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Elaine515

REVIEW of the NCL SPIRIT 3/18 SAILING

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HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE A GREAT TIME ON A CRUISE???

 

Just returned from the Norwegian Spirit and while I will say not everything was perfect, we had a great time. Just as a starter, we actually booked the cruise with the immediate family of 12 (3 generations ages 7 - 76) and then added my neighbors, a family of 4, Mom, Dad, Son 16 and Daughter 12. We have all cruised prior to this one and mostly on Carnival.

 

First thing, going with family and friends and definitely meeting up with fellow Cruise Critic Members is an absolute plus....

 

The limo dropped us off at the pier at around 2:00 Friday afternoon and we were on board, in our room by 2:45....smooth sailing!!! The ship is beautiful and definitely clean. Everywhere you went a crew member was always cleaning something. A nice addition that I understand was recently added is dispensers throughout the ship filled with hand sanitizer. When you enter the ship, there are two of them, they're in all of the Restaurants, in the Casino etc....

 

The room was a bit smaller than we are use to and for 4 people, definitely not enough drawer space. The bathrooms were the nicest we've ever had on a ship. We especially liked the idea that the shower had a sliding door to keep the water in and no flooding on the bathroom floor. There was a soap dispenser right off the sink area and a soap and shampoo dispenser in the shower stall.

 

We had planned an unofficial Meet & Greet on Friday at 5:30 but that's when they had our Fire Safety Drill. On past cruises, the drill was held at 4:30 but on ours, it was 5:30. Some of the members showed up, unfortunately I wasn't one of them. I kind of figured that it was cancelled due to the Drill but some members showed up after the drill. But, the "Official NCL Meet & Greet" on Saturday at noon, where NCL reserved the Celebrity Disco for us and even put out a sign "CRUISE CRITIC MEETING 12 - 1 PM" was wonderful. We had a great turnout, with at least 50 people showing up. The Food & Beverage Manager, Rob and the Assistant Hotel Manager, Matt, along with Angelina who is the Cruise Group Coordinator were there and answered lots of questions for us. There was also cookies, little cakes, coffee, tea and iced tea set up for us. I read down my list and introduced each member who showed up and tried to "pair" up the kids. Overall, this was great, everyone got along and we toured and hung out with quite a few members periodically throughout the cruise. The Food & Beverage Manager told me this is the largest turnout he has ever attended. He said usually only about 10 people show up to each Meet & Greet.... So, to the March 18th Members, you're great....

 

Also a new addition that Rob told us about and just started this past Tuesday, but not fully operational are boards around the ship showing which Restaurants (all of them on the ship) had availability, how many, or how long the wait was for tables of 2, 4 or 6 +. What is also going to start is computers in the Atrium where 1/3rd of the Gardens and Windows Restaurants, you will now be able to reserve a table for a certain time. Of course, freestyle is still available so if you just feel like walking in, that won't be a problem. But if you want to eat at 7 or 7:30 with 12 people, this will certainly help. Unfortunately for us, the boards were up and running but not the computers for reserving the tables as yet.

 

We ate in each one of the Specialty Restaurants with Maxim's being our favorite. LeBisto was horrible with dinner lasting 2 hrs 40 minutes, way too long, Teppanyaki was ok, but not great. The cook really didn't put on a show like our local Japanese Restaurant does. La Trattoria had excellent service but only serves Pasta or Penne. Lobster night and filet mignon in the Gardens and Windows Restaurants were delicious.

 

The weather was perfect, the chair hoggers were out, the pool music was ok. The photographers were not at all pushy, neither were the waiters around the pool.

 

Except for Torola, we pre-booked all private tours prior to boarding the ship. On Barbados we did the Harrisons Cave/Island Tour....ok, long, boring for the kids. In Grenada, we booked with Mandoo the Island Tour/Beach, definitely worth the money. Mandoo is great, knowledgable and has great pride for his home. Last year he got the highest award in his Country for visiting as many schools as he could, from elementary to college, lecturing the students on the importance of education. Mandoo did this on his own time, no charge.

