This was my first ever cruise so I can't compare it to any other. I found the experience to be excellent and was very impressed. I would never have thought of going on a cruise and probably would not have if it hadn't been for the Daily Express promotion. This was a cruise for £10!!! The sort of travelling I would normally do would be independant/d.i.y.
The ship was always clean and being cleaned throughout the week. The decor was good.
The food was excellent. There was a BBQ every afternoon. The Four Seasons resturant was superb. The staff were excellent and the food delicious. If you hadn't booked there was usually a 10 minute wait for a table. The only other resturant I visited was the Big Apple cafe which was self service type. I prefer this and it was nice to be able to take your food out onto deck. The variety was excellent in this resturant though, throughout the day and every day. The staff there to assist were very friendly and helpful. Room service was very prompt.
The entertainment was very much Butlins style/ little bit cheesy at times. I guess most ships are. This doesn't appeal to me hugely but I did go along to some shows. There were plenty to choose from. There was something throughout the day so you would never get bored. There were exercise activities every day and the gym was open 24/7.
The housekeeping staff were outstanding. They were so friendly and introduced themselves immediately. They then everyday would chat to me and call out if I was passing. My room was kept very well, with nice added touches like my towels folded into the shape of animals.
The ports on this route were fantastic. Great for diving/snorkeling, mayan ruins, jungle adventures etc. The time ashore was good too. Excursions were well organised and very good value for money. I was exteremely impressed with the guides. I would recommend going on shore excursions to get the most out of the trip.
I would sail on this ship again. I did get a little giddy at times and took sea sickness tablets all the time. It was unusually choppy at sea though. I had wondered if a bigger newer ship may be more stable but I am generally prone to this sort of thing.
The following is the diary of my trip:-
For those of you not aware of the fact, I was given some vouchers collected from The Daily Express newspaper, to send off for a £10 cruise. Amazingly, I received details from the tour operator, Rise Travel, administering the promotion, of an NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) cruise to the Western Caribbean! Included was all the food etc as you would expect if you were a full paying customer. Not only that, but the flights all the way to Texas were included too! The other thing was that the itinery was fantastic. The ports were actually in Mexico and Central America, but on the Caribbean side. I went by myself as I was given hefty quotes to take someone, but I had a twin cabin to myself! All for £10!
Had a good flight. Lots of security checks. Had my shoes inspected twice! Very good legroom and had 3 seats beside me empty. Got chatting to a rock band but can't remember their name! They have an album out called "me to you" I think its called! I am staying at Seabrook, Texas, next to clear lake.
Been to Kemah Boardwalk. Quite nice place to hang out. Is really hot today. Managed to get sunburnt even with spf 25 on! Had the best steak ever at Salt Grass. Guess steaks would be good in Texas!
Visited Johnson Space Centre today. The visitors centre was good, but the VIP Level 9 tour I went on was fantastic! It lasted about 5 hours and our group of 12 were taken to various sites by van. The tour guides were excellent. We visited mission control, shuttle control, historical mission control (which looked after Apollo 13), the neutral buoyancy lab, hanger X, amongst others. The best part was, we were very lucky in that there were astronauts training in the neutral buoyancy lab that we could watch! Mission control looked busy too! We also had lunch included in the resturant that the astronauts use. This was a tour definately worth going out of your was to do if you ever in Texas. Boarding the ship tomorrow!
Boarded ship early. What a nightmare getting there. The taxi driver in Houston didn't seem to know the area very well! There were mainly americans on ship and surprisingly appeared to be no europeans. BBQ and outdoor party with live band started as we set sail. The Norwegian Sea was registered in the Bahamas and entered service in 1988. I think NCL are to use her in one of their sister companies after this season.
At sea. Did some morning yoga with a small group. High winds and waves, so the ship was quite bumpy all day. Felt bit giddy but had taken anti-sickness pills. Heard that yesterday, another cruise ship had been hit by a huge wave. Some passengers were injured and the ship had considerable damage. The ship had pulled over in Charleston. Obviously seas are unusually rough at the moment.
Arrived at Cozumel, Mexico. I went on the "clear kayak and snorkel" trip. Was really good. I shared kayak with Ian, a Canadian guy. We got into a bit of bother when the kayak broke out at sea and left us unable to steer! We had to be towed back to shore! The snorkeling was good. Saw quite a few fish and an octopus peeping out of a cave. A barracuda too. The tour guide was excellent and let me stay on beach until later, then called the complimentary taxi when I was ready to go back to ship. Did a bit of shopping in Cozumel near port. I had my picture taken with some friendly Macaws. The guy taking pictures said 70% of cost went towards helping wild Macaws. Up to spf 40 suncream now!
Arrived at Roatan, Honduras. Went on "hike and beach tour". Hike was at Carambola botanical gardens, up a mountain. The gardens were lovely and we were shown a lot of plants, some that were used for medicinal purposes. We were supposed to walk past a shelf where iguanas and parrots breed but we didn't. Think this was because an annoying woman who appeared to be unable to walk up the hill without whinging, asked if we could go the less steep route. Her wish was met and we took the other route. I saw some lizzards on the way. Once at the top we had some good views. We then had fresh fruits back at the bottom and the ripe pinapple, just picked, was actually very sweet. We then headed for the beach, which was on the east side. It was a private beach called Las Palmas. It was very quiet and the snorkelling was fantastic, with great corals, loads of fish, including a huge schools which drifted past me. Back at Coxen Hole where we had docked, I did some shopping. Junior, a local boy, showed me to a good gift shop nearby.
Today we anchored near Belize and got boat tenders to shore. I went on the "Lamanai and new river safari" tour. The guide, during the coach ride, was very informative. He gave us lots of information about Belize and the area we visited. We then took a speed boat up the new river and stopped often to see wildlife including crocodiles and an array of birds. Once at Lamanai, we took a tour of some of the mayan ruins. They are hidden in the jungle so it was very hot and humid! We saw lots of black howler monkeys and amazingly a toucan! The toucans are very shy so its not often you actually see one.
Again we anchored for the day in Mexico, this time near Cancun. Tender boats took us to shore but I took an excursion to Garrafon reef park on an island called Isla Mujures. This meant we went straight there and missed out Cancun altogether. It was basically a day free there with open bar and transfers to and from ship. Hung out with Janel and Denise, whom i'd met earlier in the week. Had fun snorkeling there too, with Denise as my snorkel buddy. Nice relaxing under a palm tree.
A day at sea again as we returned back to Houston. Here I will discuss the ship. The service was unbelievable, particularly from the housekeeping staff and in the resturants. The housekeeping staff introduced themselves as soon as I got to my cabin. Whenever I saw them throughout the cruise, they always spoke to me or called out my name. A couple of times, my towels were folded into the shape of animals! There was always plenty to do throughout the day and night. I found that it was quite cheap onboard too, with prices being about the same as the states. The time we had ashore was good too. Being my first cruise, I obviously can't compare it, but I was very impressed.
I transferred straight to the airport for my flights home. Flight packed out this time but still managed to sleep most of way home. Had a great holiday and met lots of people, although forgot most of their names. Sorry!