Age: 21 to 35
Number of Cruises: 3 to 5 Cruises
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Nordic Empress
Sailing Date: NOT FOUND
Itinerary: St. George
We had a family reunion on the Nordic Empress. We had booked this cruise 1 year in advance and were very enthusiastic about it. I myself have been on two other cruises before, both Carnival (Fantasy and Tropical).
We got to Newark Airport @ 10:30 am, and got a service called "The Blue Van." Definitely consider getting their service to drive you to Pier 90. For a fee of $55 (and a tip which is at your discretion) they take 6-7 people. You can find out about other deals by calling 1-800-blue-van. We got to the pier at around 12 pm, and they started letting us in then, even though boarding time was supposed to be until 1:30. We were on the ship by 12:45 pm, it was a smooth and fast check-in. Very organized. They even had a few of the waiters standing by a table with gourmet cookies (Real Italian ones!)
When first going into the ship you are impressed by the Centrum, which isn't in the center of the ship, but still... Anyways, we had a room on Deck 8 for 4 people. Being it was more money and supposed to be a superior outside ocean stateroom, and there are only four of these available, we thought they would be much bigger than what we found ours to be; however, our relatives who had the other two staterooms on the opposite side of the ship had much more room and comfortable quarters. (In other words, when you look at the ship get the rooms on either Deck 7 or Deck 8 on the opposite side of 8164.
My fiancee and his friend stayed in an inside stateroom on the botton Deck 3. For two people the room is small, but comfy. Definitely not something for a family to stay in, but good enough for two people who cannot afford the upper rooms. Also, their room had the same exact ammenities and space for clothes as our room had. Security boxes in the rooms are sporadic, we had one, but no one else did. Lunch is available at 1 o'clock that day.
NYC was overcast that day, but it is an awesome site passing by fellow cruisers and blowing horns, the statue of liberty and passing underneath the Verezano Bridge.
After that first couple of hours sailing we unfortunately hit a storm which took us to St. George. I had never gotten sea-sick until this time. If you think you may get seasick, or have never been sailing before, definitely consider getting the patch or some sort of medication to help seasickness. By the end of the second night so many people were getting sick that they put barf bags all over the place on steps and different rooms. The ship started to look more like a hospital. The Atlantic Ocean is not such a hot place to cruise. If you do become seasick don't bother going to the Infirmery, they can't give you a patch. Go to the Pursors Desk and ask they for some Bonine pills; they give you four in a little envelope, and remember to ask how many you should take and how long in between- you will notice you will have other friends and family who get different instructions than you, for this sort of information go to the infirmary, the pursers are not too sure about this.
Anyways, dinners were very good. The service for dinner was most excellent, our waiters, Rosario and Louis were great and friendly and really catered to their guests; we were very satisfied and looked forward to dinner every night. Three of the 7 nights they do little shows, not like Carnival where every night was a show. Dinner is not very quiet as you would like it to be.
On the Captain's Gala Night lines for pictures are long, try going an hour to a half hour before the cocktail hour starts to get your photos done, the wait at the point is next to none. The cocktail party is very disappointing, they only have the choice of two drink and a non-alcoholic fruit punch.
Karaoke and the Disco are a lot of fun, and always open. The Casino closes for the four nights you are docked in bermuda, which is very disappointing because there is not much not life there.
On Day 3 you get to bermuda. It is definitely a site worth seeing. It is gorgeous. The ship is usually cleared by 11 am, and then you can go and do as you like. You only need to take your sailing card with you in order to be re-admitted onto the ship. St. George is gorgeous. I absolutely loved this place. The water is always visible and is a beautiful and brillant view. The town is quaint and small, very quiet and maybe a little touristy, but you can really appreciate it. Definitely get the 3 day bus pass. It only cost $21 for unlimitedly access to use of the ferries and buses. A one day pass costs $10. Only bad thing is they don't let you pick the days you want it to be valid for-- so you can't use it days 1,2,4.
In St. George we went to the Crystal Caves and the Glass Blowing Factory. The Caves were really beautiful, and although it is only a half hour tour, it is well worth the $7.50. ( oh and bermudian money is worth the samne as ours). To see a demonstration of the glass-blowing it is $2.00; we didn't get to see it because the kiln was broken the day we went there. We walked along the main streets and went shopping for the rest of the day. My uncle and aunt and their two boys went to Tobacco Bay, they liked it and said there were a lot of pretty fish that swim right up to you-- a good snorkling place. there are public bathrooms there and you can rent various equipment. The prices are inexpensive in St. george compared to Hamilton. The paintings of the island are just to pretty for words. That night there they have a festival with native crafts in the square where the cruise ship docks, we were told to go with someone, it's safer that way. The people there are pleasant and very sweet and sociable, I especially liked talking to them. When shopping check out the Cracker Box on the main street, they have great prices.
Hamilton on days 4,5,6 is really a pretty city, with more mopeds and blue and pink buses than cars. If you rent a moped beware, they drive on the left side of the road and have these things called round abouts which are kind of hard to follow. Many people ended their stay in Bermuda with broken legs or arms from falling off the mopeds. Bus stops are by the pink and blue striped poles.
The Botanical Garden is beautiful and free. We didn't got on the tour, but it is advisable to go bc you get so much more out of the trip. The tours start either 10 or 10:30 am Tuesday and Wednesday. bring your camera for this and all other scenary. Shopping on the main strip opposite the pier is fun. The ferries leave from the pink building by the bow of the ship. Just make a left when getting out of the ship terminal and it is there. The best place to pick up souvenirs and other nick-nacks in Hamilton is Hodge Podge, but we also had fun at "making Waves" which had a machine you put 51 cents into and on the penny you can pick one of four designs to have imprinted on it simply by turning the wheel. Bees Knees has good prices, Davidsons has good prices on good quality tee-shirts for $8.95 and Triminghams is great for gifts and buying items which aren't available here in the USA.
On the fifth day we went to Horseshoe Bay beach. Everyone seems to go there, but we went there early in the morning to about 2:30, when it started to get crowded. They have public facilities and snorkeling rentals, as well as boogie boards. The pick sand is there but not readily visible. the water is gorgeous, you would think you were in the Caribbean and no fish are near you because there is a barrier reef aways out there. There is a cliff you can climb up and you can go exploring for fish along the reef. They were all out of snorkeling equipment when we got there, but my fiance brought along his goggles and was able to go down and see the fish. The waves are awesome, and they are always coming, but it is definitely not rough. You can take a walk down the beach and there are a lot of little coves. You can also rent chairs and umbrellas there. if you don't, make sure you put on sun-block-- I didn't and that was a big mistake. And yes, there is a life guard on duty at this beach.
The last day you can't do too much bc you have to be back on the ship by 1 pm...you leave @2, so try maybe getting back there a little earlier. Once you leave the casinos will open and the centrum boutiques too. Buy your ship souvenirs that are on sale that day. Don't wait too long, things go fast. A good deal is buying two tees for $30, and getting a third free. You can always split it with someone there.
The sail back was a bit smoother, but I was still seasick. take Bonine an hour before you set sail, and then accordingly, the Atlantic isn't the best place.
Lastly, the midnight buffets...VERY, very disappointing. The lines are way too long on the first one and in a limited amount of space on the pool deck outside. Very hot and tight. Definitely not worth it to wait on line, unless you are actually hungry. They do have butlered desserts and mini sandwiches around the ship. The other midnight before is gorgeous, but it starts at 12:30 and they have a picture taking session for an hour before that. it is a slow moving line, but worth seeing... the ice sculptures are nice. We didn't stay to eat, it was too late for that, for us anyways. There isn't really many things to do, we felt, at night. it was very disappointing to only have two midnight buffets though, and bc there were only 2 that's why it is hard to get the food...you would thin kpeople never ate before. Unlike RCCL, carnival has various themed midnight buffets every night...even a Mexican one, which I was really looking forward to.
Drinks are very expensive, Rum and Coke costs $4.95; there are cheaper drink specials every day, and they have Margarita Madness like every night for $3.95. I was told that the Strawberry Coladas are very good, and less inexpensive if you don't get them in the glasses they try to sell them with.
I saw a couple of shows, the Wave Revue did "It takes Two"...we all enjoyed that. We saw one comedian who wasn't really funny and he called everyone idiots for most of his act...the disco is nice as long as people start dancing, but when they start mixing all the songs together it is difficult to dance to such different beats at different tempos changing from second to second, but that was 80's retro-night.
Oh, and breakfast and lunch is open seating, and the service is ok, but not the best. Definately go to the dining room for breakfast, the food is better there than the Windjammer, but make sure you check out the Windjammer for the Snacks at 4-5pm...they are really yummy! And we had buffet lunches there everyday which were pretty good. The hamburger and hot dog bar is open every day from 1-5pm.
I definitely enjoyed Bermuda, and it is a place worth traveling to again. Very beautiful and well worth the 4 days spent there. however, as for me and cruises, my whole family agrees that this was probably the last for awhile. The cruise lines are very commercial and do not treat you as they did before. they are becoming much frugal with the attention and services; it is definitely not what it used to be. My parents went on RCCL in October on the Grandeur of the Seas, and they said they were treated like gold; they could not believe how much RCCL has changed, and it was definitely not for the better.
PS...BE aware: There is only one pool which is way too small for the amount of people on the ship, and a kiddie pool and 3 hot tubs, which you will have to wait for....