 

 

Next we did St Lucia the 4 x 4 Off Road Safari

Port Promotions and Services - Southern Caribbean Excursions

 

This is one that is an absolute plus, have to do. We never laughed so hard. We had a great time. Even the jeep breaking down and having to wait an hour and a half for a good one to come and get us didn't ruin this tour. Heck, we broke down right in the Village so the "girls" got to do more shopping!! Got the fake Louis Viton pocketbooks for as little as $7. but no more than $15.... a great place to bargain.

 

On Antigua, we booked with Jennie antiguapaddles.com , again a must-do. And again, we never laughed so hard. Seeing one of our friends fall out of the Kayak, not once, but twice, was definitely one of the highlights of the week. Book this one early and privately, it's the same exact tour that you book with the ship, but cheaper if you book it directly with Jennie. She will only take 20 people. The ship will book 160 for this tour. Ask if you can have Cameron as your boat guide. Cameron and Jennie have been married for 28 years, own the business, and are both such nice, pleasant and easy people to deal with.

 

Last Island, Tortola, we booked the Vrigin Gorda Highlights Tours directly thru NCL. This is the tour to see "The Baths" which is actually listed on the "100 Things To See Before You Die" list. Mostly because its a short time on the Island and because we couldn't find another way quicker or cheaper to get there privately, But, I have to say, NCL did a great job with this tour, it was sold-out and we weren't piled in like sardines like most of the ships tours. But be aware, this tour is a bit tough, with lots of walking and climbing down rocky paths. Then, once down the path, you climb thru tunnels once entering The Baths. This one I would recommend booking prior to boarding by calling NCL direct. I booked it on-line and a week later when I called to confirm it, NCL did not have my reservation. To see The Baths were a great experience.

 

The gift shop employees were great. They spent lots of time with us and weren't pushy at all.

 

We also took time to check out a couple of the shows. While the NCL Dancers were very good, it wasn't the light up, sparkling, colorful, laser show that we are use to seeing on Carnival. We had Ricky Matthews as our Cruise Director and loved him. We thought he was quite funny, very friendly and overall did a great job. Always accessible, we found him all over the ship. I even got to dance with Elvis (aka Ricky). The comedians were funny and the magician was ok (the kids enjoyed him).

 

We are definitely casino people and the staff there was good most of the time. I have to tell you that this is the first time that we all actually won. The slot machines were good to lots of passengers, saw lots of jackpots being hit on penny, nickel and quarter machines. My husband got into the Texas Hold 'Em Game each night with a great group of guys. It started as a $3/6 table but then changed to $5/10 table request of the guys. The only problem here is that NCL gets a 5% rake with no maximum. I even hit 3 of a kind three times and 2 straight flushes on the 3 Card Poker Table during the week.

 

A really nice ending to the cruise is that they had lots of things going on the very last morning of the cruise. A full breakfast, lunch, camp was open for the kids from 9-11am (they even had an Easter Egg Hunt as it was Easter Sunday), and the slots were open.

 

We actually entered the Port of Miami at 9am and were docked by 10:30. NCL had told us that we wouldn't be docked until noon but not a big deal, as noone "threw" us off the ship and we didn't leave until 1:30, went through customs and met our limo driver at 2:00pm.

 

 

So, as you can see, we really did have a good time. Now for the stupid little things that could be better. And no, I'm not writing a letter to NCL or complaining to anyone, I don't want a free cruise or 10% off my next one....

 

When NCL tells us that 4 people cannot have an Oceanview or Balcony Cabin, then puts us in an inside where the 4th bed is a trundle on the floor between the two beds, well that upset me. First, I didn't like the idea that my 11 year old was kind-of sort-of sleeping on the floor, but if they could put the trundle in an Inside Cabin, why couldn't they put it in the Oceanview or Balcony???

