Second Mate

Hometown: Devon, PA
Joined: 02/01/2016
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About TeamAJ

DINK couple from northeast US. Frequent cruisers, working towards retirement on a forever cruise.



TeamAJ's Upcoming Cruises

TeamAJ's Past Cruises

Norwegian Breakaway

January 2016 - Norwegian Breakaway to Caribbean - Southern

Fantastic 5th cruise with NCL! Love this ship!!!

All the negative nancy's out there are just looking for excuses to be unhappy after they shell out money for the "perfect" experience.  It doesn't exist.  Especially when you're a pack mule of a dad hovering over your spoiled kids while they try their best to ruin other peoples good times.  My lovely wife and I love this ship and it's people and amenities.  Spa balcony room for 14 day, 8 stop itinerary.  Slight noise issues 1 or 2 nights with fitness center above our stateroom but after a few notifications it was fine.  Bought the 1000 worth of deposits on future cruises for $500.  Thats free money to those who are bad at math...probably the same people getting suckered in at the "guaranteed" port stores and watch sales on board.   We ignore the hovering, rude photographers and pretty much treat them like gym employees or used care salesman...hilarious how hurt they look when they hear no.  You's think i just shot their dog.  The food on this boat is outstanding, buffet, specialty restaurants and special nights of different international cuisine.  What more can you ask for?  How about people letting their gross kids cover a plate of french fries with soft serve ice cream?  Not making that up, your kids are gross people.  Maybe ditch the Ipads and start engaging them as parents rather than argue for 5 mins before you give into their demands. The atrium coffee bar is lattes you will ever have.  The ship has a NY/Manhatten theme which really isnt necessary.  Carlo's bakery/gelato shop is a total waste of space, the gelato was re-frozen quality and bad flavors...the hard pack at buffet was great..why have 3 different ice cream spots and only 2 work?   as is the 2 lane bowling alley thats 1/4 size of regulation.  Not needed, use for expanding the AWESOME Mandara spa.  Luxury at every turn in there, we get the spa package every time.  No kids allowed to ruin it, therapy pool, hot tub, sauna, solarium and steam room (fave).  Also heated stone beds and loungers at bow area with floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the view.  The staff on this boat will stop at nothing to resolve whatever small issue exists or just to maintain your awesome experience.  We tip well and are reasonable guests on a vessel with over 1 thousand working employees doing their best to make sure the slobs dont want for 5 seconds between meals.  The 18% daily gratuity/fee whatever is fine...if you cant afford to go away please dont pretend then complain online.  They are upfront and honest about pricing and your tips are optional after 18% mandatory which is reasonable in any language.  Had several medical emergencies on board, one of which caused an elderly ping ponger to hit the ground like a SCUD missile and bleed out all over the deck.  People, please admit your limitations and live within them...dont put it off on the crew and others trying to enjoy their time away rather than look out for you, your kids or your mountains of stuff.  Spa mini suite w balcony scheduled for Dec. 2016 bahamas trip and looking for another 14 day trip since we loved this one so much.   pretty much ran off ship with no incident or waiting after trip, great room steward Eric.   Great job NCL, be back soon!!

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Norwegian Gem

December 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern

Great Cruise Line, Great Ship and Spa

The gem is a really nice ship.  Modern enough though the Breakaway kinda dawrfs it and looks way more modern and has that tighter finish.  Some of the details of the gem are getting worn in but with the upgrades scheduled currently we hope to see it at new glory.  Balcony stateroom, spa access and dining plan for us.  Alot of the spoiled kids on board who maybe had a birthday around the holidays were stampeding up and down the hallways regularly.  So we took joy in marching full foot stomps down the hallway at night commenting loudly at how much fun it is and whattayaknow, the running slowed and got quieter.   Great upgraded dining options, quiet spa for men and women separately or together for therapy pool and loungers.  Great staff who is very attentive and warm.  Weather was rough on way home.  50 knot winds and 18 ft swells really was felt but whatever, it happens.  The crew expertly kept us safe and having fun the whole time.  Love NCL!   We will only be doing trips while school is in session going ahead and making sure we have spa/quiet access unless people are in there howling in a foreign language even though the signs say please be tranquil.  People, as with all ships I assume, sitting on steps while people try to walk around them.  What is that?  I assume these are the same people outside stores on the weekends NOT landing a single trick on their skateboard.  Charming!

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Norwegian Breakaway

April 2015 - Norwegian Breakaway to Bermuda

Great ship, great crew, Bermuda is take or leave if you want warmth out of season

Again, as a couple we enjoy all the perks of NCL and their newer ships.  Freestyle all the way for us, upgraded to balcony spa stateroom with dining option.  Did not make plans specifically for Bermuda as with 3 days in port we fig we would find plenty to do and we aren't super high maintenance.  Was really just a good excuse to go away for a week rather to enjoy the weather.  Beautiful time in the spa where all the heat was!  Huge disappointment day 2, there was a fire on the island which stopped all public trans. and taxi services so we could go nowhere but the generic "it's right here at least" coral world kinda park/bar right off the cruise docks.  Yuck...waters cold, nothing to see, crowded because there were no options.  Back on the boat for spaffet time (thats buffet then spa or spa before buffet, remember its freestyle baby!)

