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Stinger-PR's DAWN of an era: A NCL Dawn review (Thanksgiving week 2018)

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On 1/30/2019 at 11:19 AM, Island girlz said:

We are late February also, and let me tell you how hard it was  just to  get someone to contact me.....about anything!!

From rental cars to tour groups - not sure if these people are really into making money. I finally got lucky just yesterday, and that was after 3 weeks of back and forth "no contact" with anyone. Hoping the van we were finally able to book (privately - we have a group of 8) works out for us - time will tell

Same thing happened to us! I would write tour operators and they'd respond two days later or not at all. We wrote to two other companies when our original plans for Antigua fell through and never even heard back from them. I don't know if people don't really care for Antigua, hence there's really not much info about things to do there or if it's an island not visited frequently by cruise lines, which I find it hard to believe since if it were like that they wouldn't have built a second pier some years ago.

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On 2/2/2019 at 4:19 PM, Stinger-pr said:

Same thing happened to us! I would write tour operators and they'd respond two days later or not at all. We wrote to two other companies when our original plans for Antigua fell through and never even heard back from them. I don't know if people don't really care for Antigua, hence there's really not much info about things to do there or if it's an island not visited frequently by cruise lines, which I find it hard to believe since if it were like that they wouldn't have built a second pier some years ago.

I'm hoping since we already have a large group that we won't be left high and dry. I do get the feeling though that working in Antigua is not a top priority - time wlil tell

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I have so enjoyed your review and pictures.  We were on the same cruise and it was like doing it all over again.  I even saw two of our group in one of your pictures.  We had a great trip and the staff was so friendly.  

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On 12/31/2018 at 12:48 AM, maja651 said:

I always thought that the first night was prime rib night in the main dining rooms, but I see based on your pictures, it was not on this cruise.  Do you recall if they ever had a prime rib night in the main dining rooms?

 

 

Our last NCL cruise was aboard the Gem, and Prime Rib was available the first night in O'Sheehan's.

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On 12/31/2018 at 1:48 AM, maja651 said:

I always thought that the first night was prime rib night in the main dining rooms, but I see based on your pictures, it was not on this cruise.  Do you recall if they ever had a prime rib night in the main dining rooms?

Hi.  Was on the Dawn in November, had prime rib at the buffet on the first night.  Unfortunately I don't remember if it was available in the MDRs.

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On 1/8/2019 at 12:27 AM, Stinger-pr said:

Yes, as far as I know the Epic will do two winter seasons out of San Juan after the Dawn moves on. We actually have the Epic booked for the March 1st, 2020 sailing but it got me nervous because there are sooo many conflicting reviews of the Epic and they are leaning towards the "not-so-good" majority. So we have until Oct. 2019 (final payment date) to decide whether we'll sail on her anyway, hoping that in roughly over a year, they can iron out some more of the kinks, especially on the service side.

 

Guess we have decided to hold off as we aren't seeing much about the Epic that is screaming to us to book. Really wish they would leave the Dawn there. Either we switch itineraries or we may go back to the CCL Fascination itinerary.

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3 hours ago, dltvermont said:

 

Guess we have decided to hold off as we aren't seeing much about the Epic that is screaming to us to book. Really wish they would leave the Dawn there. Either we switch itineraries or we may go back to the CCL Fascination itinerary.

We did the Epic last year - one of the worst ships I have been on. The back of the ship smelled like sewage, very odd layout, and honestly the worst wait staff we have encountered (we have been on 12 cruises). The Getaway is much better if you are looking at another NCL cruise

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We just got off the Dawn last Thursday (planning to post a review during the upcoming long weekend) and loved the itinerary so much that we've booked the Epic for next February. We've seen the mixed reviews about the Epic also, but I am confident that we will have another great vacation.

 

We had never been to the ABC islands before and they are now our favorites, hands down. We are also looking forward to spending lots of time on the large balcony we booked. For everything else, our vacation motto is "go with the flow."

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On 2/4/2019 at 11:26 AM, Island girlz said:

I'm hoping since we already have a large group that we won't be left high and dry. I do get the feeling though that working in Antigua is not a top priority - time wlil tell

I hope everything turns out great for you guys!!

