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John Fern

Age: 46

Occupation:fiber-optic wire production

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sun

Sailing Date: February 19th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I just returned from this cruise a few weeks ago, and are now suffering from the after-vacation blues. For those of you who are planning a trip with this particular ship, the ports, and crew, I envy you already.

Embarkation went relatively smooth. Naturally, there are long lines, but we kept moving and before we knew it, we were handing over our credit card. Right at that moment, there was a loud clap of thunder, but the skies were clear. Later, I would realize it was the financial storm looming on the horizon. (A little humor to remind you that the bill at the end of the cruise can be pricey if you get carried away.)

After boarding the ship, we found our cabin. We LOVED it! I can’t imagine a better way to go than to have your own balcony. It was great to go out early in the morning, sip coffee and watch the ocean. The only downside was our unfortunate luck to have a small child two doors down who threw a temper tantrum every chance she got.

Little Girl: “I WANT A COOKIE!!!!!

Mother: “But we don’t have any cookies.”


However, if both doors were closed (ours and hers) the sound was so muffled, it was almost inaudible. The soundproofing was excellent, and my early fears about hearing noise from the Stardust Theater below were unfounded.

Our first exposure to the pool area for the sailing away party wasn’t too thrilling. We filled our plates and found a place to sit by the basketball court. If you don’t like the sound of basketballs bouncing off cement, screaming kids, and amplified bands, the pool area should be avoided. Since we weren’t on a quest for the perfect tan anyway, it wasn’t for us.

When we got back to our room, the bags had arrived, so we unpacked just before being called to the lifeboat drill. They have everybody stand in lines, show you how to put on your life jacket, and then walked back and forth yelling something, but we couldn’t tell what it was. A megaphone might have helped. I learned more watching the video they play on the TV in the room, and when I found out they didn’t even check off names as to who was there, I wished we had just skipped it altogether.

The first day at sea is a great time to familiarize yourself with the ship. It’s fun to explore, and it’s so big that you will still be backtracking and double checking the maps on the wall right up until you leave. Always keep in mind if you are AFT or FORWARD, before deciding where you want to go. From some decks, you can’t go forward, and have to...(well, you’ll figure it out.)

We didn’t try all the restaurants. We skipped the fancy ones since I saw no point to have to dress up for dinner and then pay them on top of it. We loved the Seven Seas for breakfast and dinner, and the service was excellent. We ate at the buffet a LOT. The variety was wonderful, and the food was great. My favorite was the desserts, and I ate so much that I began to notice whenever I went from one side of the boat to the other, it tipped.
Since a little exercise was in order, we used the walking/jogging path a lot at night. So many places to stop along the way and look out at the ocean or watch a beautiful sunset, or the moon lighting up the water. Much nicer than the ice and snow we have to look at now. (Pardon me while I have a good cry.)

We booked a tour through NCL for the glass-bottom boat to see the stingrays in Grand Cayman. After stopping in the town of “Hell” we were taken to a boat that took us out to the glass bottom boat. We watched as the diver brought the stingrays around the windows and got plenty of good pictures and an informative speech from the diver at the end.

After that was Turtle City. We were supposed to stop at the beach where the movie “The Firm” was filmed but were pressed for time because one woman didn’t return to the bus at the time we were all told to be there. She was asking a vendor all about Cuban cigars because she wanted to purchase them for friends back in the states, (illegal, by the way) so we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Stuff like this happens, so I kept cool, and hoped that her cigars would be confiscated, and she would be forced to walk the plank.

Back on ship, I was looking through the list of events they give you (daily) and saw a Star Search talent contest. I can sing a little, so I picked out a song from a book they had of everything the band could play and signed up. Having very little experience in front of crowds, I decided to try the Karaoke that night at Dazzles Disco, but chickened out. I wondered how I was going to get up in front of people at the Stardust Theater when I couldn’t even face the slightly tipsy crowd at Dazzles?

The next port was Roatan. From the ship, it looked like a beautiful place. We decided not to do any excursions there, and began walking into the city. I was looking for a place to purchase a set of headphones for my mini-disc player since the airlines stole a pair out of my suitcase. One of the locals told us he could run get his taxi and pick us up, take us to a store, drive us around town, take us to the beach, whatever we wanted for $20.00. It seemed fair to me, so (foolishly) I agreed.

All he did was bring us another taxi, which we (foolishly) got in. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “I’m looking for a store that sells small headphones. Do you know where I can find one?”

Cab driver: “Beach?”

Me: “No, I’m looking for a place in town. A store. The other guy was telling me about--”
Cab driver: “Beach?” We soon discovered he didn’t speak a word of english (except for “Beach”). After sitting in a traffic jam in a hot taxi, we were finally able to get the message across that we just wanted to get back to the ship. (I circled the picture of the ship on the map and showed it to him. He was still confused, so he stopped and asked someone on the street that directed him.

“Why is he driving away from the ocean?” I asked my wife who was as confused as I was. The driver must have picked up on my concern, and just told me, “Back road.”

It was then I realized how vulnerable we were, and also how much cash we were carrying at the time. Of course, we were perfectly safe, but I decided if we got out of this, Karaoke would be a breeze.

He dropped us off at the pier, and we walked back into town, saying “No, thank you” a thousand times to street vendors before finding the store where I bought my headphones. We still made it before the ship had to leave the dock and begin using tenders to bring passengers aboard.

That night, I sang my heart out at the Karaoke taking place in the Observation lounge.

In Belize, we decided to book a tour with someone on the pier. We spoke with a woman named Vida who took us around the city, answered all our questions, and then took us to the Belize zoo. It was enjoyable except when it started to rain at the zoo.

Cozumel was another gauntlet of merchandise vendors, but the Atlantis Submarine excursion was pretty cool. The actual fish (and even sharks {babies}) you see below doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but it’s still kind of neat just going 100 feet down. Although, I was disappointed when they wouldn’t let me fire a torpedo at a passing sailboat. After that, we stocked up on gifts for friends and family and prepared for our last day at sea. That night, we saw the stage production “Que Noche” and marveled at the ability of the dancers. Afterwards, they brought out what appeared to be the entire crew and staff on stage. I thought singing “We are the World” was a little over the top for them, but it gave us all a chance to applaud the wonderful job they did that week.

The last day, I was too nervous about the talent show to dwell on the fact that the vacation was almost over. We knocked around the ship, tried the chocolate deal going on downstairs, and looked at all the photos of passengers.

I sang at the show (it went well, but I didn’t win...sniff sniff.) and after that we took pictures around the ship, and tried our luck at the casino. There was a woman there who had won $1700.00 playing the slots! She was yelling that it would pay for half her trip.

We chose the express disembarkation, and it was a breeze! In less than five minutes, we were waiting for the bus. I always look forward to getting home after a trip, but this time, I knew I was going to miss the ship. I think the times I enjoyed the most weren’t the ports or excursions, but just being on the ship, and taking advantage of everything it had to offer. Mostly enjoying my time on the balcony, sipping coffee and watching the ocean.

When the weight of the world is crushing my shoulders, or the job stress is giving me headaches, or I’m shoveling snow in ten below weather; I will lower my pale into the deep well of memories, and think back to our balcony on the Norwegian Sun. I’ll feel the ocean breeze on my face, and smell the coffee’s aroma while a breathtaking sunrise unfolds before me.

(Of course, I’ll leave out the part where the little girl screams for a cookie.)

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