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aprylstar

Jewel Review March 10, 2013

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Hello everyone! This week I sailed on the Jewel to Florida & the Bahamas. This was my second family cruise & the first on NCL. This is also my first review so patience my friends! Thanks to everyone on cruise critic who have helped me make my first two cruise vacations a great success!

 

We live in southern Ontario & have never been to New York City. I was a little nervous about driving in the city, but we definitely wanted to check out Times Square. We decided to take advantage of the 20% discount that Amtrak provides to NCL cruisers and purchased 2 Adult & 1 child return fairs from Buffalo New York to Penn Station for $240. This is cheaper than the rate to park at pier for the week and saved us about $220 on gas plus wear and tear on the car. We stayed at the Comfort Suites downtown Buffalo Friday night & left our car in the parking garage all week. The hotel shuttled us to the station (less than 1 mile away) Saturday morning & we were in NYC by 3:30 Saturday afternoon. For those of you considering a train, this was our first train ride (I know - everything was a first this trip! lol) and we loved it! Big comfy seats, free wifi & outlets to keep your electronics charged. They even let the DH get off in Syracuse & Albany for smoke breaks. I would do this over flying any day!

 

Once in New York, we took a short cab ride to our hotel & dumped the bags. We spent the next 4 hours walking around the city & doing everything touristy that our 10 year old would enjoy. We hit Toys R us (missed FAO Schwarz), Rockefeller, Nintendo World, Yankees Shop, NBC, M & M World, Macy's, Empire state & everything in between! On our way back to the hotel for the night we picked up a spray painting that an artist did on the street for my son. We were exhausted after all of this & ready for our cruise!

 

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Edited by aprylstar

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Sunday morning we got up bright and early. We had breakfast at the hotel & continued touring around the city. We returned at 10:30 am, checked out & had a cab take us to the pier for around 11:15. They said no boarding until 12, but we were on the ship before then! They had plenty of people outside loading luggage. We only had 3 or families ahead of us in the line to check in. After checking in, they give you a number & you go to the waiting area. When they call your number, you get on the ship. To our surprise, they called our group (group 7) almost immediately.

 

The plan was to head to the dining room for lunch, but since it was only 11:45 we headed straight to the back of the boat to the great outdoors. It was a gorgeous day & we enjoyed a drink while our son climbed up one deck to check out the sports court.

 

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My first cruise was on the Carnival Freedom & my initial impression of the Jewel in comparison was just mediocre. The Atrium & tiered pool area on the Freedom were much more impressive, however, looks can be deceiving. You will find that by the end of my review I have seen the light & am an NCLer for life! lol

 

We headed to Tzars shortly after noon. My hubby enjoyed the Portabello Mushroom appetizer & myself the Vietnemese rolls (both AWESOME & pictured below). We also had Chicken Milanese & Philly Cheese Steak. WE love the dining room so much better than the buffet. Less options, but everything is always delicious and they switch up the dinner menu each night.

 

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After lunch, my son wanted to check out the kids club (I will post the Splash Academy Dolphins Schedule 10-12 for the week along with the Day 1 Freestyle Daily). He immediately hit it off with one of the counsellors & couldn't wait to go back. 11 year old boys are tough to please, so I was happy about this!

 

Afterwards they announced that our rooms were ready. We headed to 11106 & were very pleased with our mini suite. There was concern about noice from above (we were under the Garden Cafe), but it was never an issue the entire cruise. In fact we LOVED the location of our room b.c it was so central to everything. The Great Outdoors was down the hall & 1 deck up which made it very convenient to grab a quick snack to bring back to the room. Of course my son had to order room service while I was unpacking! lol He enjoyed that too.

 

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Edited by aprylstar

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Great start thanks for doing this, I know how much these reviews take.

 

Looking forward for the rest :)

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:) Thanks. I had fully intended to do one last year and time got away with me. I figured it makes sense to get er done while it's still fresh in my mind!

 

Great start thanks for doing this, I know how much these reviews take.

 

Looking forward for the rest :)

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I finished unpacking just as they called us down to the dining room for the muster drill. I'm not even sure they can call it a drill! lol They showed us how to put on a life jacket & sent us on our merry way. We headed to Deck 12 for the sail away party! Drinks were flowing, Sponge Bob was dancing the sun was shining. It doesn't get much better than that!

 

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The views of New York as we sailed away were awesome! Again - another first! The statue of liberty. What a treat! My son can hardly wait to make a slide show of all the great pics we took this vacation.

