Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: January 21st, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Dream Cruise Review
7 Day Western Caribbean
My husband and I and three other couples specifically chose the Norwegian Wind departing from New Orleans for its itinerary. We had all cruised before and wanted to discover new ports. Due to Hurricane Katrina, our departure relocated to Houston on the Norwegian Dream. We booked our cruise one year before departure and were notified of the New Orleans/Houston change about a month after the Katrina storm. Our original itinerary included Cozumel, Roatan, Belize City and Playa del Carmen. The change of port to Houston also involved swapping Playa del Carmen for Cancun. We were compensated with on-board credit of $50 per person for the New Orleans/Houston change.
After our final payment date—we were then notified by a voicemail at home that there had been an itinerary change and that we would no longer be docking in Cancun…we were compensated a whopping $12.81 per person on-board credit. This created another day at sea, generating many dollars for the casino, lounges and shops on board!
Having been on other cruises, not only our group of 8, but many other passengers indicated displeasure with the “freestyle” cruise type. On previous cruises we were able to develop a relationship with our servers, stewards and other ship personnel that made the cruise more enjoyable. The automatic tipping structure of freestyle promotes mediocre, average service. I’m a good tipper, and those that deserve it would get it. If the rest of the crew is not part of the tipping structure…then the cruise line should pay them more.
Since there were 8 of us traveling and the four women were celebrating the same age birthdays all in one month, we wanted this trip to be memorable. We could not be seated in any restaurant without the majority of our group being present, even though we all ate together every morning and every night at a designated time. Our dining experiences in the Terraces restaurant, as well as the Le Bistro were the best on board the ship. The Terraces had a variety of well-prepared, tasty food. Le Bistro had a somewhat limited menu, but the food, presentation and service was superb. If you happen to be eating there, ask to be placed at Ro Ro’s table. She was outstanding. The down side of Le Bistro is a $15 cover charge per person and if you choose Surf and Turf, an additional $5 is added to your bill. My take on this is that EVERY restaurant should provide special service and certainly NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE should be incurred.
The prepaid beverage package for soda was a good deal for my husband and me. It was a worthwhile purchase. The alcoholic beverages we purchased were expensive and weak. Average price for a “specialty drink” was $7.00. Came with a free glass. A basic cocktail is $5.50. Although you are told that you can save a dollar by not getting the free glass, I did some measuring and you get about the same amount of liquid in either one. Why not get one souvenir glass and refill it with basic cocktails! And please note that an “auto gratuity” is added to each bar tab, so tipping IS automatic there, whether a server takes your order or you walk up to the bar yourself. Unless exceptional service is encountered, that 15% gratuity should be sufficient. You may not bring liquor on board at the beginning of your cruise, and bottles of liquor purchased in the duty-free shops on board and in port are confiscated until you are ready to disembark.
Coffee. If you ask for it in a place other than a restaurant, be prepared to pay $2.50 for it. On the Dream, there is a bar called “COFFEE BAR,” however, because it is also a liquor bar, you have to pay for the coffee! How does THAT happen???
Other restaurants provided a variety of food, but nothing was exceptional. On previous cruises, unbelievable buffets were available all over the ship, all day and night with foods to make your mouth water. Anyone can serve pizza and hamburgers on deck.
We had a stateroom with a balcony. Got a notice that the top of the railing on our deck would be varnished the next day and if that was a problem to contact the Reception Desk. I did that and specifically asked that they not varnish our railing for the remainder of the cruise. Didn’t want the smell or the inconvenience of not using the deck. When we retuned to our cabin the next day, there was a sign on the railing…”wet varnish.”
Our stop in Cozumel was disappointing due to rain all day. Although we planned a tour of Cozumel and snorkeling, the snorkeling didn’t happen. Can’t predict the weather.
Jolly Roger Catamaran and Gumbalimba Park excursion in Roatan was wonderful. Great, very capable boat Captain, delicious lunch (better than most on ship) and beautiful snorkeling.
At 7:00 in the evening, prior to our Belize arrival, we were notified by a piece of paper left on our turned down bed, that due to flooding, our Rainforest ATV excursion for the next day had been canceled. The excursion desk was closed and if you wanted to look into another excursion, you had to show up at 7:00 the next morning in the Stardust Lounge to book another excursion…if space was available. Although this was the excursion the eight of us most looked forward to, and we understand that the weather cannot be predicted, the availability of the staff was unacceptable. The Reception Desk could not help us even though they were open. Disappointing to say the least.
The Cruise Director – Very pleasant, vivacious, entertaining, talented and knowledgeable, however, when she says she is in charge of entertainment…believe her. That’s all she stakes her claim to. Everyone found out about the cancellations of the excursions in Roatan due to flooding at about 7:00 pm. During the show at the Stardust later that evening, NOTHING was mentioned. Some people had been out of their rooms for a while and had not yet received the notice of the cancellations. After the show we talked to her and mentioned our disappointment and frustration. She said she had just heard about it earlier (BEFORE she spoke to the crowd) and there was nothing they could do about the weather. When we questioned her further, she stopped us and said, “I’m sorry, I’m just the Entertainment Director.” How about a little compassion and willingness to get to the bottom of it and accommodate the inconvenienced passengers by having the excursion desk open? Oh, sorry. She is in charge of entertainment! Guess excursions aren’t entertainment.
In summary, there are many cruise lines out there, and we’ve taken NCL out of the mix. To highlight the best parts, RoRo in Le Bistro, food in Terraces and Le Bistro, beverage (soda) package, our room with a balcony and, of course, the best part was spending time with our friends.