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  1. It's fun to do a review and re-live it all over again! Before I go on a trip, I have a typewritten list of what my plans are for the day, things to remember to do (get tender tickets, etc) and then I jot notes on it at the end of the day. I'd never remember otherwise! I admire people who can live blog their cruises, but I don't want to spend a moment doing that onboard. I have to wait until afterwards.
  2. That makes total sense! And I hope you like the books! Thank you kindly! I appreciate that!
  3. Seemed perfectly cool to me. I can't remember if there was a temperature control but I believe so - and I like it icebox fresh while I'm sleeping and it was fine!
  4. The machine dispensed hot milk which it foamed at the same time. I'm 99% sure it was regular milk (or cream or half & half - sorry I couldn't tell.) Yes, I think you can smoke in the Casino but I don't gamble or like the sound of jingling slot machines, and also don't want to add to the indoor smoke that is notorious for leeching out in the Atrium and other areas near the Casino. There's also a cigar bar but it's only for those smokables. I just want an outdoor place for it, and ideally one at each end of the ship. But I was well satisfied with the Spice H2O setup with the comfy chairs, and I can see why it's way up on top, so as not to bother others!
  5. This was the rest of my day on Friday, April 21st that somehow I forgot to post! Not sure why I'm bothering as it was my most boring day. I tried to just add it to that day's post but the system won't let me do so. Oh well! I felt so ill from all the food that I holed up in my room and watched The Fabelmans again. I had an invitation to try Le Bistro with LarCar and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face another rich meal! Instead I slept from 5 – 8 PM! I finally roused myself enough to head to the Garden Café which was featuring ribs – usually one of my favorites but I literally had clear soup and plain rice because my poor system was still opposing meat. Similarly, I had reservations to see the 9:30 Choir of Man show in the Escape Theater, and I couldn’t face that, either. Before I came on the trip alone, I worried I would be lonely or blue by myself and I sure wasn’t. However, this was my worst day. I just didn’t feel well, and even my ill gotten gains of a bottle of free perfume didn’t restore my happy humor! The only other thing that happened of note was that there were THREE Code Alphas that day. I guess I wasn’t the only one who was feeling the worse for wear from the cruise. I couldn’t waste the entire day, so in the evening I nipped into the Studio Lounge to get a cappuccino (I guess my stomach was selectively choosy – or the plain rice had cured me) and this was the time there was a gigantic family in there, playing a board game. There were grandparents, there were teens, there was maybe one person who was actually staying in a Studio Cabin, so I was a bit irritated. The Lounge and its goodies are locked for a reason, and it didn’t seem very According to Hoyle for someone to invite their entire family in to indulge in the resources. And they were LOUD. On the other hand, my Mama taught me to mind my own beeswax, so I just ignored them, got my coffee, and went up on deck. It was a beautiful night. I sat in a comfy chair at Spice H20, put in my earphones and watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. Heaven! I want to note how friendly people were to me in that area all week. (Sometimes so friendly I couldn’t get back to my book!) I met some really nice people and when I was obviously ready to read or to watch a movie, they left me alone. Finally I went back to my room to pack my beach bag for Great Stirrup Cay tomorrow, the final day of our cruise! I’m used to the model where the first and last days are Sea Days, getting you to and fro the islands, with all of the ports crammed in between. I really liked that we had the final Sea Day and then still had one more port day to come! Sorry this sequence was out of order, but felt I should include it if possible!
  6. Thank you so much! I realized I left off half a day so I'm going to add that below because I can't edit those entries at this point. Derp!
  7. Not a major inconvenience, but a hell of a lot of walking. And I wandered along the waterfront several times during the cruise and saw very few people anywhere - but that could have been an anomoly! Perhaps it was a nonrefundable OBC (for the ruined dress - x2) but they let me off!
