Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recife February 26, 2014

Recife is called the Venice of Brazil as it made up of three islands with numerous bridges.  It is hot when we dock and humid.

We are docked at a working pier and passengers are not allowed to walk from the ship to the port so they have free shuttles for everyone. 

The Seaborne Quest is also in port with us and it is beautiful.
We ordered room service for breakfast this morning to take our time and not have to deal with service issues.  I tried to get pineapple juice by writing it in but they didn’t deliver it and got Cranberry juice instead.  We ordered tea, they brought water, sugar but no tea bags.  Ordered for 8 – 8:30 and got it right at 8 am, and the server was very helpful and friendly.

Today’s happenings on board are:  trivia, solo travellers get together, paddle tennis, champagne hoopla, Wii@sea bowling, Muts: Coldplay, Pacific Rim, James Taylor, The Tango Club Quintet, Arizona Party Band, Tri-Band Trivia, Hollywould you Gameshow, Spotlight Showtime featuring Amor Dance Magic.

the new port building
We leave the ship around 9:15 and we have to board a shuttle bus to take us to the main port entrance.  This is obviously a new building and the locals seem very proud.  There is a great tourist information desk there and I was able to get some maps and booklets. 

Upon exiting there were staff there to assist and numerous taxis.  Note taxis here are metered but make sure to agree on a price before getting in.  The language barrier did prove to be a bit of an issue but we managed to figure out enough to understand that the price for a taxi to Olinda would be $50 Real or $25 US. 

They drive like crazy here!  Similar to Rio and even though Olinda is about 8 km North of Recife we changed lanes around 50 times and lots of beeps along the way too. 
We were dropped of at Parca da Abolicao where I pulled out the map and we started walking.  It is hot and really humid and the town is getting ready for Carnival.  We walk and our first stop is the Church of Saint John of the Military, and as we continue up the road we stop and take pictures of the many decorations for Carnival. 

At the top of the hill we start to encounter numerous tourist and tourist vans.  We see the Church of Mercy.  The Church of Saint Savior of the World.  Also there are some amazing views up here.  The Church of Our Lady of Conception.
Many shops line the streets with numerous artisans.  We run into Barb and Craig. 

We start to wander down the hill and we enter the Convent of Saint Francisco which was initially established in 1577 and was the first monastery in Brazil.  The complex is huge and includes the Church of Our Lady of the Snow and the Chapel of Saint Roque and the Cloister of Azulejos (blue tiles).  The church is in the midst of some rehabilitation but the tile work is still stunning.  The courtyard is tranquil and we can hear the monks praying. 

We are back in the same square that we arrived at and we see many buses zipping by and we managed to communicate with a young lady and she directs to a bus that will take us back to Recife.  Don’t ask me which one but we got on and the fare was 2.15 R each.  The buses here have a driver and then a bit further back is a person who collects fares.  I see they have the Compass fare system that we are in the midst of implementing in Vancouver.

We sit at the back and a man beside me tries to communicate and help us but boy the language is so difficult.  I do speak fluent French and my Spanish is minimal.  We do the hand gestures and we bring out the map and we manage to make it back to the new town of Recife. 
The city is stunning and the bridges are all decorated for Carnival too.  We try to get money out at a bank machine but have no luck at the first one.  We finally find a Citi Bank that has the Plus banking system and we have no problem getting money.  We have two more ports in Brazil (three days) so it is helpful to have local currency.

We walk along the old town of Recife and find an outside terrace that isn’t busy and we sit to enjoy a meal.  But it doesn’t take long to get busy.  We both enjoy a local beer – Skol for 7 R each ($3.50 US) and we have meal of steak and rice, beans, that grainy thing (forgot the name), plantains and salsa.  In total the large meal and the three drinks with bottled water came to 68 R.  We easily paid with credit card.  The waiter was wonderful and we gave him a Canadian pen on a lanyard and he immediately put it on.
We then wandered around the town for a bit, checked out some artisan shops.  It is hot though and it has been a long day so we wander back to the ship.

We are back on board around 3 pm and we quickly change into our bathing suits and head up to the sun deck and take a dip in the Lotus Spa pool and lay out in the sun for about an hour.  I come back to the cabin and go thru my pictures and relive the great day in Recife.

I would like to come back here some time.  The people are very nice and helpful.  Both cities are stunning and would love to come back.  Recife is a huge metropolis with numerous high rises and malls and beautiful beaches. 

