So several months back my good friend Tammy Batman (yes, her real name, get past it) asked me to take a trip with her, somewhere. She had a travel certificate with an airline and knew that I travel a bunch, figured we could go somewhere fun. We had talked about going to Vegas then just before we started booking flights and hotels my husband suggested we look into taking a cruise instead. I love that man! We planned a girls’ only cruise to the Bahamas.
I have cruised several times before, Tammy had once, but forever ago. My cruise line of choice is Norwegian. I have cruised a few other of the popular lines, NCL is just better. So, we got a good deal on a balcony room (ONLY way to go). We were booked on the Norwegian Sky. I had an upgrade certificate from a prior trip and sent it in, looking to upgrade to a better cabin. Got an email back that an upgrade was not available, but here, have a $75 room credit instead. Nice, I can work with that.
A couple of days before we were supposed to leave, I get a call from the cruise line, offering an upgrade. TO A PENTHOUSE. Totally sweet. For $75 each (total, not per day) we got upgraded. Remember, I got the cabin credit already, so the net was really just the $75 ‘cause I got to keep that. This made us both totally excited, and we didn’t even fully understand what we were going to experience.
We head to Ft Lauderdale and stay the night, hotel was no big deal, we cashed in points and got a free night from a Hilton property. Now, this was weird. The driver from the hotel picked us up at the airport. He started out as friendly, but by the time he gave us his buddy’s phone number to give us a ride to the ship and his extensive advice on how to smuggle liquor onto the boat, he had crossed over to creepy. We check in, go to our room and there’s a huge fan on the floor drying to carpet. Ok, we try again, and get a new room. This room was fine, except we had a haunted microwave. I tried to set the clock, push buttons, etc, but nothing would make the random lights and noises stop. So I unplugged it. We had to call maintenance 4 times (maybe 5) to fix the toilet because apparently a previous guest had shoved soap into the toilet. What the heck?
Ok, we head to the Port of Miami. We get dropped off, get bags dropped off and head inside to check in. Lines were reasonable, not rushed. Very organized and everyone in a good mood, happy to be there, guests and employees.
We get to the place where you get your cabin keys, and are directed to the place for penthouse guests. We are starting to feel special. We get our room keys, and give our credit cards to handle on board purchases and we have our first snag. My reservation is under my correct last name. My credit card has my correct last name. My passport was issued under my former last name, but officially changed to the correct name and is properly documented and all that official stuff. The guy that checked me in apparently had a hard time with that and issued me a credit slip to sign with the wrong name on it. I tell him it’s wrong, he says my key is right, so it must just be some glitch, not to worry. It was the answer I wanted to hear.
We go to the VIP waiting area and expect to be summoned by Virginia. We had not yet met her, but assumed she must be someone special. There are a few of us waiting, chatting a little.
Ok, go ahead, we will take you on the ship now. We go right onto the boat to meet Virginia, the concierge. She is the sweetest lady. So not stressed. We will appreciate this later. She offers to take us to Cagney’s (posh restaurant on the boat that until now I had only been there for dinner, it was never open for lunch (or breakfast) before for me). We go to Cagney’s, champagne in hand. Eat a yummy lunch. Then head down to our penthouse.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Our deck was bigger than most of the cabins I had previously stayed in, we had surround sound to go with our flat screen in the living room and with the flat screen in the bedroom. Three closets. Jacuzzi tub. Espresso machine. Rogin. Rogin was our butler. He delivers fresh flowers. He made sure our champagne was chilled. He delivered complementary afternoon snacks. He fixed my glasses when the screw came out.
We ate that night in the main dining room, yummy of course. The entertainment that night was a catch all/preview for the rest of the cruise. The cruise director is so full of energy. Matt was the cruise director on my last cruise as well, just as fun then too. The comedian gave a fun little skit, loads of audience participation. Just fun. We met Oswald, our cabin steward. Nice but quiet man.
