Day 9 - Heading Home
We set our alarms so we could shower and finish packing before breakfast. It would be our last meal so it was fitting to have it in the Haven restaurant where we had our first meal on board. It was around seven but fairly crowded. It was nice to see the servers we had one more time as well as a passenger who we talked to frequently. We stopped by her table to wish her safe travels to her home a short drive away in Florida.
Another Haven perk is priority disembarkation. We chose not to be escorted off the ship as we did not think it would be crazy since the ship was at low capacity. It was a very short line but when we were using the facial recognition, we were both told to see immigration. They tried scanning our faces at least three times but the same message. I guess we were among the first to get this but just steps away were immigration officers. We had to show our passports and answer a few questions. I’m guessing it is just a random selection. This was the only immigration check we had. Our suitcases were in the priority section at the bottom of the escalator. There were many bags still in the the terminal.
It was very easy getting a cab and we were at the airport in no time. It was pretty chaotic in the Miami airport. It is very disorganized at the kiosks and then trying to find bag drop. It was pretty bizarre. First, we waited in a long line. Then, it moved quickly and we were told to head to another area. We dropped our bags but they weren’t even weighed and no security questions asked or identifications checked. The line for security was huge but TSA pre-check was short. Chris thinks it is some of the best money he has ever spent buying that access.
It was only after nine and our flight was at two. Chris had access to Turkish Air Lounge through his work. We grabbed a table and I worked on the blog while we had some waters. It was nice to kill some time in there. The food smelled good in there but we skipped it as we weren’t hungry yet. I wanted to get some exercise so we walked the terminal. Around noon, we grabbed some sandwiches to eat before our flight.
The flight boarded on time. It arrived early but the landing was bumpy since Philadelphia was having high winds. We didn’t have to wait too long for our driver after we retrieved our bags. Right around six, we were pulling into our driveway. We both felt tired after a long day at the airport and were glad to be home.
We enjoyed a quick breakfast this morning in the Horizon Lounge. To get some exercise, we did some laps around the Waterfront. It was still early so we visited the casino. I also returned to the cabin to start packing so I could enjoy the afternoon and evening.
Lunch was at the Local where we both had our guilty pleasure chicken wings. I think the last time we had any chicken wings was our NCL cruise in 2019 so we wanted them one more time.
We had plans to meet friends for the black glass wine tasting with macarons. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and taught us about his testing process he had gone through. We started with two wines in clear glasses to warm up before the black ones. He split us into two teams and we had to guess if it was Old or New World, color, and variety of grape. The first wine was priced at over a 100 dollars and it was a great old world Chardonnay. Not all the wines were as expensive but we did like the variety. After the tasting, then he told you which of the wines to pair with each cookie. The macarons were phenomenal and maybe the best sweet I had all week! Our team ended up winning. There was only eight of us at the tasting and all couples. He told us we won some Brut that was probably in our cabin the first day. He returned and each couple received a prize which was a bottle of Vueve Cliquot. That was not the champagne that was in our cabin! Our cruise friends opened their bottle for the eight of us to share. It was such a fun, intimate event that I would recommend.
I wanted to try the sustainable drink even though I had plenty of wine already. Today’s was Bananaruma which was a riff on an old fashioned. It was not very sweet though but I enjoyed it. It would make a nice evening drink.
Tonight, we decided we would have our last dinner in the Haven Restaurant. We had a pre dinner drink at the bar with our bottle of champagne. We offered it to some guests as I knew we wouldn’t finish it. I did take my glass up to dinner to enjoy with my meal. I started with the tuna taktaki and Chris had lobster deviled eggs. Both were really good starters. We decided to share an appetizer portion of crab cake to determine why it was not popular. We had heard it was raw, gooey and just not good. Both of us have eaten many crab cakes and probably some of the best in the world from Baltimore so we wanted to see why people did not like it. We were not expecting a jumbo lump crab cake. It was the type of meat I totally expected. It is a stringy consistency and not lump which maybe some expected. It was pan fried with a nice cook. It had good flavor and not raw. I could have eaten it and not complained. Although, I think I enjoyed my entree more which was surf and surf. We both ordered two lobster tails and no steak. We had the surf and turf the first night and really liked it. We skipped dessert tonight because we wanted to attend the shows. The chef came out to see us and we chatted about the crabcake. He mentioned that the crabmeat was a mixture of lump and claw and is canned (it would be quite difficult to keep fresh crab all week on a ship) so that could explain why some people may not find it to their taste.
