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My extensive Pearl review with pics and SURPRISE

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PEARL CRUISE MARCH 18, 2012

 

 

CHECK IN: We arrived at the port of Miami and there was already a LONG line to get in to customs. It pretty much wrapped around the side of the building back and forth before getting inside. I have to say this is the first time we’ve ever experienced this here. It was about an hour long wait before we ever made it inside. Once checking in with customs, we were off to get in the next line to check in…another half hour wait. We did see another line that said latitudes members (which we are), but the line in it was just as long as the first line we came to.

 

 

After finally getting up to the counter to check in, the representative behind the desk told me to hold on and went back (I thought) to get our room/ship cards. He came back out and whisks us back to where we first came in and told us we were VIP and should have never stood in line. They escorted us all the way onto the ship and straight to Cagney’s to have lunch. It was pretty awesome. We were introduced to our Concierge and the hotel manager and then we were off to try to find my oldest daughter (who checked in prior to us) and explore the ship.

 

 

The Pearl is a beautiful ship and I didn’t realize how much bigger it was than the Spirit (that we were on 6 months prior to this cruise) until we were parked beside it in Cozumel, Mexico and the Sun, which was parked beside us in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

 

 

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Now on to my thoughts/experiences about the Pearl.

 

 

She’s a beautiful ship and we thoroughly enjoyed her. Loved the décor and I was excited to see a Chihuly creation in the atrium. A little disappointed that there was not a “grand atrium” but it was nice. I just miss the glass elevators with winding staircases up the side, fountains and so on. This ship was just like any other NCL, they were always cleaning and keeping her in tip-top shape. We witnessed them painting and staining several times as well. Everyone was friendly and always spoke or ask if you needed anything. We have never had anything but excellent service on any of our NCL cruises and in my opinion, they are awesome!

 

 

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They have some really neat chairs and areas on the ship. In the Spinnaker area you will find some “odd” looking places to sit and also in the Bliss Lounge some odd rooms with chairs and beds. They were pretty neat and made a good photo opportunity.

The outside of the ship was painted according to what happened to be located on the inside.

 

 

 

ROOM AND SERVICE: Our room steward was the best. He was always asking if we needed anything and even left extra pool towels. We learned that they didn’t keep track of them for some reason like they do on the other ships. We had a towel animal every night but the first and last of course. He always spoke and called us by name. He always asks if there was anything we needed. I guess he didn’t realize we were VIP on the first 2 days and delivered our NCL robes that day and kept saying over and over “I hope you are not mad at me, please forgive me. I hope you will not get me in trouble.” Aww, I would never do that. He was AWESOME.

 

 

 

The hotel director was always saying hello and leaving snacks nightly and so did the concierge. I loved the treatment. We loved the way the room was (last ship you opened the door and the door hit the bed and you had to shut the door in order to get around the room). This was the traditional open the door and you are in the “hallway” with the bathroom on one side and the closet area on the other before getting into the bedroom area. (We stay in the inside cabins). LOVED the décor. Everything looked like wood, even inside the showers on the walls. However, this was the first time we’ve ever booked a room on the VERY front of the ship and I have to say it will probably be the last. The ship was really rocking and both my 3 year old and 23 year old both got sick and that usually doesn’t happen.

 

 

MAIN DINING ROOMS: We only ate in one of the main dining rooms, Summer Palace, and the food was WONDERFUL. The only problem we had was the waiter was really slow for some reason (not that we were in a hurry or anything and enjoyed our time there hanging out and taking pictures). The people that sat at the table right beside us came in about 10 minutes after us and was served their appetizers and their main meal before we ever had our appetizers. I also noticed they didn’t seem to enforce the “dress code” policy. The people next to us had on shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops (the guy). So… (and it was diner, not lunch too).

We also ate at Cagneys for breakfast several times and loved it. The food was great!

 

 

SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: We ate at the Lotus Garden and it was fabulous. Our concierge got us in after they were already closed (he said) and we were the only ones in there. Loved everything we had. NCL’s site says that the price for this is $15, but they only charge $10 for some reason and it’s a lot of food.

 

 

 

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Teppanyaki-NCL’s site says $25, but they charged $28. I’ve been to a lot of these restaurants at home and really enjoy them. However, there wasn’t too much of a “show” there. He did flip the egg into his hat and out of the bed of rice he split it to make it look like a heart, then put his spatula under in to move it and called it a beating heart. The food was good, but we didn’t really care for the appetizers in the beginning. A little different than most places I’ve had. Every cruise I’ve said I wanted to go here, so now that I have, I probably won’t do it again. In my opinion, not worth the $$. Lotus was better and a lot more food.

 

 

BUFFET AREAS AND 24/7 EATERY: I’m not a very picky person when it comes to food (except that I don’t eat much red meat and I don’t eat chocolate). So, there was always something I could find that I liked at the buffet. The only “complaint” I would have would be the last 4 days of breakfast, the eggs were very runny. I’m not sure why. It didn’t start off this way. For lunch or diners there, I always found something different. I hate when people come on and say “they were forced to eat the same thing every night of the week and were sick of the food”. There was always something different and you always have the main dining rooms as well. I found my crepes the first day and I was in heaven! I had my very first crepe on the Epic in 2010 and have loved them since. I did find that when we were on the Spirit last year, they did not have much of a selection for things to go inside or toppings. However, I discovered this cruise that you can ask for just about anything and they’ll have it or get it, even if it’s not out. For instance I saw him pull out a banana once for a filling for someone. I tried it and the rest was history…YUM! Also they can get other toppings (they had chocolate and the whipped cream) but he could also get things like caramel too. Double yum! Also I thought the “flow” of the buffet area was weird. When you first come in, this is where you would find all the food. Then the rest of the ship to the outside back eating area was just places to sit and eat. If you didn’t get a seat near the buffet area, you could get stuck walking pretty far back to get your next plate. It just seems like it would have made more since to have the buffet in the middle section instead of at the end.

 

 

There was a “kids” buffet area, but we didn’t see it open very often. I would saw it open twice for breakfast and the kids club took the little ones “out to eat” one night there. But most of the times we passed it, there was nothing out to eat and no one sitting in that area. Maybe it was because it was at the VERY end of the dining area and the adults would have to walk so far to the other end in order to get their meals??

 

 

There was a place to eat on the back of the ship (The Great Outdoors) that seem to always have buffet type food during the day and late evenings as well. You will never go hungry here. I never did see the Lobster night mentioned on the cruise or in the dailies. L So I guess we missed that.

 

 

 

The 24/7 place (Blue Lagoon) had good food and even made my husband a “to go” order and wrapped it up for him to bring back to the room one night.

 

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to see a couple of the shows. They have a Deal or No Deal show and the audience participates. You buy $20 cards and play along with one of the lucky members of the audience they call. It’s just like the game show, however, never making it high enough to win any “big” money. You have to match the contestant’s money behind their suitcase. The highest paid out during both times we watched was a free photograph or something like that.

 

 

 

We also watched the staff “fountain” production during the talent show. It was HILARIOUS! They themselves could hardly keep from laughing. Mr Washy-Washy has a great voice as well!!

 

 

 

We went to the comedian show (he was from my home town, so we just couldn’t miss him) in the Spinnaker Lounge. He did the normal spill about “couples” and life. Things you already know, but still make you laugh because they are so true.

