Tag Archives: noodles

Cruise Critic Review

breakaway-nycharbor

 

 

This review is available now on Cruise Critic at http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=506152 and on Cruiseline.

Meanwhile:

Three of us travelled: my husband (Tom), our adult son (Michael) and myself. I’ve been on several cruises – NCL, RCI, Celebrity, and some Windjammers. My husband NCL, Celebrity, and some Windjammers; and our son one other NCL.

Our son lives and works in Manhattan and we had seen the Breakaway when we were visiting him in November. I chose this particular week because it included my husband’s birthday.

My husband and I took Amtrak from DC on Friday and stayed at a hotel in SoHo for 2 nights. We had used RCI points so there was no cost for the hotel.

On Sunday, our son and I were playing in a recital at the temporary Steinway Hall at 11:00 am and this worried me a lot, getting from 1155 Avenue of the Americas to the cruise terminal by 2:00 all aboard.

We left Steinway about 12:15 and took an Uber to the terminal. The driver left us the terminal by the Gem about 12:35 but it was an easy walk next door to the Breakaway terminal at Pier 88.

We left our checked baggage and went through the terminal process very quickly. We never even had a chance to sit down and we were on board by 1:00.

That was the fastest I have ever boarded any ship.

The Garden Cafe was crowded but we found a table without much effort. Before we finished eating, it was announced that the cabins were ready.

Our cabin – 9918 – was fantastic! It was a bit tight for the 3 of us but we made it work.

The balcony was the best part. I had chosen an aft balcony on 9, starboard. We had 2 loungers, 3 chairs and 2 tables and plenty of room to move them and ourselves around.

Looking up to the other decks, we could see from the angle that ours was larger than the others above us.

As it turned out, looking out over the balcony, we could see the fireworks just fine.

There was a lot of storage but some was tricky to find.

The bathroom was a good size, as was the shower. There were more shelves in the bathroom than usual and I liked being able to leave my cosmetics and stuff in there. I had read that there was no conditioner in the showers so I brought my own.

I also followed advice from Cruise Critic and brought magnet hooks for the walls and those were great for hanging hats, card lanyards and so on. Giant clips, meant for holding towels to chairs were repurposed for clipping our last day paperwork under the TV.

About the TV – we never watched it so we can’t really comment on the programming. We did watch the info from the deck once or twice to find out about the sea conditions.

Our bed was great, very comfortable king sized with 2 pillows each. The steward, Bradley, turned the couch into a nice bed for our son.

The end tables on each side of our bed were pretty narrow but we made that work. The lights beside the bed were a little high up, so I’d have to get up to turn mine off. Luckily, I read a Kindle before bed so I never really needed to use the bedside light.

Our luggage arrived before 4:00 pm which was really nice.

I had been concerned about going on a ship this size but there was really no problem. The elevators were crowded the first day but after that, no big deal. I would like to point out that we mostly always took the stairs going down and walked up if it was only 2-3 decks.

When we were in the elevators, they were clean. Both of the RCI cruises I took had sticky elevator buttons, presumably from children using them after eating ice cream or something. One thing that RCI has that I would like to see on other ships was the “day plate” on the floor. Often, I get involved in a cruise and have no idea what the day is, so that would be helpful on all ships.

We got the unlimited internet package and it was well worth it for us. On other cruises, I would get the max minutes and always be watching the time – and I would still often run out at the end. I am the web master for a couple companies so I need to spend some time online each day. This internet package was a life-saver for me and we were able to share it between the 3 of us.

We also made good use of the iPhone iConcierge app. We used it as a messenger to let others know where we were and we made reservations for 3 restaurants and 2 shore excursions with it. I also checked how our account was doing. That cost us $7.95 per phone and was well worth it.

Everywhere we went, crew was smiling and friendly – and everything was very clean. At the end of the cruise, we took the behind the scenes tour and everything was so well run. Amazing.

We mostly ate in the Garden Cafe. We also ate once each in Taste and Savor. Our specialty restaurants were Moderno Churrascaria, Teppanyaki and La Cucina.

We had been at the Churrascaria on another Norwegian cruise and loved it. This time, we knew not to eat too much earlier in the day! This time, I went lighter on the salad bar portion. The “gauchos” (aka waiters) brought sausages, lamb, both beef and pork ribs, chicken, filet mignon, and garlic beef, among others. Of those, I had the sausages, lamb, chicken and beef before I was too full. All excellent. Michael gave up even earlier than I did! For dessert, I had mango rice pudding – nearly as good as Thai sticky rice with mango.

Teppanyaki was a pretty standard Japanese food, on this ship cooked by a Philippines chef (he called himself fake-Japanese). Because it was on a ship, with no flames allowed, there was no onion volcano although another chef tried it with an onion and water for steam. Not as impressive as with oil and fire but clever nonetheless. There were combinations of chicken, beef and seafood (including lobster) served with miso soup, seaweed salad, vegetables and garlic fried rice. I had green tea cake/ice cream for dessert and the others had fruit sashimi.

