How the MSC Seaside shores up to the Norwegian Getaway: Part 1

Coming off of the MSC Seaside a few weeks ago, I started to think about the best possible way to share our experiences on the ship.  For those about to venture on the MSC Seaside or thinking about what ship to choose for your next sea adventure, I thought it might be helpful to compare the MSC Seaside to the Norwegian Getaway.

I spent hours reading reviews and data on many ships looking for comparisons between the various lines before our trip.  In this three part series, I’ll walk through what to expect and some of the highlights of our experiences on both the Seaside and Getaway.

Ship Theme & Vibe

MSC Seaside

The Seaside has been called “the ship that follows the sun.” MSC has marketed the ship as the world’s newest luxury high-tech cruise ship.

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Photo of the Seaside on our way to the Port of Miami.

Clearly the ship is beautifully designed and many of the features we experienced first hand were designed for a high technology experience. The only challenge with investing in technology and branding is making sure that the customer experience is consistent when using the various connected features.

Mostly, our experience was very good on the ship, even our use of WiFi.  However, the MSC Seaside app has a variety of issues that the company should look at closely.   One is the inconsistency of the MSC App, how it is organized, the functionality and what is stated in the content.  There were several times where the app stated information that was incorrect.

For example, on the app it says under Library that you can visit Guest Services to check out an e-book on your cruise.  When I visited guest services, they spent some time trying to figure out what this meant and revealed that the information was incorrect.  They were kind and gracious, but it is important for MSC to think about making sure their marketing/content matches up to what is available for cruisers.

Overall, it would be to MSC’s advantage to spend some time thinking about their entire digital presence (including their website) and the overall customer experience.

Norwegian Getaway

The Norwegian Getaway is one of the line’s Breakaway Class ships.  The ship is the epitome of Miami’s spirit and festive nature.

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When we cruised on the Getaway earlier this year, we selected the ship because of the high number of activities available to us from the high ropes course, to the sports court, and many parties.

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Although the Getaway is not as new as the Seaside, when you see them docked next to each other in the port (which we did when we cruised the Seaside), you can quickly call out the differences.   The Getaway is light, bright, fun and festive at every moment, even in port, while the Seaside seems to be the nicely polished, pristine ship that offers fun and relaxation, but in a much more calm, sophisticated way.

Takeaway: 

Both ships offer good, mostly positive experiences to cruisers. We should give the MSC Seaside some grace as they work through obstacles only a new ship will experience.  The one thing the MSC Seaside can’t afford to let go? Fixing their digital and connected experience for cruisers and making sure employees understand how the ship is being marketed.

Passengers

MSC Seaside

As a global cruise line founded in Italy and headquartered in Geneva, it’s no surprise that MSC is used to catering to a large European clientele. With the MSC Seaside and newly renovated port in Miami, MSC is focused on working to reach more U.S. based cruisers. On our cruise, passengers appeared to come from all over the world and based on some of the interactions and observations I had, I would predict that more than half of the cruisers on our Seaside voyage came from outside of the United States, mostly Europe.

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian is headquartered in Miami and best known for its freestyle cruising concept. It is safe to say that they also serve a wide range of passengers, but with such a strong presence in Miami and at other U.S. based ports, the Getaway did not reflect the same type of international diversity that the Seaside did.

Takeaway:

The MSC Seaside still tends to through their approach and style cater to a more European audience.  I’ve traveled quite a bit and have a wide appreciation for what all cultures have to offer and can appreciate the experience the Seaside offers.  However, it is important to consider cultural differences and the expectations you have before you select a cruise.  We were ready for this and a more stylized experience when we decided to book our cruise on the Seaside.

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For us, the Getaway was a more enjoyable experience, because of the freedom, flexibility and fun that comes with the NCL brand and all of the quirky, activities and personalities that make up your cruise.  One experience isn’t better than another, it is more about the vibe and expectations you have for your vacation.

