My husband and I booked this cruise because we had never been to Houston and wanted to see if it would be a good place for future cruises. We have cruised on most of the major cruise lines except Holland America and Disney. We are Platinum Latitudes passengers.
We did not have a good beginning to our trip since our flight from Halifax at 5:30 AM on Air Canada was delayed (and then cancelled) which meant we would miss our connection in Toronto. I won’t bother with details but we will not be flying with Air Canada again unless they are the only airline left. Instead of getting into Houston at noon we got to our hotel at midnight!
Anyway, we booked a RideWe car to take us from our hotel (Ramada:Airport) to the cruise terminal. The drive is over 45 minutes and not cheap. We arrived at the port around 10:30 and we were in group four to board. That all went smoothly and we were on the ship by noon.
We had a mini-suite #11632 on deck eleven and everything was fine in the cabin. There was a lot of storage space and we had a bathtub in the cabin. The balcony was the normal size and the chairs did not recline. We had ordered an egg crate pad for the bed because I didn’t expect a 10 year old ship to have soft beds. I would not recommend this cabin however because it was quite noisy after 10 PM. The deck above had a restaurant so I don’t know what the noise was but it sounded like people wrestling and falling on the floor.
The muster drill was in one of the dining rooms and it is always tedious. You are better off to watch the safety information on the television. We discovered that is it not very warm in Houston in February and we were both wearing shorts and t-shirts. In the morning it was only about 50 F and didn’t go much above 60F in the afternoon. So the first two days of the cruise were not warm enough to swim. Only one of the pools (two total) was heated and it was not the adults only pool. There were only four hot tubs and most of them were filled with children.
FOOD – The food was quite good although we did not use the buffet as much as usual because we had a dining package. The MDR was very good and breakfast was excellent in the buffet. I was very surprised at the size of the buffet restaurant. It is very small compared to any other ship I have been on. It only takes up half of the back of the ship so it was nearly impossible to get a table at the window and always crowded.
We ate at Moderno and the cheese rolls were awesome but we were not too fussy about the rest of the meal. We ate at Cagneys twice and both were very good. One meal was at Le Bistro and that was a big disappointment. The baby potatoes were raw and inedible and the string beans had all the stems still on them. However my husband did enjoy the lobster tail.
ENTERTAINMENT- We only went to two shows since we were busy with other things most of the time. The dance show was very good. However, the Tenors of Rock were terrible. The four men have incredible voices so I have no idea why they had to sing screaming rock/roll songs. They pretty much ruined every song and the first one was so loud that people actually got up and left the theater. We both wear ear plugs to the shows and even with them in the music hurt my ears. We would have left but we were sitting in the middle seats and didn’t want to bother other people.
We also thought that this ship had mini-golf and discovered that it doesn’t. There are only two shuffleboard courts and that was all the sports you had unless you played basketball or tennis.
CASINO - Typical ship casino which didn’t seem as smoky as most of them. Staff were friendly and they had a lot of penny slot machines.
EXCURSIONS – We did all our own excursions. In Cozumel we went to an all-inclusive for the day which was excellent. We tendered in both Roatan and Belize and that is always a headache. We went to another all-inclusive in Roatan but I will not be doing it again. Roatan is just too small a place to handle large cruise ships and we had three of them in port when we arrived. There is only one road in and out of the port and it is a narrow, two-lane road. It is total chaos and we will never bother again.
In Belize we just went in to look around the shops.
Another big problem was finding a lounger on the pool deck. We always try to get loungers in the shade and as far from the music as possible. We picked two that were at the back and next to the towel exchange room. Then the SMELL hit us! It was like a sewer! Disgusting! We moved up a row and about 10 loungers away and the smell was still there. We left.
SHOPPING - Not very good at all. This ship did not have separate shops but instead had one very large room with everything in it. A very limited selection of clothing and no fancy lanyards at all
We wanted to buy some Aloe Vera gel after getting some sunburn in Roatan but discovered that they had sold out of it the day before. I would think that they should have enough previous experience with the itinerary to know how much of this they should have in stock. I normally bring my own but this time I didn’t bother thinking that I could buy it on the ship if I needed it.
DISEMBARKATION - This was a big disappointment. We had yellow luggage tags which were the first ones off the ship after the Haven passengers. We had an early flight and knew that our drive to the airport would be at least 45 minutes. The ship docked at 7 AM and they were allowing passengers to “walk off” at 7:15 so we expected our luggage to get down to the pick-up area by 8 or 8:15 AM. We went down and were herded into an area beside our luggage and had to wait, and wait and WAIT until hundreds of other passengers disembarked and picked up their luggage. We could see our luggage but we were not allowed to go and pick it up. We did not get out of the terminal until after 9 AM.
The other problem was our room steward. He was very friendly but apparently either very overworked or slow. We did not get our mattress pad installed until 8:30 at night and although we told him when we were dining every night (and put our sign out to have our room turned down) it was never done when we returned. Instead he would be starting it and we would leave or he would show up and we would go out on our balcony. In the mornings our room was never made up until around 11:30 AM.
I enjoy NCL ships but we will be sticking with the newer, larger ones and leaving from Florida in the future.
Normal mini-suite with bathtub. Clean with lots of storage. However it was noisy around 9:30 - 10:30 PM with thuds coming from the deck above. This happened every night. Also had the smell of smoke on the balcony which I think was coming from the smoking area on the pool deck. Only noticed this once. TV sets are not inter-active and internet is very, very slow.
Port is too far away from the airport and transportation is expensive. Have to plan your flights to allow for possible traffic delays.
Well run port. We booked a taxi and went to a resort for the day.
We had to tender into the port and so all we did was check out the shops.
This place is too small to host large cruise ships. One street and thousands and thousands of passengers everywhere. Traffic is insane and finding your tour guide is next to impossible. We booked a resort for the day and it was OK but not what we expected. Leave a lot of time if you are travelling on your own to get back to the ship.