Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: March 7th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was the first cruise for my wife and I and we were very apprehensive (neither one of us likes boats all that much) The cruise was paid for by my parents who attended and also had my step sister and her family attend (husband and daughter) This brought our cozy little group to a total of seven (three couples and one 12 year old girl)
Overall we both enjoyed the cruise very much as did everyone else in our party. We were impressed with how little the motion of the ship affected us (though we did have some mild roughness on three of the nights it was more an annoyance than anything)
We all had cabins on deck 7, port side aft. Large windows were open to the jogging track that circles the ship and provides a decent view of the sea and ports (though somewhat obstructed by the railing) Also on deck 7 was the excursion desk, reception, credit office, and concierge. Our cabin was nice but the bathroom, closet, and hall doors all open to the same space so getting ready for dinner was a bit like playing Twister. The shower was as small as possible but did have a removable showerhead (which my wife found a necessity in washing her hair) The bathroom itself was too small for more than one person and I found it easier to walk down the hall to the public restroom if my wife was getting ready or I needed a bit of "reading time")
The layout of the ship was fairly nice, though we did notice that the three aft dining rooms did experience a bit more roughness than the mid ship dining room (The Four Seasons) It took us a couple of days before we got our bearings enough to not get off on the wrong floor. We also found that the midship and aft elevators were a bit too busy to get somewhere quick and we ended up using the stairs about half of the time.
I made the mistake of not understanding the dress code well enough and packed insufficiently for dining. The dress code is no jeans and no shorts in any seated resturant after 5:30pm. I had my suit packed for the formal night but did not pack slacks for the other nights. Unfortunately you could not purchase slacks in any of the gift shops on board and the ports were just as bad. I ended up wearing my suit pants most of the nights.
Dining we all rated as fair to poor. The buffet food was not good (coming from Las Vegas we know bad buffets well) The seated dining was slow for our size group (7). A couple of the meals my wife and I dined alone which went a lot smoother. The formal night took us four and a half hours to finish with dinner (slow seating and once we had ordered and waited for two hours we were told that they had underestimated how many people would order lobster tail and it backed up the kitchen) My parents had cruised before with Princess and told us that they prefrered the more structured dining and personalized service.
Your dining options on any given night included the two main resturants (which had the same menu), Tratoria which had Italian food, the Sports Bar with a poor buffet, the Pizza place (after the buffet we didn't try the pizza) and on some nights there was a bar-b-q near the pool (pretty good) and Le Bistro with the $12 cover (we didn't make this one).
Top ten things I would recommend to anyone on this cruise:
1. If you are dining in the main resturants stick with The Four Seasons, the view at night is mostly just black windows and the ship seems smoother at midship.
2. Do not wait to make your reservations for Le Bistro, we missed out because we waited too long.
3. Breakfast was easiest at the Pool by the Pizza place (deck 10) and had omlettes to order and serve yourself coffee (quick and pretty good food, also the quickest place to get a cup of coffee first thing in the morning)
4. Pay attention to the information presented in the Stardust showroom (it is also played on the TV in your room)
5. If traveling with a larger group you may want to reconsider Freestyle Cruising, or make it a point to send one of the guys to the resturant early to secure a table (since they are usually ready first and it'll give the ladies a bit more time to primp)
6. Stop by the excursion desk early and find out if your excursion has limited space. Excursions with ATVs, Jeeps, etc book up quickly as they only have so many vehicles
Also be sure to get an updated excursion list as soon as you get on board as they change, add/drop excursions at the last minute.
7. The dress code is waived on the first night as some people had their luggage stopped (DO NOT PACK ALCHOHOL)
8. On the western caribbean cruise if you are going to skip an excursion try and make it Cozumel or Cancun as the shopping and tourist things are easier at these ports.
9. The best Myan Ruins were Xunatunich in Belize where they still let you climb to the top of the ruins.
10. You can buy a sticker for your room card that will allow you to get all of the soft drinks you want for a flat fee (great for kids) For the adults there was a bar hopping card that gave you prizes for drinking at all of the bars.
We will probably cruise again but will try another cruise line.