Tonight is dinner in the Crown Grill with our friends B and C.  We have also arranged to have a set table in Da Vinci each night too.  We will dine there tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 25, 2014 At Sea

I am actually writing this as we are waiting for clearance to go ashore in Recife but thought I should update you on what we did yesterday.

Yesterday was a sea day and we took advantage of it by relaxing all day. 

Lunch was upstairs at the Trident Grill for burgers and fries (cold fries again L)  and right away we notice that things are different.  Someone is at the hand sanitizer making sure everyone uses it (although it does not prevent Noro virus only washing hands does).  Someone puts all your condiments on the burger.  They still will allow us to get our beverages though but other things are missing.  Not a single pencil is out in the library, books can’t riffled through in the library at any times anymore (set library hours for check out are in place), salt and pepper shakers are off the tables, utensils are being handed out along with a plate when you enter the Horizon Court.  The Coffee Bar no longer has the cream/milk dispensers for people to use.

Later in the afternoon the Captain comes on in the cabin to announce we are under high alert and advises everyone we need to be sure to wash our hands before and after eating, try to use our washrooms in our cabins, wash hands after smoking, bushing our teeth, and using the washroom.  As we go down the hallways we see that sanitation crews are busy busy cleaning and sanitizing the ship. 

This is a busy time for the crew as their work load has just doubled. 

We stop by the Crown Grill to see Marian who we sailed with on the Star and while we catch up we decide to make reservations for tomorrow. 

It is 7:45 and we head to Da Vinci but the line up is very long but moving but we feel like having a drink first so we head to Vines and order a bottle and some sushi before heading back to Da Vinci at around 8:20.  We ask for a table of two or will share with another two.  We are sat back in Gil’s section but oh my he has just been slammed and with having to do twice as much work he is busy. 

They get our wine from the other night and we sit and sit and sit, it took 20 minutes for our orders to get taken.  Oh no…. we really want to see the show tonight so we do warn him. 

I start out with the fried sushi (but it is cold and miss the originally version of this when it was served hot from the fryer), I get the garlic soup and it was very good, and for my entrée the tandoori prawns again very good.  The servers have to personally serve the bread, butter, salt and pepper.  They have to pour the milk/cream.  We opt to pass on dessert so we can get to the show.

On the way to the show a lovely couple from Australia comes up to me and introduces themselves and says they follow my Youtube channel and love my videos.  That is so nice and appreciated.

We head to the Princess Theater to watch the Blame it on the Boogie show.  We sit up front and we are dazzled by the amazing performers.  This show just can’t let you sit still in your seat.  I have to move!  We recognize a few dancers/singers and we cheer their hard work. 

We are back in the cabin around 11 pm and crash for the night.

Comments about the past few days:

Entertainment staff are phenomenal and they are working so hard especially when we are at sea for so long.

Wine card is great, we love it.  They did credit us the $45 for the wine we bought the other day for $49 so we paid the $4 difference.  So far the billing has been perfect, no errors at all which seems to be fleet wide.  Use to be we encountered numerous errors but no longer.

Love all the different nationalities on board and all the languages.  Princess is showing the wake show in Spanish also and there is a dedicated channel for Spanish movies/shows.

Bernie is all excited cause finally he gets to watch the Notebook again today! 

I would have to say every department is exceeding expectations except the dining room service (although food is good).  We are going to see about getting a set table every night even though we don’t really want to we feel that may be the only way to rectify the situation.  We have also heard that the Traditional is experiencing the same issues.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sea Days – Count them Four In A Row

Jasmin from the Elite Lounge 

Now I know some don’t care for them but like I mentioned a few days ago, WE LOVE THEM.    And I could write on and on about everything we did day to day but really who wants to read slept, read, watched movie, ate, napped, had wine, read, chatted with friends etc etc…. repeat.  And basically that is what we do on sea days.

But for some highlights of the past four days here goes.
We had a lovely dinner with Sherre and Ken from Australia who we met on the roll call who are both avid travellers and loved getting to know them and learn from their experiences.  We look forward to travelling to their part of the world one day and seeing them there some time.  As well we welcome them to Vancouver and the hopes of showing them around our little part of the world.

One thing about cruising is the people you meet.  Sure there are some annoying ones but in the end the most part are lovely and lifelong friendships are made and those we treasure.

