CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Dream Western Caribbean October 31, 2004

It has been two weeks since I returned from this cruise and I am still angry about this ship. I just happened to find this website, and I wish I had found it sooner, and saved time and money. We are not new to cruising, as this was my 7th and my daughter's 4th on 5 different cruiselines. I started cruising 4 years ago and we are addicted to it, but I am so glad this was not my first cruise, as it would have been my last! Also, I have never complained about a ship before. There are always some glitches when traveling and we just try to make the best of it and enjoy, but BUYER BEWARE. I read a review from someone else that renamed this ship the "Nightmare" and those are our feelings exactly. We chose this cruise because the itinerary had 3 ports that we had never seen, and also for a chance to see New Orleans. We flew down a day ahead and stayed at the Hilton Riverside, a beautiful hotel with the Mississippi right outside the window. It was close to the French Quarter, Harrahs, and the cruise pier. Paid way too much for 1 night, but it was Halloween weekend and few bargains were out there. Glad we went a day ahead as traffic from the airport was horrendous.

It took over an hour to go 15 miles. We enjoyed our day in New Orleans and would have been better off staying there than getting on that ship. Embarkation was easy, but the fun stopped there. Except for Disney and Carnival, most ship cabins are tiny, but these are so poorly planned they are very uncomfortable. Had to ask for soap, and many times towels not replaced. Restaurant food was poor, and the service so slow that it took forever to eat a meal. The Buffet was so cramped and inefficiently planned that it was not a viable option. The only good food we had all week was the pooldeck buffet at lunch where it was fresh and hot. Now a few words about the "entertainment". This cruise director was the worst I have ever encounted, her name was Julie and it was all about her. She actually showed a video of her running around the ship doing all the jobs to people sitting in the theater waiting for a show, but on two long BORING sea days, there was no music or dancing on deck, and basically nothing to do on this ship from hell except gamble. The Casino on this ship was the best part of it, fairly small but the machines did pay off from time to time, and they had snacks there late at night which were also good. Most folks needed them after the lousy meals. This was the only place to go at night as everything else was as quiet as a ghost ship. The singers and dancers in the shows did their best in a small theater, but the best entertainment of the week was a woman comic in the passenger talent show. She got a standing ovation from an audience starved for fun. Also, in this theater, if you didn't go an hour ahead to get a decent seat, you can't see(which you can't do because you are still waiting for your melted ice cream to arrive at dinner.) This was also the roughest cruise I have taken, this ship is old, tiny, and not very stable. We suffered motion sickness for two days until a fellow passenger told me you could get pills from medical and I found out half the ship was taking them. I blame myself partly for booking so late in the season and going on a small ship that has out-lived its usefulness and should really be sunk. I'll tell you a little about the ports and shore tours. Getting off the ship at ports was the most disorganized mess ever. All the tours met in the theater and it was nothing but chaos. We bought tours at all the stops (not cheap) and so much time was wasted being herded like cattle and jammed in stair wells. After we got off the ship, finally, things got better at a few ports anyway. Cozumel was excellent, went to Playa Mia Beach for the day, $50 included bus,admission,lunch,drink. It is a beautiful place. Lots of shops,kind of pushy vendors but this is Mexico.It also had a small zoo. Roatan, Honduras was my favorite stop, we went to Tabyana Beach and it is gorgeous, clear warm water, clean sand, a really nice facility. Belize was the worst stop and I would never go back. It's a tender island, so more wasted vacation time, and the weather was terrible(the only thing I can't blame NCL for) but except for the small shopping area, the place is dirty and not too safe. We took the Belizean Beach Day tour.(Huge Rip-Off)$55 each, you go 4 miles out in a small speed boat over very rough seas to "Coral Sands Resort" The water was filthy and un-swimmable, you could not walk on the beach without shoes, and the facilities were dirty port-a-potties way in the back. Lunch was not included but cost an overpriced $10 and inedible. They gave us one weak rum punch and then started charging. People did not know and a couple was presented with a $56 bill at the end of the tour. To top it off, most of the day there was wind and torrential rains, so everyone was huddled in the bar freezing. The ride back was terrifying, the driver of the boat could not see and everyone was soaked to the skin.Forget Belize! At the last stop Cancun, it is also a tender port and all the tours met on the pier, which also took forever. We took the Avalon Bay Beach Break, which meant getting on another small boat to go out to Isla Mujeres. Another long ride, but this time well worth it. $39 each covered boat, open bar all day, and a stunning beach resort. You could get a really nice buffet lunch at the hotel if you wanted for $15. You can also walk into the little town which we did to shop,tons of stores and vendors, again quite pushy, but it was still fun. The weather started out sunny, but then we got rain again so it was another rough ride back, but this tour was absolutely worth the low price. Never got to see Cancun itself, most of the day spent on boat and tender. Last sea day extremely boring, the band played for 45 min. and left for the day, and the Cruise Director never showed her face. Getting off the ship was the best part of the cruise, as it is freestyle and you stay in your cabin until your tag color is called. After that all hell breaks loose! NO ORGANIZATION AT ALL! We bought transfers from the ship and were assured we would get to the airport in plenty of time.(I asked twice,two different people)Off the ship everyone pushes and shoves, there's no direction, NCL employees not helpful, and if I didn't yell at someone to get on the last shuttle in line, we would have missed our flight. All in all, a horrible experience. We had been on the Majesty in 2003 to Bermuda, and while that's a tacky little ship too, the crew was so nice, the director so good, and Bermuda so stunning, we thought we'd take a chance. NEVER AGAIN NCL. In case you think I'm just a crab, I assure you I have had wonderful cruising experiences with Royal Caribbean,Disney, and Princess which is why I'm addicted. Even Carnival was better than this,they are dis-organized but at least you have a good time. In closing, the advice I would give to anyone who's interested is pass on this ship, save your pennies and sail on a real cruise line. The slightly lower price just wasn't worth the aggravation.

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