Monday, January 31, 2011

Antigua January 30

Antigua


We are along the dock first thing and we don’t have to be at our meeting place until 9:50 so we have time which is nice as it is always enjoyable to watch the ship come along the pier and tie up. It is already very hot. We slather on the sunscreen 50 spf in areas, 30 in others.

a little fixer upper

We booked with Eli's Eco Tours, here is a link http://adventureantigua.com/tour.html and we were met promptly at 9:50 and they took us out of the harbor then along the island at high speeds, it was GREAT. We love being on the water. There were 25 of us on the boat but it didn’t feel crowded and there were numerous cruise critic people so we already knew each other.

Doesn't Anita look lovely

The crew were very helpful telling us about the island, pointing out sights and islands and talking about various wildlife. We docked at bird island where we were given time to swim, stay on the boat or climb up to the look out. We decided to climb up to the look out, and it was an easy hike but you do need good shoes. The views up on top were beautiful and we got lots of time to take pictures. After returning to the boat we swam for a while and enjoyed the beach for about 20 minutes.

 

Antigua's Flag

the view from the look out


 

We drop anchor around the bend were we are treated to a delightful lunch of salad, pasta salad, plantains and barbecued chicken with banana bread for dessert.

After lunch we travel to Hell’s Gate where we are once again given the option of snorkeling, climbing the rocks, swimming or relaxing on board the boat. Bernie snorkels and I decide to climb up on Hell’s Gate. You definitely need good shoes, flip flops will not do and you have to be prepared to get whatever you wear wet. The rocks and climbing are very difficult to manage but can be done, but be warned the edges are sharp and footing can be touchy, but the caves and views are stunning and worth it. But I did cut my foot and someone else cut her leg on the rocks. Bernie said the snorkeling was good but not great.  The crew did not offer any type of first aid not even a bandaid.



next stop at Hell's Gate we walk thru the caves and climb up

very sharp stones, quite difficult

the views are amazing

 
Our next stop was a snorkel stop where we could snorkel around the boat or head off with Nicole. I decided to head off with Nicole but have to say it was hard to keep up with her, thankfully I am a strong swimmer and managed but it seemed like we were in a constant race to keep up with her and we didn’t get to really enjoy the sea life. A friend that was with us had a medical emergency while swiming here and thankfully I noticed otherwise he stated he was just about ready to give up and sink (ended up in the end he had surgery to removed a blocked valve in his heart in Barbados two days later).  The guide Niki was so far away we had to call her back and then me and her brought our friend back to the boat (which was quite a ways away).  There was no way to contact the boat to get them to come to us and once on board they had no oxygen to assist my friend. 

We did see a manta ray as soon as we got in the water. Check out the picture.

can you see the stingray?

We are disappointed in the tour and unfortunately can't say that I would recommend Eli's Eco tour, mainly because the snorkel stop was not very good and the issue with a f
We were back at the pier around 3:50 and Bernie went into the Exotic Antigua store right there to pick up some Tommy Bahamas shirts at a very good price.

We headed up to the Captain’s Cocktail Party for the Most Travelled Passengers and this time we didn’t eat dinner before hand so we could enjoy the finger foods. It was nice to sit and chat with so many others and many of the officers.

After the party we went to Café Caribe to enjoy a small dinner (last night was Italian night) and it was yummy.

Vines was our next stop where even more wine was consumed with friends and then we caught the TV Multi Media Trivia already in progress but had fun trying to get the answers. It is now 11:00 pm and we are both in need of sleep. Tomorrow St. Lucia, and no plans.
this is where we stopped the first time, beautiful beach, but we stayed on the boat

Yvonne & Bernie

Saturday, January 29, 2011

At Sea January 28 and 29

Sea days, ahhhh




What it is 8:30 am, man did I sleep in, and I head out to the balcony to read and Bernie sleeps until almost 9 am. I am heading up to our Cruise Critic meet and greet and Bernie is off to trivia.


We meet up in the International Café later for coffee and are soon joined by Colin/Gwenda and we catch the martini demonstration, and have to say I’ve seen a lot of these demonstrations but this has to be the best one I have ever seen, the three bartenders are amazing. And I answered one of their questions right and got a cosmo, pretty sad looking drinking a martini at 11:00 am, but heck someone has to do it.



