Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: February 7th, 2004
Itinerary: Cozumel, Roatan, Belize City, Cancun
We sailed. 2/7/4 - 2/14/4 from Houston. Couldn't believe how wonderful EVERYONE was!! We had a family of 5; three kids aged 13, 12, and 8. We had two rooms on deck 6. Not palatial, but absolutely perfect for our family. They were convenient to everything. We ate EVERYWHERE! Big Apple was great for us between different activities. There was always enough of a choice to be pleasant and certainly convenient. Pool side bbq was always great, too. We did eat in the dining rooms and La Bistro, too. All incredible!! Spent quite a bit of time in Gatsby’s Martini Bar - the best view on the ship; and Anna from Poland to ease the day as waitress.
I don't remember waiting in a single line after embarkation. (Well, I guess getting off in Cancun had a bit of a wait, but enough other great stuff happened to allow me to block that!! Mexico's tender laws govern that issue, not NCL). We did Chekanaab Park in Cozumel w/snuba and Royal Dolphin swim (arranged that online ahead of time, better deal than excursion. Not cheaper, just more time w/dolphins) We got a taxi to Half-Moon Bay in Roatan; We did the Shark and Ray Alley, San Pedro beach excursion from the ship (when you tender, scheduling a excursion from ship allows you to be the first off and last on!!). This excursion was excellent!! We met great people and I guarantee we'll go back to San Pedro again!!! In Cancun we went to the Tres Rios, the Eco Park. We weren't sure what to expect and were VERY PLEASED with that excursion, too.
The weather turned bad on the last day at sea (again, not NCL's fault) but our 8 year old still swam in the pool with all her new friends, ate ice cream from Lickety Splits(over and over again), and warmed up in the hot tub. I read on a deck chair and drank Irish coffee. Everyone was happy in spite of the cold. The older kids played basketball until they lost them all into the ocean!! Then they had some down-time playing cards in the Library and watching movies in the room. My husband slept. Then we ate some more!!!
We didn't do the express checkout, so we hung out onboard until they called us (near the end). Not a problem, we weren't exactly anxious to leave our little floating paradise!!
We went to most of the shows, loved the piano bar and the "name that tune" game. LOVED the disco (even with the older kids till 11:00) won some rock n roll trivia game. Karaoke was a little too serious for our taste. Lots of Bette Midler's "ROSE" and old country and western. But the people involved were having a blast!! We had other stuff to try.
Our staterooms were category DD on the Promenade Deck, rooms 6202 and 6203. The room service kitchen was directly across the hall from us. Occasionally we’d hear from them, but only when the kids didn’t close our door well and their door was open. We got excellent room service, however, and our kids used it to the full advantage. I think they averaged 1-2 chocolate mousse’s per day per kiddo!! We did tip a dollar or so with every delivery. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes at the most!!! Since our room was over the Cabaret Lounge the music drifted into our room. Well, it pounded into our room. The band could be heard quite well, but there were only two 45 minute shows per night and we were usually out of the room at this time. We didn’t mind, it wasn’t so loud as to be annoying, just very noticeable.
Everyone was unbelievably nice. We had no waiting with dinner and the freestyle cruising! Shows were good (and suitable for our 12 and 13 year olds); the ship was in tip - top shape! The food was EXCELLENT! And the ports were awesome. We'll be back again. Probably on this ship, but certainly on NCL!! The Kids Crew program was a blast for our 8 year old! I loved watching her make so many good new friends! Even the other adult cruisers were nice to our kids - more than nice, INCLUSIVE! The men let my 13 year old play basketball with them - even seemed to like him. The staff, from top to bottom, was excellent. Even passing in the hallways, whether they had officer’s bars on the uniform or a mechanic's jumpsuit, they spoke and made eye contact - like they were happy we were there.
Much has been made of the small staterooms and even smaller showers. We are a tall family and were happy to find the shower nozzles were ABOVE our heads, so the size of the shower was not even a nuisance. No one has mentioned the lightweight down comforters on the beds and the feather pillows. Just a few nice touches other lines don't include. Even staying in our rooms was something we couldn't get enough of. Don't be concerned with any poor reviews you may read - obviously things have changed with this itinerary!!
This was the kids' first cruise, but not ours. Somehow I don't think we'll ever get to cruise without them again. But that's okay - they were great fun!!!
