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    San Jose, CA
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  1. This is from the letter I received today for my upcoming cruise next week. "We strongly encourage all guests to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72-hours prior to their sail date as an added precaution. If a PCR test is not readily available, then we encourage guests to at a minimum take a COVID-19 antigen test, prior to travel." "Norwegian Cruise Line will assist with expenses related to any mandatory quarantine only if the guest provides proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72-hours of their travel date."
  2. Afterthoughts Ship: Epic has been subjected to controversial reviews since her inaugural. One of the main complaints is the lack of public space. And I quite agree with this issue. Although on the port-intensive cruise like this one, it's not a very big deal for me. I spent a lot on time on Sun Deck (deck 18) which was usually empty. Many times, I was literally the only one there. Another public place that I enjoyed was the library. It's very peaceful and quiet. And if you stay in Studio room, the Studio lounge on Epic is quite spacious and usually empty. Epic gym is probably one of the biggest gym on the cruise ships. Food: Food is never a strong point of NCL. The quality has been deteriorated over the years. Food on this cruise was decent. I'm not very picky so I can always find something I like from the buffet line. Entertainment: Entertainment on NCL ships have always been great. Priscilla and Burn The Floor were pretty good. But the most amazing show was Epic Beatles. They're incredibly brilliant. Excursions: Since I had $50 excursion credit per port, I booked all my excursions with the ship. All the excursions turned out to be great. I did enjoy every tour. The price is comparable to the external vendor. With 8 excursions, the $50 credit turned out to be a very good deal. Overall, this is one of the most memorable trips. I was a little hesitant before booking this trip but I was so glad that I did. Almost everything went smoothly according to plans. Every port on this cruise was my first time there and each one of them comes with its own unique experience. Thank you for reading this review all the way to here. This's my first time writing a cruise review so when I started I didn't know how it would turn out. I'll conclude my review with a collection of Epic photos taken at various ports on this cruise.
  3. Day 13 [Miami] - Feb 18th 2020 Today was finally the last day of this trip. After 2 weeks, I was so ready to get back home. I literally had to drag myself from bed to the airport. My brain was half awake from the flu medicine so everything was kind of a blur this morning. But look like I made it to Miami. I grabbed some food from La Carreta at the airport. When I booked the flight, I was planning a very long layover so I can go explore Miami before flying back home. That plan didn't work out well. Since I wasn't feeling well so I just got a day pass at a hotel and spent the time there.
  4. Day 11-12 [San Juan] - Feb 16th-17th 2020 (3) For dinner I went to El Camarón restaurant. I think they're quite popular among the locals. I was probably the only non-local customer that night. Fried chicken appetizer was pretty good. I just wanted to try mofongo one more time to see if it'd be better this time. They served with salmorejo de Jueyes -- stewed crab & tomatoes, another popular Puerto Rican dish. The crab stew was pretty tasty but mofongo was still not for me. That night I started to feel sick. Initially I was planning for a trip to Culebra tomorrow. But the trip was cancelled anyway due to high wind. So I ended up staying the the room the whole day on the next day.
  5. Day 11-12 [San Juan] - Feb 16th-17th 2020 (2) La Concha Renaissance is named after the white conch shell structure in front of the hotel building. Inside the white conch shell is a grand ballroom. I think there's a wedding there today.
  6. Day 11-12 [San Juan] - Feb 16th-17th 2020 (1) I stayed in Old San Juan during the pre-cruise, so for post-cruise I chose the Condado beach so I can experience two different areas of San Juan. After El Yunque tour in the morning, I got to Condado beach around 1:30pm. So lunch was the first order of business. Deep-fried whole fish and yellow rice. Piña colada to celebrate the end of the cruise. Condado beach in front of La Concha Renaissance. The beach looks beautiful but on Day 11 I was a little of tired of beach scene. It's ok for pre- or post-cruise stay but not impressive enough for me to fly all the way for vacation here.
