Vacation Recap: Norwegian Gem Cruise July 2011

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So, I consider this our first “real cruise.”  Definitely Husband’s, sorta mine.  In college I went on a very short “Rock Boat” cruise with some of my favorite bands, but this was different.  It was a BIG Cruise 7 days to Bermuda!  We absolutely LOVED out experience on the Norwegian Gem.  The service was amazing, the staff impeccable, the ship magnificent, our room just perfect!  Here are some highlights:

Our Room, Especially the Balcony

The inside was more than sufficient, but the outside?! Now THAT was incredible.

The view was incredible and we loved chilling out there at night star gazing.

We had a LOT of photo ops on the balcony:


I actually read an entire 399 page book while on that balcony 😉  it was so good!

(Source)

The Various Restaurants

OK, so I thought naively that cruises well ALL inclusive…by “all” I mean ALL.  Not so much.  Neither alcohol nor soda is “free.”  In fact, Husband and I got a “soda package” that was about 7 dollars a day per person that allowed us “bottomless FOUNTAIN soda” not cans (which sometimes waiters served anyway and then you had to pay.

RANT:

Waiters do NOT like waiting on customers who have the “soda package sticker.”  They will downright ignore your order and walk away!  It is very rude and kinda sucks.  Some people just don’t or can’t drink!  We can still tip!

All in all I thought the food on the ship was so-so.  Minus some of the nicer restaurants that had a surcharge, I felt that the food was bland and not always fresh. I guess that is to be expected of a cruise ship that serves 4,000 people for 7 days straight without supply replenishment.  Anyway, some notable restaurants (all below had a minimal surcharge of about 10-15 dollars per person) were:

Tequila Latin Tapas 

Husband was especially excited for this place because his favorite Philadelphia restaurant is called TequilaS and he LOVES him some Mexican food.  I, myself, not so much, but I made do.  So all in all, Tequilas of Philadelphia definitely wins out, but this was OK. We started out with loaded nachos and chicken taquitos.  Husband got a beef burrito and I got “lobster soft tacos.”  They were good, but I was pretty sure they took the lobster meat in cream sauce from our meal the night before (see below) and threw it in a soft shell.  Luckily, I enjoyed last night’s meal 🙂

Le Bistro

This French hotspot was my absolute favorite on the ship.  From start to finish it was magnificent, including the cute ambience, gorgeous view and impeccable service.  I started with an AMAZING four cheese cream of mushroom soup and then had the lobster (out of the shell).  This was no typical lobster, people.  This lobster was smothered in something creamy and french that I don’t want to know what it consisted of.  It was delish.  In all honesty I can’t remember what Husband had since I was so consumed in my own gluttony delicious meal.  I think he started with the french onion soup.  In any case my camera clearly ate the pictures 😉  It was sooooo good though.  Trust me.

Cagnes Steakhouse 

This was my second favorite restaurant and this first we visited on the ship.  I had a delicious lobster bisque to start with and then the strip steak with fresh mushrooms and mushroom sauce…and then I turned into a mushroom. hehe I kid.  But it was DELISH!  Husband had the strip steak as well and I forget what to start with.  But I think the star of the meal MIGHT have been the apple crumb cobbler with vanilla ice cream that I had for dessert.  YUM.  Cue the mouth watering.

What we did on the ship

One might think “wow, 7 days is a long time to be on a ship, what did you do?”  Which I wondered as well.  Let me share some ways we soaked up the 7 lovely days (besides eating our face off- see above)…

–  The Thermal Room at the Spa- see THIS POST for more on this

– Worked out- until my ankle became useless due to my misfortune on the ship track

– Read/Relaxed a LOT on our balcony (oh and photo-opped hehe)

– Hung out by the pool with the fam or in the quiet area (sun deck) where we got accosted for our daybed several times

– Gambled at the casino (yup, this gal can get some itchy palms!)

– Took a backstage tour of the boat (which unfortunately ended in me=seasick) but was quite interesting and probably deserves its own post

– Had drinks at the many bars on the ship, our favorite being the champagne/piano bar and continued my love affair with PROSECCO!  (I said it like that each time- Pro-SEC-ooooooooooH hahahahah)

By the way, according to this site,

There are many differences between prosecco and champagne, though both wines come from Europe, are effervescent, and tend toward a dry rather than sweet flavor. Yet each is limited by definitions placed on it by country, and while there are many brands of each type produced, they have to be produced in very specific ways. Some other differences include aging and pricing.

First, champagne has a specific definition. It is effervescent wine made in the Champagne region of France. It can only be produced there and all other wines that are effervescent are sparkling wines. Even when the champagne giant Louis Roederer, known for Dom Perignon and Cristal, began to produce champagne-like wines in the Anderson Valley in California, these could not be called champagnes. Instead they are sparkling wines because they are not made in the designated French region. This doesn’t make such wines inferior, but it does mean they’re not champagne.

When considering prosecco, there are some similarities. Prosecco obviously cannot be champagne since it is made in Italy. Like champagne, real versions of this sparkling wine are limited to being produced in a specific region of Italy called the Veneto region. A person can’t make this wine anywhere else, even if he uses the same grapes and the same process.

