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Jonathan Avila

Age: 25

Occupation:Access Technology Programmer/Manager

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norway

Sailing Date: June 30th, 2002

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Jonathan Avila

Our 7 night Honeymoon Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean

Sunday morning after breakfast we set out for the Port of Miami to board our ship. The lines were long at check-in, we finally got onboard about 2:30pm. We heard we should go early, be there by 10, but we did not. The first thing that we noticed was that our ship was huge and still has the look of a classic ocean liner with its thick dark hull and large number of port windows. It is the longest passenger ship.

Our room was excellent, we had suite on the Sky deck it had floor to ceiling windows, a king size bed and nice bathroom with tub. We had fruit and champagne in the room (although we never touched the champagne). Each night during dinner the steward would turn down our bed in the shape of sail and leave chocolates on our bed! One of the first things we did Sunday afternoon was a mandatory lifeboat drill, they assured us that there were more than enough boats on board for everyone. They have 900 staff on board and 2400 passengers, wow! I would have to say that the staff really make the cruise, they were nice, friendly, helpful, and for the most part knowledgeable. Sometimes there was a language barrier because most of the staff is international. They made you feel at home. They also tried to make honeymooners, anniversary goers feel special by having a cake brought to us at dinner and by having a special reception.

During the week we learned to never call our ship a boat! We also meet the captain and saw him about the ship a couple of times, I wonder who was driving? I think he always gets that question asked, so I did not. During our time on the ship we were kept entertained by comedians, who were remarkable clean. In addition, we had pool parties, barbecues, live music, a disco, casino, Broadway/Vegas style shows, quiz shows, bingo, pictures, history lectures, all day buffets, and other specialty shows. My wife Kim got picked to be on “what’s my line”. She stumped the panel with her occupation. We did not make it on to the “honeymooners” game. Every morning, and evening we ate in a formal dining room atmosphere. At night shorts and sandals were not allowed. Since we were on our honeymoon we asked to be reseated a two person table, we were and it was nice. Most of the tables seat 6 people. The atmosphere suited us fine, we liked the Leeward dining room because it was less noisy and seemed cozy. Most other cruises do not have the shorts requirement, just the Norway. The waiter and butler would bring us anything in any quantity off of the daily menu. The menu selection was large including fish, seafood, beef, appetizers, salads, exotic soups, international cheeses, and of course dessert. One night we had a Chocoholics buffet where there were all sorts of sculptures made out of chocolate. We had too much to eat! Each day they had cookies and ice cream in the afternoon. The boat is really like a floating hotel. Our Sky deck was the top level of the back of the ship (aft portion). The one disadvantage of this is that we heard them throwing down the lounge chairs every morning and we heard kids running every night! There were a lot of families on the cruise, there were several groups of unattended kids roaming around but overall their behavior was passable. We had two pools on board, unfortunately, both were salt water. They refilled them each day. There were however, two fresh water hut tubs and that was nice.

We took several shore excursions, Saint Martin (St. Maarten in Dutch), St. John, and St. Thomas. Tendering from the boat to shore was a pain -- our boat's draft was too deep to pull into most ports except Miami. This process took at least 45 minutes, so if you left something on the boat, oh well, no quick showers after the beach either. We had to sweat it out until we finally went back in the afternoon. They ran the tenders every half and hour or so, there were two of them. St. Martin is half French and Dutch, it was the poorest island and relies totally on tourism. There were no real sidewalks in the city and most of the locals were harassing people to buy things, or to have braids or to take a tour/taxi. It was quite annoying. St. Thomas was much the same thing. St. John however, was quite different, it and St. Thomas are part of the US Virgin Islands. Most of St. John is a national park, it has many trees and exotic plants. We took a nature hike and ended up at Honeymoon Beach. It is a secluded beach with crystal clear water where we got to see a coral reef forming. We relaxed at the beach for about an hour and a half while it rained and the sun shone at the same time. Then we hiked back to the port and got a nature lesson on the flora and animals. The locals were having an Independence Day celebration so the city was lively. Each evening we would return to our ship for dinner, a show, and to sleep.

There were few elevators onboard, and they were small and slow. Luckily there are many sets of stairs. One comedian named our ship the SS Stairmaster – Kim and I agreed and we fondly call the Norway the SS Stairmaster now. We were on desk 13, the Sky deck. It wasn’t unlucky. We ate on deck 7, so we got to work off our dinner.

We did not stop at Great Stirrup Cay our last stop. One of our boilers went out. That means our ship which is an older steamship did not have enough steam to turn one of our "screws" or propellers. We travel back to Miami at reduced speed, we could really tell we were going slower because there was less wind up on the sun deck. Of course most passengers were upset because they had planned to snorkel or use jet skies at the cay. We were ok with it, but being on the ship for two more days did get a little slow.

Before we got off of our ship they told us the following. No fruit and no Cuban cigars. You are not allowed to bring banned items or farm products into the US. Makes since.

We pulled into Miami early Sunday morning, around 5 or 6am. As soon as we docked they started bringing items onto the ship and cleaning the windows etc, getting ready for the next cruise. It must be busy, unloading our luggage that we had set out the night before etc. Some staff told us that they usually worked at least a 70 hour week! Of course they really do not have any com mute time so that helps! Sounds like a lot of work.

From the port we went through Customs which was not to rigorous, they didn't even check our passports but they had earlier in the week after we returned from St. Martin. So we were coming back from US Territory and not foreign territory on Sunday.

We got a cab to the airport, our terminal didn't have any eating places in it and our gate at heightened security because of 4th of July weekend treats in Florida and Arizona. After having my shoes checked and being ID'd several times and waiting for our delayed flight we took off for a smooth flight including an "auto pilot” landing into Dulles.

From there we returned to our home were many of wedding things and my belongs have still not been unpacked.

We highly recommend taking a Cruise and Norwegian is a great choice for a cruise line. I am glad the Norway is still around and we both feel that it has a permanent place in cruising.

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