I would like to start off by saying, I read Cruise Critic and take others opinions with a grain of salt. I have never considered myself to be a hard person to please. I don't return food at restaurants because I am not happy. I just DEAL and move on. We have been on 6 cruises now. 2 Disney, 3 RCL and this one with NCL. I wanted to try the "Freestyle" cruising and now I have. I must be ANAL and like structure because I found myself wanting a scheduled activity, we actually used the "card-game room" on NCL. I never knew a ship had one of these.
When we left our home at 2:30 in the morning we had to travel 60 miles to the airport, through an ICE STORM. My husband was not allowed to get over 25 miles an hour. "SLOW DOWN". We passed numerous cars flipped on there tops and I was not in the mood for that. We caravaned our way up the Interstate and made it to the airport (2 hours later) in time to catch our flight. They had to De-Ice the plane and we missed our connection in Atlanta. My hats off to Delta. They already had us booked on the next flight to Fort Lauderdale and they made it seem like it was no big deal. Yeah Delta!
EMBARKATION: Joke #1. NCL Funnels you through gates, like cattle. One to get your picture and sign up. Then you go through the cattle stalls to pick up your card. I am not sure if it was us traveling with someone with limited mobility or if it was really annoying but I felt like all this could have been accomplished in ONE stop. (like on RCL.) Did I mention that we were "Yelled" out throughout this process. "Get your cards out".."This Way"..."Keep Moving". I was a little aggrivated before I got on the ship.
We always get "Inside" cabins because we are only in there to sleep. We stayed in cabin 10565 which was on the 10th floor. On RCL we are usually on the bottom shoveling coal. We liked our cabin alot. It was small but exactly what we expected. NCL does do a few things better than RCL. They have an in room coffee pot with supplies which we did not partake but I thought it was a nice touch. NCL also gives you a shower door, not a curtain. I hated the RCL shower curtain. It would stick to you and then you felt like you needed another shower. The door was a nice touch.
Roatan is actually a joke. I am not sure why NCL has it as a stop. When we arrived the poverty of this area is very apparant. We did not have a scheduled excursion at Roatan and decided to trek out to do some shopping. From the ship, with my trusty binoculars, (Tennessee Girl), we spotted a Methodist shopping center. Being a loyal Methodist I felt the need to contribute. It was a short walk through the locals trying to take us on trips for dirt cheap (they said). We did some shopping. I found that the locals were not real interested in bargaining. The price they stated was the price and that was it. They acted offended when you tried to bargain with them. We bought some junk and proceded down through the town. When we made it to the end of the finished sidewalk and onto the dirt path we decided to turn back. We met a young boy "Monte" who followed us and talked, I thought we had met a really nice young local until I found out he just wanted us to tip him for his local insite. When we got ready to go back to the ship for lunch Monte ask for some money for showing us around....OK. He basically followed us around but I did give him some money. I did realize that I live in a very small bubble in East Tn. and it was good to see how lucky and priveledged we actually are.
At this port our group split up: part of our group (We will refer to them and the adventures) went on a Cave Tubing adventure which they loved. They had a guide named "Tony". My 11 year old Son, Husband 37, and 2 friends in their early 30's went on this trip. Being a Red Neck from Tennessee my husband somewhat resembles "Larry the Cable Guy" he was known as such on the excursion and for the rest of the cruise. We had random people yelling at my husband "Yo Larry" and my husband ate it up. They had a great time. Some parts of this excursion are in the pitch black dark so I opted to pass. My Father and Mother-in-law went on a Unimog trek. They enjoyed it, not as much adventure but they saw alot of beautiful scenery. As for me and my Father, we went on the Mayan Ruin tour to Altan Ha. We took a bus tour around Belize City and enjoyed that excursion. We loved our tour guide but the bus ride was full of very grumpy people (fellow Cruisers). My dad and I tried to change seats on the bus to the back row, where no one was sitting to give us some stretch out room. Low and behold, when we got back on the bus, a man had taken up residence in that seat....Being the gracious southerner that I am, I apoligized to HIM. Oyyyeee. I did enjoy spending time with my Dad. We bought a carved cane for my Mother that had a Parrott carved in the handle.
Here the whole crew (- my mom) went on a jeep tour. There were 8 of us so we got 2 jeeps. We started out and drove to El Cedral where we stopped and our guides (Fito and Poncho) showed us a small Myan Ruin (Very Small). The guides did not want us to go to the restroom here, we found out why, My dad who has never been one to follow directions went to the restroom. When he came out he was ask for a $5.00 tip...A tip for what, not putting him on YouTube! My dad did not have any cash on him then, they did not break his knees, he just rejoined our group with a funny story and some dirty looks from the attendant. From there we traveled along the seashore to our snorkling and lunch spot. The adventurous part of our group: My husband, son, and young couple went snorkling while Me, My Dad and Mother-in-law enjoyed seaside massages. I know what a massage in an outdoor veranda is like so I opted for the foot massage. My Mother-in-law however did not and she became completly naked in public. We had a great time. The lunch was good. I must let you Diet Coke lovers know that in Mexico they have what is called Coke Lite. It is not Diet Coke. It is drinkable though. We stopped at the PeePee station on our way back and then back to the boat after tipping. We tipped everyone on this trip. A good time was had by all.
Here the entire group (all 9) went on a trip to the Everglades where we rode on an airboat. The only compaint here was that the airboat ride was not long enough. We were only on the airboat, maybe, 15 minutes. We did see alot of Aligators. We attended a Gator show and ate some Gator nuggets. Not the greatest things but, hey, we are adventurous. Back on the bus to the airport. From the airport we called the Comfort Inn where we were going to stay and catch a flight back to Tennessee on Monday. Back to the cold but back where people do acknowledge you when you speak (my little bubble). Thanks MOM-DAD for raising me with some manners.
I hope that this review helps someone who might be waivering between RCL and NCL. For us...Hands Down RCL, But you should go and decide for yourself.