Norwegian Cruise Lines
Ship: Norwegian Dream
Port: Houston, Progresso, Mexico, Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize to Houston
Length: 7 Days
Date: Oct 21st, 2006 to Oct 28th, 2006
A “great” cruise for the price. NCL continues to deliver “value” to the cruiser. In addition to “value” they offer a variety of food choices with the NCL FreeStyle dining program. A great entertainment experience and a relaxing atmosphere for a smaller ship. This is not a mega-ship class ship. It is an older ship that has been well maintained. Overall rating from 1 to 5, with 5 the best, we rated the cruise a solid “4 . This was a week for vacation, rest and relaxation, and lots of fun.
The check in time was 5 minutes at 2:30 PM when arriving at the terminal. Security check points went quickly. We had an hour delay after check in waiting for “wheelchair” assistance for my 82 year old father. Finally we boarded, after an aggressive check-in clerk helped us. If you need wheelchair assistance from the terminal to the ship be expected to wait for the chair. It’s a long gangway from the terminal to the ship, and you best be in good shape for the walk and climb up the ramped gangway. Once greeted at the security desk and entering the ship, you are directed to your stateroom. Bags were delivered very fast to the staterooms.
The Dream offered a variety of restaurants, most great, one average.
On this trip the “dining” experience proved a far superior dining experience than the “American way”of buffets, and quick foods. The Dream offered a daily buffet ( located in the Sports Bar) that would be offered by any American buffet restaurant chain. I felt the lunch would have been a $6.49 buffet priced meal, while the dinner would be priced at $8.49 here in the USA.. The main problem at breakfast and lunches, was the Sports Bar had limited seating. The volume of passengers to small space allocated for a “buffet” was just too much to handle at times. The “dining” experience in the Terrace, La Trattoria. Le Bistro, and Four Seasons, provided outstanding 5 star service and food selection. The thought of a cruise and eating buffet type food, hamburgers, and pizza, did excite me. The dining in these areas mentioned was excellent. The service from the staff EXCELLENT. The menu selection: EXCELLENT. The food prep and plating: EXCELLENT, the food was served hot, and timely. When wine glasses looked empty, the staff was there to fill up. Impeccable service and atmosphere was provided. The experience was totally gourmet service. Dining starts at 5:30, and expect a short ten minute wait in line to get in. After a day returning from port in the heat of Mexico, the Dream passengers were always eager to eat. Suggest paying the $15.00 cover charge at Le Bistro. Five star service and gourmet food, intimate atmosphere. Menu stays the same every day at le Bistro. La Trattoria for Italian cuisine. Great ocean views. Four Seasons, midship, clearly the main dining room was EXCELLENT, both service, menu selection, and overall quality. Bar was service excellent, in all areas. On the formal night, be sure to make reservations, or expect a wait. That night the amount of passengers choosing to use the dining rooms increases because of the upscale service, when most passengers dress up. We once again enjoyed the Martini Clinic at Lucky’s Bar. For $15.00 it was well worth the education and fun and meeting new friends. Coffee Bar is “high priced”. All restaurants were very clean. Outside eating areas get messy as the passenger seating is limited, so you may see passengers consuming breakfast or lunch sitting in the side deck of the swimming pool as it provides some seating space. Lots of food available and expect to gain weight. It’s part of the cruise experience to just experience the food itself. The Chocolate Buffet held at 10:45 PM, is always spectacular. It’s 400 lbs of chocolate lovers delight.
Pools are small, the pool directly on the back of the ship was a hidden gem. If you’re looking for a shaded area up top, be prepared the get some sun. Not many areas for shade, except for Deck 12 under a canopy, in a designated “smoking area”, overlooking the small mid ship pool. Cruise Director had some outside gatherings, with plenty of room for everyone to view. The outside areas are clean and comfortable. The ship should have greater accessibility to bathrooms. Once outside you had to reenter the inside of the ship to find a public restrooms. Plenty of lounge chairs and tables were available on Deck 12. Since the pool areas are used for serving food, (breakfast & lunch) in either the Pizzeria, or outside BBQ....the area becomes congested and at peak traffic times, seating is hard to find, and the outside bars become breakfast bars. Great views from the pool area on the back of the ship to the sea on Deck 8.
The casino was small, but adequate. One “roulette wheel”, one for craps, blackjack, poker, three card poker. Slots...that love to suck up your tokens. Found little people on the winning side. Suggest you stick to the card or dice games. But there is always the excitement of the win. My projection is be “fully prepared” to lose on machines. The casino is located next to the Stardust Lounge. Dealers were well experienced and friendly.
