Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Wind
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
My boyfriend and I (both 30) recently took our first cruise on the Wind. We didn't really know what to expect but had decided we were going to have a good time no matter what! We hadn't done much research on specific ships other than just reviews of cruise lines themselves. We had heard all about the small cabins and the goofy stuff that they do on cruise lines! We were pleasantly surprised at the size of our cabin - we had an outside full window stateroom on the 7th deck - main deck when you first get on the ship. It was in a great location. It was easy to get to the concierge, the excursion desk, the main dining areas and the reception desk. My only complaint would be the size of the shower - but having grown up with a sailboat - it wasn't that big of a deal that as soon as you turned around you were face to face with another wall! A 6 foot person or a large person might have some trouble with the showers! But the room was great and the room steward was the best! AND THE beds were so comfortable! I want to get one for my house! It was nice to have some TV service too in the room - I wasn't really expecting that! We had ESPN sometimes (and sometimes in English and sometimes in Spanish!) But we could keep up with the hockey and basketball scores! We also had CNN and movies - which was nice to fall asleep to! There is also turndown service with mint chocolates!
I'd have to say the highlight of our cruise was the destinations - which is mainly why we were going on this cruise! The one disappointment we had was that we left Miami 2 hours late because we were waiting for 50 people who were stuck on a late flight to get to the ship (They had booked their flights through NCL - which we found out could be a bad or a good thing!- There were people trying to get earlier flights back home when we returned to Miami and they couldn't do it if they booked through their cruise line - I think this applied to every cruise line - not just NCL)
While we were waiting for the 50 people - the crew kept us occupied - the sports bar was open and they had a decent lunch buffet and there was a BBQ by this mid pool deck. I think the ice-cream was open and the pizza bar was open. They were pushing the drinks every where you went too! And the band was playing out on the deck - we sat down and did some people watching (very good for people watchers!) and then went to play some basketball on the top deck!
We finally left and looked forward to dinner. Dinner was good and the waiters and busboys were all great! Even good at putting up with very difficult people! We were lucky and had a great table for two right by the window in the front of the four seasons Restaurant. After the 3rd night the food was getting old. It was all good but kind of bland. We were looking for some spice! I did have one vegetarian meal that had a tomato-based dressing that was kind of spicy but that was about it. We were told that the majority of the clientele liked the more bland food. We were looking forward to the chocoholic buffet! But by the time we got around to it we had already eaten so much food I think our bodies were in "food shut-down" but it was good to go look at and take pictures! We had some small pieces like different brownies and chocolate covered bananas and white and dark and milk chocolate covered apricots and white, dark and milk chocolate rice crispies clusters which were EXCELLENT! the MOUSSE AND puddings were great too and under any other circumstances I would be face first into the pies and cakes!
The only think I was really disappointed in was that we were so late to getting to the Cayman Islands that they cancelled the tours - we were looking forward to going snorkeling at Stingray city. My boyfriend had never been before and I thought that would be very cool! We ended up being one of the lucky people who were on the 3rd tender off to Georgetown - the customs guys were late in getting to the ship too so that was also a bummer (because the ship in front of us had gotten there a few hours late as well.) I was lucky that a friend of mine has been to the Caymans a number of times and told us about a guy who would take us snorkeling and get us back to the boat if we told him when and mentioned our friend's name - so I was thinking we'd do that but by the time we got on the tender we only had 2 hours before we'd have to be back... so we thought we'd just do a little shopping and wander around Georgetown - after all! I'd love to retire there someday - even though I've never been there before! I thought maybe we'd find a real estate place and check things out... What we ended up doing was walking to the right of the docks to explore - we went into the first tourist trap and sampled a number of Rum cakes (blackbeard's) very good and bought a bunch of them too! Then we kept walking towards Eden Rock and saw 2 places where you could rent snorkel gear, grab lunch, etc... so we rented snorkel, mask and fins for $8 and went snorkeling for a couple of hours! It was nice to cool off! At least we got in the water - it wasn't the best snorkeling but it was snorkeling and as soon as you got in the water there were rainbow fish, yellow fish and a bunch of other things I couldn't identify! But they were all pretty and there was a bit of a coral formation there! Good if you have kids or just want to do something! (By the way - I was trying to find our own tours to go on at all of these places and we ended up just going with the tours NCL put together - they were all good!). When It was time to go back to the boat - we were the only wet people and everyone was asking us where and how we got to go snorkeling!!!
