MITSUGIRLYS GRADUATION GETAWAY CRUISE review and pictorial
Day 1: Getting on the ship
Our transportation dropped us off at the port at 11:25am where a porter quickly claimed our luggage as his. However, where MJS unloaded our luggage there in the parking lot is where our luggage sat after the porter was done with them and had collected our tip money. I was a little leery of this and I kept looking back at our luggage wondering if he was ever going to move them onto the carts or would they remain there in the parking lot as we pulled away from the dock. At this point, I didn't have a very good feeling about this. Actually nothing felt good at this point after what we had experienced the day before. :(
We got in what I wouldn't even call a line at the terminal outside and walked right in. There was no wait at all outside. Once we were done with the security check, we got into the Latitudes line and waited "maybe" 15 minutes at the most. There's one thing NCL seems to get right and that is keeping the lines moving along during embarkation. We checked in at one desk and our daughter checked in at another down the line. We booked 2 rooms between the 8 of us :eek:, but that was only because that's the only amount it would allow us to book for the rooms. In reality, all the kids (except Sakari of course) were staying in Kendra's room. :D We had our own room.
This time around we both booked the mini-suite guarantee and it was the first time I had never picked my own room. We were highly satisfied with their selection for us, which was on the 9th floor, room 9188, (yes there's a reason for the bolded 8 at the end), and it happened to be right off the elevator and only 2 or 3 doors down the hallway. Quick and easy access just like I like it. Kendra and the kids were assigned at a different time and ended up on deck 11 (yes, this was a blessing that they were no where near us or even on the same floor) in room 11830 and it was quite a walk to get to their room once you were off the elevators.
So, at the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to get a NCL credit card. As much as I spend on cruising each year, I thought it would be an excellent choice to earn points toward cruising.
I have Kendra as an AU on this account and gave her her card to use for their on board expenses for their room and I used mine for my on board expenses. Check in was no problem and before long we were off and into the waiting area with a boarding number of 18. We went in and the family sat down (well except Brayden who was busy being himself running around like a mad man) and Kendra and I went to go get a soda. As soon as we made it to the vending machine, they called boarding for numbers 17 & 18. Well that was quick!!!
We were off and making our way up the ramp to the ship. I yelled at Kolin and Courtney as soon as we made it to the entrance to the ship and told them "I have to get a picture of you two while stepping foot onto the ship because you're not going to be the same when you return."
Here's the excitement pose I got:
Then we were off to explore a little. The ship was beautiful. It did remind me a lot of the Epic and the Epic has remained my favorite ship since we started sailing again in 2010. I was so excited for the week to come.
We headed to the buffet to eat (yes, I know you can eat at the MDR and so on, but I'm one of those that actually enjoys the buffet more than anything). We got our bellies full and they made the announcement at 1pm that the rooms were ready. We couldn't wait to get to our room and see just what a "mini-suite" was all about. Our last cruise was the first time we had ever splurged to cruise in a balcony room and we enjoyed it a lot (but also got a great deal on it) and this "newer" room style sounded like it was to die for...and once again a balcony. :D
So off we go splitting up to find our rooms.
We easily found our room and opened the door. Ahhh, a balcony and it felt bigger than our last.
Everything was done in neutral colors and it was beautiful.
Here's the couch that would be Sakari's bed for the next week.
Here was in front of the couch/bed with the storage, mirror, cabinets and flat screen tv.
The storage closet was right beside the couch and had plenty of walking room even when the couch was made out into a bed (well at least more than what I'm use to). There was a side for hanging clothes and the other side was shelves and a safe.
I have to say that this safe was by far the smallest safe ever. Normally I can put my folders in the safe to lock up (I make folders for every port with info in them, booking reservations, money and so on) and they did not fit at all. Not even close. I was forced to take just the money in the envelopes out and store in the safe. I did like that the safe had a light in it when you first opened it, but you had to be quick to find what you were looking for before it went out, then you were forced to dig in the dark. (By quick I mean about 10 seconds quick too).
Here's the storage shelves in the cabinet in front of the bed. I have to say that I found it really strange that they didn't have any storage with drawers. I always like to have drawers to put the undies and bathing suits in for all of us and there wasn't any in this room. Just weird to me to have to put everything on a shelf. The shelves were not big in this area either with the exception of the corner cabinet.
