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Herb Dolphins

Age: 71

Occupation:Retired Fire Officer

Number of Cruises: 19

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sea

Sailing Date: August 24th, 2003

Itinerary: New York to Bermuda

Since we live on Long Island, we really appreciated not having to fly to a cruise port. We arrived at the pier at 11:15AM, boarded the ship at 11:30, were enjoying the buffet at noon and I was swimming alone in the pool at 2PM, a rare pleasure since most ships have the pool closed on turn-around day.

CABIN: We had an outside cabin on the lower promenade deck which was small and had the beds arranged in an "L" configuration. We prefer veranda cabins but the ship has none and we hoped to lounge just outside our cabin but unfortunately, there were no deck chairs on the promenade deck. The beds seemed narrow, as was the shower. The A/C worked well and the stewards were efficient.

DINING: This was our first experience with "Freestyle-dining" and we found our previous skepticism was unfounded.

We ate our first dinner in the Seven Seas dining, getting a table for two by the window as we sailed out of New York harbor. We were so impressed with the friendly staff, excellent service, the Maitre 'D Kaya and the quality of food that we had all our meals in this dining room. We were surprised by the excellent variety available at breakfast and lunch and always were able to get a table for two usually by a window. Our favorite entrees Rack of Lamb and Lobster Tails were in evidence as entrees on different nights and we enjoyed double portions of both. We did not try the alternative restaurants as we were so pleased with the food and service in the Seven Seas dining room. We also did not take advantage of NCL's Bermuda dine ashore program since almost all the restaurants were located a few blocks from where the ship was docked and we had seen the dining room menu during the day and saw no reason to pass it up. We were docked every day but had we tendered, we probably would have eaten ashore. We were not impressed with the daily buffet in the Big Apple Cafe. There were many children on board, the buffet was noisy and crowded, tables hard to find so we apprecaited the serenity of the dining room at every meal.

ENTERTAINMENT: The production cast was energetic and talented but Cabaret Lounge where they performed is not a theatre, has poor sight lines, many posts, uncomfortable chairs tightly packed together making it impossible to leave early. There is no balcony.

ACTIVITIES: There many options available including dance lessons by an excellent couple Peter & Beverly. More than one team trivia contest daily, name that tune with a talented pianist Bobby Hamilton who was very creative in presenting his selections for passengers to guess. No shortage of things to do on the ship.

FITNESS PROGRAM: It was nice to see a cruise line that still rewards the passengers who take fitness seriously. The young instructor Michaela gave many and varied exercise classes. Those who attended at least 20 events received a well deserved T-shirt at the end of the cruise. I appreciated the fact that the pool was open from 7AM until 11PM as I like to take a pre-breakfast swim before the kids take over the pool. I even managed a few evening swims when the kids finally left. The pool is longer than most ship's pools and good for swimming laps. I was joined every morning at 7AM by Peter the dance instructor for a good half hour of lap swimming.

DANCING: We enjoyed dancing in the Stardust Lounge nightly to a fine group called "Prism" who played a variety of dance tempos for all tastes. The couple who gave the dance lessons were there nightly to dance with passengers and also demonstrate some intricate ballroom dancing. Sheena, the band vocalist was very popular. In contrast, the other band on board held a "Big Band Dance" one night but didn't appear to have a clue that their music was not from the big band era (rock around the clock?).

EXCURSIONS: I took only one, a snorkeling outing on Friday morning just before we sailed for New York at noon. We went to many Bermuda beaches on our own during the week knowing those not crowded with cruise passengers. We had perfect weather all week and smooth sailing in both directions. This was in contrast to the following week when the ship had to leave a day early to escape fast approaching Hurricane Fabian.

SUMMARY: We were pleasantly surprised with our first NCL cruise and would definitely sail with them again, when kids are in school and on a ship that has larger veranda cabins. We are now converts to Free-style cruising and are happy that NCL is offering year round cruises out of New York.

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