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Home > Virtual Cruises > Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out
Norwegian Jewel: Good Morning America's Girls' Week Out
Day 1: Embarkation in Miami, Super Bowl Sunday
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Roatan
Day 4: Grand Cayman
Day 5: Ocho Rios
Day 6: At Sea
Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay
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Day 3: Wednesday, Roatan
RoatanYesterday was a tough day for "Good Morning America"'s lighting crew. As the sun appeared, so did plenty of shadows -- all over host Gayle King and weatherman Mike Barz. Because of the difficulties, the producers decided to move today's segments indoors, starting at Teppanyaki, a very popular dining venue on Deck 7.

The galley crew wheeled out carts filled with sausage, bacon, French toast and eggs. Around four rectangular grills, 40 of the girlfriends waited patiently -- and hungrily. At about 6:45 a.m., the producers rehearsed the "egg trick" with Gilbert, one of the chefs. The trick -- don't try this at home -- involved the flashing of lots of sharp knives and a raw egg, after which the girlfriends cheered wildly on cue.

Gayle King was standing behind the grill, looking island-chic in a turquoise blouse with pink embroidery and matching turquoise pants. A makeup artist came over and quickly touched up her face and fixes her hair. While everyone waited for their cue, someone asked Mike Barz what time he went to bed last night. "Around midnight," he replied. "I did some karaoke." The girlfriends all laugh at this. He has a very winning manner.

At 30 seconds until showtime, one of the producers urged the girlfriends to stay energized and reminded them to cheer after the egg trick. Mike Barz delivered some Roatan trivia -- there are no traffic lights on the island -- before introducing Gilbert. Then it was all over. It's just amazing how much effort is involved in organizing and shooting a teaser and a short live action scene.

Some of the girlfriends got to stay and enjoy breakfast, while about half scurried after Mike to the casino to tape the 7:30 a.m. weather segment. The producers thought they could shoot a real game of blackjack, but the ship was already at Roatan and gambling is not allowed. The girlfriends took their seats at two blackjack tables along with Mike and Gayle.

"What do I say?" Gayle asked the woman dealer. "Hit me. Go fish," she joked.

Girlfriends were also stationed along the slot machines. There was too much empty space, so the producer asked his assistant to go fetch some more girlfriends. Again on cue, the girlfriends cheered, jumped up and down, and gave each other high fives as if they'd just hit the biggest jackpot in the history of casinos. It's really very impressive how they can make something so staged look like tons of fun. Mike reported that it was now 77 degrees in Roatan, where we'd just arrived.

The largest of Honduras' three Bay Islands, Roatan is located 30 miles from the mainland. Thirty-six miles long and just a couple of miles wide, with its highest point at a mere 800 feet, Roatan is still relatively undeveloped. Because the island is a snorkeling and diving paradise -- with over 100 dive and snorkeling sites -- Ruth and I opted for a shore excursion that offered a catamaran sail and snorkeling in a marine preserve in the northwestern part of the island.

From the pier, we drove by school bus through town to the catamaran. The couple sitting behind us commented on how much better the town looked than when they'd visited two years earlier. Our driver used his horn often as the bus navigated the narrow commercial district, passed the airport, and made our way to the boat.

Bob Marley tunes set the perfect tone as we got underway. Andrade, our captain was a charmer and a good educator as well, as he filled us in about life on Roatan. Its most prestigious boast is the fact that it holds international fishing contests twice a year (last year's winner snagged a 290-pound marlin -- wonder how many folks that would feed on Norwegian Jewel?). He also told us that commercial fishing, the traditional mainstay of the island's economy -- with catches exported to Europe and Florida, in particular -- is still important but tourism is growing. Resorts on Roatan's west end are a major draw as are an increasing number of cruise ship calls, with lines wanting to offer more exotic Western Caribbean itineraries.

As we rounded West End Point with its red and white lighthouse, Andrade pointed out the Hog Keys in the distance, about a two-hour high-speed boat ride away. These are protected islands with very few residents. Andrade also pointed out a shipwreck, the Toloo, which grounded over 50 years ago. Today, the sharks congregate there nightly. The Cocoa View Resort offers night shark diving. But the captain seemed more concerned about barracuda than shark. As his passengers readied their snorkels and masks, he told the group, "Take off your silver before you go in the water." That gave me a creepy feeling -- silver really does entice them. Another warning also scared me: "I'm more afraid of barracuda than shark," he says. "Barracuda are like a car -- they only can go forward and reverse. A shark has to go all the way around you to bite."

Hmmm. We'd come too far to turn back now. But it must be said: I forgot all the shark talk as soon as snorkeling began in earnest. We entered this really gorgeous world of purples, lavenders, golds and rusts. Ruth and I found ourselves surrounded by sea and brain coral, blue tube formations and fan corals. Some of the fish were familiar -- angel fish, parrot fish, squirrel fish and large schools of dark blue doctor fish. There were others that I'd never seen before. Stunning neon blue, turquoise, polka dotted, in every size and shape. The water was crystal clear and a very comfortable 78 degrees, somewhat surprising as the day had turned overcast and I'd wondered if that would impact visibility.

After an hour, we climbed back onto the boat. The majority of passengers had only been in the water for 10 or 15 minutes and judging from the noise level, the bar had opened. We enjoyed a really good buffet lunch of chicken, salad, and mashed potatoes. Things couldn't have been nicer.

The good news was that the rum punch flowed like a lava field in Kona. The bad news? Some of our fellow passengers, ahem, had too much of a good thing and got a little bit over-boisterous. One threw a cigarette butt in the water which really shocked me -- particularly since we'd all, just a short time before, been marveling at the sea life and the clarity of the water!

The tranquility and relaxation we experienced underwater was dissipating and not even the reggae music could salvage the atmosphere. After lunch, we spent about an hour at Gumbalimba park, which features monkeys and parrots. We sat at the beach and tried to relax but the rowdy snorkelers overpowered the scene.

After the bus ride back to port, we found ourselves standing in a long line of both Jewel and Norwegian Dream passengers. The Dream had taken the Jewel's place at the pier which was now at anchor. The line, unfortunately, was very long -- and the tenders were slow to arrive.

It started to rain as we finally neared the gangway. The process of getting back onto Norwegian Jewel also took a very long time. For security reasons, all bags go through a metal detector. So between the soused passengers and the tender process, we got back to the ship more stressed out than we had left it -- which can't possibly be the goal of such a shore excursion. Maybe next port I'll stay onboard and volunteer my services to the "Good Morning America" crew. Perhaps that will be lower on the stress monitor!

Ruth and I had dinner at Teppanyaki where the star of the morning segment, Gilbert, was now cooking steak, shrimp and fried rice. It's a really entertaining experience, which starts with the entire staff introducing themselves. Utensils are flashed before your eyes, salt and pepper shakers go flying, and eggs are flipped onto the top of the chef's tall red hats. It's so much fun and very delicious. Because of the rectangular seating arrangement, we got to meet a veteran cruise couple from Scotland who were on their second week on the Jewel. Lots of good cruise stories.

As we made our way back to the cabin, we overheard two women looking at the crystal jewelry for sale on Deck 7. "Honey," one woman advised her friend, "save it for David Yurman on Grand Cayman."
Day 2: At Sea red arrow Day 4: Grand Cayman

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