We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and made our way with our bags to the baggage drop off. Key was to find the right spot to drop off the bags as there were three ships in port. We dropped off the bags, and made our way back out to the street and two blocks away to a restaurant where we met up with Connie and Derrick who we have sailed with a few times. They were in town for a few appointments so we took the opportunity to see them and catch up.
After lunch we decided to try and board. It was just before 2 pm and with three ships in port the line for security was longer than normal but it moved continuously and took about 15 minutes to clear security. Now we wanted to test the wine policy so we purposely brought on three bottles (one more than is allowed without paying the corkage) to see what they are doing at the Port of Vancouver. When the bag carrying the wine was scanned we were directed to the table just off to the side where we had to show them our wine and they took our cabin number down and we signed a receipt for the $15 corkage fee. Note you are allowed one bottle of wine/champagne per person to consume in your cabin. Over that amount you are automatically charged the corkage fee no matter where you consume it. They took one of the three bottles and put a stamp on it which identifies that we paid the corkage. So if we take that bottle to dinner we don’t have to repay the corkage. However if you take one of the other bottles that we didn’t pay corkage on to the dining room we would have to pay corkage. Seems reasonable to me and I don’t mind, I am just glad Princess allows us to bring wine on.
After security it is customs and again another long line but this moved swiftly too and we maybe spent five minutes in this line. Then the customary health form, and then we went to the check in counters to get our key card, which took maybe two minutes. We walked up the gangway and were on! In all the process took a little longer than normal because of three ships. Please take note that none of the delays were Princess’ fault but had more to do with not enough security screening and custom agents, and three ships in port.
Once we arrived in our cabin – P330 our bags had arrived. Sure helped dropping them off early and then coming on board later.
I should say that we originally booked an inside for this cruise but about a month prior to sailing the price dropped and because of the fare type we booked we couldn’t get a rebated amount but we were able to upgrade to an obstructed oceanview for the same amount we paid. In the end we were upgraded to an unobstructed oceanview cabin on Plaza deck very close to the art gallery and down a hallway that is a dead end. It is a great room with a large window and much more space between the bed and cupboards and it is very very quiet.
We meet our cabin steward Sherwin and put in our requests for a few items that we will need, like the top sheet, extra pillows, and extra towels.
Muster was suppose to be at 4 but an announcement was made that they were delaying the muster because of late boarding passengers, and that we would be departing later too.
So we head out to explore the ship and who do we run in to but Steve the Bar Manager who we have sailed with a few times. Then Peter John the Captain Circle Host sees us and comes over fast for a big hug. Oh it is so nice to see him again. Then we turn around and who do we see but Mark Harris who was the Naturalist on the Hawaii cruise on the Star last fall. He tells us he just got on 7 days ago and he is on until September. We loved his lectures and trust me that is saying a lot as we have only come across one other lecturer (Jay Moore) who we enjoyed seeing the rest we couldn’t stand.
As we head up to the Lido deck a bar staff comments to us that he remembers us from the Star Princess in the fall. We don’t really remember him but we are glad to see him again and we catch up with who is on.
The crowd on board seems really much younger. There are a few large groups sailing from different parts of the world and it is fun to share this cruise with them. For many this is their first cruise, and many don’t speak English. There is a large group from China and we are impressed when they announce the Muster Drill information in both English and Chinese.
The Muster drill is finally held and we attend and yes they scanned all the cruise cards of those that came. It is nice to have the drill just one floor above ours, certainly made it much easier to return to the cabin afterwards.
As I was saying there are quite a few first time cruisers, and in fact when we walk down most of the hallways all we see is blue cards, and gold too. We later find out there are only 81 elites, and the most travelled only has just over 500 days. Boy that isn’t much as we are use to days in the 1,000s. We do qualify for the Most Travelled Party, we are #10 on the list.
Sailaway is held outside as the skies cleared and we actually had a lovely sunny evening which made for one of the most beautiful departures ever from Vancouver. There is sailaway party on the Lido deck and we are impressed to see Brett Siborne in attendance. I say this because for the past six cruises the Cruise Director has not been there. But I know Brett loves the interaction with the passengers and he is really hands on and it shows. We don’t hang around the party much mainly because the band – Superfly – is really not to our liking at all, to the point we can’t handle even listening.
Dinner tonight is going to be in the dining room. At first we try to find where my friend Sandudee – Junior Waiter is and he is Savoy Dining room and we say hi to him but his station is full and we promise we will be back another night. Instead we head to the Sante Fe Dining room and we are given a lovely table by the window. Our servers – sorry I forgot their names – but they are a married couple from the Philippines were amazing. We ordered a bottle of wine and I started with the ricotta/leek tart, then the salad and for my entrée I had the Basa Fillet.
After dinner we decide to try and catch the Welcome Aboard Show in the Princess Theater. We get a seat up front as we came in kind of late. It is busy but not full. Again we are impressed to see Brett there and he really did a great job introducing the ship and welcoming so many first time cruisers on board. The Princess Dancers and singers performed as well as Sarge the comedian who we thought we had seen but as soon as he came out and started talking we realized we had never seen him before. We really laughed hard at his show and we look forward to his full show on Monday night.
After the show the ship is dead, really dead, I thought everyone had gotten off! It was only 11 pm but it was hard to see anything or anyone around. So we decide to hit the hay.