Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: April 14th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
THE SHIP: We knew before boarding that this was an older boat that was soon to be retired out of the States so we were not surprised by the small rooms and age of the amenities. However, the show rooms and reception area had a retro feel that I actually enjoyed. Also, the maintained staff was continuously polishing and painting so though aged, not in terrible disrepair. The karaoke bar is a great place to meet people and you don't want to miss it the last night when they gong the contestants. Boomer's disco is small but seemed to accommodate the crowd every night. DJ Rommel tends to play really modern music which caters to the really young and is often resistant to "mixing genere" i.e. an 80's or 90's mixed in every few songs with the Techno he likes to spin. Just be persistent and the little (and I mean 5'1") peacock will cave.
THE STAFF: Extremely accommodating. We were directed to our room, the steward introduced himself in the event that we needed anything. At breakfast, dishes were cleared immediately. By the pool, the service was quick and efficient even if it was a non chargeable request such as ice water or a ashtray.
THE SIZE: This was my third cruise and the smallest of any ship I have been on and I've found that I love it. Due to the smaller capacity you see the same people over and over again and have the opportunity to make some great friends. The casino was really small but I was always able to get onto a table and often sat with the same people and got to know the names of all of the dealers.
THE FOOD: Come on people, they have to cook for 1,500 people. If you are really going on a cruise for the food you will be disappointed. I was completely satisfied. At the buffet, take a little bit of everything, find out what 50% is good that day then re-do your plate. In the dining room, I preferred the appetizers over the entrees and often would have two aps and a salad.
Belize: Plan an excursion. Belize City truly is horrible. The city is dirty, the shopping is bad, there are no bars on the main strip. Just to get out into the streets you have to bypass a myriad of hawkers who are very aggressive. We walked to town and were so exhausted by our efforts took a taxi back to the pier where we sat at a bar and waited for the rest of our group.
Roatan: Very poor country. We took a taxi up to the Lunar beach resort where part of our group snorkeled and the other scuba dove. For those not interested in either they were welcome to come along for the ride for only $5. Everything was very affordable and the staff very friendly. Though not much of a beach we had full use of the pool and the diving was great. DO NOT forget your bug spray. These little gnats will eat you up and spray is $10 at the beach. The bites to go away by the next day and the spray is worth the money. On the way back the Taxi took the opposite way out so that we saw almost the entire island and at a mere $10 per person round trip. NOTE: Do not catch you taxi by the dock, it's $15 pp each direction. Walk out just a bit and you will do much better. Also, ask to see the beach houses at Lunar.. we are going back for a week next year. If you dive you will LOVE it.
Cozumel: We did the playa Mia beach tour. On other ships you get there early enough to take the Fiesta party boat to the beach and it is worth the extra money but for this ship the Grand tour is the best. It's just not worth the extra money to take the Fury catamaran to get to the exact same beach, unless you are with a really big group. We probably didn't get our money's worth on the drinks b/c we had so much funny with the Volleyball. Remember you ocean shoes b/c the first 5 feet out into the water is filled with rocks which kind of hurt.
Cancun: This is the last port. By this time we were so tired that we did not do an excursion. However, Fat Tuesday's is located exactly off of the tender dock and open to cruisers. The drinks are affordable and again you have the ocean and Volleyball. There were tons of little jellyfish in the water but they don't sting and you get past your initial trepidation relatively quickly.
GENERAL IMPRESSION: Be prepared for mediocre food (which I find true on most cruises) an older ship and smaller rooms then the rest of this cruise is way worth the money. I have traveled Carnival (Yey!) and RCI (BOO!!) and found this to be the funnest cruise yet. It's my understanding that they are bringing a ship to port in New Orleans!!... What a great trip that would make for. Oh, and if you do this one, you can get all the best food in New Orleans prior to boarding the ship then your vacation will be complete!! Will I do it again?? ABSOLUTELY!!