Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: January 1st, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My wife and I sailed out of the Port of Houston on Saturday January 1st, 2005. The ship we sailed on, the Norwegian Sea was a smaller ship which allowed it to depart from Port of Houston. We spent Saturday afternoon, evening and all day Sunday at sea. Sunday was very very very windy. We attempted to lay out on the upper decks but we only lasted about an hour because the wind just wasn't comfortable. We then decided to find a less windy place where we could relax. We found our way to deck 6 which was the deck designated for joggers and walkers. We actually found a bench on one side of the ship where the sun was that was completely blocked from the wind. We decided to drink the bottle of champagne we had purchased the day before. We quickly found that without any wind, it was a beautiful day. We sat, basking in the sun until we had finished our champagne, at which time we were both extremely hot. We did not want to get sun burnt on the first day at sea so retired out of the sun for the rest of the day.
We arrived at our first port, Cozumel on Monday January 3rd. The wind was still blowing but not at near the force it was on Sunday. We were scheduled to dive at Cozumel and were both very excited. Being from Kansas, we don't have a lot of diving opportunities. We dove two reefs with the Snorkel Center, Santa Rosa and Paradise Reef. The dive crew was good and the dives were great once I got the right amount of weight. The Caribbean water must have more density than the Pacific which I usually dive. After adding more weight twice, I sunk like a rock and the dive was wonderful. We returned to the boat dock with a few hours to spare, dumped our dive gear on the ship and headed to explore Cozumel. We did some shopping and ended up at Carlos and Charles drinking margaritas. Cozumel was a blast and I wish we would have had more time there.
Our second port of call was Roatan Honduras. We got on a bus at the dock and headed through town to Anthony's Key for our second dive of the trip. The drive through town was an excursion in itself as the primitive streets of Roatan were not designed for buses. I have read in many dive publications how great Anthony's keys are. Apparently everyone else has also. There were way too many divers which has a tendency to drive off the more rare sea life. The dive operation was nothing more than adequate and the dive masters were very impressionable. Fortunately we didn't have to venture onto the beach, where some of our fellow divers told horror stories about the sand flea bites they received the last time in Roatan. After diving we boarded the bus and headed back to the pier. It took about 45 minutes to get back. After seeing Roatan from the bus, we decided not to venture into town and spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool. We had the afternoon barbecue for lunch which had more than enough choices to offer.
Our third port was Belize where the cruise ship had to anchor outside the reef and tender passengers to Belize City by high-powered boats. We were signed up to dive the Turnoff Atoll with Hugh Parkeys Dive Operation and the dive boat picked us up right from the ship. After a short stop at their dive shop to secure gear, we headed across the great Atlantic Reef to the Atoll. The boat ride was great and the water was as blue as could be. This was the dive I had been waiting for and I wasn't disappointed. The dive masters and the boat Captain were exceptional. They made the dive very relaxing and enjoyable. The Atoll was unbelievable. The visibility was around 100 feet and the coral and fish had more colors that I had experienced in all my previous dives in Maui and Lanai. In between dives a rain storm blew in but didn't last long. You really don't know it's raining if your 80 feet below the water. We were returned directly to the ship. Again we chose not to go to Belize City but only because we were too tired from 3 days of diving. The passengers we spoke to who went to Belize City or took other excursions around Belize seemed to really enjoy them also. I am definately planning on returning to Belize when I have more than 8 hours to spend.
Our last port was Cancun, and again the ship had to park outside the reef and tender passengers to shore. This was our scheduled day of relaxation. The tender arrived at Cancun in a timely fashion and we decided to take a taxi to the shopping mall instead of waiting for the free buses. The taxi driver was very informative and suggested we may want to go to the more authentic market instead of the mall we were planning on, which was very Americanized. We decide to check out our planned mall first and if time allowed we would explore the market. As it turned out I forgot my wallet and only had limited cash so we had to return to the ship prematurely. If you are tendered to shore, make sure you have everything you need. This killed about an hour of our already limited time in Cancun. We decided to shop right around the dock once we got back to land. We found everything we were looking for just minutes from where we were dropped off. This gave us a couple of hours to relax at Fat Tuesdays, right on the beach. This was great. We had a great time just sitting on the beach, drinking frozen creations and people watching. We were told the last boat left at 4:30 but after noticing the crew was in no hurry to get on the 4:30 boat, we waited for another and sure enough, there was 1 more.
Our last day was spent at sea crossing the Gulf of Mexico. This time there was no wind and it was absolutely perfect (except we were heading the wrong way, back to reality). I laid at the pool, while my wife had her nails done at he spa. Once she returned we spent several more hours in the sun, before we were both as sun burnt as we wanted to get. At least when we return to KC and 0 degree weather, it will look like we have been to the Caribbean.
Overall, we had a great time. Although this ship was a little small and we could definately feel the waves, with Dramamine and wrist bands, we both survived without getting seasick. Norwegian is replacing this ship with a much larger one in August which will eliminate some of the motion. The food on the ship was good enough. In the main dining room, there was always foo-foo food as I like to put it, but I could always order a chicken breast and baked potato. The Cafe always had a large selection of food which was always pretty fresh. For breakfast, the poolside buffets offered made to order omelet's and waffles. There was always a poolside barbecue over lunch that had a lot to offer. The only food we had which wasn't edible was the pizza. I didn't like the fact that I had to purchase soft drinks on this cruise. I understand if you want canned or bottled soda, but fountain drinks are very cheap and I thought they could have been offered for free. Also Norwegian is great (or terrible) about constantly hassling you to buy their merchandise. I never knew there could be so many different types of souvenirs cups, bags, water holders, keychains, tee-shirts, etc. At times I felt I was hassled less in Mexico. Of course if you are like me and have no problem saying no, you will be alright. Although we really liked the itinerary, I think it would have been nice to stay over night in either Cozumel, Cancun or Belize even if it meant missing Roatan. I feel 2 days in any of these ports would have been more enjoyable. Hope this gives you plenty to ponder as you plan your cruise. We are already planning on cruising with Norwegion in May on The Pride of Aloha.