July 2016 - 8 Night Eastern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Escape
In addition to my regular job as a pizzeria manager, I am also a self-published author and a blogger. One turns 50 only once in life so I want to do something special for my birthday. This cruise aboard the Getaway will be my second, and my first as a solo traveler.
July 2015 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Getaway
Awesome 50th Birthday Cruise
After taking my very first cruise on the Norwegian Epic during Christmas Week 2013, I made a promise to take a cruise every year. Well, I kept that promise by sailing on the Norwegian Getaway for my 50th birthday celebration...and what a celebration it was! Like several of my fellow travelers, I tossed and turned several nights leading up to the cruise because I was so excited.
The experience began on the morning of embarkation when two NCL staff members waited for my arrival at the Baggage Claim Area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and escorted me to the bus. We arrived at the Port of Miami about 45 minutes later. Once through the security and check-in lines (I am a Bronze-Tier Latitudes Rewards member), I stopped at O'Sheehan's for lunch. I went to Guest Services in an unsuccessful attempt to join the Vibe Beach Club, which sold out while I was waiting in line. That was the only real negative about the cruise. I finally arrived in Stateroom 11573, my Studio Cabin. The little cabin is perfect for the solo traveler and located only a few meters from the Studio Lounge, where I met several of my fellow solo travelers right after the Muster Drill. One of these fellow travelers turned out to become the love of my life. Paquito, the Solo Traveler Coordinator, deserves full marks for his efforts to make us feel right at home. We participated in several social gatherings, such as group dinners and shows, which were a lot of fun and created a bond between many of us in the group.
I would like to thank Cruise Director J.C. Sanchez and all of the other officers for making our Meet and Greet session a most memorable experience.
While I never dined in any of the specialty restaurants, I was very impressed with the quality and variety of food in the Garden Cafe. Heather and I had several lovely dinners at the Taste, including on our respective birthdays. Special thanks go out to Edna, our waitress at the Taste, for her excellent service. We liked the food at the Tropicana Room, where a group of solo travelers had one dinner. However, our table was too close to the dance floor for us to enjoy a good conversation due to the loud music.
The entertainment was very good. "Burn The Floor" was the best of the main shows, although "Legally Blonde" was also very good. The comedians at Headliners were good, although I liked the opening act slightly better. The Glow Party was an experience not to be missed. I really enjoyed watching the fireworks show from one of the hot tubs.
Among the shore excursions, I found the St. John Champagne Catamaran Sail & Snorkel to be my favorite. Captain Teresa and the lovely ladies making up her crew made the trip a lot of fun. I followed that with a trip up to Paradise Point, where the views were spectacular. The food and drinks, however, were a bit pricey for middling quality. I really enjoyed the trip to the Baths at Virgin Gorda, although I wish we had a little more time to enjoy the beach. There is very little shopping near the port in Tortola, although that will change once the construction is completed. Although I am not all that wild about Nassau, I really had a lot of fun on the parasailing adventure. I liked the great variety of shopping near the port.
Believe it or not, I tackled the Free Fall Water Slide...twice and then walked the plank on the ropes course. That was a lot of fun.
Disembarkation was the saddest part of the trip because I had to say a tearful goodbye to Heather and go back home to reality. We already booked next year's cruise aboard the NCL Escape. We can hardly wait.
December 2013 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Miami roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Epic
My Very First Cruise
I went on my very first cruise aboard the Norwegian Epic with my family during Christmas 2013. The only real "negatives" I had experienced on this cruise were the rough seas on the first couple of days (I had yet to acquire my "sea legs") and sharing a cabin with my nephew. The cabin, 8102, was small for two men but Freddy, our Cabin Steward, did an amazing job. I liked the towel monkey he made for us.
The food was awesome throughout the ship. My advice is to do a full walk-through in the Garden Cafe before grabbing a plate so as not miss out on any of the options. I also liked the wings and mozzarella sticks at O'Sheehan's Pub.
I was very impressed with the fitness center on board the ship, especially with the variety of equipment and the towel service. I also went bowling in both bowling alleys on board. Make sure the seas are relatively calm before attempting to bowl if you want a decent score.
The shows were incredible, especially the Blue Man Group. Tickets for the Blue Man Group go for at least $65 each back home in Chicago. Christmas Day in St. Thomas was a surrealistic experience to say the least. I really liked the Christmas displays in the Manhattan Room and the Garden Cafe.
I booked another cruise on the Getaway for this summer...and I can hardly wait!
This tip is not specific to any one ship. In order to reduce the risk of sunburn, start working on a base tan several months before the actual cruise.
Parasailing is an incredible experience!
Take the Cable Car ride to Paradise Point.
The ship itinerary was excellent. My first piece of advice is to bring a carry-on bag with a swimsuit, toiletries, and dinner apparel as the main suitcases will be delivered later in the evening. My next piece of advice is to walk through the Garden Cafe before grabbing a plate. So many options.
When you go to the Garden Cafe, be sure to do a walk through before taking a plate. There are so many incredible food options available that you really don't want to miss out.
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