Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Second Leg Cruise Reflections – Buenos Aries to Valparaiso


Note:  These are my own personal views.  I have had many people make comments to me but I refuse to post anything that is second hand that I did not experience (good and bad) unless I viewed it myself.

Like the first leg I wanted to go back and comment on the voyage and what I thought of it and stated the Great, the Good and the Not So Good.

Great:

-          Once again the crew are amazing.  Since we have been on board for 30 days we recognize many and many recognize us and say hi to us by name.  When we show up in a bar they remember our favorite drink and ask how our day was.  Big shout out to Beth and Jasmin in Crooners, Anthony in Vines, Zoran, Thais, Beatriz, Natasha, and Jayne in International Café.

-          Our wait staff this leg have been some of the best we have ever experienced.  Our table with Mark and Lorelei in Da Vinci is one of our highlights every day.  Mark and Lorelei (table 514) remember our preferences and we share our day with them and we love hearing about their day too. 

-          Entertainment on board is still great…. Lots to do, great shows, wonderful trivia type games, Wake Show is fun to watch too.  Lisa and Dan are seen about the ship all the time and always approachable and are working very hard at accommodating many.

-          Movies are some of the best we have ever seen.  We rarely get to the movies at home but love that we can catch up with many when at sea.  This leg we have seen almost all the Oscar nominated movies with many being shown in a venue on board but then also repeated in the cabins too.

-          The Captain and his officers and how they have managed the poor weather we have encountered and often having to make difficult decisions (skipping the horn) to protect the vessel and the passengers on her.

-          Love the itinerary, lots of ports but lots more sea days to really relax and come back new as the ads say. 

-          Love the wine package which has enabled us to really try lots of different wines.  Many of the waiters, bartenders and even bar managers have introduced us to new wines and cocktails we have never tried but loved.

-          We really enjoy that Skywalkers is designated a quiet area and it is wonderful place to go and enjoy the view and read.

-          We started this voyage under Red Alert and I am impressed at how well the crew from the Captain, to the Medical Staff, to the waiters, cleaners, cabin steward dealt with it.  The level was able to return to normal after almost two weeks under the alert because of their dedication and hard work.

Good:

-          Food is good, certainly haven’t gone hungry.  But it is still way too salty for our taste and often we try something and it is so salty we can’t eat it.  We have noticed so much salt in the food that I have noticed swelling in the joints from water retention.  We are also not drinking as much water as we normally do at home (I drink normally minimum of 12 8oz glasses a day), which doesn’t help.  Still have not gotten hot French fries in buffet or Trident Grill.  Nor have we gotten hot pancakes or eggs, we have given up on this. 

-          Cabin Steward is good, he certainly does his job but he is rather shy and doesn’t do anything extra unless we ask.  We have been spoiled on other sailing with Stewards that anticipate our needs and we rarely have to ask for anything.  This time we find we often have to ask for extra laundry bags, soap, note paper cause we have run out.  Although we have really appreciated the sheets changed regularly and he is quick at cleaning the cabin.  We normally tip an average of $5 extra per day to our steward but so far in the 30 days we have maybe tipped him an extra $25 in total.

-          I have really enjoyed the Captain Circle Parties – currently there are four parties to accommodate all the Platinum/Elite Passengers.  The Captain has been hilarious and the waiters have been very efficient at providing drinks for us.  Sadly they have not been going around serving appetizer to us like they normally do, not sure if this is fleet wide or not.

-          The Glacier Alley after leaving Ushuaia should really go under Great!  But since we left Ushuaia early evening and only got to see the first three glaciers before nightfall it goes under Good.  I love this area, and it is beautiful.  We would love to see a change to the itinerary so that we could travel this area during daylight and really appreciate it.

Not So Good:

-          Lecturers John Maxtone Graham and Jeffrey Wolff have been a disappointment for us.  Don’t care for John’s political views being added to his lectures.  Jeffrey Wolff’s talks seems to be more like I am in a fourth grade class and I just don’t get the feeling he really knows his subject personally but more he gained the knowledge on line and is just repeating.  This is too bad cause we really like the subject matter and miss the excellent lecturers we have had in the past. 

-          Tender Service – now this leg tender service has really not been a good experience.  I should state though that in Punt Arenas Chile the weather with the high winds caused huge delays with tender service could not be helped.  But in Falklands and Puerto Montt tender service was slow and long waits to get back to the ship.  In Puerto Montt there must have been over a 1,000 people waiting to get back on board when we showed up at the pier at 4:30 pm (last tender was 5, but was much later).  They are down a tender due to mechanical issues but with the remaining tenders this causes long waits and many with mobility issues are having to line up for long periods, often in the elements.  Thankfully next leg there is only one tender port.

-          Downfall of this cruise is that it has a lot of demanding passengers who are experienced cruisers.  We keep encountering people who are upset about so much but we feel their complaints are not justified and wish they would look at the 95% great things instead of the 5% bad things.  The crew are encountering a lot of abuse from some of these people and I feel for them.  Also because this leg forced a lot of people inside due to the incumbent weather not only did it make many of the public venues busy it also cause many short tempers among passengers and also passengers to the crew.  I am quite impressed on how the crew have been able to defuse many incidents. 

-          Although we are only two weeks later in the season from the last time we did this voyage the weather has been poorer (although this could happen earlier too) and also a lot less wildlife viewings too.

-          The Captain Circle desk area is on Promenade Forward just outside the Wheelhouse and it is really a poor location.  Poor Cameron has his desk out in the middle of the hallway and often we encounter people using his desk and chairs when he is not there.  Not sure how Princess can rectify this but it really should be off limits and made a bit more private.

-          I have said this before on previous cruises but feel Princess should do something about the women’s uniforms.  They have to wear skirts even though they are exposed to the elements where the men get to wear pants.  In today’s day and age I would hope that they would be treated more equally. 

-          One thing I really really hate and wish Princess would do something about it has to do with the Waiters Bus Station/Food Serving Stations.  The cupboards/drawers bang so loudly when they are closed.  It scares the crap out of me all the time and certainly is not enjoyable to hear bang bang bang bang throughout a meal.  Why can't they install self closing, non slamming doors!  

So to wrap this up we have really enjoyed this voyage so far.  We have tried new things this voyage and look forward to trying new things next leg.  Bernie is tickled pink that he finally got to go golfing in Ushuaia and can’t wait to brag to all his golfing buddies.  We love this area of the world and we are so happy we are getting to experience it again.  We even can say that we would book this itinerary again but maybe not from Fort Lauderdale but instead maybe join the ship in Valparaiso or Buenos Aries and doing a back to back. 

Princess still is our line of choice and our Princess family keeps growing.

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