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Everything posted by RockyMtnCruiser1

  1. You're welcome! We've used two sites for day use rooms (Day Use and Hotels by Day). I think both sites give you various options for check in/check out times. I was trying to find my old reservation when we did a day use room by LAX, but I can't track it down. I'm pretty sure we stayed at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport and I know we paid more than New Orleans (over $100). It was nice and they have a complimentary shuttle to the airport. We were on the Star doing a Mexican Riviera cruise this time last year and had an amazing time! We saw so many whales in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo! Hope you have a great cruise!
  2. I’m actually not sure what that’s all about either! Sorry! Maybe someone else can chime in? You’re welcome! Thanks for the info about the Summit! We’re really excited to get back on a smaller ship. Their drink package does look really nice and does seem to include more than NCL’s. Thanks so much! It was definitely fun doing the review and reliving our trip. We really did enjoy the entertainment on NCL - hope you do too!!
  3. It’s different for every hotel. We paid $69 plus tax to stay from 8am to 4pm. If you Google “day use room,” a few different websites come up.
  4. Final Thoughts When we booked this cruise, we wanted to use it to see if we liked the smaller ships over the larger ships and if we liked Norwegian better than Royal Caribbean. We also wanted to see if we liked cruising out of New Orleans since it’s an easy port for us to fly to. We definitely prefer the smaller ships to the larger ships! While we liked the Getaway and would cruise on her again if the itinerary was one we wanted to do, the larger ships really aren’t our speed. Having to book everything in advance and having a hard time getting into certain venues was frustrating. It really didn’t seem like a lot of the venues were large enough for the amount of cruisers. Our last sea day was not great weather so everyone was inside and everything was super crowded. If for whatever reason, people decide not to go to the buffet (like when the precautions were put in place on this cruise regarding self-service), the other dining options get completely bogged down and make for a very long dining experience. Our experience in the smaller ships was a lot more personal and staff seemed to recognize and engage with cruises more often. After this cruise, we can definitely say that we like Norwegian better than Royal Caribbean. The main reason for that is the quality of the entertainment. Both the performers playing at the bars and the ones in the theater shows were amazing. There was always some type of live music going on! In our experience, we have also found that when we’ve sailed on Norwegian, there were fewer kids and the cruisers seemed more relaxed. Regarding sailing out of New Orleans again, we’d definitely do it. We did have some issues trying to figure out where to put our luggage that first day and issues getting a Lyft when we got off. Now that we know all the tricks, sailing out of there again would be a breeze. We booked our next cruise a few weeks ago and it’s surprisingly not with Norwegian! I was all set to book a Southern Caribbean cruise out of Puerto Rico for January 2021 on the Encore when I decided I should shop around first. I looked at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity for the same/similar itineraries. We’ve been wanting to try Celebrity, but we couldn’t justify the price in the past. Well, this time around, the Celebrity cruise actually ended up being the best price with the best perks! We booked it, but I’m still keeping my eye on future Norwegian cruises. Well, that wraps this all up! Thanks for following along!
  5. Cruise - Disembarkation (Sunday, February 2nd) We decided to skip breakfast in the MDR this morning and just do room service again to save time. We were also doing self-assist and we had a day use room scheduled starting at 8am. We thought it’d be less stressful to get off the ship earlier and avoid some of the crowds. We scheduled our room service to come between 6:30am and 7:00am (the earliest time slot possible). It arrived early around 6:15am which was fine because we were already up and waiting. We had mostly packed the night before, so we didn’t have much to do that morning. Getting off the ship and through customs took no time at all. We didn’t experience any delays. We were outside the terminal and ordering a Lyft around 7:45am. The Lyft drivers seemed to still be having a hard time understanding the confusing Norwegian Terminal access. The first one we ordered was originally 3 minutes away, but it kept missing the turn to get to the front of the Norwegian terminal and drove around. After it did this a few times, we canceled that one and ordered another one. This one accepted the ride, but then never moved. We decided it would be best to walk away from the terminal a bit and try another one. We made our way across Julia Street and we were able to get a driver immediately. Since our flight back home wasn’t until 4:50pm, we reserved a day use room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Orleans Airport. We figured if we felt like exploring New Orleans some more we could, but if we felt like being lazy, we had a place to chill out. We felt like being lazy! It was a very comfortable room and we stayed there until catching their shuttle to the airport. Dropping off our bags and getting through security was a breeze. Our flight was on time and we were back in Denver before we knew it! I’ll wrap this all up in the next post with some of our final thoughts.
  6. Hi there! I've been posting a day by day trip report for our end of January cruise on the Getaway. I just finished day 7. All the Freestyle Dailies are there if you do some digging. Here you go!
