10 Easy Steps For Americans Visiting Cuba On A Cruise

For over 50 years Cuba was closed for tourism for U.S citizens. Currently the restrictions for visiting are not completely lifted, but after doing research when planning to visit Cuba, I found the easiest way for me to visit was on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line.

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Havana, Cuba 

By taking a cruise I did not need to fly into Cuba, find accommodations or figure out what I would do each day – I took out all the planning and left it to NCL.

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Norwegian Sun in the Havana port

I did receive a lot of questions and emails from everyone asking about the steps and how easy it was to visit Cuba as a U.S. citizen – so I am putting together this guide that outlines everything.

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Musicians

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Handicrafts

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Cuban cars

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Beautiful doors

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Dining in Havana

  1. You need a passport. Cuba is a foreign country and no matter how you plan to visit there as a U.S. citizen, you will need a passport. If you are booking your cruise 6 months out or later, apply for your passport now and send in all the required documents so you can get it back in time (most post offices offer this service). If you are planning between 1-6 months out, you can expedite your passport online. Keep in mind you will need time to get a visa and you cannot get a visa without your passport information.
    1. You can book your cruise without having your passport first. You will fill out your cruise documents prior to leaving for the cruise – so if you do not have a passport but want to book, that is ok. Just make sure you have the passport before leaving for your cruise or they will not let you on.
  2. Book the cruise – Currently Norwegian Cruise Line offers anywhere from 4-15 day cruises that stop in Cuba. On the shorter stays, you will be stopping in Havana overnight and on the longer cruises you will be there from morning until late night. You will have to decide if you want to go to more islands, if you are just wanting to visit Cuba and one other stop – that is up to you.
  3. After you book the cruise, you need to get a visa. It is required to have a visa to even board the ship, but also you will need it to enter Havana at the port. There are two easy ways to get a visa:
    1. Norwegian will get the visa for you and you can pick it up when you check in to the ship – this is the easiest method.
    2. I got my visa from oncubatravel.com – and they sent it 2 day overnight. The only reason I went this route was to test the waters and see how fast they could get it to me and that it was accurate (which it was) and I had more than enough time that if anything went wrong I could get one through NCL.
      1. If you do go through On Cuba Travel, you will need to select from the 19 current available options for “Support for the Cuban people (515.5740)” as your visa.
  4. Before you cruise, Norwegian will email out an affidavit that you will need to fill out electronically and send back that has your purpose of travel (which in this case is “support for the Cuban people”).
  5. As a U.S. citizen you are required to meet the requirements for the visa, and NCL makes this easy by offering tours that are compliant with the government regulations. You will need to book at least one tour in advance of your cruise to fill this requirement. I highly advise looking at the options early and picking something you are comfortable with.
    1. There are several options for tours and in some cases you can fit more than 1 tour in a day. When I went overnight I could have done 3 tours throughout the day that were all different. If you are set on cruising around in an old car – make sure to book that first and work everything else around it.
      1. The real trick in doing multiple tours (and it is easy) is to find the tours you want to do and make sure they are offered at different times throughout the day. Make sure they aren’t very close together because you never know if a tour will run long.
    2. You should keep a detailed itinerary of your activities in Cuba for about 5 years.
  6. Once you have everything you need to cruise and you are ready to go, getting on the cruise is easy.
    1. If you decide to add on another tour through NCL you can do this on the ship (but you also have the option to book them all before ever getting on the ship and I think you should go this route just to guarantee you get what you want from your trip).
  7. Arriving in the port of Havana – if you have an early scheduled tour you will meet with the staff before exiting the ship so that they can show you where to go to meet your tour guide (afternoon tours will do this later in the day).
    1. Exiting can take a little bit of time because each person has to turn in their passport and visa and get their photo taken.
    2. You will not have wifi or cell phone service in Cuba. You can however get it on the ship (even when in port) or there are parks that you can find people selling wifi cards.
      1. I had wifi on the ship that was fast and it worked perfectly on the ship. I did a live story on Instagram for a few minutes from the ship facing Havana and the connection was lightening fast.
  8. Bring money with you to convert to CUC$ (convertible pesos) once you go through passport control at the port. There will be an area at the end of the hallway with multiple people at the windows converting currency. You can also return what you didn’t spend on your way back in and get dollars back. IMG_0379
    1. U.S. ATM cards and credit cards currently do not work in Cuba – make sure you have plenty of local currency.
  9. Whether you are taking a tour first thing in the morning or later in the day, there is plenty to see and do around the port. I took a morning city tour that lasted about 3 hours and then walked around Havana for the rest of the day meeting locals, eating food and photographing the city.
    1. There are several food stalls selling local foods within the streets beyond the port.
    2. There are Cubans dressed up with cigars standing in front of beautiful walls that will let you take their picture for $1 CUC.
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      $1 CUC for a photo

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      $1 CUC for a photo

    3. Don’t forget to try a mojito!
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      Mojito

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      Mojito stand

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      Mojito

  10. Once you get back to the United States you will have to clear customs (and it is a breeze) at the port.
    1. You ARE allowed to bring back cigars and rum (things change frequently so just double check on the current allotted amount).

Visiting Cuba on a cruise

 

10 Ways The Norwegian Bliss Is Bringing Magic To The High Seas

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I was fortunate enough to be one of the very first people to live aboard the Norwegian Bliss this past weekend in New York and I don’t think I was fully prepared for all its magic. As a very long time cruiser of NCL and after about 10 cruises with the brand – I can assure you that the Bliss IS everything we have been waiting for in a ship.

I strongly believe each Norwegian ship has something to offers its guests that I love – and that’s why Norwegian has long been a favorite of mine. I have only ever cruised one time with another company and I disliked it so much that I have never left Norwegian since – they are that good!

With the coming of Norwegian Bliss you are going to be blown away by this mega-ship and its offerings. There is so much stuff to do on board AND Norwegian does an incredible job of planning daily itineraries so that there is always something to do.

Here are the 10 ways I think this ship is bringing the magic!

The Food:

The Norwegian Bliss is coming in hot with 27 dining options! That is right .. 27!! By calculation, I could not even eat at each place on a week cruise, which means there is plenty of options to choose from. My personal favorites and new additions to the ship are: Coco’s crazy delicious milkshakes, elote and table side guacamole from the first Mexican restaurant on board – Los Lobos, Food Republic – bringing tapas style plates on a globally inspired menu, and Dolce Gelato – which gelato is not new to Norwegian but it was new to me.

Can we talk about food presentation? Norwegian is always delivering!

*Side note – I 100% judge a place on its ability to poach an egg. Everyday on board I order poached eggs for breakfast and even find them on other dishes – and each time, Norwegian delivers.

