Year Started: 1966
Ships in Fleet: 13
Summary: With the recent introduction of new ships the third biggest cruise company in the world. Free-style cruising, elaborate dining options and surprisingly good entertainment.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, Bermuda
Good for: Value for Money. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Mexico
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Inland Waterways, West Coast
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Disabled Travelers.
MINDSET before sailing: The contract was provided AFTER payment in full (NO Refunds) and stated that everything you were sold doesn't count. Only the contract details do. The ship is not guaranteed to be seaworthy. The staff is not guaranteed to be trained. The service charge is not a tip. It's like the service charge at a catering hall. It goes to management. No wonder the staff doesn't care. They are in a service profession without any accountability, ie. tips. If a ship is quarantined, we can be charged for having to remain on the ship. I especially liked the paragraphs that pointed out we can't sue but if we do, you are responsible for nothing and suits can be filed in Fl under Maritime law. We are not on a fishing boat. We are on a cruise that cost a whole lot of money and is supposed to provide us with the products and services we were told we would receive. The responsibility to create an enjoyable atmosphere and clean environment rests with you, no matter what the contract says. It was certainly a downer. It felt like we werebait and switch victims before we started.
The embarkation was simple because I walk with a cane so we bypassed the main line. There was no staff to greet and direct us upon boarding.
The steward was not a happy person and our room was not cleaned until the afternoon each day. Day 1: We had sour milk in our coffee maker's water reservoir and hadn't been set up for coffee with supplies. My brother's room had not been cleaned properly. Used tampons were in his bathroom garbage! There was no instruction to know you had to put your card in for electricity. What about charging stuff when you are out of your room? Shouldn't the steward greet each person to welcome us and explain the procedures and timing? We came back to our room at 12:30 and found our room still not made up. We had to leave again. Twice we stayed on the balcony while he worked on our room. We had to work around him. I don't think my cruise experience should work that way. My father's steward was friendly, efficient and answered questions which is how I was able to inform the other 6 rooms in our group how the electricity worked. Their stewards hadn't told them either.
Restaurants: We were very unhappy with the crowds in the Cafe - the noise, the poor food, no choices, no seasoning, waiting to find seats. The fried chicken still had hair on it and the Romainian guy in charge said that's the way it comes ?!? The buffet staff allowed things to run out then wouldn't let you know if someone was going to backfill it. The flavor of the food and desserts was not existent. Moderno's was delicious. Our large group enjoyed the opportunity to dine on excellent food together. I question the reservation policy since we were told we could only come at 5:30 and the group we were traveling with was told only 6:15, I think. The dining room remained half empty for most of our time there. This is certainly not run like a restaurant to reserve and turn tables. The only complaint was beverage refills. The sushi restaurant took forever for 4 sushi rolls and again slow or no beverage refills. The Uptown Grill had a nice staff but NO SALT for breakfast ?!? Why? We enjoyed the food and service in Savor 3x. Excellent.
The reservation system blocked out any opportunity to eat in the main dining rooms until 8:45 each night. The shows changed times when we departed NY throwing off our schedule. Most shows were already blocked out just like dining reservations. Nothing was "Freestyle" on this cruise. It was TOO CROWDED!! You couldn't enjoy anything on the outside decks. No room. The deck chair areas were barely passable. We couldn't get into the tiny pools. 4000 people and pools could probably hold 200.
Handicap accessibility was poor. The hallways were TOO NARROW !! It was a matter of taking turns in the doorway nooksfor people to walk through in different directions. Anyone with a stroller, walker, motorized scooter or wheelchair was at the mercy of the cleaning carts and the room service food that never got picked up. I watched a woman who HAD to escort her father so he could get around. His narrow scooter could not pass the carts. She had to pull the carts into the doorway nooks so he could squeeze past. She said her mother had a wider scooter and could not fit through. I donâ€™t know if her mother was on the cruise but that should be criminal if she was confined to her room. Personally, it was painful to have to walk sideways to pass the carts. I estimated the hallway width to be slightly over 3 feet which is the size of a hallway in my home and a bit less than 2 feet with the cart in place. It was an obstacle course. An obese woman with a cane barely got through. It had to be embarrassing.
