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Age: 24


Number of Cruises: first one

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Nordic Empress

Sailing Date: December 20th, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Our family had a mediocre experience on this cruise. It was the first time for many, so we do not have another cruise to compare this to. Our experience was compounded by many medical illnesses that my family had while we were on our cruise. I suggest to everyone to get cruise insurance. Our medical bills are in the thousands. The ship is one of the oldest one on the fleet, but it is well maintained. It was decorated for Christmas which was a nice touch. The cabins were very small, especially the one we were in on deck 7. The beds were uncomfortable as well, but I took many naps on the sun deck. It is also a smaller ship so my grandparents were seasick from the rocking. I heard this is less noticeable on larger ships.

The staff was very helpful and worked hard to accommodate our requests. We had an excellent waiter who made dinner very lively. However, the food was less than desirable. The dinners in the Carmen were gourmet, but very bland in taste. The presentation was nice but tasted like cafeteria food. I was looking forward to fresh fruit and juices, but everything came from a can. The Windjammer Café was a nice option if you didn’t want to have a formal meal, but the lines were long and the food was the same every day.

There were a variety of activities on board, including bingo, line dancing, theme parties, and rock climbing. We wanted this to be a relaxing vacation, so we spent most of the time by the pool or at the casino. The sun deck is small and it was difficult to find lounge chairs. There was a thirty-minute saving period before it was available again. There didn’t seem to be an overabundance of kids running around, so that was nice.

The evening shows were good. Just make sure you know what time they are being held. Sometimes there were two showings after each dinner, while others there were just one between meal times. The shows were different each night: musical, comedian, Christmas special, etc. Go early to get a good seat.

Our ports of call were good. Grand Cayman had high winds and many of the water excursions were cancelled booked from the ship. However, I booked our stingray snorkeling through another company and was able to go. It’s a great trip, highly recommend it. In Belize, I went cave tubing through the jungles. I also booked this through an outside company. It was much better since there were only 9 of us and the tour guide tailored our trip to what we wanted to see. My parents saw the Mayan ruins and enjoyed it. They just found a guide once they were off the ship and was much cheaper. In Cozumel, there is tons of shops and great jewelry to buy. We also visited Chakanaab Nature Park. This is a great option. They have beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, nature preserve, restaurants, and dolphin encounters. You can spend a full day here.

Overall, it would have been a good trip if everyone had been healthy. I would recommend the ship if you have an older group going since there is less walking around and more intimacy with the other vacationers and crew. However, younger people might like a larger ship. I enjoyed the ports and would suggest going to the Western Caribbean again.

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