Below are those we received this trip…can you identify them all?
Arrived home shortly before 9:30 thanks to Delta and the ever trustworthy Waggoner Shuttle! Flights were uneventful and all the bags arrived so all in all about as good as it gets while flying anymore!
I’ll be posting a few random pictures over the next few days and will do a wrap up of my thoughts after they have had time to percolate a bit.
But all in all a fun time with great friends with lots of relaxation thrown in!
Mike discovered the best dirty martinis ever at the Martini bar. “His” bartender Marjan
We also had two more specialty restaurant dinners. One with “our” friends Maraliza and Diana at Le Bistro.
Mike and I shared the Cote de Bouf for two. It was incredible. We had tried it before and weren’t impressed. Not so this time. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it but as you can see from below, all of us were pleased with our meal!
I think I forgot to mention the dinner theater we had during our second experience at LeBistro. An elderly couple were seated in the middle of the restaurant. Apprently the gentlemen believed that everyone in the restaurant wanted to be involved with his conversation. He spoke VERY LOUD and made sure he knew what everyone was having, how old folks were etc. Our friendship with Maraliza and Dinana and the rest of the LeBistro staff was generated by our (and their) comments on his behavior. The staff’s hospitality while dealing with such a customer brought new respect to how hard their job is!
On Thursday afternoon, I tried to organize a farewell happy hour for the rollcall. Only one person not in my group showed up but we had a good time anyway! I had announced I had a prize for whoever brought the tackiest souvenir (or a picture of one). Peggy was the big winner with the springloaded mermaid that D&G gifted her with from St Thomas.
We spent lots of time throughout the cruise at the Great Outdoors enjoying the smiles and drinks from “my” bartender Mark. He even made a special fruity drink for me using leccee liquor that he had to go find in the warehouse, which he called Walmart!
We also had an opportunity for all to enjoy the story of Doug’s portable stool which P&L made for him after his complaints about the unreasonably tall toilet fixtures on another Norwegian ship. It’s a long story but surfice it to say that the litttle stool is being well known!
On our last afternoon we had a great time with Mark at the Great Outdoors reading during a lightening and thunderstorm. So glad we didn’t have any rain until then! The weather was perfect the whole trip except for the heat and humidity. During our final dinner, we noticed the fog horn was blasting and when we went out on deck we could barely see the water.
We used the free (well we bought a Ting, the local grapefruit flavored soda) wifi and caught up on email and then got back on the ship.
The big excitement was that Norwegian’s newest mega ship, Escape was docked beside us. We haven’t sailed any of the larger ships but hope to someday. As you can see, it’s easy to see why it holds twice as many people.
We left on time headed back to New York City…..after 2.5 sea days.
On our CruiseCritic rollcall, one of our fellow travelers had recommended a private snorkeling trip in St Kitts with Leeward Island Charters. Not only was the price $30 cheaper per person than going with the ships excursion, we ended up with only 12 aboard instead of the fifty or more through the ship. We had a great morning sailing (actual sails not just motors on a sailboat) along the coast of St Kitts until we reached a slightly protected cove. If we are ever back in St Kitts will definately try to do a whole day with Leeward Island!
The water was the usual crystal clear but omg it was teeming with fish, coral and wildlife. In addition to the usual “Finding Dory” assortment of tropical fish… there were tons of conch and sea urchins, and I saw my first trumpet fish. Unfortunately I don’t have an underwater camera but my friend Google help me find one of what I saw:
The trip was great and all aboard had a great time…the light lunch that included slaw that used raw coconut rather than slaw was tasty (made by the Captain’s ex-wife) as were the rum punches with freshly grated nutmeg on top! Peggy liked the punch so much she joined in the mate’s dance lesson.
While eating lunch we were entertained by a small group of goats (5-7) climbing on the rocks nearby – including a tiny black baby goat which was doing more hopping than climbing.
On the way back we sailed near Nevis-have to save it for a future cruise-but excited to see that it had its typical cloud cover!
After returning to the ship we took a much needed plunge in the cool pool and enjoyed our typical evening of drinks and food and EARLY bedtime. Ah to still be young and able to party all day and all night still!
D&G, P&L and Mike and I rented a minivan here with the intent of circumnavigating the island with stops along the way with the final one being Moho Beach to see the planes land just over our heads.
Our first stop was at Oyster Bay-beautiful place.
We then headed across the border into France to Orient Beach which has topless portions but we didn’t hike that far. Also a beautiful beach.
Our next stop was Marigot the largest town on the French side of this split personality island. Traffic throughout the island is crazy but worse here. While trying to find the little market area from 11 years ago (who knew things changed over time?) we heard a huge pop and discovered I had been rightly concerned about the tire warning sign!
50 minutes and several phone calls later, we were once more on our way albeit now in a 13 passenger van!
We made it back to the Dutch side to Moho in time for the first 757 landing from JFK but the big plane we wanted to see was the Air France A340 from Paris. It did not disappoint!
Doug’s picture above can’t possibly give you the full impact of these monsters coming in for their landing just over your heads-go to YouTube and search Moho Beach or St Maarten to experience more if it.
The tiny bar and beach with 10 or 20 folks have definitely changed since our last visit. They can probably seat 500-600 folks and there looked to be almost that many on the beach. Amazing what YouTube has wrought!
Barbara, Mike and I had a leisurely morning aboard ship and then used the free San Juan tourist shuttle to give Barbara an overview of old SJ ending at Barachina Restaurant where we had Pina Coladas (purportedly invented here).
We also had a delicious lunch of mofungo! Barbara had the combination which was pork, chicken, beef and seafood while Mike and I shared (thankfully as Barbara had to leave half of hers) the very tasty beef only version.
After lunch, we met up for a bit with D&G who had spent the morning at the fort and then having lunch at an all chocolate restaurant- grilled cheese with chocolate “butter” anyone? They were in a mood to drink (anyone surprised? Anyone?) and settled in at “Douglas Bar” how appropriate. I was feeling overly hot and headed back to the ship to plunge in the oh so cool and comfortable pool.
We met up with everyone later that evening and as you can see, some in our group really really enjoyed San Juan!
Mike and I didn’t really have any plans for this port as we had been a number of times, but P&L offered to introduce us to their favorite beach here, Coki and we accepted. We spent a great morning there enjoying the beautiful water (that’s Mike waving in the picture below) some chickens and the shade of a tree…oh, and a pina colada or two!
The first three days of this cruise were at sea. We enjoyed getting a kick start in our relaxation with them. Sleeping late, walks on the promenade deck trying to also kick start our exercise routine (which has become non existent since the prep a year ago for the river cruise), lunch and afternoon nap quickly became our routine!
We were pleased with our stateroom. It was an inside handicapped assessable which we booked and had NCL clearly note we would give it up if anyone needed it. Apparently they didn’t so we ended up with this extra large room.
While we missed having a balcony, the extra space, full darkness for naps more than made up for it and since we were just two floor below the Great Outdoors, we had easy access to a very large balcony.
G&D beat us aboard so they had made dinner reservations for the first few nights. Once we discovered the surprize of P&L, we quickly increased them for the first night (they had other commitments for the rest of the first few nights-that’s what happens when you cruise 10+times a year I guess!)
I don’t have any pictures from that first dinner- we were too busy laughing and having a good time, but we did meet Maraliza from South Africa (who is chatting up Doug and Mike in the picture above)who managed leBistro who made us feel truly welcome and was such fun that we ended up canceling reservations at other locales to eat there three times total.
Surfice it to say that our vacation was off to a good start!