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Everything posted by luckybecky

  1. Thanks everyone for your kind comments. John, I hope you are feeling well and we send our best wishes for good health. I know you will have an amazing time in Japan. Myra, what a great idea to have a get together on the last day of the cruise. That would have been great. I'll remember that idea for our next cruise. Speaking of our next cruise, our daughter just tonight announced to us that she has purchased a Mediterranean cruise for us next summer. It's her gift to us for her dad's 60th birthday. We will be visiting Italy and Greece on the RC Explorer of the Seas. What an awesome gift! We have an amazing daughter. 😍 Becky
  2. Thanks everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed the review. Jcu1210, they don't have a pizza place per se, but they served pizza every day on the buffet. I had a slice one day and it was pretty good. It is also available on the room service menu.
  3. Debarkation Day Sadly, we have to leave the ship. This was a long cruise, 12 days, but it flew by. Debarkation was easy. We always carry our own bags. We got up around 7:30 or so. Dressed quickly and had a big breakfast at Raffles. We got off the ship around 8:30. There was no customs or passport check of any kind. We just walked off the ship when we were ready. Here are the excursions/transfers offered by NCL, and other debarkation info. We Ubered to the bus station, and then took a National Express bus to London. We stayed 4 nights in London and had a fantastic time. We packed a lot into those few days: Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, The Shard, the Borough Market, Tate Gallery, Serpentine Galleries, Victoria & Albert museum, the British Museum, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, a play in the West End, and more. We finally flew home on June 30, happy to sleep in our own bed after a marvelous trip. We loved our cruise and our time in London. We would definitely cruise NCL again, but we don't feel married to any particular cruise line. It really comes down to itinerary and price when we choose our vacation. This itinerary was just marvelous and I would absolutely recommend NCL and Norway to anyone. Now it's time for me to start planning our next adventure. 😀
  4. We went to Le Bistro for dinner. It was very good. It is a small venue and had very nice ambiance. The food and service were excellent. My photo of the menu turned out too blurry to be legible. Sorry about that. Some kind of seafood appetizer. French onion soup was different from that served in Windows. It was very good. Escargot Filet mignon I did get the dessert menu Cheese plate After dinner we participated in the "Perfect Couple" game. That was a big mistake! LOL We have seen similar shows (or so we thought) on other ships. The format was always the same: they pick 3 couples from the audience. One newlywed couple, one couple that has been married 20 years or so, and a couple who has been married the longest. Then they ask a series of funny questions and see if the couple can come up with the same answers. Tonight, no long married couple was volunteering, so finally we did. We've been married 32 years. Not the longest on board, but no one else was foolish enough to volunteer. 🙂 Well, surprise surprise, this was not the same format game show we have seen before where you just have to answer questions. They made us compete in a series of silly contests like running with balloons between our legs and popping the balloons by smashing them between our bodies. And worse. 😉 It was all very silly. The audience was laughing hard at our antics. Paul and I did poorly on a couple of the challenges, better on another. But we won on the applause meter and were declared the winners. I think they took pity on us. LOL. We won a bottle of champagne and a goodie bag with a couple of t-shirts, key chains and other trinkets. The other two couples also got champagne. It was another beautiful night. So sad to have to say goodbye to this.
  5. Day 12 Today was a sea day, and our last day on board. We slept in. We packed in the early afternoon. Wanted to get that out of the way so we could enjoy our evening. We went to the afternoon matinee show "Spirit of the Legends" which was good. They didn't often do a matinee show. Here is the schedule for today: We still had almost $200 in on board credit, so we went shopping. A lot of other people were doing the same thing. The shops were busy. We finally settled on a bottle of scotch, and some cologne for Paul. The scotch, Glenmorangie, cost $67.50 for a 1 L bottle. Later, back at home, we comparison shopped at Costco and found a 1.75L bottle for approximately the same price. And this is why I have said I never shop on board. They call it a duty free shop, which makes you think you'll get a bargain, but the truth is that the prices are very high. And of course any alchohol you purchase on board cannot be taken back to your room until the last night. You can't buy some early in the cruise to make drinks in your room. They will store it for you and deliver it to you the last evening. We did better with the cologne, though. It was on sale, and the price was roughly the same as we would pay at home. Either way, these purchases were essentially "free" to us since they were paid with our on board credit so I'm not complaining, just offering the information. We normally would not buy items like these if not for the credit. I enjoyed a cocktail in the Galaxy lounge while they played "Win a Cruise" Bingo. The bingo cards were expensive and I didn't play, but somewhere along the way I had acquired a single raffle ticket for the cruise they were giving away. When I saw other people with dozens of raffle tickets, I realized that my chances were not very good. LOL Sadly, I was not the winner.
