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A Worthwhile Getaway - My Husband and I Escape NY for Bermuda (4/17 - 4/24)


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@UKstagesYou somewhat disagree about the buffet being (in op's words) "slop".  I completely disagree.  I found that the NCL buffet has the best variety and healthiest food on the ship.  But, OP (again in his words) is "almost 40 and fat" and unlikely into a healthy lifestyle.  Me...I'll take "the slop" any day!

 

 

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you might want to go back and reread that bit. or read all the relevant posts ion the thread.  you're horribly confused.

 

it is i who disagreed with the OP's assessment of the buffet as not being worthwhile. in fact, it is i who convinced him to take another look.

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Ouch! @MsTabbyKatsusing my words against me! Them there are daggers being thrown!

 

Alas, I do like me some nuked edamame with salt.

 

Based on @UKstageswords I will be checking the buffet out on my next NCL cruise whenever that may be...the husband's being quite demanding about not spending money since we're almost at closing on the house.

 

To each their own. Happy sailing!

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On 5/4/2022 at 12:39 PM, cruiseny4life said:

Note to Readers: This is a really long review of my husband and I’s first cruise. We traveled on the Norwegian Getaway from Manhattan to Bermuda from April 17th to April 24th, 2022. I decided to write as inclusive a review as I could to pay it forward to future readers. Prior to this cruise I devoured all the reviews, NCL forums, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos I could. This is my small way to say thank you to everyone that provided information to me. 

 

Pre-Cruise: On a whim my husband and I decided to book a cruise back in February after a couple of snowstorms hit the Rochester area. At first I was looking at Royal Caribbean and found a great deal to the Caribbean, but decided to check out what Norwegian was offering.

 

Before going further, a little background. In 2009 I took a cruise with my grandmother and a few friends on Carnival. The food was gross, I was sea sick from rough North Atlantic seas, and it was so foggy we could hardly see. I decided then that it would be a long time, if ever, that I took a cruise again. My husband had never been on a cruise before, so this was his first cruise. 

 

As I consumed hours of Emma Cruises, Gary Bembridge’s Tips for Travellers, and Ben and David Cruises, my husband just kept shaking his head. He wasn’t really into being stuck on a boat for a few days in the ocean, nor had he heard great things from me about cruising based on my previous experience. I also watched several videos all about the Haven on NCL and Royal Caribbean’s suite class.


Back to booking - we looked for a similar cruise on NCL that would be a week in length and offer the experience of a larger ship even though I am not a people person (yet I work in a school haha). Honestly as long as the ship went toward warmer weather we didn’t care about the ports. As we booked our room, we clicked on the Haven and found ourselves making a final payment for the Haven within minutes of checking out NCL’s website. Forget Royal Caribbean and their balcony room, even though it was a much better price.

 

We’re going to Bermuda!!!!!! Where’s Bermuda? What is in Bermuda to do? We just chose Bermuda and figured we’d wing it. 

 

Given that my first cruise was so long ago, I’ve decided that this trip would be a first-time cruise for me too - and hey, first time ever on NCL and in the Haven! I continued to devour content wherever I could. DH just mumbled under his breath and couldn’t understand why I continued to read/watch so much cruising content. 

 

Biggest Concern: So here’s the deal, some of you will hate me - my biggest concern on this cruise was dressing up. Cruise culture is formal nights, formal nights, formal nights. No thank you! As I’ve mentioned in previous forum posts, I don’t dress up when on vacation. I have a shirt and tie (at minimum) when I’m at work. I don’t want to wear a choke collar while I’m on vacation. Thankfully I discovered NCL’s freestyle cruising approach applied to the Haven. We’d be having a wonderful vacation with lounge pants, t-shirts, and bathing suits for the entire week! Perfection to me…looks of hatred from some, but alas I’m on vacation!

 

COVID-19: I work in a school and am in charge of COVID compliance, so I’m totally over COVID. I’ll wear a mask, get a test, jab myself, whatever…so this didn’t matter to me. 