We head to the pub lunch for 1:00 pm in the Wheelhouse and enjoy some fish and chips and then I decide I want to finally buy something on board. I pick up a lovely pull over made by Tommy Bahamas that is on sale for 10% off and then with our elite and coupon it is another 20% off. I also buy a nice rainbow Swatch Watch, and now can wear it with “Pride”.


I am back in the cabin relaxing before heading up to Skywalkers. Tonight is another formal night but we are opting out. We will dine in the Horizon Court and will catch a movie under the stars.


Muts is showing Switch and we grab a lounge chair and an ice cream cone and settle in for the movie, about a half hour in they come by to say it is going to rain in 15 minutes, so we take cover, well I take cover Bernie gives up and heads to the room. And sure enough the sky opens up and it pours, but it is still very warm I am okay as I am under the a roof but others run to not get wet. After the movie it is back to the cabin and guess what I watch another movie! Flipped is the movie this time and it is very cute.

Andrea from the Pursers' desk with her Moose pencils Bernie gave her - she did share them


We don’t sleep in as late this time, 7:30 we are up and we meet up with Brian/Christine and Paul/Yvonne for breakfast in Da Vinci… Brian says today is poached eggs on toast so I listen to him.  After breakfast I do five laps on the Promenade deck and decide time to get some sun where once again we meet up with B/C and Y/P, we catch some rays and Paul and Brian head off to get us all Gyros from the grill at lunch. We hang around the pool area until 2:00 pm and we relax in the cabin until I go to Zumba class at 3:15… now that is fun and it was packed in there. This poor woman next to me took the space for three people with arms flying legs every which way and no rhythm to speak of but she was having fun.

Tonight we will head up to Skywalkers and enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset, tonight we are having dinner in the dining room, can’t remember the menu but I am sure it will be great and Francesco promises us we will love it. We are in Antigua tomorrow and we are very excited.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Turn Around Day, January 27 - All Aboard


Turnaround Day


Of course there is no chance of sleeping in today, at 6 am we are coming into port and you can feel it. We are not in any rush but we do want to give our cabin steward some time to get the cabin ready for the next passengers. So we are showered and packed up by 8:00 am and we head up to Aloha to see Elisa our new cabin steward and she says it is fine for us to move our suitcases into the closet until later so this is what we do. Now Princess will gladly move the suitcases for you but they are so busy with the total ship clean up that we don’t want to add to the work and we are only moving two flights up on the same area.

Many have asked why we are moving, couldn’t we have booked the same cabin, etc. So here is the details, when we originally booked these two cruises we booked the same inside cabin C721 for both legs. But last fall the price dropped $150 per person for both legs so we decided to upgrade only the second leg to a balcony and this is why we had to move.

There are quite a few in transit passengers and we are called to the dining room for 10 am and we are told their that because of the sanitizing that is needed to be done we will be escorted off then clear customs then taken back on board but will be in held in Club Fusion until the ship is cleaned. In the end we were escorted off at 10:30, went thru customs and were back on the ship around 11:15 and waited in Club Fusion until 11:45 (juice, coffee, water, tea, papers were on hand for us). In all it took a little longer than usual but it was done very professionally and most passengers didn’t mind. Of course if you wanted to head ashore and do some errands you could of and then you just come back on at your leisure.

We just went back to our cabin and unpacked everything and got settled. We went ashore around 12:30 and went to Starbucks, Total Wine and Publix. We had a lovely meal at a Mediterranean restaurant and then we walked back to the ship.


bar is all set for the sailaway

Since we are in transit we were able to skip the muster drill and we went up to the Sun deck to enjoy the peace and quiet before everyone comes up for sail away. Colin and Gwenda meet us and they come up with a bottle of champagne to toast the voyage. We then head to Skywalkers for the drink of the day, margaritas and a few laughs.



One issue we have with our cabin is the cabin across the hall from us (an inside A745) smokes cigars in his cabin. The smell drifts into the hallway and thru the vent in our door and into our cabin, our cabin stinks of cigar smoke! We mention it to the purser’s desk and they will look into it. According to the Patters and the notice sent to each cabin cigar smoking is not permitted outside of the Speakeasy. But it looks like the Purser’s desk doesn’t want to deal with as the manager called this morning saying “well there is nothing we can do if they smoke in their cabins” I quoted the policy but he hummed and hawed…. So we thankfully brought duck tape and we have taped over our vent in our door. Too bad that someone can ruin it for so many and no one seems to really care. This so far has been our only beef, not bad and we will not let it ruin our cruise.

Dinner is back in the Da Vinci dining room where Francesco has been able to accommodate us in the dining room at a table for 8 at 7:45. The meal is great and it is so nice to enjoy with good friends.





After diner we are both so tired and we are back in the cabin and resting and soon are sound asleep. The next two days are sea days and we know that we will get lots of rest then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sea Days January 25 and 26

Two sea days!

Sleep in, yup Vickie is finally sleeping in and I don’t feel guilty about it. Bernie has gone up to the Horizon Court for some breakfast and when he comes back he informs me that yup it looks like the ship may have an outbreak of Noro virus. Yup and then shortly thereafter the Captain is in our room, well not really in our room, but coming over the loud speaker. For safety reasons we are now under red alert to help combat the spread of the virus.


This is the third year in a row in January where we have had an outbreak. Now for those who are not aware Noro Virus is very common everywhere, not just on cruise ships, but those on land are not reported like they are on a cruise ship. For this ship once 12 people have confirmed cases they must go to red alert, which out of 4000 people on board is not a lot but the health of the passengers is first and foremost. Once passengers come down with the symptoms they are quarantined to their cabin (but trust me they don’t want to go anywhere anyways) and then the next day the symptoms are gone but the patient is way too weak to go anywhere and needs to rest. Normally after 48 hours of the first symptoms the patient is cleared and can move about the ship but often needs to take it easy. I have personally had the virus (on land and comfortably in my own home) and know someone who has had it on a ship (and his spouse who shared his cabin didn’t get the virus).


Right away the ship goes into safe mode, hand santizers even though prevelant before are everywhere, hand washing is the most effective means of removing the germs, but you must sanitize your hands before entering any of the food areas. Cutlery is handed out, staff serve you at each buffet station, after you leave the table the whole table is quickly wipped down and sanitized. On deck, deck hands carry a cloth and sanitizer spray to wipe everything down that is touched, in bars staff do the same and everywhere you look crew are wiping elevators, railings, walls, arm rests (wow the ship sparkles).


Speaking with some of the crew (photographers, dancers etc. that are allowed to eat in public areas) are confined to the crew mess hall while the alert is on. All public sales outside of the stores are cancelled, so darn it the Bijoux sale is cancelled, the galley tour is cancelled but the demonstration still happens. At the wine tasting yesterday they did not provide communial cheese/crackers/grapes. Salt/pepper shakers are off the tables and little packets are provided.


Okay enough about the virus.


For lunch I grab two slices of pizza and watch a bit of a movie at MUTS (movies under the stars) but the sun is hot so after a half hour I take cover and arrange to meet up with friends for some wine in their cabin. Then darn it is wine tasting where a few nice wines have been introduced.


Skywalkers has port for the drink tonight so I am heading up there while Bernie heads to the trivia. Tonight is formal night and we have opted out so we head up to Café Caribe for the Landfall dinner, it is rather busy and it goes rather smoothly, and they have lobster claws, crab and large shrimp! I get my feast!


We watch the sunset off the aft deck and then head up to the Movies Under the Stars to watch the movie “You Again” with Sigorney Weaver, Betty White, Jamie Lee Curtis – it is cute and it is so nice to enjoy the movie in the heat. I love that they come around with fresh baked hot cookies and cold milk for you to enjoy, it is these little things that make sailing so special.


Last day for the first leg – we sleep in room service is delivered at 8:45 a little late but that is okay because I think they are extra busy this morning. Then it is down to the International Café for a latte and chatting with friends. Today I am going to go to this Zumba class at 10:00 in Club Fusion and for 45 minutes we dance dance dance and I hopefully burned off that donut I ate earlier, I love it because it is great exercise for me with my back injury.


I head up to Adagio’s Bar for trivia for which we sucked! Well at least it is consistent. Jerry and Rose join us for lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar for the Pub Lunch and I tried the Ploughman’s lunch and the others all had fish and chips (again a newer item that is included and makes sailing with Princess even better).

 1:00 pm sees us in Club Fusion again for Movie Trivia which we did pretty good at but still didn’t win so we better go drown our sorrows and we head to Mike/Sue’s balcony along with Bill/Cathy and two bottles of wine and some finger foods and a lot of great laughs.

