November 4th board the Epic for a 13 day cruise from Barcelona to Cape Canaveral. Stopping at Funchal Maderia Portugal, St Maarten and St. Thomas. WiFi is similar or worse than what we have had the last month hiking across Spain. The ship has a total of 30MB down and 15MB up for all the ship communication, 4100 guests and 1700+ crew. Can you say very slow at best.
Couple days of cruising before we get to Funchal Maderia Portugal. Time is taken up with the many on board activities provided by the crew and guests.
Trivia contests, Origami, bingo, comedy acts, musical acts and the productions to name just a few.
This is our first cruise with Norwegian and we are on the Epic.
In general the food was good to very good though the selection was limited. Some days nothing sounded like what we would like for dinner.
We normally for dinner like fixed dining not Norwegian’s Free Style Cruising/Dining. Their dining is purely random seating unless you make reservations. We started out for breakfast being seated and decided that this waiter was not to be reused for dinner. This breakfast pretty much summed up the wait staff. There was a rare exception. In fact one morning late in the cruise at breakfast we notice there are comment cards on the table. I start to fill one out and a higher up happens to walk by and grabs the waiter and they look at me. The service the rest of the meal was over, much over the top. I did give the comment card to the maître d’ who after the first day of the cruise remembered me by name. He was not happy to hear what happened.
At dinner the first day Steve, Cathy, Beth and myself try a random table for dinner and decide to keep fishing. The second night we come a bit later and try again. Tonight must have been another Camino moment. Good service, a waiter (Anuk) who smiled and cared about his customers and being the table was for 6, another couple was seated with us and immediately all 6 of us bonded. The couple from Canada, we affectionately nicknamed the kids, as they were in their mid 40’s were fun to be around. Paul works for a window manufacturer in Victoria B.C. who also is an avid bicyclist and Kendall is a landscaper/master gardener working in both the public and private sector. The six friendships deepened as the trip progressed yet none of us was overwhelmed with being too close. Together conversations would go off on various tangents but when a gardening question would come up and Kendall taught us many different ways to do things, Paul would sit back and roll his eyes having heard it before. Sorry Paul but Kendall is a wealth of amazing knowledge.
Wine tasting, mojito tasting, margarita tasting and the devastating on for Beth and Kendall the Martini tasting. It was fun to watch them slowly slide down the hill of intoxication.
One nice surprise was Robert Hulse the Director of the Brunel Museum in London who was giving talks on each sea day about the history of sailing, shipbuilding, tunnel building, pirates and more. All of this was centered around Sir Marc Isambard Brunel who invented the first production line to make pulley blocks for the sailing ships of that time and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel (The man with the big hat, big cigar(smoking as many as 40 a day), big chains and big ideas) who invented the first three generations of ocean going steamships each larger than the next. The largest holding as many passengers as the Epic and also the ship that laid the first trans-Atlantic cable. Also invented a way to build tunnels underground and under rivers (The Thames Tunnel).
Funchal Maderia brings us rain, mist, low clouds and sunshine at times. But also a visit to a very nice tea room/shop.
The next five days at sea is occupied with more adventures around the ship.
As we approach St. Maarten the weather is questionable and the Captain diverts us to Antigua. Many people including many of the crew are not happy. We planned on buying our 1 to 2 year supply of various cheeses including Gouda. OUCH!
In Antigua we are able to visit a church being rehabilitated which we visited 18 months ago. The amount of work accomplished is to be applauded!
Also at a local liquor store found this gem hidden in a display case that was for sale. Tax stamp dated 1962!
St. Thomas brings a change of procedure for entering back into the USA. We pass through customs on board by presenting our passport to a Customs official and get a sticker. That is it! No declarations paper, no waiting in a long, slow progressing line in Cape Canaveral. NICE! Change in policy in early 2017.
St. Thomas, the next day, brings us sunshine and warm temperatures and for our group shopping at various jewelry shops and liquor stores and of course the local Harley-Davidson store. Also noting lasting marks from the hurricane from 2017. Local residents show us watermarks and tell stories of a 30′ wall of water.
Two more days of sailing brings us to Cape Canaveral with hopefully being picked up by Micki and Chris and our next leg of our two+ month trip has us headed to Missouri for Thanksgiving.