Monday, June 27, 2011

Emerald here we come again

Since we had to cancel the back to back cruises in May we starting thinking maybe we should do something in November/December when we had two weeks vacation.

But where to go at that time?  Options are minimal, mainly Caribbean or Hawaii and some late repositioning cruises. 

After checking out prices and damn the prices are good during this time as the time falls between the American Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas. 

The Emerald Princess is doing its regular 10 day Southern Caribbean medley alternating itineraries with St. Thomas and Princess Cays being duplicated. 

So after very little deliberation we booked another back to back on the Emerald.  We currently are holding an inside cabin guarantee, but since the price has already dropped once we have a feeling it may go down further and we will probably upgrade to a balcony.  Again we used Best Price cruises you can find them at

This itinerary is the exact same as we did last January/February and we love it.  We know all the ports and we look forward to trying new things in port or visiting old favorites.  In the end what we really need is some R & R and some time away with no distractions from home.

We are also hoping that some of the officers /crew that we got to know so well in January will still be around. 

Now we are checking out flights and well that is a different story as we are looking at flying in the weekend of Thanksgiving and coming home just when the kids get out for Christmas.  Currently prices are about $100 more than what we paid in January.  But who cares right!

Take care, happy cruising.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Smoking Policy Change for Princess - Yes They Are Listening

Finally!  For those that have been following my last few trips via this blog you understand my frustration when coming to smokers on board ships. 

Let me first state that usually it is not the fault of the smokers, they are just indulging in their addiction and I don't know too many smokers that would continue to smoke if they could quit.  However Princess policy has been that smoking in designated areas on board is allowed (open decks on port side, some bars, cabins and their personal balcony). 

Being a person who loves the sea and sitting out on her balcony reading or enjoying a drink only to have someone in the vicinity (yup even two decks down or two cabins over) light up and then have that peaceful moment interrupted by secondhand smoke.  And what is with the chain smoker who is out in the pjs (or less) - heck I've even witnessed a woman who sat out on her deck putting on her make up because God forbid she would have to stop smoking for five minutes.

You might say well smoking in your cabin shouldn't be an issue, yeah I would concurre; however if any of you read my posts from our cruises in January you will remember our issue with the couple who smoked in their inside cabin that was located just across from us.  Somehow smoke from their cabin came thru their door vent and every time we opened our door the air would be forced into our cabin and it was horrible.  It was like a smoker was right in our cabin!  We thankfully used our duck tape (yup never travel without it) and covered up our door vent, which did help.

Every comment sheet we have filled out in the past few years has mentioned the need for Princess to reexamine their smoking policy in their cabins and balconies.

Last week Princess introduced this policy:

Keeping the comfort of our passengers a priority, and in consideration of consumer studies which show smokers are a small minority of passengers, Princess has implemented the following smoking policy:

Designated Smoking Areas

Clearly marked “Designated Smoking Areas” are available onboard and include a sufficient number of ashtrays that are emptied regularly. Generally, these areas include cigar lounges, a section of the nightclub and casino, as well as a portion of the open decks. As a safety precaution, passengers are reminded to properly dispose of cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco, which are never to be thrown overboard as this may be sucked back into the ship and cause fires.

Stateroom Smoking Policy Update

For all voyages departing after January 15th, 2012, Princess Cruises will prohibit smoking in passenger staterooms and balconies. This policy change reflects the preferences of a vast majority of our passengers who value having their primary living space (both stateroom and balcony) smoke-free. As balconies are a hallmark of Princess Cruises, we believe it is important to keep this peaceful space clear of smoke. Violations to this policy will result in a $250 fine for each occurrence, which will be charged to the passenger’s stateroom account. Keeping with the global trend toward more restrictive smoking policies and honoring the wishes of our passengers, we feel this change will enhance our onboard experience and do more to help our passengers escape completely.

Once again thank you Princess for looking out for our needs, and it only reinforces why we continue to sail with you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Repositioning Cruises Here We Come

After having to cancel the last couple of cruises we knew we had to plan something and something soon.  But what are our options when you live in Vancouver and you don't have any scheduled vacation?  You either book an Alaskan Cruise, which was ruled out quickly because all are a minimum of seven days and we could only manage a couple of days at most, also prices are just too high too for what we wanted to pay.

Next option is repositioning cruises, now if you don't know what a repo (repositioning) is it is a cruise where the ship needs to move from one area to another.  In this case cruise ships that are positioned in Alaska need to move South to warmer weather in the Fall.  In the Spring these ships move North to Alaska bound itineraries. 

For cruise lines this is an opportunity for sometimes short voyages, and it is always good to fill the ship with people who spend their money on board than to sail the ship empty. 

This September we are booked on a three day Golden Vancouver to Los Angeles at a great rate of around $55 per person per day!  Heck you can't even eat out for that price let alone a room, entertainment, food and great service. 

For us we are thinking of booking a one day cruise on Holland America -- our first ever on HAL from Seattle to Vancouver where we will change piers and board the Golden to Los Angeles.  So we can drive to Seattle, park the car, sail to Vancouver, then sail to Los Angeles, then fly back to Seattle for around $80.  The entire trip including air works out to be $310 per person.

Oh So Much To Say About Cruising and Cancelling Last Minute

It has been a while since my last post and so much has happened.

In early March we had booked a back to back on the Sapphire for April 30 and May 7, a seven day Mexican cruise and then a coastal from Los Angeles to Vancouver.  We looked forward to two weeks on the Sapphire and seeing old friends again.  Our roll calls with were very active and lots of events were planned.

Mom and I

Exactly one week prior to leaving we got the call that most hate to get.  My Mom who had been fighting cancer for a while had taken a turn for the worst and was in the hospital and the family was called to be by her side before she passed.  Without hesitation we cancelled the two cruises, the flights and the hotel and made travel arrangements to head to Montreal to be with my family.  We had a week with her in palliative care before she passed on May 5 surrounded by her family.

The cancellation was easy to do, a quick call to our travel agent (Best Price Cruises) and the paper work was done and sadly the penalty was 100% cancellation fee as it was within the fourteen day period.  Thankfully we had travel insurance through our credit card and we were able to make a claim and will be reimbursed for the total costs.  Another big reason to always get insurance.

Somehow we must of felt that our cruise would of been cancelled.  I say this because not a single item was placed in the packing room - you know that space that you start to collect stuff for the trip.  Not a single item.  And that is just not like us.  We didn't even organize a single excursion in any of the ports for the entire fourteen days.

Of course because we cancelled we lost 100% which included two future cruise credits each which was disappointing but understandable.  When I mentioned this to my travel agent that we wish we had those future cruise credits as we wanted to book a back to back for Dec and would have to wait till the fall after we sailed again.  She said let me see what Princess says.  After she spoke to them and explained the situation they said it would be no problem to buy two future cruise credits for this one time only.  So nice and appreciated and the day after we booked the back to back 20 days on the Emerald for Dec.  Thank you Princess this is why we are loyal to you.

We may have lost a two week holiday but we were blessed to spend the last few days with Mom.  Rest in Peace Mom - Marie Paule Fugere April 3 1941 - May 5 2011.