Thursday, May 26, 2016

Date 165 - I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie!

Date: May 14, 2016 - May 22, 2016
Type: Travel
Cost: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Planned By: Me (with collaboration from Alicia & Fonzi, Tasha & Bobby, Adam and Norwegian Cruise Line)

Our 2016 big vacation is in the books. Keep reading for all the exciting highlights of the trip.

As you read keep in mind we did all private/local excursions on this trip. We didn't book anything through the ship for any ports because I like to 1) find the cheapest option and 2) help out the local economy while cruising. I would definitely recommend going this route to all cruisers. Also keep in mind the lighting in the ship is pretty dark and Adam hates when I use the flash - the photos reflect this.

Saturday, May 14th:
A Night in Miami!
  • This day was our 5th Wedding Anniversary! We started the day by posting our annual anniversary photo (brought out my wedding dress for this one!), exchanging gifts and finishing the packing. The 5th is the Wood Anniversary so I decorated a wood letter N with bottlecaps (super easy, bottlecaps and modge podge) and Adam got me woodchuck cider, a piece of wood with a cute message and candy. We were also excited to be going out in the Wynwood District that night in Miami.

  • We met at Tash & Bobby's house and Taylor drove us to the airport around 11AM
  • We had lunch at Chick-Fil-A in the airport food court
  • Got our first vacation beer at The Pub!!
  • We all flew Spirit from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale.
  • I arranged MJS Transportation for us all to get to Alicia's apartment in Miami. The driver got us there in record time!
  • Alicia made us some drinks and gave us a tour of her apartment complex
  • We took Uber to the Wynwood Art District for our night out.
  • We did a brewery tour including Wynwood Brewing Company, Concrete Beach Brewery and J. Wakefield Brewing. All three locations had a great selection of beer and nice atmosphere! Wynwood had games to play, Concrete had a huge circular indoor/outdoor bar and J. Wakefield had cool Star Wars and Marvel decor!

