatres and a lack of seating on deck go some way to explaining Marella's three-star rating for passenger-to-space ratio, one of only three cruise lines to receive this score.

"It also fails to wow members with the quality of on-board facilities, with several saying its ships are 'showing their age'. Similarly, cabins are 'a bit tired', earning it another three-star rating. It scores four stars for value: 'a good cruise at an affordable price,' said one. Marella's prices, which include gratuities, are keen but middling ratings for facilities, cabins and space."

It tells consumers: "For better facilities, cabins and passenger-to-space ratio, choose P&O over Marella, but opt for the mid-sized Aurora or Oriana for the best experience."

The report also urges customers to skip excursions or book them privately.

"Not one company scored the full five stars in this category, with members complaining that they are 'overcrowded', 'overpriced' and 'unimaginative'," says the report.

"We'd advise this DIY approach, but make arrangements before you set sail - the crippling cost of on-board wi-fi could easily wipe out any savings."

How cruise companies rated:

Oceania Cruises 89%
Saga Ocean Cruises 85%
Hurtigruten 77%
Fred Olsen Cruises 76%
Cunard 75%
Celebrity Cruises 74%
Royal Caribbean 72%
P&O Cruises 71%
Marella Cruises 68%
Holland America 65%
Princess Cruises 64%
Cruise and Maritime 63%
Norwegian Cruise Line 60%


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