This past January, my friend and I were looking for a fun way to escape our winter weather and see another part of the world. We ultimately chose to do a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint. It fact, it was absolutely awesome! We were very fortunate to book a cruise that was reasonably priced, included free flights and transfers, as well as a specialty dining package (complementary dinners in four of the ship's exclusive restaurants). Our itinerary was amazing: leaving Los Angeles, with stops in Mexico (Cabo and Acapulco), Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Columbia and finishing up in Miami! I highly recommend it!! It was an excellent blend of sightseeing, history, beach life, and natural beauty. We explored some ports on our own, did a few excursions with the ship (one to Antigua, Guatemala and the other, an eco-tour in Costa Rica), and arranged a few taxi adventures with others we met on board. It worked out really well.
I was a bit worried about choosing an inside cabin, but I ended up loving our cozy stateroom. Special shout out to Arnold who was warm and personable took great care of us every morning and evening. The entertainment and the recreation team (Roberto, Phillip, Una, Marta, and others) were absolutely A-1!! Every single performance in the theatre was impressive and showcased so many excellent musicians and dancers. Morning, noon, and night, the upbeat and hard-working staffers were SO MUCH FUN!! While we indulged in a custom made omelet most mornings from the buffet, we explored various venues at midday. We ventured to O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill only once and were underwhelmed, so from then on, tended to pick and choose lunch most days from the Garden Cafe. We opted to dine at the Versailles dining room for most dinners - couldn't understand why so many went to the buffet instead. The food and service at the Versailles was outstanding, offering a delicious array of starters, entrees, and desserts. To help counter the effects of all the great food, we circled the deck several times a day, took the stairs every time we moved from deck to deck, and even went to workout when we had time. I was really impressed by the facilities, especially the gym. During our days at sea, we spent a lot of time by the Oasis pool; reading, sunning, and watching the passing parade. Things really came to life when there were groups performing there, or when the crew organized games or a bit of dancing. All 'n' all, mine was a great first cruise and I look forward to booking another trip in the near future.
This was a great inside room. I felt like we were quite central to everything, just a few floors up to the pool/buffet and a few floors down to the evening entertainment/restaurants. I loved my bed and the fact that the room was so dark at night - I slept like a baby!
We were happy to have an NCL rep meet us at the airport and arrange our smooth and safe transfer to the ship.
We arranged our own trip through Rancho Tours and were underwhelmed. We thought we were going snorkelling, but only included a short ride in a van and an abbreviated trip out to Land's End. Our tour did include some local tequila tasting which was fun though. After our tour we enjoyed some yummy tacos and delicious margaritas by the marina before heading back to the ship.
We teamed up with a couple of fellow cruisers and hired a cab for the day ($20. each). He took us out to see the cliff divers and then drove us way outside of town to a beautiful beach where we enjoyed a delicious, authentic lunch (of grilled fish, octopus, and rice) on the beach.
Needed more time here! Antigua is a beautiful old (Unesco) heritage site and we really would have benefitted from having a walking tour guide (They were all taken by the time we arrived)
Gorgeous fishing village, clean and colourful. Small enough to explore on our own and drink in the local sights. Inundated by street vendors, even when eating in a restaurant!!
Unfortunately, we saw few signs of wildlife when we hiked through the forest with Natasha and only travelled across two suspension bridges (said there would be three in the tour description).View All 10 Skyway Hike Reviews
Our tour guide, Natasha was very knowledgeable and personable! Our trip at the mouth of the river was the second part of our excursion. We drove along the river in a boat, but the alligators and birds were quite far away - we did see quite a few though. On our way back to the ship, Natasha stopped and treated us to fresh cut mango. Both the crunchy green and the fully ripened varieties were delicious!! Afterward, once we were delivered back to the ship, we had time for a late lunch onshore and a dip at the beach. It was a beautiful day!View All 45 Tarcoles River Reviews
We took our own tour with the Hop On-Hop Off bus company. For $20.00, it included a bus loop of the city and a walking tour of old Cartagena with a wonderful tour guide, Herman. His part of the tour, replete with so many insights, was certainly the highlight of our day. We were treated to free samples of local bread, chocolate, and beer as we explored the beautiful colonial streets.