 It is our last dinner with Jerry/Rose tonight and we have to say goodbye to so many but we are excited about staying on and seeing our friends from Blackpool England that arrive tomorrow Colin and Gwenda.


We also have to move cabins tomorrow we are heading to A743 and have already spoken to our cabin steward and informed her that we will move our own bags and that we will just put them in the closet. We will unpack after we come back from running errands in Fort Lauderdale.
video


Alice at Wine tasting

Paul at the Wine tasting

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Aruba January 24

I am up at 3:30 am!!! What I am on vacation, a little hungover from all those liquid beverages, okay I was bad but it was so fun. After tossing and turning I get up and write my blog from yesterday and around 6 am I am up and out of the room so I can let Bernie sleep.


First stop Horizon Court for breakfast, normally I try to stay away from the Horizon court for breakfast but first thing it is very very quiet and I grab a big bowl of fruit salad with cottage cheese and a latte and I am good to go.


I head downstairs and run into Alice so we chat in the coffee bar.


Today we are in Aruba and we are meeting up with Illene and Murray from the Celebrity Ship that is docked right beside us. We originally met them on the Emerald four years ago and have kept in touch with them via facebook and cruisecritic and we are looking forward to seeing them. Bernie has purchased some Cherry Blossom chocolate bars for Murray as a transplant Canadian in the States he misses them. We head over to the Renaissance Mall and Starbucks and get our fix for which we have been without for a week. The ship’s latte is good though, but I am addicted to Starbucks. We visit with Illene and Murray for over two hours.



The rest of the visit is spent running around getting a few items that we need from Aruba, namely the Aloe lotion that our friend in Vancouver loves and we have to stock up on.

We are back on board around 1:30 pm and we are back in the cabin ordering room service and a nap!


The Platinum and Elite lounge is offering the Japanese Slipper as the drink today and sushi for appetizer. Our Captain Circle Party is tonight and it is well attended in Club Fusion, there were two parties tonight and we were at the 7:30 party.

Rene (Future Cruise Host) with Jasper
Peter at the Circle party

Dinner is a little later tonight because of the party and we are at our table at 8:15, it is the Chef’s Dinner tonight but we are brought prosciutto and parmesan right away, then French onion soup, and a special pasta which I ended up having as my entre and Bernie had the rack of lamb. For dessert it is the ménage a trios the trio of desserts. We ordered one of our favorite bottles of wine the Pinot Grigio Dazante.

Audrey our server with Jasper
We have two more sea days now and they are always relaxing, but it is nice to know that we are staying on for the next sailing. The sales are really gearing up and you can see people spending more. The casino was hoping and is open 24 hours so you can get your gambling fix. We don’t usually engage in the casino but since it was a non smoking night it was nice to be in.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bonaire January 23

Bonaire



I first will start out that last night’s deck party was a blast as usual, we danced danced and then danced some more, our clothes were soaked. The Princess dancers even made an appearance and did a great performance, and they were darn good, and not bad on the eyes! We didn’t make it back to the cabin until midnight!

Once again we wake to showers, but light showers and they soon end and the heat hits us. We are not scheduled to dock until noon so we have the morning to enjoy the ship.

Bernie has promised me breakfast in the dining room so we are off to the DaVinci dining room where we are sat at a table with two other couples, one from Israel and one from Delaware we had a great conversation with the couple from Israel and loved hearing about their travels and their family and promised to meet up with them again.

Around 10:30 we went up on deck to watch the sail into Bonaire, wow how beautiful and definitely not something to miss, you really need to go up on one of the higher decks to get a great view.


We are off the ship at 12:10 and we quickly hook up with Renee of Reneesnorkeltrips.com we went with Bill and Cathy who have used Renee before and have raved about her and justifiably. She first takes us to a spot very close to the ship (her van can accommodate only 4 comfortably and she limits her tours to 5 maximum) we are in the water and Renee leads us and points to items then comes up and tells us what we are seeing, then she takes us a little way over and points to something else then comes up to tell us what this is. We are blown away not only by the amazing sea life her but by how many things we just would not of seen had it not been for Renee. We saw a flounder the size of a dinner large dinner plate that hid on the sandy bottom that we just would not of seen – she even pointed to a small crevice with a hole in it and guess what inside was an octopus.
 
yes there is an octopus in that whole and the pic above shows a flounder

spotted eel
 
She then takes us to our second dive spot at “the Plaza” where we go to a deep dive spot and then into a more shallow spot, where here Renee dives down and picks us a snake eel! The snake squirms but not before we all get a chance to see it. After about 2.5 hours we are back at the pier where we bid adieu to Renee and promise to be back soon.

Bernie and I head on board for a quick shower with every intention of going back ashore for some food and shopping but once on board and after the shower we both agree we want to rest. We grab a hamburger a lounge chair and our book and relax but we are both struggling to stay awake so we are back in the cabin around 4 pm and lay down for a quick nap for a half hour before we met up with Peter the Captain Circle Host.

At five pm we head up to Skywalkers where Peter is waiting for us and we are joined by Johannes (Customer Relations Manager) and we all enjoy some Cosmos and Champagne – isn’t cruising great. Jerry/Rose and Bill/Cathy soon join us and we laugh and chat and watch our sail away from Bonaire.

At 7 pm we head down to Vines to meet up with Peter again for sushi and wine, we enjoy a lovely bottle of Santa Margarita (well okay we actually enjoyed two bottles) and sushi. What is great about Princess is this bar called Vines which you MUST try, a huge selection of wines are offered by the glass too, and every night there are flight parings for you to sample as well. Sushi and tapas are also available complimentary with wine purchase. The staff there go out of the their way to ensure you are taken care of and just ask if you have any questions.
us with Peter John

Tonight Beetle Mania is being preformed in the Princess Theater we head down but we are late and it is difficult to find a seat, we could go to the later one at 10:30 but both us know we are not going to make it till then.

Oh I should add that Johannes brought out his moose to meet Jasper and they really hit it off, well they hit it off really really well that we had to give them their space in the cabin, just check out the pictures.




it's not called the love boat for anything
snoring away



 We watch a movie in the cabin (Social Network) and we are asleep by 11:00! And this morning I am suffering with a slight headache, wonder why?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Grenada, January 22

Grenada the Spice Island



We wake up to the ship’s thrusters pulling us into the dock. Celebrity is in port with us and the skies have opened and it is pouring rain. We meet up with Brian/Christine and Paul/Yvonne in the Coffee Bar with plans to go ashore and have a photo competition. Paul discusses the rules and the topic, today the photo topic is signs – so after the rain stops we head out, and man is it humid!


We trek around the town and up and down mountain sides, up to the Fort and then back down! Pictures are snapped everywhere trying to gain the prize.

hmmm which wig would look best?


This was at the entrance to the tunnels


A cold beverage is needed we all agree so we head to BB’s Crabback (which is recommended by the ship’s Cruise Director Tim) www.bbscrabback.com


Here is B.B. the chef at the restaurant


Anna takes care of us with a cold drink, beer for the guys and a rum drink made with fresh fruit juices. Bernie and I share the appetizer of crab and goat curry for our entrée with pumpkin fritters. All I can say is wow how good, and just over the railing we watch a guy snorkel for shells and he catches a octopus and show us, pretty neat.


We walk back to the ship as we depart early today, and all aboard is 1:30. We stop at the Coffee Bar for a drink and chat with the bar tenders as they are very busy. These workers are amazing, they really have patience, certainly more than either of us could handle. As we sit there we see two couples beside us who personally I would of reached over and strangled.

Crew on board the Emerald are amazing and go so far out of their way to accommodate all our needs. Nicola the Matre D’Hotel has been so wonderful and we are glad we got the chance to say thank you personally today to him. Kikki and Nicole, oh and Robson at the front desk make us feel so special and their quick hello to us as we pass makes us feel special. Peter at the Captain Circle Desk is such a joy to be around, you can certainly see the extra effort he puts in to make all the passengers not just the past passengers but the new ones feel special.


Tonight is the first of two Captain Circle gatherings. Tonight is all the white hot deck party, (we will miss you Karen) which we hope to make it to as it is always a guaranteed good time. I also took part in the elevator roulette at the aft elevators where I met four lovely ladies from Victoria who I was glad to see won the last round.
 
I am sitting here enjoying a glass of white wine with some cheese and fruit as I wait for Bernie to come back from the afternoon trivia.