 

The waiters in Windows is a definite hit or miss. Sometimes the wait staff were great, sometimes they had no smiles at all, couldn't get the meals correct etc. Don't let them seat you in the rear tables in Windows on the first two nights or last one on-board because there is a whole lot of shaking going on there!!!

 

And Maria, our room steward was ok, not the best. As soon as I boarded the ship, I asked her for the egg crate for the bed and she told me she couldn't get/find any. Go to find out later on that another couple asked her for them after I did, and they got them. The bed I slept on had a "couch backrest" against the wall that was extremely annoying and I kept bumping into it all night. Also, on the very last night we had to call Room Service 3 times from 10:30 to 11:50 because the room had not been made up and my 11 year old wanted to go to sleep but the trundle bed wasn't out. When Rachel showed up to finally make up the room, I asked her where Maria was and she didn't know.

 

Another stupid little thing was that we called Windows to inform them that 12 of us were coming to dinner and would like the only table for 12 that they had. They assured us that it would be held, only to arrive and find out that the table had just been given away and they put us at 2 tables for 6. Again, not a big deal, but it was the last night and we all wanted to eat together.

 

Now, to my fellow "Meet & Greet" people, thank you so much for making this cruise so much fun. Thank you all for showing up to the meeting, laughing with us, smiling with us, touring with us, hanging out with us, gambling with us etc. Thank you Sam & Ellen for making us laugh so hard when you fell out of the Kayak (twice!), thank you Francine for doing the poll dance on the open safari jeep, thank you Martha, Randy and family for making our tours that much more fun by touring with us, thank you Ryan for not taking my husbands money at the Texas Hold Em table, and Staci for making me having a sore throat after screaming so hard for you to win the Slot Tournament (which she didn't), thank you Cynthia, Jeff and family for the good times we had talking to you and the kids becoming friends and hanging out together as well as Jane, Kevin and family it was great meeting you guys. Michael and Peter were a blast as well and lots of fun to talk to. To David, Debi and family, I'd be surprised if Adam ever lets you take another picture of him again!!!. To Brenda for actually starting the thread, a big thank you. And to everyone else just thank you for being part of our "Meet & Greet" and all the hellos and smiles throughout the week.

 

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask as I did prior to my cruise. Asking questions and getting answers from other Cruise Critic Members was a big help to us and I'd like to do the same for others.

 

AND IN CLOSING, THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN'T HAVE A GOOD TIME ON A CRUISE.....

 

 

Elaine :)

 

CELEBRATION 11/93

DOLPHIN IV 10/94

IMAGINATION 10/95

SENSATION 10/96

FASCINATION 10/97

RCCL GRANDEUR/SEAS 10/98

CARNIVAL DESTINY 10/99

ECSTASY 2/00

CARNIVAL DESTINY 10/00

CARNIVAL SPIRIT 12/01

NCL SUN 8/02

CARNIVAL SPIRIT 3/03

CARNIVAL TRIUMPH 3/04

NCL SPIRIT 3/18/05

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Elaine--I'm so happy to see your review! We leave on 4/1 on the Spirit with kids of approx. the same age as yours. Did they go to any of the organized activities? We're there a lot of teens on board? We're also in an inside cabin since that was all that was available for four people. I didn't realize that the fourth person was in a trundle on the floor. Don't think I'll mention that to my 11 year old, lol. Hopefully we have a similar turnout at our cc party--sounds like yours will be hard to top!

 

Beth

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So glad to hear how much you enjoyed your trip. The Spirit is a lovely ship and the crew is great. We would love to sail the Spirit again.

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.

 

 

Both of my kids, girls ages 11 & 14 went to camp only a few times but had a great time when they did. Danielle (the 14 yr old) even did the pajama party with the teens which surprised me. Lauren (age 11) colored an NCL T-Shirt which most of the kids wore off the ship. One night during dinner in the Gardens Restaurant, the little ones, ages 2 - 5 walked thru singing songs and entertaining us....they're so cute at that age. All the kids that did go to camp had a great time.

