A Caveman, A Nun, and Peter Pan Walk Into A Bar
Written by: Kuki
The NCL Jewel arrived off the coast of Samana, Dominican Republic this morning, and yes, we were still on it when in arrived. I wouldn’t even be mentioning it if I weren’t on it, now would I?
We anchored off shore. Well, Mrs. Kuki and I didn’t do it as we were still in bed. The ship dropped its anchor off shore. But at precisely 7:25 our wake-up call woke us up. At 7:30 Harry, the Butler, delivered our pre-ordered breakfast. There’s a fancy cappuccino maker in our suite which makes regular coffee as well. It’s without a doubt the best coffee on the ship, once Harry had given us a tutorial on how to use it. We obviously don’t have the natural panache to own such a machine. We didn’t order coffee with our breakfast. Instead, we simply made our own, fresh and hot.
I had pre-booked a ship’s shore excursion for a day at the all inclusive Grand Paradise Resort. On previous cruises we’ve visited the Dominican Republic before, but not arriving in Samana. I’m not generally a shore excursion guy, much preferring to explore on my own, get lost, find my way, thus making it a bit more interesting. However, the all inclusive sounded like a nice way to spend the day.
While I enjoyed the resort, today was a great example of why I generally avoid ship’s excursions. The ship’s organization getting the tours on to tenders, and over to shore was incredibly efficient. We met in the showroom, were lead to the tender, taken ashore, and immediately boarded our bus for the 45 minute ride to the resort. The bus set up pleasantly surprised me, with sufficient leg room even for a long legged beast like me.
The ride to the resort however was quite uncomfortable, because the road condition is such that it made it feel like we were riding a large bus through a ditch the entire trip. Our guide, Juan, spoke a bit about his country enroute, and gave instructions as to where and when lunch would be served on the property, and as we arrived at the resort informed us we would have to meet back at the drop off point by 3:30 P.M.
The resort has several pool areas, with bars, and a lovely half-moon shaped bay, with nice beach front, and grassy areas nearby with plenty of loungers. We spent some time at the beach, and at the pool, and enjoyed both.
After a very pleasant, and extensive, lunch buffet, some rain moved in, so we just moved under the cover of one of thatch roofed bars to socialize. Someone came around telling everyone from our tour, or those they could find, that the bus would be leaving at 3:00 P.M., rather than the scheduled 3:30. Those who got the message arrived at the meeting point at 3:00, and boarded the buses, only to sit and wait for those who either did not get the message, or chose to ignore it, in favor of more all inclusive liquor. And there’s my problem with large organized excursions; the group (and you.. or in this case me) moves only as fast as the slowest person. When port visits are normally quite short, time does become valuable. The last tender did wait for our tour to arrive back at the pier, because it was in a ship’s excursion. Immediately after we boarded the ship sailed from Samana. It is important to understand that though I’m not a fan of excursions for the reason mentioned, if you are on your own, or on a private tour, the ship will not wait past the designated last time to board. If you’re late you can find yourself watching your ship sail out of the bay without you.
A few thoughts here about all inclusive resorts; I have to admit I’d get a bit antsy spending an entire week or two at all inclusive, even though, like this one, they have several restaurants, lots of water based activities, a stage for shows, disco, and sports lounge. But I do understand those who enjoy the activities and relaxation the stationary resort offers. I do think the biggest difference between a cruise and all inclusive resort is the free liquor available at all-inclusive resorts. I’m not much of a drinker at all, but for those who consider quantitative amounts of liquor important to the enjoyment of their vacation, I can see how the appeal of no liquor tab at the end of their vacation, as occurs on a cruise, can be a serious consideration.
After being the last onboard before the ship sailed we didn’t have much time before our 7:30 dinner reservation at Cagney’s Steak House ($20 pp surcharge). After a short while to relax, we both rushed to shower and get dressed for dinner. Tonight was Halloween, and there was a Halloween party scheduled for 10 P.M. in Spinnakers Lounge. We had brought costumes along, so we decided it would be easiest to simply wear the costumes to dinner.
As we left the cabin Mrs. Kuki told me if she didn’t see more people in costumes she was going to come back to the cabin to change. Cagney’s was quite quiet tonight, as have been most of the surcharge restaurants we’ve passed by during the cruise. As we entered the staff got a great kick out of our costumes, but none of the others in the restaurant were in costume, so we were a tad conspicuous. But we were having fun, and I think even those not in costume enjoyed our being “dressed” I think.
The ship’s Concierge, Alex came by just after we were seated, and he appeared quite surprised to see us in costume. You’ll be hearing more about Alex at a later date, as he and his job will be the subject of an upcoming feature article for CruiseMates.
Dinner tonight in Cagney’s was in one word, fabulous! It will probably strike you as an odd item to note, but Cagney’s has the very best bread on the ship. The menu in Cagney’s offers a wide selection of appetizers, soups, entrees, and side dishes, and the six of us quickly agreed we’d have to return again at some point during the cruise to try some of the things we didn’t try tonight. The service too was outstanding. If I’d had this meal in New York during our pre-cruise stay, I have no doubt it would have cost us $200 per couple, so $40 per couple was a bargain.
We had a half hour to kill before the Halloween Party in Spinnakers, so we decided to head to the casino. I sat down to play some blackjack, and got some “interesting” glances from passersby. Mrs. Kuki and the others tried their luck on the slot machines. In a short time they had lost their stake, and Mrs. Kuki informed me she was feeling tired and was going to pass on the party, and my partners in crime had also decided to retire for the night. I think a part of the problem was they hadn’t seen anyone else in Halloween costumes. So, there I sat in the casino, dressed as a nun, actually having a bit of luck at the tables, having to decide if I was going to head up to the party, in costume, by myself, or stay and look just as foolish in the casino.
One lady did come up to speak with me while I was playing blackjack, to tell me she’d forgot it was Halloween. I replied… “Oh, is it Halloween”?
I stayed a short while longer before heading back to the cabin, so I never did make the official Halloween Party, and I can’t even report on it. How sad a nun is that!
I did get one shot of Barney Rubble and Peter Pan before they escaped…..
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Posted: October 31st, 2008 under Kuki.