Norewegian Pearl, Western Caribbean, 03/03/2012. At Sea

My friend scheduled herself a spa day, so I was footloose and fancy free all morning. We grabbed a quick bite of breakfast at the Great Outdoors. Miss my Cagneys, but you really need to give them 45 minutes or so, or it's kinda wasted.

So, off she went to get spa'd. I went and checked out the casino for 10 minutes or 20dollars, whichever came first. Then sat out by the pool for a while just soaking up the last day of sunshine. Down to the room for a while to catch up on some necessary work. Then back to the Casino. Didn't want to be weighed down by excess cash, doncha know...
Anyway, that's how my morning went. At noon we had tickets to the Murder Mystery Lunch, PRESUMED MURDERED. One of the Second City productions. I have tried to get in to the lunch on my last 3 NCL cruises, but it sells out fast. So, we scored this time.

The lunch itself was better than expected, and the murder mystery was great. The Second City cast on this ship is excellent. One in particular, the not-skinny (tall and lanky, but still quite handsome is how he describes himself) guy, whose name escapes me at the moment, was once again brilliant. I would not be surprised to see him break out from Second City (as hundreds before him have) to the big time in movies or SNL or something. It was quite entertaining, with lot's of audience interaction. And since we were sitting front row center, we got included in some of it. So, a nice way to burn a couple hours on a sea day.

That was over at 2, and all week the casino people had been saying the Blackjack Final would be at 3, so we went to the room, hung out, and reviewed some of the 7,397 photos we had taken over the week. At 3 I headed down to see if I could pull off a win. But when I got there I found out the started a whole new round of qualifiers at 3. 4 or 4:30 would be the actual Final. I was still second on the leaderboard, so I wasn't too worried about getting knocked off, but I was a little annoyed that I had planned my day around a supposed 3 o'clock final and had that trashed. Even then, it would have been better if the Casino Hostess Melissa didn't turn into a snarly bitch when questioned about it later (at 4 when I came back). But, we took another stroll around the deck and waited. Came back at 4 and the last qualifier was just getting underway. When that was done they called a 10 minute break, and we started right at 4:30, which is obviously when they planned it all along. And all the other bullshit, so transparently designed to get me to hang out in their casino (like I, or anyone else, probably, who plays the tournaments needs any encouragement) is just really annoying. And given that NCL's Casinos at Sea program is already the least friendly in the industry (you have to sign up for a new card on every trip, and I have NEVER earned enough to get as much as a free drink from them), it's a shame. I can tell you I gamble less on Carnival (simply because I sail them less), and I have been on a couple cruises thru their casino program where all I paid was the taxes. So, yeah...something NCL seriously needs to work on. Especially that part about points (and account numbers) not carrying over from cruise to cruise. If they would just do the math and figure out that a guy who spends $2k in the casino on one cruise is actually bringing less revenue than a guy who spends $1000 on two in a year, or one who cruises 4 times and spends $500 each time...and they can't even track those frequent cruisers. Which should be the entire point of a loyalty program, whether cruise or casino.

Anyway, on to the tournament. Again I got some pretty sucky cards, and NO action hands at all...not one double-down or split opportunity. Despite that I was #2 in the chip count going in to the last hand. The lady in the lead made a large bet, pretty much forcing me to go all in. There were only 3 of us left at this point, and number 3 was down to 500 chips. Dealer had a face card. I got 13. Lady had 12. I took the hit, got the 8 and felt pretty good. Lady got a 7 for 19. So, if the dealer has 20, I win, she loses...I get all the money. Pretty much anything else...lady wins. Dealer flips a 5 for 15, hits and busts...and I lose.

Oh,well. Seems to be my week to come in 2nd place.

After the crushing, devestating second place finish, it was time to get ready for dinner. We had a group dinner for all my fellow TA's at 5:30 at Cagney's. This one was compliments of the good folks at NCL who helped us put together this cruise, which is a Reunion of TA's who have completed NCL's PhD@Sea program). We had held off eating there all week (except breakfast and lunch), knowing this was coming. It's my favorite NCL eatery. Although Moderno is moving up fast, and I actually was more impressed with LeBistro than I thought I would be.

There was, of course, another bottle waiting for us in the room. A nice Italian proseco this time (that's redundant, isn't it?  If it's proseco, it has to be Italian, right?) So she had a glass or three whilst I sipped iced coffee. Again, the time just got away from us.

So, we got there a few minutes late, and most of the folks had already shown up. Grabbed a table with my friends Pat and Carol, and Pat's party. We had a great meal and an awful lot of fun. I had the oysters Rockeffeller and the portobello mushroom crabcake deal, as well as the lobster bisque and followed it all with the big T-bone steak with Cagney's Fries and creamed spinach. Michille did oysters, bisque and prime rib with garlic mashed and asparagus. For desert I had the raspberry creme brulee and she had the apple crisp. It was all excellent, as usual. Kinda wished we hadn't waited all week. It's the kind of place you can go twice.

Dinner and conversation went on an outrageously long time.  Entirely too much fun was had by (nearly) all (some people seem immune to fun.  They sat next to me.  For about a minute and a half, til they could flee the table), and I hadn't even begun to pack. I always wait as late as possible, as packing signals the real end of the cruise. But I ran upstairs, got it done and had time to wander the ship awhile before Second City's adults-only improv show. Got there in time, and it was a hoot.

And then it was time to crash...early day tomorrow. When we got here to Miami we had the little snafu with the shuttle, and ended up hiring the limo to get us to Miami. Which worked out really well, except I was pretty sure the shuttle company wouldn't waiting to pick us up and take us back to FLL...So, I decided to use the ships transfer service. Except those reservations had to be in by Friday, according to the desk. Thank God for Concierges. I called my new best friend, Anoop, and he got us on the bus. It's nice to have friends.

Anyway, that pretty much ends the story. I have to say, all in all, with the amount of alternative dining I got in, the shore excursions we took, and the fabulous VIP treatment from Klaus, Hotel Manager Tony Winkler, and especially Anoop, the Concierge, this is easily my best cruise in the last couple years.

Hope y'all enjoyed reading about it!

oh,and, once again...for all your cruise needs with Norwegian Cruise Line or any other, please give us a call at DAVE HOLMAN TRAVEL 760.265.3687

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