The Stardust Lounge, is the major entertainment area. The area is open and large, but has a major problem with seating. Small bucket shaped chairs are packed closely to each other and therefore limited leg room. Many times seats were unavailable since passengers had moved the chairs and blocked others from using them. The Dream management should correct this problem immediately for the comfort and safety of the passengers. The stage is large and has a great staff in setting up the stage, between acts and show venues. The sound is good, and if NCL would straighten out the seating problem, the viewing experience from the seats to the stage would be much better. The Jean Anne Ryan Company is the contracted entertainment dance group that plays the NCL ships. They are great, and this week we had two outstanding performers/dancers from the Ukraine. A husband and wife team. The magic show was weak, and the comedian was ok. The highlight on this cruise was the JAR dancers and shows. Three major shows in the Stardust Lounge, by JAR with the last show the best. Music in Lucky’s Bar and Observatory Lounge. Dancing in Dazzles. Entertainment every night in Stardust Lounge. Programs were well planned and always on time.
On board shopping small and limited. Gift shop for sundries, and snacks etc, very low product choices. Always a deal when you shop at the end of your cruise. For shopping on this cruise, get off the ship. No problem in bringing back your own soft drinks. One of our party brought back a bottle of Pineapple Rum from Belize with no problems and NCL did not require the bottle be held to the end of the cruise. The bottle was never opened during the cruise.
Our stateroom (5023) was ample for two adults. Father (82) had an inside cabin (5126) as a single. It was great for one person. Other guests in cabin 5029. Showers were great, but small as usual. We had an unobstructed view outside from Deck 5 mid ship and nice sized window. Beware of “upgrades” to Deck 7. The windows in these staterooms have obstructed views since they are on the Promenade Deck. They offer no privacy. Promenade walkway is in front of these rooms. Room offered older outdated TV, very limited choices for American TV lovers. Ample storage for clothing and window area acted as great place for odds and ends. Under the bed storage for suitcases was great. The beds were VERY comfortable and the pillows were outstanding. Great service from the housekeeping staff. Outside staterooms great for 2 people, inside staterooms for one or two max. 4 people in an inside stateroom room is not recommended. All staterooms have easy access to the lifts or elevators. The lifts are small and hold 5 people comfortably, after that they are too cramped. Muster drill was not comfortable. Lots of passengers “cramped” into a small outside promenade area on Deck 7.
A lot of excursions were offered for several diverse pleasures. Diving, Mayan Ruins, shopping, water sports, beaches. There’s plenty of off ship venues to choose from.
We did need medical assistance for my 82 year old father. The service and response was quick. The nurse and ships Dr., Jefferson Loyd was in the cabin within 5 minutes. Great service. Nurse even followed up.
This was another great cruise experience for us and NCL. My 82 year old father a first time cruiser, had a great time. He is very critical of everything at this age, and was very impressed with the overall cruise experience. Captain Nenad Mogic and his staff/crew provided a fun week and very good cruise experience for the 1st timer or the experienced repeat cruiser.
I would highly recommend that you consider this cruise itinerary on the Norwegian Dream. A great cruise at a value price. Soon the schedule will change. From the Port of Houston, it’s an outstanding cruise value for the “bargain hunter” cruiser.
For us, we will be on the new NCL Norwegian Pearl from Miami, Feb 2nd, 2007, and then once again for Alaska on Aug 5th, 2007. Discover NCL for a great “value” cruise. We are glad we did.
I agree with most everything you said in your review. Except for the quality of the food in the dinning room (your critque of the buffet was dead on). I'm curious as to what other cruise lines you have been on to find the food in the main dinning rooms to be excellent? I don't mean to imply that the food was bad, but I have had much better food on Carnival ships. The food in Le Bistro was Excellent, but I would have expected that since it is an extra fee dinning choice.
I forgot to mention the aft pool in my review. And yes, this is the hidden gem. It is difficult to get to, so the crowd is low and its quiet because the on deck entertainment is centered around the mid ship pools.
Thanks for taking the time for the detailed review!
The dining rooms or restaurants were upscale, with of course Le Bristo the ships top of the line menu and service, and most importantly the atmosphere of Le Bristo itself. Terrace, La Trattoria, and Four Seasons had a great atmosphere also. The views off the back of the ship in Terraces was quote impressive and that itself, adds to the atmosphere. The huge mural of the dolphins was fantastic. The menu selection was excellent and well defined for appetizers, salads, main course, deserts. The service from the staff was excellent, and all the staff was looking very sharp in their dress, which we found their uniform style had lots of appeal. Both Sr. and Jr Waiters/Waitress were excellent. Always there to make your sure your'e using the correct forks, or replacing utensils between meal courses. You don't get this in the USA except for the best of the best restaurants. The pace of each course served was good, and we spent an average 1 1/2 hours eating the main dinner. Lunch, typically 1 hour and 45 minutes for breakfast. The food was always delivered correctly, and was well plated and at a good eating temperature. Hot soups were served hot.
It is very hard to get this type of atmosphere, dynamic views of the water, great food selection, excellent service at many US restaurants unless you spend $50-$75.00 per person. The next time you come off the cruise ship, think about that fine service. The napkin over the leg, the chair being pulled out for the ladies. The ladies orders taken first with respect to the females at the table. Lots of silverware, extra forks etc. Linen napkins, and all those beautiful servers. I think that NCL has strict criteria for the selection of their staff. The waitreses were all beautiful and the men in great shape. And most of all very professional. So the whole experience at least for Mary and me, was a excellent experience. Now that we are back to reality in the USA, we haven't found the cruise type of dining locally, so we will have to wait for the next cruise. Food and dining leaves an ever lasting impression on the cruiser. You either love the food service or you don't. I like to compare the dining experience on the cruise vs home. Bottom line, we thought the overall dining experience in the main areas was the best. I would NOT waste my time on the buffet or pizzeria. Breakfast and lunch in the Four Seasons was great very day. Therefore we rated the food and service of the "NCL Dream" in the main areas only, as EXCELLENT.
HELLO RICHARD AND MARY... THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR IMPUT... WE ARE GOING ON THE NOV 25TH CRUISE WITH THE DREAM ALSO... ANY TIPS BESIDES WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY PUT HERE??? DID YOU ALSO TRY OUT LE BISTRO? ALSO DO THEY ENFORCE NO SHORTS POLICY IN THE RESTAURANTS AFTER 5:30 P.M.? MY SON-IN-LAW WANTS TO KNOW.. LOL...
THANKS FOR ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN TELL US....
VIC AND DONNA IN TEXAS....
[THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION JIM.. WE ALSO LIVE IN DFW AREA (NORTH RICHLAND HILLS)...
WE'RE KINDA LIKE YOU SPOILED WITH RCCL CRUISES FOR FOOD... ISN'T IT FUNNY HOW SOME LOVED IT AND SOME HATED IT!!! PRETTY INCREDIBLE HOW PEOPLE ARE SO DIFFERENT.. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A GREAT TIME.. WE'RE ACTUALLY NOT EXPECTING MUCH BY WAY OF FOOD... I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR ANYTHING ON THE BREAKFAST MENU'S FOR THE DREAM BUT CAN'T SEEM TO FIND ANYTHING.. THEY ALL POP UP FOR IN CABIN SERVICE MENU'S...
CAN YOU ORDER EGGS THE WAY YOU LIKE THEM AND DO THEY SERVE FISH IN THE MORNINGS ?? I'VE HEARD SOME OF NCL SHIPS DO.. I KNOW THEY PROBABLY HAVE A BREAKFAST BUFFET, AND WE WERE WONDERING IF THAT WAS GOOD OR NOT?? YOU KNOW THOSE LITTLE DAIRY CREAMERS LIKE HAZEL NUT AND IRISH CREAM, DO YOU REMEMBER SEEING ANY OF THOSE ON BOARD?
WE MIGHT HAVE TO TAKE OUR OWN.. WHAT IMPRESSED YOU MOST ABOUT THE CRUISE? ALSO I'M 58 AND MY WIFE IS 53 YRS OLD.... ONE LAST THING.. IF YOU WANTED MORE OF ANYTHING FOR A MEAL, DID THEY MAKE YOU WAIT FOR IT, OR DID THEY BRING IT RIGHT OUT OR JUST WHAT?
VIC AND DONNA
I am sure that you will have a great time. Personally, for your dining pleasure and experience, I would stick to the main dining rooms, and certainly would eat in Le Bistro and La Tratorria. We ate in Le Bistro twice once via a special invitation to dine with Captain Mogic and Lydia Poppard the Latitudes Director. Of course the service was spectacular since we were dining with the Captain and another couple. That was Monday. On Wednesday we ate at Le Bistro again and the service and food quality was excellent as well as the atmosphere. The menu in Le Bistro does not change. On formal night be SURE to make a reservation, which is Sunday night, lobster night in the two main dining rooms. Be sure to check the menus posted each day for a new list of eating pleasures. The Captain told us the menu selections are new and recently changed from the past months. Most passengers go for the better quality this night. As for breakfast in the main dining rooms, breakfast is first class and you can order your own style of eggs. The omelets are great, and I believe that they do offer salmon for breakfast. Hit the buffet or the pizzeria for a snack. You will find on Deck 11, a separate waffle station and omelet station, but the service is slow and expect a short line. During lunch a BBQ is offered outside on Deck 11. We ate lunch in the main dining room, Four Seasons. Terraces dining room on the back of the ship is very nice with a view off the back of ship and a giant mural of sea life on the wall, a great spot for that Kodak moment. Terraces is only open at night for dinner.
