October 2013 - Norwegian Jewel to Caribbean - Western
NO-wegian Cruise 2013
This year my sister and I went on the Norwegian Jewel and headed to
New Orleans, Louisiana
Belize City, Belize
Roatan (Isla Roatan), Bay Islands, Honduras
Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico
New Orleans, Louisiana
I have cruised Norwegian before and liked the cruise line. I had never been to the New Orleans port and was anxious to see what it looked like and to also have the shorter flight time. Belize has been on my bucket list for a while. I also love the first and last day at sea on a cruise. There were several excursions at each port and it was offered at the right price at the right time of the year.
Sadly, do to personal issues I had seen some great flights to New Orleans but did not get the change to book it. So a month later the flights were higher and not as attractive. I ended up booking with Orbit. We had 2 stops on the way over and only one stop back. The first leg of our journey was with Frontier, whom I will never use again. They only offer free carry-on’s and you have to pay for all other bags. No free bags. You also have to buy your drinks and treats, NO free drinks. We then transferred to American airlines. I actually liked the three stops as the flight went fast and it did not seem like it took any longer than normal. We had short layovers and NO problems with flights ( LUCKILY).
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans Airport and it was very nice, clean and the staff was so friendly and kind. We unload and asked about a place to eat. We were looking for Seafood. They made a suggest, we got a cab and headed down the street to Fisherman’s wharf. Upon pulling up we were surprised to find a small strip mall with 2 shops. One shop being the restaurant and the other being a seafood store. The restaurant was packed. It was a long hallways with tables on both sides and a bar taking up ¼ of the room. We got a seat and ordered a platter of seafood. It was delicious. We had catfish, shrimp, hush puppies, crab and alligator. I loved the alligator. We called a cab and headed back to the room. Next morning we had a wonderful free breakfast and went to the pool to read and layout till 12:00 check out. Then we got a cab to the boat.
It was a beautiful day and we were anxious to get on the boat at the boarding time which started at 12:00. There were long lines that were moving, not fast but moving. As we are standing in line with our carry-ons containing our swimsuits and suntan lotion, we noticed that MANY of the other passengers are carrying 24 packs of water, 12 packs of coke, and other drinks. It was just weird and we could not imagine they would let them on the boat but they did. One guy had 2 small hand carts loaded with soda. First, we went through the x-ray machines and then go in line to check in. Check in seemed fast and we were off to the boat or should I say the pool.
The weather was great. The boat seemed cleaned and ready for us. We were at the pool for a while and then went down to our room. Our luggage was already there. The room was small. Usually there are night stands with drawers but we only had a small table. The phone was mounted on the wall which was inconvenient. The closet was ample. The bathroom was nice and we loved having a shower door. There is a small safe and a fully stocked fridge with a price list. Everything seemed to fit and we finished just in time for the “drill” so we headed to our assigned location. We had just sat down, they showed us how the life vest worked and excused us. The crowd cheered. The rest of the presentation was on the TV. It was the shortest presentation ever.
We now know why everyone was bringing their own drinks. The soda pass was $80.00. The ultimate drink pass that included alcohol was $380.00. The water pass was $60.00. Needless to say we did NO purchase. ( more Spanish )
There is no clock in our room so I see if we can get one. NO
Oh, but you can call the front desk for the time—sadly they do not always answer
I go to the gift shop to buy one
They have one but it has to have batteries, okay I will buy the batteries NO batteries
How about a night light so we can see the watch -- NO
Okay, how about a watch, they start $80.00 , I decide to wait till I get off the boat.
We have our tickets for our excusion in our room and want to talk to the Excursion desk –NO you cannot call them. You have to go down to talk to them.
We have one beach towel per person in our room, we ask for 2 – NO
You have to have a $25.00 deposit at the pool to get another towel and then turn it back in
We are up at the buffet and it seems that you get own drinks and coffee, NO they do not do drinks or refills.
We had dinner that night in the main dining room and already there are issues with the dress code as people show up in whatever they have on. The menu is 2 parts. The right side is always the same, offering the same food every night. The left side is the special for the night. It all sounds good and it is very good. The portion size is perfect. I have Lobster and steak and it is yummy. The onion soup does not have enough onions or cheese. But the shrimp and potato salad was good. The deseret menu is the same 5 or 6 that are there every night and then 2 or 3 new ones. I remember I loved that they had cheese as a dessert and order it with the fresh fruit.
The next morning we are at sea so we plan the day at the pool. We stick to the upper desk away from the crowd, pool, and the kids slide. For lunch they have a huge BBQ that you can smell no matter where you are on the boat and we head over. Good food again! More tanning and reading. We make our spa appointment for that night. This is one time when we should have read the small print, we had booked in the salon and NO the spa so our treatment was in a chair in the salon. No on a bed in the spa rooms. It was hard to relax and really enjoy it.
