JanJ & KenJ's First Cruise - NCL Trip Report

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Joined: 07/19/2013
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Eeyore wrote:
KenJ wrote:
Eeyore wrote:
So, is there a Disney Cruise in the works? biggrin

We're looking into it in fact! biggrin

We might tack a cruise onto our January 2015 trip. We've been looking back at your great trip report too. awesome

clapping January would be an awesome time to escape the winter weather!

I want to go on the Disney Alaska cruise....but it's like 6K for two people, for a balcony room.....I could tour Italy for the kind of money! laugh

6K? Ouch! That does get into the "travel Europe" category. Then again, Alaska is quite intriguing and a rather unique destination. Hmmm...

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So, Ken has pretty much told our cruise with pictures, and now I will add the narrative.

Based on VelcroPooh's recommendation we bought some ginger pills and I started taking 2/day a few days before we left. Ken started the day before and we also bought some ginger candy. Ken likes that, but I just stuck with the pills. Happy to report that we were fine on the ship and didn't even need to break out the sea bands. We did feel the ship moving, but the waves were only maximum 5 feet. It was a great way to fall asleep with the rocking of the ship.

Day 1
As Ken mentioned we left Saturday morning and flew into Fort Lauderdale. We arrived about 1/2 hr early and sat on the tarmac for about 15 min. We were a little concerned as the pilot even turned off the engines, but it turned out to not be too long of a wait for a gate to open up. That is one crazy busy airport on Saturdays. It was wall-to-wall people. eek I guess it's due to the cruise ships - we saw 4 in port in Fort Lauderdale and there was 5, including ours, in the Port of Miami.

We found our NCL rep and went out to wait for our bus to take us to the port. We were in Miami by 1:30 and once we got checked in, we were on the ship by 2pm. We checked out our room, and then wondered around. We headed up to Deck 15 and lo and behold, we ended up at the buffet, so needless to say, we had some lunch. We went and picked up our cups for soda - we had purchased to soda plan, but looking back, it was a complete waste of money. It was only good for fountain pop and did not include the canned pop in our minibar. We also bought some bottled water for the room and that was what we mostly drank. We had not made any dinner reservations for Saturday, as we wanted to play it by ear and see how we felt. We had a little nap in the afternoon and then finally headed down for dinner about 8pm.

We wanted to try Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian (one of my fav Iron Chefs), so decided to head there. What an amazing experience and by far one of the best during the whole trip. As Ken mentioned, after we had ordered dessert, our waitress brought out a small b-day cake and 2 glasses of champagne as well as a rose for me. She had noticed that it was my birthday the next day and her and the rest of the staff (6 in total) sang to me. It was a perfect end to the evening. Since we had already ordered dessert, she offered to have the cake sent back to our room, and I ate it the next day. Couldn't let it go to waste, right? wink I then received another b-day cake when we returned to our room - our cabin steward had made a towel cake for me! It was a great way to end the day. awesome

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Day 2 and 3
These were our first of 3 sea days, and we basically lazed around the ship, spending a lot of time on our balcony and wandering out on Deck 8. This deck you could almost walk around the whole ship and it was quiet. We didn't spend very much time up on the pool deck, as it was just too crowded and too noisy for us. We did do the "Behind the Scenes Tour" on Day 3 and as seen in Ken's pictures, we toured one of the galleys, the provision area, one of the freezers, the laundry area, environmental (ie. waste and how they deal with it) and then ended at the bridge. It was very interesting and cool to see "backstage". We also had our picture taken with the Captain - he had just come on board the same day as us.

Day 4 - St Maartan
Ken was up early (6am) taking pictures of the island and the docking procedure - he was very excited to see land. silly
We had a nice lazy breakfast and finally left the ship a couple of hours after we docked and then, based on JMed's advice, we just took a taxi to Maho Beach, along with 8 other people. We didn't book any excursions, as we just wanted to see the airport and watch the planes land. We reached there around 11am, so had about an hour to wait for the daily 747 KLM landing at noon. By that time, there were several people around as there were 4 other cruise ships docked this day. We watched several planes land, including the 747 and then headed back to the ship around 1. We knew the 747 was not taking off until 4pm or so, and we needed to be on the ship by 5:30, so didn't want to get stuck in traffic. We wandered around the shops and had a mojito and also bought some macaroons before heading back onto the ship. Thanks for the advice JMed!! biggrin

Dinner tonight was at La Cucina, an Italian restaurant - it was amazing and we were too full to have dessert. A few laps around the deck outside and then it was back to the cabin for the night.

