MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial
Day 2: Sea Day on the ship
So here we are, our official first day at sea. It's Monday Dec 16th and we were up at 8:30am. We headed down to the buffet to get breakfast by 9:30am. This place was PACKED....I mean packed like sardines. I don't think I have ever been on a cruise where it was this bad. It was next to impossible to find a seat. The buffet area seating goes on and on forever (yep, remember my picture of it? It goes all the way to the back of the ship and out into the Great Outdoors). There wasn't 1 table available for us. I would find that people were so desperate to find a table that they were sitting in the handicap seats, which I thought really wasn't right. They would also take up every seat at the kids buffet area with the miniature tables and chairs and leave no room for the families. Yes, there's clearly a sign that states it is reserved for families, but on this cruise it was to each their own, first come first serve, and people were out for the kill for a seat.
We walked all the way to the back and out to the Great Outdoors and finally found a seat out there. Whew. That becomes a long haul for a parent carrying both their plate and their munchkins plate, plus a bowel and cereal then trying to keep an eye on them as well because being so little, it's easy to change directions and following someone else at that eye level.
Once we got situated, we discovered that they have some breakfast items out there as well and the drinks were there. Thank goodness because I didn't want to have to battle that crowd again just to try to get drinks.
While we were eating, the staff was walking around singing Christmas songs and their joy made me completely forget about the seating arrangement and reminded me how grateful I was to be able to be spending this precious time with my family this way.
I think Sakari has grown so much since she started cruising and so has her appetite. I will pile things on her plate that I know she likes and hope that she eats some of it. Well this cruise, she cleaned her plate and more each time. Gulp. She loves her pancakes and eggs. She had to have her cereal after her hot meal every day too. (This will become an important statement as the days go by). Fruit Loops and Milk= one happy child.
Sakari went undercover after breakfast so you wouldn't see her messy breakfast face.
So I was the planner of our meet & greet and we were meeting at 11am in Le Bistro. They had changed our meeting place right before the cruise because we had 133 people signed up. Wow. It's probably the most I've seen since our 2010 Epic cruise. Of course we all know that people sign up and then don't show. I've heard people say you usually get about 50% of the people to show.
We headed to Le Bistro where I met up with the cruise planner.
This is the first time that I have ever seen a cc meeting set up like this. It felt so formal and reminded me of going to church. It was down right weird kinda. It didn't really give us the chance to sit around everywhere and visit with people and get to know them because you could barely get down a row to get a seat without sitting on someone's lap. You know, kinda like you do when you go to a show in the theater.
They did have a nice variety of snacks set up for us. Usually they have cookies, but this time they had also added some sandwiches as well. I think they were turkey someone said? But I didn't eat any of it since we had just finished breakfast.
Sakari was busy playing with her "friends" (our Epic friends).
Now I have planned a bunch of meet & greets now and this was the first time that the cruise planner came up to me and said "So what are you going to do today? We have provided you with a microphone" Um what??? Yikes. "What do you mean what are we going to do today?" She said "What are your plans?" Um, I'm lost for words and probably turned 5 colors of red at this point. I was supposed to make "plans"? Involving a microphone? YIKES. I have never been ask this before. I felt like I was that shy kid in the classroom that had just been put on the spot for the hardest question I forgot to study for. As my mind raced on what to say while not feeling like this was the first time I had ever done this before...I just blurted out "Well I don't have any plans myself other than to get together with everyone and all of the previous meet and greets I have been to the officers came in and spoke. Am I supposed to do something else?" She kind of gave me that look and said "well, every meet & greet is different". She ask me if I brought name tags for everyone. Again, now the room lights had been dimmed and there was a spotlight on me. My hands started shaking and sweat started to roll down the side of my face. As I took a minute to gather my thoughts, I replied "Other meet and greets I have arranged, they always provided name tags that said Cruise Critic on them for everyone." What is going on here? Was I missing something? She quickly pulled out a sign in sheet and the CC name tags (just like those that have been used at every other meet & greet I have been to). Was she toying with my emotions at this point?