The Cavern Club hosted the Beatles tribute band tonight billed as Sgt. Pepper night. It was packed but we found a corner to stand to hear the show. My feet did start to hurt in my heels so I left a little early. I went to say goodbye to Bong and have some water while talking to him. I can understand why he is so popular.
I met up with Chris outside the theater to see Elements. Our friends found us as well and sat with us. The show started with great effects, music and dancing. I did drift off here and there from the wine, darkness and rain sound effects. It is a cirque du soleil type show but a much smaller scale. I liked the magic that I saw as well as the aerialists. I’m not sure I would watch it again but it was an interesting show. We walked our friends to the wine bar for their nightcap but we waved the white flag and skipped the last drink. It was time to go finish up our suitcases and place them outside our door. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and went back to retire for the evening.
Day 7 - Cozumel - NCL Joy
I might have slept later but the vibration of pulling into port woke me from my slumber. Then, I could hear some hallway conversation, vacuums and finally the cruise director’s announcement. It was almost eight and I can sleep at home. Let’s get up and start the day.
Breakfast was light fare in the Horizon lounge. Chris wanted to try the Big Screen crossword in the Atrium. They gave your 15 minutes to complete the crossword and a prize for who did it first. No one finished so she gave some extra time. Chris ended up being first with maybe four extra minutes. He does The NY Times one each day and he said it was a pretty tough puzzle. It was also old as some of the clues were dated. It has been a while since Kodak was in the Dow 30 which was one of the clues. I gave two of the prizes the the young couple sitting next to us as we had won the same items during trivia but Chris keep the pen.
Instead of staying for trivia, we went ashore in Cozumel. We walked to see the Mega store which is like their version of Walmart. We browsed the usual souvenir shops. I wanted to grab a wrestling mask to wear as a joke on board since masks are mandatory still. I only would have donned it briefly and went back to a proper mask. After spotting some mold on one, I couldn’t bring myself to get one just for comedy. Chris did buy two hot sauces that looked interesting to him. I spotted an item a few times in souvenir shops that I call “nightmare in a bag.” These bags had creepy puppets, ukuleles and other little toys. I’ll post a picture and you judge for yourself. We walked almost 2.5 miles and returned to the ship.
The courtyard had the ceiling retracted so it felt very nice inside. We took a dip the pool. He did the crossword while I wrote. He grabbed some hummus from the Horizon to snack on. I had a Bloody Mary which I feel are made excellent on NCL. Chris opted for an Aperol Spritz. We decided to pop up to the sun deck to have lunch on the sun deck.
We found some loungers in the shade with a view of Cozumel and the Disney Magic. After a few minutes, we saw the Haven valet with a tray of food appear. He delivered it to the other passengers and we stopped him to place our order. We both tried the vegetable tempura. I ordered the falafel and Chris had the fish sandwich. It was very enjoyable having lunch while relaxing in our bathing suits. We both ordered a Pimm’s Cup as well to have with lunch.
The breeze felt so nice as we relaxed after lunch. We had a little soak in the hot tub and just savored the relaxation. I could have stayed longer but we wanted to try the virtual reality in the Galaxy Pavilion. It opened at three so we changed into shorts and were there shortly after it opened. We opted for the one hour package. It was fun but I do not think I could do more than one hour. We were able to try all we wanted to as there were no lines. There was probably only about twenty of us playing the games, maybe less. My favorite was the zombie theater style one. I really liked shooting the zombies. Some of the attractions take a fair amount of time so I can imagine with full capacity not being able to try it all. We both had fun but we both think it is not something we would do if it was available on another cruise.
From virtual reality, we we to the try the eco-friendly cocktail of the day. This was another hit for me. It was called Cafe Replay and was a mixture of vodka, frangelico, coffee ground cordial, pineapple juice and bitters. It sounds odd but it works so well. Chris stayed on the Waterfront to watch the Disney Magic leave. I went back to the cabin to change for dinner.