CLEANLINESS: I had to point out to a young lady in a gown for pictures that she had to lift her gown to keep from getting dirty on the breakfast food that was on the floor, having been bumped off the plate that had been there for over 8 hours. I called down to have someone retrieve it and they took only that plate, leaving 3 others in the same hallway!
ROOMS: The rooms hold 4 people but the balconies only have room for 2 chairs. Smokers made it disgusting to try to be on our balcony and when we were enroute back to NY, we smelled marijuana.
RAID: Before the ship left Bermuda, our friend's 75 year old mother had her room raided by Bermuda police looking for marijuana!!
Really, A 75 year old is your suspect? She was too frail to have left the ship, yet they accused her of buying pot in port. They opened her safe and searched her room, forcing her and her 70 year old friend to sit while they did. She was told the next day that other rooms were searched also because of a complaint about smoke from her balcony's vicinity. My friends were incredulous when we came back to tell them the room is subject to unwarranted search, especially when we told them how many balconies were so close together, how small they were and the wind currents made it impossible to determine a particular path. Guess there's no Bill of Rights on the ship or in Bermuda.
There was too much "Big Brother" with our cards for my taste. You could tell when we were in our rooms, at a show or restaurant, at the activities, etc.
None of the entertainment was at the level we expect on a cruise. Rock of Ages is completely inappropriate on a family cruise. The day of the show was when they pointed out it was not kid friendly, yet kids were allowed in. Sex acts, beastiality and the language did not belong in a show on a family cruise. This info wasn't available when making the reservations. WHY?? There was no info about the shows to know about reserving them. Burn the Floor was the most impressive but of course we were blocked out of most of the others. The Magician was not "Amazing" and most of his humor went over the heads of my pre-teens and even our older teens in the group. The drinks we received at a quiet bar area during the day were tasty. The ones we received at the Theatre were not. They were watered down or had no liquor. A waiter in the Theatre was very accommodating and went to make me a Mexican coffee. He was the most accommodating person we encountered outside the Savor Restaurant. The timing for events we wanted to participate in always conflicted with other things so we didn't get to them. There was little to nothing on the days in port for those who couldn't or weren't going ashore. I remember a lot of Infomercial type offerings.
INFORMATION: The staff was content with not knowing answers, especially about our ONE port of call. We received a bus ferry Xerox copy without the information required to read it. When I went back, I was given the real flyer which showed there were multiple pages, including explanations and information that was not copied on the handouts at point of sale for the transportation passes. Any questions were blown off if you were not buying an excursion. There's only one port. Why isn't there a rack with flyers and brochures for the area?
Even though the NCL app was recommended for groups to communicate with each other on board, it required everyone pay a fee and it didn't work. How about making the voicemails in your room accessible from ship phones so everyone can call in to meet up without additional fees? Make it easier for families and large groups to choose cruising, not harder.
Nobody on the general staff smiled. These people must be miserable working for NCL. At least we had a reasonable time because we were with so many family and friends and knew we were going home again.
This cruise was the biggest disappointment I have ever had in cruising. The food quality was absolutely the worst I have ever had. The service in the two main dining rooms was abysmal to say the least from long wait for the food to plain inefficiency. The food on the buffet was not even up to MacDonalds quality and the food in the two main dining rooms was worst than poor. The food in Bogie's Steakhouse was passable. The entertainment was very good and my cabin steward Jason di an outstanding job. I have taken approximately 20 cruise throughout my life and this one was far and away the worst. Freestyle cruising is just another excuse to add extra charges and price gouge.
First time with NCL's, not my last. I loved our suite, sailing was uneventful, comfortable ship but hated the smokiness on deck 6, really ruins any attempt of playing the odds for me. Food was a b - b in the freestyle restaurants. I am over 60's and fit in with this crowd and was even on the younger side. My opinion, younger cruisers should go with another line. Staff was gracious and our butler Flor was great. Virginia was the concierge and she was very accommodating also. Ease on and off ship was nice, perk of being in a suite. No other way to go!!
