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NCL Jewel Alaska - July 1-8 - Northbound

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This will be a review of our NCL Jewel Alaska Cruise. The review will include images of the specialty dining menus. Yes the prices have changed on the new menus. It will also include the cruise dailies. . 

 

We were a family group of 12 which included three generations. Included in this family group were two first-time cruisers. The group consisted of four in the 70’s, five in their 40’s and three children ages 14, 14, and 12.

 

Three of the group flew to Seattle early to visit family. They took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver on Sunday. The other nine members flew Delta from Cincinnati to Vancouver Sunday evening. They did not arrive in Vancouver until 9:45 PDT. The family had reserved five rooms at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Riverport Richmond. This hotel was not near the airport or the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal. The hotel did have a free airport shuttle. We really did not use the hotel for anything other than to sleep and eat breakfast. We found this to be a typical Holiday Inn Express. It was very clean and the staff courteous. 

 

Day 1 - Embarkation

 

We had booked transportation from the hotel to the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal with KJ Limousine Services Inc. This company was very professional. The company had me setup an account online to manage the reservation. The van used was only a few weeks old and plenty of room for the 12 of us with luggage. The driver was to pick us up at 10:30. He was there about 10:15. He was very courteous and professional. The driver gave us a quick tour of Vancouver on the way to the port. We arrived at the port at 11:15.  

 

This embarkation may have been the easiest of any of my thirteen cruises. The driver took us to the luggage drop-off. There were many porters available to take our luggage. From that point on we never stood in line. We were directed to the next station which as others have stated were on different floors. We received our key-cards and were on the ship at noon. This was perfect as the Tsar’s Palace had just opened for lunch. We always go to the main dining room for embarkation lunch avoiding the confusion of the buffet. As always this lunch was very relaxing. The Tsar lunch menu is the same every day of the cruise. 

 

Tsar-Lunch-Menu-1.jpg

 

Tsar-Lunch-Menu-2.jpg

 

After lunch we toured the ship until our cabins were ready. Our cabins were port side obstructed view on deck 8 mid. They were obstructed by the lifeboats with no view from any of the five cabins. That was OK for us as we spent very little time in the cabin other than to sleep. I always leave the TV on Ship's bow camera channel with the sound muted. This gives a nice nightlight and a nice view when awaking. These cabins were in a perfect location. They were very close to O'Sheehan's. It was very nice to be able to walk down for coffee no matter what time we woke up. The cabins were available by 2 PM. Deck 8 was one of the last  decks to have cabins ready. 

 

The muster drill was at 4 PM. Our station was in the Bliss Lounge and there were enough chairs for everyone to sit. This has not been the case on my last three NCL cruises. I really liked that the ship’s speaker system was used to give the safety information. This was much better than a staff member speaking without a microphone. I found that the people at our station were courteous and did not carry-on their own conversations during the drill. Definitely the best drill attended recently. 

 

After the drill was Sail-Away. It was exciting being on a high deck and approaching the Lions Gate Bridge. It looked as if the Jewel would not fit. As we went under there were many people standing on the bridge waving. The Jewel fit with room to spare. I did learn that bridge is the reason the Bliss and Joy leave from Seattle. Those ships will not fit under the Lions Gate Bridge.

 

After Sail-Away our group had reservations at Tsar’s Palace Main Dining Room for 5:30 dinner. I had made reservations for all the evening meals at the 120 day mark. The MDR reservations could be made online for 12. The specialty dining reservations had to be made via the Special Events department email. That was done easily and they responded back quickly with amenity confirmations. Upon arrival at Tsar’s we found a long table set for us. The service was quick for a large group. For me the evening meal is the highlight of the cruise. It is great watching the family members share the day’s events with each other. This is the only meal time that we eat together as a group. 

 

After the meal there was no activity planned. Many were tired and walked around the ship awhile before going to bed. My wife and I went to the casino. We found the casino to be smaller than other ships, but there was still a good choice of machines. Neither one of us found smoking to be a problem in this casino. 

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Day 2 - Inside Passage

 

I have attached the dailies for the entire week. Dailies-Jewel-Northbound-July-2019.pdf

 

This was a sea day through the Inside Passage. We enjoyed the view from Spinnaker Lounge  on deck 13. There were many chairs available to sit and enjoy the view as we went through the Seymour Narrows. They had a nice bar in this lounge with good service. I have posted pictures of the drink menu below. In this lounge NCL hosts many events. 

