Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL)
Travel Tale No. 1 - Vol. 7
I just returned home from a wonderful cruise to the Caribbean on the Norwegian Jade. It was my second voyage on the Jade but my fourth cruise with NCL, as a member of “Latitudes,” and I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and flexibility they offered. The most stressful part of the trip was deciding what to choose from their myriad daily and nightly activities.
Freestyle cruising is perfect for a woman traveling alone and singles are encouraged to meet and greet other solo cruisers at parties. NCL is very protective of its guests and issues warnings ahead of time such as with the problem of Zika fever in the Caribbean. I doused myself with insect repellent (which they also sold in the gift shop) containing Deet and the mosquitoes flew away in horror as I climbed the Mayan ruins in the jungles of Belize. I also loved snorkeling off the back of a catamaran in Roatan, Honduras, watching the colorful tropical fish swim by me as I floated in warm 81 degree of salty happiness.
Although the tours are well organized, safe and reasonably priced, I always use the ship’s thermal spa as a form of total relaxation away from the noisy pool. I had the Chinese herbal and a bamboo massage which were pure heaven after a day of traveling and airline lost luggage. The Elemis products the spa uses for aromatherapy are excellent and I bought their new Japanese camellia oil rich in plant collagen and their Instant Refreshing Gel for muscle reviving which I splattered over a sore ligament from skiing. There is a discount if you book the spa at the time you pay for your ticket.
Caribbean cruises are great for kids making them ideal for family getaways, and the ship has plenty of fun activities to keep them occupied constantly supervised by youth counselors which is a lifesaver for parents
and grandparents who wish to have time off for adult-only time. Parents can also choose casual buffets at the Garden Café for them, but I find the specialty restaurants a quiet treat as I like to dress up in the evenings for dinner and listen to the music in the different bars. We had delicious steaks at Cagney’s.
Their poolside activities with loud music are fun with plenty of your favorite dance tunes as everyone gets into vacation mood with tropical rum drinks and beer in hand leaving mainland problems behind.
Multigenerational travelers with wheelchairs, walkers and canes are also seen enjoying themselves about the ship at the casino, trivia games, bingo, art auctions, or simply watching the aqua waters drift by from the serenity of their cabin balconies.
Ships sail in the Caribbean throughout the year due to the warm weather, but if you are on a tight budget try booking a passage during September to November. Deepest discounts can be found if you book well in advance, but occasionally you can get discounts up to 60% from Vacations To Go, if you can travel at the last minute. The newer, larger ships offer more extra-fee services, such as excursions, exclusive dining, wine tasting, computer classes, exercise classes, the spa, and ground transportation, which can hike up the total amount due at the end of your cruise. And watch that bar bill it really ads up, especially when you are having a carefree time!
Think of deactivating your kids cruise cards because they function like credit cards and they can run up your tab on unapproved expenses. Even though trip insurance will add a little to the price of the ticket, I highly recommend it for unforeseen problems, such as a missed airline connection, lost luggage, an accident on board,
or a sudden cancellation due to a death in the family, and I have had all of these serious problems. The insurance company once reimbursed me 100% due to a national transportation strike in a foreign country. I did have to show evidence such as a Reuters report, and a big fat taxi bill. But these days I wouldn’t travel without insurance.
On my previous NCL cruise I enjoyed sailing to Aruba and totally enjoyed the beach, this time I frolicked in the blue waters of Cozumel, and I can’t wait to book a passage to Asia at the end of this year.
I have travelled many times on other lines but my favorite is NCL because of their security, great food, entertainment, and deep desire to accommodate passengers’ whims with great service such as when Assistant Hotel Director, Nelson Martins, went out of his busy way to have a coffee with me to answer all my questions about the ship. This type of personalized service keeps me returning for more adventures and highly recommending their company. There are many cruise lines to choose from but this one is on the top of my list.