Trekking around the Norwegian Jade
Oftentimes, people book a cruise months in advance and countdown to the exciting day, called embarkation. My husband and I booked a cruise back in January of 2017, sailing out of Miami onboard the Norwegian Jade. It was “Star Trek: The Cruise II”, hosted by ECP. Waiting for a full year would have been brutal, had we not taken some other cruises during that time.
My husband is a HUGE Star Trek fan, so when he found out there was a cruise that catered to Trekkies, he jumped at the chance. It was Star Trek all day and all night, and even haunted my dreams when I went to sleep!
Leaving Texas for Miami
If you read my first blog post, you know that I love Southwest Airlines. I love them for so many reasons, such as for having the friendliest staff I’ve ever met at an airport. They allow two free checked bags per person, weighing 50 pounds or less, plus a carry-on and a personal item. Most of all, I love them for their “customers of size policy“. You have two options here: you can call to book your flight and request an extra seat, or you can opt to pay for the extra seat and request a full refund for it after flying. We typically opt for paying for the extra seat, and request the refund afterwards, since it’s a simple form on their web site, and they usually respond within 24-48 hours. Southwest also has self-seating (as opposed to assigned seating). You can pay for early-bird check-in, which will usually put you in the “A” boarding group, or you can stalk the check-in button online 24 hours before your scheduled takeoff, and hope you don’t land in the C group. With a customer of size seat, you get to preboard, which I love. My husband and I share the extra seat between us. Most flights we take on Southwest come with onboard wifi, which allows us to watch free TV on our mobile devices. It’s a nice way to make the flight seem shorter.
National car rental is always the choice. National has their Emerald Club, which allows you to walk right up to the rental lot and choose any car you want as long as it’s parked in the Emerald Aisle. Since we were packing heavily for a cruise, we ended up with an SUV, and easily fit comfortably with all of our luggage.
Staying in Miami
We stay at VRBO or HomeAway properties when we want some personal space. We used VRBO this time, and found a small place in North Beach. Would I stay here again? No. Parking was terrible. Almost all of it was street-level parallel parking, when and if parking was even available. As you walked up to the apartment, located down a walkway towards the back, it smelled heavily of cat urine. The room itself was clean and well-furnished, but it didn’t make up for the lack of parking, the cat smell outside, or the horny cat screams at night.
We dropped off the rental car at Miami International Airport and took a cab to the port. We could have waited for the free shuttle, but I was too excited to wait. As we arrived at the Port of Miami, our luggage was put on a luggage cart and whisked away to the holding bins to be loaded onto the ship. We tip our porters who are the hard working people that are loading our heavy luggage. Usually, we tip $5 per bag. We walk about 100 feet to terminal B, and we present our boarding pass and passport to the Norwegian staff member telling you which line to get into. We were told to walk right up to the door and to our surprise there is no line. We quickly proceed through the metal detectors and into the main cruise boarding lines where you will receive your room key. Before you can board, you must fill out a medical questionnaire. Basic questions are asked. Are you coughing, do you have diarrhea, are your 24 weeks pregnant or more. You take your little paper you filled out and had a 10-minute wait until we approached the staff at the embarkation desk. She looks at your passports and your medical form. Here you are given the option to put a credit card on file to bill. We use this option as it is so much easier than trying to keep up with cash. Most seasoned cruisers will tell you not to use a debit card. Using a debit card will place holds for charges, and at times you will have multiple holds that will drain your account unless you are prepared for those $250 per charge holds. She proceeds to hold up her little webcam and asks you one at a time to pose for your photo. Your room key does not display your photo on it, but as you get swiped on and off the ship, your picture does pop up for the security staff. We grab our room keys, and off we go to wait upstairs until our boarding group is called. Since we arrived fairly early, we boarded with group 15. In the waiting room, I did a lot of people watching. A lot of people dressed in Star Trek uniforms or t-shirts. Time just ticks away quickly when you are people watching!
Boarding the Norwegian Jade
As we stepped onto the ship, we were quickly reminded that this was a Star Trek cruise, from the theme music blasting through the speakers, to the NCL staff dressed in Star Trek uniforms and handing out itinerary booklets. We boarded at the atrium on deck seven, and stepped onto the Promenade. ECP did a fantastic job decorating this main lobby area to transport you to a Tiki-Trek island. Grab a drink, and some lunch, because by the time you finish, you will hear an announcement that your room is ready. We were fortunate enough to be upgraded for free to a mini-suite. There isn’t much difference between a mini-suite and a balcony room. I say save your money and stick to the balcony if you’re considering paying for the upgrade. Dressing up was my favorite part, as I love Halloween. I love Halloween so much, I got married on Halloween, and had a Halloween-themed wedding. This being a Star Trek cruise, we had multiple opportunities across the various theme nights:
Friday, January 5 » Miami » “Mirror, Mirror”
Saturday, January 6 » Sea Day » “Captain Sulu’s Soiree”
Sunday, January 7 » Roatán, Honduras » “Q’s Costume Party”
Monday, January 8 » Harvest Caye, Belize » “Risa’s Festival of the Moon Party”
Tuesday, January 9 » Costa Maya, Mexico » “Holodeck to the Holo–Disco”
Ports of Call
We booked a non-NCL excursion here, to a place called Little French Key. What a hidden gem this island is! You can do as much or as little as you like. We opted for a moderate day. We played with monkeys, swam with a big cat, got a massage, ate, and drank. We decided not to do any snorkeling or horseback riding, even though the VIP package we purchased would have covered those. I couldn’t put that kind of stress on a poor horse. See “customer of size” situation above.We even had our full face mask snorkel gear that is amazing but didn’t end up using them.
Harvest Caye, Belize
Harvest Caye is one of Norwegian’s private islands. To describe it in a single word: STUNNING! We scored a Luxury Beach Villa for free, by way of a free shore excursion offer we were granted by ECP. As we got off the ship, we saw a golf cart tram taking people from the ship to the foot of the pier. Now, you don’t need to take the tram, since the pier is easily walkable. We, however, did opt to take the tram, and within 2 min we were walking up to the check-in desk for our villa. Staff placed a wristband on us and introduced us to our next driver, who took us to the villa. We passed the main pool area, as well as the butterfly and animal sanctuaries, the paddle board lake, and various restaurants. We walked into the villa and were met by our concierge. She gave us a tour of the villa, gave us a wifi password, and introduced us to our waiter for the day. The villa was air conditioned, included fresh fruit, had a personal bathroom (with shower), a cocktail-style tabletop with chairs, and a sofa with comfortable seating. Right outside, we had four loungers on the front deck, and as you stepped off the deck onto the beach, there were two additional chars and a hammock. As you walked towards the water line, there was an umbrella with six additional loungers. The water was clear and amazing! This was by far the best beach villa we had been to in the recent years. Sadly, even though we had the Ultimate Beverage Package with Norwegian, it was not valid while on Harvest Caye. Bring cash or a credit card to pay for drinks and any food. We splished and splashed in the water, then decided to visit the butterfly and animal sanctuaries. We didn’t see a lot of butterflies in the small area, but it was nice. We did get to see some parrots in animal sanctuary area.
We decided that was a good time to see the huge (and I do mean HUGE) pool area. The water was on the cool side, but felt amazing. We sat at the swim up tables and chairs, chit-chatted with a couple of friends, and soaked up the sun. It was very relaxing, and we a great time there! After working up an appetite, we headed back to the villa and ordered some food. I had a burger, which was absolutely delicious. Everyone that ordered food felt that what they ordered was really good. We had such a great time, and I cannot wait to go back to this private island.
Costa Maya, Mexico
When you get off the ship in Costa Maya, the port itself is a huge shopping area. My husband and I had opted to do another non-NCL excursion here, and purchased it through our trusty goto source: Shore Excursioneer. We love using this site, because they guarantee you’ll get back to your ship on time. They will also refund any money you’ve paid if your ship isn’t able to dock at the port for any reason. There is very little risk when using Shore Excursioneer for excursions.
We chose to visit Nacional Beach Club, which stated that it only sold ten passes per day. We wanted something very low-key. We walked out of the shopping center, outside of the gates, and hailed a yellow taxi per the excursion instructions. We arrived a to Nacional Break Club within 10-15 minutes, and our driver’s fare and tip were paid by the resort itself. Now, as we were pulling up, I felt that this had to be the wrong place. It was not like the resorts we were accustomed to going to. It looked a little rundown from the front, and in a crowded neighborhood. Look past all of this, and walk towards the back. We were greeted by NBC staff, and given a quick tour. We were also given a brief explanation of the all-inclusive perks, and then we were set loose on the property.
Since we arrived in the early AM, we were asked if we had already had breakfast, and were offered freshly squeezed juices and a breakfast menu. I ordered chilaquiles, and my husband had an omelet. We both enjoyed our meals very much. After breakfast, we headed down towards the water, just steps from the resort. They had beach beds, hammocks over the water, and if you wanted an umbrella by the beach, they would literally dig a hole in the sand and plant one right there for you. The water felt great, and it was very clear. We saw various fish, and there were locals about in boats of varying sizes, offering to take you snorkeling to see turtles and reefs for $20. It’s a public beach, so there were a lot of vendors walking around. We bought some cigars and a handmade bottle opener in the shape of a fish. If you get easily annoyed by vendors, this area may not be for you. I personally don’t mind them. I simply said, “No thank you,” and they left me alone, at least until the next one came along. Nacional Beach Club also has a nice little plunge pool. The water was clean and cold, a perfect mix for a hot day! Around 1pm, we opted to get our free beach massages. It was right on the beach, and I quickly melted into relaxation, forgetting where I was. Don’t forget to tip your masseuse! Overall, it was an enjoyable day. For the cost, though, I would probably explore some other alternatives, rather than returning here.
Now for the Fun Stuff: Costume Parties!
Mirror, Mirror Night
My husband and I dressed as a couple of people from the planet Cheron. Mind you, I don’t pay attention to my husband when he’s watching his Star Trek episodes, so I just had to ask him what we were called. My skills are in our makeup, and in coordinating our outfits. It was a fun party; we drank and danced the night away! We took pictures with lots of people who were also in custom.
Captain Sulu’s Soiree
This is what is traditionally known as “elegant night” on a usual cruise ship. We opted not to dress up for this night, choosing instead to wear the t-shirts that were given to us from Entertainment Cruise Productions. They are the most comfortable t-shirts we could have asked for! Thanks, ECP!
Q’s Costume Party
Q is a character on Star Trek known for his mischievous ways. This particular costume party is where we needed to pull out all the stops. We decided we would dress up as Andorians. After purchasing some black clothing from Amazon, and some prosthetics and PAX paint from FX Warehouse, we were golden. The makeup itself took about 2 hours to apply, and another hour to remove at the end of the night. It was challenging to get it all done, but we made it! I thought we looked great!
Risa’s Festival of the Moon Party
In Star Trek land, this is where people are scantily-dressed. I opted for a different approach. I put on my galaxy light up skirt, affixed an LED color-changing moon to a crown, and made myself a Moon Queen! I mean, what better way to celebrate a moon party than with a moon, right!?
Holodeck to the Holo-Disco
We took this opportunity to step back to the disco era. Granted, I have never been to an actual disco, but I have enough reference material to know that it requires sequined shirts, afro hair, and a dash of fabulousness! I purchased a puffy blue light-up hair wig, sequined shirt, and had wide-legged jeans that made up for bell bottoms. I even found a light up cape to wear with it. It was amazing. This thing lit up the night sky! When you are on ship full of people, you want to stand out, or at least dress up enough to fit in!
Themed cruises are great! Lot’s of like-minded people having a great time. We were onboard with celebrities (and met several of them personally) from multiple Star Trek series, such as:
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek: The Next Generation
LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and John de Lancie
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Rene Auberjonois, Robert O’Reilly, Max Grodénchik, Casey Biggs, Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, and Jeffrey Combs
Star Trek: Voyager
Ethan Phillips and Vaughn Armstrong
Star Trek: Enterprise
And last, but not least, Karl Urban, from the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies, Lord of the Rings, Dredd, and many other things!
We took photos with George Takei, Max Grodénchik, and Ethan Phillips. I will say that Max was my favorite. He took the time to speak to us, and wanted to know where we were from. He was in no rush to just take our photo and shuffle us off. We spoke for a good 5 minutes. George Takei was very approachable, and he is such a great motivational speaker. Ethan Phillips was also kind, but it was a little more rushed, which was more like what I was expecting.
I was amazed at how many actors had additional talents. From putting on a Rat Pack performance to playing instruments to doing standup comedy, and being so quick-witted in general.
There was so much more going on during the week, from special talks, to nightly shows, game shows, makeup tutorials, poolside antics, parties, celebrity-led excursions, food, food and more food, plus the random celebrity encounters on the elevator, at the buffet, in specialty restaurants, or just hanging out in the common areas.
I would highly recommend Star Trek: The Cruise. In fact, we love it so much, we’re already signed up to go on the 2019 sailing! Join me! Let your freak flag fly! Look here for more information for the 2019 cruise! https://www.startrekthecruise.com/
For additional photos visit my google photos link.