Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: July 10th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was the fifth cruise we had taken, but the first that we had taken our children aboard. They are 18, 20 and 22. We purchased them an inside room down the hall on the third deck. We drove to Houston from Dallas the day of departure without any problem of getting to the Port of Houston about noon on Saturday, and went through an easy booking process. We were Latitudes members since we had previously sailed on NCL. We got to bypass the lines and were on the ship in 30 minutes. The boats was completely full this week, so the lines were considerable. You can drop off and check your bags right in front of the port building and don’t have to handle them again. Our were not delivered until after dinner the first night, but most were delivered in the afternoon. The parking was very convenient. Only about 50 yards from the port check in. $49. Per week. The ship operates 7 days a week and you can get lunch as soon as you enter the ship. There is a BBQ on the pool deck, but the Seven Seas dining room is also open. You can get drinks 24 hours a day and will be asked if you want a drink about 100 times per day. They are not pushy and don’t seem to care if you say no, even in the shows or piano bars. The problem is getting something that does not have alcohol in it. You can purchase a unlimited “pop card” for $28, and any waiter will get them for you at any location. Getting water or iced tea means going to the buffet line, where they only have very small glasses. (take a large thermal mug).
The first sight of the ship was awesome for our children. We had sailed on the Sea in 1990 and did not see many changes. They keep it in good shape and are always cleaning and repairing things.
We found our room, and put down our carry on luggage. Yes, the room is small. Yes, the bathroom is smaller. But both were fine for two people. A lot of people tried to cram their kids in with them which should not be allowed. You will not have a good time. The rooms are the size of a 14 foot travel trailer with no place to sit other than the bed. The rooms must be well insulated because we never heard anyone from any direction at any time. We were in the middle of the aft section, so we did have some engine noise and vibration but it was more relaxing than annoying. Our children had an inside cabin with 3 sides exposed to hallways or elevator rooms and said they did have some noise problems. The rooms have plenty of storage and we brought a lot of clothes. One mistake we made was that we purchase a very large suitcase on wheels. I turns out it was to thick to fit under the bed, so it took up valuable space for the entire cruise. Don’t take suitcases with a width of over about 12 inches when empty. We had no problem with the bathroom being small. I did turn off the shower whenever I bent down to pick up the soap. They do provide a liquid soap and shampoo dispenser but my wife uses her own soap. We always had hot water. We asked for extra towels which were always given. Another thing we did wrong. We brought our own beach towels. Never took them out of the bag. The ship has beach towels you check out each day very simply and bring back and check in as you reboard. There is a hair dryer, but my wife brought her own. We also took a travel iron, but we never used it. Ship is much to casual to worry about wrinkles. (More on that later). The cabin steward was great, although we sometimes felt we were inconveniencing him if we were in the room when he wanted to clean it (twice a day). He would just wait outside the door until we left. He did make towel animals each night and got us anything we needed.
The food in the 4 Seasons and the 7 Seas dining room was good, but not great for all the dinner meals. The service was great in both restaurants and the food is the same. It is easier to get into the 7 seas for some reason so we ate there most nights. We ate at the pasta dining room (reservations required) one night. It was nothing fancy, but did not cost anything, so we did it. Schedule it towards the end of the cruise when you’re a little tired of the other dining rooms for a change. We did not eat at the bistro, where you had to pay a cover charge, but did the last time we sailed on the Sea (and they did not charge a cover charge) and it was nice. The dress code “resort casual” has been taken a little far and was not enforced in any of the dining rooms. I saw kids in bathing suits and a man in flannel pajama bottoms and many men in shirts without a collar. It was pretty much anything goes. We were disappointed in how casual it has gotten. With the costs of cruising getting so much cheaper, the number of people bring children and teenagers has dramatically increased. If you want a upscale cruise with classy cruise mates, don’t choose this cruise. This is definitely a “beer drinking crowd”. We noticed alcoholic drinks being sold to kids in the 15-16 years old area. For breakfast each morning, we took advantage of the poolside waffle station and omelet stations, which were good. The Big Apple buffet lacked a little in quality and cleanliness and was not air conditioned very well. We usually ordered a breakfast snack for each morning by putting out an order form each prior evening. This was a great idea to get you going with a little coffee and pastry while dressing. We didn’t use room service other than that, but our children did fairly often because they wanted pizza and junk plain food they could not get elsewhere.
