April 2019 - Norwegian Joy Inagural Cruise on Norwegian Joy
Great US Inaugural Cruise
Cruiseline.com Editorial Assistant, upstate New York resident, passionate lover of travel, bright colors, and chocolate.
April 2019 - Norwegian Joy Inagural Cruise on Norwegian Joy
Great US Inaugural Cruise
September 2018 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean & Bahamas (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on MSC Seaside
Great Cruise on a Beautiful Ship
July 2018 - 14 Night Into The Midnight Sun (London To Bergen) Cruise on Viking Sky
Best Cruise I've Ever Taken
December 2017 - 8 Night Southern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Vista
Fun Trip on a Fun Ship
August 2017 - 7 Night Adriatic & Greece (Venice Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Star
Very Impressed with Norwegian
July 2015 - 3 Night Bahamas (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Majesty of the Seas
Great First Cruise!
Sail Date: September 29, 2018
Sail Date: December 02, 2017
Sail Date: July 07, 2018
Sail Date: August 27, 2017
Sail Date: April 26, 2019
Make reservations as soon as you board for the activities and dining you want to do that require them.
I feel really bad giving St. Maarten 3 stars, but it was honestly really depressing. We did an island tour through MSC and it was basically a hurricane tour since the hurricanes last year. They destroyed the island and a lot of homes/businesses are now abandoned. We did enjoy Mullet Bay Beach at the end of the tour though, very pretty. After our excursion we took a taxi to Maho Beach and the adjacent Sunset Bar which was really nice.
San Juan was awesome and it's one of my new favorite places I've been on a cruise. We wandered around on our own and went to the fort right in town, lots of little stores with locally-made goods, a coffee shop that was recommended to me (SO good!), a little restaurant recommended to us by a local shop owner, and the street with the umbrellas on it. Old San Juan is so colorful and easily walkable, I want to come back here for a full land vacation.
I've been to Nassau once before, but this time I think I had an even better time. We booked parasailing through Adventure Parasailing and that was a blast - so much fun. Then we ate lunch at Señor Frog's, walked up to the Queen's Staircase (which is so beautiful!) and ended our afternoon at Junkanoo Beach.
Be aware that to ride the zip line, you have to go down to the entertainment/game complex on the ship and buy your badge first, then take your badge up to the zip line. Also, make sure you make reservations for the evening shows at least ten minutes in advance! It's easy to do on the app; they scan your card when you get to the theater. Get the 7:15 dinner seating if you can, we loved that time because it wasn't too early to enjoy the late afternoon doing other things, but it wasn't too late that we were hungry. We didn't miss out on any shows with that time, either.
Sign up for bridge tours/galley tours as soon as possible. If your excursion is timed so that you'll miss lunch, be sure to eat a big breakfast. You can make one reservation at Manfredi's before the cruise, but once onboard you can make more if there are openings. It’s a must-eat kind of place and it’s included in the cost of the cruise!
Curaçao was great. We did an excursion through Irie Tours and it was a lot of fun and great value for the cost - $25 per person. We took a tour in a brightly colored school bus with removed windows around parts of town, went over the tall Juliana Bridge, stopped at the Curaçao liquor factory, toured a wealthy neighborhood, and then stopped at a beach for 1.5 hours, just in time for sunset. The bus we drove around in also included free water, soda, and beer in the back. It's really a fun no-worries kind of excursion, so if that's your thing I highly recommend it.
We did an excursion to an all-inclusive resort for the day - Catalonia Resort. It was kind of confusing - the resort is large and we weren't sure where to go, no map or anything was given. We ate at the buffet and it was just okay, nothing special. The drinks weren't that great either. But the beach was gorgeous and the water was so warm. We spent most of the time swimming and it was perfect.
In Aruba we did one of the best excursions ever, and it was through Carnival. We hopped on a catamaran and sailed up the coast to two snorkeling spots, one of which was over an old WWII shipwreck. Coolest thing ever. The boat had free rum punch after snorkeling while sailing, and we also stopped at a pier for a free BBQ lunch and spent about an hour at the beach. Highly recommend this one.
We headed down the beach beyond Margaritaville to Jack's Shack. It was a relaxing beach day with great drinks and swimming. Be sure to say hello to Jack's famous dog, Topher.
