Exotic Western Carribean. NCL Dawn
Cruisers: Ccboltie (52) and DD Katie (22)
After waking up in the middle of the night due to daylight savings time, we landed in Tampa at 9 am. We took a taxi to the port and were able to check our luggage with a porter. We walked to channel side and found a little chocolate shop. The pastries were great but the iced coffee was pretty bad!
We were able to check in at 10:30 and boarded within the hour. It may be the easiest check in ever! We had lunch on deck then sided to go to our room. The cabin is definitely smaller than carnival but the bathroom was better. We decided to do the spa tour, with the hope of winning a prize. The gave some short demonstration and the hot stone massage felt great, but at $195 I think I will pass. Of course it is one big sales pitch, but the prizes sound awesome. After a mercifully short boat drill (no life jackets required). We went on deck and snagged a drink (my first BBC) while the ship sailed away from Tampa.
Then back to the spa for the prize drawing, since you needed to be present to win. There were less than 100 people, so our odds were pretty good. Alas we did not win a prize, but I was impressed with the gym and spa. Katie signed up for a TRX class for 8 am the nextday. We like to dress up, so we did. There was definitely a line for the Venitian but the gave us a pager. We went to the reservation desk and made dinner reservations for 7:30 each night and by then our table was ready. We had a little table for 2 and the service was very prompt. Hard to believe it but I almost miss that first awkward dinner of meeting your table mates. The onion soup was average but I have to say the surf and turf was quite good. The cheesecake was definitely better than the chocolate torte. After a short walk around the deck, it was time for bed!
I have read some complaints about the beds, but I have to say I slept very well. We woke up early, oh wait we need to turn the clock back an hour so it is really 6 am. We decided to get coffee and watch the sun rise. I was surprised at all the early risers in the cafe. We made our way to the quiet zone at the front of the ship. It was quite windy but we persevered and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise! What a great start!
I did an hour on the treadmill while Katie took her class TRX class. She said it was well worth the cost of admission.
After the M&G we found a couple of deck chairs. It was a very windy day and the ship was really rocking. The pi'a coladas were frosty and the sun was shinning. You couldn't ask for more. We spent the afternoon on deck and realized that spray sunscreen was a mistake. We both ended up with odd sunburns where the spray must have blown away. We happily put on our cocktail dresses and scored a glass of champaign. I couldn't talk Katie into a photo with the captain but we did a formal portrait. Then on to Gatsby's for a champaign cocktail. Dinner reservations made the dining experience much more pleasant. The Cesar salad was crisp and the NY strip was cooked to perfection and the green beans were tasty. The deserts were once again disappointing.
Day 3- Roatan, Honduras
We turned the clock back another hour, so of course we were up fairly early. Breakfast on the Garden cafe was very good and I think the omelet was even better than the dinning room. It is a little overcast, hopefully it will clear up for our tour. We watched the ship come into port. The music had a very jungle like beat and the native dancing was entertaining. We booked the Dolphin encounter and swim at Anthony Key Resort with NCL, and Katie is really looking forward to the experience. Twelve of us boarded the van for a short ride to AKR. The resort itself was gorgeous. We took a short boat ride to Bailey Key where we entered the crystal clear bay to meet Out trainer and the gorgeous Gracie. We learned about dolphins including the fact that they weigh 500 lbs and eat 40 lbs of fish a day. Our group of 5 had many opportunities to pet her. After our hug and kiss shots the let us grab our own cameras. We had plenty of photo ops and got to see Gracie do several jumps with her daughter. Then we donned our fins and snorkels. A trainer guided us through the most amazing experience. We swam in the bay, which is home to 20 Dolphins. The soon came to play and we were told to dive down and grab some sea gradd, the dolphins will take sea grass right from your hand. There was a baby who was quite curious and sure enough she took it right from my hand! They seemed to enjoy interacting with us. It was so much fun to see Katie dive down and twist and turn, the dolphins loved it too. The dolphins love were free to come and go as they pleased. It was definitely something I will remember for a long time. Katie said it is the closest she will ever come to being a mermaid. We were then escorted to the gift shop where we purchased the amazing photos for a very reasonable price of $50 w all of our pics. I had plenty of time to grab our passports, since they had a stand set up to prove a stamp. All in all an excellent day in Roatan.
A short nap was in order. After dinner we went to the Cirque du Soleil style show with Jocko & Maria. It was both graceful and athletic. We quite enjoyed the performance, It made Katie want to go to circus school! Then it was on to dancing with the dawn stars. Alas Katie did not get picked but it was fun to watch!