 

Beer-Cider.jpg

 

TopMast-Liberations.jpg

 

TopMast-Liberations-2.jpg

 

TopMast-Spirits.jpg

 

Wine-white-red.jpg

 

After leaving Spinnaker Lounge, we stopped to view the bridge. This nice feature is port side bow of deck 11. I am glad that a Cruise Critic review shared this information as we would've missed it otherwise. It was very interesting watching what was involved in the navigation of such a large vessel. . 

 

Tonight's dinner was in Cagney’s Steakhouse.  I  have posted an image of the menu below. I must apologize for the out of focus shot. Did not notice it until I returned home. Too late for another picture.  I will say that it is correct that there is no longer an up-charge for the Shrimp Cocktail and yes if you do not have the Specialty  Dining Plan (SDP) the prices have gone up. Another topic on Cruise Critic was also verified. Our waiter told the party at the beginning of the meal that the SDP included one of each category, starter, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. This is not what the website has in the terms and conditions. "SDP does not include any beverages and additional main courses will incur charges. An SDP meal in Food Republic, Pincho, Sushi and Wasabi includes 4 menu items. A 20% gratuity and specialty service charge will be added to the package price."

 

However with 12 people I did not want to argue the point. Besides, I knew that I would have plenty to eat throughout the cruise. I will say that in my opinion the quality of the meal has gone down while the price went up. This was the only meal that many of the group was disappointed in. Prior to the cruise there was one member of the party that wanted all three Specialty dinners to be at Cagney;s. After dinner he stated that he was glad that we did not do that. 

 

Cagneys.jpg

 

Many of the group went to the “Rock You Tonight” show. The group would have liked to have gone to the early show but with the length of 12 people eating it was impossible to make the 7:15 PM show time. It would be nice if the show started at 7:30 and 9:30 just 15 minutes later. We could have probably made the early show. As always on NCL this show was very professional and enjoyable.
 

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Thank you very much for this review. I'm on the July 29th sailing and appreciate the photos of the menus and dailies.

 

Now I'm super excited about my cruise 🙂

 

Katie

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Day 3 - Ketchikan

 

I probably should have mentioned this earlier. One item that I researched prior to the trip was what to pack for an Alaska cruise. The one thing that I read over and over was layers. So I packed accordingly. I did not take many shorts or t-shirts as I expected cool to cold weather. I am not going to be much help to others on how to pack as Alaska is in a severe drought and setting high temperature records daily. The first port was a little cool in the morning but it warmed up quickly. The rest of the days the high temperature was in the mid to high 80’s. 

 

Our family of eight originally had a Mystic Fjords Float plane excursion reserved. After the crashes we cancelled and changed to the Ketchikan Back-country Jeep & Canoe Safari excursion through Alaska Travel Adventures. This excursion was great. All three generations enjoyed this. Our excursion began with a jeep tour on an old logging road. There were 10 jeeps in the caravan. 

 

Jeeps.jpg

 

We then stopped at a Lake Harriet dock and boarded a 37 foot, 20 passenger canoe to row across the lake for a nature walk and snacks. This was a very enjoyable journey. Upon arriving on the other side of the lake we enjoyed snacks of Smoked Salmon Dip, Fresh made preserves, and Clam Chowder. There was coffee or hot Chocolate to drink. It was suggested to place an Andes Mint Chocolate in the cup and then add ½ coffee and ½ hot chocolate. This was really yummy. After the snack we took a short nature walk and then canoed back. THere a bus picked us up and returned to the ship. 

 

canoe.jpg

 

snacks.jpg

 

Nature-Walk.jpg

 

That night for dinner we were back in the MDR. As I mentioned earlier the food in Tsar’s was excellent. Out of the party of 12 there was not one meal that was considered lacking. After the dinner we went to the evening show ANNA & VLAD - AERIAL DUO. This couple was on America’s Got Talent in 2015. They kept the audience amazed with their aerial act.  
 

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Do you have a copy of a sea day Freestyle Daily which shows what time the bars open?  I am trying to figure out a pub crawl.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Candi

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55 minutes ago, candigirl41 said:

Do you have a copy of a sea day Freestyle Daily which shows what time the bars open?  I am trying to figure out a pub crawl.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Candi

She posted a PDF that has every Freestyle Daily. I read every page with interest 🙂

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2 hours ago, candigirl41 said:

Do you have a copy of a sea day Freestyle Daily which shows what time the bars open?  I am trying to figure out a pub crawl.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Candi

The dailies for the entire week are available in Post #2 above. Enjoy the Pub Crawl. You may be interested in a list of beverages that I put together for a Meet & Greet, It is attached here.