Sunday is a day at sea. We spent much of the time on deck sunning and dipping in the pool to cool off. Being from Colorado, it was very hot for us, but we stuck it out and used lots of sun tan lotions. There is a BBQ each day on the pool deck to pick up something to snack on.
Our first stop was in Cozumel. We all loved it. You dock at the downtown pier and walk into a brand new outdoor mall complete with subway and burger king. We walked down to Panchos Backyard, shopping along the way, to eat lunch. The lunch and margaritas were fantastic there. We then took a taxi ($12 for 5, $15 to get back) to Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club and relaxed on a great beach and did some snorkeling. We were able to get an umbrella with no problem. It is all free. I have read that they want you to purchase something there, but no waiter ever came by to ask. They do have a small market there with 10-20 stores where you can get everything you can get in town so you might as well go strait there. The water is clear, the beach is all sand. They have all the water sports for rent or snorkeling trips right there for less than on the ship. We did not use any of the cruise offered excursions. We were more interested in going to the beaches at each location.
Tuesday we went to Roatan. Roatan and Belize are two stops where you might want to think about taking excursions. In Roatan, on the dock, we hired a van with a English speaking guide for $20 per person. They drove us all over the island. She was able to give us lots of information and history regarding Roatan as we drove. We went to the iguana farm which costs an extra $5, but was very interesting. They have monkeys, birds, fish, turtles, etc. you can feed and touch. We then went to each at the light house rest. In the West End Village. It was good but took 2.5 hours. The town of West End Village is not near as quaint as described in the tour pamphlets and we got sand flea bites all over our legs.. The West bay beach is nice but not near as nice as Mr. Sancho’ s in Cozumel. If I had to it over again, I would go strait to West Beach via taxi and spend the day there. The island of Roatan is very depressed.
Wednesday was Belize. In Belize, you take a 20 minute tender into Belize City. Form there we walked 2.5 blocks through a war zone to the Marine terminal and took a 45 minute water taxi to Caulker Cay. Don’t Bother. Very dirty little town with no good beaches (pictures can be very deceiving). We did have a good lunch at the rainbow rest.
Thursday was Cancun. You take a very very long slow tender into a pier at Fat Tuesday’s. All sorts of very pushy salesmen there. My daughter got a henna tatoo on the pier. Pier and beach are very crowed but a lot of fun. We wanted to take a water taxi to Isla Mujures, but the ship was a hour late docking and we would not have had any time there. When purchasing a shore excursion, think about the time allowed. It takes a couple of hours to get to Tulum and a couple of hours back. You might just have an hour there. Pretty expensive for $100 per person. If you have time to get to Isla Mujures, they have a great beach and rent a golf cart to see the island. This trip we went on the free bus to the Francisco mall, ate at Margaritaville (1 meal is enough for 4 people) Food is great.. And then came back and beached it at Fat Tuesday. 2nd favorite stop behind Cozumel.
We went to a show each night. We loved them all. The first night we saw the comedian, Sam Griesbaum. Don’t miss him. The NCL production team put on 3 shows while we were there, and we saw all of them. They were great. All of the entertainment on board was great.
For the cost of the cruise, it is worth it. Definitely not luxurious. We found a few places we want to go back to. Cozumel and Cancun/Isla Mujures. If we cruise again, we will probably go on a more upscale cruise ship/with a balcony and longer times in port. I hear some ships do overnights in Cozumel and Cancun. That would be fantastic. The “Sea” was better than the Carnival ship we went on, but not as nice as Royal Caribbean. If you have gone on a nicer newer ship, you will probably not enjoy yourself on this cruise.