Highlights of my 12-day Panama Canal/Central America cruise on the Norwegian Pearl in the fall of 2016-(see previous post for text only version-sans photos)
· A ship that I love, The Norwegian Pearl, that is filled with lots of tasteful creative spaces like the Bliss Lounge, the Spinnaker Lounge, a covered Promenade Deck, a nice spacious pool area, and the Great Outdoors for meals. There were lots of open spaces enabling you to experience the sea with the wind in your hair.
· Service with a smile, always!
· Fun, uplifting solo-traveler activities planned and organized by Jefferson, devoted to our group. Some of the activities were as follows: nightly social gatherings, dinner with wine, bowling with champagne, 🎤 karaoke, a birthday party for Susie, going to see the show together, dancing together, sitting together for the Halloween party, going to the white party together etc. Many in the group even visited ports of call together. Some have made friends for life and even found future travel buddies. Some found romance. Jefferson was a class act! He is personable, helpful, reliable, patient, and always pleasant.
|Karla and Jefferson|
· Good food around the clock. Fresh pineapple three times a day, chocolate melting cake on the menu every night in the elegant Summer Palace dining room, fresh steamed and sautéed vegetables often, pretzel rolls, Vietnamese pho soup at lunch daily, good salads, grilled fish almost every day at lunch, numerous omelet-making stations, and more. There were several big lunchtime barbecues out on the pool deck.
|Breakfast on the Panama Canal|
· Good nightly entertainment. (ie 2 great comediennes, the production shows with excellent dancers and good singers.)
· I enjoyed coffee on my balcony every morning while I meditated and read my prayers and affirmations.
· Good weather for the most important ports of call including Santa Marta and Cartagena, Columbia; transiting the Panama Canal; and Costa Rica.
|Welcome to Santa Marta, Columbia|
|Costa Rica Jungle Cruise|
· I reached my 95th Nation visited with Belize.
· Lots of great dancing. I won the best dancer, the first day, at the sail-away party. I was in a twist dance contest with Alfred from LA. I danced for more than an hour, nonstop at the white-hot party, poolside. I ballroom danced quite a bit with Alfred, a Filipino from LA and Villar, a Brazilian from San Francisco. Lots of fun dancing after dinner in the spinnaker lounge.
|Happy Birthday Susie!|
|White Hot Party|
· The day before Halloween, 25 of us met to learn the "thriller dance" to perform in a flash mob just before the Halloween party started. It was so much fun; we were really impressed with ourselves!
· I played trivia often. Our progressive trivia team discovered we won on the last day! We accumulated 35 points more than the next highest contender. We won real prizes including Tanzanite jewelry (necklace with pendant) from the gift shop.
· I played Win, Lose or Draw and Scrabble.
· I attended a few art history lectures and art auctions.
· A fabulous Halloween. In addition to an incredible costume contest and dancing, they invested a lot of time in creating and constructing a wonderful haunted house in the Bliss Lounge. We laughed all night long. There were eight categories of costumes in the costume contest, including best man, best woman, funniest, best couple, most creative and more. My favorites were the towel head lady, the headless Horseman, and the beekeeper (Carl).
· Joel and I wore large :-) 😃 smiley-face masks. I truly enjoyed watching other people's reaction to us. I kept walking up to people, getting in their faces, and smiling. Everyone always smiled back! It was a real pleasure experiencing the sensation of making others smile.
· The entertainment staff was top notch including the cruise director, Daniel Olsson, who was a real pro, and of course, our Jefferson.
· I met lots of special people including Susie, Imelda, Ronnie, Shanda, Mark, Carl, Villar, Alfred, Sashimi, my trivia mates, Valerie, Rhoda, and many more…… I witnessed Imelda wearing her first Halloween costume, attending her first Halloween party, and visiting her first haunted house. I even hung out with Michael who was a solo traveler that I met on and Iceland, Norway, Denmark etc. cruise last month. He was on my winning progressive trivia team.
· Watched numerous sunrises and sunsets and even a few from the comfort of my balcony.
· Enjoyed the sail-ins up on deck into Santa Marta, Cartagena, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Panama, and Costa Maya.
· Helpful, comprehensive narration as we transited the Panama Canal. Perfect weather for the experience. They open the bow on deck eight so passengers could view the process of going through the locks, up close and personal. Joel spent two hours at the very front of the bow.
|Breakfast on the Panama Canal|
|From my balcony|
· Great line dancing on Norwegian cruise line. We even did the wobble and the Cupid shuffle and more.
· Joel and I had a lovely dinner in Le Bistro, the French restaurant. It was elegant and the service was outstanding. The maître d' came over several times and the chef even visited our table. I had a very rich filet mignon, escargots, and we shared fondue for dessert. This was one of my free perks for being a Platinum member.
· Norwegian Cruise line has an app that allows you to review your account, view all of the day’s activities, view all of the shore excursions, and text friends on board and more. Importantly, the texting feature always worked!
· All of the officers including the captain attended our cruise critic party on the first sea day. They were very attentive and were good listeners. They even scheduled a second, wrap-up session for us. Once again, all of the officers attended and listened to our comments carefully.
· As a platinum member, I received a free “behind the scenes” tour. It was awesome! Included were a comprehensive visit to the restaurant galleys, the laundry area, and backstage. I learned a lot. What an impressive operation this floating hotel is!!
|Giant sheet dryer and folding machine|
· I had no real complaints to share at the front desk or in writing.
|Alfred and Susie|