 

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Blue Lagoon chicken wings were on our hit list, so we headed there for dinner. I had the wonton soup and the fish and chips. We were disappointed to find the wings were breaded, however, the next time we visited they made them for us without the breading & tossed in hot sauce.

 

We skipped the Welcome Aboard Show. My son headed to the kids club & my hubby and I wandered the ship listening to all the great bands and music along the way. We ended up in the Casino & signed up for our players card & redeemed our $50 slot pay coupons we had purchased ahead of time for $25! My son had a blast at the kids club. There were 700 kids on the ship as it was Canadian March Break, so there were about 20 - 30 kids using the club that night in his age group. He ended up going back for an hour of after hours, so we headed back to the Casino! We didn't have much luck, but we did have a lot of fun playing the slots.

 

I forgot to mention in the earlier post that we purchased a wine package when we boarded. They had people set up around the pool area selling available water, pop & wine packages. We got 4 bottles for $88. There were more expensive packages & there were several types to choose from in each category. The weren't advertising the ultimate beverage package, so I am not sure if it was available. There were tons of spring breakers on board, so drink specials seemed to be limited.

 

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Edited by aprylstar

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cant wait to finish reading the rest of the review hopefully before i go on the cruise on sunday :):D

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Blue Lagoon chicken wings were on our hit list, so we headed there for dinner. I had the wonton soup and the fish and chips. We were disappointed to find the wings were breaded, however, the next time we visited they made them for us without the breading & tossed in hot sauce.

 

We skipped the Welcome Aboard Show. My son headed to the kids club & my hubby and I wandered the ship listening to all the great bands and music along the way. We ended up in the Casino & signed up for our players card & redeemed our $50 slot pay coupons we had purchased ahead of time for $25! My son had a blast at the kids club. There were 700 kids on the ship as it was Canadian March Break, so there were about 20 - 30 kids using the club that night in his age group. He ended up going back for an hour of after hours, so we headed back to the Casino! We didn't have much luck, but we did have a lot of fun playing the slots.

 

I forgot to mention in the earlier post that we purchased a wine package when we boarded. They had people set up around the pool area selling available water, pop & wine packages. We got 4 bottles for $88. There were more expensive packages & there were several types to choose from in each category. The weren't advertising the ultimate beverage package, so I am not sure if it was available. There were tons of spring breakers on board, so drink specials seemed to be limited.

 

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These are really awesome- my girls are 6-9 assuming it's not much different?

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Day 1 we stayed up a little too late, so Day 2 we slept in & missed breakfast in the dining room! lol Oh well, it's vacation & we deserved it! While the boys were showering out, I busted out my handy dandy highlighter & started checking off everything we'd like to do. This is the only day I did this, because as you will see from the dailies there is just too much to choose from! I started carry the daily around with us for the rest of the week & we just went with the flow. Pick and choose as our moods changed.

 

For those that are interested - YES we were in shorts by the morning! Shorts, Sandals, T's and a light sweater were perfect.

 

I was fearing the buffet as it was crazy busy on our Freedom cruise, however, it was great! Was it busy - YES! - however everything is laid out really well, so there were no lines really. As well, there are so many NCL staff every where you go, that if you ever need something, it's like they can read your minds! My son thoroughly enjoyed the washy washy guy & by the end of the week he was singing the song at the door & spraying down the fellow passengers! I wish I had a video for you.

 

After breakfast we had the Cruise Critic meet and greet. The cruise driector, food & beverage director & hotel director attended. We met a lot of great people & it was awesome to put faces to the names of friends I had been chatting with leading up to the cruise. As if we weren't stuffed enough from breakfast, we headed back to the buffet & grabbed a quick bite after the meet and greet. My son hopped in the pool for a bit & we enjoyed the music the band was playing. Spring Break was in full effect & they had the back two hot tubs & back pool taken over. NCL had signs out that the front hot tubs were for families. This worked out great.

 

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My son then headed to the kids club while we met back up with our Cruise Critic friends for the slot pull. We didn't win, but we didn't lose either! We each through in $15 and walked away with $16 & had some fun in between! Of course my hubby and I played a few more slots, but our prepurchased credits were slowly dwindling away. I have to say the slots on the boat were awesome, my buck went a lot further than it ever has in the Niagara Casino's near my home.

 

After the slot pull, we picked up our son & headed to family feud - his favourite games how. It was in the Fyzz Lounge & was pretty fun. My son desparately wanted to get picked, but we could only stay for the first two rounds b.c Deal or no Deal was starting at 4pm.

