Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday and Puerto Vallarta

We are up and down to the Amafi dining room for breakfast, had a lovely dish today a Frittata.  It is busy in the dining room this morning, lots of people are up and ready to hit the port running, well not literally cause it could kill a few people on board if they did. 

We dock at 10 am and it is so GREAT to be back in Mexico.  We have been coming to Mexico for almost 20 years now and both of us feel like it is a second home and have even considered retiring down here.  But that is another story.

this is the cruise terminal
We head ashore around 10:30, note the agents on shore may go thru your bags ensuring you are not bringing any fruit of any kind ashore.  Oh and they will check your bag when you come back on too to ensure you are not taking anything out of the country that you shouldn’t so be warned.

I will be writing a port report on Puerto Vallarta when I get home so stay tuned for more details on what to do here and how to do it.


We walk out to the main drag, just outside the port area and stay on the same side of the road and catch a local bus.  The destinations are written on the dash of the buses to identify where they are going.  Today the price was 13 pesos for the two of us.  To go downtown catch a bus that says Centro meaning the Center of Town.  It will be about a 15 minute ride, look for the open square, large cathedral and the water this is a good spot to get off and walk around.
see bus will show on windshield where it goes

romantic zone

We are off and I find a lovely clothing store where I buy two Mexican blouses.  Then we cross the Gringo Gulch and head towards the Romantic Zone and find a store that is selling Oaxacan rugs.  Bernie loves these rugs and he wants another one for his newly renovated bathroom so we decide to talk about it and come back if necessary.


We walk along the beach and there are lots of options for places to eat and drink but we head back to a place we passed earlier.  The view is to die for, the Margaritas are cold and the beer even  colder.  I order chili rellenos, and Bernie gets the shrimp tacos and we are happy – doesn’t take much.


While walking back to the rug store I come across a store that sells lovely leather shoes and buy two pairs.  Then we go around the corner and Bernie buys two rugs!  They are lovely.

It is freakin hot and while sitting on a bench we pick up two popsicles pineapple for Bernie coconut for me from a street vendor, then we get a lovely cold beverage from another vendor… yup we belong!

With all our packages to weigh us down we flag a taxi (60 pesos) and we are dropped right near the port at Sorianos which is a large grocery/general store that sells pretty much everything.  It is on the same side as the port just to the south of the port, you really can’t miss it.  We pick up more Maja soap for me, some grapefruit juice for Bernie for mix with his vodka in the room, and ear plugs so Bernie can sleep during the shows below our cabin. 

We head back to the ship around 4 pm and head back to the cabin to peel off these sweaty clothes and I swear I heard the bed calling my name, yup I am pretty sure it was calling Vickie.  So I am down for the count and miss sailaway, but Bernie did go out and get pictures.  But afterwards he is back in the cabin and we sleep for like two hours!

Not really into going to the dining room tonight, I don’t want to dress for it; however the dress code seems to be very lax this voyage but most people do follow the dress code and it is the Ultimate Deck Party tonight so a lot of people are in appropriate dress for that I guess.

I am glad we went up to Horizon Court for dinner it was very good and I really enjoy the salad bar and enjoy a large spinach salad bar.

Bernie, Matias, Me, Jasper and Peter

Look at Zara an her moves, Bernie keeps up very well

Jasper enjoys a drink
Up for the deck party!  Love Opus and they get the dance floor up and moving, including us!  We dance for like 40 minutes, we are hot and sweaty, time for a drink.  We enjoy a lovely evening and love watching others enjoying themselves too.  We catch up with some of the crew we know and by 11:30 we are back in the cabin.  Clocks go back tonight, they went forward last night and then go back tonight…. Argh.


Tomorrow we arrive in Cabo at noon and we are there overnight.  Good night.

I Think it is Saturday

Darn the clock says 5 am!  What is wrong with this picture?  I am on vacation!  I read for about an hour and then decide I may as well get up.  I quietly get dressed and head out.  I love wandering the ship at this hour, everyone is just waking up.  I do take the time to get a few pictures of some of the public areas while they are quiet for my facebook fan page photo albums. 