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On 2/5/2019 at 12:17 AM, toyotaford said:

I have so enjoyed your review and pictures.  We were on the same cruise and it was like doing it all over again.  I even saw two of our group in one of your pictures.  We had a great trip and the staff was so friendly.  

Hey, I'm so glad you can get to relieve some of it through this. We'll see how this stacks up with the Epic when we sail on her on March 2020. That is IF we sail on her. There are so many bad reviews of the Epic out there that I'm still undecided as to whether keep the reservation or move it to another ship. 

 

We also found the staff to be great all around. 

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On 2/5/2019 at 9:57 PM, clean1owner said:

 

 

Our last NCL cruise was aboard the Gem, and Prime Rib was available the first night in O'Sheehan's.

There were some days we ate at specialty restaurants and I don't have the menus for every single day so I don't want to say they don't have it at the MDR, but, at least the days that I ate at either Aqua or Venetian dining rooms it wasn't available.

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13 hours ago, dltvermont said:

 

Guess we have decided to hold off as we aren't seeing much about the Epic that is screaming to us to book. Really wish they would leave the Dawn there. Either we switch itineraries or we may go back to the CCL Fascination itinerary.

I'm still on the fence with the Epic. Not that it will matter in a year but as of right now, it's limping it's way for an unscheduled stop in San Juan as I write this due to, apparently, engine failure. The sailing was scrapped and they will be returning to the US in a day or two from what I hear.

 

On topic, I really would leave the Fascination as a last choice since we already sailed on her and that exact same itinerary. We picked the Epic due to its stops at the A-B-C islands more than anything else. I guess that if we decide against keeping the Epic booking, we might transfer to Royal Caribbean and the Freedom of the Seas and a similar route as the Epic.

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9 hours ago, Island girlz said:

We did the Epic last year - one of the worst ships I have been on. The back of the ship smelled like sewage, very odd layout, and honestly the worst wait staff we have encountered (we have been on 12 cruises). The Getaway is much better if you are looking at another NCL cruise

See, stuff like this gets me away from the Epic a bit more each time.

 

We're really not wanting to fly out of PR to catch a ship yet (although we will eventually) since we still have options we haven't taken out of San Juan that we'd like to explore first. But the Getaway is one of the ships outside SJ we got our eyes on.

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8 hours ago, CurtandLeslie said:

We just got off the Dawn last Thursday (planning to post a review during the upcoming long weekend) and loved the itinerary so much that we've booked the Epic for next February. We've seen the mixed reviews about the Epic also, but I am confident that we will have another great vacation.

 

We had never been to the ABC islands before and they are now our favorites, hands down. We are also looking forward to spending lots of time on the large balcony we booked. For everything else, our vacation motto is "go with the flow."

Please do tell more!! That's the main reason we booked the Epic in March 2020.

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Day 5: St. Kitts

 

Here are today's dailies:

 

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Today I was up earlier than usual for my sunrise pictures but it was OK because this would be another “no rush” day for us so I could sleep in a bit more. Still, It was just as sunlight began to break over the horizon and the colors were simply amazing as night gave way to day.

 

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As we enjoyed the color show, we watched the ship edge closer to the coast of St. Kitts and we also saw the Celebrity Reflection come in the distance behind us.

 

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Since we stayed up for the whole sunrise, we decided to get ready and go up to the buffet for breakfast, where the usual items ended up in our plates. But I guess DW had much more of an appetite than me this morning!

 

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Our plans for today was a simple beach day at the Shipwreck beach bar located at South Friars bay on the southeast coast of the island. We had been in St. Kitts before (three times for me, DW once, with me) and had taken a general island tour (second time for me) using Thenford Grey. The last time we were on the tour, it ended with a beach day at Shipwreck, where we had a nice, relaxed day near to the very rustic (but full of character) beach bar. We loved it so much that this time we decided to just spend the day there. But we weren’t ready to get there at 8:30am. So after breakfast we went back to the room to relaxed and get our stuff ready for the day (remember this part!).

 

While relaxing on the room I noticed the Reflection had started to make her approach to the dock besides us.