 

This was the only day we played Deal or no Deal. Was if fun? Yes, was it worth the money - I don't think so.... You buy 1 card for $19.95. 2 games a played, so 2 audience members are chosen and go up on stage & play just like they do on TV. Each of these guests won around $250, but when you are in a theatre with several hundred people, the odds are not in your favour to get picked. The rest of the audience plays along & if your cases match the chosen cases, you can win prizes. In our game the most anyone won was $50. You could win up to $5000 though, but probably the same odds as winning the lottery!

 

After Deal or Deal, we went back to the room and got ready for dinner in the dining room. Again, it was fast, hot & delicious. On Carnival I found it would take 1.5 hours to get through dinner in the dining room, so we only went twice. On this cruise we went 3 or 4 times b.c the food was great, we never waited in line & we were in and out in under an hour! I had the salmon & it was super YUMMY. This became our routine for the rest of the cruise. Go with the flow during the day, aim to be at the dining room by 6 to avoid the lines, watch the early theatre show (730) with our son & then he would head to the kids club or our room for a few hours & we would go out to enjoy a drink & entertainment. Here's a photo of the boys standing in the dining room window.

 

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The show that night was Band on the Run. It was pretty good! The Beatles Show was great on the Freedom and we enjoyed this one just as much! The dancers were great & the music was fun & my hubby who thinks everything is cheesy actually enjoyed it.

 

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Thanks! All the themes for each age group coincided. I went to grab a copy for each age group at the end, but they were out. The 6 - 9 had a very detailed schedule. It listed everything hour by hour which I know my son would have appreciated at that age. It looked awesome! All I can tell you is that the kids club was always packed & the kids were always having fun! Not only that - you will see from my daillies that there are family activities going on all over the ship every day. Nickelodeon by the pool, circus by the pool, circus workshops, magic workshops, pizza decorating!

 

These are really awesome- my girls are 6-9 assuming it's not much different?

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Great review..enjoying it....(you really seem to know what people want to know!)

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Thanks! I am really trying to think about all the things I wanted to know before I left and then include them in the review. If anyone has any questions afterwards, let me know! I'll try to get the review done by Friday :)

 

Great review..enjoying it....(you really seem to know what people want to know!)

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Great review! Looking forward reading more. :) I find it interesting that the Daily no longer has the price for the "extra" stuff. Like the Martini tasting or the kids Ice Cream Party, but just say *fee applies. Hmmmmm.

Edited by FLgirlCruises

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hi, which hotel did you stay at in NYC? I'm cruising from there this September and I haven't found one yet. Thanks.

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Hi there,

 

Wingate by Wyndham. It was close enough to walk to from Penn Station (we took a cab b.c we were newbies & had a child & luggage in tow), a few blocks from the action in Times Square & about a $10 cab ride from the pier. don't pay for high rise city view, b.c you get a view of buildings! lol Thankfully we used points b.c the view rooms were ~200 more per night I think.

 

Initially we had Comfort Suites Theatre District/Times Square west booked, but decided to switch to Wyndham when we realized we had enough points. We also passed the Comfort Inn Midtown (off broadway 129 46th) and it looked pretty decent. I've googled it afterwards & it has good reviews. It is literally a block from Times Square, Broadway & only a few blocks from Rockefeller. Not sure what your budget is, but when we are only going somewhere for a night, we find Comforts are always clean comfy & have free breakfast :)

 

hi, which hotel did you stay at in NYC? I'm cruising from there this September and I haven't found one yet. Thanks.

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Great review so far, April!!!!! I'm enjoying re-living the trip, and very much enjoying the photos of all your smiling faces. :D So glad you had such a wonderful vacation, and not surprised at all that you've become NCL Loyalists. ;)

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Great review! Looking forward reading more. :) I find it interesting that the Daily no longer has the price for the "extra" stuff. Like the Martini tasting or the kids Ice Cream Party, but just say *fee applies. Hmmmmm.

 

I haven't seen the prices listed on the Dailies in a long time. The good news, however, is that the price for the Martini tasting is still just $15 and a great bargain. ;)

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I haven't seen the prices listed on the Dailies in a long time. The good news, however, is that the price for the Martini tasting is still just $15 and a great bargain. ;)

 

Thanks Barbara! I agree, it's a bargain and something I do on every cruise. :D

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Thanks Barbara! I agree, it's a bargain and something I do on every cruise. :D

 

My pleasure! I thoroughly enjoyed them last week, and wish I were back onboard for another round of tastings! I could really go for an Espresso Martini right about now! :D

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thanks for all your posts of the dailies

 

do you have any menu from mdr or 24 hr free resturant to ost?

