Christmas Cruise 2021: Day 1, Embark at Miami

This is the first day of our 11-night cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl.

Embark at Miami

Cruising in the 2020s is just starting up again after (or during?) the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are most cruise lines taking extra precautions “for the safety and health” of their staff, crew and customers, they are also requiring a negative COVID-19 test before embarking at the terminal.

In this case, Norwegian provided testing at the terminal via CVS, which had a “minute clinic” set up within the terminal building. Passengers had to register in advance for a testing appointment. Once we arrived at the cruise terminal we were greeted by CVS staff who checked our appointment times then sent us through to security, where passports, boarding passes and vaccination cards were checked before passing through the metal detectors on the way to the minute clinic.

The CVS Minute Clinic consisted of three gowned-up technicians behind a counter shielded by Plexiglass. The first checked a bar code that was supposed to be sent on email to one’s cell phone when confirming the appointment. (Mine didn’t work so they looked me up by name and date of birth.) The next tech handed me a swab and instructed me to swirl it five times within each nostril. The third tech had me place the moistened swab into a test tube and handed me a card with the test time on it. We were then instructed to proceed to the waiting area for our rapid results.

We sat in the waiting area for about 25 minutes and then we got our negative results and a red wristband in order to proceed to the cruise registration area. I was relieved when everyone in our party passed the tests with negative results.

Once on board, we started to explore the ship, starting with the Summer Palace dining room, (Deck 6, Aft) for a tasty lunch. Cruise life is so relaxed and luxurious, with courteous, attentive wait staff and high quality gastronomic experiences that are as memorable as they are delicious. We took a lot of pictures of food the first few days.

We know how to enjoy ourselves on a cruise. We like to listen to live music, savor exotic foods and beverages, and enjoy being waited on hand and foot. All while traveling to far-flung destinations where we have new adventures in foreign cultures.

The ship sailed off at the appointed time and we went to the pool deck for the Sail Away Party, where Cruise Director Tiara introduced her entertainment staff to the beats of DJ Macchiato from Brazil. I was impressed at the dancing abilities of the entertainment staff. We like to do the “fun fitness” dance classes on the pool deck, usually held on sea days.

Specialty Dining and a Show

Our first dinner on the ship was at Teppanyaki, the specialty dining option inside the Lotus Garden Asian Fusion restaurant. It was one of the best Japanese steakhouse experiences ever. The food tasted fantastic, Chef Diego, twirling knives and tossing eggs around, was talented and entertaining, and the service was excellent. For the flat fee on the ship as part of the Ultimate Dining Package, it was actually more economical than what we would have paid back home.

After dinner, we went to the opening show at the Stardust Theater featuring the comedy of Vince Acevedo. His style is quite clever and very interactive with the crowd. Poking fun at teenagers is entertaining no matter where you are.

It was a great start to a great cruise.

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