Embarkation

MSC Seaside

The embarkation process was quick, easy and seemed to good to be true.  With the Aurea experience, we did not have to wait in many lines and we were on board within 25 minutes of arriving at the port. What’s one to do when you board before 1 p.m.?  Explore the ship and have a Red Stripe.  Our luggage arrived early afternoon.

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When we checked in, we also received a MSC Seaside bracelet (this came with the Aurea experience) that could be used to charge to the room throughout the ship.

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Norwegian Getaway

When I wrote my review on the Getaway, I felt the boarding experience was easy and quick.  After experiencing MSC Seaside, I have to say Seaside was faster and even more organized. As we waited to board the Getaway, we were surrounded by crowds of people and this did make it critical that you paid special attention for when your group was called.

The “welcoming party” on the Getaway was much better with NCL.  As you board the ship, you hear music, get the general feeling that people are excited to be there and it stays that way through your entire cruise.  NCL is rocking it with how their employees represent their brand.  We explored the ship and our luggage was delivered by 1 p.m., no fuss or issues.

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Takeaway:

MSC clearly wins in this area.  Upgrading to the Aurea experience was totally worth it and it made for a nice start to our trip.  The NCL was also easy as well and carried a fun vibe, but MSC takes the trophy.

Rooms

MSC Seaside

With the Aurea experience, we booked a balcony stateroom (#9026).  The room was nice, clean and had everything you would expected in a balcony type room on a newer ship.  Our balcony was extended and gave us much more room than I had anticipated.   The shower was about the same size as our shower on the Getaway. I loved the extra touches with the Aurea experience such as slippers, a robe and essential oils in the room.

Lesson learned from our experience is to to a better job of looking at the layout of the ship when selecting a room.  Although nice, we chose a room that was at the opposite side of the ship when it came to our most frequented dining spots (mainly the buffet).

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Norwegian Getaway

On the Getaway, we stayed in a Spa Balcony Stateroom.  It was very similar to the Seaside and also came with a robe and slippers.  Similarly with Seaside, we had full access to the spa. Our room, although not brand new like the Seaside, was just as nice and clean as our Aurea stateroom.

On the Seaside, the stewards looked like they were always working.  When you would pass them in the hallway, they were very friendly, but nervous.  On the other hand, on the Getaway, our steward seemed to be more confident.  He also was very creative with our towels and left us nice surprises like you see below.

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Takeaway:

We enjoyed our stay and rooms on both the Getaway and the Seaside, but the Seaside probably has the Getaway beat because everything is new and the balcony is much more spacious in their Aurea Balcony Stateroom. Excuse the mess of a room, but here’s a quick video of our extended balcony on the Seaside.

 

 

The Spa

MSC Seaside

Every day during our cruise, I would spend at least an hour in the spa, specifically the Thermal area. The spa is beautiful, new and has a few delightful surprises such as the snow room and the scented, aromatherapy cold breeze and warm breeze showers.

Our package also came with two Bali massages, which were amazing.  I’ve had many massages in my lifetime.  My husband on the other hand before the Seaside, had only experienced one. He is generally really uncomfortable with the concept of massages. We both walked away with the same impression: “wow!”  Literally, the best massage I have ever had hands down!

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The downside to the Aurea Spa is that there are very few lounge chairs, but especially the hot stone chairs that so many spa goers love (only 3 in the entire spa). For the number of passengers and Aurea spa passholders, this seems like a big mistake.  The spa is also extremely dark and closed off, unlike the Getaway’s spa, which constantly reminds you of the beauty and sea around you and allows you to read and relax at the same time.

Norwegian Getaway

The Thermal area and spa on the Getaway was also a good experience, but did not have as many surprises or relaxation areas as the Seaside. There’s one large thermal bath, two hot tubs, a sauna, steam room and a small salt room.  The Getaway does have many more chairs including the hot stone chairs compared to the Seaside.  I remember there being at least 10, but probably even more chairs of this design.