Next day we woke up in the Bahamas. At breakfast, at Cagney’s, Virginia was there to tell us good morning. She had another credit slip for me to sign, name still wrong, looks like there was a problem with the last one (umm, maybe cause you had my name wrong?!!). I tell her about it, sign the new slip and forget about it, again assuming it was taken care of. Wandered around Nassau, did some shopping, went to Senior Frogs. That night was the Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game. It is pretty much exactly what you’d think. Fun show, only audience participation is the three couples that wind up on stage. Usually. Let’s just say we sat in the front row (it should have been safe) and one of the husbands pointed at me in reference to his wife’s bra size and now the people on the ship all know what size bra I wear. Rest of the cruise I was officially “the boob lady” and several different people approached me at the most random times to call me that.
Sunday we decided to just go to the regular buffet for breakfast, figured we’d go to one of the omelet stations, get some coffee, head over to NCL’s private island. I was just devastated. The omelet stations only offered 3 toppings, including mushrooms and cheese. Ew. Seriously? That’s a dumb little budget cut there. By this time we had missed the good breakfast at Cagney’s. Not very happy and still hungry. I had given a deposit for our next cruise and the receipt was in our cabin. IN THE WRONG NAME. You’re kidding, right? I go to find Virginia to get it fixed. She doesn’t miss a beat, gets it taken care of. Loving her. She reminds me to find her when we are ready to go to the island, she will make sure we don’t have to wait. We get ready, find Virginia, she takes us down a back staircase to the loading area to leave the boat. We don’t see the line of other guests, we were isolated. We were first onto the smaller boat that takes us all over. Soon, another 300 or more guests (that had been waiting for how long in line) join us to go to the island. The sun finally showed up, we had a couple of drinks, and then went back to the ship. That night we were invited to have drinks with the Captain, meet the cruise staff and mingle with other VIPs (teehee, OTHER VIPs!!).
We had asked for Virginia to arrange for our transportation to the airport when we returned. The tickets were at our cabin. Guess what, mine in the wrong name. Grr. I go to find Virginia to get the tickets re-issued. I am more than annoyed at this point.
Sunday night, last night of the cruise. The comedy show and the adult quest game. The theatre was close to capacity, Tammy and I sat in the second or third row, far side of the theatre. We had ordered and started on our evening’s bucket of beers. At the start of the show the comedian went into the audience, on the side opposite us, he grabbed a lady from the audience, put her on stage. Tammy looked at me and said “you’re going on stage”. Yea right. Umm, yea, right. He walks over, takes my beer, hands it to Tammy, takes me on the stage. I am now a prop on stage for the comedian. He has the two of us ladies on stage take turns being his victim. He puts us behind him, one at a time depending on the comedic needs, close, his hands behind our backs, our arms in front of him. We are supposed to be his hands, his gestures with our hands. He did the requisite mock flirting, asking about husbands and such. Was silly and fun. The one that got me stumped was ironically when he wanted me to show he was scared. All I had to do was shake my hands, you know quiver. That one escaped me, funny since my left hand does nothing BUT shake. The end of our stint on stage was completed by BOTH ladies behind him doing the Macarena. Cheesy but fun. The adult game was fun, but I won’t ruin it for anyone. If you go on a cruise with NCL, just go. Make sure when you go that you are not too intoxicated or you will be sorry when you become the star of the show. At the dance club that night they of course played the Macarena and some lady came up to me and offered to have my arms around her, performing like I had on stage. Cute.
Next morning we had to go. But again, Virginia had taken good care of us. Eat a good breakfast (at Cagney’s again), meet me here to get off the ship. Again, no line, just right where we needed to go. Very nice. Several times during the cruise Tammy and I were in awe of the treatment we were getting, it was just right. We felt well taken care of, never pressured or overwhelmed. Very well done NCL and the crew of the Sky (but please figure out how to keep my name right, it’s not really that complicated).
My boys leave for their cruise to Alaska on Friday, no Penthouse or upgrades. Trying hard to rub it in as much as I can before then.