Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aruba




 


WHAT!  I am awake at 5 am…. I turn on my book light and stumble around the cabin to get dress and gather a few items to head out.  I head up to the top deck and if you have never been up this early you should do it one day if you can.  You would be surprised at how much is happening on board during the evenings.


The deck staff is washing down the entire deck.  It is windy and I try to walk along the sea walk but cautiously cause it is like a wind tunnel. 



I get quite a few good shots but time to head down to the Piazza to get my cappuccino. 


I grab a seat and relax and what is funny is out the window I can see land and it is so close.  It seems like we are going to hit it, but of course we are not.  Tracie (a fellow cruisers who also is doing a live thread) joins me and we chat about life, travel, family and of course cruising. 

I need to get a bite to eat and head up to the Horizon Court.  I see the waffles and I am just about to grab one when the chef comes up and says here have a fresh hot one.  Yummy. 





We docked early (7 am) but our plans are to meet up with friends just after 9 am to head to the beach.  So I am back in the cabin to slather on the sun screen and gather our beach items.

Today our goal is to head to Eagle Beach by transit.  It is very easy to do this. 





As soon as you head out of the gate walk to the main street and cross the street and this is the bus depot.   You can buy your return pre paid transit ticket right there.  Round Trip for us was $2 each way or $4 total.  You catch the number 10 bus, which runs quite often and follows a basic route along the many beaches. 

where we get off the bus

We got off at the Amsterdam Hotel and crossed the street.  A gentleman approached us and said he could set up some chairs for us wherever we wanted.  The chairs were $10 each and we set up just in front of the water.
 
The water was COLD but it didn’t take long for us to get use to it.


The afternoon was spent sunning, reading, playing in the water, walking and relaxing with our friends.  But a few hours later we have had enough and we want to be careful with the sun.  We did experience a few showers but they didn’t last long and it certainly got hotter as soon as the showers ended.



Back on the bus and back towards town.  We get off at the bus depot and then walk to the Renaissance Mall with the goal of getting a Starbucks Coffee but the line is long and just beside it is a gelato place and I see they have coconut gelato so instead Bernie and I grab some of that instead. 



We wander around a bit and then decide to head back on so we can get a rest before our meal tonight.

Sea Day Evening – Formal Night

this year I turn 50 and so does Princess
I know it is a formal night but we did both formal nights last sailing and I really don’t feel like dressing up.  We dress smart casual and head down to Vines where Ryan serves us the rest of our wine from the other night.  And well it was so good that we ordered a second bottle. 




The champagne waterfall is happening and they are walking around with champagne and those amazing chocolate truffle pops by Norman Love. 


The officers are introduced and the Captain speaks a bit and I really am impressed because Captain Dino is seen walking around later on saying hi to everyone.  He wandered around deck 5, deck 6 and then deck 7.  That was nice and people really appreciated it.


We meet up with friends in Bellini’s Bar for some champagne and I am really feeling it so I insist we get something to eat.  Since we are not dressed formally we head to Alfredos for pizza.  We had a great time with friends Federico and Trevor and lots of great laughs. 

Federico and us enjoying some champagne at Belinis

It is getting late and as we head aft towards to the Vista Lounge and we see we are just in time for Kory Simon’s 11 pm performance.  Since is the last time we will get to see this show (as Kory gets off in Florida) we sit in and really enjoy it.  And of course his Elton John segment has us repeating the words not only that night but the next day too.

We crawl into bed just before midnight. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Our Thoughts on the First Cruise

I have been meaning to write my overall thoughts on the ship and the first leg of the cruise.   I am getting around to it now.
First off I think this ship is beautiful.  It looks amazing and it is so nice to be on a newer ship with so many new amenities.  It shines!  And not just the d├ęcor but I think the crew on board make it shine. 

I have lots of favorite spots on board. 



I love the large Vines with the seats beside the windows.

The Atrium is amazing and so big.  It is easy to find nooks and crannies to read or talk and still enjoy the events in the center.  I love when they have the ballroom dancing there.  It is so beautiful to see people dancing there.


The Coffee Bar is a great set up too.  They have it down perfectly, they have a spot to line up and they take your order, write it on a slip and then you move to the end of the bar to pick up your drink.  It flows and would love to see a similar process for other ships.


