Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: April 17th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This is my first cruise - my husbands and our friends second.I will base this review by comparing an all inclusive resort ( we have stayed at 4 - 41/2 to 5 Star resorts in Mexico) to the Cruise. We flew to Houston and stayed with our friends that we were tavelling with so I can not comment on hotels around the port area. There could have been more signage along the freeways to guide us, but we eventually found our way. We parked at the dock - they only take cash or travelors cheques, so you have been warned. Check in went quickly for our American friends as there were plenty of counters for them, but for non- americans, it was a long wait with only one check in counter for us. There was juice while you waited but it was basically sugar water, and not the fresh squeezed variety we are used to being welcomed with at the resorts we have been to, but no biggy -just comparing. They take your photo and you are given a card key which you will use as your room key and on board credit card. (for non US -they keep your pass port untill you get off the ship) Keep the card key with you at all times. No cash is used. Had the group shot taken and went on board and were greeted by friendly staff as you enter the main lobby,(again - we when comparing to a resort, this is not so exciting) - staff is on hand to show you to your stateroom. We were on the Promanade Deck - (deck 6).We tried to enter our room but the cards did not work, so down we went to stand in a line to wait to have our key cards checked. They looked at us as though it was some how our fault (we could never figure this out as it happened several times through out the cruise). Once new cards were made, we headed up again to check out our room. As you have heard by other reviews - the room can only be compared to a camper - they are small, but there is plenty of storage space. We are used to large rooms at the resorts, so this took some getting used to, but you are not in your room much. Luggage was delivered quickly so we unpacked and headed on deck for a bon voyage drink and listened to a great carribean band that was playing. It is a party atmoshphere as the boat leaves port and heads out - Kevin the cruise director starts the cruise going with a bang. Four Pina Coladas later my girlfriend and I realize this is going to get costly!I am used to an all inclusive and have never had to worry about my bar bill, as it's all you can drink. We did purchase the Pop sticker for $28.00 US,and stuck it on our key card so some of the time, I would just have a tonic and lime and my firend a diet coke. If you have kids, I would suggest you get each of them this. We had BBQ ribs on deck. The food on this ship is really nothing to write home about as we are comparing it to the resorts we have been to. Some nights the food in the two main dinning rooms was realy good, and then other nights, so-so. Did not try the Pasta bar, as we do not eat it. Really miss the fresh quacamole and salsa with chips the resorts serve all day. LA bisto we never went to - as we all thought it was ridiculous to pay a sur-charge to eat there. The french service in the dining rooms is nice though and you have several choices and can order as many entrees as you like. One night we all ordered the lobster and the steak. The steak was tough, so I would suggest ordering 2 orders of the lobster. There is the big apple cafe, which reminded us of a hospital cafeteria, again - Breakfast was okay, lunch and dinner in the big apple a hit and miss situation. Unlike what I had heard, it is not 24/7 food, there are times when you are peckish and a pizza joint would have been nice, you would have to go to your room and order it if you wanted some. We are used to there being food all times of the day when we have been at resorts. I understand by other peoples comments that other cruises they have been on there is more food and better quality on other ships.
Ports - This is the great thing about cruising - Cozumel - great deals@duty free - get ready to haggle, and then walk away you would be surprised how much they come down! The four of us just hung out shopped and went to Carlos and Charlies - if you are younger - this is the place to go - even mid day it is hopping! Lots of people watching there.
Rotan - we skipped signing up for anything, We wanted to get away from people.I reserched and found out the resort Luna Beach where they filmed Tempation Island I and III is in Rotan, so we struck a deal with a cab driver, ($60.00 Us for 4 of us there and back including a side trip to do some shopping for cigars, vanilla and coffee beans) and he dropped us off at this amazing resort. They let us hang out there all day and use the facilities, towels, gave us a tour of thier cabana houses you can rent (they are beutiful)and we lounged by the beach and used the pool. If we wanted to go snorkeling it would only have cost us $5.00 each, and they have a great boat that takes you out to the reef. It is owned by a family from Colorado, and they make you feel welcome as soon as you get there! It is Paradise! We are going to return there for sure and get certified. www.lunabeachresort.com Don't tell too many people you are going to do this on the ship, or they will all follow you and ruin the whole point of going there (to get away from the crowds)
Belize - again we signed up on shore - as it is cheaper then on the boat. For $35.00 per person, we went with Land Sea adventures and went on a speed boat to a remote island (a key) and dropped my friend off while we went back out and snorkeled on the reef with a guide! Make sure if you do this you take alot of small american bills with you as it is $3.00 for a chair, $3.00 for a drink, and $3.00 for a shish-ka-bob. There is no bathroom, so get ready to use the ocean as your potty! It was truly an amazing experience!
Cancun - Expensive, and crowded and the tender took forever! After being in Rotan and Belize, you get spoiled, and
Cancun is like being in a busy, noisy city again and the tender takes 4 ever! We would have sooner stayed on the boat and relaxed on deck!
Disembarking - You are up early on saturday morning to go through customs and immigration, here is where it pays off to be a non- US citizen and made up for the check in wait - as there are not as many of us, we get to clear first(7:00 AM, so make sure you have packed the night before.)The rest of the morning is a gong show as far as we could tell, lots of waiting and standing in line, if you keep your luggage with you, you get to walk off the boat before everyone else. We were off the boat and in our car before the rest of the passengers who had thier luggage picked up the night before were let off, so it has it's advantages.
It rained for a bit one day and the carpets on deck 6 were soaked and they had carpet dryers going, obviously a leak somewhere!
At a resort, we still have the morning of our check out day, and hang out on the beach with a drink in hand untill 1:00pm, then head off to the airport for a direct flight home. For a 7 day holiday on a resort, you actually get more of a vacation then on a cruise, as your last day on the ship is really a 4 hour check out process!
Will we cruise again - yes, on this boat - no. The good news is that they are replacing this ship next year with a much larger and newer ship due to it's popularity.If you really want to experience seeing some different countries then I would take this cruise. We still prefer the resorts as it is a much bigger bang for your buck, and there is no liquor bill at the end of your trip.
It was worth it though to see Belize and Rotan, and we will definetly go back to those Islands and stay at resorts there.
***Note - If you wanted to do yoga there was a charge for that also!