Day 1 (Embarkation)
Well, we took a chance for the first time in 5 cruises and decided to fly into San Francisco on the same day as embarkation due to financial constraints and DH's inflexible job. We've never done it before and despite a flawless execution without flight delays or hitches of any kind, we won't do it again unless finances absolutely dictate the necessity. Flight was on time, we got to the port by 11:30am and were on the ship by noon, but I didn't like the nagging reminder in the pit of my stomach that we were taking a chance on missing the boat, pun intended, for our greatly anticipated vacation.
Embarkation in San Francisco was one of the best-run check-ins we've encountered, the personnel directing the people were professional and ran a well-organized operation. Everyone followed the rules and it was obvious NCL was running the show. Some ports get choked up with mobs of excited people trying to get on their ship; this was calm, NCL employees were professional and vacationers were happy and compliant. When we left Ft Lauderdale last year, we felt badly for the ladies and gents running that embarkation as they looked like they could barely stay on top of the mobs of people and questions and they didn't maintain order as well as they could have. These NCL guys (and gals) were pros... You just drop off your luggage before you enter the building, seems like lot of people were worried about handing over their luggage to the gents in yellow vests labeled "Porter," presumably because it was so close to the street? The gentleman letting us into the building had to keep sending people back out if they wanted to check their baggage as that's the last chance for porters. Anyway, to anyone who may worry about this step, the Porters are all great and totally official, we got our luggage almost immediately after getting our cabin so don't worry about that. Additionally, there's a rather large sign that says "Porters are salaried, tipping is not required" almost right above their heads. We still tipped, but just an FYI in case anyone is interested.
DH loves the dining room for lunch on the first day, and the Seven Seas dining room was open until 2:30, but he humored his wife who just wanted a quick snack and to relax on deck. We grabbed some pasta from Pacific Heights and DH got a burger from the Great Outdoors. Both were yummy and our cabin was ready by 1:30pm.
Another first for us on this cruise was an outside view room instead of a balcony. The room was a great alternative to our standard balcony choice; it was roomy with lots of storage room. We definitely missed having a balcony but it was a decent trade off for the price. We had a category D on Viking deck; I made sure we had a guaranteed big picture window instead of a porthole and boy am I glad I did. We were very satisfied with the size, layout, location right under the fitness room and spa and again... amazing amount of storage!
Sailaway was CCCCCCCCCOLD!!! Having anticipated the frigid sea air from a Northern Californian evening departure, we came prepared with ski jackets and warm socks. It's a good thing too as the sea air was wonderfully crisp and the fog was heavy and cool. I adore cold weather (hailing from Arizona one tends to enjoy the occasion where heavy coats are required). Even through the thick mist, the Golden Gate Bridge was awesome! We couldn't believe it, tons of people were out on the water, wind surfing!
Our first encounter with our room steward left a little to be desired, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was embarkation day and we know he had tons to do with so much to do and so many people checking into their cabin with special requests. We checked into our cabin and as is our custom, quickly requested an extra cushion for the bed (I have a very bad back and just need a tiny bit of extra softness). When DH found him in the hall and asked him if he could get us one whenever he found time, the steward made a sound like "Are you serious?" and we kinda felt like we were inconveniencing him. So DH said, "Oh, definitely not right away, whenever you have time, we know you're busy right now!!" Then the steward said, "yeah, ok but later. Not now" DH said that was totally fine, he just wanted to request one before they were all gone. He thanked the gentlemen and we went back to our room. We definitely felt like he was overwhelmed so instead of dropping more requests, we figured we'd just leave a note for later. We just needed to request two more pillows and that he clean out the mini bar. We have no problem patiently waiting our turn. I left my little note filled with "thanks so much" and "we appreciate it!" so he'd know we were happy campers and then we went out exploring! That night we had our egg crate cushion, two extra pillows for my aching back and a clean fridge! We generally don't have special requests after we get our bed situation all set (oh my aching back)!
