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Don Solo

Age: 56 to 65


Number of Cruises: 3-5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: January 17, 1999

Itinerary: Texaribbean

Former Ship on this itinerary: "After many cruises, which the air conditioning and the toilets didn’t work, the Norwegian Star was sent to Australia to make really bad relations with the natives there. Too many vouchers for a free or discounted cruise made it mandatory that the ship be replaced ASAP."

The ship placed into this service was originally christened the "Seaward" in 1988, was refurbished in 1997 and renamed the "Norwegian Sea." It is a nice looking ship and our first impression of it at the dock was that it had a nice paint job and was very well maintained. Designed with a philosophy of that date (1988), the architects decided that all activities should take place on the swimming pool level and one deck above. There are no other decks with chairs. Even the promenade deck was devoid of seating.

Two swimming pools, two hot tubs, two bars, an ice cream parlor, a fitness center as well as the "Big Apple Café" (the cafeteria style food service) are on deck nine with one deck above (for getting a really great sunburn) make for an interesting gathering place on the ship. There is no absence of deck chairs or guest space. Drinks are made available on these decks at all times of the day and the wait staff makes sure no one goes thirsty.

The staterooms on the Sea are the smallest of the rooms on any cruise ship we have sailed on to date. However, rooms are not something we have ever judged our trips upon. We were assigned a cabin on the promenade deck, but I would not have had a problem with rooms on any deck below as long as it was an outside cabin.

Food on this ship (and all ships we have sailed on) is average at best. It is a tribute to the European philosophy that any meat that could be braised or boiled could have a sauce poured over it and it would make it great. Our opinion about food on a cruise ship is: "People who expect four star restaurant foods when 700 to 1000 people are being served at the same time believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. It is good to very good. Never excellent, nor is it bad"

One trademark to Norwegian Lines is the alternative dining room for the evening meal. Le Bistro offers people a chance to have an intimate meal with passengers other than the assigned seating people or just to be together as a couple. The food and service is very good. The other alternative to assigned seating or "eat when you want to" is the Big Apple Café. It has cafeteria style food and is comparable to the most excellent food you were given in your High School. Good, fast, filling and you don’t have to guess which piece of silverware you need to use to be proper.

The entertainment on this ship was nothing short of great. Three reviews were presented in the main show lounge. "Grease," "Sea Legs Express" and "Broadway" were presented by the Jean Anne Ryan Company of Dancers. In our humble opinion, this Company consists of a very talented group of newcomers to the entertainment field. We would pay top dollar to see them anywhere they would perform.

Another great piece of entertainment was a presentation by a very talented lady by the name of Jane L. Powell. She and her band absolutely enchanted her audience during two shows. She is truly a jewel of an entertainer and a very nice person.

You also had your token comedians who were pretty generic and unmemorable. There were a couple of nights at the beginning of the cruise that a band in the secondary show lounge performed ballroom dance music "Glenn Miller style". The average age of the passengers on this ship was tipping the scale at slightly over 60 and you wouldn’t believe the show these couples displayed on the dance floor. I don’t know which was more entertaining, the great music or the dancers.

I will not comment on the ports of call. Others may say it better than I could. My wife will go to a beach and do some snorkeling. My idea of getting off of the ship is to go to a really primitive beach to watch the waves and feed the sea birds. If there would happen to be a few pretty young ladies, so much the better, otherwise when most passengers are on the shore buying cheap tee shirts, I have the whole pool deck and restaurants to myself.

To summarize the trip as a whole I would rate it at nine out of a scale of ten. What few things that might have been slightly annoying were far outweighed by all of the things that made my wife and me very happy and that is the real reason you would go on a trip like this in the first place. The crew, wait staff, and officers on the ship were first class. A real tribute to the Cruise Line. They have no need to make apologies for this itinerary any more.

Don and Jayney Solo

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