Our 8 year old was happy as clam with the Kids Crew. The kids don't care what the room looks like and the counselors were great! No counselors were under 18, I assure you. They all took a real interest in my kids - and the kids loved doing things in the stairwell foyers (they are actually more like living rooms than foyers - so don't be discouraged by that either-you'll find families all over the boat playing games, reading, and planning excursion on the furnishings in these areas - just another public room furnished well with plenty of floor space!!) and roaming around the boat singing songs!! Our daughter couldn't have been happier!! I loved that they arranged for time with the families because otherwise I'd never have seen her!! You can arrange babysitting if you want, but we didn't. Our daughter made friends she's still in touch with online and they still love all the little nicknames the counselors have;( i.e., Yo-Yo) My older kids didn't have anyone in their group - some kids just don't sign up. But they didn't mind - they got a counselor (April) all to themselves!! They could change things at the drop of hat - and did, often! She was great with them - and seemed VERY happy with her job. I was very pleased with the program, as saw that security was a big issue with the crew - ID bracelets, etc. (our oldest son couldn't even check out his sister, it had to be one of us, but that was probably best).
We docked at the newest port. Caught a taxi to San Francisco Beach and hung out for a few hours. We then went to Chenkanaab Park for Snuba diving and Royal Dolphin Swim. WOW!! That was a wonderful place. Everyone was professional and friendly. The Snuba was Unbelievable; my husband and 12 year old participated in that. And the Royal Dolphin Swim was AMAZING for me, my 8 year-old and 13 year-old. It does get cool after the sun goes down - we didn't account for that. We taxied back to Carlos-N-Charlie’s for a little snack and some fun. What a great day. Nothing went wrong - Nothing we would have changed, unless they let us stay longer!
We got a taxi to Half-Moon Bay in Roatan; this came with a bonus of Rose, the tour guide who also watched our stuff while we snorkeled, kept the bartender and waiter handy, kept solicitors at bay, reminded us when it was time to leave so we didn't have to worry, and communicated with the driver the times we needed him. We snorkeled and kayaked and ate (more). You should know this was not a beach area – we didn’t know that. The jungle went right up to the water and little 5 ft. drop down to the water. There was a great pier, though, with several ladders down. The water was crystal clear and the coral was beautiful. I even saw an octopus!! There were beach chairs in the sun or shade (which Rose secured for us when first arrived). The food and service was terrific. I loved trying the Honduran beer!! The menu seemed kind of fussy and extensive; all we wanted were Hamburger and French fries (not listed on the menu). When I mentioned that “Francisco”, our waiter, quickly volunteered to fix us exactly that!! They were delicious and HUGE!! And our kids loved Honduran Ketchup (very fresh). Our son noticed an official Shaq basketball jersey in the indoor/outdoor bar – that impressed him.
The taxi took us back a different, more scenic route. Up onto the top of beautiful hilltops, where they stopped and took our pictures. They took us through the little town (very 3rd world, for sure) and Rose gave us interesting facts the entire time. All this, our family of 5 for the entire day was about $100.00. (American Dollars!) $75 for the taxi ($15 per person) and $25 for beer, cokes (off and on all day) and a meal – which they brought right to our beach chairs. By far the most cost-efficient port we went to – also very primitive and extremely FRIENDLY!
We did Shark and Ray Alley with a beach lunch. The beach was on San Pedro, Belize. That was HEAVEN in the sand!!! We wandered around after lunch and found Ramone's Village Resort. I WILL go back there for a quiet beach vacation!! They had an attentive staff, a great bar (The Purple Parrot), a dive shop, a GREAT gift shop, a nice restaurant – indoor/outdoor with cloth napkins, a fresh water pool, and an excellent ambiance. It was small, but perfect for us. The stingrays were cool, the lunch was great, but the afternoon at Ramone's was DELIGHTFUL!!!
In Cancun we went to the Tres Rios, the Eco Park. We weren't sure what to expect and were VERY PLEASED with that excursion, too. We were on the first tender out, since it was one of the ship's excursions. We were taken there (50 minute ride) by Mr. George, our driver and George our tour guide on a luxurious charter bus. Once we got there WOW! We bicycled down to do freshwater snorkeling to see underground rivers - that was cool. (they took excellent care of our belongings and were very professional with the process.) Very different from the barrier reefs the two days before. The jungle grew right over our little river, which was only as wide as a sidewalk! Then the beach was awesome. Kayaking to see alligators - ooohhh. We didn't make time to horseback ride, but everyone looked very happy on their horses. The food and beer at the snack place were overpriced, but an excellent buffet was available at the larger outdoor restaurant. We didn’t try it – all we had done is eat on the ship!!! Did some good shopping there in the park.
I guess getting off the ship in Cancun had a bit of a wait, but enough other great stuff happened to allow me to block that!! Mexico's tender laws govern that issue, not NCL. Fat Tuesday (where you tender to, not "embarcadero" as you might think) was alot of fun. Great beach/tourist atmosphere. The line to the last tender back was long, but the venders were cool and ready to make deals. Someone missed this last tender to our ship, so the Mexican Police brought them back. We all clapped and teased good naturedly!! Everyone was having fun despite the waiting. (one of our kids did a little seasick on the tender ride back, but we were on the top level and had waited in the rough water for awhile. Once on the ship, she was fine.)