Monday, February 17, 2014

At Sea February 16, 2014

Our first full day.  If you have followed any of our previous cruises you know how much we like sea days.  I feel sea days are the forced days of relaxation.  The days you can justify doing nothing or doing a lot.  No guilt is felt when you have a nap in the afternoon, no guilt from reading a book for hours, no guilt from watching a movie from beginning to end, no guilt from chatting and meeting new friends while sipping a coffee. 

For some these days are hard, it is not something they are used to in their day to day life with work, children, sports, home life and trying to fit it all in.   For us we don’t have this problem.  And it becomes very evident the moment I awake around 4 am with the thought…. “where the heck am I”  Thankfully I quickly realized from the slight movement of the ship that I was at sea.  So I quickly rolled over and fell back asleep only to wake up around 8 am.

Bernie heads down to pick up my latte and his tea and when he returns he comments “living on Aloha deck forward is quite a trek to the International Café” so not sure how often I will get latte delivery in the morning.  But I do appreciate this one.  Of course you can get espresso drinks from the bar on Lido deck but I guess out of habit we head to the International Café.

As Bernie reads I pull out the computer and start writing up my blog for the past few days and posting it up to the web and check my facebook fan page.  If you haven’t “liked” my fan page yet make sure to check it out by clicking on the facebook icon at the top of the page.

Bernie is off to visit Barb and Craig and I quickly dress and head down to see them too.  We sit and chat for a bit and are delighted when they give us this large map of South America to put up on our wall to track where we are travelling to.  Our friends Connie and Derrick did this last time and we thought it was a great idea and so glad Barb and Craig did this for us.

My man is not having any luck with time pieces this voyage, in fact I swear he is jinxed.  First in Florida he noticed his Tissot watch seemed to be dead, when I commented that it could be the battery he said “yeah maybe the battery icon has been flashing for awhile”.  Then his everyday watch seemed to stop periodically and he says “hmmm I think this battery is dead too”.  He does have one more watch and thankfully it is a Citzen Eco Drive watch that doesn’t require a battery.  Then one day he set the alarm on our travel alarm only for it not to go off when it should.  And then tonight all of a sudden it went off, looks like he set it for pm not am.  So we are giggling about time and considering our jobs require us to be on such a tight schedule and on board the last thing we are following is time it may be a sign.  So Bernie is going to need a watch battery and this isn’t easy to always find and when we walk past the shops and they have a table set up with watches Bernie picks out a Swatch watch for a decent price and I do too (hey sounds only fair).  For the first two days of the cruise if you spend $100 you get an extra 10% off and with our elite 10% discount I am able to rationalize to Bernie.  “May as well buy a new watch a battery is going to cost you around $12 anyhow.”

Zumba is happening and with Lisa Ball the Cruise Director leading it today (Mark will be alternating with her as there are two certified instructors on board).  Did you know that Princess is the only cruise line to be able the true Zumba.  They have the license and they have Zumba trained and certified instructors on board.  We arrive around 12:10 and the class starts in five minutes and Club Fusion is packed, I mean PACKED.  Not just the dance floor but all the areas are filled.  The tables have been pushed to the sides and the chairs crammed under the tables to make as much room as possible.  Bernie and I take position to the right on a upper level and follow along the best we could but it was very difficult to see Lisa especially her footing but we just moved the best we could.  I think a lot of people did not know what to expect cause many had dropped out after a song or two and then there were a few that came in part way while passing by.  I did have a giggle when I saw a woman show up in her bathing suit and flip flops and try to make the steps, but hey at least she was trying. 

We needed to shower and Ronnie had finished our room so we were able to get in and clean up from a great work out. 
I am hungry now and Horizon Court is offering an Orient Buffet so I grab some sushi and then walk back to Horizon Court to grab some salad.  The salad bar is lacking compared to other ships we have been on.  I see only one station with salad fixings where normally there are two.  Missing was sprouts, nuts, cheeses, beets, beans etc etc.  But I still managed to get a big plate full of salad to go along with my sushi. 

Lots is happening around the ship today.  There are port lectures, shopping talks, gem stone seminars, health seminars, photography class, and pool games and of course trivia.  But we are laying low and relaxing by enjoying our balcony.  We have a starboard cabin so we have afternoon sun.  Although this is lovely it can be very hot so I made sure to lather on the sunscreen.  Also it is key to keep the drapes closed during the afternoon as the direct sun will warm up the room no matter how low the air conditioner is set to.  Also make sure to keep the balcony door closed too.

At 3 pm our Cruise Critic group had their meet and greet.  We had been chatting on line for a long time and we were looking forward to putting a face to a name.  This group is huge, the entire Skywalkers is full.  Princess provided a mic and bar staff to take orders.  Lisa the Cruise Director came as well as Antonio the Customer Services Director and the groups coordinator Nina.  Even though we have been involved in many roll calls this group was very different and the meet and greet was so large it was really hard to mix and mingle.  I tried to meet some of the people and thankfully many people came up and introduced themselves to me.  It is always hard cause I try to remember people but I am so bad with names and I don’t do well in large groups and much prefer to sit and chat in smaller groups and get to know people.  So I am looking forward to meeting many of the people throughout the cruise.  

Tonight is formal night and the Gold/Ruby Captain Circle Party is happening at 4:30 tonight.  I am sitting down in the international café chatting with Beatrice when a couple from Britain joins me at the table and we have a wonderful time getting to know each other.  The woman is in a wheel chair and she commented that yesterday at embarkation there was no one there to assist any of the physically disabled.  Her husband had to help her the entire way where normally the staff are there to assist.  I did witness this and I am glad to get first had knowledge that this happened.  It is sad and I hope Princess does look into what went wrong with this.