 

thanks kindly

 

dana

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I found these online prior to my trip & downloaded them. They were accurate for the cruise I was just on.

 

I have blue lagoon somewhere & will post that too.

 

1st Night.pdf

 

2nd Night.pdf

 

3rd Night.pdf

 

4th Night.pdf

 

5th Night.pdf

 

6th Night.pdf

 

7th Night.pdf

 

Azura Static Menu Page.pdf

 

Tsars Static Menu Page.pdf

 

Cabanas.pdf

 

Bora Bora Spa Menu.pdf

 

NCL Excursions List.pdf

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Thanks Barb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I would have made it to a martini tasting! That was family time for us, so I'll have to wait until my son is a little older :)

 

Great review so far, April!!!!! I'm enjoying re-living the trip, and very much enjoying the photos of all your smiling faces. :D So glad you had such a wonderful vacation, and not surprised at all that you've become NCL Loyalists. ;)

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OK here we go - Day 3 Port Canaveral! We woke up to clouds & drizzle. Booooo - it's vacation time! lol I just kept reminding myself that it was cold & snowy back in Canada & 77 Partly Cloudy Port Canaveral would do just fine! I didn't know what to expect with this port. I hear a lot of people complain & wish the did key west or another Bahamas stop instead. We wanted to do Universal, but given that it was March Break, I didn't want to spend over $500 to go wait in lines. We decided to grab passes for the Cocoa Beach Shuttle - a cool 30 bucks & discount coupons to various retailers - & decide what to do when we got there.

 

Our day started with a note on our door to meet at Le Bistro for priority disembarking. These little suite perks including the mid day suite treats and/or shrimpies continued throughout the week. We had no idea why , considering we were only a mini suite & when we called concierge even they were confused! We later found out that one of the NCL Cruise directors on another ship (a friend of the family) had emailed Jamie (our cruise director) to let her know friends were sailing. Now after getting the special treatment all week, my husband says we must book a suite next time. If anything, he hates lines, so getting off first is a bonus in itself.

 

Off the ship first, on the shuttle second & in Cocoa Beach by 12:15. We wandered through the lobby of the Four Points Sheraton to check out the sharks. This is where the bus drops you & it is right near several shops including Ron Jons, Cocoa Beach Surf Co, Walgreens etc. The bar there serves $1 Margaritas to folks wearing wristbands from the shuttle. As much as I would have loved a frozen treat, we had our son with us, so we headed over the Dinosaur store. It was pretty awesome! We took a lot of pics and my son purchased a small fossil to bring home.

 

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Once we were done here, we headed over to The Sandbar. We had read about it on cruise critic & I wanted to try the taco's! Tuesday is half price drafts & half price Taco's, however when we arrived at 1:30 we found out it didn't start until 4. Spring Breakers - this was the place to go. The place was packed with young people & we got the last seats in the place. If you plan on stopping here, get there early! My husband got a giant beer in a souvenir cup, I got a Category 3 Hurricane & my son got a pop. As well we ordered wings, fries & 3 tacos & I think the bill was under $40 with the tip. I had the fish taco and it was DELICIOUS!!!!

 

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By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped so we walked over to the beach (right outside the sandbar) and decided to stick around. There were lots of people surfing, some people playing beach volleyball and a whack of people lounging around. We headed back a block to purchase sand toys from the beach store & some beers & pops from the 7-11 next door. Back we went to the beach & spent the next 2.5 hours there enjoying the afternoon. We had the tunes going on my sons portable ipod speakers & the sun even tried to come out! In honour of NCL, my son mad a Patrick Star in the sand.

 

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I would also like to mention that right next to the Sandbar, there is a public area with washrooms, showers, feet washing stations etc for everyone to use that is acccessing the beach.

 

Eventually we made our way to Ron Jon's and did some shopping. You could spend hours in that place! We bought a few souvenirs and then hopped on the shuttle to head back to the boat. All in all, I will say our day at Cocoa Beach was much better than expected. I am a glass half full girl, but not knowing what to expect, I was pleasently surprised.