I also liked how the Getaway had a hot tea and fruit area set up inside of the Thermal area.  Also, the locker room beats the Seaside hands down with everything you need to get ready for the evening, many more rooms and stalls for showering, changing or going to the restroom.  The Seaside on the other hand, only had two restrooms inside a much smaller locker room.

Finally, I did pay for a massage on the Getaway and it was not as good as the massage I received complimentary with the Aurea package on the Seaside.

Takeaway:

Both spas are nice for different reasons. As a place someone like myself (the energy bunny) can go to relax for a longer period of time, I would have to vote for the Getaway. I did enjoy the surprises on the Seaside, but it was much too crowded and dark for my liking.

Cruise Staff

MSC Seaside

Despite some of the comments from previous reviews, I thought most of the staff was very kind and helpful.  The one point would be that there’s a vibe in the air on the Seaside that feels like the employees are terrified of making mistakes. I’m sure this is as a result of past disgruntled passengers and perhaps how MSC is managing a new ship.  My advice to MSC would be to continue to value your employees, find ways to encourage and motivate, so that morale can stay high and everyone is having fun.

We met some great people/crew members with interesting stories and those connections will make or break the experience you have.  So, be kind to people and considerate. The only time I felt frustration with guest services is when I saw that MSC employees were forced to deal with the inaccurate information living inside of the MSC & Me app.

Norwegian Getaway

Hands down, the Getaway wins for personalities, team spirit and a crew that is genuinely awesome to be around. We were lucky enough to secure a Club Vibe pass and really enjoyed our bartender in this area for the life of the cruise. Staff on the Getaway and their fun personalities also made the other activities better and more interesting from Bingo to the big White Party.

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Takeaway:

I enjoyed the staff members on both cruises, but the atmosphere on the Getaway is much less rigid and open. Crew members clearly feel like they can be themselves and aren’t afraid of making mistakes.  The Seaside is a new ship, so hopefully MSC will be taking feedback and figure out how to line up their marketing, training and employee engagement efforts more consistently.

My message to MSC would be: your people are working hard, doing a great job responding to guests and trying to connect the dots, give them more credit and clear the way to make this even easier.

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That covers the start of our trip. Next in the series, I’ll cover food, entertainment, recreation, and more.

Packing for your MSC Seaside adventure

What to pack? We set sail on January 6, 2018 and made a few mistakes when we packed. Here’s what to remember before you embark on your MSC Seaside adventure.

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Pack to help maximize the space of your room.

I know most rooms on ships are known for being smaller and space restricted, especially in places like the bathroom and shower.  The Seaside, although new and beautiful, is no exception. Plan and pack to make this small space more manageable. Don’t forget:

  • Over the door hanging organizer
  • Easy post hooks to hang bags and wet swimsuits. Our Aurea balcony only had one hook and it was on the back of the bathroom door.
  • Extra hangers, as there were only about 7 in our room.
  • Don’t bring your blow dryer, as they supply one and it will just take up more space. However, it took me four days to figure out where it was.  I found our blowdryer, in the angle drawer below the main mirror in our room.  It is easy to miss, so pay attention.

 

Be ready with reserves when it comes to powering your electronics.

In our room, there were only two outlets for powering U.S. electronics.  I recommend bringing a powerstrip or an international converter/adaptor if you need to charge more than two devices at a time. Many times during our cruise, I wished that I had packed my international charger/converter, especially when I tried to charge my devices in places like the coffee shop, where everything is European focused.  

Get cash before you cruise.

It’s likely a given, but don’t forget to get cash out before you cruise. There are no ATMs on board the Seaside.  Guest services will give you a cash advance if needed, but they will also charge you 5% for it.  Take care of getting any cash you need before you reach the port.

It might seem weird, but pack post-its, pen, and tape.

I can’t count the number of times I needed to write a note, fill out a form or luggage tag, and I did not have access to a pen. Due to the size of the ship and mobile devices also being turned off for text and data, it can be difficult to communicate and I found myself leaving notes the good old fashioned way for my husband (written with an eyeliner pencil).