  8. Final Thoughts: Well, I had a terrific time. Any complaints are minor indeed. Things I didn’t do onboard: The slides, the ropes course, the grotto at Spice H20, pools or hot tubs, any shows, any organized activities. Usually I do a few of these things, particularly shows. The one time per night show scheduled impacted that. Things I did onboard: Had dinner in the dining room or a specialty restaurant every night but one, Read 4 + books (The War That Changed My Life, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Cloud Cuckoo Land, Behind The Scenes At The Museum, part of The Last Chairlift), Watched 5 movies or shows (Downton Abbey: A New Era, Knives Out: Glass Onion, The Fabelmans (2X), 3 episodes of Mrs. Maisel (1 more at airport), and 2 episodes of Derry Girls. Had a lot of cappuccinos, a lot of interesting conversations or laughs with people onboard. Visited the shops and library. Went to a couple Solo meetups in the Solo Lounge. Watched the tail end of a couple Star Wars movie on the big screen in Spice H20. Went to the Glow Party long enough to give out 100 glow bracelets. Hid piggies, and wore a lot of frocks. Things I did in port: Snorkeled, ziplined, swam in the ocean, swam in a gigantic pool, saw some gorgeous views, had home made tortilla chips, freshly made guacamole, seafood ceviche, and chicken wings in various ports, bought a carved turtle and a frog bracelet, toured Miami’s Art Deco district. I’ll list the Cons first, as there were very few: My bed was so very, very hard. Seems like something midway between hard and soft would please more guests. The aforementioned limited show times. Seems you needed to eat at 6 PM in order to catch most shows. The limited smoking sections. The smoking area in Spice H2O was very nice but it was the complete opposite end of the ship from my stateroom. There was precisely one other small area on board, also on deck 17, and it had high wooden barstools. Other than deck 17, nothing. I guess I’m used to Royal’s model where the entire starboard side of the Promenade deck is smoking. On NCL there’s the enormous Waterfront area which is barely used. The layout of the buffet was horrible, with long claustrophobic gauntlets to jostle through to pick up food. To make matters worse, in the restroom outside this very large common area, the women’s bathroom has only two stalls. TWO STALLS for the entire buffet! It was also tiny and hard to queue up in there. Ridiculously thought out. Of course, having my dress ruined and getting hurt were a drag. However, NCL more than made up for those issues with their responses. The Pros of the Escape: Studio cabin – wonderful, other than the hard bed. Solo Lounge and cappuccino machine – terrific. The food in the main dining rooms (Taste and Savor) was among the best I’ve had in dozens of cruises across 4 other lines. The internet interface was easy to use, seemed to connect to sites quickly and was handy to check into my return flight. Though Garden Café’s layout was horrible, the food was fine for breakfast or lunch and I always found a place to sit very quickly, and often found a spot right night to the windows! I was welcomed as a single at the dining rooms and often given a prime table by the windows! The guests were very friendly and interesting, and the staff was also mighty congenial. Several minor things went wrong on the trip (ruined dress, gashed arm) and NCL responded quickly and satisfactorily. In fact, due to their (repeated) generosity, I ended up with an $80 gift box of my favorite perfume, and STILL walked off the ship owing nothing on my onboard account. NCL still owes me $13.41. (My onboard account was $111.59 = $81 for perfume and $30.59 for Cokes. My onboard credit was $125: $25 airport transfer refund, $20 because we left a port early, $40x2 dress = $13.41 credit at end of the cruise!) Budget: This is of real interest only to me, but on every other cruise I’ve shared the cost of the stateroom, precruise hotel etc with someone else. (Or paid for two people myself.) I was curious to find out how much more I would pay to go on an NCL cruise in a Solo stateroom! Surely it would be more, with the somewhat higher cost of the studio room compared to half of an inside or outside stateroom, and bearing the cost of the precruise hotel alone. Surprisingly, I spent $2,064 for the Norwegian cruise, including cruise fare, airfare, standard tips, Miami hotel, and cash for tips and ports. On my last Royal Caribbean cruise I spent $2,147 for half of the cost of an outside stateroom, airfare, standard tips, Orlando hotel, onboard charges, and cash for tips and ports. Helping to make the Norwegian cruise cost effective was the very cheap NCL airfare, the satisfactory cost of the Solo cabin, the free port tours and cappuccinos, and the lack of onboard charges. Helping to make the Royal Caribbean cruise cost effective was sharing the cabin cost, the cheaper Orlando vs Miami hotel cost (which was then shared). All in all, it was WELL worth it to travel alone (which I relished) even if the cruise would have cost more than sharing. But it didn’t. The only question is: When can I go again? Photos: A pretty piece of art at the Miami airport, and the stunning view I saw when I opened my window as we approached Chicago.
  9. Thanks so much for the kind words! It was great meeting you, and I DID have a wonderful time. I still need to write the wrap up, and hope to today!