You will find the location of the refrigerator, behind a cabinet door. My husband and I all week was opening the cabinet door and forgetting to open the fridge door jamming our hand into the outside when we wasn't paying attention. Do the other cabins just have the fridge sitting there on a shelf with no door and that's what we're use to? I don't remember. It was just odd that we both kept doing this.
I also have to say that our fridge was not cold at all. I kept turning the knob and it never sounded like it even came on. It also wouldn't let me turn it past the "7" mark. Grrr. I mentioned it to our room steward and he said he would check it out. Our fridge also did not come stocked. Everything was removed. Hallelujah! Could this be a new NCL policy? To only stock the fridge if requested? Of course not. They have to try to make money any way they can. When I made sure that our room steward knew we didn't have anything in it, he informed us that the previous cruisers had him remove the items and he hadn't gotten back to restocking it and I quickly informed him not to bother because I always have it removed myself. SCORE!
As you can see in the picture, this is also where they store the hair dryer for your room. It also came with an attachment as well and even with mine and Sakari's long hair, it did the job fine.
The stool you see in the previous picture is a multipurpose stool and was a stroke of genius for whomever made it. It was a square and you could pull it up to the couch and use it for a footstool. You could use it while sitting at the couch for a table. Then you could remove the hard wooden top and it became a chair to use at the counter.
Then I didn't get a picture of it (forgot), but the cushion comes off as well and then you can use the inside for storage too. Sakari stored her toys in there.
Now our bed...ahhh, well maybe ahhh, then again maybe not.
There was a lot of lighting in the room. There was a switch as you come in the door for the over head lighting. Then there was a switch at the counter for the mirror lighting, then another switch over by the bed that turned on the yellow lighting you see in the above picture and it also lit up the square thing above the bed (I have no idea what this is supposed to be used for, but at the end of the cruise, I figured out that I probably could have used it to store my dailies in it instead of putting them on my night stand). There was also 2 lights beside the bed that you could turn on.
I do have to say that I read that the balcony rooms (and had also seen pictures) where the night stands lit up under them. Either ours didn't have the lights or I couldn't find out how to turn them on.
When the couch was made into a bed, this was the configuration and you can see that there was plenty of room to still walk around. It made out sideways instead of pulling out and it was only made as a 1 person bed.
If you have 4 people booked in a room, then the other single bed will come out of the ceiling. So, even with 4 people in the room, to me, this would suit us just fine had we kept 4 in there because it didn't take up any more space.
Now on to the bathroom....WOW. Yes, I'm use to the small little bathrooms and I was amazed at this bathroom. There was just so much room from standing room, to sitting on the potty room, to shower room.
Very nice double sink and storage under the sink as well. Right under the tissues you will find the only drawer in this cabin. Since it was very small, I just used it to store my first aide kit that I always bring along since I broke my hand on my Epic cruise, I never leave home with things that I "might" need if I get hurt.
Would you look at that shower? We could have fit the entire family in there. Well, not really, but it wasn't the small shower that I was use to in the other cabins. So I was really pleased.
Then I caught a glimpse of the shower head(S) yea, full of a full body massager installed right there. Yep, Getr Done! I was going to enjoy coming home from long port days in this shower.
You could turn the shower head on different selections, which included a rotating massage setting, then the handle below switched to the 6 different spray heads located up and down the wall. HEAVEN!!! Laaaaaa (singing in my opera voice). Seriously, it was amazing. Even the kids commented on it and for them to notice, yep, it's gotta be good. The shower head itself went up and down, so munchkins like Sakari felt like a big girl in the shower because she could reach the shower head when it was in the lowered position.
I can't forget this beautiful sink and the back splash behind it that turned colors depending on the view you had. It was like flip flop colors and pretty. Looking and feeling luxurious this time I tell ya.
Here's that one and only single drawer to be found in the room
Ok, so now to the balcony. Can you believe I don't think I took 1 picture of the balcony? Pictures from the balcony yes, pictures of the balcony no. What was my problem? I forgot almost everything this cruise...seriously. I missed so much.
