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Ben Wankel

Age: 35

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: n/a

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dream

Sailing Date: December 24th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

NCL
Norwegian Dream
Western Carribean

Ben Wankel

I felt the need to write a review of this ship after reading many reviews prior to my trip. Many of the reviews mentioned poor service, missed ports, and bad food. Let me share with you my experience.

The boat itself:
This is an older and smaller ship than many. On NCL's website you will find many pictures of its interiors. The pictures scared me a bit because the spaces looked very dated and small. I couldn't have been happier when I arrived on ship. The interiors were bright, clean, and suprisingly much nicer than expected. The rooms decor is a bit dated (peach and teal circa 1989) but very clean. I should say that we had a class C room with a nice sized picture window.

The cabin attendants - Wiwick and Edwardo - were AWESOME. They were very senitive and thoughtful, knew our names and said hello each time we saw them. I was very impressed with how personal their service was when I know they serviced so many cabins. Tip them well - they earn it. Small bathrooms as expected, BUT GREAT water pressure!! I was also impressed by how much storage there was in our room. Decent closets, small desk, small bar/dresser, shelves in the bathroom, and lots of under bed storage. We never felt cramped.

The public spaces of the ship were VERY clean. The only time I saw a piece of trash was when it was being picked up by a staff member.

I was amazed how much private space there was on the ship. If you need some alone time - you can have it. When the main deck gets too crowded, head up to the deck behind the backetball court. Nobody knows about it until the end of the cruise. If you are looking or some one-on-one quiet time after dinner head to the frot of the ship. I believe floors 7,8 & 9 all have large balconies that overlook the front of the ship - very private, we never ran into others there and found it a great place to look at the stars.

Food:

In general we had very good food in the restaurants. There were a few questionable mixtures (jalapeno poppers in tartar sauce and an avacado soup that tasted suspiciously like pistachio ice cream). I will say that the worst food we had on the ship was the vegitarian fare. Each night it was VERY bland. Vegitarians - bring snacks. But again, lots of choices and in general very good food. The best food on the ship was at Le Bistro. A premium restaurant with a $15 cover charge. WORTH IT! The menu didn't vary on our trip - but I was happy to eat the same thing twice. The best Filet Mignion in Bernaise sauce I have ever had. Can't say enough about the staff here either. Dan, our server, remembered us 4 days later by name, where we sat, and what wine we ordered. This restaurant is worth a visit (at least one) and worth the price. Le Bistro also did an all you can eat sushi lunch for $10 per person. Not the best sushi I've had, but very much worth the price for the sushi lover.

Ports:
We hit 3 ports - Cozumel, Belize City, and Roatan. Canucun was still not ready to accept ships. We recieved an $18 credit in our rooms for this. It took a long time for the tender ships to get us off the ship in Cozumel. My suggestion (while Cozumel is rebuilding the port anyway)is get in line 45 minutes early for your tender tickets. Cozumel was almost back in business. It was sad to see the big palms in the main square knocked down, but in general the city is back in business. If you are looking for a place to eat in Cozumel - go left as you leave the tourist pier and walk along the main street that follows the shore line (If you get to Cinco Soles you have gone too far). Guido's is a GREAT italian restaurant - not a good one - a GREAT one. They have the best lasagna I have ever had. They also make a super sangria, and many pizzas with a Caribbean / Italian flare. Skip the "mexican" restaurants in the main square and come here. You will not be disappointed.

Roatan is lovely. The people are so kind. The markets here (and in Belize) are a sharp contrast to Mexico. There is little haggling, and no pressure. Pick an item off the shelf and the shop keeper will tell you the discount up front. Very fair. I hate market shopping in Mexico, and found this very refreshing. We opted out of the excursions in Roatan and wanted to go it alone. We walked past all of the taxis waiting as we left the ship holding signs with excursions, etc. and went to the last taxi cab driver and asked for a good place to snorkel. He said $30 round trip for two to Half Moon Bay on the west end. He accepted no payment up front and picked us up promptly when requested. VERY helpful. I'm glad we didn't do an excursion here. Get out and see the island, and don't be afraid to get off the beaten path. Roatan is what many would see as a poor island. But the people here are so warm, generous, and thoughtful. Look past there living conditions and get to know them. There are some wonderful little shops on the west end and a couple of galleries. All of this along a dirt road by the sea with great snorkling, restaurants and drinks. Many restaurants are just wooden decks with a BBQ - but the food smelled so good.

Belize was the only shore excursion we did. We chose to go on snorkling / catamaran trip. Worth the money. They take you to a great reef with wonderful coral. There were about 100 people snorkeling in a space maybe 1/4 mile long. I felt the fish would have been better if the group was smaller. But the coral was some of the best I've seen. I would be tempted to hire a private boat in town, or have a taxi driver recommend a place next time, but I was not disappointed with the excursion at all, but like to get away from the crowds when possible.

A nice marketplace awaits you here too.

Overall:
I felt this cruise was a very good value and we even paid holiday prices for it (about 1100 per person). The ship was very comfortable, the service was excellent, the ports were great. Bring some books for the days at sea and you are set.

The only down side to this cruise may have been the night life. I had hoped for more of it. People tended to nod off about 10:30. I think the fact that it was a holiday week and so many were traveling with family had an impact on this. Admittedly, I would have behaved myself more with mom in the next room.

But, I would do this cruise again, and would recommend it to you.

I hope this review was helpful too you. Take the critic's feedback online into advisement, but remember: You are ultimately responsible for your own fun, and occasionaly bad food comes from your kitchen too.

Happy sailing.

;-)

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