  10. Sunday, April 23 Disembarkation and Miami Tour I got up extra early for coffee on deck (and struggling through Irving’s “The Last Chairlift”!). Had final Garden Café breakfast, made a little more complicated by suitcases and carryons. Then it was back to the room to grab MY big suitcase and tote bag and say goodbye to my darling little stateroom! I had a final statement left at my door that showed that NCL never took off the second $40 credit for my ruined dress despite me notifying them, and so my final bill onboard was -$13. ie Norwegian owed ME $13! I never saw that nor sought it out. Just embarrassed at how little I spent onboard, despite my best efforts. I have to note that I love the new practice on many lines that you can just drag your own suitcase off the ship as I always hated putting my luggage out the night before, and trying to find it in the warehouse the next morning. Those who had tours with NCL after disembarkation met in the Escape theater where we were checked in and given armbands. Before long, we were herded off the ship, and honestly I don’t remember much in the way of customs or immigration – maybe I showed my passport to someone but it seemed very casual. Then zipped through the suitcase warehouse and out by the bus that would take me on a tour! I’m not much into bus tours as a whole, but I had a very late flight courtesy of NCL (4:00 PM, but the price was terrific!) so I figured it would help kill an hour or so. Since Norwegian pays the first $50 towards each excursion, this was free to me, and as an added incentive it dropped us off at MIA airport so that saved me the $25 transfer fee. Now I just wish I had looked into tours the day of embarking LOL! Our bus driver was pretty informative and though I had seen some of Miami’s Art Deco buildings before, we saw a ton more of them. I love that style and really enjoyed seeing all of them. Too many photos, below! It was a seamless drop off at the airport, and once I was in, I ran into some folks from our ship! They told me there was a smoking area pretty close to my gate, so I just had to check it out. Years ago, Atlanta had a really filthy, exposed pipes hellhole that was their interior smoking area, and I’m frankly shocked that there’s an indoor smoking area anywhere these days, but there it was. Part of an Applebees, I think? It was a separate section with a double seal set of doors that anyone who has worked in corrections will think of as a ‘bubble’, then inside it was a bar with a few tables with high ceiling that was open to the air, and a brisk air handling system. I had a Coke and a smoke just for the novelty of it! Then off to my gate to watch episode 4 of Mrs Maisel, which had been released on Friday 4/21 but only downloaded now because I had free internet again! After an easy flight, I hit ORD, got my checked bag, took the Bataan Death March to the Regional bus area, and caught a 7:30 bus which got me home by 9:00 PM. A wonderful trip that I won’t soon forget! Next up: Final thoughts! Photos: Sunrise in Miami, and More Songs About Buildings And Food, minus the food:
  11. When you enter the Spice H20 area, you're entering at the bottom of an upside down U shape. So there's a big screen in front, with rows of chairs and hot tubs and stuff. That's all quite far away from the smoking area. Then to your right is one arm of the U, and that part is also entirely non smoking. I think there was a bar there, too? Only on the other arm of the U, to your left as you enter, is the smoking area. Most of it is way tucked in to a corner, and it's not huge, so about 10-15 people can really be there at once. So no fears, it's a small portion of the Spice H20 area! You won't notice it at all if you sit in front of the screen, or by the grotto, or to the right. Only a small space hard left is smoking, and of course it's all open air as well.
  12. One of the joys of my life has been to travel, and I dreamed of doing so since I was a small child. I read a lot and dreamed of going to England, or other places. When I was finally an adult and able to do so, I was thrilled beyond belief how every place was just as I had imagined, only better! Now, any time I want, I can evoke memories of sitting in a particular square in Venice, having hot chocolate in Holland, overlooking the Arno in Florence, or at the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, England. And of course many happy cruise memories! I'm going to add reading up at Spice H20 to my best memories vault because I loved it so much. So in some ways, I'm still there!
  13. Awwww! I'm flattered! And thanks for the kind words, too.
  14. Saturday, April 22, continued Back on board, I used my free internet to check in for my American Airlines flight the next day. AA also doesn’t let you pre-pay for your checked bag when you buy your ticket, only when you check into your flight. Which is beyond odd, so I needed to get that sorted out. I also packed a little so it wasn’t a huge job before bed. I guess I checked my onboard account balance on the TV (probably looking to see if I was ever charged the ridiculous $29 for an umbrella on Great Stirrup Cay) only to find out that the $40 credit for my ruined dress was on my account twice! So even though I had spent down my $85 credit the previous day, here I had another $40 to spend against my onboard account which was only hovering at about $20! I took the time to call Guest Services to let them know of the error, and of course on the last day of the cruise it was super busy. So busy that after I waited about 10 minutes, my hold timed out and I got cut off and had to phone again. By this point, I was about ready to just take the money and run, but as I’m a Recovering Catholic, I couldn’t do that. I finally got through and explained the double credit and was told that the Finance Department would take care of it. Take three guesses – NCL never corrected this (nor charged me for the GSC umbrella) so again, I was randomly ahead. People always complain about being nickled and dimed on cruises, but if you avoid ‘art’ auctions, don’t gamble, enjoy the main dining rooms, and largely drink soft drinks – you too can end the cruise with a $13 credit! 😉 Hahaha! NCL still owed ME money by the end! This was from pure happenstance, not because I was trying to spend less than on other cruiselines, but it was funny nonetheless. Usually I'd spend a couple hundred dollars on board. I went up to Spice H2O to watch the sailaway and had a nice long chat with Pepperman, another Solo Cruiser who I’d met here and there throughout the week. Again, NCL cruisers were so friendly! I've always been very partial to Royal Caribbean's staff, ships, and clientele but I've got to say that Norwegian's people were some of the nicest (dare I say classiest?) I've met. I made it to my 7:30 Dinner at Taste, which was scallops (4 teeny ones), a Caesar salad with some interesting parmesan ‘lace’ on the top, and then grilled shrimp and saffron rice with peapods. Dessert was Nutella crème brulee – and believe it or not, for as many times I’ve been to Europe, I had never once tasted Nutella! It was good in crème brulee, but then again, I find most ingredients are enhanced by a liberal application of custard. At dinner I finished “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” and had only the doorstop John Irving book “The Last Chairlift” to get me home! I went to my room to pack but didn’t have to put my suitcase out; I could hold onto it when I disembarked and headed out to my Miami Tour tomorrow morning. The day ended once again, with me under the stars, curled up in a comfy chair in Spice H2O, wearing headphones and watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, episodes 2 & 3. A lovely end to a lovely day, and nearly the end of a lovely cruise! Next up: Disembarkation, Art Deco tour, and the Country's Last Indoor Smoking Lounge Photos: No comment, lacy parmesan cheese, and Nutelle creme brulee.
  15. Saturday, April 22 Stirrup Cay (Docked from 10-6) There wasn't much time for reading this morning, as by the time I had breakfast, it was time to grab my beach bag to be ferried to Great Stirrup Cay for our final port day. I was really excited to be having one more island day! Tendering seemed easy and soon I was on land and looking for a spot. I found one and even agreed to pay for an umbrella ($29, which was 50% more than St. Thomas and three times as much as Tortola – ridiculous!) but though they took my name and cabin number, no one ever charged me for it. I had time to set up camp with my bag and my book and my beach towel, before it was time to head to my ziplining excursion. You checked in at the lighthouse, and there was a thorough process to equip you, test all of your ropes and harnesses, and show you how to slide. My fear is that I’ll lose momentum halfway across and have to hand-to-hand myself back – or worse yet, get rescued from the middle! I had been ziplining in the jungle before so felt I was an old hand, but this was actually far scarier! You took an elevator to a platform, and it was fairly terrifying how open it was. I was probably equally as high the last time I ziplined, but I was in a tree canopy and it seemed less harrowing. I’m not afraid of heights, but I do have squeamishness about stepping onto platforms or stairs with open gratings (think: fire escapes) so I really had to force myself out of the elevator and mince my way across the platform to the first handler. But off I went! Tuck like your life depends on it, Travelgrrl! Like most ziplines, the first one is the highest, and the last run is the longest and lowest. The Osprey ziplining tour included 3 runs: the first two were just OK but I loved the third one as you zipped seemingly right over the heads of your fellow cruise guests on the beach below! Then it was time to buy a Coke, make my way to my umbrella and lounger, and relax. I was finishing up “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” as I had designated that as my beach book. I also snorkeled right off the beach and did see some fish, which I love. Eventually, I made my way to Abaco Taco, the closest food venue to my lounger. It was a long line, which moved very slowly. I had plenty of time to count that there were 42 people ahead of me and it took more than a half hour to get to the front to order. Part of the wait was that the people adding condiments to their tacos kept the line from moving (seriously, just place that station a few feet away, NCL!) and part of the problem was a guy who was apparently ordering for the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who kept