Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Sailing Date: February 17th, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Dream Cruise Review
First of all, this was our first cruise. We were “newbie’s” to the cruising scene, but decided upon the Norwegian Dream due to its Western Caribbean itinerary and the fact that it departs from Houston (where my work is based from). Furthermore, the “Freestyle” concept appealed to us as well, as we brought along our 4-year old daughter and enjoyed the flexibility that Freestyle offers.
Embarkation: We arranged our own travel to the terminal, so I have no review on the airline transfer that is offered. We arrived by taxi to a very busy cruise terminal at 1:30pm (departure was at 4:00) and a porter took our bags right out of the taxi. He was so quick that I actually had to take our carry-on bags off his cart before he left. It took approximately 45 minutes to go from the parking lot of the terminal to complete the check-in, board and get into our stateroom. Two of our bags were waiting for us at our room, and the third arrived before we had the other two unpacked. Overall we found the boarding process to go very well.
Stateroom: We had an ocean view stateroom on deck 6. It had a 3 foot by 3 foot window, which had a nice deep ledge that our 4 year old was able to keep her toys, books, teddy bear, etc. on. I’m glad we spent the little extra for the ocean view room; it was nice for the natural light, the ability to quickly check the weather, and mostly to see the ports, oil platforms, islands and all the other scenery. Our room was set up with a queen bed, plus a small loveseat (not quite big enough to seat two) that folded out into a bed. There was a curtain divider between this and the main bed. The bathroom was small but adequate. The shower worked well. There was plenty of storage in the form of closets, shelves, etc. Every evening the staff would fold out the loveseat-bed for our kid, plus turn down the sheets, place a chocolate on the pillows and fold an animal from some towels. We were happy with the condition and size of our room.
Dining: We were very satisfied with the quality and quantity of the food. Neither my wife nor I are fussy eaters, but we did have the challenge of accommodating our 4 year old. We would usually have breakfast at the “Sports Bar Buffet” which is the main casual buffet on the boat. There was a decent variety of eggs, bacon, sausages, cold cuts, cheeses, French toast, cooked-for-you waffles, fruits, etc. The selection did not seem to change from day to day. Sometimes it was a challenge to get a table. Usually I’d stalk out a table while my wife and kid loaded their plates. We only had to do this during “peak” mealtimes. Lunches we usually ate in port, but on sea days we’d eat at 4 Seasons. The menu always had something different to offer, and on those rare occasions when we found nothing for the 4-year old might like, we could order her a hot dog, spaghetti, etc. Lunches at 4 Seasons were always very quiet and relaxed. Most of our dinners were held at Terraces. There was usually a minimal wait (a few minutes or less) for a table, and the service and food were top-notch. The only disappointment was the lobster, as the portions were very small. We also dined at the Trattoria Italian restaurant as well. Again, the service and food were spectacular.
Amenities: There were several bars on the ship. You never had to go far to get a drink. There were many lounge areas where you could read a book, play cards, smoke, or just look out through the windows. There were 3 pools (and two hot-tubs), but the water was quite cold. There were many lounge chairs on the sun deck, but these filled up quickly on sea days. The casino seemed fairly busy, and the theatre usually filled to capacity during shows.
Ports: Progresso was in my mind, a “true” Mexican experience, or at least as close as you’ll find when traveling by a cruise ship. The town had some small markets selling the usual tourist trinkets. We headed to the beach, where we paid a $5 cover charge to sit at a “beach club”. Our kid played in the sand; we had beer, pina coladas, and ate lunch at the Lafitte restaurant. The beach was nice with minimal trash, but it was a cool windy day. Cozumel was much more developed, as it had a nice tiled mall right at the dock. You could even get McDonalds and Burger King. We walked a short distance to the “No Name Beach Club” at the Barracuda Hotel. There was no beach to speak of, but the beach club had sand, great snorkeling, and again, the food and drink were fine. Belize was hot and busy. There were 3 other cruise ships anchored offshore, so the pier shopping area was a zoo. Overall, all three ports were very different and had their own unique experiences.
Kids’ Crew: We frequently used this service. It is divided into 3 age groups, 2-5, 6-9, and 10 to something… Our kid had a great time. They did crafts, songs, watched some TV (but not too much) and had various activity themes throughout the cruise. It was nice to have some adult time.
Entertainment: A live band would play the stage on the sundeck every day. There was a comedian and a magician that did 2 shows each in the theatre. We also watched a dance company a few times. The overall entertainment quality was good. Not amazing, but good.
Disembarkation: Getting off the boat was a little more hectic that getting on. Your luggage is picked up the night before you leave, so you must plan ahead a little bit. Once your “color” is called you join the long slow line off the ship. The pier where you hunt for your luggage was quite congested. It took nearly two hours from the time we left our room until we were in a taxi our of the port. This was the only part of the cruise that we felt could have been done better (although we’re not sure how).
In conclusion we were very happy with our
cruise and would certainly sail with NCL again.