We got up Friday morning and did our last minute getting things together. We loaded the pups up and headed to Neil and Carol's by 10:00 AM. We didn't have any problems on our ride down and got to Carol and Neil's around noon. After lunch Carol and I headed down to Crystal River for a little shopping at Penny's (they had a really GOOD sale) where I picked up a couple of shirts. Then it was time for my hair appointment - the girl did a good job I think especially since she had never cut my hair before. Anyway, after my hair appointment Carol and I headed back to the house. We got back to their house about 5 pm and then they had a surprise for us for dinner. We thought that we were going to eat dinner at their house, but they had a different plan. We went to a little diner just around the corner from their house that had only been open a couple of weeks. We could get there on the golf cart and the food was pretty good. After dinner we came back to the house - looked at some wildlife (they have lots of deer and wild hogs that feed through their yard) and then it was time for bed. We knew that we had to get up early - around 5 to be able to get to the bus in Crystal River by 7. Saturday morning we were on the road by 5:45 (wonder of wonders) and were on site when the charter bus arrived. Everyone was on board (all 60 of us) and we were on the road to Miami by 7:30. It was an uneventful trip down and the boarding on the ship was fairly easy. Our room would not be ready until after 2 so we headed up stairs to the buffet for lunch. After we had a nice lunch we explored the ship some before we headed for our stateroom. We always get a balcony room and this time was no exception. While the room was a little small (probably the smallest balcony room we have ever had) it was very comfortable. The ship sailed around 4 pm and Neil and I stood out on the deck while we were leaving the port. Then it was into the Bliss Lounge for the football game (Saints/Cardinals). Too bad that the game didn't go as I wanted, but the second game did (Yeah Payton and the Colts!) We went back up to the buffet for dinner Saturday night and then went back to our room to unpack and go to bed.
Sunday was a sea day and it was spent just relaxing and exploring the ship. We did have dinner in the dining room and were able to sit in the back of the dining room with a wonderful view of the sunset from our table. Dinner was very good - but we (Neil, Carol, Dan and I) decided that we would not be eating in the dining room every night and spending more meals in the buffet.
Monday we reached the Dominican Republic. Not exactly the best port of call. This is the beach on the back side of the island. We had decided to take a tour called "Discover Samana" and it was a bus ride down a dirt road for about four hours to reach this beach. On the way all we saw was a lot of shacks and unfinished foundations. The really sad thing about that is - this is not the poorest country in our hemisphere. We don't have any idea how lucky we have it.
As we were leaving port I did get another pretty picture in Samana - the sunset.
Dan took this picture of me on the beach - there wasn't anything to do after we got to this beach - we didn't have bathing suits or towels or anything like that - but they (the tour people) left us on this beach for an hour. Go figure!
We left Samana and headed for Tortola. Monday night, after dinner, we went to one of the best shows that I have ever seen on any cruise ship. It was called "Oh What A Night Tribute" and was with four guys that have been on Broadway doing this show. It was fantastic!!!!!! Not only were the songs ones we all know (Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons) - they were performed perfectly. We all really enjoyed the show and looked forward to being able to see them again on the last night of our cruise.
On Tuesday we reached Tortola around 8 am. Dan and I had decided NOT to do any more tours - Dan didn't want to ride on a bus again. Carol and Neil did an afternoon tour on a boat and then rode a bus back to the ship right at the time we were set to sail (5:30). They were impressed with the island and afterwards Dan says that he wished we had gone on this tour. Oh well - maybe the next time.
Actually, Dan and I did not even leave the boat in Tortola - but I did get a nice picture from our balcony.
We set sail at 5:30 for St. Thomas which we have been to before - it was one of the island that we went on our very first cruise and we really thought it was a pretty island however, we knew that we did not want to do a tour - When we had come to St. Thomas before we had done a tour with a individual on the pier and he did a fabulous job (Carr was his name and there were 10 of us in our group). Anyway, we did get off the ship and walked into town and did a little looking around, but did not buy anything.