  • We had dinner at the Bar Next Door which had delicious burgers.
  • We walked through the Wynwood Walls and the rest of the area to see all the amazing grafitti/wall art! 
  • We got soaked in a quick Miami rain storm
  • Got a margarita at Coyo Taco in the not so secret hidden back bar - but no Tacos - it was packed!
  • The last stop was at Pawn Broker a rooftop bar where we randomly met up with Brian! It had great views of the city!
  • We ended the night with delicious pizza!
Sunday, May 15th:
Embarkation Day!!!
  • In the morning we took a walk to The Daily for breakfast.
  • Took a detour through the park and along the bay back to Alicia's apartment
  • Soon after we had to say bye to Alicia and Fonzi drove the four of us to the Port of Miami!
  • We quickly got through giving the porters our bags, security and check in. Last was just waiting for our boarding number to be called. It went pretty quickly and Adam and I were on the ship at 12:30! Tash & Bobby were in a different terminal and boarded slightly later than us.
  • At first sight (and at last sight) the ship is beautiful!!
  • All four of us got the Unlimited Beverage Package promotion included in our cruise fare so Adam and I went straight to the Waterfront Sunset Bar for our first drink, a Miami Vice - it seemed appropriate since we were in Miami!
  • Next, we went up to Spice H2O the adult only area and waited for Tash & Bobby to board.
  • All four of us ate lunch at Flamingo Bar and Grill which is known for its Cuban food. We didn't really know what some of the items were but it hit the spot anyway.
  • Soon after, our rooms were ready so we all went to check them out. Adam and I got a balcony and were surprised to find that his mom ordered us anniversary decorations and a cake! It was delicious! Tash & Bobby were in an inside room and I thought it was quite roomy compared to some inside rooms we've sailed in the past. 
  • We went back up to Spice for the sail away party where we had another drink and fun times dancing with the staff
  • For dinner we all met up at Savor or Taste (I'm not sure which - either way one of the main dining rooms). The food was exactly what I had been waiting for! 
  • After dinner we attended the Welcome Aboard Show which got us all excited for the upcoming entertainment for the week.
  • We all tried a mojito at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar and unofficially participated in the Name That Tune trivia held there. The Raspberry Guava is the best!!
  • The Sailaway Party on the top deck was the place to be that night and we made it! We had tons of fun dancing with everyone!
  • We ended the night being a little rowdy at the Howl At The Moon dueling piano bar. I may or may not have been singing along too loudly!
  • Adam and I went to O'Sheehan's the 24 hour food location. We had to wait quite awhile but eventually had some tasty food - then off to bed!
Monday, May 16th:
Sea Day #1
  • Today was the first sea day. We didn't sleep in very well because of a time change and because we hardly ever sleep in. 
  • Went to the buffet for breakfast. It was a normal buffet - breakfast meats, waffles, pancakes, an omelet station, etc.
  • Adam and I attempted to get in a workout but the gym was packed. We were able to do a few moves but then Adam resorted to doing the rest of the workout in the room as I unpacked our suitcases.
  • We met up with Tash & Bobby in Spice to get some sun. There was absolutely no issue finding a chair in that area. The main pool area was busy but Spice was pretty clear and had its own hot tubs and water feature to cool off in. So we got a mimosa and hung out there for awhile.
  • Next, Adam and I attended the Cruise Critic ( is a forum I do a ton of cruise research on) meet and greet. We didn't stay too long but it was nice meeting a few people I had been talking to online!
  • For lunch the four of us went to Savor or Taste (still not sure - they are practically the same). We enjoyed a nice sit-down lunch. They had good lunch options but they didn't change throughout the week which was fine.
  • We hung out in the atrium and watched Deal or No Deal  but didn't participate other than trying to advise people on whether or not to take the deal.
  • This day was technically the "formal" night but on NCL there are no real formal nights. They call it Norwegian's Night Out and its a dress up or not night. Adam and I went with semi-formal-ish attire.
  • Included in our cruise fare was a four night specialty dining package and this night we chose to eat at Cagney's, an American style steakhouse. There were many steak options but we both opted for the filet mignon and they were very well seasoned and cooked nicely. My appetizer though was called a Beefsteak Tomato and I now know that that is a type of tomato because my entire plate was a huge sliced tomato and no beef.
  • After dinner we met up with Tasha & Bobby for the Burn The Floor show in the theater.
  • Burn the Floor was an exhilarating live dance show. The dancers and singers were amazing! This is not your ordinary song and dance show - it is a very high energy nonstop ballroom dancing show. It has been performed on Broadway and all over the world. We all loved the hour long performance!
  • We ran over to the atrium to get seats for the Newlywed Not So Newlywed game show. Adam and I put our names in the bucket but didn't get selected to participate. There were a lot of great answers and a lot of laughter from the audience throughout!
  • Soon after we went to bed.  
Tuesday, May 17th:
Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Excursion: Victor Bodden Fun-N-Sun Tour

