The Cruise and Ports-of-call
Except for two days of rough seas - in the Caribbean Sea past Cuba, and in the Pacific Ocean en route from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Los Angeles, we had twelve days of blissfully warm weather. The Norwegian Star called on six ports: Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and four cities in Mexico - Puerto Chiapas, Hualtuco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Panama looked like a nice modern city from the distance, and we wished the Norwegian Star had stopped there.
|Inside the Walled city of Cartagena, Colombia|
|View of Cartagena, Colombia|
|Norwegian Star docked at Puntarenas, Costa Rica|
|Norwegian Star at Puerto Chiapas, Mexico|
|Norwegian Star at Hualtuco, Mexico|
|the view from the cruise terminal at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico|
|tender to port at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico|
If there was one thing we remember about our previous cruises, it was the outstanding food. Sadly, the food on the Norwegian Star was a disappointment. Our first dinner experience was an overmarinated steak that was so soft it was mushy. We tried it again the next evening, and this time the steak was so tough you could barely cut it with a knife. We didn't dare to order steak again. Until the last two evenings of the cruise when the restaurants (Versailles and Aqua were complimentary, others had a fee attached) were serving surf and turf. Only then did we get a piece of meat with texture that tasted like the real thing (perhaps the guests' comments helped?) and both steak and lobster were delicious, much to our surprise and delight. During this time, the galley had run out of lettuce, and they improvised with a special seafood salad, and it too was very good. Had the galley done this at the beginning of the cruise, we'd have a fonder memory of the Norwegian Star.
|Surf and Turf|
|fruit vendor in Cartagena|
|our favorite dessert - panna Cotta|
What the Norwegian Star lacked in the food department, she made up for it in the entertainment department. Every evening, the Stardust Theater was packed solid. If you were so much as a minute late, you had a difficult time finding a seat. The in-house singers and dancers were ok, but performances by Broadway singer Jeri Sager, magician Sander and Alison, aerial acrobatic duos Maria and Dmitry mesmerized and captivated the audience, bringing down the house. Other exciting shows include a ventriloquist, a hynoptist, a classical and jazz musician, The Jersey Boys, and Second City, an improv type show. The comedians were hilarious and family friendly.
Panama Canal Transit
The highlight of the cruise is of course the Panama Canal, which we crossed on Dec 12. We lucked out on the weather - a gorgeous sunny day. We got up bright and early (around 6 am) and eased our way into a spot on the bow of the ship to watch ships navigate their way into the lock chambers. Transiting the "48-mile triumph of man's ingenuity" was an all day affair. Throughout the day, an "esteemed member of the Panama Canal authority" narrated the history, construction and the workings of the canal over the PA system. No matter where we were on the ship, we could listen to the latest update of the crossing. The Norwegian Star cleared the last lock around 4 pm and reached Balboa on the Pacific Ocean side an hour later. That evening, a certificate for the crossing of the Panama Canal awaited us in our stateroom. It was a nice touch.
Two weeks on a cruise was a tad much even for seasoned boaters like us. Seven days is probably the right dose for getting away from it all and doing absolutely nothing. All in all, we had a wonderful cruise spending quality time with loved ones, meeting interesting people and visiting new ports.
What's your favorite cruise line and ports-of-call?
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