We've been looking at this itinerary since early 2009. We booked our cruise for 2009 in May on the Carnival Valor and were disappointed a few months later when this itinerary on the Pearl had been dropped to $299 a person. So this year we checked out a few cruise deals early in the year but basically held out booking because we were hoping that the Pearl's sailing prices would drop, and they did so we grabbed it up! We got $100 OBC and a free bottle of wine for booking with the travel agency I use for cruising, not a bad perk at all!
We drove to Miami the day before the cruise and stayed at the La Quinta Inn Miami Airport East. This is the second year in a row we've stayed at this hotel and left our car there for a week and again we were extremely satisfied with this hotel. Wonderful room, great service, and a nice quiet atmosphere added to the free parking and free bus to the port make this hotel our choice for staying at in Miami before we cruise. The price of the hotel is very reasonable, we only paid $75 for our room. If you think about the $20 a day you'll spend to park at the port and the aggravation of being from a small town and trying to navigate the downtown Miami streets, it's an excellent deal. We swam in the pool, ordered a pizza to our room from a local restaurant, and relaxed, a great start to our vacation! We were on the 10:30 bus to the port, and upon arrival we gave our two suitcases to the porters and then headed to the terminal for embarkation.
Our embarkation process was very smooth. Since we arrived so early we were able to show our tickets and birth certificates, go through the metal detectors, and go to the check-in desk to get our room cards and sit down in the waiting area to wait for the ship to be cleared for boarding all in under 10 minutes. That's why I love going to the port early even though you can't get in your room until later, I'd much rather spend my time waiting in a bar or lounge than standing in a long line holding all my carry-on items. We were among the first allowed on the ship (for regular passengers) and after walking around for a little bit we went up to the Garden Cafe for that awesome first meal that lets you know you've arrived and your vacation is finally starting!
The first afternoon on the ship we knew something was wrong as the day wore on and we still hadn't gotten our luggage. Finally at 6:30 I asked our assistant cabin steward whether or not we should be alarmed that we hadn't gotten our luggage yet, and he told us they were done passing the luggage out. So we went to the guest relations desk to see if maybe they had confiscated it (we had rum runners in our large rolling suit case, but why keep both of them if that was the case?) but they didn't have either of them. So they told us to come back in about an hour or so and they would have a better idea of where it was, because they said the porters may have forgotten to put the sorting tags on them.
So we went to Indigo to eat dinner and then came back to the Reception desk to check on our luggage. The girl went back into the offices behind the desk area for about five minutes, and then she came back out and proceeded to tell us that she was very sorry to inform us that our luggage WAS ON THE NORWEGIAN DAWN that had been parked next to us in port. Well, as you can imagine, I FREAKED OUT. I mean, I wasn't like hysterical or causing a scene or anything, but I was crying, as you can imagine. She continued to tell us that for our troubles that Norwegian was offering us an on-board credit of $100 a person and that they would try to get our luggage to us at one of the ports that happened to be closest to the Dawn. I was very disappointed with this woman's attitude, she said all this like it was no big deal, kind of like she was giving someone directions or ordering something at the drive through, it was very disrespectful. So I told her that what they were offering us was completely unacceptable and that I wanted to speak to a supervisor immediately. We went and sat on the couch in the lobby area in front of the reception area and waited for the supervisor to come. When she did come, she apologized and told us that at the pier there had been a mix up with some of the luggage and it had somehow gotten to the Dawn and that we weren't the only ones it had happened to. She assured us that they had confirmed they definitely had our luggage with our tags on it and that it would be kept safe. She then offered us a high sum of on-board credit and some toiletry bags with toothpaste and a comb and mouthwash and some other things like that and a couple of T-shirts. She also told us that they were doing all they could to get our stuff to us Wednesday at Saint Thomas, but that she would have to get back to us in the morning. We left in shock, realizing that we had nothing with us but the clothes on our back, our electronic stuff, and our snorkel gear. Thank god I keep a purse stocked with all kinds of necessities or we really would have been in trouble. After we left the reception area, we went to the on-board stores and spent $230 on two tee shirts, two beach dresses, a pair of khaki shorts, two pairs of flip flops, a pair of men's swimming shorts, and a bottle of 2 in 1 Pantene Pro-V shampoo. It was sickening how much everything costs in the shops, but we had to have clothes to wear. They also gave us express laundry free for the duration of our cruise too, so that was pretty nice of them.
