Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: March 4th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Texaribbean (Western Caribbean)
I was traveling with my twin 16 year old daughters; I was worried that they might become bored on a cruise ship for 7 days. This was not the case.
The directions provided by the cruise line to the port of Houston were surprisingly easy to follow. Hidden amongst the refineries and cargo ships is the Dream. Parking is well secured and costs $49.00 – CASH. From the parking area, it is a very easy, short walk to the check-in and boarding area. We each had our own suitcase with wheels and so we just took our own rather than check them. This proved to be a smart thing to do, as it was chaos with the sorting of bags and getting them to the rooms. It was unfortunate that they decided to have the mandatory evacuation drill during the time that the bags were everywhere and blocking some of the stairwells, prior to leaving port. By the early evening all of the elevators were back in service and the chaos of the baggage was over.
We were in cabin 4210 (FWD), there is not another place on the ship I would rather have been. At night the view from the porthole windows (2) is spectacular. It’s a view that we wouldn’t have had from a higher floor. Also, the tender boats and off loading at the stops was all done on our deck. So we had easy access, but were far enough forward that the crowd noise didn’t bother us at all.
Some Important things that I learned… Geographically, you want to be at the front (FWD) of the ship, the ride is much smoother. The seasick prone did not do so well in the rear (AFT) of the ship. Many people were asking to be moved, they obliged as many as possible. The bottled water in your room is $4.50 each; they offer an unlimited soda program for $35.00. I had done some research and found out that you can bring your own, I took a 12 pack of Pepsi @ $3.00 and a 12 pack of Ozarka water for @ $2.50. The ice bucket in your stateroom is always full. Be sure to bring your own Sunscreen, extra batteries for your digital camera, insect repellent, etc. these things are available on the ship, but the prices are very inflated. Many people figured it out and we saw plenty of folks bringing these things back from the stop in Cozumel. Ladies, if your hair is long enough to get in your eyes – be sure to get it braided in one of the stops. Belize is the cheapest and they hand made the beads - $20.00 Otherwise you’ll be fighting your hair in the wind every time you go on deck. Suggest bringing a hat too, but hanging on to it, we saw more than just a couple fly away.
They do offer a Teen program, which actually looked like fun, but my daughters were not interested. They went to one of the functions on the second night, but most of the kids were much younger 12 – 14, due to Spring Break. They preferred to participate in the Conga Lines and listen to the Calypso Band on the deck. I don’t blame them, as I enjoyed it too. Karaoke in the Observatory was fun too.
The food – The Four Seasons restaurant is a beautiful place, but serves the same exact menu as the Terraces. The Terraces is located looking out at the large pool at the back of the boat and there are some things going on at that pool that you just don’t want to see while dining – ugh!! For the exact same menu your best bet was at Four Seasons. Trattoria Italian restaurant was probably the best place to eat on the ship, it is located above the Terraces but you don’t have the view of the pool. We couldn’t get enough of the Sports Bar - 24 / 7 fantastic. Our favorite waitress Marianna was there and the food was always great. They have a buffet style menu comparable to the Four Seasons and Terraces, with a separate carving station, and far more dessert choices. The food overall was fabulous, we all gained 3 – 5 pounds. The Chocoholic Buffet was both beautiful and tasty. Get there early, as the line gets crazy, they will let you in early to take some pictures. The chocolate and ice sculptures are worth taking pictures of. You really won’t believe it.
The ice-cream parlor next to the hot tubs and mid
ship pools was another favorite of ours.
Room service is also available and apparently many people utilize this service, but we didn’t. Our thinking was – we didn’t go on vacation to spend it in our rooms.
More misc. about the boat - Best place to nurse your sunburn and read a good book… Deck 8 under the large pool at the very back of the boat. Bingo was a bummer, the entertainment / shows in the Stardust lounge were hit and miss. Surprisingly the shows that we enjoyed the most were the comedian, the magician, and the tribute to Glenn Miller. The musical entertainment in the Observatory were ‘the Two Tones’, they were horrible. So we avoided the Observatory until they were though and Karaoke started. We did enjoy Margie and Sam, well Margie anyway; they played at Lucky’s bar on 10 mid-ship. The Capt. Lars Bengston was so funny and personable, when he spoke everyone listened and laughed. When our Cruise Director Mike and Myles started talking all eyes rolled and yawns were forthcoming.
