Norwegian Pearl, Western Caribbean, Day Two

Yesterday, our first full day on board the Norwegian Pearl, was anchored off Great Stirrup Cay. Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian Cruise Lines first-in-the-industry private island. It is currently nearing completion on a $20+million renovation that includes a new docking facility, expanded beaches, new food service and bar stations, etc.

But first, breakfast at Cagney's (yes, I am getting the full "Cagney's for breakfast and lunch" treatment). I had the crab cakes Benedict, because they are always wonderful, and I haven't had any for a while. Michille went with the Fruits de Mer (lobster and scallops, en brioche topped with poached eggs). Both were excellent. By the way, and as an aside...Michille has an excellent camera setup and we've been taking lots of pictures, including some serious food porn. While it's too much to upload them at the snails pace sattelite uplinks give you, be on the lookout here, and on my Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/DaveHolmanTravel) next week...you'll be drooling.

We got on an early tender, and went over to the island. Personally, I am not big on the whole "private island" thing, because the cruise lines have a tendency to go over the top in "disneyfying" them. I like tropical islands and cays and keys the way God made 'em. In this case we were in luck. The whole island is about 250 acres, and only 20 or so are being utilized. There is still a lot of it left untouched. We walked quickly thru the developed area, over a bridge to the new adults-only area, and then, just a few yards beyond that some untouched coral outcroppings/tide pools. While the island is not exactly teeming with wildlife we did find some sea snails, cockles and little trilobite-y things clinging to the coral...and wading out into the not-quite-warm water, thru the underlying rock and slippery sea grass, was a pleasant little swim. So, Michille took a bunch of pictures of the snails and such, and we frolicked in the water a little, got some really nice pictures of her with the ship in the background (I'm talking brochure quality stuff here), some less-than-awesome pictures of me with the ship in the background, and generally had a nice time playing in the water.

We then decided to take the road less traveled, in this case a dirt path that goes from the developed beach all the way to a Cold War era lighthouse and landing strip installed by the Air Force when Great Stirrup Cay was used as a satellite tracking facility, back in the day. We didn't make it all the way to the light house, but we did enough to get that "desert isle" feel.
After that, and quite possibly the best part of the whole day, was the BBQ lunch buffet there on the island. All I can say is it was FABULOUS!!! Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, pizza, other sandwiches, salads too numerous to enumerate...and all of it quite tasty. I believe the Lime and Ginger Couscous was the first time I have ever finished a whole serving of couscous. (and having been married to a vegetarian in the 80's, I've had a lot of it thrown on my plate). I know my friend had a pile of food that would have embarassed a Marine fresh in from the field, and she plowed thru it and almost licked the plate...So, after pigging out disgustingly, we went back onboard the ship. Nice and quiet. We laid out by the pool for a bit, taking in the sun and the steel drums that were playing on the bandstand.

After that, Michille went to the gym for a class (more on that later), and I headed to the casino to sign up for the BlackJack Tournament. I also took that opportunity to turn $100 into $50 on the roulette wheel.

Coming back to the room, I got an earful about the classes at the gym. I have to tell you I am not real familiar with that part of cruising. Using the stairs and long walks ashore are enough to keep my weight in check when I overindulge in awesome cruise food. But my friend came back terrifically disappointed in the class she had intended to take. Apparently they want $30, PER CLASS to do a little working out. Now, as I said, I am far from a gym rat, but I am thinking $30 will get you a whole month of gym access most places in America. And Michille herself is paying roughly that $30/month for jazzercise classes, to which she could, (if she wanted to and was completely crazy), attend 20 times a week...

Anyway...enough of that...after the discussion of exorbitant workout class rates, it was time for the BlackJack Turney, so I headed on down, and OF COURSE, won the first round. Sorry, but this is sometimes too easy. I don't know why otherwise rational grown men get on a ship and all of a sudden think they know how to gamble. I have spent 40 years developing my skills (since my dad taught me how to play Black Jack on Sunday mornings when mom went to church, back when I was 10).

Now, I can't say that my $8400 is going to keep me on the leaderboard. Frankly I had some pretty sucky cards, except when I was able to split and then re-split 7's against a 5 and took all three hands. But it's enough to be atop the board, for now, and if I get pushed off, I'll just have to re-enter and work it harder. Pretty sure this will NOT be the cruise I finally don't have a seat at the Final.
Chilled out for a while til dinnter time which, tonite, was at the Sushi bar. Sushi was awesome. Michille and I ordered a bunch of stuff to split...some Ahi and Tako sushi nigiri, a little Maguro and Sake Sashimi and a Spicy Tuna roll and Godzilla roll. It was all done well, fresh and beautifully presented.

After dinner we took in the comedian, Rod Long. He was fairly good, though a little low key. Between his rather low energy delivery, the very comfortable double chaise lounger in the Spinnaker, and all the sushi, I was having a hard time staying awake. After the comedian, we took in the big show in the main theater. "That's Entertainment". It was rather hit and miss. Some parts were excellent, some just fair. The male singers were, frankly, weak. One of the female singers, on the other hand, had a great voice and presence. A couple of the dancers were, likewise, quite good. All in all, I give the show a "7".

We then cruised down to Bliss Ultra Lounge, which was, again, NOT popping. I have to say, so far, I am a little disappointed at my fellow passengers. The night life on this cruise is not quite up there with most of my NCL experiences. The lounge is great, the music good...but no one is there. Maybe it will get better as we go. I hope so.

Anyway, at that point we hit the casino for a few minutes; no luck; decided to call it a night

Tomorrow is a day at sea, and we have lot's of stuff lined up, like a bridge and galley tour, so it should be a good day...I will absolutely let you know!


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