Our alarms woke us up with plenty of time to dress, pack up and leave our bags in the room for breakfast. It is much easier to not have to lug your carryon to breakfast. We had our final breakfast at the buffet. It was still early enough to not be too crowded. The breakfasts have been great all week and this was not an exception. I’ve noticed that last breakfast on various cruises, the quality and service seems to drop off. I am so pleased with how my two most recent last breakfasts have been so hopefully this is a new trend.
We signed up to be the last group off the ship so we returned to get our bags and vacate the cabin. Many doors still had their final statements in the mail slot which was a surprise to me. We decided to wait in the Horizon lounge and were almost the only people in the room. Our group was called at almost exactly 9am and we breezed off the ship. Since we were in the last group, it was easy to find our bags and customs was very fast. We rode the elevator up to our car and waved goodbye to the Insignia. The ride home was very easy with most of the traffic going into the city. We stopped for a coffee and a quick charge for the car on the turnpike and arrived home before noon.
Our next adventure will be a trip to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights. I will blog about this trip which will be followed by our Celebrity cruise where we try the Retreat for our milestone birthday. Until then, we are available to help make any of your travel dreams come true. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Lisa.Lowry@CruisePlanners.com or Chris.Lowry@CruisePlanners.com (302) 985-6403
The day started with our usual routine of coffee at Baristas with some writing for me. This was followed by some casino time until Chris met me there. We decided to have breakfast at the buffet. The pool deck was crowded pretty early but not with people, just with items saving chairs. It is so tacky and annoying. We found some chairs in the not so prime first row but it would be fine as they were in the shade for now. I did more writing while Chris read his book. We did take turns going to do crazy golf putting for Big O points. It is a fun activity but only takes about five minutes.
I returned to the cabin to find the tarp laid on the bed for the suitcase but also with two presents. We received pins and luggage tags as a welcome gift to Oceania Club. This was a very nice surprise that made the idea for packing a little better. It’s never fun when you return to the cabin and see it is time to pack.
Trivia was up next and we met our team. I was hoping we would pull out a win but we scored 10 points which was fourth place. After trivia, we stayed and enjoyed some nice conversation. We might not have won any rounds but it was a win for me to meet such fantastic people.
The menu in the Grand Dining Room seemed interesting so we chose a relaxing sit down lunch for our final sea day. We both really like the concept of the Taste of the World either as a starter to share or for a complete lunch for one. Today’s theme was flavors of the Caribbean. We shared jerk chicken, dirty rice, crab cake, lemon-marinated fruit salad, accras de morue (fish fritter), dhal puri flat bread, and hearts of palm, avocado and pineapple salad. We thought all the choices were quite good and a fun variety to sample. I ordered the braised kingklip since after reading the description of the fish online which compared it to monkfish. It was a mild fish but overall the dish seemed bland even with the creamy tomato-shallot sauce. The carrot mousseline and potatoes were very good though. Chris chose the grilled Korean-style beef flank steak with vegetable stir-fried rice. This was a winner, the steak was tender and had great flavor as did the rice. After tasting this dish, I realized I was missing more Asian flavors in my meals. While the quality of ingredients has been very good, the flavors can be lacking. We both skipped dessert thinking tea time might be a better option.
To help work off our meal, we went to the sports deck for the usual afternoon activities of shuffleboard, bean bag toss and putting. On all the previous days, all activities were available for points at once. Today, a different member of the entertainment staff was there and he said we could only do shuffleboard. We also had to sign up. Quite a few people were ahead of us so we passed. We did play all the holes of golf just for fun. It was definitely run better all at once as it minimized the waiting around in the hot sun. We felt it an odd choice to change it up the very last day. The pool was crowded and besides the same sports deck activities, there wasn’t much else to do. We spent some time in the casino and I tried an espresso martini. It was not the best, very alcohol forward as it is made with no fresh coffee, just coffee flavored alcohol. I didn’t finish it and I will say it sat next to my machine way to long as it was still there hours later when I returned after finishing up our packing and getting ready for dinner.
I met up with Chris for our pre-dinner Negroni in Martinis. We also had to redeem our big O points at 5:45 and a bit of a line was forming at 5:25. The line moved fairly quickly and thanks to the generosity of our trivia friends, we had enough points for each of us to get an Oceania jacket. The prizes are a big step up from NCL where you are lucky to get a cheap tshirt. Although it is still better than Celebrity where most activities, including trivia are just for fun.
After checking the menus for dinner, we decided to try the buffet tonight. The menu was not the best plus we weren’t in the mood for a long dinner and likely a shared table. The buffet was a delight with lots of choices and not many people. We both had grilled lobster tails and shrimp cooked to order which were delicious. After that, we did a sampling of the sushi and it was decent but not the “finest at sea.” Our favorite wine steward, Anna provided excellent service and we had a nice chat with her. She is the best onboard I felt in both service and knowledge and I let her know.