I so looked forward to this cruise. My trip of a life time. Beautiful ship VERY NICE crew. But the food was terrible only good place to eat was the Cadilac diner. And even that was not that good. I got fish and chips and it was RAW ! The buffet food all tasted alike. When we met people they all complained of the food. We all headed to Mc Donalds one day.
Our cabin was NOT very clean. As a matter of fact we had a dirty glass in our cabin when I put it out to be cleaned it was returned to our cabin still dirty. We found a laundry tag in our closet from JULY 2011 now our cruise was October 2012 also a nasty bobby pin in the shower my hair is short and I do not use bobby pins. There wasn't much to do at night after the show.
And don't waste your $ on a balcony. All you see are trucking yards when you dock.plus the man in the next cabin kept leaning over into our balcony looking into our balcony and roomand he smoked so all the smoke came into our cabin.
Oh and DO NOT book the hotel that they offer. If you get in on Friday night all the pre cruise stuff is over and after the cruise they make you wait till 3:00 in the afternoon NO earlier to get a room key. The lady that works at the hotel for NCL is RUDE. Now I am not hard to please but this was not a good cruise. And there were at least six other couples that we made friends with that felt the same way.
Will say that Tim Kaminski ( comedian ) was FANTASTIC !!!!!! Lots of fun games and the crew was great. Just wish they had more things to do at night for younger folks ( under 60)
Quebec City!!! Tres belle - tres bien!! We loved every minute of it...it was entertaining, comfortable balcony state room made it scenic, and the food was phenominal.
For those of you driving into Boston, parking while on the cruise is an issue. A cruise companion suggested a package deal on stay123.com - we picked the Best Western in Quincy, car remains there, and the free shuttle got us to the pier at about 12noon we were IN our cabin by 1230. We loved our family suite on the 10th deck. Spacious and the dual sinks were fabulous. Our butler Gary took great care of our needs, champagne on ice added to the luxe!
We had lunch at Cagneys, slow svc but good food. We were seated at 8pm for lobster dinner,which took about an hour to serve,lobster was fine. Waiter was a little weird, flaky, maybe high? For the rest of the trio we chose the Aqua dining room instead. When we got to the room at 2pm,our bags were waiting for us.
We ate at Bamboo and La Cucina - extra fees but worth it. We really enjoyed the "Neil Diamond"performance.
Room svc breakfast most days was outstanding! Lobster in Portland was great!ll van tour in Halifax with a local guide.
Quebec City took hours - we should have used the concierge. The Dawn docked far away from old town. There were 3 other ships in that day. We checked into our hotel and them explored the lower and upper town areas. What a beautiful city.
We flew back to Boston Logan and the same Best Western picked us up to get back to our car. The whole trip was seamless. We loved the cruise were impressed by the condition of the Dawn. The service was outstanding.
Just experienced a wonderful cruise to Greece aboard the Jade. I can't say enough good things about the Staff our accomadations and Food this Ship offered. I would recommend Norwegian Cruise Line to anyone looking for a first class experience.
Here is the review I sent to the CEO of NCL, Kevin Sheehan. Below that is another matter of greater importance that you should read before considering NCL.
The Balcony Room was beautiful, but space management was poor. 2 people navigating around the room to get dressed and such is a problem. The person who cleaned our room (9566) was inconsistent at best. Polite, but the little things were missed consistently. My wife had to stir her coffee 3 mornings in a row with her toothbrush as no coffee stirrers were left. The room was never vacuumed and crumbs, lint and such were on the floor the entire trip. One morning when I was showering there was no Shower Gel in the dispenser leaving me to shower with shampoo. The quality of the Turn Downs at night was unprofessional. The bed was wrinkled and such. Not nearly the quality as Carnival Cruise Lines. Upon arriving on the ship our room had no Towel Animal on the bed, nor did it the first 2 days. This is a nice welcoming touch that leaves a lasting impression on new cruisers. On Carnival youare also greeted with a Welcome Basket of Bathroom Supplies like Razors and such. Great Advertising and Co-branding. The inventory in the refrigerator was incomplete and there were lot's of missing items. We told Guest Services and they assured us it would be taken care of. The Room Porter told us this was because they were throwing expired items away and it would be taken care of. We constantly throughout the trip had to note improper inventory to guest services and check our bill to ensure proper billing. Some of the inventory list, like Nuts and Cappuccino was never stocked.
