Number of Cruises: 4 (
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sun
Sailing Date: February 5th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Our cruise to the Western Caribbean did not begin until Saturday, but because the four of us were coming into Miami from four different Midwestern and Northeastern cities, we decided to meet in Miami the day before. I chose the Holiday Inn Miami Int’l Airport because it offered free shuttle from the airport and then free shuttle to the Port the next day. We reserved two rooms, each less than $100 per night. I booked this through Priority Club, and we had two lovely rooms. The staff was efficient and we ate dinner in the restaurant on the premises, and it was very good. Both shuttles went smoothly, and we were very satisfied. I would not hesitate to stay there again. We left the Inn at 10:30 am, and arrived at the ship terminal quickly. The NCL staff was there to direct us inside where the embarkation would start. I am a Latitudes member (a perk you can pursue after one NCL cruise) so we were in the group that was first to board. We were on the ship before noon. We had 2 Superior Inside cabins, 9327 and 9328. They were both situated parallel to the hallway, so there was more room that the usual perpendicular set up. There were 2 closets and 2 sets of drawers, a desk, safe, refrigerator and TV. The bathroom had 2 sets of storage shelves and included a hairdryer. The shower had 2 dispensers - one contained liquid soap and the other shampoo. The room was clean, but I discovered later, the linens on my bed were a bit worn - time to be replaced! The room stewards were very polite and did a good job of cleaning and replacing towels etc. The storage space was very adequate for our stuff. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship (it is very helpful to study the ship map before you board) and eating lunch - in the Garden Cafe (buffet). We had drinks in the Observation Lounge, anticipating a 4:00 pm sailing, only to learn (via the Captain) that we would be delayed because a group of passengers had just departed Charlotte, NC on a delayed flight. We ended up pulling out around 7:30. We ate in the Seven Seas (I was familiar with its location from previous cruises, and knew it was less crowded, as it is harder to find than Four Seasons). After a nice dinner, we spent some time in Dazzles (nightclub) and visited the Casino.
The next day was spent at sea, so we were up on the pool deck fairly early (after the breakfast buffet), so we could get good seats by the pool. We relaxed there most of the day, and enjoyed the balmy weather! We started the evening in the Sports Bar to watch the Super Bowl, then had a great Italian dinner in the Seven Seas.
Monday was our first stop (Grand Cayman) and we were looking forward to a ship sponsored shore excursion - Sting Ray City and Reef Snorkel Combo ($89). We met in the Stardust Theater at 8:00 and were greeted by the unhappy news that our excursion had been canceled, due to high winds on the N side of the island. We were disappointed, but decided to take the tender into George Town and then get a cab to the middle of 7 Mile Beach. It was easy to find a cab, and cost $4.00 each. We arrived on the beach at 9:30, and there were very few people. We snorkeled on the reef just out from the beach, and saw more that I had anticipated. We stayed until noon, then got a cab back to town ($2.50 each this trip) and looked around the shops, before catching the tender back to the ship. We saved the money for the intended shore excursion, but I decided to splurge and made an appointment at the spa for later. I had a facial and wonderful back and neck massage for the price of the canceled excursion.
Very much worth the price!!! The “formal attire” dinner was in the evening, so we dressed up, went to the Observation Lounge for drinks, stood in line to have our picture taken with the Captain, and dined on lobster in the Seven Seas. We danced a bit and enjoyed the band in Dazzles. I made my nightly contribution to the casino before calling it a night.
Since we did not have to hurry, we decided to try breakfast in the Seven Seas. We all had the Eggs Benedict, and the usual trappings of a hearty breakfast. The stop that day was Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras. We were docked at the pier until 11:00, when the ship would move out to let another ship in. I had arranged to meet a taxi/tour guide a week earlier. I had read some other reviews on this site, and got the name of a highly recommended taxi service. The site I contacted was firstname.lastname@example.org . Theris herself was busy, but she sent her husband, Herny, in her place. The cost was $25 per person, and we had a wonderful tour and expert narration about the island. We stopped at an Iguana Sanctuary ($5 each) and then made our way to te West End for some snorkeling at a beach that Henry recommended (right next to Tabyana Beach). He then took us into the little town, where the main street is still sand and there is an aura about the place that screams “dive hangout”. The island just got electricity in 1991, but it has grown rapidly. We had a great day at a bargain price! We headed back to the ship and later had “snacks” at Las Robelas (Deck 12 aft) and spent the cover charge for dinner at East Meets West. Very good.
Our stop on Wed. was Belize, where everywhere I I did research, one thing popped up - do a ship sponsored shore excursion, as there was very little to do in town. We signed up for the New River Jungle Trip to the Ruins at Laminae($89). After a speedboat tender, we boarded a bus for a fairly long ride to the river. Our guide was Mayan, and proud of his culture. He did a fine job of narrating the high points of Belize and the Mayans. We boarded a boat for another long ride to the ruins - the only way to get there. When we arrived, we had a lunch (OK) then hiked about a mile to the ruins. The whole experience was different for me ( a “beach bum”) and I did learn quite a bit. But, the whole time, I kept thinking about the neat catamaran snorkel trip I had given up! It was a long day, and I was glad to be back on the boat.
Our last stop was Cozumel, where we had planned to visit a beach resort that I had read about called Nachi Cocom (check out the web site - very clever!). We hailed a taxi and headed for the resort. It cost $15 for the cab (not per person) and we had to agree to spend $15 at the resort in order to use the facilities (pool, beach chairs, rest rooms., hot tub etc) We had a very good lunch, and easily spent the required “cover charge”. The snorkeling was good and the beach was quite. Nice place! We went back to town around 2:00 and shopped until 5:30 - by far the best shopping of the 4 stops, but not as good as St Marten or St Thomas. We ate dinner at the poolside BBQ, a change from the dining rooms.
The next day was a relaxing “at sea” day, so we roamed the ship, buying a few of the many photos taken by the ship’s photographers, checking out the shops and taking care of the details necessary for re-entry into the real world. Two of us played bingo, and 2 bridge in the library. We ate at the Four Seasons, just to compare to Seven Seas - basically, the same.
Because my niece and I both had early afternoon flights, we disembarked with the “Express Group”, and handling our own bags. That was my first time doing that, and it was very stress free - no line. We went through customs, got a cab and were at the airport by 9:00!
Overall, the trip was wonderful. How could anyone not enjoy being pampered in sunny, warm weather for a week!! I am a loyal NCL customer, as I love the Freestyle Cruising - I have not tried any other lines, but I don’t think I would enjoy having to report for dinner in the same place with the same people every night! I have talked to fellow travelers who like that way of doing things, and I suppose I should try it once. I have been on the Majesty, Sky,Dawn and now the Sun. Both the food and service, while very acceptable, just did not seem to be quite as outstanding as the first 3. Maybe I am just getting “used to” the lavish daily routine that is life on a cruise ship. It was still well worth the money, and definitely a necessity for me every year.