Mitsugirlys STAR end of the world/pre-Christmas cruise detailed review & pictorial
Yawn…I had sat by phone alarm wake-up call to 8am since this was going to be our first sea day. I have to say that if you use the phone system on the ship for your wake-up call, you had better be someone that sleeps light. “burring, burring” (done in an office phone sound…it will only happen a few times and then it stops. It will wait for about another 5 minutes or so and do it again until you eventually pick up the phone and hang it back up to get it to stop, or after a while it will give up on you and just decide that a tornado wouldn’t wake you up at this point. If you’re a deep sleeper, you will never hear this thing. You better bring your “BURRRRRRING, BURRRRRINGGG” type of alarm clock to sit beside your head!
Ok, so rise and shine…it was definitely shining through the newly acquired window I received in my upgrade. I jumped in the shower to wake myself up then start to get ready. I’m always first up and let my husband and daughter sleep until I’m done with my shower and getting ready since it takes me a lot longer to get ready.
We all get ready and I just remembered that I forgot to charge my one dead camera and my nearly dead second sister camera. Hmmm, that’s funny, I unpacked yesterday and don’t recall pulling the charger out. I’m looking around the room for where it might be. I’m not finding it. I’m going in to panic mode. I’m pulling out the stored luggage under the bed…nothing. However, I did manage to find my hair ties (whew) in one of the front pockets (which is where I shove those last minute items I forgot to pack while I’m walking out the door)…my hair will survive this cruise. But still no charger (or extra battery for that matter). I’m full throttle rampage in the room…looking in cabinets, drawers, previously dusty shelves, suitcases, carry-on bag, make up bag…NOTHING. Nothing at all! GASP!!! I back track my steps before leaving. I had been charging all of the camera batteries the night before. I had one left to go that I left charging in the wall the night before leaving for NOLA. With the fiasco and bad start with the car issues the night before….I got it! THE CHARGER AND EXTRA BATTERY IS STILL LEFT IN THE DARN WALL BEING CHARGED!!!! Double gasp. What am I going to do now???? I am almost in tears and I’m using my own foot to kick myself like a kid about to have a full blown tantrum. How could I do this? How was I going to get by the entire cruise? I’m a photography freak. I can’t go an entire vacation without a camera taking pictures of all of the things we do and especially without taking pictures at all of the places I made reservations for in port. I was responsible for coming back and reporting on those places. I had made multiple promises to people on certain threads that I would come back with TONS of pictures and descriptions of my day there. I can’t let them down. I can’t disappoint. I can’t not look back on my cruise and not have any pictures. I can’t not have any pictures to come home and rub in the faces of everyone I know how I was in the Caribbean and they were in the 23 degree weather back home. My life is over. Just over. What now? I was a complete failure at planning this cruise!
Needless to say, I was in a quiet slumber mood that morning. But, I had hope. I would run to the photo shop when they were open and see if they had a charger or at least a universal charger.
We went to breakfast at the buffet and I can’t say I was really too impressed and not hard to please. The eggs were a little runny and the bacon was mixed between not cooked and crispy so you had to dig for your choice. I also tried the biscuits and gravy. Gravy was good but the biscuits were pretty darn hard, which made it unappealing. The French toast and pancakes were awesome as well. There was the normal watered down drinks and orange juice, which was good. I normally go to the kids section and grab a few cartons of chocolate milk and that works for me.
Then it was almost time for our Meet & Greet. I called our representative that helped me set it up because I was concerned if everyone would be able to find the meeting place. Two days prior to leaving for the cruise, the rep contacted me via email to let me know that our 86 person group was going to need to be moved to a bigger location to accommodate them. Since it was such last minute I only had about 2-3 people that posted on our cc roll call saying they had read the message. She said to meet her 1 hour before it started and she would give me the name tags and sign-up sheet and she would stand at the other location (which I didn’t realize, but it was down stairs) to let people know that it was now located at the Ginza.
I showed up the hour prior and people were already starting to pile in to Ginza and sit down, but the rep was not here yet. I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I went ahead and sat down amongst the crowd. After about 15 minutes an employee came in and started talking to the crowd seated. They were the naughty group that was here for the MISSED mandatory (hey guys, it’s mandatory for a reason…did you think you were really going to get out of it by not showing up to the first one the first day?) life boat drill. Um, I felt like a scolded child sitting there and finally got up and we moved toward the back of Ginza to another seat. I got a lot of glares at that moment with people wondering why I was just walking away.
