We started our holiday in New Orleans for a couple of days. What a great city but I guess a lot of the excitement was because of the football game. You just can't stop getting excited for the "Saints".
Let be begin by saying that we were part of a group of 14 (7 couples)2 couples have cruised before (not on NCL) the rest were first timers. Our embarkation was great - got there early & were one of the first on. No Lines. Easy & Fast. We did not go to the buffet that first day because we had a BIG breakfast in New Orleans. The Lido deck was sunny with lots of staff to begin our week of alcoholic beverages.
Our room was on the 4th level with a small porthole - which we knew about. The room was small as usual but everything fit in. I liked the idea of a door for the washroom & then a door for the shower. It meant that 2 people could get ready at the same time. Because we were on the 4th level we heard the engines ALWAYS. We never had a good night sleep so in future we will always be up a few floors.
The FIRST negative that started our week off on the wrong foot was the staff going through our luggage & putting HUGE LIQUOUR sticker on it, then making us stand in line to pick up our luggage & LUG it back OURSELVES!!
The ship was tastefully decorated in Asian feel. The ship was older but well maintained & always clean.
Our stops were Costa Maya - where we went in the CITY bus to the local beach. While there we paid a local to take us out to the reefs for an hour of snorkeling where we saw lots of fish - great experience. We had their local beer & lunch & had a nice restful day at the beach.
Next was Santo Tomas Guatemala - I got in touch with "GUS TOURS" (private tour) before I left but they wanted 1/2 Monies down & I did not want to do that in case the ship changed ports but GUS was there at the dock. We (10 of us) got a 'private tour' with GUS TOURS - our guide was GERRY - what a great young man he was - knowledgeable & helpful to all of us. We had a great tour to the "4 altars Waterfall". If you go there remember to where water shoes Or runners that you d not mind getting wet. It is a difficult path for anyone who has trouble walking but the end result of swimming in the waterfalls is Fantastic. Then we had LUNCH at Gus's Hotel & had a walk through the 'city' of Livingstone. Would recommend it & GUS to anyone.
Belize was the only place we did an organized tour with the SHIP. It went off wonderfully. We did the ZIPLINING & REPELLING. What a great thing to try. It is a long BUMPY drive but well worth the trip.
COZUMEL - I did not get off the ship as I have been there before but the dock is really built up & friends told me that there were LOTS of shops in walking distance.
Now the DINING - I have heard awful stories about the dining in all the restaurants except the extra pay ones but......my experience (& my friends)was just the opposite. EVERYTHING we ordered was delicious & the presentation was excellent. Because we were in such a large group we always made a reservation & always in WINDOWS but we always got different staff. We also tried the "ITALIEN" restaurant (extra $10) & it too was delicious. Raffles was your typical buffet - Breakfast was excellent with Eggs to order, omelets, fresh fruit yogurt etc. Do not always eat lunch but when we did the food was great. we never ate dinner in Raffles so cannot say what was on the menu.
Most of the staff was very friendly & greeted you with a smile. The only negative would be that because we pay the 'tip' up front daily ($12) you don't always get the PERSONAL service which we are used to. The room steward was GOOD but did not do anything EXTRA or try to get to know you in any way. The waiters as I said were always different so we never got to know them OR they us. The service was very GOOD but not always GREAT.
Our embarkation was also very good. There was a long line going through customs but once through we found our luggage quickly & there were lots of taxis to take us to the airport.
So in conclusion I enjoyed my cruise on NCL especially with so many friends with us. Would I travel with them again - well I would NOT turn down a cruise itinerary that I liked because it would be on NCL but it would NOT be my first choice. I do enjoy getting to know our room steward a little more & having a repor with our waiters.