Let me start by saying this vacation was intended as a late winter getaway for some warmth, sun, and fun. We hope to have another vacation in the year ahead so our intent was to let the ship entertain us.
Embarkation Day 1: We planned on taking a taxi to the pier but at the luggage carousel we saw a lady holding an NCL placard. Asked her if we could join...no problem. $20pp and charged to our on-board account. Once at the pier, lines moved quickly and before we knew it, we were on board and greeted with a spritz of hand sanitizer. You'll get used to that quickly! Went to Windows for a nice lunch and headed to our room. Inside cabin on deck 8; plenty large for our needs. Bathroom is spacious as well. Most importantly, clean! I recall feeling very welcome and thought it amazing that other cruisers had left that room mere hours prior. Had dinner at specialty restaurant Cagney's. $25pp with comp bottle of wine...California Merlot...very cheap but decent. Partner did not like t-bone steak. My filet was good and I enjoyed the Oysters Rockefeller (6) although they could have been a tad hotter. This was the only specialty restaurant we went for 1) because we've cruised NCL prior and tried the others, and 2) meals are really quite good at the main dining rooms and we found Cagney's food to be no better. You will notice the extra bit of attention and the quieter, upscale atmosphere. You decide if it's worth $50 extra per couple. ;-) Took in the Welcome Aboard Show in the theater and ended up in the Disco for dancing.
Sea Day 2: Rained leaving NOLA the night before and with us in an inside cabin could not readily tell what the day was like. Well, it was sunny and warm! Ate a nice breakfast in Windows and proceeded poolside. Dinner: Windows-just fine; Show: Broadway review-entertaining; disco for dancing and making more friends.
Costa Maya Day 3: Having never been to Mexico, I was impressed with the pier complex here but we whizzed right through to the exit in the back to grab a taxi to our privately booked excursion to Maya Chan resort. We were a bit apprehensive about the van we were getting in (was it going to the right place?) but we got there, no worries. A bit bumpy of a ride but inconsequential otherwise. Cannot say enough about Maya Chan. Google it and go. You will not be disappointed. Everything was amazing!!! And do not say no to the 1/2 hour massage. You will feel totally pampered. Oh, and the best guacamole on earth. Back at the pier complex, beware Senor Frogs if you enter. While great energy and lots of decadent fun, they will force feed you multiple shots without you realizing what is happening and poof: a $20 bill, please. :) Dinner: Garden Room...to our liking as it is a bit more intimate and cozy. Again, food was well prepared and satisfying. Show: Magician: a bit hokey and predictable although the number with an audience member was hilarious and worth the earlier schmaltz. Disco for dancing. A routine is emerging. :-)
Belize Day 4: So, the ship anchors what seems like 3 miles off shore and you take these catamarans in. This complex is less impressive and you are immediately greeted with hawkers trying to get you to take their excursions or horse and buggy rides of the town. We walk around a bit and decide we want to see the city...beyond the gates and guards. We're adventurous, right? So we leave the safety of the walled complex and let me just say it is not a pretty picture on the other side. We are immediately offered assorted "services", "goods" and wares...get used to "No, thank you"...and are quickly met with a free spirit of a man who calls himself Prince Charles, I believe. This would-be ambassador of Belize City proceeds with telling us the history of the country and pointing out some sights. Follows us over the swing bridge and I've seen about enough. Gave him some "cheese" and off he goes. We u-turn, back over the bridge, give away some cigarettes and a brisk walk back to the walled pier. It really is a chaotic scene. I read reviews calling this city "bustling" but I found it a bit frantic. Not quite unsafe but definitely unsettling. In retrospect, I feel bad that we could not get into the culture, etc. but we were just fish out of water. I do not know about the government there but it seems a bit of money for some bright paint and improved sanitation and some flowers might get some people working and get more tourists to want to leave the dock. Perhaps, I am naive. We did each buy a silver bracelet in the pier complex. Hope it is sterling as the salesman claimed. Time will tell on that! Back on ship by 10:30 a.m. to the poolside for balance of day.
