Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Time Is Here

Hard to believe it is Christmas time again.  I want to first wish all my followers a very happy holiday in however you may celebrate the season.  

I am celebrating Christmas this year with my family in Quebec, in Drummondville to be exact.  I was raised in Drummondville but moved away 30 years ago to start a new life in British Columbia.  Funny how I have lived in B.C. the longest but Quebec is still referred to as my  home?  Wonder how many others feel the same?

Anyway back to what I was saying.  We booked this trip with airmiles as soon as the bookings opened back in March.  We finally have Christmas week off at work and we are so looking forward to seeing family.  And right now it looks like we will have a white Christmas too.  Since this rarely happens in Vancouver, it is nice to see snow in the East.  As long as it doesn't play havoc with our flights, but so far it doesn't look like it will.

So any advice for flying over the holiday?  

Well off to pack.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brrr Baby It's Cold Outside

 

It has been a while since I last did a blog report, I don't normally blog when I am not travelling but since it is such a long time between trips I thought I would just post what has been happening and what is coming up.



Our last vacation was in September and because of our jobs we don't have any other vacation time until the week of Christmas.  YES I finally managed to snag the week of Christmas off.  Normally I work, and have worked every Christmas/Boxing Day/New Years for the past 16 years that I have been driving.  But this year we had first choice for vacation and I said to Bernie, this year I really want to go home to Quebec for Christmas.  

So back in March as soon as the dates opened up thru our airmiles we scooped up two seats with Westjet to Montreal.  

This will be my first trip back home in 30 years.  Sadly my parents are no longer alive but I have a huge family of aunts, uncles,cousins, second cousins, and their spouses.  It will be so nice to be there again and both Bernie and I are so looking forward to it.

Once we make it back to reality in Vancouver at the end of the month we will be back to work on December 30th, working New Years Eve and New Years Day and our countdown will begin for our next great adventure.

We are heading back to South America in February and we have most of the trip planned out.  With tours (all private) arranged for many of the ports and the few ports we don't have plans for we are going to head out on our own and explore.  

We are just confirming a house sitter for the time we will be gone.  Thankfully we have a good friend who likes to stay here cause they are so close to work that they can walk from our place to it.


Barb and Craig will be joining us again, but this time for the entire voyage.  We will meet up with them in Florida to do a private Everglades trip together and a lovely dinner in the evening.  Again something I have always wanted to do in a small group.  Last time we did it we were around 25 people, this time it will just be the four of us!

Jan and Michael will be joining the cruise in Buenos Aries, and it will be lovely to see them again.  Michael and Bernie have planned a flight over the Nasca Lines in Peru together.  The rest of us will wander the streets..... ha ha ha

For other ports here is a brief run down of what we have scheduled:

Antigua - Segway tour
St. Thomas - Back to Water Island
Barbados - Lobster Alive (but this time I will pace myself with those wicked rum punches)
Rio de Janeiro - tickets to Carnivale in the Sambadromo!!!  Next day we will head out on our own and explore our favourite haunts.


Montevideo - City Tour followed by a tour/meal at a real ranch with Gauchos
Buenos Aries - a Private tour for just the two of us
Ushuaia - Bernie is going golfing (will try to get it in since he missed it last time) I will be doing a tour with Barb and Craig
Puerto Mont - Private Tour
Valparaiso - hopefully seeing an old friend
Lima - Private tour for the 8 of us
Costa Rica - Zip line trip to adventure park

So keep checking back to follow along on our next great adventure.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cruise Radio Interview

As many of you know I am a transit driver in the city of Vancouver.  So to help pass the time I often listen to pod casts on my iPhone   I have been doing this since I first got an iPod and the selection was limited as to what pod casts you could get. 

Thankfully as the years have passed the selection has increased and of course the travel pod casts, including cruise pod casts have been added to my favorites.

I have been on a few other pod casts.  But sadly these two other pod casts have pretty much folded.  It is a big commitment but they are missed.  but....

Last year (or maybe two years ago) I found Cruise Radio and started listening to them every week.  

We have been in discussions for almost a year about me coming on for an interview to discuss Princess. 

Last week we finally coordinated our schedules and we were able to get the interview down.  

So here is a link to the interview Pod Cast 

You can learn more about Cruise Radio by visiting their website at cruise radio  or visiting their facebook page at Cruise Radio's Facebook Page 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Halifax

I set the clock for 8 but I must of slept right thru it as I didn’t get up till 8:45 and I am meeting Janice at 9:30 so up I get and a quick shower.  Don’t know why I even tried to do my hair, the weather is overcast and sprinkles and the wind at the water is brisk.  As soon as I get outside the hair is a mess.


