I just finished shed my second cruise, first one being only 13 mos ago on the Norwegian Sky to the Bahamas for 4 days total. This cruise was on the Norwegian Pearl 6 days total to Belize and Costa Maya.
My first cruise experience made me want to book another right away. We docked every day, had a lot of fun during the evenings on the ship, didn’t have a bad meal, and even with three of us in a small (no window/balcony) room we had a wonderful time. Again, I came back didn’t I?
I convinced my mom she had to go with me this winter. We found a good rate, again on the lower deck inexpensive cabin. Last cruise we were placed in a room that was “better located” and this time we were the VERY front and it was quite loud. This time of year or route was also much choppier, but nothing they can do about that. As for the loudness at that part of the ship, you get what you pay for, and the price was reasonable for my mom and I. If you want to upgrade, I’m sure the rooms are quieter and more spacious. The showers in the Pearl were larger than the ones in the sky. In my opinion the positives that outweigh the sky stop there. I preferred the sky layout better than the Pearl and the talent. Talent on Pearl was fine, and great the last night. I wish the dancers would have performed one more night considering it was sat-thurs. The game shows are always good for a laugh, crew was kind and clean, rooms cleaned thoroughly....on BOTH cruises, so again, even in those senses. The MAIN complaint I have was the food on the Pearl. I hate to mark this as “Pearl” bc it could have been a new cooking staff (also, my tummy was a little off this cruise and the first time I was fine) but I truly didn’t eat a single dish I loved, and on the sky I loved 95% of my meals. I only tried the 3 restaurants included, and of course the buffet many times, all restaurants were not to my liking, not my mothers, but her tummy felt fine so she would eat her order. Example- egg drop soup at the lotus cafe had canned creamed corn in it as far as I could tell. I also ordered a basic dish (hoping for a better outcome) mushroom Alfredo pasta and was so bland I didn’t even waste the calorie intake and just ordered dessert after one bite.
The food is my personal biggest draw to “cruise life” bc I’m not much of a drinker, in fact we didn’t drink at all, maybe that was our problem HaHa. The fact I didn’t enjoy a single meal thoroughly was a huge disappointment and that’s why I rated this cruise only 2 stars, whereas the Sky I’d rate 4 stars!
Let’s move onto the excursions. I was prepared for the cluster of people, Americanized, expensive (pay for anything and everything) small space we were herded to bc I remembered how my first cruise ports were. I was pleasantly surprised to see on Belize, due to NCL owning this port area, the pool/chairs/beach were all part of it for you to enjoy for free. The restaurants were reasonably priced, I even talked to a group of 4 who rented a golf cart to explore the actual city and ate/drank for $15/couple, WOW! My mom and I had booked snorkeling through the ship which took up over half of our time at the port. Due to having to take a small boat to land we had a total of, at most, 6 hours on land. We had to go straight to snorkeling, get settled, etc and by the time we got back to the pool/beach area is was near 2:00, and we had to be back no later than 5. As for the snorkeling, it was a large group, 45, and groups of 8 HAD to stay near their guide in the water and we covered a very small area considering the crowd size. Water was a bit murky (they can’t help that) but all I saw were a handful of fish and lots of coral. A previous snorkeling excursion through NCL was similar in size but no in-water guide, so free to swim around and not constantly look up out of the water in case you lost your guide/group. Another snorkeling experience I had in the Bahamas was not booked through the cruise (do this at your own discretion) and it was a small boat which meant only 8 of us went with one guide, a man from the island making extra money. We all know they are there, and we all wonder how it would go...well this particular experience is my favorite travel story. It was beautiful and so many fish and very laid back!
Costa Maya port was more what I expected with the crowded blocked off small area where you pay to sit, swim, beach, everything! We did an excursion through NCL which was a Mayan holistic wellness hour of ritual relaxation. It includes a bath soak, face mask, massage, and lots of knowledge. I’d suggest this excursion, you have access to a small pool but only after check in, so maybe try for an early appointment to be able to use it longer?
Our final morning my mom and I were in a hurry, yes we were those people who went against cruise suggestion and booked a 9:40am flight. In our defense, my sister had just come back from a cruise and made it to the same airport leisurely by 8:30, and WE DID MAKE IT. Anyway, the direction for free style disembarkation was very vague and semi incorrect. We were told to meet mid ship deck 7 near front desk area, so people were there as early as 6:30 ready to get off sometime between 7-7:30 per the instruction. We ended up making our own line, as people do so not to crowd or be unfair. 7:30 rolls around and an announcement is finally made and whispers are happening that our line was made by ourselves and there is no “line.” We then finally find out that two areas will be letting people off the ENDS of the ship. This made early risers who had been in line, or so they thought, extremely upset and this is the last thought they’ll have for the cruise. The main issue was the lack of communication from the crew as we all are standing there and their defensive stern answers when asked. I will say, other than this ONE incident the crew was extremely helpful and friendly. I won’t let this mix up change my mind for that. Luckily my mom and I quickly got through the security, grabbed a Lyft, no traffic, and made it just in time to get my bag checked and enjoy a coffee!
My lesson is cruise with an open mind and read reviews!
We were the first first room (front of boat) lower level, so this is NOT a luxury room and we know that, but the price is right and we wouldn’t be in the room much. It was loud at night due to being near anchor. It was near a utility room I am assuming and we could hear rolling items.
We stayed in ft Lauderdale in an inexpensive air BnB and our SUP activity, via Groupon, was cancelled due to chemical imbalance in waters from a pipe break over a month prior.
The port was beautiful and safe due to it being owned by NCL. We booked snorkeling and this was a downer as the group was much too large and required to stay close to our in-water guide which cut into our time enjoying the views of the reef. However, I have snorkels before in a smaller group in the Bahamas and there was 10x more marine life (due to not as much human traffic) and we were few to swim how we wanted with the understanding not to touch the coral.
Relaxing and very informative....something that seemed truly from their country!View All 11 Mayan Temazcal Ceremony Reviews