Number of Cruises: First One!
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Nordic Empress
Sailing Date: July 20th, 2003
After booking this cruise for my Grandmother and me I started reading "complaints", nothing serious, but complains nonetheless. I didn't care as much for myself as I did for my Grandmother.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. While it was a bit of a pain going through the maze to get onto the ship, there were people there to direct us and we did manage to bypass the picture taking.
I was told from some of the repeat passengers that they never saw the Nordic Empress fully booked as it was the week we went. And at times the crowds showed, but it's really all in the way you look at things.
I was very impressed with the way children were handled. I, for one, do not want other people's children under foot when I am taking a vacation away from my own children. And I would have to say the running and squealing may have happened 2 very short times during the entire cruise!
We tried both the Windjammer Cafe buffet breakfast and lunch as well as the dining room. And we enjoyed both very much! There weren't any lines for the dining room so that was a preference of mine.
For dinner, we had the early seating and were seated with a diverse group of people which made it very interesting. You had my Grandmother and me (the nuts of the group, lol), a couple in their late 60's and a family of 2 adults and 2 teenage children who were very mature for their ages. We all enjoyed the diversity. We did have 2 formal nights and the others were casual.
My Grandmother was partial to the Sun Deck, in the shade of course. Often the lounges were all being used, but she always found a nice quiet spot to sit with her coffee and read her book. I often joined her in the morning with a list of things there were to do to see what she would like to do for the day.
If you wanted to see the show at the Strike Up The Band Showroom, you couldn't miss it as there were 2 shows, one for the main seating and another for the late seating. And the shows were wonderful! I happen to be a big Oldies' fan, so I was thrilled when one of the shows was Johnnie Thunder of the Drifters!!!
I was partial to the lounges and would be sure to check them all out each night. My favorite was the High Society Lounge. The band would play there and the karaoke as well. I even got up to sing with the girl from our table one night.
The Carousel Lounge was nice, with a Pianist. I would end my nights there. It was a very relaxing lounge to wind down from the day's activities.
I didn't care much for the Viking Crown Lounge, which was the Disco. But to each his own. I had my other lounges.
Our stops were King's Wharf and Hamilton. King's Wharf was a bit difficult to deal with for my Grandmother. After I bought us each a 3 day bus pass I realized there was quite a bit of a walk to get to the bus stop, especially in the heat. So after getting to the bus stop and having 3 buses pass us (due to the long line we were standing in) I insisted we look at the little tented venders and head back to the ship. When we got to the ship, I grabbed a cab and we took an air conditioned 3 hour tour of the island for $90. We both enjoyed it very much!
The next day I again had to insist we take a taxi to Horseshoe Bay Beach in lieu of the bus. And we both had such a wonderful time at the beach, once we had the umbrella. Unbelievable how much cooler it is with the umbrella.
The next day we decided to take the ferry over to Hamilton and meet the ship there. Yippee, we got to use the bus pass. lol So, by the time we were done what we wanted to do in Hamilton, we were ready to head back to the ship as everyone else got off. We went to the Sun Deck and got lounge chairs! Another Yippee!!!
I don't know whether it was appropriate or not, but our stateroom attendent called that morning and asked if I would like for him to show me some of the nightlife in Hamilton. I accepted and had a nice time.
Oh ... I almost forgot to mention the Don't Stop the Carnival Party!!! If you've never been to it, you've got to try it once! It was so much fun and very island-like. I wish I had gotten my Grandmother to go ... I think she would have loved it.
So, what would I change for the next time? First, I would not buy a bus pass. I recommend using the taxis if you can afford it. Also keep in mind you can share the fare with other people. To get from King's Wharf to Horseshoe Bay Beach was $20. If you are sharing the fare, try to do that ahead of time and NOT in front of the driver ... They don't like for you to share fares.
Another thing I would change is the time of year I would go. There were too many young people (early 20's) who were annoying at times. However, the exception to that is when I take my own children, which I am planning to do next year.
The prices for the Nordic Empress are VERY GOOD!!!