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Food Republic

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Savor Restaurant

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Food Republic

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Dolce Gelato

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Coco’s

Starbucks at sea:

That is right coffee addicts – you can now get your fix with a view! What I loved about finding this gem on the ship is that they have the same drinks and food that you would expect at a Starbucks back home (limited menu on the food) but all the greats are there.

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Racetrack at sea:

Whaaat? I know right! You can now go atop the ship and utilize the 2 level racetrack with go-carts! Imagine being at sea and racing your friends and family with the breeze in your hair and views of the open ocean – does it get any better?

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Unobstructed views on the Waterfront: 

This is new for Norwegian as they are offering this waterfront along one side of the ship that has outdoor dinning and lounges with nothing blocking the views. In times past the safety boats were there but have been moved to give you a more serene experience at sea.

You’ll find options to dine outside on the waterfront at places like Los Lobos, La Cucina and Ocean Blue. There is also Dolce Gelato, Maltings Whiskey Bar and The Cavern Club.

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Blissed out luxury

Its all in the details! Every inch of the Norwegian Bliss was designed carefully bringing more luxurious touches around every corner. Some of the details that caught my eye were the wainscoting, art, simple yet elegant sitting areas, plush seating in the main dining areas, and overall elevated decor throughout the ship.

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678 Ocean Place

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678 Ocean Place

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678 Ocean Place

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Observation Lounge

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Sitting area

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A List Bar

Vertical drop slide 

Calling adventure junkies: imagine walking into a slide and when the door closes you fall vertically into the waterside that hangs over the side of the ship AND you can see the wide open ocean during your slide!

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Silent disco 

If you have never been to a silent disco you have no idea what you are missing out on. You know how at some point in your life you have been to a party or club and hated the music but only one thing could play at a time? Silent disco aims to change that by giving each of its attendees their own headset with multiple channels to listen to music. So while Debra over there might want to boogie to 80’s music you can still get down with your dance music.

People enjoying silent party.

Silent Disco – retrieved from ncl.com

Observation lounge:

You know .. for viewing glaciers and Caribbean islands! There is actually 2 observation lounges on board. The Haven has a private observation lounge called the Horizon Lounge for those who book within that category. For the rest of the ship there is an Observation lounge.

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Horizon Lounge

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Observation Lounge

Broadway Shows!

The Bliss is offering a show that is brand new called Havana! The only way I can describe this performance is muy caliente!! So definitely see this show.

Jersey Boys is also on board and it is not a condensed version of the show – its the real deal.

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Havana!

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Havana!

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Havana!

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Havana!

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Jersey Boys

Sugarcane Mojito Bar:

A bar comprised of all things mojitos, its like they know what we want! The pineapple mojito was my favorite.

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I know what you’re thinking, “Oh buoy! I can’t wait to book this!” I, too, am hoping to get back on board and explore Alaska! 

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norwegian bliss

*Disclaimer: this post written in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

 

14 Day Southern Caribbean Cruise On The Norwegian Breakaway

The Norwegian Breakaway used to be home to New York and you can see the beautiful design on the front of the ship where Lady Liberty graces. The ship now also does cruises in Europe along the Baltic Sea. Part of the newer Breakaway Class, this ship can hold over 3,900 passengers (based on a double occupancy).

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If you have ever cruised on an older ship before, the Breakaway is going to wow you with all of its modern updates, sleek designs, the number of activities available, and how it has become a foodie destination at sea. But don’t get me wrong, the older ships have their perks as well! These big newer ships have just been updated to a modern standard and have a lot more amenities to offer its passengers. I love that you can now make reservations for shows and meals and book excursions right from your TV in your stateroom, NCL has an app you can download and it works while on board, there is USB ports next to the beds for charging, and ample storage space!

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Gorgeous chandelier

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Pool and slides

Cruising is just one of the ways I like to travel. For me, cruising is about taking it down a notch, relaxing, having amazing food, sleeping in the same bed for a week+, unpacking and staying put, being able to explore more than one place without having to do all the work of flying and shuffling to hotels, and really just enjoying my time on the open water.

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Balcony sunset

The Itinerary:

For this cruise it was a 14 day itinerary out of New York to the Southern Caribbean.

  • Day 1: Leave New York, at sea
  • Day 2: At sea
  • Day 3: At sea
  • Day 4: At sea
  • Day 5: Aruba
  • Day 6: Curacao
  • Day 7: Bonaire 
  • Day 8: At sea
  • Day 9: Martinique
  • Day 10: St. Lucia
  • Day 11: St Kitts and Nevis
  • Day 12: At sea
  • Day 13: At sea
  • Day 14:  Return to New York

I loved the itinerary because I had been wanting to visit so many of these islands for so long and I got to experience each one in a different way – even fell in love with a few! There is almost equal the amount of time at sea as there is port days but Norwegian does a great job of providing daily schedules with things to do to fill your day OR you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

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Bonaire

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Martinique

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Floating Market – Curacao

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Caribbean Sea

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St. Kitts

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Bonaire

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Curacao

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Bonaire

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Kite Surfing – Bonaire

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Salt Flats – Bonaire

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Bonaire

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Arriving in Bonaire

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Martinique

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Aruba

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Aruba

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St. Lucia

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St. Lucia

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St. Lucia

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Curacao

Excursions: 

Pro tip: book your excursions before you leave or as soon as you get on board to avoid them filling up and missing out. You can view excursions online before getting on the ship here.

My two favorite excursions that I booked were the See and Sea tour in Aruba and the Scenic Railroad in St. Kitts. I loved the tour in Aruba because it was the best of both worlds – an island tour and a glass bottom boat tour. I also loved the railroad tour because it was a 2 hour, 18 mile ride through scenic St. Kitts showcasing the islands beauty.

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Aruba

I hired a private driver in Bonaire right outside the port for a couple hours for $100 USD and that was one of my favorite days on the entire cruise. This wonderful person showed me the southern part of the island, told me all the history (good and bad), and he even found flying flamingos for me! I highly recommend this but I also want to say this is not sponsored by the ship or covered – this is a take at your own risk activity. You will be responsible for getting back on time before the ship leaves.

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Flying Flamingos

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Salve huts from the past

In Curacao I woke up early and got off the ship before everyone else and walked the city for about 4 hours taking in all the beautiful colors it offered. I did not take an excursion here but absolutely fell in love with the island.

Entertainment and Activities:

The Norwegian Breakaway offers a plethora of entertainment to keep those of all ages engaged aboard the ship. From Broadway shows, comedy, music, swimming and slides, jogging track, gym, art auctions, spa days, wine tastings, bingo, sunningand mind bending Cirque du Soleil – there is an endless stream of fun to be had.

