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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Honeymoon Cruise

The other day, my daughter asked me why I had added" Adventures of Chuck and Karen" in the title of this blog, and I realized that so far, I haven't shared any of our adventures. We have had a lot because we like to travel together. So, the first, and probably most romantic adventure I will share with you is our honeymoon cruise.

We got married on August 1st, 2010. On August 6th we left for Miami to stay overnight before catching our cruise ship, the Norwegian Epic. We stayed in a fantastic hotel in Miami, overlooking a bay, and we had a balcony with a beautiful view of the water. It was probably the most amazing view I have ever seen from a hotel room balcony. On Saturday, August 7th, we boarded our ship. We like cruising, and previous to going on NCL, we had been on Princess and Holland America. I was a bit apprehensive about going on Norwegian because it looked like the economy class of cruise lines, and Chuck usually likes Holland America which is more expensive and very classy. BUT I had found a great deal on a 2 week cruise Caribbean on the brand new ship, NCL's Epic, so we booked it, and I hoped for the best. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised. We read a lot of reviews on this ship in advance,which was a good thing. The ship had actually started sailing in June, 2010. Many of the reviews were not that complimentary, because the design of the ship was very different from most cruise ships. But the things that people complained about seemed rather silly, and other reviews mentioned planning ahead, so we did. We had a balcony stateroom, and on the Epic, they were designed with curved walls, which sounded a bit odd, but was fine. We walked into our room, and were thrilled.The bed was rounded at the end, and very comfortable, There was so much storage that we didn't even use it all, and sometimes couldn't remember where we had stored our items because there were so many choices of drawers and cupboards. This much storage is unusual in a cruise ship room, but very welcome. One of the problems people had with this ship was the sink, which was small and modern, but was placed outside of the bathroom area, near the bed.People said the sinks splashed water all over, but we knew as long as we didn't put the water on full blast, it would be fine. We had no problems with the sink. The bathroom configuration was a bit odd, I must admit. When you first walked into the room, there was a frosted sliding glass door to your right, which housed a toilet and waste basket. On your left was a very large shower, also with frosted glass sliding doors. At the end of the sliding glass doors though was a curtain that you could just pull for privacy, so that was fine. Some people complained about it not being private enough, but you couldn't actually see anything but shadows through the frosted glass, and the curtain made it private.The sink was on the other side of the curtain, so people could use it without having to wait for someone to get out of the bathroom. The balcony was a nice size, and we got in the habit of having a glass of wine out there at night before dinner. The food on this cruise was fantastic, and they had a 24 hour Irish Pub restaurant so you had access to food all night long. The entertainment was very unusual. On the other 2 cruise lines I mentioned, there were a lot of musical Broadway type shows, a magician and a comic. Standard cruise line entertainment. The Epic was very different. We saw the Blue Man group, a Cirque De Soleil dinner show, and one bar had a 2nd City comedy improv group most nights. There were also choice of lounges to hear piano music, and another one for dancing, and a jazz club. Oh, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Ice Bar. We never made it in there because they charge you $20 to go in, and you get 2 drinks with admission, a choice of non-alcoholic or vodka based. We didn't want to spend $40 for that. But a lot of people really enjoyed the experience. In the atrium, there was a huge floor to ceiling screen that showed high intensity pictures of various places from all around the world. And they had a musical duo, "Wildfire" in front of the screen that played almost nightly. Their instruments were a keyboard and an electronic violin. They were fantastic, and we even bought 2 of their CDs, but they aren't on the Epic any longer. One of our favorite spots to hang out was called "Spice H2o". It was an adults only sunning area with a small pool, on the back of the ship. Above the pool, there was another large screen, and they also showed beautiful scenes from around the world. With no loud kids around, it was very relaxing and any day we weren't on a tour, we spent some time back there relaxing in the sun. We were on this ship for 2 weeks, and we used one of our wedding gifts the second week. Friends of ours (thanks again guys!), who are very frequent cruisers, gave us a gift certificate to use on board the ship. We decided to check out the spa, and they offered a one week pass for 2, that was the exact amount of money we had been given. The pass gave us access to a very relaxing experience. We had access to a coed spa. In the main area, there were coed saunas with an ocean view, a hot tub, and a wonderful spa pool that offered streams of water that you could stand under to massage your shoulders, indentations in the pool that you could stand up against and water would gush out on your back, and an amazing area that consisted of curved long metal pipes under water that you could lay on and they curved to support your body, like a lounge chair would. Then water came bubbling up from the pipes so you were getting a massage while you laid there. This was a very romantic experience because Chuck and I could lay next to each other on the pipes and hold hands under the water. It was so relaxing that it felt like we were out floating on the sea together.There were also heated thermal lounges which felt so good...I now understand why lizards like to sun themselves on rocks! The effect was so relaxing, it was hard to move to get up. There was also Chuck's favorite place in the spa, a back balcony which was actually situated on the back of the ship so you could lay in a lounge chair and see where we had just come from, and hear the water being spewed out of the back of the ship. It was also very relaxing and the sound the water made could lull you to sleep.There was also a relaxation room that offered lounge chairs, ice water, and hot herbal tea. Spending time here each day after we worked out was a real treat that we looked forward to.