Tape works for posting the notes, but I also used it to reseal our tags on our suitcases when we arrived at the port.

 

If you care for your hair, bring conditioner.

For some people not using conditioner for a whole week or more is no big deal.  For others, it means everything (a bad hair day ruins everything).  MSC provides shampoo and shower gel, but they do not provide conditioner, so don’t forget to pack it.  

On the positive side, what they do provide smells great.  I enjoyed using the products they provided.

 

Getting over the counter medicine and other toiletries.

If you forgot to pack something rather it be Tylenol or hairspray, there is a VERY small area inside of the liquor/alcohol shopping area that sells a subset of these types of items.  It is very small and limited, especially in comparisons to other ships.  So, do your best to remember everything you need beforehand.

 

Attire for various themed nights.

It wasn’t always clear, but on the MSC Seaside cruise we were on, there was a white party, a 70’s night and a Great Gatsby night. It could be fun, if you are interested in attending these types of dress-up opportunities and galas.  So be ready for anything! 

 

Cards, games and fun things to do.

There’s a fairly decent area where you can check out games on the Seaside, but only for two hours at a time. You will find a wide array of internationally focused games. Honestly, some of the game titles we had never heard of before.  If you do not return a game within a designated period of time, they will charge you a $50 fine.  

Playing cards Skip-Bo MSC Seaside

We love to play cards in our house and the one thing we did not pack was a normal deck of playing cards.  If you play cards, it may be easier to pack your own deck and you’ll be ready for anything.

Happy Packing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Quick Tips for Cruising the MSC Seaside

We were sad to say goodbye to the MSC Seaside today.  We ported in Miami this morning and left behind our grand adventure.

MSC Seaside

I’m very excited to share a full review soon, some very cool videos and photos, but in the meantime, here are a few tips as you prepare to travel or book a cruise on the MSC Seaside.

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1. Forget the negative reviews, the MSC Seaside was a great experience.  Your attitude is everything. Before our trip, and even during it, we read so many negative reviews.   Like any experience, your attitude means everything.  Sure, there were a few minor bumps here and there, but this would be true with any ship, trip or hotel.  Keep an open mind, follow the Golden Rule, and just appreciate the small things.

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The ship is beautiful, the cultures represented diverse, the staff insanely helpful, and the overall experience unforgettable.  Go for it!

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2. Book the Aurea experience, it rocks! Two words sum up this experience, convenient and fast. For Americans or those unfamiliar with MSC, it is pronounced just like “aura,” the same word used to talk about the color of your spiritual state, chakra and such.

Yoga aside, we had such a great experience, but especially when it came to embarking and disembarking.  In both experiences, we were on or off the ship in 30 minutes or less. Meals were made easy, making it closest to freestyle cruising, we never had to wait for a table and food was abundant.

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Also, the Bali massage, which is complementary, was the best. You also have full access to the thermal spa, which was beautiful.   I’ll share more on this later.

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3. Print, cut and tape or protect your luggage tags before you leave.  One surprise for us with MSC was related to the luggage tags.  They send you a packet to print before your trip.  Make sure you protect them with tape or a clear tag and have some way to secure them on your luggage before you hit the port.  This was different than what we were used to and I made an emergency stop at CVS for the packing tape in Miami- which did the trick.

 

4. Do purchase the laundry package on the MSC website before your trip.  Don’t expect any special deals as from MSC when it comes to promos around laundry mid way through your trip.  The packages stay the same and if you purchase in advance, you’ll avoid a hefty service fee.

 

5. Set-up WiFi yourself.  If you purchase a WiFi package, no need to visit the WiFi area when you check-in.  It is very easy to set-up on your mobile without MSC help.  Simply connect to the MSC WiFi connection once on board and open your browser to login.mscwifi.com and follow instructions.

 

6. Don’t pay for lattes, specialty drinks or bottles of water. If you book Aurea, your package includes bottle water, fun espresso drinks (like lattes and americanos) and plenty of other beverages.  This makes it easy to hydrate and caffeinate daily.  The package we went with via Aurea is definitely worth it.