I meet up with Janice from my fan page who has come over to say hi to me and we head out to grab a coffee and get to know each other.  It is such a treat to connect with fans from my page, and of course chat cruising!


At noon I meet up with Bernie and our niece Nancy at the Red Stag Pub which is part of the Alexander Keith’s brewery.  I wish I could give it a good review but it was truly bad.  The food was really not good, none of us finished what we were given.  Bernie had the lobster chowder which he found very salty.  But we rarely use salt so we thought well maybe it is just this.  Nope… I ordered the honey chicken which was a big chicken breast which was moist but the rice and vegetables were very bland and the chicken still had the skin on and was very fatty.  All in all it was poor food, service was non existent and the prices were high because of the connection to the brewery.  Of course when we were trying to pick a place to meet we could only think of this place as it is some place we knew of. 

But we were so happy to spend time with our niece Nancy even if it was just for a few hours.

Bernie decided to wander back to the ship and I did more exploring.  I am going to write a blog report just for Halifax with maps and things to see cause it is a great port to explore.




I did stop in at pier 21 which is right beside our cruise ship pier and went in.  It is an amazing museum all about the people who came in and out of this port.  Mainly immigrants and soldiers.  It is sort of like Ellis Island of Canada.  The cost is minimal – just under $9 per person.  Make sure you watch the video that runs every hour.  It is very well done and gives you a great perspective of the entire museum.




I walk thru the museum building which is connected with the Pier 22 that our ship is at.  There are lots of shops selling tons of different things here – and I am shocked I didn’t buy a thing!

I am back on board at 5 pm and Bernie is just finishing up with Trivia – for which they did not do well.  We are back in the cabin and I am putting my pictures on my computer and catching up with my blog and messages.

Tonight is formal night (note last week it was held Wednesday night, this week it is Thursday).  It isn’t my favorite menu.  Normally I would just skip the dining room but we love seeing Douw and our wait staff.


Saint John New Brunswick and the Night Prior

We are a little slow getting up today.  You see last night we were busy.  First it started with Multi Media Trivia with the theme being 60s and 70s music trivia.  We joined up with some ladies we met earlier Mark hosted.  He played a bit of a song and we had to name the song and the artist.  Wow we actually tied with another team and we were each given a bottle of sparkling wine.  We left it for the women to enjoy.
At 7:45 we had the Most Travelled Passenger Party. 



This is a party to honour the top 40 travellers on this voyage.  For this trip we are number 8 and 9 and we are happy to attend.  The Captain was surprised to see us and we posed for the picture, for which I will scan and put here when I get home. Oh and they had only one door open for the Most Travelled Party, remember last week I stated here that the queue was long and awkward to get in and looks like they have fixed it.  It ran much smoother this time.

Tonight we sit by ourselves and we both get a drink and then the appetizers start coming around.  This week we thought the tapas were much better than last week’s party.  Loved the goat cheese balls, the drumettes, and the sirloin.  Dana the CSD came by and we caught up with her.  Bernie even stopped and chatted with Captain Pomata for a bit and asked him about the Bay of Fundy and asked how difficult it was to sail it. 
Dana and Jasper

After the party we went to Sabatinis for dinner with a friend.  The meal was very good, I started with the calamari (which I couldn’t finish) and then had the lobster three ways.  It was done a bit differently and I enjoyed it more this time.  We had a few bottles of wine and Sicilian Kisses drink for dessert – yup my dessert is a martini drink.    Alberto came down and surprised us for a bit and we didn’t get back to our cabin until midnight!  And with the clocks going forward ouch!




So I am back to the morning of St. John and well a bit of a hangover!  Little sleep and it is overcast with a light drizzle and all I can think of is more sleep.  I didn’t go to breakfast I just took my time getting ready.  We wandered ashore around 10 am and walked to the mall to pick up a few things and then crossed the street to the dollar store and then wandered into the city market again.  Oh and went to the Starbucks in the mall too.  I am feeling a little bit more alive now. 

We decide to walk the boardwalk along the Harbour which is lovely and it has stopped raining.  It is rather cool and windy but I really enjoyed it.  As we make our way back towards Uptown we agree a bite to eat is in order and we enjoy a relaxing meal before walking a bit more.  This is a nice city.

