Occupation:Unix Administrator and part time cruise travel agent
Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002
Itinerary: St. Maarten, St. John, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002
First I will give some background on myself so you may find it easier to understand where some of my comments are coming from. My wife and I have opened a cruise only travel agency within the past year. We sell cruises on the side at this point we still do our main jobs, which for my wife is nursing and for me Unix Administration. We took this cruise for two different reasons. One was to do some cruising of the Caribbean for first hand knowledge of some ports. We normally sail Alaska or Hawaii. Another reason was it would be our first time sailing NCL, even though the Norway is still traditional and the other ships are freestyle. Most important to me for sailing the Norway was that I prefer older ships and I enjoy a ship that has a true history.
I am also a very easygoing person. I do not look for problems on a cruise. I will not spend my time looking for carpet stains or rust and worn out curtains. I am a person who prefers to sail where I can see whales and even though I have sailed Hawaii and the Panama Canal, I do not like hot and humid places. I am also not a person who likes to lie on beaches or go shopping. In other words this cruise was for the ship and for knowledge of some of the Caribbean as I have stated.
We left for Miami on December 26, 2002. We had booked our own air and wanted to spend a few days in Miami before sailing. We stayed in what I would consider an interesting hotel. It was the Geneva Hotel and Suites. I will say it was clean and in a safe area of Miami but would not recommend staying there for more than a night or two. On December 29 we caught a taxi to the pier. This was about a $15.00 ride to the pier.
As we got close to the pier you could see the Carnival Paradise, Carnival Victory, Norway and Voyager of the Seas. Yes the other ships were newer and stood much higher than the Norway. To me the Norway was still the best looking ship in the bunch.
We arrived about 11:15 and there was a very short line of people waiting to enter and start the boarding process. We had about a 20 minute wait and they let us in to start turning in our docs and boarding. This process went very smoothly until we got to the ship. They were having computer problems so getting your picture on the computer to match your sail and sign card was holding up boarding. This caused another 20 minute wait and than they started calling us alphabetically to see if the system was finally working. Luckily our name starts with a B.
Our cabin was cabin N140. This was a short walk from the lobby where we come on board the ship. The cabin was an inside cabin. Yes the cabin was small. It did have a double bed inside with a dresser and a chair to sit in. There was also a small vanity. The bathroom was small as expected with a shower. The water pressure in the shower was very strong. We did see other inside rooms next to us and they had tubs instead of a shower. The size of the room did not bother us. There was enough storage and we have stayed in smaller rooms when sailing on the Independence. The room steward did an excellent job and kept everything in very good order.
For our dining we had early seating in the Windward dining room. We did eat lunch several times in the Leeward dining room. The Windward dining room is much more open and this causes a large amount of noise. This makes it actually hard to hear some of your tablemates when trying to talk at dinner. The service was excellent and our waiter and his assistant were very attentive and easy to get along with. We were seated at a table for six. My wife and I are diabetic and we had absolutely no problem adjusting meals to accommodate us.
There is also dining in the Le Bistro, which has an extra charge of $15.00. This restaurant is a very beautiful area. We did not try the Le Bistro however we just went to look at it and take pictures. For lunch there were days we ate in the Great Outdoors Restaurant. This is the buffet. This buffet is very large and there are many choices of food. The crew also does a Barbeque in this area for lunch. This changes each day. They make everything from steaks to sausage sometime during the week. This area does get very busy for the first hour of lunch and is hard to find a place to sit. There were also days we ate lunch in the Leeward dining room. This dining room was very nice and much quieter than the Windward dining room.
During our sailing we had some very windy days and some fairly high seas. There was one day where the winds were clocked at over 55 miles per hour on the decks. Despite this the ship sailed very well. Yes you could feel it roll some but it was not severe. I do get motion sickness and I had no problem with sickness while onboard.
People comment on the tendering and say how bad it can be. Yes the first few tenders of the day are full with people going on tours but this is the case on any ship that tenders. The process all seemed to go fairly smooth from what I was involved in. After the first few tender trips they alternate one boat coming to the ship and the other leaving about every half hour. Each tender can hold up to 450 passengers.
There is one deck onboard that does go all around the whole ship. This deck is marked for jogging and walking. When they are lowering or raising the tenders this deck is closed in the bow to keep people out of the way of the tenders, which sit on the bow of the ship. This deck also has the basketball court, ping-pong table and the gym.
We were told there were 470 kids on this cruise. This surprised us because we very rarely saw kids. Either they have a good kids program and keep them busy or they lock them up in the bottom of the ship. We did not have kids with us so I cannot really say which is the answer. We did see kids in the dining room but the ones we saw were all very well behaved and caused no problems.
The entertainment onboard was good. It was not great but good. The shows in the main show room were easy to find seating for and the views were good and not blocked. Some shows were done in one of the lounges. The seating here was not good. It was crowded and 60% was all on one level making it hard to see the show. This lounge also held the bingo games and trivia games.