  • Port day number one started with a quick workout in the gym followed by a big breakfast at the buffet and watching the boat dock in Roatan. We had a great view of the port from our balcony.
  • Debarking the ship this day was a bit of a mad house. There wasn't much signage around the ship or instructions.
  • We got off the ship and found the Victor Bodden sign. They escorted us to a nice and air conditioned van. We were in a group of about 20.
  • The first part of the tour was an hour long drive around the island with information pertaining to Honduras and Roatan and a couple stops along the way. This part was a little longer than necessary and a lot of the information was repeated. 
  • Second, we went to Victor's Monkey Business. We got to hold and see monkeys, parrots, macaws, deer and island rabbits. This was a lot of fun! The monkeys were adorable - especially the one that kept trying to steal my water bottle. They had free wifi here so we were able to check in back home.
  • The last stop was at West Bay Beach and Bananarama Resort for a two hour beach break. Included was a lounge chair for each person in the group. We laid in the sun and swam in the ocean a couple times. After being sufficiently hot we got a couple local beers at the Thirsty Turtle.
  • The ride back to the ship was much faster. The highlight was the quiz about the earlier information in which we got some cool shells as prizes!
  • After getting back on the ship we all were starving and had lunch in the buffet.
  • Once back on the ship Adam and I took advantage of a lot of people still being in port and rode all the water slides. They have two twisting slides, one slower slide and two free fall drop slides. The free fall ones were awesome - and I screamed just like on a roller coaster!
  • Then we took a nap, got ready and met up with Tash & Bobby for dinner at another specialty restaurant La Cucina, an Italian place.
  • This dinner took 2 hours and 40 minutes from start to finish and we started when it wasn't that busy. We all enjoyed our food but all agreed that the dinner was too long. Luckily, we didn't have any show or entertainment reservations that night.
  • We checked out some karaoke at Fat Cats and everyone was really good so we decided to wait until another night to sing.
  • We attempted to stay up for the top deck dance party in Spice H2O but couldn't make it to 10:30.
Wednesday, May 18th:
Belize City, Belize
Excursion: Cave Tubing with
  • Belize City requires tendering, riding a small boat from the ship to get to the port. We had to be at our excursion one hour after the ship "docks". So we had a very early morning. The tendering process was much easier than I was expecting and we were on land with plenty of time to look around the shops before meeting up with the people.
  • The tour guides escorted us to a van and along the way we took a photo with the big BELIZE sign.
  • They gave us a bottle of water and off we went on a 45 minute drive to the caves. We got some information about Belize from the driver/tour guide along the way.
  • We arrived at the cave site and had a 30 minute walk in the rain forest to the actual tubing. The company says that they will carry the tubes for you but a couple people in our group, including Bobby, had to carry one for reasons still unknown. We were not fully prepared for the high humidity and heat so the walk was exhausting. The first dip in the river was amazing and highly refreshing and very much needed at that point or I may have passed out. 
  • The cave tubing was so relaxing. The caves were huge and had tons of different rock formations and a little waterfall. There were apparently bats but I didn't see any. The end of the tubing was about a 15 minute float on the outside of the caves. The Belize rain forest was a beautiful sight while lazily bobbing down the river.
  • After tubing we returned to location for our included lunch (chicken, rice, beans, coleslaw) and unlimited rum punch. The food was very good but the rum punch was warm - still we drank a couple glasses.
  • The drive back was a little bumpy and we were all falling asleep. We got back to the port, found some free wifi then back on the tenders in plenty of time for all aboard.
  • If I have one recommendation for this tour its to bring lots and lots of water in a bottle that you don't mind getting wet and holding on to while tubing - and maybe something to read on the ride to/from the caves.
  • We were very tired so a two hour nap took up the rest of the afternoon.
  • Dinner was the four of us at the grand main dining room, Tropicana Room. We all got the same thing - steak. It was good, but Cagney's was better! We had a lot of steak on this ship.
  • Tenors of Rock was reserved for 7:30PM. We got to the theater and had great seats. The show consisted of four men singing rock n' roll music. They had great harmonies and it was a fun show all around. We all really enjoyed it - especially since we had no clue they were going to be on the ship for our week! It was great having an extra show!
  • After the show we got some drinks, played giant chess and went to bed early because that two hour time difference was brutal.

Thursday, May 19th:
Costa Maya, Mexico
Excursion: The Native Choice Chacchoben Ruins Tour
  • I have never seen Maya Ruins so I figured it was a must see while on this trip. Tash and Bobby opted for a relaxing day in the port and on the ship (they've seen them before).
  • We had to walk out of the port area about 10-15 minutes to get to The Native Choice building. We checked in, got a bottle of water and then our group was ready to go.
  • The drive was about an hour to the Chacchoben Ruins site. The tour guide (Ivan) was extremely knowledgeable about Mexico and the Mayan culture and gave us lots of information on the way there.
  • We saw many different temples and learned that there were plenty of cities still underground waiting to be excavated. I was amazed thinking about even more temples under all the hills. Ivan even said that he grew up close by and that his father has been credited in discovering these particular ruins. It is now a national park. I felt like a learned a lot about the ruins and mayan culture that I never knew I wanted to know.
  • The Native Choice did an amazing job at keeping us hydrated with plenty of free water and a water mister when it was really hot. 
  • On the way back Ivan had us stop at one of the little pineapple stands along the road. It was $1 for a bag of 6 large slices of pineapple. I love pineapple so I was super excited and it was delicious! I had all 6 slices minus one bite from Adam. It was so ripe and juicy that you could eat the core!