We are back on board and I try to stay awake but I am so tired.  I crash and I sleep until 6 pm (2 hours)!  Guess I needed it.  Tonight is the Captain Circle Party.  Captain Pomata welcomed us as we came in and even hugged me!  Wow guess since we have sailed with him five times this year he feels comfortable with us.   We make our way to a seat near the back, we have learned we prefer these seats near the back cause it is away from people and we feel okay chatting throughout it and it doesn’t bother anyone.  A quick cocktail but no food for us even though the wait staff are trying to get us to take something we are good.  We chat with Dana again, and she joins us for awhile and she is a hoot.  I like her, and if she lived closer I know we would be friends.  One thing we noticed is they didn’t show the Royal Princess christening like they did last week.  Maybe they read my blog and how I didn’t enjoy it…. Anyways just glad they didn’t.


Down to the dining room for dinner.  Douw is waiting for us and we enjoy a lovely dinner with Remil and Jerwin serving us, I am going to miss these guys when I get home. 


We then head to the Princess Theater and watch the Born to Be Wild show.  Amazing again!  I took lots of pics will try and post some here now or at least when I get home this weekend. 


Corey the Deputy Cruise Director is a hoot - he got a hold of the camera and well he let out his artistic side


After the show we head down to say hi to Delmarie in Facets – she is happy to see us as she didn’t see us yesterday.  We catch up and a few other crew come in and chat and well lots of laughs were had.  Time for bed.  Halifax tomorrow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

We LOVE Boston

The gangway was opened at 10 am and everyone wanted to get off right away.  Today there were two gangways open, deck 5 and 6 so we got off very quickly from deck 6.  Last week there were three ships in port and we were parked (although ships don’t part they berth-but you know what I mean) the furthest away.  Today we are the second of two ships in so we are in the middle. 

As soon as we get off we are in a large warehouse type building that has some information about what you can do here.  Here you can buy transportation to the Quincy Market for $15 per person round trip.  

There are also hop on hop off tours too (although much cheaper just to exit the pier and buy directly).  Taxis are available right outside the pier too.  I grab a free map that outlines numerous routes and has the subway on it and we are good.

Once we are out we just cross the street and catch the Silver Line 2 bus.  It stops here often and it is an articulated bus so it can accommodate lots.  They have a stop here as well as one further down (great if you are the first ship in port and parked the closest).  

Fare for adults was $2.50 and for seniors $1, note they do not give change so it is good to have exact change.  You don’t need a transfer cause the bus will take you right to the subway. 

What is cool about this bus is it is run on diesel then it enters a bus loop where poles go up and it is run on electricity.  Then it runs underground…. So stay on!  We took it to South Station where we got off and went down the stairs to the red line going inbound towards Alewife Station.  We rode the red line three stops and got off at Charles/MGH Station.

We walked down Charles Street and window shopped into many of the Antique stores.  When we got to Boston Public Garden we grabbed a coffee and sat on a bench and watched the people go by.  The weather is amazing, feels like summer and I wore jeans and a long sleeve top and I am hot.  But that wind can gust up especially when you are walking between buildings so be prepared.

After our respite we cross over Beacon street and take the obligatory Cheers Pub picture.  Now although it is neat to look at this is really not the real pub, last week they said the outside shots were filmed here.  The actual pub scenes were filmed on a Los Angeles Film Stages.  The restaurant/pub upstairs here has been redone to look just like the sound stage though and they do have a gift shop where you can buy Cheers merchandise.  We did not go in.

We cross the street back to the Boston Public Gardens checking out the beautiful flowers, statues, paths and views. 

Cross Charles Street and into the Boston Common and we head towards Tremont Street and the start of the Freedom Trail.  It is easy to spot cause the trail is marked with a red brick or painted line on the road/sidewalk.

As we found the trail we were following a family and the young girl walked right into this steel overhang of a statue.  Guess what – she was on her phone and wasn't looking!  Thankfully she was okay but she is going to have a big bump and that just goes to show you – don’t walk and text!

We walk up to the State House , then Granary Burial Ground, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, over to Faneuil Hall (where we used the washroom).  We walked around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market for a bit then decided lunch was in order. 

It was one pm and we knew we wanted to try out the Union Oyster House from a friend’s recommendation.  It was very busy – their claim to fame is it is the oldest restaurant in North America.  It is old and lots to look at.  The food was good, very pricey, service was okay, I loved my Bloody Mart and Bernie loved the clam chowder, but the crab cakes were so so and it was over $80 for our lunch or crab cakes, and two drinks each, ouch.

Back out walking and following the Freedom trail again over into the North End and Paul Revere’s House.

This is where we both decide to end the walk on the trail and make our way back to Mike’s Pastry on Hanover Street.  We pick up a dozen cannoli’s this time.  One for each of us and then the other ten are going to the Maitre D and his crew for a treat tonight after their dinner. 