 

Packing: As mentioned above, we didn’t have too many concerns about packing since there would be no formal clothing for us! Neither of us pack a lot - when we went to Disney World for a week in December we shared a backpack between us. Since we were on a boat we did pack slightly more than normal, so we had one backpack and one medium-sized suitcase between us.

 

Packing List

  • Pair of sneakers

  • Pair of flip flops

  • 1 light jacket

  • 1 long sleeve shirt

  • 3 short sleeve shirts

  • 2 pairs of shorts

  • 1 bathing suit

  • 1 robe, because I’m a fatty and figured even the Haven robe wouldn’t fit me

  • 1 pair of jeans just in case it was chilly in NYC

  • The requisite socks and undies

 

That’s it!! 

 

Pre-Cruise: Ready to go, we started our drive to NYC on April 16th, staying over at The Fifty Sonesta Select on Third Ave. We had a giant room with a king size bed and sofa. 

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Before checking into the hotel we dropped the car at the parking garage on W. 43rd St. across from the pier so that we would have no issue getting the car the morning of disembarkation. We walked the few blocks past Time Square and Rockefeller Center to our hotel. 

 

After checking in, we checked out the local restaurants, finding a dumpling shop not far from the hotel. I would highly recommend Joe’s Home of Soup Dumplings to anyone looking for some yummy noodle soup or dumplings. It was so freaking tasty! 

 

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I love when we find places like this - sometimes I’ll make these huge plans and others I just fly by the seat…this trip is totally flying by the seat and so far, so good!

 

I followed the advice of @Sthrngaryto write a letter to our butler. As this was the first time staying in the Haven I read both of the forum posts he wrote about the “Secrets of the Haven” and included what I thought would be appropriate for my husband and I as we embarked on our first cruise. Here is a copy of my letter, adapted from Gary's very thorough letter. 

 

Embarkation: Here’s where the chipper attitude goes away! First, I am so grateful that my husband and I did not have to wait 7 - 8 hours to get on the boat like others did. I cannot even imagine having to wait so long. We entered Pier 90 to have our Bermuda travel authorization approved. After waiting about 2.5 hours we finally made it to the front of the line where we were approved in a couple of minutes. NCL, you totally blew embarkation - we needed the 15 employees you sent over at 11 AM, not 1 PM. 

 

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After going through the Bermuda line (it’s NCL’s fault, not Bermuda’s for a lack of employees), we headed to Pier 88. We went through security with no issues and headed for the Haven Lounge. In the lounge it took a little time as my husband is a permanent resident, not a citizen so the documentation had to be looked at. Dorothy was amazing and really helped with this process! 

 

And then we headed for the gangway! Up we went, and we were whisked away to the Haven. When we got there, they told us we could either eat in the Haven Restaurant or American Diner. We chose American Diner as it is a specialty restaurant and we’d have to pay to eat there later in the week. The food was good, but I’m still not sure why this is a specialty restaurant, or why anyone would actually pay for a burger, chicken sandwich, etc. I do have to say the banana milkshake was the best I have ever had in my life!!! The mozzarella sticks were yummy as well. 

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First Day - April 17th, Day in Port:

 

Well, as luck would have it, we didn’t go anywhere this day. Our Norfolk stop was canceled which meant we had to purchase the streaming WiFi package. The inspection for the home we’re purchasing was scheduled for April 18th and we had planned to use our data in Norfolk to communicate with our realtor and the inspector. Since we would be at sea with no cell service, we had to purchase the streaming WiFI so we could receive all the photos, videos, and the inspection report. Not really a stressor, but that was $200 wasted that we were not planning on. 

 

We also looked ahead at the weather in Bermuda, talked with the shore excursion desk, and decided to cancel all our excursions. That gave us around $700 in on board credit which was a nice bonus and helped pay for the WiFi. We used the rest of the day to take a look around the boat, including attending the spa presentation as we attempted to get one of the gift certificates. No luck there, but we did score a deal - $149 - 80 minute massage which is about the same price as on land. Those spa prices are incredibly ridiculous!! It was nearly $300 for the same massage I received with the deal. 

