The sales rep from NCL, assured me when I booked this cruise that no passport was necessary. Trusting him and his training, I plunked my money down and started planning shore excursions--two weeks before departure. As I started my online Check-In, the system stopped me at the "Travel Documents" stage--no passport. I got the sales rep on the phone--admitted he sold me the cruise using incorrect information. I cancelled, and got a full refund. The next day I showed up at the US Passport office and paid extra for expedited service. DAYUM! It was ready the next day! I got NCL back on the phone and re-booked it--with a cabin upgrade! My stewardess Campana took excellent care of me. I really liked my inside cabin--90210--sort "man cave" with all my fishing gear and camera stuff all around. Yep. I brought a telescoping fishing rod and small tackle box. Fishing is a great way to meet folks and relieve boredom. Set goal: fish somewhere at every port-of-call. Caught a permit in Puerto Limon and catfish in Old Belize River.
My days and nights were spent walking around the ship, checking out the prices for men's watches, looking at the people in the casino, leisurely lunches and for-fee dinners, looking at the people around the pool, just missing the towel folding demonstrations, shooting tons of video and stills, meeting some new cruise friends for dinner every other night, others for night drinks and deep conversation. Yeah, I checked out the library and the Card Room, where the REAL action was happening. Forget those "players" and their Texas Hold Em games in the casino compared to the stakes I saw at some of the Card Room games. No pit boss. Another goal: to avoid putting the "one pound per day" rule into effect. I managed to lose six pounds in 12 days. I ate my fill of beef--at the Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney's Steakhouse and Le Bistro, not to mention the decent prime rib and steaks in the Summer Palace MDR. The lamb was also delicious. The seafood I tried--at Lotus Garden and Summer Palace was insipid and poorly presented--the shrimp and the cod. In fact, the shrimp ceviche was so flavorless it was more like shrimp cocktail. I could NOT believe the Hot and Sour Soup--lacked anything hot and no citrus tang. Ugh! On the other hand, the Indian dishes at the Garden Terrace Buffet were uniformly excellent, including the butter chicken, biryani rice and tandoori chicken salad. Yet, the asparagus with Hollandaise sauce was a completely disaster, all congealed and solid. Everything with chocolate was delicious! One strange find: not ONE hamburger was palatable. If you prefer to eat a hockey puck, it might be more tender. The usual culinary hits and misses were expected and delivered.
The service was impeccable in every way, to the credit of the restaurant manager. Ronnie, our waiter, was very funny and quick-witted, made us smile through every course of every meal. In fact, he was funnier naturally than the forced material the professional "comedians" foisted on us. That guy Fred Deville (or whatever his name was) was better than a Valium. I was out in five minutes. The singer who performed the Frank Sinatra/Big Band Tribute was worse than boring. He delivered every (badly chosen) song with this thin, reedy voice completely lacking richness and tone. I couldn't believe the suckers that gave him an ovation. The violin player (who performed in the freakin' SPORTS BAR!) packed an entire philharmonic orchestra in her briefcase. The Motown Guys were pretty good. I gave the Fitness Center a five-star rating because it didn't smell bad when I stuck my head inside. The Solo/Single Meetups were congenial and I met some drinking/conversation buddies, like Jeseth and Scott from Ohio.
Loved my inside cabin man-cave. Decked it out with all my stuff: camera gear, fishing equipment, hats, bowties and magnet clips with my newsletters and stuff attached to the walls. Hung up my room deodorizer in the closet to keep my stuff smelling "fresh." Got my laundry done for $50.00--hardly a deal. Loved my service--including chocolates and twice daily ice refresh.
Great experience trying to catch a fish.