We start walking along the Waterfront walkway and very soon we are at the Evelyn Moakley Bridge.  Originally we were going to take transit back but heck we are almost there so we just continue back to the pier on foot.

Now it should be noted that we walk  A LOT at home so this walk today was fine for us.  In all we walked around 12 km and it was all relatively flat.  But if you have issues with walking I strongly urge you to take transit, a taxi, or a shuttle.  Even the Water Taxi can transport you along too for $10 each.

We are back on board and we are enjoying our canolli on the deck and I think Bernie is going to need a nap, heck who am I kidding I need a nap too.


In the end we both didn’t want to like Boston cause they beat our Canuck hockey team in the playoffs a few years ago but we both fell in love with Boston.  We wish the ship could of spent two days here instead of stopping in Rhode Island, but we are glad we got to visit it twice.  I also know we will come back here and spend more time, at least a week.

Sunday Evening

The weather here in Rhode Island cleared up very nicely this afternoon.  The sun is shining and it is rather hot, in fact I got a bit of a sun burn sitting out in the sun. 

Bernie and I decided to go watch the movie the Internship in the Princess Theater which we enjoyed it was a fun movie.  Not something we would normally go and see and pay for but what a fun event to watch on a relaxing day on board.  The video on the screen was not that great and was blurry sometimes.  Not sure why but even though it was annoying it didn’t happen that much and we still enjoyed it.

Bernie went to trivia and won!  He really likes trivia and Melissa from the cruise staff was hosting.  He joined a few people from Britain and will look for them  the next time.  His prize was one of those great Princess clips with the magnet on it and we use it on our cabin wall and clip documents we need to access.
I grab a chocolate Napoleon from the Horizon Court and a cup of tea and head down to the cabin and I sit out on the deck and read.  So wonderful and sunny.  When Bernie comes back we enjoy it together and have a drink to start the evening.

Tonight is formal night and we dress up, yup three formal nights so far and we dressed up for every one.  So far it has been nice but the menu for the next formal is not one of our favorites so we will be opting out of it and eating in the Horizon Court.

Okay back to today.  We head down to dinner and the second seating is busier than last voyage but there are some vacant tables.  For tonight we are enjoying some champagne to toast the evening and I start out with some soup and then some lovely pasta that was made special for us, garlic, chilies, olive oil and pasta boy that was delicious.  For my entrée I had the Cornish game hen and Bernie had the vegetarian spinach dish with a few shrimp from another entrée.  Of course I enjoyed a cheese plate for dessert to enjoy my last bit of my wine.

The tribute act tonight is Horizon.  They were on at the end of the voyage last week but we didn’t get to see them so we are making a point of going to see them tonight.  They are a Motown Tribute Band and they are very good.  We sing along to every song and even dance a bit too. 


I tried to talk Bernie into going to Skywalkers for some dancing but he says he is too tired so we are back in the cabin and we fall asleep soon after at around midnight.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New York Sail Away and Morning of Rhode Island


It is a lovely afternoon for a sail away and there are lots of people out for it.  It is so nice to see so many people excited about their voyage.  This is a great place to people watch.  Most people are happy, excited, in love, hopeful and well just nice.  Give it a few hours, fast forward to 8 pm as we sit outside Explorer’s Lounge.  We sit waiting until dinner and we people watch as the passengers wander about the ship.  Now is not a good time for many people.  Many are tired from long day of travel.  They are trying to find something, the dining room, a lounge, the theater, even a washroom.  We notice a lot of people are short tempered and quite a few scream at their partners.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  Hopefully a good night sleep will rejuvenate everyone.

Okay back to our evening and our regular scheduled program. 

We dance a bit, we enjoy a cocktail and we check out the views.  We are in a cabin that is aft right on Riviera deck so we can walk thru Horizon Court, thru Café Caribe to the aft pool and then down a flight of stairs right to our cabin.  We are the first cabin – well actually it is the last balcony cabin on starboard side.  So convenient to everything, but a long walk in the morning to the International Café.  But the exercise is doing us well.

The Cruise Critic gathering is happening at the aft bar and I meet up with many of the people from the roll call.  Didn’t get to make it to the roll call gathering last voyage as it was after we left Rhode Island and we slept right thru it.  Today I make a point of dropping in and meeting some really nice people.
We dress for dinner and head to the shops to stock up on some cologne.  We do this every so often as the first two days you get a great deal from the coupon book.  Spend $100 and get 10% off spend $250 and get 15% off, plus with our elite 10% discount we are saving 25% in total.  Germanie from South Africa takes very good care of us here and recommends colognes for both of us.  We even are able to leave our purchases here until after dinner so we don’t have to rush back to the cabin with them.

We drop into the Captain Circle desk and say hi and he gives us the invite for the Most Travelled Passenger Cocktail Party.  We qualify again and this time we are higher up on the list.  Although last week’s number one couple are still on so I am guessing they are number one again. 

Since we are a little early for dinner we take a seat outside Explorer’s Lounge (well see above on how that went).  At just after 8 we head to the Palm dining room and many of the staff are surprised to see us again.  We head back to our favorite waiter Remil at table number 126.  Seems strange to look around and see so many different faces.  It is much busier second seating tonight, but the waiters shine as usual.

I decide to switch it up a bit tonight, normally I have the Basa fillet but I am going for the Fettucini Alfredo in the Parmesan bowl in honour of Alice our friend aka Mimi who is just about to be getting on the Royal.  I do start out with the spring roll though and a Caesar salad and for dessert well you guessed it, the cheese plate.  I am stuffed!

We are not really interested in going to the Welcome Aboard Show again as the dancers only have one dance.  We make our way back to the shops to pick up our purchases.  We head upstairs to Facets to say hi to Delmarie and catch up on how she is doing.  The shops are busy but it looks like more looking and not as much purchasing.  If only people knew what a great deal and guarantee you got from on board. 
We are back in the cabin around 11 pm and we crash…. Nothing like the rocking of the ship to put us right to sleep.

I am woken Sunday morning to the sound of the tenders being dropped.  Ahhhh Rhode Island again, although today it is overcast and a light rain and I am not sure if it will clear up.  But we are okay with that, we are on vacation and a little rain won’t hurt us.  And like I always say “it could always be worse”.
Bernie heads down to get some coffees and we sit out and watch the beginning of the tender process.  A quick shower and we head down to the dining room as Bernie remembers last week on this day they had blueberry pancakes on the menu and he can’t wait to get them again.  This time I enjoy them to and I will concur they are amazing.

Things this week don’t seem as crazy for the tendering process.  I believe last week’s boat show in town caused a lot more boat traffic and slowed down the tendering process.  So far today it seems there are minimal waits for tender rides.  But I can’t verify that right now.  Key is be patient if you are going ashore.  Make sure everyone in your party is ready and proceed to the tender ticket location (today it is Deck 5 Island Dining Room) and have your cruise card and ID with you.

Since we went ashore last week and since we need some more relaxing days we have decided to stay on board today.  It isn’t that we don’t like this place but for us there is nothing drawing us out.  Tomorrow will be a busy day in Boston so we are resting up.  The great thing about cruising is you decide how you want to spend your vacation.

I was still having trouble with the internet today.  Since we are on a back to back we usually have one voyage’s minutes end at 11 pm on the last day of the first voyage.  Then the first day of the new voyage we need to set up a new account and get the Captain Circle Package again.  However this trip when I logged on the first day of the second voyage it was still showing minutes from the last cruise.  I check with the Internet guru and he said you just ask to get a new package.  So this morning I tried to do that and it wouldn’t offer me any package.  So I waited till his desk hours and went down and showed him and he was surprised.  He then had to override the system and allocate the packages to us.   Now I am set up so I can blog and post.

I do want to do a big shout out to some amazing crew on board that have made the trip so far so special.  Dana the CSD, Adam the HGM, Michael F&B, Douw Head Waiter, Mario Maitre d’, Remill our waiter, Catalin Head Waiter, Alberto and all the Princess Dancers and of course our lovely Delmarie.  Yes the voyage would be great even if they were not all here but boy have they all been so great and we truly appreciate all they do.

Just sitting here waiting for our mini bar to get changed up, again we are having trouble getting things switched.  Bernie called about an hour ago to get it changed and he dealt with the same woman as last week (for which we never did get the change – and had to call back that evening).  She said it would be 20 minutes so I just called back and she said they are on their way.   One area we have noticed some issues is with room service and we have only used them two times and both times there have been issues.   And just as I type this there is a knock at the door and they are here – yeah more vodka and soda.

Today some of the happenings are:  Acupuncture seminar, Ping pong tournament, Trivia, Mahjong, NFL Football on MUTS, Movie the Internship, Taboo game, Golf Chipping, Afternoon Tea, Lighting Photography seminar, Basketball Best Out of Ten, Pop Choir Rehersal, Horse Racing, Veterans Get Together, Book Club (this week the book is different it is The Silver Star), Art Auction, Bingo, Solo Travellers Get Together, Service Clulb Get Together, Dr. Bob & Bill W Meeting, Zumba, GLBT Gathering, Wii@Sea, Captain’s Welcome Champagne Waterfall Party, Karaoke, Multimedia Music Trivia, Waltz class, Majority Rules game, 50’s and 60’s dance Music at Skywalkers, and so much more!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday – New York and Turn Around Day

I am woken this morning by the thrusters and the vibration that comes with them.  It is 6:15 am – OUCH.  I am awake!  So I roll over and see that Bernie is now awake too.  Breakfast in the dining room today starts at 6:30 until 8:30 in the Palm Dining room so we dress and make ourselves presentable and head down.   It is nice to eat down here instead of facing the crowds in the buffet.