Dinner was at the Seven Seas and boy did DH enjoy the service and the food. DH is appreciative of the finer things in life and had a bit more money growing up than I did. I often tease him that if we had sailed on the Titanic, he'd have been up in first class and I'd have sailed in steerage! He really enjoyed the service and attitude of the dining room staff. Princess and Carnival have their "freestyle" type dining arrangements (Anytime and My Time dining, respectively), but they aren't really set up for the option like NCL. Whenever we requested a table for two with those lines, there was a tad bit of hesitation and slight irritation. We've never let it bother us, we understand that those dining areas weren't really built for small groups of two so the staff has to adjust while still finding ways to seat the entire ship. However, it was really great here on NCL to walk in and hear "table for 2?" without anything other than a smile. DH enjoys classy service with a smile (and don't we all I guess).
Food was great in the Seven Seas, I've heard mixed reviews on the food and my opinion sould probably be taken with a grain of salt as, again, woman from steerage here. DH, however, is much more if a foodie than I and he enjoyed his lamb and mahi mahi immensely.
Small note to anyone interested in NCL's BAGs program. We found out, much to our chagrin and disappointment, that for some unnamed reason, this particular cruise is not facilitating the BAGS program advertised on the website. DH called NCL when we were booking flights a while back, and was assured that BAGS was offered fleetwide, "just check your airline for participation." We did all that, booked a late flight and planned for our day in San Francisco after debarkation only to be told by a snotty reception clerk named Ines Ott that this cruise doesn't offer it, it doesn't matter that the program is advertised and that you're out of luck and no, her manager (Aminta Baretto) doesn't talk to passengers. She took DH's name and cabin number and promised that Aminta would call us to explain more but we didn't hold our breath. Oh well, I guess we'll have 10 days to figure out a plan B! I think she did not enjoy her job whatsoever. As I have work experience in Customer Relations
?", I can appreciate the treatment suffered by reception/purser's desk employees, but that doesn't provide a license to do your job with a chip on your shoulder. Some cruisers are actually just asking legitimate questions and should be allowed to leave with their head still attached. We would highly recommend should you encounter Ines Ott at the reception desk, that you smile, nod your head, step backward slowly and get in another line as quick as you can!
We hit the Jacuzzis at 9:45pm and found out that they close the one by the kid's pool at 10pm but the main tubs were open till midnight. Then it was back to our room where we feel asleep HARD. It was a great first day, even with the unparalleled customer service displayed by the charming Miss Ines at the Reception desk.
Day 2 (Sea Day)
Oh yeah baby, we slept in just a bit on our first sea day. I love sea days, very relaxing and very exciting being out in open sea. I think I should have been a sailor!
Our cruise critic meet and greet took place in the Borneo room in the late morning (thanks Carole for setting it all up, it was great!). When the officers came in to meet us and chat, guess who was amongst their number? Aminta Baretto the reception manager that still had not called us back as per her promise. DH very professionally kept silent on the issue so as not to cause a scene or put her on the spot, but we so badly wanted to let her know we would be waiting for her call and see how she reacted. However, we remained classy and didn't mention it when introduced. The meet and greet was fun, we met lots of fellow cruise critics and learned a lot about each other. Fun times!
We didn't do any of the ship sponsored activities during the day, we just hung out on deck and worked on our tans. There was so much space on deck 12 at the front of the ship! Even the pool areas weren't so incredibly crowded that one couldn't find an open deck chair. Wonderful!
Dinner was at the Seven Seas and we cannot say enough about the service in this dining room. Kudos to the Maitre 'D and all the staff, they were awesome!
The show was Que Noche by the Jean Ann Ryan Company that night and the dancers were great. Sometimes the dance troupes aren't fabulous but there was some real talent here. The choreography was much classier than the last Carnival cruise we did, these dancers didn't look like they belonged in a strip club. Although, in Carnival's defense, the dance routines resembling those from "Dirty Dancing" were on a 4 day cruise and the shows on the 8 day Carnival cruise we took in 2006 were just fabulous. I don't want to down Carnival's shows, but I have never been wowed by dancers before. [Useless bit of info -- there were two dance couples in NCL's troupe, one was a set of professional ballroom dancers and the other couple was married. The married duo had super chemistry, he was a choreographer and she a dancer and they met on NCL -- very cool. They were all simply incredible.]