Dinner the other night was back in Da Vinci and we sat at a lovely table and the service was very very good.  Stephen the Head Waiter came and gave us a great wine recommendation and we used our wine card again. (Make sure to check your statement as this wine was $49 and we were charged the full amount but after talking with the Bar Manager we were informed that at the end of the night they have to go and correct it.  We will check it again and I am sure it will be okay, but make sure you check your bill periodically.) 

We also spoke to Stephen about the experience in Michelangelo and how concerned we were about the service there.  It is hard to complain but I wanted him to know that this is not a normal experience on any Princess ship.  But we have now vowed to stay completely away from the Michelangelo dining room for dinner.

Weather for the four days has not been cooperating.  It has been very windy with showers, or overcast.  We had some sun yesterday, and Bernie was out sun tanning, but it was windy and then a down pour, then sun again.  Today is the last of four sea days and it is over cast but bright.  Of course the weather doesn’t bother me at all at home and especially on vacation.  Sometimes our plans have to change but maybe that is what was meant to be. 

Yesterday we crossed the Equator and the Ceremony was held at 1:00 pm at Neptune’s pool.  The four pollywogs were chosen in a draw and represented all the pollywogs on board.  Since we both are shellbacks we could not enter again.  And last time I was one of the pollywogs that was chosen and put in the ceremony.  I tried to go up and watch the ceremony but it was busy and I don’t need to squeeze in to watch and would rather let others watch the ceremony.  But Bernie did watch it and he really enjoyed it and thought it was well done.

The Café Caribe had an Indian themed buffet and it was very good, quite mild but that is to be expected.  I love these themed meals.  Keep them coming Princess.  Oh I should add that even though the Café Caribe had a themed meal, Horizon Court hosted a regular menu.

The Butler is showing in the Princess Theater, and there have been other movies too but just can’t recall them off hand right now.

One great thing about these long voyages is the variety of day time activities and numerous unhosted gatherings for various groups.  They did have a bloggers get together for 1:30 but when I went up no one was there.  Hope they do this again.

Lots of great evening activities too.  Yesterday was a new show called The World Music Project.  Sadly we couldn’t attend because of prior commitments but hope they show it again so we can catch it later.

Zumba is still going on but the time is still around lunchtime and I did attend it one day but find the time too inconvenient and instead visit the gym more often than Zumba.  But love it and love Mark who hosts it. 

We dined in Sabattinis last night and it was amazing.  Service was top notch and the food, oh my God the food!  I started with the soft shelled Crab, then the chef had a lovely pasta dish but when it came out it had clams in it so I declined, only to be served a few minutes later a dish of pasta free of clams.  That is why we love Princess it is like dining in your friend’s home.  For my entrée I had the lobster three ways and it was very good, but I really just want the Risotto.  It was all good, very good…. And the time flies.  We dined with our friend Claudio and it was lovely to catch up with him and it is like dining with family. 

I want to shout out to the amazing bar that is along side Sabattinis – Adagios – if you get a chance go up there for a drink.  The ambiance is wonderful and it is quiet.  You don’t have to be dining in Sabattinis to enjoy it just head up there for a pre dinner drink.

We love the laundry service we get with our Elite benefit but boy do they do a number on your clothes so if you have something special you don’t want to risk make sure to wash by hand.  I have a white blouse and when it came back it was a little yellow around the neck.  Not sure why but we brought our own laundry detergent and I just filled the sink and re washed it by hand and it came clean.  But fair warning.  We don’t have a problem with our t shirts and undergarments – just glad I don’t have to wash them all ourselves.

Tomorrow is Reciffe, Brazil – first port day.  We don’t have any formal plans.  Stay Tuned!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ultimate Balcony Dinner – February 22, 2014

Our friends Barb and Craig and us have planned the UBD (Ultimate Balcony Dinner) for tonight at 6:30.  We decide to do it on their balcony because it is larger and totally covered and even though it is windy if we set up the table in the corner by the door we are shielded from the wind.

We arrive in their cabin just around 6 pm and enjoy a pre dinner cocktail.  6:30 comes and the photographer arrives but the table has not been set up yet so we tell him to come back.  He comes back at 6:45 and still no one from room service has arrived yet.  We give them a call and they had thought it was set for 7:00 pm and they will be right down.  Anud (the Room Service Head Waiter) arrives and apologizes but we are okay and tell him no problem.

Anud’s assistant Marina from the Ukraine is very shy, this is her first contract and she is just learning and I will admit we did try to get her out of her shell but she is nervous.  Anud and Marina set up the table outside and it is beautiful.  A vase with three roses is given to each of us, a nice touch. 