 

7. Don’t pay for the zipline unlimited package unless your cabin is full.  You can pay to zipline the entire cruise unlimited for $50.  This is for your whole cabin rather you are a couple or a family.  We paid for it, but only ended up doing it twice each, which wasn’t worth the money.  It benefits a full cabin or family for sure.

 

 8. Select a room that is close to your most traveled stops.   The MSC Seaside is a very large ship.   We booked our room on the 9th level, closest to the spa, but on the other side of the ship, so when it came to where we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner (mostly the buffets located on level 8 and level 16), we had a pretty long walk.  We don’t mind walking or exercise, but things would have been much easier if we were on the other side of level 9.

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9. Don’t worry too much about transportation to the airport when your trip ends.  Disembarkation was so easy as well as finding our luggage before we hit customs.  The best surprise was how easy it was to grab a shuttle to the airport.  We walked out, a MSC rep asked if we needed transport to the Miami Airport or the Fort Lauderdale Airport.  We said yes, and for $25 for two, we were on a bus to FLL in no time flat.

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These are just a few things to consider.  I’ll follow up soon with another blog with videos and photos on the many other experiences we had on the MSC Seaside.  Enjoy!

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First vacation and cruise (without kiddos)- NCL Getaway

After spending days and weeks entrenched in school activities and long days working at the office, my husband and I finally agreed it was time for a vacation last April.  In almost 10 years of being married, we had never been on a real vacation together kid-free.

Once our moms (thank God for grandmas) agreed to watch our little adventure making daughters, it was pretty clear we had to make the most of this once in a life-time trip.  So, we spent a lot of time trying to decide on what the perfect trip looked like.  Since we both like to travel, but also wanted to experience a little adventure, a cruise seemed perfect. Where did we land (or sail)? A cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines on the great Getaway. Cruising from Miami to Honduras, Belize and then Mexico, we couldn’t wait for the big adventure.

Getting There

To save money and since we didn’t have kids and loads of baggage, we decide to go with the budget airline Allegiant Air and took a flight from Charlotte to Orlando.  With tickets at $41 a piece, we had nothing to lose.  Once we reached Orlando, we rented a fun, red convertible and took our time driving to Miami where we stayed the night at the Hyatt Regency Miami.   If we had the kids with us, we probably would have found a direct flight and skipped the convertible.  Maybe we should have regardless, as we both ended up sunburned before the cruise even started.

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Port of Miami

The next morning, we headed to the Port of Miami after turning in our rental car and catching Avis shuttle with other cruise-goers.  Our ship, the NCL Getaway, wasn’t scheduled to depart until 4 p.m., but we arrived at the port around 10 a.m.  It was filled with people hustling and bustling. Immediately after getting off the shuttle, the porters take your luggage and tag it.  For slow to trust travelers like myself, it felt very odd handing over my luggage.

Once we did, we made our way to the security area where there were about 40 or so people  in front of us.  Travel tip #1-make sure you use the restroom before you get to the port, because it was tough to find restrooms outside of security.  One of the Port of Miami security attendants was super friendly and let me bypass security for a few minutes to use the restroom despite death stares from cruisers standing by.

Once they open the gates, checking in was very fast and pretty organized.  All the NCL staff members were super friendly.  Next, we were issued a boarding card and waited for our group to be called.  Also, they served water/drinks at a nearby table in the waiting area.

Boarding the NCL Getaway

Boarding and getting on to the ship was actually a very quick process.  Many were gathered at the entry ways welcoming us.  I had done by research in advance and immediately ran to guest services to wait in line to purchase a pass to Club Vibe and was lucky enough to get passes for us both.  Rob’s first stop was the Atrium bar while I waited in line.