Dinner: Garden Room. Show: Acrobatic Duo. They are quite something, for sure.
Roatan Day 5: Most impressive pier complex. Beautiful architecture, clean, bright, and abloom with tropical flora. Took a ship excursion for a tour of the island ending with a 2 hour beach stop. There we had the best fish sandwich ever. Petted some iguanas and met a US native who bought a house high in the hills after an NCL cruise 10 years ago. Nice hospitality. Upon our return, walked around town to get a flavor of local life and do some shopping. Definitely poor but generally we felt safe. We were met by two young boys who guided us for our mile or so walk. Very polite and well behaved. We offered to buy them ice cream cones; upon reflection they opted for cereal and milk instead. Our pleasure and how eye opening was that. Hope they are well. Dinner: Garden Room
Show: We passed on the Rock, Soul & Country offering and discoed it instead. ;-) The DJ was very good each night and we wished the place was busier. It really is a nice place to hang out and the bar staff are awesome. It is at the end of the casino and maybe the smoking deters people. :-/
Cozumel Day 6: After a late night, I was a bit, shall we say, under the weather. Partner went ashore then came back to get me. We walked and shopped and walked and shopped. What I had read is true. There were a zillion cruise ships and thousands of people milling about. You can tell the competition is stiff as EVERY store has multiple staff urging you to come in. Again, be prepared for "no, thank you." If you haven't been, basically, it is a never ending mall complex of jewelery, souvenir and t-shirt shops with a healthy dose of bars and restaurants thrown into the mix. We spoke to fellow passengers that wound up at the beach and swim up bars and all that. Margaritaville seemed to be a big hit with them! We bought shirts and returned to the ship, you guessed it, poolside.
Dinner: Windows with a group of 8 we had met. Show: Comedian Sam; he was really quite funny. Disco following. We did a little slot machine play, too. It passed some time; thankfully, I'm not sure I understand the appeal!
Sea Day 7: On our previous cruises, we really enjoyed breakfast in Windows each morning. Just didn't happen this cruise. I think it was closed at least two days for some sort of upkeep but we opted for pastries and coffee from the buffet instead. The coffee is much better out of the machines at the buffet than in the restaurants anyway! You guessed it, poolside once more. By the way, the service staff at the pool are fantastic; the cold rolled towels are particularly refreshing after hours of sunning. Really all the staff you will meet are friendly and wonderfully energetic considering the rigors of their hours and commitment . A special shout out to the cruise director, Julie. I know, I know, seems crazy but I actually enjoyed her napkin folding class. Dinner: Garden Room. Show: We passed on the ELEMENTS show due to sheer exhaustion, I think. But, I have read it is amazing so wish we had caught it.
Disembarkation Day 8: Arrived back in NOLA early and they allowed disembarkation before schedule. Customs was a breeze and a van was waiting to take us to the airport without our planning it. Good fortune! Gentleman driving was recovering from a stent implant so we were a little nervous about his condition particularly after his lifting 500 pounds of luggage. But, we made it to the airport unscathed. $14pp and homeward bound to New England.
Maya Chan Beach Resort.
The welcoming couple outside the buffet. They can turn a frown upside down!
The fish sandwich at that Roatan beach resort.
Walking the ship.
Meeting loads of interesting people.
Those 2 kids from Roatan, bless them.
The tour guide from Roatan, too. A tough nut to crack but a proud and decent woman for sure.
Julie, the cruise director and our bartender from Maharajah's.
Beef Stroganoff. My favorite dish.
Vietnamese spring rolls. You'll get them and order them again.
Mixed Fruit Cobbler with custard sauce. Look for it. Sublime.
Salade Nicoise. The best I've had.
Caesar Salad. It was always good.
Salmon. Served any way.
Cinnamon rolls. Now that's a good morning.
Soft serve ice cream in the afternoon. YUMMY!!