Time to head up and get ready for formal night and of course the Captains Welcome Aboard Champagne Waterfall.

So when we head down to the Atrium around 7 pm the place is packed.  Now normally we try to stay away from this even cause of the crowds but we wanted to see Claudio the Hotel General Manager and when I started to walk towards him I know he was recognizing me and then it came back to him Vancouver, bus drivers and of course the Olympic mitts and shirt we gave him.  He told us he still has that shirt and was just looking at it the other day and he used the mitts this past season skiing.  We are excited to hear he married his girlfriend (last time we say him he was talking about possibly proposing) and he now has two children!  We are so excited for him and so happy he is on board and look forward to seeing him for the next 48 days!  Oh and we surprised him with a new pair of Canadian mitts from this year’s Olympics.
We also ran into Laura from the Purser’s staff and we remember her from the Caribbean.  It is always a joy to see familiar faces again and she informs us that Michael Glass the Food and Beverage Manager will be joining the Crown soon too and can’t wait to see him too.  Like Bernie and I always saw, we don’t have children and our families are so far away but when we come on board a Princess ship it is like being with family again and when the crew are as happy to see us as we are of them we are glad we could put a little bit of happiness in their day too.

As Bernie and I stand around watching the activities a lovely couple from Florida approaches and the husband says “are you Vickie” and he introduces himself and his wife Ricardo and Betty and he translates for his wife as she only speaks Spanish but understands English very well.  She wants to thank me for my web page and my Youtube channel and all the informative videos she has watched.  She even watched our video about the kids from Huatulco.  We are touched and moved by their lovely comments.  When they leave I turn to Bernie and say “now that is the reason I do the web page, the facebook page and the videos cause if it can make somebodies cruise a bit better then I am happy”.  So thank you to all that follow along.

The officers are all introduced at Captain Foster comes out to say a few words.  We sailed with Captain Foster a few years ago on the Golden to Alaska.  Captain Foster comes from Liverpool and well lets say this “don’t bring up Manchester United around him”.  He informs us that he just got on board after Captain Yeomans retired after 45 years.  He goes on to explain that Captain Yeomans provided Captain Foster with some advice on navigation for the South American voyage.  Captain Foster then folds out a napkin with a roughly drawn map of South America on it and what looks like some lines around it.  Captain Foster states that the advice given was to help navigate was to always keep the land to the right.  Too funny!  And he doesn’t stop there he keeps us laughing for a good ten minutes.  I swear Captain Foster you should be one of the comedians later on in the voyage.  I am so glad to have him on board leading us around the horn, it is sure to be a fun trip.

Dinner tonight is with Barb and Craig in the Michelangelo Dining room.  We asked for a table of four around 7:45 and we were sat right away but it is busy in there and our poor waiter seemed to have gotten slammed with a bunch of tables all at once. 

We brought a bottle of champagne and wine for which we had paid the corkage when we boarded and had the stickers showing this on them so there was no issue.  I had the French onion soup to start (which was so so, much prefer the one in the Crown Grill), Caesar Salad (too much dressing, have to remember to ask for it on the side next time) and for my entrée I had the Baramundi and it was so good, the sauce it came with was yummy I wanted to lick the plate, but I refrained, it is formal night after all.  For dessert I opted for the cheesecake and passed on the cheese plate this time.  The cheesecake was great as usual.  Service was lacking but did improve once the dining room died down a bit.  It certainly is not the fault of the waiter it has more to do with getting so many tables at once and trying to juggle the crowds that all come in right after the Captain’s speech.
We don’t really feel like doing anything after dinner.  Both of us are tired and this could be because we didn’t have a nap or hey it could be because we polished off a bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine among the four of us.

Daily comments about the day that I noticed:

Staff are amazing, so friendly and helpful and boy are they patient.  Since I deal with the public day in and day out I know I would of cracked a long time ago dealing with some of the passengers on board – I just don’t have that kind of patience, but boy does Princess every go far and above when hiring the right kind of people.

Ronnie our steward is very attentive and kind.  He is one of those stewards that is in quiet and in the background and before you can turn around he has made your bed!  We needed our shower drain snaked cause it was not draining very well.  We left him a note and within a few hours it was taken care of.  The little things too are really appreciated, like the extra glasses he has left for us, the big comfy pillows and of course the top sheet.

Our bed is so comfy too, and I can comment that Princess seems to be getting better with buying mattresses that seem to hold up better.  The last few voyages have shown a great improvement in beds and bedding. 

The Sanctuary price seems to have gone up.  I noticed yesterday in the Patter it said $20 for a half day and $40 for a full day. We use to love visiting the Sanctuary and usually visit a few times a cruise but not the last few times we have been rather disappointed in the service so we are reluctant to go back.  And with the price increase we may opt out totally or save it for when it is absolutely necessary.
Being the first full sea day the open decks were busy but there was lots of places to sit or lounge especially if you didn’t want to sit right by the pool.  But I am concerned that many people are not protecting themselves with lots of sunscreen as there were numerous people at night with sun burns. 

Wake Show is a little scaled back compared to what we normally see but Lisa does a great job and gets to the point about what is going on that day and asks a question of the day, sadly the prize seems to be the casino vault coupons which really for us is a sad prize.  Hoping that it improves.
The library is well stocked and I was surprised to see that the library now works on the honour system, you just sign out the books and return them later.  But since a cruise staff often would have to sit there for a few hours in the past just waiting for someone to check something out I guess it wouldn’t be a good use of their time.

They are offering the Crab Shack in a few days time.  I am wanting to try it so we may sign up for this one or at least the next one.

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