Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: October 26th, 2003
Itinerary: Repositioning/Caribbean Sampler
This was a 12 night cruise from Philadelphia to
Houston with ports in St Georges Bermuda, St Thomas, Aruba, and Grand Cayman.
We loved this cruise so much! The ship is smaller which appealed to us as the mega ship a year ago was almost too much for us in terms of size and activities. Many people love the mega ships, however so it just depends on your preference. The ship is older so there is wear and tear particularly around the windows and doors and edges of the stairways. The restaurants were recently remodeled and very beautiful. The show lounges were very nice as well as the Crystal Court. We thought the ship was very pretty.
Our stateroom was on Star Deck 7. It was bigger than we had had on the Grand or the Vision so we were very happy! The bed was comfortable which was also a first! The bathroom was small, but typical. However, the shower was the smallest by far and had no shelves whatsoever for toiletries. Thank goodness I had brought an over the door shoe holder to hang over the bathroom door with my toiletries in each pocket so I just reached out and grabbed soap, razor, etc. I'm not sure what I would have done without it. The ladies onboard joked about shaving our legs with our legs sticking out and resting on the toilet!! I would highly recommend the Intuition razors that are all in one razor and shave gel.The ship supplies shower gel, shampoo, and hand soap via the wall dispensers, not the sample size tubes. There is a hairdryer, but not very powerful. There are no safes in the regular rooms, but you can get them at the reception desk. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. Our room was kept absolutely spotless and we were given plenty of towels, lotion, and shower caps.
The pools were nice with lounging shelves in the water. Very refreshing after a hot day in port. The two hot tubs were different temperatures so you could choose whether you liked it hot or not so warm. There were plenty of deck chairs, but the chairs right by the pool were always gone on sea days by 9 am. Everybody would come up and put their belongings down then go off to breakfast. One of the many dining options was poolside buffets for most meals. You could simply saunter up in your bathing suit to these. It was so convenient! I didn't think I would like this option, but it was great.
We loved the freestyle dining. Room service was 24 hours a day. For breakfast you could go to Seven Seas dining room, Big Apple Cafe buffet, have a special breakfast room service, or go to the buffet, omlette station, and waffle station out near the pool. Lunch choices were the Seven Seas Dining room, Big Apple Cafe buffet, or poolside buffet(most days) of hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, and sandwich bar. No extra charge ice cream was served at Lickety Splits from 1-3pm daily. There was an American snacks buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, sandwich bar, and salad in the Big apple Cafe from 3-4:30 and a cookie and breads buffet in the same place from 3-5pm. From 7-9pm, Oscars lounge had either a cheese tray or sushi and sake. Coffee, iced and hot tea, and water are available in the Big Apple Cafe 24 hours a day, no lemonade. About 11pm the lounges have waiters come around with trays of food and the same is available in the Big Apple Cafe. From Midnight to 1am the casino had a small buffet of snacks.
Dinner choices were the Seven Seas or the Four Seasons dining rooms, both of which had the same menu. The service was outstanding!!! The Seven Seas can be noisy, but has more tables for two with several right by the window! We did have to wait briefly for a table for two on two occasions (we eat around 8pm). The final formal night we had a very long wait of over half an hour, but that was the only rough spot. Regular or decaf cappuccino and regular espresso are avaiable after dinner at no extra charge!
The Big Apple Cafe buffet was also open for dinner and had additional special "action stations" such as crab or pasta depending on the evening. You could also eat from 5-7pm at the poolside BBQ (most nights) with chicken, ribs, beans, corn, etc. The no extra charge pasta cafe was very difficult to get reservations to. We tried three times and finally suceeded by getting in line at 8:30 am! Reservations are only accepted for the day of and the following day. We enjoyed it, but the dining rooms were equally good in my opinion for pasta. Le Bistro had an extra charge of $12.50 per person and was worth 4 times that. We had no trouble getting reservations. It was an excellent french type meal with impeccable service and beautiful ambience. It was more than leisurely however with the entire event running 2 1/2 hours or so! The lobster was an extra $20 per plate on top of the $12.50.