We walked outside after our dinner and were treated to a spectacular sunset. The seas have been like glass all day. Cory waved to us from the deck above and we went up to say goodbye. Half of our trivia team was up there as well. We convinced them to join us for Name that Tune with Walisson. It was just for fun so of course we scored a perfect ten! We had fun talking about the entertainment on Oceania and discovered a mutual enjoyment of magic (and ukulele for some of us). After exchanging information and hugs, we said our goodbyes. Hopefully, we will cross paths again soon.
The theater was showing a movie, Book Club: The Next Chapter as the only entertainment. This was the second night of showing a movie which is pretty lame in my opinion. We went to the casino and up to Horizons for the show band at ten. The music was mostly their “greatest hits” we heard throughout the week. We had a few dances but the best entertainment of the evening was up next.
While we were dancing off and on, I noticed a couple sitting a few seats down at the bar. Each were doing the needlepoints provided complimentary from Oceania. When the music was over, I noticed that a drinking contest was going on. Each took turns selecting a liquor to shoot. At first, I thought they were just trying new things, so I suggested Macallan Quest since they had the upgraded beverage package. I’ve never seen anyone drink that so fast. We learned they were staying overnight in New York so why not make the most of the package. The husband pondered aloud, “why doesn’t everyone do this?” I went to the Jukester to find a fun song for them. Since they didn’t have Shots, I selected Blame It on the Alcohol by Jamie Foxx instead. This made them laugh. The wife sounded scarily sober especially when she taunted him about his choices or needing “training wheels” with his tequila shot. After quite a few rapid fire rounds, he left to use the restroom and announced upon his return that he was drunk. The wife showed no signs so I made him a white flag out of my cocktail napkin and stirrer. The wife was still needlepointing and I said I would have sewn my hand into the canvas with that many shots. We left before they did so I do not know how the story ends. It was some memorable entertainment and I will say that a difference between mainstream lines and premium/luxury is that most drinkers are pros unlike the amateurs who make a mess of themselves and the floor. We returned to the casino but it closed about 15 minutes after we arrived. With the time change, it was only 11 but we went back to the cabin since there was not much else to do and we would be getting up early to leave the ship.
I was up early enough to see the sun rising and the Insignia leaving Bermuda in the distance. I went outside to take some pictures of the beautiful sky. Since Chris was still sleeping, I went to Baristas to have an almond milk latte and do some writing. About an hour later, Chris found me and we decided to try breakfast in the dining room. I wanted to have the avocado toast as well as the green apple muesli made with almond milk. Chris opted for eggs Benedict. My breakfast was decent and a nice healthier option for people on a plant based diet.
I wanted to do some more writing and Chris wanted to read so we headed up to the pool deck. Once again, tons of items but no people to be found. We did find some chairs but it was slim pickings at 9am. The cruise director even made an announcement to not save chairs as a courtesy. It literally made me laugh out loud as I was surrounded by tons of beach bags. I appreciate the audio for those passengers who could not read the sign posted on every pillar at the pool but honestly the best action would be to have attendants move these items. To leave your stuff for three to four hours is ridiculous.
We met our team for trivia at 11:15 and I asked them if the passenger dynamic is different on longer cruises. They said very much so. The activities are pretty lacking on this cruise and they said there are more on the world cruise as well. We scored 11.5 points earning another third place. We have one more day to nail that win!
For lunch, we scoped out the buffet but nothing seemed to tempt me. We went outside to the Waves Grill for a surf and turf sandwich. It was crowded but we managed to snag a table people just vacated. I am not sure if they have enough servers in this popular area as that seems to be the jam up. Our sandwiches while more towards well done, were still tender. We thought about going to the pool but not one seat could be found. So we spent a good part of the afternoon in the casino instead.
Every day at 4pm is tea time in Horizons and we have yet to experience it. We arrived at 4:05 and most seats were taken so it is pretty popular. The pastries were out of this world! It is probably a good thing that we skipped it so far. If you do not want to wait for the trolley, there is a buffet to get your selections. The string quartet was playing soothing music and it definitely is a refined experience.
Since we were meeting the delightful Cory for dinner, we went to shower and change. We were ready early so we headed to Martinis which had a good crowd. I think it was a little lighter due to the party for repeat cruisers happening. We had one more cocktail when Cory arrived before going to the Grand Dining Room for dinner.