hollering: “So who wants chicken?! Mandy, do you want chicken? Troy – chicken? And should I add lettuce? Tomatoes? Jerry? Tom? Mandy!” until I wanted to stab him with a plastic fork and leave him partially buried in the beautiful sands of the Bahamas. (JK. Not really.) But anyway, I got two tacos. They were probably the most boring food I had all week, but I was hungry so – fine. Did a little more swimming, read and watched the world go by! I never found the Straw Market so I basically spent only a few dollars on Great Stirrup Cay for a Coke. One thing I found delightful was that NCL had someone handing out cool washcloths as you headed back to the ship (and this took place in other ports, too!). Small things like this made Norwegian feel just a little more ‘posh’ than other lines. And to make things even more whimsical, staff were also passing out citrus popsicles as you neared the tenders! Wow! That was such a small thing but I got a big kick out of it – good for NCL. Next up: The Last Supper, another credit mixup, and Mrs. Maisel under the moon. Photos: Some pretty flowers, wildlife on the island, obligatory ship picture, my view of the beach at GSC, heading back to the tender, soon to be clutching a popsicle.
  16. Looking forward to reading the entire review, but just had to say that "prima facie case" in the title (in a pun, no less!) made me weak in the knees. I love smart people!
  17. I also collect nice crisp dollar bills over the months before a cruise, and use those to tip when getting drinks, when a staff member cleans ashtrays or puts up a umbrella for me, etc. And I include a silver or gold chocolate coin too. The good stuff - European chocolate!
  18. Friday, April 21 At Sea As usual, I was up on deck early, reading Kate Atkinson’s “Behind the Scenes of the Museum”. This author has two kinds of books: cheeky mysteries featuring Private Investigator Jackson Brodie, or extremely thought provoking and odd books like “Life After Life” and “Behind the Scenes…” While I enjoy the former, the latter are just mind blowing – “Life” featuring a girl who is able to lead her life over and over again until she gets it right, and “Behind” starts right at the narrator’s conception. I had breakfast in the Garden Café, but soon hit a wall, food-wise. That is, I was fooded out. Too much food, too many chunks of meat – I couldn’t face another bite and I even skipped lunch. (Say it ain't so!) One thing I wanted to mention is that I’ve always been a Coca Cola drinker, and now that I’ve gotten out of the habit of drinking alcohol, I love it even more! I looked into the cost of the soda package but I figured I would probably spend about the same amount one by one, and at least I could get a canned Coke and not a fountain one. (Oddly, Norwegian offered me the free alcohol package if I paid the 20% tip on it, but I could not substitute a pop package for it. There was no reduced price on that at all, though I was hoping I could just pay the tips on THAT package instead!) So all week, I ordered cans of Coke onboard when I wasn’t scarfing down the Studio Lounge cappuccinos. The funny thing was, I would offer my card when ordering, and stress: “I would like to BUY a can of Coke, please”. The waiters would confusedly look at my card (assuming I had the fountain pop deal), take my card, bring me a frosty can of Coke and a glass of ice, and then just hand my card back! I always tip $1 for a drink, and had some nifty chocolate dollar coins with me as well, which the bartenders and waiters seemed to get a kick out of too. But it was odd how many times I got a free pop when I was trying to pay. Therefore, by this point in the cruise, I had very few charges on my account. I had prepaid my main tips, there were no Starbucks charges due to the free cappuccinos in the Studio Lounge, and I was getting free Cokes more often then I was paying for them. My onboard account was hovering at about $17! And the crazy part was, I had hella credits. For those keeping track, I had $25 refunded for my transportation back to the airport that I didn’t need since I had a tour on Sunday that would drop me off there, I had $20 because we apparently left a port early (?) and I had the $40 credit for my ruined dress. So: $85 credit and my bill was only $17 so far. I definitely did NOT want to stand in a line on departure day while Norwegian cut me a check for the balance (as I have heard happens – not sure why they can’t just refund monies to the credit card they have on file for your onboard account) so I decided to spend it. I spent an hour or so browsing the cheaper jewelry selections (think sterling, not gold) and the perfume shop. They did have my perfume (Miracle by Lancome – yummy!), but it was $85 for the smaller 1.7 ounce bottle which seemed no bargain at all. (Don’t ask me why I was being cheap. I had $80 to burn!) Finally I doubled back to the perfume store, where a different clerk helped me and she said: “Hey! We have the same size perfume in a gift set!” so it came with lotion and a travel perfume for $5 less so that was great. So that took care of $80 of my credit, leading to my new balance being $12. This story – and my accounting – is positively insane but I swear it’s of interest at the end of the cruise! Next up: Hitting the food wall and cancelling things right and left! Photos: None really, from this sea day. Apparently I was too lazy to even shoot any narcissistic selfies! Instead, here's a dumb photo of my money management tradition on trips. From experience, I generally know how much cash I'll spend each day, so I make up wee envelopes for that, as well as ones for travel expenses to and fro, extra tips, etc. Of course I have a debit card for unplanned expenses too! But I get a kick out of accidentally spending less in a port, then having more $ the next day and so on. This trip, I randomly underspent $20 in each port and had an extra $100 cash at the end of the trip, which I'm using for a girls' weekend this month. And of course I planned to spend $100+ on board and as we can see that wasn't happening either!