Our first stop is Cozumel and we are off to see Tulum Mayan ruins. We have to travel for 1 ½ hours on a very comfy motor coach with air conditioning. Our guide is Angel and he is Mayan. He is extremely knowable and has a sincere desire to share everything he knows about the Mayans with us. We stop at a fancy gift shop for 30 minutes which gives us time to go to the restroom, get a drink and buy something. The shop is nice but no one wants to carry anything. After Angel told us it was going to be 97 and with the humidity about 115, we are stripping down to nothing. The walk to the ruins is pleasant in the jungle but the ruins themselves are under direct sun so you feel the heat. It is very clean and nice but after you see a little bit… you have seen it all. We decide NO to go to the beach as we brought no swim suits or towels and to be all sanding and wet for the drive back sounds miserable. There is shopping at the Ruins but it is all bartering. We had some excellent fish tacos and then board the bus. They have photos and a book for us for $20.00, we buy it. We head back and the tour is over as now Angel has nothing to say. We get off the bus just in time to get back to the boat. We have been gone all day. NO shopping for us in town.
Dinner that night, I had the Lamb shank and it is to die for. We are a little late for dinner and there is a wait. They give you a free drink and beeper. The wait is NO long. We also volunteer to share a table but they always sit us by ourselves.
The first night show was a variety show to show us what was to come. It was okay but a bit loud. The next night is the dancer and they do a real cheesy job. The theater is large and the seats are comfortable. We do not attend any other shows but the comedian who is very good.
Next stop is Belize and we are headed to the cave tubing and zip line. Luckily we get off the ship early and shop. This place is fantastic and sadly my back pack is quickly filled and I run out of money. They take NO credit cards. I borrow from Dianna as I want it all. There are many things we would like to buy but run out of time. The cave/zip line was highly recommended by several people. The description is NO accurate. ( I picked up a little Spanish while I was down there) So let me try:
First, you board a small old school bus there your knees are embedded in the seat in front of you and there is room for nothing. There is also NO air conditioning, just a slight breeze. After traveling over an hour, you exit the bus to get on a smaller, older bus where there are NO enough seats so half the group stands. The bus goes up a huge 90 degree hill and then back down again and you are there. Total miserable bus time is 5 minutes. You then get to rent your locker for $6.00 as you can keep nothing with you and you have to rent your water shoes as you cannot wear your own shoes. The shoes are still wet, worn and NO souls on them. This can be extremely uncomfortable if you have to travel up and down the rocky mountain side in them. The crew then suits you up with your zip line gear which seems to be good. Then you must climb up the mountain. It is a rock trail with several sets of stairs that are 1 inch to 8 inches in height. There is NOthing to hold on to and it is a difficult trek with the rocks. You reach a small benched area where you sit, have water and get instructions. Then you start the stair which goes all the way up to the zip line point. There are 50 of us and we have to wait as each person zip lines down one by one. It is a long wait on the stairs. I had a bad shoulder and worried a bit about the trip. On my third leg of the zipline , I brake too soon and too much and end up short, the guide says stick out your hand, I do. OUCH, he pulls my arms out of my socket. I am in pain but make it to the stand. Then guess what, I think he has fixed my arm . My arm feels GREAT! The zip line goes fast as there are only 5 legs and you are back where you started. They remove your gear and you are back to climbing up the hill to pick up your tube and helmet. After climbing a bit, you now need to descend down a whole set of stairs to the cave, It is pitch black and the only light to see to walk and the stairs is the small flashlight on your helmet. It is slow going. You finally get to the water. You get in the tube, they hook you up and you’re on the tour. You can hear nothing. The cave echoes. There are tours in front of you, to the side of you and in the back. Then you get out and have to walk on a rock trail then back to where they have tubes again where you can get into the water. Now you can tube or swim. I swim. The water is dirty and smells. ( NO comment ) Even during our tour, our guide would say “ just listen to the other tour guide”. Lucky I have been to caves before and this is just about the same. No great lessons to learn.
Then you have to head back up the 90 degree stairs with your tube and back to camp. There are rough showers, which I use and dressing rooms. There is also a small pool, NO use. While dressing we are told our bus is leaving in 5 minutes. We have NO shopped, we have NO eaten our free chicken lunch and NO looked at the photos they took. ( I have called them, sent e-mails and tried to get the pictures but NO unsuccessful ). We board the smallest school bus again , over the hill, exit to the larger school bus and head back to the boat .
Steak and shrimp for dinner, the steak was delicious, the shrimp was 3 small fried shrimp. I almost NO saw them on my plate. We notice that some parts of the dining room are noisy and there is more movement. We decide we like the sides towards the front. There is always live music here. Tonight we make new appointments in the Spa and we are NO disappointed. It is heaven.
We watch TV several times and see the Lone Ranger and other movies.
Did I mention that the $2.10 Pepsi in the fridge is a better deal than the $2.10 soda from the bar. You get twice the soda for the same price. I drink one a day and it was sweet.