 

Our first dinner in the Haven Restaurant was phenomenal. All that I had read about the Haven Restaurant came true that evening. Let’s just say, if you’re in the Haven, there is no need whatsoever for specialty dining (more on this later). I tried the pork belly and crab cakes. My husband had shrimp cocktail and prime rib. Yum! 

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Second Day - April 18th, unplanned sea day:

 

Even though the sea day cost us an extra $200 due to the WiFi package, I was ecstatic for an extra day at sea. Who really wants to go to Norfolk anyway? Not this guy (unless he’s buying a house haha)! 

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Thankfully, we slept in a bit past our normal wake up of 5 AM! Heading up to the Haven Restaurant, we discovered it was empty. We had a wonderful view from our table where we tried the much raved upon Almond Croissants! We were so not disappointed! In fact, we went to our favorite bakery last weekend and tried their Almond Croissant. The Haven’s is better! I only have a couple photos from this breakfast.

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After breakfast, back to the room to enjoy our balcony for a little bit. Upon returning, the requested M&M’s, gummy bears, and PB&J sandwiches were in our room! Wow, the service was amazing from our butler Totaram! These bowls would stay full and the sandwiches and other snacks just kept on coming all week long. 

 

The next day I told Totaram we didn’t need the French Press or pot of tea and pastries in our room at 7 AM. This was just too much given that we enjoyed breakfast in the Haven Restaurant every morning. 

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There was a welcome to the ship slot pull organized by @PattyWinters503 which was a great welcoming event. We met in Bliss, then went to the slot machine selected for the pull. Unfortunately we didn’t win big. After the pull, we walked about the ship then wandered back to the Haven for our lunch. Because, ya know, what is there to do on a sea day but munch and wander? 

 

After a lovely lunch, we decided to check out the thermal spa. What a cluster that was! I don’t know if passes were oversold or everyone decided to hit up the thermal spa, but it was packed. Those in the pool decided they needed to be chair hogs by throwing a towel on the ceramic lounger. I bravely made my way into the pool while the husband waited for a lounger to open up. He grabbed one, then I switched off with him. He went to the pool or hot tub, I went to the lounger, then we switched so our lounger was being utilized by more than a towel. NCL definitely needs to do better. We tried out the sauna and salt room, then left hoping for better luck next time. 

 

This first night at sea we made a reservation at Cagneys since it was part of the Free at Sea package we had. This was the worst dinner of the week. Teppanyaki was better than Cagneys and of course the Haven Restaurant was leaps and bounds above Cagneys. Honestly, we’ve had more tender, flavorful steak at Texas Roadhouse. Unless we get the Free at Sea in the future, I think we’ll stick with the Haven Restaurant. 

 

After dinner I tried out the thermal spa again. There were about five of us in the entire spa, including in each of the grottos. It was so much calmer and relaxed than earlier in the day. I could hear myself think. After a soak in the pool, I took a nap on one of the ceramic lounger before sweating out the toxins of the day. Ahhhhh, that’s the way to end a day. When I returned to our room, my husband had drawn himself a bath and enjoyed our jetted whirlpool tub for a bit.

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A word about the buffet: Speaking of bad food, we did try a little bit of the buffet food - can we talk about disgusting fare that shouldn’t be placed in a pig’s slop bucket? Nothing was good! It was Carnival cruise fare all over again. This just confirmed my position that I’ll never cruise not in the Haven or other ship-within-a-ship type boat. 

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Third Day - April 19th, first planned sea day, second sea day:

 

Today we ate solely in the Haven Restaurant, relaxed on the balcony, and sweated in the thermal spa. I believe this is the day we planned our massage, so I’ll cover it here, though it may have been the day before (the memory’s fuzzy). The massage itself was great, but about halfway in the lady giving the massage started talking about herself and asking about me. At first I was ok with this as it seemed we were having a nice conversation. After about 10 minutes I realized this was heading toward a hard sell. She wanted me to have an acupuncture consultation. The massage was no longer as relaxing - the price you pay for getting it nearly half price. 

 

I did take her up on the consultation. At first it was fine, then she asked to see my tongue. At that point she diagnosed me with “lower back pain.” Let’s see, I’m fat and almost 40. Of course I have lower back pain! I left the consultation, not disappointed in it, but disappointed that I didn’t fully enjoy my massage. 

 

The excitement of the day was the primary slot pull! About 30 of us gathered in the casino and won nothing. It was still a fun time filled with socialization. The husband did try out the slot machine we used the day before and won about $200 on it before giving it all back at the Blackjack table.

 

The dessert in the Haven Restaurant was delightful!

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Fourth Day - April 20th, Bermuda, Day 1

 

I woke up as the ship steamed (I know they don’t steam anymore, but it sounds better) past St. George’s Island on the way to the Royal Dockyard. I watched the boat dock and then we got breakfast (yes, in the Haven). We took the Concierge up on the priority disembarkation and made our way to NCL’s free ferry to St. George’s. 

 

It was an overcast, rainy day so we headed out on foot toward a fort. I’m not sure which fort it was as we got waylaid by looking at the beautiful unfinished church and then found our way to the beach at Tobacco Bay. What a gorgeous bay! I did go in as one little fellow’s Croc was floating away and his parents were telling him to get it…as it went further and further into the bay. I got a bit more wet than I was planning, but hey it’s the ocean and you gotta go swimming when you’re by the ocean! 

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After this we talked with a sweet lady at a small store where the bus stops. I can’t find the name of the store on Google Maps. She gave us advice on going to St. David’s Island so we could check out Clearwater Beach. We purchased our bus fare to get there and back. Our plan was to come back, then take the bus to Hamilton, and finally make our way back to the Royal Dockyard by bus. 

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Our plans were stymied as the bus was more than 30 minutes late. Since it was raining pretty hard and the NCL Ferry was back we decided to abandon town. We went back to the ship where we hung out in the thermal spa for most of the day.

 

I did have a chance to get a bit on the drunk side - I don’t drink unless the booze is free, so Free at Sea! After a couple of Long Island’s, Mojito’s, and Rum and Coke (Pepsi, blech), we went back to the room. I ordered a room service pizza which my sober husband said was disgusting. As I was drunk, it tasted wonderful to me! 

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After a bit of sobering up, we went to the Haven Restaurant for dinner. This night my husband enjoyed a movie while I dozed for a while before real sleep came over me.

 

Fifth Day - April 21st, Bermuda Day 2

 

Overcast and rainy again today! We decided to explore the dockyard and wound up paying the $15 to enter the Bermuda National Museum which offered free, good WiFi! I sent a few photos to family and then enjoyed the museum. The clock they have is amazing. I love that you can actually see the old mechanism that drives the ringing of the bells. So cool!!

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After checking these out, my husband found the dolphins. We had no idea this is where they were so we spent a few minutes just watching them be fed and do some tricks. I struggle with enjoying animals in captivity, especially when they can literally taste the ocean water, but yes, I did enjoy watching them. Hopefully someone sees them and becomes a biologist in the future, because of their experience with these wonderful creatures. 

 

We then decided to walk the ramparts of the old fort. We squeezed through a tiny hallway and learned about the slaves that built Bermuda. A sad history that I appreciate being told.

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Once we finished with the museum, I purchased a bottle of Lili Bermuda fragrance. The story of the Mary Celestia piqued my interest and smelled wonderful. My husband agreed this cologne would smell nicely on me. After this, we walked over to the Snorkel Park, but were not going to pay to access a beach in Bermuda. Instead, we went to the miniature golf course and enjoyed a delightful round of mini golf.