 

NCL_Beverage_List.pdf

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Great review! We love the one way cruises to/from Alaska. In October we’re sailing  the Joy from Vancouver, we’re planning to stick our gum under the bridge as we go by 😂

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1 minute ago, aero777 said:

Great review! We love the one way cruises to/from Alaska. In October we’re sailing  the Joy from Vancouver, we’re planning to stick our gum under the bridge as we go by 😂

Thanks. Does the Joy cruise go to Los Angeles? If so my wife and I will be getting on when you get off. We are doing the October 11 Panama Canal Cruise. 

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This is fantastic and just in time for our cruise on July 29. We have a large multi generation group.  Can’t wait to read your experience at orher ports. 

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16 hours ago, CardFanDubG said:

 

 

This will be a review of our NCL Jewel Alaska Cruise. The review will include images of the specialty dining menus. Yes the prices have changed on the new menus. It will also include the cruise dailies. . 

 

We were a family group of 12 which included three generations. Included in this family group were two first-time cruisers. The group consisted of four in the 70’s, five in their 40’s and three children ages 14, 14, and 12.

 

Three of the group flew to Seattle early to visit family. They took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver on Sunday. The other nine members flew Delta from Cincinnati to Vancouver Sunday evening. They did not arrive in Vancouver until 9:45 PDT. The family had reserved five rooms at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Riverport Richmond. This hotel was not near the airport or the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal. The hotel did have a free airport shuttle. We really did not use the hotel for anything other than to sleep and eat breakfast. We found this to be a typical Holiday Inn Express. It was very clean and the staff courteous. 

 

Day 1 - Embarkation

 

We had booked transportation from the hotel to the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal with KJ Limousine Services Inc. This company was very professional. The company had me setup an account online to manage the reservation. The van used was only a few weeks old and plenty of room for the 12 of us with luggage. The driver was to pick us up at 10:30. He was there about 10:15. He was very courteous and professional. The driver gave us a quick tour of Vancouver on the way to the port. We arrived at the port at 11:15.  

 

This embarkation may have been the easiest of any of my thirteen cruises. The driver took us to the luggage drop-off. There were many porters available to take our luggage. From that point on we never stood in line. We were directed to the next station which as others have stated were on different floors. We received our key-cards and were on the ship at noon. This was perfect as the Tsar’s Palace had just opened for lunch. We always go to the main dining room for embarkation lunch avoiding the confusion of the buffet. As always this lunch was very relaxing. The Tsar lunch menu is the same every day of the cruise. 

 

Tsar-Lunch-Menu-1.jpg

 

Tsar-Lunch-Menu-2.jpg

 

After lunch we toured the ship until our cabins were ready. Our cabins were port side obstructed view on deck 8 mid. They were obstructed by the lifeboats with no view from any of the five cabins. That was OK for us as we spent very little time in the cabin other than to sleep. I always leave the TV on Ship's bow camera channel with the sound muted. This gives a nice nightlight and a nice view when awaking. These cabins were in a perfect location. They were very close to O'Sheehan's. It was very nice to be able to walk down for coffee no matter what time we woke up. The cabins were available by 2 PM. Deck 8 was one of the last  decks to have cabins ready. 

 

The muster drill was at 4 PM. Our station was in the Bliss Lounge and there were enough chairs for everyone to sit. This has not been the case on my last three NCL cruises. I really liked that the ship’s speaker system was used to give the safety information. This was much better than a staff member speaking without a microphone. I found that the people at our station were courteous and did not carry-on their own conversations during the drill. Definitely the best drill attended recently. 

 

After the drill was Sail-Away. It was exciting being on a high deck and approaching the Lions Gate Bridge. It looked as if the Jewel would not fit. As we went under there were many people standing on the bridge waving. The Jewel fit with room to spare. I did learn that bridge is the reason the Bliss and Joy leave from Seattle. Those ships will not fit under the Lions Gate Bridge.

 

After Sail-Away our group had reservations at Tsar’s Palace Main Dining Room for 5:30 dinner. I had made reservations for all the evening meals at the 120 day mark. The MDR reservations could be made online for 12. The specialty dining reservations had to be made via the Special Events department email. That was done easily and they responded back quickly with amenity confirmations. Upon arrival at Tsar’s we found a long table set for us. The service was quick for a large group. For me the evening meal is the highlight of the cruise. It is great watching the family members share the day’s events with each other. This is the only meal time that we eat together as a group. 

 

After the meal there was no activity planned. Many were tired and walked around the ship awhile before going to bed. My wife and I went to the casino. We found the casino to be smaller than other ships, but there was still a good choice of machines. Neither one of us found smoking to be a problem in this casino. 

 

Does the main dining room require reservations ? If so where do you do that ? I don’t see it on my NCL reservation. 

Also can you share the email for the special dining reservation - we are a large group of 9 and they only allow 7-8 in the selection online. 

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10 hours ago, K_e_short said:

She posted a PDF that has every Freestyle Daily. I read every page with interest 🙂

 

Does the dailies sort of stay the same on this ship ? 

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6 hours ago, amisup said:

 

Does the main dining room require reservations ? If so where do you do that ? I don’t see it on my NCL reservation. 

Also can you share the email for the special dining reservation - we are a large group of 9 and they only allow 7-8 in the selection online. 

No the MDR does not require reservations normally. Because we had a group of 12 and wanted to sit together we made advance reservations. I had to contact the special event department for the Jewel via email. The email address is specialeventsjewel@ncl.com Substitute jewel with your ships name.

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1 hour ago, amisup said:

 

Does the dailies sort of stay the same on this ship ? 

They will be very close to the same on the same itinerary. The exception may be special events. July 4 was on our cruise, so there were special activities on that day. 

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Posted (edited)

Day 4 - Juneau

On this day the Jewel arrived in Juneau at 11:00 AM and was scheduled to leave at 9:00 PM. This was the beginning of 4 straight days of temperatures in the high 80's. One other problem with the weather was since Alaska was in a drought, there were forest fires that caused a smoke haze depending upon the direction of the wind. The ship was at pier AJ which is the farthest pier from Mt. Roberts Tram. NCL had multiple shuttles available to take people to the Shuttle stop at the tram. These shuttles were complimentary. 

 

The families had reserved three different excursions for this port. One family of three rented a jeep from Alaska Self Guided Jeep Adventure. It was July 4th and Juneau had a parade. Because of this parade the jeep company was closed until 1:30 PM. They were supposed to pick up the jeep at 11:30 and return it at 7:00 PM. When they picked up the jeep, they enjoyed touring on their own. The jeep had a pre-programmed GPS of popular tourist attractions. 

 

Two couples did the Juneau City and Mendenhall Glacier Tour by Last Chance Tours. This tour left the Tram base at 1:30. The tour company gave a tour of Juneau on the way to Mendenhall Glacier. While at the Glacier they had 1.5 hours to visit the glacier and welcome center. They then returned to the pick-up point. 

 

My wife and I went with our son and grandsons on the "Best of Juneau - Whales, Mendenhall Glacier, and Salmon Bake" again with Alaska Travel Adventures. Again I have nothing but good things to say about this tour company. Both in Ketchikan and Juneau they were very organized, This excursion met at the base of Mt. Roberts Tram and began with a minibus ride to the marina to take a Whale watching tour with Captain Alex and Naturalist Christie. There was only 26 passengers on a whale boat made for 52 passengers. Captain Alex gave much effort in hunting whales without much luck. The views were unbelievable as we passed mountains and glaciers. Capt. Alex joined the other whale boats in an area where humpback whales are always sighted.  There we able to see two whales. I really believe that the hot temperatures had something to do with lack of activity. The temperature seemed to impact how much wildlife we were able to see during the whole week.

 

Whale%20boat.jpg

 

Next the minibus took us to the Mendenhall Glacier where we had 1 hour to visit. That was not enough time for my wife and I to walk to Nugget Falls, however our son and grandsons did. They said it was an awesome experience observing the power of the water.

 

Mendenhall%20Glacier%20Distance.jpg

 

We then were taken to the The Gold Creek Salmon Bake. There we had a delicious meal of Smoked grilled salmon and the fixings. My wife thought that the clam chowder was really special. After eating and visiting the grounds we caught the Gold Creek shuttle back to the ship. This was a 6 hour 5 star excursion.

 

Salmon%20Bake.jpg

 

The entertainment at the Stardust Theater was the Disco show “Velvet”.   I find the NCL shows to be professionally done and this was no exception. Because the ship did not leave port until 9 PM the theater was not very crowded.
 

Edited by CardFanDubG

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Thank you! I'm hoping to do the same sailing at the end of the month. Question, what do the asteriks mean on the menu next to the salmon and chowder?

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19 minutes ago, FaithPlus1 said:

Thank you! I'm hoping to do the same sailing at the end of the month. Question, what do the asteriks mean on the menu next to the salmon and chowder?

image.png.85e6da6366aad048ba6b1c26200c4c5a.png

Not sure why those two items have an asterisk though as both of them were fully cooked. 

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44 minutes ago, CardFanDubG said:

image.png.85e6da6366aad048ba6b1c26200c4c5a.png

Not sure why those two items have an asterisk though as both of them were fully cooked. 

Thanks. Disappointing that lunch at Tsar's is the same everyday. I thought they had different specials each day along with the general options you can get throughout the cruise. How was the chicken salad sandwich and the cheesesteak if you had them?

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15 hours ago, CardFanDubG said:

The dailies for the entire week are available in Post #2 above. Enjoy the Pub Crawl. You may be interested in a list of beverages that I put together for a Meet & Greet, It is attached here.

 

NCL_Beverage_List.pdf 5.85 MB · 5 downloads

Thanks for the information.  I don't think I can use the dailies as you didn't appear to have a sea day and I need to know opening times on sea days.

 

Thanks again

 

Candi

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16 minutes ago, FaithPlus1 said:

Thanks. Disappointing that lunch at Tsar's is the same everyday. I thought they had different specials each day along with the general options you can get throughout the cruise. How was the chicken salad sandwich and the cheesesteak if you had them?

The lunch menu in Tsar's Palace and O'Sheehan's were the same everyday. Topsiders by the pool would have hot-dogs and hamburgers, traditional picnic food. The buffet would have a great selection for lunch. I did have both the chicken salad and cheese-steak. The Chicken salad was open face with two scoops of chicken salad. Very tasty. The cheese-steak was good but definitely not from Philadelphia. 

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2 minutes ago, candigirl41 said:

Thanks for the information.  I don't think I can use the dailies as you didn't appear to have a sea day and I need to know opening times on sea days.

 

Thanks again

 

Candi

Day 2 was a sea day. 

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11 minutes ago, CardFanDubG said:

Day 2 was a sea day. 

Thanks I just figured that out.  I missed it somehow.  Great information.  I will check your drink menu as well.  This really helped me.

 

Candi

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, CardFanDubG said:

Thanks. Does the Joy cruise go to Los Angeles? If so my wife and I will be getting on when you get off. We are doing the October 11 Panama Canal Cruise. 

Yes, we’ll try not to mess it up!

It might be a little shorter though if they miss calculate the Lions Gate Bridge height 😙

Edited by aero777

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Day 5 - Skagway

The Jewel was scheduled to be in Skagway from 8 to 8. I had reserved a Yukon Discovery and Sled Dog excursion through Frontier Excursions and Adventures for the 12 of us. The Jewel was docked at the Broadway pier which made it simple to walk to town or the excursion meeting point. We were greeted by the Frontier representative and told that because of the size of our group we would have a private minibus. Very good news. Thanks Frontier Excursions and Adventures. 

 

This was another hot day in Alaska. Who would have thought that we would be introduced to our guide Casey who was wearing a tank top and shorts. Off we went heading for our 76 mile trip to the Yukon. Casey did an excellent job sharing information about the area and selecting photo stops. As we entered Canada we had to go through customs. The Canadian custom agent got on the minibus and looked at each passport. He was very friendly. On t he way back Casey just submitted a list of passengers to the US Custom Agent. He did not come aboard. 

 

Casey-guide.jpg

 

The focus of the excursion was the visit to Carcross. There we were to ride in a dogsled, Again the weather became our enemy. It was near 90 degrees and it was determined that it was too hot for the dogs to work. We were disappointed but glad they made their decision in favor of the  dogs health. Instead they drove us through the trails in a modified ATV, The highlight of the excursion came next. The ATV stopped in the dog camp so that we could pet and visit with the dogs.

 

Carcross-Visitor-center.jpg

 

dogs.jpg

 

Puppy.jpg

 

After eating a Barbecue Chicken lunch we began the drive back to the ship. Again Casey shared more information and had more photo stops. This was an excellent excursion and I would highly recommend it. 

 

Because the ship did not leave until 8 we did not have reservations for dinner. The more senior couples, yep that’s me, went back to the ship while the younger family members walked around Skagway. The four of us decided to eat in Azure. That is the complimentary dining room in the middle of deck 6. The Azure serves the same menu as the Tzar. The food again was very good, but the four of us did not care for this dining room. It seemed so very loud. I could hear the conversations of the tables near us. I believe that was because of the low ceiling.

 

After dinner we went to the Comedy of Sam Fedel in the Stardust Theater. We found him to be very funny. His comedy seemed to be a mix of planned jokes and impromptu jokes. He pushed the limits but was able to keep the show family friendly. 
 

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22 hours ago, CardFanDubG said:

The lunch menu in Tsar's Palace and O'Sheehan's were the same everyday. Topsiders by the pool would have hot-dogs and hamburgers, traditional picnic food. The buffet would have a great selection for lunch. I did have both the chicken salad and cheese-steak. The Chicken salad was open face with two scoops of chicken salad. Very tasty. The cheese-steak was good but definitely not from Philadelphia. 

There are 2 standard lunch menus.   Has been for years.     

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