Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saturday February 15, 2014 Embarkation Day

We wake all excited, today is the day we get to board the beautiful Crown Princess.

Today we just walk over to the diner that is right next to the hotel for breakfast.  The meal was very good, very hot and very reasonable. 

We talk about what our game plan is for the day.  We end up deciding to head to the pier and drop off the bags, grab a coffee and then get a pedicure, fill the gas tank, drop the car off and take the shuttle back to the pier.  And that is exactly what we did.

We headed to drop off the bags and TRAFFIC now we expected this because of 9 ships, yup 9 ships were in port.  One was a small one though but 9 ships!  It took a while to get to the pier to drop off the bags but we are so glad we did this ahead of time.

I will add that we tried out a new salon for our pedicure.  Last year we had seen that they were going to be opening up this salon and we had bad incidents at the one on 17th street near Starbucks (Harbour Nails) before so we went to Ultimate Nails Spa  They were able to take us in right away and I had Justin work on me and Debbie worked on Bernie.  Justin and Debbie did an amazing job and constantly asked us how things were going and did we require anything.  The cost for the pedicures was $25 each (standard) and after about 40 minutes we were on our way to get gas and drop off the car.

TRAFFIC again, it took about a half hour to get to the airport from 17th street, when normally it takes maybe 10 minutes.  It is bumper to bumper traffic!  We pull in to drop off our car and we have never seen so many cars being returned at the same time.  We chatted with the Alamo attendant who is directing traffic and she said that normally they have around 600 cars returned in a day, today they are expecting 1,000 cars returned. 

We wait for the free shuttle to the pier (National and Alamo have a free shuttle and you do have to show that you rented from them).  Lots of people are waiting but most have their bags.  Again we are happy we dropped our bags off and just have our knapsacks and wine to carry on.  Everyone on board the shuttle is in a good mood, they are all going on vacation!

We get off a the pier and what the line is snaked back and forth and back again.  We look to see if there is a priority line but there isn’t.  I am guessing there isn’t a priority line because almost everyone would be in that priority line considering most of these people are seasoned cruisers. 
So we find the end of the line and get in it.  A lot of people are very upset and impatient and this either brings out the nasty in people or the kindness in people.  We now are aware of a few people we definitely want to stay away from on board and many (thankfully many) we really look forward to getting to know on board.

If you have ever been to Fort Lauderdale pier 2 you can just imagine the line went from one end of the building to the end of the building and back again.  Nothing was really roped off you just had to follow the honor system and most were good about this, but a few were not. 

Those with mobility issues were provide with a wheelchair but were told to get in line.  I felt bad for those with canes, or walkers and some of the elderly.  There were a few benches and some took seats there while someone else held their spot in line and played follow the leader and met their companions on the bench.

We both noticed the demographics is much older than a “normal” Caribbean cruise, but really we were expecting this and heck we love all ages.  There are a few kids, but not many and I believe they are all Argentinian and getting off in Buenos Aries.  Lots of Ozzies (Australians) and love them, they are all so friendly and we enjoyed getting to know a few in line.  We chatted with two couples from Buenos Aries in line who are on till then.

What the issue was is the check in was about three times longer once you saw the agent than normal.  For this voyage we as Canadians had to show proof of Brazilian Visa, and the Argentinian reciprocal fee proof of payment.  They then had to take our passports and provide us with a receipt for the passports as the Purser’s desk is going to hold on to our passports for the cruise to expedite  clearance by custom agents in all the countries we visit.  Of course many people did not have all the necessary documentation and we did see quite a few people upset and even one woman was crying.  I feel bad but I also know you need to make sure you have all the documentation when you travel.  Everyone (whether you booked thru an agent or Princess) you have to read thru all the notifications that are stated in your cruise personalizer.  Make sure you follow what may be needed.  Note that normally they state what is needed as a US citizen but make sure if you are not a US citizen that you check each consulate to see what your nationality needs to enter the countries you are visiting.  Ironically the two people we encountered who did not have Argentinian reciprocal fee forms booked thru agents and their agent did not inform them that they needed it. 

In all it took 2.5 hours to get on board the ship from when the shuttle dropped us off.  Yup that is right two and a half hours! 

Thankfully the weather was not too hot cause I have a feeling many people would have been passing out.  Sadly Princess may not have control over the lines but they should have had more people out to direct the lines and answer questions, hand out water and in the end a glass of complimentary wine with dinner would of gone a long way to say hey sorry it was such a horrible embarkation, now lets start out on better footing with a glass of wine.

Even though we didn’t get on until 3:50 and Muster Drill was originally scheduled for early the Captain was announcing that the drill would be delayed because of the slow embarkation.  Also there were numerous passengers still trying to get to the ship because of all the weather delays.

In the end Muster Drill did not happen till 5 pm and we made our way down to the Princess Theater for the drill and they scanned our cars and we paid attention even though I swear we could recite the drill word for word, but safety is key so pay attention.

Oh I a little ahead of myself.  When we finally got to our cabin we met our steward Ronnie from the Phillipines and he said hi and commented that his wife’s name is Vickie so he would have no trouble remembering my name. 

All our bags are already in the cabin.  Not surprised because we dropped them off around 10 am.  Although baggage was one of the delays with the boarding as well, as well as stores had lots to board for this long voyage too.  The Captain did say that they were not prepared for all the bags people would be bringing, which surprised me…. Really this is a 49 day cruise that visits colder climates of course we are going to have more bags than a regular 7 day cruise!

