Norwegian Getaway 11/29 - 12/6 ST MAARTEN

So, as you know, I was up and at 'em early yesterday. Which worked out good, because there was a lot of fun to be had. Got Steve up and going by 7:30, we went down to O'Sheehans for breakfast, and then it was time for my star turn. "Tour de Force"? "Briliant"? "Dynamic and Engaging"? Maybe. Or maybe just a rerun of CruiseWorld. But it was fun. Apparently well-received. And a good bunch of agents with some great questions at the end. When I was done, a Norwegian BDM did a presentation on the latest happenings there. She did good. And was a life saver, earlier, when I discovered the Getaway does NOT, in fact, have an HDMI to VGA converter, as I was assured a couple weeks ago. But she had a laptop with VGA output. She let me use her laptop, and I let her use my mouse, as they also did not have a slide clicker. So it all worked out.

And by the time she was done it was time for 1st lunch. Steve and I headed back to O'Sheehans. He keeps resisting me on the Flamingo Grill, and I don't know why, but I'll wear him down before the week is over. He had a hot dog and I dug in to some hot wings. Wings are still good, if anyone is wondering. The rest of the day, I indulged my mancrush on Geoffrey Zakarian. Lunch #2 was a Lobster Roll from the Waterfront Ocean Blue location. DAMN! They really are as good as I remember them. A nice soft roll, stuffed with chunks and shreds of lobster meat, and drizzled with a chili mayonnaise sumthing sumthing. Along with home made potato chips. A nice snack.

Between and after the lunches we basically just rolled around the ship talking and taking in the views, etc.

About 4pm there was a scavenger hunt for the PhD@Sea agents. I didn't feel like running all over the ship any more, so I went to hang out with Tony and Lisa at the judges table, talked and waited for the scavengers to finish. The weather has steadily improved all day. Still cloudy but getting warmer. So it was nice just sitting and talking and drinking coffee. That took us right up to our 6pm reservation at Ocean Blue.




Is all I can say. I ate, once before, at Zakarian's signature restaurant-at-sea on the Breakaway the first week it opened on the Breakaway. It was good. But it was not $75 good. It just wasn't. In the year and a half since, they have steadily lowered the price, to where it is now - $39, $31.20 if you have the Ultimate Dining package. At that price point, it is absolutely worth it. Not only was the food brilliant, but the service (we had a real early rez, and only 3 other tables were taken when we got there) is miles ahead of what it was on Breakaway, when it was the "next new thing" and filled wall-to-wall when I ate there. Miss Mayette Fenomono was a darling. Prompt, attentive and very personable, engaging my brother in conversation, as well as slipping him a few extras to balance his diet. Which he probably didn't appreciate as much as I did. Add to that the food that was all done perfectly, and it was a must do. I started with the Steak Tartare. A healthy disc of chopped steak, topped with celery leaves and a subtly flavored vinegarette, along with more of those home made potato crisps on the side. Better than I remember. Steve had the grilled prawns with pancetta thing. 4 nice size prawns, perfectly rendered pancetta and greens as well as some crouton-y things. He chowed it down before I could snag any, so it must have been good. His entree was the sea scallops. They were grilled lightly and again surrounded by some green stuff and some root veggies, in a nice sauce. And some potatos Mayette insisted he should have, fearing he needed more carbs in his diet. I had the Delmonico steak, because I remember the one a friend of mine ordered and gave me half of on my last trip. I do believe this one was a tad smaller than that one, but it was still huge and cooked to a perfect rare. And surrounded by roasted shallot. Cut the paper layer off the shallot, smear some of that creamy, oniony goodness on some prime rare beef and (exclamation points). The steak came with the same potatos Steve had. Small white and purple potatos, straw mushrooms and a slightly too salty butter sauce. I also ordered a side of the chilled beans. String and wax beans with some serious red pepper and garlic. One thing you hardly ever get in cruise ship food is serious heat. I assume because most people can't really take it. These beans had a couple slices of pepper that just popped in my mouth and set my taste buds atingling. Almost a Paul Prudhomme moment. Nice!

For dessert I had the bergamot panna cota, which was actually better than I remembered, topped with a small scoop of raspberry sorbet and fresh berries. Steve had the sorbet trio (Creme de Cassis, coconut and strawberry), and Mayette hooked us up with an extra desert of truffles to split. All in all, a fabulous meal. I highly recommend you dine at least once at Ocean Blue, on your next Breakaway/Getaway cruise.

So, after our 2 hour meal, we took a turn around the ship, looking for some music. The Grammy Experience offering this week, Shannon somebody, had a terrific voice, but she was singing ballads, and I was already teetering on a food coma. So we didn't stay there long, as I didn't want her to get the wrong idea if I fell asleep during her show. I will, though, check her out again at some point this week. The guy at the martini bar playing piano was kind of the same issue. Bliss on the other hand was, well...I refuse to say too loud, because I am NOT too old, dammit. But it was a little hip-hoppish for that moment. So we took one more spin around, ran in to a few more friends, and finally decided to call it a night, as we have to be up and about early for St Maarten today. So, an episode of Criminal Minds and it was OVER.

One final note. Not to be a downer, but Norwegian still fails when it comes to wheelchair passengers. There was NO ONE to offer assistance getting Steve's chair up and down a ridiculously steep gangplank in Miami. Crew just watched me, and looked concerned. The "meeting with the Access Officer" the website says will happen is, in fact, a letter detailing where the bathrooms are. And apparently every accessible cabin has the stuff for the hearing impaired, like a phone vibration thing that shakes the whole ship and a strobe light on the ceiling that turns the room in to the Disco At The End Of The World every time someone calls or rings the doorbell. AND, they tell me it can't be disconnected. Which I don't believe (pretty sure they are just too lazy and don't really care).  If it is true, it's the worst ship building decision since a British company hired an Irish yard to build the Titanic. And here is the thing: Not only will that strobe light quite possibly trigger a seizure in my brother at some point in the week, it is EXTREMELY insensitive in the implication that anyone with any disability has to be treated like they have all other possible disabilities. It's called "stereotyping". Kinda like if they only piped show tunes in to the rooms of gay cruisers, or only had Hennessy and malt liquor in the mini-bars of Black cruisers. Oh, and I am all for water conservation, but one of those things all y'all able bodied types don't think about is that if you shower sitting in a chair, it is necessary to have enough water pressure to spray, UP. At least a couple inches. Not here...
Anyway, /rant off. Looking forward now to getting off in St Maarten. The view from my balcony is AWESOME, as we have backed in to port.

By the way, as well as plugging my agency, because that's what I do, I would like to just let you all know - if you click on an ad or two under this post, or along the side or whatnot, you'd be helpin' a brutha defray the cost of running this blog. What you do with that information is entirely up to you. Just sayin'

TTFN, mes amies

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