Day 4 -Belize City
Another dreary cool day. We obtained tender tickets and made it to shore easily, no long waiters. We checked in with Eco tours and had about a 40 minute wait. I was optimistic that the sun would come out, but that never happened. After a 30 minute boat ride, we made it to the island. The girls thought it looked small, but it was exactly what I expected.it was so windy and cool that it was hard to appreciate. The sea was quite rough, however the call soon went out for those who wanted to snorkel. We took a boat out to the reef and were all given a life preserver. I thought I would wrap around my wrist so that I could dive down but after the first big wave I quickly put it around my waist as did the others in our group. The water was quite warm and visibility wasn't bad but the wind and waves made it a struggle. The guide did his best to point out what fish there were and he dove down several times to bring up sea creatures. Although I saw some interesting coral it was difficult to enjoy with the conditions. We finally made it back to shore and I can honestly saw we all were just greatful to make it back. The small silver lining was that we were no longer cold. After a long wait in the BBQ line we were told no lobster, just chicken. Although tasty, it was another disappointment. In hindsight, I am surprised that they took us out to the island, it would have made more sense to cancel and offer us a different tour. I can see that in good weather it would have been paradise, but we were ally quite happy to leave and head back to the ship. We were able to get right back on the ship and were more than ready for a nap. We had 7:30 reservations for Cagney's. the atmosphere and service were outstanding and the food was top notch. The crab cakes were delicious, although Katie didn't care for the lobster bisque. I opted for the filet and famous parmesean fries with truffle oil and Katie had the small filet with a lobster tail, an extra cost but well worth the extra $8. The food lived to it billing and the Coffee made in a French press and was the perfect end to the meal!
Back to the room for a quick change into our whites and up to the pool party with the "white hot angels", yes the cruise staff actually had on wings. It was without a doubt the best pool party I have ever been to on a ship! We all bought a coveted blinky cup (mission accomplished)
Day 5 - Costa Maya
I was on deck in time to see the ship dock, I definitely get the fishing village vibe. And lookat that, the sun is out! So excited for our day at Maya Chan! After a short bus ride we arrived in paradise. The resort is very natural and we were quickly shown to our palapa. We bypassed the welcome punch for the special of the day, a watermelon daiquiri. It was a beautiful sunny day, but very windy. I quickly found on of the floats and hit the water. Yes there is sea grass and the surf was quite churned up, but it did nothing to detract from our day! In fact, it just seemed very authentic. There was plenty of privacy if you wanted it, but we chose to chat with some of the other CC folks. We opted out of the snorkel since the seas were again quite choppy. I watched as the chopped my coconut for a fresh coco loco, which they delivered to us in the sea. We moved on to watermelon margaritas and they were absolutely delicious! The ratings on trip advisor are well deserved! The taco buffet was superb. Be sure to try the sea bass cook in white wine, butter and garlic, it was fabulous. Katie did a 30 minute massage and she said it was do amazing I decided to try myself. It was so relaxing with the sound of the surf and the ocean breeze. It certainly lived up to the billing and at $25 was an absolute bargain! All too soon 3 pm arrived and it was time to take the taxi back to port. There was no better way to spend the day, I highly recommend this resort. Great drinks, food and service, Maya Chan exceeded our very high expectations. We can't wait to go back!
Day 6 Cozumel
Every 5 weeks the dawn tenders and unfortunately it was our turn this week. We waited almost 3 hours to get to shore....evidently they usually have 5 smaller tenders but the seas were too rough so the needed to bring in larger tenders. We had reservations for the day at Mr Sanchos for the all inclusive. When we arrived at almost noon, we discovered that our chairs had been given way since they didn't think we were coming. The resort was very crowded with 8 ships in port, but the beach was beautiful so we decided to stay. The drinks were strong, the sun was shining, the water was crystal clear and the food was delicious. Once the crowd started to thin the manager brought us a lounge chair and even managed to provide an order of the coconut shrimp, which was amazing. There were plenty of water sports available but we decided to soak up some sun. After a rough start I have to say we ended up enjoying the day, even if it was too short. We more than got our money's worth and this resort has something for every one from young to old! We had some time to shop and of course get a drink at Senior Frogs. They brought the ship in to dock, which was definitely better than the tender!
Day 7 - sea day
We began the day once again with breakfast in the garden cafe, the custom on let's are our favorite! We snagged chairs by the pool. The sun was out but the breeze made it a hit cool, I don't think we have to worry about sweating!
The ship was nicely appointed and the staff was friendly. There was a wide range of ages and a fun spring break vibe. The food was good for the most part, although the deserts were disappointing. The best part of this trip was the island ports, Roatan and Costa Maya were our favorites! I am not sure the "free style" atmosphere is for us, since we enjoy more traditional cruising. I give this trip a solid "B"