 

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I always enjoy seeing other ships maneuvering into position as they slowly make their way to their “parking” space. This also gave me the chance for a glimpse (with the help of my camera’s zoom) to also peek into the Reflection’s bridge to see the “action” going on in there. Or is it “lack of” action?? Man, Everyone seemed sooo relaxed doing what I’m sure can get to be a very stressful part on the job.

 

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That air cannon is LOUD!!! And being that it was been fired in between the ships made it sound even louder. The funny thing is that they tried and tried like 3 or 4 times and the lead always fell short of the pier. So the final time they put so much air and aimed it so high that when it went off it shot way past and over its mark and into one of the Dawn’s balconies!! This drew a whole bunch of laughter and cheers (and jeers as well) from the passengers that were witnessing the whole ordeal from both ship and on the ground. It was so funny!!

 

So around 9:45 we finally made our way down the gangway and towards the shops area to find an open WIFI signal so we could get in contact with our kids and family back home to check on things. DW was able to get connected two days before at Barbados but I was never able to get a connection and neither of us did so in Antigua the day before.

 

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We didn’t have to walk too far since I knew from previous visits that the WIFI from the Casino just to the right of the entry gates was open and we had previously been able to get a good signal there. And this time it did not disappoint. We walked closer to the building and got enough signal to check our emails and Whatsapp messages and we were able to make calls back home using that app. We have no experience with other apps so I can’t say how others would work.

 

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Meanwhile, all around us there were drivers with maps stuck on cardboard advertising different tours and rates. While some were still looking for passengers, other already had large and small groups gathered.

 

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BTW, for those of you seeking REAL Cuban cigars, there's a Casa de Habano on the second story of this building above.

 

After we got done with our calls we headed towards the area where the taxis usually are dispatched from near the rear of the building above where all the people are gathered. When we got there, barely any taxis were around. I guess most had already left to take passengers around the island. Then a taxi driver asked us where we were headed and we told him Shipwreck beach bar and he said he’d take us. We agreed on a $16 fare for both of us (I think) and we asked him if we could make a quick stop a Timothy Hill on our way to the beach and this guy’s face went sour. For a split second he had a face as if I’d just kicked his puppy and after letting off a sigh and doing a dramatic stare into the horizon (I kid you not!!) he said “ok” and left to get his van. 5 minutes later he still had not come back and another driver, who had just dropped off another couple near the terminal asked us where we were going and we told him about the beach and that we wanted a quick photo stop and he said “sure, hop on”. At least his attitude was the right one. We hopped into his van, he quoted us the same price and off we went. I actually kept looking back for our previous driver and never saw another van approach the dispatch area as we left the terminal.

 

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There were actually three ships in town today but only two fit at the same time at the Basseterre main pier so the other ship, the NCL Sun was docked all the way across the bay on, what we were told, was the old cruise pier.

 

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On our way we passed some interesting houses, resorts and buildings, including the massive Central offices for the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. It is the Monetary Authority for a group of eight island economies namely - Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The all use the same Eastern Caribbean Currency or EC.

 

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We also saw a big solar farm deployed. Things like that make me think about how relegated Puerto Rico really is. I mean with our climate and resources, I can't think of any excuse other than stupid politics and bureaucracy not to be able to do similar things. Although the experience of hurricane Maria brought awareness as to the need for alternate energy sources. At a consumer level, things are starting to come to a more acceptable price level in recent years so, we'll see.

 

Anyhow...

 

On our way to Timothy Hill, our driver asked us where we were from and the conversation took off from there. We talked about the island’s economy, he asked about the hurricane and the recovery in PR and we asked about good places to visit (other than the usual tourist areas) if we decide to come on a land vacation for a few days and he gave us some pointers.

 

One of the places on our short list is the St. Kitts Marriott which is located in a huge property and has what looks like a quite nice golf course. Cool!

 

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We stopped for about 5-7 minutes and Timothy Hill and he never rushed us at all. We took our “required” tourist pictures at the lookout pint and got back in the van and continued on our way.

 

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Once you get to the turn off towards the beach you immediately get your taste of “rustic” since the road to the beach is a dirt road and it’s in such a bad shape you’d almost need a lunar rover to drive on it. It took us no more than 20 minutes from the terminal to Shipwreck, including our quick stop at Timothy Hill.

