This was our 6th cruise on NCL and absolutely the best. We flew out of Newark to Miami the day before the cruise with no problems. Stayed at La Quinta East along with a bunch of other CC'ers. The hotel was fine, nothing fancy, but fine, breakfast included. We rented a car and drove over to Haulover Beach on Sunny Isles for a few hours and then went for dinner in South Beach. A great way to start the vacation!
4/11 In the morning we returned the car to Thrifty and got the free shuttle to the port. We arrived around 11AM and were on board around 12:30. Our group agreed to wear Mardi Gras beads so we could recognize each other and sure enough we met up with New Years Baby and her group, and several other CC's. We proceeded to have lunch at Tsar's Palace where we ran into lots of other Mardi Gras beads. Got our soda stickers and made a reservation for Chin Chin's, which was 1/2 price the first night. By the time we finished lunch our rooms were ready so we changed and hung out for awhile on Deck 15. We had our muster drill and it got a little cloudy and drizzly. The sail away was a bit of a wash out, but still a beautiful sight to sail out of Miami. After an excellent dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard Show, which was a packed house. Tim Kaminski was great, and very friendly. Did a little dancing afterward and then the casino. An excellent day!
4/12-Sea Day We had our M&G this morning. Bubbachief did an excellent job taking care of this. Had to be over 100 people there. There were at least 8 officers and Tim Kaminski. The Captain was very nice and Hotel Director, John O'Hara gave a very nice speech. We also had a gift exchange that went over very well. They had coffee, tea, juices, and cookies there for us. We then spent a few hours out on deck (hot & sunny). At 6:00, I had organized a Birthday/Anniversary Cocktail Party in the Star Bar. We had 21 people, and it was our 2nd chance to get to meet some of our CCer's again. It was very nice. Off to dinner in Azura, which was very good, and then went to watch "If You Know It, Sing It". It is a game show like Name That Song. Then we went to the 70's Disco Party. From there we went to the casino for a little blackjack and then retired to our room to greet our 1st towel animal
4/13 1st stop at Cozumel. Woke up to a partly cloudy day, but was nice by the time we got off the ship. The only other time we were in Cozumel we didn't care for it. It was just after a hurricane and all the cruise ship docks were destroyed and there was not a speck of sand on the island.. This time we went to Nachi Cocum with Mary & Bill (mmarsh). There were many other CCer's there. They only allow 100 people per day, so it didn't feel crowded at all. The cost is $49 per person and includes a 4 course lunch and all you can drink, along with beach chairs and a palapa We did a good job there----many fruity foo foo drinks! It is beautiful there with a long sandy beach, and large pool with swim up bar. You can eat around the pool or in the small restaurant area. It was a perfect day and of course we've changed our minds about Cozumel. I don't know that we would spend a longer vacation there, but it's a great place to spend the day. Dinner tonight in Tsars, which is again very good. Casino again, and then to bed.
4/14 Today we are in Belize. We did our 1st shore excursion through NCL to Bannister Island. We took a tender straight to Bannister Island and the cost, I think, was $45 per person. It was about a 15 minute ride and you get transportation, a free rum punch, chair, palapa and a kayaks. This is another beautiful beach,although it's man made. It was a short day, only 4 hours, and we are back on the ship by 2:00. It was back up to deck 15 for a little sun. Dinner tonight is in the Buffet, and very good again. Tonight we saw "Band On The Run" and then onto the "Caribbean Deck Party" on the pool deck. We did a lot of line dancing and then off to the casino and then back to the cabin. We meet our 2nd towel animal.