The stops – first stop was Cozumel, the tender boats took you to shore, it is still showing the scars from Hurricane Wilma, the shopping was ok but overall we were ready to go after about 4.5 hours. Unless you are there to drink, it is a bit too commercial for us. Sort of like going to San Antonio, Tx. The next stop was Roatan Bay, Honduras, we booked an excursion to Tabyana Beach through the ship, but I think we could have gotten it much cheaper by waiting until we got there. This island is where the Corona beer commercials are filmed. “Miles away from ordinary”, and it was absolutely fabulous. My daughters snorkeled the reefs and just loved it. It is a great place filled with interesting people and beautiful rain forests, but that beach was breathtaking. The commercial aspects of the rest of the world haven’t quite made it there yet; it is very unspoiled, not one billboard advertisement. There isn’t one traffic light on the entire island, but maybe they should think about that. The last stop was Belize, the city itself was very commercialized and we had decided not to book an excursion through the ship this time but rather to take our chances on the shore. That proved to be a very smart decision as well… We got off of the tender boat and walked around the corner and met Vida, her shop was next to the place where we all had our hair braided. She is a tour guide that talked to us about a combination tour of the city and a trip out to the Mayan Ruins for about half of what the ship excursion would have cost us. We really enjoyed the ruins and highly recommend that you go if you have the opportunity. We went with another couple from Florida. Since there were just the 5 of us we got to spend a lot more time doing what we wanted and looking at what we wanted. The NCL excursion bus was arriving as we got there and left long before we did, with about 25 – 30 people that paid twice what we did. We really got lucky on that trip. Cancun was closed due to Hurricane Wilma damage and we all rec’d approximately $13.00 back for Port Fees originally charged to us, when we booked the cruise. As it turned out, we would not have been able to tender into there even if it had been open, due to rough seas.
Overall, this was the vacation of a lifetime. We spent little time in our room, but Hansel our room steward was fantastic. We have already started saving and planning for another cruise perhaps for my daughters’ graduation in 2 years. It will definitely be on Norwegian. The freestyle cruising is the absolute best; I don’t want to follow a strict schedule or dining assignment if I’m on vacation. We did what we wanted, when we wanted and ate when and where we wanted, and just loved it. It was our vacation and we made all of the decisions about it. Fantastic, we can’t wait to go again.
The only terrible thing we experienced was a horrible 2 to 3 year old child named Hayden. We know this was his name, because his parents did nothing, but sit and scream, “Hayden, don’t do that”, and “Come here Hayden”. He was a screaming, tantrum throwing, little brat. He was traveling with his parents and grandparents; but on about the 3rd or 4th day, the Grandfather had even had enough of him. I think someone finally said something to them, and they put him in the daycare that is available. I get the feeling he would have been on the boat even if it weren’t Spring break. People work very hard to go on these vacations and don’t want to be around something like that for a week. Many Thanks to his Grandpa for finally doing something about Hayden. We all appreciated it and consider him a hero. If you are going to bring a small child like Hayden on this or any vacation, Please be considerate of everyone that scrimped and saved for a long time to go on this vacation, and just don’t; or utilize the daycare.
The express disembarking was the only way to go… we
got to get off of the boat carrying our own bags first and didn’t have to deal
with the checking and waiting. It was great, not that we were in a hurry to
leave the ship, in fact we were kind of sad about it, but we had a Trini Flavour
CD that we bought and had signed by the band that we listened to all the way
Interestingly, the passports that were required and I sweated that they would arrive in time, were never checked until we got back to Houston. The quick glance by the guy checking the passports didn’t do much for my faith in Homeland security. They look more closely at my Kroger Plus card.
You are going to love this cruise!!!! Enjoy.