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MaryBethV

Escape! Feb 10-17 Trip Report & Review

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My wife was eyeing one of the big carved fish, it was beautiful for $40

Then I asked her how are you going to get it home

 

did not buy it

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After a bit we headed to Taste/Savor for lunch...

 

Oops - I totally forgot that they aren’t open on port days! :rolleyes:

 

So, we went straight up to the Garden Cafe. It was busy, but as I read here, there were plenty of available tables in the back. Since navigating that many people, walking with a cane, and trying to hold a plate of food all at the same time was just not possible for DH - we found a table and I went and grabbed some food for the both of us. This would be the one and only time we were in the buffet area. It looked rather nice and they seemed to have decent food and a wide variety of offerings. I’m glad we took a look around since I’m sure we will frequent it more when we cruise with our kids.

 

Next up was the close-by Spice H2O for some sun (without wind today, since we were in port!) It was pretty busy. I don’t think many people had excursions in Jamaica. We did manage to find two loungers together and just chilled for a bit. I walked through the grotto which was refreshing - and it would have been used more if my husband would have joined me. They do have handicap ramp entries to it (which is really nice), but with his wooden cane, he didn’t want to bother. We finished off our time there with a Mango Meltdown frozen drink - loved it!

It was so nice of this little cotton ball cloud family to line up for my photo! They just might win themselves as a screensaver on my laptop. :D

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Since we had suits on already - we headed to the spa for a while… followed by a lazy late afternoon nap. Then we said goodbye to Jamaica as the sun was setting…

 

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DH ordered fried flounder for his entree and was underwhelmed with it.

 

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I had the Pacific broiled hake (white fish) which sadly was probably the worst thing I ate all week. It was like licking a salt block. Only ate a couple of bites. The pearl onions were yummy though. I never use them at home because who has an hour to peel a few baby onions???

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Agreed....And the dressing on the salad had way too much white vinegar in it. It was very very astringent.

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Food Republic for snacks & drinks | With our reservation for Cagney’s still about 3 hours away, we decided to take the opportunity to try out an item or two at the Food Republic. Based on the raves and “best food on the ship!” reviews I’ve read I was really looking forward to this. Upon walking in the hostess said “Yay - someone found us! Make sure you spread the word!”. And she was right - it was dead in there. Granted it was just starting to be dinner time, but still. Maybe they should consider a “cocktail hour” deal on certain menu offerings to draw more people in or something.

 

Our server seemed rushed even though we were one of maybe two or three occupied tables. Needing more time to flip through the iPad menu, we ordered drinks first (which had to be ordered through the server, not on the iPad). I ordered their Ancho Pancho cocktail and DH ordered the Thai Rum Tonic.

 

The server brought our drinks and mine was obviously not what I ordered. However, he was gone before I could say anything. I double checked, and it looked exactly like another drink pictured on the menu and had a strong ginger flavor. When we flagged him down, he tried to convince me that it was the drink I ordered. :rolleyes: When I showed him the menu descriptions AND PHOTOS he said that what I ordered and the other drink also on the menu “were basically the same thing”. Despite different ingredients and completely different looks. I insisted (I don’t like ginger much) and he did go and order the proper drink (which after all that wasn’t even very enjoyable). DH wasn’t a fan of his Thai Rum Tonic either! 0 for 2.

 

I was holding out that the food would be good though! We ordered pork belly kushiyaki (beautiful presentation and good, though it was a bit sweet for our taste - so wouldn’t order again) and Short rib & corn dumplings (yummy - would order again). Apologies for no photos! Overall this was a disappointment. However I’m willing to try them again (if I can convince DH!) sometime because there are many things on their menu that look absolutely delicious. We’ll probably order drinks at the Brewhouse and take them with us to the Food Republic!

 

Cagney’s Steakhouse for dinner | I was really looking forward to this dinner! We arrived a little before our reservation time, gave the hostess our ‘celebrating our anniversary’ card, and were seated right away. They offered us a complimentary bottle of wine - which I thought was a nice gesture to start things off with. We were seated at a table fairly close to the kitchen/plating line area (which is out in the open as part of the design of the restaurant). First impressions were nicely decorated, quite busy, and very high ambient noise level. Our server’s assistant brought over the list we could pick our bottle of wine from. We chose a Merlot and away he went. A few minutes later our server came back with two bottles to pick from since they sadly did not have the wine we selected from the list. We just picked one. It wasn’t horrible, but in hindsight we should have just ordered from the by-the-glass selection like we normally did. The North & South red blend would have been much better.

