Away to Sea on the Norwegian Sea

Photos and article by Eleanor S. Morris

Here's a pleasant and relatively inexpensive 7-night Caribbean cruise to thealways popular Mexican ports of Cancun and Cozumel, with a third stop at Honduras' Roatan Bay Islands. In between are three great days a sea, with plenty of things to do. Built in 1988, the 1,518-guest Norwegian Sea is the only cruise ship currently sailing from the port of Houston, Texas, offering a weekly "Texaribbean" cruise. The cruise, from Sunday to Sunday, offers a full day of sailing toward the first port of call, Cancun, Mexico.

With quality entertainment as well as the adventure of going to the two countries, Mexico and Honduras, the ship has been popular with both new and repeat guests.

After one day of sailing, the ports of call, Cancun, Cozumel and Roatan, came one after the other, leaving the last two days as relaxing sailing days. While the guided shore excursions are always a fine experience, there's always the option of going ashore on your own, hiring a taxi or a
local guide, or just exploring on your own. Several Cancun shore trips are ncloffered: the Cancun Overview offered three overviews: the minor ruins of El Rey, Playa (beach) Delfina, and a discount shopping mall, which was great for the shoppers aboard.

Leaving Cancun, the ship soon docked at Cozumel, where several exciting shore trips to the mainland to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum were available. Other choices were tours of the island, snorkeling and swimming, and folkloric performances, which sold out in a hurry. As nclan alternative, walking off the ship, which docked right at the island at the new Punta Langosta pier, and wandering around the island's one town, San Miguel, and the waterfront can bean adventure. Available, too are pleasant taxi drivers who will drive you to the town's most popular beach, Playa Azul.

The fourth day the ship docked at the Honduras island of Roatan, a new cruise destination refreshingly unspoiled as yet by the tourist trade. The main attractions there are beautiful beaches for swimming and snorkeling, but the Island Overview Tour includes an exciting canoe ride through a mangrove swamp.

But there is plenty to keep you busy on the Norwegian Sea even if you never go ashore. (One woman passenger was proud to say she hadn't set foot on land since the ship sailed.) Delivered to your cabin daily is a program listing more than enough to fill all day and evening. The Monte Carlo Casino is a big attraction, with its slots and Blackjack tables. (If you're not sure how to gamble, quick and easy courses are offered.)ncl

A two-story sun deck surrounds two large swimming pools and two hot tubs, attracting the sun worshippers who lay for hours out in the warm and sunny tropical air. There's a fitness room on the top deck, and daily early morning workouts on an upper deck as well as a jogging track, basketball and volleyball courts and a golf driving net. Four times around the Promenade Deck adds up to a mile of walking in case you want to work off the endless buffets in the Big Apple Cafe, the afternoon pizza and ice cream treats, dinners in either the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas dining rooms, and the late-night snacks in the cafe. Le Bistro on the top deck offers a more intimate dining experience. The Big Apple Cafe seemed to specialize in quantity rather than gourmet, but there was always something to eat there regardless of the time of day or night.

In keeping with today's high technology trend, NCL guests can now go online while away at sea, thanks to the new Internet Cafe. Guests can send and receive email messages 24 hours a day, as well as check the stock market and get news updates--not to mention playing video games.

nclWhat to wear? For dining, men can pack their tuxedo or dark suit and women an evening gown or cocktail dress for the two "formal" nights. However, not everyone does on this rather informal cruise, so I thought it nice to have the choice. But do include your Mexican sombreros and cowboy boots to wear for theme nights aboard this "Texaribbean" cruise. Except for the two formal nights and the captain's cocktail party, the ambience is exceedingly informal, nothing "posh" or stuffy, making this a comfortable "middle of the road" first cruise for many, and a relaxed repeat for members of the Latitudes Club of returning sailors.


Norwegian Cruise Line also offers cruises to the Eastern, Southern and Western Caribbean, Glacier Bay, Alaska, and a 13-night Scandinavia Capitals Cruise. Contact Norwegian Cruise Line, 7006 Corporate Center Drive, Miami, Fl. 23126; phone: 305/436-4080 or call Cruise, Inc. at 1-877-660-9400.

Copyright Eleanor S. Morris