The Progster

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Day 8 - Tubez

We went to the new bridge viewing room that is behind the bridge on deck 11. You can see the whole bridge from there and watch what is happening (not much really). It is good, since you can’t get any tours of the ship due to security. It was the Captains picture tour of the ship today, much the same as the one he gave on the Dawn when we were there in April this year, but with updated pictures showing the Pearl. He did tell us when answering a question about the hurricane, that he was on the bridge for 3 days during the storm before being able to go back to his cabin! He also showed the white box at the front of the ship, which is to stow the forward radar antenna (the one that spins around), and said that if they hadn’t stowed it, it would definitely have been gone.

We ate in Le Bistro again last night with a few people from cruise critics. I had the prawn and scallop martini (alcohol free), the escargot, watercress and frogs legs soup, the duck a l’orange then the chocolate fondue. Mum had the prawn and scallop martini, the forest mushroom soup, stuffed chicken, and the chocolate fondue.

The last Jean Ann Ryan show was Tubez and was a high action modern dance show with a BMX biker from Las Vegas and the acrobats. The BMX biker was a bit of a disappointment to be honest as he only really went up and down the ramps and did a few twists. The show ended with the NCL ‘family’ song and a stage full of officers and crew.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Day 7 - Nearly There

Never thought I’d be reporting on the Pacific Spa, but today we tried out the Rasul. This is a treatment for two that takes place in a private timed sauna. It is based on a South American wedding ritual. It starts with an exfoliating lime and ginger salt scrub which you apply to each other in an aromatherapy sauna. Relaxing music plays in the sauna as the steam starts to fill the room. After about 15 minutes multiple shower heads start to provide the ‘tropical rainstorm’ effect to clean off the salt. Your skin already feels very soft after this stage. The second is the same cycle but using a detoxification mud, once again applied to each other, as well as a face mask. I’ve never been in anything other than a normal sauna and never had any type of spa treatment, but this was very relaxing, and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Day 6 - The sun shows it’s face (but only briefly)

The sun showed its smiley face briefly today for the first time in a while. Even though the temperature is only in the low 70s it still feels very warm in the sun since we are much further south than at home. It is still cloudy, so it pops in and out now and again to say hello. I am sitting on the balcony typing this, after wiping all the salt off the chair. We walked around deck 13 this morning after breakfast for the first time since it re-opened. There is a large basketball court and tennis courts at the back, as well as the climbing wall behind the funnel. We saw one guy climb to the top of the ‘easy’ green side, then struggle about 1/3 the way up the second harder green route on the right. The next guy got stuck half way up the easy route and then wouldn’t let go for a while to let the rope man lower him down! Must be scarier than it looks.

A new Jean Ann Ryan show premiered tonight called The Garden of the Geisha. I take back all I said about the acrobat people. The show focused on them and told a love story of two young people in Japan that were forced to be apart, but of course at the end they get to be together. There was some very spectacular and beautiful flying stunts, and the small girl even held the guy by his hands as they flew over the stage about 30 feet up, no harness or safety net at all The set was very impressive too, and was designed by the person who created the American Idol set.

We ate our meal in Le Bistro tonight and it was very good as usual. We have eaten in the Bistro several times on the Dream and the Dawn before now, and always made the same selection each time, but now the menu has changed. We took the ‘Tasting Menu’ for two and had the Chateaubriand (a large piece of beef that is cut up at your table), the alternative main course being the rack of lamb. Pate de Foie Gras to start, then French onion soup is part of the set menu. For desert, we had crème brulee. It was bit over fussy with added cream and a raspberry on top as well as a scalloped biscuit. The topping could have been a bit crunchier. The tasting menu comes with a chocolate soufflé as desert, but this takes 15-20 minutes to prepare and we weren’t feeling all that hungry by this point. We waddled off to the Spinnaker lounge for the Quest game show.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Day 5 - Chocolate day

The show tonight was very good. Jeri Sager performed a lot of songs from Chicago, Cats, Les Miserable and Cabaret. The band leader on the ship Alan Lees and most of the musicians on his band are the same as on the Dream this summer in the Baltics. They did a great job of accompanying her.

Dinner was at the Mexican again after looking at the Shabu Shabu (Mongolian Hot Pot) menu and the Lotus Garden menu and finding them a bit uninteresting to be honest.

The chocoholics buffet was on tonight a bit earlier than usual at 10:00-11:30. I didn’t think it was as spectacular as some we have seen on other NCL ships as there seemed less chocolate models around, and more chocolate cake and everything else chocolate to eat. It was also in the Garden Café buffet area where the lights were on full rather than dimmed to spotlight the ice and chocolate sculptures.

