April 2013- Norwegian Star- Embarkation- Port of New Orleans, LA
After around 20 cruises with various cruise lines, we pretty much know what to expect. We didn't like having to park our vehicle in the open lot at the port. My husband needed to take oxygen and a scooter on this trip. The crew members were very attentive during the embarkation process and throughout the cruise. We had an inside cabin, as usual. We are never in our room long enough to enjoy a window. As long as we can put our large suitcases under the bed, we end up fitting in the cabin just fine. This ship did leave two lapel pins for us, that pointed out that we had become "Silver" Latitude members. There were past cruiser parties, wine and cheese parties, good music and dancing. To have a wonderful cruise, one must study the ship's daily newspaper, to see what is going on. You can't do it all. The wider your interest, the harder it is to choose. It is a good idea to go on line and study the excursions before you ever get on the ship, ruling out what didn't interest you. That saves a lot of time.
I walk the stairs as often as possible, for exercise, and enjoy viewing the different artwork on each landing, as well as the decoration of the lobby.
We dressed up and enjoyed luxurious meals each night, in the lovely, chandeliers in the Versailles dining room. This ship had several beautiful stained glass ceilings. We bought some beautiful portraits. They will hound you to death to take pictures. Let them! You might just find out that they captured you and that special someone in a picture that makes you feel like a million dollars.
We heard some very good karaoke singers. I enjoyed the steel drum player in the group "Excite", and bought their cd in the gift shop. Another musical group that I liked was "Manila Trio". I love violins, One morning, they played for us at the breakfast buffet. Our schedule worked out for me to be able to use the hot tub a lot this cruise. I always like to go to the champagne art shows. We enjoyed the "Second City" improv show. I love the quick thinking going on in their skits.We also liked the comedy act "Sharkbait". They said they were retiring after that cruise. We did not like the musical "Shout". An act called "DuoAcrobatique" made up for it. We had seen this Russian man and and his wife's sensual "flying in the sky" act before. Her costumes were beautiful! We missed the "Magician's act". I had forgotten just how glitzy his costumes were. I was glad when they included him in the recap or combo show called "Elements". It was great.
We always look forward to the Chocolate Buffet, and were not disappointed. Over all the food on this trip was not as good as Carnival's, but you will never leave hungry. The entertainment on Norwegian, put Carnival's to shame. One day, I happened in on a fantastic food and vegetable carving demonstration. The man was an expert! His carvings were the most beautiful I had ever seen. We cruised with Carnival five months later, and found that not only was their entertainment awful, they didn't bother do to the vegetable carvings any longer, either.
When we got back to New Orleans, the rain stopped long enough for the porter to help us unload our heavy, heavy bags. After walking around the French Quarter for a bit, we headed back home. It was a wonderful cruise.
My tourist information for Costa Maya is for those who wish to walk around, and absorb the port more fully, instead of taking an excursion. We have been here at least four times. I am easily entertained, and very curious. When you get to the port, take a bit of time to sit on their little coral beach and watch the beautiful waves. Pictures taken there are keepsakes. Carefully walk on the coral, and notice the little things in the water. You might be surprised at what you see there, and what you see wash upon the shore. I was! Walk to the top of the port-built pyramid, and enjoy the bird's eye view of the island. Notice the plants growing on top of the buildings. (Alovera?) Walk straight behind the shops, pass the taxi area, cross over to the beautiful path that has been lined with shells, beautiful plant,& nice pieces of art. A little way down on the right, you will find the small Jade Museum. The building is well marked. The first time I had no guide, and just walked through their displays at my leisure. This time, I had the best young man, with great knowledge, guide me through. Across the street was a souvenir store, that had a small Agave Museum in the back. Interesting. Walk back to the cabs/buses, and pay $3.00 each way to go to the little fishing village nearby, called Mahajaul (& spelled several ways).You can tell that it is a poor area of people just trying to make a dollar off of the tourists. Yes, as in other ports, they will hound you to complete this purpose. Before they added the nice promenade, it was like a dusty street in old Mexico, with a dog or two running loose. Rather charming. The water is beautiful. After the hurricane, the vendors moved to the other side of the beach. You can still order food, drink and sit right by the water in the open air restaurant's chairs.
It's cheaper to bargain for a massage at the end of the day. The vendors set up shop on card tables. I love to bargain for jewelry there....but let the buyer beware. Wear your glasses and check the markings on the sterling silver pieces. I have been given false information, to make the sale, and I have made some beautiful purchases. Things are cheaper in Mahajaul. You can get good, frozen pina coladas & Bahama Mamas, etc. even in coconuts shells, cheaper than at Costa Maya or on the ship. Beer is cheaper, too. One little open aired bar had swings. You can sip one & listen to the sea roar. Walk to the end of the promenade. Meet the man in the shop on the right side on the end, who puts abalone shell on polished coconut shell. His store is also his house. On the left, walk out on the dock, look over to see if you can spot any blue-needle nose fish. I did. You don't need to pay to go to an Iguana Farm. Keep your eyes open. They are everywhere around the construction and the dock! I got some great pictures of them.
It's fun to interact with the locals. Several trips here before, I saw some excited children, who caught a pail of tiny, blue jellyfish. I never noticed the wide swing on the beach before. It made some lovely pictures with that beautiful, blue water in the background. When you get back to Costa Maya, or before you take the taxi to Mahajaul, keep an eye out for the Mexican dancers. They put on a nice show outside, in front of the stores, and are dressed in beautiful, colorful costumes. There is a free swimming poor in this port as soon as you get off the ship. It might be a nice thing to do at the end of the day.