Daily Archives: January 13, 2015

If Everyone Liked It…

The first time we went on a cruise, my husband, Jim, says he had to be dragged kicking and screaming onto the ship and he had to be dragged kicking and screaming off the ship. He mistakenly thought he would hate it but now we’re experienced cruisers with 8 cruises under our belts including 2 Mediterranean cruises, 5 to the Caribbean, and most recently the transit through the Panama Canal on the Norwegian Star. Next on the docket is an Alaskan cruise scheduled for June, 2015.

Cruising offers several advantages. First, your transportation, accommodations, meals, and entertainment are all included in the package so there’s less to plan and arrange after selecting your cruise. There are plenty of cruise lines and itineraries to choose from so you’re likely to find the perfect cruise for you. In addition, you know what you’re getting for your money and the total cost upfront… unless you spend a lot onboard and don’t keep track. You can choose to do as much or as little as you like with lots of options for activities onboard and excursions in ports, or simply relaxing by the pool with a book in hand. A cruise allows you to sample various ports of call without longterm commitment. If you like a place, you can return in the future and if you don’t like it, you’re not stuck for the duration of your vacation. Finally, while traveling place to place, your belongings stay onboard in one place so you don’t have to pack up for the next stop.

There are several disadvantages as well. If you’re a misanthrope or just not a particularly sociable person, the proximity of 2400 other passengers and half again as many staff may be uncomfortable. If you suffer from motion sickness (I had it once) or any other illness, being on a ship confined to a tiny stateroom is definitely a nightmare. See my post entitled Quarantine on the Norwegian Star. Additionally, there isn’t much opportunity to spontaneously  change plans because you have no choice but to go where the cruise ship goes at the appointed time or they WILL leave you behind.  Finally, alcohol is very expensive onboard and although you can take your own wine, it carries high corking fees. Cruising isn’t for everyone but as a friend once said, “If everyone liked it, it would be too crowded for us.”

Each ship is different but all that I’ve seen have a Las Vegas vibe to them–a kind of gaudy, glitzy, glittery glamour. Personally, I prefer a more understated elegance but I’m sure the cruise lines have plenty of research to back up their style choices. The closest I’ve seen to my personal taste is the Hawaiian theme decor on the Norwegian Jade which, ironically, cruises the Mediterranean and not Hawaii.

Before we leave the ship at the end of our cruise through the Panama Canal, here is a last look at the Norwegian Star.

The Atrium on the Norwegian Star

The Atrium on the Norwegian Star

Mural in Stairwell

Mural in Stairwell

Deck chairs on the Promenade

Deck chairs on the Promenade

Promenade Deck

Promenade Deck

Red Lion Pub

Red Lion Pub

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Lori on deck for walking

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Pool area with water slide

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Lori and me in the hot tub

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Towel Art

An example of towel art that appeared every evening in our stateroom

Panama Canal Photo

Goodbye to Cruising the Norwegian Star

So tell me, have you cruised? What other advantages or disadvantages of cruising have you identified? Please share your thoughts.

Based on events from November, 2014

Categories: cruise, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

That’s Entertainment — Norwegian Star Style

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We usually take in the entertainment in the main theater every night while on a cruise ship. It’s not always great entertainment but it’s generally good enough entertainment and it doesn’t cost anything extra so why not? The night they had a hypnotist on the Norwegian Star, however, I said maybe we should skip it. I’ve been hypnotized several times so I just knew I’d end up on stage. Jim said, “Oh, come on, it’ll be fun” so I relented and off we went.

The hypnotist did his thing and sure enough, I was the first one selected and ended up center stage.

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Let me tell you about my experiences with hypnosis. I’ve laid down with my head on one chair, my feet on another with nothing in between, a person placed on top of me, and the hypnotist standing on top of both of us. That’s the most remarkable feat, but I’ve done plenty of silly things like acting as if the person next to me on stage smells really bad, etc. This time I was the last person on stage because the hypnotist told me I was stuck to the chair and although I needed a restroom badly, I couldn’t get up from the chair until either he or the cruise director shook my hand. So I squirmed and crossed my legs and asked the cruise director if I could leave but stayed stuck to my chair until he finally shook my hand at which time I left the stage.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, hypnosis is “a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration.”  That sounds benign, don’t you think? So, how does hypnosis feel, you ask? I feel totally in control; I believe I could leave the stage if I wanted; I feel relaxed and cooperative. I would never do anything I wouldn’t do ordinarily but I feel like it’s important to go along with the show so the hypnotist doesn’t look bad. In a later seminar, the hypnotist, TerranceB, confirmed that’s exactly how he feels when hypnotized. He said anyone can be hypnotized if they are willing and not fearful of it. While under hypnosis I am aware of what is happening and I remember everything afterward. I also feel refreshed after the experience and sleep incredibly well that night. I don’t know why I’m such a good subject but a therapist friend said I’m likely highly suggestible. Somehow, I’m not sure that sounds like a good thing.

Other entertainment in the Stardust Theater included a tribute act to Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons, an outstanding acrobatic aerial show, a lot of comedy acts including Second City, comedy with magic, a comedy juggler, (both of these last two were MUCH better than they sound), and several performances by the Norwegian Star Production Cast and Show Band. Photography isn’t allowed so I only have pictures of the theater and us.

Stardust Theater on the Norwegian Star

Stardust Theater on the Norwegian Star

Stardust Theater on the Norwegian Star, 2014

Stardust Theater on the Norwegian Star, 2014

There is also lots more entertainment, music, and dancing in lounges and bars throughout the ship until late into the night. I rarely make it past 10 p.m. so I missed most of that but I did make it a priority to dance a few nights.

Dancing in the Spinnaker Lounge

Dancing in the Spinnaker Lounge

We’re not big gamblers but the casino onboard any ship usually sees a lot of action. This ship actually struck me as having somewhat fewer gamblers than usual. I’ll play a few penny slots but I haven’t struck it rich yet.

Slots in the Casino

Slots in the Casino

There’s plenty of daytime entertainment all over the ship as well, including game shows, bingo, trivia, dance lessons, and more. The ice sculpting on the pool deck was fascinating to watch even though I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember the finished product.

Ice carving emonstration

Ice carving demonstration

My friend, Lori, and I went to a French wine tasting that was well worth the extra charge and the sommelier was very knowledgable and engaging. He was generous with his pours, too.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

One of my favorite shows was the Norwegian Star Crew Show. Crew members from all over the ship displayed a variety of amazing talents. But the final act, Fountains, performed by the cruise director and his staff, was absolutely hilarious. Dressed in sheets to look like Greek performers, they spit streams of water all over each other and the stage as they imitated fountains in a very funny and creative show. Photographs were allowed and encouraged for this particular show.

Fountains

Fountains on the Norwegian Star

Truly, there are so many competing entertainment options while on a cruise ship that the challenge is to pick the ones that interest you most. Just be sure to check out what they have to offer. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Based on events of November, 2014

Categories: cruise, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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