We are sat at the table and the photographer comes and takes some pictures.  They can be picked up at the photo desk later on and are included in the package.

Our cocktails are served and we get some canapés and we sit and enjoy the drinks and chat and the laugh our heads off.

The appetizer of crab quiche is served and Anud opens the champagne and then he exits and comes back a few minutes later to clear the plates.

The salad course is served, a bowl of mixed greens with goat cheese, candied walnuts and pear, served with a balsamic vinaigrette. 

The entrée is a fillet mignon and lobster tail served with asparagus, potatoes and carrots.  A mushroom sauce and Béarnaise sauce are also served with it.  The steak is so good and the lobster too.  My steak was cooked perfectly but Bernie’s was a little under cooked for his liking and didn’t realize it till Anud had left but he still managed to eat the outer sides of the cut and was so full that it didn’t matter.  Neither of us could finish all that was on the plate.

One person couldn’t finish all their  steak and Anud offered to wrap it up and left it with a plate and fork and steak knife so she could enjoy it tomorrow.  Now that attention to detail was appreciated.

Coffee/Tea were served as well as the chocolate mousse dessert.  I was pleased to see that because I am allergic to white chocolate Anud was able to accommodate by serving me all chocolate.  It was so good!  But again I couldn’t finish it.  Then a plate of bon bons came out and we agreed we would just take it back to the cabin to enjoy tomorrow.

Anud looks familiar and we find out that he sailed on the Diamond last year and was there when we sailed to Alaska for 14 days.  He is good friends with Irma (in fact she is his daughter’s god mother).  Irma is now on the Ruby as the shopping host.  He also knows Ciska and Peter.  And we comment that Princess is very dear to us and we consider the crew our Princess family and now both Anud and Mariana are part of that family.

I am trying to stay awake!  We thank our good friends Barb and Craig for an amazing dinner and we bid adieu and head back to the cabin with our flowers and bon bons and a few people comment on the way back and we promote the UBD.

The cost of the dinner is $50 per person which I feel is well worth it and am so glad we tried it.  I have been wanting to try it for so long.

Relax Completely – February 22, 2014

Bernie gave me today’s blog title – Relax Completely – cause that is really what it was!  I wish I could write how we did these amazing things, kept busy, and partied hardy but truly we relaxed from the moment we got up to the moment we went to bed.  So this blog will be short.

I did wake up early, very early and then just laid in bed and slept intermittedly.  Around 8:30 I got up and showered and we headed down to the dining room for breakfast and enjoyed my first meal of pancakes!  Yum.

I forgot to mention that last night sometime between when we left the cabin to when we finished the show in the Princess Theater Bernie lost his fitbit (this is a little gizmo that tracks all your steps, calories burned, stairs climbed, how much you sleep and cost $100).  We both have one and we keep active by making sure we meet our daily goal.  Now normally we clip it onto our pocket and rarely does it come loose.  But tonight when Bernie left the show he put his hand in his pocket and realized he had lost it.  We retracked our steps and couldn’t find it.  We went to the Purser’s desk and they took the info down but so far no one had turned it in. 
This morning we checked with our waiter Nancy and she said she had not seen it.  Bernie is disappointed and kicking himself and I am trying to calm him and say “that is okay we will get you a new one”. 

We are sitting in the International Café and we see Anthony come by (he is the great waiter from Vines) and he sees Bernie and says “hey is this yours” and it is Bernie’s Fitbit!  Now it is a given it is Bernie’s cause when you pick it up it says on the display “hi Bernie”.  Anthony found it right under Bernie’s seat last night after we left and knew it was his.  Oh what a dear, and we are so thankful.  Bernie made sure to thank him with a reward and a large Purdy’s chocolate bar. So Bernie is very happy.

There is a lot going on today, lots!  Many things I have not seen in the Patter before but amazed and pleased and lots of things going on for all the Spanish speaking passengers.  Very nice.

I walk all over the ship taking pictures and chatting with people.  But I am tired and the cabin is calling and while I sit on the balcony Bernie is napping.  Around 1:30 we order some room service for lunch – clubhouse for me and grill cheese for Bernie and fries but the fries were so cold we didn’t eat them.

I crawl into bed and spend the next few hours napping, reading, repeat.

I wanted to add that the ship is a bopping up and down – in fact ever since we have left Florida there has been very strong winds.  It is not horrible but the ship is moving and at night when we pick up speed there is a lot of creaking but I just love it as it rocks me to sleep.

