Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sea
Sailing Date: January 8th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My wife and I just returned from the "Texarribean Cruise" offered by NCL out of Houston on the Norwegian Sea.
The cruise was for 7 days and was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed it so much we booked our next cruise while we were on board. (The discounts for doing so are quite good.)
The Norwegian Sea is one of the older vessels in the fleet (1986) but was well maintained and very clean. Everyone was very friendly, courteous and helpful from the people checking us in at the port of Houston to the room stewards.
NCL offers "Freestyle Cruising", which means you do not have mandated times to eat and can sit where you want. I found this to be preferable to the standard cruising format. (Especially since this was an anniversary celebration for my wife and I.) We did have the opportunity to "share" seating on several occasions (for those who like meeting other people on a cruise) and did take advantage of that.
We found the food to be quite tasty whether on the Pool deck, in the in the Big Apple Cafe or the Seven Seas Restaurant. Food was available all the time. Don't miss the Chocoholic Buffet! Even if you don't like chocolate (is there anyone?) You have to see this one to believe it!
On our special evening we went to one of the surcharge restaurants, Le Bistro. Here they serve food that is above and beyond the standard fare. No kids, no noise, just a quiet romantic evening as we watched the lights of Cozumel fade off in the distance. The food was exceptional and so was the service.
The shows on board were all very Professional and entertaining. The comedian Sam Greisbaum had me laughing like I've never laughed before!
Two nights of Karoke were available for those who like to be a part of the show and they even had a Starseeker Showcase (NCL's version of a talent show) The people were all very good.
The Excursions we chose were great. If you like speed, I highly recommend the Hideaway Beach Powerboat excursion in Cozumel. You drive a small, very quick speedboat, jumping the waves as you race toward a secluded island getaway. Once there we got typical Mexican food on the beach, then played volleyball, walked the beach, then laid under a beach umbrella and enjoyed a little Siesta time. The ride back was even more fun as we now had some experience in handling the small speedy boat!
This trip visited Cozumel, Roaton, Belize City and Cancun. We did not get to pull into Cancun. (There were no other ships there either)
Cancun is a "tender" port where small boats come out to take you ashore. The seas that morning were 5 to 6 foot. This made it difficult for the ship to anchor in the shallow waters and impossible for people to transfer to the tender boats.
Having spent a number of years at sea in the military; I think the Captain made a good decision to cancel this port of call. The crew and staff went out of their way to make this day enjoyable for all. Fortunately the sun was shining so a day by the pool was on the top of our list!
The Norwegian Sea will not be in service on the "Texarribean" itinerary much longer (she is being moved to another part of the world) a brand new ship will be taking this cruise over in the near future.
We preferred a cruise that was simple and elegant without all of the marching bands and hoopla fanfare. Norwegian fit the bill for us.