The food was wonderful in my opinion. Everything was delicious!! I have read about food shortages on NCL ships from fellow posters and certainly never, ever saw any of that on this cruise. In fact the waiters often encouraged you to share a second entree or dessert, lol! As if we needed some more food, haha. Drinks were fairly reasonably priced with good deals at happy hours for $3.75 cocktails. You could purchase a daquiri or margarita the first day and keep the cup then receive a dollar off future drinks when you brought the cup. There were buckets of beer (six for the price of five) for around $17 for domestics and $19 for imports served in a football helmet type thing. NCL has a special drink called the Golden Dawn that was only $2.50 all day. Very good. Each day there was a daily drink and it was $3.75 all day, all bars. Be sure to specify small or large drink in the show lounges or they will automatically serve you a large at twice the price.The soda package on this 12 night cruise was $37.75 for unlimited fountain soda and a souvenir coke cup.
The Captain's welcome party was fabulous with the usual picture with the Captain and hor d' hourves and champagne aplenty in one of the lounges. Most people seemed to dress formal with sequined gowns and tuxes. The Seven Seas that night was open only to those in formal attire, but others could eat in any of the other restaurants. It was a very fun party.
Yes, we did have lobster on this cruise, but not at the Captain's welcome party. Lobster was served the second formal night at the end of the cruise along with the traditional baked Alaska for dessert.
The chocolate buffet was served the next to last sea day in the Seven Seas from 3-4pm, although it went on past the end time. What a display! Indescribable!!
The NCL production company did three great shows for us!! Some awesome talent in that group! They also did a back stage tour and a separate Q and A session which was fascinating! The rest of the cruise's evening entertainment was filled with comedians and a singer. They were alright, but nothing spectacular.
There were tons of activities on this ship! Where can I start? Exercise classes, craft classes, language classes, wine tasting, art auctions, ship's officer Q and A session, port talks, future cruise talks, napkin folding, ice sculpting, makeup, hair, and nail care, sushi demonstration, mini mysteries, massage demos, astronomy lectures and star watching parties, bridge play, slots tournament, black jack tournament, pool games, cooking demos, bingo, trivia.... I could go on and on!!! Wonderful selection!
Pictures, pictures, pictures as usual, lol! They had a wonderful package deal where you could get every picture taken on board for $150.
We mostly did snorkeling and diving excursions through their Dive In program. It didn't seem that well organized as we booked online, but had no tickets arrival day. It turns out that you have to fill out a medical and liability form to get your tickets, but nobody told us that! In their defense, I do believe they are usually much better organized, but were sort of disjointed due to the fact that the ship doesn't call at these ports any other time. The staff didn't even have a dive set up in Grand Cayman until a few days prior to arrival. I just can't believe things are usually like that. Pat, the Dive in snorkel guide, was great. He would dive down and bring up sea life for us to observe up close and he taught us to free dive in St Thomas.
The dress in the evenings aboard this cruise was pretty traditional for the most part, but I feel that was because the repo cruises of this length attract an older more experienced cruise crowd. You certainly saw plenty of people dressed casually, but most were dressed for an evening aboard a traditional type cruise. I'm sure on the seven night cruises out of Houston you will find the evening dress to be more casual.
Two nice things about freestyle were the later than usual 2am luggage out by the door deadline on the final night and the ability to stay in your stateroom until you disembarked. Very pleasant.
I want to comment that the service from all the staff with only two exceptions was outstanding! Extremely friendly and accommodating. We feel this makes or breaks a cruise for us so we were thrilled to find such excellent staff!
I absolutely loved this type of cruise and liked the ship very much. That said, I overheard more complaints and negative comments than I could believe! I'm not sure why people were so unhappy, but they sure seemed displeased. I think it's possible some people are just used to traditional type cruising and don't care for the freestyle concept. I also think many people prefer the sparkling mega ships to a smaller classic ship. For us, it was wonderful and we will definitely be sailing Norwegian again!
~Adrienne in Seattle~
Noordam 1991 Pacific NW/Repositioning
Vision of the Seas April 2002 Mexican Riviera
Grand Princess November 2002 Western Caribbean
Norwegian Sea October 2003 Repositioning/Caribbean Sampler