Norwegian Cruise to Western Caribbean
First-time cruising: The Norwegian Cruise to Western Caribbean
The Western Caribbean is a dream destination for many travelers from the United States, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventure activities. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, the Western Caribbean offers a picturesque backdrop for any vacation.
But what sets the Western Caribbean apart is its rich history and culture, which can be seen in its ancient Mayan ruins, colonial architecture, and colorful markets and festivals. Whether you're exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza, strolling through the streets of Havana, or shopping for souvenirs at a local market, the Western Caribbean offers a wealth of cultural experiences.
It was my first time joining a cruise and I did it with a couple of friends. I mostly did it to spend some time with them after not seeing each other for a long time because of the pandemic. I also wanted to try a Caribbean cruise since they are so popular with Americans.
I was surprised to find out that the cruise port is in New Orleans. I had been there a decade ago so I was excited to see New Orleans again and have Cajun food. On the cruise day, we headed to the port to board the Norwegian Breakaway. I recommend going first thing in the morning to avoid crowds. There are thousands of people getting on the ship so it takes a long time to actually board. I'm talking hours!
The trip itinerary was two days at sea before arriving in Jamaica. And then each day we would visit a different Caribbean island. There is a lot to do on the cruise ship but you also need to bring a book, games, or something else to keep you busy.
Stops on our itinerary in the Caribbean
What is nice about the Caribbean is that there are a plethora of outdoor activities to do, such as zip lining, cave tubing, and jungle hikes. And for those looking to unwind, there's nothing quite like relaxing on the beach, enjoying the warm climate and tranquil waters.
On the Norwegian Cruise Line to the Western Caribbean, there are several destinations that you might visit, each with its unique attractions and sights to see. Some of the popular ports of call in the Western Caribbean include:
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Home to the famous Dunn's River Falls, a popular attraction where visitors can climb up a series of cascading waterfalls.
George Town, Cayman Islands: The capital city is home to Seven Mile beach and Stingray City where you can get up close and personal with the gentle sea creatures.
Roatan Bay Islands, Honduras: This island is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving due to its coral reefs and diverse marine life.
Harvest Caye, Belize: This is a private island owned by NCL and offers a range of activities, including zip lining, kayaking, paddleboarding, and relaxing on the beach.
Cozumel, Mexico: Known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. This island offers a range of activities ,snorkeling and scuba diving in the clear waters, and enjoying the island's beautiful beaches. You can also do day trips to see the Mayan ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza.
Other destinations in the Caribbean
There are other cruise lines like Disney Cruise, Celebrity Cruise, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise that have the same route as the Norwegian Cruise Line. These cruise companies also visit other parts of the world like South America, New Zealand, Europe, and the rest of the Caribbean. And there are ships that are part of the Eastern Caribbean cruise circuit and visit Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, etc.
These are the Western Caribbean islands that weren't part of my itinerary:
Costa Maya, Mexico: Visitors to this port can explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Chacchoben or Kohunlich, enjoy the local beaches, or go snorkeling or scuba diving in the nearby reefs.
Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas: This is another private island owned by NCL and offers a range of activities, including kayaking, paddle boarding, and exploring the island's coral reefs.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: This island offers a range of activities, including swimming with stingrays, visiting turtle farms, and exploring the island's colonial history.
Montego Bay: This city on the northern shore of Jamaica is known for excellent scuba diving in the protected waters of Montego Bay Marine Park.
Shore Excursions I Added To My Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary
I wanted to get off the ship and get the chance to see the islands on the short one-day stops we had. These are the things I tried:
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We went to the Blue Hole and walked through the jungle and the river which was nice and refreshing. It was a little slippery so you should pack a pair of water shoes to do this easy hike.
George Town, Cayman Islands: We spent a couple of hours in the port town to buy souvenirs and try conch fritters. It was an easy day walking around.
Roatan Bay Islands, Honduras: We joined a guided tour to hear about the culture and see the sights. Roatan reminded me a lot of Southeast Asia, which isn't surprising since they are tropical areas.
Harvest Caye, Belize: We took a ferry to the mainland to try river tubing in the rainforest and that was super fun. The water was mostly gentle, with some spots of small rapids that made it exciting.
Cozumel, Mexico: There was an ATV tour to a cenote that caught my attention. We had to drive through muddy water and rocky roads, which made this a more technical kind of driving adventure. After, we spent some time at the beach relaxing and eating Mexican food. It was sooooo good!
Thoughts on my first cruise
I did enjoy the cruise and I already know the next one that I want to do! It will be Alaska, I heard really good things about the cruises there. Some of the cruise ships there are the Norwegian Encore, the Norwegian Bliss, and Norwegian Sun. Hopefully, I get to try the Norwegian Encore since it's supposed to be really nice. That said, I wouldn't go to the Caribbean again, it reminded me a lot of Southeast Asia. And I'd rather go there!
Of course, there was a lot of food and I really liked the buffet. There are a couple of sitdown restaurants that are free and part of the package but they weren't that great. The food at the buffet was much better. I did try the teppanyaki and Japanese restaurants. They were good and the only times when I didn't overeat on the ship was when I had dinner there. If you are a drinker, definitely buy the beverage package. Pro-tip: you can get two drinks at a time. So I was able to get drinks for my friend who didn't get the drinks package, so he lucked out.
Have you been on a cruise? What did you like and do you have any tips to share? Please comment below!