Age: 41 to 50
Occupation:Federal Government Employee
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: December 16th, 2000
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The horror stories that I read on-line before sailing on December 16, 2000, that trashed the ship which supposedly smelled of sewage and had ripped-up carpets didn't prove to be true. Although the horror stories didn't materialize, I wouldn't recommend the cruise. I traveled with my wife and two sons, ages 12 and 14, my brother and his wife, my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law's mother. That makes 9 if you are counting.
We had an inside cabin and it was larger than I thought it would be. We made our own airline reservations and planned our arrival to be in Miami a day early. This was a great decision. We stayed at the Best Western Marina Park Hotel (340 Biscayne Blvd) (affordable). It is directly across from the "Marketplace" which is a marina with shopping, restaurants, etc. From the hotel, you can see the cruise ships docked at the Port of Miami. We figured out that if you sit at the marina and watched an empty boat slip for about 10 minutes, that you could see manatee's coming up for air. That really got the trip off to a great start for the kids. I highly recommend getting to Miami a day early.
Overall, I had a good time and found the Norwegian Wind to be acceptable. There were problems that disappointed me however. The Wind is a nice ship but it's not an awe-inspiring grand ship. I found the Wind to be clean and in good condition. The service was good also. The cabin stewards did a great job. The waiter and bus boy in the main dining room did a good job. I found the entertainment to be good also.
I had two basic complaints about the cruise:
(1) disembarkation at Grand Cayman and the ports themselves, and (2) the overall lack of choice in dining options.
The itinerary looked really good on paper. I was extremely disappointed at our first stop which was Grand Cayman. I really looked forward to going to 7-mile beach. Unfortunately, we were late getting to Grand Cayman and the ship's tenders were unbelievably slow in ferrying passengers to shore. The tenders started ferrying passengers to shore around 10:00am which didn't seem too bad. My group didn't reach shore in Georgetown until 2:00pm and everyone had to be back on the ship by 4:00pm. There went the swimming. We settled for walking around Georgetown and quite frankly there is not much there worth seeing. This got us off on the wrong foot. The next stop was Roatan, Honduras. Roatan didn't have the appeal of a tropical island like Grenada. We rented a van and driver at the port which was easy and toured the island. Roatan was ok but not very awe-inspiring. I remember traveling around islands like Dominica and just being amazed at the beautiful scenery with waterfalls, banana farms, and lush tropical plants. That won't happen in Roatan. Roatan was nice but it just wasn't anything special. The next stop was Belize. I really looked forward to going there. From the brochures, it seemed that this would be an amazing city with a varied culture that would leave lasting memories for my kids. We walked throughout the city and there just wasn't anything there worth looking at. Most of the cruise destinations that I have been to are at least set up for cruise passengers with nice little shops offering local wares to pick from. I honestly couldn't even find anything here to buy and I had money burning a hole in my pocket to spend. Even my kids didn't ask for anything in Belize and that's amazing. At least the Wind wised up and used private tenders to ferry passengers to shore in Belize. The last stop was Cozumel. From the brochures, this stop worried me the most from home because I didn't think that I would find anything to do for a reasonable price. As it turned out, Cozumel was by far the nicest stop on our journey. I went to a beach club for the day called "Playa Del Sol." What a great and economical choice. Highly recommended. I'm not sure that this trip was in the brochure but it was offered on the ship. If it's not offered, it would be easy to take a taxi to and pay the entrance fee upon arrival. The ship's price was actually $1 less than the published entrance fee of $19 which included beach chairs, umbrellas, free drinks (including alcoholic), kayaks, etc. There was also great shopping right at the dock which could occupy many hours. I would say that I felt safe walking around in all of the destinations on this trip.
The food on-board was ok. The kids were not thrilled at the choices (and neither was I for that matter). I was really disappointed at the limited times/places to eat. Before sailing, we had requested a table to accommodate all 9 of us. We ended up split at two different tables next to each other but were reassured that the ship would try and work out a way to connect us up. But, that never happened. From the length of the line at the courtesy desk upon arrival, it appeared quite a large number of other people had similar problems. Other than the main dining room for your three meals, you could go to the Sports Bar at limited times and they had hamburgers etc which were of fair quality. At meal time, you could also pay to eat at their Bistro. We didn't eat there. There was also a very limited pizza bar pool-side open limited hours. In between, if you wanted a snack or a desert, you were mostly out-of-luck. Even the late-night buffets had very limited hours. There was an ice cream bar poolside but it was only open for 2 hours per day. The problem with all of this, aside from not getting what you want, was that everyone on the ship tended to be at the same place at the same time. I stood in lines everywhere on the ship. There was not enough variety, food or otherwise, to disperse everyone whether it be at a restaurant or poolside. Everyone was hearded from one spot to another.
I've gone on about things I didn't like such as tenders, crowds, and the food variety. All in all, I still had a good time. But, in the future, I'll think long-and-hard before spending my money on a Norwegian cruise again.