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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Christmas on NCL Encore - Glad I Did/Wish I Did

NCL Glad I Did

I've found that Glad I Did/Wish I Did posts are fun because it's a great way to quickly share with others what worked, and what didn't. It's also been really helpful for us to refer back to over the years when preparing for our next cruise.

Glad we bid $15 per person for a Stateroom Upgrade (Balcony to Club Balcony)

Rachel and I originally bid only on the Haven suites because we were worried that bidding on a lower category stateroom would negatively impact our odds of getting a suite. As the cruise got closer, we kept a close eye on our cruise group on Facebook and realized that bids were being awarded, and we weren't going to get the Haven (from what we could tell, most Haven upgrades were awarded to parties of three or four guests in one stateroom). The minimum bid for the Club Balcony stateroom was discounted to $15 (originally $25) per person, and I'm glad we decided to put in last-minute minimum bids. With the Club Balcony, we were moved to a higher floor and our staterooms were actually closer together than the balcony cabins that we had originally booked. Also, the large bathroom in the Club Balcony was nice to have.

Club Balcony Stateroom

Glad I decorated Judy's stateroom for her birthday!

My original plan had been to decorate the door of my parents' stateroom. However, unlike other cruise lines, Norwegian actually has a rule against decorating stateroom doors (not sure if they'll actually hold you to it - I saw a few decorated doors on our cruise). I did not find any rules against decorating the stateroom interior. Originally I planned to create my own banners, but then I ran out of time and purchased garland and banners from Party City. I used heavy-duty magnet hooks to string the garland across the room. It was fun and festive. Since the ship wasn't that decorated for the holidays, it was fun to have this cheery little space that felt like a celebration.

Cruise Stateroom Decorations

Glad we rented a Cabana at Great Stirrup Cay

The cabana was Stove's idea, and I was really surprised that he was able to book the cabana for Great Stirrup Cay on embarkation day. It was really nice to get to the island and immediately be taken care of. Also, the shade was nice to have once the sun came up. We also enjoyed taking out the floaties that came with the cabana (which we wouldn't have rented otherwise).

Great Stirrup Cay Cabana

Glad we booked the Jost Van Dyke excursion

Rachel chose the Jost Van Dyke excursion, and it was a great choice. Jost Van Dyke was gorgeous. Unfortunately, due to our ship's scheduled time in port, we arrived very early which meant that only a few restaurants were open. When more places were opening and we were really enjoying ourselves, it was time to go. Overall, it felt very private and was a great escape.

Jost Van Dyke

Rachel was glad my parents had the Premium Plus Drink Package

My parents had extra cruise credit from the canceled Alaskan cruise (Rachel and I put our additional credit toward the boys' fare), and we convinced Stove to upgrade their drink packages from the included Premium to Premium Plus. Technically we cheated because my parents used their drink package to get us bottled water, Starbucks, and Veuve Clicquot. Compared to other cruise line's upgraded drink packages, Norwegian's is a great value - the base drink package is already included in the "Free" promotion so you only need to pay to upgrade, and the upgraded package includes an excellent selection of top shelf liquor and expensive champagne. Rachel said that she would probably upgrade her own package in the future, would definitely coordinate to have two people with the package within our group.

Judy Red Wine

Wish we played Laser Tag earlier in the cruise

We had originally scheduled Laser Tag for our first sea day, but had to reschedule to the last day. I'd definitely recommend scheduling Laser Tag for the second day of the cruise. We ended up going head to head with a bunch of kids who had been playing together all week, and we had no shot at beating them.

Laser Tag

Judy wished she would have skipped that laser gun game.

She hit her elbow on one of the rocks we hid behind, and it took three weeks to heal.

Judy wished we dined at Los Lobos two nights (and skipped Ocean Blue).

Judy's recommendation is to eat the food you like and get the drinks you like instead of worrying about which restaurant or cocktail is the "best value."

Los Lobos

Wish we found each other on the last night

Due to communication error, we did not know where to meet up after souvenir shopping. My parents were waiting in Maltings, and we were wandering around the atrium looking for them. It was really a bummer that we didn't get to hang out the last night. Don't want to make this mistake again!

Shingleton Family Christmas Cruise

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