A Spring Break Cruise? by danwdooleySail date: / Traveled as: Family (young children)
Ship: Norwegian Jewel / Destination: Caribbean - Western
Spring break cruises could be the stuff of nightmares. Or not. When this cruise was planned, we knew it would be during spring break but that timing was necessary since it would include our grandkids. Our son, daughter in-law and the four grandkids. Since they are school age, this was the only time, other than summer which we could make the cruise.
This cruise departed out of the Port of New Orleans. That was close enough for us to drive from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to New Orleans. Parking for the cruise terminals is virtually next door to the terminal. That was convenient for both the departure and return. Things like this are especially helpful if you are going to have four energetic kids along. Kids who had never cruised before and are understandably excited and yet subject to potential confusion if the logistics of the trip become too complected.
We booked two balcony cabins adjacent to each other. We divided up the sleeping arrangements so that the two girls were with their mom and dad and the two boys were with us. The included folding couches in the cabins which open to make a full size bed were used by the kids. Between the part of the cabin with the couch and the part with the bed is a wall to wall pull curtain so at night that gave my wife and I a little privacy separation from the boys and them from us.
My wife and I have been NCL fans over several cruises and this one was just as expected over all. I can't think of any problems we had with any of the facilities or services. The food services were good as always.
One thing we did differently involved dinner. Normally, my wife and I do the main dining rooms for dinner rather than the buffet dining. We did that the first night of this cruise but we quickly found that it bored the kids and so for the rest of the cruise we dined in the buffet dining room where the kids had a ball with trips and repeat trips back to the serving lines. That was fine for us too as the buffet dining room being less structured allowed for a more relaxed eating experience. When you have four kids along who may take a long time to eat due to playing around and repeat trips back for more, you need a place where you can sit and relax and talk and speaking of that, it also makes it easy to enjoy those sporadic conversations which may pop up between adjacent tables.
Speaking of kids on a cruise and the potentials for the nightmare scenarios, this was spring break and yes there were other kids on the cruise. It never became a madhouse. The ship was not overrun with kids. I suspect a lot chose another cruise line which well, I will just say my wife and I don't cruise on. As to activities for the kids, there was enough to keep them more than busy from dawn to dusk when we were aboard. Of course on port days we were ashore enjoying the shore excursions
Though this cruise was a little different for my wife and I who for the most part have cruised only as a couple, having the grandkids along really did make for a different but really rewarding experience with lots of memories to come away with..
A couple more points about this cruise. The trip from New Orleans to the mouth of the Mississippi River at the Gulf of Mexico takes about eight hours. The ship left port at 4 PM and it was in the middle of the night when we entered the Gulf. All the way down the river until it became too dark to see, we enjoyed the sights which are not quite the usual expected to be seen on an "ocean cruise". You will pass many other ships and other watercraft coming and going all the way.
Cruises to the Western Caribbean come from two main sources. New Orleans and Galveston, Texas. Interestingly, for some reason of itinerary scheduling, for a seven day cruise, the ones out of New Orleans have four port calls while the ones out of Houston/Galveston have only three. Thus you end up with one more sea day when originating from that port.