We were up early, and Chris went to the lounge to get us coffees to start our morning. The coffee was great, and we later went back to the lounge for breakfast. They have a large spread of eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, oatmeal, lots of fresh fruits and juices and tons of different pastries. We both had a lighter breakfast though since we knew lots of cruise food would be coming our way. I had a great bowl of oatmeal though since they had fresh blueberries, I could add to it.
We left the hotel at nine and took an Uber to the port. It is only about a ten-minute ride, so we entered the terminal after dropping off our suitcases by 9:25. There was a queue at the bottom of the escalator so it appeared they had not let anyone check in yet. The line though started moving shortly and we were through security with key in our hand by 9:50. Our boarding card was group three, but we are Sapphire Latitudes members which entitles us to priority boarding. Passengers were still disembarking from the previous cruise so we knew we would have a bit of a wait. I had spent some of the wait texting our friend Tim who we met on last year’s NCL Joy cruise. We had a great time last year with his lovely wife, Juanita, so we decided to have a reunion. He started the Facebook group for our cruise and made me an admin as well. It is such an active group with close to 550 members. I had been checking the group posts most of the morning and answering some last-minute questions. Lots of people were congregating around the boarding door and two announcements were made asking them to move. We watched from our seats and didn’t see many move away. Around 11:20, we saw the Haven passengers being escorted on to the ship, so we knew our time was approaching. After, those with special assistance, Sapphire and higher was invited to board the ship. We had to work our way around those blocking the door but soon we on the Encore.
Our first order of business was to get our show times reserved. We headed to the Social and walked right up and made our reservations for the week. Across the hall, we stopped to change our dining reservation for this evening since we wanted to eat at 5:30 so we could watch the Super Bowl. The final bit of business was to stop and Cruise Next to reserve our wine tasting and dinner with the officers. It was great having no lines to wait in.
We decided to go to the Local for lunch as that seems to be the new NCL tradition. It was already hopping but we were seated right away. We ordered two Matadors to toast the voyage. Chris ordered his favorite sausage sliders as well as some wings if they were any better than the Breakaway. I had the Ruben sandwich which was great. The sliders were great, and Chris thinks the wings were better but not great. The sauce might be a tad better to me, but they are nothing special now. I think if they used the old sauce, I would not mind them being baked now.
It was off to explore the ship after lunch. We walked through all the areas on deck 6 through 8. It seemed easy to get our bearings due to the similarity of the Joy, Escape, Breakaway and Getaway. Observation lounge was our next stop and Chris was tempted by the German chocolate cake, so he sampled a piece with some coffee. I really enjoyed this space on the Joy and missed it on Breakaway.
We decided to go Sugarcane to meet up with our cruise pals. On the way we could not resist the call of two empty bar seats at Maltings. We stopped to get a Woodford Old Fashioned. The bartender made it perfect, not too sweet. This is the only drink where Woodford is included in the regular beverage package. As I was enjoying my cocktail, someone came up and shook my barstool and scared me. It was Tim! He found us here on his way to Sugarcane. We all went and signed up for the wine tastings at the Cellars across from Maltings then went to Sugarcane to catch up. Tim and his wife were traveling with their cousins who are first time cruisers. They were both very fun and just as friendly. We shared lots of laughs with our drinks before hearing the announcement that our cabins were ready. Everyone was anxious to check out their home for the week, so we parted ways. They were off to see their spa balconies while we went to our inside cabin.
Our suitcases were not at our cabin yet and one of my rituals is to be unpacked before the muster drill. I wasn’t too worried though as we planned a casual evening dinner with the Super Bowl as our entertainment. We did have a delightful surprise in our room. In addition to the chocolate covered strawberries for our status, there was an elaborate chocolate tray (which I thought was a cake at first), fruit bowl, bottle of wine, upgraded toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. This was with a lovely note from the general manager welcoming us. I know this was due to my dear friend from many years on NCL who I contacted when I could not get a space set up for our meet and greet through Cruise Critic. I sent her a thank you right away. She is a truly outstanding asset NCL has, and it really meant so much to see this. I really must try to sail with her soon as she is so much fun to be around.
The muster drill was at 4:00 PM and after the first announcement was made, we made our way to the theater which was our station. It took quite some time for everyone to arrive and get the drill started. It was finally over at 4:50 PM and seemed to be the longest one I have experienced.
Dinner tonight was Los Lobos, the Mexican specialty restaurant. Sail away was soon so we opted to eat outside. It was lovely, perfect weather and was like having dinner on our own private terrace. We enjoyed some chips and salsa and a mezcal negroni but soon our apps arrived of queso fundido and tableside prepared guacamole. Both were excellent starters. Our entrée was the shrimp skewers and we both thought the shrimp were flavorful and delicious. For our sides, Chris had the street corn and Mexican rice, and I had the beans and plantains. For dessert, we both chose the same, bunuelos with guava. It was our first time trying Los Lobos and we would definitely choose to dine there again on another cruise.
The entertainment for the evening was the Super Bowl. It was shown in the atrium, Local, District Brew pub, pool deck and in the cabins. We chose to head to the pool deck to watch on the big screen. We snagged two chairs with a slightly obstructed view as we arrived late to the party but just in time for kick off. It was a very exciting game but sad for us Eagle fans. We decided to go back to the cabin after the game as we were not in a celebratory mood with the loss. Tomorrow is Great Stirrup Cay and we have no real plans except to relax on the ship.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.