Ahhhh... wonderful sleep and looking forward to our next sea day! We had a very cute towel stingray when we made our way back to the cabin, yay for towel animals!
Day 3 (Sea Day)
Well, woke up early enough to hit the gym while DH was sleeping. It was a smallish facility but not overly crowded at 7am. After a nice workout I hit the sauna at the spa and MAN!! It was the hottest sauna I've ever been in so enter with care.
We hit deck 12 again for some sun and to work on our tans. Weather was GORGEOUS, around 75, and the sun was wonderful. We hung out until about 2pm and then ordered room service in our cabin for lunch. Unfortunately for DH, the late lunch left us too full to indulge in a full dining room dinner so we grabbed some wings and spinach artichoke dip at the Sports Grill and went to the little deck outside the Observation Lounge... Oh my goodness there are some great panoramic views on this ship! The stern decks as well as the observation decks in the front are amazing for views. They are a MUST-SEE for this ship.
One thing we'd begun to notice is that the ship felt empty most of the time. I don't know where people would run off to, but there's a never-crowded feeling, plenty of places to sit in all the public rooms and the decks always had empty seats.
The show this night was the comedic magic show of Jean Pierre Parent and he was hilarious... there were some risquÃ© innuendo but it went over the heads of the handful of kids in the audience. Most of it was implied, not stated so it was probably ok for most ages. His magic tricks were really amazing, our jaws dropped on several occasions.
Day 4 (Sea Day)
Slept almost all morning and afternoon, stayed in our cabin chillaxin' and had room service. Finally ventured out at 3pm to sign up for the murder mystery dinner on the port day of Puerta Vallarta.
Unfortunately, our room steward's overwhelming and irritable day embarkation day didn't end on day 1. Today we had another less than stellar encounter. When I left my room at 3pm, I assumed it was too late for cleaning. However, I was chased down by our steward as he asked if I wanted him to service my room. I said, "Sure, towels and whatever you have time for." Then he made the sound again, the sound we've all heard teenagers make (or perhaps have been guilty of making ourselves as teens) right after Mom says to take out the trash. That little sigh to let Mom know you had other plans in mind. Of course, on the rare occasions I did that as a teen, I, uh... was, shall I say "discouraged" from having a bad attitude by some good, old-fashioned discipline! ? My momma didn't raise no slacker! Anyway, our steward made that noise again, like he was being inconvenienced and said, "well, um... ok, just towels?" I was kinda in a rush to meet DH upstairs but turned back and said, "Yes please, whatever you have time for." Then he made another little sound that made it obvious I had chosen unwisely and said, "Well, I can't really do your room because I get off at 3pm." Then it dawned on me, it was 3:02pm and he wanted me both to feel badly for staying in my room for so long and to let him off the hook to do anything to my room and was very passive aggressively applying a guilt trip. Hey, first of all, the guy chased ME down. I didn't see him and if he was off the clock, he could have just let me walk away. Secondly, I've worked in and managed Housekeeping so I definitely can relate to that last person that weasels out of their room RIGHT as I was getting off the clock. I can feel his disappointment, but I also know it takes a grand total of 10-15 minutes to completely service a "stay-over"room and when you're hoping for that extra tip, it's kinda worth it to make someone's stay extra special. I also know that we would NEVER make a guest feel anything other than special to be visiting our facility. It's called guest relations and its service with a smile. It was obvious that he didn't want to work an extra 10 mins, and that was fine, but I really don't appreciate being chased down the hall to be made to feel guilty about it. If he's off then he's off, it's no skin off my nose. As this was the second time he made us feel we were inconveniencing him just by our sleeping in one of his rooms, I decided to be kind but firmly leave the ball I his court. If he wanted off the hook he could gracefully take himself off; I wanted him to choose the type of service he wished to provide. I didn't get mad, simply smiled and gently said, "If you're off now and can't do my room, why did you chase me down to ask if I wanted you to do my room? Like I said, you can do whatever you feel that you have time for. Ok? Thanks so much!" Then I smiled and started to leave again and he stopped me AGAIN! I was starting to really feel like he was actually wanting to pick a fight now but I still turned around smiling. "He said, "No ma'am, I just wanted to find out if you wanted towels cuz I'm off at 3pm." I said, "Yes please, like I said before, you do whatever you feel you have time for, which will be great, thanks! I'm going to head upstairs now ok?" Then he kinda gave up at that point when he saw I was not going to let him off the hook, he would have to choose if he wanted to do the bare minimum or go above the call of duty. I was not expecting anything extra at all, I just didn't appreciate his following me, calling out to me to ask me if I wanted something he had no intention of providing. It would have been perfectly acceptable to call out to me and say "Lisa, heads up, I'm off now so I can't clean your room but would you like fresh towels before I clock out?" I would have said, "Absolutely, thanks so much!" and that would have been the end of it. Upon our return that afternoon, we came back to clean towels and that's all. It's what I expected but still made me smile, I knew he never had any intention to do anything other than replace my towels, but still followed me down the hall keeping me from my plans to engage me in a conversation that at minimum (had I been a pushover), would have made me feel badly for leaving my room right when he was getting off. If I pulled that stunt and put a guest through all that hassle for nothing, I'd be afraid they'd complain about me or lower my tips (which we were NOT going to do, we are big believers in tipping). Oh well, poor gent was not liking his job and that was obvious. I'd hate to be stuck in a job I hated so I can feel for him. Luckily we're not high maintenance so he'd get no special requests from us and we'll just watch the clock and either be out by 3pm or long afterwards! Back to having fun!
Dinner tonight was our anniversary package dinner at Le Bistro. Oh man was DH a happy camper. We did the rib eye dinner for two and closed it out with the fondue. Such wonder staff in the dining rooms so far, we're really noticing the difference here at NCL and are loving it. We had about 4 people serving us and each one made us feel like we were the only ones in the room, they were friendly, stopped to chat, made sure our water glasses were full at all times and the food was awesome! Yummy!! Loved Le Bistro, to be sure!
Day 5 (Topolobampo)
Aha, small little port where there's not much to see. Since we already knew there wasn't really a good reason to see Topolobampo or even Los Mochis, we had originally planned on heading over to Maviri Beach to hang out. However, it was so hot and we were in the "relax" zone so we decided just to stay on the ship. Boy are we glad we did too, the pool area was comfortably empty and the pool was an amazing temperature. We ate lunch in the dining room and went to our cabin to take an afternoon nap. I got up and worked out while DH took the chance to get off the ship and look at the little tent structures local vendors set up alongside the ship.
We met another couple on a different port day that raved about NCL's Maviri Beach Getaway excursion. We weren't sure it would be worth it but they said it was awesome for their family of four (two kids aged 5 and 9) and it sounded like something we would have enjoyed for the money as well. They said the activities and food were great and they had a blast. A little heads-up in case anyone is interested.
That night a local dance crew came on board to perform for us and it was great. They had a little bit of narration in between dances to explain the moves and the meaning behind their costumes and moves. It was a really great cultural experience.
Day 6 (La Paz)
Wow, the water was really pretty here in La Paz, just as we had hoped it to be. We'd planned on taking the free shuttle to Tecolote Beach and the port layout was very clear with a friendly lady guiding people to the correct line. There were signs pointing the way as well as indicating what times the shuttles were arriving and departing. The whole setup was very clean and well executed. Our shuttle bus had great air conditioning and it was a nice 15 minute ride to Tecolote. The water was WOW... so pretty and white sandy beaches were almost clear of rocks. No water shoes necessary here; just white powder sand with a few pebbles here and there. The entrance to the water was soft and clean, the water was turquoise and blue. I told DH if you just look at the water you almost believe you're in the Caribbean, then if you look up at the surrounding mountains it's extremely obvious you're deep in the desert. Very cool contrast for us Arizona desert rats. Here DH and I finally got a little burned, we'd been out sunning for the past three days without any hint of pink but today it finally caught up with us. Not too bad, just a little crispy! Tomorrow is ziplining anyway so we'll be pretty well covered up and we'll have to break out the SPF 30.
