This was a last minute booking, hubby decided we should go on a cruise for my bday. L.A. was sold out, Alaska was too cold, but New Orleans was promising and there was one to Belize and Roatan, yay! So we fly to Nola, get a hotel Sat. night for Sunday departure. We have been in CA a long time but are originally from LA, so we know and enjoy Nola. Then I learn we will be delayed until Monday. Bummer. The next day we learn we are delayed until Tuesday. Double bummer. Called our travel agent and NCL to see what we get for being delayed. Credit for 2 days' sailing. That's it? No future upgrade? No free drink or something? Oh well. The Intercontinental Hotel was nice and located well, so we ate like pigs at great restaurants and made the most of it. Embarking was crazy. I've never seen lines so long. But, we made it through. Then there was another huge line. Embarkation photo? OK. Wait, wait, wait. Never mind, we don't need no stinking photo. Wait, that's for that table for buying coke cards and stuff, we can go on through to take a picture. Then comes the washy-washy assaults (hand sanitizer sprayers). We find our room, it's all good. Bathroom is roomier than all other 6 cruises I've been on. There is a sliding door to the pot and another to the shower, with the sink in the middle. Not bad. Cute tile with fish on it, but some cracking and rusting, ew. Balcony is nice, 2 chairs, lil table.
We then proceed to have a nice lunch, and discover the food is perhaps the worst I've ever had. Nothing very good, nothing interesting. The top of my cruise itinerary is always lobster night. Turns out, the first night onboard there was an entree of lobster and snapper. It was a half lobster tail and some snapper. Not bad. Surely there would be a whole lobster tail night? Noooo. Desserts were really bad. I have nightmares of their horrible mousse concoctions that aren't good. I've never been exposed to such dry, nasty pancakes each morning. Scrambled eggs are like government eggs, made from a bag of powder. Nothing for breakfast was palatable. I'm not normally a complainer; this was just pretty bad. There wasn't one meal, appetizer, entree, salad, or dessert I would rave about. First time for everything.
The shows... we went to On Broadway, a sampler of scenes from Broadway shows. It wasn't so good, but then, if these performers were really good maybe they would be on Broadway, so whatever. The last night included an act from comedian Sam Griesbaum, whom I remembered loving from my first cruise in about 2000. He was funny, but much milder than I remembered but I was glad to see him again. Patti & Jose do some funny covers. He on guitar and she the backup voice and accessories like "Psshhhhh" in one song, LOL! That was hilarious.
Due to a 2 day delay, we are missing Belize and Roatan and going to Costa Maya and Cozumel. Unbelievable. They pick the 2 crappiest ports of the 4. We booked excursions through Priceline to fly from Belize City to Ambergris Caye, the gem of the area, and snorkeling off Roatan in a beautiful reef area. Nixed. But, this would be about my 4th time to Cozumel, so I knew what was there. We hit 2 beaches and shopped at one crap store after another, being hounded to buy anything or everything. Went to Paradise Beach again, which has a nice big pool and is on the ocean, but it is so rocky, you can't walk out into the water, it's slippery, slimey, rough. So we took a $25 cab ride to north Cozumel to Playa Azul, where there was a hotel/resort, bar/restaurant, snorkeling, etc. $10 to rent snorkel gear. Also a super rocky beach, but we got out to the water, snorkeled a bit, saw a couple blah fish, and had enough. I'm going to learn to scuba dive bc this is not cool.
I never heard of Costa Maya but when I looked it up, learned it was created and built to be a cruise port. This means there is a huge Senior Frogs and a bunch of crap shops like at every other port. Hubby left us girls to shop and went back to the ship; it was a miserable port and an insult to Mexican culture in days of old. We didn't buy an excursion, and maybe people who went diving or something had a good time, but to us it was awful. I didn't buy any souvenirs because I didn't want any reminders.
The formal dining rooms never had more than about 1/3 filled. I don't know if everyone ate at the specialty places or the super casual buffets instead. People were dressed more casually than I have ever seen before. I didn't think they allowed shorts in the formal rooms, but most people had shorts on. The 'formal' night was called "Dress up or Not" night. If people dressed up for dinner and photos, I didn't hardly notice them. While freestyle dining can be nice (not having a set time), I miss meeting new people at dinner and talking about your day. On this ship, every party got their own table. Very unsociable. One night I couldn't find my cruisemates so I ate alone. Wish they would have offered to put me with a group of other singles or something, as there were some.
We each got 3-4 spa treatments so we were pampered and relaxed, but they should reduce the prices. Massages shouldn't be $150 when I pay $50/month to Massage Envy at home. Had the ionithermie slimming treatment and lost 1/2 inch in several places. Temporarily. Not worth it, really. And I passed on the $700 product recommendations. Had a facial that was very nice, but passed on the $450 product recommendations.
We all agreed that Carnival is better. I had been thinking NCL was better but my last was a Carnival and my next is a Carnival. I can't believe how much NCL has declined.
I liked the ship's crew for the most part. Our room steward kept the room in good order, although never once changed the sheets even though we got pizza sauce on it the first night. OH! There is no 24-hour pizza bar like they used to have. Now you have to order a large for $5. Waiters were all very nice, although one night we had one, then another who apologizes for the mix-up and said our assigned waiter was late, he should have woken him up earlier, etc. So our assigned waiter was sort of ashamed that he was being dogged on. That wasn't necessary! I like the team effort of everyone chipping in. We didn't need to know who was assigned, then ridiculed for a reason we didn't need to know. Just feed me.
I've been on 7 cruises so knew how debarkation works, whether they take your luggage at night or you carry it off yourself in the morning. Do it yourselfers were assigned 8am to exit, and colored tags were available to be chosen the night before as to which half-hour increment later you wanted. We did our own and left at our leisure, actually. I'm not up at 8am. Getting through customs was a breeze, no delay at all.