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Kara Jones

Age: 28

Occupation:Mortgage Banker

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: June 26th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was the first cruise we had ever taken, and we had a fabulous time. I went with my mother and my 3 year old daughter - it was a girls trip, we left the guys at home. We drove to Houston the night before and stayed at the Hilton at Clear Lake - it was very nice.

We got to the Port of Houston about noon on Saturday, and went through an easy booking process. We were on the boat by 1.

Having never been on a cruise before, we weren't sure what to expect. But our first sight of the ship was awesome. I had read many reviews from other cruisers leading up to this cruise, so I had heard both good and bad comments. We went into this cruise with a positive outlook, and we had a great time. I am not one to gripe and complain about the tiniest things, though, and some of the other comments I've read seem like that's all those people like to do - find something to complain about. But, on to the cruise....

Rooms:
We found our room, and put down our carry on luggage. Yes, the room is small. Yes, the bathroom is small. But both did the job they were meant to do. We were on the Promenade deck, with an oceanview room, which was actually a room with a view of the basketball court. They kept the balls locked up at night, so there were no late night games going on. The only time I ever heard the basketballs were if we went to the room in the middle of the day to take a nap. Also, we were 2 floors below Boomers Disco, so we heard that music later in the night, but again, we didn't let it bother us. We were usually so exhausted by the time we got to bed at night, that we went right out, music and all. However, I think next time we are going to try and get a room lower in the ship.

Food:
After getting our luggage organized, we headed up poolside for a barbecue. It was great food. For the most part, we ate in the 4 Seasons Dining Room at night. We ate in the 7 Seas once and the 4 Seasons the other seven nights. The service and food were great in both restaurants, we just preferred the 4 Seasons because the first night we ate there, the waitresses were so nice to my daughter, and those were her "friends" so we went there most nights so she could see them. Let me just say, the staff on this ship was outstanding. They were all so friendly to us, and especially to my daughter. Everywhere we were at on the ship, all of the staff were friendly and courteous. The food was great also. We tried lots of things that normally we wouldn't eat, but we figured that's what cruising was for. The pizza in the Big Apple Cafe was really good, too. I don't think we ate anything that we didn't like. We did not try the LeBistro restaurant though, we were doing just fine in the main dining rooms. For breakfast each morning, we took advantage of the poolside waffle station and omelet stations, and then the Big Apple Cafe. It was all great. I can't get used to having to make my own breakfast since I've been home.

Ports:
Our first stop was in Cozumel. We took a taxi to Chankanaab and relaxed on the beach and did some snorkeling. I was able to walk down the steps and just have fish swimming circles around it. My 3 year old loved it. It wasn't very crowded, so it was nice and relaxing, and we were able to relax under a tree. The park was beautiful, and we didn't even get to see all of it. We then headed back to town for some shopping. The only downside to this was that they are doing some construction on the sidewalks, and they can be pretty treacherous with a stroller. But we made it okay, and came back to the boat with lots of goodies.

Tuesday we went to Roatan. From reading reviews online and doing some searches on the internet, I found out about Sante Day Spa and Wellness Center. It was awesome. Angela from the Center was waiting for us at the pier and the three of us, plus a family of four, loaded into a van and drove through the countryside to her place. She was able to give us lots of information and history regarding Roatan as we drove. We then took a small boat to her beautiful home. Here we were treated to the ultimate in pampering. My mom and I both had massages, and they were excellent. I highly recommend this, but book early, as they only take a limited amount of people. Her website is www.santewellnesscenter.com. We spent the day there relaxing and enjoying their private beach, and also did a little snorkeling there as well.

Wednesday was Belize. We had signed up for one of the ship's shore excursions to the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins. We tendered to shore and then got on a nice air conditioned bus that took us on the hour long journey to the ruins site. The tour guides were very informative, and it was a nice relaxing trip, although most of the passengers were still asleep since we got to this port at 8 in the morning. The ruins were very interesting, and we were also able to climb to the top of one of them. Be warned, it's a steep climb, but it's an awesome view from the top. We also did a little shopping when we got back to Belize, and then we took a bumpy tender ride back to the ship.

Thursday was Cancun. Originally I didn't have anything planned for Cancun, but the night before we decided to check and see if there were any shore excursions that weren't full. We ended up going on the Avalon Bay Beach and Shopping excursion. It was beautiful. We took a tender into Cancun, and then boarded another boat, which took us to Isla Mujeres, and the Avalon Bay beach resort. We found a palapa and dropped all our stuff under it and then walked into town to do a little shopping. The beaches here were beautiful, and not very crowded. It was very relaxing. The Avalon Bay resort also had a children's hut right by our beach chairs, so my daughter was able to enjoy some cartoons while we laid out on the beach. They also have non-motorized sports included in this package (kayaking, paddle boats, etc) and we did a little kayaking in the ocean, which was fun. We then boarded our little boat and headed back to the dock so we could be tendered back to the ship.

We thoroughly enjoyed all of our shore excursions.

Shows:
We tried to go to a show each night, although some nights we were too worn out to make them. The first night we saw the comedian, Sam Griesbaum. He was hilarious. We even bought a CD to take home, and it is very entertaining. The NCL production team put on 3 shows while we were there, and we saw all of them. They were great, and my daughter loved all the singing and dancing. We stayed in the night of the magician (I can't remember his name off hand), but caught him in the variety show the last night, and wished we'd seen his whole show- it was great. All of the entertainment on board was great.

From reading other reviews, I had picked up a few tips, so I made sure I had packed one of those Car Jar deodorizers from Yankee Candle. Not that our room stunk, but it sure helped to freshen up the place. I got the Ocean Breezes (or something like that) scent and it smelled great in our room. I also bought the Coke Card when I got on board so that I could have unlimited cokes throughout the trip, and that was helpful.

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I just know that we had a wonderful time. We were already searching the internet for cruises for next summer. Unfortunately, NCL won't be going out of Houston next year, so I'm not sure what we'll end up doing. This was a great trip, we had a blast, and we would definitely do it again. My suggestion is to just go in with a positive attitude, and don't nitpick every single thing. Have a great time and enjoy your vacation!
 

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