  19. Thursday, April 20 continued: I got tidied up, had lunch in the Garden Grill, and watched the sailaway at 2:00. After, I went back and watched “The Fabelmans” in my room. I guess I was still a little shook up from the gash incident and needed a little quiet time to myself. Loved the movie! I had dinner reservations at Cagney’s this evening, and LarCar from Cruise Critic joined me as he had a dining chit too. I was pretty hyped for this restaurant as I had heard so many great things, but my crabcake was just OK (I think I liked the shrimpcake in the dining room better!) and my bearnaise sauce was cold so that was odd. However, my lobster bisque soup was terrific, and I ordered my steak medium though I prefer medium rare, because I knew it would be thick and I didn’t want it still mooing. Raspberry crème brulee for dessert! As always, I was too late to see “Rumours” at Syd Norman’s Pour House, or the 18+ comedy show at the Escape Theater. That’s my one bone to pick with NCL, that there weren’t two showing of performances as I’ve seen on other lines. One the other hand, perhaps my Right-In-The-Middle-Of-The-Evening 7:30 reservation times were to blame. But honestly, I didn’t really miss them! Instead, I went back to my room and grabbed 100 glow sticks in two tubes to give out at the Glow Party, which was starting at 10:30 PM in Spice H20. Usually kids aren’t allowed in that area, but they let them in for big parties like this, which was fun. Most everyone was in white! I hadn’t seen the cruise director all week, just heard him on announcements, so this was my first time to see him doing his thing. He reminded me of Bowen Yang from SNL, only not as butch. (!) It was cool – he was in front of the crowd, face to the giant screen, and his motions seemed to affect what was happening onscreen. It was something like “Countdown! To The Greatest! Party! In the World!!! 10, 9, 8…” very exciting and way, way too loud for this old lady. But I milled around the crowd and gave away glow bracelets which was fun and people were delighted over such a small gesture. My very last one was for a wee lady in a wheelchair, and she was extra pleased. After that I gratefully headed back to the quiet of my room, to charge my phone and pack a small bag for tomorrow’s sea day. Photos: One last pic from Tortola, a random dessert, a selfie before dinner, and some pretty lights onboard ship. I had a photo of the "Irregularity Report" about my dress but it featured my name and address, so I deleted it. I loved the name of the form, though! Up next: Sea Day and hitting a Food Wall.
  20. Make arrangements to stay in London. Get off the ship, take a cab to the bus station. There are busses to London Heathrow from Southampton, and likely ones to central London too. The NCL air will likely go from LHR to your home so you'll have to get yourself back to the airport after your couple of days in London. Easy!