So on Monday we awaited Charlin's (the supervisor from guest relations we were dealing with) phone call. Around 4:00 she called and said that we had two options: they couldn't get the luggage to us in Saint Thomas, but they MAY be able to get it to us in Tortola, but it would be a very long shot since we only stay there a short time. We could either take the chance of getting it that day and if they missed us they would have to ship it back to our address instead, or we could take another high sum of on-board credit and 50% off the purchase of a future cruise with Norwegian and just have it wait for us at the pier in Miami. Since we are going to Tampa for several days after our cruise, we decided not to take the chance of having to go to Tampa with nothing and just took the on-board credit.
It was hard to make a decision like that but the way we looked at it, we got a pretty good deal. Sure, we wouldn't have any nice clothes to wear to dinner (or makeup or hair products for me, or nice shoes, or a razor blade, or anything other than a few tee-shirts and the blue jeans we wore on the ship) but we got a lot of on-board credit and the half off a future cruise wasn't that bad either. We ended up using some of the OBC we got to buy a future cruise credit, so our cruise for next year is almost already paid for!
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Why does everyone hate on Norwegian's food in the MDRs? Everything I had was delicious! At home we eat very modestly to stay healthier, so to be able to indulge in things we normally don't get to eat for a week, let's just say it surpassed my expectations!
Fixed Menus (things served every day): For the fixed menus, a lot of the dishes stood out in my mind as being outstanding. For instance, the strip steak was the best piece of meat I've had in a cruise MDR since the old days of filet mignon being served as a menu option. It was a great cut of meat, perfectly cooked to my liking, and was very flavorful! The rosemary roasted chicken was good too, and the vegetarian lasagna. My husband enjoyed the salmon also, but I didn't try it as I don't eat any kind of fish.
As far as the appetizers went, I LOVED the cheese and mushroom quesadilla and got it so often I was tired of it by the last night. The cream of broccoli soup was good, as was the fried calamari. I'm a big Caesar salad fan, so I had one every night with my meal. My husband liked the French onion soup, I however was not such a big fan of it. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was ok, but it was a tad too strong for my tastes. My husband also liked the lamb shank, he said they cooked it perfectly.
Daily-Changing Menu: The side of the menu that changed daily had some great stuff too. Of course, they served Lobster, which I don't eat but my husband enjoyed. He was not a fan of the fish served with the lobster, though, he said it was dry. I loved the manicotti, it was excellent. I also liked the Lamb Stew served on the last night, it was something different I had never tried.
The appetizers on the changing side of the menu were great! The spring roll and the goat cheese and sweet pepper tartee were amazing! I wanted to ask the waiter to bring me seconds but never remembered either time these were served, but I could have eaten them the entire cruise! The goat cheese and Portobello mushroom that was served in the MDR for lunch was excellent too, we both enjoyed those. There were several different salads on the changing menu that I found to be exceptional, the pear and goat cheese (everything I liked had goat cheese in it...hmmm.) salad stood out in my mind, I believe that was served the last night of the cruise. There were more but that one was really great!
Buffet: We didn't eat much in the buffet, only the first day of the cruise for lunch and then again maybe two more times if that. It's not that I didn't like the food, we just had other options that we liked better. But I did enjoy the variety of food available. There were always new things to try and the grill was much better than Carnival's, in my opinion.
Blue Lagoon: The place we did eat lunch at almost every day was Blue Lagoon. What a great addition to any cruise! They serve food "comfort" food 24 hours a day up on the 8th floor beside Mambo's. I was a big fan of the hot wings, mozzarella cheese sticks, spinach and artichoke dip, southern chicken tenders, and the panini. My husband liked the veggie lasagna. He found the fish and chips to be too bready for his tastes.
Pay-For Restaurants: The pay-for restaurants menu's did not appeal to me all that much. We were excited about La Cuchina before we got on the ship, but upon looking at the menu we couldn't find anything that stood out to us, and the same went for Le Bistro. Mamba's had a few things I wouldn't have minded trying but my husband didn't want to eat there because we have lots of Mexican restaurants in our town that have similar food and we wanted to try something different. We are big sushi/Japanese food people, so the Sushi bar was something we knew we were going to try anyway, but we weren't sure if we were going to do Teppanyaki or not. We made up our minds to do it the first sea day after seeing the show through the glass windows outside the restaurant.
Our Teppanyaki experience began when we arrived a few minutes early to the Lotus Garden and were led through the restaurant back to the private feeling hibachi room set up off to the side. We were at a table with two grills, one for one set of eight people on one side and eight people on the other side with a different chef for each grill. We normally don't like sitting at a table with people we don't know (sorry, just a personal preference from past experiences!) but the group we were with was very enjoyable.