For dinner, we decided to go the Haven and try the crab cakes. We had heard some good and bad about that entree so we wanted to try it. While sitting at the Haven bar, another guest had told us that the crab cakes were really bad. Since we still had one dining credit, we made a reservation for Ocean Blue. We did not use the concierge for any reservations this week because it was easy to use the screens and everything was available since the passenger count was low.
We sat outside at Ocean Blue and it felt amazing. It is so nice hearing the water going by and looking at the stunning moon. We ordered a wine with a slight upcharge because we wanted to try the Bon Jovi Rose. I started with the shrimp cocktail and Chris had scallops with pork belly. He enjoyed his and mine was pretty standard issue. Our next course was the beet salad for Chris and I had the tuna avocado stack. We both really liked both of our choices. Chris did the whole lobster for his dinner which is an extra charge and I tried the cioppino. It was tasty but the shrimp were very small after having the huge ones in the Haven. For dessert, Chris tried the key lime pie and I had the sorbet sampler. I really liked my dessert as it was very light and refreshing.
Tonight’s entertainment was the adult comedy show in the theater with Rollin Jay Moore. We were excited to see this show as we really enjoyed his first set in the comedy club. He did not disappoint. After the show, we went to the District which was standing room only when we arrived. The pianist was doing a Freddie Mercury tribute. We had a nightcap with our new friends and noticed the comedian standing at the table next to us. Some seats opened up and we sat with him. We enjoyed talking to him. He might even use some material I gave him. If you happen to hear him a make a joke about the Carnival Glory that is “adult” let me know! It was another fun evening aboard the Norwegian Joy.
Day 6 Costa Maya - NCL Joy 2022
Even though we lost an hour, I was still up pretty early. The casino was closed since we were to arrive in Costa Maya around 8:30. We went for a little walk around the waterfront. One of the doors outside is around a corner heading to the District Brewhouse. As we approached the turn, near the restroom a man stopped us. He had on a rather large mask and a lanyard. I didn’t understand what he said but he seemed that he didn’t want us to go further. Chris told him we were going for a walk outside. I was wondering if the deck area was closed for weather since we had been having bad weather in the morning. He then said, “Making water is OK but the one for shitting is broken.” At least that is the only part we did hear him say. Chris thanked him. After we stepped outside, I asked Chris, “Did he just say the one for shitting was broken?” Chris laughed yes. I joked that I should’ve asked him what he had for dinner. One lap and we decided to get some coffee and breakfast. We went up to the Horizon lounge for a coffee and pastry and watched our approach. We saw the Regent Explorer making her approach as well but we beat her to the dock.
It was overcast but not raining so we went back to the cabin for our IDs to get our walk in ashore. We clocked the walk from ship to end of pier to be a quarter of a mile. The first store you have to walk through is like a duty free shop in the airport, liquors and perfumes. Most of the area looked the same as it did on our last visit. We saw many of the same stores, pool with swim-up bar, and the swim with the dolphins setup. I enjoyed seeing the flamingos and do not remember seeing them before. It is a very “Disney-esque” area for tourists. It is very reminiscent of the Mexico pavilion in Epcot complete with a Mayan pyramid replica. We headed back to the ship but we did get a two mile walk while exploring the area.
We figured we could put on some bathing suits and head up to the Haven. Of course it was raining when we go there so we sat inside the courtyard. I wrote while Chris did a few laps in the pool and sat in the hot tub. We can’t complain about having the area to ourselves this morning. Hopefully though the rain will stop and we an enjoy the sun deck.
After spending some time reading and writing inside the courtyard, we noticed the sun was making an appearance. We went up to the sun deck and found our usual spot waiting for us. We both took a dip in the hot tub that overlooks the side and could see Regent Explorer and the waves crashing along the shore of Costa Maya. It was turning out to be a perfect day. We didn’t want to change out of our bathing suits for lunch so we called the butler to ask if he could bring us some wings to eat. The wings from the Local are one of our guilty pleasures. Right after he called, the courtyard valet came around with the sun deck menu. I had read on cruise critic that this was not available which is why we called our butler. We had only made one request from our butler which was on the first day for a lounge chair so hopefully this was not too annoying. We definitely would have used that menu though if the attendant was walking about earlier. We chatted with our lounge chair neighbors and they enjoyed the lunch from the menu. Maybe we will try that tomorrow. After some Pimm’s cups and reading, the water slides opened. We ventured to the main deck which had plenty of seating in both sun and shade. We did the slide with the inner tubes first. It was a very short wait and it is a nice relaxing ride. Your hair won’t even get wet! Chris was much more adventurous and tried the scary slide that drops the straight down and enclosed tube. I tried a similar one years ago on the Escape and that was enough for me. Chris thought is was fun and not too scary.