The Venetian and Aqua Dining Rooms also had Food Quality and Service issues. The food was staged properly, but arrived cold at times. The Deserts were a disappointment. Even Chocolate night. I can never remember being on a cruise and not remembering one eventful meal or desert. We only remember Lunch Appetizers the first day in the Venetian. The Calamari and Vietnamese Egg Rolls were great. The Coconut Souffle one night was fantastic. My wife constantly wanted to go to the Buffet. She hates Buffets, but honestly the quality of the food on the Buffet was superior to the Dining Room. Except for the Pizza. Undercooked crust and inconsistent sauce and ingredient distribution. At times the Staff at both venues seemed disorganized and confused. Three times they delivered wrong meals going from table to table asking if it was their meals.
The Help on board was very Polite, but should make more of an attempt to "Connect" with guest that they come in contact with on a daily basis. On Carnival we were "Anytime Dining", but Employees we came in contact with on a regular basis made a connection with us. We have pictures with several and over a year later remember their names and quality of service.
Signing up for the Presumed Murdered Show was a disaster. A long disorganized line of unhappy guest not knowing where or how to navigate the system. They could have used a system like at banks with the ribbon roping and signage to help.
There was one woman who seemed in charge of activities running the Bingo. I walked over to her and asked the pricing well before the event and was told I should sit down and wait as everybody would be told at the same time. She then walked away. VERY RUDE AND UNPROFESSIONAL. We never attended Bingo the entire Cruise due to that. Lost Revenue for NCL.
One note on the description of the 24 hour "Food Court" on the Dawn. It seemed more like a description of a Mall Food Court with many 24 hour Food Type Options, Food Stations and Self Seating as opposed to small "Comfort Food Restaurant". Also, we went early one Morning (around 6:30am) to get Breakfast as the Dining Room and Buffet were not open yet. We were told that there was no "Food" until 7am as the Cooks were not ready to do Breakfast that early. We could have only Coffee and Pastry. If that is your only non-Room Service 24 Hour Venue "Food" should be available 24-7.
On the Entertainment there was was change of Venue on a show that could have been better advertised, but that is minor. The Second City Group was great, but an early show had a "Blow Up Doll" skit in it that I heard many parents "explaining off" to young children. This was not a late or adult show. Perhaps a warning on the signage about possible adult material. 99% of the crowd was laughing hysterically, but that 1% may have an issue.
The ship was not as "Sparkling Clean" as most. From a health standard it was fine, but dirty windows, stains on carpeting, fingerprints on mirrors and such lead people to believe the important health standards are also not met. We did not as we could see the important things seemed done. Again lasting impressions.
I dot not want to sound all negative. I understand that this was the first Bermuda Trip of the season out of Boston and things need tweaking. Several things were Great, but outlining those does not help NCL address the things we and other guests we spoke to felt were lacking and would effect Guest Loyalty. The Captain and Crew should be commended for their handling of the ship through the huge waves and winds to Bermuda. Although we could feel the motion it was far superior to most cruise lines. As stated earlier the food on the Buffet was far superior to other cruise lines. The Entertainment was also Great. Far Superior to other cruise lines. The Movie availability and quality in the room was fantastic. PLEASE put the Movie Schedule in your daily activity handout though as the channel with the information display it every 20 minutes. The Bed was Comfortable and Huge. The Bathroom was well laid out. Storage was plentiful. The Coffee Maker was a nice touch. We would have liked to experienced other Dining Options on the Cruise back, but due to my tooth injury that was not an option. Perhaps that experience would have left a better impression on our "Dining Opinions".
