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tazio1976 07-09-2011 10:14 PM

1st Time Cruiser- NCL Spirit Excursion Advice
Hi! My husband and I just booked our first cruise for Dec 18-25 (will make for an interesting Christmas holiday) on the NCL Spirit, leaving out of New Orleans. We will be visiting the ports of Costa Maya, Belize City, Roatan, and Cozumel.
Any suggestions for excursions or general advice would be greatly appreciated! Which Mayan ruins are a must-see? We were thinking Lamanai in Belize or a trip to Tulum. Would it be better to go on our own or with a ship sponsored excursion?
Also, any suggestions or things I need to know for cruising during the holidays?

tazio1976 07-10-2011 10:54 AM

Newbie--Still would like to know about Christmas travel
Sorry to be a Newbie--I see I should have posted the excursion questions in the port message group. However, I am still interested in knowing if anyone has cruised at Christmas. Are there any special programs, decorations, and should I bring something more dressy even though we are cruising "freestyle" with NCL during the holidays?

LisaP 07-10-2011 11:20 AM

Welcome to the Cruise Reviews forum. No problem about posting under NCL...I can put a link to this thread in the Caribbean Port board if you'd like.

I haven't cruised at Christmas, but I have cruised NCL many times, most recently in 2010. Plenty of people dress up, as they do on other lines. I just got off a Holland America cruise and, other than formal nights, most people were in business casual. I didn't bring a gown with me on my NCL cruise, yet I did bring a couple of dressy tops and skirts for the Dress Up or Not Nights, when formal is optional. And, if you don't want to dress up, that's fine, too. On HAL last week, I had a simple black cocktail dress that I gussied up with a sheer shawl. I take this same outfit on NCL. Took up very little packing space.

You'll find a lot of opinions on whether it's preferable to book your shore excursions through the cruise line or go independently. My general rule is that I go with a ship excursion if (a) it's my first time visiting and/or (b) the places I want to visit are a distance from the port. In the case of the Mayan Ruins, the better ones are further from port... yet, I'll let the experts weigh in.

Nadine 07-10-2011 11:35 AM

Welcome to Cruise-Chat. I am certainly not an expert on excursions, but I will tell you that at Costa Maya we took a ship excursion to the Chacchoben ruins. It wasn't as far from the port as Tulum would be, yet we were able to experience very nice ruins.


penny3333 07-12-2011 06:41 AM

Hi tazio1976, welcome to CruiseReviews. I LOVE cruising at Christmas because it reminds me of Christmas when I was a young girl. I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, so palm trees, and warm weather are the way to go for me:) I hope you enjoy NCL as much as we do. I've sailed them 6 times and have always had a great time. The ports you are visiting are great, too!

I don't know what activities you enjoy, but if snorkeling is one of them, Costa Maya, Belize or Roatan are fantastic for snorkeling. Cozumel is nice, too, but the reef in Costa Maya, Belize, and Roatan is second only to the Great Barrier Reef. Crystal clear water in all of the ports, too.

Tulum ruins in Cozumel will take you about 2 1/2 hours travel time, round trip. However, the ruins and setting is spectacular. Nadine's suggestion is probably the best, as the travel time is not as long. You could save Tulum for your next cruise when you stop at Playa Del Carmen or perhaps Progresso. Notice, I already have you cruising again, because I'm betting you'll be hooked like the rest of us.

Hope you have a marvelous time, perfect weather, and enjoy the Spirit! My coworker sailed out of New Orleans all the time. He said it's an easy port to get into/out of. He parks at the port as he drives down from Huntsville, Alabama.

One suggestion I have, is whether flying or driving, come in at least a day early so you will not have stress before your cruise. I doubt the weather will be too bad in Arkansas, but you never know. But, if you come in at least the day before, you can be relaxed and not pushing to get there. And, New Orleans is a fun city to visit.

Best wishes!

tazio1976 07-13-2011 09:57 AM

Thanks for the Great suggestions!
Thanks for your suggestions. This is a very helpful forum. I hope all the people we meet cruising are this nice.

Boneman 08-10-2011 06:02 PM

Hello! Warning: you will get hooked on cruising. This same ship and itinerary was our first. We loved the ship, the food, the people and the ports. You will have a great time! Let us know how you loved it when you return and let us know how it was a Christmas. I have kind of wanted to cruise at this time myself.

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