 

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The driver asked us if we’d like for him to pick us up and we agreed to a 2:00 pm time which would leave us ample time to return to the port area and make our 4:30 all-aboard time.

 

Like I said, The Shipwreck is very simple and rustic but it has an awesome location and relatively cheap food and drink and a very relaxed atmosphere. They also have available chairs and palm leave-lined that are free to use as long as you’re consuming from the place. There’s also no entry fee so it all adds up our budget!

 

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There are two levels with chairs available. The chairs that are on the same level as the bar don’t have umbrellas but have more than enough natural shade from a bunch of trees. .

 

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We made our way to the lower level right at the water’s edge and saw some empty chairs. These chairs are not resort quality, in case you’re wondering. But they are “free”, they go with the vibe of the whole place, they do the job and, did I mentioned they’re free? For those looking for posh, cushioned chairs, they do have them available at the other end of the beach for rent at Carambola Beach Club

 

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One of the quirks of this part of the beach is it’s sand. It’s loaded with black sand! It’s neat to see how it sparkles under the sun and seeing how the patterns change with every wave that comes and goes.

 

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One thing of note. There are two entry points into the water from the shore. One is the area right in front of the bar and the chairs and the other is to the far left of the chairs. On the right, you’d be better off using water shoes since you enter through mostly flat (but full of small holes and crevices) rocks. They can sometimes be a bit slippery but your main concern are the urchins located in the holes and crevices here and there. They are small in this area but can still be painful if you step on one and it will ruin your day(s). It’s just like the sign says…

 

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This below is the area at the left end where the floor is more sandy.

 

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There was also a nice floating platform that was an easy swim away, especially considering you could walk in chest deep water more than half of the way.

 

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So remember my story about leaving things behind and feeling light? This is part III. I started to get ready to go into the water for some snorkeling and opened my backpack to find that I had left (or so I thought) my TG-4 camera and snorkel mask and tube on the ship. I was freaking pissed!! I was thinking how could I be so careless? And I started to think that it was because I had not used the equipment the day before at Antigua (since we never made it to a beach) I had taken it out to clean it and left it out when I made my bag for today. I only had my Apeman A80 (that GoPro clone) camera and I was hoping that video would come out with enough good quality that I could take some stills and process them as pictures later. Stupid me, at this point I had STILL to realize that my settings were still in “ diving mode” which over saturated everything blue, even (and specially) underwater. So after a lot of tinkering with the video clips and stills and TONS of post-processing I was able to come up with some (mediocre) shots of what I saw while snorkeling at Shipwreck.

While in the water, I swam out a bit and to the right of where the chairs are. This is the area where you’ll spot most of the fish and plants.

 

I saw some French Angelfish…

 

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There were also a lot of schools of French Grunts…

 

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Of course, Sergeant Majors all over…

 

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I also came across this school of tiny, tiny fish. I don’t know if they were recent hatchlings or just some tiny fish but there were tons of them concentrated around this part.

 

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There were sponges and sea fans…

 

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I also saw these Sand Divers all over the place. Sometimes they’re hard to spot since they tend to blend quite well with the bottom.

 

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Then all of a sudden I see this guy on the right center checking me out from under some rocks.

 

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I had seen him (or one like him) here before on my last trip. So I decided to try and get a better look at him. But this angle didn’t work because he didn’t want to come out. See his nose just peeking from under the rock below the yellow coral strip?

 

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Yup it was a Porcupine fish!! Aside from a small one I saw on the west coast in Puerto Rico, this is the only other place I’ve seen them (or it). The pictures belie the size of this one. While not a huge fish, this was quite larger than the one I had seen in PR. I had to freedive a bit to get this shot (while trying to keep the camera still enough to be able to catch a half way decent still shot from the clip later on) but it was so worth it!

 

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I spent about an hour and a half or a bit more in the water while DW caught some sun on the shore. And I was quite a ways from where I had started out. While making my way back I came across this lone Caribbean Reef Squid.

 

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Strange, since they usually are in groups. He was constantly swimming away from me but slower than me which allowed me to get very close to him. I’ve come to realize that, usually, as long as you don’t come at them all crazy and do so slowly and with deliberate movements, they won’t swim away too fast or to far from you. It was also cool to see that as the color of the bottom changed, the squid also changed its body color to camouflage himself a bit.

