Showing posts from May, 2015

Planning European Cruise

Sometimes planning the cruise and doing all the research is almost as much fun as the actual cruise.  I always say to people "you are spending thousands on this vacation, make sure you know a little bit about where you are going and what you want to do when you get there". 
Now I will admit I am a bit over the top when it comes to planning.  I love it, yeah I get more excited when I can start researching a new place or learn about a new tour, or a book arrives for me to read about a place I will visit.

So as many of you know we will be travelling this October to the Mediterranean to do our first cruise there.  We have both been to Europe before but not any of the countries this cruise will take us to.  

For this voyage we will be visiting:  Rome, Livorno, Cannes, Corsica, Naples, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Athens, Venice (3 days), Dubrovnik, Salerno, Florence, Toulon, Barcelona, and Ponta Delgada.  

At first I felt overwhelmed, where would I start.  Well I have lots of cruise …

Disembarkation - Vancouver and Recap of the Cruise

We are docked in Vancouver.  It is time to head home.  We decided to do self disembarkation as we only had one suitcase and we are just catching transit to head home.

We were assigned the first time of 7 am and the meeting lounge is Explorer's Lounge, but we are going to head to the Elite Lounge.

We head back to the lounge around 6:50 and right at 7 we are cleared to head ashore.  We are ushered out a door to the promenade and right to the gangway.

Cause we had already cleared Canadian Customs the day prior in Victoria we didn't have to do anything at all here. We just walked straight thru the terminal and out of the building right to the skytrain station and to the Canada Line towards the airport.  Our car was parked close to the airport and we were in it at 7:40 and home by 8:20!

I am now going to reflect on the cruise.

We originally booked this voyage as an inexpensive get away and to see so many crew that we knew.

We were not disappointed.  It was relaxing and fun and we loved s…

Friday - Victoria - All Day and All Night

I wake to the sounds of docking... oh I won't miss that noise.

Then Bernie informs me he is not feeling well.  He has abdominal pain and a headache.  It may be something he ate, it could be allergies, it could be so many things.  I tell him to just rest in the cabin today as I will be just fine on my own.  -- footnote, after getting home a few days later he ended up in emergency with worse pain, they have ruled out appendicitis, and it looks like it is his gallbladder and will probably have to come out soon.

We are in Victoria today and it looks like a beautiful day. We had to fill out the Canadian Customs forms prior to arrival and hand them over to the Purser's desk or our steward.  We don't have to clear customs here at other than that form.  Nice and easy.

Today I have arranged to head ashore with some crew who are close to us.  Mark (our waiter), Giovannie (our assistant waiter), Victoria and her husband Jason and Riza (all waiters/assistant waiters).  We meet up on the …

Thursday Night - Most Travelled Party and Sabatinis

We have a busy night planned.
First we are up at the Elite Lounge for a drink and to say goodbye to Rock and David.  We really enjoyed our time up here and the views are so much nicer here than in Club 6 on the Royal. Tonight is the Most Travelled Cocktail Party.  We are honoured to be in the top 40.  
Princess hosts a cocktail party or a luncheon for the top 40 passengers (in days).  I like both.  The luncheon is nice cause you get to spend time at a table with one officer. But sometimes we have had bad experiences with this too where the other passengers at the table take this time to complain to the officer about anything and everything.  
The cocktail party is usually held in Adagios and you can sit wherever you want, you can order whatever drink you want and the food that comes around is amazing.
We get a picture with the Captain as soon as you come in. Then we take a seat with Rick and Monika.  Liz soon joins us, then Stephano joins us.  

Jazz is serving us again and she keeps them c…

Thursday – Astoria

We wake to the sounds coming from below.We are just above where the door opens for them to throw the lines.
The thrusters and the winches for the ropes are noisy.But it is a decent hour (7 am) and we had a good sleep.You certainly don’t need an alarm clock for this cabin.
But I will say this cabin is so very quiet all the rest of the time, but when coming into port or leaving it is very noisy for about an hour each time. 
We get clearance to go ashore about 7:45 and the International Café is busy.  Today I go and get the coffee/tea and see Beethoven behind the bar. 

I really like their set up here for ordering.  There is a large menu board above and even one on the counter.  A sign clearly identifies “Order Here” and to the left is another sign “Pick Up Here”.  They ask your name when you order and call out your name when it is ready. But note this is all changing with dry dock next week.

No set plans today except to meet up with Beatrice to go ashore and grab a meal for lunch.
She is off…

Wednesday Night

It is a full night.It is a formal night and there is the Captain Circle Party.We dress and we head upstairs but we have about a half hour to kill before meeting up with friends.
We decide to check out the Wheelhouse bar for one of the signature Norman Love Cocktails.Note the Wheelhouse is the only place to get them.We take a seat off to the side and sit there but after ten minutes we realize if we want a drink we will probably have to move to the bar.And I really want one of these drinks.
So we take a seat at the bar.  I ordered the Chocolate Whisky Bacon drink. Yup Bacon.  First issue is the bacon is not behind the bar so he has to get one of the servers to head to the galley to get a plate of bacon.  That takes about ten minutes.  The drink is made and when the bacon arrives the bartender is looking for a crispy piece but all the pieces are flimsy and not crispy.  He picks out the best and lays it on top of the drink and then puts chocolate on the bacon. 
Hmmm doesn’t look very appeal…

Day at Sea – Wednesday

Oh my is the ship a moving.  I am sure there will be a lot of people who are sea sick today.  Huge swells!  Often the spray covers our window completely and the room goes black.  

It is sunny out and temperatures are around 14C but I think it is pretty windy out there. 

I can’t believe I slept until 10 am!  I really needed it though I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since we left LA and even last night I woke often cause of the movement of the ship.  

But I feel very rested today.

This is our first and only sea day and the day is filled with activities.  Of course the normal things are happening the Onboard Outlet Sale and the Culinary Demo/Galley Tour are huge draws.  

They are doing the pub lunch today and there is the Sound of Music – Sing Along in the Princess Theater too.  

For me it is going to be all about relaxation and lots of reading.  

The ship is busy inside and feels crowded because the weather outside is just not nice enough to sit out there.  

This forces everyone inside.  It …

Third Night - San Francisco

Once we are back in the cabin we take a short nap before dinner and when we wake we dress for dinner in the dining room.  

I meet up with Bernie in Crooners for a pre dinner drink and passengers come and go.  The Motor City show is just letting out and second show is just about to begin.  It is Rock and Roll night too in the Vista Lounge.  

Dinner for us is 8 pm in Botticelli Dining room and when we arrive both Mark and Giovanni are waiting for us.  It has only been two nights but we have missed them both.  

Their sections and those around them are full, but ironically many of the sections elsewhere are empty again.  We notice many waiters and assistant waiters from other sections are helping Mark and Giovanni out serving water, pouring wines, clearing plates, getting them dishes, etc. This is impressive and it is noted by us and trust me we know this doesn’t always happen.

The table beside us is celebrating an anniversary and Mark serenades them for the occasion.  Everyone loves him and …

Tuesday – Second Day in San Francisco

We wake around 8 am and Bernie heads upstairs for some oatmeal, but I am still full from dinner.  We are being picked up this morning at 9:30 by Simon and Angelique.
We head to the gangway at 9:15 but right as we get there they closed it.  Apparently the port needs to adjust the gangway.  We wait and wait and the line gets longer and longer and people’s patience is wearing thin.  We take it in stride.  

Although I was disappointed in the way one couple acted who approached the line and insisted because they were Elite they should get priority for getting off!  They stood right near the roped area and as soon as it was cleared they budded in…. obviously they did not read my etiquette blog.  
Part of me wanted to say hey we are elite too and probably a lot more sea days than you and we all have been waiting… but I didn’t… it would of served no purpose with these two.

Angelique and Simon are there waiting for us where we are whisked off to the Golden Gate Park to the De Young Museum for the …

Night in San Francisco

I head up on deck around 1 pm to watch us going under the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is not often that we get to do this during daylight and boy is it busy, but I wander to the aft area and take some nice shots and video of going under. 

I then head on top of the bridge area for some neat shots of the very interesting docking procedure.  The wind is HIGH and the ship pulls up and then turns around and then docks.

The thrusters have to work extra hard to counteract the winds.  It is around 2:20 by the time the lines are put in place and the gangway is up and we are cleared to go off. 

There is a gangway on deck six midship and one on five but that one on five is for crew only, mainly because they have different screening and the gangway is not easy to maneuver.  The gangway on deck six is very similar to the kind you would use to go onto a plane.  

But the lines to get off the ship snake all around the Atrium and into the Casino to who knows where.  We look at each other and realize there rea…