 

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We had to wait a while to reboard as they had to spin the ship around after refueling. Tons of people tried to cut in line, but NCL did a great job of directing them to the back of the line to wait like everyone else! We headed to our rooms, hopped in the shower, hit the buffet & made it just in time to the first comedy show. I had delicious Mahi Mahi in a corn sauce & my son had the chef make him some crazy fruit crepe. The comedian was pretty funny. We all laughed, especially my son!!!

 

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After the show, my son opted to veg in our room for a few hours. They played a new movie each night & Nick was always on also. He had his video game with him too & everyone needs a little time to themselves on vacation! My husband and I headed back out to the Casino. Having gone through our $140 in promotional play the first two days, we decided to use our $30 in promotional chips at the Roulette Table & I found my calling! I won $140 that night & proceeded to play 3 other nights. I won 3 out of my 4 nights & on the last night I only lost 20, but won $80 on one of the dragon slots! all in all it was a successful week at the Casino for me! I'm not even a Casino kind of gal, but when you are on a roll, the excitement gets to you. It also meant a few more cocktails than I would normally have had and a lot of midnight Turkey & Avocado sandwiches from room service! lol ahahahahahahaha

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THANKS for the great review and as a major SpongeBob (and gang) fan I have to compliment your son on his remarkably accurate Patrick sand sculpture!!! :):)

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We are leaving this Sunday and can't wait! Your review has by far been the best I have seen. By any chance did you do the character breakfast or the kids ice cream party? I'm trying to find out the prices and whether or not its worth it. My girls are 4 and 6 (turning 7 on the cruise!)

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Would you by chance have a liquor price sheet from the duty free liquor. Looking specific at the price of Patron Tequilla.

 

Thank you

 

Ohhh good question! I was just at Costco today thinking about what I needed to buy on the cruise and if I should price compare.

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Bottle Pricing for Groups 12-21-11.pdf

Here you go :)

 

Definitely pricey (twice what we payed on Carnival) HOWEVER, it was still cheaper than buying a drink at the bar and more importantly very convenient for making a drink in the room.

 

We ordered a bottle of vodka and brought on a 2L of Caesar mix. Conveniently there was hot sauce & worcestershire at the pool bar, so we'd spice up the drinks with that!

 

Also - they delivered a 6 pack (3 Tonic, 3 Pepsi) with the voda.

 

Also - if you brought liquor on when boarding or at a port it was confiscated & delivered to your room Saturday night. If you purchased it from Duty free on the boat you had to wait until Sunday morning to pick it up.

 

Cheers

Edited by aprylstar

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Thanks! I am having a good time writing it. Definitely a nice way to remind me of what a great time we had.

 

As for your questions about the events, we didn't do either. I thought about doing the breakfast & if my son had asked I would have taken him, but the characters were out and about all the time. They had different meet and greets in spinnaker throughout the week. I did read good reviews prior to sailing about the breakfast and I think I read it was $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

 

Also, they had soft serve ice cream at the front and back of the Garden buffet. They always had sprinkles, cones & cups - Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla and swirls so we had our own decorating party! lol. If my son was a little younger he would have been all over any type of decorating party!

 

We are leaving this Sunday and can't wait! Your review has by far been the best I have seen. By any chance did you do the character breakfast or the kids ice cream party? I'm trying to find out the prices and whether or not its worth it. My girls are 4 and 6 (turning 7 on the cruise!)
Edited by aprylstar

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I just realized you said Duty Free liquor! I should read better the first time around! lol. I looked at the Patron in Duty Free & I want to say it was around $35 or $40. Duty free had really great prices. We brought a 1L of smirnoff & bacardi for 13.99 & 12.99 a piece. The list I attached in the previous post was for ordering bottles of liquor to your room on the first day.

 

Would you by chance have a liquor price sheet from the duty free liquor. Looking specific at the price of Patron Tequilla.

 

Thank you

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I love your review... you guys did way different stuff than us! Even though we were on the same ship, we experienced a totally different cruise. Derek and I said the whole time, that it's completely different with or without the Bambino. Our turn will come next year, when we have the two teenagers. Your "bambino" is such a cutie, glad you all had such a great time....glad you solved the suite perks mystery too.

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I just realized you said Duty Free liquor! I should read better the first time around! lol. I looked at the Patron in Duty Free & I want to say it was around $35 or $40. Duty free had really great prices. We brought a 1L of smirnoff & bacardi for 13.99 & 12.99 a piece. The list I attached in the previous post was for ordering bottles of liquor to your room on the first day.

 

Great... thank you :D

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      • Cruise Conversations
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