  6. Later, we went to the show "Elements." This is the production show where they really pull out all the stops. I mean it was sensory overload. Really crazy and incredible. Singing, dancing, thumping music, flashing lights, brilliant costumes, just over the top. We usually went to the theater around 15 minutes or so before showtime and never had trouble getting a good seat. But tonight we went a little earlier and we noticed the theater filling up quickly. It is a popular show that really just takes everything over the top so get there early if you want to see it. We ate at Windows. I had begun having memory problems with my phone -- had to happen right in the middle of vacation, right?! -- so I don't seem to have pics of the menu. But here is some food porn. There was one appetizer that did not look so .... appetizing. I don't know what it was. Some kind of salad Chicken parmesan NY Strip. Wasn't the same as Cagney's, of course. But not bad.
  7. Here are the daily schedule and the NCL excursions for this port.
  8. Thanks for the info karoo and MKA76! I'm sorry we missed the blue nose ceremony. Maybe we just didn't wait long enough, I guess that is how we missed it. Great picture Mary Kay! I"m going to try to finish up this review. Sorry to have dragged it out. It takes a long time to organize all my photos. Norway was so beautiful, I took about a gazillion pictures. We just have a couple of days left on this amazing cruise. Day 11 Haugesund This was our last port. Our excursion today was a little bit of a letdown after the stunning beauty of Geiranger and Flam. This was my least favorite port, but maybe that was just due to our choice of excursions. Maybe if we had done something different, we would have had a very different impression. There was a free shuttle bus at the pier that took us to the historic cathedral in the center of town. We had a quick look inside the cathedral. Our excursion departed from directly in front of the cathedral, where the shuttle bus stopped. We rode a bus to the Viking farm. The historic St Olav's church is adjacent to the viking farm and is listed as part of the excursion both on the NCL and the outside provider's tour description. Unfortunately it is competely covered in scaffolding and is closed at this time. The farm itself is a reconstruction of what a typical Viking village might have looked like, and included people in period dress, with games and even a chance to try your archery skills. After touring the Viking farm, we had admission to the Norwegian History Center next door. This museum included a movie and exhibits about Norwegian culture and history. One last comparison: we paid 560 NOK, about $66, for the two of us to do this tour. A similar NCL tour to this same Viking farm was priced at $109 per person. After returning from the Viking farm to the center of town, we had a look around but there wasn't much to do since we aren't into shopping. We walked down the main street but soon returned to the ship.
  9. Later, after our train ride, we walked around town and came across a local festival. We learned that these summer festivals are common in some Norwegian towns. There was a band, lots of food, and a big bonfire. The locals seemed oblivious to the influx of cruise ship passengers. Once back on board, I don't remember exactly what we did. The show tonight was the hypnotist again, and we didn't go. He was entertaining when we saw him a few days ago, but I'm skeptical about the hypnosis and we didn't need to see him again. Here is the daily schedule We had dinner at Teppanyaki. We still had some of that onboard credit to spend and we had seen an opening in the Teppanyaki bookings so we grabbed it. We enjoyed our dinner. Everything was delicious. I'm glad we went. It was really fun although some of our tablemates weren't very social. There were two empty spaces at our table for a couple that did not show up. This would be very fun to do with a group of people that you know. Sailaway from Flam was stunning.
  10. There were some interesting food vendors in the center of town.
  11. Day 10 Today we arrived in the beautiful town of Flam. We had scheduled the Flam railway. We booked many months in advance. Our roll call was really helpful here. Online bookings were limited. Someone on our roll call w as eagle eyed and posted a heads up for the rest of us when bookings opened for the date we would be in Flam. We jumped on it as quickly as possible and were able to secure tickets for the afternoon train. These tickets sold out many months in advance. I'll once again compare our train ride with the similar excursion offered by NCL. I'm not trying to promote or denigrate any tour operator. It's just good to know what your options are. Our train ride cost 1180 NOK for the two of us, or about $143. An NCL excursion on the exact same train cost $179 per person. This is said to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and I believe it. Here are the NCL excursions for this port. Here is the view from our balcony: And the town seen from the upper decks: This is the view from the bow of the ship:
  12. Meanwhile we watched the sailaway from Geiranger. It was stunning. I must have taken a hundred photos because every moment seemed even more beautiful than the last. You know it is special when even the crew abandon their posts to go outside and take photos. 🙂 We have another amazingly beautiful port coming up tomorrow. I'll be back later to try and finish this review.
  13. We saw two shows tonight: the aerialists duo Jocka and Maria in the main showroom, and "Broadway Cabaret" with some of the production cast singers and the Spirit show band doing broadway musical hit songs in the Galaxy lounge. Both shows were excellent as always. We ate at Windows again, and this was the only time we were actually seated near the big rear windows. Roasted vegetable salad with goat cheese Bruschetta Roast beef It seems I usually forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu, but I did get it tonight.
  14. We got back on board for a late lunch. Then we had a kayak tour scheduled for later in the afternoon. The weather had turned out nice and we were really looking forward to this as a highlight of our trip in such a beautiful setting. We got back off the ship about 45 minutes before our scheduled tour and asked at the tourist information center where to find the kayak center. It turns out that it was a very long walk from the pier, all the way on the other side of the fjord. There was nothing on our reservation confirmation that indicated this. We are fast walkers, and we took off with we hoped time to spare. We walked briskly for about 30 minutes, finally reaching the kayak spot at 3:20 pm for our tour that was scheduled at 3:30. We approached a guy standing there and asked if we were in the right place. He said, yes, but they just left. We said, what do you mean they just left? It's not scheduled until 3:30. Oh, they changed the time to 3:00. They waited for you but left when you weren't here by 3:15. Well that was a drag! They had made no effort to contact us to tell us they had changed the time. We could easily have been there on time if we had known. Thankfully they refunded our money with no argument, but it still was very disappointing to us to have missed this tour. Later, we sat on our balcony and watched the kayakers return. There were only 3 of them. We would have loved going on this small group tour! You surely know by now that I greatly prefer to book my own tours and save money over the cost of excursions through the cruise line. But this experience shows one drawback. This would never had happened on an NCL tour. For one thing, the ship won't make you walk 30 minutes to get to your tour. They would provide transportation. And if they changed the time, you would be notified. Oh well. We were very disappointed but what are you going to do? We spent a little time walking around town but we aren't big shoppers so we got back on board early. We enjoyed the view and some cocktails in the Galaxy lounge. Here are the NCL excursions that were available in this port: Our 3 hour electric car rental cost 1,850 NOK, or approximately $216. Our kayak tour, had we been able to go, cost 1,360 NOK, about $159 total for the two of us. Word to the wise, if you make your reservations far in advance, it would be prudent to contact the provider closer to your trip just to re-confirm. If I had done this, we would have had the correct time.
  15. Here is some of the amazing scenery from the drive up and down the mountain. A partially frozen lake. And remember, this is the Norwegian summer! We saw tons of campers everywhere we went in Norway. This must be a very popular way to see the country.
  16. We had a big breakfast and then headed ashore for our first adventure. We and several roll call members had arranged to rent little electric cars and drive up the mountain. Well, this was quite an experience! The car was TINY! It seats two, with the passenger seated behind the driver. Paul is 6' 2" and I'm not a small person. It was a challenge to get in and out of the car, especially if you are older and maybe not as flexible as you used to be. In fact, one roll call member told us he just stopped getting out of the car when they would pull off at a scenic spot -- it was just too hard to get in and out! The second problem with the car is that it has no windows. So you get to enjoy the crisp mountain air. By the time we got to the top of the mountain, we were positively frozen. It was cold up there! We were even getting a light mix of sleet and snow. But it was fun and easy to drive and the advantage of doing the E car was that we set our own pace, and could stop at whichever scenic pullouts we wanted,as opposed to being on a nice warm bus where you are on their schedule. The drive was gorgeous. We had the car for 3 hours. Here we are getting a quick lesson on how to drive the car with a few other members of the roll call. Here is the view from the top of Mt. Dalsnibba. If you look closely you can see our ship in the fjord far, far below. It is just a speck near the center of the picture. Here we are with some of the group
