Posted February 26th, 2005, 10:50 PM
We are early risers so we had to eat in the windjammer because the dining room opens at 8 AM. That was very late for early risers and NCL was a bit better with a 7:30 AM. Although the windjammer was very good for buffet as said before. Breakfast was good with fresh fruits, omeletes, and nice pancakes, waffles, and french toast. They also had strawberries and fresh whipcream to put on it. YUM! Then we sat by the pool but it was way too windy, so we went to the solarium. It's was beautiful!! I think that was our favorite part of the ship!! It truly is a great assest to RCI. We spent the day there, it was great! The pool in the solarium was salt water that was very cold. The hot tubs were excellent. The pool was 16+ and had someone inforcing the rules at all times!! Excellent! The solarium was alot better than NCL's indoor pool on the Dawn. Something we noticed the first day that we never were in a jam of people because of the smooth lay out. It was very well layed out. Dinner was better this night but the coffee could tar a driveway. The entertainment that night was the dance show doing "Can't Stop the Rock". You could tell there was alot of effort put in and they were very taletented, but in the end they were not half as good as the Jean Anne Ryan Company aboard NCL's ships.
Monday was our arrival into Ocho Rios. It was very neat how they docked, bow in straight and then all of sudden side thrust in. It was a sort of narrow channel. Very neat if your into ship navigation(like me)!. It was Sunny in the morning but then turned cloudy and humid, then rainy, then cloudy but comfortable. CAREFUL!!! I would not recommend going alone unless on an excursion. We were constantly hassled by taxi drivers wanting tours and then harass you as come back. I am not saying one or two, proabably 10 or 12. They followed us for about 500 ft. trying to taunt us into a taxi tour. It was scary, but there was a decient amount of police in the area. They were the BEST to ask for advice. Ask the cops, they are well spoken and very honest.
We just went to a nice craft village but they were very pushy about seeing their items. If they just left us alone, we'd proably have bought alot more. Then we went to the highly advertised Taj Mahal. It was a shopping center run by Indians. I asked about it and the store owner told us that the landlord and all the shop owners are Indian, so that's how was named. She also told us there is high population of Indians on Jamiaca, mostly professionals in downtown areas. I didn't know that!! Then we saw nothing else to be excited about, so we went back to the ship. There was note on our cabin that our shore excursion had been canncelled due to a sailboat malfunction. Had a great lunch at the windjammer then spent the day at the pool. Funny thing we heard later that day, a fat drunk man fell between the ship and dock at port. He could barely swim drunk but held on to a piling. He was so heavy/drunk that they couldn't pull him up, they had to give him a lifejacket and pull him to shore!! Not funny for him but funny for others. Don't get drunk, especially early in the morning!!! Also, I heard from many that the horseback riding excursion was excellent. That night we had a special magic show, Haines Magic. It was excellent but at the sametime they stressed it was illusion. But very well done!! I enjoyed it greatly. That night was the Newlywed Game, very funny with Danno. He had to tone down the questions due to a high number of kids but it was hillarous.
The next day was Grand Cayman. We woke up late because of the activites the night before. The ship was anchored right next to the Norwegian Majesty which we had been on twice. Nice to see something familiar. They annonced that shore excursions would be tendered in first then the general guests. We had a shore excursion, Super Sail Yacht Adventure. We were suppose to go sailing, swimming, then have a tour. It got cancelled the night before. So we had nice breakfast in the dining room. We still wanted to see the island so when we got off the tender, there was a woman with a sign offering a tour of the island for 15 pp. We jumped on that and so did 2 others from our ship. It was great, she even stopped for water. We saw hell, the turtle farm, seven mile beach, the history of the island, and fact and figures of the island. It was like a 2 hour tour in a taxi minivan. Very nice! The turtle farm was an extra fee to get in but reasonable and cute. I have a picture holding a turtle. Then the taxi driver dropped all of us off at the Marriot which she recommened because you can get a cheap lounge chair for 5 bucks. It was nice and they had bathrooms, bars, and restaurants. Then we headed back to the ship. Then for the show that night they had the dance company, we skipped it. We hit the casino that was not very friendly like NCL's. Then we went to see the Quest which I can't even explain, but it was hilarious and got me doing things I wouldn't have done on shore. Don't miss it! I highly enjoyed it!
The next day was a sea day. We hung out and did some shopping. Just a nice relaxing day. It was depressing to pack and fill out our customs form. I was superised they didn't have a disembarkation briefing like NCL with the CD. As a veteran cruiser I knew the drill, but for others it might have been different. We also did the tips out which I hadn't done in a while because of the freestyle tipping (10 a day added to your account). The entertainment was Billy Fellows that night. He had been with RCI for 20 yrs. and in the business for 50. It was interesting to hear him complain about old age in his songs but not very comical. He was past his peak for a cruise ship audience.
We also saw the cruise in review video which I bought, which was very well done. There was alot of effort put into it! They also had a good bye act from the cruise staff and dancer, it was terrible compared to NCL's "Home away from home/We are the world" act where the every department is represented in a tear jerker performance. Danno explained it was his last cruise til Jewel of the Seas, he was tearful.
Arrival in to FLL was typical. We had a breakfast and then were the first off. There was no raffel for ship prizes for filling out the survery, I missed that. We were off first because we an early flight. Our luggage was there and we were off to FLL airport.
Overall, there were plus and minuses to NCL.
PLUSES WITH RCI
I liked eating with people at a set time.
I liked the service better.
I liked having the same waitstaff everynight.
I liked the ornate ships with the solariums and beautiful atriums.
I liked the design of the ships.
I liked that RCI didn't push all their services and extra fee restaurants.
Rock Climbing was a neat bonus.
Minuses with RCI
Food was not as vaired and good as NCL
The daily activites were not as great, very limited (crafts, trivia, pool games)
The Dance Shows were not as good as with NCL
The Casino wasn't as friendly as the ships aboard NCL
Breakfast times were not early enough
Bathrooms were few and far between
The whole trip was excellent and I would definitely do RCI again. It was great break from the winter doldrums. Leave any questions on the board and I'll be happy to answer!!
Star Princess 03/07
Jewel of the Seas 02/06
Norwegian Spirit 11/05
Empress of the Seas 08/05
Enchantment of the Seas 02/05
Norwegian Dawn 08/04
Norwegian Dawn 08/03
Norwegian Sea 08/02
Norwegian Majesty 08/00
Norwegian Majesty 08/98