Tonight is the Ultimate Balcony Dinner Experience and I am going to write a separate blog for that so stay tuned.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trinidad, February 21, 2014


We wake very early – 4:30 early!  We step out on the balcony and look up at the stars and the moon it is breathtaking.  We can see Trinidad in the distance.  We dock at 7 am and it isn’t long before we hear people stirring.

I go on line and the first thing I read is the passing of our sister in law  Ronalda, she was married to Bernie’s brother and became ill last summer and succumbed to the illness yesterday.  We feel horrible for Charlie and her son Michael and feel so far away, as they live in Cape Breton.  So we took some time today to raise a glass to her.

We are docked and we can see that there is a steel drum band playing and women in Carnival costumes and I head off to capture some pictures and video that I will put up when we get home and I have free wifi.

Once I come back on board Bernie and I meet and we go for breakfast and we are sat with two couples both from Canada and we have a lovely breakfast and getting to know them better.

The Wake show is discussing the Crossing the Equator Ceremony and since Bernie and I are both Shellbacks (we have crossed before and I was chosen that time) they are asking for Pollywogs (equator virgins) to volunteer to be in the ceremony.  They will pick four people from all those that sign up.  The ceremony is to be held on the 24th and they will do it again when we are in the Pacific.

Bernie and I head off the ship and start walking to town.  Port of Spain is a very large city and busy!  Tomorrow is the start of the official Carnival and it is a bit busier than normal.  We walk along the main boulevard in town.  Did you know that Port of Spain has the largest KFC and has more KFC per person than any other place on earth.  Guess they love their chicken.

Lots of street vendors and lots of interesting conversations and sounds all around.  Love it.

We are hot and we are near the main park (Victoria Park) and we grab a snow cone to cool off and then we see they have some stuff set up for Carnival and we check it out. 

The main bandstand is featuring school kids and their parade.  Cost to get in is $4 and we are given a handkerchief that features the sponsor for this event.  We see quickly that we are suppose to wave these handkerchiefs in the air when the band plays.  The elementary school kids perform and we are excited and get right into it. 

We stay here for about an hour and a half and leave just before the high school children start.

We walk back to the ship and we are hot and sweaty when we get on.  And a quick shower and a quick nap are in order and when we wake we feel refreshed.

shops set up right at the port

It is a beautiful sail away in fact the island as we pull away reminds me of Vancouver.

I do some reading on the balcony and Bernie and I are both so excited to hear the results of the Olympics and extra excited to hear about the Men’s hockey team beating the US in the semi finals and that they are now playing for Gold.  Looks like Craig lost the bet and will have to wear Bernie’s Canadian hockey jersey all day tomorrow.

We head down to Vines for some wine and Anthony serves us and recommends that we purchase a whole bottle and we do this.  And later Barb and Craig join us and we head into the dining room. 

Tonight we head to Da Vinci dining room and we have a great table and excellent service from Nancy.  She is so good that she is managing everything on her own as her assistant is ill.  Even the Head Waiter Stephen is around and helps with the champagne and our wine order.  We are so happy with the service and we all comment repeatedly to them how good they are.  Our minds are at ease knowing that some of the things we have experienced in Michelangelo can be avoided by dining up here.  I am not saying all the waiters are poor down there, in fact we did have a good one but we will not sit in that same waiter’s section again.

Tonight is Italian night and I start out with the eggplant parmesan and it was so salty that I actually could not finish it, not sure what happened there.  I had a mixed green salad then for my entrée I had the chicken and sage dish which I always enjoy.  Of course the cheese plate and Limocello for dessert.

After dinner we head to the Princess Theater to watch the Malambo Showtime starring Luis Viana El Gaucho and Sasha Scott.  It is a great performance!

I need to warn all my followers that internet seems to be intermitted and often we lose the signal.  So I will be posting sporadically and when I can. 

We now have four sea days till we get to Reciffe.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Barbados February 20, 2014

Arrival is set for 10 am and we sleep until 9 and the first thing Bernie says “did you feel that storm last night”.  Really what storm.  Now we have been encountering some crazy wind for the past few days at sea as well as in ports and last evening the ship was moving a bit, in fact I often had to brace myself in the shower.  But I slept thru the entire storm, sadly Bernie did not, but it will be  a restful day so I am sure we will get by okay.

