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Amber

Age: 33

Occupation:Writer

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: May 7th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


I’m a former travel writer so bear with all the details. Prior to setting sail, I appreciated those reviews that went into some depth, especially tips on the ports. Since Norwegian Sea is retiring this summer, I’ll focus less on the ship!

Overall, 'twas an amazing voyage—the food, the service, the ports—we loved it all. The Sea is an older ship and a bit outdated but if you go with those expectations, you won’t be disappointed. The entertainment was top-notch (comic Sam Griesbaum being among the favorites) and we had a great experience with Reggie’s Cave Tubing in Belize.

After a lot of research, we opted to hit Chankanaab Bay in Cozumel and we weren’t disappointed. We hopped in a cab for $10 and the drive was about 15 minutes to our destination. The entrance fee was $12 per person and we had a great time snorkeling at this beautiful seaside resort. It wasn’t crowded in the least because none of the trip’s tours went here and we were thrilled to discover a 5-foot long barracuda and some stingray (among many other fish).

We rested under a palm-tree umbrella for shade and then toured the beautiful grounds, littered with walking paths, a waterfall, lagoon and imported Mayan ruins. We finished our adventure by watching the Dolphin Encounter.

>From there, it was off to Mexico's world-famous party spot, Senor Frogs. We had the cab drop us directly in front of the restaurant and we entered this fun-filled arena. We were livin' the Mexican fiesta but then partway through the meal, I read a restaurant review on the wall and they kept mentioning "Carlos and Charlie's." Puzzled, I asked my hubby Jamie about it and he said he'd been wondering the same thing because the restaurant had it everywhere.

Upon departure, we went outside and sure enough, we'd mistakenly walked into the wrong place; Senor Frogs was UPSTAIRS. I'd like to say it was an honest mistake but it was kinda hard to miss the big ol' FROG sitting outside the entrance. Especially since we weren’t even drinking, though I swear there must've been something in that water….

The next day, we hit the Roatan in the Bay Islands, Honduras. This was our favorite port--very remote and undeveloped. Don’t be freaked out by all the warnings about going out on your own here. We caught a cab for $20 and he took us to West Bay Beach, which was a beautiful and abandoned beach on the other side of the island. Our cabbie was great and gave us a tour in broken English. He waited for us for several hours and drove us back a different way through the town—very scenic!

Upon arriving at West Bay Beach, we were pleased to see we were pretty much alone. Our cab driver pointed us to the second largest reef in the world (next to the Great Barrier). We plunged into the water, eager for this adventure. Only problem is after 15 minutes of snorkeling, the only thing we could find was a bunch of weeds.

Confused, we got out of the water and asked a swimmer where the reef was. It was, after all, the second largest in the frickin' world--how on earth could we miss it? Turns out, we were in the Carlos and Charlie's region of the beach--the WRONG part. He pointed us in the direction of the "Senor Frogs" reef--on the other side of the beach. With tons of people in the water. So much for our abandoned beach. The reef was located where the ship’s Tabayana Beach party went down.

After a lovely stroll/hike/half-marathon, we arrived and it was well worth it! The reef was AMAZING and had more fish than I've ever seen, with all the colors of a rainbow. We felt like we were SCUBA diving because we were able to get so close up to it all. We settled in on the outskirts of all the action. A live band was playing and we chuckled at all the suckers who paid an arm and a leg for the same experience we were having.

The next day, it was cave tubing through Mayan caves in Belize. We hooked up with Reggie’s Cave Tubing and were pleased to see we were the only ones on the tour. Reggie’s son, a very prolific and amiable guy, entertained us during the drive with animated stories of day-to-day life in Belize. I had a much better appreciation for this beautiful country after the drive.

Upon arrival, we had a beautiful and fairly flat 45-minute hike through the jungle to where we started tubing through a few caves. Each cave took about a half an hour and they were amazingly beautiful with waterfalls and stalactites. We even got out and went exploring back in one of the caves. After a quick hike back, we had the most delicious Belizean meal at a little shack in the National Park for $5 each (homemade BBQ chicken, plantains, salad, AMAZING bread, rice and a banana muffin for dessert). That was by far the best meal on our trip so don’t skip out on this. YUM!

I’d highly recommend this tour. Not only did we get one-on-one attention, but it is only as strenuous as you want to make it. Reggie’s son offered to paddle us through as much as we wanted, which we took advantage of when there wasn’t a current. I ran into someone who did the ship’s tour and not only was it overcrowded but the man was exhausted at having to paddle the entire way.

Our final port was Cancun. I wasn't too thrilled about this one because it reminded me more of Vegas than anything, with its hotels and commercialism. But the beaches were unbelievably blue, juxtaposed against white sand. We basically shopped, hit the beach and FINALLY ate at Senor Frogs. A bit anti-climatic after all the hype since there wasn't much going on mid-day. I tried to convince Jamie to go down the restaurant's waterslide that shot out into the lagoon but he had some issues about landing in a place that was littered with warning signs for alligators. Woosy.

Anyhew, that's pretty much the trip! We had some time to kill before our flight in Houston so we rented a car and went to Kemah, a beautiful and fun boardwalk about 15 minutes away from port. It has fabulous restaurants, games, rides…you name it! From there, we went to Memorial Park in Houston, one of their biggest outdoor playgrounds and did a 3-mile trek around the park. To top off our adventure, we ate at Texas’ famous Papasitos—AMAZING Mexican food. Do not miss this if you have some extra time.

Overall, we had an amazing trip. With so many ports and such great entertainment, we can’t say enough good things about our experiences on Norwegian Sea. High-maintenance, snooty people won’t enjoy this trip…it’s definitely for the more laid-back at heart.

Enjoy!

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