Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunday - Dec 9 - A Very Eventful Day

This review is my own personal experience... if you would like more information about cruising check out my Facebook Fan Page Cruising-Princess-Cruiseline-with-Vickie where knowledgeable cruisers share their experiences.

Have I mentioned how much I love that there is a Starbucks on board!

Okay but I am ahead of myself....

Breakfast is in the Opus Dining room, a short wait for a table.  When you first walk in you have to decide are you going to have the buffet or the a la carte menu.  Originally we asked for a table for two and as they were leading us to the table they say, oh no tables for two do you mind sharing?  We say that is fine.  We are sat with another couple and had a nice chat.

The menu is very nice, lots of options but that is where it ended.  I asked for water and juice, Bernie asked for juice and hot tea.  He got his tea bag, then asked for milk, then realized that he didn't have a pot of hot water.  He never did get the pot of hot water and just gave up.  A repeat of last night?  Sadly yes. 

I got my juice but didn't get the water, it actually seemed like the water on board was a high priced commodity that they didn't want to put out freely as I didn't get water until I asked again once I was eating my meal. 

I started with the fruit plate of melon, it was very good and ripe.  I had the eggs Benedict.  It was a large serving and included hash browns but it was cool and obviously had been sitting for awhile as the hollandaise sauce had a crust.  Bernie ordered his oatmeal with toast, he never did get his toast. 

Again the dining room is busy and our table is right on the edge of the pathway and it is a wide pathway but Bernie's chair backs onto this pathway and people (passengers and crew) keep bumping it.  The dining room (Opus deck 3, but is similar on all decks) has tons of tables, and it appears to be crammed in.  Very little space between the tables and this makes for little privacy and adds to the volume.  I use to think Princess had crowded dining rooms but now I know that it could be worse.

We left and walked down the Promenade to get our latte and people watch before our cruisecritic meet and greet at 11:15 in Dazzles. 

We walk into Dazzles and it is beautiful, two levels with a stunning view that looks out towards the Boardwalk at the aft of the ship.  It is nicely decorated and stunning views.
When we arrived on the first day and in our cabin were invites for the meet and greet today.  Note you do need to sign up for the meet and greet ahead of time on line thru Cruisecritic.com  When you enter the venue there were two people there that handed out a free token gift, it was a lanyard with a pen and a place to store cards and little items.  It is the thought that counts and I appreciate the free gift but it isn't something I would ever use.  We take a seat and chat with another couple.  RCI provides beverages, water, coffee, juice and small pastries (all of which you can get throughout the ship for free) but it is nice that they have these available.
The MC the activities coordinator part of the cruise director staff introduces himself - sorry can't remember his name, but he is from Rio de Janeiro (oh he loved Bernie's Rio t-shirt). 

We enjoyed the gathering, the host was very funny but no officers attend and no mixing and mingling happened at all, and this is something we are use to.  They did give out some lovely door prizes.  Overall it was nice but I much prefer Princess' gathering because it is the group that coordinates it and it is run by us and we get to meet each other.  But yes it would be nice if Princess sent out the invites and maybe provided some beverages and door prizes.  But RCI you really should have a few officers attend.

We wander around a bit exploring some more.  We check out the library which is very small and very few books. Although most people no longer probably rely on libraries on board especially for such a short cruise itinerary.  There wasn't anyone from the crew there to check out books.  They rely on the honour system and signing the books out by writing your name in a binder and then marking when you return it. 

We check out the card room which is a nice size room, with a few games but not much variety.  They did have decks of cards too.  This is also the computer room (I think there were around 8 computers but I could be wrong just didn't pay attention) but we did not buy a Internet package did not use and can't comment, or even state the price.

We are hungry and we head down to the Boardwalk and Johnny Rockets.  We order a burger each and a milkshake.  The shake is $4.50 each and the cover charge for Johnny Rockets is $4.95 each.  Food again was okay, certainly not worth the extra charge but these burgers look much better than the ones served in the buffet or in the Wipeout Cafe as in those places they are precooked and left to sit in a warming tray. 

Again service lacked, our server got tied down by another table as we sat for 15 minutes waiting for our plates to get cleared.  There were other servers but they didn't leave their tables, seems like there is a rule that if your table isn't yours don't go near it.  I even tried to get another server's attention but they did not respond.  Also a show started at the Aqua theater and it got very noisy that you couldn't carry on a conversation if you wanted to. 

I will say the milkshake was very good and the onion rings were a treat, fries were blah.  Overall I would much prefer to have a burger from Princess' grill that offers fries, onion rings, burgers, hot dogs and all free and fresh.

We head to the cabin to change and put on our bathing suits and lather the sunscreen on and get some sun.

We head to the beach club pool, it is so cool it is like sitting at the beach with the water flowing over the edge and flowing by your feet. 

We get a seat by the hot tub.  We loved the large seats with the foot stools and the backs recline too.  I enjoyed the pool but the second time we go in the pool there is quite a bit of garbage floating in the pool, a straw, plastic, and a paper.

Jacuzzi was lovely too and covered and large and a great temp.  Music was nice and I got a bar drink that came in a souvenir cup for $9 which is a good price.

the kids pool

There are two soft serve ice cream dispensers up by the pool.  Seems a little odd and did get a little messy and the lines were long at time but didn't take too long.  But prefer the served ice cream from Sundaes on board Princess.  Note this ship also has an ice cream bar (we never went) another pay venue.

great art throughout the ship and especially on the pool decks


There were numerous towel stations throughout the pool decks.  Fewer are open when we are in port but still able to get fresh towels.  Now the downside is you have to swipe your cruise card to get the towels and if you don't return them at the end of the cruise you are charged $25 per towel.  Feels a little cheap to me, I know Carnival does this too but we love that Princess provides beach towels in our cabin and no worries about being charged the $25 they trust that no one is really going to want to keep those towels. 

We are back in the cabin around 4 pm relaxing before formal night tonight.  We receive our canapes (part of the Romance Package) from room service.  Funny this is the second time we have received room service from the package and both times no napkins are delivered with the items.  We have to use the Kleenix in the bathroom.

Want to comment that we love that we can easily make reservations for shows from our tv, but can't make reservations for dining room.  Also we noticed we can order room service for the next morning but you can not order breakfast the day of.  A bit of an issue when we later find it hard to find a quiet location to eat.  Also we often don't know what time we want breakfast delivered until we wake up so wish we could just order when we wake up, even if it is just coffee.

Tonight we made reservations for 7 pm in the My Time dining room.  We are sat right away at a table by the window but as we look thru the curtain (see thru sheer type) we notice we are looking out at the running track so every so often we see people running by and no view at all.  We miss the ocean views.

I stated we had the wine package and I had to give them the receipt from the day prior.  Bar staff came by and presented me with another bill and I had to sign, at first I thought oh no am I going to be charged again but it worked out, but in the end I wish I would of just of bought it initially from the wait staff in the dining room, the whole wine package was cumbersome to get.

Service starts out very slow, took over 15 minutes for the waiter/asst waiter to come to our table, but after that service was great.  The food was very good but found the menu to be limiting with not many options oh and the escargot is not available, they apparently ran out.

We have filled out the card for the breakfast in bed with the Romance package and it says to hand out to the Head Waiter at dinner.  We hand it to him and he comments about it and confirms the time of 8:30 for delivery.

We head back to the cabin and change and head to Schooners bar for a drink and people watch, there is a lovely piano player (but again it is very loud and we have to change seats to a quieter area near the bar where we can chat) and we loved looking down at the Promenade.

We have reservations tonight for the 10:30 showing of Hairspray.  Now even though you have reservations for shows you have to be seating by ten minutes prior or they open the doors to others.   We arrive at 10 and run into Fran and Curt in the line and we sit with them.  We each get a drink and love that the table has cup holders in the arm rest, much better than the small tables that come out of the arm rests on Princess. 

Lots of seats are still available when the show starts.  I would say that a third of the seats were available.  Oh I should also mention that there are certain areas of seats that are reserved for the Diamond Plus loyalty level.  Really don't like this, in imparts a feeling of class on board.  We encountered this at all the shows and even on the private island.  One nice thing with Princess is they don't do this, at their highest level I am treated the same in all the public areas as anyone else.
The show starts and the same problem as on all ships and lines occurs, yup -- rude people.  These people insist on talking thru the show, and not even in a whisper at normal voices.  Lots of people just getting up and leaving and even just standing there blocking views.  One person even chatted on their cell phone thru a show we attended!  REALLY
But in the end none of that mattered, we loved the show, probably, nope correction the best production show we have ever seen on board any ship and many shows we have seen on land too.  Loved it, well done RCI.
Stay tuned for my report on our day at Labadee



  1. Loved your RCI Day to Day Reviews, Vickie. A mixed review and wondered if have any future plans to try a smaller class of RCI ships. I noticed on the Mariner that they had a section for the Diamond Plus members by the pool and only 1/2 were used at any given time. I was on the other hand amazed at the always available loungers on the pool deck, something I rarely see on Princess....not near as many chair hogs on RCI. Our food service in the dining room was amazing everyday. I agree with your thoughts about Johnny Rockets, ate there once and that was enough for us, service was so-so...not that great to pay extra for.

  2. Thanks Vickie,
    I am really enjoying reading your review.

  3. Anonymous - currently we don't have any future plans to sail another RCI ship, big or small. Right now it will be difficult to go to another line other than princess, mainly because of all the perks we get with being Elite with 34 cruises with them. Also we have Carnvial stock and every time we sail Princess we get an onboard credit. Plus the free laundry, mini bar, loyalty on board credit, priority tendering, elite lounge, afternoon tea in the cabin, canapes on formal nights, 10% off in the boutiques. I liked RCI but feel Princess had a product tha better suited our needs right now. I agree chair were available a lot on board this trip, but there were chair hogs here too, but didn't cause an issue. Princess definately has less chairs up around the pools, but where we like to hang out on the higher deck we never have a problem getting a chair. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Thanks Carolyn for your lovely comments

  5. Very enjoyable reading Vickie, its like I am perched on your shoulder

    Dave D./Sault Ste Marie Dec 19

  6. This makes great reading but reiterates my reservations about sailing on RCI's BIG ships. I've had no problems with room services or the wine packages or anything on any of the ships I've been on - Brilliance, Jewel, Adventure etc. And Johny Rockets was simply amazing. No charge for milkshake over the $5 cover charge. I really think this ship sounds too big.