They had a nice little table set up with coffee and cookies and I assumed it was for our meet & greet that was to follow this naughty group meeting. People got up and started helping themselves. Gasp. So you deliberately miss the MANDATORY life boat drill announced over the loud speaker, throughout the ship over and over, you notice that the ship is basically empty because everyone is in their meeting location, so you are required to come to the “naughty class” inside, in the a/c, and you think they are serving you beverages and cookies for being naughty? I’ve already had a bad non-battery charger morning and at this point, it wasn’t getting any better.
So the naughty class was finally over and people were grabbing their one last stack of cookies and leaving and FINALLY in walks the rep for our meet & greet. She gives me the name tags and sign up sheet and then goes down stairs and actually puts a sign out to let people know that the meeting was now upstairs. Now I know it is NCL’s policy that you are not allowed to put out any signs regarding meetings and such, but she did. I thought that was nice of her (and it wasn’t a small sign either, it was a huge posted board on a stand sign).
Meanwhile, I resumed my position at the front table in Ginza. An older man wondered in and started helping himself to the coffee and cookies. Ugh. I did see one of the staff members tell him “those are for a meeting that they are holding here in a few minutes and not for the general passengers.” He looked at him and grabbed some more. He continued standing there, eating and drinking and went back for a few more for the road and then left.
I got to meet one of the ladies on the roll call and her bf that had been on the ship already for 2 weeks and this was his 3rd week. He was hilarious and very outgoing. I told him about my camera battery charger issue and he said he would stand up in front of everyone once the meeting was over and announce that we were in desperate need of a charger to match my battery.
The officer’s came, including the Captain, and introduced themselves to us, passed out the normal “special call-me-if-you-need-anything” cards like they always do. The Captain made the announcement that since we had such a big turnout for our group, he would like to extend an invitation to tour the bridge with him next Saturday. What a treat. I have never done that before. I’ve seen it from a distance before, but never did the “tour” inside. I was looking forward to that.
Then they had a “do you have any questions or complaints” session. They told us that if we had any complaints, they really wanted to know about it and if enough people complained, then that’s the only way that NCL would ever change anything. I really don’t like to complain and I take things with a grain of salt, so I kept my mouth shut until they started to walk away. I pulled one of them aside (I believe he was the director of housekeeping), I don’t know why I chose him, but he was the outgoing, goofy, friendly one that had mentioned “problems”…so I started to complain about them removing the “Taste of India”. I told him how much I loved that place when we were on the Spirit and it was sad to see they did away with it. He told me that there wasn’t enough interest in it. I thought that was weird because I know they use to talk about it on here and everyone was always raving about it and saying “if you want a seat, you better sign up when you first get on the ship because they fill up quickly”. Those that don’t know what the Taste of India WAS, it was like a 26 course meal were you got to try everything possible and it only happen 1 night out of the cruise and it was limited seating…the best part…it was only like $10 pp. WOW…you talk about value. I had never tried Indian food before and it was definitely a treat for me. I liked just about everything they served with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 things. He ask me for my name and room number and said he would see if he could do something for me to make up for it. I had no clue what he had in mind and had thought “maybe” he would send me to a specialty restaurant on the house or something. The only restaurant we had planned on eating at was Ginza to begin with. That would have been a treat!
“John” on the roll call came through for me and made the “announcement” trying to locate someone on the ship that had a Canon like mine that might have a charger I could use to charge my batteries. We got 2 bites. Yippee! They were both going to be at the latitudes meeting so we decided we would meet up there for me to try their chargers (which sounded like they would work and were the same kind). I breathed a sigh of relief.
I was kind of disappointed that once the meet & greet was over everyone kind of scattered and most just up and left. I have never been to a meet & greet that did that. We have been talking to each other and building up the excitement for months (some of over a year) and people didn’t even stick around to meet each other in person. They had also talked about a cabin crawl and a possible slot pull and we had all decided that after the M&G we would all stick around and discuss it. I guess that didn’t happen. The only ones left standing around were 2 groups…the group I was sitting by and discussing my camera battery issues and another group. I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to personally introduce myself and meet everyone since I was the “planner” of this M&G and I put a lot of hard work in to setting it up, keeping in contact with NCL on head counts, keeping this list going of attendees, and trying to pump everyone up about going. Oh well, tis life I guess.
We didn’t have very much time before we were to go to the latitudes meeting and I wasn’t about to miss this. I have never been to one and had no idea what to expect. I did read on here that you get free booze, so it was a do not miss on my list this time around. We ran back to the room to grab our “tickets” to get in and headed toward the Spinnaker Lounge.
When we arrived at the Spinnaker Lounge, the staff was collecting your ticket to get in and patrolling the area to make sure people like the cookie snatching guy at our meet & greet didn’t get by to take all the freebies.
When we entered, wow…IT WAS PACKED. I guess I should have figured it would be. I mean NCL does make you a latitude member after your first cruise. But I guess I just didn’t think it would be that packed.
I had no idea what to expect. I just came for the free booze! I had never gone to the party because it just sounded kinda cheezy. Standing around having a glass of wine with people you don’t know? Talking about maybe your next cruise? I don’t know. I had no idea what they do there. I just always thought it would be awkward.
We sat down on one of the couches toward the back and the staff came around with the premade drink selection. They had white wine, red wine, rum punch, and some type of banana thing I think. I played it safe and took the rum punch, the hubby took the yellow contraption and they were fabulous. (We are not wind drinkers and have never acquired the taste for it). There was a couple sitting beside us and I do have to mention “older”, well “much older”, like probably late 80’s older. She had white wine. She had white wine. She had white wine. Then when the waiter passed by, yep, you guessed it, she had white wine. She did not let anyone past her without grabbing another. I think she was drinking 3 per my one. My husband and I sat there with our mouths open and had to keep pushing our jaw up. Man that lady could put away the wine! They also came around serving snacks, cheese and some type of thing (that I did not like) that looked like a sponge on the bottom with shrimp and other toppings on them. Can someone tell me what these spongy, bland things are? I would later see them at the café being dipped in chocolate???
We spent the next 10 minutes scanning the entire room (it was pretty dark in there) thinking to ourselves “there is NO WAY we are going to find those 2 roll call people that might possibly have a charger for my camera in here”. My husband actually got up at one point and walked up and down each isle trying to spot them while I saved his seat. They finally found me instead. The charger was a no-go. You talk about disappointment settling in all over again. I looked toward my right where the older lady was sitting and now wished that I was in her position and just plastered so I wouldn’t feel the pain that was settling in now.
Then they thanked us for being members and had a drawing. If they called your room number, you won something. Do I remember what they won? Nope, sure don’t. I didn’t win, so I didn’t care.
Once the meeting was over, we made a mad dash for the doors and I headed…um, I don’t know where I was heading. I thought I was heading toward the room so that we could get our bathing suits on but the hubby quickly informed me I was going the wrong way.
Once we made it back to the room, the room steward had cleaned the room and moved our bed back to the middle??? I thought that was strange. So, I moved it back to where we wanted it against the wall so we had more room. What do you think I seen when I moved them back to the wall? Yep, the dust bunnies were still there. I did think it was strange that we had not met our room steward at all yet. No site of him and no stopping by for introductions like our previous cruises. This would be about the same the remainder of the cruise with the exception of once and it was only long enough for me to tell him to leave the beds where I put them (in a nice way of course and I gave him an explanation of why) and to tell him to remove the items that I had taken out of the fridge that had been sitting on the counter the last three days he was there (no I didn’t say the last three days, but just simply ask him to remove them out of the room). That was the first and last time we ever seen him. Every cruise I have been on with NCL, the room steward was around the first day, introducing themselves to us and we would see them every day and they would call us by name and ask if we needed anything. Not this one! I had also noticed that 2 of our towels had not been changed out and we only had 2 pool towels.
We changed in to our bathing suits and headed for the kiddie pool. I went out the door one way and the hubby went the other. Oops, I went the wrong way again. Reverse! Now, remember my “tour” of the ship? Well remember how you walk through the buffet in order to get to the kiddie pool? I thought it was odd to have to walk through there every time to get to the pool. It felt strange. Walking back through there all wet with our bathing suits on felt even worse. I did not like this layout.
Sakari had some fun in the pool trying each of the slides a few times…and well you know the rest of the story from the report a few pages back. Chlorine water, small slides, small pool, no room to sit. Yes, I plopped down on the pool deck and remained there until she decided she wanted to go to the big pool because I think this just wasn’t too fun for her and I know it sure wasn’t fun for us.
We headed to the big pool…in order for all the evil eyes to glare at me while I looked like a bad mom. Remember that story? We won’t get in to it again. I have recovered from it now and wish to never relive it again. It will be another 5 months from now when she will get back in another pool…I really hope she doesn’t forget to swim upon hitting salt water again. If she does I’m blaming it on daddy and he can look like the bad person this time around.
Once we were done swimming we went back to the room to change and head to get a bite to eat. The munchkin wanted to go visit her friends and we dropped her off at the kids club. It was the Princess Day and I knew she would like that. The dailies showed that they would be having a Princess Parade later and every single cruise we have missed any of the parades they’ve had. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss them this time around. On our March Pearl cruise, we missed it, but my oldest daughter did manage to catch her little sister parading through the buffet area that night and got me a picture.
We headed to the gift shop and purchased me a tee shirt and cap combo and scoped out what stuffed animals they had to offer. Sakari always gets a stuffed animal from the shop each cruise and they still remain some of her favorites.
For those of you that have heard rumors about NCL closing their kids club every day from 12-2 and 5-7pm in order for the parents to actually take the time to feed their kids (yes, I still can’t get over this…who drops their kids off in the morning and don’t come back until 10:30pm to pick up your child(ren) and not feed them all day??? It’s sad that NCL has to adapt a policy like this in order to make sure that the kids aren’t being left there and not fed. However, people like US are not on that “feeding” schedule. We eat dinner LATE and always have because of my work hours. So, picking our daughter up at 5pm is not going to get her anything but a snack because I guarantee right before that, she had just had lunch, so it’s snack time for her if anything)…whew, anyhow…I believe that each ship must be adapting their own policy. The Star’s policy at the time we were there: they were only closed between 5-7pm on Monday and Saturday only. Not too bad. But still, it kind of takes the “freestyle” out of the cruise if they are closing at specific times because we may be planning a show or something at that time. It just makes planning a little more difficult.
We headed to the Casino, I didn’t do too badly, not as good as I usually do, but the hubby was doing good again. He must have rubbed a Genie in a bottle prior to coming or something because he has NEVER had any luck on slots…NEVER.
Once we had spent our slot play money we decided to head out and stroll around…we hear this really loud chanting and singing…Oops, we completely forgot once again that the kids were having their Princess parade around the ship. YIKES. I’m fumbling to get my camera out of my purse and hoping there is a little bit of life left in the battery to get a picture…it didn’t fail me. (I had been conserving the battery all day long knowing that once this second sister camera died, I was done).
After a few pictures, I looked at the hubby and told him, ok there is NO WAY I’m going this entire cruise without a camera. We are going to the photo shop on board and see if they have a battery charger…anything. I’m warning you ahead of time, if they don’t we are purchasing another camera! He did not question me at all. He knows how I am with my pictures and cameras. This was like the worse disaster ever-to be camera less.
When we got to the photo store…no battery chargers. No universal chargers…no chargers period. Grrrr. Ok, plan 2 and one that I didn’t want to resort to. I ask the employee where you would be able to buy a charger in port. I’m informed that the only place that I would probably have any luck would be Cozumel and unfortunately that was our last stop. Ok, plan 3…show me your cameras that are waterproof. We spent about an hour there testing cameras, getting information and I walked out with my new camera. An Olympus Tough something or other in BRIGHT PINK! Ha! It really sucked that I had a new camera that worked nothing like my old one and I had to try to learn all of this by tomorrow morning for the first port…Costa Maya. The employee suggested that I go around taking tons of pictures tonight to drain the battery all the way and give it a full nights charge. So, I did just that practicing. I am one of those people that will accept and adapt to change (I have to be while working at the hospital and all), but learning something new in a short period of time like this with no training is just unnerving to me.
We let our daughter pick out 2 items from the store. She wisely chose a dolphin that was rubber and she would be able to play with it in the water and she also picked out a “Willie” stuffed whale and carried him around everywhere she went for the rest of the cruise…even to the kids club.
Once my camera died, we all headed back to the room to start the charge and get ready for bed. Hmm, still no clean towels and 1 wash rag is missing. Wow, Santa brought Sakari more mints. He’s such a nice Santa. Santa also made another towel animal…but of course I didn’t have a camera with a charged battery. Three cameras’ that was useless. The hubby did manage to get a picture with his phone, but I don’t have it.
Tomorrow was our first port, arriving in Costa Maya at 10am. So, I set the not-so-loud-across-the-room phone to wake us up at 7:30am.