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We then finished our tour of the dockyard with a stop at the pharmacy to get some Benadryl - I really wanted to sleep past 5 AM at least one day on the cruise. We purchased a couple of souvenirs here, then continued walking around. When we were finished we caught the trolley back to the boat. 

 

Next up was some time in the thermal spa (notice the pattern here) and I bet you know where we had dinner! 

 

Sixth Day - April 22nd, Bermuda Day 3

 

We were up early to get our breakfast so we could make our way back to the NCL Ferry. Today was the day we would get to Clearwater Beach and Hamilton before our ship steamed away from Bermuda!

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When we got to St. George’s Island we went to the actual Lili Bermuda Perfumery to purchase an assorted package of colognes for my husband. Then we got on the bus to Clearwater Beach. The bus wasn’t traveling all the way to the beach so the locals on the bus gave us directions to walk across a field, over a berm, then down the road next to the airport. There we would find the beach. 

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The directions were spot on! We had the beach to ourselves and one other couple from the ship. What a glorious morning at the beach! There were Portuguese Man O’ War all around us, but we safely swam for a while before going to the bus stop. 

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The Bermudan buses failed us again. After waiting more than an hour we decided to walk…somewhere. We found a small restaurant, “Pizza House.” The owner was kind enough to call a taxi for us which took us to Hamilton for about $50. 

 

In Hamilton we walked around the town. I enjoyed a Boba Tea from NovelTea in Queen Elizabeth Park. The $5.00 fare to the Royal Dockyard got us one final ferry ride before boarding our ship for the last sea day. 

 

Upon returning to the ship, we put our bathing suits on and soaked in the Haven hot tub, then had dinner before returning to our room for the evening and watching a movie that I made it through!

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Seventh Day - April 23rd, 3rd and Final Day At Sea

 

Today was our final full day on the Norwegian Getaway. We went to the duty free shops. Nothing was very impressive: I suppose if you smoke or drink the prices for these vices are good. After this, I did have a few too many drinks (again) and took a nap in our room before dinner time. 

 

After the nap, we tried out American Diner for their mozzarella sticks and banana milkshake which was not as good as the first day, but still yummy. We dared the buffet one last time and were again disgusted by the food. Just say no to the buffet. 

 

Tonight, we had our final Free at Sea meal at Teppanyaki! The show was a typical hibachi show - food was good. I had steak and shrimp, and my husband had the same. We enjoyed our meal and spent the last two hours in the thermal spa before it closed. 

 

Eighth Day - April 24th, Disembarkation Day

 

Today we say goodbye to the Haven and the NCL Getaway. We had a great time and look forward to cruising with NCL again, even though the embarkation was a joke and the buffet was terrible.  

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Overall Impression: Would I cruise again? It will not be another 13 years before my next cruise! We loved it so much we purchased Cruise Next certificates while on board so we have to cruise before 2026. We ventured out of the Haven to the pool deck and were somewhat horrified at the number of people clamoring for a space by the pool. The lines for Guest Services were long (we had the Concierge, but I noticed this), bars and restaurants were packed. 

 

We will cruise NCL again, but only in the Haven. If we had just purchased a balcony cabin, there is no way we would have enjoyed the cruise so much. 

 

Going into the cruise I didn’t think we would utilize the concierge. Turns out we talked with Omar and Ivan more than our butler, Totaram. They were knowledgeable, helpful, and funny. 

 

Perks of the Haven we loved: 

The staff were simply wonderful. 

  • Janet, the hostess, was so kind and made sure we had our favorite seat next to the window if it was available

  • Yahones, a waiter, always made sure to say hello and check on us, even if he wasn’t our waiter. He is the nicest man! 

  • Jeanele (I am almost positive I spelled this wrong), a waiter, remembered our likes/dislikes, and always brought a smile and story to our table

  • Mark is a great bartender

  • Gusti was a wonderful room steward who made sure we were always comfortable

  • Totaram was hardly seen, but ensured we had what we needed

  • Omar is a joker and knows how to handle the Haven clientele

  • Ivan is a good assistant concierge and ensured we had everything we needed

The Haven Restaurant was perfection!

