A couple years ago we did a winter cruise out of Tampa Florida that we refer to as "The Valentine Day Cruise".  Getting away from this years unusually cold and snowy weather seemed like the thing to do.  We came across some reasonable prices so we booked the cruise even though it was the exact same 4 port itinerary as before.  The only difference this time around was the ship which was NCL Star's sister ship NCL Dawn.  Weather every day was sunny and 80F-85F but I have to admit that the weather back home made this cruise feel all the nicer.

 

Like previous cruises, we signed onto the Cruise Critic "Roll Call" for this cruise and began making contact with a bunch of fellow cruisers.  We participated in a Meet & Greet where the Captain and a number of the officers came to introduce themselves to us.  One of our Roll Call members was staying in a "Garden Villa" so instead of a "cabin crawl" we were invited to stroll around this AMAZING "cabin".  I put "cabin" in quotes because we're talking about multiple rooms (bedrooms, baths, walk-in closets, living room w/piano, etc, etc) taking up a square footage (~5000) way beyond what most of us have in our homes.  There are two of these cabins on the ship and it was a much appreciated treat getting to take a peek at it.

 

Be sure and click on any image for a larger view, some additional information about the image, some camera information and a satellite image of where the picture was taken.

 

Tampa Florida....

We flew into Tampa the day before to give us time to recover from any flight delays that might keep us from making it to the ship on time.  We stayed at one of the YBOR hotels and arrived to late for some sightseeing.  Once settled into the hotel we headed to the "Spaghetti Factory" for dinner which was a short walk away.  Because of fog in Tampa Bay the ship was 2-3 hours late docking so everything was a little chaotic.

 

Roatan....

This was our third visit to Roatan in Honduras.  Getting to Roatan involved moving our watches back one hour which we successfully did without issue this time.  We had booked an excursion to Gumbalima Park to see the monkeys, something we wanted to do before but always seemed to miss the connection.  We were good to go this time around.

                                                                                                        
 

Belize....

All of the ships anchor some distance away offshore and tender everyone to the pier a process that takes 15-20 minutes.  The boats are large so the process moves along pretty fast.  One of the Cruise Critic "Roll Call" participants, Michelle, arranged a private tour for six of us and, since there was room, we decided to go along.  This was a 5-6 hour tour with two stops planned.  The tour operator, NCQ Belize Adventure Tours, picked us up at the pier.  Our guide was the owner himself, Ignacio Quan (Nacho for short) with his wife, Cynthia driving the van.  Two stops were planned.

First stop was to the "Community Baboon Sanctuary" to see some howler monkeys.  The owners of this facility spent ten years training a family of monkeys to interact with humans.  We heard about these monkeys and got the opportunity to see some of them up close and even hand feed them.  Awesome stop on the tour.

Our second stop was "The Belize Zoo" with Cynthia filling in as zoo guide.  Some of us had hoped to sign up for the up close big cat interaction opportunity but it wasn't being offered during our day at the zoo.

                                                        
 

Costa Maya....

For this stop we decided to spend the day at the beach.  Months ahead, we made reservations at Maya Chan which only takes 40 reservations per day.  The fee for Maya Chan includes transportation from the pier, drinks, food, a couple chairs on the beach under an umbrella and a bunch of float toys to play with.  We are not "beach people" but totally enjoyed this a couple years ago so we decided to visit again.  We enjoyed the peacefulness and security of Maya Chan.  On our return to the port, we spent a little time browsing thru the shops.

                                   
 

Cozumel....

This was our third visit to Cozumel so we decided it was time to check out the other side of the island especially the lighthouse.  We booked an NCL excursion titled "Cozumel By Jeep And Snorkel".  We shared a jeep with Larry and Kay from Washington state and had such an enjoyable time with these two that we invited them to help us polish off a bottle of wine at dinner on the ship.  Anyway, our guide, Maria, lead the way and kept us on schedule.  Kathy drove our jeep and did pretty well except for the palm tree she backed into which the boy in the other jeep found very amusing.  The tour included visiting the lighthouse, checking out remnants of a small Mayan ruin, walking the boardwalk into the marsh, and stopping at the beach.         

                                                                                            

 

The Ship and Ports....

This was our third time aboard NCL Dawn but the first time since the ship was in dry dock (~May 2011) to replace a diesel/electric generator, repair an azipod bearing and a couple other interior modifications.  Dawn has been reconfigured to have the Spinnaker Lounge moved to the stern and the Galleria Shops moved to a mid-ship location.  The Spinnaker Lounge used to be on deck 13 forward but the space now houses some additional cabins.  The rest of the ship is pretty much the same as we've seen on the other NCL ships we've sailed on.  Of course the decor and the artwork is different.  We've done a lot of cruising in the last 4 years but we have never commented on any of the entertainment but I would be remiss if "Jose & Patti" didn't get mentioned.  This husband and wife musical team were AMAZING entertainers who did multiple shows every night in a packed atrium.

                                                                 

 

Our Cabin....

We're always interested in saving a couple bucks so we booked an INSIDE cabin which was nothing new for us.  These inside cabins are small but provide all we need.  Generally, we're leaving the cabin around 8am and are out and about all day until 4pm-5pm when we return to change for dinner then we're out again until 10pm or so. 

                       
 

Post Cruise....

Following the cruise, we rented a car for three days to visit some friends in Cape Coral and do some sightseeing.  Our write-up and images for the three days can be found here--> Florida Vacation

 

For the photographers among you:  Joe's images were captured with a Nikon Coolpix P7700 P&S and Nikon D5100 DSLR.  Kathy packed her Nikon D5100 DSLR.  In addition, we also geotagged our images with a Sony GPS-CS3KA.

Return To Main Page
 

You are encouraged to poke around on our site and send a note to tell us that you were here. Comments about the page are also welcome. Just click on the mailbox.

 New March 2014