Another time change…We’re now 8 hours later than Los Angeles, 6 hours later than Minneapolis…

This morning, we awoke at 10:10 am, new time, after yet another time change during the night.  By the time we showered and dressed and sauntered to the Garden Cafe it was after 11:00 am. We decided on lunch as opposed to breakfast requiring we only wait until 11:30 am when lunch is served at the buffet.

Once again, our favorite booth was awaiting us while all booths around us were filled. In October 2014, we’ve booked this same ship back-to-back to return to the US to work our way toward Hawaii to be with our family at Christmas. At this point, we’re considering canceling both cruises and booking another line for this long journey. As soon as we can use our MiFi, we’ll be contacting our cruise guy Joaquin, at Vacations-to-Go, to make the changes.  This far out, we won’t be charged cancellation fees.
Without a doubt, this is a beautiful ship mostly appealing to the older population, but with many amenities most passengers don’t use: a rock climbing wall, giant slides, two bowling alleys and a wave pool.

Also, there’s the Ice Bar, with a temperature of 27 degrees requiring one to wear a coat provided (who wants to wear a coat someone else wore???) paying a $20 cover charge per person. We’ve yet to see anyone enter. Most passengers aboard this ship are from cold climates. Why would they want to sit in a freezing bar sipping a frozen drink, the only options available?

When booking a cruise, all of these amenities are appealing. Once on board, we find little interest by us or others to partake of many of these “attractions.”

With lifeboats consuming all of the deck space, there is no deck on which to walk, read and relax. With our romantic expectation of lounging in a chaise, covered with a blanket, reading an enticing novel as we cross the ocean, we  are sorely disappointed.

Then, there’s the food. Today, after a full week aboard the Norwegian Epic, we’ve come to a conclusion: the food aboard this ship is by far the least desirable we’ve had after cruising on three cruise (five cruises) lines: Celebrity, Carnival and now Norwegian since January 3, 2013.

However, the overall service although good, leaves much to be desired in their communication with one another. When the same mundane tasteless plate of food is placed in front of me each night, I’ve become bored with eating: a salad, a piece of unseasoned fish, a plethora of bland steamed vegetables. 

Last night it was tilapia, the prior night a 3 oz steak and a few unseasoned small shrimp and the prior night, a small chunk of bland snapper riddled with bones. (A properly prepared snapper shouldn’t have any bones).

To avoid liability, they require that I order my meals the prior night, so the cooks can ensure the pan is free of corn oil, flours and sugar. I’ve asked for seasoning other than salt and pepper but have yet to have a bit of flavor in the food. 

Pre-ordering is awkward with other guests at the table curious as to the special attention paid to me by a man dressed in formal attire waiting while I select something from the next night’s menu. Inevitably, I’m asked by the rightfully curious table mates as to why I require this special diet leaving me no choice but to graciously explain. 

If I didn’t explain, assumptions may be made that I’m a prima donna, on an Atkins diet trying to lose weight, inconveniencing the staff and the table while I rattle off all of my restrictions.

Little do most know that I have to eat huge amounts of fat along with the foods I can have, to
avoid losing weight. I don’t want to lose weight. Is it any wonder that Tom lost 45 pounds
following along with me? Neither of us can afford to have clothing that doesn’t fit us!

On the Celebrity Century, their regular menu included several exquisitely prepared gluten-free options using natural juices, seasoned to perfection. The side dished were varied options, such as mashed garlic cauliflower or pureed carrot soufflé. Although the Carnival Liberty didn’t have an
exclusive GF menu, they provided me with some good options, varying the menu each night.

Here on the Epic, most night, my order arrives with an item on the plate that contaminates the entire plate, requiring I send it back. Last night, while dining with two delightful world traveling couples, I sat there without a main course while the others were into their dessert. 

They’d brought gluten free bread (no GF flours allowed except nut flours) with the tilapia covered
in a flour-like red sauce sitting atop a pile of white rice (no starch allowed for me). They knew this.

There is a file under each passenger’s cabin number that appears when they check into the restaurants each night. The kitchen, the chef and the servers receive a printout of what each passenger may and may not consume along with a list of what was pre-ordered for the night.Not rocket science.

The conscientious assistant maitre d, Steven, seems equally frustrated that my food continually goes back to the kitchen to begin anew. He has carefully outlined my diet: any meat and sauce without sugar, flour or starch, steamed or olive oil or butter sautéed non-starchy vegetables, cheese plate (no fruit, no bread, no crackers) for dessert. It’s not that hard.

Tom is equally frustrated, almost having had the same dinner and dessert night after night, bland and uninteresting. Presentation lacks originality and appears comparable to what an inexperienced cook would throw on a plate. 

Tonight, we’re booked a reservation for dinner in the Moderno Restaurant, a Brazilian barbecue with a variety of seasoned meats, none with starch, sugar or flour coatings. Last night, we spoke to Clive, the Moderno chef and he assured us there won’t be an item served by skewers that I won’t be able to enjoy. The salad bar literally made me jump for joy with most options suitable for me. 

At $20 per person for this specialty restaurant, plus drinks and additional tips, most likely our bill for tonight won’t exceed $65. Should we dine in specialty restaurants the remainder of this leg of the cruise, ending on May 1st, we’ll still be well within our budget of $900 for the 11 day ocean crossing.

Currently, our bill is around $575, $300 of which was for the Internet connection, the remainder for drinks and mandatory daily added tips of $12 each. We’ll post the actual amount of our bill once this leg ends. 

The second leg of this back to back cruise is only four days for which we’ve budgeted an additional $400. Our Internet bill will be considerably less since we’ll spend two of the four days in port, making it possible for us to use the MiFi to post our photos. Plus, in each case, we’ll be getting off the ship to explore Majorca Spain and Marseilles, France.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in port for the first time in eight days, spending the day in Madeira Portugal.
As mentioned earlier, Gina, the owner of the house, we’ll be renting from 5/15/2014 to 7/30/2014, is meeting us at the pier to show us the house and to tour the island. How exciting! 

Photos will follow tomorrow afternoon as soon as we return from our tour with Gina. With the
MiFi working again, we won’t have difficulty uploaded photos.

So, please look for us tomorrow with photos and story of the island of Madeira, Portugal, 1200 miles off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal and our experience with Portuguese speaking Gina.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *