My wife and I sailed on the Norwegian Sun 8/10. It was our first cruise experience and we were thrilled. Freestyle dining was definitely for us. Being able to eat when ever, where ever was great. La Bistro and Il Adagio were outstanding, well worth the cover charge. The service in all the dining venues,including the buffets was great. Everyone really hustled and were very polite. For those who feel that NCL's Freestyle tipping policy would lead to substandard service, they couldn't be more wrong. We took two shore excursions from the ship. In Roatan, we went on the Kayak and Snorkeling adventure. The snorkeling was in Half Moon Bay. The staff said the snorkling off Tabiyana beach was better, however we did see a sea turtle 30 feet below us. The kayaking was ok, there wasn't much too see, we just paddled to a resort down the beach, stopped for a dip in the pool and paddled back. In Belize, we took the river trip to Lamani. Our guide, Captain Chino grew up on the river and had studied Mayan history and archeology. This excursion was a long one (7 1/2 hours).We road in an air-conditioned bus for about an hour, then you board a boat(ours was covered thankfully) for a 1 1/2 hour trip down river. On the way there are many aquatic birds, bats and maybe a crocodile. When you arrive at the ruins there is a buffet lunch of stewed chicken, rice and beans. The coconut tarts were excellent. Beverages are complimentary, as is bottled water. Be sure to drink plenty, as it can get very hot hiking through the ruins. Don't stand directly under the howler monkies in the trees near the ruins. Although these shore excursions were memorable we thought they were over-priced, which was one of the few negatives on our cruise. Roatan and Belize can be a bit more intimidating than Grand Cayman and Cozumel, but a confident person with a good guide book could get around a lot cheaper instead of taking a tour with the ship in these ports. However we'd probably take the ship's excursions if we return to these ports because it was more comfortable being part of a large group.In Grand Cayman and Cozumel, however, do forsake the ships tours and set out on your own. Taxis and mini-vans are plentiful and the fares are inexpensive ($5- $10 US for two). In Grand Cayman we took a taxi to Cemetary Reef Beach,a beautiful uncrowded beach with great snorkeling about 50 yards off shore. There aren't any public restrooms, but the port-o-pottys were well- maintained and deoderized, and quite frankly better than some of the National Park restrooms we've used. Anyway, the snorkeling was fantastic and free! After spending a few hours there we crossed the street to a bus kiosk and waited about 10 minutes for a bus to take us pack to the pier.In Cozumel, we took a taxi to Chaakanaab National Park. It was $10 US each to get in, but again the snorkling was excellent. They also offer scuba and snorekling. There are sea lion and dolphin shows and dolphin encounters are available.The entertainment aboard ship was first rate. Jane L. Powell is a gifted singer and really knows how to work an audience. Her band can cover a lot of musical territory. The Jean-Ann Ryan Company put on production numbers from Broadway plays such as Les Miserables and My Fair Lady, all the performers were top notch! Cruise director Rich Clesen did a great job of keeping everything going and everyone informed, and if you missed him in person, you could catch him on one of the channels on the in-cabin TV.For this, our first cruise, we think we did well by choosing NCL. Freestyle dining gets two big thumbs up, the ports were exciting, especially if you dive or snorkel, the entertainment exceptional, the food was great and the overall value of vacation has us dreaming of returning soon with our children.
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