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Everything posted by TheDougOut

  1. The cheesecake and carrot cake were from American Diner.
  2. Cheers! I always think of Live 1/30 when I see that bottle on a shelf.
  3. Burn ‘em up in the Caribbean, Sid!
  4. We ran into a group of them in the Observation lounge, where the bartender was pouring them some B.S. mixed-tequila shot, as we’re throwing back our straight-up shots (out of glasses at more than one stop). “You didn’t say that in the rules!” Oh, ok. 🙄
  5. Those that didn’t participate. Dumbest idea ever.
  6. My “one last time”... Orchestrating the Bliss & Encore transatlantic groups has been exhausting. I’ve been at this for nearly 3 years now, and I can’t even begin to estimate how much time was involved. I’m really looking forward to taking a long (forever?) break from all of this. My first “live” thread was intentional, and it served a purpose. The prior summer my parents wanted to go on a big family cruise in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. We narrowed our ship possibilities down to the Celebrity Summit & the Norwegian Breakaway, eventually deciding on the Breakaway. For the months leading up to our cruise, we all second-guessed our decision based on all the negative posts & reviews found on CruiseCritic & elsewhere. Impossible to get a drink at the bar, an hour-wait for a trip down a water slide, rude staff, etc. - we read it all. We then boarded a fully-booked ship and were blown away by every aspect of the experience. It was absolutely perfect, and all week we just kept shaking our heads, trying to figure out how someone could experience anything other than a great time on that ship. Fast forward to the Escape launch later that year - and all the same negativity began to surface. The ship’s rating on CruiseCritic hung well-below 50% for months, with all the same arguments & critiques being made. The endless discussions debating the ship went in circles, with comments shifting between those that had nothing good to say and those, much like myself, that were dismissed as “cheerleaders”. It irked me to no end. Then it was our turn to have a go at it, and I knew I had an opportunity to dismiss the baseless negativity once and for all. So I went “live”, with the intent to be big, loud, fun, and honest. I wanted to demonstrate what it was REALLY like to go on this class of ship, so all the people planning their first cruise could comfortably dismiss the negativity and allow the fun & anticipation to take over. And it worked - much better than I ever imagined. That first thread nearly killed me. I was well-beyond exhausted as I obsessed over the dialogue that was developing with those reading along. Sue HATED that I was doing it, as I’m OCD and allowed it to completely take over our trip. This became an escalating argument, to the point where I wasn’t allowed to have my phone visible, forcing me to sneak around in order to post. Her frustration continued right up through the morning that we disembarked. That morning we needed to figure out how to spend the day in Miami before flying out that night, and my brain was useless. As we stood in the median outside the port, I knew she was completely pissed off, scowling at me as I could do little more than lean up against our luggage. The next part continues to make me laugh, as right in the middle of all this tension, a young couple run up to meet me. And then seconds later, a taxi screeches to a halt as JimTheLizard jumps out to shake my hand. It wasn’t until that moment that Sue realized just how big it had become, and I spent the rest of the day either smiling or snoring away in some public place. I’d like to think I played some small role in the subsequent shift of the public’s view of the Escape, at least on CruiseCritic. Ratings began to rise, as many more people began to celebrate the ship than ever before. Many subsequent reviewers went “live”, keeping the momentum alive. The thread served its purpose.
  7. I’m sitting here debating if I have any closing thoughts on the ship, but if I’m to be honest, I don’t think we really took much of it in. Those that were on the sailing know - the cruise was all about the people. No ports, no promise of decent weather, and certainly no fanfare. It’s why this thread never fully developed, as we chose to spend every possible moment with the people that mean so much to us. It was one big family reunion from the moment we touched down in Southampton right through to our party in NYC last night. These inaugural transatlantics have accumulated a wealth of life-long friendships, long before we ever got involved. I have little doubt that this tradition will continue with whatever Project Leonardo delivers. The ship itself is beautiful. It feels slightly-less polished and with less continuity than what is felt on the Bliss. Compare the DBH theming between the two - The Bliss has the fantastic bear & wilderness pieces that align with the Alaska & Wyland theming, with tons of detail to discover in every nook. The Encore’s version feels a bit Applebee’s-ish, with generic & cheap-looking motorcycle art thrown around. I wouldn’t be shocked to find a TJ Maxx price-tag left behind. Some of this can be felt in several other public spaces. Those that have followed the “everything” thread already know... I’m not a fan of NCL’s decisions regarding the Encore’s upper decks. I’ll leave it at that, and we can all watch how their new approach plays out in the Caribbean. The crew continues to be the best at sea. While we’ve flirted with other mainstream lines, we’ve always returned to NCL, and the friendliness of the crew has been a big part of that. Those that will be sailing the Encore in the coming months will be treated to the best of the best.
  8. All sins are forgiven as we cross... welcome to the family. 😘
  9. Two bars in... with talk of a Leonardo reunion, the loss of Sue & Heather to a Thai restaurant, an attempt to friend request @LrgPizza on Facebook only to find out that her profile is too locked down, and the ordering of spicy pickle spears...
  10. They started disembark / customs check about 20 minutes ago. Strange views from the DBH tonight...
  11. From my favorite ship, to my first (in 2002)...
  12. First glimpse of my favorite ship in the distance...
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