There are two different pools on the Norway. One is at the stern of the ship and one was amidships on the higher decks. The one amidships was smaller but in a more wind-protected area. You could also look into this pool from the Fjord deck. There was a doorway and small hallway that was there from being the France. There are windows looking into the pool and also you can see windows with bars on them that lead into some rooms on the ship. I did see that near the aft deck pool the seating was always full with people getting sun. The other pool always seemed to have seating available. The upper decks always had plenty of seating available even though many people were on these decks.
The International deck has all the shops on it in the center section of the ship. The shops did have a good variety of products and did have several good sales during the week of sailing. It also holds Club International and the Cigar smoking lounge. The ice cream parlor, Information desk and onboard credit desk are also on this deck. At the rear of the ship on the International deck is where you will find the Great Outdoors restaurant.
The casino onboard the Norway is very large especially considering how old the Norway is. I am not a gambler but the wife did have a few good nights at the blackjack tables here. The casino is also where you set up your credit for your sign and sail card when you board the Norway. You are told you can set up your credit within 24 hours of sailing.
As is done on all cruise ships they do take pictures. The area for looking at and purchasing pictures appeared to have very strange hours, in my opinion. The pictures that I saw and the ones I purchased were very good pictures. We did buy the boarding picture and they gave us an 8 by 10 picture plus two small wallet size pictures of which one of the wallet size pictures was put into a key chain. This all ran $24.00 but they did not ask you if you wanted the wallet size or the key chain. We did try to ask the price of the picture in advance but they just automatically rang up the cost without answering. We had every intention of buying the picture but would have preferred our question being answered first.
There was an arcade area for kids on the opposite side of the ship of the photography shop. On the International deck near the ice cream parlor there was also an area for younger kids. They always had flyers out in this area to explain the activities by age for the day.
As far as the ports go we were in St. Maarten, St. John, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. You do tender to all ports due to the deep draft of the Norway. We arrived in St. Maarten on New Years day. This is a holiday for them so almost everything was closed with the exception of a couple shops. The streets are very narrow here and you must be very careful of traffic when crossing the streets. The beach is right where the Norway tenders drop you off. You will find a lot of people trying to talk you into having your hair braided here. Someone trying to sell me drugs here also approached me. It was very hot and humid here. We walked around the few shops that were open here and checked out the beach for a short time. As soon as we stepped off the tender and back onto the Norway a heavy rain rolled through the area, but was gone in about a half hour.
St. John you only stop long enough to go through Immigration at 6:00 a.m. and than drop off people who want to take a tour. The Immigration check only takes a few minutes and was run very efficiently.
After leaving St. John you than move on to St. Thomas. We did not go into St. Thomas because it was too humid for us and we knew we would be back here in two weeks on another ship.
When we got to Great Stirrup Cay the waters were very rough. You could clearly see the beach and how small an area it was. We did watch the tenders fight the waves as they went into the beach. You could also see right next to this island is another small island that the Royal Caribbean cruise lines use. You could see them tendering passengers into their beach.
I will now try to make some of my final comments and answer a few questions or comments made by past passengers. I have read many reviews of the long waiting lines for boarding the Norway. We were fortunate being there early so we did not have to wait in these lines, however we could see the long line of people behind us waiting to board while we waited for them to fix the computer. In other words yes you may run into long lines. Here is a reminder which has been told by many, make sure all your paper work is filled out in advance whether online or on paper. I did here people on the ship complaining about people doing paperwork at the registration desk.
Yes the ship is old and does not feel like the new mega ships that are floating resorts. The ship is also very beautiful and has a feel of real class to her. You can find area’s that could use some fixing up if you really want to look for them but overall the ship is in excellent shape. I prefer to enjoy what the ship has to offer and not waste my time looking for the small negative things.
It is absolutely true that the elevators are very small and very slow. It is also true that because the ship was built as a two-class ship that it can get confusing to find the staircase or elevator that will take you to the floors you want. It is also true that I was in no rush to get anywhere and enjoyed walking around the ship even if I did get turned around.
It is also true that each and every cabin can be a different size and shape. As I said some had showers and some had bathtubs but all that I saw and from what others told me of their cabins, all were clean and well kept up. I will say that the air conditioning in our room did not get it as cold as we like but than we like it very cold. It did keep it comfortable.
I can honestly say I did not have a bad meal on the Norway. I am no gourmet and do not claim to be one but if you see me or know me you can tell I like to eat and I have absolutely no complaints about the food.
Our wait staff and our room steward all did an excellent job and earned every penny they get paid. The wait staff saw to our every need and was very friendly, which is what we like.
As far as the fact that people say the Norway is not like cruising on the new mega ships, this is absolutely true and I am glad of that. The Norway is a true cruise liner with a class that has been lost on the new cruise ships. Do NOT go on the Norway if you love the style of the new mega ships.
Finally would I sail the Norway again? Yes I would love to sail the Norway again and do hope that I get the chance to do so again. I would be content to sail the Norway and never leave her decks throughout the whole cruise. I would prefer she sailed somewhere different but I was content and relaxed sailing on her and would do it again in a heartbeat. I have no question in my mind that I got more than my monies worth in cruising on the Norway. This ship put a smile on my face and fond memories for me to look back on.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at peb@Cruise-Addicts.com and I will do my best to respond.