Good morning from beautiful Mazatlan. OK, it’s not really that beautiful . But since I’m on the Norwegian Star this week on a Mexican Riviera cruise, it’s a word that gets used a lot with almost any ship announcement.
I know that huge numbers of you either aren’t Mexican vacation fans, or have never been on a Norwegian cruise ship. The former is understandable with many long-standing and well publicised troubles in Mexico. But if you haven’t been on a Norwegian cruise, you’ll definitely want to add that to your bucket list sooner, rather than later.
As more than seven million Western Canadians, we really don’t have an excuse not to, since three of their ships depart pretty close to home: In addition to the Sun’s cruises out of Los Angeles to Mexico, the Norwegian Sun cruises Alaska from May to September with many departures right out of Vancouver. The Norwegian Pear, my favourite Norwegian ship, also cruises to Alaska, departing from both Seattle and Vancouver.
If you go, or hopefully when you go, you won’t be the only Canadian. The Sun this week has passengers from 12 different countries ranging from Brazil to Ireland and China. After the 80% Americans, we Canadians are the largest group, as I’m one of 200 on board this week. I actually thought that number would be a lot higher – and it should be. With the departure being out of the Port of Los Angeles, it isn’t exactly hard, or very expensive to get to LA, since you can be there in less than four hours.
Since this is a financial program, you need to know that cruising is one of the best travel deals around, as it’s a very competitive industry. If you’ve been to a one-week all inclusive resort, you know the treatment, service, and amenities you’ll (hopefully) get. A cruise is the same thing, just with the added bonus of also getting to explore a whole lot more of the world than just the 60 or so acres of a resort. If you don’t need a suite, and can avoid the three most popular months of the year, you can cruise like a Norwegian (whatever that means…but it’s their advertising slogan) for under a hundred dollars a day. That’s cheap! You’re getting a four star all inclusive vacation AND getting to see at least three different cities in different countries during the week.
If you’re a morning person, you’ll get even more out of your cruise, as you’ll be watching six gorgeous sunrises almost all by yourself. It’ll be you and less than a couple of hundred of your fellow passengers (out of the 2,400 that the Star accommodates). I’m pretty sure it’s the 11 bars and evening activities that turn most cruise passengers into night people – or at least people that won’t be seeing any sunrises during their vacation, because, well…you know…
Even during the three at-sea days you’ll never get bored. Each day has a wide variety of more than 90 different activities. And that doesn’t even include the most important ones of just vegging, sitting in the sun, or enjoying a relaxing meal… or two… or three in one of the many restaurants. If you do end up on the Sun, you’ll be treated to one of the best food services of any ship. The variety and quality of food is unmatched by any other cruise ship I’ve been on – and that includes a lot bigger and newer ships. Even Belgian Hotel Director Hugo Vanosmael seemed a little (but very pleasantly) surprised to hear that feedback.
If you’ve never been on a cruise before, you need to so some homework. Every ship and every cruise line has a very different personality, which is just as important to know as their itinerary. First time cruisers should deal with a well-experienced travel agent that specializes in cruises. If you’ve been on a cruise before, you can find Norwegian direct at ncl.com. (Do avoid signing up for their newsletter as it’ll trigger marketing calls that are next to impossible to stop.)
And now I need to go: There’s great shopping to do here in Mazatlan and I have a two-hour ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the ship – something the inner nerd in me has wanted to do for over five years!
I’ll share another quick story about my cruise from Los Angeles next week.