La Cucina was good Italian food. The minestrone was unusual (for us, anyway). We got bowls with a little bit of pasta stuffed with vegetables and a piece of Italian bread on top. Then came the “surprise” when the waitress brought around the tureens of broth that was poured over all.

We also attended Cirque Jungle Dreams and Dinner.

I had read many complaints about the Cirque dinner so we ate in the Garden Cafe a bit before the show. The food (and show) were great. I told the waitress that I was allergic to shrimp so she offered double filet mignon but I declined. My portion was excellent.

The show itself was fantastic, especially for being at sea. The costumes were very clever.

Tom was using the Internet Cafe one morning so Michael and I played the 15 minute Sudoko challenge. One of the main challenges of that was they gave a blank form and we had to fill in the starting numbers. I messed up some in copying from the big screen and that made it harder to figure out the answers.

After that was Trivia and we did ok as a team.

The library was very small and open only certain hours. Tom went back later and checked out a book.

The library, game room and halls outside were decorated with photos/history of the Rockettes – the “godmothers” of this ship. 2 of them were on board, giving exercise classes, Q and A periods and photo ops.

We played Scrabble a few times in the games room and that was fun. Others played board games like Clue, chess, Yahtzee and card games.

Michael did the ropes course. I had planned to go, too, but I was wearing sandals and couldn’t go. Tom checked everything out and said he’d try it “later”. Unfortunately, neither of us ever got a chance to try that later.

On a different day, Michael also climbed the rock wall. Even if I’d been wearing closed-toed shoes, I wouldn’t have tried that!

Our star athlete, Michael, also used the gym all the sea days and reported that it was really good. The treadmills and ellipticals have sudoko and other games to while away the time.

We had no use for any of the Children’s Clubs.

Generally, we found the service to be excellent and friendly everywhere we went on board. We had occasion to visit Guest Services a few times – Tom cut his hand on something and they were fast with bandaids, antiseptic pads and so on. Michael lost his apartment keys the very last sea day – those never turned up 😦

We didn’t do any entertainment other than the Cirque Jungle Dreams and Dinner which I mentioned above, under restaurants.

Tom and I had been to Bermuda on a land stay before but Michael had never been. The first day, we did a bus tour of the whole island. That was very interesting but we had some folks that had trouble getting back to the bus on time.

One person ended up being on a regular bus to Hamilton from St. George and we spent quite a bit of time locating her and getting her back with us. If I’d known that would be the, we would have just stayed in St. George and taken the ferry back. Instead, we rushed out lunch to get back on time.

The next day, Thursday, we took a bus to BAMZ and the Crystal Caves. When we were in Bermuda before, we’d tried to take the bus from Hamilton to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo but somehow missed the stop.

BAMZ and Crystal Caves were well worth the trip. Someday, we will go back to BAMZ when we can spend more time.

Friday, I’d arranged for the Restless Native for snorkeling. I had arranged that not through the ship but through CheapCruises and saved $30 per person over others who booked through NCL. I had never done that before so this was a trial run and worked very well. We were back in plenty of time for 4:30 all aboard.

This was one of the best snorkel boats we had been on. Shallow enough that I didn’t have to worry about drowning getting back on the ship but lots of caves and coral to support fish swimming around. This sailboat also offered noodles for floating with, kayaking, banana boats and paddle boards. Lots of fun – and boat-made cookies.

We were in the “Orange” disembarkation group so we had a leisurely breakfast, went back to the cabin to pick up our carry-offs and down to the Atrium. WiFi still worked so I checked my email and we read.

The giant screen was showing the staff singing and waving goodbye to us.

There was some hold up at Customs on shore so they stopped offloading for a few minutes, then resumed.

Our color was supposed to be called about 10. It was called around 9:45. We were off the ship, got our luggage, through Customs and in an Uber by 10:30. Very fast and efficient.

We had a great time overall and wouldn’t hesitate to take this ship again. I loved our balcony! Having only one port was great so we could use the ship as a hotel was really nice.

The one “problem” was Saturday night coming back into New York. There was a lot of cabin shaking/noise (remember, we were on 9 aft). I had read about that in one of the reviews so I wasn’t too concerned. I had been expecting noise/vibrating when leaving Bermuda but that wasn’t so bad.

Coming back to NY was the loudest/shakiest.

I’m ready to go again, as soon as I can save up enough money 🙂

 

Beach Buddies

MaryO

Costa Rica, Day Eleven: August 25, 2014

A double cortisone kind of day.  Cushies will understand!

The cleaning staff come here on Sunday and Wednesday.  They also came here on Friday because they thought we were leaving.  Wrong!  Each time they leave, we can’t find something or other.  They aren’t stealing, they’re just moving things to unexpected places.

Today, Tom couldn’t find the blister-pack pellets for his inhaler.  After looking everywhere, we concluded that maybe he’d used them all.

When I was putting in my contact lens, I noticed his bag of cough drops and – low and behold – they were in there!  Go figure!

After that, we set out to find an ATM to get the rest of the deposit for the tour company.  We found the BAC Bank near the Alto Mercado.  My debit card couldn’t be read.  Maybe the magnetic strip is gone.  Whatever.

We went into the bank and waited in a long line, which about tripled while we were in it.  I got to the window and gave the teller my card and passport – he said I had to go to the ATM, it was a cheaper rate.  I said I was willing to pay the higher fee, I just wanted the money.

The teller found someone else who went out with me and confirmed that the card wouldn’t work.  I also had a Discovercard which didn’t work since I forgot to tell them I was going out of the country.

Tom had left his walled back at the apartment 😦

I had checks on the first bank and asked if I could cash one with the card and passport.  She said sure but we would have to wait in the longer line again.

Bye, bye!

Tom brought me home and he went back with another CC and got cash, no problem. He took it to the tour place and got receipt.

vision-catamaranAbout 1:30, we went back into town and met up with the tour guy who walked us over to where the boat would pick us up.  We saw a motorboat called La Orca, which I thought would be our pickup since it was circling around.

Another guy came over to collected the rest of the money and said it had to be cash.  Luckily, we had the tour guy (David) with us who confirmed that it was supposed to be credit card.

Guy 2 says, no problem, he’ll get his credit card machine working for when we get back.  Whatever.

This boat, we only had to wade into the water a little before jumping onto the Vision.  Not nearly as muddy as the trip to the rubber dinghy would have been Sunday.

The boat ride in La Orca was pretty good and we reached the Vision fairly quickly.  The transfer from La Orca to the Vision was kind of dicey, though.  I had to sit on the side of La Orca, swing my legs around to get into a smaller boat with plastic seats that was attached by rope to the Vision, then walk across the smaller boat, climb on a seat, then up the rear stair (no handrail) of the Vision.

Amazingly, I did that!

We seemed to be the only people on the boat until we realized there were folks on the roof part.  They offered us lots of fruity drinks, both alcoholic and non.  Later, I would be very glad to have gone with the non.

Later, while the crew was fixing a nice lunch, people went snorkeling or swimming with noodles over by a small beach in the Papagayo Gulf.   Tom went in but I decided it looked too far to come back and the current was kind of strong.  I watched Tom in the water and, for some reason, he decided to come right out.

After I saw him get out, I sat down in my seat.  Next thing I knew, my neck was in major pain.  Tom took one look and could see a stinger stuck in my neck, about 1/8 of an inch long and curved like a talon.  He managed to get that our fairly quickly.  He put on cortisone cream and Neosporin.  I took an extra cortisone pill and allergy medicine.

My neck got a bit red and swollen and, in a little bit, one of the crew came over and we explained what happened.  He washed off all the stuff Tom had put on and put on something else – a 10% solution of something brown and said it would feel better in 20 minutes or so.

After that, we had some of the wonderful food they had been making.  My neck still hurt to turn to the left but it seemed to be ok.

We saw a really nice sunset, then it was time to head back.  La Orca came for all the “upstairs people”, they we sailed a bit more and it came for us.

The transfer back was awful.  It was dark.  Those stairs down the back of the catamaran have no railings, no wired, nothing to hold on to…and they were slippery.

I eventually got down there and into the middle boat.  I had to stand on a plastic seat to sit on the side of the third boat.  As soon as I put my foot on that seat, my foot slide out from under me and my left knee hit the railing of the third boat and my right hit the seat on the second boat.  OWEEE!

La Orca got us back close to shore and the crew member joked that he would swim to shore with me on his back.  Not amused!  We got fairly close to shore, I got off and walked to the beach.

The guy who we owed money for this trip was not there so we have to track him down somehow else.  There was a group of homeless people and one woman came begging for money.  Tom gave her a small amount and she said she’d pray for him (or someone).

When we were coming back, there was a man by the side of the road with a motorcycle on his leg.  Tom asked if he was hurt and he said “Yes” so we agreed to send help.  No way were we going to get caught in some kind of ambush.  We tried to tell the security guard here what we had seen but he spoke no English. Finally, reinforcements came and people went to help the man, if he was still there.

When we got back, I looked up flying insects in Costa Rica that met the description of the stinger that Tom had removed and came up with African (or Africanized) Killer Bees.  It occurred to me thats/he was attracted to my orange shirt and the scent of my sunscreen.  Maybe, I made him angry that I wasn’t a flower.  Whatever!

From my search: http://www.cupotico.com/info/General/Insects_Costa_Rica.html

African (killer) bees arrived in Costa Rica in 1982, and you would do well to assume that all bee colonies are now Africanized. Keep your distance from hives or swarms. The stings of Africanized bees are no more venomous than those of your garden-variety bee, but these insects are aggressive and attack with less provocation. The cumulative effect of many bee stings is dangerous. If you’re attacked, move in a zigzag motion; you can probably outrun them. Head for water if any is nearby, and cover your head. If someone with you is attacked and cannot move, cover both of you with something light in color and get the person to safety. Remove stingers with a knife or fingernails, being careful not to squeeze more of the stinger’s venom into the bite. Apply ice or cold water, and, if badly bitten, see a doctor.

Early to bed – our bus picks us up tomorrow morning at 5:00 am to go to Nicaragua.

%d bloggers like this: