Just wanted to check in with our thoughts on the cruise. We tend to look on the bright side of things so minor mishaps or problems dont bother us. We also love NCL (this was our 5th cruise with them), so we are definite cheerleaders for them.
Spent 3 days in New Orleans at the end of the cruise and had a great time. Met up with Bud and Pat, Jim and Val at Mulates and had a good time. Did the WWII museum, Bourbon St. St. Louis cemetery, Jackson square, French Market, Streetcars, Garden district, Cafe du Monde and walked our legs off. Saw Jim and Val again strolling through Jackson Square, didn't meet them until after the cruise.
Thinking way back, Boston was a lot of fun, wish we had more time there. Embarkation was pretty fast, on board by 11:30, I think.
We love the at sea days, so the first 2 days were great. A little cool the first day so we had the pool pretty much to ourselves. Visited Dee and Tom in their cabin to pick up our t-shirts, thanks again. And met up with Nick and Julie, Bud and Pat and some others at the Meet and Greet.
Samana, we just walked into town, having done Cayo Levantado last time and not wanting to spend $50 each to go to a beach, had a drink and just people-watched. Felt completely safe, even thought we had been warned it was dangerous.
St. Thomas, we took a cab to Emerald beach near the airport since we had done Megans Bay and St. John on previous trips. Emerald beach was beautiful, quiet, no vendors on the beach, only about 20 people all day, rented chairs at a Best Western and had a great time. We would probably go back to St. Thomas and use this hotel as a base to visit the other beaches on the island. Met some crew members from the Carnival ship that went there too.
Antigua, had booked a Segway tour with Marianne and Chris (Gardener718). This looked a little adventurous for us but we had a blast, once we got the hang of it. The tour guides were great, very patient, and the beach we ended up at was a nice treat on a hot day. Antigua Segway was the company and we highly recommend them. Had a couple of cheap beers (4 for $6) at a little local bar after the tour.
Barbados, we had a tour booked with Scenic Barbados Tours. A little hard to find outside the terminal but we had Sanjay and a mini van give us a tour of the island and drop us at Carlisle beach. Met up with Ron and Cheryl (rong2789) from the Spirit and had a great time. They wanted snorkelling and we wanted swimming so Sanjay compromised with Carlisle. When we got there we realized we forgot the sunscreen so I went looking for some, forgetting my sandals. Walked up and down streets for 20 minutes until I found a scuba shop that sold it. I should have asked someone on the beach to share theirs, there were lots of striped NCL towels there. Enjoyed our tour and the beach. The beach had the clearest water we've ever seen. When we got back Sanjay insisted we had already paid by MasterCard, I didn't think so but didn't argue. When we got home there are 5 emails asking me nicely why I didn't pay. I sent him my MasterCard number today.
Another great Sea day with the Latitudes meet and the Anniversary party. Met up with Jim and Judy (Kirdo) again and had a good time.
Curacao, we had our only NCL shore excursion, a semi-submersible tour and stop at the liquer factory. Took us to the Hilton resort (beautiful) and we took the tour, about an hour underwater (well about 6 feet under) and saw lots of fish, coral and even an octopus and sea urchins. It was kind of like snorkelling for people who don't want to get wet lol. Then when the boat surfaced and we had to get off it poured rain. We only had a short walk to the hotel lobby but everyone got soaked. Bus ride was nice and informative, liquor factory was ok (small free samples) and then we walked around the streets, got a cheap beer, mailed some postcards, crossed the swinging bridge, got caught in another downpour and returned to ship.
Aruba, we just crossed the street to the bus stop and took a bus to Eagle Beach ($1.30) and spent the day in the shade of a palapa and in the beautiful blue water. No vendors harassing us on the beach is a bonus. Had a beer each at the beach bar $5 each for 8 ounce cans lol. Just as we were leaving we noticed 3 topless young women 20 yards away. Just added to the beautiful day lol. Took the bus back to the ship. As we were finishing dinner in Windows tonight we saw 2 dolphins right outside our window jumping waves. Saw them 4 times and went up to promenade deck to watch but they were gone. Only time in 11 cruises we've seen dolphins.
2 more great at Sea days spent by the pool relaxing.
Guatemala, We just went ashore to the little market they have there. Met up with Gus and gave him some school supplies we had brought but we didn't take the tour. Toyed with the idea of walking into town but decided against it. Didn't hear until a few days later about our ship-mate being shot and killed, so sad. Nice to see the vendors and cabbies on the pier waving goodbye, they do appreciate our generosity in visiting them.
Belize, lined up early to get tender tickets and were on the first tender ashore with Ron and Cheryl but didn't get there until 10:15 and our independent tour Coral Breezes had left without us. Signed on with Fab Tours who took us to another spot for snorkelling and swimming. When we got to the beach we could see a storm in the distance and it was raining hard but we waited it out and had a great time snorkelling. We saw lots of fish, beautiful colourful coral and Debbie saw two rays. The boat ride to the snorkelling site was a little rough but lots of fun. Had a beer at the Wet Lizard looking for our original tour guide but he wasn't around. When we got home I emailed him and he is refunding our deposit so it turned out to be a great day after the terrible start with the tendering problems.
Costa Maya, we met up with Native Choice tours that we had booked independently and went to the pyramids at Chacchoben. Very informative guides and a great tour. One thing struck me, the guides struggled with basic English yet were quite comfortable with words like coagulate and antidote (discussing medicinal properties of plants) which most of us trip over lol. We were going to go to Mahajual on the way back but once again the rains came so we went back to the ship. One note here about the older demographic on our ship--when we were walking on the pier we noticed 2 young women from the HAL ship so drunk, one of them had to be put in a wheelchair. We didn't notice anyone on our ship or in any ports getting that out of control.
One more at sea day to relax in the hot tub (pool was closed due to rough weather) and tie up some loose ends (buy souvenirs, photos, pack).
Disembarkation took about an hour. Customs blamed it on the number of foreigners (250 in a group from Europe), but when we got to the customs agent they just waved us through without checking our passports (and we are foreigners, British and Canadian). The bigger problem was the lack of organization to get a taxi. Eventually got one to our hotel and our cruise was over.
Some general notes on the cruise.
Weather was great until last 3 days and then the ship was rocking but never felt seasick. Deb loved a particular salmon dish on the menu and met up with the executive sous chef at a lecture to get the recipe. He printed out the recipe and sent it to our cabin. Great cabin stewards who always kept our ice buckets filled. Paul Scully was a lot of fun. All the officers were very visible on the ship, even the Captain was in the line at Raffles with us one lunchtime. The shows were all good, the comedian James Stevens III was great (he sat with us in Blue Lagoon after the show for half an hour, really nice guy), Elements was great. We won a Ginger and Lime scrub and massage at the spa so Deb enjoyed that. We had burgers at the BierGarten twice and they were undercooked both times--I wonder if Noro wasn't so much a problem as undercooked meat? We started ordering room service coffee and pasties half way through and that was the best coffee we had the whole trip. We started buying soda or bottled water in the ports before coming back to the ship just to cut down our shipboard expenses (wish we could have brought beer aboard). Ate at Le Bistro twice, excellent both times, the crepes suzette are incredible.
All in all we thought it was a great cruise. Everyone we met from CC and elsewhere were friendly, helpful and positive people. Hugh and Monika, Ron and Cheryl, Marianne and Chris, Bud and Pat, Nick and Julie, Dee and Tom, Jim and Judy, Ken and Frances and everyone else we met, thanks for making this a great cruise.
Hope to meet some of you again on the high seas.
Debbie and Tony