We took a Norwegian cruise in the western Caribbean. The journey was seven-days long, three days on board, and four days at Falmouth (Jamaica), Georgetown (Cayman Islands), Costa Maya (Mexico), and Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas). If you are a first-time cruiser, read some of my tips for first-time cruisers.
Day 1 & 2 – at the sea
- The boarding is a bit of a mess. With 5000 passengers boarding and everyone required to assemble in the common area for the security briefing, it was complete chaos for a few hours.
- We checked out the spa. It is well-maintained with sauna, sanatarium, and an arctic room.
Note: Unlike some other cruises like Carnival, spa access is not complementary to all cruise passengers.
- Sports and aqua section on the top deck is pretty good with a pool, jacuzzi, and some water rides. I had some great fun trying out their ropes adventure there. It was impressive enough that I tried it multiple times during the journey.
- Vegetarian food was good (not great) in the Asian section of the Garden Restaurant’s buffet, and they do provide Indian roti on request too.
Day 3 – Falmouth, Jamaica
The cruise ship embarked in Jamaica. We took a tour of the Secret Falls and Dunn Falls in the Ocho Rios via Chukka for $70 per person. Their guide picked us from the Falmouth port, and while driving gave us a good summary of the history of Jamaica, including various stops like the one where locals believe Columbus first arrived. The drive to Secret Falls is about an hour.
Our second stop was Dunn Falls. We hiked right from the ocean back to the top of the falls. Overall, it takes about 4-5 hours to return to the cruise port.
I would highly recommend this activity to anyone heading to Falmouth for half a day. Back to the cruise ship, shows like live music and performances were going on. Our cruise director Tyler Gray was a fantastic show host as his Facebook fan following demonstrates. We quickly learned to attend every show he is hosting.
Day 4 – Georgetown, Cayman Islands
Water near Cayman islands is shallow, and therefore, the big ship anchors in the water at a distance, small boats, like the one shown, embark people to the port and back. Note: bid for good embarkation slots in advance.
The island is green and beautiful.
We took a three-stop snorkeling cruise by Captain Marvins for $50 per person. The three stops are the famous stingray city, the coral gardens, and the reef. The stingray experience was great, but for snorkeling, snorkeling in Caye Caulker(Belize) was a superior experience.
Overall, this 3-hour activity was worth it for us. But in case you have experienced a stingray tour before then, I would recommend doing something else. The return to the ship was complete torture as everyone headed back at the same time, the wait time to get onto the small boats was 1+ hour. Back on the ship, there were some great shows, including an excellent juggling performance by Scotty Cavanaugh.
Day 5 – Costa Maya, Mexico
Our next port of call was Costa Maya. The city or at least the port is extremely touristy. If you are planning to buy anything, be ready to bargain. We took a transportation + guided tour to Mayan ruins (Chacchoben) for $50 per person. The ruins are similar to but not as high as Plaza Del Sol near Mexico City. If you are in a big group, I would recommend taking a transportation-only taxi to the ruins and get a guide there at a much lower price. Or if you have seen similar ruins, then skip this and head directly to the playa. A one-hour massage at the beach with beautiful views with the right prices ($20) is the highlight of the beach.
Mahahual, local name Costa Maya, is green all around.
Back on the ship, we attended a Cabaret at night. Many such events require reservations, so don’t forget to book them in advance.
Day 6 – at the sea
More events continued on this sea day.
Day 7 – Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
Great Stirrup Cay is a private island of Norwegian. While the food and water are complimentary on the island, there are tons of complaints about everything else being overpriced. The claims are not unfounded; here is a price list of activities.
Apart from that, there are still tons of small things to do on the island. One can go swimming, do carry swimming goggles to see fishes. Or one can play volleyball. As on the ship, vegetarian food was plenty and good (not great).
At night, back onto the cruise, more entertainment continued into the night.
And with this, our cruise came to an end.