We are a couple in our mid fifties from North Texas and this was our third trip on the Norwegian Sea. I wasn't sure if this year would measure up to all the fun we had last year but have to say it was even better. We went into this trip with the intention of rest and relaxation and achieved that and more. So, if you are interested in excursions and information about them, this is not that type of review. We decided to see what advantages there are to staying aboard rather than exploring the ports.
We arrived at the Barbour Cut Terminal in LaPorte about 12:30 Saturday, dropped two bags off with the porter out front, tipped him the recommended $2 per bag, and drove over to the port's fenced parking to leave our truck for the week for $49…cash only. It was a short walk back to the entrance with our carry on bags. The terminal was pretty crowded, but as we walked thru the door someone immediately directed us to the Latitudes line. As we approached the check in desk, the line was halted and we had a chance to chat with one of the ladies directing the crowd. She explained that the Sea had had a Coast Guard inspection that morning, requiring lifeboats to be lowered into the water and inspected, thus the short delay in boarding. That was just hunkydory fine with me. Nice to know the lifeboats worked!
The procedures have changed from last year. Everything is done right at the check in desk in the terminal…..picture id and room card issued right there. Also, you establish your onboard payment method, credit card or cash there also. Very organized and time efficient.
All of our carry on bags, purse included went thru the x-ray and we were required to open the bag with our drinks to show what they were. Our Diet Pepsi were still in the plastic wrap so we were not required to open the bottles. The photographers are waiting right outside the exit door to take your picture before boarding and that was very organized also. It is quite a little hike up to the ship, so we wore comfortable shoes for that long walk. We boarded the ship about 1:00 and were greeted and asked if we wanted help carrying our bags to our room. We knew where we were going so declined and headed straight for the elevators.
The stateroom was very nice. We had decided to go for the 176 sq ft room this year on the Norway Deck and were quite pleased with the extra room. The view had 12% blockage by a lifeboat but was still very nice. The décor was a bit nicer than the stateroom we had last year on the Atlantic Deck. We did have a notice on Monday, I think, that NCL wanted to change out the carpet in our room and requested a time they could do that at our convenience, stating the amount of time they needed to do the job.
We called and made arrangements for the time. Then, an inspector came by, looked at the carpet and said he didn't think it needed to be replaced, that there must be a mistake. I told him I thought it looked just fine also. We were thankful we would not have to breathe in the new carpet fumes, although we did understand these things have to be done sometime or another. Just glad it was not on our cruise!
We unpacked our carry ons and headed on up to the Seven Seas for a nice lunch. Then, we went back to our room to check to see if our other luggage had been delivered. It had not but we did meet our room steward, Mr. Tipo, from the Philippines. He was a delightful person. We liked him immediately and cannot say enough what a nice person he is. He really made our trip special each and every day. After chatting with him awhile we headed on up to Coconut Willy's for a drink and to watch the sail away party. We looked around for a couple of people we met on Cruisemates and did not see anyone who fit their description. We did met a nice couple from Arkansas and spent the afternoon just hanging out and enjoying the great weather. Note: It was windy but Coconut Willy's is out of the wind!
I won't go into a day by day itinerary but will give some highlights that come to mind. We did eat almost all meals in the dining rooms and will just say, we thought the food was outstanding. We love the breads and French butter that were at every meal and as a coffee drinker, I must say the coffee was excellent. My favorite course was always the soups. I think on our next cruise I will order all the soups one after another and skip everything else! One can only eat so much! I almost always end up ordering whatever sea food is available and was never disappointed. Well, there was once, but I will get to that a bit later. We really love to dine and that is a big part of why we choose to cruise.
We did do the poolside once and just prefer the dining rooms. I guess my feelings are we can eat hamburgers and barbeque anytime at home, so prefer that less than common food in the dining rooms. If one is inclined to enjoy the pools and sun bathing, the poolside is perfect or the Big Apple Cafe, which is just right there. We did not try a lot of the desserts because we just did not have room for it, but the ones we saw looked delicious.
