S: NORWEGIAN EPIC EASTERN CARIBBEAN 2013
BC: 20 | 13
FC: Norwegian Epic
1: Dylan finally got to put his passport to use and board the ‘big plane’ and the ‘big ship’ following much anticipation. I ran my first 5K at sea and experienced one week free of ironing, Facebook and the Ipad (as it was glued to Brady’s hand). Oh and how could I forget my first toga experience at sea? | Feeling blessed to have our last fleeting days of summer with great family and friends in the Eastern Caribbean, undoubtedly some of the most beautiful places that I have been to. | Michelle | "Selfies"
4: F U N I N T H E | SUN
6: NOVEMBER 2013 | NCL EPIC | Finally here! | We started out on Friday, November 8th at Carol & Dave’s Roadhouse, then were off to catch our 4:35 flight on Spirit Airlines. Our flight had some delays and we arrived in rainy darkness at the Fort Lauderdale Rodeway Inn. The hotel was ok, but the manager Izzy made everything just right the next day when our prearranged shuttle ride did not show up. Nothing that a pitcher and some ‘Vino to Go’ could not remedy. The embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship in no time. As a bonus, we had a huge balcony, dubbed the ‘party balcony’. We were greeted by a hanging towel monkey and although we had to wait for our luggage, it arrived with our contraband instead of a confiscation note! The unofficial smuggle rate of our group was about 50/50.
9: We were lodged in Room 14069 and yes the rumors were true that the bathrooms are translucent and we could literally brush our teeth in bed! There was even a secret bed lodged in the ceiling.
10: You quickly learn there is little ‘free at sea’. The ship design forced people to walk through the casino and past the Key Master game which had a tablet and Beats headphones. I ponder if it is possible to win at this game, judging by the dust on the prizes? Dylan was determined to win the Beats headphones "for Brady”, and then just decided to add them to his Christmas list. Later Dylan asked if I could get him a beach for Christmas!
11: The kids were generally really good, although when they ran amuck I warned that they would be “grounded at sea”. I think they all had a great time playing in the sand, arm wrestling, eating ice cream hourly, making a jungle gym out of the top bed bunk, and just being together.
13: We had a few days at sea which was perfect to explore the Norwegian Epic. Some of the highlights of the ship were the entertainment (more on that later), three huge water slides (including the one that sucks you in), Kids' Club, pools, Spiderweb Climbing Cage, Rock-Climbing Wall, Nickelodeon characters, and per Gavin, “All we do is eat on this ship!”. Every day at the buffet we were greeted by Tonight Show Ross with “Happy, Happy, Washy, Washy, Smiley, Smiley” followed by a tune of la la la la la’s Rachel and I were even showered with ‘princess’ titles.
15: POOL | FUN AT
18: Following dinner one evening, we went to the Ice Bar in our parkas, jazz-hand gloves and heels/sandals. It’s the only Ice Bar at sea where the furniture is made of ice, sweet vodka drinks are served in ice goblets, and everything is kept at a chilly 17 degrees. Brrrrr!
20: I will say the ship never really ‘hopped’ – couldn't find anyone dancing and lots of the night venues such as Howl at the Moon and Karaoke were low-key although many were lounging around or playing at the casino. I was surprised considering there were nearly 4,000+ passengers on board. I think they were all riding the elevators – they were always packed! | The Blue Man Group was all the rage with its painted noisy percussion, toilet paper balls in the crowd and light comedy – so captivating that Dylan slept through the whole show! Paranoia set in as they employed crowd participation although the selected seemed to have been planted. Legends was the real deal with Steven Tyler, Katy Perry (is she?) and Elvis. Steven Tyler noted – “When we drink, he sounds better” and “When he drinks, there are many more of us”.
21: The Second City Comedy Show was an improvisational let-down for our group. The only laughable line was one of the actors describing his profession as in the “corn business with a silent p – cornography”. However, Greg was our resident funny man. We howled at the “Captain” – a much tanned, rotund man who always wore his captain's hat, exerted his belly with pride and we surmised on how he could possibly get into his room and shower (thumb in cheek?)! | Also, Todd had a good one (in the Dos Equis accent) – “I don’t always wait a half-hour for my beer, but when I do it’s on Norwegian.” We talked about having a travel map where we would mark our travels with pins but agreed first we would have to travel to the corners of the map or else it would fall down!
24: ORIENT BEACH | St. Maarten
25: Land ahoy - We arrived in St. Maarten and found Louis, our Jo Junie Tour Bus driver and quickly piled in to find a cooler of rum punch, beers and other drinks. In hindsight, Greg noted that the rum punch was probably watered down as ‘we should be dead by now with all that we drank’! We visited the Iguana Farm, the French and Dutch border, and then settled in for a bit at the Orient Beach – here there's both nude and prude beaches. Apparently some of our party got a peep show from a van of older gentlemen (although I was spared being on a routine ‘potty break’) but we settled in on the prude side. This is possibly a debatable description considering the wheelbarrow of cheer that made its way up the beach. Immediately the locals began swarming around us like piranha – full on feeding frenzy of stuff and services – beach clothes, towels, jewelry, hair braiding, music and beverages.
27: At one point, a man came by wielding a large machete with a wheelbarrow of coconuts along with a smoking reggae artist. We seemed to just stand there for a moment, somewhat surprised at all that was going on. A lady sat me down and rather roughly began tugging at my hair, fashioning it into a braid complete with sand and Vaseline, until I had a constricting serpent of hair framing my face.
29: We then went to Marigot, the French Capital and open market for lunch at Rosemary’s and got the "American Tourist-Priced Lunch Menu". I eagerly ordered some conch which was pretty delicious. My mom even enjoyed it until she learned its origin. Throughout the week, just as we would sit to eat, Dylan would proclaim, “I have to go to the potty!” so off we would find a shanty-house that invariably would have a peep hole of some sort. At the market, the kids bought wooden machetes and staged a mock battle. I bought a bottle of ‘Banana Rhum’ or what I will refer to as banana moonshine – complete with 200 proof aged bananas – we’ll save this for sharing later on the ‘party balcony’. I was lucky to get it back on the ship – declaring “It's just a bottle of sand” – and with a wink I was exempted.
30: MAHO BEACH | St. Maarten | We then journeyed onto Maho Beach where the airplanes continually flew right over our heads to the airport directly across the street. The beach was a steep slope and significantly eroded, but the atmosphere was very cool and one of a kind. Where else in the world can you hang at the beach with a plane landing about 20 feet above your head?!
34: Story Time with Dora: Dora Saves the Mermaids
36: COKI BEACH | St. Thomas
37: The next day we jetted over to St. Thomas and took a taxi van over to Coki Point Beach, which I’m calling the most beautiful, amazing beach that I have ever been to – crystal blue warm water, surrounded by mountains, powder white sand, complete with reef and fish frenzy just steps away. Apparently Coki Beach has literally anything you want. Andi found her perfect drink - Oh Hot Damn! – boosted up with the sidecar! Apparently rum is cheaper than milk and freely shared.
40: "Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
44: SCUBA DIVING
45: St. Thomas is surrounded by some of the Caribbean’s healthiest reefs, and it offers more than a dozen shipwrecks. This was from a "Navy Barge" dive. The barges originally were floating accommodations for US troops during WWII. After the war, they were demolished and sunk to a 40 feet depth, creating the ideal habitat for marine life.
46: SLIME TIME LIVE!
48: JUNKANOO BEACH | Bahamas | Our final stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. Immediately we were shuffled through a high pressure shopping area, followed up with more high pressure at the Straw Market. Vendors politely but incessantly hawk their wares: "Hey Pretty Lady, it retails for $10 but I'll take $9.99. You keep the Bahamian Penny!" Three critical words you need to survive the Straw Market: No Thank You! I had to laugh at the coconut shell turtles and Greg commenting that they are positioned such that you are bound to step on them, thus guaranteeing a purchase. The kids bought turtles which all broke quickly, with Dylan’s purposely thrown at Brady’s head! We continued on to Junkanoo Beach and the water was a lot colder – welcome back to the Atlantic! Fittingly, we sat and talked about building an ice bar back home on the Farkas' deck!
50: The original - "Rachelle"
52: There were some really cool local stops including possibly the best jerk chicken ever (No - he is not giving up the recipe even for a Trip Advisor review and did not want to play my ingredient guessing game) cooked right on the beach in a repurposed water heater now smoker, fried conch fritters at Welcome by Gloria, and Kalik beer (at this point 3 beers for $10 sounded too good to be true).
58: SOBE | South Beach | Florida
59: We were lucky enough to spend a final day in South Beach – although it’s sad that we no longer can access our “ship card” for all of our wants. Staying at the Ocean Reef we were centrally located. A trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar was the highlight for some $$$ sweet treats! Later we struggled with dinner plans and ended up at Tap Tap for some Haitian food including goat. The next day we had breakfast at the Eleventh Street Diner – home of the $50 breakfast! Don’t get me wrong though, South Beach is amazing – just be sure to go broke!
60: FISH | SWIMMING | W I T H T H E
62: Brady's Favorite Vacation Memories: Water Slides St. Maarten Island Tour "Airplane" Beach Kids Club
63: I have to go potty! (only at meal time) Wait I lost my slip slop (flip flop) What does this sign say I can't do? One more thing... I want another ice cream - 2 is not a big number. Is 7 a big number? | Some of my favorite Dylan sayings:
64: Kids Club! | I am a beach bum! | Balcony Upgrade! | Big Win - $11! | My eat a hot dog!
65: Two-Story Wii | Yin & Yang Twins | Salon Day | No More Pics! | Whatcha buyin?
66: We Ben jammin'! | Souvenir Spark Plug | The best chicken!
67: Up on Stage! | Carry Me! | Can you buy me a beach for Christmas?
68: That's my brudder! | Wait for it.. I have to go potty! | I got the moon! | Watch my jump! | Stay tuned for the "Candy Buzz"
69: Real-life Pirates of the Carib - that will be $5 for picture! | I'm bored! I wanna go back to the room! | ...likely during dinner! | Waah!! | Epic Lounge