We had a late lunch so I wasn't that hungry but DH and I hit the main dining room. Again with the dining room service! They're all just so nice and happy and smiling and make each night a great and relaxing experience. So far we're liking the Seven Seas dining room the best, not sure why but we love the staff so maybe we just keep coming back for that reason. Very top notch!
We are late night Jacuzzi hoppers and have begun noticing that our pool towels don't get changed even though we leave the on the bathroom floor as instructed by the little card in our room. We find all our other towels replaced and our wet pool towels hanging on the door. You have the option of changing them at the pool or leaving them on your bathroom floor to get dry ones. As we have been (and know we will be in the upcoming days) using our towels until right before dinner and again after the show, we don't always have the ability to change our own towels at the pool since they close during dinner and the pools/Jacuzzis are open til midnight. Consequently, we need to have them replaced with our other towels by our steward. Sigh. Yes, the need for another request darnit. We were hoping to get through the week without further bothering our frustrating steward. Again, so as not to appear confrontational, I left a little note the day prior, asking if he could replace our pool towels when they were on the floor since the towels don't dry out quickly and we're finding wet towels when we go on our late night Jacuzzi runs. After dinner this night we were headed back to our room to grab our suits and hit the hot tubs when, again, our room steward comes down the hall to meet us as we're swiping our card to enter our stateroom. He proceeded to tell us that he replaced our pool towels this once for us but can't do it anymore because he may not have any pool towels left on his cart in the future. He said we should exchange them ourselves at the pool shop. I said, "Well, the card in our room says to either exchange them at the shop or leave them on the bathroom floor. I'm sure you can grab a couple extra for us." The room steward said again, "well, if I don't room on my cart then I can't replace them for you." I was done arguing with this gentleman, so before DH could get involved (DH does NOT like poor customer service), I just smiled at our steward and said, "Well, if we can't get to the pool shop when it's open, we'll leave our towels on the floor and let you replace them as per normal procedures. I have full confidence in your ability to figure out how to get more towels on your cart." We smiled at him again and went into our room. We made sure to try and change our towels ourselves the following day to show him we weren't being difficult and from then on guess what? We had clean, dry pool towels whenever we left them on the floor. We always smiled at him and said hi too each time we met him in the halls, but thankfully did not have to ask him for anything else during our trip. This was the last of the less than amazing encounters we had with any NCL staff, everyone else was AMAZING!!
Day 7 (Mazatlan)
Today was ziplining/parasailing day and I woke up with a sore throat and the beginnings of a chest cold. Although I was bummed, there was no way I was missing the long anticipated zipline excursion! We had a morning timeslot and this required us to be among the first few off the ship. We were scheduled to dock at 8am and had to be on a taxi by 8:40 at the latest. After our eastern Caribbean cruise last year where the boat was 45 mins late clearing customs in Barbados, we were particularly interested in getting downstairs and at the front of the line in case of a repeat customs performance. Of course we had a backup plan, but were hoping Plan A worked successfully. As we were sitting alone in the stairwell next to the Medical Center (apparently no one wanted to get off at 8am in Mazatlan) we heard over the loudspeaker that a "Code Alpha" was being called for a stateroom. We correctly guessed that someone needed urgent medical attention as about 10 NCL staff members rushed downstairs and into the Medical center, grabbing packs, backboards and a defibrillator and rushing back upstairs via elevator. We didn't hear anything after that and could only hear when the team came back downstairs into the medical center. We heard it was a woman but no details so we hope she was ok!
Not only did we clear customs precisely on time, we caught a taxi and were at our check-in point 45 minutes EARLY!! It was only 8:20 in the morning, but was already HOT and HUMID!! We checked in at the Huana Coa office (about 4 or 5 doors to the right of the Howard Johnson hotel in the Golden Zone. We booked through Shore Trips and paid only $75 pp versus the ship's price of $125pp. Since the taxi only cost $10 total for the both of us and Huana Coa typically drops you off at the pier to ensure your timely return to the ship, it's an awesome deal to book either direct with Huana Coa, or through Shore Trips. It was the exact same tour NCL offered with the same operator for much cheaper.
Huana Coa was INCREDIBLE. They are a top notch organization with truly wonderful staff. I should preface my review with some background. While I'm not a wild thrill seeker, I do enjoy a moderate amount of adrenaline and will go on most roller coasters. Others in our party were not as avid coaster fans with somewhat of a fear of heights and consequently, their experience was a little difference. They still did the entire zipline course with the assistance of the fabulous staff, but they enjoyed it significantly less than DH and I. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, let me back up. Since we arrived so early, we met the owner at the office and he chatted with us for about a half hour, showing us his plans for future expansion and talked about the safety training, inspections and certification process his organization has been through. They continues to train and go through certification inspections in order to provide the best adventure tour possible. For their zipline, they use a double cable setup as well as a three safety connections. Basically, three separate connections would have to fail for any accidents to happen. On top of that, all the harnesses, cables, clips and all equipment is inspected before and after each use, all equipment is imported from top suppliers and each cable is able to support like 11 tons of weight so the entire group of 20 people could technically do a tandem run with no problem. As if all that wasn't enough, before you do your first run, you get checked and re-checked by at least 4 people before you even get in line for the first platform. I really liked this method since the more eyes you have on your gear, the chances that something would be missed is basically impossible. You are clipped to a safety line the entire time, from the moment you get in line you are clipped to the rope, then you step on the platform and while you're attached to the zipline, your third safety clippy thing remains attached to the safety rope. As soon as you're securely hooked up to the cable, your third safety line is then unattached from the safety line and attached to the cable. At no time during the entire tour are you left unattached to a safety line. You are checked before and after each run as well by 2 or 3 different people. The staff was securely in charge, they were amazingly friendly, but commanding (in a good way). The lead guide, Chino, made absolutely sure everyone was listening and paying attention during the safety orientation. He'd ask funny trick questions every now and then to make sure people weren't just saying "Yes" or "Ok" to get through his speech. Very nicely executed. You do have to brake to slow yourself down, you are provided with leather gloves and you just gently pull down on one of the cables to slow yourself and the guides tell you when and where to do it so it's extremely easy and not worrisome in the least. It was an incredible tour and one I'd recommend to everyone. One of the guides brought her daughter, aged 5, and she was the cutest, sweetest darling EVER! She loved tandem riding on the zipline and her mom rocked! For the more nervous of our group, the guides were very helpful, encouraging, and took them tandem when necessary. For the steeper, faster lines where the ability to brake yourself was necessary, they took the more fearful zippers across themselves. The last platform is about 20 feet off the ground and you get rappelled down to the ground by the staff. Very smooth too, I must add. I think this is a fabulous, mild excursion that any age can handle. My mom isn't a huge excitement fan but I'd take her in a heartbeat! The staff truly made this tour extra special, they were so personable and fun to hang out with. Two thumbs enthusiastically up!
One small caveat I hate stating because I loved the tour so much, but 5 of us had to be carted around in a suburban without air conditioning. The majority of the group had an air conditioned tour van but I'm not sure why 5 of us were relegated to the Suburban unless they were overbooked. There are absolutely no air conditioned buildings and you have to walk for about 10 mins or so in the heat to get back to the cars from your last platform. After the zipline they take you to the tequila distillery and provide a quick informative tour followed by tequila tasting. This distillery is also lacking air conditioning of any kind, so that meant we were without any type of reprieve from the oppressive heat and humidity for 5 Â½ hours (45 min drive to and from, prep, zipline, walk, tequila factory). If you have a low tolerance for heat (as I do) it could be really taxing, I had to work not to get irritable (plus I was getting sick), but my hubby couldn't tell I was getting overheated so I must have pulled it off. Everyone in the tour was obviously overheated so you may want to check with the main office when you book if you think it's important that you are placed in the air conditioned vehicle. I would think this much heat exposure without an air conditioned vehicle to break things up, it could negatively impact the experience and this is too great a tour to miss! Even saying that, the 5 of us in the Suburban had an amazing time and loved the tour, even being beat afterward from the hot and muggy day.