 

 

 

BOWLING at BLISS: We bowled twice during the cruise and had a great time. However, the machines seem to always have a problem and we were always running to get one of the staff members to reset it for it to work. I swear my score was due to the rocking of the boat and not my ability to actually bowl. :wink:

 

 

POOL-We found that you had to be 5 years old in order to go down the pool slide (big disappointment for my 3 year old) alone. But she was allowed to go down with us. The water from the pool slide was a lot warmer than the pools were. They only seem to be open here and there and was disappointed several times when we wanted to “slide” and they were closed. We also found a lot of older people in the “family” pool with no kids. Then they would make a face if they were splashed by any kids playing in the water. Weird.

 

 

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They also have a closed off area for little ones that is shaded and has a slide. On a side note-families with children in diapers in the pools were around all the time. I never once seen anyone say anything to them.

 

 

 

I went exploring one day when the entire family was taking a nap and found a “water works” type thing on one of the decks that looked like a circus. The wall was painted and there were knobs on the wall and things inside the area and if you hit the button, water came out of a huge faucet looking contraption hanging over it. However, it didn’t look like it was being used and they had a bunch of tables stacked in it. But, it still worked. I've just never seen anyone mention it on here, nor had I seen pictures. Even NCL doesn't have it "listed" on their deck plans, but you can tell where it is located by the drawing.

 

 

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Pool decks-Didn’t see too many available lounge chairs around the pool area, but if you were in the covered areas around the pool, there were tons of chairs to be found. Also up on the next deck you could always find a chair as well. (Not that we ever get a chair and sit in it. If we are around the pool area, we are there to swim). They had several times that they had a BBQ out on the deck and they always had a breakfast and lunch out there. I did notice, and I’m still trying to figure out why, they would randomly stack up chairs and put them away during any given moment. I noticed around 2pm right on the deck beside the bar (Sky High Bar) when people would get up, staff would start staking the lounge chairs. Why? There was a bunch of people sitting on one of the top decks on the front of the ship the day we were in Cozumel (we left late and were all watching the sunset and taking pictures) and if you moved for a minute, they would grab the chair and stack it. I would see others come along and take a chair off and sit down. I still can’t figure out why they would randomly do this with people still sitting out there. Especially if it was the middle of the day??? They always seem to have a band playing and my little one was always dancing. The only problem was during sailing away from the islands, they played so loud that you couldn’t hear the announcements and I really wanted to video sailing away with the horn blowing. It never happened.

 

 

 

WHITE HOT PARTY: This started at 10:45 on the pool deck. It was very crowded at first and within a hour or so, there wasn’t hardly anyone left on the actual dance floor. All the staff with the “angel wings” were gone and just the passengers were dancing on the stage. I didn’t realize it until after we returned home that after a certain time they have an “after party” and it moves inside to one of the lounges. But, we still had fun. However, I like the party better when its actually inside and they have the black lights so that your “white” will actually glow.

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE BUFFET: We got a VIP invitation to go to this prior to letting everyone else in. Since I don’t like chocolate, I went for the pictures. They had it set up in the buffet area and to me, it didn’t seem too “special” or elegant like other cruise ships that have had them in a main dining area and very extravagant. But, I managed to get my pictures before the roaring crowd came crashing in and demolished all of the gorgeous looking food. Ha ha

 

 

SHOPS: It had your average souvenirs and clothing and I always like to get a tee-shirt with whatever ship I happen to be on. The only tee that I could find that I liked came with a baseball type hat. I had ask the staff one night if you could just buy the shirt and of course they said no. When I ask the price, they told me $15. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t buy it that night because when we returned the next night, the staff member (a different person) told me the price was $24. Yikes. Not sure what happened there. But, it was the only issue I had. I enjoyed getting my latitude discounts there and in the photo area.

 

 

BABYSITTING (Aqua Kids Club): Hmm, the first day you get to view the kids area and sign your little ones up. I’m not sure if we got to view the entire area, but it just seem to be a big open space with a jungle gym/pit ball/slide area in the back. There might have been more to it, I’m not sure. The staff learned my daughter’s name quickly (she has a unique name) and whenever we would run into them anywhere on the ship they would stop and talk to her or say hello. Most of them seem friendly although we did hear an employee getting a little “snippy” with one of the kids several times.

 

 

 

My daughter ended up a little sun burned on her arms at Great Stirrup Cay and when they painted her that night, I found it hard to get off without hurting her. We ask them to not paint her arms and not to use any dark colors on her face because they were too hard to get off. For some reason, they decided not to let her do any of the painting the rest of the cruise???? I finally ask them toward the end what was going on (I could just picture my little one pouting and wondering why all the other kids were able to participate in the face painting).

 

 

 

They did make things during the cruise because she came back the last night with a folder with things that she had made. (I was beginning to wonder if they were doing anything in there). However, I guess I was so impressed with the way the kids club was ran on the Spirit last year that this one fell short of my expectations. The Spirit staff was amazing. They would hang the children’s projects up all over the place and display it with great pride. They were just in a league of their own.

 

 

It was brought to my attention in another thread that they possibly take the children out of the kid’s area without you knowing. I never knew this. I did give my permission on this cruise and the last cruise for her to go “out to eat” with all her friends and the staff. However, there was a pirate night and I guess the kids all marched around in the buffet area in a line one night. They never once mentioned this to me or told me that they would be taking her out of the area. I only know about this because my older daughter happens to be in the buffet at the time this happened and she told me about seeing her sissy there that night. I guess I’m kind of shocked that they take them out without telling you. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, if they had told me. I would have also liked to have known for the fact that I would have liked to been in the area to take pictures of their “march”. Next cruise, I’ll ask about this type of thing.

 

 

ISSUE/COMPLAINT: The only time we have EVER taken advantage of the after-hours sitting is this cruise. We knew in advance that we would be using their sitting services for the white hot party. We signed her up and told them where we would be at. It was 1) posted at the kids club 2) posted in the kid’s dailies given to you at the beginning of the cruise with a breakdown of what they do each day and 3) online with NCL the times that they offer these sittings and the pricing. We dropped her off at 10:30pm, when the sitting started. At 1am the music stopped playing at the white hot party and the DJ announced our names telling us to go to pick up our child at the kids club. First of all, how embarrassing and we couldn’t understand what was going on. My husband went to pick her up and I guess she was the only one left in the kids club. The staff reprimanded him and told him he was late and everyone else was gone and they were closing. He said “I thought you guys were open until 1:30am and that’s when we were supposed to pick her up”. They replied “everyone else was gone” and then charged him $18 for the sitting. $6 an hour for 3 hours…which we didn’t even get. We kept a close eye on our watches to make sure that we would not be late. Well, we definitely wasn’t about to be late with them making us pick her up early because there wasn’t any kids left in the club. Kinda ticked me off. I mean she was asleep and all. My husband said that he felt like they were only closing early because everyone else was gone. I still don’t think they should have charged me full rate if that’s the case then and they definitely shouldn’t advertise sitting from 10:30pm until 1:30am if they are not actually going to do it. Ok, off my rant now.

 

 

CASINO!!!: I love my slot machines. We always buy the NCL coupon $20 worth of slot play for $10. Then we also buy the slotplay coupons online $50 of play for $25. I found “my” slots that I love and have been on the other ships as well and played those most of the time. Let’s just say I always manage to walk away with a lot more than I ever sank into it. I was VERY happy with my winnings. I didn’t manage to win any jackpot this time, but I play smart and if I double my money, I cash out and walk away and come back later. I won several hundreds off $5 several times and was more than happy those times too.

 

 

Anyone who loves slots…the Gold Fish games in the middle were always hitting. I won pretty good on the middle machine. They have a Gold Fish on one end, a penguin game, a Gold Fish game ßalways hitting, a penguin game, Gold Fish game, then penguin game on the end. The Gold Fish in the middle was always hitting good and getting the bonus rounds. The Penguin game right beside it (to the right if you are sitting in the chair) was always getting bonus rounds and hitting good too.