The is not a mega cruiser so don't expect the fancyist ship on the seas. But for the price, I am sure that you will have a good time. The result of a good cruise is what you do, and what you personally make of it. Try to attend all the shows, the briefing with Captain Mogic and Chief Engineer is interesting. Try room service as they are on time with your order. If you want delivery at 7:00 AM they will call your stateroom first then deliver within 5 minutes. The call is very nice to get.
The ports of call are OK. Since we live in southern New Mexico and just 45 miles north of the Mexican border we are familiar with the culture and the goods of Mexico and atmosphere.Also we have visited these ports in the past so for us they were nothing new and exciting. In Progresso, try the beach right off the main pier, and consider the short $2.00 Progresso double decker bus tour. Otherwise Progresso is just Mexico. Cozumel is a great stop, and lots of shops, lots restaurants and bars to choose from. If your a beer drinker then these are the ports for you. Cozumel is a fun place and usually their are MANY ships in port. Belize favors water sports. If your not a water sport fan, than the tender to the pier shopping area will fill the day. I did find that once the passengers return to the ship they are hungry and the snack areas like the pizzeria is very active in late afternoon.
As a NCL Platinum member we were treated like royalty with wine delivered to our stateroom three nights and horderves delivered daily when returning to our stateroom each night. But whether you are Platinum, Gold, Bronze or just a first timer on the NCL, you will enjoy the this cruise. Based on price considerations, its a great time.
Enjoy your cruise and enjoy the freestyle cruising as this is what NCL is noted for. I am sure that you will have a great time. Feel free to ask any other questions.
Richard & Mary
Las Cruces, NM
Avid and experienced cruisers.
Next cruises booked will be:
NCL Pearl on Feb 2nd, 2007, from Miami to Eastern Caribbean
WOW.. WHAT YOU HAVE JUST TOLD IS EXACTLY WHAT WE'VE BEEN WONDERING ABOUT..RIGHT DOWN TO THE LAST DETAILS... THANK YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH AGAIN!!! YOU GUYS ARE GREAT... I SEE NOW, BY YOUR SIGN OFF YOUR ACTUALLY NOT IN TEXAS BUT RATHER LAS CRUCES, NM AND THAT IS GREAT!! WE ALWAYS STAY OVER THERE ON OUR WAY FROM TEXAS TO CALIFORNIA TO SEE MY RELATIVES!!! I CAN TELL YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT AND WE ARE PROBABLY GOING TO GO REAL EARLY FROM HERE AND TRY TO GET ABOARD EARLIER THAN THE 1:00 P.M. THEY SUGGEST.. WE SEE ON THE NET WHERE PEOPLE HAVE BOARDED EVEN AT 10:30 A.M. WHICH IS REALLY FANTASTIC!!.. I THINK OUR ROOMS ARE ON THE BISCAYNE DECK ROOMS 5065 OR AROUND THERE...
WITH A WINDOW.. IS THERE ANYTHING WE SHOULD BRING THE CAPTAIN OR IS THAT NOT PROTOCOL ON NCL? I THINK FOR THE PRICES WE'RE PAYING WE'RE REALLY GOING TO ENJOY THIS TYPE OF LEISURELY DINING.. I HATE THE REGIMENTED TYPE OF VACATIONING AND BEING HERDED AROUND AT CERTAIN TIMES ANYWAYS>> (U.S. VETERAN VIETNAM).. 66/68
SO YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING.... AND WE WILL DEFINATELY DO AND TRY EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE RECOMMENDED AS FAR AS THE RESTAURANTS.. ONE GUY SAID HE GOT LOBSTER IN THE TRATTORIA?? I THOUGHT THAT WAS ODD!!! ISNT THAT JUST A QUICKIE PLACE FOR LUNCHES AND SUCH?? I'VE SEEN ON OTHER SHIPS THAT THEY HAVE SUSHI ON SOME, BUT I DON'T KNOW IF THE DREAM HAS SUSHI OR NOT??
AS LONG AS IT'S NOT SLIPPERY.. I'LL EAT IT..EXCEPT FOR ESCARGOT THOUGH.. BUT THAT'S COOKED ANYWAYS....
WITH YOUR HELP AND KINDNESS, I'M SURE A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL ..
OUR DAUGHTER AND HER HUSBAND ARE GOING ON THIS WITH US... I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY GOT A ROOM RIGHT NEXT TO OURS!! THIS WILL BE THEIR VERY FIRST CRUISE.. SHE'S 24 AND HE'S 30...
THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR EXPERTISE RICHARD....
VIC AND DONNA
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX