B2B Western & Eastern Caribbean Review & Trip Diary: Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by SLMS
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B2B Western & Eastern Caribbean Review & Trip Diary
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
After a very early morning flight yesterday from Los Angeles to Miami, we attempted to get some sleep last night during our brief stay at the Embassy Suites; however, between the Front Desk calling to ask if our room was comfortable and the pizza delivery guy knocking on our door at 1 a.m.; let's just say that a lot of sleep was not to be. Fortunately, we are on vacation so we didn't have to go to work on such little sleep. Instead, we got up, had a nice breakfast, and headed out to the Port. The woman at the ship's check-in desk was rather incompetent. First, she puts my name twice and doesn't have DH's name on the receipt at all. Then she puts DH's name using my last name as she apparently isn't used to married couples who use different last names. Finally she gets the names right; HOWEVER, when we go to get on board it turns out that she attached DH's photo to my boarding card and vice versa. We had to go to the Front Desk and get new cards issued! Other than that More bit of absurdity, check-in was pretty painless and we were onboard around noon.
We went up to the Garden Cafe where I tried some of the items from the Specialties section (Chicken Curry, Singapore Noodles and grilled veggies). All quite tasty. DH just had ice tea since we had a big breakfast. He's so good about watching his weight. He even took his 50 minute walk today. We sat with a couple from Mississippi. We were really surprised to learn that they were 80 years old and celebrating 59 years of marriage. The woman looked about 60 and the man certainly did not look 80.
The room was ready about 2, so we unpacked the carry-ons and went through a very short lifejacket/emergency drill. Our muster station was in the casino and the main problem was a "gentleman" who didn't get the message about no smoking during the drill. We then headed back to the room and I unpacked our main suitcases which had recently arrived. We have a cozy inside cabin and there is an amazing amount of storage space.
I know that everyone has already heard about the deconstructed bathroom on the Epic with the toilet in one area (behind frosted glass), the shower in another area also behind frosted glass and the silly shallow small sink with a high faucet making it very hard not to splash water all about. However, we can certainly live with situation for a couple of weeks. I would note that NCL is in process of changing all of the faucets to correct the splashing problems. I would also suggest that they change the sinks to something larger or at least deeper so that one could more easily wash or rinse out things like a wet bathing suit. In addition, I think the "privacy curtain" should also cover the sink area because most people don't like to watch someone else floss and brush their teeth; plus, no husband should see all the lotions, creams and make-up used by his wife. We need to maintain some mystery. My final comment on this bathroom set-up is the noise factor. The frosted glass doors seem to amplify the sound when the toilet is flushed.
I also have a few comments on the Public Areas - I miss having a Promenade Deck, a place to stroll or lounge and watch the sea without the noise and activity of the pool deck. The fact that you cannot get to other public spaces, such as the nightclubs (Fat Cats & Headliners) or the Pub on the 6th Deck without walking through the Casino is also bothersome. The air filtration system works well and I didn't smell a lot of smoke; however, it still affected my throat and if I were traveling with children I might not have wanted to walk them through the casino. A mid-ship stairway and/or an outside Promenade on this deck would have solved the problem. They also need to find a space to add a library, a card room and a chapel. The search for a quiet reading corner was part of my quest on the Epic and I wonder where they are holding the weddings and renewal ceremonies since there is no chapel.
We had dinner at the Manhattan Supper Club, one of the two main dining rooms. This is the one with a dress code and a band that plays dance music...of course, I'm not expecting any dancing from DH. DH had Onion Soup, which was overly salty and did not have that crust of cheese. I had Artichoke Soup loaded with cream and basil oil, really yummy. We both had Greek Salad which was perfect with really great Feta cheese. DH had grilled Atlantic cod with Creamy Polenta and Caponata. I had Chicken Piccata with Gnochi. Both entrees were excellent. These were followed by two wonderful desserts, Key Lime Pie (best DH ever had) and Tiramisu.
After that meal we did a little ship exploring. Given that there are 19 decks there is a lot to explore. We thought about checking out the dueling pianists tonight; however, DH decided he was too tired. We have two days at sea before the first port, so there is lots more time to explore the ship and see all the shows.
We had a very nice day at sea. It started with breakfast in one of the main dining rooms. DH went all out with a veggie omelet, country potatoes, sausage & cottage cheese. I had pancakes with blueberry compote and 1/2 of a small sweet roll. DH ran around taking pictures of the ship and I attended the Cruise Critic gathering. The captain, the hotel director, the cruise director, the entertainment director, the head chef and several officers all attended. This was probably the largest such gathering I ever attended. Then again this was the first one where the passenger who organized it also created a private website just for our cruise. I grabbed a bite of the Indian vegetarian entrees from the buffet for lunch and then went to find a quiet spot to read from my Kindle. DH was also reading and I found him in one of those quiet corners. Although eventually we both had to move due to a smoker (YUCK). DH actually joined me at the free card Bingo...after I already told my neighbors that they were never likely to meet my husband. We had dinner at the Manhattan Room and the Band was playing (supper club atmosphere). We both had Black Bean soup (very good). DH had Caesar salad with extra anchovies and grilled grouper. I had Arugula Salad with roasted fennel & pumpkin in Orange Vinaigrette followed by braised beef ribs and horseradish mashed potatoes. We both had Key Lime Pie for dessert (DH liked it so much yesterday; he had to have it again). Then it was on to a Second City Improv Show, which gave us some laughs. This was followed by our photo with the Captain. We might check out the dueling Piano Players a little later tonight and then head off to bed. We are definitely getting the hang of relaxation.
It's our second day at sea and once again DH got up early to walk, while I showered and got ready. We had another sit down breakfast. DH went the healthy route with oatmeal and a bran muffin. I did the Egg Beaters cheese and veggie omelet. We checked our photo with the Captain and decided against purchase of that item. I went back to the quiet shady spot for more reading until the smokers showed up again. As I was walking I found DH and we did some more exploring finally finding the outdoor elevator to the 18th deck with the stairway to the "freestyle" (e.g. topless) deck. There is another elevator that includes the Villa decks, but you need a room key to use the one so that we "plebeians" don't get into the "rich" area. I had another small lunch of the vegetarian Indian selections and talked once again to the 80 year old couple from Mississippi. You'd think with all the people onboard we wouldn't keep seeing them, but we must run into two to three times a day. I went to the Atrium and watched "The Blind Side" on the big screen before we went to an early dinner (because we had a reservation for the early Blue Man Crew show) at O'Sheehans (the pub). DH had Country Soup and I had Spinach & Artichoke Dip. We both had Fish & Chips which came with a small amount of coleslaw and mushy peas. It was quite good. Especially with the pints of draft Stella Artois and Bass Pale Ale. Then it was on to the Blue Man Crew of which we enjoyed about 15%, which shows we are either fuddy-duddies or they are much ado about nothing.
Today was our first Port of Call, the smallest piece of land divided between two countries otherwise known as St. Maarten / St. Martin. We had breakfast in the buffet (Garden Cafe) this morning. DH had Lox, cream cheese & bagels. I tried the French Toast, a small piece of hash browns (sort of a mini potato pancake) and a half bagel with Swiss cheese & tomato. We then set off walking from the ship to the tourism office and taxi stand. Picked up a map and some other tourist info and then got on a taxi with 6 other people (this reduced the price from $90 for 2 to $50 for two) and set off for an Island Tour.
We drove through various small towns, including one with a rather large mosque, stopping at various lookout points including one over the lagoon. We had a stop at Maho Beach, which is the beach on the landing path into Princess Juliana International Airport. We saw a smaller plane coming in for a landing and the planes really do come right over the beach so that you can practically touch them. People have even been injured by the drafts and whatever caused by the larger planes, although that probably occurs because they hang on the fence and are blown off that fence (they have warning signs).
We had a longer stop in Marigot, the French capital. It's rather small, with some restaurants, shops and a flea market. Fort Louis also sits on a hill above the town (Fort Amsterdam sits above the Dutch Capital). We then drove through more of the small towns and stopped at Orient Bay, a truly beautiful white sand, blue water beach before ending the tour in the Dutch Capital Phillipsburg.
Phillipsburg is larger with lots more shops and activities. Probably because all the economic stuff (salt originally and now the airport that brings in the tourists) is on the Dutch side. We did a lot of walking and then found a spot on the beach (there is literally a beach right in Downtown) to sit and have a beer. They sold 250ml bottles of Heineken for $3.00 for two, so it was a good deal and that beer really hit the spot since it is definitely hot and humid. Then it was back to walking. We found the Courthouse, the Oranje School and some interesting housing. There is also an interesting Creole building that is home to the all things Guava berry Liquor and built on the site of the synagogue. Apparently after the American Revolution, the Jewish population of St. Maarten left for the USA. We tasted the liquor (sort of like the sweetness of Manechevitz Concord Grape). They also make a flavored rum and sell smoothies made with the liquor. We checked out a few of the shops and then took a water taxi back to the ship. Then it was time for a shower and a nap!
After our nap, we went to dinner. It was lobster night in the included restaurants and this was definitely the best dinner so far. DH had Potato Leek Soup with smoked salmon and summer rolls and I had Broccoli Soup and Garden Greens with pear, walnut and goat cheese. We both had the lobster which was served with grouper, basil mashed potatoes, asparagus and other veggies. We also shared a nice Australian chardonnay. DH had the Key Lime Pie for the third time, guess I'll need to get NCL's recipe. I had the Apple tart and we both had vanilla ice cream. Yummy! We are now experiencing the ship's vibration for about two hours while they work on some system.
Today was St. Thomas and since we did a day trip to St. John and really explored Charlotte Amalie on previous visits, we decided to visit Coral World Ocean Park today. Of course, first we had breakfast. We went to O'Sheehan's this morning. DH had the Corned beef hash and eggs over medium. I had the eggs and veggies wrap, which was made with Egg Beaters. It was a big breakfast and I was only able to eat half of my wrap. We got off the boat a bit early to find the Post Office at Havensight, the shopping mall at the dock, and mail a few postcards. Then it was back to the pier to meet our tour. Coral World is next to Coki Beach, which is the best spot on St.Thomas to snorkel or scuba dive. They built an underwater observatory so those who don't scuba dive can see the reef. The Ocean Park also has pools with baby sharks, starfish, stingrays and endangered sea turtles. In addition, there is a "Marine Garden" aquarium and another aquarium that allows a clearer view of the fish inhabiting the reef. We "petted" the baby shark named "Sharkbait" because he was rescued from another shark who tried to make a meal out of him. We also spent some time on the beach and enjoyed the sand, the sun and the warm water.
When we returned from the tour, we checked out some of the shops at Havensight at the pier near the ship and didn't head into Charlotte Amalie on this trip since we had to be back on board at 3:30 p.m. We both took showers to bring ourselves "back to life" from the heat and humidity and DH took a nap. I played a bit of Bingo while he slept.
Tonight was the Latitude's party for those who had previously sailed with NCL, 5 or more times. There were drinks and cheese and crackers. We had a bit of Bubbly and then went to dinner at Le Bistro, one of the on board restaurants because tonight was the 37th anniversary of our first date. DH had Onion Soup Gratin and I had Mushroom Soup. We both had Coquilles St.Jacques and the Duck Duo. We had more champagne with dinner. DH had a chocolate Napoleon for dessert and I had the Apple Tart Tartin. Of course, we both also had vanilla ice cream. DH had coffee and I had a Cappachino. The service was impeccable and we really enjoyed this meal. Now we need to walk around and let it digest. If we go to bed now, we will "suffer"!
Today was another sea day, so we began our day a little later since there was no place to go. I decided it was time for a more "normal" breakfast and I just had a banana, a bran muffin and coffee, which is far more akin to what I'd eat at home. DH had a Veggie Omelet made with Egg Beaters. After breakfast DH went around taking photos inside the ship and I did a bit more reading as I finally found a quiet corner inside the ship (in front of one of the entry doors to the Cigar Lounge of all places). I also went to see if I would win the Free Cruise at the Bingo raffle. However, the trip was won by some people who we spoke on the first day of the cruise and they were already on this cruise because they had won an earlier Bingo raffle. DH says "the fix is in."
I had another lunch in the Buffet of the Indian Specialties (Kidney Bean Marsala and another veggie curry). I also had some Spicy Glass Noodles with Beef & Broccoli. In the afternoon I watched "Wall-E" on the Atrium Big screen and DH did some reading. I attended a short lecture on Nassau; however, I knew more than the staffer who gave the presentation. Oh well! We decided to have dinner in the pub, O'Sheehan's for the second time. This time we both had the Iceberg Wedge Salad with salmon, avocado & dill dressing. DH had the Chicken Pot Pie, which I tasted and it was really delicious. I had the Chef's Special, Shepherd's Pot Pie and it was quite tasty. DH had a Beck's and I had a Bass Ale. We went up to the Buffet for dessert. DH had three scoops of ice cream. I had Lemon cheesecake. This was followed by the Legends in Concert show, where they had impersonators of Rod Stewart, Brittany Spears and Michael Jackson. It was very entertaining. That's about it for a relaxing day at sea. Tomorrow we'll be in Nassau.
Today was our half day in Nassau. We began with a leisurely morning, having breakfast in the Buffet. DH had oatmeal and a biscuit with peanut butter. I had the biscuit with country gravy and some fresh fruit salad. I introduced DH to the quiet spot I found on the ship and we both did a bit of reading. We also participated in the Free Watch raffle; however, we were not the winners. At least the double free cruisers didn't win. :-)
We pulled into Nassau around Noon so we had lunch while we waited for the ship to clear customs. DH actually joined me in having the Indian Vegetarian dishes at the buffet. I think this was the first lunch he actually ate on the ship.
I had downloaded a walking tour of Historic Nassau and we set off to explore, although this is our third visit to Nassau including a trip where we spent several days here. We walked up to Ransom Square and the Parliament buildings and then to the Public Library, which was originally the jail. The former jail cells are now lined with book shelves; it's a unique look. It started to rain and we took shelter in the post office. The rain continued most of the afternoon and at times it was quite heavy. Therefore, we decided to head back to the shopping streets since most of them have awnings to protect you from the rain and/or sun. We strolled in and out of the shops and stopped at one of the oldest buildings in Nassau, site of many Slave Auctions and now a museum. We also saw the Christchurch cathedral and the temporary home of the Straw Market. They are still building the permanent home to replace the one that burnt down. We headed back to the ship to shower and rest up. While the rain relieved some of the humidity, this is still the kind of weather that makes you tired.
We had dinner in The Manhattan Room. The band was playing lots of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra songs. One of the waiters sang "My Way" and did an excellent job. DH had a Vegetable Samosa, an appetizer serving of Linguine with sun dried tomatoes and Pesto Cream and Chicken & Shrimp Curry. I had a Wild Mushroom Quesadilla, Spinach, Pear & Pine nut salad and a dinner serving of the Linguine. DH once again had the Key Lime Pie and I had an Apple Tart. We both had vanilla ice cream on the side. It was a good dinner.
Later in the evening we went to hear Slam Allen in Fat Cats, the Blues & Jazz "nightclub" on the ship.
Today was our in-between day between the Eastern & Western Caribbean parts of our trip. We had breakfast in the buffet and we were almost healthy. DH had Oatmeal and I had Bran cereal. However, we added the delicious Buttermilk biscuits and they are definitely not the low-fat version. We watched everyone else leave the ship and relished the fact that we were still on vacation. We got off the ship for just a bit. The Epic was at the very last terminal and we walked and walked and walked to the Bayside Center and up to the Metromover station. The monorail that goes around downtown Miami is free so we road both loops before taking the walk back to the ship. We only had a short period of time before we needed to be back on board. I had lunch at the Buffet once again having the Singapore noodles. DH took a nap and then we checked a few things out with the Front Desk and the Latitudes (for past NCL cruisers) consultants. Dinner was in The Manhattan Room for some more mellow music and good food. DH had Artichoke Soup, vegetable lasagna and Cod with creamy Polenta. I had Caesar Salad, Baked Shrimp scampi and the vegetable lasagna. We shared a bottle of Argentine White wine and then I had cheesecake for dessert while DH had Chocolate Carmel Mousse. DH went to take a photo of the sunset and I wrote in my trip diary. Later we attended the show of Jeff Gibson, Comedy Magician. We found him to be quite entertaining. That's really it for now. Tomorrow is a sea day and then we'll be in Costa Maya.
Today was a lazy day at sea, at least for me. DH, of course, got up early, went to the Fitness Center and spent 50 minutes or more on the Treadmill. We had another breakfast in the Buffet since it was early and the sit-down restaurant wasn't open yet. DH had Bagel, cream cheese, lox & herring. I had a "British" breakfast, scrambled eggs and baked beans. We both had bran muffins with our coffee.
We both did a bit of reading and then I went to the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. The captain told the same joke as last week so those of us on 14 day cruises were experiencing DEjà Vu all over again. I participated in the Morning Trivia before having lunch. Once again I went for the Indian specialties (Garbanzo Bean Stew and Potatoes in Spinach Gravy). We both went to the Art Auction Preview and had a glass of their free Champagne. Neither of us stayed for the whole auction. The champagne made us tired so we took a nap. That's one of the perks of vacation, taking a nap in the middle of the day. I also played the Free Card Bingo session. The first two games were won by the same woman. If she wins the Free Cruise at the end of the week, I'm going to begin to believe that DH was right when he said last week that "the fix was in."
Tonight was "dress up or not" night, so we got a bit dressed up and took a photo with the captain. We also took a few photos with one of the photographers since he recognized us from being on the week before. He's a nice young man from China and seemed surprised that we had visited China. We had dinner in The Manhattan Room as we really enjoy the music and it's a bit more formal than the other main restaurant called Taste. DH had the Wild Mushroom Quesadilla and Broccoli Soup. I had the Grilled Asparagus salad and Sweet pepper and Goat Cheese tart. We both had the Miso Glazed Tilapia with Singapore noodles followed by Carrot Cake and ice cream for dessert. We took a stroll on the pool deck (there is no promenade on this ship, which is a shame, in my opinion). It is truly a lovely evening, gentle breeze, comfortable temperature and the ship looks lovely at night.
Today we were in Costa Maya, Mexico. Costa Maya is a "purpose created" port. In other words, there was no existing place that was suitable as a stop for tourists who wanted to go to certain Mayan Ruins or to scuba or snorkel in these waters; therefore, the cruise companies paid for a port to be built.
We started our day with a sit-down breakfast. Although service was spotty. We were the first to sit down and among the last to be served. Given that DH just had eggs over medium with country potatoes and turkey sausage and I had poached eggs and turkey sausage, it seems clear that our order was initially forgotten.
After breakfast we walked off the boat to meet our tour to Chacchoben. That means Place of the Red Corn in the Mayan language. It took about an hour to get there and along the way our guide explained the Mayan numerical system, which is based on 20s rather than 10s and has only three symbols. A conch shell for zero, a dot for 1 and a bar for 5. She also spoke about the flora and fauna of the Yucatan and some of the Mayan History. Chacchoben is not fully excavated. So far they have excavated the administrative building, the ceremonial platform with two palaces (temples) on top and the foundations of the homes of the nobility. The actual homes were built of perishable material and no longer exist. Chacchoben was occupied from 100 to 900 A.D. The buildings are from 600 to 900 A.D., which is when the city was abandoned probably due to overpopulation and crops that were too small. The Mayans had two calendars, one for ceremonial events and one was a solar calendar. Every 52 years these two calendars share the same "new year" and on that date the Mayans would either build new buildings or add to existing buildings. The buildings at Chacchoben have evidence of this layered construction and different use during different periods. These ruins are not large and extensive like Chichen Itza, nonetheless, they are interesting. Especially since we had a guide who explained things.
We spent a little time at the shops at the Port. They've also built swimming pools and restaurants for those who just want to laze about. There is a real Mexican fishing village about 5 miles away; however, we thought the ruins would be more interesting.
When we got back, I had a quick lunch of a vegetable calzone and some soft-serve vanilla ice cream. We also showered and rested and I wrote in my trip diary. We had dinner in the Manhattan Room as we really like the atmosphere and the music. One of the band members has his fiancEe with him and he sang a love song to her, it was very sweet (they are probably in our age group). We both had crab cake appetizers. DH had Gumbo followed by a Turkey Dinner and Key Lime Pie (he's in a rut). I had Endive, Walnut & Apple Salad followed by Skirt Steak and smashed potatoes and Mocha Cheese Cake. We shared a bottle of Argentine Merlot. Later on, we went and listed to the "Guitar Man." There is a wide variety of music on this ship and you can always find someone that you will find enjoyable.
Today was spent on the Island of Roatan. It's the largest of the Bay Islands and part of Honduras. We took an Island Sightseeing and Beach Excursion. However, first we, of course, had breakfast. Although we were in a healthy mood this morning. I had Bran Cereal and DH had Oatmeal. He also had Muesli and we both had Bran muffins. So we got our fiber today!
We were off the boat early, so we checked out the shops that were just built near the dock. They call it Town Center and if those two stories of shops and restaurants are the town center of Coxen Hole, well then you know this is a small town. Roatan is 36 miles long and about 4 miles wide at its widest point. It only has one main road, which would make it hard to get lost.
Our first stop on the tour was on a hill overlooking the dock so we could see our ship. Of course, they had a shop up there to sell handicrafts to the tourists. The "sights" we were taken to see included the private hospital, the sewage plant, the electric plant, the water treatment facility, the mayor's office building, the various churches, the "mega mall" that is being built, a couple of shipwrecks, the homes of the locals and the very large home of the owner of the fishing industry (second biggest industry in Roatan after tourism). He's also the former mayor of one of the two municipalities in Roatan. It was raining off and on and fortunately it was not raining when we got to the Iguana Farm. We saw and fed lots of Iguanas and also saw the other animals including Macaws, spider monkeys, a wild Honduran squirrel, geese, turkeys, a very large lobster living under the docks and lots of Tarpon fish. We were taken to a private home overlooking the Mezo-America Barrier Reef (second only in size to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia). Apparently these folks "finance" part of their retirement by opening their home to tourists for the view and sales of beer and trinkets. The last stop was Turquoise Bay Resort. However, the rains came back so there was not a lot of good beach time and the earlier tropical storm had made the water murky and not very turquoise. The beach itself was rocky and we preferred Coki Beach in St. Thomas. After we got back to the dock area we went to the local "straw market." There weren't items made of straw; however, there were lots of wood handicrafts and other items. It started to pour, so we made our way back to an establishment in Town Center and shared a couple of local beers. Then it was back to the ship to shower and get ready for our evening on board.
Tonight was Lobster night and we now have a favorite waitress named Edna. She made sure that we each got two lobster tails. DH started with Caesar Salad and Cheese Tortellini. I started out with Field Greens with Pear and goat cheese and Chicken Teriyaki skewers. I had the French Apple Tart ala mode and DH just had Lemon Sherbet. We shared a bottle of Prosecco with dinner. Afterwards we listed to the Musical Duo, Wildfire. He sings and plays guitar and she plays the violin. They are very good and play a wide variety of music.
Today is a sea day, so we had a breakfast a bit later. DH had Smoked Salmon Benedict and I had a waffle with sliced bananas. I attended three different Trivia sessions and did a little reading today. I also went on a Cabin Crawl with other members of Cruise Critic. It was fun to see the different styles of cabins and to interact with some of the folks I had only met online. DH did some reading and some sunbathing today. I had the Indian vegetarian dishes again for lunch (guess that's my rut). In the evening we attended the Latitude's party for past cruisers and had some champagne and red wine on NCL's dime.
We decided to eat in the Noodle Bar tonight. We shared Steamed Pork Pot Stickers, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Singapore Noodles, Beef Chow fun, Spicy Seafood Udon Noodle and Vegetarian Fried Rice. It was delicious and very filling; however, that didn't stop us from going up to the Buffet for a fresh made apple crepe and vanilla ice cream. In fact, we also had some Butter Pecan and Rocky Road ice cream after finishing our crepe! We listened to the musical duo, Wildfire tonight as they were doing a tribute to the Beatles. After that it was time for bed. We have an early start tomorrow for Tulum.
Today was our last port of the cruise. We had to get up early because we are trekking to Tulum. DH took his walk and I got ready, then I just grabbed a bran muffin and coffee while DH got ready. We were told to be ready at 7:30 a.m. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting an hour for the ferry to dock so that we could get on board the ferry and be taken to the "mainland." DH ended up eating the sandwich from his box lunch as his breakfast while we waited. They didn't tell us that the seas were rough today so the 40 minute ferry ride was quite the adventure. The folks sitting on the open back area got good and soaked and some other people were a bit green. It was also interesting to see the crew members walking back and forth selling everything from water, to aromatherapy "cures" for seasickness, to snacks, hats and more.
After the ferry ride, we met our guide and driver for the hour ride to Tulum. Of course, there was also the obligatory Shopping and Toilet stop before we got there. Our guide was quite good and we enjoyed our visit to Tulum. It's the only coastal Mayan ruin and the only walled Mayan city (at least of those that have been discovered). The main buildings such as the temples and "city hall" are still standing and some houses still have walls while others are just foundations because they were built of more perishable materials. We learned that the stucco used by the Mayans to coat and decorate their buildings was made of lime, sand, egg whites, beeswax and the sap of the Chicle (natural chewing gum) tree. Tulum is a fascinating site and we enjoyed our visit. We had a nice cold beer before getting back on the bus for the trip back to Playa del Carmen to pick up the ferry back to Cozumel. The ride back wasn't quite so rough, so this time the crew was offering alcoholic beverages for sale and there was musical entertainment.
We got back to Cozumel around 4 and "all aboard" was set for 5:30, so we just took a quick look at the shops near the dock and headed back to the ship. We both showered since walking in Tulum in the "wonderful" Yucatan humidity makes one a bit sticky. Tonight was prime rib night in the main restaurants. We both had Garlic baked polenta cakes and red lentil soup, both of which were delicious. DH had the Mahi Mahi and I had the Prime Rib. It wasn't Tam O'Shanter's or Lawry's prime rib, but it was tender and tasty. I had the Apple Bread Pudding and here's a surprise, DH had the Key Lime Pie. Even the wait staff is starting to comment on his love for that particular dish. DH went to the Atrium to listen to some more of the Wildfire Duo. They are his favorite musicians on the ship. I spent some time talking to the Group Services Coordinator, a lovely young lady from Austria. Tomorrow is a sea day and a packing day as our Epic Cruise is ending soon.
We set the clocks ahead last night and I was very tired so I kept sleeping while DH took his walk on the treadmill and we had breakfast a bit later than usual. DH had the French Toast and Turkey Sausage; I had poached eggs, baked beans and turkey sausage. Today the service was pretty good. Taste, the restaurant where they serve the sit-down breakfast has spotty service. Manhattan, the Supper Club with music where they only serve dinner seems to have much better service. After breakfast I played morning trivia and I was finally on a winning team. DH was taking more photos and then met me at O'Sheehan's the "local" pub at lunch. Of course, he only had an Ice Tea while I ate half of a chicken pot pie. DH also took a second visit to the fitness center and watched some folks play Table Tennis. I played more Trivia and was once again on the winning team. DH and I both did some reading today and we also took some walks on the pool deck as the weather was very comfortable today.
They had a "Meet the Men behind the Blue Man Crew" session so I went to see what they looked like underneath all that Blue Greasepaint. We had our final dinner in Manhattan with our favorite waitress, Edna. DH had Caesar Salad, Mushroom Quesadilla, Broccoli Soup and Salmon. I had Spinach, Pear & Blue cheese Salad, Mushroom Quesadilla, Roasted Tomato Soup and Salmon. It was all very good. The Salmon was quite delicious and it is part of the always available side of the menu. DH had his "final" Key Lime Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream and I had an Apple Tart with Raspberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream.
There was a reception for those of us who took the Back to Back 14 day cruise so we went up to that event. However, since we had just shared a bottle of Cava with our dinner we did not have any more to eat or drink. I had another conversation with Julia of the Group Coordination department and DH went to listen to the Wildfire duo and watch a group of people who are traveling together who are part of the same ballroom dancing school. He really enjoys watching one of the teachers when she dances. Then again he also notes that the male teacher is very good. Although I think he watches the female teacher just a bit longer. That's really about it for today as I needed to start packing up our suitcases.
DH took his walk while I showered, got ready and packed up the carry-ons. We then had our last breakfast aboard ship. DH had scrambled eggs, tomato and bread. I went healthy and had some All Bran cereal to which I added raisins and some non-fat milk. Debarkation was fast and simple. However, there was no luggage by the "Green Here" sign. Turns out the Green tagged luggage was in the other room and one would think that an arrow could have been placed on the sign directing one to the other room.
The Customs Officer had a sense of humor because his question to us, with a big smile, was "Did you buy anything about which I should be concerned, like a diamond ring?" We said "No, we're the T-Shirt and trinkets kind of shoppers" and he waived us through. We got on the shuttle to the airport that we had reserved last week and after several turns around the port picking up other passengers from other ships, we set off for the airport. We got to the airport around 10:30 a.m., checked our baggage, which at 48 and 42 lbs. still made the 50 lb. limitation. We were part of the line that went through the full body scan machine and yet they still had to pat down my waist, which was odd since I was just wearing jeans and a long sleeve cotton top. After going through Security, we took the Sky Train to our Gate.
Around 11:45, we had lunch at the Mexican restaurant in the terminal, Jose Cuervo's Tequilaria. We each had "una cerveza" (Dos Equis). DH had Chicken Tortilla Soup and a Vegetable Quesadilla. I had Black Bean Soup and a Chicken Taco Duo, one was in a Chipotle Sauce and the other was in a Tequila Lime sauce. It was pretty good, especially for airport food.
The flight left on time and was uneventful (the best kind of flight). After waiting a bit too long, since we had reservations, we finally got on our shuttle van and arrived home in the early evening. I did a bit of unpacking while DH checked out and watered all the plants. Then it was time for bed and the upcoming return to reality. Less
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