Occupation:IT project leader / Sr. Programmer
Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: November 13th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My husband and I have taken seven cruises in the past 13 years, prior to this Cruise. Three cruises were on Carnival (Hawaii, Bahamas, Southern Caribbean), one on Holland American (Alaska), one on Royal Caribbean (Key West & Western Caribbean) and two on Norwegian (Alaska and Western Caribbean). We enjoyed all of the cruises. I spent some time on the Internet, researching the ports of call for this cruise. I knew just want I wanted to do at each port.
My husband, 14 friends and I took this cruise together. This was the first cruise for our 14 friends. We all live in Texas (Houston, Austin, Dallas) so we drove to the Houston port. Some of us arrived at the cruise ship terminal at 10:45 and were first in line to board the ship. Boarding was suppose to start at 1:00 pm but started early at 11:30. We were in our ship room by 12:05. We went to the Big Apple restaurant on board for a nice lunch then went back to the room to unpack our luggage.
After a day at sea we arrived in Cozumel, Mexico. My husband, friends and I walked off the ship together. My husband and I visited this port twice before so we knew what was available to do at this port. We walked a couple blocks from the ship and found a snorkel trip on our own. There are people on every corner wanting to take cruise ship passengers on snorkel trips. We rode two glass bottom boats to three snorkel locations over a period of about 2.5 hours. We were charged $25 per person, which included snorkel equipment. We had a fantastic time. We saw lots of colorful fish and an airplane. Be sure to buy an inexpensive underwater camera for the trip. NCL charges about $65 per person for the same trip through their shore excursions. After snorkeling, we did some shopping.
Our next port stop was Roatan, Honduras. We visited this port five years and went to a dolphin show/encounter, offered by the cruise line. This year, we hired an independent person to give us an island tour and lengthy beach stop. My husband and I did some snorkeling. There wasn’t much to see in the water. The cost was $15 per person. The same tour cost about $65 through NCL. After the tour, we did some shopping. We were not real impressed with Roatan.
Our third stop was Belize City, Belize. The cruise ship could not dock at this port because of the coral reef (the 2nd largest in the world) so we had to tendered to shore. We heard that traveling through the Cays at sunrise was beautiful so we experienced that on the top deck from 5:50 am to 6:30. It was beautiful. The ship anchored at 7:00 am. Passengers with morning NCL shore excursions were tendered to shore first. After a 20-minute trip to shore, we arrived in Belize City at 9:30 am. We walked around town and did some shopping. This was our first trip to Belize City so we booked a Catamaran snorkel trip through NCL that started at noon. The cost was $62 per person. We were taken to a small island were we snorkeled around lots of coral and fish. We also did some kayaking. After 3.5 hours, we were taken back to the ship. We had a wonderful time. You can save money by getting your own tour at the dock in Belize City. There are lots of tour choices. The NCL documentation says you will be in Belize City from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. With the tendering and clearing of customs, you will have only from about 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at best.
Our last stop was Cancun, Mexico. The cruise ship could not dock at this port because of the coral reef so we had to tendered to shore. NCL offers free bus rides from the small dock to a tourist shopping center so we spent an hour shopping there. After shopping, we spent a couple hours at a beach near the dock. We did some snorkeling but did not see much. It was a beautiful beach with white sand. We did some more shopping in the dock area. The prices are very different between shops so don’t buy at the first shop. Check out the pricing first.
Be sure to take your Dramamine if you get motion sickness. I got more motion sickness on the Norwegian Sea than all of the other ships I have been on (combined). I wasn’t the only person in our group who got motion sickness on the ship. Maybe the ship does not have stabilizers.
There were no safes in the rooms so we made many trips to the safety deposit box near the courtesy desk. That was very inconvenient.
On the ship, the food was tasty and plentiful as always. The waiters were ok. We found one really good waiter named Imam. Norwegian started Free Style cruising a few years ago. They do not have assign dinner (evening) seating anymore. You are seated at different tables, with a different waiter, with different people each night and you can go to dinner at any time. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. At the end of the cruise, my tips are distributed to all waitpersons, not just my assigned waitperson during the cruise because I did not have an assigned waitperson. Why give great service when tips are not given based on service. Ten dollars per day per person was charged to my credit card for tips. This money was distributed to all ship staff. I believe tips should be given on based on quality of service. Service in the dining rooms was not as good as the other cruise lines. On our other cruise lines the waitpersons were part of the entertainment and you never had to ask for more water, tea or coffee. Cruisers can wear formal or informal (blue jeans) attire in the formal dining rooms in the evenings every night. There are no formal nights but some cruisers wore formal attire on the captain’s night and farewell dinner night. My husband and I prefer to dress up for dinner in the dining room. If we wanted to be more relaxed, we could go to the cafeteria.
Our room steward took good care of our room but we did not get many special services like the other cruise lines. The ship was neat and clean. Safety procedures were good. The nightly shows were great. There were fewer ship events to attend (things to do).