**As a note one week after coming home we received a credit card charge for $12.08 for 2 beers that were not re-stocked in the Wet Bar. We informed both the Porter and Guest Services, but were still charged. Several calls to Chase and NCL got the charge removed.**
More importantly is how NCL treats Guests with issues. We dined at the Captains Table on the 23rd. I bit down on a piece of buttered bread and there was a hard foreign object in it that broke my tooth. Yes, right in front of the Captain. NCL sent me to a Dentist on Bermuda who could not fix it. I was assured the matter would be handled. When I got home I contacted NCL Claims. She referred me to Holly Hasselman. After 5 weeks of documenting everything I got a registered letter stating NCL found no liability on their part. I have since sought out Legal Counsel. NCL didn't even address the full day we lost in Bermuda, nor the lost enjoyment of the cruise. If this is the way NCL chooses to treat their Guests then my wife and I will vote with our feet and use other Cruise Lines. Our best advice to Cruise Critic Members is to stay away from NCL as they really could care less about you after they have money in hand.
Subjectectiviry is te name of the game here but for yours truly at least, everything came together to make this by far, the best of the four cruises on which I've ever traveled.
The fact that this was a Crusiemates Cruise had a ton to do with it's success, of course, but we were all so saddedened when our host Trip and her husband Bruse had to leave and fly back because of illness. Thankdfully they are both well along the road to recvery. That being the casew, there remained so many other positive facets.
Let's break it down into sections with my cabin mate being first. I was honored to share a handicappped cabin with Curisemate's famous Patriarch, Ray Boudreaux not to mentntion being a guest in his home. Ray as many of you know, is one in a million and his family, especially daughter Celeste, is not far behind.
Our cabin was as a handicapped cabin; large bright, airy and had a quite large balcony that easily incorporated Ray's scooter which truly surprised me. Additionally, the large shower sported a fold down bench seat if necessary along witn a folddown towel rack. It was significantly larger than the standard "wave" cabin. Heaven knows there was tons of drawer and hanging space.
One of our party had the single supplement cabin and to be quite honest, while being despite being small, still sported a full sized bed and had very interesting mood lighting.
Of course the cruise was made by Chef Matt Sigel of Hell's Kitchen Fame who along wit his lovely wife did not only didn't plate a "nibble" of his creations on several occasions as is de regeur but provided what amounted to a complete meal which was both an unexpected and pleasant change! Not only are Matt and his wife likeable people they hung out with us throughout the cruise.
There is no doubt that Matt will shortly enjoy being a top culinary draw in his own venue. Better yet he is a born instructor and keeps ones interest glued to his entire presentation.
While outwardly (to me at least) probably the ugliest vessel to ever sail the seven seas, one doesn't usually stand and watch a ship pass by. What the ship offers in entertainment and attractions more than makes up for it's outward appearance and is enough to keep one occupied for two or three weeks. While most of the restaurants are "extra charge, the fee is certainly not exorbitant and I well worth it. That being the case, O'Sheehan's and the main dining rooms plate outstanding meals if you're either on a budget or elect not to utilize the almost twenty other restaurants.
Thanks to Matt and Cruisemates own Editor, Paul Motter, complete tours were conducted of both the galley and the bridge replete with introductions to Captain and high ranking staff. Most galley tours are conducted between meals when one can't see what is really going on or "get the feel." The tour Matt and the Head Chef provided were right in the middle of dinner service and that is in and of itself, something not to be believed.
In essence, as the Epic being prologue, Norwegian Cruise Lines will certainly become a future consideration for this cruiser.
And if you truly want an extra special time, you truly must cruise upon a Cruisemates Cruise. You will be certainly glad that you did!
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Shelly Vavrin Western Caribbean February 5, 2012
Don't bother to go on this ship. It is dated, worn, complicated to get around, balcony's are a joke, room service was not eatable, and the bathrooms are made for midgets. Getting on board was lines and waiting. Open buffets were located in areas that make a high school cafeteria look like a 5 star restaurant. The staff was not knowledgeable about where things were located. You needed a map to get around the ship and had to go up and over and down to get to some locations. Scooters for handicapped passengers were left in the hallways outside their rooms, creating difficulty in walking down the halls with passengers coming in the other direction. The balcony was small, very worn, dirty floor, room for two chairs and a tiny table. Room service food was totally disgusting and not worth it. The specialty restaurants were empty and constantly pushed on you. I was well when I boarded the ship but after a few days got a respiratory infection and two weeks later still had a cough. The ship knewthere was a virus on board and had people at locations to wash your hands "washy washy", give me a break, we aren't in kindergarten! The shops were way overpriced and nothing compared to the Carnival Legend that we sailed on in November 2011 out of Tampa. The bathroom was big enough for a midget. If you are handicapped in anyway, forget it. The service in the restaurants was slow and the staff like machines. We have cruised several types of ships and NCL, particularly Star will never ever see us again. Save your money and don't bother...
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Marty Western Caribbean November 27, 2011
Cruise Review - Norwegian Star 2011
We sailed on the Norwegian Star out of Tampa, Fl. on Nov. 27, 2011.
Overall, this was a great cruise for us. Given my health and mobility problems, the ship is a little longer than I like. Hard for me to get around. But, well worth it. We had previously sailed on the Dawn, which is the Star's sister ship. There were several differences, even though the basic layout is the same. The gift shops on the Star were not as nice as those on the Dawn. Not really a problem, since I don't cruise to shop. The 24 hour restaurant, called the Blue Lagoon, was significantly better. Instead of plastic tables and chairs and mediocre food, as it was on the Dawn, the Star's version was very nice. Fairly elegant atmosphere and the food was quite good. We even ate dinner there one night, as I was too tired to do anything else.
In general, the food was better than I had expected. Very disappointing the first night, but then it did an aboutface and was generally quite good. They had even solved the problems of stale bread and poor desserts, which we had experienced on the Dawn. And the Market CafÃ©, their name for the Lido deck buffet, was surprisingly good. I could have eaten every meal there and not felt cheated. Good variety and most of what we tried was very tasty.
Probably the biggest factor in our enjoyment of the cruise, though, was the attitude of the crew. Almost every person working on the Star was cordial and very friendly. We got smiles from virtually everyone we encountered. And that is contagious. Passengers who receive lots of smiles tend to offer their own. So, the general atmosphere was welcoming and pleasant.
In particular, the Cruise Director, Jaimie, and her assistant, Christine, were very professional, yet warm and friendly. Christine was especially open to engaging passengers, not just for activities, but to answer questions or just chat. Great team.
Okay, day by day. The embarkation was a tad rough. Happened to arrive just when it was mobbed and that is nobody's fault. I was worn out by the time we got on board. Got a bite to eat at the buffet, then rested a bit and unpacked. The main dining rooms now use a beeper system, like many restaurants do. I don't know if it is the economy or just the random nature of cruises, but the MDR's were packed every night. We were standing in line to get a beeper when a man gave my husband a hard shove. He turned around to confront whoever it was and it turned out to be a friend who lives about Â½ block down the street from us! He and his wife were traveling with another couple, who are also neighbors. We had dinner with them twice during the week and that was definitely the icing on the cake for us.
I had a very hard time the first night, as you had to walk down one deck after your beeper went off. Very painful for me. The next day, I received a new cruise card that would take the elevator down to the level of the dining room and then gave us priority seating. It made dinner a lot easier for me and it was not something I had asked for or even knew about. The maitre d' apparently noticed my problem and gave me a way around it. That was a gracious nicety, especially since it was unexpected.
The wait staff in the Versailles (the aft MDR) was exceptional. Every night, we received service as good as or better than traditional dining on past cruises.