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Slides

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Haven pool

I really loved the Broadway shows Burn The Floor and Rock of Ages! Both shows are amazing and the cast really outdoes themselves. One of my favorite things about seeing a show on board is that you completely forget you are even on a ship at sea and feel like you are right in Times Square on Broadway.

Since I had already been on this ship I did not see the Cirque du Soleil show again, but I loved it the first time around. Its a dinner and show. *Tip – book a top floor seat, I found the views up there looking down to be amazing. 

My room was on the 15th floor and had a door down the hall with direct access to the spa and gym, which was nice since I had a thermal spa suite pass (you can either book a spa room with access or buy a thermal spa suite access pass for the duration of your cruise). So many sea days and nights I spent winding down in the hot tubs, sauna or just relaxing on the heated chairs overlooking the ocean. This is a must if you like to relax.

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Thermal Spa Suite

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Thermal Spa Suite

Staterooms:

This ship offers a wide variety of staterooms fit for any need. The first time I was on this ship I had a balcony stateroom that I loved. This time around I stayed in the Haven, which is a luxury enclave – ship within a ship. If you are looking for the most luxurious experience and rooms aboard, then the Haven is absolutely where you want to book a room.

During my cruise I stayed in a Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with a Balcony. I loved this room and think it is the best room I have ever stayed in on a cruise ship. I loved that the room was significantly bigger than any other room I have stayed in, the upscale design elements, a full bathroom with a tub (having a bath tub in your room on a cruise is a luxury in itself), king sized bed, luxury bath amenities, and then all the features of the Haven: 24 hour butler service, priority boarding and disembarkation, private parties, private pool, bar, and the best part: the Haven Restaurant.

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Welcome amenities – Haven and Gold Latitudes

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

Room Features:

  • Room: 328 sq. feet
  • Balcony: 58 sq. feet
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized bath towels
  • Luxury bathroom products – Bvlgari
  • Bathtub/shower combo
  • 2 closets
  • HD TV
  • Dining set for 2
  • Lavazza Coffee machine
  • Mini Bar and glasses for most drinking occasions
  • Love seat sofa that folds out into a bed
  • Extended room service menu – at no cost
  • Movies on the TV were free
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Daily towel animals

Food:

This was a different experience on this ship for me this time around. When I cruised on this ship before I stayed in a balcony room and ate at several of the restaurants on board. This time I stayed in the Haven and I ate nearly every meal in the private restaurant or through room service. Now that may seem silly with so many options on the ship but there is a reasoning behind my madness – the food in the Haven is just a cut above the other restaurants. If I booked a Haven room again, one of the top 3 selling points would be the food in their private restaurant.

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Room service breakfast

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Room service breakfast

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Room service lunch

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Haven Breakfast

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Haven Breakfast

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Haven Breakfast

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Haven Breakfast

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Haven Lunch

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Haven Lunch

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Haven Lunch

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner Dessert

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Haven Dinner Dessert

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner Dessert

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Haven Dinner

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Haven Dinner

So while I did not indulge the other restaurants this time, I do remember my experience before when eating at them and will share.

There are several restaurants that are free and Norwegian sails with the “Freestyle Dining” philosophy which allows you to come and eat whenever you want (if the restaurant requires reservations this would not apply).

Free Restaurants:

  • Savor – sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Taste – sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Manhattan Room – sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • O’Sheehans – open 24/7
  • The Haven – exclusive to Haven guests only
  • Garden Cafe – buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Extra Fee Dining:

  • La Cucina – Italian only open for dinner
  • Le Bistro – French restaurant only open for dinner
  • Ocean Blue – seafood only open for dinner
  • Teppanyaki – Japanese only open for dinner
  • Cagney’s – steak house only open for dinner
  • Moderno – Brazilian steakhouse only open for dinner
  • Raw Bar – only open for dinner
  • Wasabi – sushi for lunch and dinner
  • Cirque Dreams and Dinner
  • Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville at sea – I think this goes without saying .. it’s 5 o’clock somewhere
  • Room Service – 24/7
  • Gelato
  • Bakery

Norwegian often has deals that allow you to book some number of free perks with your room. I have seen free specialty dining nearly every time – so look out for those deals! Then you can dine everywhere at no cost.

All of the food on the ship is good to me – but I have some favorites. Moderno, the Brazilian steakhouse is my favorite outside of the Haven. You decide what you want and when you want it. You get a red and green card and you flip green to go and red to stop – when its on green staff members with fresh meats come to your table and cut you off a piece of whatever you want. In the last decade these restaurants have become widely popular and its a fantastic experience. Tip: go hungry and try not to eat too late if you have an early morning.

As for the free restaurants, Savor, Taste and the Manhattan Room keep the same menus that change daily. The Manhattan Room is a bit fancier so if you are looking for something a bit more than a relaxed “come as you are” meal – then dine here. They also have live music at dinner and dancing if you like.

 

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Le Bistro

Additional Information:

  • Wifi is available on board for a fee – keep in mind that it is satellite internet and not as fast as you would have it at home – however, the have now added plans that allow you to stream Netflix so that would be an extra cost to have internet with a speed that fast. You can purchase an unlimited package during the first 2 days on the ship and is the best deal to stay connected.
  • You can bring your own wine aboard the ship to have a meals – you will just be charged a corkage fee
  • Soda and alcohol are not included in your booking unless you booked a package that included it. You can purchase all-inclusive packages when you board the ship during the first 2 days

Overall:

I really loved this itinerary and the ports. One of the best things about cruising is the ability to get a taste of other places and make the decision to go back and explore more. I have already booked trips back to 2 of the islands! That is how much I loved them. As for the ship, Norwegian does such an excellent job of building itineraries with things to do each day on the ship that it would be near impossible to ever be bored.

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*Disclaimer,  I did partner with Norwegian Cruise Lines but as always, opinions are entirely my own.

16 Photos To Inspire You To Visit The Colorful Island Of Curacao

Curacao is located in the very southern end of the Caribbean right above South America, with its two sister islands Bonaire and Aruba. All three islands are part of the Netherlands and ultimately, the European Union. Recently I explored the colorful island of Curacao on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line and it truly is the most vibrant island I have ever been to.

Here are my favorite photos of Curacao that I hope inspire you to visit!

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View from my cruise

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Floating Market

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Curacao

Panoramic view of Willemstad, Curacao.

Williamstad

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Lots of places to take a colorful break

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Streets of Williamstad

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Street art

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Cafe

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Shopping

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Another cute wall and bench

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Streets of Williamstad

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Lush

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Caribbean Sea

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Overlooking the city

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Beautiful areas of Williamstad

 

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34 Photos To Inspire Your Caribbean Spring Break

It’s that time again where everyone is ready for warmer weather, swim up bars, toes in the sand, and a week in Paradise! I know the 2017 hurricane season was not kind to the Caribbean but I just spent time in the islands and can report back that most of them are up and running, awaiting your visit.