I THINK I had the Aneri (brand) Prosecco

And just like that, friends, the cruise was over.  I was nervous that I would get sick of being on the boat for 7 whole days; I’m known to be quite an antsy person, but I didn’t really feel an itch to get off until the last day (which I’m sure was not helped by my vomitous seasickness).  And somehow I forgot in my post of blunders, the final “cap on the whole trip!”  So we get priority disembarkment; Husband wanted to get to baseball.  Fine, I was definitely ready to get back to dry land; so 8:15 am prompt, Husband arrives to our car, runs back to where I am anxiously waiting with our luggage, and the CAR IS DEAD!  ARGH!  No, we did NOT leave anything on as I am sure you are wondering.  BUMMER!  So I flag down this lovely gentlemen also disembarking from the ship, and ask him to give us a jump.  He obliges and guess what?!? His car is dead! ARGH again!  So the port authority men end up giving us a jump with their mobile jump box. They said this happens a lot when cars are sitting for a week or more.  Awesome.  Needless to say, I kissed the ground when we got home, but we have MNAY awesome memories of our July 2011 Cruise!

 

 

The SPA- Norwegian Gem

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The Spa.  OH the spa.  It definitely deserves its own post.  Although I was unable to receive any treatments (we were scheduled for a couple’s massage but I got seasick, yuck) we did get a “thermal spa” pass which gave us access to the amenities.  Oh the amenities.  We definitely got our money’s worth, especially after our insane bike ride!  The spa, called Mandara (I believe it is actually a chain) was at the bow of the boat and offered incredible views.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Vacation Recap: Bermuda July 2011

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Hi there!  I hope you enjoyed the rediculousness of my last post highlighting the various disasters that I ran into (literally) while away on vacation.  I plan on recapping the rest of the vacay (the wonderful parts) in two posts: one on the cruise itself and one (this one) on Bermuda.

Bermuda Day 1:  The BIKE!

So, being a wuss, I was completely against renting scooters as tourists traditionally do in Bermuda.  I had heard too many horror stories of broken bones and body casts and wasn’t about to risk my life…so I insisted that we instead rent peddle bikes.  You know, like bikes you ride on the street, or at the shore.

Right… great idea (note the sarcasm).  I have NO ONE to blame but myself for the accident (read the previous post for details) but other than that, the day turned out really neat.  I will admit, the 18 or so mile ride was quite rigorous (hilly and hot) death defying, thrilling, but gorgeous.

Gee, maybe I crashed my bike because I, Ansel Adams, thought I could photograph WHILE riding…

We actually found an amazing rail path that had been used long ago that was free of cars but plentiful in scenery that kept us safe for about 8 miles.

Fun with the self timer (even among the injured!)

Husband and I decided to call it a day (finally) after stopping at a beautiful beach called Church Bay to lounge for a bit.

Church Bay

We were both starving so we pulled over to a local (tourist) spot to grab lunch.  Now, I mention this because let me tell you; Bermuda is SO expensive!  I got a cheeseburger, Husband got fish and chips, and we eat got a diet coke.  65 bucks.  YUP.  Ya heard!  Can you believe that?!?!  Anyway, we finally made it back to the dockyard to the safety of our boat.

Night view

The plan for that evening was to meet Ian’s family (who happened to be on our cruise unbeknownst to us prior- HOW FUNNY and AWESOME?!?) and take a ferry into Hamilton for a street fair.

Given the “size of our party” we inevitably missed the ferry but definitely made up for it by visiting the local hot spot, the Frog and Onion Pub at the dockyard.  Although it was another heart-attack of a bill 😉  we had SUCH a good time with the family and here, I believe, my love affair with PROSECCO began!

We seriously had SUCH a good time

"Adult" (yea right, who are we kidding) Table

Kids table

And it was here that the cutest picture known to man was taken:

Then, the goofy “couples shots” and “other” ensued:

Note the arm bandage and ankle brace...cute.

The Husband was getting prematurely undressed hehe LOL! I kid!

Yea...none of us got ANY sun...especially the irish ones 😉

Back on the ship that night, we saw the Cruise band play a 70s rock set on the pool deck.  Good times continued…

DAY 2:  Snorkel!

OK, so I pooped the bed on this one and didn’t bring my camera, but the Husband and I went out on a catamaran and visited a shipwreck site as well as many coral reefs to snorkel around.  It was the BOMB!  Initially I feared what it might do to my various wounds (suspicions confirmed:  it hurt) but it was really neat!  We saw some AMAZING fish.  And continuing with my amazing luck (NOT) I was unable to wear flippers due to my ankle injury (kicking on my own felt much better) and therefore kicked into the coral, hurting the bottom of my foot. YAY.  It was a MINOR bump in the road comparatively 🙂  Anyway, it was gorgeous.

Day 3:  Time to Chill (Before I injure anything else)

Husband and I decided to lounge at the man-made beach at the dockyard.  We figured staying closer to “home” (ship) was a good idea at this point, and the ship was scheduled to leave port at 5pm.  So, we went to said beach for a few hours until we couldn’t take the sweltering anymore and we decided to visit the onsite museum and old military fort.  This was RIGHT up Husband’s alley.

Included in admission was the option to see dolphins!  We got a little peek, but then we had to go because of time (and heat!).

I’ll admit; the whole thing was kinda cool…
And just like that, it was time to get back on the boat and sail back to New York…stay tuned for a Cruise recap!  Oh, and one or two more “gone wrongs!”