Tag: Norwegian Cruise Line (Page 1 of 2)
Looking back on our Spring Break cruise, I have to say that I really enjoyed my time on the Norwegian Breakaway. Even though it is a “mega ship” it didn’t feel much bigger or more crowded than the Gem. Of course, the bigger ships come with more amenities and more dining venues and it was fun to explore them all.
One of the biggest things that made me want to try out a bigger ship is the entertainment. For Norwegian, the Breakaway class ships are the ones with Broadway shows. On the Breakaway it was Rock of Ages and even though I saw the movie years ago, I didn’t really know anything about the show besides the fact that it was raunchy. And raunchy it was! I was surprised by the amount of children present! The story was okay (I liked it better than I remembered like the movie), the acting was fine, but the music was phenomenal! Which was a theme for this trip.
Every time we heard the musicians around this ship, we were blown away. Especially when compared to the music on the Gem which we lovingly described as a guitar, a drummer, and a computer. The music at Rock of Ages was great. The piano players at Howl at the Moon (the dueling piano bar onboard) were amazing! The addition of having a live band playing music at dinner in the Manhattan room every night was a great touch. We wanted to check out Syd Norman’s, the rock club, but it was so popular we could never actually get in!
The pool deck was huge and had plenty of deck chairs, but we tended to avoid the area and could typically be found hanging outside out on Deck 8, which is known as the Waterfront. Most of the specialty restaurants had outdoor seating available and several bars had outdoor bars with seats along the waterfront. Until the final sea day, this area was deserted during the day and was a great place to sit in the shade and watch the water. More cruise ships need to made use of the view like the Breakaway!
The Breakaway also had a lot of activities to keep you occupied during your time at sea. From the aqua park to the mini golf course to the ropes course the adventurous had lots of options! There was also shopping, the spa, and lots of other planned activities to keep cruisers busy.
With a large ship like the Breakaway comes a shocking number of dining options. We tried most of them and with one exception had great experiences. One thing that was great about this ship is that no matter what you were looking for, it was offered. From sushi to Spanish tapas to French food and pizza, there was a restaurant for your tastes. Even the buffets had theme nights that seemed to relate to our sailing. Since we sailed out of New Orleans there was a Creole night and another night was a Mexican night. They even had ice sculptures which I thought cruise lines get rid of years ago!
The one exception to the stellar food was a O’Sheehans, the 24 hour bar and grill located on NCL ships. It was really sad because we LOVED O’Sheehans on the Gem. But, after waiting almost an hour from when we sat down to when our food came after getting back on the ship in Belize City, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I was telling someone about this and they responded “but you’re on vacation right?” Of course, but I wasn’t planning on spending all that time on a meal that was supposed to be quick. The next time we sail Norwegian, I would try O’Sheenhans again, but I wasn’t wasting my time on this sailing.
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While planning our cruise, I knew that I wanted to see some Mayan ruins. Through my research, I learned that that was an option at several ports. I examined the shore options in all the ports and decided the best option was to see the Chacchoben ruins in Costa Maya. This was a short port day for us; the all aboard time was 1:30, so I knew we didn’t want to risk this excursion through an outside company, especially because a lot of the shore excursion companies had the all aboard time as later in the day. Even though it was more expensive, we booked this one through Norwegian. As soon as the ship docked, we were off to meet our bus for our hour long drive to the ruins. This was one of the most popular excursions from Costa Maya and it was great to hear the history of the Mayans from our knowledgable guide, Alejandro.
Chacchoben is Mayan for place of the red corn. The Chacchoben ruins are a fairly recent archeological discovery. Discovered in 1972 when an American archeologist noticed some hills that didn’t fit in with the local landscape. Excavation began in the mid 90’s and the park opened to the public in 2002.
One thing our guide told us is that the Mayan people did not disappear as many people think. If you explore the area the Mayans are still around and the Mayan language can still be heard in the area around the ruins. It is believed that between 1000 AD and about the 1800s there was a draught that it made it impossible for the agrarian Mayan society to continue so the people dispersed and joined the other neighboring communities.
Alejandro also explained the Mayan numeral system which made my head hurt. I think they should teach this in school instead of Common Core math. Future generations would have a much greater understanding of math if they could figure that out!