Formal night and Lobster night were on Sunday. We chose not to dress formally but really enjoyed seeing all the lovely clothes. We did notice a lot of people who had dressed for the formal dinner at the Four Seasons were unable to be seated at their chosen time so chose instead to dine at the Seven Seas. This leads me to believe there were a lot of people who chose formal wear. We, of course, ordered the lobster. Sadly, our lobster was undercooked and we could not eat it. And no, we did not tell our waiter. It was disappointing but we chose to leave quietly and get to the show we wanted to see. Besides, the wait staff were almost at a dead run trying to get everyone served. This is probably the one meal everyone on the ship does not want to miss, so the dining rooms were packed. And we were certainly not underfed!
We really enjoyed seeing the special performance by Elvy Rose. She was a fantastic entertainer, one of those special people who have rhythm from the top of their head down to their toes. Super show! We also caught two of the NCL Productions performances. The costumes were glamorous and the dancing superb. One of the male dancers was at least 6'2" and very muscular. I could not believe how high he could jump. We enjoyed the shows but have to say the Jean Ann Ryan show seen back in 1999 was better.
The Anniversary Package was well worth the money. But, do not expect the bubbly and chocolate covered strawberries to be in your room when you arrive, as they are not delivered until the ship is at least 12 miles out. Same goes if you order the bar setup. Will not be delivered until out of port. We made our LeBistro reservation for Friday night at 6:00 soon after boarding to make sure there was room. They also had a cooking demonstration we attended and were quite impressed with their chefs. If you choose the package, please be sure to take your reservation card and present it when entering the restaurant. We failed to do that and ended up having to pay for the wine we ordered because they did not realize we had the package. We did receive the complimentary house wine included and have kept it for a keepsake. The anniversary party was a bit out of sync due to a power failure when we started to leave Roatan.
We were in the middle of dinner at the Four Seasons when the lights went out. DH figured out it might be awhile before the repairs were made so after about 20 minutes we went on up to poolside and had some ribs. When the lights came back on, we went to our stateroom to freshen up for the Anniversary party scheduled at 8:30. Perhaps because of the confusion, the phone rang at 8:10 and it was our host asking if we planned to attend the party. They advised it was scheduled to start at 8:00. Anyway, we went on to Boomer's and really enjoyed meeting the couples who attended. We all had our complimentary pictures made as couples cutting a cake. Very good pictures. Then we finished up our champagne and went dancing.
Dancing, one of my favorite things to do. However, the music in the Stardust Lounge plays for about 45 minutes non stop. Just jumps from one piece to another. Needless to say, we were not in shape for that! It was a lot of fun, but would have rather had it like Gypsy Rose did last year with a few breaks to catch our breath. When we returned to our room, DH took off his wet shirt and we had a real shock. He had an allergic reaction to his antiperspirant and his underarms looked like raw meat. These things help you learn about stuff you usually do not need to know. Like, there are certain hours that the ship doctor is "in" and others when he is not. When the doctor is in the cost of a visit is $50 plus medication costs. When he is not in…….the nurse just said "You don't want to know the cost." Anyway, we learned that seawater is wonderful for healing, if you can get past the shock of it. We had Cornhuskers Lotion with us and kept him comfortable most of the time….but, no more dancing or getting out in the sun. In sharing this with another couple they told us about an elderly man who fell an broke his hip the first night and had to be air lifted out. They had no insurance. We did buy trip insurance but did not use it for this.
We did go into Cozumel to shop and get all the freebies they give to cruisers. Be sure to go to the ship meeting because there are extra gifts for those who attend. That was fun and we took the pony cart ride as well. That was really nice and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a look around without doing a lot of walking. Our guide also took us to see his church, which was really beautiful. You could see he was very proud of it. The cost of the ride was $20. We also enjoyed lunch and Mexican beer at a nice cantina in a shopping plaza. It was fun to just sit and watch the guitarists and feel the atmosphere.
