Monday, June 30, 2014

From the Bermuda Caves to the Aquarium and Zoo!

We had a great time at the caves, and were ready to keep on exploring! We knew the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo was in this general area and would make a good afternoon combination with the caves.

Back on the bus we went! We got on and asked the driver if it was the correct bus, this time heading back towards Hamilton. I asked the person next to me to let us know when it was our stop, just in case!

However when we got to the aquarium, the driver announced it and about half the passengers got off with us!

The aquarium would better be described as a zoo, and it's fairly small. But it's a nice way to spend a couple of hours. It's right on the water and the exhibits are well maintained. We had lunch there and enjoyed our stay. Of course, we're big aquarium, zoo, animal loving people!

Our view while having lunch at the cafe at the aquarium

The Discovery Room where you could touch some sea life. From that point on Alex decided he wanted a pet Sea Pudding, also sometimes called a Sea Cucumber. Not much maintenance for a pet I'm assuming 

This guy walked all the way over to us from the other side of his pen, I think he was hoping for some food! He just had the sweetest face! 

There was also a Natural History Building that had exhibits outlining the history of Bermuda. This was quite interesting, although I have no pictures of this area. 

After the aquarium we made our way back to the ship. Tonight we'd be having an early dinner at La Cucina. We were going to be going out later for an evening glass bottom boat ride - into the Bermuda Triangle! OOOOHHHH spooky! 

Alex waiting for the bus...

Next up, dinner and our evening boat cruise!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bermuda...Crystal & Fantasy Caves!

We decided to get the combo ticket to visit both the Crystal and Fantasy Caves. This is definitely a place you can visit on your own, no "excursion" needed. All visits into the cave are done by guided tour so we had just about 10 minutes to wait until our tour started. We started with Crystal Cave.

I think maybe Alex might just be a bit tired of all the pictures? He's holding our admission tickets....

Our group was called for the Crystal Caves. I can't remember the name of our guide, and it's a shame because he was really great! He was quite a story teller. He had us hanging on his every word. It didn't matter if he was talking about safety or about how the caves were discovered. He was a dynamic man! 

We descended into the caves and he gave us the history and told us about the structures and the water. The caves were quite beautiful. We had plenty of time for pictures. 

After spending about 30 - 45 minutes in the cave, we climbed back up the steps, I believe 88 or maybe it was 85? And then had about a 15 minute wait until our tour of the Fantasy Cave.

After coming our of the Crystal Caves, we had a quick break and waited for the tour of the Fantasy Caves. Unfortunately our guide was different this time. Had we not had such a great guide for the first set, this one would have been fine. However, in comparison, well he was pretty bad. He had no enthusiasm for showing us anything. It seemed as if he basically didn't want to be there, which is a shame. But once we did get into the caves and wandered around a bit, he did manage to loosen up a bit and tell us just what made these caves different from the Crystal Caves. It has to do with the humidity. The ceilings are different. The cave formations are different. Both are unique and we enjoyed visiting each cave.

Now they've gone a bit crazy with the faces!

You can get an idea here of the size of this cave.  

We had a great time at the caves, and were ready to keep on exploring! We knew the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo was in this general area and would make a good afternoon combination with the caves. Onward!....

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 4 ~ We arrive in Bermuda!

Here we are, we are arriving in Bermuda! As if the trip hadn't been wonderful so far, we were finally arriving in our port. Yes port. This was a new concept for us! How would we like it? To be honest, until about three weeks ago the idea of a cruise to Bermuda had never crossed my mind. I'd known people who had gone to Bermuda, known friends who'd even done similar cruises - but never did I ever consider one myself. It just seemed, well a bit boring to me! For me cruising had always been about the ports. Waking up somewhere new everyday. The variety, the experiences. Where was the excitement in spending THREE whole days in one place? Well, we were about to find out weren't we?

I mentioned we booked this trip fairly close to our departure date, and I'm a planner. This didn't give me a whole lot of time to plan. This threw Alex and Megan for a loop! They kept asking what I had planned. Didn't I have any tours booked? What were going to do? Well, I had a general idea, and did have one "scheduled" activity. But I figured the rest, well we'd wing it! And we did and we had a BLAST!!!

We woke up Wednesday morning to a beautiful day. It may have been slightly cloudy. I think I remember someone on the dock commenting that it wasn't a great beach day, but the sun was shining most of the day and it wasn't raining! Seemed nice to me!

We were on the port side of the ship, which this time was docked not facing the port. But here is a picture of the port from he starboard side of the ship, on our way to get some breakfast.

Now, when I say I didn't have a plan, that's not exactly true...I knew pretty much what I wanted to do during our time in Bermuda. I just didn't know exactly how to go about doing it or if we'd add to it. I had read some reviews of others who had done this cruise, I had some notes and I had a Bermuda guide book in hand...and I hoped that we could just figure it all out. One thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to be off the ship early and get the transportation pass. The transportation pass gives you unlimited access to the buses and ferries throughout the island. We decided on the 3 day pass since we weren't exactly sure what we'd do on Friday. In the end, we could have made do with the 2 day pass. But that was fine. We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe and were off the ship shortly after we were allowed to be. We purchased the transportation passes right in the terminal, remember cash only! And we headed straight for the ferry to Hamilton. 

And yes, we did stop for the pictures as we got off the ship. We're silly like that!

Who wouldn't want a picture with a giant dolphin?

The ferry is easy to find, there's a large sign

And getting off the ship early on the first day, there was absolutely no line. We waited for about 10 minutes for it to come with a couple from our ship. They had been to Bermuda 10 times. They gave us a great run down of some not to miss highlights!

We sailed off on the ferry to Hamilton. It was a nice smooth ride. 

Our plan from Hamilton was to take the bus to the caves......

And I sort of knew which bus. But where would the bus be?  Well, as luck would have it, when we got off the ferry, there was this great sign right there telling us how to get to the bus terminal! We, like several other people snapped a picture and started walking!

I had a bus schedule, and the ferry schedule and we were good to go. We decided on the 10 or 11 bus, and had no problem. And the bus drivers are super nice. Just ask when you get on if they are going where you want. And they will let you know when they get to your stop. 

Our driver dropped us off and gave us directions on how to get to the caves, just a short little walk. And he told us how to take the bus back to Hamilton too!

Next up, our visit to Crystal and Fantasy Caves!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 3 ~ Sea Day #2, A Repeat of Yesterday???

So, today wasn't too much different from yesterday. Another sea day. However, a lesson learned from yesterday that I didn't mention, get those deck chairs earlier! I did say that yesterday we were a bit slow in the morning, going to the Main Dining Room for breakfast and then the ropes course. Well, yes we did finally find 3 chairs together. It took what seemed forever. And then by mid afternoon the music from the pool was just far too loud for me. We weren't even right by the pool either! I'm not one to mind some music or fun, but the chairs must have been in the direct line of the speakers and when you're trying to read, and relax in the sun, and have a conversation or two here or there, after a couple of hours, of just LOUD music - I had to move.

So, I ended up finding 3 chairs on the other side of the deck. Much better! This morning, that would be my plan. The kids slept in a bit, and I went out and got our chairs. I grabbed breakfast at the Uptown Grill and was all set. I pretty much didn't move the rest of the day. 

The kids came and went. Spent some time sitting and reading in the sun, doing the ropes course again, doing the slides, hanging in the pool. Another perfect day. 

Tonight we had reservations at Teppanyaki. 

Working on the origami from the menu

Our meal was good. Our chef was one of the best we've had, land or sea. There were a few minor issues with the actual meal, Megan was supposed to get noodles with her meal, they never came and Alex only got a small portion of filet when the diners with us at the table clearly got a double portion. He only ordered filet, and for example I ordered the filet and shrimp and he received less meat than I did, but the filet was was all he ordered. He should have had double the meat. However the other party at our table was giving our chef a difficult time about some issues and we did't want to contribute to it. Ours were very minor and we enjoyed our meal. We had plenty of food and saw no need to fluster him any more than he was already!

After dinner, as has become the routine, Alex left for the teen club. Megan and I had booked Rock of Ages. We couldn't wait! If I haven't mentioned it, Megan is a 100% theater kid. She loves to perform in shows, and loves to see them as well. And give me 80's hair band music and I'm in heaven! Now, I know the show has quite the bit of adult themes and is quite suggestive. Before making the decision to let my almost 13 year old see it, I did the appropriate research - discussed it with several of my friends who have seen the show, most are also heavily involved in theater, and I decided that at her age, she likely has seen/heard most of what was involved. After having seen the show, I felt fine with it. I'm not sure I would take a child much younger than her though.

Now for the show - we both LOVED it! I know it's a matter of personal taste, but for us, we found it incredibly high energy and we loved the music. Yes, even my 12 year old loved the music! It has a lot of humor in it and we now plan to go see it on Broadway to get comparison in a smaller venue, where I would imagine the crowd is a bit more actively involved in the show. 

Here is a pretty bad picture with my phone, to get an idea of the stage. 

Tomorrow we dock in Bermuda!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Norwegian Breakaway - Day 2, at sea~!

We all had a great night's sleep. I'm one of those people who loves sleeping on a cruise ship! I love being at sea, and to be a bit honest, I wished the ship had just a tiny bit of movement on the way to Bermuda, at least at night! But it was smooth sailing all the way. 

I am always up early and enjoy a bit of time to myself sitting out on the balcony reading, with a cup of coffee. The cabins do have individual coffee makers in them, for those wondering!

And again, for those wondering, this is what the cabin looks like with the bunk bed dropped down. See - it's plenty big to sleep in. And notice the bed is split for Megan and I to have separate beds. But we're pretty darn close to one another, so I hope you're friendly with your cabin mate! But also notice that with the ladder down, and even just with the bed dropped down from the ceiling, just how difficult it is to get to the closet, the side with the hangers! We did it, but it just wasn't the best design! 

After I got the kids up, we decided to go to Taste for breakfast. We wanted to start with a nice calm morning. The food was fine, but the service was so slow. We don't mind a nice paced meal, but this was beyond paced....this was just plain slow. Close to an hour and a half for breakfast! All I kept thinking was that there was no way I was going to get a chair on any deck with sun! 

We finally finished breakfast and my original plan was to go to our CC Meet and Greet, which was starting in about 20 minutes. But the kids wanted to try the ropes court. How could I say no to that! They got their gear on, there was virtually no line and off they went!

Megan is looking quite nervous isn't she?

I think they're planning their strategy here

Alex loved the ropes course!  It was a breeze for him - he practically glided along it!

Megan was nervous at first, but got the hang of it quickly!

And if course - Alex had NO FEAR in doing the plank!

For those of you not familiar with "the plank", it's 18 decks above the sea! It hangs out totally over the ocean and is only about 4 inches wide! Sure, you're attached to the harness, but let me tell you, standing below watching - every time I saw someone go out there my heart skipped a beat! Then MY kid did it - holy cow! Megan wouldn't do it, and I wanted her to, but I also was glad she didn't do it!

The pictures don't quite do the whole thing justice because you can't really see just how high up they are...

So, you go out there, stand on this white square and pull a string, which triggers the ship camera to take your picture. 

The kids continued along and at the end is a zip line. I know I have some pictures of that, but they must be from a different day. line coming soon!

After the ropes course, the kids went on the slides, and I read...this was pretty much a perfect day in every way!

After our afternoon of relaxing, we got ready for dinner. As I mentioned at the beginning, we had prebooked most of our dinners and we had the Ultimate Dining Plan. Tonight was going to be Moderno. 

Alex had an event at the Teen Club and would be meeting us there. Megan and I arrived a bit early and enjoyed the view of the sunset from the Waterfront. We really loved the concept of the Waterfront on the ship. 

Dinner at Moderno, at an outside table on the Waterfront

After dinner, Alex left again...teen club called. See a pattern here? Yup, this would be his nightly thing and that was fine by me. I was thrilled that he had found something that he enjoyed so much! 

Megan and I went to Howl at the Moon for a bit.  They are a dueling piano group that's a combination of music and a bit of comedy.  They play a few times during the week and they're fantastic! That's always good for some entertainment. 

And so, that ended our first full day at sea. We couldn't have asked for more!

And as I went to bed, I told myself that I would do that rope course, and I would get out there on that plank! How hard was it anyway! I had 2 more sea days to conquer it....would I do it????