Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Crown
Sailing Date: October 8th, 2006
This was our first cruise. My husband, daughter and myself.
It was a surprise 10th birthday present for our daughter. (Our reasoning: She
will always remember that she got a cruise for her 10th birthday, and we get a
vacation, too.) We took Amtrak’s Acela from Washington DC, and a $7 cab ride
from Penn Station dropped us at the cruise terminal.
We chose this cruise for 1) freestyle dining, 2) because we would be in ports overnight, and not have to rush to be back on the ship at 5pm (like many Caribbean cruises that hop to a new island each night) 3) we wanted to see Bermuda, and 4) we wanted a smaller ship – we live on a mountain and while we want to do something “different” on vacation, we don’t like crowds, and don’t like to stand in line.
Embarkation – (Sunday 1:00pm or thereabout) Stood in line for 30 minutes, but giving credit card info and photos was fast and easy. As we boarded, a member of the kids’ program greeted Laurel to let her know that 38 kids were on board, and they were planning a fun week.
Cabin – We booked an ocean view cabin on deck 5, with a fold down bunk for Laurel. The cabin steward had already rearranged the room placing the twin beds together for my husband and me. That was nice. Laurel’s birthday cake was waiting in the room, though it wasn’t supposed to be delivered until Wednesday. It tasted awful. Don’t bother ordering a cake. We dropped off our carry-ons, set the safe code and placed our passports inside, read the Daily newsletter to get an idea of what was happening on board, and then went off to explore.
Setting Sail – My advice, if you want lunch (we did) go right to the buffet in the Yacht Club. We wasted time checking out the spa and gym and walking around the decks. We were warned that all activities would be suspended 15 minutes before the life-boat safety drill scheduled for 3:30. This is not true! The buffet was closed up at 2:45, 45 minutes before the drill. The drill was fast and painless. Then we hit the BBQ on the outside back deck. Cruising through NY harbor was beautiful. Most people didn’t like being outside on the front deck, (too windy they complained, duh!) but as a boater (grew up on the Great Lakes) I loved it. The harbor was full of sailboats, and it was too picturesque for words.
We visited the kids club and signed-up our daughter, (no charge, they just need parents to sign waivers, list allergies, etc… typical kid form stuff). She received her bracelet (for unlimited sodas) and kids crew backpack, which we had pre-ordered and pre-paid. (Backpack includes t-shirt, hat, sunglasses…) I had expected the backpack and drink bracelet to be waiting in our room upon arrival, since we pre-ordered, I’m not sure if I imagined that, or if NCL told me that when I ordered via phone. Not a problem. The three kids crew staffers, Laura, Cookie and Kari were great! They knew it was Laurel’s birthday week, and remembered her name from the start.
The seas were rough on the way to Bermuda, and I was thankful that I took my bonine. Husband and daughter refused, but they were okay. The water in the pool really sloshed around, so we stayed out, much to Laurel’s dismay. She had homework to do, and didn’t want to be totally quiet in the library, so we camped out in the Lido bar for math homework time.
Dining - We chose Norwegian because of the freestyle dining plan. We are independent, and don’t like to commit to a dinner time when on vacation. (Our vacation policy: no watches allowed, we eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired.) We ate most of our meals in the Seven Seas restaurant (on deck 6) and were almost always delighted. I chose the fish option almost every evening, and scored every time -- lobster tail was served one night! Laurel ordered off of the kids menu most nights, pizza, spaghetti, chicken…I hate to spend vacations forcing vegetables down her throat, so I let them slide. She ate fruit at breakfast.
We upgraded our freestyle ashore lunch voucher to a dinner voucher, ($5 each) and took a ferry from Hamilton over to the Navy docks and ate at Pirates Landing. (Ferry $20 round trip for the three of us.) We totally recommend it. Laurel was too young for the voucher program, but the restaurant had a kids menu, and offered to let her order a half portion of any adult meal for $10. She had a huge plate of spaghetti and loved it. They included dessert and soda in her $10 meal, so we thought that was a good deal.
Destination - We loved Bermuda, it’s safe, small, clean, easy to get around. Yes, it’s very expensive, We didn’t take any shore excursions, preferring to explore on our own. (And we thought they were all overpriced.) In St. George, we walked around town in the morning, and then back on board for lunch and a quick change into our swimsuits. Then we toured Fort St. Catherine’s and hit the beach. The water was beautiful. We walked everywhere. St. George is that small.
In Hamilton, we did a little exploring, shopping and hitting some galleries. Then took the #7 bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It’s a great beach, with a lifeguard and chair rentals. When I was standing in chest high water, I could see my feet – that’s how clear the water is. Amazing! My daughter spent the entire day wave jumping. The food concessions were gearing down for the season. We bought chips and soda, overpriced, but that’s to be expected. Pay the man in the minivan $1 for a ride up to the bus stop at the end of the day. It’s worth every dime. He also had bus tickets, which was great because my husband failed to buy a round trip ticket for himself. (Buses require exact change, no bills. It’s $6 round trip from Hamilton to Horseshoe Bay Beach, half price for kids. Ask the bus driver to let you know when you get to the Horseshoe Bay Beach bus stop, there are no signs.)
Birthday - When we got back from the beach, our steward had decorated our room for Laurel’s birthday. (The pre-paid birthday package.) He did a great job and she was thrilled. A new cake was in our room, but it tasted just as bad. We didn’t hit the Wednesday night street fair because it was raining. Laurel wanted to go to the kids program for her birthday. They had planned an “unbirthday” party for all the kids, though it was Laurel’s birthday. She got a crown and had a ball, though she said the cake was still bad.
Gym / Spa - I enjoyed the gym, hitting the treadmills almost every day. I went up at 7 on the morning we left St. George, and had the best view on the ship as we navigated through the narrow passage and sailed into Hamilton. Did it again on Sunday morning as we sailed into New York. Try it! Husband got a haircut, and was happy with the results. Price $27 was reasonable.
Entertainment - We’re not night life people, dancing and lame bands are not for us. We aren’t gamblers, so we didn’t spend time in the casino. Thought the dance shows were disappointing. We preferred to find a quiet bar for a late night drink before heading back to the cabin each night. Several nights we ordered chocolate mousse and skim milk from room service before bed. (We miss that!)
Disembarkation – we chose the express option, carrying our own luggage off of the ship. They called for express at 8:45 am, and while the line stretched down the hallway on deck 6, it kept moving, and we walked off, handed our customs form to an awaiting officer and continued on to catch a cab just after 9 am. It was too easy!
Overall – we had a great time. But we don’t need to be entertained. We enjoy sitting on a quiet deck or beach reading. We would have spent more time in the ship’s pool if the weather was better, but it is mid-October.