The dining room opens at 7 am and I have a nice breakfast of an omelet with toast.  Then off to get my latte in the Piazza and do some reading and chatting with some fellow passengers.

I decide to head over to the Vista Lounge to see Peter (Captain Circle Host) and Pippa (Future Cruise Consultant) discuss Princess’ Loyalty Program and then Pippa discussed cruise itineraries for the Americas.  Again another first for me and even though I know most of this it is nice to learn that this is offered so I can advise my fans on my facebook page of this information.

Need to get a workout in and we are up in the gym around 11 am, it is still busy, unfortunately two of the treadmills are down but only one has a sign and the other hasn’t been tagged yet with a sign so it constantly has people getting on trying to fix it.  I try to report the machine to staff but can’t find the gym staff, then I see they are both in a lecture.  For anyone that needs to keep active on a cruise the ship’s gym is very adequate with numerous cardio machines, free weights and weight machines.  Not to mention a huge variety of group classes including spinning, yoga, Pilates and Zumba.

For lunch we just head down to the International Café and I have a bowl of potato soup (very good) and a sandwich.  I have a mousse for dessert at the staff’s recommendation and it is very yummy.  Then end the meal with a nice iced latte.  It is great to sit here and people watch.


As mentioned yesterday Bernie volunteered to take part in the Runway At Sea today.  He changed into his outfit and we head to the Explorer’s Lounge for the show.  The stage is set up to look like a make shift runway and Brittany the Shopping Host MC the show.  There were about ten models of all ages, both Men and Women and it was a great way to see some of the outfits that are offered on board.  I was impressed and really didn’t realize what could be put together as an outfit from the shops.  Oh and Bernie did great, he carried Jasper (our mascot) with him and he had some fun with his little modeling experience, flashing a bit of shoulder.  He is in his element, even if he doesn’t think so.


Bernie is tired, but the movie Men In Black is playing in the Theater and we can hear it in our cabin, so I want to get out on deck for some sun so I leave him and head up to the Sun deck and sit out for about an hour reading but having trouble keeping my eyes open.  So I am back in the cabin, the movie should be finishing soon so I should be able to get a nap in now. 

I wake around 5:30 to the rehearsal in the theater.  Now I wasn’t sleeping that soundly anyways.  Now I will state that we did tell the Purser’s Desk about the cabin situation and since the ship is full it is difficult as there are no cabins available.  We are offered a cabin all the way forward on Emerald deck – an Ocean View Obstructed, but I don’t think that would be a good cabin either as it too is above the Princess Theater and it’s window is right outside the higher level of the Promenade Deck.  Makes no sense to change from one bad cabin to another so we will stay put unless something better comes up.  We do understand that we did choose this cabin and we will make due if we have to.  But will make note to not pick a cabin in this area again.  Thought it would have been fine but didn’t take into consideration how high the area right above the stage went, obviously right to Caribe deck and cabin 212.

We have dining reservations in Portifino tonight for 7:45 for the two of us so we stop in Crooners for a drink prior and then head off for our meal.  Tonight Douw the head waiter has a treat for us.  The menu is Princess Dinner for those that are interested, but we have the pleasure of being served a special menu prepared by one of the Indian Chef’s.  Oh My God it is good and we know this is a special treat.  We get to meet the Chef and thank him personally and make sure to tip our wonderful wait staff Antonio from the Philippines and Ajay from India as well as the Chef.  We really appreciate all that they have done for us, but we feel awkward with all the special treatment.  Even Ajay brings us a Chai Tea bag (from his personal supply!) and insists we have it as he is impressed that we love Indian food so much.

Antonio, Douw (with Jasper) and Ajay
There is a lot going on tonight.  The production show is Destination Anywhere but we have seen it before and when we get out of dinner we are drawn to the music and show playing in the Atrium.  Juggling Champions Team Rootberry are performing.  They are very very good!  I am sorry I missed the beginning of the show.  After their performance Tempo Quatro performs in the Atrium and people area dancing everywhere. 

We make our way to Explorer’s Lounge and the 50’s Rock and Roll Night is going on, great music is playing and we grab a drink and enjoy.  Karaoke starts right after so we grab our drink and head next door to the Wheelhouse and listen to Maxman Duo for a bit.

We are really enjoying the variety of entertainment on board and we like how the bands tend to move around each night to different venues. 

It is 11 pm and the clocks go forward tonight so we hit the hay after another great day and night on board the Star Princess.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Friday – can you hear the waves it is a day at sea

Wow it is 9:30, well really 8:30 but the clocks went forward.  So much for breakfast in the dining room.  I want to head to Sudoku so I am dressed and out of there in a flash.  I came in third in the Sudoku challenge and won a lanyard, and since I have lots of them I gave it to the nice gentleman next to me.


A quick breakfast in Horizon Court of mixed fruit and Muselix – boy it is busy up there at  10 am, but I am guessing a lot of people are thrown off by the time change too and the dining room closing at 9.


We head to the Piazza for my espresso and Bernie’s tea (he loves the new tea specialty tea brands he is finding here).  We see Jim MacDonald the comedian from last night and we tell him hi and how much we enjoyed his show.

Felipe and Delmarie
So now that we have eaten, gotten our coffee, it is time for a workout and we both head up to the gym for a good workout.  Oh what a view!  The gym was busy when we first got up there but it doesn’t take long for it to clear out – lunch time.

The afternoon will consist of some R and R out on deck in a bathing suit and cold beverage.  So bathing suits are on, sunscreen is slathered on and we are off to sun deck, aft area.  Great area, close to the washroom, close to a bar, close to a Jacuzzi, close to a pool and rather quiet.  We hang out there for about two hours before Bernie heads back to the room, I head to the spa to enjoy the steam room and sauna; however sadly the steam room was not that hot and the sauna was definitely not that hot.  This area is in desperate need of some TLC and is showing it’s age.  Thermostat was broken in the sauna, so I couldn’t tell you what the temp was but put it this way I could of hanged in there for hours and I believe with saunas it shouldn’t be like that.

We are both in the cabin now and right on queue around 5:30 we hear the drum solo just below us, no sense watching tv as it is hard to hear.  So we put on our iPods and read until it is time to get ready.  It is intermittent the sounds from below to only when they are rehearsing or the show is on.  I always like to think it could be worse – we could be above another bar that is only all night, or God forbid we actually had to cook and clean here. 

Bernie has been talked into being one of the models for the Runway Show tomorrow in Explorer’s Lounge where they will be featuring the new clothing items in the boutiques.  Stay tuned for the full story tomorrow and when I get home I will definitely add pictures.

Emilio (Hotel General Manager) and me, so nice to see Emilio again

Tonight is formal night and also the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party.  We haven’t been to the Welcome Aboard Party in years and decide lets check it out and we have a good time and enjoy meeting many of our fellow passengers.  I even decide to try my turn at pouring the champagne on the champagne waterfall.  Yes!  I have never done this…. Hard to believe but true and now I can say I have done everything!

Captain Todd McBain
We meet up with friends for drinks in Wheelhouse then move over to Sabatinis for dinner.  For those that don’t know Sabatinis has a $20 coverage charge for a fabulous meal.  I chose to start with the calamari my favorite appetizer, and then for my entrée I had lobster risotto (which is a portion of the lobster three ways but I love the Risotto).  For dessert I opt to forgo so I can have my favorite drink the Sicilian Kiss.  In fact we head back to the Wheelhouse where I have another Sicilian Kiss.

Peter and Bernie

Pippa swears by the steak served in Sabatinis

Pippa and I
Another great day on board.

Some of the events today from the Patter:  Bible Study, Bocce Ball, Golf and Croquet, Bridge Lecture, Sudoku, Trivia, Holiday Store at Sea, Shopping Spotlight Show, Zumba, Service Club Get Together, Pin Pong Play, Casino Introduction, Egg Drop Sign Up, Texas Hold’Em Tournament, Naturalist Lecture (Exotic Marine Life off Mexico), Photography at Sea, Art Auction, Duplicate Bridge Play, Pop Choir Rehearsal, Closest To The Pin, Ballroom Dance Class, Arts & Crafts – Box Making, Bingo, Singles & Solos Afternoon Tea Get Together, Jewish Sabbath Eve Service, Who Sang What?  Featuring Totally 80s, Production Show – Stardust, Majority Rules, Comedian Jim MacDonald.


Movies today:  Big Miracle, John Carter, Men in Black 3, Snow White and the Huntsman


Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday Evening

Catalina Island
We are relaxing in the cabin, enjoying a glass of Norton Reserva from Chile.  But we know we have to get dressed and head out.  Our evening starts with heading down to Explorer’s Lounge to participate in the TV Theme Trivia, we join a lovely couple from the San Francisco area and we don’t do too bad but we did have fun.  Zara hosted and we love Zara.

Douw, Jasper and Bernie

We decide to get some dinner now and head to Portifinos for a meal, this sailing Portifinos is being used for early traditional dining at 5:30 but opens for anytime at 7:45.  We have no problem getting a table at 8:15 and Douw takes very good care of us as usual.  Our assistant waiter is on his first cruise on his first contract and you can see he is nervous but does a great job.  I skipped the appetizer and salad and went straight for a lovely chicken dish that was served with carrots, asparagus and zucchini.  Then of course dessert of cream Brule! We also enjoyed a bottle of Wolfe Blass, and corked the remaining wine for another time.  Princess now gives you a little ticket that states the wine and your cabin number and where you dined.  They have done this for awhile now but we always seem to loose the little ticket, but they still are able to locate the wine.

We discuss options for dinner tomorrow and decide since tomorrow is formal night we would try and get a reservation for Sabatinis – Douw runs off and comes back with a confirmed reservation for Friday at 7:30.  Wow thanks for the personalized service Douw!  But all the head waiters are amazing and bend over backwards for all passengers.


We decide after dinner to check out the comedian Jim MacDonald in the Princess theater.  We join Murray and his friends (cruise critic friends).  Jim MacDonald we have sailed with before in fact we have probably seen his shows about 5 times but we love his video montage he does at the end.  My favorite line was “all the teens sailing, trying to be cool, yeah dude it is spring break and I am on a cruise”  yeah but not so cool that you have to share a cabin with your grandmother.  Laughing!!!  So if you are on a ship with Jim make sure you check out his show. 

It is now 11 pm and it is rather quiet around the ship except for the jazz band in the atrium and lots of people listening, they are very good.  We wander around the outside Promenade and then head back to the room.  Clocks go forward tonight and I swear as soon as our heads hit the pillow we are out!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday Evening to Thursday Catalina

Jasper checks out some souvenirs

After a quick dinner in the Horizon Court we checked out the Beattles’ trivia in Explorer with Matias – we sucked at that.  Then came back for the Princess Pyramid Game, we joined a couple Rudy and Mabel from San Francisco area and we had a good time, both Bernie and I attempted to guess the answers, but once again we sucked.

Matais - Deputy Cruise Director
There is a Welcome Aboard Show, one time only 9:45 and I say we never go to the Welcome Aboard Show so lets go, we arrive right at 9:45 and it is quite full but still able to find a few seats.  Martyn Moss is our Cruise Director and I really enjoyed the show.  I loved how they showed a video of the amenities on board and Martyn described what the passengers could expect.  Love it!

We are in bed early and we need it! 

We awake and feel refreshed and ready to enjoy the day.  We head to Amafi dining room for breakfast and have a lovely meal with a lady - Audrey.  We get to meet Rui the new Maitre d’Hotel and of course Douw is there. 

Rui - Maitre d'hotel

The sad news is that they don’t have the wine card on board this voyage.  Apprently it is because there is no sommelier on board.  Really I think, now all the times we have ever sailed we have never purchased wine from the sommelier, we have always purchased our wine directly from the very knowledgeable bar staff, waiters and head waiters.  Oh well we were going to get it but we will pick up some wine in Catalina instead, Princess you are loosing sales here.

Our meet and greet is today and we are about 30 people it is nice to put names to a face.  We have a bit of time to kill before arriving in Catalina at 1 pm so we wander around the stores (even buy a lovely Fossil watch) grab a latte and read a bit and chat up with a few passengers.

We choose not to get lunch before getting off because we really want to grab a meal ashore. 

Catalina is a tender port and we head to the tender around 1:30 (one of the perks of elite is you get priority tendering).  A short trip to shore and we are off like bandits.  We stop at the information booth and find out where we can get information for a hike, they direct us to the Catalina Conservatory where we find out better info on where to go. 

We walk past the golf course up the hill side thru the campground (follow signs to the botanical garden).  At the end of the campground is a sign directing us to the trail with a warning of rattle snakes!
What I say!  And I make Bernie lead the way.  The hike took about 45 minutes to the lookout and what a view! 

We feel great and so glad we decided to head out on this hike.  We hike back down and stop for a meal at a great Mexican restaurant.

love this -- a golf cart tow truck

After the meal we wander down the street to find a grocery store to get some wine.  We get six bottles (they even offer a 10% discount when you buy six). 

Not sure what we are up to this evening, we aren’t hungry but do want to do the trivia at 7 which is the tv theme song trivia, then we would like to see the comedian Jim MacDonald.  We have seen him before and really enjoy his show.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

San Francisco September 26

We are up and taking our time getting up and about as we can hear everyone around our cabin clearing out of their staterooms getting ready to get off the ship.  We know we don’t have to rush, we are staying! 


For breakfast we head to the Amafi dining room and have a nice meal.  Nothing better than to be served breakfast from so many attentive crew that can’t do enough for you.  We say goodbye to Jacques the Maitre d’Hotel as he is heading home to Dominican Republic.  A quick chat with Douw to see if there is anything he wants us to pick up in San Francisco but he is good he says.


We are docked and people are getting off, we head back to the cabin get our stuff and we on land again around 10:30.  The Disney Wonder is docked right beside us at Pier 35.  I do look forward to the day San Francisco builds a new pier to replace this warehouse looking pier.


Our first stop is the Starbucks stop for beverage and people watch.  Next stop was for some wine at Cost Plus then to meet Barb and Craig, and Russel and Gail for lunch.  It was great seeing them all and to catch up.  Just wish they were getting on the ship with us!

After lunch we make our way back to the ship and there is absolutely no line up as it is 2:45.  We get on and head to the cabin and relax while the Muster Drill is going on (we received notification that we don’t have to attend as we are on a back to back).  But before it is over we head up to the Sun deck to take some pictures and we are pulling out!  Horn blares and we are off. 

view of the Golden Gate from inside - too darn cold

this was taken earlier in the day when it was warmer

But damn it is cold!  Wind is howling and clouds are above, the Golden Gate is barely visible.  I am freezing, hard to believe just two days ago we in t-shirts/shorts in Vancouver, and people were in the pool cause it was so warm, but here in California we are COLD.  We head in and relax in the cabin, housekeeping has come to deal with the bed issue and has made it perfect. 


We are due for a quiet night, no dining room for us just Horizon Court and early bed.


But as I lay here I can hear music blaring!  This is the first I hear but now I realize it is coming from the Princess Theater, they must be rehearsing.  It is loud!  Certainly would never choose this cabin again as we must be right above the theater even though we are three decks up, but it must be below as the ceiling in there is high.