 

 

The other game that I did really well on the Spirit and managed to find it on the Pearl too is Cave King. It’s one of those machines that have 4 different games on it and you have to hit the “more games” button to find it. It’s normally set on a different game and you had to change it. I won several hundred twice on it. Not bad for my investment.

 

 

MEET AND GREET: I set up our meet and greet and it happen to be the day that both my girls were sick. We went to breakfast and my 3 year old ended up vomiting all over the dining room floor in the Garden Buffet area. My 23 year old didn’t even make it out of bed until about 5pm that day. We ended up back at the room to clean her up and let her lay down for a little bit. So, I ended up missing our meet and greet. We had a very “special” guest there and I was kicking myself about missing it…Mr Kevin Sheehan himself!!! Yep, he showed up to the meet and greet. My concierge let me know that he got on board in Miami and then was departing when we get to Jamaica the next day.

 

 

I had passed him out back at the Great Outdoors and just “knew” it was him or a very close look-alike. Turns out it WAS him and another couple from the meet and greet also spotted him out there as well on a different day.

 

 

 

Well, I was on a mission to find him after that…and I did. I was kicking myself for about an hour after finding out that he was at the meet and greet and knowing that I had missed out on meeting Mr Sheehan. I knew he was eating at one of the restaurants and I was determined to find him. I got up enough courage to ask one of the staff at one of the restaurants I had seen some of the “important” staff going in, if he was there. Then I found out he was at a totally different restaurant. My husband knew that we would sit in the lobby outside the restaurant all night if we had to in order for me to meet him, shake his hand, and get a picture with him. He knew what this meant to me. I caught him coming out of Moderno (he was having dinner with the Captain that night) and had stepped out to go to the restroom. I was like a school kid fumbling on my words and I know I must have been shaking to death when I approached him and spoke with him. He was such a lovely and kind man and very thankful for supporting NCL. He was happy to have a picture taken and joked about my husband still sitting on the chair in the waiting area not budging too quick or showing enthusiasm to “take that picture” (when in reality he knew how important this “meeting” was for me and was letting me have my space). He was thrilled to be able to shake Mr Sheehans hand and said it was a moment that we would never forget…and boy was it! I mean how many people can actually say they’ve met the CEO/President of their cruise line of choice and of course Mr NCL Undercover Boss himself. Yep, that’s right, I can. It makes cruising with NCL even more meaningful and hopefully someday I will run in to him again.

 

 

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DISEMBARKING: Since we had VIP status, we opted this time to set our bags out (with their easy walk off with help program). They took our bags a little after midnight. We got up and ate breakfast, took a few last pictures and went to the VIP lounge (The Star Bar) and were escorted off the ship. By then they had made at least one announcement that I heard before we left where they had to post-pone people getting off because the lines were backed up. When we got off, the lines were completely backed up on the ramps and long lines were on the ship as well to make it off.

 

 

We only probably waited for maybe a half hour after grabbing our luggage just inside the building and getting in line to go to customs. Customs was quick and easy and he was nice (unlike our previous experience in Miami from the Epic were the lady was completely rude and had an attitude).

As always, we had a MAGNIFICENT cruise and can’t wait for our next in 8 months.

 

Port reviews coming shortly.

 

 

Link to my ship pictures: http://kimbakersphotography.smugmug.com/Other/NCL-PEARL/22291657_GQXcwd#!i=1781069238&k=Rsr6QMr

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Awesome review!!!!

Can you tell me what time you got to the port that the line was so long?

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Thanks for your review, we have been on the Pearl too many times to count but never in a suite so I have a couple questions.

 

What nite was the choc. buffet as seeing we are in a suite I too would love to get pics before everyone gets to it.

 

I was surprised to see no remarks from you on Moderno, did you not try it?

 

Thanks

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Thank you for such a great review, the Pearl is our favorite ship :D

 

On a side note, I've read in quite a few posts that Cagney's is the only one who serves real eggs, the other restaurants serve freeze dried or something like that, hence the runny eggs.

 

Look forward to reading your port reviews!

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I absolutely loved your review. It was wonderful that you got to meet Kevin Sheehan. I hope he shows up on our Dawn cruise in May!:) I was interested that both of your daughters were ill in the forward cabin. DH gets seasick, and I have considered both forward and aft cabins, but I've decided it's too risky. I hope everyone is fully recovered and anticipating the next great adventure.

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Awesome review!!!!

Can you tell me what time you got to the port that the line was so long?

 

It was around noon when we got there. We normally get to the ports around 10:30 or 11 and never had a problem before. :cool:

 

Thanks for your review, we have been on the Pearl too many times to count but never in a suite so I have a couple questions.

 

What nite was the choc. buffet as seeing we are in a suite I too would love to get pics before everyone gets to it.

 

I was surprised to see no remarks from you on Moderno, did you not try it?

 

Thanks

 

No, never tried Moderno. As I said in my review, I'm not a big meat eater so I've never been to any of the Moderno Restaurants.

 

Thank you for such a great review, the Pearl is our favorite ship :D

 

On a side note, I've read in quite a few posts that Cagney's is the only one who serves real eggs, the other restaurants serve freeze dried or something like that, hence the runny eggs.

 

Look forward to reading your port reviews!

 

I think you may be right with that one. I've never read it before, but I would agree with it. The eggs in the buffet remind me of the Egg Beaters you buy in the stores. (Which I don't have a problem eating those). But all of the other cruises with NCL we never had a problem with the eggs in the buffet being runny. Plus it was just the last few days of the cruise. We just thought it was weird. I heard other people complain about it too those days.

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I absolutely loved your review. It was wonderful that you got to meet Kevin Sheehan. I hope he shows up on our Dawn cruise in May!:) I was interested that both of your daughters were ill in the forward cabin. DH gets seasick, and I have considered both forward and aft cabins, but I've decided it's too risky. I hope everyone is fully recovered and anticipating the next great adventure.

 

I found it weird that either one of them ended up sick. My oldest daughter never gets sick on car rides, roller coasters, spinning rides...nothing. So I didn't think this would happen. It was weird.

 

My youngest did not get sick at all on our last cruise, which was a much smaller ship. On the Spirit, we were at the VERY back, almost the last room and did not feel much of the rocking like this time around and we usually cruise in September during hurricane season.

 

This was the first time I've ever cruised in the front of the ship...and we were the VERY front. I won't book again in the front.

 

My next cruise is in the back again. :D

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Great review! Very cool that you got to meet Mr Sheehan

 

I am upset to read about kids with diapers in the pool however....that is sooooo unsanitary:eek::eek:

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what a great review

 

please i would like to know if they have cabanas on the privete island for rent or how it is ,we are traveling with my mom and she is a senior, could be betther if i can get that for her.

 

also i notice in some of the posts that some time the specialty restaurants have 2 for 1.

do you know anthing about it?

 

i'm looking forward to read the review on the ports, could you please put the review on the port before sunday , because we are departing on the pearl this sunday ,and you review on the pearl was great.

 

thank you

 

miryam my email is dcibrian@aol.com

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Thanks for the Moderno info now which nite was the choc buffet?

 

The chocolate buffet was on Friday. :)

 

what a great review

 

please i would like to know if they have cabanas on the privete island for rent or how it is ,we are traveling with my mom and she is a senior, could be betther if i can get that for her.

 

also i notice in some of the posts that some time the specialty restaurants have 2 for 1.

do you know anthing about it?