We relaxed in the cabin for a bit. Chris enjoyed a snooze on the lounge chair on the balcony while I showered. It was a very relaxing day with most passengers enjoying the port. We went to the Sugarcane bar outside for today’s trash drink. It was called Pulp Art and used a homemade red pepper syrup. It was one of the better ones. I hope the idea stays as it is nice having drinks made with fresh ingredients and it is also eco-friendly. We chatted with passengers we met on the first day and enjoyed hearing about their experience so far. They told us about the virtual reality they did and now I really want to go try it. Maybe that will be my adventure tomorrow.
Tonight’s dinner was in Le Bistro, an NCL classic venue. We have dined there many times on the various ships. We used our dinner that was included for Sapphire level. It also includes a bottle of wine from a limited list. The first wine we chose was a Gruner Veltlinger and it was carbonated but should not have been. The sommelier confirmed this and tried another bottle that was the same. I told him he could pick another white and gave us a great Chenin Blanc. We both started with the escargot and the were bubbling hot when served. Absolutely delicious with the fresh French baguette. Chris had the French onion soup while I tried the crab salad with smoked salmon. The soup was as good as always and the crab and salmon were tasty as well. I am not usually a huge fan of salmon but it was very nice. For our entrees, we typically order the filet but we were both tired of beef so we tried the Fruits de Mer. It was very tasty but it was the smallest portion entree so far. I would not recommend it if you were paying the ala carte price as it was two small shrimp, two extremely tiny clams and two tiny scallops. I did not order dessert as I was sad they did not have my favorites from the past, fondue, profiteroles and creme brûlée are a thing of the past. Chris tried the hazelnut mousse and I did taste it. It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t personally order it.
We went to the atrium since it was supposed to be ballroom and more from 7-8:45. We had one cha cha and then it was break time. The duo said they would return and play Latin music so I guess that was the “and more.” The ship has three different groups that play Latin music so if salsa, bachata and merengue are your jam, you will have lots of options. The main show had only started ten minutes so we decided to go stand in the back. It is a acrobat duo that combined ballroom dance, acrobatics and aerial stunts. It was a very entertaining show. We did return after to the Atrium for some “and more” dancing. Sugarcane had a one man band so we popped up two decks to hear him. We ended up doing some more dancing there. Our server kept us very hydrated with waters and said she was enjoying our dancing. We didn’t want a mojito after dinner so we decided to see how the Haven Bar was doing later in the evening. It was not to crowded so we managed to get seats and the bar and both tried the famous smoked Old Fashioned. It is quite the process but it makes a really great drink. Rodney made me another evening type drink that we named a RODhatten. It was Hennessy and port wine with angostura and orange bitters. It was a nice riff on a Manhattan. We closed the bar down chatting with fellow passengers. This is one difference from Crystal as they had one bar that would stay open until the last passenger left. We decided to stop in the casino and then we went to the Local for some late night wings or early morning wings. I changed my order from Buffalo to Korean and they were spicy but had great flavor.
Since it was the next day, we went back to the cabin to get some sleep before arriving in Cozumel.
day 5 - harvest caye - ncl joy
woke up fairly early as I could faintly hear the fog horn. I looked out the window and although it was still dark it seemed rainy. I decided to let Chris sleep and went for a walk about. Chris found me later and we went to the Horizon Lounge for coffee and almond croissants. It was a great view watching the ship pull into the dock. We walked a little more and decided to get breakfast. It was still early so we went back to our cabin and played some cards while looking at the rain. At 9:30, we went to morning trivia. Today was the hardest day so far. We only scored 7 points today and did not win. The streak has ended.