 

I forgot to mention in my review that we had 800 kids on board this past week between the ages of 2 and 17 and never had a problem with any of them. I personally didn't see them being disruptive or rude, didn't see them playing with or in the elevators or running all over the ship.

 

 

.

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Hi Elaine, Great review. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, as we are planning on April 15!!!

 

Naturally a couple of questions!

 

Which ports did you tender at?

How did your husband go about gettting at the Hold em table? reservations?

Do you know why your muster drill was 5:30 vs 4:30?

Do you happen to know what time they started allowing people on board?

 

Ok I will stop for now!!! Thanks for the great review and Thanks in Advance for you help with the above!!!

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Elaine515-

 

How do you find out about all the teen activities? We are bring our 14 yr. old daughter and want to make sure we dont miss her meeting other teens!

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Elaine515-

 

How do you find out about all the teen activities? We are bring our 14 yr. old daughter and want to make sure we dont miss her meeting other teens!

 

 

On our sailing, the Teen Camp Meeting was at 9pm in what they called the "Teen Room". We found this listing in the Daily Freestyle that we got on board the first day. I would absolutely recommend that your daughter go to this even if she doesn't want to participate in the Camp Program. That's where my daughter actually met the girls that she wound up spending the week with. At this meeting is also where they gave us a Program telling them what/when/where they would be for the entire cruise.

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Hi Elaine, Great review. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, as we are planning on April 15!!!

 

Naturally a couple of questions!

 

Which ports did you tender at?

How did your husband go about gettting at the Hold em table? reservations?

Do you know why your muster drill was 5:30 vs 4:30?

Do you happen to know what time they started allowing people on board?

 

Ok I will stop for now!!! Thanks for the great review and Thanks in Advance for you help with the above!!!

 

 

 

The only port we had to tender was St Lucia and that's only because there were other ships there the same day. I understand that if the Spirit is the only ship in port that day, you won't have to tender.

 

The casino host started taking names/reservations for the Texas Hold Em table usually after 7pm but most games started around 8:30-9:00 and lasted until 1am. On the last night they went until 3AM!!!

 

No, I don't know why the muster drill was 5:30 instead of 4:30 but when I read it in the Daily Freestyle I remember saying to myself, "hey, they have to change the drill time!!!".. Also, don't miss the drill, they did take cabin attendance.

 

On our particular cruise, I understand that passengers were allowed to board as early as 1pm. We got there at 2pm, a very short line, went quickly and were on-board and in the cabin by 2:45..

 

And you don't have to stop asking questions....if you have more, ask....

 

Elaine :)

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Thanks for the review I just knew that you would publish one, firstly pleased that most went well for you and yours , you said that in the back of windows it was a bit rattle and roll with shaking / vibrations :eek: am I going to regret booking an AD suite at the very rear of the Spirit we will be on it for 17 days Panama Canal next month, may not have time to change at this late stage. Any more tips ???

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We were on this same cruise with you and would echo everything you said except for the kids being somewhat invisible. We were on deck 11 near the forward stairwells and the teens started in around day 3 with late night hanging out between deck 11 and 12 with a lot of running up and down and doing some screaming. It wasn't too bad, but couldn't help thinking our kids were never allowed to do that a few years ago. I really sympathize with the trundle bed. I would have paid dearly to have a balcony room even with a trundle bed. Doesn't make any sense. Maybe thats one of the fixes for the dry dock. Also, we asked out steward when we met him for the egg carton mattresses and he knew exactly what we meant and had them on all four beds that first night. Made a world difference. Heard some ladies talking at lunch about how hard the beds were and one lady said she'f been sleeping on the floor because it was more comfortable than the bed!!

 

The service in Windows seemed to be better in the front on the right side (as you enter) than anywhere else. I had read that on this board and it was true. The power strip in the bedroom was a lifesaver with three women and me. Lots of hair dryers and curling irons.

 

The daughters did the Dolphin Swim in Tortola and said its was the best experience ever in their 10 cruises.

 

Peter

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Elaine - Great review. I knew we could depend on you! Any further info on the teen program will be appreciated! How were the deck parties?

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What a great cruise!! It was my first time on a cruise and it far exceeded my expectations.

 

The ship is great- 99.9% of the staff is overly friendly and extremely attentive. Windows does vibrate, especially if you are seated in the back.

 

Only complaints- some kids hanging out in groups being a little noisy, but not bad. Kids in bars, not drinking but in there. Also question age of some kids in the casino. Also my friend's ipod got stolen in the workout room. (by an adult)

 

Otherwise- the speciality restaraunts were very good. Le Bistro mushroom soup to die for!! I did 3 tours with NCL- the 4x4 tour in St. Lucia was great!!

 

Wish we would have been been in BVI for more than a day. It seemed beautiful, just didn't want to do a tour for that short of time.

 

Out of 5 stars I would give the whole trip a 4.5.

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Elaine - Great review. I knew we could depend on you! Any further info on the teen program will be appreciated! How were the deck parties?

 

 

Unfortunately we left the Teen Program on the ship but from what my daughter remembers there was scavenger hunts, arts & crafts, they played games, did karokee one night, watched a movie on another night and also had a pajama party one night. She didn't participate during the day so she doesn't know what, if anything, they did during the day.

 

We didn't do the deck parties but they had a disco night, a 50/60s night, a ship-in-dales night for the women one night (which by the way ladies not to be missed). Bring your poodle skirts with you and you'll fit right in.

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It was nice meeting you. Mia our daughter & Miranda the other young girl in our group became very good friends. Your review was great. We also had a great time on board. Great ship, nice crew, great itinerary and an unbeatable value (less than $2400 total for 4 for 9 nights). The only few negative were that I thought that the service was very inconsistent in the dinning rooms and the food in raffles was just ok. Some days excellent service and some days very poor. I think this will change after the ship goes into dry dock. The crew said they are going to increase the size of the galley. Additionally the addition of full reservations in all if the restaurants will make a big difference. We ate each evening at 8:00. It would have been nice to have made these reservations for windows or the garden room in advance. Our children loved the kids crew program 3 & 7. For some unknown reason it was closed for the after 10:00 session on the last night. We thought that this was very odd seeing that most people want to stay out late on the last night. Like you said how can you not have a great time on a cruise. I would have booked this ship/itinerary at the same price for next year unfortunately it will be cruising out of NYC. I think we will try Celebrity next year. They have a 9 day out of FLL. Thanks again. Rich

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NCL Spirit is a great ship..although I think I liked the Sun slightly better.

 

Other tidbits from Ryan/Staci:

We never ate at Windows, but the Garden Room was just fine (except for the night that the new computers came online which was a FIASCO!).

 

We LOVED Maxim's Steakhouse..but unfortunately something Staci ate at Shogun didn't agree with her and she spent most of Sunday being sick.

 

For those interested in the casino:

If you sign up for the slot/table rating card you will receive a 'free ace' to use on 1 hand of blackjack ($25 max) **Note that you cannot be rated on Hold'EM

 

If you sign up for the slot or blackjack tourney it is $15 without the slot club card..$10 with (and you get a $5 matchplay ticket)

 

I was one of the staples at the Hold 'Em Table. I may not have got any of Elaine's $$, but I got plenty of others! ;)

Hold 'Em is pretty new to NCL and you will need to have some patience with some of the dealers..though they did improve throughout the week. (Amber was by far and away the best...as good as any standard casino)

The house will NOT buy HOld 'Em players drinks..which is pretty weak considering that if the limit is bumped up to 5/10 the house rakes 5% with NO CAP. (If the limit is 3/6, which is what they usually offer, the rake is 10% with a $3 cap and $1 floor)

Hold'Em tournaments are not offered..bring your own chipset :)

 

Here's a shot of "The Spirit $5/$10 game"

IMG_1449b.JPG.113659abbcd026118765e91988b05325.JPG

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PS: Sadly, my wedding ring was NOT recovered as of Sunday morning. I filed a report so that if it turns up they will contact me.

 

(I lost it while playing water volleyball on pool deck)

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Ryan,

 

Great little review from you re: the casino. Definitely play at any table that Amber is dealing at, she's the best.... And, thanks again for not taking our money but I'm glad you took the others!!! (with the exception of maybe Marc and Tim).

 

Also we both forgot to mention that NCL just started a "Players Club" card. Sign up on the first day of the cruise and use it everytime you play a table game (with the exception of Texas Hold Em) or insert it in the slot machine.

For every 25 points you get, NCL actually gives you $25 credit off your bill.

It only works in increments of 25 so if you have 39 points, you will still only get $25 credit but if you have 54 points (like I did) you would get $50 credit off your final Sign-n-Sail bill. Definitely worth doing it if you're a crazy gambler like us.

 

Also, if you do have points remaining, it will remain there for 18 months. And even through it is new and very nice of NCL to offer something to their casino players, it's not easy to get points. You seriously have to put lots of play time in to accumlate points.

 

Another thing we forgot to mention...again, on the 1st day in the Casino, you can purchase triple match play chips. Basically that means you pay $10 but get $15 worth of chips that you can use instead of a real $5. chip at any table game, again, with the exception of Texas Hold Em. If you enter a slot tournament, they also give you a $5. credit slip to use, and again, any table game with the exception of Texas Hold Em and in this case, they didn't let me use it at the 3 Card Poker Table either.

 

 

Sorry you didn't find the ring, we were hoping that someone would have found it and turned it in. Also sorry Staci got sick on Sunday, hope she's feeling better now. It was a pleasure meeting the both of you.

 

The picture is great....is there any way to make it bigger?? Are there more??

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Thanks for the review I just knew that you would publish one, firstly pleased that most went well for you and yours , you said that in the back of windows it was a bit rattle and roll with shaking / vibrations :eek: am I going to regret booking an AD suite at the very rear of the Spirit we will be on it for 17 days Panama Canal next month, may not have time to change at this late stage. Any more tips ???

 

 

 

It's funny that you asked the above question because my husband & I were asking the same exact thing. Unfortunately I am unable to answer the question for you and was hoping that one of my rich fellow cruisers who were in the suites would answer it for you.... (HELLO.... rich fellow cruisers!!!!).

I also believe that the reason for the shaking was because the ship was going quite fast and perhaps on your cruise it won't be going so fast. Hope someone who has had an AD suite in the rear will come forward and answer your question.

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I don't have any first hand knowledge about this but it has been discussed a lot & like anything else there are a variety of opinions. One person said it was so bad she couldn't sleep another said it vibrated at full speed only & didn't bother her at all another said after she stuffed kleenex in the door & under the glassware the rattling stopped so after that she was not bothered by the vibration. It looks like in the front you get the wind at full speed & in the back you get vibration. Take your pick.

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i never felt vibratios even in windows, and we sat at the window most nights.

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The two nights I ate at Windows- the first night and on Friday I felt the vibrations near the windows- Especially the first night because the boat was moving very fast.

 

I agree with Amber the dealer- she was at my blackjack table- great dealer to play with. Many of the dealers were nice, just much more quiet.

 

Sign up to get the ace and bet the max (25) when you play it! Most did it and and won- a good way to start!

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Elaine,

I finally go a chance to check back, Thanks so much for the reply!

 

You mentioned poodle skirt, did any of the guests actually do the 50's dress up thing? I ask because the Mrs. has a poodle skirt and just maybe......!!!

 

Great information from you and your fellow cruisers for us information junkies.

 

Have a great day. Maybe one day we will be on board together!! ;)

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Ryan,

Thanks for the pic! Must have used panoramic to get the dude's nose in that shot!

Is Staci feeling better? Any word on your wedding ring?

Take Care,

Michael & Peter

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