We were served Miso soup before our meal, which we both thought wasn't all that great. Our chef put on the normal show found at any Japanese steakhouse which always includes him throwing pieces of food into people's mouths with his spatula (I have to admit, it's my favorite part of the meal!), making a show of chopping up food and seasoning it, forming the rice into a shape (ours was a heart), etc.
While I truly did enjoy the show, I found the food to be not as good as other Japanese steakhouses I've been too. I had the filet mignon and shrimp, and while my meat was very good, I thought the rice was chewy and on the bland side. My husband had the seafood mix and enjoyed his entrEe as well, but like me he thought the rice wasn't very flavorful. Also, they only give you a small amount of dipping sauces and never refill them (or at least no one did for us) and I ran out halfway through my meal.
The fee for eating at Teppanyaki was $25 a person. To me, it was not worth the $50 we spent for both of us to eat there. The show and atmosphere were very nice, but the quality of the food was such that we agreed the money would have been better spent at a local Japanese steakhouse.
The day we went to Tortola we decided to try the sushi. We were seated at the sushi bar in Lotus Garden right in front of the chefs making the rolls, which turned out to be nice because we got to talk to them about sushi-making techniques (we make our own rolls at home) and they were awesome guys! We were served miso soup before our rolls were done and again, meh, I could take it or leave it. I ordered the California roll and the shrimp tempura roll, and my husband got the dragon roll and the godzilla roll. He also got some sashimi. Everything was delicious and very well made, I highly recommend this for sushi buffs, you won't find any cream cheese in this sushi bar :) The price was $15 a person. We could have gotten it at lunch time on a sea day for $10 a person, but we wanted to eat this of the evening so we went for dinner instead at the higher price. I probably would eat here again on another Norwegian ship if it were available.
The Chocoholic buffet was disappointing in that they had it at 10:00 at night! I wasn't hungry and sat there while my husband ate and lamented that they should have had it earlier in the day. On the Wind in 2003 they served the buffet after lunch and that was a much better time of day in my opinion. But other than that, the food looked SO GOOD and my husband said the desserts were really tasty!
We were originally in an inside cabin on the fifth floor. I'm not a fan of inside cabins because I enjoy waking up and seeing the ports in the morning and also because I'm a tad claustrophobic, but it was all we could afford when we booked our cabin originally. We watched the prices and about a week and a half before our cruise I upgraded to a port hole cabin, room 4588, on the fourth floor for about $20 more a person, not bad at all in my opinion.
This was the smallest cabin I've ever had on a cruise ship. The bed took up 80% of the room, and the other 20% was oddly arranged for space conservation. I ended up rearranging the tables and chairs and even pushing the bed up against the far left side of our cabin each day (because the cabin steward always moved it back) and this made it better. The small size of the cabin didn't bother us that much because we weren't in the cabin, but if I were an older person who spends the majority of my time in the cabin I probably would want a bit more space.
The bathroom was nice, I loved the sliding glass doors to both the shower and toilet even though it took up room that could have been used in the other parts of the cabin. The closet space was more than adequate (Well, I imagined it would have been. It certainly was with no clothes or luggage in the room!) and the safe was easy to use.
As for the port hole, I was disappointed that it was a recessed port hole. I had a recessed window on the first port hole I ever had, and it really takes away from what you can see as far as peripheral vision goes. From the pictures of the placement of the cabin it looked like it wouldn't be recessed, but when I got in the cabin I realized it was. Still, we were able to see out and that's what matters.
Small ships are my cup of tea and the Pearl was exactly the size I enjoy. The Valor last year had about 600 more people than this ship, which only holds about 2400 passengers. We spent a lot of time in the Spinnaker Lounge, which is at the front of the ship on the Deck 13. It had funky chairs and even beds and loungers to lay on during the day and seating for shows at night. I did feel that this lounge was too small for the nighttime shows that were held in it like the comedy shows, because there wasn't nearly enough seating to go around. To get a seat in the front row you had to arrive about an hour early or more, depending on the type of show.
The Bliss lounge was nice, it had a great Asian feel to it and it also had a few lounges in it. The bowling alley looked really fun even though we didn't get to use it.