  • They were able to drop us off at the port but they also offered to drop people off at a beach. This was only a four hour tour so we were back in port with hours before all aboard. I would highly highly recommend this company for any Mayan Ruins excursions while in Costa Maya!
  • Then it was nap time.
  • For dinner we met up with Tash & Bobby for our specialty dinner at Teppanyaki, a Japanese steakhouse. We enjoyed making origami swans and trying their sake cocktails while waiting. The hibachi chef was very funny and put on a great show for us while cooking our food. I opted for the steak and lobster because I thought it would a great time to try something new (lobster, obviously). Everything tasted great - except the green tea ice cream/cake at the end. I wasn't a fan.
  • Next, we went over to Fat Cats so Tash & I could sing Before He Cheats during karaoke. We had fun even if we didn't sound exactly like Carrie Underwood. 

  • Then we were determined to make it to the 90s party at 10:30 and decided playing card drinking games would pass the time which worked but had some consequences later and the next day... also the 90s music was NOT what we wanted.

Friday, May 20th:
Cozumel, Mexico
Excursion: The Cozumel Bar Hop
  • We woke up to a real nice hangover (oops - drinking games amiright?). Luckily our excursion didn't start until 11AM. Tash and Bobby went with a different excursion that day.

  • This is one of the excursions I was most excited for prior to sailing. The excursion takes you in an air conditioned coach bus to four different beach bars located on the wild side of the island. This side of the island has not been sold by the government and therefore has not been touched by all the tourist-trappy people. On one side of the road you would look and see the ocean and the other side was all untouched vegetation. The bars don't have electricity so they require cash but they do have amazing Mexican drinks, delicious authentic Mexican food and gorgeous views of the ocean and cliff side!
  • The first bar was Punta Morena. It is the only one where swimming is allowed because there was a big rip tide that day. They also have a salt water pool, huge beach, hammocks and lots of relaxation locations. We got our welcome shot and one beer to share - it was a little bit of a rough start.
  • Bar Number Two was Coconuts. The bar was located up on a hill with fantastic ocean views. They had some hilarious decor, two dogs, a cat, an alligator and parrots! We each had our welcome shot and enjoyed sharing a real margarita on the rocks! 
  • Number 3 - Playa Bonita! This was a little bar on top of a cliff. We each had our welcome shot and were happy we were able to sit inside and avoid the sun for a little while. We saw a drink called Playa Bonita on the menu and figured might as well.. then we asked for the BIG size!! It was very big and very tasty! We also soaked it up with some fantastic beef nachos!
  • The last bar was Rasta's AKA The Bob Marley Bar. We each had the welcome shot and a beer and then shared a margarita. This bar also had hammocks and some beach and sand to enjoy!
  • The ride back to port was fun with singing and cheering competitions between the different cruise ship passengers - Getaway won though. We made it back with about a half hour- 45min to get back on the ship although that little mall is super confusing on how to get back to the dock. We ended up back on at about 4:15 - the closest we made it to all aboard (4:30).
  • I would go on this excursion again if I find myself back in Cozumel. I would also recommend it to everyone - even those that don't drink. That area of the island was breathtaking. The tour company also has a partnership with Cozumel Chrysalis Group and we brought a backpack with rulers and protractors to give to the school kids of Cozumel.
  • We went straight to the room for a long nap. We woke up and had dinner at O'Sheehan's (hot dogs, burgers, nachos, wings, s'more-like cheesecake.. yum!) then took another nap (this heat was really getting to us at this point - it was always around 90 and we were still used to the 50s/60s of Cleveland). We set our alarm for 10PM - no way we'd sleep through the 10:30 party this night. We made it to the Glow Party in Spice H2O and cruise director Scott was in full party mode. The glow sticks appeared out of no where and everyone wore white/neon colors. We were still pretty tired so we stood in the back and danced a little on our own. We went to the buffet for a late night snack then called it a night.
  • Fun fact - we didn't see Tash & Bobby all day! 

Saturday, May 21st:
Sea Day #2
  • We woke up feeling refreshed and had breakfast at the buffet - we never made it to a main dining room for breakfast.
  • Adam and I got in line for the 10AM opening of the ropes course - no phones/cameras allowed. It wasn't very scary but it was a lot of fun especially being so high up and close to the edge of the ship. I really enjoyed the little zip line across the ship.
  • We easily got some chairs in the Spice area for some sunbathing and frozen cocktails. Tash & Bobby met up with us after a little while.
  • We all had lunch in Taste or Savor. We skipped dessert but went up to the buffet for ice cream.
  • We split up and Adam and I started packing then tried to play mini golf but it was too busy. We tried to play shuffleboard but they were all taken. We went to the casino and lost $5. So we cut our losses and got a mojito.
  • We got ready for our last night on the ship. We had our last dinner at the specialty Moderno a Brazilian steakhouse.
  • Moderno has a great salad bar to start then they do the parade of meats. Adam tried all of them. I tried most - just not the ones that had the option of wrapped in bacon or not wrapped. I always got the not wrapped. There's something weird about floppy hardly cooked bacon on meat to me. We skipped dessert because we had to quickly get to our show reservation.
  • Million Dollar Quartet was the brand new Broadway show for the Getaway this week. When we originally booked we were supposed to see Legally Blonde (which we saw on Broadway with NHS in highschool). We were excited to see it again, but when we learned Million Dollar Quartet would open on our sailing we were happy to learn it was a musical we hadn't seen yet.
  • This show was definitely on par with any Broadway style show we've seen in Cleveland and in NYC. The actors were extremely talented with both acting, singing, dancing and playing the instruments live. Jerry Lee Lewis was hysterical and I was amazed by his piano skills. I left that show very happy that it came to the Getaway in time for us to see it!
  • We rushed over to the Atrium for the Perfect Couple game show. It was a riot. Those three couples had to do some really funny tasks in order to be crowned the perfect couple including things with lemons in pants, a broomstick and toilet paper roll and a squirting water bottle between their legs. 
  • After that we checked out the score of the Cavs game, worked some more on packing then went to bed.
Sunday, May 22nd:
Disembarkation Day.
  • Woke up early and noticed that we already docked.
  • Had a quick breakfast at the buffet.
  • Got our bags and made our way down to deck 7 to meet Tash and Bobby at the theater which is 7 Forward where the operator told us to go but really when you get to 7 forward they make you go to the aft. It was irritating. Tash and Bobby were already over there so the people informed them where to really go.
  • They beat us off the ship by like 10-15 minutes, but when we finally got in the right location the line moved very quickly and customs was super fast. We were off the ship at 8:10AM. I called MJS Transportation and they picked us up. We waited for a few more passengers then made our way to the Fort Lauderdale Airport. We checked our bags and got through security and to our gate by 9:40. Our flight wasn't until 1:10. We got some coffee, caught up on Modern Family and Two Broke Girls and had lunch at Chili's and waited until our 12:40 boarding time. 
  • Landed in Cleveland around 3:45. Got our bags and took an Uber to Tash's house to get our car. Ordered pizza as we left her house. Went down 271 S instead of up 271N so I added 10-15 minutes to our drive like an idiot - as if I don't drive that way every day from work!! Got our pizza, finally got home, cuddled Obi and Codi then settled in for a night of catching up on TV and laundry!
Overall, this was a wonderful vacation with my amazing husband, two great friends and also being able to spend time with Alicia and Fonzi who we hadn't seen in 2 years! It was a great way to celebrate Adam's MBA and our 5th wedding anniversary. The weather (although hot) was picture perfect all week. The entertainment was the best I've seen at sea. Having the specialty dining package was a really nice addition to the complimentary dining options. We loved having the different themed restaurants. Having the unlimited beverage package made discussion of our account balance minimal and we never had an issue getting whatever we wanted and in a quick manner. I would definitely sail with NCL again and I cannot wait until our next vacation wherever or whenever that might be. A full week off from work spending quality time with Adam and friends and visiting new countries was fantastic!

We don't have too much to complain about but here are some things we noticed:
  • Ship staff lacked in communication - especially with getting off the boat at ports and at the end.
  • Our room steward lacked in the service department - we never met him/her and some things were not as great as previous cruises.
  • There were hardly any clocks in public areas - and there were four different time changes during the cruise so it would have been nice.
  • Comedy filled up very quickly so we didn't have a chance to go - we didn't try that hard though.
  • All the parties starting at 10:30PM were too late for us. Even 10 would have been better.
  • The karaoke had lots of artists to chose from but then not their top hits like they had some Spice Girls songs but not Wannabe. Not sure what was up with that.
  • The iConcierge app that allowed texting others on the ship price increased $5 per phone for our sailing - so beware prices can change from one sailing to the next.
  • the iConcierge app wifi went in and out a lot - just had to keep checking it to make sure I didn't miss a text from Tash.
If you liked this trip report check out our other vacations: