Norwegian Wind November 1, 1998 Western Caribbean Cruise
We are hooked on cruising. During the last two years we have found again the love of the ocean and ships, and the seafarer's oblivion and peace of mind, which we felt in the 50's and 60's when we crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times aboard luxury liners. This was our fourth cruise in the Caribbean and the fifth is scheduled for this coming Nov. 29th, when we'll board again the CostaRomantica for a cruise to the Panama Canal. We have also booked three more cruises for 1999, one in January on the Mercury, one in May on the Grand Princess, and in November on the Voyager of the Seas. We have not had a bad cruise yet and we don't feel that minor inconveniences which may be encountered on any ship should mar the great experience of cruising. We have several points of criticism for this cruise, but we are satisfied overall with the ship, the crew and the services.
The Norwegian Wind, previously known as the Windward, is a medium-sized ship, with a gross tonnage of 46,000, passenger capacity of 1,750 and a crew of 614. It is easy to see that the passenger-to-space and passenger-to-crew ratios are significantly higher than the those of the CostaRomantica, a ship we reviewed last spring. The Norwegian Wind is beautifully decorated and well maintained throughout. We were pleased with the public areas' spaciousness and decor. The extensive use of wood and shiny brass, together with the ubiquitous presence of pastel-colored draperies, carpets and furnishings, gave the impression of some luxury and, at the same time, of a comfortable ambiance. The glittering of the shiny brass at times was unnecessary, especially where it caused confusion in visual perception, as on top of the elevator doors.
We had cabin #8070 and our friends cabin #8071, the last two cabins aft on Norway deck. We felt that our cabin was too small for what we expected from a "Superior Deluxe Penthouse" suite. We do not have its official dimensions, but its measurements seemed very similar to those of a regular cabin on other comparable ships and definitely much smaller than the mini-suites of the CostaRomantica and the Grandeur of The Seas. Furthermore, the bathrooms on the latter ships had a Jacuzzi and a full tub, respectively, and were much more spacious than the one in our cabin, which not only did not have a tub, but its shower stall was so small as to make it difficult to pick up a soap bar or anything you may have dropped while showering.
The cabin had a balcony with two small chairs and a little table, but it should not be advertised in the brochures as a suite or anything close to that. After we experienced the 340 sq.ft. mini-suite on the Romantica, with luxurious and spacious marble bathroom and butler service, this was one of the major letdowns of this cruise. Our unlucky friends in cabin #8071 had a balcony with 3/4 of the view obstructed by a contoured metal plate, so designed for the aesthetics of the ship, but impractical for the passengers.
The quality of service was excellent throughout the ship, with some minor exceptions. The privilege for the occupants of suites was the availability of a concierge, who helps in making reservations for the Bistro (alternative dining), booking excursion tours or answering any questions pertaining to the ship's schedules or activities. Our concierge was Ann Smith, a smiling lady, helpful every time we contacted her in her office or by phone.
The wait staff in the restaurant was also excellent: Juan Cardona, waiter, Pablo Espinal, busboy, and Julie Dizon, wine stewardess, were always prompt and pleasant to serve us. We would also like to acknowledge the cordial assistance of Mochammad Musthofa, Ass't Maitre D', who made sure my friend's wife's meals were free of dairy products. In general, we found that most of the staff on this ship were pleasant and efficient. We were a bit disappointed by the attitude of our cabin steward. Even though the cabin was always perfectly clean, his repeated comments and complaints on his very busy work schedule and on the effort it takes to get fresh fruit from way down there (?) to our cabin, and that his wages were only $50 per week (hinting toward generous tipping) were inappropriate and unnecessary. However, he did get us fresh fruit and we did tip him more than the recommended amount.
We ate most of our meals at The Terraces. The food was generally good in the restaurants (Bistro included) and at the buffets and pool-side pizzeria; especially good was a midnight buffet served in the Four Seasons Restaurant (the only one attended by us). It had a great seafood salad and some delicious fried calamari. But there were also some disappointments, especially when we ordered Italian and French dishes.
The problem was that inappropriate spices were freely used in continental dishes which require different or less spices to maintain their characteristic flavor. Certain spices, such as curry and cumin, were used and abused to make many dishes taste the same. As an Italian, I can attest that most of the "Italian" dishes served on this ship were Italian only in name, not in flavor. Even the escargot appetizer did not taste as French cuisine intended: it was prepared with some sort of cream or cheese; not bad, but not "French"! Why then not call them Snails "Norwegian", or "Indonesian", or "whatever" style? In that way I would have not been disappointed. When the Chefs were introduced the last night of the cruise in The Terraces restaurant, we found out the reason for such a deficiency: all of them were Indonesian. If NCL wants to have an international cuisine served on their ships, they better hire some chefs who know the proper ingredients of the dishes listed on the menus.
The entertainment on the Norwegian Wind was not much different from what is offered on comparable ships. Even though our main reason for cruising is not to be entertained, but to relax, break away from the everyday life activities and be somewhat pampered, we did attend a few shows in the Stardust Lounge. The show we enjoyed most was "George M," a Broadway musical performed very well by Michael Martin and the dancing and singing staff. We also enjoyed the comedy show of David Nester, a hilarious standup comedian. There were other entertainers on this ship, including a Calypso band, piano players, singers, and D.J., and we occasionally sat in a lounge and enjoyed the talents of these musicians.
Along with the usual Bingo and casino gambling where we contributed a few hundred dollars, we participated in very few other activities. We are limited to short shore excursions due to health problems, so we took only one of the shore excursions organized by the ship, the Mexico De Fiesta Show in Cozumel. It was like going into a bar room with a small stage where the dancers, singers and the mariachi band performed folkloric dances, and not like a regular theater where the show could have been done more professionally. But we did have a good time and that's important! We also had great fun in The Sports Bar and Grill, where during the evenings we participated in the sports trivia conducted by the personable and charming Bob Drewes, the ship's Sports and Fitness Director. I also did some jogging (mainly walking) around the Promenade Deck to take off some of the weight I was gaining and to earn a T-shirt in the fitness program.
Embarkation - Debarkation
These procedures were more or less the same as those on other ships. We had a bit longer wait for embarkation, which was delayed one half hour after the given time of 1:00 pm. The debarkation was as fluent as could be expected. By 9:30 am we were out of the ship and on our way home.
Vincent and Mary Finelli have contributed previously to the SeaLetter and can be reached for questions or comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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