Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: March 27th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our very first cruise and we definitely loved every moment of it. Our family consisted of my husband, two teen daughters ages 13 and 12 and a one year old baby. We selected Norwegian Cruise lines because of the proximity of the departure port to our city as well as the fact that we did not have to pay cruise fare for our baby, only government taxes and port charges. At first we were reluctant about signing up with this cruise line after reading so many negative reviews about our particular ship, the Norwegain Sea. So we promised to keep an open mind about the whole thing so we don't get disappointed with the trip. We arrived at the Port of Houston without any problem around 1:45PM. A friend of ours agreed to drop us off and park our SUV at her house in Houston so we don't have to pay parking fees at the port. The embarkation process only took about 20 minutes with the NCL personnel checking our passports and birth certificates for the kids. After that, they took our pictures and issued each of us a key card to use for our cabins as well as to embark and disembark the ship. When we entered the ship through the Crystal Court area which is on the fourth deck (Main deck), we were greeted by NCL photograhers who took our family shot with the NCL logo in the forefront. They post the pictures in the Photo gallery for those who wish to purchase them later. Once we were done with the picture taking, a Filipino room attendant named Jose helped us with our carry-ons and showed us how to get to our cabins. Because there is five of us, we booked two separate cabins that are somewhat back to back from each other, cabin 7037 and cabin 7238. They are both the same size room, quite small, however it was adequate enough for us as we also had a crib for the baby in one of them. We also have too big luggages, but we were able to store them under the desk area without any problem and they were not in anybody's way. The bathroom is definitely not made for two people to be in it at the same time. My husband an
d I are both average size and we did not feel crammed when we had to take our showers.
After we got ourselves situated and while waiting for the rest of our luggages to be delivered, we went up to the pool deck (tenth deck) to watch as our ship sailed away from the port. The food was more than what we expected in terms of quality (and quantity). We were never left wanting for more. Every meal that we had was wonderful and nicely prepared. We had most of our meals at the Seven Seas because we liked the ambience as well as our wait staff, Candido and Leocel, both from the Philippines. Sometimes we would go to the buffet at the Big Apple which is also just as good as the other dining rooms. Our wait staff were both very accommodating and helpful, especially with the baby. They went out of their way many times to make sure the baby has enough wafers (which she loved) or yogurt or fruit. A few times they also sent up our desserts when we can not stay long in the dining room because our baby was starting to fuzz. Also, they always check to see if you want to try other entrees (even after you're done with the one you ordered). They always make sure you don't leave their table hungry. We also had a wonderful room attendant by the name of Archbold from Colombia. He is also constantly checking up on us to see if we have enough ice to keep our feeding bottles cold. When he sees us in the hall way, he always has a huge smile on his face ready to greet us or help us.
We visited the Ports of Cozumel, Roatan islands, Belize and Cancun. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab State Park which was recommended to us by one of the passengers we met aboard the ship. He said that the park has everything for all of us even a small pond for the baby to swim. The park was really very nice with lots of tropical plants, lagoon, dolphin encounter, museum, restaurant and beautiful beach to snorkel and swim. We had a great time here although we wish we had enough time to spend as we were not able to get to most of the attractions. Before we headed back to the ship, we did some shopping around the downtown district which is very close to the Punta Langosta where we were docked. The next day we went to Roatan islands, Honduras. When we arrived at the port, we were met by our tour guide, Victor Bodden. We found out about him through a review I have read in this same website. He came highly recommended by that person that wrote his review about his shore excursion in Roatan. So before we went on this cruise, we contacted Victor via his email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org. He charged us $100 but I assure you it was worth every penny. He took us all around the island and showed us the different towns and scenic spots, picked up our food from this local hole in the wall type restaurant by the beach, carried our bags and stayed with us the whole time we were swimming at the beach. By the end of the day, we felt like he's our friend that we'd like to see again-he was really very nice and pleasant to be with. He also speaks very fluent english. The third port we visited was Belize. We got up a little earlier than usual so we can get our tender tickets when they make the announcement of when they are ready to be handed out. We thought the whole process will take a few hours. It was rather quick that in no time we were in one of the tenders which only took probably no more than 10 minutes to get to shore. it was a small but fast tender boat. We did not get to go to any of the beaches in Belize because as we found out after we got off our tender, we had to get on another boat to get to the keys and the cost is $40.00 per person. So we just decided to do some more shopping around the pier. Our fourth port to visit was Cancun. We had to be tendered in again because the waters were too shallow for the ship to dock close to the pier. The tender used this time was a much bigger boat, one that can hold at least 600 people at a time. However, it was not as fat as the tender used in Belize because of its size. It took probably about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the pier. Because we only had a few hours to stay in Cancun (we had to be back by 3:00PM), we ended up by the beach (Tortuga Beach)close to the pier. There were lounge chairs for rent for $10.00 a pair plus an unbrella. The waters were clear aquamarine. I am sure this is not the best beach in Cancun, but for the short time we were there it was heaven for our kids. There were shops close by that sell all kinds of local crafts and souvenirs. We hired a cab driver who took us to this mall called Plaza Caracol. We did most of our shopping there. Be very careful when buying silver jewelry from street vendors as some of them price their pieces too much more than the mall vendors.
Back on the ship, we went to a lot of the nightly shows at either the Cabaret Lounge or Stardust Lounge (Deck 5). The shows were very entertaining and well done. All of the performers (NCL Production crew and special guest performers) were great and we enjoyed watching the shows. They're broadway-quality. Even our teens, who usually opt to watch TV shows in their cabin, went to a lot of these shows after they liked the first one they saw which was "Night of the Stars". There are Bingo games, Scare-rioke (kareoke), Name that Tune, Newly Wed game, all sorts of contests by the poolside--there were lots of entertainment all around; we were never bored. The second to the last show we saw was a farewell show of sorts and this one got us all choked up. As the cast was singing this somewhat nostalgic song, one of them would announce the crew which joined them on stage, from the stage production people, to the Chefs and cooks, room attendants, reception staff, gift shop staff, dining room staff, casino staff, executive staff (including the captain), etc. Everyone was just cheering them on as they walked up the stage and took their spots. Obviously, a lot of people enjoyed their cruise including us.
We had our own apprehensions when we first decided to on this cruise, but now that we did, we can only say so many great things about it. We loved the people who catered to us, the food, the entertainment, the places we visited and so much more. Our girls would not even want us to try another cruise line. We are sold on NCL and their excellent customer service. My advice to anyone going on their first cruise-don't always go with the reviews you read. Keep an open mind, relax and enjoy. This maybe our first one with Norwegian but definitely not the last one.