  17. Thank you, projecthandbag and LTC. I know you will both enjoy your upcoming cruises! Onward: I have mentioned some of the perks we had with the dining and beverage package. Our package also included phone calls and wifi. We called our kids several times during the cruise and always had a good connection. It was nice to be able to check in at home and not have to worry about the cost. Wifi was a different story. It worked fine for the first couple of days, but quit working sometime around day 4. I tried to connect repeatedly without success. But I was able to get online using my phone when we were in ports and I wasn't too worried about it. However after a few days I finally went to the internet lounge to ask for help. It was only staffed for a few hours a day and no one happened to be there when I went, but there was a sign saying wifi was unavailable due to the ship's location. OK. I went back again a couple of days later. A manager told me that it would be working the next day. It wasn't. So I went back yet again, and he changed some settings on my phone and finally it was working again. By this time the cruise was almost over so the 250 minute package was almost entirely wasted. I would definitely recommend that you make sure the wifi is going to work before you invest in an expensive wifi package. I wasn't planning to spend much time online but enjoyed posting pics on facebook when we had some down time. Anyway, on with our cruise. Day 9 Geiranger This was one of the most beautiful of all our ports, and I think it's fair to say one of the most beautiful places in the world. We had a busy day planned. Here is the view from the ship. And here is the schedule for today
  18. We went to the Deal or No Deal game show in the afternoon. It was fun. They pick two people to go on stage and play the game, but audience members can buy a game card to play along. We won a dollar! LOL A little later that afternoon we went to the crew talent show. We have seen similar shows once or twice on other ships and always enjoy it. It takes a lot of nerve to get up on stage and the crew work really hard on their acts. It was a great show. The evening show was a male vocal quartet called 4 Stations. They were great! We had a second meal at Cagney's tonight. It was very good as before. As I mentioned, we had a 4 specialty dining credits included with our booking. I made our reservations months in advance, and even then not all times were available at all venues. For some reason, Teppanyaki was not allowing online booking, so I reserved 2 dinners at Cagney's, one at La Trattoria, and one at Le Bistro. However, you'll remember that we still have quite a bit of onboard credit, so when we saw an opening at Teppanyaki we reserved it for a couple of days from now, giving us a total of 5 specialty dinners. They have some display boards that show availability for the restaurants. I definitely recommend that you make your reservations as early as possible because the boards always looked full. It was always a ton of food. We couldn't eat it all.
  19. Day 8 This was a sea day. I really don't remember what all we did today. I know we probably slept late and had a late breakfast at Raffles. We never used room service but here are the room service menus and the menu bar menu in case you are interested.
  20. Tonight we ate in Windows dining room, where the food and service were very good as always. I've noticed that some items on the appetizer portion of the menu seem to be in regular rotation. The bruschetta and french onion soup have appeared on the menu several times, for example. That's OK, they were both very good. Seared sea scallops Boston and red leaf lettuce salad Prime rib Veal scallopini oscar We went to the show Soul Rockin' Nights and finished our evening in the casino. I know on one night we went up to Galaxy and did some dancing but I don't remember which night. They had live music up there pretty much every night. It was yet another enchanted evening.
  21. For the purpose of comparison, the cost for this tour with the company Blue Puffin was 979 NOK per person, but we had a 50 NOK per person Early Bird discount because we had booked many months in advance. So our total cost for 2 people was 1858 NOK, or approximately $220. An NCL excursion to the North Cape cost $149 per person, and did not include a guide, the stop to see the crab, or the stop at the fishing village. Here is the view as we left Honningsvag. After we sailed away from Honningsvag, we sailed past the North Cape where we had a view from the bottom of the cliff that we had stood atop a few hours earlier. If you zoom in you can almost see that globe monument on top.
  22. On the return trip we stopped at a small fishing village where we saw the traditional way they dry fish to preserve it. I think it might have been cod but don't remember for sure. Our guide said the fish will be good for up to 10 years this way. They just rehydrate it in water and enjoy it with a beer. I think I'll pass. The little village was very charming.
  23. Today we travelled to the North Cape, the northermost point in continental Europe. We had booked a tour with the company Blue Puffin along with several other roll call members. For some reason I had the mistaken impression that this would be a small group tour. Instead it was a full size tour bus -- 3 busses, apparently! Most of the roll call members ended up on a different bus so we didn't see much of them. I realized too late that we should have made plans with our fellow roll callers to meet either on board or just off the gangplank for our tours. We did not do this for most of our excursions so even though we often were doing the same things, we didn't always see our roll call friends. The drive from the town of Honningsvag where we docked to the North Cape was about one hour through the majestic but relatively barren landscape. Being so far north there were no trees. We saw lots of reindeer grazing along the way. We had a guide who gave us a lot of information along the way, particularly about the native Sami people. We stopped to see some king crab. We arrived at the North Cape where a globe monument marks the spot atop a cliff that is 1000 feet high and there are sweeping views over the sea. It was very beautiful and very cold.
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