We arrived at the NY Terminal around noon and the embarkation was prompt and smooth. We were greeted by a friendly familiar face Concierge John D'Souza/India. We were delighted to sail once again with one of our favorite NCL Hotel Directors Hugo/Belgium. He runs a happy ship and we knew we were in good hands. After an excellent lunch, we went to our cabin which had been excellently prepared by our young cabin attendant Marisa/Philippines who took care of our every request throughout the cruise. We had our boat drill in one of the main dining rooms (it was very cold outside) and thankfully without having to bring our life jackets from our cabins. We thought we might have rough seas that night due to high winds but the entire three sea days south were incredibly calm and sunny. Some passengers were already in the heated pools on the first sea day.
We had a well attended cruise-critic roll call Meet and Greet at 11AM of the first sea day well organized by Randy and Lynn from our Progressive Trivia team. After the first sea day, I was doing lap swimming in the pool every morning when it opened at 7AM before breakfast. The weather continued to be outstanding for the first 11 days of our 12 day cruise. Sunny and warm at all our 6 ports.
FOOD: The food and service was especially good in Cagney's (Sandra/Philippines & Wayam/Indonesia), Le Bistro (Aisa/Philippines) and Tsar's Palace (Jacqueline/Philippines). We also enjoyed a good variety of food at the Garden Cafe buffet and the poolside barbecues. I managed to gain 6 lbs. on this 12 day cruise so the food was very good.
ENTERTAINMENT: We were pleased to see many familiar talented performers on this cruise especially pianist/vocalist Fabrizio Caligaris/Italy) playing to SRO crowd nightly in bar city. On the final days of the cruise, another familiar pianist/vocalist Bernie Martini took Farizio's place. Also outstanding when they performed in various venues throughout the ship were Mirage Duo and Next Stage. Some of the production shows in the Stardust Theatre were outstanding especially Le Cirque Bijou, Donny Ray Evins Nat King Cole tribute, and Celia and Julien. We must acknowledge the unique talents of the Jewel show band led by another familiar face, Larry Lockwood (trumpeter extraordinaire). They provided dance music many evenings in the Spinnaker Lounge as well as playing for a unique brunch in the Tsar's Palace main dining room. There was some musicians performing nightly in the Tsars Palace dining room, an example of how Hotel Director Hugo runs his ship. Cruise Director Jaime/Canada was friendly, personable and always available throughout the ship. We also enjoyed participating in Progressive Team Trivia hosted by Dyvon/U.S. in which our team the "Jewel Jivers" managed to finish on top at the end of the cruise. Lots of good entertainment for many tastes throughout the ship. My wife really enjoyed the fitness classes provide by Simone/South Africa and JAL.
PORTS: Our late arrival at our first port left little time for anything other than mailing some post cards and doing some shopping. Due to limited mobility, I decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the empty pools, warm sunny weather and the daily activities. My wife did enjoy the beach excursions in St. thomas, Barbados and St. Lucia and the shopping in St. Maarten.
WEATHER: After 11 days of calm seas and sunny skies, our luck finally ran out on our final sea day before arriving back in New York. High winds and 25 foot seas managed to shake up things a bit and break not a few dishes in the dining rooms. But in the late afternoon and evening, things managed to calm down enough for us to finish our debarkation packing.
SUMMARY: Another outstanding NCL mid-winter breakaway cruise to the warm Caribbean round trip out of New York (no more flying for us). We look forward to another NCL mid-winter cruise in January 2014. the friendly NCL staff always make us feel at home.