Be sure to make reservations for any specialty restaurants you want ahead of time, or as soon during the cruise as possible. They fill up quickly. Cherry on Top now has ice cream sandwiches with various types of cookies in addition to the sundaes - they're really good and large. If you want a seat to any of the adults-only comedy shows, arrive 30+ minutes early. Sign up for mixology classes/martini tastings at the Alchemy Bar on embarkation day. They aren't heavily advertised but they do fill up.
We did a Cruising Excursions tour here, which took us to Acropolis Rock and a short hike to the top to visit the Parthenon. What an amazing piece of ancient history. I couldn't believe I was actually there. Also - the views from the top of the city below were fantastic - we got lots of panoramic photos. Then there was some shopping and eating when we got down into the city. It's very busy but nice to be able to walk around for a little while in the area we visited.
The NCL excursion for a hike on the city walls was beautiful but wow! Don't be fooled by how easy 3/4 of a mile sounds - it's a steep hike with uneven footing throughout, even though there are steps most of the way. I was wiped out. The views when you get to the fortress are well worth it though. You're so high up the cruise ships look like little toys. One tip: if you want to save some money don't book an excursion here. We did get a small tour of the old town as well as the hike, but if you just want to hike do it on your own: it's 3 euro per person.
Venice is exactly as you'd imagine it... except the crowds. There are throngs of people almost everywhere. Sometimes you can find a quieter alleyway or street, but it was uncommon when we were there. There are pushy salespeople selling everything from roses to sticky silicon creatures to selfie sticks (ugh). Just try your best to ignore them or say no. I'm not saying I didn't like it though - I loved it. The city is beautiful, charming, and it's nice to be away from cars and motorcycles. We also went to the island of Murano - known for its glassmaking. It's like a smaller, quieter version of Venice. Very cute and we had our best meal in Italy there. I'd definitely recommend bringing a good camera, both for day and night. I took some long exposure nighttime shots that I was pretty happy with.
Not only did we tour Diocletian's Palace, but our excursion took us to a town about 30 minutes outside of Split called Trogir. I don't know what it was about this town, but I am convinced I could live there for a while. It was absolutely charming with a beautiful harbor, cute wine bars and restaurants, and fun shops. This was a great port day.
Dubrovnik was beautiful. We did a Cruising Excursions excursion that took us to a beautiful overlook of the city and ocean, and then back to the old town for a tour and sightseeing. It's a beautiful old town with lots of limestone and marble, which seemed to be a theme throughout the ports on this itinerary :)
Unfortunately it rained while we were here, so even though we had an excursion through Cruising Excursions, it wasn't quite what any of us had hoped for. Instead of a guided tour through the ruins, the rain meant we just had a guided tour through the museum on site. It was still interesting though. Once the rain died down we hopped over to the ruins on our own before returning to the tour bus, and it was so neat to see where the Olympics began.
Though Ginza is complimentary, they do take reservations which we did not realize until the last night when we tried to dine there one last time and it was booked full. :( Be sure to reserve there if you want a sure chance, especially on the last couple of nights. Also, if you want to try the Teppanyaki grill, reserve it as soon as you can. Each reservation time slot can only accommodate 12 people at a time. Also, if the lido deck is too crowded, a great place to get some sun is the large deck at the back that also serves as the helicopter pad. As far as the cabin goes, I'd definitely recommend Jovi's section, but maybe not if you want complete silence in the evening. It's a toss-up for me because he was that good.
They call the water-filled canyon into Montenegro as Europe's southernmost fjord, and on deck is the place to be when you're sailing in. We did an NCL excursion to hike the city walls, which was great. However, you can also hike there on your own for 3 euro, which is a LOT cheaper. Beautiful port!
We didn't do any excursions, but it was a great port for embarkation and disembarkation.
We snorkeled here and it was awesome. It was my first time snorkeling and there are shallow and deep parts, with floating docks to take a rest. It's in a mostly enclosed cove area, too, so the water was pretty calm. Lunch on the island was great, but be sure to keep the gulls away from your food! They tried to snatch it multiple times. :)
I can see why seasoned cruisers tend to stay on the ship here. We did visit the free part of Atlantis to walk around and see it, as well as a bit of shopping at the market and a stop at Junkanoo Beach. But unless you're planning to actually do some kind of excursion or spend the day at a local bar, there's not a ton to do here.