The next stop was Roatan - we got there a couple of hours early which was nice! I had no idea what to expect here - we couldn't find any info on the web about Roatan - but we tried! (I probably should mention I have a background in Anthropology and Archaeology and am very interested in different cultures and seeing how people in other places live. My boyfriend is a lot more conservative than I am and likes to go the safe route but I think he felt very comfortable and safe everywhere we went! He's a teacher. ) Roatan is definitely a 3rd world country. The electricity is turned off during the day and goes back on at night when the sun goes down. Just about everyone speaks English. Although this is part of Honduras - this is not the Honduras that you think about when you hear about it on the news - or at least what we saw wasn't. The weather was probably typical - a few showers came through but nothing major - no thunder - just warm rain - nothing really stopped during the showers and they actually felt good! It wasn't overly hot and there was a breeze. The topography was pretty hilly! I'd say it's kind of jungle-like or maybe they refer to it as the woods - I've heard it both ways. We first went into the village to see what they had at the "tourist-trap market" lots of mahogany stuff - bowls, vases, toys, and great paintings! There's a guy named Mark who does some great work if you go in the back of his shop! Those paintings are much more detailed and "special" We bought 2 of them for $25 each. There is a guy who has a spider monkey and he'll let you take a picture with it if you want - for a fee! I love monkeys so I did! (Used to work in the great ape house and the monkey house at the zoo!) There were a few dogs running around - they like tourists! You'll think they're homeless -they're not - they just don't have leash laws! We decided to take the snorkeling trip to Tabiana beach. I definitely recommend this one - I'm not sure what the other tours were but just about everyone said they had a good time! This is a resort that only NCL seems to be using. The guy that owns the place is one of the richest people on Roatan - the workers are great - the lady who rents the lockers was a little terse but she probably had the most interaction with crazy tourists from the ship! There were nice white lounge chairs on the beach! The snorkeling was great! I very highly recommend it! They have glass bottom boats too - the dive staff will lead snorkeling tours - and I think they also had a great scuba tour - I have a friend who goes scuba diving in Roatan every year and she says it's her favorite place to go. We didn't drink any of the drinks they offered - afraid of Montezuma’s revenge! Brought our own water. The chicken and rice they had for lunch was good - they also had fruit and some other good stuff- I had a hard time because as soon as we got food the flies started following us around. There were a bunch of great dogs that would hang out on the beach too! They like to play and eat hotdog and hamburgers - no buns please! They don't like bread!
The trip to Tabiana beach is very hilly and the busses have a hard time going up and down the hills so the whole time we kept saying "I think I can... I think I can..."! But we did! Keep in mind - people live in thatched roof houses with wood or tin exteriors. It's cost efficient for them - but also they spend most of their time outdoors - there are lots of places in the US that kind of look like this! (I’d say this is the most rural of the islands we were on)
The next stop was Belize City - we took a trip to a Mayan ruin site - sad to say I can't remember the name of it now but it started with a T and wasn't Tulum. The tenders went fast - it was fun! Belize City was very interesting to drive through - 1/2 modern - 1/2 primitive thatched roof - with a mix of what would be million dollar houses in Miami (they go for $300K in Belize City!) They have a couple of hospitals too and a big fire/ rescue place. Restaurants looked ok too but we didn't get a chance to check them out. The trip to the site was about 1 hr. on paved and dirt roads - it was pretty interesting to look out the window and see how everyone lived - our tour-guide was very good and gave us lots of details - he had lived there all his life. We had a dud group of people on our trip. our guide gave us about a 1/2 tour of the site and then we had about and hour and 1/2 left to climb on the ruins and explore some of the other buildings we didn't go over and shop through the gift shop. Just about everyone got right back on the bus when he was done!!!! He couldn't believe it! He came over to us and told us to take our time and to go explore more. (I'd say the average age of people on this tour was over 55 - and it wasn't all that hot either! There was a nice breeze and the shade of the jungle - not really any mosquitoes either - there were lots of crickets and a few toads! (no licking!!!)We were quilted into getting back on the bus and spent another hour on the bus back to Belize city where we were dropped off at the "tourist-trap market" I didn't find anything to buy but my boyfriend found a couple of paintings and a jade necklace for his mom. We spent a lot of time talking with a couple that was selling their stuff at the market. The are a mixed couple (black and white) the wife is originally from Belize - lived in Los Angeles for 25 yr... The husband originally from Germany - his name is Mr. Henry - they both lived in LA for a
long time and moved back to Belize about 3 or 5 years ago (can't remember) they have great stories to tell - being that they lived in the states for so long - you get a good perspective. She also does animal rescue if anyone has animal questions!