We are not in any real rush so we get dressed and head up to Horizon Court and it is very busy at 9:30 am, but really I should not be surprised with docking at 10 am most people have slept in and grabbing a bite to eat before heading ashore. 

As I was checking out the fruit at the buffet a sous chef came beside me and grabbed this large grapefruit in one of the trays (they had a tray of apples, kiwis, and oranges and the grapefruit was in one of them) and I commented to him “wow that is a big grapefruit” he smiled and said “cause it is fake and made of wax and is from the display above but the passengers keep grabbing them thinking they are real”.  Oh my that is funny, so he puts it back up in the display and moves the display further back. 

I grab some fruit (the real kind), a bagel with cream cheese (with port in it) and some muselix (love the smaller dishes of muselix much better than the serve yourself bowls).  We find a seat near the back of Café Caribe and enjoy a lovely meal.
We head ashore around 10:30 and the wind is howling, boy these ports have been extra windy but it is welcomed cause otherwise it would be very hot. 

walk out to roundabout, just outside the port gate and grab a taxi here
We exit the cruise terminal and past the port taxis to just outside the gate to the waiting taxis at the round about.  We hop in a taxi and head straight to Lobster Alive – cost is $5 per person and the taxi driver wastes no time and surprisingly we made it there alive!

We came her last year too and we much prefer Lobster Alive cause it is quieter than the Boatyard which charges $15 per person just to enter, but with that you get a chair and umbrella and access to their Tarzan swing, and washrooms, restaurants and shops.  But for us at Lobster Alive we just pick a chair and umbrella and each is $5 so for us the total cost is $15; although no one ever came and collected in the entire time we were there. 

We walked the beach, we swam, we sunbathed, we read, we laughed, we met people around us and we had a few vendors approach us but they were all very respectful.  Ice Man (that is his name apparently) approached us about a snorkel trip (which we declined because we have snorkeled many times with the turtles) and offered us a tour for $30 each (which is high and I probably wouldn’t pay more than $20 each).  They take you out on a boat and you can either snorkel with the turtles or stay on the boat and watch from the glass bottom.  But they only take you a short distance away, in fact you could probably just walk down the beach and enter from the water and see the turtles too.  But we did not do this and I can say that snorkeling with the turtles here in other areas is amazing and a must do event.

We thought about eating here but after a peak at the menu we really didn’t feel like paying the prices they were quoting to sit on a lounge chair and eat from a paper plate with the wind and the sand being blown all over so Bernie and I decided to make our way back to the ship around 2 pm.
This time we both thought we would try walking back, we have heard many people say they often walk it and I was not drunk this time (like last year) and it was early and I wanted to see for myself how the walk would be.  We saw a bunch of stands near the bridge and Bernie bought two fish cakes that were .50 each and a coke and we munched on those, yummy!  We crossed the bridge and walked along the boardwalk then along the street towards the pier.

We came across a restaurant called Rollies and it is a nice little open air restaurant.  I ordered the grilled mahi mahi and Bernie had the Jerk Chicken.  The prices were half the price of the restaurants on the beach and the atmosphere is much more conclusive to a restaurant without wind/sand.  We also ordered a Corn and Oil drink, which we had heard about from some travel show and no there is no oil in this drink!  But it is made with Rum and bitters and it was strong but very good and for $3 a drink a great deal.   Bernie had two and well I opted to just have one.  Our meals were amazing, probably one of the best meals we have had ashore.  I am drooling just thinking about them.

A short walk to the pier entrance and we enter the port and the shops and today I decide I am going to get some of the exotic flowers they sell right there in the port.  A woman who runs the stand explains that the exotic flowers are $2 to $3 a stem but she can easily make up a bouquet for us in any denomination so this is what we do.  I ask for two bouquets of $20 each and she starts out with a bamboo vase that she fills with sand that holds the stems, then adds water and then adds the flowers and boy is it beautiful!  What a deal too and she said they should last for around 3 weeks on board.  There is no problem bringing flowers on board.  When going thru security you will have to hand it to the security to have it checked with the wand perhaps. 

