This is my 3rd Western Caribbean cruise. I've done other 7 night cruises with RCCL & Carnival. There were 9 adults in my group.
Getting to the port: I've visited NOLA many, many times so getting to the port isn't much of a problem for me. We skated into the Julia St. terminal bright & early in the morning (8:30 am), dropped off our bags, parked in the Whale lot and headed for the French Quarter. The streetcar picks up right by the parking lot so it was really easy. We stopped at Cafe du Monde and then spent some time shopping in the French Market.
Embarkation: Slick as a whistle. We arrived back at the port at prime boarding time. The lines were long but they moved very fast and we were on the ship within 30-45 minutes.
Cabin: There were 3 of us sharing a balcony cabin on deck 10 (10032). It was very small & so was the balcony but we made it work. The beds & pillows were very hard & uncomfortable though and none of us slept well while on the ship. More
This is unusual for me. I slept like a baby on both the Carnival Triumph & RCCL's Mariner of the Sea.
Food: Holy crap, it was awful! I refuse to pay extra for meals on a cruise so I expect to get the lower quality but...wow. Same for Carnival. RCCL is the definite winner in the food catagory, both quality & variety. None of us cared for the Freestyle dining thing either. You either had to make a reservation or stand in line forever. No Thanks. We all realized that we liked the assigned dining times so that we could all get together after a day at port. We also like having the same waiter every night. Our waiter, Adee, on the Mariner was fun and also our best source for information about the next day's port.
Ports: The weather was beautiful (mid 80's) in Costa Maya, Belize & Roatan. It cooled off some (mid 70's) & clouded over for our last day in Cozumel. My cabin mates & I did a lot of beach time. We went to Bannister Island in Belize and it was gorgeous! A beach & a bar. What more to you need? They had kayaks & float mats available free of charge (very nice) and wonderful wait staff who took good care of us. Best of all was the lack of locals hawking crap. In Roatan (Coxen Hole), we went to Tabyana Beach. This was my 2nd time there and it is still as beautiful as it ever was. It would be nice if they would get rid of the people walking along the water trying to sell junk though. Overall, we loved both of the beaches & would go back in a heartbeat. We swam with a dolphin in Costa Maya and that was INCREDIBLE! Beware that the photo package is outrageously expensive ($119). You can't take a camera tho so they kind of have you by the short hair. The swim-up pool bar at Senor Frogs was very cool! Cozumel is...well, Cozumel. We saved our shopping for this stop. I did buy a beautiful Amethyst ring that I love. I always laugh at the bargaining in Cozumel. The ring started out at $880 and, after walking away 3 times, I got it for $125.
On Board Activities: There wasn't much variety & very little choice on any given evening. One of my cabin mates was quite put out by the lack of poolside fun stuff (hairy chest contests) and by the fact that the pool area was pretty much deserted every night by 7pm. The bar even shut down out there. I spent far too much time in the casino mostly because there was much else to do.
Disembarkation: Again, slick as a whistle. They said that we could self-disembark beginning at 8:15am. We were the first people off the boat at 7:38 and on the road back to Michigan by 8:15am.
Overall, this was a good cruise. The staff were friendly & very helpful, the cabin was well maintained and the ports were fun. BUT, we have all decided that we are going back to RCCL and only going out on ships as big or bigger than the Mariner. Norwegian seems to be underselling the cruise in the hopes of making their profit off all the stuff you pay extra for. I'd rather pay a little higher fare in exchange for more activities, better food & more comfy beds. Less