  21. Thursday, April 20 Tortola BVI (Docked from 6 AM - 2 PM) As usual, I was up very early, and on the deck with a cappuccino by 7 AM. Plenty of time to read, relax and have breakfast before my tour meet time of 9 AM! When I returned to my room to grab my beach bag, I had a message from the front desk, offering me $40 for the ruined dress. Honestly, I would have rather it was able to be cleaned but since it wasn’t, it was good of NCL to make good. So be very careful on the starboard size of Spice H20 in case the smokestack is belching oily soot! Like yesterday, we met on the pier for NCL’s Island Beach Break at 9 AM. Our driver was very proud of his island and stressed the British nature of it, and stopped a few times to show off pretty views on our way to Cane Beach. We were again in an open air bus and I was on one end, and unfortunately as we zoomed around a corner, a bunch of vegetation whipped into the vehicle. Everyone yelped but me loudest of all because I got a deep gash on my arm! (Photo below, not for the squeamish.) When we got to the beach, I showed it to the driver and he said he’d notify the island’s government as they’re in charge of cutting back the plants alongside the roadway. That was the extent of his concern, and I was straight up shaky kneed and freaked out, but got a beach chair right away, sat down and calmed down. I also figured that salt water probably was good for it, so into the ocean I went! Chairs and umbrellas here were half the price of St. Thomas ($10 instead of $20) and I had some Coke and later some chicken wings and those were reasonable too. Along with the tip for our driver, I only spent $32 of $60 I had budgeted for the day! Cane Beach was also MUCH less crowded than Magen’s Bay Beach, and other than my gashed arm, I had a nice time. I was back to reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" because I had saved the last half for the beach, and had left “Behind the Scenes at the Museum" onboard because I didn't want to get it damp by resting it on my boobshelf. I didn’t even try to snorkel as I saw little signs of reef or vegetation underwater, but the water was pristine and lovely to swim in. We were back to the ship at 1:00 PM as promised, and as I was walking up, I showed my arm to an officer and she told me to head straight to the medical center, where they were already waiting for me. The nurse asked if I needed to see a Dr and I assured him I just needed a little triple antibiotic ointment and a big bandaid, and he hooked me right up. I now have enough packets of mercurochrome, antibiotic ointment, cleansing pads and big bandaids to stand me through any trip! Photos: A tree with cool pods on it, our driver, OUCH!, a pretty view, beautiful beach with yachts in the distance, my little sanctuary, lovely mountains and beach, and 'all better'. (It actually took the gash several weeks to heal!) Next up: Cagneys and Glow Party!
  22. Wednesday 4/19 continued: Back in my cozy room, I got cleaned up, put on a dress, and checked my sooty dress – still stained all over! I called Guest Services and they said they would send someone to pick it up and try to clean it. Within a couple of minutes, an officer was at my door (such a lot of To-Do over soot!) retrieving the damp clothes. Up on board I had a snack and watched an episode or two of Derry Girls on my tablet. I watched our sailaway and then strolled to dinner at Taste. I had ravioli with lobster sauce for an appetizer and massive meat chunks with saffron rice (based on photographic evidence). As usual, everything was delicious and service was attentive. Back to my room briefly, they had cleaned and delivered my outfit but it was still covered with spots, so I had a phone message to go to Guest Services to open a claim. For those of you keeping track at home, this was my 3rd trip there – the first time to ask if I truly needed my prepaid shuttle to the airport at the end of the trip, as I had a tour that would drop me off at the airport, and a second time with the paperwork that proved that I did have both booked. This is only of interest because of what happened as the week ended – still to come! The claim form was mercifully brief and asked the cost of the item. It cost $65 new but I had bought it 2nd hand with tags for $40 including shipping, so that's what I told them. I had planned to catch the 9:00 comedy show but it was far too late, so I got a cappuccino (like a rat hitting a bar to get a food pellet!), grabbed my last book and went up to Spice H20. I was reading book #5: “Behind The Scenes At The Museum” by Kate Atkinson – highly recommended! One funny thing at Spice H20 was that a woman I had met earlier in the week had her 20-something son there. He was tipsy, Oh he was tipsy. So tipsy that when she left, he was valiantly trying to hit on me, though his eyes just wouldn’t focus and he asked me my name like 5 times in 10 minutes. Oh, son. You seriously need to cut yourself off before you can’t tell a lady in her 60’s from one in her 20’s! Back in my room, I charged my phone and packed my beach bag for our early arrival in Tortola in the morning! Also goofed around taking selfies. Photos: Oily soot on my dress and skirt, ravioli in lobster sauce, meat chunks and saffron rice, taking photos of myself because otherwise I'd have none from the trip! 🤪 Next up: Tortola and Merely A Flesh Wound!
  23. Wednesday, April 19 St Thomas USVI (Docked from 11-7) Because we were going to arrive so late to St. Thomas, it was a relaxing morning. I got up, put on a cute 2 pc frock, picked up a double cappuccino from the Studio Lounge, and went up to Spice H20 to read for awhile. I was chatting with another guest when it felt like it was raining. I looked down at my dress and the entire bodice and most of the skirt (that which was not covered by my book) was covered with oily black spots. The dreaded smokestack / soot issue had struck! I had read about this issue on the Escape while I was researching the trip, and also read that they had ‘fixed’ the problem of their smokestack belching soot on that side of Spice H20. What a shame! Someone even gave me a Shout pretreating wipe, and I quickly used that and soaked the outfit in soapy water in my stateroom, hoping that it would wash away. After changing clothes, I still had time to have a lazy breakfast in the Garden Grill, to watch the beautiful sail in to St Thomas, and also to stop by the Library and drop off Cloud Cuckoo Land (yes, done with book #3!) and perhaps look for another. The NCL staff person pointed out the “Leave A Book, Take A Book” section and I happily exchanged “The War That Saved My Life” for John Irving’s new book “The Last Chairlift”. Now, I love me some John Irving, and own hardcover copies of almost all of his books. But this book was a tough one for me. For one thing, it’s an absolute doorstop of a book, longer than any of his others and that’s saying something. And it’s supposed to be his final book, so I really wanted to like it. I tried reading it back home when it first came out, only to give up on it halfway. SO REPETITIVE from earlier books, so repetitive within the book. So when offered a free hardbound copy I couldn’t resist taking it, and giving it another try. After all, I had only one book left to read and the week was still pretty young! (Spoiler alert: I got 25% of the way further through it this time, and only that far because I was desperate to read something, anything.) By now it was time to grab my beach bag and meet on the dock for the Magens Bay Beach Break which was supposed to be 4 hours, from 1:00 – 5:00 This was a tour that was paid for via NCL’s Free at Sea $50 off each excursion. The ride was wild, in open air buses as we quickly wended our way up the hills and down to get to the beach. Stunning views abounded! At the beach it was crowded. I mean, it was Coney-Island-on-the-4th-of-July CROWDED! I paid $20 for a chair and an umbrella, and bought a Coke, which was all I needed. The water was pristine, but although I had heard that there were often sea turtles and fish in the shallows on right far side of the beach, I saw little sea life when I tried snorkeling. Maybe it was the other 10,000 people on the beach, scaring them away? Regardless, I had a nice day although it was a quick visit, with less than 3 hours on the beach. On the way back, our driver stopped at Drake’s Seat for its famous photo op, and there were vendors with tables set up, and a steel drum band so it was quite festive. I didn’t need it, but I spied a pretty cute (no doubt Made In China) frog bracelet which was $10 and the guy tossed in a matching pair of earrings. I’m the only woman on the face of the Earth without pierced ears, so those will have to go in the gifts bin at home! I still had $20 left of the $60 I had brought with me that day, which was the case in every port – I randomly underspent by $20 each tour day, so came back with close to $100 extra. I could have shopped at the Havensight Mall near the ship, but instead I just ambled back to the ship. A lovely lady was dancing and taking photos near the pier. Up next - Wednesday evening, and the Fate of My Dress! Photos: The cool paintings on our ship, the view of the beach from my lounge chair, the very crowded side view, me on a tree, the ship from on high, another pretty view, musicians at the scenic spot, the lovely lady at the port, and my froggy necklace and free froggy earrings.
  24. Linsuesue, I'll do my best! I can't speak for Curacau, Barbados, Antiqua and St. Kitts (Aruba once and didn't have fun but was with someone who was a big complainer 😏) Since I haven't been there, but this cruise hit on your other 4 ports. That must be a heck of a cruise you're going on! You're so lucky!
  25. Ha! I did! https://www.amazon.com/Cloning-Jane-1-Ellen-Quinn/dp/1978083785/ref=sr_1_1?crid=22MNQ9MSSP14H&keywords=cloning+jane&qid=1686285589&sprefix=cloning+jane%2Caps%2C484&sr=8-1 (It's a middle readers book about teens cloning Jane Austen for their science project.) Hope I'm not doxxing myself too bad. And thanks so much for the nice words - that means a lot, coming from a teacher.
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