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bob brown

Almost Live From The Gem NYC To San Francisco

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1 hour ago, Turtles06 said:


This was our second visit to Corinto.  The ship docks in a very small commercial port.  The town itself looks exceedingly impoverished.  On our first visit, three years ago, I went to Leon, which I recommend. Today, we walked off the ship around 11am just to wander in the town; folks who had done the same were already coming back, and I think plenty of people had a total ship day.  There is very little to do or see in Corinto itself; mostly, there are a few blocks of stalls set up right near the entrance to the port (and some right on the pier) where the local folks are selling cheap crafts.  I doubt that Corinto will be on anyone’s list of top ports ever visited. 
 

Sailaway was pretty though, with a beautiful sunset. 

Thanks for this.  We will be on the 21 day Bliss Panama Canal in April and sort of felt we were being cheated with so many less ports than your Gem sailing.  Nice to know at least one port we will miss is not that great.  One consolation is we have another cruise booked on the Getaway in January 2021 that goes to the ABC islands.

 

When we were on the Gem in 2015 we also didn't like the Chinese restaurant but tried it again on the Jade and the Pearl and was pleasantly surprised how much we liked it, being total New York/New Jersey lifelong residents who were raised on Chinese food in Brooklyn.

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16 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

A tip for folks with a sweet tooth: they make great dessert crepes to order in the buffet  ...

 

We left and went up to the buffet.  I cannot understand why NCL can’t do better with Orchid Garden.  Food is subjective.  YMMV.

 

Oh, yes - one of the prime reasons for DW to head for the buffet - stand in line for those crepes.  Sorry to hear about the bad outcome at Orchid Garden.

 

I thought, and being very picky ourselves about what's acceptable/edible or not, that OG was better on the Gem - for us, last month - compared to the Dawn last May (which was horrible, sounded like your dining experience).  For us, the buffet option for dinner wasn't good so we opted to give OG a try ... I should've suggested staying with the spring rolls, pan-fried pot stickers, salad & soup, and the roast pork (loin ?) noodles soup and dessert ... fried rice was just OK.  We had the orange beef, too watery and kung pao chicken - not close enough with the sauce/mix, so I would side with you on it.  But, it wasn't as noisy eating there, service reasonally quick & friendly, and close to the main theater, etc.  Definitely - YMMV and beware, to minimize disappointment.

 

I wondered what happened to all the Norwegian Joy chef and junior chefs that should be trained & qualified with Asian cuisine ... did they released them or kept them, re-assigned to different ships; or, just recruit better talents to try to deliver their promised products.  If they can get Indian food right, surely, they can get the basic Asian fusion food done - nothing fancy or upscale.  Then, again - NCL is struggling with the basic cheese pizza.  

 

Has anyone done the Dine with Officers yet and perhaps bring up some of the observations & offer constructive feedback ... if they are listening or care to.  Leaving a "Dear GM" note in the drop box is often not a good way to approach these "subjective" opinions.  

 

BTW, great pictures uploaded by Bob.  🧓

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Since there are folks following this thread who will soon be making their first transit of the Canal, here’s a link to a “transit day guide” that I put together several years ago before our first  transit, and updated before this one on the Gem (along with some photos). It’s intended to highlight points of interest along the way through the Canal, especially things that might easily be missed if you weren’t in the right place to see them (like the only visible remnants of the original French excavation).   I hope it’s helpful.  

 

https://panamacanalnclgem2020.shutterfly.com/canaldayguide

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42 minutes ago, Turtles06 said:

Since there are folks following this thread who will soon be making their first transit of the Canal, here’s a link to a “transit day guide” that I put together several years ago before our first  transit, and updated before this one on the Gem (along with some photos). It’s intended to highlight points of interest along the way through the Canal, especially things that might easily be missed if you weren’t in the right place to see them (like the only visible remnants of the original French excavation).   I hope it’s helpful.  

 

https://panamacanalnclgem2020.shutterfly.com/canaldayguide

Thanks!

Even though this will be our second transit (we are on the 24th EB), lots of good info!

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On 1/15/2020 at 9:49 AM, mking8288 said:

Is your roaming data package refillable if you run low, how much have you used so far - should be useful to do a summary/wrap up afterward as part of the thread, along with Turtles' feedback on ship WiFi.

You can buy additional data packages if you run out, 1GB is $20. Including NYC, I have used almost 1.4GB so far. That leaves me with 600MB for the remaining 5 ports, I will need to ration. Yes, I will add updates and probably do a complete post on our roll call thread.

 

Using the ship wifi is extra frustrating.

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On 1/15/2020 at 7:52 AM, nn07_bh871 said:

I bought a 'onesimcard' sim and a 2GB roamingdata package for zone A countries (all ports on this cruise except Bonaire and Aruba). Calls and texts are pay as you go. The service ranged from no connection to excellent - LTE has not been very common.

 

- New York City (I'm from Canada) - great service (LTE from ATT)

- Not used in Bonaire and Aruba, not part of zone A data plan.

- Santa Marta (Claro) - good to excellent service throughout our tour and on dock. Had some LTE but mostly H/3G

- Cartagena (Claro) - good service (3G) at dock in morning. Little to no service in Cartagena and in afternoon.

- Panama canal (Claro PA) - some service near Gatun locks, very slow, slightly better than ship wifi. No service in lake until we were past Gamboa. Slow service (H/3G) before/near Pedro Miguel, but very fast (LTE) around Miraflores.

- Puntarenas (Claro CRI) - service at dock (3G). Service available throughout most of the island with a few exceptions.

 

I expect Nicaragua and Guatemala to be similar but Mexico should be very good. 

 

- Corinto (Claro NIC) - good to very good service(H) pretty much everywhere from the docks to Leon.

 

- Puerto Quetzal (Claro GTM) - very good service (mostly H and some LTE) pretty much everywhere from the docks to Antigua. Probably the best service from all the destinations so far.

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I know some folks have asked about shorex.  Yesterday, from Puerto Quetzal, we took the ship’s transportation to Antigua (this is called “Antigua on Your Own”).  We did this several years ago as well, and again had a nice visit. However, since that time, large buses have been prohibited in Antigua, so we all had to get off our buses just outside the city to transfer to mini-buses for the short ride into town, and do the reverse on the way back.  
 

Three years ago, we had about four hours on our own in Antigua; yesterday, it was barely three.  That’s not much, and I hope that first-time visitors felt it was sufficient for them.  (The drive to and from Antigua is about 90 minutes each way.)   There was also a new shorex option from NCL — hop on, hop off mini-buses in Antigua. This was really popular, as this shorex filled seven large buses from the ship (300 guests we were told), v two buses for our On Your Own tour.  The historic area of Antigua is very small, and we talked to several folks who did the Hop On tour who spent the time walking on their own, and several who did that but also made a full circuit on their mini-bus. I would imagine it was helpful for guests to have  the various sites pointed out during that circuit.
 

When it came time for the hundreds of us to meet back at the Jade Museum in Antigua to board the mini-buses for our transport to the buses back to the ship, it was a chaotic mess.  Obviously we all got back, though. 🤣

 

I do recommend Antigua for first-time visitors to Puerto Quetzal, and, given the distance, the traffic, and the two lane roads, I strongly recommend one of the ship’s tours to get you there and back. (This is the general wisdom over in the Guatemala port of call forum.)   In fact, the Gem left Puerto Quetzal about two hours late yesterday because of “traffic.” 
 

 

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14 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

Since there are folks following this thread who will soon be making their first transit of the Canal, here’s a link to a “transit day guide” that I put together several years ago before our first  transit, and updated before this one on the Gem (along with some photos). It’s intended to highlight points of interest along the way through the Canal, especially things that might easily be missed if you weren’t in the right place to see them (like the only visible remnants of the original French excavation).   I hope it’s helpful.  

 

https://panamacanalnclgem2020.shutterfly.com/canaldayguide

Is this through the new locks or old locks?

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Lots of rolling starting in the wee hours today and continuing right now. Strong winds (60 knots according to the Nav Channel) and big swells. Furniture banging around, and spray splashing over the high decks.  It’s possible we are in an area affected by the Tehuantepec winds. I expect things will calm down later. It’s a beautiful sunny day otherwise (and I don’t mind the motion, but I know many do).  But the prom deck and Deck 13 are closed, so that’s a shame on one of our few remaining sea days. 

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A random factoid: the Gem ran out of Malbec about halfway through the cruise. 
 

Also, for $8.95, you can buy a copy of the itinerary map at Guest Services. This is a pretty special itinerary, and so I’ve done that. However, I was told that while they have the maps, they don’t have the tubes for them and are waiting for them to be delivered. 
 

Maybe with the Malbec? 🤣

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Good morning ... very informative updates.  

 

Just looked at live shipcam, appeared to be calmer now and now rocking & rolling as badly.  The Spinnaker, Bliss & other lounges must be full of folks - in addition to the atrium.  

 

Since they ran out of Malbec, they gotta offer a substitute instead at no extra "upcharge" for your inconvenience, right.  NCL's port agent at Puerto Vallarta surely can be dispatched ahead to contact a Walmart warehouses to make an urgent delivery :classic_tongue: :classic_biggrin:

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Just now, mking8288 said:

Just looked at live shipcam, appeared to be calmer now and now rocking & rolling as badly. 


Things have totally calmed down now. 😊
 

The itinerary map just appeared in our stateroom, in a tube, so Puerto Quetzal may have been a delivery point. Perhaps Malbec will re-appear.  😆

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Looks like you have come to a stop just outside Acapulco Bay.  It's just before 11PM NY time.   Wondering if there is a medical disembarkation going on.

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Yes...we disembarked an ill passenger via a tender, which transfered the passenger into a rescue boat from Acapulco...

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This is about the third one that I am aware of...

The first one was at the Gatun Locks in the Canal, and the next one was minutes after our late departure from Puerto Quetzal, yesterday...

 

I hope all do well...

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34 minutes ago, bob brown said:

This is about the third one that I am aware of...

The first one was at the Gatun Locks in the Canal, and the next one was minutes after our late departure from Puerto Quetzal, yesterday...

 

I hope all do well...

Thanks, Bob.  I see you back on course now, heading northwest at 16 knots.  Also hoping for the best for those guests.

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We will soon be wrapping up our short visit to Zihuatanejo, 7am-2pm, with the last tender at 1pm.   For those not aware, Zihuatanejo, in the Mexican stare of Guerrero, falls under the U.S. State Department’s “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory because of widespread “crime and violence,” and indeed there was a very visible armed police presence in town. Zihua is a little beachside town, and we walked around for an hour or so, but given the short day, the amount of time taken up by tendering, and the “Do Not Travel” advisory, I’m really not sure why NCL calls here (few cruise lines do); there are certainly more desirable ports in Mexico imho.  Well, at least today was a first for my wife and me: we’ve now visited someplace on the “Do Not Travel” list! 

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Bob Brown,

Now I have posted in three places..we will meet you in the lobby on the 23rd at 11:am

Look forward to meeting you and hugging your BW

Jancruz1

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