This review is for the 11 day exotic Southern Caribbean tour round-trip to NYC in the dead of winter.
Embarkation: We used the buses that Norwegian offers. This was one of our best decisions. First of all, it takes you directly to the pier. Second, leaving was great. More on that later. Well, we lucked out on the weather. It was already 50F in NYC when we got there. There were a ton of people in the boarding area. We were actually outside of the building for about 30 minutes, which would have been terrible if it had been cold. All told, it was about two hours until we finally got into the ship. Once aboard, everything fell in place.
Dining: Overall we were happy, with a few key problems. The Garden Cafe, which offers cafeteria-style food, was PACKED the first night, and everyone was VERY cranky and fighting over seats. After that first night, Garden was great. We ate our food by the pool on port days, and didn't really wait at all. The three main dining rooms, More
Impressions, Aqua, and Venetian, served the same foods. We liked the first two better because they were more intimate and the service seemed to be faster. The food was great. However, we couldn't make reservations, and sometimes we had to wait for an hour to get a table. The other alternative restaurants were much better because we could make reservations and the service was faster. Salsa's had great fajitas. We didn't get a chance to try the tapas that they offer. Next time then! The sushi bar was unbelievable. If you decide to get the combo, get one to share. There was a sushi demonstration on one of the 'at sea' days that we recommend. Le Bistro had wonderful food too. My head was inches from one of the 'French masters' paintings. The fast food place had great burgers.
Pubs: These were all very good, along with the service. Our favorite for hanging out was the Irish Pub, and for pre-dinner drinks, the Star Bar. Don't get the draft beer. The bartenders say that no one buys it, and for the most part it was skunked. If you want to save some money on beer, each night during the cruise, the Irish bar has a 2-for-1 special on both imports and domestics. You can buy as many as you want, and save them for the next. They also offer a helmet where you pay for 5 beers and get 6. Finally, Spinaker offers a discount to past-cruisers if you get a blue sticker. for some reason, they put one on my card and I got 20% off alcohol, but only in that bar. I'm just assuming.
Entertainment: We're not big show-goers, but the few we did go to were great. Bollywood was really neat. The comedians were very good too, especially JJ Walker from 'good times'.
Cabin: Standard cabin. Our obstructed view was completely blocked by the tendering boat. On mornings when they used that actual boat, it was really loud, but the view was great. Not that we cared since we paid for an inside cabin. The bathroom was larger than Royal Caribbean's, with room to bend over in the shower. We had a fridge and hair dryer in the room. I don't think the sheets on the bed were ever changed.
Fitness: We used this every day. Treadmills, ellipticals, and all other standards. Try running on the treadmill when the seas are choppy. The best part was the indoor lap pool and hot tubs. We didn't have any kids in there any time we went, but then we only had 82 on the cruise. They had a spin room, but you were only supposed to use the machines when a class was in session.
Shore Excursions: We did two different excursions. Both were fantastic! Grenada - Rainforest, Grand Etang, and Annandale. There wasn't much outside hiking on this trip. Stopping to see the dried spices was neat. We bought two sandwich bags of various spices for $2 each. The view of the lake in the rainforest was nice too. Dominica - Nature's Hidden Treasures. You have to do this trip. We started in the botanical gardens, looking at some of the plants, birds, etc. After that, we drove deep into the interior of the island and then stopped at a little bar (it was called a disco, but it was just a room). After a heavy downpour, we walked down a rocky path through a lot of mud past a small farm. Then we got to the rainforest part. The path got a little thinner, and some of the older people had a hard time walking. I recommend taking this trip only if you are able to do moderate climbing, using ropes, rocks, etc. The rainforest was beautiful. After another 15 minutes, and some more difficult downward climbing, we reached the first waterfall. Some of the children and younger folks were swimming in it: the water was crystal clear and the waterfall was like nothing I'd ever seen. After that waterfall was another one. To get there, we literally climbed a muddy slope at a 45 degree angle using rope, and descended the other side hanging on to roots and other things. The second waterfall was even more beautiful. Most people couldn't make it over to see it. After going back to the buses, we drove through Carib territory and then stopped for a large native lunch and show. This was the best shore excursion ever.
Value for price: fantastic value. 11 days out of NYC means no plane ticket, so we got a few extra days in.
Overall we ranked the cruise a 5. My only real complaint was waiting to get seated in the main dining. I would definitely go with Norwegian and this ship again. Less