I am not one who likes to take chances with the airlines so we decided to fly out the day before the cruise. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near Hobby airport. Very nice hotel and wonderful staff. Holiday Inn has a shuttle service from the airport. The driver was waiting for us before we even got our bags. I have to add that the driver is a very nice man. My Parents were already at the Hotel, we shared a room so I canâ€™t comment on how check in was. We all had a couple of drinks then went to dinner. The shuttle van took us to a wonderful Mexican restaurant, I just wish I could remember the name of it.
We woke up early, had breakfast (which was not that great) then waited for the limousine service to take us to the pier. They arrived around 11:00 in a van. I was a little disappointed I thought we would actually be going in a limo. Nevertheless, it was quick and only cost 60.00 for four people. We arrived at the pier around 11:30-11:45 and there were people who just got off the ship standing out in the rain waiting to get a taxi.
Check in was quick and easy. There were no lines at all. We did have to wait about half hour before we were allowed to get on the ship. My advice is to wait until at least 12:00 before you check in. One thing I found a little humourous is I had a bottle of water and they made me take a drink of it before I was allowed on the ship.
My first impression of the ship was that it was â€śsmall.â€ť I read reviews about it being it having small rooms but the ship itself was small. I do have to admit that it was convenient and the layout of the public rooms was nice. Please note: if you get motion sickness DO NOT take this cruise I could feel the movement every day even when we had calm seas. Also if you are a smoker, this is not the ship for you. You can only smoke in the casino and on the pool deck.
We were on the main deck room 4115. The room indeed was small and the bathrooms even smaller. The rooms have tons of storage space. You will need to take hangers if you like to hang all your clothes.
I canâ€™t say if I like freestyle or not. It has its pros and cons. The food itself was wonderful. We ate in both the restaurants. The waiter in the Four Seasons was wonderful. Now the waiter at the Seven Seas, lets just say I have had better service at JBâ€™s. We also ate at the Buffet which was not that great but it was food. We ate at the Le Bistro on the last night. The food and service there was not like I remembered it when we were on the Norway.
I didnâ€™t make it to all the shows but the ones I did were great. Donâ€™t miss the comedian he was the best. The magician was also very good. The layout in the Cabaret lounge is very poor. If you donâ€™t get there early there is no point in going because you wonâ€™t be able to see anything. Karaoke was good there were a lot of talented people on board. The casino was not very generous to me.
I wish I could say that the staff was excellent. Our room steward rarely even said hi. They really like to push the alcohol. There were a couple of times when we were sleeping on the pool deck and the waiters woke us up to ask if we wanted drinks. The women at the reception desk are not polite especially on the first and last day.
Ports of Call:
Cozumel - We didnâ€™t take any excursions here instead we wanted to go shopping and to the beach. Thatâ€™s not what we did. We made it off the ship walked downtown, shopped for a couple of hours. Met my Parents at Carlos and Charlies. To make a long story short we never made it to the beach. If you plan on going shopping, to the beach and Carlos and Charlies make sure you do it all before going to C & C.
Roaton: We did the dolphin encounter and Tabyana beach excursion. The dolphins were the best. A bit of advice donâ€™t waste your money on doing the combined package. You only get to spend an hour at the beach before they make you go back to the ship. Before returning to the ship we went shopping. We had our own personal 11-year-old tour guide. Very polite boy who told us where to get the best deals at. On the way back to the ship we were surrounded with kids asking for a dollar.
Belize: My experience here was not a good one. We did the mangrove tunnels and city museum tour. They took us to a small museum for 1 Â˝ hours. You can walk through this museum, look and read everything in half hour. The people here do not like Americans and made that clear. After the museum they took you on a 20 minute ride to get on a boat. The people in Belize do not know how to drive. They seem to have a lot of road rage. Saw three accidents two of which were serious. Got to the boat and had to wait 20 minutes for everyone to go to the bathroom and get something to eat/drink at the gas station. Me and DH decided to go wait on the boat which didnâ€™t bother me because I wanted to sit at the front of the boat. After sitting there for 20 minutes the tour guide came down and told me to move because the couple with the 9-month-old baby needs to sit there. During this whole tour everyone had to accommodate this baby either by moving or waiting for her Parents to load the stroller, diaper â€śBAGSâ€ť listening to the baby scream. Okay enough of that topic. The mangrove tunnels were not that great. We didnâ€™t even see a bird on this tour. The tour was supposed to be 3 Â˝ hours and ended up being 5 Â˝ hours long. We went back to the shopping center or should I say a tourist trap? Everything was overpriced and people wouldnâ€™t bargain. We decided to walk into town. DONâ€™T do this. The vendors are more willing to negotiate but you have to deal with taxi drivers hounding you or people trying to sell you drugs. My advice is DONâ€™T GET OFF THE SHIP.
Cancun: What a beautiful place. We hired a taxi driver to take us sightseeing then drop us off at a flea market where locals shop. We found some really good deals down there. One thing to keep in mind is that they will not make change in US currency. After shopping we went to the beach. The sand is so white and the water was warm. Would love to go spend more time here.
I wish I could say this was as easy as check in was. We didnâ€™t get off the ship until 10:15 then had to wait in a long line in the hot sun while waiting to load the bus. The port authorities are rude or maybe it was because I was pampered all week. There was one woman who did nothing but yell at everyone who came into contact with her. After loading the bus we were at the airport around noon.
The biggest problem we had onboard was that I pre-ordered the anniversary package and birthday package for my Mother. When we arrived there was nothing in here room like promised. I went to the reception desk and was told they had to record of it. Luckily I printed my check and the e-mail from my travel agent who confirmed NCL received my request. Although it did little good. The office said they reimbursed me my 109.00 and that I had to pay for it onboard. My check was supposed to be mailed that Monday and here it is a week later and still no check.
Overall, we had a great cruise and enjoyed some of the ports.
NCL Sea 4/3/04
Norway - April 2002