  7. Cruise - Day 7 - At Sea (Saturday, February 1st) Before we went to bed, we checked out the weather forecast and saw that it was going to be cooler (in the 60s) and pretty windy, so we figured we’d plan our day around not hanging out in the sun. We met two ladies earlier in the day that went to the Wine Lover’s Musical and loved it. We checked on the app to see if there were still tickets for tomorrow and there were! We booked it for 12:15pm, put out our room service order, and called it a night. Here’s the Freestyle Daily and the disembarkation info: After breakfast, we headed over to the spa to get our daily fix in! We ordered extra orange juice with our breakfast this morning, so we could make mimosas with our complimentary sparkling wine in our room. After the spa, we were thinking about purchasing two CruiseNext certificates as I already had my eye on a Southern Caribbean Cruise in January 2021, so we headed there to see how bad the line was. There were only two groups ahead of us so we decided to wait. We purchased two CruiseNext certificates on our last cruise, so we knew the gist of how it worked, but had a few questions. We only waited a few minutes to talk to someone. We explained we’d purchased 4 certificates before, but we couldn’t remember exactly how they applied the charges (directly to your credit card, or to your onboard account, etc.) and we wanted to understand more about how the onboard credit worked. We specifically wanted to know if we purchased two certificates and got $250 onboard credit, what would happen if our onboard account was less than $250. But first we just wanted to verify that we could use two certificates on inside rooms under the current “Double Up” promotion, since we already had 2 certificates left from our last purchase. The man pretty quickly cut us off before we could even ask the first question and immediately went into why we should buy four certificates rather than two, especially since the “Double Up” offer had been going on for months and he didn’t see it stopping anytime soon. We knew we only wanted two, but he was very pushy about us getting four instead. We had to ask our questions several times to get him to actually answer our OBC question. He finally said, in a roundabout way, that the amount currently on your onboard account didn’t matter, since the certificates would be charged to your account and then you’d see a credit for the OBC credit amount after that. Basically all of the money, both the charge for the CruiseNext certificates, and your rebate for the purchase, happens on your current OBC account. I don’t understand why they don’t make this clearer, or just offer the CruiseNext certificates at the discounted rate to avoid all the confusion (“Get $500 for $250!” rather than “Spend $500 and get $250 Back!”). Anyways, so I turned to Patrick and asked if we wanted to purchase two or four. He was about to answer, but the CruiseNext associate cut him off and said he had a line. I started to ask him if we needed to come back to the desk to purchase the certificates or if we could do it on the app. He pretty much threw some documentation at me and dismissed us. Keep in mind, we were talking with him for less than 5 minutes and there were maybe 3-4 other groups waiting in line. There was another associate helping people too. Anyways, this was just really weird to us and left us feeling a little uncomfortable. We’ve never been treated this rudely by any staff before. After that, we headed to the photo studio to see if we wanted to purchase any photos. We found our binder and flipped through the 8x10s of our photos. We found three we really liked, so we hopped on one of the kiosks to see the available packages. We started going through the digital only packages, but we thought the pricing was really strange. You paid a flat rate for the “digital package,” but then you paid extra for each photo you added. I think it was $59.99 for the package and $24.99 for each photo. We went back through the packages and saw an option for a three photo package with printed copies and a USB for the digital versions. That package was $99.99. That was a better price so we started trying to purchase it on the kiosk. It was confusing because you had to add photos to your cart first and then select the photo package. Once you did that, your only option was to check out. You couldn’t review the photos you had added. Luckily while we were trying to figure this out, one of the staff members came over to check on us. We told him our issue and he tried to go through it too. He got stuck where we did and told us it would probably just be easier if we came up front and he’d check us out that way! It was smooth sailing from there. We grabbed our 8x10s of the photos we were getting from our binder and headed to checkout. He told us that our USB would be ready after 7pm that night. One quick note - we had to ask for our Latitudes discount to be applied, the system didn’t do it automatically. We dropped our photos off in our room and headed to the Illusionarium for the Wine Lover’s Musical. I think we got there about 30 minutes early and people were already in line. They scanned our cards and had us wait down a hallway with a lot of fun circus decorations on the wall. Within no time, the line was moving. They had a waiter escort you to your table. We were seated at a table for six with two other couples. We had bread and butter at our places as well as two of the red wines already poured. Once a lot of people were seated, servers came around and poured three of the white wines. Our appetizer was delivered and pretty much everyone was done eating that before the show started. The show only has three cast members in it and they were all awesome! We recognized all three performers from the other shows around the cruise (including Johnny Cash from the Million Dollar Quartet). It’s pretty much a comedy/musical walking you through the basics of wine tasting. It was hilarious! Some of the jokes are a little on the raunchy side, so if you’re not a fan of a little bit of crude humor, this probably isn’t the show for you! We thought it was hysterical and laughed throughout the entire show. During the show, our dinner and then dessert were served, as well as a port and sparkling wine. You’re only supposed to drink the next wine when they tell you to during the show. The pace of switching to the next wine was good for the first three wines. After that, the next ones came fast and we were still working on the previous wine when the queue to taste the next came up. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it was a lot of wine in a short period of time. After the musical, we had a pretty good buzz going and decided we needed to find something to do because if we went back to our room, we’d be out for the night! We’d been wanting to check out the cigar lounge, so we headed over there. There was an attendant in the lounge that helped us purchase our cigar and had all the supplies we needed to get it started. We had a relaxing time there and enjoyed talking with the other guests. After the cigar lounge, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner and do some packing. Then we headed down to The Tropicana Room for our 5:30pm reservation, of course stopping at The Sunset Bar for some wine! One of the piano players from Howl at the Moon was hanging out there, so we stopped to tell him how great their show was. He was super friendly! There was hardly any line to get into the Tropicana Room that night. For apps, I had the Pan Seared Fish Cake and Patrick had the Seafood Gumbo. For our main course, I had the Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Patrick had the Cajun Chicken and Sausage. For dessert, I had the Honey Creme Brulee and Patrick had the Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. After dinner, we headed to the Getaway Theater to see the Jeff Lyons Rock Show play again. They did great on the big stage! The Crew Farewell was scheduled right after the show, but we didn’t feel like staying for that, so we headed out. We decided to head over to Headliner’s to watch the final Howl at the Moon show. The best thing about this show is that it’s always different because it depends on what people are requesting. We spent the rest of our night there. It was so much fun! Up next, disembarkation!
  8. Cruise - Day 6 - At Sea (Friday, January 31st) Day 6 was back to our usual routine of having our breakfast delivered and then heading to the spa. We got to the spa right around 8am and one thing we noticed this morning was that the beverage station was not set up. Not a huge issue, but it was a little strange. After our time relaxing in the spa, we asked the employees at the front desk on our way out about the beverage station, and they told us there would be no self-service anywhere on the ship that day as a health precaution, but not to worry as it was only precautionary. After that we headed up to deck 18 to get some sun. It wasn’t busy at all yet and we had our pick of loungers. I decided to hop online real quick to see if anyone had posted anything about what was going on regarding no self-service. I found the thread on here that said other Norwegian ships had the same thing happening and that it was a fleet-wide decision. Good to know that someone wasn’t sick on the ship! Though it was odd since nobody had made any announcements or even put up signage on our ship about the change. As the morning went on, the sundeck really started to fill up, but there were always some open loungers. It was interesting overhearing other people talking about what was going on with no self-service in the buffet. Lots of people were speculating about the reason and people saying they wouldn’t eat in the buffet now for fear of catching something. I really don’t get why NCL doesn’t make an announcement in situations like this. Better to keep everyone in the loop! Patrick decided he was going to go work out and then grab us a snack for lunch. He said the buffet was dead when he went around 12:30pm. Hardly anyone was getting lunch there! After lunch, we headed over to the Atrium to catch the mega ships presentation. We noticed that the line to eat at O'Sheenan's was very long as people were eating there rather than going to the buffet. After the presentation, we went out to The Waterfront to relax with a mojito. After that, it was back to the spa for more relaxation and then time to get ready for dinner. We headed to The Sunset Bar to grab a pre-dinner drink. It was a gorgeous day, but a little windy! We had 5:30pm reservations at The Tropicana Room and headed there around 5:15pm. We were surprised to see there was already quite the line forming to get in! We figured people were probably still skipping the buffet. While we were standing in line, an announcement was finally made about the changes in restaurants regarding not having self-service and all the extra cleaning we’d been seeing during the day. We were told that it was just a precaution and that it was a company decision that was fleet-wide. We weren’t sure why they waited all day to let people know this, but it was good that everyone could stop being so worried. The line to get into the dining room continued to grow as we waited to get in. People were confused about why you had to wait in the same line whether you had a reservation or not. We watched a lot of people approach the staff to ask about it. One of the staff explained it by saying that having a reservation doesn’t mean you will be able to skip the line when you arrive, it just means there will be a table available for you. We probably waited about 20 minutes to get seated. A few things we noticed were that we didn’t have wine menus on the table, our silverware was rolled up in a napkin, and bread was served to us (no basket left on the table). Not a big deal! For apps, I ordered the Baked Brie Salad and Patrick ordered the Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli. For our main course, I had the Chicken & Seafood Paella and Patrick had the Broiled Lemon Pepper Coalfish. Both were very good, but mine was lacking on the chicken. I think I found two tiny pieces! By the time we were done with our main course, it was nearly 6:45pm and our waiter was nowhere in sight. We had 7:30pm reservations for the Million Dollar Quartet show, so we decided to skip dessert since the service was noticeably slower with so many people choosing the MDRs over the buffet that night. We wanted to make sure we got to the theater early enough to get the seats we like. We got to the theater just after 7pm and relaxed with a drink. Million Dollar Quartet was incredible. We really couldn’t believe how talented the performers were, especially the guy who played Johnny Cash! After the show, we stopped by The Sunset Bar for a fresh drink before deciding on our plans for the rest of the night. We started talking to a super friendly couple at the bar there and ended up just chatting with them for the rest of the night before heading to bed. Next up, our last day at sea!
  9. Haha! We definitely try lots of different cocktails when we cruise! That was a Dark and Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime) before I mixed it up. It's so refreshing. Jamaica really has a gorgeous coastline! Those lovebirds were honestly the entire reason we added Dolphin Cove to our Dunn's River Falls excursion. I love birds and have all types of feeders set up at home, so to be able to have these cuties eat out of our hands was priceless!
  10. We did this on the Getaway on February 1st. Here's the food menu for anyone interested:
  11. Cruise - Day 5 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Thursday, January 30th), continued After enjoying some time in the sun, we headed back to our room to relax and get ready for dinner. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to have pre-dinner drinks on The Waterfront. We headed to The Sunset Bar. Here’s the menu: I had the Bliss Boulevardier and Patrick had the Matador. After a stroll around The Waterfront, we headed to The Tropicana Room for our 5:30pm reservation and we were seated right away. For apps, I had the Smoked Duck and Patrick had the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. For our main course, I had the Bay Scallop Pasta Newburg and Patrick had the Lamb Curry. For dessert, I had the Flan de Coco and Patrick had the Blueberry Pavlova. We had one of the best servers we’ve ever had on a cruise (Qing Quan from China). She was super friendly and on the ball. I got up to use the restroom and she appeared out of thin air and asked if I was going to the restroom and then told me exactly how to get there. It was also the only time on the entire cruise that our coffee came out before our dessert! I don’t know why it seems like it’s a huge challenge to get coffee out with your dessert, but we always order it with our deserts, and we’ve experienced that problem on both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. After dinner, we didn’t really have plans for the night, but noticed there was something called “Escape the Big Top Game” in Headliners. We weren’t really sure what this was, but figured we’d head over there and find out. There was a line when we got there and a lot of people had pieces of paper. We asked a group what it was and they told us it’s an escape room and they made reservations when they got on board. We figured we’d see if they had any spots still available and they did! We joined a fun group! We’ve done escape rooms before and we like them. This one was fun, but it was also very hard! They had six different stations of circus-themed puzzles that you had to solve and then put the solved puzzles together in a specific way to unlock a treasure chest in the front of the room. No team was able to solve all of it. At the end, they did go through how to solve everything and, of course, it all makes sense then! After the Escape Room, we headed over to the mojito bar to see the piano player (JR Neal). He was doing an Elton John Tribute later on and we already knew how great he was, so we didn’t want to miss that! The place was jam packed! Everyone was singing along to all the songs. We had a great time. We called it a night after that to rest up for another relaxing day at sea.
  12. Cruise - Day 5 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Thursday, January 30th) Sorry for the delay in continuing with our report! Here's the Freestyle Daily for Day 5: Since we had an excursion planned for this day that had a meeting time of 9:15am, we decided we’d eat in the MDR to get a heartier breakfast. We got there right when they opened at 7:30am and there was no wait. For breakfast, I started with the Sliced Melon Plate and then had the Eggs Benedict with Country Potatoes. Patrick started with Oatmeal and then had the Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Bagel. Both meals were tasty. Mine was a lot of food! Patrick had to help me finish it. After breakfast, we headed back to our room to pack up for our day in Jamaica. We were set to dock at 9am but at around 8:45am the cruise director told everyone they were still clearing us and to not make our way down to exit the ship. She advised everyone to either stay in their room or hang in any of the public areas. Since our excursion meeting time was at 9:15am, when we still hadn’t received the “all clear” by 9am, we were getting a little worried! It did come shortly after 9am and we made our way to the appropriate deck. The line was out of control! Clearly no one else was listening to the cruise director’s directions. It was probably close to 9:10am by the time we made our way to the end of the line. It was a little chaotic and everyone was really concerned about missing their excursion. A couple behind us asked an employee if the excursion would wait since everyone was late getting off the ship. They were reassured that excursions wouldn’t leave without us. I think Norwegian could have done a better job making this clear over announcements. Anyways, we were off the ship in about 15 minutes. Ocho Rios had a nice signage setup for guiding everyone to where they need to go based on if they booked an excursion through the ship or a third party. All the ship excursions met up in a large building. Since this was our first time in Jamaica, we knew we wanted to do Dunn's River Falls. For our excursion we decided to do the option that also went to Dolphin Cove. Our guide for this was great! She checked us in, gave everyone wristbands, and then led us to the bus to take us to the falls. You have to wear either tennis shoes or water shoes to climb the falls. We purchased some water shoes on Amazon, but you could also rent them for $10. Once you get to the falls, you get another wristband and then meet up with your river guide. Our guide for this part of the trip was also awesome and he did a really good job keeping everyone together. You can rent lockers for $8. As long as you bring back your key and your dry receipt, they give you $3 back. There are two different options for climbing the falls. You can actually get into the water and climb up the falls themselves or there’s an easier, paved steps option that skirts the side of the falls. We wanted to have a full experience of actually climbing up the falls. To get to the start of the climb, you go down a bunch of the steps and end up right on the beach. It was beautiful! Once we all got down to the beach, our guide had us all hold hands and up we went! You end up going up about 160 feet in .8 miles. We do a lot of hiking in Colorado, so we weren’t worried about the actual climb. The fact that you have to hold hands the whole way up definitely was challenging as everyone is moving at a different pace and there are lots of little drop offs. It definitely makes sense why they have you do that though because it’d be really easy to lose your group in the mob of people going up! Each guide had a different call they used for their group. Our guide yelled “HEY HEY HEY” to get our attention, which was nice because there are a ton of groups trying to make their way up! We had a great time! I don’t know if we’d ever do it again, but it was fun to knock it off our bucket list. They did have photographers and videographers going up with each group, so you could purchase photos and a video at the end for $40. Patrick had our phone in a waterproof case and a nice couple behind us kept offering to take our photo, so we were good! After climbing the falls, we met back up with our original guide and hopped on a bus to Dolphin Cove. It was less than a 5 minute ride over there. Once there, she explained all the options available to us and gave us a meeting time to head back to the ship. Included in our excursion was the animal park with love birds, parrots, iguanas, and rabbits. We also could snorkel with stingrays, kayak, or just hang out on the beach or by the pool. There was another option where you could swim with the dolphins (we decided against this), but since it’s all on the same property we could still watch the dolphins. There’s also a pool with nurse sharks. We decided to grab a few Red Stripes and explore the property. We had about an hour and a half here before it was time to head back to the ship. Everyone was given the option to either go directly to the ship or they would take you into town for shopping/lunch and then bring you back to the ship after that. We’re not big into shopping, so we decided to call it a day! We’d been in the shade most of the day, so we headed up to deck 18 to get some sun. I'll finish up day 5 in the next post!
  13. Cruise - Day 4 - George Town, Grand Cayman (Wednesday, January 29th) Day 4 started out exactly like day 3 with breakfast in bed and then a visit to the Thermal Suite. We decided not to get off the ship in Grand Cayman because there were six ships in port that day and we just really didn’t want to deal with the tender process with that many people coming back. Here's the Freestyle Daily: After the Thermal Suite, we grabbed our morning Bloody Mary and made our way up to Deck 18 to get some sun. It was a beautiful day! There were a few more people on the ship this morning compared to day 3 since many people were still waiting for their tender group to be called. We could hear the announcements about which tender group could proceed to the appropriate gangway from our spot on Deck 18 and from what I can remember, Tender Group A was called on time at 10am. They didn’t call open tender until 1:15pm. After a few hours in the sun, we decided to check out O'Sheehan's for lunch. A lot of the reviews I’d read recommended the wings, so of course we had to try them! We had them with the Jamaican Jerk sauce and they did not disappoint. For our actual lunch, I had the Classic Cheeseburger and Patrick had the Grilled Reuben on Rye. Both were very good! After lunch, we spent some more time in the Thermal Suite (all those jets in the therapy pool are great for working out any aches and pains) and then headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. It was such a beautiful day that we decided to grab a drink and take a stroll around The Waterfront before dinner. We headed to The Tropicana Room at 5:30pm and, just like previous days, we were seated without a wait. For apps, I had the Cheesy Mashed Potatoes Croquettes and Patrick had the Cheddar and Roasted Corn Chowder. The Croquettes are one of my favorite appetizers! I’d eat these every night if I could! For our main course, I had the Grilled Calamari and Patrick had the Mediterranean Sirloin Beef Brochette. Patrick's meal was exceptional - the sirloin was super flavorful and tender. For dessert, I had the Chocolate Espresso Cake and Patrick had the Warm Bread Pudding. After dinner, we made our way over to the Sunset Bar for a drink before trivia in Syd Norman’s at 7:15pm. The “Rock the Pour House Band '' was there at 8pm and we wanted to make sure we could get a seat this time. We were hanging out in the Sunset Bar around 6:30pm when we noticed a line already starting to form at Syd Norman’s. The venue didn’t officially open until 6:45pm. By the time the doors opened, there were probably 15 people in line. We made our way in and grabbed a seat. We never ordered any of the signature cocktails here, but here’s the menu for those who are interested. One of the singers from the “Rock the Pour House” show actually hosted trivia. She did a great job. It was mostly 50’s and 60’s rock trivia which is just a little bit out of our wheelhouse! We still had fun though! Just like we had noticed the night before, barely anyone left before the show started. We really enjoyed the show! It’s a rock show with a little skit mixed in and the singers are wandering around the bar interacting with the patrons during the songs. It’s really fun and the performers were super talented! Quick note, we used the Norwegian app a lot while looking at evening events on the go. On the app, it said this show went from 8pm to 9pm. It actually went from 8pm to 9:45pm with a 15 minute intermission. The Freestyle Daily only gave it a start time. Anyways, moral of the story, don’t trust duration times on the app. After that, we headed back to our room to rest up for our Jamaican adventure!
  14. Thank you! The main course is definitely light on the veggies. They are there, but often times are hiding under the meat! You can always order an extra salad from the appetizer options to give you some more greens with your main course. Thanks!! We definitely planned this cruise to be a more relaxing one and it did not disappoint. We weren't happy about how hard it was to get into the smaller venues. Once we figured out the trick of getting there ridiculously early, we were okay. One thing I'd say is that the shows in the main theater were exceptional. If you can book all your shows prior to boarding, I'd recommend doing that!
  15. Cruise - Day 3 - Cozumel, Mexico (Tuesday, January 28th) Day 3 started out exactly like day 2! We enjoyed our breakfast in bed and then headed to the Thermal Suite. Since it wasn’t a sea day, we had the entire place to ourselves! Here's the Freestyle Daily: After the Thermal Suite, we made our way up to deck 18 to get some sun (grabbing a Bloody Mary on the way). We decided not to get off the ship as we had been to Cozumel before and it was a short day with all aboard being at 2:30pm. Below are some photos from around deck 18, including a bird’s-eye view of the Vibe Beach Club. I seriously considered trying to get Vibe passes on this trip, but Patrick convinced me to go without it based on our previous experience of Norwegian ships having plenty of loungers in the sun (especially if you don’t want to be right by the pool). If we had issues getting loungers in the sun this time around, he agreed we’d try to purchase the passes on our next cruise. Well, Patrick was right and we definitely didn’t need the passes. I have no doubt that the experience in Vibe is wonderful, but the cost wouldn’t have been worth it for us on this cruise. If having a more exclusive experience with dedicated bartenders, bathrooms, padded loungers, etc., is important to you, then the Vibe is definitely for you! Making our way down a few decks to use the bathroom or get a drink doesn’t bother us. Can I just say how weird I think the design of the pool area is on the Getaway? There are virtually no chairs around the pool that are in the sun. The chairs around the pool are mostly in the shade. I did like how the pool had a super shallow area where you could sit and dangle your legs into the water. After a few hours in the sun, Patrick decided he needed to hit the gym. I just laughed and asked him to get me a drink before he left! He was back in about an hour and brought us some hummus, veggies, cheese, meat, and fruit from the buffet to snack on. We ended our afternoon with a nap on the padded loungers in the Thermal Suite and then headed back to get ready for dinner. We headed down to The Tropicana Room for our 5:30pm reservation and we were seated right away. For apps, I had the Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli and Patrick had the Roasted Beet Salad. For our main course, I had the Almond-Crusted Ruby Red Trout and Patrick had the Bang Bang Chicken. After Patrick ordered, our server said “that’s me!” We were a little confused about what he was talking about and then he pointed to his name tag and said “that’s my name, Bang Bang!” He was a really fun and amazing server throughout our meal! For dessert, I had the Bananas Foster and Patrick had the Tiramisu Cake. After dinner, we grabbed an Old Fashioned at the Sunset Bar and headed to Syd Norman’s Pour House. The band that was on later that night at 8:15pm was a Foreigner Tribute Band and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it after our experience the previous two nights. There was karaoke from 7pm to 8pm first, so we figured we’d just plan to spend our evening there. The host was hysterical! I don’t know his name, but he was young and from the Philippines. He was super energetic and would even jump in to sing and dance with karaoke singers. Our decision to get to Syd Norman’s early was a good one. I’d say by 7:30pm, all of the seats were taken and barely anyone who was there left after karaoke ended. Is this super frustrating? Absolutely! Is there really anything Norwegian can do about it? Probably not, unless they let people make reservations for these shows. But, again, it’s just a really small space. Also, there is a server coming around to get drink orders, but if you don’t want to wait, just step outside to the Sunset Bar and get your drink. The server when we were there was really good! She’d take orders from multiple tables at a time and never wrote anything down. She’d be back with our correct drinks and our correct card (without asking our name). I know they do this day in and day out, but wow, she impressed us! The Foreigner Tribute Band (Jeff Lyons Rock Show) was awesome! The lead singer had some pipes on him and the guitarist was amazing. Right before one of his solos on this set, one of his strings broke on his guitar and he just continued on playing the solo like it was no big deal. The show was about 45 minutes long and they had another show at 10pm. The singer did let us know that the second show would be completely different. Our cruise was their last week on the ship. We ended our night at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar to listen to Cuban music by Havana Tropical.
  16. Cruise - Day 2 - At Sea (Monday, January 27th), continued After our time in the Thermal Suite, we headed back to our cabin to get ready for dinner. Tonight was the “Dress Up or Not” night. This didn’t change our plans as we like getting dressed up every night because we don’t get an opportunity to do so in our everyday life. One observation - this is this most casual cruise we’ve been on as far as dinner attire is concerned (our previous cruises were out of Florida and Los Angeles). We headed to The Tropicana Room, stopped for a martini on the way, and we were in our seats without any issues just prior to 5:30pm. For apps, I had the Creamy New England Clam Chowder and Patrick had the Smoked Salmon Tartare. For our main course, I had the Broiled Boston Bluefish and Patrick had the Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chop. Patrick’s dinner was one of the best we had on the entire cruise! For dessert, I had the Warm Apple Strudel and Patrick had the Carrot Cake. As a reminder as to why we always get our dinner drinks prior to going to the MDR, we ordered another round of martinis when our main course arrived at 5:45pm and didn’t receive them until right before our dessert arrived at 6:15pm. We had 7:30pm reservations for “Burn the Floor” in the theater, so we decided to hang out and watch the 876 Konnect Band in the Atrium before we could get into the theater. Based on other reviews I had read, we decided to show up around 30 minutes before the 7:30pm show to make sure we got the seats we wanted. When we got to the theater, there was a small line for reservations and probably 15-20 people in the standby line already. This show definitely filled up the entire theater. We were blown away by this show! It was really impressive. We haven’t gone to shows in the theater during our previous cruises, but I love dance, so I wanted to see this one. It did not disappoint! The talent blew us away! So, if you’re thinking about pre-booking this before you board, do it. By the time we made our way out of the theater, it was around 8:30pm. We decided to see if we could get into Syd Norman’s Pour House. The “Rock the Pour House” show had started at 8:15pm and there was a sign outside the door that said the venue was full and to try again another night. We were a little disappointed since we couldn’t get in the previous night, but decided to head over to Headliners to check out “Howl at the Moon.” The show started at 8:30pm, so we got there maybe 10 minutes after that and we couldn’t even get in there either. At this point, we were pretty frustrated. We booked Norwegian over Royal Caribbean because we like Norwegian’s entertainment better. Now, we couldn’t even get into any of the shows we wanted to see. We had never experienced this on any cruise we’d been on before so it was a little bit of a shock for this. Honestly, at this point, we both agreed the larger Norwegian ship was not for us! But, we weren’t going to let that get us down! We went back to the Atrium to watch the “Newlywed Not So Newlywed” game. I always love watching this game! It’s obviously different on every ship, but it never fails to entertain! While watching this game, I was looking through our Freestyle Daily and noticed there was another showing of “Burn the Floor” at 10pm. Patrick and I figured people would be heading there about 30 minutes early and decided to try to get into Headliners to see “Howl at the Moon” again. We got there just after 9:30pm and while there were no seats, we lingered by the bar for about 5 minutes before two seats opened up. By 10pm, there were several open seats as people left to see the other shows. We’ve seen “Howl at the Moon” on land before, so we knew what to expect. The performers on the Getaway did not disappoint! One note, be sure to bring some cash with you if you want your requests to be played. Requests without money are “suggestions” and they may or may not play them. Also, if they are playing a paid request they don’t like, the performers will tell you that you can make it stop by putting in your own request at $1 more than the song they are playing. It’s a fun show that really gets even better with audience participation. As the night went on, we noticed that the performers kept asking the same audience member to come up and play the drums. We figured it was another employee, but the guy didn’t have a name tag on, so we weren’t really sure. Later on, they introduced him as Jerry Lee Lewis from the “Millionaire Dollar Quartet” show and invited him up to play a few songs on the piano. Wow! He was amazing and it was so cool to see the entertainers supporting each other (we’d later learn the drummer from the “Rock the Pour House” band was sitting in the audience too). This made us more excited to see “Millionaire Dollar Quartet” on Day 6! After that, we headed back to our room and filled out our room service card for breakfast. Next up, day 3!
  17. Cruise - Day 2 - At Sea (Monday, January 27th) Before going to bed the previous night, we filled out our room service card for our continental breakfast the next morning. This is the first time we’ve used the room service option, but we knew we wanted to get to the thermal suite right when it opened at 8am to avoid any sea day crowds. We ended up ordering our breakfast to our room every morning except for when we were in Jamaica. We kept our order the same each day - coffee, orange juice, two orders of the sliced fresh fruit, one banana, and one order of the bran muffins (two per order). This was the perfect light meal to start our day! Here's the Freestyle Daily: After breakfast we headed to the Thermal Suite and made our rounds through all the different options. We started in the therapy pool and/or hot tub. We didn’t really think the hot tub portion was any warmer than the rest of the pool, but it was nice in there. We went into the Sanarium next for about 10 minutes. They do have a timer in there, which is nice. Next, we’d go into the Salt Room. I could spend all day here! The temperature/humidity was perfect. Lastly, we’d go into the Steam Room. It’s always a little bit of surprise going in here as the steam is so thick you don’t really see anyone until you’re all the way in. We could only spend about five minutes in there, but it was good to get some moisture back into our skin. We ended our first morning on the heated tile loungers and the padded loungers. That first morning, we watched quite a few people come in, drop their towels/robes on the heated tile loungers and then get into the pool or one of the rooms. Before 9am on the first day, all the loungers were taken, but I’d guess only 25% had people on them. There is a sign advising guests not to do that and also to limit their time to 30 minutes. I couldn’t stay on them for much longer than 30 minutes as I got overheated. The gal checking you in at the front desk also advised people to come let her know if people reserving the loungers became an issue. Anyways, we just decided we’d use the tile loungers first thing every morning for the rest of the cruise to avoid any crowds. After our relaxing time in the spa, we headed to Spice H20. The Star also had a Spice H20, but just like the Thermal Suite, the Getaway’s was much larger and had more options. I didn’t get a photo of the setup on the Getaway, but there are a lot of loungers in the sun. There were two hot tubs, another water feature, a bar, and some other tables/chairs. The one on the Star did have hot tubs and a bar, but no loungers in the sun. It was set up with lots of cushy spots to hang out and relax. When we got there just after 9am, there probably weren't more than 10-15 people there. The Spice H20 on the Getaway is on the far back of the ship, and you have to go through a door near the Margaritaville to find it, so it seemed less crowded since nobody would ever just walk through it to get somewhere else. Patrick set us up in the perfect spot for some tanning and I went to the bar to get us some Bloody Mary’s. I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, but be sure to ask for the exact liquor you want in your drinks or they will use whatever their well/house brand is. We spent a couple of hours in the sun and then decided to go to Taste/Savor for lunch. When we left Spice H20 around 11am, there were only a handful of lounge chairs open. We stopped at the Mixx Bar before heading into the dining room and ordered a Rebellious Fish (the drink of the day). There was no line and we were seated right away. The lunch menu was the same as the previous day. For apps, I had the Popcorn Shrimp and Patrick had the Roasted Tomato Soup. For our entrees, I had the Tuna Salad Sandwich and Patrick had the Roasted Leg of Lamb. For dessert, I had the Orange Chocolate Mousse and Patrick had the Creme Caramel. After a delicious lunch, we decided to wander around the ship a little more since our time outside yesterday was rainy. We walked around The Waterfront as this was the first time we’d been on a ship with that feature. There’s lots of places to relax out there if you are looking to get away from the craziness of the pool deck. While you can’t make a loop all the way around outside, you can easily cut through on the inside at the front of the ship and make it a nice loop. We saw lots of people doing this every morning. We also made our way up to the Sundeck on Deck 18 to see how busy it was around 1pm. There were still lots of open chairs and this deck would become our spot for the rest of the cruise. We ended our afternoon with another visit to the Thermal Suite to relax before dinner. I’ll end day 2 there for now and pick up on our dinner and nighttime fun in the next post!
  18. Thanks! We really liked The Tropicana Room for dinner. It's larger than Taste/Savor and feels more upscale. We also loved the live music and/or dancing each night.
  19. Cruise - Day 1 - Embarkation Day (Sunday, January 26th), continued Finally time to finish our day 1 activities! After the muster drill, we headed to the thermal suite. We bought passes when we cruised on the NCL Star last year and we probably wouldn’t cruise without it again. The thermal suite on the Getaway blows the one of the Star out of the water in terms of size and options. The one on the Getaway has a lot more heated tile loungers and padded loungers. It also has a co-ed sanitarium, sauna, salt room, and steam room. I believe the Star just had a sauna and steam room in each locker room. One thing the Star has that the Getaway doesn’t is a lap pool in the main area. One thing we liked on the Star more than the Getaway though were the “relaxation rooms” on both sides of the main area with chairs/ottomans. You could actually close the door to these rooms which was nice when the main area got a little too loud. Here are some photos from the Getaway (taken on one of the other mornings at 8am when we had the place to ourselves!): After our spa time, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. We were happy to find that our other piece of luggage had been delivered too. We headed down to the Tropicana Room around 6:15pm and stopped for some scotch on the way. We always grab our dinner drink on the way as drink service in the MDR has always been really slow on every ship we’ve sailed on. There was a little bit of a line to get in, but we didn’t wait long. Guests were asked to remove their hats before entering the dining room, but shorts were allowed. When we did get to the front, they let us know only sharing tables were available. That was totally fine with us. We love meeting new people when we travel. We were at a table for 6 with two other couples. Here’s the menu. For appetizers, I ordered the Seared Atlantic Scallops and Patrick ordered Roasted Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese. For our main course, I had Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pepper and Patrick had the Parmesan-Crusted Turkey Escalope. For dessert, I had the Warm Chocolate Lava Cake and Patrick had the Apple Cobbler. All said and done, dinner took just shy of two hours. We did wonder if a lot of the waitstaff had just come on the ship as we noticed many carrying around maps of the dining room when seating people. We didn’t mind that it took so long. We really enjoyed getting to know our tablemates! After dinner, we made our way to the Atrium to watch the Majority Rules Game Show. I don’t think the Atrium is really big enough to host some of these more popular game shows, even with it being open to O’Sheenan’s from above. On other NCL cruises, a lot of games were held in the Bliss Ultra Lounge, but the one on the Getaway is much smaller. We lucked out for this event though and grabbed a few seats at the bar. Next we headed over to Syd Norman’s Pour House to see the “Rock the Pour House” show. We got there about 20 minutes early and it was already packed. No big deal, we thought, we’d just catch it another night. The day was starting to catch up with us, so we decided to call it an early night. That wraps up day 1!
  20. Cruise - Day 1 - Embarkation Day (Sunday, January 26th), continued Before I continue with our day 1 activities, I just realized I missed a few “pre-cruise” planning items that we did. Based on lots of reviews, we pre-booked our dinners (minus the first night), shows in the main theater, water package, and internet. A few notes about all of this. If you’re ever having issues pre-booking anything on the app, try it on your desktop/laptop. I was having a heck of a time booking our dinner reservations on the app, but as soon as I did it on the actual website it worked out fine. Also, I had better results when I booked one night/item at a time rather than trying to book everything at once. I went back and forth about booking our dinner each night in the Tropicana Room. We like to eat early, around 5:30pm, so did we really need to have a reservation? Probably not! Ultimately, I decided to make a reservation every night just to give me peace of mind. We actually prefer traditional dining where you are seated at the same table with the waitstaff every night. This is one thing we don’t like about NCL. Anyways, moving on! We also pre-booked Burn the Floor and the Million Dollar Quartet for the 7:30pm seating. Our biggest issue with NCL’s beverage package is that they don’t include bottled water (RCCL does). I know now that the Premium “Plus” package does, but the upcharge for that seemed really insane to us! Yes, every bar will give you a glass of ice water and you can get it in the buffet, but we like to have bottles of water in our room. On our last NCL cruise, we pre-ordered water bottles to our room and that worked out great. We did it again this time and purchased 12 one liter bottles. What we actually got was 24 500mL liter bottles, which was fine by us, but just something to note! We’ve lived through the changes to NCL’s beverage package since our first cruise with them in 2015. In case you're curious, we didn’t pay any gratuities for our package in 2015 and the liquor and wine selections were fantastic. In 2018, we paid the gratuities, but the $15 limit still included a lot of quality liquors and wines. For this cruise, the one thing we really noticed was how lackluster the included wine options were. The only time we ordered wine at dinner was after we went to the Wine Lover’s Musical and tried seven different options! Lastly, we pre-purchased the 250 minute internet plan. One of the reasons we love cruising is the lack of internet access. It’s so great to disconnect from the world. That being said, I feel the need to be able to check in with our furry kiddos everyday. Our dog, Scout, goes to an amazing boarding facility. We can check in on him via various webcams anytime we want. We also get a report card each night that includes photos and a few descriptions on how he was during the day. For the kitties, we have a gal that comes each day to the house and spends time with them. She also sends us photos of “the nerds” (her words!). Here are some of the photos we got of our babies!
  21. What breed is your Scout? We rescued our boy, so we aren't exactly sure, but we think he's part Lab, part Flatcoat Retriever.
  22. Cruise - Day 1 - Embarkation Day (Sunday, January 26th) We started our morning off with breakfast at the hotel and then started getting our luggage around. It was a cold and rainy day in New Orleans. We had a 10am - 10:30am check-in time. We hopped into a Lyft at 9:30am and arrived at the terminal just before 10am. The Julia Street Terminal is confusing, congested, and lacking simple signage. There are two different ways to get to the Norwegian terminal. Both of which are basically just back alleys on one-way streets on different sides of the building. Even the Lyft/Uber drivers aren’t really sure which one to use. Our driver dropped us off out front where disembarking passengers were waiting for their rides. There was no porter collecting luggage right out front which we’ve never experienced before. We asked one of the workers standing outside where we needed to go. That person assumed we were leaving the ship and told us how to get a ride. At that point, we went into the building and the security workers directed us to go out a different door (on the left), cross the street, and we’d find a porter there. They have you crossing the street where the tour buses are picking up passengers, so this was a little crazy too. Once we did find where to drop off the luggage, there was no porter there. We lingered around and when a taxi pulled up, the porter appeared. Hooray! From there, it was all smooth sailing! There was no wait for security and no wait at the check-in desk. We were all checked in and relaxing inside within 5 minutes. It was around 10:15am and we were in boarding group 2. They started boarding around 11am and our group was called around 11:15am. We planned to eat lunch in the MDR, but it didn’t open until 12pm, so we decided to grab a drink and explore the ship. We headed straight for O’Sheehan's and kicked off our cruise with a Bloody Mary. We spent the next hour wandering around the ship and getting our bearings. We stopped by the spa to have them put the sticker on our cards for the pass. The woman at the front desk was from Jamaica and very friendly and informative. It was noon at this point, so we made our way over to the MDR. I can’t remember if we went to Taste or Savor, but they have the same menu. Service was a little slow that day. I think a lot more people were eating in the MDR’s because of the rainy, cold weather. For apps, I ordered the Cajun Shrimp Salad and Patrick ordered the Vietnamese Chicken Pho. For our entrees, I ordered the Spanish Frittata and Patrick ordered the Shrimp Arrabiata. Everything was very good! For dessert, we both ordered the Key Lime Parfait. We were done with lunch around 1:15pm and made our way over to the Sugarcane Mojito Bar for a cocktail. On our last cruise on the NCL Star, we did the mojito tasting one day, so we already knew which ones we liked. I had the Brugal Ginger and Patrick had the Spicy Passion. From what I can remember, rooms were ready right before 2pm. We were in room 8407 - an inside room in the front of the ship. It was down one of those interior hallways and our section was very quiet throughout the entire cruise. I didn’t take any photos, but it’s your typical inside room. We were impressed with the storage in both the room and the bathroom. Also, one piece of our luggage was already waiting outside our door when we got there. We did a little unpacking and headed back to the mojito bar to wait for the muster drill. Our muster location was in O’Sheehan's. This is the first time we’ve ever had the drill inside, which was nice! Everything went smoothly and I think we were back in our room by 4pm to grab our stuff for sailaway in the spa! I’ll leave it at that for now and post about the spa, our dinner, and nighttime activities in the next post. Here’s the Freestyle Daily for Day 1.
  23. Thank you! We definitely enjoyed our adventure! We went back and forth about flying in early. Our flight option for the day before would have landed about the same time your flight does and we knew we wouldn't have enough time to visit all the breweries we wanted see. I think you'll have plenty of time for dinner and a walk! We did really like New Orleans and would definitely visit again!
  24. Pre-Cruise (Saturday, January 25th) We decided to spend our day checking out some of the breweries in New Orleans. Anytime we visit a new city, I always try to map a route that has us walking to each brewery. We like doing this because it really lets us get a feel for the city we are in during our visit. For this adventure, our route included six breweries over seven miles. Our journey started in the Bywater neighborhood, made our way through the French Quarter, and ended up in the Garden District. We started our day with a lazy morning and breakfast at our hotel. Our first stop was Parleaux Beer Lab. What should have been a 15ish minute ride from our hotel took over 30 minutes due to a train sitting on the tracks. We had a great Lyft driver though and he told us all about the revitalization happening in the Bywater neighborhood. We arrived at Parleaux Beer Lab and ordered our first flight of the day! We loved Parleaux. All the beers we tried were very good. We especially liked the Berry Bonds' Just Juicin', a Gose with black and blueberries. Their outdoor beer garden was definitely a highlight and was a cool spot to chill out in the sun! We definitely lucked out with the weather that day. It was sunny and in the high 60s. Next on the list was Brieux Carré Brewing Co. It was about a 1.5 walk from where we were and it was so interesting to see all the different houses and artwork along our route. We liked Brieux Carré too! They had a fun outdoor space where people were playing Nintendo. We got another flight - it’s a fun way to try a bunch of different beers from each place! Our favorite beer here was Wookiee Sounds, a Double Dry-Hopped Farmhouse IPA. After Brieux Carré, we made our way through the craziness of the French Quarter to get to Crescent City Brewhouse. This is the first brewpub in New Orleans and Louisiana. We ordered another flight and also some snacks. We ordered the Alligator Bites and the Pretzels with Beer Cheese. Crescent City brews their beer according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 that says beer is made with four natural ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. Their beer was a nice change of pace from some of the more experimental beers we’d had already. We liked their Weiss Beer, an unfiltered wheat beer. Our next stop was Urban South Brewery. This was a little over a 2 mile walk from Crescent City. One thing we found weird was that barely any of the intersections with lights in New Orleans had crosswalks/lights for pedestrians to use when crossing. The drivers outside of the French Quarter didn’t really seem very pedestrian aware! Here are some other photos from our walk. Urban South Brewery has a huge facility. They had tons of seating on picnic tables and several arcade games. They also had a crawfish boil food truck and nearly 20 beers on tap while we were there. Our favorite was Foxy Indulgence, Sour Cherry Stout. After Urban South, we headed over to New Orleans Lager & Ale (NOLA) Brewing, but stumbled upon Miel Brewery on our way. This place was rocking! They had a huge outdoor space with a food truck set up. Our favorite beer here was Frutsecco II, a Brut Sour fermented on 160 lbs of cranberries and plums. After our impromptu stop at Miel, we headed over to NOLA Brewing. NOLA Brewing shares a space with McClure's Barbecue. We were happy about this as we definitely needed a hearty dinner after all the beer and walking! We ordered the Cuban and the Veggie Melt with Waffles Fries. Both were delicious! As far as beer goes, we liked Old Man Yells At Cloudy IPA, a Milkshake IPA with Citra & Cashmere Hops. That wraps up our day of beer! We walked over to a nearby Walgreens to grab last minute items for the cruise and then took a Lyft back to our hotel. Next up, embarkation day!
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