I decided it was time for me to put my tail between my legs and go back to my seat with the hubby and my friends where I felt that I was in my comfort zone. I know people sometimes plan a cabin crawl, or gift exchanges, or slot pulls, but our group really had not mentioned wanting to do any of these things, especially with the size of our group, I can't even imagine. So maybe I was missing something???
Out come the officers to speak to us as always. We were minus the captain today. He must have been busy driving the ship or something.
They had the normal witty jokes to tell and then open the floor for any questions. Several people ask various questions. One was if the ship was sailing full. Our answer was COMPLETELY FULL. Well that explained why the buffet felt different this time around. That prepared me for the rest of the week and what was to come. Another person ask how many kids were on this cruise and they said there was about 400 kids this week. They also added that next week there would be about 800 or more due to the holiday.
I had a burning question that was discussed on our roll call and I have seen it several times over the years...tendering. Everyone always tries to determine WHO becomes the runt of the fleet when it comes to tendering in Cozumel when there's more than 2 NCL ships. We knew ahead of time that we were the chosen one for this cruise, but wanted to know WHY. There has been speculation ranging from 1) the first 2 ships to get there get to dock and have priority 2) the 2 ships with the most passengers get to dock 3) they rotate every week and so on. Well, they cleared things up for us and said that non of these answers were correct. They stated that the ships that stay here year round get priority. He stated that this was the last week (or maybe the following week) the Jewel would be doing this "route" even though it would still be coming to Cozumel, it would not continue doing the Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel route. They also stated that some ships had passengers getting on in Cozumel and when this is the case, they get priority of course. I think he said the Dawn has passengers arriving in this port and they didn't think it was a wise decision to have them hauling their luggage on a tender boat. hehe So I guess there's our answer...each time it "depends" and the situation varies, but there is no certain rotating schedule.
Once the questions had been answered, they thank everyone for coming and everyone started to scram. I jumped up and shouted that we would like to get a "group" picture with everyone, but it was as if my voice had been turned off or something because everyone just continued to leave. Maybe I did need that microphone after all. :cool: I had mentioned this on our roll call and how we had a huge group picture of everyone on our Epic roll call and it was wonderful. On other roll calls, everyone just scrams and leaves. So it would be nice if everyone stuck around for a group picture. I guess they weren't interested. At least I stood up prior to the officers speaking and snapped a picture of people sitting in their chairs.
Those of us that did stick around that talked a lot to each other on the boards and fb decided we would get a picture of us together.
****I contacted the cruise planner later in the week and she provided me with a list of those that came and the amount in their party. Are you ready for this??? Drum roll please......
101 people were there!!! :eek: Isn't that awesome? That's 77% of everyone that signed up to come. Not too shabby huh?
I also wanted to take the time to thank everyone for coming and those of you that come up to me to thank me for arranging the meet & greet. It is truly appreciated. I also enjoyed running in to people around the ship all week.
It was noon and the workers were cleaning up while we sat around and chatted with old and new friends. We knew it was time to head to the latitudes meeting in the Spinnaker so off we went.
Now it was time to head off to the lush party, I mean latitudes party. This is that party that everyone shows up to because you get free drinks and as much as you want. They served rum punch and....I don't even know because I didn't drink anything else not did I care. I just wanted my first drink in my hand.
We sat over on the funky chairs in the corner and the servers started coming around with trays full of drinks. Here they come. The anticipation is building.... oops they ran out. The server headed back to the bar to gather more. Ok, my mouth is watering at this point. They are headed this way again...serving those that just came in and sat along the wait. It's almost our turn, oops they ran out again. Back to the bar for more. Ok, saliva is running down my mouth at this point, the excitement is building even more. Whew, they finally made it to us. But what's this? All the rum punch is gone? :confused: Ok, I've had enough. Up to the bar I went and grabbed my own. Ahhh, that's better. This is pretty much what you had to do if you wanted any where we were sitting. Everyone in our party decided the party was getting started without us and we weren't about to miss out on this freebie. The same thing happened to the "snacks". By the time they got to us, we were lucky to have a piece of cheese available.