I grab an iced café late from the IC and catch up with the staff there about our day.  It feels like coming home and seeing our family and sharing in what they and what we did for the day.  But I really need a shower.  A day at the beach has encrusted salt, sand, sweat and dirt on me, and boy you don’t even want to hear about how bad my hair looks.
Sail away drinks are in order again!  I could get use to this.
Tonight we are dining again in the dining room with our friends Barb and Craig.  We agree to try the Michelangelo again since last night was better.  We arrive just before 7:45 pm and there is no wait at all and we are directed to a table for four.  Bernie immediately is concerned, we are back in the section we sat at the second night (formal night) where we had very poor service.  I tell him we need to give it another try.  We are sat at table 277 and sadly our waiter comes over and he doesn’t even remember us from the other night.  Oh well I guess we are not that memorable and heck they do see a lot of people, but what is funny is other waiters and assistant waiters have come by and said hi to us.  Oh well, try and keep a positive attitude.

We get our bottle of wine from the other night.  Craig orders a bottle and they bring a Sauvignon Blanc instead of the Chardonnay even though they had the right menu number on the receipt, glad he caught that and they did go and correct it.  We wait and wait and finally we have our order taken.  We do notice that he has another table of four and another table with a single person at it and us.  So it isn’t that he is busy.

We get our appetizers, I had the mac and cheese with bacon (which is good) and we all finish and I am disappointed that the appetizer plates sit in front of us for 15 minutes before they are cleared.  Finally when he comes to clear them we do comment and he apologizes.  The time is now 8:20 and we are all feeling a little saddened and well disappointed in the service and wonder if we should just leave but we decide to stay.

We had thought about talking to a head waiter but sadly not a single head waiter has spoken to us on any of the nights we have dined in the dining room (except the first night to explain the wine card) and since none are around we just let it go.  Many waiters/assistant waiters are just standing around cause their sections are not full, and even our waiter’s section is not full (hate to think how it would have been if he would have been full).

We get our next course which for me is the Thai soup and I LOVE this dish, I could have a big bowl of it, it is that good.  For my entrée I have the Turkey Scallopini and again one of my favorites.  For dessert I have the sugar free grapefruit tart and again yummy yummy.  The food so far this voyage has been excellent!

We didn’t order coffees or more wine just because we didn’t have enough time.  Dinner took an hour and a half for the four of us in a dining room that is about a third full.

Now for those that have been following my blog for many years you know I try to always focus on the positive and I do love Princess, and even though not everything is always perfect I do agree that if something is not right you need to discuss it with the appropriate people to see about fixing it.  We came back to the cabin and Bernie and I discussed it and we need to find a way to rectify this issue in the dining room but we are not sure yet oh how to do this.  Normally we would discuss with the head waiter but none have really been around or are that approachable.  Even the head waiter that greets us when we enter the dining room is not that friendly and in fact I find a bit intimidating cause when we do ask for a table of two I feel like we are causing a problem.  I don’t feel like I am being welcomed when I enter and they certainly don’t seem to recognize us night to night.

Maybe I am asking for too much?  I don’t know, maybe I have just been spoiled in previous cruises?  We are going to see what we can do, maybe we should just try Da Vinci dining room.  But in the end I do hope that Princess rectifies this cause I am pretty sure we are not the only ones experiencing this.

Tonight is the Island Deck Party but neither of us is up for it, we are tired and dinner service has put a shadow over the night.  So we head back to the cabin and we crash just after 10 pm.

Our friends posed for the Platinum Studio on board and last night they told us about their experience and they LOVED it. James McKay was the photographer and he made the experience so relaxing.  We have always heard great things about the Platinum Studio and they agreed.  They said somehow the photographer captured the love between the two of them.  It wasn’t like the standard formal night photos but more about the caring, the looks, the kindness and friendship they both feel for each other. 

But I want to end on a positive note.  Everything else is amazing.  I have to say the cruise director and entertainment on board have been top notch.  Lisa Ball does an amazing job, she is probably one of the best CDs we have seen she is just enough out there to be visible but also is gives her staff enough space to do their job. 

Carlos and I

The Bar Staff are among the friendliest and helpful we have ever sailed with.  The food has been top notch, flavourful, hot when it should be hot, plentiful, great selection.  Room Steward is good – a little shy which makes chatting with him so cute.  Officers are out and about and very attentive.  The photography staff are so friendly too and so patient and kind.  We are so happy to see Carlos again, we originally sailed with him on his first contract on the Emerald last year.  Tonight he informs us that his contract is almost done.  He gets off in Valparaiso and is planning on going back to school.  We are happy for him, but will miss him.

Tomorrow is Trinidad and an early start, no formal plans here.  We have been there twice and really like the island.