However, I did not forget to take a picture of this...water on our balcony and for some reason it was there EVERY day of the cruise. Sometimes overflowing and sometimes just in the little gutter part. There wasn't a drain on our balcony, which I found really weird because when we looked up, you could see the drain for every room above us all the way down. I have to say this water would continue to aggravate me days to come. More about that later.
As you notice in this picture, the water is overflowing onto the balcony part where we would walk out either bare footed or with socks and would manage to get our feet wet, which sometimes caused the carpet to get wet as you enter the room. Grrr
Now, as I stated I didn't take a picture of the balcony. Well I think the reason I didn't was because there wasn't really much to show. As a matter of fact, I wasn't really happy with what we had to look at when we were on the balcony. I really enjoyed our last balcony because when you were sitting on it, you could look straight down and see the ocean or if you were in port, you could see the people coming back or the party going on and so on. Instead the rooms were situated right above the deck (deck 8) with the "new and improved" waterfront area of dining and being "close to the outdoors". Well, this blocked our view. What we got to see was the top of the roof to these venues and not the ocean. We could only see out straight and it kinda felt like it was an "obstructed ocean view balcony room" if that even exists. If i doesn't, then it does now. Of course the floors above us got the same view, since it blocked them too, but they probably had a better view since they were higher up and didn't have to look that far out. There would be no siting of flying fish as we went by this time around.
All of the pictures I took, I tried to cut that portion out of the picture (yep, I felt embarrassed to post those pics to back home knowing they would wonder what type of room is that???). So I would always take a picture right beyond that edge looking out. However, I did manage to take this one, which captured a portion of it.
I can say that when I went to Kendra's room, this was their view
Not exactly the best either. Are there any rooms on this ship that are just balcony's that don't have something obstructing them? No, I'm not talking about the suites or Haven. I imagine they have the prime location (oh and the rooms on the aft of the ship too).
Do you notice something else in this picture? THERE'S A DRAIN on the balcony. Yep, that little round thingy with the holes in it that takes water OFF your balcony. The thing that obviously they forgot to put in my balcony.
Since we are latitudes members (I think silver?) we get the Godiva chocolates in our room, however, I don't like chocolate, so Sakari claimed them and when she couldn't eat anymore, Kendra and Courtney helped her out with the rest.
So we hung out on the balcony hoping to not be discovered by the kids for awhile and just relaxing. Our luggage came and I started to put things away in their "spots" that I had picked out for them. My husbands luggage didn't show up yet, so I managed to get all of mine and Sakari's luggage put away prior to the life boat safety drill. That was an added plus. When putting things away, I really felt like there wasn't as much storage as there normally is in the smaller rooms. Maybe it was just that I was missing the drawers that is usually at the vanity cabinet/mirror area or something. But it just didn't feel the same for some reason.
We also discovered later that Kendra and Courtney's luggage had not arrived yet either.
At 3:20pm, we headed out to the mandatory life boat drill and our location was at the Atrium (the atrium with the big screen tv), which also happen to be the location of several other categories (one of them not being Kendra's assignment). The place was crowded and they were all high-tech with their check-in system. They scanned everyone's room cards into a hand-held scanner to check you off the list. Then everyone stood around waiting for the "instructions" on how to put your life jacket on and what to do in case of an emergency.
Sakari received her life jacket and put it on.
Now obviously she has went to every life boat drill with us previously. However, this time she consumed herself with wanting to know every little detail about why we were there, what was going to happen, and why she was getting a life jacket. Our group leader had decided to demonstrate how to put the life jacket on by using one of the kids in the audience and maybe that's what intrigued her. When we got back to the room, she had to try hers on and make sure the whistle and light was in working order. Now with me officially being a nurse, I shuttered when I seen her put that whistle in her mouth before I could stop her. I know what kind of germs could be on it already from all of the other munchkins that did the exact same thing. But it was too late. I just hoped for the best and quickly wiped it down for the next victim.
She continuously decided to ask me during the first half of the cruise when the boat was going to sink and when she needed to put her life jacket on. "Why would they give me this life jacket if the boat is not sinking?". Trying to explain to a 6 year old that it's for safety measures was not working. She was completely convinced this was her last cruise. She had that worried look on her face every time she seen the life jacket. I ended up hiding it under the bed and soon she forgot about it.
So life boat drill out of the way, Kendra and Courtney were texting me that it was time to get this party started. We met them up on the pool deck (after checking out H20 which is where the sailaway party was going to take place...which is a SMALL area to me and there were no seats and barely anyone there). We headed to the pool deck where you could hear music blaring and hoping that the party was getting started there instead. However, no room there for dancing that's for sure. The staff was standing on the seat around the pool dancing, but no room to dance for us. I was kinda sad about this and was missing the older ships with the space around the pool to dance our hearts out at the sail-away.
We found tables and sat down while the kids ate. I decided to start with a Dirty Banana drink and it was yummy.
Soon Kolin decided that he was ready for me to sign him up for the underage drinking parental consent. He's not a big drinker and doesn't care too much for beer and not at all for wine, but he was willing to compromise while on the ship.
We headed down to customer service to get him signed up. The bar tender at the pool bar told me that all I needed to do was take our room cards and ourselves down to customer service to get him signed up. When we arrived, the lady looked at me like I was a bad parent for letting him sign up to drink at the age of 19. Sigh. I know my child, he's responsible with everything he does. He's worked at his union job for 2 1/2 years, never calls off and never gets into any trouble. He pays his bills on time and he's polite and considerate. I know what I'm doing. So after giving me the "judgement" look, she said I would need more than my room key to allow him to drink. I would need my ID as well. I told her I would have to go back to the room to get it. She ask if our names were the same. Nope, they are not, I'm remarried. She ask if the address on our ID's were there same. Nope, we just moved last week and I have the new address on my ID (only because when I renewed my license I knew that I was moving and knew the address) and he doesn't renew his license until November and has the old address on it. She was really trying. I told her "I'll be back with everything you need as proof" and walked away.
We arrived at my room where I proceeded to take out a folder with 1) My ID in it 2) My divorce papers proving that my name use to be the same last name as Kolin when I was married to his dad and 3) My marriage certificate from 8 years ago to my current husband showing that is why I have a different last name. I figured if that didn't do the job, they better take some time into looking up my information in their system showing what my previous address use to be from a week ago (which was the same as Kolins ID) and what my address is listed as for this cruise (which is what my ID said).
When we arrived back, we were helped by another representative who did not give us that judgement look and had me fill out the form and printed him off a new card with the PC listed on it. He teased his gf how he now had a card without the end snipped off of it and hers still had the corner missing (she's 20 until next month).
While we were in the Atrium, he walked over and got a beer from the bar and proudly presented his room card without the cut corner piece. He was grinning from ear to ear. I walked over to the Atrium Cafe and looked around at the goodies they had there from Carlos Bakery and decided to try out one of their lobster tails because I had heard so many people raving about these things and I just wanted to try one. It was YUMMY! However, to me, it was about the same thing as a cream horn, which I love too.
I then signed up for the soda package and we received our cups and was quickly on our way back up to the rest of the family.
Here is Kolin after teasing Courtney about his "new room card" and rubbing it in good. You would have thought he won the lottery.
Now at this point, I'm going to stop and post this because I know I will probably forget. This beer Kolin purchased in the atrium ended up being the one and only beer he bought the entire cruise on the ship. All that work for 1 beer. Really Kolin?
In my eyes, the sailaway was a bust and not like most of the other cruises. So we headed back to our rooms to watch us head out of the port. This is where I snapped the picture of us leaving that I posted earlier showing the balcony "view" from our room.
I did just locate a picture I took with my phone, so lucky you.
I quickly gave one last shout out on facebook to my family and friends back home showing them our "view" from our balcony and then added in the "let the next cruise countdown begin" and gave them the following picture.
Everyone always ask about having to have the room card key in the "slot" to keep the electric on. This is it...I found later that this was the best and most powerful tool I could use against the husband when I was ready to leave the room. I used it often and when I was ready to head out I plucked that card out, turning everything off immediately, and I grinned from ear to ear and ran out the door before he could catch me. We have a real "playful" type of loving relationship and this continued to be a game for me the rest of the cruise.
If you notice, Courtneys phone never did change time since our airplane ride. It was "stuck" on this time the entire cruise. I'm not sure why. Our phones stayed with whatever current time we had on the ship. Hmmm. Weird.
We had made reservations for the Illusionarium tonight since they offered it at a reduced cost if you went the first night. (This means for Kolin, Courtney, Sakari and Brayden). We (Me, hubby, Kendra & bf) got the free Ultimate Dining Package with our booking, so we were able to dine there for free (or any other specialty restaurants) the entire cruise.
The only thing I didn't like about this card system was every time I was ready to leave, I was in a frenzy trying to locate all 3 of our key cards...forgetting each time that there was one in the slot. LOL I don't think I ever didn't get caught up in this system during the entire cruise and was still searching for the lost key card on the last day of the cruise. Silly me.
Time to throw in a random picture of me and the kids on our trip from the hotel to the cruise ship. I like to throw in random pics every once in awhile. It keeps everyone on their toes to see if they are really reading this.
We got dressed and ready for our (hopefully fingers crossed) great night at the show. We wondered around for awhile checking out more of the ship and taking some pictures along the way until it was time to get in line for the show. I had read prior to leaving (and did involve myself with one of the threads about arriving early enough to get good seats NOT at the back of the room) and knew when we should head there. This was probably one of the only things I researched and I'm kicking myself for not doing more research on the ship now.
Sakari posing in the atrium (the one with the beautiful chandelier) with her new purple dolphin daddy bought her back at the airplane terminal when he thought we were going to get split up.
We arrived at the Illusionarium and checked in. Then we went to get in line. We kept going around the corner, then around the corner...wondering if the line ever ended. So much for getting there early. I was losing hope on getting good seats. Of course Kendra and family were late as always and we never did see them in line. Sakari and I had to "potty" and when we returned, the line was moving and daddy was coming around the last corner. I guess the lined moved pretty quickly.
We ended up getting, what I thought, were excellent seats. We were in the second row from the stage. When they ask us how many in our party, we told them 8 and they sat us down and then turned the chairs in to save the rest of the seats. I'm really glad we didn't get the front row in front of us because they were forced to turn their heads sideways to watch the show. Our table was facing head on to the stage and it was awesome. We were also able to see up in the dome as well.
I turned around to take a picture of the rest of the area behind us, I'm not sure what happened to the picture or why it was all foggy looking. I do know they had some "ghost" flying by during the show. Maybe they forgot their "cue" and came out early?
As you can see in the picture, those that had to sit toward the back and in the booths do have tv screens that showed them what was going on in the dome that we were seeing. However, I'm really glad we were able to see it ourselves.
So back to the review...
After being seated for a good 10 minutes or so, I'll let you all guess what family came rolling in late.
Once everyone was situated, we began to explore the items on the table. Sakari was fascinated with the kaleidoscope that was at our table.
The family sat around taking everything in and wondering what we were about to see.
The show began. There were several acts and I have to say this show was FABULOUS. Sakari was so into the show (I wasn't really sure what to expect from her) that she wouldn't take her eyes off of them long enough to eat. When I would talk to her, it was like she was completely zoned out and afraid that she was going to miss something.
Now I'll be the first to admit, I'm really not into the "fancy" dining scene. I really enjoy just the basic foods and not anything "abnormal". Kendra is the same way. We both knew going into this show and booking it meant that it would probably be one of those meals we wouldn't enjoy. We had prepared ourselves to know that we probably wouldn't eat much of it and would need to head to the buffet or O'Sheehans after the show.
Our "salad" was served.
It was pretty much up to par with what we had anticipated. I don't like tomatoes, and this "lettuce" was the really bitter lettuce, which I don't know how people eat this stuff, there was a cucumber slice wrapped around the lettuce holding it together (which is what I ate), some uncooked something or other (which I've had before and didn't like it), and some cheese (which I would never pass up cheese).
The rest of the family pretty much passed on their "salad" just like I thought they would. I mean to people like us, a salad is a lot of iceburg lettuce, throw several different types of cheese on there, some broccoli, cauliflower, boiled eggs, carrots, cucumbers, bacon bits and croutons, then top it off with some nice ranch dressing and that's what's called a salad!
I also don't really care too much for red meat (I'll eat hamburger, but don't like steak at all) and told the waiter that I didn't eat red meat just so that I could get shrimp only (I love shrimp). So of course when my dinner was served, I had 2 helpings of shrimp. It was served with the huge steak fries, and 1 broccoli floret. Of course I ate it all. The kids didn't care for theirs. Desert came out and there were 3 different types on the platter. I also don't like chocolate (I know, at this point you are all wondering what do I like right?) I tried 1 of the deserts, but it wasn't too memorable to even remember what it was. I didn't even take pictures of the rest of the meal after the salad. We were just too into watching the show.
