my daughter and i cruised on NCL down the mexican riviera and hated the 'star'. it was w/ great fear and trepidation that i booked again, but only norwegian went to the destinations in the w. carribean we wanted to visit. cruising out of new orleans is only a 2 hr. time difference from vancover and a 6 1/2 hr. flight. we thought if we booked a balcony we'd have a quiet retreat and we were right. also, we knew we liked the thermal pool in the spa and the buffet offered great salads.
first encounter w/ NCL booking was negative. they advertised a balcony for the price of an outside cabin, but research and talking to a supervisor revealed norwegian raised the price of the outside cabin to match the price of the balcony. we paid $699. for a balcony so it wasn't the cost, i don't like being manipulated by false advertising. i transferred my booking to a travel agent so i didn't have to deal w/ NCL.
we arrived in NOLA late so we stayed in the airport hilton (see my review on More
trip advisor) and took a taxi to the port the next day ($30.) embarkation easy.
entering our cabin was pleasant. small, but the decor was muted unlike the garish colours of the inside cabins. worth it. balcony on NCL costs the same as holland america's (my preffered cruise line) outside cabin. coffee maker a blessing because we brought via ready brew. tv old style -- no flat screen. during the cruise we watched 'lincoln', but it was hard to read the lettering on an old tv. watched the latest clint eastwood flick. very nice. cabin clean.
booked 2 shore excursions (honduras and belize) after listening to the cruise director's talk. suggest new cruisers attend and book same day. tours do actually fill up. i'd already booked 2 mayan ruins w/ my expedia/cruise centre travel agent that cost less than NCL.
attended an illusionist performance (great fun) the first afternoon. reccommended. seats in theatre wretched so we avoided evening entertainment.
first sea day a pleasant balance of 'playing' on the ship and resting in suite.
dining room improved over last cruise on the 'star' where we walked out twice the food was so bad. eat early (short lines) and found the food to be bizarre, but good. new chef? bizarre? first night surf and turf instead of first dress up sea day. norwegian's dress code is always casual, not even 'smart casual'.
'english' trifle (my dad's a brit and i was raised w/ delicious trifle) turned out to be non-fat whipped cream and fresh fruit. tasted great, but not trifle.
steak tasted like liver. i like liver, but steak? greek salad (i live in a greek neighbourhood) tasty, but not greek.
we ate ala carte sushi (reasonable prices) in the 'ginza' restaurant. avoid, if you like fresh fish. coming from vancouver which has the best oriental cuisine outside the orient i know the difference. it was ok. i hadn't realized that the fish would be frozen since they loaded it in NOLA. market cafe (norwegian's buffet) food is good. it has an international cuisine. first day we had east indian food. great curry. lots of variety. salad bar a treat. avoid the mongolian stir fry. they overcook the veggies 'til they are mush. the food on the 'star' is not as good as HAL (any ship), but it's edible. breakfast in the blue lagoon is quiet and the service is great. they offer a british full breakfast w/ fried tomatoes, beans and mushrooms, a pleasant change from the dining room.
we booked a future cruise on board that i cancelled when i got home because when i booked this cruise the agent promised a $100 on board credit. travel agent confirmed when i transferred. no credit. called NCL and they denied offering a credit. manipulated again. talking to norwegian reminds me of big corporations that would rather pay out lawsuits than change their business practises. a good cruise company, like uniworld, would honour their agent's promises to keep a return customer and their reputation. NCL doesn't care. regret cruising. i feel manipulated and lied to. sorry i sailed. Less
zoo & river cruise tour w/ ncl provided a nice balance to mayan ruins. we saw animals in the 1 hr. zoo tour and in the wild (2 hr. river cruise in small boat) lunch incl., but awful (beans & rice, cole slaw, fried plantene). guide had 'an eagle eye and picked out hidden animals in the rain forest, a croc, iguanas, monkeys, the noses of manitees and more.
Tulum is a must see. booked w/ natural choice thru expedia. 15 min. walk to ferry from the dock. 25 min. ferry ride, reviews warned water choppy so we got dramamine from guest services. sailing was pleasantly uneventful. we had a guide all to ourselves. one hour tour of tulum too short, but ncl offers same amount of time on their tour and we would have been two of many. Audie, the guide, was knowledgable and personable. thoroughly enjoyed tour. 4 hr. tour had us back in cozamel by 1:30 w/ plenty of time to shop and enjoy the beach.
gumbalimba park -- history of island provided by guide. pirate perifenalia - a blunderbuss, swords, cannon etc. tourist trap, but a pleasant experience. parrot sat on my shoulder and kissed me. white-faced monkeys sat on everyone;s shoulder and head for peanuts, great pics. very soft and gentle. restaurant in park serves mexican food made fresh altho fries were frozen. 2 hrs. but allow more time because free shuttle doesn't leave until 20 passengers are ready to return. long wait, but it was sunny and pleasant. bring a book.
if you like spa experiences, la pina spa has a kiosk on the dock. they offer a package -- 60. min. massage for two, pedicures, facials and champagne for $250 a couple. much cheaper than cruise ship. my daughter and i were stuck at the park so we only had time for facials & pedicures. ($90 per person) pedicure in NCL spa $65. pp. facial $95. pp. trip adviser.com reviews la pina. if i return to roatan, i would skip a tour & enjoy the spa package. the price incl. 20 min. ride to spa & 20. min. return to ship.