March 2016 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (New Orleans Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Dawn
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Good: 1) Ship surprisingly good shape. 2) Clean and well staffed. 3) Love having a balcony! Roomy, and have a nice view, inside & out. 4) Great food! Seriously. No bad meals, the entire trip. Top notch! 4a) And the service staff in the restaurants were really great. 5) Steakhouse was excellent. 6) Motion of ship pretty slight, even in larger swells. Didn't have trouble sleeping, even in choppy seas. 7) Room steward was fabulous! 8) Cool that there's a bow cam. Wish it was clearer. HD upgrade? 9) The nightly shows in the theater were quite high caliber. We thoroughly enjoyed them. That David De Vinci & wife show is great!
Bad: 1) Sales speech over room intercom that woke everyone @ 9:45 am, on the first day at sea!?! Seriously!?! WTF? Someone should be fired over that. 2) Workers cleaning decks above ours drops water, sand and debris on our deck almost daily! Really?! Could they not coordinate a "top-down" cleaning method, so that all deck balconies get cleaned? I know our own room steward had already cleaned ours on at least 2 of those occasions. 3) Pool crowded with rowdy people most of the day. 4) Loud music poolside, obnoxious and sometimes even live - & obnoxious! 5) Bow cam poor image. 6) Maintenance of ship during port calls disturbs guests who have stayed aboard. 7) Balcony glass doors and outside (on deck) glass quite dirty, and outside ones never cleaned on entire cruise. (Balcony door glass cleaned a number of times.) 8) Cabin needed more American style electrical plugs. There was only one. We have 2 cell phones and a tablet. 9) Like that the ship's position and speed and weather are available on a TV channel...but the info was pretty inaccurate...especially the weather. Speed often missing.
Ugly: 1) When tendering, NCL takes all of their own shore excursion people first. Expect a few hours before "your time" to get to shore. Makes it difficult to impossible to use a non NCL tour operator at those ports. 2) The "parade of staff" through the theater, so that everyone can "thank them" by applause was embarrassing, for BOTH the passengers and the staff. Whose idiotic idea was that? I work in a public service position, and I don't work for applause. Sure, a thank you is great. But, I do what I do because I like the work and they pay me to do it! 3) A LOT of sales pitches. I mean, a LOT! The "assistant cruise director" is essentially just a salesman. Did you know that they have over 100 staff members dedicated to the cassino?! Does that tell you how much money they make off of it?? 4) Difficult to get reservations for the "specialty" restaurants. Makes it hard to use that dining "credit" !! 5) And, you lose what you don't use. Plus, corrections to your account must be made on board the ship...which means long lines the morning of departure. 6) Apparently, they are counting on you not being willing to wait in line, or just hope you won't notice the discrepancies!
Cozumel) Beautiful Island, but not very big or populated. Lots to do, in different excursions. Mayan ruins are small and insignificant historically. Easy to get tours off of the ship, and they are much cheaper than aboard. 6 cruise ships here at same time!
Belize City) Again, beautiful place. Very small and unpopulated country. Most people speak English. Using the tenders a pain. Be advised that NCL will give all of their own tours priority in getting off the ship. Small tourist area at the port, with loud music. 3 cruise ships here. Tour guides very proud of their country. Don't recommend that you wander alone, as Belize has had violence issues.
Roatan, Honduras) Best port yet! 😄 Absolutely gorgeous scenery. Clean port, dock and pier. Nice shops right there. And lots of tours available for much cheaper than aboard the ship. Glass bottom boat tour was awesome. Took about 500 pictures. Also did the monkey and bird place, and around island tour.
Costa Maya) Unless you are into Mayan ruins, this is totally a "stay aboard the ship" port. But: There's a very small village within walking distance, or a $2 (per person) cab ride away. It has nice beaches and a lot of people who want to sell you trinkets & souvenirs, or drinks & food. It was pleasant to sit under an umbrella and drink soda.
OVERALL: I DID enjoy the cruise, and will cruise again...maybe even with Norwegian. But, I did want you to be aware of all those annoying things.