The pools and waterslide were big enough for everyone, in fact, I hardly ever saw anyone in the pools but maybe that was just because we weren't out here a lot. The one time we got a lounge chair by the pool we got outside early and there were lots of them still available. As for the waterslide...it was designed for children only, something I learned when I got on it and promptly stopped sliding and had to turn myself around and slide arms first to get to the bottom. It was an interesting experience though :)
One thing I did not like about the ship was that lots of space was used up by the pay-for restaurants and I felt some of that space could have been used for more public areas. The atrium was nice but I'm used to the larger atriums where they take up several floors. However it was a lovely area with the trees and icicles hanging from the ceiling.
The on-board shops were small but they used the atrium at night to sell jewelry and Bijoux Terner items. We bought a few bottles of liquor, some Bijoux Terner stuff as gifts, and a few jewelry items from the shops. I wanted a ship's model (we always get one) but they mysteriously didn't have any and the shop worker I asked about them didn't seem to know how I could get one.
The library had lots of good books and we enjoyed getting the sudoku and cross word puzzles in the morning from here.
Room Stewards and other Crew Members:
Our room stewards were very nice as far as the whole luggage situation, they were constantly asking us about whether or not we had heard anything about when we were going to get it. They cleaned the room well and we were never in want for anything, but I was VERY disappointed with one aspect of their service. On our last night on the ship my husband and I saw both Second City shows in the Spinnaker lounge. While we were gone they cleaned our room and threw away the souvenir beer bottles we always make a point of saving to put with our collection at home. I wouldn't have been so upset if these items had been on the floor or somewhere else where it would have appeared that we didn't want them, but they were up on the top shelf above the TV in our cabin the whole week by our souvenir Norwegian glasses from the bars. To me it felt like they were basically already preparing the room for the next week's guest by trying to get rid of as much "trash" as they could before the day they prepared the cabin again. And I know we aren't the only people who collect beer bottles from other countries, I know many friends and family of mine do this every vacation they go on. What made me the saddest about this is that these are items that can only be bought in the countries we visited and can't be ordered off the internet, I already checked.
Another complaint we had was that even though we told the woman seating people in Summer Palace that the pair of khaki shorts was all my husband had in the way of nice clothes, she still turned us away from the door in front of a large group of people and told us we could come back "when we had the proper attire on". To me, this is completely unacceptable and I made that fact known at the Guest Relations desk. I could understand if we had a suitcase full of clothes back in our room, but I felt like they could have made an exception especially since he had worn them in the dining room a few days before and they said nothing about it then! The only reasoning I can come up with is that they were very crowded that night and were looking for reasons to turn people away, but I feel very strongly that she should have let us come in under the circumstances. Still, this is a small-ish matter and I didn't let it ruin my evening.
Other than that, the crew was very nice! Every time you walked past a crew member they were always smiling and wishing you a good day or evening. The hand sanitizing crew members in the buffet can be a little...overwhelming I suppose you would say, but I always let them spray my hands.
We didn't like Andy the cruise director at first, but he grew on us as the week wore on. Jorge' the hotel director was nice too, we ended up buying a future cruise credit from him to put with the cruise credits the ship gave us for our luggage loss. Captain Lars was awesome! He was the most involved with the passengers of any ship captain I've ever seen, always cracking jokes over the loud speaker or taking pictures with us around the ship. I enjoyed his "View from the Top" show that we watched in the Stardust Theater on Friday.
I have to give it to Norwegian for their entertainment, I loved every single show I saw! The entertainers on this ship were spectacular! I especially have to give special attention to the Second City performers, who were excellent performers! We saw every single one of their shows except for the early seating of their first night's performance and went to both their workshops in the Stardust Theater. We actually got to get up on stage and do improv with them at the second workshop! For the first thing we did in the workshop we were divided into three groups onstage and were told to make up a commercial for an item that the audience chose for us. Then we volunteered to do a part onstage where five people were telling parts of a story and picking up where each other left off when we were pointed at to continue. It was so much fun and is definitely something we will never forget! As for the shows the Second City cast members did, their first night's show was a series of skits performed in the Stardust Theater. The shows on the last night we were on the ship were Improv, a family-themed show for the first and a more adult oriented program for the second performance. We enjoyed them all and I hope to see all of these guys again someday at a real Second City show!
Oh What a Night was a group of guys singing Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons songs and doing comedy in between numbers. I enjoyed the show but by the end I was glad it was over as it seemed to last a little long. Still a good show though, and I'm glad we got to see it.