The food was great on the Epic. The best dining experience we had in the free restaurants, was dining in the Manhattan Room, a large restaurant with floor to ceiling windows at the back. A band played there each night so people could get up and dance any time they wanted. The food and service were great, and the dancing added just the right romantic touch.

Since this was our honeymoon, Chuck splurged and booked us the Honeymoon/Anniversary package, which included a bottle of wine, a dinner at the French restaurant on board, Le Bistro, and a party with cake and champagne for all the honeymoon/anniversary couples. One of the nice things about Norwegian is that they don't have any designated formal nights. They have a night during each week of the cruise that they called, "Dress Up If You Want" night, where dressing formally was optional. We did dress up the night that we went to Le Bistro, and we had a very romantic dinner, with the best food we had on the whole cruise. It was truly amazing and the service was wonderful. I felt like a queen! Then the party for couples was really fun. We all had to introduce ourselves and tell either when we had gotten married and how we met, or how long we had been married if they were celebrating an anniversary. There was a huge congratulations cake, and we all had our picture taken near it. It was nice because we would periodically run into some of these couples during the rest of the cruise, and it was nice to see some friendly faces. Chuck did a wonderful job of explaining how we met, etc. It made me very proud to be his wife.


Now that I have told you about the ship and our experience on it, I want to mention the places that we went. This was a back to back cruise, which meant we left from Miami on a Saturday and spent one week in the Western Caribbean, and came back to Miami the next Saturday, then left again that Saturday afternoon and went to the Eastern Caribbean for a week. We went in August and I had never been the the Western Caribbean before. Well, it was SOOOOO hot that I will never go to the Western Caribbean again in the Summer, but I am glad we went. In the Western Caribbean waters, saw a lot of dolphins swimming by the ship, and that was quite exciting. We saw the Mayan ruins in Costa Mesa ( probably the hottest day of my life but the ruins were really interesting), then we saw sea turtle nests and a quaint museum in Cozumel,and we just walked around the shops in Roatan. And of course we went to the cruise line's island from which we took some beautiful pictures. We got off the ship for the day when we came back to Miami, and were taken out to lunch by Chuck's cousin and his wife and daughter who live near there. We went to Bubba Gumps in Miami, but did not do very well on the quiz they gave us because I have only seen Forrest Gump once, and I'm not sure Chuck has seen it at all! It was quite the dining experience though, especially for fans of the movie. The next week we went to the Eastern Caribbean, which included St. Thomas where we went to the beach at Megan's Bay ( beautiful beach but it started to rain while we were there), shopped for souvenirs in St. Martin ( a true test of Chuck's love for me because I dragged him up and down streets and into markets looking for a necklace for my daughter and we couldn't find one). He was hot and frustrated, but was patient, and we finally sat down under an umbrella for sodas on the main boardwalk, and discovered a beautiful beach right in front of us where we could have spent the day in the sunshine and water, and been cool and content. Oh well, if we ever have a cruise stop in St. Martin again, we know where we will spend the day! Our third stop in the Eastern Caribbean was Nassau in the Bahamas. I had never been to Nassau before, and was amazed at the beautiful blue color of the water. We went snorkeling on this stop, and I almost drowned a few times because no one told me to breathe in to get the mask tight to my face. There were so many people in the water that Chuck and I drifted apart, and at one point I honestly thought I was going to drown. Up to that point though, I had seen some amazing views in the water, and got scared by a few fish who happened to swim right by my nose and startled me.I wished we could have had more time in Nassau because the views were so beautiful.This was the last stop on our 2 week cruise, and was absolutely amazing, and it was hard to come back to the real world after such a romantic getaway.But there are more to come, so stay tuned... I highly recommend cruising for a romantic vacation...honeymoon or not!

3 comments:

  1. Sign me up! How romantic. We always stayed away from cruises cause we love to golf and take the back roads, but I hear there are great golf cruises as well. can't beat the food and views, huh?

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  2. St Maarten was a really interesting island when we went on our cruise, but my hands down favorite was St Lucia. The feeling of the island was just so happy to me. Being on the water, for me, is very relaxing, and comforting. I grew up in a boating family.
    If you've never been, a really fun filled and romatic vacation is Daytona Beach, FL. Driving on the beach, exciting night spots and wonderful hotels right on the beach almost all with beatiful views of the Atlantic, some with great balconies, and then take a trip down to Key West...Just make sure you take a few days to spend in each place!!!

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  3. Well, fortunately neither one of us is a golfer, but you can cruise to places that have great golf courses, and stay for a few days ( like Bermuda). Never went to St. Lucia but it sounds great. Maybe on a future cruise?!

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