This visit really made me want to explore some more Mayan ruins. I am hoping to return to Mexico some time in the future to explore Chichen Itza or Tulum. Our guide in Belize explained that many of their Mayan ruins are still open for climbing, while many of the Mexican ruins are more protected. He also told us that the old Mayan buildings are some of the tallest buildings in Belize today, which is pretty unbelievable.
Anyway, if you cruise to Costa Maya, I highly recommend taking a tour of Chacchoben. It is great to get a taste of the history and the guides are incredibly knowledgable. Yes, there is a pool and a beach right at the port, it is good to get out an get a taste of Mexico’s history.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our cruise, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
With 4 port days in a row on this cruise, we knew we were going to need a day to just sit back and relax. Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new private island off the coast of Belize, was the perfect port for that!
Like many private islands, Harvest Caye is full of beach chairs. They also rent kayaks, paddle boards, and small boats that you can take around the lagoon. They also have a zip line that is housed in a lighthouse (above). You can see Macaws and Toucans as well as butterflies and Belizean flora in the nature center. I had never seen a Toucan before so that was pretty cool. They also offer a ferry to mainland Belize (Placencia) for guests to do excursions on their own or arranged through the ship. One way that Harvest Caye is different from Great Stirrup Caye, Norwegian’s other private island in the Bahamas, is that the ship docks at the island so you don’t have to take a tender in. Because of this, you can go back to the ship to get food and drinks. Your ship card does not work on Harvest Caye.
One thing I had heard about Harvest Caye before sailing is to be careful in the beach because jellyfish are prevalent. The purple flag in the photo on the right means dangerous marine life is present, so I stayed out of the water. If you want to avoid jellyfish, Harvest Caye also has a pool. The chairs fill up fast though, so if you want a spot around the pool, get there early. Since we had a $50 per port shore excursion credit, on Harvest Caye we were able to rent a clamshell on the beach for free. It was a nice way to have a designated, shady spot on the beach.
Harvest Caye was very much like what a Caribbean cruise port would look like if it was designed by Americans. Everything was very clean. There were no pushy salespeople. The restaurants are all a part of the Margaritaville brand. There’s nothing wrong with this. Its just very inauthentic. Would I seek out another cruise with a stop at Harvest Caye? Probably not. But, I enjoyed our day here as a way to relax and spend time in the tropical sunshine!
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
While planning our cruise, I was really torn with what to do with our stop in Belize City. All of the options were very outdoorsy or consisted of laying on the beach. I knew we were planning to relax the next day when we were at Harvest Caye, so I really wanted to get out there and explore the Belizean jungle. Cave tubing seemed like the perfect way to do that, so we booked it through ShoreExcursioneer.com to save a little money.
Belize City is a tender port, meaning there is no dock so to get ashore, people have to take smaller boats, called tenders, to take them from the ship to the cruise terminal. For whatever reason, it took a while to get the tenders started but we followed the directions on our ticket and took the first tender off the ship. Once we made it to land we went inside the shopping area, called the tourism village, to meet our tour. We were only the second group in line for our tour when we headed out to the buses.
After a little bit of drama with broken seats and another bus filling up and heading out, we made the hour long drive to the Nohech Che’en Archeological Preserve. During the drive our guide, Barry, told us a lot about the Belizean culture and the economy.
Once we made it, we got our life jackets and helmets and began a short walk through the jungle with many stops along the way to check out the local flora. I was excited to finally get in the water and begin our journey through the caves. Our other guide, Carlos, was handy with the flashlight, pointing out formations in the caves and telling us about the history. The water was moving very slow and frequently our guides had to get out of their tubes and pull us or swim to keep the group moving. It was kind of a strange experience, almost like being pulled by a human horse.
The ancient Mayans believed that the caves were the entrance to the underworld, called Xibalba or Place of Fright (MyBelizeExperience) and after floating through them, it is understandable why they thought that. It was a little eerie! I was glad I had my headlamp to see the cave formations and several bats.
After we got out of the water, they took us back to their office area where they had lunch of beans and rice, a Belizean specialty, waiting for us. Af this point, we were cutting it close to making it back to the port for the last tender. In the end, we made it back 15 minutes early. We didn’t have time to shop like some people were hoping, but I was just glad we didn’t miss the ship!
Overall, I am very glad we did this excursion. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever done! If you are cruising to Belize City, I highly recommend you check it out! To read more about our cruise, click here. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.