Sharkbait was GREAT. These are two hysterical guys doing acrobatics and comedy and it's very high energy. I enjoyed their back-and-forth banter as well as the juggling, balancing (the guy with the mohawk balanced an extension ladder on his chin!) and other acrobatic stunts. I would love to see them again sometime!
Rod Long was the comedian onboard, he did two nights worth of shows and we enjoyed each of them, but not as much as we did the Second City performers or Sharkbait. I also liked seeing him on the game show panels, he did the What's My Line show and he was really funny!
The only one of the dance shows we went to see was Garden of the Geisha, which I thought was a little uneventful but still interesting to watch, and the music was beautiful (most of the songs were taken from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack, I wonder if anyone else noticed that?). I had no clue why the differently dressed ninjas didn't like each other, but it was still visually stunning. We missed the first night's dance show because we were trying to find out where our luggage was, and the other show we just really weren't interested in seeing so we skipped it. We went to see the Newlywed Game show, always a welcome comedy show on any ship and we went to the Quest game show too but we ended up giving our seats away to some of those standing around us because it didn't seem like something we were going to enjoy.
We were invited to the Past Guest party that was held on Monday, and we attended that. It was the typical past guest function, free drinks, pictures with the captain, an introduction of some of the higher up crew members, a talk from Andy the cruise director and Jorge' the hotel director, and a speech about why we should buy a future cruise credit. We did end up purchasing one on the last day of our cruise, and with the on-board credit we received we didn't even have to pay for it!
Ports of Call:
Samana: We expected not to be able to go to Samana because of the hurricane, but the day we were set to arrive nothing was said about it and we got on the tender boat when the ship was cleared. Being on the fourth floor where they load the tender boats and disembark at the ports is nice because we just waited in our room until the tenders were cleared and then walked the fifty or so feet to where they were disembarking.
We got on one of the first tenders for Samana at around 10:00. The weather was overcast in most areas, but there was sun peaking through the clouds and blue skies in some parts of the sky. We got together with two other couples from the ship and took an island tour with our tour guide, Pedro, for $20. He took one of the couples to the local Internet cafe for about half an hour and the rest of us walked around the downtown area with him. When the couple were done at the internet cafe, we drove out to El Limon and hiked up the hillside to go see it. Our group opted not to walk down to the waterfall but just to take a picture with it as a backdrop. We had a few beers and stood around talking to our tour guide and other people who were visiting the falls and then we hiked back. It was VERY muddy and everyone had to wash their feet and shoes off when we got back to the road. Then Pedro took us to an overlook that was gorgeous and you could see for miles across the bay. After that he took us to a beach right near the pier, the rock said Playa Hoez but I'm not sure if that's really the beach's name or not. We swam in the water for a few minutes, not long because the water was murky from the storms. When we were done we headed back up to the ship. The shopping here was very disappointing, I only saw a few things for sale and none of it was near the tender dock.
Saint Thomas: In Saint Thomas we needed to do some shopping for some of the essentials we couldn't buy on the ship, so we went shopping for the first part of the morning. We went to the straw market first off and I bought a "Coach" bag and a few pieces of jewelry and my husband bought a few local beers. We took a taxi back over to the K-Mart I visited with my parents a few years ago to pick up some essentials. Dennis also bought liquor here too, which is weird to me. I mean, buying liquor at K-Mart? Surreal. Anyway, we took our stuff back to the ship and then we took a taxi over to Coki Beach to do some snorkeling. The snorkeling here was excellent! For a $9 taxi ride, you can't beat it. There were exotic fish everywhere and we really enjoyed watching them swim around with us. There were beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, but we just laid our towels out. The drinks here were really expensive, they wanted $8 for a minuscule blended drink at the bar. Actually, I thought that this beach was much smaller than I had imagined it would be like. The way it's described in the travel books makes it sound bigger than it really is, but I still enjoyed it very much and we'll probably go back in the future!
We had done our research beforehand and had decided that instead of taking a ship's tour to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths we were going to take a ferry over ourselves. We were cleared for going ashore at around 7:15 and by that time we were already up, dressed, and had eaten breakfast and were ready to go. We got off the ship and walked to the end of the gate where there were some market tents set up. I got a magnet and a bracelet and then we went over to find Speedy's Ferry service, which true to what we had read on the internet was almost right next to the dock when you turn to the left at the main street. A 7-10 minute walk was all it took to reach the ferry dock...only to discover that the first ferry didn't run until 9:00, and the latest ferry we could take back was at 12:30. We bought our tickets ($38 a person for the ferry ride to Virgin Gorda and then a taxi both ways to take you to and from the Baths verses the ship's price of $89 a person, and they used the exact same ferry service because we saw the ship's excursion coming back on a Speedy's ferry that left about 10 minutes before our return ferry did!) and walked around for a few minutes and then chilled on a bench beside the ferry dock for awhile. When it was time for us to board we got up on the top deck and took a seat in the back of the ship where it was open air. The ride takes about 45 minutes and that ferry left VERY promptly, but more on that later.
