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Brad Fach

Age: 25

Occupation:Life Sciences

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: March 8th, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

First of all and most importantly the first few weeks of March in the US are SPRING BREAK weeks! This means that most of the passengers will be between 18 and 21 years old and the entire ship turns into a gigantic party. If you are over the age of 27, this is not a good time to go on a cruise in the US unless you like partying all night with drunken teenagers.

Tips to travelers:
-Avoid cruising in the first few weeks of March
-The back third of this boat seemed very noisy to me, try to reserve a room in the front half of the boat
-If you have a party of two, try to make a reservation for either 5:30 or 8pm, this will hopefully prevent you from waiting for a table
-If you want to do a shore excursion, try to do on in Grand Cayman since they will let you off the boat ahead of the masses. (this will give you an extra 1+ on this island)
-The Seven Seas dining room has more windows and is bigger, if you have only two people in your party, you should definitely eat here since their tables for two are next to the windows.

Our 5 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Sea was unfortunately during a spring break week. However, we were still in our mid 20’s so we pretended to fit in with the college kids. However, there were many on our boat who mentioned to me that this was “the worst vacation of their lives” since all the kids were very drunk, load and rude to the older travelers.

Now, for the basics: The Norwegian Sea is an older and smaller ship compared to most of the cruises available for the Caribbean. This was my third cruise. My other cruises were on Celebrity cruise lines and Carnival. This ship was not as spectacular as the other ships, but it has everything you need and I was not disappointed with it. The price for this ship also seems to be cheaper then other cruises of the same length, so considering that, it was defiantly worth the price. Some other reviews said this ship was in “poor condition” but I did not notice that at all. It was just smaller and older then the others, but it was still clean and looked well kept. People who have been on other cruises should just expect that the rooms, stairways, casino, dinning rooms, etc. will all be smaller then what you have seen on other boats.

THE FOOD- was about average compared to my other cruises. The presentation of the food was excellent, but the actual food quality was about average of other cruise lines. I was disappointed in the small dining rooms on this ship. But they do have several choices of where you can eat instead of the traditional one large dining room. We did not eat at La Bistro, but some people have mentioned that they have the same food there, you just have to pay more for it.

One thing that I was disappointed in was the amount of food available to cruisers. Everyone always tells you that you will eat so much on a cruise. But that was not the case from my experience on this boat. It seems that if you don’t eat during scheduled meal times, you will miss out. There were not buffets available at odd hours as you find on other cruise lines and the room service menu has about 4 items on it, mainly consisting of sandwiches. I did not see any midnight buffet or anything like that. If you miss dinner, you have to wait until “finger foods” are served around 11pm. Very disappointing. Also, they have ice cream “Available for purchase” on some afternoons, AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE? what’s up with that? Either make it free of don’t offer it at all. You also will not get lobster on this boat unless you PAY FOR IT. I would rather pay a little more upfront and be offered all the food I can eat, instead of paying for each little thing like you have to on this boat.

FREE STYLE CRUISING - I am still undecided if I like this idea or not. There are many of advantages to this, such as not worrying about being at dinner at a certain time and it is nice to choose what restaurant you want to eat at. But there are disadvantages as well, such as; having to wait for a table for two (you can make a reservation if you want to eat at either 5:30 or 8) and you don’t get to know one good waiter really well which is nice when you have the same table each night. On the Norwegian Sea they also include a $10 per day tip to your onboard credit account. This is supposed to help you out so that you wont have to scramble for cash during the last day. I thought this would make the service worse since everyone knows they are guaranteed a tip, BUT that was not true. I was very impressed with the good service everywhere. The room stewards, waiters, ect. were all great. All in all, I think Free Style Cruising has more advantages then disadvantages, so I would recommend you try it if you are a new cruiser. If you are an old timer who enjoys the “traditional” cruise with the same table and waiter each night, you should either make a standing reservation on this boat, or try a different cruise line.

SHORE EXCURSIONS:
We went to Cozumel Mexico and Grand Cayman

In Cozumel, the boat docks right in town (which is very nice, Carnival has to dock their boat outside of town) so you can just hope off the boat and you can shop all day. There are plenty of Taxis that will take you to the beach for snorkeling and swimming for around $10 each way. We went to Chaakanab (sp?) park and it was so nice and peaceful to get away for the crowds. We had our own private umbrella and chairs on this beautiful beach and there was nobody around us at all. There was even a guy coming around taking orders for the bar. You can rent snorkeling gear there for around $5 per day and you can snorkel all you want. We liked this better then spending $60 for a crowded shore excursion where you can only snorkel for 45 minutes.

In Grand Cayman the boat does not dock. You have to take a tender into the town. This is a pain because it can take over two hours just to get off the boat and we only have four hours on this island. Therefore, we decided to do a shore excursion here because then you get to get off the boat before the rest of the passengers. We did the WETLANDS KAYAK ADVENTURE and loved it. This is about 1.5 hours of kayaking around the shore of the island in crystal clear blue water. Then you have an hour to snorkel around in a private location. This was so much fun and we really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, by the time you get back to town, there is no time for shopping or exploring. I had already been to Grand Cayman and remembered how expensive everything was so I didn’t feel much like shopping anyway. The good shopping is all in Cozumel.

SUMMARY- Since this cruise is cheaper then similar cruises on other lines, it is definitely worth it. Just remember that this boat is older and smaller then most others, but it still has everything you need and is in good shape. The staff was also excellent on this boat. Email me with any questions at: booyakalax@aol.com

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