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First cruise experience. Check in and boarding the ship went smoothly. I parked at a public garage that provided a shuttle service to the port. As soon as I took a step off the shuttle, the porters were waiting to take my bags. The bags arrived at my stateroom later that afternoon. For thousands of people to board all within a couple of hours, it was a rather quick and smooth process if you have your passport and other necessary paperwork ready and nothing in your carry-on bag that would be prohibited on the ship (hint: just read paperwork you receive ahead of time on what to bring and not to bring and you'll have no problems). The ship had a variety of dining options and bars/lounges. The food was great and the service was amazing, especially considering the crew members work 7 days a week for 6 to 8 months straight before they get time off to go home. The buffet was enormous and always provided a wide variety of food and deserts. There were several complimentary restaurants as well as a variety of specialty restaurants. For adult beverages, there were 21 or 22 bars that served every type of alcohol known to man. Indoor bars, bars on the outdoor decks, there was a bar at the pool, and even a bar at the buffet. There was a mini bar in every stateroom (extra charge for these drinks, even if you have a drink package) so you are never out of sight of a drink if you want one. Of course for kids and for those who prefer no alcohol, they have soft drinks and can remove the mini bar from your stateroom before you board, just let them know ahead of time. Something that surprised me was the amount of activities available to watch and/or participate in every night. This was not just for the nights at sea, but every evening as the ship moved from one port location to the next. They had live game shows, competitions, craft shows, a pool, hot tubs, rock climbing wall, water slides, a ropes course, an entire art gallery with daily auctions, a casino and tons more. The ship in general was like an upscale hotel. Everything was nice and clean and all the "fit and finish" made it feel like a hotel instead of a ship. Everything fit together and all trim work was precise. You know how some places like Days Inn or Motel 6 has peeling wallpaper, baseboards that are hanging on by a single nail, stained ceiling tiles and dirty shower curtains? The ship had none of that. It looks as if it were built right the first time and well maintained. Probably the one thing that gets overlooked the most is the amount of logistical coordination that goes into some of the excursions. The excursion experiences themselves are great and I will leave a separate review for the ones I did, but I think most people overlook what goes into getting a group from the ship to some of the excursion and back. All you have to do is sign up online. I don't recommend waiting until you are on the ship to sign up because usually by then, the best excursions are booked full. Anyway, you just sign up online and someone behind the scenes works for you to coordinate with each excursion tour. This is done each day for each person at each port. There are places where you get off the ship and meet a guide, then take a ferry across a bay where you then meet a bus or van, where the driver (different person than the guide) takes you to the excursion activity where they also serve lunch (which is usually included in the excursion). At the end of the day they take you back via bus, then ferry, back to the ship. It happens seamlessly and nobody gets lost but most important, they keep you safe. No threats of being kidnapped or extorted for more money. Everyone involved in all the excursions was friendly and cheerful. Again, I will leave a specific review on the excursions I did. You will be in places where there will be local people walking around attempting to sell merchandise, but even they were respectful and for the most part, only had to be told "no thanks" one time. The people in these countries are extremely poor and are just taking advantage of what little opportunity they have. Keep in mind, most of the ports and excursions require you to travel through areas of true poverty. I say true poverty because what the average American thinks is poverty is infinitely better than some of the conditions you may see people living in as you travel though some of the villages on the way to the excursions. This is an opportunity to educate yourself first hand on the real conditions around the world. Having been in the military for 20 years, I've seen many places where people live in conditions like this and I get back home and other Americans don't believe what I saw was the way I describe it. I found a lot of people on the buses to the excursions to be shocked at what they were seeing as it was their first time out of the country. Overall, the trip is well worth it. A cruise trip price may seem high, but once you see what you get for your money, you'll be very satisfied.

Simply Awesome Experience

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by Project84

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
First cruise experience. Check in and boarding the ship went smoothly. I parked at a public garage that provided a shuttle service to the port. As soon as I took a step off the shuttle, the porters were waiting to take my bags. The bags arrived at my stateroom later that afternoon. For thousands of people to board all within a couple of hours, it was a rather quick and smooth process if you have your passport and other necessary paperwork ready and nothing in your carry-on bag that would be prohibited on the ship (hint: just read paperwork you receive ahead of time on what to bring and not to bring and you'll have no problems).

The ship had a variety of dining options and bars/lounges. The food was great and the service was amazing, especially considering the crew members work 7 days a week for 6 to 8 months straight before they get time off to go home. The buffet was enormous and always provided a wide variety of food and deserts. There were several complimentary restaurants as well as a variety of specialty restaurants. For adult beverages, there were 21 or 22 bars that served every type of alcohol known to man. Indoor bars, bars on the outdoor decks, there was a bar at the pool, and even a bar at the buffet. There was a mini bar in every stateroom (extra charge for these drinks, even if you have a drink package) so you are never out of sight of a drink if you want one. Of course for kids and for those who prefer no alcohol, they have soft drinks and can remove the mini bar from your stateroom before you board, just let them know ahead of time.