I may be persuaded to try Bermuda again in the peak summer maybe but honestly I wasn't wowed by the small bit we saw and had way better experiences in southern carrib. stops.  The island was clean and friendly however and the weather wasn't a total bust so once again, NCL did its part and we had a good time away.  

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Norwegian Gem

December 2014 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern

1st long trip/cruise with NCL on Gem - 2nd trip on Gem

Ah the NCL Gem, stately, long lined, classic beauty.  She has much to offer and we enjoyed our first cruise aboard her so here we go again.  Honestly 11 days is a bit much on a ship with that many kids on holiday.  Also there was some WEATHER coming home to the tune of 50 mph winds and 20 ft waves which on a ship smaller than the Breakaway is like deadliest catch.  Still, that's not within the realm of control so we move on.   The gem cooks really do some amazing things on that buffet. The other restaurants are all spectacular and we enjoyed those as well.  This is the trip where we discovered the greatness of coqui beach and the trained fish schools, We got married on a sailboat in St. Martin then had the Gem's photog studio do our nice shots around the boat in perfect late afternoon light.  Ate Mofungo for the first time in San Juan, got my picture with a monkey in St Kitts before retreating to the boat in the 100 degree heat, and then we looked at Tortola from the Gem because it was a tender port and we only had half day so we just got tan instead.  On way home...deadliest catch!  I'm partial to the Breakaway now because the spa layout is all inclusive there rather than mostly separate on Gem although the separation on the Gem is not without advantage.  Sometimes us dudes need some space.  I'm going to wish tonight on my fave star they install the Mojito bar from the Gem onto the Breakaway because those flights they sell of 6 diff Mojitos we enjoyed EVERY DAY!  I would trade the Ice bar from the Breakaway for that in a NY minute.  Staff was amazing, bartenders/wait staff and cabin steward all some of the best we have come across in all of our trips on this itinerary/boat in general.   All in all it was a great experience with a longer itinerary and since then we've learned when to schedule to have less kid-teraction.  

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Norwegian Breakaway

December 2013 - Norwegian Breakaway to Caribbean - Bahamas

The perfect getaway on brand new ship! YES 5 stars!

First time on the NCL Breakaway after her launch recently.  Super excited to see the beast after watching it get built on the Gem's tv every day last trip!  She does not disappoint.  No space outdoors for poolside BBQ as with the Gem which is understandable...there's the welcome buffet in the Garden as soon as you walk on so people can start complaining about the food ASAP and trying to bring full plates to Safety Muster Drill.  Of course, complaining the whole way they cant keep eating and drinking in the theater.  Could you imagine that GORGEOUS venue with kids/elderly all eating and drinking in it?  It would be demolished in 5 mins. 

Shows:  Burn the floor is cool, talented folk and racy enough to keep me awake.  

          Rock of Ages:  it's supposed to be a corny tribute to the "soulful" rock of our youth which was all cut n paste garbage with 3 guitar chords anyway so they really hit the nail on the head.  Acting was light and funny, they can obviously dance and choreograph.

ALL higher end restaurants are worth the price of the dining plan.  Depending on the length of your trip the variety will be welcome.  Buffet comes into the rotation for breakfast and lunch (usually just lunch...breakfast on breakaway is pretty "spartan" at the garden cafe and the same ingredients make all the things on the other restaurants breakfast menu).  Breakfast also can be had at the Uptown Grill near the jogging (yogging?) track upstairs on 15.  They had tasty egg sammiches and such that was slightly different from Garden Cafe and wasn't crowded.  

Staterooms are standard, roomy and clean.  Stewards are friendly and attentive as is rest of staff.   Never a complaint from us about staff with NCL.  

Weather was great all throughout, sun and heat for day on coco cay and also Nassau where this time we did it right and went to Atlantis for the day to hang with the rich folks and hit water slides which was awesome. 

All in all this was the trip, for me at least, which cemented the NCL Breakaway into my heart.  We are able bodied so the stairs are not challenging and we don't choose to wait for elevators jammed with people going 1 floor.  Or share that space with the inevitable kid with a wet cough who refuses to cover its mouth while jamming elevator fries into it.  These awesome parents, next time SARS comes around you're the ones to thank when you lie on those health questionnaires. 

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Norwegian Gem

March 2012 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Bahamas

First Cruise Ever! (not the last)