Okay back to the cabin, all our bags are here.   We decide to start unpacking and well this is never a fun experience and we unpack and I decide to wander the ship a bit because it is always easier if only one person is unpacking and I return later and un pack my stuff and coordate where things should go.  Even though there is enough space for everything it does take some time to figure out where items should go that would be the most appropriate.  Like the binoculars, why put in the closet when you will be using them the most on the balcony so we stored them in the cupboard under the phone.  Have to say I hate that cupboard in the desk wish they would put drawers there which would be so much more useful.

We run into a few familiar faces.  Mark from the cruise staff is on board, we sailed with him on the Emerald last year for 30 days, he informs us that he will be sharing in the Zumba hosting with Lisa Ball the Cruise Director.  We also are glad to see lovely Beatriz from Mexico in the coffee bar, we sailed with her on the Caribbean last September.  Cameron who is the Captain Circle host (replacing Peter) we have sailed with before, normally he is a Future Cruise Consultant but he is doing the CC duties.

I should add that for this voyage we have been given a paper outlining our elite benefits and it states for the 33 day voyage and 49 day voyage elites get a 500 minute internet package.  We have this as a 33 day booking then a 16 day booking so we should get two packages.

Sailaway was delayed because of well all the above and we didn’t set sail until around 6:30, Bernie says he thought it was even later.  We were getting ready for dinner so we didn’t pay too much attention and there was little fan fare – which is sad because the Crown won’t be coming back to Fort Lauderdale for a long while.

Dinner was in Michelangelo around 7:30 and we were sat at a table for two.  Of course the tables for two along the bench seating have people so close to you that you end up hearing everyone’s conversation around you.  We chatted with a couple beside us from Montreal who recognized me from my Youtube video and is also on our roll call.  The other couple was from Argentina, and although their English was very minimal the woman spoke French so I talked with her. 

We asked about the wine package, or wine card as I call it.  Of course since this ship has only been doing short voyages most of the waiters did not know much about it and it took over a half hour to get it squared away. 

If you are interested in learning more about the wine package visit my Facebook fan page and read the note I wrote about the wine package which outlines the details.  link to article

We ended up buy the Gold 12 bottle package which entitles us to 12 bottles of wine at $45 or under.  If you buy a bottle that is over $45 you just pay the different.  The cost of the package was $336 plus tip for a total of $386.  So basically if you get a bottle that is $45 you will be saving $114, of course if the bottle is less than $45 you will save less but in the end we will save.  If we are going to buy a cheaper bottle we just won’t use the card.  And I am pretty sure we can easily go thru 12 bottles.

We bought a bottle of the Sanceere (sorry can’t recall spelling) and corked it for the next night.  Should note that it took till my entrée was served to get the bottle, mind you it took me and them a bit to get the wine package cleared up and the wine to get finally delivered.

For dinner I had the spring rolls to start, the salad and the Fettuccini Alfredo for my entrée with the cheese plate for dessert.

Dinner was very scattered today… it always is the first day.  Lots of people not sure of the routine, waiters not knowing your routine.  Buying of wine cards, consulting with Head waiters over dietary concerns etc.  This always happens even on shorter voyages, and with so many days ahead of us I am sure things will smooth out quickly. 

After dinner we wander about, the ship seems quiet but then I am not surprised with so many people travelling today, the long check in process, and the huge amounts of bags to unpack. 

We see Lucia in one of the shops, she is from Uruguay and is heading home in Buenos Aries, we sailed with her on the Star.

We are in bed relatively early and out for the night.  I did wake once during the night all confused, where am I, why is my bed moving, where is the bathroom.  But in the end I slept like a baby and woke with a smile knowing great memories await.

Things you may find interesting:

Officers:  Captain John Foster (joined today), Staff Captain Kevin Grant, Hotel General Manager Claudio Mazzoni, Cruise Director Lisa Ball, Senior Doctor Mark Mason, Food & Beverage Director Francesco Grasso, Customer Services Director Antonio Romano, Executive Housekeeper Joaquim Lopes, Executive Chef Jozef Lisner, Maitre d’Hotel Ignazio D’Agostino.

Movies:  Captain Phillips, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Oz The Great and Powerful, Pacific Rim, Premium Rush, Quartet, Red 2, Skyfall, Snow White and the Huntsman, Star Trek Into the Darkness, The Artist, The Great Gatsby, and White House Down.

Princess Theater Entertainment:  Destination Anywhere, Blame It On The Boogie, Comedian Peter Sasso, Piano Vocalist Tom Franek, Ventriloquist Mark Merchant, Vocalist Nik Page, Comedy Magic Trunell Magic, Vocalist: Jacqi Michaels, Juggler Mauel Zuniga, The Dancing Gauchos, Piano Entertainer Chris Contillo, Dance Magic Amor Dance Magic, Multi Instrumentalist Oli Nez, Vocalist Elvy Rose, Comedy Magic Lee Bayless, Impressionist Joey Van, International Crew Show, Folkloric ShowBraziller Issimo.


  1. Good Times! The fun starts now. Have a fabulous trip!

  2. So much fun to read this. I am looking forward to your blog. We will be joining you in Valparaiso.

  3. I am looking forward to following you on your blog. We will be joining you in Valparaiso.
    West Coast Cruiser.

  4. Can't wait for more instalments. Love all the detail.

  5. Thank you so much for a wonderful blog. We'll join you in Valparaiso. Have a great trip.

  6. Thanks Vickie for posting what embarkation was like - I had a similiar experience a year ago when it came time to board the Grand Princess for my 49 day voyage on the Grand. Good luck - will be following your posts as you sail down the east coast of South America, around the Horn and then back up the west coast. Cheers!