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Norm Prest

Age: 59

Occupation:Transportation Consultant

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Nordic Empress

Sailing Date: April 12th, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Nordic Empress is a fine little ship. I say little because in this age of mega-liners, she's a lightweight, but a pleasant, able, intimate and comfortable cruiser. She sparkles and like all of RCCL's sister ships, is well maintained from stem to stern. Tampa embarkation was a breeze.

The cabins are smallish but adequate and comfortable. Our cabin (8668) pleasant and well equipped.

We (two senior couples) opted to rent a car in Grand Cayman, and happily circumnavigated the island, finding numerous little beaches and scenic points of interest. Our Avis Honda Civic sedan was great, and allowed us to see far more than those booking a shore excursion at a much higher price.

Note: Grand Cayman roads require driving on the left side of the road. OK for us as I have rented in the UK and am still alive to tell the story.

Belize is really a 'third world' rustic destination. The locals are fine, and the shore excursion to the Mayan ruins is definitely worth the trip. Buses used were old Greyhound coaches taken right from New York's East Side Terminal, but were ok for the thirty minute ride.

Because of the shallow waters surrounding Belize, tenders are used to ferry passengers into the port. Ferry process went off like clockwork.

Cozumel was a bustling port city with two other cruise ships in port at the same time. A lot of shopping, but no real bargains.

We again opted for an Avis rental($47.00US for a Cavalier). This was the very best deal ever. We again drove off and circumnavigated the island and found a beach where our wives snorkeled in the crystal waters and we sat under a Mexican palm and sipped ice cold Mexican beer for a few hours and contemplated the unbelievable scenery. We saw a lot and really enjoyed rental car in Cozumel FAR more than those passengers who just booked a shore excursion. MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE TOO. Driving is on the right side of the road in Cozumel.

We booked our rental cars with Avis before we left the States. You seem to get a better deal this way. Be sure to bring a print out of your rental confirmation.

Food on the ship was good but lacked a little imagination. Pretty much hearty standard fare, well presented and fresh. Most experienced cruisers won't be disappointed, as long as you consider what you've paid.

Staff service was excellent from the cabin steward to the dining room attendants. Disembarkation went off without a hitch.

I'd gladly sail on Nordic Empress again.

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