Great introduction to cruising with NCL.  Freestyle setup was attractive as we did not want the standard or stuffier pre-seating dress up etc experience.  As we boarded we were greeted with a poolside Barbecue of chicken potatoes and veg.  Unseasonable warmth allowed for jeans and t shirts while walking the ship and happily discovering our 2nd home Mandara Spa.  Turns out the Gem is one of the few ships if not the only one to do the outdoor barbecue which is a really nice departure from dining rooms as it spreads out the crowds.  Picked up spa passes in the first hour and a cold Blue Moon to settle in.  Fellipe was our cabin steward and has set the bar for all who follow.  Fantastic, friendly, service oriented at every turn of the ship.  Being our first cruise we didn't see the value of the dining option until after we went to Cagney's and maybe Le Bistro for our special nights out to eat and decided yes, we want that all the time going forward.  totally worth it.  Made the rookie mistake of getting off at Florida for cocoa beach and yep, its Florida.  Back on the boat.  Got off an Nassau and didn't have a plan so we just wandered around a little and quickly figured out this was NOT the move and wandered back to port to purchase a hand rolled cigar to enjoy in the cigar bar aboard the Gem later.  Excellent and we met up with a couple from Holland who was pleasant to chat with for an hour while we enjoyed our smokes.  Stirrup Cay is a nice island spot, not much to look at in 2012 when it was still being built up but we are going back this year Dec 2016 and hear it is beautiful and finished now.  Good water and beachfront, cute straw market but if you walk you can find a quiet spot for chilling out.  Great 1st impression, well done NCL

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TeamAJ's Tips

Basseterre, St. Kitts - Pleasantly surprised by roads and traffic patterns all very controlled, well maintained and speed safe. Only quibble was I asked for a direct ride to Cockleshell beach and got the standard "yes yes" and then we had to stop at the tourist trap donkey/shop for 10 mins first. That's not "direct".
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Taxi's are available right outside cruise ship that will ask where you are going and point you the right way. For a few dollars more than a standard taxi ride, get there an hour early and do the island drive tour first. Great photo spots before beach day and perfect weather!
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Mojito bar located inside Moderno across from Cagneys steakhouse. PRIMO!
Norwegian Breakaway Norwegian Breakaway - O'sheehans remains, to this day, the only restaurant on the Breakaway we havent eaten at. It really is like the Applebees of the ship and should be demolished for a cool authentic street taco stand. Tacos rule!
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Upgrade to the dining option for quieter, more focused meals that are higher quality and add variety. Spa access is mandatory if you hope to have any peace while relaxing somewhere. People will bring plates of food out to sun chairs and leave them everywhere, or glasses on floor at top of stairs.
Cococay (Cruiseline's Private Island) - Nice beach day spot with buffet. Walk away from crowded straw market and buffet area to otherside of cay for quieter beach spots good for snorkeling. Not a whole lot to see but fish are there and arent too skittish.
Nassau, Bahamas - $99 each to hang at Atlantis for the day. Pools, water park, beachfront and other basics avail to enjoy. Great value. Too many on beach selling cigars and watersports and conch shells and bags and beads annoying but just be as rude back as they are and enjoy yourself!
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Half day in port really so no sunshiney spots. Ate delicious Mofongo at Hotel Milano. Beautiful city, safe and clean with some traffic. Will visit east side of island eventually where quieter and beachy.
Roseau, Dominica - JustGoDominica! tours was awesome. Guided hike to 300' falls and freshwater lake to pick burgamont for tea. Rainforest was gorgeous, island is a paradise but roads are bad and mudslides happen. Def looking forward to seeing more next time.
Basseterre, St. Kitts - Cockleshell beach is a great lounging in the water spot. Chairs and umbrellas are cheap as is the tasty caribe lager beer at 2 bucks a shot. Turquoise water and soft gray sandy bottom with grass patches. can be challenging to exit at break point of shelf so be aware if tired and exiting water.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Coqui beach is our top spot for bringing dog biscuits into the water and feeding the fish while snorkeling. Friendly and plentiful in crystal clear, warm water with cliffs on either side of the beach teeming with iguanas. Easy 20 min ride in taxi. clean and plenty of space.
Norwegian Breakaway Norwegian Breakaway - Use the stairs if able bodied. elevators packed with olds not moving to make room and using it to go 1 floor. Ignore the rude people at buffet breathing down your neck while panicking about not eating enough pizza and fries with ice cream chaser.

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commented on the roll call for Dec 11, 2016 cruise on Norwegian Breakaway - "Living the dream...bring on the spa time..."

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Breakaway cruise review - Fantastic 5th cruise with NCL! Love this ship!!!

commented on a Norwegian Breakaway cruise review. - "The current one on the Breakaway is a mess.  Shes a canadian woman who has a really hard time forming complete sentences on the PA system.  Can't..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Breakaway cruise review. - "oooh ya mad?  I read the fine print on where the money goes and I talk to the staff about their cost of living back home.  I know EXACTLY where i..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Breakaway cruise review. - "it's a Dan Dan revolution in this comment section! " read more

commented on a Norwegian Breakaway cruise review. - "I love all these wannabe upscale people scanning their bills to complain about 14 bucks a day.  NCL was pretty open about that policy when they in..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Escape cruise review. - "Yeah i don't believe a word of this soupy dreck.  FAKE!!! " read more

commented on a Norwegian Escape cruise review. - "Pretty sure NCl having since merged with Oceana is going to try and up their pricing to get better clientele.  We go on the breakaway all the time..." read more

TeamAJ was the first to comment on fwb30's picture - "Beautiful nights at sea!".

checked into May 29, 2016 cruise on Norwegian Breakaway roll call and is traveling with 1 other guest. Interested in meeting:- Other couples- Other singles- People to share an excursion/tour