Back to the cabin and we both grab a shower and we head down to the International Café to get a tea and my latte and to try and find a quiet place to read but it is busy everywhere with people waiting for their time to be called.  We end up sitting at the bar in Crooners and chat with four women – three from California and one from Toronto who are travelling together. 

Our meeting time for In Transit people is 10:30 in the Crown Grill.  We have to bring our new cruise cards, our passports and a declaration form.  Which is odd since normally we don’t have to fill out the declaration card and we never even received one this voyage.  There are about 12 of us and three are spouses of crew.  I believe there are more of us, maybe 10 more that got off early and went into New York.

We thought about heading into New York for the day but we both agreed that if we took a taxi it would be very expensive.  We could take a bus to the subway but then we didn’t know how long that would take and we have to be back on early too.  Plus we are looking forward to a quiet day on board.

Back to the In Transit procedure.  A staff member lead us all off as a group and we binged out with our old cruise cards.  We go thru customs and then we wait for the clearance to head back on board the ship (maybe 10 minutes) and we head back on.  We bing in with our new card and we are on.  Note though of course our new cards make that horrible buzzzz sound.  And we are told to wait a second, they take our pick and then tell us to head to the purser’s desk to check our card.  We do and I don’t really think they did anything so I have a feeling when we try to get off in the first port we may encounter another BUZZZ sound.  Stay tuned.

We relax in the cabin for a while and then head down to the dining room for lunch.  Yes you can get lunch in the dining room on turn around day.  It is open to everyone, but not everyone knows about it.  We have a lovely lunch – I had the salmon. 


We are back in the cabin as the ship is now going a little bit mad as everyone comes on and luggage is being delivered, and people are trying to find places.  We will relax – I am catching up on my blog and Bernie is napping. That nap sure looks inviting and feel the urge to nap too.  So till later.

Friday – Ah a Day At Sea


dolphins
It is so nice to know we don’t have to get up early, we can relax all day, we don’t have to go ashore – cause it is a sea day.

I am still full from dinner last night and Bernie heads up to get a bowl of oatmeal.  Horizon Court is busy he says when he returns with a latte for me.  That is all I need to get me going.

We shower and take our time getting going.  The main thing today is we want to see the Cooking Demonstration at 10:30.  The place is packed when we arrive at 10:15, so I suggest you head there early if you want to get a seat up close.

Mario and Douw

tasting chef and his family being interviewed by Conrad 


Now Mario the Maitre D and his staff doing the best show of all the ships I have been on.  You will love it, and you will laugh and you will be entertained.  Right from the start when Conrad comes out and gets the audience warmed up and then introduces Mario, and then the Executive Chef and then Douw we are laughing.  Mario is a character, but trust me he runs a tight ship.  You can tell his staff have a lot of respect for him and they get the job done.  Mario and his team I feel are the best in the fleet.  When he joins a ship their numbers go up. 

Mario, Douw, and Conrad
I have some video of the show that I will put up on my Youtube channel and will post a link to in when I get back home.  But I don’t want to post too much because I don’t want to ruin it by sharing too much, you have to go and see for yourself.

We don’t do the galley tour, we have seen the galley on many ships and the crowds are long.  But if you have never been take the time to see the galley.
The big sale is going on in the dining room on deck 5 from 10 until 1 pm and it is packed in there.  I don’t even attempt to go in.  I always go in and get frustrated by the crowds and  lines to cash out that I usually walk out with nothing anyways.  Plus there is nothing I need anyways.

We take a seat in the International Café and grab a drink and I do Suduoku and Bernie reads and we are content to watch everyone. 

For lunch we head to the dining room.  This is the first time they are offering lunch in the dining room as every day has been a port day and the dining room is closed normally.  It is rather quiet in the dining room.  I have a feeling that not a lot of people know that it is open.  Plus they are doing Pub Lunch in the Crown Grill so many people are going there too.
Bernie heads back to the cabin and ends up watching the latest James Bond movie in the cabin.  He is happy.



I head down to Vines and enjoy two glasses of wine – yup two!  They were good too. 