After our tour, the guide kindly dropped DH and I at El Cid where we were to find our parasailing operator. We parasailed from the beach, it was so cool and our instructor Raul took great care of us. He and his two assistants got us all hooked up and prepped and both flights went off without a hitch. It was both of our first time parasailing and we LOVED it! It's so quiet up there and felt like we were floating on the breeze, I think it would be fun to take a longer flight next time; it was totally worth the $40pp we paid.
By this time I was sicker than a dog (colds go straight to my chest), it now hurt to talk and I could feel my airways swelling closed so breathing was getting harder. I finally let DH in on my rapidly declining health status and he took me straight back to the ship with a stop by a local pharmacy to grab some meds. He put me to bed and drugged up on expectorant, I went to sleep with a happy smile on my face. What a great day (and a great hubby)!
Day 8 (Puerta Vallarta)
Well, I am definitely still sick today but I feel much better than last night. Sadly, I know that unless I rest and hop up on expectorant, this chest cold will turn right into bronchitis (all my chest colds do, blah), . So this ruled out our planned visit to our all-inclusive resort choice for this trip, Dreams Resort. While I'm bummed, I'm so glad I didn't miss the ziplining/parasailing day. That would have been worse. Sorry all, I'm not much help for PV this trip. DH went out and took some pictures, but he didn't want to do an excursion without me so we spent the day resting and napping.
Remember our bummer news about our BAGS program that for some unidentified reason wasn't being offered for our cruise? Well, we never did get that promised call from Aminta the Guest Services Manager, but DH ran into the Hotel Director in the halls today. Since he'd met the Hotel Director in our meet and greet, they chatted for a few mins and DH asked him about the BAGS program and why it wasn't being offered. DH mentioned the same info he'd tried to tell Miss Inez Ott on our first day and instead of being treated rudely, the Hotel Director empathized with our situation and said, "Hey, you know what, give me your stateroom number and let me at least see if there's anything we can do to help you." WOW, talk about awesome and above the call of duty. DH was completely happy that he was even trying to find an alternative for us. Even if nothing came of this, it was so great to at least be empathized with and to have someone at least look and see if there were any other options for us. We really appreciated him and I wish I could remember his name. DH said you could tell he truly wanted everyone's cruise to be special.
Day 9 (Cabo San Lucas)
Today I decided that I was feeling good enough to do the excursion we booked for Cabo, it was a sailing/snorkeling tour in a covered Catamaran. I figured I'd just grab a seat in the shade and stay put enjoying the day while DH snorkeled since I wasn't coughing or sneezing germs around. There's no way I was going to ruin anyone else's vacation and I felt confident that I was not contagious. It was AWESOME! The weather was fantastic, the boat was better than I imagined, and it was definitely worth the price. It was through Cabo Escape and the boat was a very large two deck catamaran, but the entire first deck was all covered with tables and benches. Top deck was a sun deck big enough for the whole group to do a dance party on the way back. Open bar and a yummy deli lunch was included with lots of fresh, homemade guacamole and salsa. Great music and it was not too loud for those not in the "party hearty" mode. We are not drinkers and felt totally comfortable with the atmosphere -- this was not a booze cruise, but if you wanted to drink and have fun you could. It was cool, it's almost as if they mixed the music so it was upbeat on the way out to Chileno Bay to snorkel, quiet and relaxing while at the snorkel site (perhaps for those who were chillin on the boat?), and then more of a dance mix for the way back. DH took lots of pictures and videos with our underwater camera and the visibility was actually pretty good for Mexico, I was pleasantly surprised. I had a great day, but one small thing I should mention so people can be aware of the possibility. Our tour was scheduled to return by 2:30 and our ship was originally scheduled to leave at 4pm. I figured the ship would schedule the last tender at 3:30 so that would give us a whole hour in case the tour went over. Well, the ship changed its departure time to 3:30 with our last tender at 3pm and Cabo Escape was 35 mins late returning! We pulled into the dock around 3:05 or 3:10. Needless to say we were running back to our tender point which, as luck would have it, was all the way on the opposite side of the marina. HA! We got on the tender and then waited with another couple for the last of the shore excursion staff and got back on the ship by 3:20. We weren't even the last people on board either, apparently we pulled up anchor, and then two last tenders each ferried a full group back right before we left. Probably a NCL sponsored tour that went over. With 5 ships in port that day, each leaving in half hour intervals, I can't imagine us waiting for latecomers unless they were in an NCL tour. At least, I sure wouldn't want to chance it! ? All in all, Cabo was awesome and I was so glad I took a chance and went on the excursion.
Day 10 (Sea Day)
Oh boy, I slept all day -- poor DH. Didn't get to go around and take more pictures of the ship!
Day 11 (Sea Day)
My goodness, I woke up to such powerful rocking this last sea day! The swells were 4.5-7 feet and termed "moderate" seas by the bridge. As we were in forward room, of course we got amazing movement and I had to start popping the Dramamine to keep down the queasiness. This was the only day I really could feel the lack of our usual balcony room, if I feel queasy I usually go out for some fresh air and feel right as rain in no time. Since I had been in bed for the prior day, I didn't really want to get dressed, showered, fix my hair and makeup just for some fresh air to quell the rising nausea and a balcony would sure have come in handy. I finally just sucked it up and got ready for a deck visit. DH and I went to the top and I felt tons better and we got an amazing view of the seasaw that was our ship. I honestly haven't seen so much movement before, it was awesome! There were lots of people out and about so it wasn't bad for most, I guess, I think the fact that I kept to my forward room for most of the day is what prompted the motion sickness. But, we knew that going into the deal but couldn't pass up the price of our forward, ocean view room this time out (and we don't regret our decision either).
Late afternoon was the last Bingo game and we went and joined in the fun. They had these electronic handsets that looked fabulous (DH only bought paper cards in an attempt to save some cash), I would highly recommend using them as everyone who did looked much more at ease than the rest of us who were keeping a close eye on our stacks of paper cards. It was lots of fun, even though we didn't even get close to Bingo. We'll definitely do it again.
Surprise, surprise, we heard from Gary, the Assistant Guest Relations Manager this afternoon and GUESS WHAT?!! They came up with an alternative for us since they weren't doing the BAGS program! I won't go into detail because the Sun is only doing this itinerary three more times and then no ships porting out of San Francisco for the foreseeable future, but it enabled us to do some sightseeing in San Francisco as we'd originally planned and it was fabulous news. We are truly impressed with how the situation was handled and we did NOT have to complain either, I might add. The Hotel Director never knew about DH's experience with the Reception Desk, just took it upon himself to make sure one cruiser felt special and cared for.
I must take this time to point out a couple amazing kudos for the NCL dining venue teams. Since I'd been sick for so many evenings, DH had been to dinner by himself. He decided to ask the first evening if he could order dinner for me and take it to me in my room (I was trying to keep my germs to myself and figured I'd eat room service or have him bring me buffet food). Absolutely 100% of the dining venues my hubby visited each night and 100% of the staff graciously and gladly gave DH anything he wanted to bring me with trays and covers. It was way beyond what I would have thought to ask for and a couple people even insisted on carrying the trays up to our room even though DH said it wasn't necessary. Seriously, how kind and wonderful it was to be taken care of so fully. DH ate again at Le Bistro one evening and they let him order for me as well (of course we paid the cover charge). It was just so wonderful of the staff since it's not like I was without options with the buffets and room service available. So amazing!!
Day 12 (Disembarkation)
Everything went smoothly and according to schedule for disembarkation and we left this wonderful ship and crew on time. Sadly, of course, but on time. It was a great cruise and we absolutely will sail NCL again. I'm very excited to try a newer ship with more spa amenities so I can try out a Spa Pass. What a great team and a great ship... Thanks NCL!!
P.S. I must add here that DH confessed to me after we got home that he was disappointed a bit in the food quality but loved everything else. So far he prefers Princess for the food whereas I couldn't tell the difference. He is more of a foodie than I am but he still enjoyed the food - just wasn't wowed.
I, however, was very happy with our trip and continue to recommend the line to my friends and clients. Read Less