Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: January 1st, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We sailed on the Norwegian Sea January 1st -8th, 2005. What a great way to welcome in the New Year.
After reading a lot of reviews before and after booking this cruise, I wasn't sure what to expect. Some gave the ship and itinerary glowing reviews; others were dissatisfied, so my expectations were pretty low.
I can't imagine how we could have possibly had a better time. The ship was awesome, the food was incredible and the service was top-notch all the way.
Embarkation was as easy as can be expected with 1500 people showing up the same day, checking passports, loading luggage, etc. It took us about 1/2 hour from the time we arrived at the port to the time we walked onto the ship ready to go. There were maybe 200 others in line at the time and it moved quickly. We found our cabin and walked around the ship to get our bearings.
Our cabin was on the 7th deck which was a great location with quick and easy access to the upper decks, pools, restaurants and casino. Yes, the cabin was small, but what do people expect? It had plenty of room for the two of us and all of our stuff. I had read a lot complaints about the small showers. I'm 6 ft. 2 and 250 lbs and had absolutely no problem at all. Do not worry about the size of the rooms or the showers. Hopefully, you won't be spending much time tucked away in your cabin...There's a lot to do.
The rest of the ship was in relatively great shape. Yes, carpets were worn in a few places, (1500 people per week walk across them constantly) and some of the windows were slightly dirty (it's a ship exposed to salt air 24-7). None of this was a big deal to us, and all in all, we found the ship to be beautiful.
The food in the restaurants was incredible. The Four Seasons and the Seven Seas Restaurants serve 7 course meals. The menus are different each night. We loved the Lobster, the steaks, the soups and especially the desserts. I would suggest the four seasons restaurant, from our experience the service was better. Also, they will ask you if you'd mind sharing a table with others. That's really the way to go and we met a lot of great people that way. The Big Apple Buffet was ok if you're a fan of buffets (it's better than most buffet restaurants I've ever seen) with a wide selection and loose dress code. We ate there for breakfast each day. The breakfast buffet had many different cereals, bacon, eggs, smoked salmon, hash, french toast, pancakes, too many kinds of breads and rolls to mention, fruit, juice, coffee, etc. Each morning there were 2 breakfast stations next to the pool area with fresh made waffles, fruit, omelets, etc. We tried the Pasta Cafe one night and found it to be very good as well. You will need a reservation, but it's easily made via phone from your room. Someone we had dinner with mentioned that the restaurants would deliver anything you want to your room any time day or night. We ordered room service breakfast one morning and it was delivered exactly on time and was delicious. We never tried the Bistro because we found all of the other restaurants to be so good.
As far as on board activities, they were seemingly endless with something for all ages and interests. Each day, they will deliver a schedule of activities to your room. Carry it with you because the list is quite long. We went to the art auction which was, to my surprise, fun and interesting. The evening shows were quite good, considering the wide range of people they had to appeal to. The comedian was very funny, the magician was pretty good and the NCL Productions people were amazingly talented. We spent a lot of time in the casino and left a lot of money there. But, hey, we had fun.
The housekeeping crew was excellent. Our room was kept very clean and tidy and was straightened up every time we left it.
The stores on board had great prices on a souvenirs and such. One night they were selling designer knock-off watches for $10 each. We bought 3 of them, and a week later they're all still working. We thought that was a great deal.
We went on a couple shore excursions. In Cozumel, we went to the Tulum ruins (which is not in Cozumel)The tour requires a 1-hour each way ferry ride that was very rough and a bus ride for an hour each way on land. This was a fun, educational trip and our guide was very good at explaining the historic site. We had about an hour or so after the tour to wander through the ruins and board the bus again. All in all, it was well worth the money. We didn't get to see any of Cozumel because of the length of the tour, but once you've seen one Americanized "tourist trap" you've pretty much seen them all. We didn't feel that we missed much. In Roatan we went on the Tabyana Beach Party and Snorkel. Basically they bus you to a beach with great snorkeling. This was probably the most popular tour at that destination. The beach was crowded, but the food was good and the snorkeling was incredible. After we got back to the ship, we walked around the town for an hour or so. There is not a lot of infrastructure in Roatan for tourists, so I'd definitely suggest an excursion at this stop. Belize City was interesting. There was a fenced off tourist area at the dock, beyond that was a very poor, third world city. We took a city tour from one of the cab drivers at the pier. He was very good and showed us all the parts of the city including his own home in the poorest area. After the tour we walked through the downtown area of the city on our own for a couple of hours. The city can seem scary to Americans who aren't used to that kind of poverty, but we felt it was relatively safe and never felt threatened in any way. I would highly recommend getting out of the tourist area at the pier and seeing the real Belize City behind the fences.
Cancun seemed like an American resort city, similar to being in Las Vegas or something. We walked the beaches for a while and rode a free shuttle to a mall. We had a couple drinks at Jimmy Buffets Margueritaville and took the shuttle back. By this point in the trip we had seen enough souvenir stands, tee-shirts shops, etc.
They use tender ships at Belize City and Cancun. I read other reviews where people didn't like this, but we found the whole system to work very quickly and easily.
Disembarkation was a very simple process. Be careful how many drinks you order on board, they really add up. Your final bill includes $10 per day per person for tips for the crew. We actually heard people complaining about that. It's amazing how incredibly cheap some people can be. All of the crew more than earned at least that much money over the course of the week.
All in all, I would highly recommend Norwegian Cruise line to anyone. You would have to be a very picky, hard to please person to find much at all that was wrong with this cruise. The ship, the itinerary and especially the people of Norwegian Cruise line were all top notch and made our trip very memorable.