February 19, 2014 Evening

We head over to Barb and Craig’s for sail away and to meet up with the Head Waiter for the Ultimate Balcony Dinner to go over our menu for the dinner as we are having it together in a few days.  The Head Waiter Anud described what we will get and asked us what we wanted and how we wanted it.  He saw that we were having champagne on the balcony right then and that one of us had a regular wine glass instead of a champagne glass and commented and quickly called and right away more champagne glasses arrive.  And then a few minutes later a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and some canapés arrived.  Wow that is so impressive and very much appreciated.  Those little things are what keep us coming back to Princess.

We shower and get ready for dinner and tonight we will head to Da Vinci Dining room but when we arrive there is a bit of a queue (although it is just a bit of a wait to see the hostess) but we decided to head to Michelangelo dining room again and ask for a table for two.  We are sat near the back in Gordon’s section, and comment that we sailed with him on the Emerald.  His assistant was very sweet and we had very good service.  The food was excellent and tonight was the first time we tipped our waiter extra for great service.

Tonight in Explorers Lounge they are doing the Jeopardy trivia and we arrive just a few questions into it and we join couple, who end up being from our roll call that I chatted with a few times via email and we are doing a few tours with.  We had a lot of fun in the game and even though we well how do I put it ---- SUCKED – the staff made it fun and we made it fun and in the end that is really what matters. 

Oh I tried one of the drinks my fans on my page recommended I try… I had a Texas Ice Tea and it was very good and I am definitely going to have it again.  I have a list of the drinks that I got as recommendations and I have it posted in my cabin and will make my way thru that list so stay tuned.

Special moment today:  something about being on a cruise ship that makes things more romantic…. As we stroll along the promenade we see an older couple in front of us and the husband reaches over and grabs his wife’s hand and the stroll along the promenade…. Something about being at sea brings out that romantic touches that make you realize the love.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Antigua February 19, 2014

We sleep until 8:30, boy I really like this cabin cause you don’t feel the thrusters at all when we are docking like we have experienced at the back of the ship often.

We have been here numerous times and today we have something special planned.  A Segway tour with Segway Antigua.  We easily find Lance at the main gate at the scheduled meeting time and he directs to the taxi driver who shuttles us to the office for Segway Antigua.  We meet up with Juliette and later Elizabeth.

There are 8 of us on this tour, the four of us and two other couples from Sandals Resort.  We all watch a 7 minute video on how to use our Segway and the safety periodical.  Their office has a spot you can leave any items you don’t with wish to transport with you.  We are led outside where we all get fitted with a helmet and elbow pads and then we are assigned our Segway.

Both Lance and Elizabeth take their time showing us how to get on, get off, go forward, sideways, stop and how to use appropriate hand signals.  We spent about fifteen minutes practicing on solid surface then they led us off onto the grass so we could practice there.  I am surprised how easy it is to maneuver and how much fun it is. 

We then all head out single file along the road and up and down and over different types of terrain.  Elizabeth takes numerous photos of us while we are riding and they promise to send them to us via email. 

We make a few stops and as we travel Lance provides commentary about the island.  So it is a nice little tour and it is informative too.  We loved the stop up at Fort James where we all walked around a bit and enjoyed some sugar cane and some fruit kebobs.  The beach here is so stunning!  We definitely would come back to this beach.

Once we are back at the office we are all provided with a beverage of our choice, rum punch for us!  We were suppose to have lunch included but the restaurant is not ready to serve so we ask for a recommendation and  Juliette recommends a local place.  Elizabeth drives us over to Candy Cane restaurant and we sit and enjoy a big bowl of Pepper Pot.  Off to the side we can see they are singing Kareoke and well you know what they say “do as the locals do” so me and Barb decide to sing and surprise our honey.

We sign “Stand By Your Man” and many of the locals sing along with us.  We get a huge round of applause…. Boy they must be hard of hearing!  It was all in fun and we loved it thoroughly.

Elizabeth ends up driving us back to the pier where we decide to get back on, it is 2:00 pm and all aboard is 3:30.  We sit in the International Café and grab an iced coffee and watch a bit of the rehersal by the singers/dancers for their little show in the Piazza later today called “Sail with Princess”.  Looks lovely so we will have to try and see it later.

Tonight I am not sure what we are going to be doing.  We are meeting up with friends for a sail away drink and then who knows. 

Tonigts show is Big Band Night with David and the Crown Princess Orchestra in Explorers Lounge.  Comedy Magic with Trunell Magic in the Princess Theater.  MUTS is showing Premium Rush.