Last year we did a couple winter cruises that originated from New York City.  These cruises can be VERY economical but they involve a couple sea days getting to/from the Bahamas.  Sea days that are generally cold and rough.  So, this time around we decided to bite the bullet and fly to a Florida cruise port.  A couple clicks on NCL's “Hot Deals” button brought up a Western Caribbean cruise out of Tampa Florida aboard NCL Star.  We selected the week that included Valentine's Day figuring it would be a nice way to celebrate.  The ship would be stopping at 4 ports, 2 of which were new to us.  As it turned out, the cruise was sold out a couple weeks before embarkation to predominately adult passengers.  We didn't see more than 10-12 kids all week.

 

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.  The Captain even extended an invitation to tour the bridge which was very much appreciated.  The group also set up a "cabin crawl" which gave all of us an opportunity to check out the various cabin classes available on the ship.

 

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 downtown hotels and met up with fellow cruisers, Mimi and Dave, for lunch in YBor City.  A trolley stop was nearby where we all purchased day passes for $5, $2.50 for the seniors among us.  YBor City is sort of Tampa's historic district and was worth the trip to see especially with cameras in hand.  Kathy and I ventured back in the evening for some night time pictures.

                                         

 

The Ship....

This was our first time aboard NCL Star.  Star is the first of the NCL ships that we've been aboard that's 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.

                                                                          

 

Our Cabin....

This was a first for us because this time around we booked an "obstructed ocean view" cabin.  An oxymoron for sure.  We found the cabin to be somewhat wider than an inside which made it easier to get into/out of bed.  Storage, as always, is more than adequate for our needs.  This cabin, however, seemed to have more drawer space than we recall from other NCL cabins we've had.  The bathroom layout was the same as we've seen on other cabins we've had.

                       
 

Roatan....

Getting to Roatan in Honduras involved moving our watches back one hour which is where we got screwed up.  We had booked an excursion to Gumbalima Park to see the monkeys but arrived on the pier 40 minutes late so we missed the excursion.  Not by an hour but by 40 MINUTES!  Not sure how that happened but NCL was very nice about it and credited our onboard account.  All was not lost in Roatan because Kathy was looking for some sort of small bag to carry her Kindle around in.  She found a couple in the nearby shops.  This is a 2 image panorama of the port.

  
 

Belize....

For Belize we booked an NCL excursion to the Lamanai Ruins.  This was a 7 hour excursion that involved a lengthy bus ride, a motor boat trip on the river, a tour of the Lamanai Ruins, and lunch.  We were on the go the entire time and really appreciated booking this thru NCL because we returned to the ship on the LAST tender.  The boat trip was FAST with some stops to look at local wildlife and to chat with some locals who were out on the river fishing.  There were several structures to be seen at the ruins with the largest of them being climbable.  I made it to the first landing but decided NOT to have a go at the very steep section even though there was a rope available for support.  I packed my infrared camera specifically for this trip to the ruins.  Infrared tends to turn green foliage white which makes any moss growing on the ruins stand out.

                                                              

                    
 

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 was $55/pp and included 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 would do this again in a heartbeat.... it was very nice.  On our return to the port, we spent a little time browsing thru the shops.  Many cruisers didn't get past the Hard Rock Cafe and the swimming pool right there in the port.  Frankly, we enjoyed the peacefulness and security of Maya ChanThis is a 3 image panorama...

 

                                
 

Cozumel....

We visited Cozumel once before and found ourselves walking the gauntlet in front of all the shops along the waterfront.  This time we decided to check out a private beach club called Nachi-CocumNachi-Cocum only takes 100 visitors per day so this was also booked online months ahead.  The fee was $55/pp and included drinks, food, and a couple chairs under an umbrella.  Getting to/from Nachi-Cocum was on your own which involved a $16 cab ride each way.  Nachi-Cocum also included a swimming pool which was very refreshing especially before making the trip back to the port.  There were activities available, for an additional fee, such as parasailing, snorkeling, jet skis, and massages.  We didn't do any of it and simply enjoyed the beach and having someone bring food/drink out to our lounger.     

                                      

 

For the photographers among you:  Joe's images were captured with a Nikon Coolpix P7000 P&S and an infrared modified Nikon CP5400 P&S.  Kathy also traveled light for this trip and only brought a Canon SX20 P&S but all week long kept saying she should have packed her Nikon D5100 DSLR.  In addition, we also geotagged our images with a Sony GPS-CS3KA.

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 New February 2012