 

i'm looking forward to read the review on the ports, could you please put the review on the port before sunday , because we are departing on the pearl this sunday ,and you review on the pearl was great.

 

thank you

 

miryam my email is dcibrian@aol.com

 

We did not go over to where the private cabana's were at. However, I just read on here someone else post about being at GSC within the last month and they were not finished yet and got them for free at the time. I do believe that they mentioned that they were far up the hill so if you have someone that is a senior, it might be too far for them to travel to get to it??? But I'm not sure.

 

I did not see anything at the specialty restaurants with a 2 for 1 deal. I do know that they have a coupon in the coupon book where you can get the 4th persons meal free with purchasing the first 3 people.

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Thanks for the review, I'll be on the Pearl the end of the month. Thanks also for the slot machine tips, I'll try them out.

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GREAT STIRRUP CAY:

 

 

I loved the look of GSC and the tendering area they have made is beautiful. The entrance is very nice and tendering was easy as can be.

We found a spot to the right at the beach area after walking in and pretty much stayed there most of the day (other than a little shopping and over to the food area for lunch). I couldn’t wait to get into the water and start snorkeling.

 

 

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The water was cold that day, but the weather was sunny and very nice out. So, I wasn’t about to let a little cold water keep me away. After getting in, you got use to it.

 

 

Before we did venture into the water we were kind of walking up and down the beach area and we saw several sting rays swimming around. They were exploring everyone around them. I ran back to our beach chairs to grab my camera and of course, my luck, they were gone and we didn’t see them the rest of the day.

 

 

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I have to say I was very amazed at the amount of fish and snorkeling to be done here. I wasn’t expecting much and figured it was mostly a sandy bottom type area. There seem to be a little of everything there from just sandy areas in the water to sea grass, to rocks with plenty of fish. You could swim really far out (going toward the huge rocks that stick up out of the water) and it was still fairly shallow (where you could still touch the bottom in most places). Most of the fish were out that way (or at least more of a variety of them). You will find coral here, anemones, sea urchins, sea worms and tons of fish. Just make sure you are looking under some of the huge rocks out there and in the nooks and crannies and you’ll find things most people don’t see. I didn’t swim all the way to the huge rocks but spoke with another couple on the ship that did and said they ran into a 4 foot barracuda out there.

 

 

 

At one point I went out toward the rocks and then decided to swim diagonal across toward the other side to see if there was anything different in that area. I found several different “things” (not sure what they were remains of) but they were like bars/metal and to my surprise, I seen my first Lion Fish under one of them. It was the first time that I’ve ever encountered one and I was completely thrilled!!!

 

 

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We did see people parasailing there as well. It looked like fun.

 

 

We went over for the lunch buffet and the lines were long. We stood in line for probably about 20 minutes before making it to the food…which was VERY good. Then when I made it to the end of the line, I THEN noticed that the food started over. Geesh, I stood in this long line, like others, when they had several different places to get the same food and it repeated. (Putting hand up to forehead and banging it about that time). So hint…don’t just get in the line at the beginning of the tables.

They have a huge covered area that you can sit at or you can opt to sit at the tables out in the sun. There was a lot of room.

 

 

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My little one had decided that she wanted to try the hippo slide and had been begging all day long to go. So we went over to investigate. We ask the rep there if it was ok for her to go down or if there was an age or height regulation. He told us anyone could go down. He ask if we wanted to do just 1 slide for $4.99 or if we wanted to buy the all-day pass for $20. The thing is huge. We talked him into letting my husband go down with her (free of charge) just to make sure she would be ok. Then we talked him into holding off on the charge and if she liked it and could do it by herself then we would pay the $20. If not, then we would pay the on time rate. He agreed and let them go. She was able to climb it by herself and they slid down together. At a certain point almost toward the curve at the bottom they went a little sideways and it seemed as though they hit an area that brought them up a little. Not air borne but you could tell it was different. You could also tell by BOTH of their faces that it kinda freaked them out. So, that pretty much made up my mind that it would be her only time of trying it out. I don’t think I would trust her going alone on it.

 

 

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The beach does have a lot of rocks/pebbles in the sand, so it’s a good idea to wear sandals or water shoes if you want to go easy on the feet. I’ve always ran around bare-footed since I was a kid, so it didn’t bother me but it did my husband. You could see the staff working hard at raking up the rocks and hauling them away during the day.

 

 

 

We did a little shopping at the stores before getting back on the tender and was able to barter with one of them on a dress for my daughter and a tee for me so I was happy.

 

 

I really didn’t explore around like I thought I would. I seem to get wrapped up in something exciting and then forgot to wonder off and look around. I didn’t even see where the lazy river was going to be and we didn’t go over past the adult beach either. I’ve seen many reviews about people walking to the lighthouse and I saw the arrow pointing which way it was, but when you are on the ship and you look at the tender area, and then look over to the lighthouse…holy crap it looks really far away. I felt like we’d spend a lot of time just walking there and back. So, we decided not to go.

 

 

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The only complaint I would have is they have the chairs so packed that you are basically sitting on top of each other. We were the only ship there that day and it wasn’t too crowded that you had to sit within hand-holding distance with someone in the chair next to you, but still…wow. The beach is huge and they need to spread things out some more or make the beach bigger. I like people, but not so much that they can hear me whisper. LOL

 

 

We had a wonderful day and I hope to make it back again someday. We really enjoyed it and thought it was just beautiful there.

 

 

Link to my other pictures: http://kimbakersphotography.smugmug.com/Other/Great-Stirrup-Cay-Bahamas/22274414_n4mcj7#!i=1779715263&k=bRvb8nx

Edited by mitsugirly

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Awesome Review and Photos...Cant wait for more....

 

Were on the Pearl this May to Alaska in Our First Aft PH Suite.....WOOO HOOO!!!....Were Happy.....

 

Thanks for the tips on the Casino....We Love Gambling and Plan on being in there alot.....We'll try those machines you mentioned....:D......

 

Did you have any Meals in your Cabin?.....

 

I know theres going to be a few Mornings after Late Night Partying :o and Gambling where We'll already have it all arranged with Our Butler...

 

Thanks Again for such a GREAT REVIEW.....:)

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Awesome Review and Photos...Cant wait for more....

 

Were on the Pearl this May to Alaska in Our First Aft PH Suite.....WOOO HOOO!!!....Were Happy.....

 

Thanks for the tips on the Casino....We Love Gambling and Plan on being in there alot.....We'll try those machines you mentioned....:D......

 

Did you have any Meals in your Cabin?.....

 

I know theres going to be a few Mornings after Late Night Partying :o and Gambling where We'll already have it all arranged with Our Butler...

 

Thanks Again for such a GREAT REVIEW.....:)

 

Make sure you buy the slotplay coupons and the NCL coupons. Hey, it's free money to play with.

 

The only meal that we actually had in our cabin was one that we went and got (well the hubby did) because our daughter was sleeping. He ran to the Blue Lagoon and brought it back to the room.

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MitsuGirl,

 

I clicked on this review immediately when I saw you were the "reviewer"! I enjoyed your Spirit review so much. I just got off of my Spirit cruise 4 weeks ago and just loved it! This was my first NCL cruise and I think I may be a convert!

 

Funny story...In Roatan, we did the Victor Bodden Private tour, mostly from your review, I might add. We LOVED it! Any who...we were ziplining and there was one station that was particularly rough and everyone was commenting on slamming into the tree kind of hard. A guy from our ship who had arranged our M&G was standing behind me and said "yea, we did this zipline on our last Spirit cruise and one of the ladies in our group hit the tree pretty hard and kind of got her breath knocked out of her" and I said "I read a review about that happening to someone" he said "was the review MitsuGirl" and I said "yes, it sure was"! He is bravestwj (Tim)! Small world isn't it!

 

I wish I could cruise as often as you but I am planning my next cruise with NCL! It's very far out but still looking forward to planning it. The Jewel will be sailing out of New Orleans beginning October 2013. The itinerary is Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. I am very excited to be going on another NCL cruise. Thanks for the great reviews!

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Love your review and photos. How fortunate that you got to meet Mr. Sheehan plus have a picture with him. Will be on the Pearl later this month and your posts have just made me more anxious to go! Thank you for sharing!

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I also thought I should mention, they had plenty of things to do there as well (we didn't partake in them but watched a bit). Plenty of games (passing the banana with your body parts, volleyball, tug of war (my husband got in on) and so on. They make it fun. I do know they have an activity planned for the kids group too. But, my 3 year old was perfectly happy swimming and playing in the sand. :D

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MitsuGirl,

 

I clicked on this review immediately when I saw you were the "reviewer"! I enjoyed your Spirit review so much. I just got off of my Spirit cruise 4 weeks ago and just loved it! This was my first NCL cruise and I think I may be a convert!

 

Funny story...In Roatan, we did the Victor Bodden Private tour, mostly from your review, I might add. We LOVED it! Any who...we were ziplining and there was one station that was particularly rough and everyone was commenting on slamming into the tree kind of hard. A guy from our ship who had arranged our M&G was standing behind me and said "yea, we did this zipline on our last Spirit cruise and one of the ladies in our group hit the tree pretty hard and kind of got her breath knocked out of her" and I said "I read a review about that happening to someone" he said "was the review MitsuGirl" and I said "yes, it sure was"! He is bravestwj (Tim)! Small world isn't it!

 

I wish I could cruise as often as you but I am planning my next cruise with NCL! It's very far out but still looking forward to planning it. The Jewel will be sailing out of New Orleans beginning October 2013. The itinerary is Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. I am very excited to be going on another NCL cruise. Thanks for the great reviews!

 

Oh my gosh, that is awesome. Tim was fantastic. How neat he was on the zip line with you guys too. Yes, very small world. :D Good to hear you loved the Spirit. I really missed her when we pulled up next to her in Cozumel. (I'll admit, I liked the Spirit a little more than the Pearl, but I'm not complaining at all about the Pearl). ;)

 

We really don't cruise that often. Usually just once a year. We just happened to be able to go for our 2012 cruise early this year (instead of the normal September cruise) due to my work schedule and my school is switching to semester in August (from quarters), so I will not be able to cruise during my normal time frame. It just happen to be 6 months after our normal September cruise time. So now we decided to book a Christmas vacation for when the semester ends. This will be the first time we've had 2 cruises in a year (I'll let it be known I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this becomes a trend!!!) :p

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OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA

JAMAICA FOR A DAY AI SUNSET GRANDE RESORT

 

 

We were very worried about this port and I had a previous bad experience there before so we decided that if we were even going to get off the ship, it was going to have to be an AI resort that didn’t allow “pushers” in.

 

 

I tried to do a lot of research on this and came up short of anyone that could really review this place. It seemed like tons of people have booked with Jamaica for a Day, but couldn’t tell me about this particular resort. I read both good and bad things on Trip Advisor, but thought “what the heck” and booked. It seemed like most of the “complaints” came from those with problems with their rooms…and hey, I wasn’t getting a room, just using their facilities.

 

 

When booking, the price was $60 for an adult and $40 for a child. You are required to put down a $20 deposit for each person no matter the age. Then you pay the remaining amount when you arrive at the resort. You can get transportation provided by them for $9 a person. That’s to and from together for only $9. Since I didn’t know how far it was from the port, I decided this was a good idea and booked it too (was paid along with the deposit at the time of booking). Plus I didn’t know what a cab ride would cost for the 5 of us there and back if I did it on my own. It’s about a 10 minute ride there and you can see the ship right there in port from the resort and we loved that. Once we booked online, we were sent a confirmation notification that they received our payment and would be “emailing” our resort pass within 24 hours. After 24 hours, I had not received it and emailed them. They responded very quickly to let me know they were running a little behind but not to worry and they would get it right out to me (and she did). They also tell you to print 2 copies. One for the ride there and one for the ride back (although we didn’t need to show anyone anything on the way back, but they say to do it as a precautionary).

 

 

 

When we made it to the pier, we ask for the Jamaica for a Day operator and were told to wait inside the gated area for someone. We waited for about 20 minutes or so and then I ask again. There was another couple also waiting for the same bus. I think we must have waited about 45 minutes or so before our bus finally came. The papers tell you to be waiting at the port at 9am and that is when they would be leaving for the resort. Obviously they were running late.

 

 

Upon arrival, we checked in and paid the remaining amount of our fees and were issued an armband and also some tokens for resort towels. I had completely forgotten that we didn’t need our towels and had brought the ship towels with us. Also they ask us when we wanted to be picked back up to return to the ship and we told them 4pm was a good time.

 

 

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I have to say, the place is GORGEOUS!!! The entrance is grand, the décor is beautiful, it really looks like a nice resort. The grounds were also VERY beautiful. I could not believe how many pools this place had. They had pools within pools. Private little area pools and huge pools. Pools under slides, pools under bridges, fountain type pool, you name it. Everything was landscaped very nice as well.

 

 

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The dining area was a HUGE, very TALL, open area. The buffet was very large and PLENTY of seating there. You are right beside the pools and right in front of the ocean. Very nice. We did see people painting up in the rafters and such AFTER we had all ate and everyone was out of the way.

I loved the food. Very tasty and they had tons of it. Everything you could think of and the jerk chicken was fabulous! The only “rule” they had was you HAD to be dressed and have shoes on in that area to eat (understandable) but we found tons of people that were still in their bathing suits and was told to come back dressed.

 

 

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Since this was an AI, it included your drinks too. We could drink soda all day or alcohol all day. It came with the resort pass. I have to say my favorite was the “dirty banana” drink. Yummy. They made virgin strawberry drinks for my little one and she loved it.

 

 

 

We couldn’t find an actual lay down beach chair by the time we arrived. I think all the resort people had already taken them. But we could find plenty of regular sit up chairs…which is always fine with us since we really don’t stay in a chair long and would rather be on the beach, in the ocean or in the pool. So we just found a spot by a landscaped area and put our things and had a chair there (plus you could sit on the wall).

The beach is kinda small, but had plenty of chairs. They also had some type of cabana things and I bet it’s pretty at night because they all had lights around them (like the little white Christmas lights). They also came with tables.

 

 

IMG1103-M.jpg

 

 

 

The ocean had a sandy bottom, so not great for snorkeling, but there was areas that had sea grass at the bottom of them. I managed to find several crabs in those areas…so watch where you walk or have water shoes on. We did manage to see a few schools of small minnow type fish and a few other fish.

 

 

The resort provides the HUGE round rings (something like Styrofoam) to use. They are free of charge. You just have to find one to use it. When we first got there, there were plenty and we waited until later, then there wasn’t any. So we missed out on just floating around on one of them.

To the right of the resort, when facing the ocean, there is a water sports place that you can rent jet skis, take a boat tour and so on. They do stay in their spot but will try to lure you in to purchase a ride or whatever. Just keep walking and you’ll be fine. They aren’t allowed to actually come on to the property or the beach in front of the property.

 

 

The water slide…it’s massive huge and looks like a lighthouse. There are 2 different slides that come out of it and it’s quite the haul to get up there. It’s inside the light house and a winding staircase. I booked this AI knowing that my 3 year old was going to love this. When we got to the top a very rude man told me she was not allowed to go down. Everyone had to be at least 48” tall to go on the slides. He would not even let me go down with her. You are only allowed 1 person at a time. He was VERY rude about it and I walked away upset and my daughter was in tears. The rest of the day we had to deal with her pointing at the slides and crying to go on them. This is when parenting gets creative trying to divert her attention to something else to make her forget about it. Ugh! So that was the ONLY bad experience I really had at the resort that day.

 

 

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Toward the end of the day, they had a live band playing and they were playing “music games”. It was hilarious. They would play the beginning of a song that everyone would know and sing it and then stop and you had to keep singing it and name the song. It was hilarious and entertaining.

Now on to the “sketchy” part of the day…LOL There was a lady that my husband had ran in to that ask if he wanted to have our 3 year olds hair braided. He told them it was a possibility and she quoted him a price of $35 for her entire head. He told her that he would tell me about it (because he knew I was wanting this done) and get back to her.

 

 

I had ask several other resort visitors how much they paid for their children’s hair to be done and they had told me it was $4 a braid and it seemed to be costing around $60 a person for their entire head to be braided. When my husband told me $35, I decided it was a good idea. When I found this lady later, she said she would do it for $25 and I told her yes in about an hour or so we would find her. She let us know where to find her (off the resort area of course).

 

 

 

When I went to find her, she wasn’t there and it was just a bunch of men hanging out in the area and they told me to come back in 10 minutes and she should be back. I figured I would wait until I seen her pass again. When I found her, she ask us to follow her to the place just around the corner (by the jet ski rental shop) and she would braid her hair there. When we went around there, it was pretty nasty and a dump. There was a broken down boat back there, men hanging out smoking pot, and trash bags everywhere. It made me a little leery but there was 5 of us there so a little at ease…until….a Jet Ski pulled up and she hurried and put my daughter down off the chair and said “whatever you do, don’t tell them I’m braiding her hair” and then she hid. Another lady that was back there ducked down behind my husband and hid. I started to get a little freaked out at this point. The guy on the Jet Ski was a police officer and he got off and walked up toward the rental building. Once he got out of sight, she said “I’ll be back when the coast is clear” and took off running down the beach. Um…ok. At that point my daughter had 2 braids in her hair and we just stood there like, are we going to get in trouble for something we don’t know about???

 

 

 

We waited about a half hour after the police left and could see her in the distance and kept wondering if she was ever going to return to finish her hair. When she did, she told me that the police didn’t like her and they would get her for not having a license to braid hair and they all knew her.

She then said she was going to take us “somewhere safe that we wouldn’t be bothered”. YIKES. She had us walk up to the rental building and we walked along the back side of it between the building and a huge privacy fence. It was long and dark and at that point I was freaking out even more. I kept telling my oldest daughter, “I’m not liking this at all”. When we got to the other side, there was a bunch of locals sitting at a card table playing dominos and just hanging out. She put my daughter up on a bench and continued to braid her hair. We had some long discussions with her and she was very nice and my mind was finally put at ease at that point. The guys went over to check out the “game” at the table and they were all friendly as well. Not pushy on buying “stuff” but did ask. Now from this area I found that the resort actually went a lot further than I realized. We could see the other half of the resort from on top of this little hill that I didn’t know existed and had seen pictures on their website before. There was a beautiful area with a covered area and flowers everywhere that went out over the water (like an island type) and people get married there. They had a beach area over there too and you could snorkel on that side of the wall. Maybe that’s where I should have been in the first place. We watched people snorkeling up and down that area and I could see tons of rocks in the water. Now I wish I would have explored a little more. In the end, my daughter’s hair was done and she actually took $22 for it. Then my 23 year old daughter had hers done after that.

 

 

When it was time to leave, we stopped by the resorts store inside the building to get some tee shirts and souvenirs of our visit to Jamaica.

Our driver was out front waiting for us as promised but this time we were in a HUGE Greyhound type bus. We were the only ones on the bus on the way back. It was a nice bus and we got back in plenty of time to get back on the ship.

 

 

When we went into the little building where you show your cruise ID’s to the authorities, they pulled my daughter and her boyfriend aside and did a “search” on them. No clue why or if they just randomly pick people to do that to. Maybe he looked like a drug lord or something to them…he does have a lot of tattoos. LOL But all was good.

 

 

All in all, I would definitely recommend this place to anyone. It was a lovely day and I’m happy to finally report back about this place for others to know what it is like.

 

 

Here are the rest of my pictures: http://kimbakersphotography.smugmug.com/Other/Ocho-Rios-Jamaica/22279178_k5Tzn2#!i=1780052789&k=fj4CZK2

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I am so glad I came across your review! Awesome as always! Welcome back! The parade you missed was the Pirate Parade :( And they do this on all of the ships. It depends on the number of kids in the club at the time - if they have a certain number then they parade through the theatre. I followed my kids liked a lunatic trying to catch them at every point with the camera. But I only knew what to expect because of our cruises on RCI - they do the same thing ;)

 

I think you got the first pics of the new "splash academy" with the circus theme waterworks - very cool. :)

 

And I agree about the babies in diapers in the children's pool. It was one of my biggest complaints from Gem. I witnessed the pool deck crew telling a mom to take her infant TO the kids pool because that's where they "allow diapers" - which as we know is unsanitary to the other children who don't wear diapers.

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I am so glad I came across your review! Awesome as always! Welcome back! The parade you missed was the Pirate Parade :( And they do this on all of the ships. It depends on the number of kids in the club at the time - if they have a certain number then they parade through the theatre. I followed my kids liked a lunatic trying to catch them at every point with the camera. But I only knew what to expect because of our cruises on RCI - they do the same thing ;)

 

I think you got the first pics of the new "splash academy" with the circus theme waterworks - very cool. :)

 

And I agree about the babies in diapers in the children's pool. It was one of my biggest complaints from Gem. I witnessed the pool deck crew telling a mom to take her infant TO the kids pool because that's where they "allow diapers" - which as we know is unsanitary to the other children who don't wear diapers.

 

I'm glad I now know about the parade. I'll be looking for it next cruise. I wish they would have told us about this. I mean they said it was "Pirate night" or "Blues Clues" night...but that's all they ever said. Maybe I didn't read the childrens dailies close enough? Does it say it in there?

 

Ok, so do tell...what's the Splash Academy? Something new?

 

I do know that the babies in diapers where in the "baby" pool area, but they were also in the "family" pool as well. I kept looking at the guy (NCL) sitting mid-way on the steps to the water slide and he was watching her but never once said anything to her about getting her kids out of the water (she had twins). Another parent had another small child in there as well and then we witnessed a mom that let her little one on the deck part IN the pool (which is all part of the pool and tiled area with water in it too) and she played in that area for a long time. Then the mom would pick her up by her hands and dunk her down in the water...which was the same water she was sitting in to begin with. :rolleyes: But never once seen any employee say anything to any of these people.

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Terrific review. Thanks for posting and thanks for the pix, too. You're keeping us psyched for the Pearl next year.

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. I mean they said it was "Pirate night" or "Blues Clues" night...but that's all they ever said. Maybe I didn't read the childrens dailies close enough? Does it say it in there?

 

Ok, so do tell...what's the Splash Academy? Something new?

 

Ohhh Splash Academy, it's been the talk of the town around CC lately - not in a good way lol You will find every press release and up to the minute detail about splash academy in this huge discussion here....

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1600977

 

And the Pirate Parade - on our cruise they had the following line "Parade leaves at 7:00 pm, don't miss the hunt" But who knows if yours said the same.

 

Gem6-9d.jpg

Edited by crusinmama06

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Welcome home! Thanks for taking the time to post such a detailed review with pictures. I know that takes alot of time!

 

Couple of comments about your review. My last cruise on the Sky we had a very similiar experience boarding. They had 4 lines, one for gold latitudes, silver, bronze, and everyone else. Each line was equally as long. But how ironic that the shortest line was the non-lattitudes line. There was no one enforcing the lines. But welcome to Miami.... the world of chaos and unorganization (I can say this because I live here).

 

The dress codes in the MDR have been relaxed. I read where you said people were in shorts. We were told our last cruise that NCL changed the dess policy again. Jeans and shorts are allowed in ALL MDRs and all specialty restaurants including Cagneys and Epic club. The only restaurant that still has a dress policy is Le Bistro.

 

Sorry to hear about your kids getting sick. But it looks like you made the most of it and had a good time. Great job hunting down Mr Sheehan and you guys took a great picture.

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Thank you for your review. You seem to be a very patient stand-in-liner. Glad you all had fun and thank you for the pics!

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Thank you for taking the time to post such a great detailed review and for posting such nice pictures. I am very glad you had a great cruise with VIP perks. Very nice picture of you and Mr.Sheehan.

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thank you for the great review on stirup cay and ocho rios looking forwar to gran cayman and cozumel.

thank you againg.

miryam

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Mitsu very nice review, thank you sharing.

 

In a review by a family just off the Star the poster said they had lemonade available in the buffet. Did you notice lemonade in the buffet on the Pearl? Am hoping this is fleet wide.

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Thank you for your review. You seem to be a very patient stand-in-liner. Glad you all had fun and thank you for the pics!

 

I am. I'm on vacation so I don't let much get me down if I can help it. I was just so excited and talking to the family in line and taking pictures...it passed by quick enough. :D

 

Mitsu very nice review, thank you sharing.

 

In a review by a family just off the Star the poster said they had lemonade available in the buffet. Did you notice lemonade in the buffet on the Pearl? Am hoping this is fleet wide.

 

I think they might have the lemonade. I'm pretty sure there is always water and tea. I'm not sure though because we buy the soda package.

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GRAND CAYMAN

 

 

NATIVEWAY-STINGRAY SAND BAR, SNORKELING REEF, RUM POINT BEACH

 

 

I did a lot of research on this beautiful island and was originally going to go to Smiths Cove for a quiet snorkeling/beach day. After reading a fellow cc’s post and the pictures, I knew I just had to take this excursion. My 3 year old has a love for animals and I knew that the stingrays would delight her. So, I booked with Nativeway and received my confirmation for the 5 of us. Every cruise there is that one port that I just know is going to be the highlight of the cruise. I just knew this was going to be that port this time around.

 

 

I have to start by saying, anyone who knows me on here and has read any of my reviews know that I’m not a negative person in any way. I try to make the best of everything and not many things upset me nor do I normally let things spoil my fun. I’ve broken my hand in port in 2010, I’ve been zip lining and been slammed into a tree knocking my breath out of me by an employee, my daughter has been bitten by a monkey at Boddens house…I’m not a complainer. However, this tour was just unacceptable in every way to me. With that being said:

 

 

On port day, we ate breakfast and headed for the port. We were told to arrive at the meeting site at 9:15am and the tour would leave at 9:30am. We arrived at the stand at exactly 9:15am. We did not see anyone standing around for Nativeway, but seen the sign that stated that is where they meet. After about 10 minutes of still not seeing anyone, I approached another tour guide for another company next to it and they stated that Sharon had just left prior to us showing up with some people and she should return shortly so we should just wait there.

 

 

 

Around 9:45 or so she showed up only to tell us that we were late. She said she had taken the group and already put them on the bus to head out. I told her our instructions said to be there at 9:15 and that is exactly when we showed up and had been waiting. She told us that we were an hour late and we must still be on ship time and needed to be on Cayman time. Well, her email to me stated the following: “The tour departs the pier at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time (this is ship’s time). The tour completes at around 2:45 PM Eastern Time. We ask that you check in no later than 9:15 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time. When you come ashore, look for the person carrying the sign that says Native Way Watersports. You may also ask for us at the information booth at the cruise ship terminal.” Then she proceeded to tell me that she could take us to the Sand Bar and do the snorkeling but we would miss going to Rum Point, which really upset me. That was the ONLY reason that I booked with THEM to begin with. I could not find another tour that went to Rum Point. Finally we decided to go ahead and do the stingrays (I couldn’t let my little one down on that part since that was all she had been talking about for the last month after finding out that she was going to get to hold a stingray).

 

Sharon told us to follow her and we met up with another group where they told us they would be taking all the passengers in 2 of their buses. When they split everyone up, they also split our party of 5 up. Um WHAT???? We are all together and I kept telling them this. They said well 2 will have to go in one van and 3 in the other. Now I’m sure that everyone in the 2 vans were not all together and they could have kept from splitting us all up. Once again, not too happy about this. While we were talking to the guide telling him we were together, everyone had already split up and piled in the vans in this huge parking lot where there were tons of buses and vans. We had no idea where everyone had gone to and then the guide just walked off. We were left standing there wondering where they had all went. Finally my husband noticed one of the people sitting in a van that had been standing there and we headed over that way. Then the driver tried to tell my 3 year old to get in the back and we were to sit in the front. NOPE DON’T THINK SO!!! She was petrified. There were 2 kids (older) already in the back and 1 parent with them. When I told the driver I wasn’t putting my 3 year old back there by herself, the parent back there decided to move up a row so that I could squeeze in back there with her.

 

On the ride there I had to put up with the 2 older children horsing around and the one sitting next to us kept sitting on his foot/leg , which happen to be pinching my daughters leg over and over. I put my hand down there in the attempt to keep him from hitting her. Needless to say, by the time we made it to the boat, my hand and arm had shoe prints on it and wasn’t feeling the best. Argh.

 

So we make it to the boat we are taking and everyone PILES IN…it was crowded. The two guys on the boat tell us to go up on the front of the boat to sit on the “sundeck”. The sundeck had a coating (kind of like the coating you put on a truck bed to keep it from rusting) but it was pointy. Not very comfortable at all. After we start moving the driver of the boat tells us “oh, just so you know, the people on the sundeck…you WILL get soaked”. Oh just flipping great. We were soaked all the way there from the waves, towels and all. Mouthfuls of water and salt water in the eyes when you least expect it. Both my girls were not happy about this. Just imagine sitting on the front of a boat with nothing to hold on to, nothing to lean against, legs and butt hurting from being poked from the deck while trying to hold on to a small child all while getting soaked on a wavy ride. Whew.

When we arrived, the place was PACKED. We circled around trying to find a place to “park”. We could see the stingrays swimming around and all the people holding them. Ok, so hopefully things were about to get better now.

 

As soon as we parked, the driver of the boat and the guy with him jumped off and started looking for a stingray to catch. Everyone piled off the boat and we were left trying to figure out how in the heck we were supposed to get off the front of the boat deck with the boat rocking so bad with a little one??? Really??? There was no help what-so-ever. No one in site. No concern for safety. We could have fallen off the boat and they would have never known. I have NEVER been on any excursion where the tour guides did not have a safety concern for a child. It took both me and my husband inching our way holding on as tight as we could to our child’s hand and one hand on the boat to get off. At that point I was highly pissed. After getting down below, I noticed that I had forgotten my daughters lifejacket (a puddle jumper and it’s the only thing that she can swim with that won’t tip her over). Now this was of course totally my fault, but just added to the open wound at this point. The life jacket they had for children was way too big for her and it did absolutely no good. We still had to hold her.