First drink in my hand and then it was gone. Time for another...and another and ??? I lost count. I don't even remember what they said there. We were having a good time with our friends and that's all that matter. I know my name wasn't called for any of the prizes and I needed another drink to wash my sorrows away because of it.
Hubby was feeling good. Wifey was feeling good.
We were both doing well. I kept my name badge on just in case I needed to remember who I was.
The party was over way too fast.
Well it was time to head off from the party...well, we were trying to at least. The ship was rocking a bit, or maybe that was just us. :D
Munchkin wanted to go to the kids club. She has had enough of this adult time and events and was ready to have her own fun with her friends.
We dropped her off and decided to head to the Deal or No Deal show. We seem to always go to this, but we never play. It's just fun to watch. We know that it seems like no one ever gets any higher than the free photo from the photography studio or the $50, so we never waste our money. Instead, we just waste our time watching.
We sit on the edge of our chairs, biting our nails on the "offers" that come in from the banker and thinking to ourselves...TAKE IT YOU FOOL. That's way more money than you came with or invested in the card! But they never do and hope for more. I always wonder what the audience would do if they actually took the money right off the bat. If they did, that means the audience doesn't get a chance to win anything because it takes several rounds for them to even have enough people to start to win the lowest prize. Maybe that's why I never play...I would take the money and run and have everyone on the ship after me the rest of the cruise.
After the show, since it was in the theater, which happens to be located right next to the casino, which you must walk through in order to get out of the there if you are on that floor...yea, they like to sucker you into playing and I'm a sucker!!
We headed in with $20, I sat down at my favorite game: CAVE KING. I sat there for awhile playing but it just wasn't paying off for me. I decided I would give Gold Fish a try.
I invested my last $10 into the game and decided that's where I would stay until my money was gone. It was a .02 cent game but this one is different than the other 2 Gold Fish games. When you put your money in this one, your $10 turns into $5 where the others don't and shows you your actual cash. Ugh, it felt like I had no money.
It kept me playing for awhile. The hubby had already spent his $20 and was hanging out behind me. I have this thing...he is unlucky for me. Every time he has ever came around me, I never win. When he walks away, I usually hit. So he tries to hide off in the distance like if he wasn't there and I can still see him with the eyes in the back of head (I'm a mom you know). So I sent him away to get some drinks. The minute he walks away I hit the bonus round. Go me. Now this particular Gold Fish game gave you 12 bonus spins where the other 2 games only gave you 7 I think. So here I am playing the bonus round and I hit another bonus round while playing my bonus round. Woo hoo. Then while still in the bonus round, I hit another bonus round. My husband comes over while he's looking at the money stacking up and I gave him that look and he headed off around the corner only to come back to see me hitting even another bonus round.
By the time my bonuses were over there were a few gathered behind me listening to the loud sounds of the machine going off. My husband came back and was like OMG! :eek: It had said I won $300 and something and he was about to jump up and down for joy. Now remember how I said that when I put the money in the machine it only showed half??? Well yea, he had NO CLUE how much I had really won. No clue at all. I kept starring at him as it was adding up and when it was over he looked at me and said "cash out babe". I looked at him and said "Are you ready for this?" and hit the cash out button (knowing what I had REALLY won). Then I handed him the receipt and I thought he was going to pass out. WHAT?!?!? How much did you win???? I smiled and said "I knew you had no clue how much it really was".....$667.04 on that $10 investment. :D
We walked out of the casino with grins from ear to ear and shopping on our minds.
I always seem to be lucky on the cruise ships (with the exception of the Star where that will remain the only lucky cruise my husband had instead of me). I have always managed to double my money and I have won jackpots on the machines before (Epic won the jackpot and bought my hubby a new black diamond wedding ring). :p
So now is a good time to go pick up the munchkin and head to get a celebration lunch.
Yep, that was our celebration lunch...a burger and fries and it was yummy.
I snapped a picture of the sun out the window. It turned out pretty neat with the tint on the windows. I found that in order to get a decent picture when trying to shoot out a window, if you put the camera lens directly up to the glass, it turns out pretty good.
Sun was going down and it was beautiful. So we are out in the middle of the ocean headed toward Jamaica and this floats by...hmmm The Sunshine is off in the distance following us.
And the sun finally sets...
Sakari insist on one last picture in front of the "beautiful flower tree mommy" as we are on our way out.
The Spinnaker was hosting a party meet and greet picture opportunity for Spongebob and Sandy tonight at 6pm. So that's where we were heading off to.
We got front row seats. Sakari loves her daddy so much.
Here comes Spongebob and Sandy, dancing down the isle and onto the stage. They do their little Spongebob Square Pants routine and then it's time for pictures.
They told us to line up along the isle (of course the isle we were not seated next to) and we watched everyone run like if it was a Black Friday sale. They announced that since they had such a big turn out that we would have to take family pictures first and then if there was time, you could get back in line and take single pictures of just the child.
They allow you to take pictures against the green back drop, but you are not allowed to take your own. You hand them your camera and once the ship photographer has taken their picture, the Nick member will take a picture using your camera.
When you are done with the picture, they have you exit down the isle on the side we were sitting on and they hand you a napkin with their "autograph" on it.
Here is the picture they ended up taking of us (they add the background before processing it of course).
We head back to the room for a minute and found our VIP plate sitting on the bed.
We decided to do a little "shopping" and headed off to the duty free store.
I always buy a tee shirt with the NCL logo and the name of the cruise ship on it. I looked everywhere and couldn't find it. I approached one of the employees and ask about it. He told me that they did not have any with the "Jewel" logo on it, but they do have a new line with the NCL wear and pointed to it. I was shocked. What??? You don't have any shirts with the Jewel name on it? Seriously? I have purchased one from each ship with the name on it. I start looking at this display with the NCL logo shirt all folded up and rubber banded with a hat included and guess what....I found it! It's exactly the same as my Star one, but says Jewel on it. I looked at him and said "Are you sure about" that and flipped the shirt out to show him my prized possession. Now I have to say more conversation went on prior to this and I found the guy to be a little rude and cold. So after finding it and asking him if he was sure, I had to add "I guess you don't know your product as much as I do" and walked away like a lioness that had just captured her own prey without the help of the leader. Yep, bright pink for me this time around.
I also wanted a hoodie, but couldn't find one with the Jewel on it, so I settled for one that said Caribbean. It was still kinda chilly at night and I figured this would come in handy and definitely get a lot of use during the winter and going to school.
Just so you know, NCL changed their latitudes program to instead of getting a certain percentage off your purchases at the store, you now only get that percentage off NCL logo items.
I ended up also purchasing a neat light purple wind breaker and Sakari always gets to pick out a stuffed animal each cruise (let me tell you, she has a bunch of whales from cruises and I forbid her to grab another this time around...she's a whale freak. She can tell you each whale: this is an orca, this is a blue whale, this is a sperm whale, this is a beluga whale, this is a shark whale, this is a humpback whale...and so on) So she ended up picking out a pretty Mermaid. (Pictures later...she would not give it up and carried it with her everywhere she could including the kids club).
Now when my husband picked this jacket out, he liked this color. I took it off the hanger and proceeded to try it on. That same rude employee that doesn't know their own product came over to me and told me "We have a dressing room right over there" and pointed to it. I looked at him like he had lost his mind and at that point I was kinda tired of his "rudeness" and said "I'm trying on a jacket dude. Do you really think I need a dressing room for that because I sure don't." I think it was time to take my purchases and leave. At this point I was getting a little irritated and Sakari was ready to head to the kids club to show off her new toy.
So we dropped Sakari off and she knew it was Princess night and wanted to get her face painted and do the parade.
We later caught up with them during the parade around the ship and they were singing songs and chanting. It was cute like always and she gets so excited when she finds us. As soon as she seen daddy she tried to run and give him a hug and they quickly grabbed her and told her she had to stay with the club.
We tried running around the other side and getting ahead of them so that we could get more pictures, but they never came. We back tracked and found that they had stopped to get a picture taken on the steps in the Atrium by the ship photographer.
We didn't have plans for tonight and wasn't interested in seeing the show. So we found our cruise buddies and hung out in the Atrium for awhile just chatting until it was time to pick up Sakari from the kids club at 10:30pm.
Coming out of the kids club with her new prized possession from this cruise.
Would you get a load of that face and those eyelashes. She was a beautiful princess tonight and she didn't mind telling us that.
We headed to the Blue Lagoon for a late night snack (truth be known, I wanted to get my cheesecake fix on). We were seated and we ordered. Then the wait started again. We waited and waited....for 40 minutes before our food ever came. Really? There really wasn't a lot of people in here at this time, so I'm not sure what the problem was.
We entertained ourselves by taking pictures. Sakari was proud of her face and her mermaid so she insisted that I take picture after picture of her in different positions with the mermaid. I won't bore you with all of them.
I ordered wings and the artichoke dip with chips.
The wings were yummy as always
But the artichoke dip...um. I went to dip and it was runny. It wasn't dip. It wasn't soup. It was even juice like. It was more like water! I called the waiter over and showed them and ask nicely what was wrong with it and if it should be like this? (Which I've ordered this on every cruise and already knew it shouldn't be this way). I couldn't even get it to stick to a chip.
He took the plate back and said he would take care of it. Another lady came over and ask what the problem was. I told her and informed her that he was taking care of it. Then a few minutes later another guy (who seemed to be overly dressed to just be a waiter/cook/server) and said he had been informed about the dip and was having it recooked for me. He explained it had to be cooked for a certain amount of time at a certain temperature.
Well.........it came back out and was exactly the same. They gave many apologies and ask if I wanted something else. I told them it was fine (after all, I was really only there for the cheesecake) and ask for a slice of cheesecake, no toppings with whipped cream.
NOW, my day had been made.
I didn't bother to try the dip anymore on the cruise. So, I can't tell you if they ever got it right or not.
By this time we had spent so much time here (and it was only supposed to be a late night snack before heading to our room) that Sakari was super tired and falling asleep at the table. What is the deal with the service this time around? Why was it so slow all the time? I understand it was sailing at full capacity, but they should know this and have the staff to accommodate it.
We woke Sakari up the best we could. Thank goodness our room was on the same floor and just down the hall a ways. She basically sleep walked all the way back to the room. Eyes closed and all. It was kinda hilarious to watch actually. She walked holding daddys hand and she appeared somewhat intoxicated. When we came to a turn, daddy turned her and she kept walking.
We had made it back to our room and the towel animal of the night was a elephant. We were happy to see they decided to give us one tonight. We were also able to get our latitudes mints.
Sakari woke up long enough to see the towel animal, eat the mints and find Trixie.
This time Trixie had climbed up over the cabinet with the mirror to hide. I figured since she watched over Sakari last night, she decided to watch over us tonight. I guess that meant we were going to have to behave ourselves. Oh well, we were tired anyhow.
We kept hearing a whistling noise. We discovered it was coming from the sliding glass doors from the balcony and noticed once again, the door had been left unlocked. We opened the door and discovered the air was now very warm out and it was time to enjoy this Caribbean weather!
We also noticed that there were dirty cups on the balcony again and on the desk. Obviously the room steward was out there since it was unlocked, but what did he do if he's not cleaning?
He did refill our ice bucket, but did not change out the glasses this time. It was just weird.
Our dailies informed us that we needed to turn our clocks forward 1 hr and we also received a letter stating that someone had lost their luggage and wanting to know if anyone received it by mistake and if they would kindly return it. That was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. I sure hope they found it.
So off to bed for us and we were kinda happy that we met our friends in the atrium because if we hadn't, I probably would have set our wake up call for really early because I thought we were in Jamaica the next day. :o Man talk about rushing things. Geesh. I was very relieved to know that we had a day to sleep in or not. So I decided not to do the wake up call this time around (as much as I'm always afraid of missing breakfast <--my favorite meal of the day).