Day 5 - St Thomas
We docked at 8am in St Thomas and walked ashore after another amazing breakfast. We were very close to the Skyride, so walked over and went up for the view. We spent about an hour up there and watched the Carnival Liberty come in and dock behind us and also the Allure of the Seas dock off in the distance - that is one big ship and you can see it dwarfs the Celebrity ship beside it in one of Ken's pictures. The view was spectacular! We wandered around the shops by the dock and then headed back onto the ship for lunch. We were leaving dock earlier today as we were headed back towards Miami.

This night we booked the Illusionarium dinner show. It was amazing and we still can't figure out how they did some of their illusions. The performers were on stage in front and around the audience so you could see everything. The meal was very good here - beef filet and shrimp for a main course.

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Day 6 - Last full day at sea
The illusionists were talking about their show in the morning, so we watched this. They were answering questions from the audience, of course they would not tell us how they did their tricks, but it was very interesting. We then had our picture taken with a few of them (yes, we bought some of the official cruise pictures) and Ken bought a couple of DVD's. It was just another lazy day, enjoying the quiet deck and our balcony. We did venture up onto the pool deck and when we walked by the adult pool, there was no way you could get any more people in there - it was packed! Lots of thumping music and lots going on - just not our scene, so we went back to our balcony. Dinner was the Italian restaurant again - so good. We had received a bottle of white wine and some cheese and crackers from guest services a few days before, so we brought the wine for us to drink with our dinner. It was nice and obviously, we didn't have to buy it. We also signed up for our first official excursion for the next stop of Nassau. I wanted to do a beach day, so it was the Blue Lagoon Island for a few hours. They also have dolphin and sea lions here, so we could see them as well.

Day 7 - Nassau, Bahamas
We didn't dock here until noon and since it was Good Friday, we also heard a lot of the stores were closed, so it was a good thing we booked the excursion as there wasn't much to do at the port. Off we went for a 45 min boat ride out past Paradise Island and Atlantis. We saw where all the stars had their beach houses - spectacular homes. Once we arrived at the island, we got our lunch, which was included and then made our way to the beach area. There weren't any lounge chairs left, so we sat on our towels on the sand. I went in for a quick swim and the water was a lot colder than I thought it would be. We then wandered over to where the dolphins were and watch for a bit and then over to the sea lions. By then, it was time for the first boat back, so we decided to head back to our ship. Dinner tonight was at the French Le Bistro - the food was great, service not so much. They wanted to seat us out in the open area, but we said no, it's too noisy. Their open area was in the middle of the ship, not on the deck and there was always people around as there was a place to take pictures right there. After dinner, we headed to the theatre as the staff put on a variety show to commemorate the cruise. It was fantastic and the cruise director was hilarious. It was a good way to end the day.

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Day 8 - Back in Miami
We docked about 7 am and since we had an early flight, we decided to do the walk off and take our own baggage. It was pretty straight forward once they let us off. We then headed to our bus that was taking us to the airport and waited for everyone else to arrive. There were no issues in us getting back to the airport, which was good and then we waited. Again, there were wall-to-wall people. The airport is currently under construction and expanding and I can see why.

We will definitely cruise again and are seriously considering a Disney cruise - maybe tack it onto our planned January trip? I'm definitely interested in how the cruise would be Disney-fied and it would be Western Caribbean this time. We'll keep you all posted. crossfingers mickey

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Sounds like a great trip. I would like to go on a cruise some day.

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Great narrative and incredible photos! So glad you enjoyed yourselves!

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Sorry when I wrote this comment I didn't realize you had already been on your cruise. I was thinking 2015. Sorry! Glad you had a good time.

I absolutely love cruising!!! I have been on 2 in the Caribbean and 1 in Alaska and would go on another at the drop of a hat. I think it's prudent for you to not go on a cruise longer than 7 days for your first time. After this one, I am sure you will want to go on a longer cruise...it gives you more time to unwind and relax. I had a high stressful job and this is just what was needed to unwind.

It can either be a fast paced or slower environment depending on what you want to do on land excursions and ship activities--it's up to you. It's nice as all meals (formal are great!) are planned and shows/activites can be slotted in around your meal times. The planning is nothing compared to Disney ....No ADR's, no Fastpasses, no long lines waiting to do something. Of course activities are not nearly as extravagent or numerous as at Disney. All you need to do is pick what activites you want to do at port...preferably before you go on cruise.

I am a person who always gets car sick but I haven't on a cruise. I believe the ships are so well built and balanced that you don't realize you are on the ocean. Hopefully no storms to cause any unexpected rocking and rolling. If you do get sick they have OTC medicine on board and they have a doctor on call all the time if needed.

Have a great time. I look forward to hearing your comments about the experience.

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