  • Multiple filet mignons and lobster tails were enjoyed

  • We enjoyed the small breakfast buffet, along with the cooked to order food

 

What we didn’t like: 

  • I think a reader of this review knows I’ll list the buffet at the top of this list.

  • The hard sell during our massage.

  • Embarkation!!!!

  • The mojito bar uses mixes, they don’t create the drink there which means little customization and no virgin mojitos

  • The thermal spa seemed oversold on this cruise

  • WiFi is terribly slow and expensive

  • Pool decks, outside of the Haven, were way too crowded

  • Chair hogs in the thermal spa (NCL could and should enforce the rules)

  • The only part of the Haven Restaurant we didn’t enjoy was the very long wait time for a drink and water refills (5 - 10 minutes each time)

 

Agree with everyone---really great review especially for a first time reviewer.  Thank you for taking the time to post.

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@cruiseny4lifeOn your next NCL cruise, if they have Mediterranean Night in the buffet..

.you need to try the spinach pie.  I specialize (in eating) spinach pie, and NCL's is right up there .  Plus, you can take as much as you want without waiting for a waiter.

Anyway....there are more polite ways to say that you didn't care for the buffet than calling it "slop".

Good luck with the new house!

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please! let's be fair. he didn't call it "slop."

 

he called it worse than slop.

 

he said it shouldn't be placed in a pig's slop bucket.

 

and that's exactly the sort of detail and clever turn of phrase and colorful description that have prompted so many to heap praise upon the review. that bit is thoroughly in keeping with the tone and tenor of the rest of the review.

 

the OP has no responsibility to be "polite" to NCL nor to its buffet. and if he didn't enjoy something, he is free to say so. saying he didn't like something conveys a very different meaning  than saying it isn't fit for a pig's slop bucket. he chose those words, presumably, to convey the depth of his distaste (pun intended) and displeasure with his buffet experience. saying he didn't like it would not convey the same passionate dislike.

 

words have meaning. the OP uses them well.

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On 5/10/2022 at 2:16 PM, vacation44 said:

Agree with everyone---really great review especially for a first time reviewer.  Thank you for taking the time to post.

I appreciate you @vacation44. Thank you so much! I had fun writing it and reliving the experience even if it was still less than a month away. I can't wait to book another cruise! 

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On 5/10/2022 at 4:41 PM, MsTabbyKats said:

@cruiseny4lifeOn your next NCL cruise, if they have Mediterranean Night in the buffet..

.you need to try the spinach pie.  I specialize (in eating) spinach pie, and NCL's is right up there . 

Ooooh! Spinach pie! My dad's wife made that this week and it was quite yummy! I'm not a huge fan (rather my lovely husband isn't) of Mediterranean, but I'm all for trying new food, so I'll definitely remember your recommendation in the future. 

 

And thank you! Don't worry, we'll be planting healthy vegetables and fruit trees/berry bushes! I'm going to try my hand at growing a tea bush or two in Central NY. We'll see how that one goes haha!

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3 hours ago, Beer Belly said:

Being you sound like a foodie, did you try the Cheese Cake anywhere on the ship

We didn't try the cheesecake - unfortunately we passed on dessert several times, being too full from apps and mains. I wish we had had the space! I did see the cheesecake and it appeared to be the pudding type cheesecake, rather than traditional NY style cheesecake. I like both, my grandmother hates the pudding type, so I'm glad she wasn't on there to complain:-)

 

I try not to be a foodie haha, but I'm pretty particular so I suppose I do fall into that category...I would love to partake in Food Republic if I ever cruise on one of those ships! I refuse to pay for food on board so that does keep me from trying a lot of restaurants - limited to those in the two Free at Sea for a seven day cruise.  In the future I hope to take a longer cruise which will allow me a couple more specialty restaurants on the same ship. 

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