As most readers can tell, this is a rather random report about the ship, more to give our perspective and hopefully give a few tips that could help others have a more enjoyable experience. The Sea is still a wonderful little ship and the crew is just as friendly and helpful as they were last year. The one little disappointment for me was our dinner at LeBistro. I always believe that everything happens for a reason so I will tell this not to criticize but, hopefully to enlighten future cruisers of certain issues. I first made our reservation at 7:00 but later changed it to 6:00. As luck would have it, our dinner was ruined by two couples who had had too much to drink and were very loud and obnoxious throughout the meal. Well, through the salad…that was all I could take. We are usually pretty easy going and perhaps the chapped arm pits and the little cold I had picked up made us less tolerant than usual. We literally could not have a conversation over their loud voices. So, we just left and LeBistro delivered our filet mignon to our room, with a cake as an apology. My point is, the staff can only do so much to control others and avoid ill feelings. I would not want to have their job. We had a nice conversation (in the beginning) with our waiter and talked about their job structure. The are hired by outside contractors for six month periods and just about everyone has a supervisor checking all they do……down to smiling and being friendly. The nice thing is, they are really delightful people to talk to and seem very happy with their jobs. And no, we did not complain to anyone or reduce our tips. Some things are just beyond the staff's control.
Another thing I noticed was the dress codes seem more lax than last year. We saw a lot of people wearing jeans and such to dinner. Perhaps, this is a coming trend. You also have the option of being seated alone, which we did at times, or with others. We did that also…depending on the mood. We met up with Desiree and her DH, whom we met on the Cruisemate board…..totally by accident! That was a nice surprise. Will be looking for her review for they had a lot of excursions planned.
We did have the opportunity to stay onboard and see what goes on while others are gone on excursions. It is really nice, for all those who do not get the opportunity to enjoy the pool or hot tubs while the youngsters are onboard and so active. It is much slower paced and the crowd is a bit older and slower….like us. We had a thoroughly wonderful cruise and cannot wait for the Dream to arrive so we can check her out. Oh, one more thing before I forget….there is a maximum $1000 per day allowed on your onboard account for the casino. That is much better than taking a lot of cash with you or getting a cash withdrawal on a credit card for gambling………plus, you get those great Norwegian MBNA points for your next cruise!
Here's hoping I gave someone some information they didn't have and that all who choose the Sea have a great trip!
Thanks for the review, I thought you forgot about me lol. I got my tickets in the mail yesterday and have 31 days to go. Already started getting my stuff together. Dry cleaning, camera, new swim suit already bought and done. I wish I was leaving this Saturday!!!! Oh well.
So sorry I posted this review on your roll call. I did this on the way home in the truck and must have had too many windows open and sent the wrong one. ..no I have not forgotten you and know you will have a great time! Enjoy!
My husband and I will be on the Sea that week. It's our first 'real' cruise. Five years ago, we spent a week on a river boat in China, but the boat was small (100 passengers) and low key -- we didn't have anything like 'photo ship IDs' or any of that! However, we count that as the most relaxing vacation we've ever had, so thought we'd try a cruise and you can't beat the price this time of year.
We're still sorting out shore excursions, so I've been reading the boards.
I am glad to see you and your husband are going. Just keep reading the threads and whatever you are into, you will find. I am going cave tubing in Belize and snorking in Roatan. As far as Cancun, if we make port (sea's not too rough) shopping. Cozemel, I plan on going on a boat and snorkling trip. Go to the cruise critic web site and there are a lot of people going with us. Have a nice cruise and if you have any questions, e mail me
Less the 17 days to go
Hello Duane and Tara and any other cruisers leaving on 12/11:
I will be on the Sea with my husband, son and his wife, my sister and three granddaughters. We are all so exicited...it is my sister's first cruise. My son and I live in different states and this is our Christmas together. I have really enjoyed the message boards...it has been so helpful...I wish I had read these on our first cruise.
Someone who's wife works on board is arranging a meeting for cruisecritics and is inviting all of us to meet and the ship may have a cocktail party for us. You'll have to go to their web site and under NCL roll calls you'll find the info. If you do not have the web address e mail me and I'll give it to you.
8 more days
Tara and NO Lady,
Some nice folks from cruise critics and myself are meeting Saturday at coconut willies (top deck) right after the life boat drills. We will be wearing loud Nascar shirts (redneck heaven). Come join us for a drink and maybe discussions on shore tours. If we get enough people to do some tours together we can save some $$$.
See ya on the Sea