As a side bar - we noticed that, while people were of course cruising, they were not buying things in ports or even on the ship. I know that we did not buy ANYTHING which I think is a record for us. The only money we spent was for a "soda card" which meant that all I had to do was show my keycard and I got a Pepsi at no charge. I purchased the "soda card" right after we set sail (while watching the football game) and they put a little sticker on my keycard so I didn't have to do anything else. I think that we certainly made the purchase cost effective. We did the one tour and there was one other purchase that I will tell you about at the end.
Wednesday morning saw us in St. Thomas. This is the harbor in St. Thomas - I don't think I have ever seen that many boats in a harbor - plus there were a lot of yachts - one even had a helicopter on it. HUGE! St. Thomas is a beautiful island, but it is also a very expensive place to live. Anyway, we were suppose to leave at 7 but there were people that were late -(did you know that cruise ships will not leave you?). So, about 45 minutes after we were suppose to leave, we finally had everyone back on board.
Thursday was a day at sea as we were heading for NCL's private island Great Stirup Cay. We did have some excitement (depending on your point of view) on Thursday, but I didn't think about getting my camera so I could take pictures. Dan and I were in our cabin when Dan realized that we were not moving. We went out on deck and found out that the ship was waiting on a Coast Guard helicopter to evacuate a gentleman that had had a heart attack. We didn't move for well over an hour before the helicopter got there and then it was about 45 minutes of maneuvering before the evacuation was complete. I don't know why I didn't think about going back to our cabin and getting my camera, but I didn't. So, I don't have any pictures of the helicopter but take my word for it - it was pretty awesome! After that excitement - Dan and I, along with Carol and Neil, went back to our respective cabins and got ready for dinner. We had decided to eat in the dining room again and there certainly weren't many people there when we made it down. After a nice dinner we went to the show which was a couple of guys that did juggling. Actually they were pretty good and they were very funny.
Friday morning we arrived at Great Stirup Cay. Dan and I went over around lunch time and had some bar-b-que on the beach before heading back to the ship. We decided to go in the hot tub for a little while and just relaxed on board. (We are not big beach people but it was nice to relax on board without a lot of people to fight.) We spent part of the afternoon packing our luggage - we wanted to make sure we wouldn't be pressured after dinner. We had everything ready to go outside our door later in the evening. Friday night we had dinner upstairs in the buffet and then went down for the shows. First was the "show girls" show. They were okay. Then the "boys" were back for more of Frankie Vallie songs - they were fabulous again. Then the jugglers were back and they were much better than the first time - much funnier!
We spent a nice last evening on board, but I think that we were all ready to get back home. We put our luggage out and went to bed. Saturday morning we were up and ready to go well before we reached Miami. However, by the time we had our shower, got ready, and went and ate breakfast we were in port and we had to wait about an hour before our luggage color (aqua) was called and we could disembark.
I told you that there was one other purchase that we made on the ship. NCL has a program where you pay $250.00 as a deposit on a future cruise and they give you a $100.00 credit immediately. (So really it is costing you $150.00) We decided that we would do this because you have 4 years to book and 4 years to sail - I know that we will do another cruise within 4 years and we figured it would be a good deal - since we will not have to do any other deposit when we do decide to do another cruise. Plus, you don't have to book through them - you can find the best deal you can and the certificate for the deposit is still good - so if I find a really cheap cruise deal though Vacations to Go we can still use this deposit. Anyway, we think it was a good decision.
We were all on the bus again by 10:30 and on our way. Five hours later we were back in Crystal River and off we went to Neil and Carol's to pick up the pups and our truck. It took about 45 minutes to get everything loaded into our vehicle and hit the road again. A couple of hours later we were finally at home. We just brought our suitcases in and left them in the living room. We watched a little TV and then headed off to bed. I think we all just crashed - including the dogs
- at least I know I did.
This morning we were up - got ready, went into town and ate breakfast at Dixie Grill (we didn't have any groceries in the 'house') then it was off to the grocery store. After getting back home I put things away and started the laundry. A couple of loads at the laundrymat and one in the unit (the whites here - the knits in the laundrymat). Still have to do the jeans tomorrow, but almost everything else is done.
I hope that you all had a great week - I'll leave you with another picture from St. Thomas - hope you can see the rainbow.
Talk to you tomorrow!!!