  7. Day 11 [San Juan] - Feb 16th 2020 (4) We made the last stop at La Coca Falls. It's the big waterfall that we drove past in earlier. It's a short hike to the viewing area. Small creek along the hike. This is probably the most popular place at El Yunque. Then we drove back to the airport. It's about 1-hour drive and we got there around 12:30pm. I collected by luggage and took an Uber back to Condado beach. This tour was a nice change of scenery after so many beach excursions on this trip.
  8. Day 11 [San Juan] - Feb 16th 2020 (3) We made another stop at Palo Colorado information center for a quick restroom break. This's furthest point into the forest on this trip. Then we started to make a u-turn and drove back on the same road. We made another stop at Yokahu Tower. Inside is spiral staircase that brings you to the top. You can see the view of the coastline from the top of the Tower. I'm not sure what town it is. It might be Luquillo. The weather wasn't great today. Rain started to sprinkle down a little bit.
  9. Day 11 [San Juan] - Feb 16th 2020 (3) At the top you will see Baño Grande pool. It's used to be a swimming pool, built in the late 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. The pool isn't very big. There's a path to walk around the pool. Water from the pool flows over a small dam decorated with cobblestones.
  10. Day 11 [San Juan] - Feb 16th 2020 (2) We continued to drive further into the forest until we reached Baño Grande. We made a stop here. You can hike up along the cobblestone path to the top. It's a short hike but a little steep and slippery here.
  11. Day 11 [San Juan] - Feb 16th 2020 (1) Disembarkation day is always a hectic day. On previous cruises, I usually choose the later disembark timeslot to avoid the early crowd. But on this trip, I'd be joining another tour so I had to rush to get out. The $50 per port excursion credit was also applicable on the disembarkation day, so I took advantage of it. There're only 2 options to choose from -- City Tour with Airport Transfer or El Yunque Rainforest Drive with Airport Transfer. The city tour was surprisingly more expensive but since I already explored the Old San Juan on the first day I chose the rainforest tour. Since I joined the ship tour, I was among the first groups to get off the ship. The lines at immigration and custom were short. But with over 4,000 people on the ship I think the lines might get longer if you leave the ship later. After exit the terminal, we met the excursion coordinator. It's a little chaotic with so many people. After check-in, we left our luggage here, they'd be transferred directly to the airport. It took almost an hour driving from San Juan to El Yunque National Forest. I was probably sleeping all the way since I didn't have any pictures during the ride. The driver was also our guide on this trip. He woke us up when we about the enter the El Yunque. We drove past a big waterfall. There're a lot of people at the waterfalls this morning, so we didn't stop by.
  12. Day 10 [St. Thomas] - Feb 15th 2020 (6) I walked out of the port to explore the town. There's a local Pueblo Supermarket and a Kmart nearby. I went there because I love seeing the local markets. Then I stopped by a yacht club on the way back. Then I went back to the ship and started packing. Tonight entertainment was "Burn The Floor". Although I've seen this show for so many times. I think tonight performance was exceptionally good. Although today was the last day of the cruise, my trip wasn't ended just yet.
  13. Day 10 [St. Thomas] - Feb 15th 2020 (5) We sailed back to Charlotte Amalie. The building with the red roof on the right of the picture is District Court of the Virgin Islands. Fort Christian is barely shown on the left. We got back to the ship around 1pm.
  14. Day 10 [St. Thomas] - Feb 15th 2020 (4) After snorkeling, we sailed to the Buck island. It's kind of overcast this morning. We anchored in front of a beach. There're some drinks and snacks for sale here. There're lounge chairs and restroom facility on the beach. Clear turquoise color water and calm enough to swim around. Weather wasn't great today. We had about 1 hour on the beach and left the island around 12:30pm
  15. Day 10 [St. Thomas] - Feb 15th 2020 (3) After a short ride, we arrived at the Turtle Cove on Buck Island. I guess all other snorkel excursions also stop by here. It's quite busy this morning. We did saw a couple green sea turtles and a stingray on this trip. Comparing to Antigua, I think the water at Carlisle Bay is shallower so you get to see the turtles there more up close. Nevertheless, we were lucky to see the turtles here today. The corals looked brownish.
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