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Kerry Hoeschen

Age: 21 to 35

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Wind

Sailing Date: April 1, 2000

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I just finished our first cruise.  We traveled the Exotic Western Caribbean Itinerary on the Norwegian Wind.  We were very excited about being "treated like royalty" with the excellent service our friends had raved about.  We left very disappointed. 

When we first entered our stateroom, we were greeted with a used, wet bathmat and an unflushed toilet in our bathroom.  We thought this was just a one time mistake, but this was only the beginning.  As far as our stateroom, every time it was cleaned, we came back to find a dirty toilet.  One time, when we returned from our dinner, the room hadn't been touched.  We had to call the reception desk to have someone come and do it.

Our dinner service fell short of our expectations.  We sat at a table with one other couple.  We were located right next to a table of eight.  It was evident from the beginning that the larger table was getting much better sevice than we were.  From not getting our waters filled, to not getting our coffee until well after the dessert, we were all disappointed with the service. We watched our waiter and assistant waiter fawn over the larger tables around us, while we sat with little attention given to us.  After receiving extremely poor service for three dinners, we finally complained to the Maitre D.  The next night, we received much improved service, which was ignited by angry stares and pointing by our Maitre D toward our assistant waiter.  The service fell off again after that. The service at breakfast on our last day was the worst you could imagine.  Tips were already given and the wait-staff exeplified it.  People did not get what they ordered, it seemed a struggle to fill coffees, and the food was burnt.

Most of the time the food was very good,  We each tried new things, some good, some bad. Though we had read the Italian food contained some odd spices, I did not experience that.  The buffets were wonderful, especially the Mexican buffet served while in port at Cozumel.  There was always a vegetarian option that often sounded better than the regular menu items.

The ports of call on the cruise were wonderful!  At Grand Cayman we went to 7-Mile Beach.  Soft sand and clear water, it was very nice.  We went parasailing and had a blast. 

Our next stop was Roatan, Honduras.  This third-world country made some of us feel bad when we saw the conditions of the native peoples.  The landscape was lovely and the beaches were gorgeous.  We did the sea-kayaking in West Bay.  The tour guides were great, the Cannibal Cafe was fun, and the "Killer Rum Punch" was excellent.  We kayaked quite a long ways.  It was easy to learn and quite fun.  This was followed by snorkeling along the coral reef.  This was also a wonderful experience!

Our third port was Belize City, Belize.  The weather caused the cancellation of our snorkeling at "Shark Ray Alley" so we are planning to return.  Instead, we decided to go to "The Smokey Mermaid" for lunch.  This was the best food we ate on our entire vacation!  My wife got the shrimp burger (not a patty as we are used to, but a pile of the best tasting grilled, seasoned shrimp we had ever tasted!)  I ordered the popcorn shrimp.  I was expecting some tiny shrimp, bu received about 8-10 fried shrimp, each bigger than my thumb!

Our last port was Cozumel, Mexico.  We tried "Discover Scuba".  This was the most fun excursion we took during the cruise.  The instructors were great, the dive was excellent.  From the corals, to the fish, to a spoted eagle ray that swam by, we fell in love with the sport and now plan to get certified.

The entertainment on board was faily good.  We especially enjoyed the piano bar in the evening.  The decks were crowded, and on days at sea, it was difficult to find a chair, especially near a pool.  We opted to sit in the "wet bar".  The water was cool, but you got used to it and it allowed you to "people watch". 

I would not recommend taking the cruise on the Norwegian Wind, mainly due to the service.  In addition to what I have mentioned, the first day at the excursion desk was chaos and was ill-planned.  This was echoed by the atmosphere of the main lobby on the last day.  There were angry vacationers trying to get information about their room charges that were leaving disgusted.  All in all, I would rate the ports of call a 10, but the ship/cruise line a 3.  I cannot see myself booking another cruise on NCL.

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