We went to a late night comedy show with Lenny Windsor in eth Spinnaker lounge, and it was standing room only, and not a lot of that. Lenny is from England and had a few TV shows on BBC and London Weekend Television in the 70s. He also was a script writer for Benny Hill. He was very funny, and even my wife liked him, and she hated Benny Hill.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Day 4 - Party Time (and Storm time again)

Ah well it was too good to last. We hit another storm, and are back up to force 12 winds and high seas once again. This time although it is off the scale, it is way less fierce than the first one and more people are able to find ways to walk at 45 degrees and change angles with the ship. I am convinced we will fall over as soon as we step on land again.

We ate in Indigo (like Impressions on the Dawn) last night. We both had scallops to start, followed by cauliflower soup and a duck noodle salad, then we both had beef stroganoff with big wide pasta strips. One of the deserts was fabulous, a hazelnut soufflé which the waitress then cut open to pour Cointreau flavoured crème Anglaise into Mmmmm. We went to the show, it was OK, nothing special. A lot of very tall beautiful girls kicking their legs in the air. I guess it is harder than it looks because one of them at the end of the row fell over at one point. I don’t know why the Jean Ann Ryan company insist in having some east European gymnast hanging from the ceiling suspended by some bed sheets for whatever reason. The show was supposed to be the history of showgirl dancers, but any story was lost on me. Both the singers were good though.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Day 3 - The decks open

Decks 7 and 13 are finally opened late this afternoon and a lot of people lake advantage of this to get out and get some fresh air. Deck 12 was still open through this, so there was at least somewhere to go. The sea is staring to lose it’s anger, and as we pass south of the large island in the Azores in the early evening, it almost feels like we have stopped it is so smooth.

Teppanyaki was a lot of fun as usual, and we had 36 people from cruise critics filling the place. The captain came in to say hello as well as other officers. The menu looks the same as has been on eth Dawn and Jewel for a while, with the usual selection of prawns, scallops, lobster, chicken and fillet steak on offer.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Day 2 - Back to some form of normality

44o 23.24N 014o 10.47'W - somewhere off the coast of Portugal.

We have breakfast in the Summer Palace, the largest resturaunt at the back of the ship where the Venetian is on the Dawn. It is themed after the Russian palaces of St. Petersburg, and has the royal double headed eagle on the back of the chairs as well as lots of pictures of Russian aristocracy around the walls. The pillars are made to look like green Malachite, with large chandeliers and a very nice painting on the ceiling. All in all pretty impressive. Many will be please to hear that at least on his cruise, the breakfast menu was extensive, and the same each day which meant eggs benedict are available every day, as well as an alternative with replaces the ham with smoked salmon and spinach. Every conceivable cereal is on offer as well as porridge (oatmeal to the Americans), omelets, pancakes, French toast, a large selection of fried breakfast items, kippers, smoked salmon and even grits and Southern Biscuits with sausage and gravy. I can feel the pounds are pilling on as I type.

We tried out the bowling in the morning, which is a cruise line first for NCL. Contrary to some belief that there was going to be an amazing feat of engineering to level the alleys against the movement of the sea, I can confirm that there isn’t. Bowling in seas which are still around 20ft is an interesting business. We had balls head to one gutter, then the ship would move and the ball ended in the other gutter. Waiting for the right time to bowl the ball seemed to help, even to the extend that while waiting to stop rocking for a minute, a large wave hit the ship and all 20 pins in both lanes fell over, AND IT COUNTED! STRIKE! So as long as you don’t take it too seriously, or bowl in port it is a lot of fun. NCL did finally sort out the charge for this and it is $5 per person per game of 10 frames (I think that’s the right terms from this non bowler)

The Bliss Ultra lounge where the 4 bowling lanes are is very plush and very Moulin Rouge. All black cord curtains, red velvet and a distinct air of hedonistic decadence. Many of the seating areas are king size beds. With a well stocked bar and video screens with a VJ to play your selection, what more do you need to relax.