I just did an epic 14 day cruise through 6 of the islands with Norwegian Cruise Line which allowed me to explore islands I had never been to in the Southern Caribbean. Taking a cruise is a great way to see more places in a shorter time frame – I also like that the food is included. Whether you decide to book a cruise or stay in a resort, your spring break is sure to be a great time.

Here are 34 photos from my recent Caribbean travel that I hope inspire your spring break travels.

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Flying into the Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Aruba

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Bonaire

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St. Kitts

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St. Lucia

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Montego Bay, Jamaica

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Cafe de Paris – Sandals Montego Bay

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Bonaire

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Bonaire

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Fire dancer – Sandals Montego Bay

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St. Lucia

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Curacao

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Bonaire

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Caribbean Sea

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Martinique

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Jamaica

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Montego Bay, Jamaica

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Bonaire

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Kite Surfing – Bonaire

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St. Lucia

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Curacao

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Aruba

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Aruba

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Curacao

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Martinique

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Bonaire

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Curacao

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Aruba

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Jamaica

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St. Lucia

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St. Kitts

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Curacao

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Jamaica

 

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Caribbean Spring Break

Review: Norwegian Breakaway’s Luxury Haven

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Norwegian Breakaway

As a long time cruiser of Norwegian Cruise Line (some 10 years), I have seen the company go through changes and upgrades on their ships overtime. For those looking for a more elevated luxury experience, the creation of the Haven has been their most advanced upgrade.

This was my second time cruising on the Norwegian Breakaway but the experience was entirely different. I had the opportunity to stay in the Haven, which is a luxury enclave, or “ship within a ship” as NCL would call it. If you are not familiar with the Haven, the concept is that you have a private area perched atop the ship that was designed for those who book Haven rooms.

Benefits of booking a Haven room:

  • Priority embarkation/disembarkation – no waiting in lines
  • 24 hour butler – a phone is given to you in your room that you can take anywhere on the ship to contact them
  • Dedicated concierge inside the Haven Courtyard
  • White tablecloth in-suite dining
  • Evening turn down service
  • Priority restaurant and entertainment reservations
  • Exclusive access to The Haven Courtyard area with private pool, sundeck, hot tub and fitness area
  • Sparkling wine, bottled water and fruit on embarkation day (For 2-Bedroom villa, Courtyard Penthouse, Spa Suite, and Penthouse only)
  • Mini-bar and deluxe coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine
  • Special Haven Menus
  • Grab and go breakfast items including parfaits, diced fruit in a martini glass, fresh pastries and gourmet meats
  • Treats delivered to your suite each evening
  • Invitations to an exclusive breakfast and lunch
  • Invitations to exclusive cocktail parties
  • Cocktail party with ship’s officers
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized bath towels
  • Luxury bathroom products

The extended benefits of booking a Haven room truly change the experience of your cruise. Having been on 10 cruises, this one was entirely different but I still received the same service that I have come to love from Norwegian.

From the moment I arrived at the pier in New York, there was staff for the Haven waiting to take me to a private check-in where afterwards I could enjoy food and be the first to board. In the Haven lounge I met with the concierge staff that would be available during the cruise for Haven guests only.

Once on the ship, my room was ready and waiting for me. There was a bottle champagne on ice, chocolate covered strawberries and fresh flowers awaiting my arrival. Technically there were a few bottles of champagne because of my Latitudes status as well.

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The Room:

For this 14 day cruise I checked into a Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with a Balcony. The room was located within the enclave of the Haven where key card access is required to get in. Within the courtyard is a private pool, deck, sunning deck, bar, and restaurant – which are exclusive to Haven guests only.

Room Features:

  • Room: 328 sq. feet
  • Balcony: 58 sq. feet
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized bath towels
  • Luxury bathroom products – Bvlgari
  • Bathtub/shower combo
  • 2 closets
  • HD TV
  • Dining set for 2
  • Lavazza Coffee machine
  • Mini Bar and glasses for most drinking occasions
  • Love seat sofa that folds out into a bed
  • Extended room service menu – at no cost
  • Movies on the TV were free
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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

What I loved about this room was the extra space – and believe me – every foot matters when you are on a cruise, the much larger luxury bathroom that had a bathtub and vessel sink with 2 faucets, the ability to make my own espresso or cappuccino, in-room dining, the room service selections were abundant and included, and the balcony chairs and table were a step above the other rooms – and by that I mean cushioned seats and they were a bit bigger.

The balcony views I found to be much better as well since I was on a higher floor of the ship, giving me a wider view.

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Curacao

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Caribbean Sea

I did in-room dining several times because I had a table, it was easy and I liked to be lazy on sea days. There is an extended Haven menu for room service and there is no charge.

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Room service breakfast

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Egg white omelet

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Lunch – Greek salad

My room was on the 15th floor and had a door down the hall with direct access to the spa and gym, which was nice since I had a thermal spa suite pass (you can either book a spa room with access or buy a thermal spa suite access pass for the duration of your cruise). So many sea days and nights I spent winding down in the hot tubs, sauna or just relaxing on the heated chairs overlooking the ocean.

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Thermal Spa Suite

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Thermal Spa Suite

*Highly recommend getting the thermal spa access – it was such a great place to relax.

The Restaurant: 

The restaurant that is exclusive to Haven guests IS the best restaurant on the ship. I know this because I have dined at most of them on previous sailings and the food is just a cut above the rest. In fact, I ate 90% of my meals on board in the Haven restaurant .. on a 14 day cruise – that good! To be honest, I think the restaurant alone is worth booking the Haven for and that’s without adding all the extra upgrades!

I want to be fair though – the food on the ship is good everywhere, I just found it to be an elevated dining encounter in the Haven.

*Note: the menu for each of the 3 daily meals never changed. There was a new dinner special each night, but otherwise did not change.

Breakfast:

Breakfast IS my favorite meal of the day .. why? Because I love bacon and croissants. My absolute favorite breakfast dish in the Haven restaurant was the huevos rancheros and I did not try it until my last day. Take note, try it the first day!

*The Haven restaurant has a small buffet of meats, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, fruits, danishes, breads, etc for you to take as you please and has menu items in addition.

Lunch:

After discussing with fellow cruise guests, I would strongly argue that lunch was the best meal for the restaurant. I must have eaten the goat cheese galette 7 times and the prosciutto and mozzarella salad was just divine.

Dinner:

With the exception of a couple nights, I ate here for dinner every night. And every night I always ordered the butternut squash soup with duck confit and the slow roasted pork belly.

Butler:

During the duration of the cruise I had 2 butlers, one of them worked from 8am-8pm and then the other covered the overnight shift. Both butlers were incredible. Essentially they were a direct line to take care of all your needs on board, should you have any.

I remember telling the butler when I got on board that I loved souffle and towel animals .. and he delivered, literally.

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One of the amazing towel animal creations

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Coconut souffle

Butler Features:

  • Private phone to use throughout the ship that they would answer & assist
  • Direct line for room service – and would deliver white tablecloth dining in room
  • Delivered daily treats to the room
  • Took care of reservation, spa, or any other requests
  • Delivered anything you request
  • Left daily fruit
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Daily treats delivered

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Daily treats delivered

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Concierge: 

Easily one of the most beneficial perks of the Haven. Having a dedicated team that is inside the Haven (and rarely a line to speak with them) – that escorts you priority off the ship, takes you to priority seating at shows and assists you in every possible way you could imagine, was essentially like having a team of people working to make sure your trip was the best it could be.

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Haven Courtyard Area:

The courtyard was one of the driving reasons I wanted to be in a Haven room on a 14 day cruise. This ship is newer and holds a lot of people and this specific itinerary had about 8 sea days in total. Having this extra space to go to where it seemed no one ever was, gave me somewhere to go and relax outside of my room that was private.

The courtyard area had a pool, 2 hot tubs, private sun deck, inside deck with chairs, beverage station, bar, restaurant, lounge, private spa rooms exclusive to Haven guests, and the concierge desk. In addition, staff were always present with beverages and ready to assist in anything.

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Haven Bar

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Haven Pool

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Haven Lounge

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Beverage Station

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Haven Deck

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Haven Pool

Overall:

Loved the upgraded luxury experience of the Haven and all the bells and whistles it came with. There was no detail missed in this experience – every staff member in the Haven knew me and all the other Haven guests by name and face and always greated us with lovely smiles. I have cruised in every level of room categories now with Norwegian and this was by far my favorite – however, every cruise I have been on with NCL has been just as great and in different ways. The one major thing I would note about this cruise in the Haven compared to all other cruises outside of it was that I spent most of my time on board in the Haven, and that is because it was simply a marvelous experience.

Pins for Pinterest:

**Disclosure: I did partner with Norwegian Cruise Line but as always, opinions are entirely my own

26 Photos To Inspire You To Visit Bonaire

I just recently got back from a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line where the itinerary included 6 island stops. Among those stops were the ABC Islands. Bonaire was my favorite stop along this route and I give the credit for that to the driver I hired outside the port. Unlike myself, I didn’t do any research prior to arriving, I had planned to take an excursion through the ship but something was telling me to get a private island tour and I am SO happy I went that route (but there are amazing tours the cruise line offers).

We ended up getting a driver for about 3-4 hours and the cost was $100 USD plus I tipped him nicely for showing us everything and telling us the history of the island, being extremely kind and helpful and for chasing down a flying pack of flamingos so I could photograph them! That sounds weirder than it was – but he saw them across the road flying over the ocean and knew they would cross back and fly over the salt flats, so he sped up so I had time to get out of the car and take photos. If that’s not customer service, I don’t know what is.

I hope these 26 photos inspire you to visit Bonaire. One of the main benefits of going on a cruise is being able to see multiple places in one trip and making the decision if you want to return later for an extended trip. The island left such a lasting impression on me and I cannot wait to return.

**I including images of the slave huts because it IS an important part of the history in Bonaire. They are lined on the southern coast of the island, and while they stand alone, are colorful and have a painful history, they are beautiful in their own way. I’m really glad they were not taken down as it serves as a reminder of the past and how far we have come.

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Arriving in Bonaire

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Bonaire

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Jibe City

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Kite Surfing

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Colorful Hotel

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Cactus Fence

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Slave huts from the past

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Jibe City

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Flying Flamingos

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Jibe City

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Salt Flats

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Flamingos

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Coral “sand”

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Neal’s Lighthouse

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Residential Homes

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Salve huts from the past

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Bonaire

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Jibe City

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Salt Flats

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Residential Area

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Kite Surfing

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Jibe City

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Bonaire

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Jibe City

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Jibe City

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Bonaire

 

PINS FOR YOUR PINTEREST ❤

 

**Disclaimer: I did partner with Norwegian Cruise Line, but as always, opinions are entirely my own

11 Solo Trips to Take

Just a little over 2 years ago I started traveling solo – and I fell in love. I strongly encourage everyone to travel at least once solo in their life. The things you are going to learn about yourself are going to change you. You are strong, you are fiercely independent, you are a problem solver, and most importantly, you are going to learn to love your company – because you are enough.

Here are 11 trips to travel solo this year:

  1. Iceland – it only seems fitting that I would start with my first solo trip. Iceland changed me in a way I will never be able to comprehend into words for you to read – but just know that this country, this small island, is full of magic around every corner. From waterfalls to the Northern Lights to glaciers – you are going to love it.
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    Glacier Lagoon

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    Sunset in Vik

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    Vik

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    Northern Lights

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    Þingvellir National Park

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    Glacier Lagoon

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    Reykjavik

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    Kerið

  2. Singapore – this trip was one of my favorites. Singapore is this small country full of diversity and amazing things to do. Most famous for having the tallest and biggest infinity pool in the world on top of the Marina Bay Sands and the fairy tale like Gardens by the Bay. A stay at the Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore will give you amazing views of the city and make sure to get a room with a bathtub overlooking the city. Treat yourself!
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    Night at Gardens by the Bay

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    View from Marina Bay Sands

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    Sunrise from Marina Bay Sands

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    Little India

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    Sunrise views of Marina Bay Sands

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    Cloud Forest – Marina Bay Sands

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    Gardens by the Bay

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    Gardens by the Bay

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    Flower at Gardens by the Bay

  3. Go on a Caribbean Cruise – Norwegian Cruise Line has singles rooms on a lot of their ships now – and as an added bonus, you get access to solo travelers lounge and activities they arrange just for you. Of course you can stay anywhere you want on the ship, its your vacation – but if you are looking for an extremely easy way to meet other solo travelers, this is the way to go.
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    Atlantis, Bahamas

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    Haven pool

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    St. Thomas

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    Haven dining

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    Nassau, Bahamas

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    Atrium stairs

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    SupperClub – Dinner and a show

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    Haven restaurant views in Nassau

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    Haven dining

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    Magen’s Bay – St. Thomas

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    Sunset from my balcony

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    Nassau, Bahamas

  4. Bali – I could not leave Bali off the list – mostly because you are going to fall in love here. I spent two weeks here in December and it was just the most amazing experience. The Balinese hospitality is second to none, the food is unreal, the villas are unbelievable, and the massages are like $6USD (make sure you leave a very nice tip). I haven’t been every where in Asia, but currently this is the country I would pick if I could only send you to one place there. Move around while you are there: stay in the city of Ubud or in a little bit more countryside of the area, go to Jimbaran, Seminyak – all the places!
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    Rose bath at Kayumanis Ubud

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    Offering

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    Delicious welcome drink at Bisma Eight

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    Sunset at Kayumanis Ubud

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    Pool at Bisma Eight in Ubud

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    Ubud Temple

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    Private pool villa at Kayumanis Jimbaran Villa

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    Beautiful doors of Bali

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    Walking through Paradise at Kayumanis Ubud

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    Outdoor rooftop dinner at Bisma Eight

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    Breakfast at Bisma Eight in Ubud

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    Cute Elephant

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    Private Villa at Kayumanis Jimbaran

  5. Orlando, Florida – It doesn’t matter how old you are – Disney and Universal are always going to let you be the inner kid that you are. I, like many people, never went to Disney as a kid – but I went as an adult and I feel like I have a much deeper appreciation for it. Universal Studios is also this incredible place of theatrics, areas that look like popular American cities, and even the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
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    Hogwarts Express

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    Universal Studios

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    Toothsome Chocolate Emporium – CityWalk

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    Platform 9 3/4

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    Main Street Magic Kingdom

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    Magic Kingdom

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    Casting spells

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    Leaky Couldron

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    Magic Kingdom

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    Diagon Alley

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    Gringotts Bank

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    Hollywood – Universal Studios

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    Catching the train for Hogwarts

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    Butterbeer

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    Hogwarts

  6. Philippines – I do have a thing for SE Asia, I won’t lie. This was my first trip here and I spent nearly a month island hoping and exploring this amazing destination. Did you know the Philippines are made up of over 7,000+ islands? That is pretty spectacular. Your money will go far here, the food is incredible, the beauty of this country is insane, and you are never going to feel lonely – because in the Philippines, everyone is your friend. Here are my best tips for visiting. The nice thing about the Philippines is that it is easy and relatively cheap on the wallet to island hop – don’t miss El Nido, Bohol, Davao, and of course, Manila!
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    El Nido

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    Maruya

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    Big Lagoon

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    Davao

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    Davao

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    Monkey in Davao

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    Davao

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    Filipino Eagle

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    Private island dining in Davao

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    Singapore Sling at the Fairmont

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    Beautiful palms in Bohol

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    Fairmonot Makati

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    Sunset in Manila

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    Chocolate Hills in Bohol

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    Private island in El Nido

  7. Dubai – I did not travel solo here – I traveled with another girlfriend – BUT I would go back in a heartbeat and I would go solo. Both of us spent time apart exploring and time together. I never felt safer while I was here. Dubai is this grand country full of towering skyscrapers, luxury hotels, yachts, amazing food, mind bending attractions – this is a place you will never get bored. Whether you are exploring all the new offerings of Dubai or heading to Old Dubai to ride an Abra and explore the souks, you are going to love it.
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    Dubai Miracle Garden

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    Sofitel Dubai the Palm Reosrt

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    Beachside drinks at Sofitel

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    Dine at the Burj Al Arab

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    Visit the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

  8. Mackinac Island, Michigan – easily one of my favorite places in the world and hopefully the place I will retire one day and open a shop of some sort. This island is nestled in between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. Only accessible by small plane or ferry and no cars allowed on the island. You can walk or ride your bike throughout the island or even take a horse carriage. The island is small, only about 8 miles around – so catching a sunrise and sunset is going to be easy. The island offers two big hotels: The Grand Hotel and Mission Point Resort – then has a plethora of bed and breakfasts or smaller hotels to stay in. The island is beautiful and only operational between the months of May-October(opening and closing slightly before May and closing in November).
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    Sunrise at Mission Point Resort

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    Breakfast parfait at the Grand Hotel

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    The Parlor in the Grand Hotel

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    Strolling the streets

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    Arch Rock

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    Homes of Mackinac

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    Stolling main street into the sunset

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    Island fudge

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    Lake Huron

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    Butterfly’s at the Wings of Mackinac

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    Mission Point Resort

  9. Paris – I did not like Paris the first time I went. I was jet-legged and everything seemed to be going wrong in the 2 days I gave myself to adventure there. You need more than 2 days if you are coming from a far place – at least for your body to adjust. But I went back last summer and I loved it. I explored the city mostly by foot and its really this beautiful place that I could spend months just roaming around in. The buildings are beautiful, the smell of fresh baguettes fill the air, the sweet sound of the french language surrounds your ears, and its just this place that I have come to love.
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    Hilton Paris Opera

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    A vibrant purplish house lush with plants

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    Hilton Paris Opera

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    Flowers and houses

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    Beautiful Flowers

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    Colorful Homes

  10. Ireland – I am Irish and Scottish and dreamed of visiting here one day. Last year I made that a reality. I stayed in Dublin and took a day trip out to see the Cliffs of Moher. The island is so green from all the rain it gets and is deserving of its title “The Emerald Isle.” Get a pint of Guinness, make friends with an Irish Lad, get a milkshake the size of your face and have no shame in finishing it, and mostly – walk away with a million memories.
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    Ireland

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    Dublin, Ireland

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    Long Library

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    Ireland

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    Jameson

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    Cliffs of Moher

  11. Lake Tahoe, California – Full disclosure, I only went during the summer and man, is it magical. I am not a hiker but I think my trip there may have inspired me to give it a shot. I found Lake Tahoe to be this mesmerizing nature lovers paradise. If you only go one place in the United States this year – go here. The sunsets are unreal, the morning fog nestled in the mountains and waking up with coffee to watch it lift – that is going to be a great morning.
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    Resort at Squaw Creek

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    Sunset

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    Dining in Lake Tahoe

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    Lake Tahoe

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    Squaw Creek

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    Squaw Creek

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    Lake Tahoe

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    Resort at Squaw Creek

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    Lake Tahoe

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    Lake Tahoe

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    Dining at Resort at Squaw Creek

Cruising: Norwegian Escape

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The Norwegian Escape is just 16 months old and has a home port of Miami, Florida. Part of the Breakaway Plus Class, the Escape can hold a staggering 4,200+ passengers plus its 1,700+ crew staff. In so many words, this is a big ship.

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If you have ever cruised on an older ship before, the Escape is going to wow you with all of its modern updates, sleek designs, the number of activities available, and how it has become a foodie destination at sea.

Cruising is just one of the ways I like to travel. For me, cruising is about taking it down a notch, relaxing, having amazing food, sleeping in the same bed for a week, unpacking and staying put, being able to explore a couple different places without having to do all the work of flying and shuffling to hotels, and really just enjoying my time on the open water.

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Cruising through the U.S Virgin Islands

Entertainment:

What I love most about the Escape is that there is so much to do on board, you can never get bored. Norwegian does an amazing job of planning daily itineraries of things to do even if you are in port and don’t want to leave the ship.

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Dance classes

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Art auctions

From swimming, nightly shows, spa days, rope courses, hot tubs, wine tastings, bingo, sunning, water slides, mini golf, arcade, or even sipping a mojito poolside – you are going to enjoy each day on board and take full advantage of all the things there is to do.

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Ropes course at sea

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Water slides

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Mini golf

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Headliners Comedy Club

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SupperClub – Dinner and a show

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District Brewhouse

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Grotto – Spice H2O – adults only

I personally am a big fan of seeing the shows they offer on board and on this cruise, I have to give a very high regard to: For the Record: The Brat Pack – hands down the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship or on Broadway. It was worth every second of the standing ovation – witty, comedic, all around perfection and nostalgia.

Rooms:

The Escape has a room to fit any of your needs. From inside, balcony, spa suites, or even a Haven Suite – you are going to have a great time.

One of the best features that Norwegian has added to its new ships is solo rooms. As a solo traveler, I think this is an amazing addition because they have also included a solo lounge and arrange activities for solo travelers. So if you want to go on a cruise and don’t want to pay the fare for two people in a regular room, this is an option. You may even make a few friends along the way.

The Haven is also a new addition on the newer ships which is a private cruise within a cruise. These luxury suites are beautifully decorated, offer bigger rooms and the ultimate privacy. The Haven has a private lounge, restaurant, deck, pool, butler service, and so many other benefits. Norwegian often includes deals for booking these beautiful rooms that give you access to dine at any of the paid restaurants for free, unlimited wifi package, and/or even an unlimited beverage package that includes alcohol.

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Haven private lounge

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Haven pool

During my stay I stayed in a Balcony Stateroom. You can easily fit 3-4 people in this room. It is spacious, has a king size bed, flat screen TV, ample closet space, and a sizeable bathroom with a shower.

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Balcony room

Dining:

With a ship this big, you can bet there are plenty of dining options. With 20 options in total, there are 5 restaurants that are entirely free of charge to eat at.

The three main dining rooms open for breakfast, Lunch (most days) and dinner are: Taste, Savor and the Manhattan Room. All three have the same menu each day and it changes the following day. Some of my favorite dishes from these restaurants are: prime rib, perfectly poached eggs, coconut soufflé, ……..

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Breakfast at Taste

The buffet is also open for three meals a day and late night snacks. You will find many options on the buffet each day and my favorite area is the dessert section: ice creams, cakes, fruits, you name it – they do not disappoint.

O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill is open 24 hours a day and is one of my favorite places to eat on board .. because they offer a lot of Irish Pub dishes. From corned beef and potato soup, bangers and mash and even a rueben. They do offer other pub fare like wings, burgers and sandwiches, fries, and even desserts like apple pie ala mode.

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Another 24 hour option is room service. This used to be a free option but is now $7.95 when you order (no matter how much you order in food). Popular items on this menu are: pizza, pound cake with strawberries and cream, spaghetti bologanese, salmon, sandwiches, breakfast, etc. It is not a huge menu but enough options to please anyone.

There are 14 food options that have an additional fee to eat there. With so many options to choose from: Italian, French, Churrascaria, Tapas, Japanese, Steak House, desserts, coffee shop and bakery, Latin, and the only Margaritaville at sea!

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Margaritaville

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Bakery

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La Bistro – French

My personal favorite is Churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse). The concept is simple: there is a salad bar with many offerings and then you get a couple standard dishes at your table that include garlic mashed potatoes and rice. Then you get a card that is red on one side and green on the other. You turn green up to go and red to stop. This indicates for the servers with hot fresh meat to stop at your table. You can decide to get a piece of what they have or pass. Some of the meats you will see come around include: filet mignon, chicken, beef ribs, sirloin, sausage, flank steak, and even pork.

The last restaurant is the Haven. You will only have access to this if you book a Haven Suite room. But I will add – I dined in this restaurant on my last night and it was the best meal I had the entire week. In fact, my husband and I are STILL talking about it.

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Haven dining

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Haven dining

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Haven dining

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Haven restaurant views in Nassau

Staying active at sea:

Norwegian does a really great job of providing outlets for those who want to work out. They offer a gym, a walking/jogging track, basketball, and even classes you can sign up for.

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Jogging track

Ports:

My sailing stopped in three ports: St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau Bahamas. The route is part of the Eastern Caribbean and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful. While cruising through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, there are many islands to see, houses perched atop them, rugged coastlines, hues of blues in the water, private beaches, stunning sunsets, sailboats, and views for days.

A lot of the excursions available are things that are on the water: sailing, Baths at Virgin Gorda, party boats, snorkeling, beaches, and even driving your own mini boat. You will find some of the prettiest beaches in the world at these stops – so take advantage of your time here.

Each port had a lot of the same shopping options for jewelry, gemstones, watches, and gifts – they are deeply discounted if you are after buying these items.

St. Thomas:

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Magen’s Bay – St. Thomas

This is part of the United States as a territory. It is not its own country. They run on the currency of the USA, have a lot of the same companies – Including Sprint (which means cell service for you if you have a phone from the USA), drive on the left side of the road, the terrain changes outside of the city to include steep roads, AND they make the best banana daiquiri in the Caribbean.

I ended up doing two things in port: I took a private tour of the island and rode the skyline tram to see views of the island. Initially I was going to ride the tram and then walk around Charlotte Amalie. The views were stunning from the tram ride and I would highly recommend it. When I was up there, a few locals recommended seeing the views from Mountain Top and raved they were better. When I came down the tram there was people selling the island tour for $25 so I jumped on. The views from Mountain Top are world class. You do not want to miss it. Magen’s Bay – probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen, is in its full glory from Mountain Top.

Depending on what you are after doing with your time on the island, there are many things to do:

  • Sailing
  • Spend your day at the beach – Magen’s Bay is my recommendation
  • Shopping
  • Explore Charlotte Amalie
  • Take the ferry to St. John or St. Croix
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Sailboats in port – St. Thomas

Read more: Port of St. Thomas

Tortola:

This island is part of the British Virgin Islands. It is very similar to St. Thomas and not far from it either. The most popular thing to do in this port is to go the Baths at Virgin Gorda. I did not get to do this because I was not feeling well in this port but it comes highly recommended from trusted friends.

Getting off and on the ship in this port is the easiest I have ever experienced. As soon as you get into the port from walking off your ship there is a bar that has Wi-Fi and streets lined with shopping.

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Port of Tortola, B.V.I.

Nassau, Bahamas:

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Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is one of my favorite places in the world .. mainly because I love Atlantis. Bonus – you can get a day pass excursion to explore Atlantis while you are in this port. I would recommend this activity over all other ones because it is my favorite and because you are going to have a great time.

The water in the Bahamas are various hues of blues and crystal clear in a lot of areas. This is perfect for snorkeling and spending a day at the beach.

The shopping options here are the same as the other ports, so if you missed buying some precious gems or links of gold, you can do it here as well.

One of my other favorite places to go to in Nassau is Senor Frogs. It is basically an all day party with excellent guacamole, drinks a yard long and a lot of happy cruisers from multiple ships enjoying the day together. Bonus – they have free Wi-Fi.

Dress Code:

Norwegian is known for “Freestyle Cruising” where they don’t limit you per say and force you to dress up. However, there are minimal dress codes in the free restaurants at night. Otherwise, some of the paid dining rooms ask you to wear a dress or slacks and a jacket.

The cruise does do a special evening where you can dress up and get your photos taken against various backdrops as a memory to take home. In addition, you can find white parties (where you wear all white) or 80’s themed parties on board.

 Latitudes Program:

One of the coolest benefits that Norwegian offers its returning guests is the Latitudes program. The Latitudes Rewards Program now comes in 6 Tiers from Bronze to Ambassador. You gain points for each cruise you take, 1 point per night sailed. There are additional ways to get points for booking 9+ months in advance, booking a suite and/or booking a Latitudes Offer.

For example: Say you want to go on a 7 night Caribbean cruise. You get 7 points just for taking the cruise. If you book at least 9 months in advance, you get an additional point per night, which would be 7. If you book a suite at full rate, you get an additional point per night, which would be 7 for this cruise. If you book a Latitudes offer, you also get an additional point per night.

You can use all or some of these in combination with each other. If you did all 4 ways to gain points, it would give you 28 points for one cruise if you went that route.

The tiers are layered by points earned and each come with their own benefits. Some of the benefits are (some of these benefits belong only to higher tiers): getting your own check-in line when boarding the cruise, priority disembarkation, private parties with the officers, discounts on laundry, shopping, and other items, Godiva chocolates, free cruise each year,  and so on.

Additional photos:

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The Cellars – wine bar

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Atrium stairs

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Casino

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Design elements

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Cooking demo

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Bar

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St. Thomas

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Sunset from my balcony

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Ship design

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Spice H2O

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On deck

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Teppanyaki

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Buffet

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The fish on the floor point towards the front of the ship

Additional Information:

  • The port is in Miami and about a 15 minute ride from the Miami airport and about 45 minutes from Fort Lauderdale.
  • You can book a shuttle through the cruise line to the port from either airport – both going and returning.
  • Wifi is available on board for a fee – keep in mind that it is satellite internet and not as fast as you would have it at home. You can purchase an unlimited package during the first 2 days on the ship and is the best deal to stay connected.
  • You can bring your own wine aboard the ship to have a meals – you will just be charged a corkage fee
  • Soda and alcohol are not included in your booking unless you booked a package that included it. You can purchase all-inclusive packages when you board the ship furing the first 2 days
  • Cheapest time to cruise is the first two weeks of January and the first couple weeks of December before Christmas and not during the week of Christmas.

Overall experience:

This has been my favorite cruise to date. The food was top notch, entertainment was the best I have seen, I enjoyed the casino tournaments, loved the ports, the ship design was beautiful, and the staff was extremely gracious. I have been a big fan Of Norwegian for years and I have cruised with them several times. I will always recommend cruising with them ❤

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Nassau, Bahamas

Disclaimer: I was a press guest of Norwegian, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

Caribbean Cruise Port: St. Thomas

St. Thomas is a popular port that you will find on a lot of Eastern Caribbean itineraries and cruises leaving from the Florida ports (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, some from Orlando). The port has two docking areas: Havensight and Crown Bay which are both located on the south side of the island close to Charlotte Amalie.

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View from Paradise Point

The island of St. Thomas is part of the chain of U.S. Virgin Islands that is intertwined with the British Virgin Islands. The capital, Charlotte Amalie offers bountiful shopping, dining and sightseeing.

When you leave the port at Havensight there is a bar immediately upon exit to the left with decent prices. If you turn to the right you can walk a little ways and you will find Senor Frogs – a non stop party.

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Bar outside the exit of the ship port

You will notice as you exit there are signs on the ground pointing you to where to head for shopping and free standing signs for taxis. As you exit the port there will be a lot of shopping options.

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Follow the signs outside the exit of the port

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taxis are right past the shopping strip

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Some of the available shopping in St. Thomas

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Some of the top tours to do on the island include:

  • Ride the View – The Skyride to Paradise Point is 800 feet above sea level giving you views of the harbor, cruise ships in port and Charlotte Amalie. There are about 35 steps in total to get up to the gondola.
  • Ice Bar
  • Magen’s Bay Beach – white sand and hues of blue water.
  • Castaway Shipwreck snorkel and sailing
  • The best of St. Thomas Tour – this tour will take you to Mountain Top for unparalleled views of Magen’s Bay and the best banana daiquiri on the island
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Skyride

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View from Mountain Top

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A must drink

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Views of the islands

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Magen’s Bay Beach

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St. Thomas

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Private boats in the harbor

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Sunset while leaving port

If you do not want to stay in St. Thomas, you can take a ferry over to neighboring island, St. Johns. This island is also part of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is about 45 minutes by ferry each way. If you decide to visit, some of the options for sightseeing include: sailing, hiking, shopping at Cruz Bay, snorkeling, and spending your day at the beach.

 

Tips for visiting St. Thomas:

  • The island is part of the United States as a territory
  • English is spoken here
  • You can rent a car to explore, but they do drive on the left side of the road
  • If you have a U.S cellphone provider, your phone should work here (Sprint is available on the island)
  • There is plenty of duty free shopping on the island
  • No food or dairy products are allowed to be taken off or back on to the cruise ship
  • DEET should be worn to fend off mosquitos
  • The sun is a bit hotter closer to the equator, using sunscreen is advised
  • Weather – average during the day is 88 degrees Fahrenheit

Virgin Port Services:

9003 Havensight Mall, Suite 303 St. Thomas 00802 United States Virgin Islands

Phone: 340-775-1151

Fax: 340-775-1152