 

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Believe it or not, it's the same guy in all three pics!

 

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So I decided I had enough for the day and was pleased with my sightings for the day and made my way to DW to see about getting something to eat. We had enjoyed a plate of wings and fries (chips) last time we came here and, being boring a**es when it comes to food, we decided to get the same thing this time around. I went to the bar to order the wings and something to drink. Since I was there I got the menus for you guys.

 

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I also noticed they had some stuff to rent for the water:

 

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Our order, a plate of 8 wings, a bunch of fries, a Carib beer and a coke came to $18US. Considering prices we’d seen elsewhere, I think it wasn’t bad at all.

 

While at the bar, I asked one of the ladies about the situation involving the closing of the bar due to a hotel development on those grounds and she told me that, yes, they had to close for a few days. But as it turns out, there were so many questions about the development involving environmental impact, missing permits that, for the time being, the development of the resort has ground to a halt. Besides, she told me, they were able to prove that the land they leased was outside the territorial limits of the land that was to be developed so they decided to re-open and stay open. I told her I was relieved to know that and that I was happy for them. She thanked me and told me my food would be ready in about 15 minutes, so I just went to DW to wait.

 

While waiting, we saw there was a guy selling jet ski rentals along the beach.

 

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Not 10 minutes later I see the lady coming to us on the beach with our plate in one hand and a basket of condiments on the other. See? That’s good service!! I went back and got our drinks and dug in. The fries are homemade and as last time, they were great. The wings were smaller (I think) this time but were hot, and tasty!

 

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A couple of minutes after we were finished, I took the plate and basket back to the bar, ordered another round and went for a walk along the beach for some pictures.

 

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On the other side of the beach lies the more expensive, more luxurious (and honestly more boring) Carambola Beach Club. A lot of tours have their beach day there.

 

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As you can see the water is very clear! And BTW, you see the dark part in the water? That's the rocky part where you snorkel over.

 

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Around 1:30 we started to get our stuff together in order to be ready by 2pm when our previous taxi driver was supposed to be there to pick us up. We made our way to the top part and parking lot where the bathrooms/ changing rooms are located along with the fresh water shores to rinse off.

 

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As you can see, by this time, there were much more people than when we got there since a lot of the operators had already started to drop off passenger for the beach part of their tours.

 

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We ended up waiting for our taxi driver on that picnic table and bench in the upper right corner of the picture above. While we were there we saw a couple of monkeys, including a young one, and some mongooses (sp?). For us it was cool since I had not seen any wild monkeys on any of my previous trips.

 

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We noticed they had also added a souvenirs hut as well.

 

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Photo discussion point: The most annoying shortcoming of using the Galaxy S7 phone's camera was it's limitations handling high contrast images where a strong light dominates the background, even using DNG (RAW) files. For example, in the pic above, see that light banding or halo effect? This was shot with the sun in front of me so the inside of the bar came out dark. When post-processing in Lightroom, when bringing up the shadows, every picture with a similar contrast difference ends up looking like this if the shadows are lightened up more than a certain amount.

 

Anyway...

 

While waiting, I also spotted Thenford Grey sitting around with another taxi driver who had just dropped off a group of five there. I took his Grand Tour of St. Kitts with my daughter went I sailed with her in 2015 and Mr. Grey was our guide for that day (took the same tour in 2016 with DW but our guide was Pastor William Henry). His Grand Tour now ends with a few hours at the beach at Shipwreck (it ended at Carambola when I went with DD). Then we waited… And waited… And waited. 2pm came and went  and so did 2:10, 2:15, etc. It had become obvious that the taxi driver was not coming back for us. I started to make my way to the bar to ask if they could call a cab for us but decided to ask the driver who was talking to Mr. Grey and he said (although a bit reluctant) he’d take us.

 

This is another view of the Marriott resort.

 

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Along the way back we could see some houses with similar styles as those you find in Puerto Rico since they were also built using masonry. You’ll only find wood used in houses built by the poor since this is in the middle of hurricane lanes and the more costly houses need to be able to withstand winds of that force.

 

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As we were nearing the terminal we caught a better view of the NCL Sun than this morning.

 

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And we could see the Reflection and the Dawn peeking from behind it in the distance.

 

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Around 15 minutes after departing Shipwreck, we were entering the terminal area again. We were dropped off just about the same place we started our trip this morning. We paid (and tipped) the driver and made our way to the shops to browse around for a while before getting back on the ship. Usually, St. Kitts ends up being my “souvenir” stop of the trip since I find that prices for most everything is cheaper here than any of the other islands we visit. This was no exception. But since everybody on our “gift list” already had something from St. Kitts from our last trip, we decided to get some stuff for ourselves this time. I don’t even know why we waste time going into other shops to look around since we always end up at the same two stores: Sharky’s and Tropical World. These two have the most amount of different shirts, dresses and hats and at good prices. And no, they’re not paying me for this...lol.

 

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Just so you know, most of these stores have available WIFI but you have to buy something in order for you to get the password to gain access. The most affordable places are the Cheers bar right in the middle of the shopping area and a place just to the left of it (I forget the name) which sell beers, sodas and water really cheap. Buy a few, ask for the password and they will gladly provide it.

 

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So the wings and fries we had earlier just calmed our appetites for a while and by now, we were ready for some food so we made our way back to the ship and to grab a snack to hold us until our 9pm reservation at Teppanyaki.

 

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Yeah, I did cross the line. So what???🤣🤣🤣

 

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While DW went off to get a table at O’ Sheehan’s I went up to the room to drop our stuff up. When I got there I started looking for my missing camera and snorkel gear and it was at that moment that my heart sank (part IV...conclusion). I looked and looked and sat on the bed and closed my eyes, rewinding everything we had done and everywhere we’ve gone in the past two days and came to realize that the camera and gear never made it out of Barbados (at least not with me). I remembered the part of using it in Barbados during our turtle swim, rinsing it in the outside shower when we got back from that and hanging it on one of the umbrella’s support beams. And then I remembered not grabbing it when we gathered up our things and left. I was floored. And when I made it back to DW at the pub, she could immediately tell something was not right. She said I had a face of sadness and utter anger at the same time and she was right. Thankfully I had unloaded all the photos I had taken before the cruise to my pc so no real loss there. Bt the loss of the turtle pictures and the camera itself had me fuming. Again, how the F’ could I be so freakin’ careless!!

 

I don’t have photos of our late lunch at O’Sheehan’s since pictures were the last thing on my mind by then but I do remember we both had burgers and fries. And while there was a wait, it wasn’t too long and the food itself was delicious. I wanted to see if I could finally get some soft serve ice cream from the buffet since every time I tried either it was too late or they were servicing the machine (it seemed to break down every two days!). When I got to where the machine is located (mind you there’s only one in the whole ship) guess what?? It was already being taken down!! They had this guy serving scooped ice cream so I asked for two scoops. What I got was this melted mess:

 

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Guys come on!!! Is this really the best you can do??

 

 

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Since my quest for soft serve ice cream ended up in a fluke (and yes, I now there’s scooped ice cream at the pool area), we went ahead and grabbed a round of drinks at the bar back at O’ Sheehan’s and went to the room to relax for a bit, watch the ship sail away and leave St. Kitts behind and take in the great sunset.

 

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We got ready for our “night out” and by 8pm we were at the Atrium getting in line for more portrait pictures yet again. The Rockaway Duo were singing on a small stage on the Atrium stairs but, while the songs were good (some Mowtown, ballads, ect) people seemed to care little about them. They were basically relegated to background music since the Atrium was bustling with people at that time, especially since around 8:30, there was a raffle for an Invicta watch at the Tides shop. We finished up our sessions right after the raffle took place and headed for Teppanyaki for our 9pm reservation (included in the Ultimate Dinner Package). When we got there we checked in at the entrance to Bamboo and were told to wait a bit since everyone gets seated at the same time. About 5 minutes past 9pm we were all escorted in, past Bamboo and into the Teppanyaki restaurant. The restaurant was divided into two “islands” with two prep grills each. Each side seats about 8 so for a full serving there would be 32 people seated. I never really counted how many were there total but our “island” had 6 seated on each side. When we arrived, the plates were already placed in front of each seat and we were promptly handed the menus.

 

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There are two waiters for the whole restaurant, which I found lacking since it tended to slow some of the process down since he had to go one by one with their orders before the cook even came out and then get the drinks as well.

 

The first thing to arrive were these “peas”? Pardon my Japanese ignorance but I didn’t even know what to do with them or how to eat them so I just opened them up and ate the peas inside. Then came the Miso Soup we had ordered.

 

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It was piping hot but once I got it cooled enough it tasted delicious! So far so good… As we were eating our soups, the cook arrived along a cart with all the ingredients to prepare our dishes. We had both ordered Kamakura, which is a combination of Filet Mignon and chicken breast, along with the fried rice. The cook introduced himself, made a few jokes and proceeded with what the Teppanyaki experience is all about: the art and show of preparing the food. At one point he went to retrieve and egg from his hat but grabbed an origami dragon that he gave DW.

 

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He used a whole bunch of eggs for the rice and was making what’s supposed to be a flower (if your really squint hard) but all I saw was a mess...lol.

 

But one thing is for sure: the smell coming out of that grill as he added ingredients was simply mouth-watering!! The climax was when everything was laid out on the grill and being cooked at the same time. BTW, the vegetables in the picture are supposed to be arranged in a Christmas tree-type of shape.

 

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While it was cool to watch everything laid to cook, it brought up a glitch for us since we were the only ones in our grill who ordered filet mignon. You see, chicken and beef do not cook at the same speed and neither does the rice (which as you may know comes pre-cooked and then finished at the grill). At one point everyone was sitting with a bowl full of rice in front of them but no chicken or beef. The cook encouraged everyone to eat the rice by itself in the meantime since there was enough for a second serving for everyone. Then the chicken came off the grill but the filet mignon stayed a bit longer to cook (med-well for me, well for DW). So by the time the meat got to our plates, we were almost finishing up with the chicken and rice (from our second serving!). So now we had our complete steak and almost no rice but we made it work. I’ve been to Teppanyaki places in PR and ordered the same Kamakura and the timing has been much, much better and all the food items are served almost at the same time. But it was really no biggie and besides, the food was simply AMAZING!!! This has been the best meal we’ve had in ANY of our cruises, period!! When we sail NCL again we will definitely be dining at the Teppanyaki, with or without the Diner Package.

 

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We stopped at the Atrium bar for drinks and took them to our room to enjoy the breeze from the balcony. This guy was on the bed when we arrived.

 

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We stayed up for about an hour more and decided to call it a night.

 

BTW, since Teppanyaki took place late (the only seating available for today was 9pm) we specifically reserved for tonight since it was the only night without any shows that we wanted to see. There was Uptown at the theater at 7 and 9pm but we decided to skip the Motown classics today.

 

Aside from realizing I had left my camera and snorkeling behind two freakin’ islands before,

our day in St. Kitts was relaxing, our dinner was amazing and all in all, we were having a great time.

 

So, tomorrow we get to shopping and plane spotting in St Marteen!

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6 hours ago, Stinger-pr said:

I'm still on the fence with the Epic. Not that it will matter in a year but as of right now, it's limping it's way for an unscheduled stop in San Juan as I write this due to, apparently, engine failure. The sailing was scrapped and they will be returning to the US in a day or two from what I hear.

 

On topic, I really would leave the Fascination as a last choice since we already sailed on her and that exact same itinerary. We picked the Epic due to its stops at the A-B-C islands more than anything else. I guess that if we decide against keeping the Epic booking, we might transfer to Royal Caribbean and the Freedom of the Seas and a similar route as the Epic.

 

I hear you on the Fascination, but if I remember right reading your reviews, you have done that itinerary multiple times. We have only done it once and loved it. I never thought of looking at RCL. Will have to take a look at their itinerary. We went to the ABC islands last spring when our Jade itinerary was changed due to the hurricane hitting your area. Love them!

 

Just a heads up, looking at RCL, for the next 16 hours they are having a sale on the southern itinerary our of PR, 60%off second guest.

 

Edited by dltvermont
added info

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Hey Stinger-pr!  So good to see you writing another one of your awesome reviews here on the NCL boards!  We just booked our first NCL cruise to the Baltics for 2020.  It's always good to see a familiar face in the crowd!  As usual, another great review and some awesome photos to boot.  I appreciate some of the comparisons that you've added in between your experience on NCL and Carnival.  That really helps us as we've done the Carnival sailing several times out of PR and always had similar experiences to you on them.  Many thanks my friend!

 

Cheers,

Trip

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20 hours ago, Island girlz said:

We did the Epic last year - one of the worst ships I have been on. The back of the ship smelled like sewage, very odd layout, and honestly the worst wait staff we have encountered (we have been on 12 cruises). The Getaway is much better if you are looking at another NCL cruise

I did the EPIC this past summer in Europe, Roundtrip Barcelona. I will NEVER book a ship that large again if all 4000+ passenger ships are the same. Could never get into dinner in the MDR. Must make a reservation or wait forever. Ate dinner every night in the buffet. Buffet was excellent though - one of the best I've seen. Could not get into shows unless you booked pre cruise. No elevator mid ships! Only one forward and one aft making them impossibly crowded. Travelling with my parents in their 80's and to have them climb more than 2 or 3 flights of stairs was criminal. Since our itinerary was so port intensive (off the ship at 6:30am, back on at 7pm) we only ate and slept on the ship. I remember walking by the pool saying to my husband that I hope this ship doesn't go to the Caribbean because the pool is much too small for the capacity of passengers. Our cabin steward was amazing but our other two companion cabins on another deck had a terrible time. They couldn't even get ice in their ice buckets all week. And the bathrooms in the cabins.... OMG! The sink is next to the bed. The toilet is in its own cubby and the shower is in its own cubby. The shower was great. The toilet was cramped and stifling. Thank goodness we brought POO-Pouri with us. We were in an inside cabin and there was no light bright enough to read by. The brightest light was in the toilet so makeup application, shaving and reading all took place in there. Our other family members had balcony cabins and so they did all their shaving and makeup on the balcony. At night it was as dark as our inside cabin. Oh, and the a/c didn't get cold enough so my husband and I slept under soaked bath towels to cool us down. Yikes! Please think about your situation before booking this ship. Consider the type of cabin, the age and girth of the passengers, mobility issues and food choices. Fabulous trip and itinerary but the ship I could do without ever again. Best of luck!

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9 minutes ago, juneholaday said:

I did the EPIC this past summer in Europe, Roundtrip Barcelona. I will NEVER book a ship that large again if all 4000+ passenger ships are the same. Could never get into dinner in the MDR. Must make a reservation or wait forever. Ate dinner every night in the buffet. Buffet was excellent though - one of the best I've seen. Could not get into shows unless you booked pre cruise. No elevator mid ships! Only one forward and one aft making them impossibly crowded. Travelling with my parents in their 80's and to have them climb more than 2 or 3 flights of stairs was criminal. Since our itinerary was so port intensive (off the ship at 6:30am, back on at 7pm) we only ate and slept on the ship. I remember walking by the pool saying to my husband that I hope this ship doesn't go to the Caribbean because the pool is much too small for the capacity of passengers. Our cabin steward was amazing but our other two companion cabins on another deck had a terrible time. They couldn't even get ice in their ice buckets all week. And the bathrooms in the cabins.... OMG! The sink is next to the bed. The toilet is in its own cubby and the shower is in its own cubby. The shower was great. The toilet was cramped and stifling. Thank goodness we brought POO-Pouri with us. We were in an inside cabin and there was no light bright enough to read by. The brightest light was in the toilet so makeup application, shaving and reading all took place in there. Our other family members had balcony cabins and so they did all their shaving and makeup on the balcony. At night it was as dark as our inside cabin. Oh, and the a/c didn't get cold enough so my husband and I slept under soaked bath towels to cool us down. Yikes! Please think about your situation before booking this ship. Consider the type of cabin, the age and girth of the passengers, mobility issues and food choices. Fabulous trip and itinerary but the ship I could do without ever again. Best of luck!

I wrote an awful review on cruise critic - someone responded back (automated), and said how they couldn't "refund" us any money?? I didn't ask for money back - I only stated how awful the ship/cruise/staff were. If reviews like this keep going around they are gonna have a tough time booking this ship to capacity

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