4/15 Today we wake up to Hot Hot Hot Roatan. We had a reservation for Bananarama on West Bay. $30 each got us transportation, a chair, and a drink. This is another beautiful beach. As you can tell by now, according to my username, we like beaches. This one did not disappoint. We did have a near tragedy. I use a hearing aid and when we went to get something to eat, I noticed I didn't have it in my ear. I went back to my things to get it and couldn't find it. We spent about an hour and a half looking for it. It is very tiny and impossible to find in the sand. While talking to the waitress, we mentioned that we had seen the TV show "House Hunters International" from Roatan on House and Garden TV. She told us that the owners of Bananarama were the people we saw on the show. So while looking for my hearing aid, the owners father, Guy, stopped by to talk to us and offered to have his workers look for it. What a nice, outgoing person. While we were packing up to leave, I happened to look down at the sand, and lo and behold, there was my hearing aid. We couldn't believe it. So we had a happy ending. We get back to the ship and tonight we have a Murder Mystery Dinner set up for just the CC group by John O'Hara. It was in Tsar's Palace, in a private room. There were about 80 people there. Everybody seemed to enjoy it, but me. Because of my hearing, I wasn't able to hear everything, and I am not good at ad-libbing. Off to the casino and on to the cabin where we met our 3rd towel animal. Saalam is very good!
4/16 Sea day today. Sunny this morning, turning cloudy in the afternoon. Today we had the Poker/Cabin Crawl, starting at 11:00am. We had 45 people show up. We were able to see 5 different cabins. Thanks to Prism (Carol & Ken-oceanview), CynthiaB (Cynthia & Merle-balcony), BLT2me (George & Brenda-Mini-Suite), Chipfixer (Willis & Connie-AE Penthouse-thanks for the spread!), and EileenN (Eileen, Butch, & Amy-Courtyard Villa--good crackers!). Many thanks to Carol for all her organizational skills and help! I had the leading hand until Karen (Jayss) showed up with 3 nines to win the pot of $225. Thanks to everybody for making it a success. Tonight we see "NewlyWed- Not So NewlyWed" game, and on to the casino and back to our cabin.
4/17 Another sea day. Today we go to a luncheon for all the NY & NJ Metro Area CCer's hosted by Debbie & Brian in Tsars Palace. We had a nice size group. It was a lot of fun and a chance to get to know everyone a little better. Also today was one of three Bridge Tours for just the CCer's, again planned by John O'Hara. Dinner tonight is in Azura which is very good, and on to the casino.
4/18 Today we are in Aruba. There are many very colorful houses and condos there. We head out to Palm Beach, in front of the Raddison Hotel. We took the Arubus there for $2.30 round trip. Palm Beach is another beautiful beach, but very busy and reminded us of Miami. For $40, we get 2 chairs and a large umbrella and use of the Raddison's beautiful winding pool. This is another very hot beach. Lots of NCL people there. Tonight we have dinner in Tsars, which is very good again. After dinner we go to "Toga Under The Stars" on the pool deck, for some fun and dancing. Then it's off to the casino and back to the cabin to meet yet our 4th towel animal.
4/19 Today we are in Curacao. It is MaryAnn's birthday. Happy Birthday, Hon. Very pretty buildings here. Very colorful. We are off to "Swim With The Dolphins" at the Dolphin Academy, pre-booked on our own. First we see a dolphin show, then it's off to do the Swim. The Swim was fantastic! You get to do all kinds of thing with the dolphins, topped off by holding on to the dorsal fins of 2 dolphins (Annie & Bonnie) and being pulled across the water. Of course we bought the DVD & the CD. Something to remember!! After getting a little something to eat we head over to Seaquarium Beach, which is yet another beautiful beach. Very calm and a beautiful color. Dinner tonight is in Cagney's. Surprisingly, this was my least favorite meal. However, MaryAnn loved her giant shrimp cocktail so much, she had two. We both ordered ribeye steaks, but they came out overcooked, so we sent them back for another. That was my mistake. My steak was extremely fatty, even for a ribeye. MaryAnn's was ok. They did bring out a birthday cake for MaryAnn and sang to her. Off to the casino and then back to the cabin.
4/20 Another sea day. Today is R&R all day. It was a hot one. Very little breeze. Dinner tonight is in Tango's, which was 2 for the price of 1 between 5:30 and & 7PM. Very good and you get a small frozen Margarita with your meal. Tons of food! Don't make any pitstops at the buffet before eating here! You guessed it--- off to the casino again for some blackjack. Do you see a trend here? Then back to the cabin to be greeted by our 5th towel animal.