Then we were on to Cozumel! This was by far our best day! We had a whole 12 hours to be in port! We took the Tulum /Xel Ha tour - it was a long day but a good one! We had to meet at 7:45 AM and then catch the ferry to Playa Del Carmen - looked like a fun town too! Then caught a bus to Tulum (with a stop at the "tourist trap market"! The trip wasn't bad at all! It was about a 30 minute ferry ride! Which was fun - there is a video on that part of Mexico playing while you're in the boat! Then the tour guide was funny! The bus trip was about 45 minutes to Tulum + a 20 minute stop at the tourist trap. Tulum is incredible! It's a bit of a walk - to get there - they have a tram you can take too but there's a line most of the time and it's easier to walk! This is an incredible city! Right on the water - there's a beach! the palm trees are incredible and there are iguana EVERYWHERE! I sat on one by accident! Got a start!!! He looked like a rock! Great picture opportunity! There is a great breeze but this was definitely the hottest place we were on the whole trip - the limestone everywhere doesn't help! Bring your sunglasses! It's bright! We got a good tour and then the guide let us run free for 1 and a half hours. They have a subway there if you're dieing for food! and some good Mexican restaurants. Cafeteria style. Then we went to Xel Ha (pronounced Shell Ha) This was incredible too! The saltwater and a fresh water stream meet in this lagoon - great for snorkeling! If you have time try and swim with the dolphins!!! Or just lounge in a chair or a hammock! (it's about 15 minutes from Tulum) Definitely walk around the whole lagoon! Watch out for iguanas! They are everywhere! You can feed them too! There are some good restaurants here too!
After the bus ride back to Playa Del Carmen and the ferry ride back to Cozumel we had about 4 hours to go change, grab dinner on Cozumel and get some great chips and salsa and HOT HOT HOT sauce and some potent Daiquiris - we weren’t' sure if it was the sea legs or the daiquiri! (we don't drink much - could have been both!) The city seemed very safe to wander around in - not a Tijuana!!! There were police out - and it actually was pretty normal - there is a pizza hut if you're craving - the crew seemed to be running over there!!! Lots of shopping - for everyone! Go to the plaza and just hang out if you get a chance - that's were we ate too! Just walk down the main street away from the dock and you'll see it about 7 or 8 blocks maybe.
All in all! I think it was a great trip! There were times when we couldn't get any food but there was always room service! - The pizza bar was ok, the sports bar was probably the best as far as buffets go! Hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, - make your own - salads, fruits, breakfast buffet was good! We finally found the fruit loops the last morning!!!! If you like cheese it's EVERYWHERE!!!, dinner was good too! Tomato mozzarella and basil salad! The last couple days we discovered that they had Tapas in the observatory lounge during dinner time! (tortellini salad, tomato, mozzarella and basil, toast, bruchetta, seafood stuff (I’m allergic so I don't know what it was - but they had muscles and all sorts of fish)
The 2 things I'd look for in another cruise would be - longer stays at ports - and spicy food! I might just have to bring my own tobasco!
All in all - it was comfortable, a good first cruise and very interesting.