After the show was over, they brought everyone out on the stage and we were able to take a picture. They were great and amazed all of us with their "talent".
It's definitely a "do not miss" type of show for sure. The kids can order a chicken nugget kids meal. Brayden ordered that, but Sakari said no to the chicken nuggets. She barely touched anything anyhow no matter what the food was. She was just too into the show.
After the show we headed back to the room and I took a shower in the heavenly spa shower head room. It was seriously to die for and I enjoyed every single minute of it.
We didn't get a towel animal tonight. I thought that was strange because on previous cruises we get a towel animal every night except maybe the last night of the cruise. Our beds were turned down and waiting on us. We hung out on the balcony for awhile before going to bed at midnight. I was mentally exhausted and so glad that the following day would be a sea day.
From here I will backtrack a little to right before the show with some things that happened and I forgot to mention.
When we went back to our rooms, the hubbys luggage was still not in the hallway. It was 6:30pm already and we stopped one of the stewards to ask how much longer would they be putting out the luggage. They told us all of the luggage was already out. :eek: I KNEW IT! I JUST KNEW IT!
Earlier in the day, both Courtney and I signed up for the iConcierge with NCL. (More on that program later). So, I messaged Courtney to see if her and Kendra's luggage ever showed up and they informed me that theirs did indeed show up. They also informed me that their key cards no longer worked and they were unable to purchase anything on any of the 4 that were assigned to Kendra's room. :confused:
We were told to go down to the service desk on deck 6 to inquire about luggage and the keycards.
As we stood in line, we over heard several people already at the desk having to fill out lost luggage forms. I looked at the hubby and said "looks like you'll be getting a new wardrobe" and at that point I was totally convinced the new red luggage was cursed.
When it was our turn at the counter, we told the lady about the lost luggage and she said they had about 10 of them sitting in the back with no tags on them. She took us around the corner and into the back hallway behind customer service were some bags were lined up. Immediately we knew his wasn't there because none of them were red. I ask her "So is there any other luggage?" She informed us that this was all the luggage they had left that they could not identify. Sigh. I just knew the luggage sitting in the middle of a parking space was not a great idea. I was convinced that they hubby would have "throw-backs" (as he likes to call it) on every day this week and by mid cruise he would stink me out of the room, forcing me to sleep in the hallway were there was fresh air and the rest of the cruise would be ruined.
I'm going to finish up my 1st day now with more details of the missing luggage and our now non-working cards. :(
So once again, the lady at customer service had shown us "all" the luggage they had left over and none of them were the hubby's. She pulled out a form once we got back around to the desk and we started filling it out with a description, the color and circling the "type" of luggage it was from all the pictures on the paper. She ask if there was anything "distinct" about the luggage and I had to laugh and told her "well, it no longer has a front pocket." :p She had a funny look on her face and ask more about it. I explained that it arrived at the airport that way and the story. She said "I just came on board today and as I was checking in, I seen that luggage!!!! Who could miss it and I thought it was odd that there wasn't a front pocket."
So now we had hope. She said "Hold on, I'll be right back" and left. Now she had just told us that there wasn't any more luggage anywhere, but now all of a sudden there was?
Yep, here she came with the hubby's luggage. There wasn't a room tag on it anymore, so she said that they didn't know where to deliver it.
Sorry hubby, no new wardrobe for you after all. :p
Now on to the cards not working in the other room. When she checked things out, she said there was a problem because we used 2 different cards for the 2 rooms, but the same card number. (Since the daughter is an AU on my NCL cc, it has the same exact cc number listed on the card, but just has her name on hers...unlike Amex that will give all AU cardholders their own cc #)
She explained that I would need to put everyone's charges on 1 account and everything would be fine. I told her just charge it all to my account/room as long as when everyone swiped their card, it would show who used their card with names. She assured me that it would.
She fixed the account and said "Everyone's cards are active again" and away we went.
So this ends Day 1-Embarkation Day
Up next will be pictures of the ship...