When we reached the dock at Virgin Gorda after a very pleasant sunny ride over, we got off and went through the main gates at the ferry dock and got on the Speedy taxi, about a 7 minute ride. It took us straight into the Bath's park and after paying the $3 per person entrance fee we were on our way down the path! The path down to the Bath's was rocky, but nothing terrible. When we got to the Bath's beach my husband insisted that we go to Devil's Bay, even though it was beautiful at the other beach. So we started our trek through caves, crevices, over large boulders, through VERY tight and small spaces, and basically like a mean obstacle course. By the time we reached Devil's Bay I was about ready to throw in the towel. We didn't have water shoes and we were carrying our backpack, all our clothes (because some of the way through the caves and around the boulders requires you go through water) and were barefooted, so it was really hard to make it without dropping my digital camera in the water. But once we were on the other side, it more than made up for the hike, because it was so beautiful! This is the nicest beach I've ever been on, the water so clear and beautiful and the big menacing boulders sticking up everywhere. There were caves all over the beach front too, we got to go in a few of them. The snorkeling was great, not like Coki Beach but there were schools of beautiful tropical fish meandering around in most places. Since we had to be back at the Bath's entrance at 12:00 to meet Speedy's taxi we only got to stay about an hour and forty five minutes, which was definitely not enough to explore even the surface of what this beautiful park had to offer. We got stuck behind a group of extremely loud slow moving folks on our way back up the Devil's Bay side of the path, and when we reached the top the first Speedy taxi had already left. Us and another couple and two guys who had come over with us waited nervously for the second Speedy taxi to come (apparently the first guy said he would send someone or would come back, I'm still not sure which) and finally he did show up and we got back to the dock with only about 5-ish minutes to spare. When our ferry pulled up, they loaded on some cargo they were transporting from Virgin Gorda to Tortola and then we got on, and that ferry wasn't there but about three minutes. It was actually quite scary, I was SO glad we were paying attention to the time because if we had been even four or five minutes late we wouldn't have caught the only Speedy ferry that came back to Tortola before the boat left (I believe the next one was at 4:00 but I could be mistaken) and would have had to pay a lot extra to catch a different ferry service that didn't even leave Virgin Gorda before 2:30 and our boat sailed at 3:00, so we probably wouldn't have made it anyway. But we did get back in time, and after walking around the shopping tents for awhile we went back to the ship.
Great Stirrup Cay
The captain decided it was too dangerous to try to tender to GSC because of the high swells, so we ended up having another sea day. I wasn't too disappointed because after all, I imagined we would miss Samana and perhaps some of the other ports, so the fact that we didn't more than made up for not going to the private island. I was really looking forward to snorkeling here, but perhaps on our next Norwegian cruise we'll try it again.
Sunday morning we left our room around 7:00. We decided to skip breakfast because they had already cleared the ship for disembarking, so we just decided to take our stuff and get off early so we could get to Tampa earlier (Busch Gardens...yay!). Charlin was waiting for us outside at the glass walkways where you walk back down into the terminal, and she took us down to the terminal office and our luggage was brought out to us safe and sound with nothing out of place. The whole process took about twenty minutes and after a cab ride back to the La Quinta we were off for Tampa and the rest of our vacation!
As far as how we were affected by not having our luggage for the duration of our vacation, while it was inconvenient to not be able to dress up for dinner and not having all the toiletries a woman requires, we honestly weren't affected all that much by not having our stuff with us. I had my camera, memory cards, batteries, battery charger, laptop & cords, etc with us in our carry on, and I was extremely grateful to have those things with us. I would have been lost without my camera! But it taught us a valuable lesson about how you really don't need all the stuff you THINK you have to have when you're packing. Next time we go we plan on taking only a duffel bag, a small garment bag, and a backpack. We were very satisfied with the compensation we received as far as on-board credits and the half off the future cruise certificates we received, and we felt Norwegian did all they could do to ensure we had a good vacation. And we have to honestly say that we had a GREAT time!!! We will definitely be cruising with Norwegian again and I'm looking forward to using our cruise credits!