Crooners is large and the staff are great there.  And Kory’s performances there each night are so popular that even with the large venue it is almost impossible to find a seat.

We dine most nights in Symphony dining room and we love our table and our waiter Daniel and his assistant Inna.  He is such a sweetie and we look forward to seeing them each night.  Oh and of course Franco is a highlight to chat with each night. 


The Horizon Court is stunning, and it moves and flows perfectly.  The options are fantastic and if anyone says they can’t find something to eat then they are way too picky. 




Even finding a table to sit at is smooth and easy and only on a rare occasion (like just before disembarkation and the day we missed Princess Cays) was it busy. 


The entertainment on board blows me away such a variety of shows, performances, music types, games and movies.  I love the in cabin tv (but I do need to get new batteries for this remote).  

Lisa Ball the Cruise Director is out and about and so helpful and takes time to chat with passengers and no question is too small.   She really cares. 



We did both the Chef’s Table and Wine Maker’s Dinner and both were so amazing – and extra special.  If you want to read more go back a few days to read full reviews about them.  In fact we have signed up for the Wine Maker’s Dinner again this current voyage.


We have an obstructed balcony cabin on Emerald Deck aft.  The balconies are much smaller but I find that they are fine for the two of us.  The room is well appointed and comfortable and we are experiencing the most comfortable beds we have ever had on a ship.  They are a bit smaller and there is a bit less storage space but certainly enough for us for our thirty days.  The bathrooms are so much better, especially the shower and sink area.  One thing we find odd is the lights for the closet area also turn on a light right above the bed.  So if you try to discreetly get ready without waking someone it is hard to do.  They need to be on separate lights. 




The few things you need to know about the cabin are it is located above the Wheelhouse and you will hear the music from that venue at night.  It is not horrible but unless you have earplugs you won’t be able to sleep until it ends.  I also found the door on Promenade to the aft deck to bang constantly but the crew fixed it and now the hinge works great and it closes slowly with no banging.  But I personally would not pick this cabin again.


We really love all the great work Federico Castro the Captain Circle Host has done on board, he is so patient and he takes his job to heart and really works hard to make sure you having an amazing voyage. 



The way the shops are situated on this ships really help with the flow too and the staff in them have been very helpful and knowledgeable too.


Oh my goodness, I have to mention how great we think Alfredos is and the Gelato bar too, it will be hard to go to a ship without those two places.

Now I will add that not everything is perfect.  There are a few things that could be improved on.

I find the public washrooms on deck 5 and 6 outside the restaurants need to be cleaned more often.  I am not sure of how often they are to be cleaned but when I come out of dinner around 9:30 it is in need of cleaning and I see that it has been about 1.5 hours since it was cleaned last.  Of course these washrooms are busy especially after dinner.

We dined at the Crown Grill and we had a great experience but many friends commented later to us that staff is lacking in the Crown Grill.  Service is slow and food sometimes cold.  The waiters here do not have assistants and I think they should.  When you pay the extra cover charge to dine here you expect something special.



Internet is good, but the signals to the cabin are lacking and I have to sit at the door to get a decent signal.  Someone told me today that if I open the door it will be better.  In public areas it is much better too.

I do miss a quiet spot up on the sun deck.  Seems there are no places to lounge anywhere without hearing the MUTS sound system.  There is a nice lounge area aft with lounge chairs but it is a smoking area.  I will add I am doing fine with the one less pool and haven’t had too much trouble getting a lounger.  But there were tons of loungers with just towels on them that I do think people had just left there that the pool attendants need to remove more regularly.



Yes the midship staircase is missing (well it is not really missing, it is a crew only staircase) but we haven’t missed it too much.  We are aft and we take the stairs there.  But when we have needed an elevator we have had no problem getting an elevator.

We do wish that the Elite/Platinum lounge would allow us to enjoy any of the cocktails that they offer throughout the voyage for the $5 price.  We don’t go often because of this.

But this ship is beautiful but the crew are what make it. 





One thing about being on for another leg many of the crew that know you remember you and are happy you are on board again.  They know us by name (that may be a bad thing) and they know our folio number and favorite drink.  Of course this kind of service makes us feel like we are part of the Princess Family, we feel special and we truly appreciate all they do.  I am just relieved that I get twenty more days on her.