Something that surprised me was the amount of activities available to watch and/or participate in every night. This was not just for the nights at sea, but every evening as the ship moved from one port location to the next. They had live game shows, competitions, craft shows, a pool, hot tubs, rock climbing wall, water slides, a ropes course, an entire art gallery with daily auctions, a casino and tons more.

The ship in general was like an upscale hotel. Everything was nice and clean and all the "fit and finish" made it feel like a hotel instead of a ship. Everything fit together and all trim work was precise. You know how some places like Days Inn or Motel 6 has peeling wallpaper, baseboards that are hanging on by a single nail, stained ceiling tiles and dirty shower curtains? The ship had none of that. It looks as if it were built right the first time and well maintained.

Probably the one thing that gets overlooked the most is the amount of logistical coordination that goes into some of the excursions. The excursion experiences themselves are great and I will leave a separate review for the ones I did, but I think most people overlook what goes into getting a group from the ship to some of the excursion and back. All you have to do is sign up online. I don't recommend waiting until you are on the ship to sign up because usually by then, the best excursions are booked full. Anyway, you just sign up online and someone behind the scenes works for you to coordinate with each excursion tour. This is done each day for each person at each port. There are places where you get off the ship and meet a guide, then take a ferry across a bay where you then meet a bus or van, where the driver (different person than the guide) takes you to the excursion activity where they also serve lunch (which is usually included in the excursion). At the end of the day they take you back via bus, then ferry, back to the ship. It happens seamlessly and nobody gets lost but most important, they keep you safe. No threats of being kidnapped or extorted for more money. Everyone involved in all the excursions was friendly and cheerful. Again, I will leave a specific review on the excursions I did.

You will be in places where there will be local people walking around attempting to sell merchandise, but even they were respectful and for the most part, only had to be told "no thanks" one time. The people in these countries are extremely poor and are just taking advantage of what little opportunity they have. Keep in mind, most of the ports and excursions require you to travel through areas of true poverty. I say true poverty because what the average American thinks is poverty is infinitely better than some of the conditions you may see people living in as you travel though some of the villages on the way to the excursions. This is an opportunity to educate yourself first hand on the real conditions around the world. Having been in the military for 20 years, I've seen many places where people live in conditions like this and I get back home and other Americans don't believe what I saw was the way I describe it. I found a lot of people on the buses to the excursions to be shocked at what they were seeing as it was their first time out of the country.

Overall, the trip is well worth it. A cruise trip price may seem high, but once you see what you get for your money, you'll be very satisfied.
Project84’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Inside Stateroom
Cabin IX 5627
The cabin was adequate for my wife and I. We had never been on a cruise but know people who have, so we know what to expect with the size of the room. We did not plan to be in the room much besides sleeping at night. it was adequate to store our things, shower, change clothes, etc.

We did like that the TV had a channel that showed the view from a camera on the front of the ship, and a channel that had a map with the ships positions, speed, time of arrival at the next port and the weather forecast. The weather forecast was way off most days, so that was not helpful when trying to choose clothing to wear. Probably not an issue in the summer, but in winter, it can cause you to over dress or under dress.
Deck 5 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Mayan Ruins
    Very cool tour of the ruins and I learned a lot about the Mayan history and ancient culture. This excursion took about an hour to get from the port to the ruins by bus. Buses were very nice, modern, comfortable and included a bathroom. Part of the trip is through a wildlife preserve area. The guide explained a lot about the Mayan history and the Yucatan Peninsula along the way. He said there have been Jaguars spotted along the road in the evenings or early morning, but the time of day we went through, we did not see any animals.

    At the ruins, there were a lot of people. The port had multiple cruise ships the day we got there so many were from different ships. I think people were also there from other places. All the people make it difficult to get a picture of the ruins without catching other people in the pictures. It's not an action adventure type of excursion like zip lining or snorkeling, but if you want to see the ruins, it's definitively a worthy venture.

    The gift shop at the ruins is small and crowded and we had less than 10 minutes to look around before we had to get back on the bus, but we had more than enough time in the port to shop around before getting back on the ship.
    View All 140 Mayan Ruins Reviews
  • Cozumel
    Amazing experience! Can't even describe it! If you never been in a cave, you have to do it. they give you helmet with a light, a wet suit and a cave. All you have to do is sign up to experience it.

    WARNING: This is a real cave. No flat walkways or pathways inside. You will be walking on the natural, rocky, cave floor. A lot of it is under water that's about knee to thigh deep on me (6'1" tall) so it's hard to see if you are stepping on a flat spot or something uneven. Most of it is uneven. Healthy young people fall and get scrapped up because of the uneven terrain. It's not very steep and no climbing with ropes and harnesses was necessary, but if you have any kind of walking disability or can easily break bones from falling or problems being on your feet for a couple hours at a time, this is not for you.

