Age: 31 to 40
Number of Cruises: 2nd
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Sailing Date: 6th,
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
This was a spur of the moment booking. I received a brochure in my mailbox at work from our travel agent listing 2 for 1 on NCL cruises. My husband and I had been the Sunward II 10 years ago for a 4-day cruise and had such a great time that we always said we would cruise again. Guess what, 10 years later and we still had not followed up. So it was with great excitement that we booked this cruise. We did not splurge on this cruise as we are waiting to do so for our 25th anniversary.
We booked an inside category L and were upgrade to an inside category I for May 6, 2000. We booked our own air, so we decided to fly in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. The taxi ride was about $18.00 plus tip. We then took a taxi to the Port of Miami in the morning for about $6.00 plus tip. When we researched prior reviews and the NCL documentation, it stated that Latitudes members could board an hour early. So we got to the pier at 10:45 a.m., and what a mob scene. They did not follow their standard policy, but let everyone start boarding at 11:30 a.m. It took us about an hour to get through the line, and this was the Latitudes line. Oh, well, we were on vacation, and the ship was not leaving without us.
Once we boarded, we went straight to our inside cabin, N128. Compared to the size of the cabin we had before, this was great. I had a vanity with lighted mirror that I used every day. We had a closet plus another open area to hang clothes. We didn’t need both of them, but put our luggage that would not fit under the bed in the space. Also, we had a dresser with 4 large drawers. The bathroom had a full mirrored cabinet with 2 shelves. Our room had one double bed that was very comfortable.
Next it was on to explore the ship. They were serving lunch in the dining rooms, but we opted for a snack at the Great Outdoor Restaurant. The Sport’s Illustrated Bar was great. I loved the Promenade Deck. On either side of the ship, you could walk along this deck and look out the windows. The pool areas were great. We hung out at the enclosed pool deck while the ship sailed out of Miami.
Many of the reviews have slammed the food served. I will give you my impression. All of the dinners and lunches that were served in the dining room had very good food. I am not talking gourmet food, but it would rival most of the restaurants that you would go out to for a special occasion. We had dinner at Le Bistro one night. My only complaint is that they were out of filet and had to substitute a sirloin steak. Other than that, I would recommend that you try it out at least one of the nights. The $10.00 gratuity is well worth it. The buffets were good, not great, but remember, this is a buffet. The cookies at the buffet were some of the best I’ve ever had. The chocoholic buffet was a little bit of a disappointment, some of the deserts were outstanding, but a few were very bland. We had ice cream almost every day at Sven’s Ice Cream Parlor. They always had either of my two favorites, butter pecan or mint chip.
We really enjoyed hanging out by the main pool. The crowd was fun and they had music and activities there. We were on vacation to relax, and this was the cruise for it. We saw the three shows held in the theater and thought they were great. We went to one comedy show, but passed on the other two shows. The Caribbean night party was great, don’t miss this one. We played the slots a bit and the last night I won a small jackpot of $125.00. My husband signed up on the Internet, I thought this was a little pricey, but he enjoyed it.
Of the three ports of call, St. Maarten was the only one we did not do any formal excursion. We shopped a little, and were later sorry we did not buy liquor there. We ended up not buying any after seeing the great prices in St. Maarten. If we ever went there again, we would take a taxi to the French side. We took the combo tour of St. John’s and St. Thomas. It was really great. For a first timer, there is no other way. We did some shopping after the tour before returning to the ship. On the private Island, we waited in line for tender tickets and were on the first tender. I highly recommend this if you want to have your choice of beach chairs with umbrellas. They also have some hammocks. We snorkeled that day, and were so glad not to miss this. One hint: if you want to take underwater pictures, buy the camera before you leave home. They cost $20.00 on the ship. The barbecue that was served on the beach was very good that day.
Our room steward, waiter and busboy were great. Our service in all of these areas lived up to our expectations. Our room was always clean, with fresh towel and ice in the morning and evening. Our busboy remembered who liked coffee, ice tea, etc. Our waiter was a real ham with the flaming deserts, doing a limbo with it before serving. Don’t forget your camera at dinner for the special nights. I did find true a comment I had read in a prior review, the morning of departure, the waiter and busboy do not have time for you any more. The service is a little more rushed, but when you consider that they have to turn around and start fresh with a new group, in a couple of hours, it is a little more understandable. We did need to have two items washed. They did a wonderful job and the price was very reasonable. The shirt and slacks were returned cleaned and pressed for $6.50.
The SS Norway is an older ship and everything does not look brand new, but you cannot deny she is a beautiful ship. We have some pictures of her and even those do not do her justice. It is so different from the current cruise ships out there, that I think it would be unfair to compare it to any of them. For those people who need to have everything look as if it where made today, book a cruise on another ship. Even though our cruise was full (there was a sign at the pursers desk that said they could not accommodate any cabin changes because they were sold out) we never felt the crowd except at the Great Outdoor Restaurant. For the money we spent on this cruise, I feel we got more than we paid for. In fact, we enjoyed the Norwegian way so much; we have booked a cruise on the Norwegian Wind for January. If you would like to view some of our vacation photos, please join us at http://members3.clubphoto.com/john226337/ .