We ate dinner in Mambos Tex Mex resturaunt. This is similar to Salsas on the Dawn and in the same location. A good selection of flavoured Margaritas is on offer in both chilled and frozen options. The menu pretty standard, with Taquitos and chicken or shrimp/crab quesadillas all tasting good as starters (we ate here twice, it’s not that we ate half their menu on one sitting). They have added a new dish for two, call Il Poco, which comes as a wooden tray with all the kind of things you would get for fajitas as well as rice, with a spiked wrought iron ‘club’ hanging over the board with your meat and vegetables and fruit attached. It comes in Chicken, beef or a you can have a combo. The meat, inions, peppers and pineapple have been cooked with tequila and spices and are very tasty. You use tongs to pull off what you want to fill your soft tortillas with and eat it pretty much like fajitas. Shrimp fajitas are also good. The beef burrito was OK, but be warned, it comes with BBQ sause poured over it which I found a bit odd, but it tasted fine. In future I’d ask for the sauce to be omitted or left on the side.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Day 1 - Hurricane Olda

Sunday was a fun day . . . We now know that when we left Southampton the Captain knew we were sailing into a Gale, but the gale escallated into a full blown Hurricane which has a name now, hurricane Olda. At one point, we had 4 hours of sustained 111kts wind (127MPH) and gusting to 148kts (170MPH). The beaufort wind scale stops at 12 after 60kts and is classed as a hurricane. So I think at double sustained hurricane wind speeds, and almost triple gusts, we have earned our sea legs now. The ship was down to around 4kts for much of the night due to the very strong headwinds and rough seas. We did very little all Sunday and the wind remained at force 12 all day with very violent bursts of wind and motion. We made up for lost sleep on Saturday night a little, but doing anything that involved concentration and working against the ship movement was quite exhausting to be honest. At least we weren’t ill at all unlike a large number of passengers and crew.

The open decks on 7 and 13 have been closed since lat Saturday night with no plans to re-open until we are out of the storm.

It’ll show how bad it was, they even cancelled the bingo !!!

Sunday was lobster and beef Wellington night and would have been the first optional formal night, but due to the weather wasn’t billed as such and I expect they had a lot of lobster left judging by how many people stayed in their cabins on Sunday.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Day 0 - Norwegian Pearl Transatlantic Begins

These entries from the Transatlantic crossing of the Norwegian Pearl are the views of my wife and I. They are put here purely for entertainment and information. If you don’t agree with any of the contents, feel free to discuss it on the Cruise Critics boards at I will add mroe pictures when I have cheaper internet access than you get on the ship ;o)

Well here we are finally boarding the Norwegian Pearl for the first ‘real’ cruise of more then 1 night bound for Miami. The ship is leaving from the Queen Elizabeth II dock in Southampton, where efficiency seems to be the order of the day. The taxi gets to drop us off in a covered hanger area where our bags are quickly taken away to be x-rayed and taken on board. We go through little formality to get our room keys and security pictures taken and a credit card swipe. It was actually faster than it was checking into the hotel last night. We chink through security with the Marks and Spencer 6 bottle wine carrier ready to pay the $15 per bottle corkage, but before we know it, we are through the x-ray security check and on board and in the atrium area.

First impressions of the ship are great, very fresh colours are tastefully used around the ship. The atrium while not very high still manages to host a massive video wall and has icicles hanging from the ceiling, the cool blues used in the seating fabrics and carpet mirroring this theme. NCL have already got into the Christmas spirit with large decorated trees in the atrium and 2007 illuminated signs at the reception desk.

We eat lunch at the Indigo restaurant again tastefully decorated with 3D glass pictures depicting US landmarks on the walls. This is a brighter restaurant that Impressions which takes the same space on the Dawn, mainly due to the fact that it spans the ship with windows on either side. The menu has a very good selection on offer, and it is noticeable that the portion sizes have been increased even since our Baltic’s cruise in July this year. One surprise was that tax was added to the wine price, presumably since we were still sitting in Southampton. Strange as it was never a problem sailing out of the US and buying while still in port, but that’s Gordon Brown for you, collecting every penny he can get.

We met up with several other folks from the CC the Star Bar on Saturday night. Names like Shore Guy, Snorklin’ Barb, Flying Pirate, Inside Cabin, Patchwitch, Tanti and Selle to name a few all now have faces rather than avatars to recognize them by. The Star Bar is a really nice dimly lit push bar on deck 13 looking forward over the pool area. The kind of bar I would expect to see in a classy hotel. A few of us try out Cagney’s steakhouse next door and find the quality hasn’t gone down by any means. Great Oysters Rockafeller, Jumbo Shrimp cocktails to start with, and the Prime Rib is a wonderful new addition to the menu in 14oz and 10oz options.

By the time we leave at around 11:30pm, the wind is getting pretty fierce as we see someone just about blown over trying to walk outside past the restaurant. A good indication of what is to come . . .