There’s a ton of time to kill while you’re waiting for luggage to be delivered to your room, so why not explore? I did so much research in advance, I had extra clothes and others things in my carry-on, so we took our time walking around and ate a quick lunch and had a beer at O’Sheehan’s. It was nice and casual- think bar and games and a more laid back vibe.

Then, we started to explore the ship. From the casino, to the waterslides, to the restaurants, to the spa to the ropes course, there was so much to see.

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Our luggage was delivered by 1 p.m. We booked a Spa Balcony Cabin, so I was most excited to see what I would have access to in the spa area, but the cabin was also better than I expected.  The balcony gave us a wonderful view, the bathroom was a decent size, and our steward was very nice.

On a side note, it became our habit every morning to step out onto the balcony and look at the world around us.  I highly recommend a room with a balcony.

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Facetiming with our kids

We visited the internet cafe and purchased a NCL premium internet package that would allow us to Facetime with our kids back home while at sea.  Being away on vacation was new for us, so we wanted to check-in every morning and night.

For your reference, Facetime was up and down during our trip at sea and we had the best internet package.  Sometimes we connected with them just fine for bedtime prayers and virtual hugs, but other times we could not make it work.  Every time we were at a port, I also used our Verizon International plan and called or texted. Make sure you call your wireless carrier a few weeks out to add this for the designated countries you’ll be in.

The Food

I have to say that every restaurant we ate at and every drink we tasted was overwhelmingly good (Rob’s favorite was the Bahama Mama).  Daily we looked forward to heading to the Garden Cafe buffet for meals and snacks.

The omelette station was a regular stop for us every morning. We also really enjoyed the grilled tomatoes. Also, some evenings, they would have a crepe station open.

Although we ate at a few of the specialty restaurants, the buffet was still one of my favorite places to eat because of all of the choices available.  We decided if we ever cruise on NCL again, we probably won’t purchase the special dinner package, but the unlimited drink package was well worth it.

One thing I do wish was that great coffee and espresso drinks were included in our package.  In the main atrium, there is a coffee shop I visited every morning and paid a little extra for good espresso and lattes.

First stop- Roatan, Honduras 

Since I’m such a geek for research, I explored all sort of options for excursions.  We decided to book our first excursion through Shore Excursioneer.  It was much cheaper than the options through the ship.  We selected the Bananarama Dive & Beach Resort excursion.  It included travel out to the resort and use of the facilities there.

Another travel tip, be prepared for mass chaos when you leave the ship in Roatan.  There were so many vendors and different people trying to make a buck and sell excursions and little to no room for cars to come and go, it was disorganized and confusing.  We also had to wait a while for the car to pick us up once we found our host.  Once we did get in the van (and felt the AC), it was smooth sailing.

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At Bananarama, we decided to pay extra to parasail- we had never done this before! Between my lack of trust in our guides (one who couldn’t have been older than 9 or 10) and Rob’s fear of large bodies of water, we were quite the sight! But, I am so glad we did this.   Also, it was a lot cheaper in Honduras than it was at other ports along the way.

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Once back on the ship, we spent time cleaning up, relaxing and exploring more of what the ship had to offer.

Club Vibe 

I mentioned earlier we purchased the Club Vibe pass and it was worth it to us because many times the hot tubs, pools and chairs were very crowded.  Most of the time, Vibe had a very small crowd.  It felt very VIP and the best part of it was that we made some great friends at Vibe and had the chance to hang out with them during the rest of the cruise.

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Next stop- Harvest Caye, Belize

It’s really important to remember that Harvest Caye is owned by NCL.  So, the shops, the food, the activities are all very expensive and don’t seem to display the authenticity I’m sure Belize has to offer locally, outside of this protected area. The resort style area was beautiful, but a little too commercialized and artificial for my liking.  We spent some time on the beach, visited the pool and swim-up bar (note a bucket of Heineken was super expensive) and walked through the butterfly garden and shops, but by 1 p.m., we were ready to get back on the ship.