    There are a few places where the way through is very narrow and you must crouch and crawl or duck walk through. A couple of places the water got neck deep on me and I'm 6'1" tall. There are a few places where they have everyone turn out their lights. If you are afraid of the dark, afraid of bats (did I mention there's bats in the cave?), or are afraid of water or are afraid of tight spaces, DON'T DO THIS. We had people in our group who were elderly, afraid of bats and clostrophobic. While 99% of it is open caverns, It slows the group down when you don't read ahead of time that THIS IS A CAVE. The footing is bad and some areas are narrow and dark. Don't be that guy/girl in the group who slows everyone down and annoys everyone by whining about how you are afraid of everything in a cave after you signed up and paid money to go in a cave.

    It's 90 minutes through the cave with lunch included. They served authentic Mexican food. Lockers are provided at no extra cost for your personal items. You will get wet (even with the wet suit). Bring swim wear to have on under the wet suit and a dry change of clothes to wear home. If you have swim shoes or water shoes, you can bring them. If not, they give you some. Bring a plastic bag to put your wet stuff in. No cameras, cell phones, watches, jewelry or any electronic device is allowed in the cave besides the light they provide you. They will have a photographer come with your group to take photos that can be purchased at the end. They take great pics and the money supports the preservation of the natural area.

    The trip to the cave is about 1 hour. 40 minutes across the bay via ferry (Cozumel is an island, the cave is on the mainland). 10 minutes through the city via van and 10 minutes into a dense jungle along a rough, bone jarring dirt road (same van). You will have time to shop once you get back to Playa Del Carmen before getting on the ferry to go back to Cozumel. There will be no time to shop or explore Cozumel as this excursion will get you back to the cruise ship pier right before the ship leaves.
    View All 13,036 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Harvest Caye
    So this is basically an island where everything on it was built specifically for cruise ships to have a place to stop and entertain people for a day. The beach was nice and there is also a large pool with a swim up bar. We did the zip lining which was awesome. They will let you bring a Go-Pro but you MUST have some way to attach it to you that leaves both hands free. So if you have a chest rig or some other way to secure it to you, they will let you bring it. You have to wear their helmet so keep that in mind when considering Go-Pro options. You get to do one part of the zip line course in the traditional harness, then you do a long line over the beach and bay in a face-down harness that lets you fly like superman. Very cool!

    There are shops and a few bars and restaurants on the island, but they are only open on the days when a ship comes in. Nobody lives on the island. The workers said they clean up and take a ferry back to the mainland about an hour after the cruise ship leaves. I believe there are some excursions to the mainland, but we stayed on the island. Overall it was a very nice relaxing day on a beautiful beach.
    View All 1,133 Harvest Caye Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Snorkeling
    Snorkeling at the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. Amazing experience! There are guides to go out with you and show you all the local types of fish and coral so bring a Go-Pro camera as there is a lot to see! There is fire coral here as well as sea urchins so having the guide was helpful so we could get close but not too close to something that could hurt us. Our guide brought some kind of food flakes that attracted the fish and several species of fish came out in schools and followed us and they had no problem being close enough to touch us. The guide would also swim down and point out things or pick things up to show us. He was very attentive to the physical condition of those in the group and would swim along at a pace that was easy for everyone. He would stop frequently to let people just float and rest so they were not constantly kicking to keep up with the group.

    If you have a pair of fins or are familiar with diving or snorkeling, it may not be a bad idea to bring your own fins. The ones they let you borrow are used and may not be the best fit. I had one fin that had broken rubber where the boot met the fin. It allowed my toes to stick out and the broken edge would chaff the top of my foot just behind my toes every time I kicked, creating a blister. They provide a vest that you blow into a couple of times to get it to inflate. this keeps you on the surface as you snorkel. There are a couple of places where you have to swim over the reef without touching the coral and depending on the tide, you may get really close to it. Plus some people are not as fit or familiar with snorkeling, swimming or diving. The water was warm and I did not wear a shirt. I got chaffed under the arms by the vest. It's a generic size and is not something high-quality like a diving buoyancy compensator. A shirt would have prevented the chaffing.

    Lockers are available for $5 (I think we pay $10, then they give you $5 back when you turn in the key). They also had decent rest rooms for changing clothes. I recommend flip-flops or sandals that you would not mind getting sand in them.

    A lunch buffet was included at this excursion. The food was good but I did not eat too much because I planned on spending a lot of time in the water after lunch.

    The beach was BEAUTIFUL. You can take pictures here that would look like what you see on a post card. There are a lot of local vendors on the beach. My wife and I nicknamed it Hustle Beach. They guys spend all day walking back and forth pushing their goods. There were a few booths off to the side but most of the people were on food selling everything from jewelry and trinkets to T-shirts and hats. The beach has a lot of nice beach chairs set up where you can relax under the coconut trees. The hustlers are not allowed up by the chairs, but they line up along the beach between the chairs and the water so you cannot get into the water without them getting a chance to approach you about buying something. There is a security guard to keep watch of guest on the beach and make sure the hustlers don't come too close to the chairs. The hustlers will go knee deep into the water and it looks like they cannot come any closer to the chairs than the high tide mark. We sat in the front of chairs so we were pretty close to them. Sunglasses will help avoid eye contact. If you forget to bring sunglasses, they will sell you some ;)
    View All 293 Snorkeling Reviews