Sunday, September 30, 2012

Norwegian Sky, Not Always A Party


As with any cruise line there are many choices on the Norwegian Sky to make your cruise vacation enjoyable. From lounging around the pool to playing ping pong, shuffle board or basketball there is something for everyone to enjoy while cruising.

As another cruise winds down it's time to chill at the pool and watch a little NFL action as we sail away from Nassau. Another fun evening on the ship and before you know it we are disembarking in the port of Miami.

As we leave, the ship is being prepared to welcome another set of guest. I hope they have half as much as we did because if they do, they are going to have at least a half of ton of fun.



Norwegian Sky, Nassau Sail Away


For reboarding most cruise ships in port it is often a boring process. As we get ready to leave Nassau for Miami, the crew of the NCL Sky is going to take a stab at making it fun for some of us.

Walking down the pier towards the boarding stairs, the sounds of vibrant and fun music is being blasted from loudspeakers. 

With cold water, lemonade and cool towels, passengers are welcomed back on the ship in a festive mood. We are reluctant to get back on the ship and become honorary members of the “Welcome Back Committee”.

From Latin sounds, to hip-hop and moves like Jagger, with towels swirling and hands in the air, we are partying like we might not have tomorrow.

Unfortunately, 4:30pm arrives and the Norwegian Sky makes final preparations to sail away from Nassau back to Miami.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Canada, Charming Peterborough


I arrive in Toronto a day and a half early for the main reason I am visiting this wonderful city. My early arrival gives me an opportunity to explore a bit more of the Toronto area. With a Payless rental car, I head north.


CANYYZ 003Little did I know that I would wake up in the hometown of the makers of Gatorade and Granola Bars.

It's about 11am before I am fully shined and ready to explore a bit more of Ontario.



Making my way towards downtown Peterborough, I arrive about 45 minutes too early for a Liftlock Cruise. However, it turns out to be no problem to past the time as I walk along Little Lake waterfront.

The morning air is crisp and the skies are clear as the signs of fall are beginning to take shape among the trees.



SAMYYZ 001Little Lake



For some reason I am fascinated by a railroad bridge across Little Lake and head that way. Talking to a local biker I am told the train usually comes by in the afternoon and so far in all of her crossings she has been lucky.


SAMYYZ 007Even with a “Stand By Me” movie flashback, I take my chances.

I am rewarded with even more spectacular views.





Looking between the gaps in the track I can see straight to the bottom of the lake about fifty feet below.



CANYYZ 008I reach my turn around point at the Silver Bean Café which has a great lunch menu with healthy selections and offers free Wi-Fi.






CANYYZ 006Just below The Silver Bean you can rent canoes for a peaceful way to explore Little Lake.

I wish I had the time to sit on the patio and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery but I think down the street my ship is about to come in.





CANYYZ 015Fall Foliage On Little Lake





Norwegian Sky, Around Nassau Town


We set on the Norwegian Sky, my best friends and me, around Nassau Town we did roam, Kaliking all day and hanging at Fish Fry.


Nassau HarborIf the Beach Boys were to update their popular hit song “The Sloop John B”, these are some of the words that would have to be added.





No trip to Nassau is complete until you have at least sampled a cold “Kalik” and conch salad especially if you do it at a place like Fish Fry.

With the benefit of local insider information, better than the stuff on Wall Street, my friends and I leave the Norwegian Sky with a cooler half filled with ice.

Although it is a Sunday morning, we make a stop at a well stocked establishment along the Nassau waterfront and add some Kalik to our cooler.

Kalik is a rich tasting beer, born and brewed in the Bahamas. Now Americanized or Mexicanized with Lime, I still prefer the Gold.

Equipped to complete our “Sloop John B” mission, we walk towards Senor Frogs. From here, we make our way to the front of the Hilton Hotel where we catch a “jitney”.


Goldie'sOur destination, Fish Fry, a local Bahamian hangout for great food and good times.

We are welcomed at our first stop where they are showing the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders game.



Orders are placed for conch fritters, cracked conch and of course conch salad (spicy) along with more Kalik, Rum and Tequila.

Fortunately for us we don't get into a fight and manage to make our way back to the port via Bay Street. New friends are made and “Facebook” pictures are taken as we return to another Norwegian Sky party.

Sadly, it's time to sail away from Nassau and return to Miami. Life's just not fair but at least the party eases the pain.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Laos, Sightseeing Luang Prabang


With some time free in Luang Prabang, we do a little sightseeing starting on the grounds of the National Museum. There are several buildings here including the Royal Ballet Theatre and the palace building where an admission fee is charged.


079We opt to just stroll the grounds and enter a building with a decor that is very interesting.

Covered all around in gold colored decorations, this building houses “The Old Vor Prabang”.








The Old Vor Prabang is a portable type throne used to transport Buddha to the temple during “The New Year” celebration. The intricate craftsmanship in its design is amazing.