The menu looked really nice this evening. We all started with caviar and a glass of champagne. It was a decent starter but maybe a tad too salty but it might have been from the potato. Next, Chris and I had the beet root carpaccio which was a fun plant based starter. Chris and Cory also ordered the foie gras and both enjoyed it. It was a very interesting presentation. I had a simple salad that was crispy and fresh. Each of us chose the Beef Wellington for our main. The beef part was on the thinner side and mine was a little tough. I think the problem was it being cut too thin. The pastry was light and the duxelles and gravy were rich and flavorful. The potato they served was a dry twice baked style and I think a creamy mash would enhance the dish better. For dessert, I had the molten chocolate cake with caramel and Chris had the key lime pie. The key lime pie was excellent, very close to how Chris makes his. My dessert was a true disappointment. The cake was so hard and dry with not much caramel to be found. It was a nice meal though with truly wonderful company.
We said our good night to Cory and decided to have some casino time. The show tonight was Broadway in Concert which is not my favorite genre. We did go up to Horizons for some dancing with the show band. The set ended at 11:30pm so we returned to our cabin for the night.
Chris set an alarm for before 6:00 AM to watch our departure from St. George as we love the scenery that passes by and the squeeze out of the harbor. We were the only passengers in Horizons and it was pitch black outside. When the sun came up, we were off to Hamilton at about 6:30 AM. It was beautiful watching the sunrise as we sailed out enjoying the island views.
Breakfast was at the buffet and we decided to relax by the pool until we arrived at Hamilton. At 8:00 AM, we were disappointed seeing the amount of items saving chairs, especially on a port day. I did some writing while Chris read his book. Two water bottles enjoyed the lounger until we left around 9:45. Chris decided to move the bottles as people kept walking by looking for chairs. We talked about going into Hamilton but since it was Sunday, many stores were closed. We opted to enjoy a nice time at the pool and went to our cabin to change into our bathing suits.
Upon returning after 11:00, the bottles were still waiting near the towels area where Chris had put them which we found to be unbelievable. We both enjoyed the pool and chatting with some passengers while floating in the refreshing water. It was becoming another very hot day. Another couple placed their stuff next to us, and said ok let’s go for our walk. They must’ve gone into town as they were gone hours. The owners of the water bottles returned almost five hours later and remarked “I guess if you’re gone an hour you stuff gets moved.”There were still empty seats in the shade so it truly was not necessary to be such a chair hog. We had a lunch from the grill, a power bowl and spring roll for me and a burger and fries for Chris. The Waves Grill is probably the best grill I’ve experienced on a cruise so far. I enjoyed my lunch with a refreshing champagne cocktail. We had dinner plans tonight and trivia at 4:00 so we decided to get our showers before trivia.
At trivia, we learned that the “winning team” had the internet was one of their teammates. It really takes the fun away from the game when people do this. We scored a 10.5 but it landed us in fourth place. Tonight, we were all meeting up for dinner so everyone went to get ready. Since we had already showered, it didn’t take long so we went to Martinis for a pre-dinner drink but it was packed. We headed up to Horizons instead for our Negroni.
For dinner, this evening Chris and I started with the Polynesian-style tuna tartare which was very fresh and flavorful. Chris tried the Mediterranean chicken purse which was very large for a starter. I had the Mykonos salad with “just like feta” and it was a great vegan option. For our main, Chris had the five peppercorn beef tournedos which was cooked to correct temperature and was not overly peppery. I had the chicken fafa which was my first entree that was a real disappointment. It was a huge bowl of poached chicken with about four pieces of spinach. My second bite I had a huge amount of raw ginger which was not too pleasant. The rest of the dish was super bland. For dessert, we both had another lovely soufflé. Tonight’s special was chestnut with pear sauce. We also shared chocolate profiteroles which was another lovely dessert. The desserts have been really outstanding this cruise. The fantastic company of our trivia team made up for my entree. We could not linger too long after dinner since we had reserved the connoisseur cognac tasting tonight.
There was only one other couple who joined us for the tasting. Our chairs were all in a row and each chair had its own table. The set up really showed that something special was about to happen. Our first selection was Remy Martin 1738 which had a very strong alcohol smell. It was a nice cognac and it did pair superbly with the dark chocolate truffle. The chocolate smoothed the flavors. Next, we sampled Remy Martin XO which had much less of an alcohol aroma. The difference between the two was very noticeable. This was paired with a vanilla macaron. Last, but certainly not least was the star of the show, Louis XIII . I have only had this once before and was excited for Chris to try it. We were given one full ounce of this phenomenal cognac. It was paired with a lemon tart but truly it needs no pairing. We savored every last drop.
Tonight’s show was Cory Kahaney’s second performance. We wanted to attend but knew we would be arriving after most seats would be taken so our trivia pals saved us seats. Thankfully, we arrived right on time as comedians often have fun with latecomers. Cory did another great set and I truly loved her bit on vaccines and research with a witty comparison to Viagra. It didn’t get huge laughs due to the demographics but I applaud her for doing that joke. We thanked our friends for our seats and complimented Cory on the show. She invited us to Horizon to join her for a drink and we gladly accepted.
The entertainment in Horizon was karaoke so I was glad to have some fun conversation instead. We really enjoyed sharing a nightcap with her. Cory invited us to join her for dinner tomorrow night. We made plans to meet in Martinis for a pre-dinner cocktail and said our good nights.
We slept a little later than usual after our busy night. It was the perfect day to do so since we overnighted in St. George’s and have another full day to enjoy the idyllic location. After our coffee from Barristas, we had another breakfast in the buffet.
Chris and I can be creatures of habit, so we returned to Alexandra Battery for another swim. It was packed but not with people, but thousands of tiny fish. We’ve never seen anything like it. The multitude of fish was the only company we had. This is one of our favorite spots, as it feels like our own secret beach.
It was another really hot day so I suggested to pop into the liquor store and see if they had any Goslings Dark and Stormy cans for sale. We were in luck and purchased two cold ones, a bargain at just eight dollars. I had a pineapple and Chris tried the mango. If you read my last blog, you might remember Veronica and I drinking these from a bag in the Dockyard. We made good use of our refillable water bottles which was even more discreet than a paper bag. Before returning to the ship, we popped into Sea Glass by Kelly. Her shop had moved to a much bigger location and she had some beautiful pieces for sale. Straight away, a rare peach pendant caught my eye. After chatting with Kelly, Chris decided to buy the stunning colored glass as we have never seen peach glass before. She did a fantastic job accenting the color with beads. I couldn’t wait to wear it to dinner tonight.
Our walk made us work up an appetite so we went right up to Waves Grill to have surf and turf sandwiches. It was a popular choice today as there was only one table. There are small power bowls outside as well so I did try the Bangkok version today. The sandwich while still tasty was well done versus the medium rare that we ordered.
Since we were still in our bathing suits, we decided to take a dip in the pool. Even though it was a full day in port, it was very crowded by the pool. In addition to people, lots of items were enjoying a relaxing time on the loungers. Found a couch to sit on together in the shade so I ran back to the cabin to get Chris’ book and the iPad so I could write. A woman noticed my Crystal beach bag and asked if I have been back since the restart. She told me of their upcoming trip and how much she misses Crystal. She agreed with me that one downside of this ship is the seat saving at the pool. When I returned, Chris had moved to a double bed chair that faced the windows. While sitting, at least two people returned looking for items they left. We were not sure if they were forgotten or left on purpose. Being tucked away, the seats did get hot so we took a dip in the pool which helped. Returning from my swim, a waiter was placing sandwiches and drinks on a table behind us. No one ever returned and one hour later were still sadly sitting there. I do not think on a luxury line this would go unnoticed by crew. Just another slight difference in service level.
We took turns getting ready for the evening and went to trivia. Our team must have been enjoying the day ashore but we scored a decent third place by ourselves. We went to Horizons for our pre-dinner drink. Tonight, in addition to the usual snacks, we were given some olives, cheese puffs, and cheese. Our cruise friends from Delaware pulled up some chairs next to us as did the comedian, Cory. It was some very fun conversation. Chris and I had a dance and spotted part of our trivia team. We had a chat and were invited to join the rest of the team for dinner tomorrow.
Tonight, we had dinner in Toscana which is the specialty Italian restaurant. When making our reservations, they only times were for a shared table. Our table mates joined us very shortly after we arrived. The service in Toscana was much better than Polo Grill. Chris and I both started with the carpaccio which had a good quality but was slightly bland. I added some balsamic and it was perfect. Next course was a Caesar salad for me and a caprese salad for Chris. Both were solid courses but nothing too interesting. For our mains, we both picked the lobster fra diablo. I had mine prepared as usual while Chris asked for extra spicy. We both enjoyed the dish and thought it had good flavor, the lobster was cooked well with decent portion size. For dessert, I had a warm apricot tart while Chris had the roasted peaches with amaretto zabaglione. Both desserts were fabulous! I had low expectation for the restaurant but I enjoyed it.
Chris and I decided to take a walk around the ship to help digest our meal. We ran into Waillson the pianist and had a very nice conversation. He hosted a Name that Tune that we would have attended if not for our Toscana reservation. He was on the NCL Encore during our February cruise so we talked about the differences between the two lines. He is super friendly so if you cross his path cruising, he is very pleasant to talk with in addition to being very talented. The outdoor deck party was tonight but after stopping by our cabin, the bed looked too tempting so we called it a night
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