At 3 pm is the Wine Tasting which is complimentary for elite passengers and for others it is $9.50.  We are sat at a table of 8 and we notice all the wines are the same from the last voyage.  The Sommelier (yup this ship has a sommelier still but they are phasing them out) and he does the entire wine tasting.  Have to say it was rather boring.  We have enjoyed the wine tastings that have been conducted by the Head Waiters recently.  Normally three different Head Waiters will take part and they bring a bit of their own personality to the tasting.  Today though it just drags on and his voice is so monotone and I am falling asleep.  Bernie is really bored, and considering he rarely even comes to the wine tastings normally he is sorry he came to this one.  We end up giving our dessert wine glasses away to two ladies that are travelling for the first time on Princess.  We don’t need more and we are trying to downsize and they were tickled pink.

When I come out of the wine tasting the cookies and milk guy is walking around and well that must be a sign – so we stop and get some cookies and I grab a latte and we chat with some other passengers.

I picked up the picture from formal night – the one I won from the welcome aboard/sailaway party.  The photo department is busy but not crazy (trust me try to go early if you can cause it only gets crazier as the day goes on).

I also get a print out of my bill – again print out your account from the machines located near the purser’s desk and save yourself the time of not having to line up to see someone at the Purser’s desk.  Oh and everything on the bill looks fine.  It has been a few years since we have noticed any errors in our bill.
I decide to head up to the Lido/Sun deck to sit out in the sun.  The weather this voyage has been amazing and there are a lot of people in the pool and hot tubs.  Lots of people sun tanning, hard to believe it is late September.  Ferris Buller’s Day Off is playing on Muts and a lot of people are watching it.  I decide to find a quieter place to sit out and read.  But I can’t keep my eyes open and actually nap for a good half hour up there.

Dinner tonight is in the Palm Dining room and Douw and our Emerill our waiter take very good care of us.  It is not one of my favorite menus but I do enjoy the Tom Turkey dinner.  We enjoy some great wine, chat with the table next to us and wish them well.  We enjoy the Baked Alaska Parade and we leave stuffed.
Service in the Dining Room, well actually everywhere has been amazing.  Probably one of the best we have ever had.  From our dining staff, breakfast, International Café, Vines and even the buffet.




We also want to see the Production Show tonight which is the Piano Man.  I haven’t seen this show in quite a while and I don’t think Bernie has ever seen it.  We get seats right up front for the 10 pm show.   The theater is rather quiet, guess with it being the last night and last show a lot of people have gone to bed already.  But I will say the casino is packed again tonight (another non smoking night).


The show is amazing…. Alberto doesn’t disappoint again.  And this time I brought my camera so I have pictures of the show.  Make sure you get to this show, you will not be able to not sing along.  They feature songs from Billy Joel, Elton John and Barry Mannilow.
The stores close early tonight for inventory so get your stuff before dinner. 


We head to bed, and look forward to a restful sleep because we know we will be woken early.  Thankfully we gain an hour’s sleep as our clocks go back to New York time.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Halifax

View from near Peggy's Cove
 We set the alarm for 8 and head down for breakfast – today they have the special of scrambled eggs/cheese with asparagus.  One of my favorites.

We dock at 9 am and we got clearance about 5 minutes later.  But again there is only one gangway and long queues that snake around the atrium.  Why don’t they have two gangways I don’t know. 

As soon as we exit the pier area we see Bernie’s brother Paul waiting for us.  So nice to see him again it has been a few years since I have seen him and for Bernie it has been a year.  He drove down from Cape Breton (four hours away) to share some time with us today.   How nice.


Lobster Roll


Memorial for those who have passed on the sea

Lunnenberg

where we ate

The Bluenose - seen on our dime coin




We drive out to Peggy’s Cove and walk around.  Boy is it busy here, there are numerous tour buses here and the crowds!  But it is beautiful but a bit too many people for me.  I know we will be back some time as Nova Scotia is a place we visit often.

We then get back in the car and drive a bit further to the Swiss Air disaster memorial, which we found to be very lovely and not busy at all and beautiful views.
A further drive along the water and we head to Mahone Bay – now this is a beautiful town but we don’t stay as we are on our way to Lunnenburg.

Another lovely town and the views to die for.  We stop and have a meal at a restaurant called the Old Fish Factory.  I had a lobster roll and it was so good and tons of lobster and a nice view.

We walk down the street to look out at the Blue Nose and it is so cool to be looking at the ship considering how often I look at it on a dime.

We drive back to Halifax and we are at the pier around 4:30.  There are numerous shops in the pier area with lots of different items.
 
We didn’t have a lot of time to explore Halifax but we are back next week and we will do more then.  Plus we have been here before and seen quite a bit then.  It has grown quite a bit and look forward to coming back.  In fact this is one city we think about retiring to, so you just never know.


We set sail at 6 pm tonight and the Showtime is a Tribute Act Horizon that will be performing Motown and More.  Movies Under the Stars is Star Trek into Darkness.

St. John New Brunswick

Reversing Falls


this is the pier, the white tent is a marketplace

We are docked early and we have to leave early so we wish we could say we woke early but sadly we didn’t.  We didn’t get to bed until late and we didn’t sleep well after all that food, and wine and time change.  Yes the clocks went forward an hour last night to East Coast time. 

I am still full from dinner so I opt out of getting breakfast.  We head ashore around 10 am and walk thru a little market of crafts and local items right at the pier.  We dock right in town, and it is easy to walk almost anywhere if you are physically able.

There were selling numerous tours right at the pier including the hop on hop off buses.  There are a few taxis here too and we jumped in one and headed to the Reversing Falls look out, which was rather close and we had the tai wait and then take us back to the city center too.  The cost of the entire ride was $15.
There is a mall in the downtown where you can find pretty much anything you might need, including a Starbucks and Tim Hortons and both have wifi.  We walked around the mall a bit and then crossed the street to the Marketplace which was lovely but boy was it crowded.  I should note that there were three ships in port today so the downtown was busy.



St. John is not a huge city but a very quaint city that is spread out.  There is some interesting history here and the people are lovely.  We stopped and had a meal ashore which was okay and then crossed the street for a cupcake and that too was okay.  You win some you loose some I guess.


The City Market

inside





this restaurant - Steemers is right across from the pier and was recommended, although we didn't try it, it was busy


We are both tired and in need of a nap and we leave port early today at 2:45 so we get back on around 1:30. 

I will say the lines to get on and get off the ship whole trip have been crazy.  Some of the blame can be on so many new cruisers who just don’t know or understand things, like which gangway to get off at or to get tender tickets first, or have cruise card out etc.  But a lot has to do with Princess too.  Not enough tenders operating, especially in some ports like Rhode Island where we had a long tender ride.  And not enough gangways open.  So far every port we have had a gangway open at they have only had one gangway open not the normal two to accommodate the crowds.  This is probably the worst cruise with regards to getting on or off the ship. 

Back to today.  There are lines again and we snake our way up the gangway.  It is one of those big gangways like they have for planes that scizzor back and forth and there must be over a 100 people on it.  I am afraid to look at what the maximum number is.  In all it took about 20 minutes to get back on the ship.

The sun is shining all day today and it is hot hot hot.  The pools are busy, people are sun tanning and I drop my things in the cabin and grab a book and head up to the aft deck on deck 17 for some sun and relaxation.  Until this loud obnoxious man comes and stands at the railing and basically screams to the person beside him and one of his comments was “what a useless place this is”.  I have to feel sorry for him, someone with such a shallow view misses a lot of great things in life.

We stay out for sail away and then head back to the cabin for a nap, a much needed nap.  We sleep just over an hour and decide to dress for formal night and take some pictures.

A quick glass of wine in vines on deck 5 and we watch some of the people and chat with the bar staff there.  Vines is busy every night.  Along with the Casino these are two places making money.

Tonight is the Captain Circle Party and there were two parties and we had an invite for the second party.  We meet up with Barb and Gordon again and we sit with them near the back.  Adam the HGM notices us and sends a waiter over to get us drinks.  None of us one the bottle of champagne – sad face.  But we had a nice time.  Princess shows the video of the christening of the Royal Princess, sure it is nice to see, but we are all here because we have sailed numerous times on Princess.  You don’t have to sell it to us we are hooked.  It was a very nice party and I really like that the party is just for Platinum and Elite passengers now.  It keeps the crowds down and a more manageable group.

We dine tonight back with our regular servers in the Palm Dining room.  It is formal night tonight so that means two things escargot and lobster.  I get the escargot and then the vegetarian spring rolls and the yoghurt soup and then the ravioli as an entrée.  We loved it all and we left full.  One nice thing was one of the head waiters started to sing and the whole dining room got right into it.  Douw came over and grabbed our pepper mill and started to lip sink to the song and made us all laugh.  A few people even got up and danced.

As much as I normally dislike traditional dining and the formality of a set time each night I have enjoyed the camaraderie with the neighboring tables. 
The production show tonight is Born to Be Wild, the one with the pink Cadillac.  A show we like and we are sitting up front enjoying it and cheering them all on.  Great job you guys.


Bedtime, another big day tomorrow awaits – Halifax.