 

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By the time we got off the boat, you really didn’t see very many stingrays. I don’t know if all the other groups had them or they had just went off in a different area where they were feeding him. But, we only had one. I think I seen maybe 2 pass by us (and this was after the “tour” was over and everyone was getting back on the boat. So, I think it was because the other groups had let them go by that time).[/color]

 

While the guy holding the stingray told everyone he was holding it and would let you hold it and kiss it, he started letting people take turns. Numerous times we were passed up. The water was really going up and down and it was really hard to stand up a lot of times. We kept going over to tell him we haven’t had our turn yet. Finally after everyone was done and headed back, he said “so everyone has had a turn right?” I kept saying “no, you keep passing us up”. So…”put your hands here”, “ok kiss him” ok, “next”. Literally a minute, if that, of interaction with the stingray. Wow, not at all what I expected. We piled back on the boat and said there is no way we are going back up on the deck, we’ll stand and hold on before doing that.

 

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They took us maybe 25-30 away from the sand bar and stopped the engine and said, here’s your snorkeling spot. Hmmm, yea there were a few rocks there and a few fish, but not much. I definitely wouldn’t call it a “snorkeling spot”. The only good thing about it was there were still some Rays in the area and I managed to get a few shots of them swimming around in their natural habitat instead of being held. The snorkeling last for maybe 30 minutes to 45 minutes if that and they told everyone to get back on the boat to head back.

 

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On the way back the guy stood on the back of the boat and de-shelled (if that’s what it was called) all the conch’s that they had caught while we were snorkeling and visiting with the stingrays. He was pulling the conch out and would put them in his mouth to gross everyone out. Then chop off their head and put them in a bucket. He kept pulling out a clear long piece from the conch and slurping it up in his mouth like spaghetti. He told us it was their version of ******. (After getting home, I looked it up and found out it is the sex organ of the conch). He did slice up the conch and let people on the boat try it if they wanted too. He also let a few girls taste the “****** part”.

 

IMG7744-M.jpg

 

I had asked him when he first started taking the conch out what he planned on doing with all the shells and if my daughter could have one. He said yes, he would clean them up and hand them out to those that wanted one. Still on the way back, he was cleaning shells and started handing them out. He handed several to the children that were in the van with us on the ride there. Then handed one to the parent?? Then some of the other ladies. I was still standing there waiting on my daughters…since I was the one to ASK FOR IT to begin with. My daughter started crying because she didn’t have one yet and the parent handed her the shell she had. My daughter sat down on the deck and was holding it and looking at it and saying “look mommy, it’s so pretty”. Then we pulled up to the dock and the lady grabbed it from her. Of course, instant crying. I ask the guy once more for a shell and he said he was cleaning the rest up. I waited and waited and everyone was off the boat and in the vans…of course waiting on us. I finally gave up and got off basically dragging her along crying because she did not get one. Not a pretty site. All the way back to the port I had to deal with her crying and begging for a shell. I told her we would get her one before getting back on the ship…and we did. We found a guy selling them for $6 on the street. So finally she was happy. (I still wasn’t, but she was and that was what mattered).

 

We did a little shopping before getting back on the ship and called it a day. A frustrating day at that.[/color]

 

I do have to add, we are 100% positive that we were NOT on a Nativeway tour, but with who ever does the excursions for the actual ship (NCL). Everyone on there said they were from an NCL excursion and on the van ride back they came on the van and collected our money for Nativeway prior to letting us go. We are the only ones that paid at that time because all of the others paid the ship for the excursion. So really, I can not say what an actual “Nativeway” excursion would have been like because we were not on their excursion. But I can say if they (Nativeway) is going to put their customers on ANOTHER excursion, they might want to check out what that excursion is like because it still reflects on them as a tour operator. We booked with them, I feel that our service was not that great, the safety was compromised on the boat with our little one, they did not give us the interaction we expected or had read about and IMO I would never book with them again.

 

I’m still confused why we were told that we were late and on the wrong “time” when he letter specifically stated The tour departs the pier at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time this is ship’s time. I also have to add that the tour bus that my daughter and her boyfriend were on had the SAME TIME as we did on their clock in the van. Also, on the way back, the bus had the SAME EXACT time that I had as well. So if Cayman time was 1 hour ahead of us (in order for us to miss the tour), I find it odd that none of them on the island had a clock that said it was an hour ahead of the ships time (which is what my clock was set to). I’m still not buying it. Especially when the tour operator next to the Nativeway sign had just told me that Sharon had just walked over with a group.

 

We hope to someday go back to Cayman Islands and when we do, we are definitely hoping for a better experience. We would never book with Nativeway again.

 

 

Link to the rest of my pictures: http://kimbakersphotography.smugmug.com/Other/GRAND-CAYMAN/22280279_364RZ8#!i=1780135039&k=JhFBGb4

Edited by mitsugirly

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GRAND CAYMAN

 

I had asked him when he first started taking the conch out what he planned on doing with all the shells and if my daughter could have one. He said yes, he would clean them up and hand them out to those that wanted one. Still on the way back, he was cleaning shells and started handing them out. He handed several to the children that were in the van with us on the ride there. Then handed one to the parent?? Then some of the other ladies. I was still standing there waiting on my daughters…since I was the one to ASK FOR IT to begin with. My daughter started crying because she didn’t have one yet and the parent handed her the shell she had. My daughter sat down on the deck and was holding it and looking at it and saying “look mommy, it’s so pretty”. Then we pulled up to the dock and the lady grabbed it from her.

 

Un.be.lieveable! None of those grown women could have given up their shells for a little girl?! My *kids* (13 and 20) would have noticed a little kid was going without, before the crying even started, and offered up their shells. The 13yo would have been sad to lose her shell and still given it up. People are incredible!

 

Anyway, I am loving your review. I almost feel like I was there too.

 

Laura

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Un.be.lieveable! None of those grown women could have given up their shells for a little girl?! My *kids* (13 and 20) would have noticed a little kid was going without, before the crying even started, and offered up their shells. The 13yo would have been sad to lose her shell and still given it up. People are incredible!

 

Anyway, I am loving your review. I almost feel like I was there too.

 

Laura

 

Nope. I didn't expect any of the kids to give theirs up but all of the older ladies (some where I'm guessing in their 60's, some in their 30's) would grab the shells when he was handing them out completely reaching over my child who had been patiently standing beside him waiting for one. :( It upset me that the guy cleaning them and passing them out was talking to her during this and seen her standing there and still didn't bother to hand her one. :eek:

 

I knew the lady that gave her the shell to hold was just doing it to pacify her until we arrived at the dock. I was pretty sure she was going to take it back and I mentioned it to my little one several times saying "that is her shell and you'll have to give it back. She's just letting you hold it for her". But still, she's 3 years old, she doesn't understand that and I knew the tears were going to pour when we docked...and they did. :(

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What kind of stateroom did u have? Great trip report!!! How did you get VIP status? That is an awesome experience!

We got VIP benefits on our last cruise while staying in an inside cabin. Treats every night, invite to the VIP captains cocktail hr , the chocoholic preview, concierges (ours would not accept our tip) and the tender tickets and priority disembarkation. It was a wonderful treat!! Norwegian cares about its consumers!

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