 

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We ordered and were waiting for a while for appetizers when we noticed other tables had bread baskets. We snagged our server and asked for one. He apologized for his assistant server’s mistake. Bread was good. Apps were crab cakes for each of us. They were delicious! Hardy any filler, just lots of crab.

 

We also ordered the same entrees… ribeye steaks, medium - mine with the green peppercorn sauce and DH’s with the herb garlic butter. Selected sides (2 per person) were the truffle mashed potatoes (bad-super grainy/dry! so strange. ate only a bite), roasted mushrooms (so good!), roasted brussel sprouts (delicious!), and a baked potato (no butter, no sour cream-totally blah).

 

Soooo - the steaks. Keep in mind we ordered the same thing. My ribeye was thick, perfectly medium, and very yummy! DH’s steak was noticeably thinner, medium well+ and INCREDIBLY fatty. You should know that my husband NEVER complains - it stresses his people-pleasing-self right out to do so. And vacation shouldn’t be stressful! I’m a little more forward, but rarely say anything since it make’s DH uncomfortable. What can I say - I love him and don’t like to stress the man out! So I just gave DH a big chunk of my steak - it was a huge piece of meat anyways and more than I could eat. When a manager briefly stopped by to ask how our dinner was I mentioned that my steak was good, but (gesturing to DH’s plate with ¾’s of his sad steak left on it all cut up in an attempt to find a good bite) that unfortunately was much better than DH’s. He didn’t say anything and just moved on. DH had just looked at him (after my comment) and said “It’s OK” even though it wasn’t - so, in the manager’s defense, we definitely sent some mixed signals. But something a manager who cared would have seen through. It is kind of like asking “How are you?” to an obviously distressed person who says “Fine” in response and you say “Great!” and move on without another thought. Not a big deal-we just roll with it. Well, easier for me… I got the good steak lol.

 

Next was dessert. I think I was so taken back by the discrepancy of my expectations vs. reality at the Food Republic and now at Cagney’s that I forgot to take a single photo until this point. I ordered the 7-layer chocolate cake (good!) and DH ordered the apple crisp (DH said it was amazing). A good ending after all.

 

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We signed for the check and left, not even giving more than a passing thought to our “anniversary cake”. I actually thought that maybe they substituted a bottle of wine for it at this restaurant or something and was fine with that.

 

Story is not over yet… We got back to our room after a bit and the phone rang 3 different times. It is 2018 - does anybody answer a phone when they don’t know who is calling!? Not us. Well, the third time DH did pick it up. It was the server from the restaurant asking if he could please bring the anniversary cake to us that he forgot? OK, that was nice - so we said sure.

 

Knock, knock! Was he already on our floor??? - because it seemed like just a minute or two had passed before the knock at the door. I’m sitting IN BED wearing pj’s. DH opens the door, thinking some random staff member will just hand over the cake. Well, it is our server(!) who apologizes to DH profusely, then looks in and waves to me (A-W-K-W-A-R-D). He then offers to SING TO US. Apparently he brought other servers with him to sing to us!!!

 

Crap! Can I dive under the bed? No… the empty luggage is under there. Can I open the slider and jump off the balcony? No… that would be overly dramatic (even for me) and it wouldn’t be nice to ruin the night for the people in the District Brewhouse below. I settled for sheepishly waving back and inwardly wanting to die. haha

 

I have to give my DH major credit for politely and firmly shutting the singing offer down. We are still laughing about it. They tried very hard to make up for a small mistake. Truly. I used to work in the hospitality industry (I was the general manager of a hotel) and I am always grateful when providers do try to go above and beyond in making up for mistakes. Every single restaurant has an off night, every hotel has something that doesn’t go just right… avoiding it is best, but trying hard to make the customer feel valued for what went wrong is the next best thing. Even if it is as awkward as you-know-what.

 

The cake was good!… the next morning. We had to wait for utensils from breakfast room service to be able to eat it. ;p

Goodnight from Mr. McCutie towel animal.

 

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Nice Mcutie towel animal for sure! Did you get a chance to use the cantilever hot tubs and if so, how was the view? Cheers!

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

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Great review so far! I wonder if yours was the first week of the new Food Republic menu? Maybe they still have some kinks to work out. Still looking forward to trying them in two weeks!

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Nice Mcutie towel animal for sure! Did you get a chance to use the cantilever hot tubs and if so, how was the view? Cheers!

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

 

I didn't even see a cantilever hot tub! Where are they on the ship - do you know?

 

Great review so far! I wonder if yours was the first week of the new Food Republic menu? Maybe they still have some kinks to work out. Still looking forward to trying them in two weeks!

 

Interesting - I didn't know there was a new menu. Maybe that is what the whole strange situation was from! I will go back and try them again if I'm on this ship in the future. We only tried 2 things since we were eating again in a couple of hours and all the food offerings looked good.

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Tuesday | February 13th | George Town, Grand Cayman

 

Up bright and early again! We had tender group 3 reserved and didn’t really know what to expect. I was crazy happy to see calm waters and tender boats milling about!

 

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We really really didn’t want to miss what I considered the best port on our itinerary. Our sailing was one of the many that was originally visiting St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau and was switched to a Western itinerary after the hurricanes. I was a bit nervous that the two ports I really wanted (this one and Great Stirrup Cay) were both tender ports.

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Good morning captains! :D

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The RC Freedom of the Seas sailed in next to us.

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The sun started to break through the clouds.

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Right after we enjoyed our room service breakfast on the balcony - they were calling tender groups 1&2 already. Soon after, they called group 3 and we hurried out the door with our bags and down to the theater on deck 7.

 

There wasn’t even a line really… just keep following the people in front of you. ALL the way down the steps to the front of the theater, and off to the right… hallways and escalators. LOTS of walking. Not good. We took it slow and let people go by us. We ended up right by the elevators on deck 4 (which is where we disembarked in Jamaica). We made a mental note to ask later if there was a way to avoid all the run-around when we (hopefully) tendered to Great Stirrup Cay. Seriously - I should have gone to guest services and asked for more info in advance. I did a lot of research and still felt like we were going into certain situations blind.

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The view of the ship from the tender boat was incredible. The artwork on the hull really sets the NCL ships apart!

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Pulling up to the docking area.

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Are you using a phone or camera for these pics, as they are beautiful!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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I originally wanted to go south to Smith Cove. It looks unique and so beautiful! We are not experienced travelers and getting a cab back was iffy due to the location. Seemed risky. It isn’t like if the cab failed to pick us up we could sprint back to the cruise port!

 

So, the plan was to play it safe and go to Royal Palms on 7-mile beach. We see this lady with a taxi van advertising a one-way fare to Royal Palms for $4pp. So that is what we did. It turns out that everyone in the van was headed there. Then the taxi lady suggests that she knows a better place with no admission and free chairs & umbrella. We asked about restrooms and food available - “yes, yes, and better than Royal Palms!” she says. Everyone agrees. (What did we just do?!) We pass Royal Palms and keep heading North. She drops us off at this hotel(?), that frankly looks abandoned. A little run down. Oh boy. We all agree for her to return at 1pm and pick us all back up. Pointing down a long corridor, she tells us that is the way to the beach (where on the corridor we did spot bathrooms - and off to the right what looks like a very nice bar & restaurant that isn’t open yet - sigh of relief). We are the first ones there and claim a “first row” set of lounge chairs and an umbrella. It is still very cloudy and the beach is practically deserted. I don’t really care where we got “dumped” at this point… the beach is gorgeous! Our umbrella came in handy at first to shield us from a few rain drops. Just a short sprinkle.

 

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Come on sun! Come out please???

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Finally (at least on the sand). Thank you!

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The cruise ships were all docked to the south of us and the clouds hung out over them most of the day while we had sun!

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Super tempting to let the ship leave without us at this point!

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Are you using a phone or camera for these pics, as they are beautiful!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

I'm glad you are enjoying the photos! I mostly used my iPhone on this trip. I did bring my "real camera" along which is a Canon 5D mkII and a few lenses - but it is such a big thing to lug around that I only used it for some of the photos from our balcony until the last day. It was perfect though for taking closer-up photos of as we cruised into ports... and for saying "hi" to the officers on the bridge in the morning. ;) I did take it off the boat in Nassau for some shots - those will be coming up in about a hundred posts at the rate I'm going. :')

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I originally wanted to go south to Smith Cove. It looks unique and so beautiful! We are not experienced travelers and getting a cab back was iffy due to the location. Seemed risky. It isn’t like if the cab failed to pick us up we could sprint back to the cruise port!

 

So, the plan was to play it safe and go to Royal Palms on 7-mile beach. We see this lady with a taxi van advertising a one-way fare to Royal Palms for $4pp. So that is what we did. It turns out that everyone in the van was headed there. Then the taxi lady suggests that she knows a better place with no admission and free chairs & umbrella. We asked about restrooms and food available - “yes, yes, and better than Royal Palms!” she says. Everyone agrees. (What did we just do?!) We pass Royal Palms and keep heading North. She drops us off at this hotel(?), that frankly looks abandoned. A little run down. Oh boy. We all agree for her to return at 1pm and pick us all back up. Pointing down a long corridor, she tells us that is the way to the beach (where on the corridor we did spot bathrooms - and off to the right what looks like a very nice bar & restaurant that isn’t open yet - sigh of relief). We are the first ones there and claim a “first row” set of lounge chairs and an umbrella. It is still very cloudy and the beach is practically deserted. I don’t really care where we got “dumped” at this point… the beach is gorgeous! Our umbrella came in handy at first to shield us from a few rain drops. Just a short sprinkle.

 

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So, am I the first to ask, what was is the name of the hotel, and did the cab come back at 1 pm?

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

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So, am I the first to ask, what was is the name of the hotel, and did the cab come back at 1 pm?

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

 

I'm wondering the same thing

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After a few minutes there, the hotel (I truly don’t know the name of it - didn’t see signs anywhere - but I WAS looking mainly at the beach.) and the restaurant/bar (called Hemingways) “woke up” and put out a sign that for use of the chairs and umbrella there was a minimum spend at the restaurant/bar of $25USD/pp. The taxi lady forgot to mention that! I’m guessing she gets a kick-back of some sort for bringing people there, which is fine. Honestly, we weren’t surprised at the minimum spend as it is only fair - but some people from our taxi were understandably not happy (and I think 2 of them left not long after arriving). Royal Palms would have been $39ish just for admission+2 chairs+an umbrella with no food included. This WAS a better deal. I looked at the menu and it looked like a nice restaurant with decent (Grand Cayman is on the expensive side) prices. For those interested, here is their menu:

 

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There was a server assigned to us and around 11am or so we ordered a lobster quesadilla, a chicken quesadilla, and a couple of hard apple ciders. SO GOOD. They were delish and came with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and ketchup. And we can’t remember having better fries - like ever! They bring it right to the little table your umbrella is stuck in - doesn't get better than that. :hearteyes: So, if you can get someone to drop you off at Hemingways in George Town… in my opinion, you won’t be disappointed by the beach or the food.

 

My lobster quesadilla...

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Soaking up every. last. amazing. minute.

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Ms. Taxi Lady (her name was Christine) was back promptly as promised - even a little early at 12:45. She waited until 1pm and even went looking for the 2 passengers that we were pretty sure had left early-on… just in case.

 

The ride TO the beach is an easy pick us up, drive (on the wrong left side of the street) straight up the coast, and drop us off. The ride BACK is a totally different story. In order to not drop us off on the side of the busy street across from the cruise boarding area (thank-you-very-much), Christine weaved her way through street after street after street. At one point she cut through a grocery store parking lot and my DH looked at me sideways and simply said “she’s done this before.” Probably multiple times a day. Those people that recommended just renting a car and seeing the island. YOU ARE CRAZY. The traffic was insane at that time of day!

 

After our little out-the-window tour of the back streets of George Town, we arrived safely by the dock for the tender boat. Last tender back was 3:30pm-ish, so we were early at about 1:30 - which was nice because it gave some people time to shop or look around.

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For us - we were happy to get on a tender with no waiting in line.

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