Day 2 was Roatan, Honduras. This is one of our favorite ports, but we had been disappointed the year before on Carnival, when their ship docked at Mahogany Bay. Really disliked that. But the Star docked in Coxen Hole. We had signed up for a tour that went to an island where they offered snorkeling. It was called Maya Key Resort, though the name of island is Anthony's Key. We were a little afraid that it might be very hokey, but were very pleasantly surprised. It is mostly a wildlife refuge for local critters. Rental on the snorkeling gear was very reasonable. There was a long dock, with a snorkel area marked off. A shallow reef, with a lifeguard keeping an eye on things. Not great snorkeling, but still fun. My DH went for the swimming pool, then we walked around. The animals were in very large cages, so that they had room to run around and there was a simple wooden rail to alert people not to feed a hand to the jaguars. The howler monkeys were not confined, but lived on a smaller island across a small inlet. We even had a baby howler monkey run right between our legs. We then had a tasty lunch, which was included, then headed back to Coxen Hole. Walked around a bit in Coxen Hole, then back to the ship.
Day 3 was Belize, again a favorite of ours. In spite of the cruise lines all trying to discourage people from going outside of the "safe" zone, which is mostly overpriced tourist stuff and bars, we went out back to the Flea Market, which is primarily a craft market. Locals are friendly and, since this used to be British Honduras, they speak good Englishâ€¦.although their local patois is beyond me. My husband is a hand drummer and had drummed with the locals in Roatan, then again in Belize. He knows their rhythms and loves communicating with others via music. I did pay a visit the Loom Store, which sells fabulous locally made textiles. Can't afford the rugs, but the decorative pillow covers are amazing. Not cheap, but they look well worth their price.
Day 4 we were in Costa Maya. Skipped the high priced enclave and took a cab to the nearby town of Mahahual. This was originally a tiny fishing village, then became a tourist spot. Got completely wiped out by a hurricane and rebuilt. But, it is still a very laid back little town. One street, with a second one being built. On one side of the "main drag" is a row of shops and cafes. The other side is a beautiful, nearly pristine beach. One of the prettiest in the Caribbean, in my book. We both had luxurious massages, lying on tables on a gorgeous beach, followed up by a swim in clear blue waterâ€¦.heavenly. Did a little shopping, mostly looking for unusual Christmas gifts. They have expanded the compound to add a "downtown" section. Totally fake and filled with stores selling Mexican souvenirs. The sad thing is that all of it is leased or subcontracted to outside vendors. From a very selfish point of view, that's fine, since it leaves Mahahual uncrowned and the vendors there will bargain heavily, trying to compete. But, it does seem wrong to take advantage of the locale and totally exclude the local population. It can no longer be a fishing village because of the big ships coming in, so the cruise lines have made the local dependent on tourism, then won't allow them to sell things where most passengers go.
Day 5 was good old Cozumel. Used to be my favorite, but just so crowded now, with multiple ships each carrying a couple thousand passengers all converging on a smallish town. We docked close enough to downtown to just walk to the plaza, then hit a couple of favorite stores. Or tried to. One had disappeared. One minor annoyance was that most places now charge you to use their bathrooms. Given that you used to have to bring your own toilet paper, I thought that was ridiculous. Found one that did not charge. But, I was getting desperate enough to almost pay to pee. Still had a good, if low key, day.
Last day was a sea day. Rough seas again, although not as bad as the first day. We had enjoyed the deck band all week. A group called Xcite from Trinidad. Not your usual steel drums, but those guys could, and did, play anything.
Sadly, the show band was nowhere near as good. The trumpet player, whom I think was also the Music Director, could not play in tune. He even played in an entirely different key at times when they were playing in the Atrium. But, the entertainment in general engaged us. The first show was so-so to me. But, for the first time in years, I actually went to every show. And they just kept getting better and better. The show on the last night was amazing. Have not been thrilled by a cruise ship show in a long time and that was a great way to end the week. Tried to go up on deck for a last stroll looking at the stars and almost got blown off my feet! Very windy. But since we love just being at sea, that was fine, too.
Debarkation was fairly easy. You had to pick up your luggage tags by the purser's desk. But, you could pick your color based on what time you wanted to debark. I liked being able to choose rather than have the cruise line decide when you should leave.
Last, I must mention our cabin steward, Alex. He was sheer perfection. Friendly, and very accommodating. Plus we rarely had to ask for anything, and when we did, we had it asap. But, I swear the man reads minds.
Overall, one of the best cruises in my lifeâ€¦out of around 35 cruises. Felt good to feel like we truly had a great vacation.