My best friend and previous roommate Brittany & I wanted to take a trip together, neither of us had been on a cruise and both of us wanted to. Ultimately we decided on a 7-day Mexican Cruise March 2011 meant to stop in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Then to ease the pain of coming home right after we spent a few days in LA/Hollywood.
Taking a cruise was on my bucket list, unfortunately I was more disappointed than impressed with my experience but what I hear from others who have been this is not how it should be. I understand that there are situations that can not be avoided or prevented, but that doesn’t make the trip any better, just understandable. I’m not always a fan of ‘vacations’ I prefer to ‘travel’ but I can relax in the sun with a cold drink in my hand with the best of them, but after my cruise I think I do better when I plan a trip myself rather than let someone else call the shots… and the price!
1) Our cruise was during the first week of March, I made the mistake of thinking that Mexico=warm weather.
This is not the case when you’re on a cruise ship, its windy on the top/pool and therefore its cold, not ideal for swimsuits and summer clothes. We had to wear jackets and long pants (or cover in towels) almost everyday and everyone wanted a seat in the sun which meant that in order to get a good seat we had to leave towels where we wanted to sit as soon as we woke up.
2) If you have to alter plans, at least attempt to inform the guests and try to ease the disappointment.
Our first morning on the cruise while headed to get some breakfast we realized we weren’t moving and overheard a family at the next table talking about it and when we asked what was going on they informed us that another passenger had a medical emergency during the night and we had turned around and stopped to take them to shore in Ensenada. We weren’t thrilled about the delay but again, what can you do?
What did Norwegian do to inform us of the incident? They announced it in the public areas early that morning, but unless you happened to be awake and able to understand over the speakers you missed the announcement that not only did we make an unscheduled stop but they also had to cancel our planned excursions for our other stops in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta and were only allowed to be on shore for a few hours before having to board again as apposed to the full day we had paid for. When we complained, they apologized for the inconvenience and stated their was nothing they could do. It wasn’t a necessity they do something to make up for the inconvenience but its a reflection on their customer service.
We were bumped from our Zodiac whale watching excursion to a different whale watching excursion that included unlimited drinks, nice! but had to pay the difference in cost. We had booked scooter rentals to ride along the coast and not only were we unable to go but we still had to pay for it!
3) Construction & Cleanliness.
The photo below is the veiw from our door, the entire time. I realize things happen, it’s a cruise ship its not like it can run smoothly all the time, but when other passengers & ourselves complained they apologized for the inconvinence. It wasn’t a necessity they do something to make up for the inconvenience but its a reflection on their customer service. Apparently there was some sort of water/plumbing issue and they had caution signs and running fans the entire week. It smelled moldy and musty the entire week!
There were also stains on our sheets, I took photos for the detailed review I sent to NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) but don’t feel the need to post them here. Just know, we were very disappointed in their standards!
4) Cost. This was a joint fail, My expectations were higher than they could live up to.
Never having been on a cruise before when we thought we were getting a good deal we turned out to have picked the very bottom level and the very most forward and inward stateroom. This basically meant that we could hear the waves crashing against the boat, feel every movement and had very little room to move around.
I’d heard drinks were expensive, thats how they make their money. So I ordered these travel flasks to help ease the cost They worked great!
Brittany tried the old trick of filling your mouthwash with liquor. (luckily they didn’t search too much but we’d heard from some friends that had their ‘mouthwash’ taken away) We got a laugh when we realized room service put it in the bathroom & it’d take a minute for us to remember to look there when we were ready for a shot.
By end of the cruise we discovered we paid more than quite a few other people on the cruise which certainly didn’t make us any more thrilled about all the short cuts, inconveniences, low standards and high costs that NCL had.
5) The Room
*No alarm clock, and since we had an inner room we also had no natural light to wake us up, plus we’re in international waters our phones don’t work.
*The single plug in the bathroom only had voltage for a shaver and there was only a single plug in the room. Fortunately I had done enough research and had read somewhere that the electricity was hard to come by in the rooms and luckily remembered to bring a three way plug so it didn’t affect us much. But it would have been a major issue between cameras, laptops, music, phones, hair styling and ect. Not that they were necessities but it’s not like we agreed to go camping and some of our neighbors had 3-4 people in their rooms, how did they manage?
When I pay for a service on a specific day, I’d like it to be on that day. Brittany was celebrating her birthday while we were on board so as a surprise I ordered NCL’s birthday package where they decorate your room and bring a cake. Fun right? Except that they did it a day early, which I suppose is better than a day late but still… not cool! When I brought it to their attention they didn’t give me any excuse, apology, or consolation prize. It wasn’t a necessity they do something to make up for the inconvenience but its a reflection on their customer service.
** Disclaimer: This is my opinion of the negative experiences I had on the Norwegian Star it is not a review of the cruise as a whole.
2011 has been a year of slow progress which I find frustrating in the day to day but that only leaves so much more for 2012 to accomplish!!
January- I have a hard time remembering that far back, I do know that I started my Buddhism in Science course at UVU and it changed my life!!
February- Listed my condo for sale. Bittersweet! It's still for sale & has been quite a process but hopefully the latest offer will go through!
March- Mexican Cruise with one of my best friends & crossing off 'go on a cruise' from my bucket list!
April- Participated in the walking ceremony for my college graduation (but not actually graduating)
May- A trip to Northern California, nothing bring my spirits up like California!
June- I finished 1 of 2 math classes I need to ‘officially’ graduate
July- Going to Breckinridge Colorado with my family & playing with a dear friend I taught English with in Russia.
August- Started my last semester of attending college!
September- I had my 25th birthday & made a birthday list!
October- Had my first Halloween party & best scary season to date!
November- Spent thanksgiving with my family for the last time in who knows how long!
December- Finished the 2nd of my math classes I need to complete my degree and now I’m working on my senior thesis and then I’ll be ALL DONE!
Right now my main two focuses’ are:
- finishing my senior thesis, to complete my degree
- preparing financially to leave the country
What to expect in 2012
I WILL sell my condo. I live simply now (for the most part), but I can barely wait for the day when I move into a basement bedroom in the home of a dear friend. I love to de-clutter & lose excess material items.
I WILL finish my bachelor’s degree in Integrated Studies with emphases in History & Political Science.
I WILL no longer work in the Medicare insurance industry. However, it’s still undecided when we will no longer be needed at our location.
I WILL get a permanent front tooth! I embraced my toothless grin and the humor & conversation piece that it is. I’ll almost be as sad when I can’t share my inner-hillbilly at a moments notice, almost.
I WILL leave the United States to pursue my passion for travel and other cultures. I’ve got ideas of where I will go . As other factors begin to resolve themselves I will have a better idea of where & when.
There is loads of work to be done, plenty of patience to be had and even bigger moments ready to sweep me off my feet!
I love getting to share my dreams and I’m thrilled you’re here to share what is sure to be one of the most thrilling years of my life!
I'd been wanting to go on a cruise for a few years and my good friend Brittany and I were in need of a vaction and decided to take our first cruise together. This photo was taken the morning we boarded the boat before we could go into our room. We were so excited to finally be there and on the boat!
Lesson learned. No matter the time of year, even in your off the coast of Mexico, the wind on top deck by the pool makes it cold!
5 things I didn't like about our Norwegian Cruise