Thursday we are in Roatan, Honduras for our snuba adventure. This is a small group of 12 people. We are picked up by a small mini van that we are packed in like sardine and travel across to the other side of town. The driver speaks NO English and although I am getting pretty good with my Spanish, nothing is said. He avoids all of the holes in the road and there are plenty. This is a very poor place. He has to turn off the Air conditioning to get up the hills and there are many hills. We end up at a 5 start resort that is beautiful and certainly out of place in Roatan. We are greeted by the resorts event planner as he goes through a list of other events we can do while we are there. For $10.00 we can go through their small zoo, for $5.00 more you can ride. For $35.00, you can zip line, there is a free 95 degree pool, there is snuba, snorkel, diving, a play area in the ocean, beach chairs, canoes and showers and of course the $6.00 locker for all your stuff. We could stay here all day but we have limited time. We get our snuba gear and head out on the catamaran. There is face mask, breathing apparatus and fins. Our tank floats on a small raft and we are hooked up to a 25 ft hose. It is a blast. There is plenty to see, we just swim along. I have a bit of trouble getting deeper so I ask for more weights. One guy in our group had too much weight, he sinks, panics and then spends the rest of the time in the boat. You get to swim till your oxygen runs out which for us is about 35 minutes. Then back to the boat. This is when I encounter a few issues. Although my should has been fixed in Belize I am still cautious. When we got on the catamaran, it was beached so we just climbed on, then we just jumped in to the water. But now they want to pull us in. I am NO interested in getting pulled in. I just want to swim over to the other side of the boat and climb in on the ladder. The crew panics and follows me around the boat. I think they are being weird. Then I realize we are out here with NO vests or floating apparatus. What the HECK!! I get the ladder and can see why they are NO using it. The top stair is broken. I still want to use it. I climb up and was doing fine but the crew all want to help me. There is too much going on so I just let go like I would at the pool. SPLASH. NO water in my eyes, NO water in my mouth and I am back up again to the ladder. I tell them to back off and get in fine. I heard on of the crew say “ thank God” I do remember my leg hitting the boat but it did not hurt and I was fine. ( this turns out to be incorrect later as my leg, ankle and feet bruise and swell up) We went back to shore, I swam in the ocean, snorkel, showered and swam in the pool while Dianna zip lined again. Dianna said the zip line was 13 legs and 150% better than Belize. Had a few issues in the water as there is a stinging plant that gets me and my ankles hurt. They forgot to mention this to us and had cleaned the plant out close to shore but NO out farther. Then we all piled back into the Small mini van and headed back to boat. NO more shopping for us.
There is a storm that night and the ship really rocks!
The next morning it is raining. We NO know this is our cabin so we come out already to go power snorkeling. After waiting TOO long in the theatre we learn that all activities have been canceled for the day. We buy a $3.00 poncho and head out to shop. We love it. It is a small Margaritaville. There are pools, dolphins, beaches, $5.00 tee shirts, bartering and regular stores. There are artists in the streets, people singing and many places to take pictures. We spend 5 hours there doing NO-thing in the rain. There is free stuff with every purchase and we love the artist, especially the guy making pictures with cans of spray paint. It was unbelievable. I have tried to find him on the internet to get a picture but been NO successful
That night after dinner they have the Chocolate dessert bar. It is okay but certainly NO worth staying up till 10:00 to see or rummage the crowds.
We also learn that night about a new restaurant, the Blue lagoon that we had never seen. We stopped by and look. We also learn they had crepes every night in the buffet, we head up to get 2 and they were yummy!
Next day at Sea. We are up early in our lawn chairs anxious to tan and read. I get 2 virgin mudslides. They are yummy. Lunch at the BBQ is good. We stay till 5:00 then go to dinner, get crepes and head back to the room to pack. Everything fits perfect except for the fish wind chimes ( why did I buy them). I absolutely love the new suitcase I got with the wheels.
We went through bourbon street on our way to the airport with thoughts of stopping and eating. It was NASTY. Ate fried catfish at the airport that was super good. Our plane was late, which meant we would not make our connection but luckily our connecting flight was an hour late so we were fine.
I loved my backpack. Now I am back home and I hate the whole purse thing.
Loved the $3.00 cruise poncho, it worked fine.
I had to have my blanket in the airport and plane
Bought a watch
The whole hair thing—give it up.
Never wore and trashed the white cover-ups – they NO look good.
I Loved the cover-up skirt as you could keep it on and still stay modest. I loved the cover ups with sleeves that covered the spots I was burning.
I never wore the running or dress up shoes. The Reef’s were all I needed. After all, who looks at your feet anyway
Wish I had brought some good water shoes.
Never had enough one dollar bills for tips. There was a new bartering trick. The stuff was still “almost free” but now they give you a price and ask for a buck to buy a coke.
And how can I forget our faithful dog Bruno who waited us each day in our cabin