We found our pub crawl pals and sat with them after trivia. Somehow, they convinced us to stay for the journal making arts and crafts activity. I really did not think it would be a complicated at it was. The kits were very nice but complicated. You had to sew the pages of the journal together in a fairly intricate, Japanese style. Looking at the 36 plus step instruction manual, I was about to give up. But, my new friends encouraged me so with help I started crafting my journal. I had quite a few missteps along the way and honestly without the encouragement and help from my new cruise friend, I would have quit. We stayed there past the allotted activity time to finish. Pictionary happened. Broadway trivia started. Finally, I finished. I felt so accomplished and exhausted that I ordered drink. My new pal’s husband, who was the one who said we should make these journals, didn’t even make one. He disappeared to the bar! We all went for some lunch together at the Local. We had not had the chicken wings yet this cruise so we ordered some for lunch. I tried a Matador cocktail and enjoyed that as well. This rainy morning was not too bad!
It was still raining after lunch but Chris and I walked down the pier to see Harvest Caye. It is a semi-private island off of Belize. It is not like the typical private island where drinks and food are included. It was pretty dead on the island because of the weather. We looked in a liquor store, chocolate store and walked along the beach. The rain was chilly so we walked back to the ship. We made a detour to the Sugarcane bar on the Waterfront for the sustainable or “trash” (as I affectionately call it) drink of the day. I was intrigued because it was a mai tai made with almond croissants. Wow! Best one yet! We even tasted the syrup made from the croissants plain and it was so good. The bartender explained how it is made with the broken croissants and they are not to use the term “leftovers” when describing these drinks. I think it is a very good idea and would recommend all the ones I have tried so far.
We put on our bathing suits and went to the Haven courtyard. It was crowded on the first level and the hot tub was packed. We went to then second level and found plenty of seating. The rain wasn’t letting up for us to go outside to use those hot tubs. Instead, I wrote while Chris read his book. When I decided to go back to the cabin, I peeked out to the sun deck and saw people using the outdoor tub in the rain. It is pretty easy to make the most of a rainy day on board the ship.
I was ready before Chris so I went the the Haven bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. I ordered a Bombay Sapphire martini which was huge. The only bar snack has been plain peanuts or spicy corn nuts. I am missing the bar mix NCL had on my last cruise on 2019. Everything has been excellent so far but one small detail I am missing from Crystal is the evening canapés before dinner. We did get some cheese in our room from the butler and chocolate covered strawberries today. I still though prefer a passed selection through the lounge but that is a minor complaint. I chatted with some passengers until Chris arrived. It was probably good we did not have much of a snack because we were in store for a rather big meal.
Tonight’s dinner was in Food Republic. It is an Asian fusion type restaurant served tapa style. You order through a tablet at the table. We used our meal package so we were allowed four dishes each. Sharing eight dishes was definitely plenty! Our cocktail was a Funky Monk which is a version of the Last Word. It was very lovely. We chose spicy tuna sushi, Korean Fried Chicken, hamachi tacos, yellow tail sushi, tuna poke nachos, pastrami potstickers, Thai chicken lettuce wraps, and the liege waffle for dessert. Each selection was very good and we are debating using our other credit for lunch here on the sea day but I don’t think we will use all eight for lunch. It was our most filling meal so far.
We went for a walk to the Cavern bar on the waterfront for an after dinner drink. I had told Chris another NCL superstar was working at the bar, the famous Chocolate Cowboy. It is very nice to sit outside in the cool breeze and still able to hear the music from inside and see it on the television screen. We watched a couple stop by and bring him a plate of food. He told us that he has known this couple a long time and usually has dinner with them one night. Unfortunately, because of covid he is not allowed to dine with them. They were so sweet to bring the meal he missed to him. I know Crystal passengers are lamenting missing the wonderful crew but the crew here has been wonderful as well.
At 9:30 a different comedian was in the main theater with his “adult” show. We arrived about 5 minutes before the show and there were plenty of seats to pick from. Sailing with 1500 passengers is truly a delight. The material wasn’t that “adult” in my opinion and I didn’t think he was too funny. I might have dozed a bit during the show with the fully belly, swaying ship, and cocktails. I took my drowsiness as a cue to return to my cabin. The clocks move up one hour tonight during our trip to Costa Maya.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.