Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Princess One Night Cruise

  • May 9 and 10th

    Vancouver to Seattle

    We always prefer longer cruises but we only needed one more cruise to make it to Elite Status for our Panama cruise so it was a no brainer. The one day cruise to Seattle worked out perfectly and the price just couldn't be beat with our trusty online travel agent

    We love leaving from Vancouver and of all the places we have left it has to be the MOST beautiful port to sail from, hands down.

  • We ended up driving into the city and parking the car at a central location and catching the bus downtown. We already knew that they were delaying boarding until 2 pm so we stopped and got lunch and just enjoyed the beautiful day.

    We arrived at Canada Place at 2:40 -- there were two other ships docked here so it was very very busy. We were lead to the parkade! It was an overflow area! The line was huge so we asked if we could just drop off our bag and come back. No problem. We went back upstairs to the port terminal and used the washroom and then when we were standing there they said we could go forward to the line up upstairs. So we did! Big mistake.

    We snaked thru the line for about 10 minutes and went thru the standard security line up. They were quickly passing people thru because there was such a long line. We were directed to the left and ushered into a large room that was PACKED, then told nope not this room the one on the left again which was beginning of the line.... that room was packed with about 500 people, then you moved into the Packed room.

    Oh well we are easy going, and heck we are getting on a ship. We filled out the necessary health from (lots of time to fill out while snaking thru the lines). We asked about Platinum/Elite boarding and no one seemed to know. After we made it into the last room (also full) we noticed someone getting lead to another line and a shortcut. We asked the women from Princess and she allowed us to go too as we are Platinum.

    We got our room key and then proceeded to the ship. In all it took about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get on the ship.

    There were a couple reasons for the delays.

    First the ship was even later than expected arriving in Vancouver.
  • There were three ships at Canada Place and one at Ballyntine which caused delays with Custom agents

  • The ship was mainly filled with first time sailors which caused longer than normal lines because they needed to be informed how to fill out forms and showing of proper forms and credit cards etc.

  • The ship also had many large groups where people were en mass and had to travel as a group and they had one key leader.

We got to our room E214 which was an obstructed view cabin. We didn't choose this room, we actually booked an inside guarantee and were upgraded to this cabin. It was a nice size with a large window. The window looked out over a lifeboat, but you could clearly see the water and view. The downside of this room was it was set back a bit and overlooked the upper Promenade deck so if someone was out there walking you could hear them talking. We noticed that the standard duvet was not there but replaced with a wool blanket. I know the Star has the duvets as we had them last Nov. on her, maybe it is standard for Alaska sailings to use the wool blanket, or maybe they were just all out getting cleaned.

We head up to the main pool and up on the Sun deck to watch the sail away. We are surprised to see the band at the pool is "Accent" same band that was on the Grand for 28 days (and we heard them every day).

Jerry and Denise joined us for this night of festivities. They have been promising to join us on so many trips and we are glad they finally joined us. The day is beautiful, many people are in bathing suits and are sun tanning and in the pool. Personally I found the wind a little cool and required a jacket.

Me enjoying my signature sail away drink "Melon Margarita". Lots of first time cruisers on this sailing, as well as a lot of families -- plus it is Mother's Day weekend.

Cheers! Bernie's sail away drink a "greyound". Check out Stanley Park in behind.

Movies Under the Stars - working with all the bulbs now - last November many were not working.

These one day cruises are big for drinkers, partiers and gamblers. And it showed.

Most beautiful port, as we watch a HAL ship leave.

Here is an image taken from the bow of the ship, this is how close the city is to the pier!

Canada Place which houses an IMAX theatre, a hotel, a convention centre and the port.

The gang!

Looking North over to North Vancouver

A panoramic view looking East

The ships' officers are: Bob Oliver, Captain; Mark Waugh, Staff Captain; Danilo Portos, Passenger Services Director; Lee Childers, Cruise Director; Riccardo Capraro, First Purser Food & Beverage; Remo Bolis, Executive Chef; Antonio Pimpao, Accommodations Services Manager; Daniele Saredi, Maitre d'Hotel.
Actually when were up on deck for sail away we noticed Riccardo Capraro the Food & Beverage Manager and recognized him from the Grand in January. So I went over to say hi and he even remember me by name (guess 28 days on a ship does that) and I welcomed him to my beautiful city. He just joined the Star in San Francisco two days ago.
We decided to attend dinner in the Dining Room. We ate in the Capri Dining room and had Angel as our Waiter. He was top notch. It was Italian Night and it isn't one of our favorites but managed to find something! Bernie loved the rabbit with pasta, and I enjoyed Fettichini Alfredo in a Parmesan bowl, yum.
Entertainment tonight is minimal, there is a production show "Destination Anywhere" however we later found out it didn't occur. Not sure why, but I will try and find out and post.
We just went back to the room around 11 pm and relaxed and got a good sleep.
Movies Under the Star tonight are showing Confessions of a Shopaholic (something I want to see but will wait until next week's sailing). In the Vista Lounge they are showing Slumdog Millionaire, another great movie.
There is Karaoke in Explorer's Lounge and Accent is playing there too. I heard that Skywalkers was well attended in the evening for lots of dancing. But we were well into dream land by then.

Some of the drink specials were Mucho mango for 8.75 which includes the glass. Five beers for the price of 4.
In the morning we woke up around 7:30 and we were already docked. We showered and decided to head up to the Horizon Court for Breakfast around 8:30 and was jammed pack with people walking around in a daze (think there were quite a few late nights) and of course with so many first time sailors it was funny to see them maneuver around. I let Bernie tackle the buffet. I went and got a table near the back and ordered my latte and relaxed and waited for the crowds to die down. For those who know me, know I don't like crowds, and lines. And it was smart as a half hour later there were no more lines and I quickly got some food.
Now we had booked Quick Coach for 10:30 departure so we thought no problem we will surely make it and with lots of time to spare. NOPE.
The crowds started forming around 8 am and since Princess was not doing the silent disembarkation they usually do so people were lining the halls and stairways. We were group O and no group had been called yet and it is now 9 am! I wait out on the Promenade deck and make my way into the Atrium to see friends after they started calling letters.
It is now 10:10 am and they have only gotten to group F... I look at Bernie and say we have to go or we may not make our bus. We decide to just join the line and get off. No one was checking the tags anyways so no problem. So word to anyone sailing soon, don't book an early flight!
The port is new (Pier 91) and it shows, the floors are very very shinny (but slippery) and the staff are new and still friendly. The custom agents are there waiting for us but all we had to do was wave our Passports at them -- really -- no one looked at them or even the picture! Someone from the port collected our Custom form! Okay so far so good.
We exit the building to this huge parking area, bus queue, taxi queue and crowds. Someone from the shuttle company is there and directs us to the end of the pathway to meet with the rep there. We get there and we are directed to the side and said bus will be here shortly. I quickly take a few pictures as the crowds are immense and the lines are long everywhere.
The yellow walkway in the picture above is the taxi line up and it was the entire length of that walkway. There seemed to be a steady stream of taxis coming and going but that line must of had 200 people in it.

Here is the other side of the lot, where the buses pull in. One thing lacking here is signage and proper waiting areas, thankfully the weather is nice but I can only imagine how bad it would be if it was raining (but it never rains in Seattle).

One last shot of the Star Princess.
The pier is well situated but there is only a single lane into and out of the port and when we were leaving the line was long and slow for both incoming and outgoing vehicles. There seemed to be adequate signage on the roads to assist you in locating the pier. The pier is a distance from town, I would estimate about 10 minute drive away.
We board our 10:30 bus at 11:00 and we are off. One good thing, because the bus is full we don't have to route into the city for more people, we head directly to Canada. At the border again we are surprised that the Canadian Custom agents come on board ask everyone to have passports out and their custom declaration forms out. They collect them and casually glance at the passports and they are off. In total we were delayed maybe 10 minutes.
We arrive at our car around 2:30 and were home about 45 minutes later.
In all we love Princess and they didn't disappoint, except there was no Hockey Game and the Canucks game was on... but we survived. The staff are really what makes sailing with Princess the best, they never disappoint.
The only negative was the embarkation and disembarkation which I know is not Princess' fault, usually that is left in the hands of the custom adgents and Princess is at their mercy.
However I don't think one day sailing are for me, seemed I just got on board and I was being ushered off.

1 comment:

  1. Now that's what I call a review...........licking lips now in anticipation of what's to come in less than four weeks now for us, even less for you two!!!!!!!