4/21 Today we are in Tortola. This is a short day. Arrive at 7:00am and leave at 1pm. We took our 2nd NCL excursion to beautiful White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. It is a 1 hour sail to Jost Van Dyke. Arriving at White Bay,it just takes your breath away. Beautiful white sandy beach. Beautiful clear, calm, blue water. There is no dock here, so you have to swim in to shore. Only about 25 feet. I was able to walk the distance, but MaryAnn had to doggy paddle. Very, very easy. Here is the famous "Soggy Dollar" bar, which got it's name from sailors who swam in to shore and ordered a drink and paid for it with wet money, hence the name. There are a couple other bars and places to eat, including One Love. Also a very cute hotel connected with the bar. MaryAnn said that if she had her passport with her there, she would not have made the trip back to the ship. Dinner tonight was in the Azura. Thanks to Debbie and Brian we found out that right next to the Fyzz Bar (where they have Karaoke), there are 3 rooms where you can have your own private karaoke and Wii. We spent about 3 hours in there with about 10 CCer's. We had a blast with Lorna, Freddy and the rest of the group. Fun time, and of course, back to the casino and a little black jack.
4/22 Sea day. Another hot day in the sun .Dinner tonight is 1/2 price at Chin Chin, Le Bistro and Mama's. So it's off to Le Bistro for dinner tonight. Very good, especially at half price. After dinner we go to see "Cirque Bijou". The performers do a really good job, but personally it's just not our cup of tea. Not my thing at all. Karaoke again with our friends in the side room and off to the casino. No complaints from me!
4/23 Sea day-Last full day. Today was warm, around 70 degrees. As we crossed the Gulfstream, the seas became a little rough. While sitting on deck 13, having lunch, we felt the ship vibrating, and then a wave of water came over the glass wall and everybody sitting there got wet. A little scary! After we got to the other side of the Gulfstream it became a little chillier but calm. This afternoon, John O'Hara had invited all the CCer's to a Tea in the Azura Dining Room. About 80 people showed up. This too was very nice. Had tea and crumpets. I'd never done this before and it was a nice chance to get everyone together one last time. Thanks so much for all the attention. Dinner tonight was at Chin Chins. Very good again. After dinner we went to the karaoke room again for about an hour and a half and then went on to "The Quest". That was hilarious. They should do this earlier in the cruise,---a real ice breaker! I think a lot of people missed it because they were packing and such..
4/24 Disembarkation. We woke up to see Sandy Hook, NJ. This is the beach we frequent all summer. We could almost see where we live. After we sailed under the Verrazzano Bridge it's a beautiful sight to come up to the Statue Of Liberty and on into NY Harbor. Although it's always a majestic site to see, it was also sad because it meant the cruise was really over. We decided to do the walk-off with our luggage. At around 8:30 we went down to deck 7 and the line of passengers trying to walk off ran from the middle of one side of the ship, all the way aft, across the ship and half way forward to the middle of the ship again. OMG----we thought we would be there for 2 hours. All of a sudden an officer came by and said they opened another ramp on deck 6 forward, so we turned around, took the elevator down, and walked right off. How lucky was that?? If you decide to do walk off, do yourself a favor and wait another hour and you should be fine. MaryAnn's son was waiting for us outside and we were home by 10:20am.
This was by far the best cruise ever. All the beautiful beaches. The way NCL, especially John O'Hara, went out of their way to do things for the CCer's. The blackjack Gods were with us! The pool band, Caribbean Vibes, at the end of a long day in the sun, with their perfect music and reggae spirit! And all the great friends we met and hope to see again.
We had a great room steward. We had very good food. I only gained 14 pounds. We were pampered in every way. We bought another rewards certificate for another cruise. I really can't think of one negative thing to say. It was just fantastic. The 13 days really gave us a great balance of relaxing sea days and plenty of ports to keep us busy. Like I said, just getting to Jost Van Dyke was the most wonderful discovery. MaryAnn and I got to spend lots of time together, something we don't always get to do in our "real" lives at home. We met the best bunch of people at the M & G and hopefully will get to sail again with many of them.
Peace and Love,
Paul and MaryAnn AKA...Beachbum1944