087Across the street from the National Museum we make a brief stop at Watpahouk a World Heritage site.










Here, we are welcomed by the howling of a roaming dog as we look at story telling pictures on the walls that date back to 1860.

If you need to get a good work out for the day then at least one trip up to Mt Phousi should do. Leaving Watpahouk, we begin a steep climb to get great views of Luang Prabang and The Mekong River. Fortunately, there are beautiful resting stops along the way and you do have to pay a small admission fee to visit the temple.



104The temple itself is not that spectacular compared to many others around the city but you really come here for the views below.







096Luang Prabang



Catch your breath as you take in nice panoramic views of this charming city and you will discover that climbing Mt Phousi was well worth it even if your thighs are still on fire.



101Mekong River







Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Laos, Scooter Riding Like A Local


In returning to pay for a tour for the next day, I discover I can save a few bucks by paying in cash. However, I am just a little short on kips.

No problem for the tour agent who offers to drive me on his scooter to the local ATM. I don't think riding on the back of a scooter here has the same “Hell's Angels” reputation as back home, so I take him up on his offer.

Learning a little bit about a local and life in Laos was definitely worth the ride even if I end up losing my good standing with my motorcycle brethren.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Laos, Dining At The Night Market


Although I am sure there are many fine restaurants in Luang Prabang along with other dining options, the chance to eat at the local “Night Market” should not be missed.


116For under US$5, I am having a fresh grilled fish served on a banana leaf along with a one time trip to a buffet with a wide selection of local Lao food.




The fish is moist, delicious and “finger-picking” good. Add a cold Beer Lao and you have a dining option that is hard to beat.

Besides my selections, the “Night Market” offers many other choices that should please any palette.



Laos, Visiting Buddha Cave


Leaving a brief stop at a Mekong River village, we continue down the river towards Buddha Cave. The scenery along the river continues to be amazing as we are surrounded by rich green foliage and towering jagged shaped mountains.



040Cruising down Mekong River



048Buddha Cave was first used by locals that worshiped “The Spirit Of Nature”.

It was not until the 16th century that it became apart of Buddhism.



Every New Year since then Buddha Cave would be visited by The Royal Family as Buddhism had become a part of Laos culture.

Today, here you can see many statues of Buddha, some dating back to the 16th century. There are two sets of caves located here, a lower and upper cave. A small entrance fee is required to visit both.


061To visit the upper cave requires a little bit of physical stamina as there are a steep set of stairs to climb.





Definitely worth the effort as you get beautiful views of the Mekong River below. Across the river on the eastern edges is a farming and fishing village whose residents are responsible for taking care of Buddha Cave.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Norwegian Sky, Fun People And Games


From Bingo, I-26, “Poke Out Your Neighbors Eye.. “ to Battles Of The Sexes where men have to walk and squat with a chip between their cheeks, the people and games on the Norwegian Sky are a ton of fun.

There are so many activities going on this evening that we are almost racing from one end of the ship to the other in order to not miss anything. Thanks 5-Hour Energy!

Our first stop is at Bingo where unfortunately we do not win the $10,000 jackpot. I come up nine numbers short with three numbers to go. However, another player that obviously did not get her “I poked out” wins $250.

Next, it's Battle of The Sexes where en route we get a nice demonstration of a female passenger doing an imitation of the sound a chicken makes while laying an egg. Impressive.

Not a surprise, the men kick butt in the Battle Of The Sexes even after having to demonstrate our squatting skills. Even with the win we still let the ladies party with us to the tune of “Play That Funky Music White Boy”.

I think much better that “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” although I love Aretha.

Back to the casino bar and we discover a fellow passenger has a game of his own going. “Would you like some Benson & Hedges? How about some ketchup?”

I can't believe it has been two nights and I am just now making my way to the karaoke lounge. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it sign-ups are done for the evening. The crowd does not know what they are missing or maybe word has spread in the cruise industry and they do know.

Do you know the meaning of “FULFART”?

Attend the “Liar's Club Comedy” and you might just discover the truth about it and other words like “OXPECKER”.

The “Liar's Club Comedy” is a nice warm up for what follows next in Dazzles Night Club, the adults only, “Quest” game. The audience is forewarned and kids are told there is free pizza on the upper deck.

If you are offended by men wearing bras, lipstick and high heels while strutting their stuff then this is not the game for you. However, if you are not afraid to do a split and end up hitting a soprano high note then you are going to have a lot of fun.

Who knows, you may end up sipping a cheap bottle of champagne.




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Norwegian Sky, White Night Party


I have been told that Norwegians “Like It White Hot” and after attending the Norwegian Sky White Night Party I have no doubt this is true.

As we sail towards Nassau under a beautiful tropical night I am sure the ship is being propelled not by it's twin diesel engines but by the energy on the pool deck.

With hundreds dressed in white and cruise staff members wearing bright white angel wings, this is an energetic and fun experience for everyone. From kids to grandmas, everyone is into excitement of this party.

From salsa to hip hop no one is standing still, we are all smiling, laughing and singing along to the music. Some of us are even jumping around like we are still in our 20's.

Thank God for Aleve!

“Hands up, Hands Up.. Who's Going To Party With Us Tonight .. Somebody Scream!”

Dance off competitions, “Max, Max, Max”, body surfing and some of the best Michael Jackson “Billy Jean” moves you have ever seen are all a part of this continuous high energy party.

It's past 1am in the morning and “The Die-Hards” are keeping The White Night Party going on with a splash. It is “Canon Ball Time”.

Y.O.L.O (You Only Live Once)



Norwegian Sky, Sexiest Male Cruiser


Far better than any selection process that People Magazine could devise or that any of its candidates including Bradley Cooper could survive, the Mr. Norwegian Sky, Sexiest Male Cruiser contest is a crowd pleaser.

Having sported our six packs (Miller Lite) on Great Stirrup Cay earlier in the day, for the sake of “World Peace” and to avoid an “International Incident” on the high seas, Raul and I turn down hundreds of request to enter the contest.

After much soul searching we thought it best to let others be in the spotlight, to show their attitude, moves and pose to “work it”.

Our decision turns out to be the right one as we sit on the side line and cheer on the other sexy beasts on the cruise. From a college student to a Mexican Pediatrician, we are all entertained as we watch moves that would even impress “The International Sexiest Man Of Intrigue”.

Yeah, Baby, Yeah!

To the disappointment of a few, the contestants are narrowed down to the final three. Apparently, one of the judges has left her husband in the cabin or at home as she cannot seem to keep her hands and eyes from exploring the merchandise. Raul and I sympathize with the contestants as we feel their pain.

In the end, “The Great State Of Florida” produces another “Sexiest Male” winner.

Welcome to the club, Carlos.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Norwegian Sky, Great Stirrup Cay


Our first stop on Norwegian Sky is not at a port and will therefore involve us anchoring just off shore from a private island. At Great Stirrup Cay our visit will be accomplished using a tendering process.

For guest that would like to get on the island early there is a boarding ticket process available the night before. Our option, the free for all tendering process begins at 11am. This works out great for us as we are normally late-risers on vacation.

Joining the short queue after having breakfast on board the ship, we find a seat on the upper deck of the tender.

Rocking next to the towering Norwegian Sky we are afforded some protection from the blazing sun as we are mesmerized by the warm and clear tropical blue waters of the Bahamas.

Free from the ship, towels, sunglasses, hats and hands are required to escape the heavenly heat.

“Hoosier your mama?”

I inquire of a fellow passengers sitting next to me that I discover is from Indiana. Next to her, is her “mama” who is a Peyton Manning fan. Just like that we have something in common because Peyton is my Fantasy Football QB. The ride is about ten minutes and soon we are disembarking on Great Stirrup Cay.

The sounds of island music welcomes us. It sets a nice tone for a fun day of food, volleyball, lounging, playing games, swimming, beer drinking and food. Yes, more food and beer drinking.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Norwegian Sky, A Great Entertainment Staff


If the level of enjoyment and fun of a cruise is measured by the energy and excitement of the cruise director then it is going to be hard to be disappointed on the Norwegian Sky.

Our first night at sea and we attend a show in the main theater where we not only get a formal introduction to the cruise director but the executive staff as well.

It is a nice surprised to discover that the captain of the ship is none other than Captain America (I saw the branded shield on his chest with my own eyes). This is the first time I have been on a cruise ship with an American captain. I am sure this is an exception in the cruise industry.

How can you not have fun when the man in charge of alcohol on the ship is from India and does the moonwalk? I am so impressed I want to party with that dude even if it cost me $10 a drink.

After all the executive staff introductions and entertainment are done, it's time for a few good laughs by the guest comedian.

Did you know that despite what the airlines tell you, there is no such thing as a water landing? If an airplane lands anywhere other than an airport its a crash.

Now let's party and have some fun.


Norwegian Sky, A Fun Party Weekend


One of the advantages of living near cruise ports like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale or Los Angeles, is that an affordable fun weekend is always a possibility. This weekend we are on the Norwegian Sky for an escape to celebrate a birthday with friends.

A short drive to the port of Miami (US$20 per day parking, the worst part of the cruise) and our cruise begins with a rush to the buffet before the life boat drill begins. Over the years I am glad to see this drill has been made less painful.

Like all “Good Cruisers”, I look forward to the day when this can be done while stuffing our faces at the buffet. Only then will cruising truly reach epic heights.

Just past 5pm, massive tons of blue and white steel breaks free from a port of captivity. Left foot, left stomp, everybody clap your hands, our fun party weekend has began as we sail away for The Islands of The Bahamas.