I was completely offline from the 11th through the 18th, and I’ve just been lazy since then.
Yes, offline. No cell phone, no internet, no email, nothing. It was quite lovely. What was I doing?
I was on a cruise – my first – and I enjoyed every freaking minute of it.
I flew into Miami on Saturday and met my mom. Our cruise didn’t leave until Sunday, so we stayed at the Hilton downtown on Saturday night. I had found a restaurant online that looked good – Bin No 18 – but wasn’t sure that we were dressed well enough, so we asked the concierge to recommend a nearby restaurant. Lo and behold, he recommended Bin No 18, and assured us that it was very casual, and we were dressed fine. We walked the two blocks to the restaurant, found that it was, indeed, very casual, but the food was amazing, as was the wine and beer list. (I only recognized 4 beers out about 40 on the beer list, if that tells you anything.) Mom and I split the Scottish Salmon Tartar, Seared Sea Scallops, and Bruschetta di Eggplant, and each one was delicious. Mom’s favorite was the salmon, I think my favorite was the scallops.
For breakfast Sunday, we went to this cool little diner called S&S Diner, pretty much around the corner from Bin No 18. It was about 20 barstools around a kitchen, and it was darn good. Also recommended by the concierge. Then on to the Port of Miami about noon to get on the ship. It was a surprisingly smooth process. Our room was at the front of the ship, right above the first break on the water, so with the balcony door open (which it pretty much was full time) it sounded like waves crashing at the beach. Both mom and I slept incredibly well the whole time we were on board.
We departed the port about 4:30 Sunday evening, and spent Monday at sea. We laid out by the pool for a bit, then went to a martini tasting. We got seven different martini’s – only 3 oz each, but 7×3 equals enough to get my mother tipsy, which was quite comical.
Tuesday morning we arrived in Grand Cayman, and took tender boats to the mainland. Mom and I had decided on the “Island Tour and Underwater Observatory” excursion…I wish we had gone snorkeling instead. The tour itself was fine – we stopped at the Turtle Farm, which was really cool, and the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory, and went to Hell (and back), and our tour bus driver was very nice. But the “underwater observatory” ended up being a glass-bottom boat, rather than the underwater tunnel mother thought it was, and it was really crappy. Then we went into a couple of shops along the docks, which were all tourist traps, and it just all felt so…touristy. And I hate touristy.
The turtle farm was quite neat, though, and I’m glad we got to go there. We got to hold a little baby sea turtle – isn’t he cute? Supposedly, if they flap, you should run under their chin to make them stop, to calm them. I personally believe the rub feels good, so they flap on purpose.
Wednesday morning we anchored off Cozumel. Mom and I took a ferry over to Playa del Carmen and took a tour bus to Tulum, which I was really excited about. I had wanted to go to Tulum when I was in Mexico several years ago, but didn’t get the chance. As I didn’t ever really want to go back to the Yucatan again, I figured I had lost my chance. Because it was one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, I jumped at my chance this time, even though it was a 45 minute ferry ride followed by an hour bus ride, one way. That meant we only had a couple of hours there, but I don’t care. It was really neat.
The minute we pulled anchor Wednesday night, and all day Thursday, we could really feel the boat move. The water was rough, and it was pretty windy out. But it was still sunny, so I took advantage of that and laid out for a while. Most of Thursday was spent lazing around, wishing I could live on a cruise ship. I absolutely loved my first cruise, and I want to go again as soon as I can.
It wasn’t all great. The food was kind of hit or miss – I had some fabulous tilapia, and their Indian fare was great (as was breakfast), but a lot of the food was kind of…meh…and the lobster ravioli was really not good. Norwegian is all about “freestyle,” where you can eat wherever and whenever you want. However, often, at regular eating times (6pm, 11am), they’re “all hours” café was all but shut down. If you wanted a hot dog, you were golden, otherwise…not so much. The other bad? While I slept great every night there, I woke up Friday morning with a sore back and hip, which progressed through the next 48 hours into shooting pain down my leg. I think I managed to pinch my sciatic nerve, or something. I’m finally starting to feel better, but Saturday I was in absolute pain. So the bed must not have been that great.
Our room was always super clean, with clean towels every time we turned around. There was a ton of stuff to do, the staff was all super nice. You could almost always get drink specials – $4.25 margaritas or Bloody Mary’s or something else, so they’re not ripping you on the alcohol. We didn’t even venture down to the casino, didn’t even know where it was until the last day. The sushi restaurant was okay – not outstanding, but it was fine. And, of course, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
We arrived in Miami on Friday to rain. (We later found out that parts of Miami were completely flooded, and some people were using kayaks to get around.) Both mom and I caught our flights without any problems, and there were no delays, which was great, considering most of the east coast got hit hard with snow and ice. Of course, arriving back in Charlotte to 30 degrees and rain/sleet was quite a downer, after the gorgeous weather on the trip. But I’m going to try not to complain too much….
I’ve just been playing catch up since then, doing laundry, wrapping Christmas gifts, watching tivo’d shows.
Back to reality.