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This is actually travel tip #3, board early and enjoy an empty relaxing ship with no lines and plenty of food. We ate lunch at no cost.  For a good hour, we went down the waterslides as many times as we could with no lines.  Then, I headed to the spa and Rob headed to Club Vibe.

Dune Buggies in Costa Maya, Mexico

I was most looking forward to the one excursion we booked through NCL.  The Dune Buggy tour was a blast, but definitely bumping, so hold on to your hats.  They took us by the countryside, along the ocean.  We passed small beach houses, a town center and resorts.  We were in a buggy with another couple we met in Vibe and each of us took a turn driving.  Rob and our friends purchased a drink out of a fresh coconut by the side of the road from some locals for $1.  I couldn’t bring myself to try it, but Rob says it was worth the dollar.

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I have to say that I was very surprised by how empty and run-down parts of Costa Maya were.  We had a good experience, but it took us a while to get out of a sort of empty, ghost town feeling area. There’s a lot of development, but also some pretty run down areas.

Also, they took us to an area where we had two hours to drink, eat and sit by the water. There were tourist tents/vendors set up selling goods.  Tip #4, do not buy from these local vendors.  In Cozumel, we found some of the same items for a quarter of the price.  They bring you to an isolated area so you will shop and spend  your money, don’t do it!

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On our own in Cozumel

For our last stop, we decided we didn’t want to book any type of scheduled activity and ended up walking around Cozumel exploring and shopping.  I broke out some of my Spanish skills when made a wrong turn and people were really friendly and directed us back to the main drag. Once we were finally back on track, we rented a moped and decided to cruise down the strip along the water.

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We made it to Playa Mia Grand Beach Waterpark and had a great timing on the obstacle course.  It felt a little like we were on an episode of Wipe Out.  All was fun until Rob playfully pushed me into the water and I swallowed a bunch of salt water.

We were on a tight schedule, but the resort appeared to have a massive buffet.  I’m not sure how good it was (or if it was safe to eat), but they had quiet the spread set-up outside.

We left the resort right before the rain hit. This brought an end to our fun, but it was time to wrap at that point and head back to turn in our moped.

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We really enjoyed the freedom of exploring on our own and promised to do that on our next cruise.

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On our way back, I was able to hop into a little store and grab a white shirt/top for NCL’s infamous “white hot” party.   Cruising tip #5, don’t forget to pack something cute, a little more formal and most importantly white.

White Hot Party 

By far, this one was of my favorite nights on the ship.  After a few french martinis (tried for the first time on the Getaway and loved), we really had a great time jumping and dancing to the lit up, glowing stage.  The combination of drinking, jumping and the boat swaying, for the first time on the trip, made me really nauseated. So, take your time, have fun and don’t jump in heels after a drink or two.

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Final Night on the Getaway

We had a wonderful time our final night on the Getaway with the cruise buddies we met in Club Vibe, who were a blast to hang out with.  We spent the last night at Howling at the Moon and had the best time.  Before heading out, we did follow the directions to have our luggage packed and put outside of our door.  We almost missed the deadline (they come by and pick up), so be sure when you are having fun your last night, you’re still paying attention to the clock.

Disembarking at Port of Miami

This had to be my least favorite part of the trip.  All the fun is over, people are not cheery, and we stood in the longest line we’ve ever seen.  Getting our luggage was very confusing and once we finally did, I heard many people saying other ports like Orlando are much more organized and coordinated when people are leaving.

We tried calling an Uber and we were unsuccessful.  So, make sure you’e arranged transportation in advance versus leaving it to Uber.

Going Home

Our girls were delighted to have us home and we brought them souvenirs from every stop along the way.  Overall, our cruise was a fantastic experience and we can’t wait to go again.  We have our 10 year anniversary coming up in January and we’ll be taking to the wild seas again, but this time on MSC.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning 30=30 Acts of Kindness

After spending a few days thinking about “gasp” my 30th birthday and “gulp” how old I have become, I started to think about what I’ve contributed to the world over the past three decades.  Although, I’ve been a fairly good citizen, friend and mommy, my dreams of grand human rights contributions and acts of kindness are semi-unfulfilled.  


So, after hours of searching and brainstorming a great way to celebrate 30 years of life on Nov. 2, I have decided to start giving back today.  This is where I begin my annual adventure with the Birthday Project.  The Birthday Project aims to create a shift in the way people from all walks of life think about and celebrate their birthday.  


If you have a birthday in store or just want to make a difference, consider starting this journey with me.  Pay it forward today, because every little bit helps.  Without further adieu, here are 7 of the 30 acts of kindness I plan to initiate over the next week:

 

  • Buy someone’s coffee for them in line at Starbuck’s (the person behind me in the drive-thru).
  • Write “thank you” notes to the wonderful aftercare workers at my daughter’s school who give much and receive little praise.
  • Tape change to the vending machine at the local ER.
  • Help someone unload their groceries in the parking lot at the grocery store.
  • Buy a meal for a homeless person.
  • Participate in a No Complaint Day
  • Let my oldest stay up extra late and pick out 10 books she wants me to read to her.

 

 

Okay, ready, set, go! It starts today folks and I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress each week.  

 

Lessons from Mary Poppins

All I have to say is: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  That’s right, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  Days like these, I wish I was more like Mary Poppins.  After spending most of the morning chasing kids and tearing the house apart looking for my passport and another very important document, I have seriously started to question my organizational abilities.  

You see, on most days my purse is like a black hole.  Once something goes in, it never comes back out.  I’m seriously thinking about investing in a new purse (and a personal assistant).  You see, it never works out the way it did for Mary Poppins.  If I had just a little bit of her magic and a purse like that, there would be order in the universe once again.   What better, more perfect timing to cover a few things or two us ladies can learn from the ultimate super nanny:

  • Black is ALWAYS the “It” color.  This classic fashionista had it down- black is slimming, classic and goes well with most accessories.  
  • She comes up with fun words like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  You know the little moments in life where you can’t seem to come up with the right word for a situation that leaves you speechless and awkward.  Well, a crazy, nonsense word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious makes everyone in the room forget where the conversation even began.  And, it’s fun to say!
  • She knows how to travel right. Don’t wait in line at the airport, don’t worry about putting your liquids into absurd, little Ziplock baggies, forget TSA patting you down inappropriately.  Simply use your flying, magical umbrella to get to your final destination.  This lady could teach world travelers a thing or two about fast and efficient travel.
  • She never overstays her welcome.  You know who I’m talking about.  The friend or neighbor who always takes her time leaving and can’t stop talking, even though they can see your little terrors are knocking over vases and screaming at the top of their lungs.  Mary Poppins says her piece, teaches her lesson and then she’s off to the next adventure.
  • A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.  This works in every possible way rather you are giving your kiddos a bitter tasting medicine or you’re buttering someone up before you give them the “bad news.” 
  • She travels with her very own interior decorator- right inside of her purse.  Can’t figure out which direction to go with your new nursery or office? Simply open up your purse and your personal decorator will provide you with the latest trends in interior decorating without ever leaving your house.
  • She is British.  There is just something about a British accent that makes a person seem so much more organized and together.  If I had a British accent, I think my house would be immaculate 24/7 and my kids would angels.  Ever seen Super Nanny? Hello!
  • MP is a social butterfly.  She makes friends wherever she goes.  
  • Jane and Michael love her.  They absolutely, positively love her.  What’s her secret?  My girls love and hate me most days.

 

Oh, Mary Poppins.  From Disney to Broadway, she’s made her mark on all of us.  As I mom, I think it’s best to at least stick to one piece of advice she offers,  “Anything can happen if you let it.”  Even though I’m not perfect, my house is usually a mess of toys and chaos, I will always encourage my little ladies to be creative, adventurous and to pursue their wildest dreams.  For now, I’m happy enough with my beautiful little tornadoes, but will always try to bring a little more order to this crazy life.  Sigh…