Showing posts from September, 2015

Florida Trip in Early 2016

Florida... the good and bad about leaving from Florida - Fort Lauderdale to be exact.
We have been sailing out of Fort Lauderdale now for almost two decades.  We have seen it change so much.  But I guess every place has changed!  Sounding my age?
Because of how bad the Canadian Exchange rate is, currently 30% we have to be conscious of what we spend when visiting the US right now.  
One thing we find is the prices have really shot up for hotels.  Especially those around the port. Often it is rare to even find a room under $200 near the port or on the beach.  It was only three years ago that we were getting rooms at the Hyatt or the Sheraton for under a $100.  Well times have changed.
We are heading into Florida two nights prior to the cruise so we were looking for something reasonable. We love coming in early.  We really enjoy spending time here and it really helps to get use to the three hour time change from Vancouver.  
When we were able to secure a rental car with Alamo for $31 a day (…

All Inclusive Drink Package - My Thoughts

Recently Princess joined many of the other cruise line by introducing an All Inclusive Drink Package.

The cost for this package is $50 a day plus tip = $56.35 per day.  It is sold only on the first and second day of the cruise.  Note if you buy it the second day you will be charge for the entire voyage, including the first day, so buy it as soon as you can.

From Princess' page it is describe as 

Take advantage of our All-Inclusive Beverage Package which includes any individual beverage item, such as soda, water, cocktails, spirits, wines, beers, coffee and tea, up to $10 (retail value). Bottles of wine are NOT included in the package; however, when purchased in bars, dining rooms or specialty restaurants, will be available at 40% discount from the menu price. Applicable to all bottles below $100 retail. Note: This package is available for consumption at all bars, public areas and dining venues (not room service and excludes mini bar items). Terms and conditions may apply.

When you buy…

Translator App is a MUST

I don't know about you... but I have been caught in frustrating situations when I just can't figure out how to communicate in non English Speaking Countries.

The first time we were in Brazil we scratched our heads many times.  But the funniest was when trying to order off a menu.  Our Portuguese is non existent so we pointed at items that we "thought" we knew what they were --- Only to be surprised when it arrived.

But sure that can be fun too and we still remember it.  And isn't that what travelling is all about? Experiences.

But now a days it is so much easier.  No need to carry around a small dictionary or phrase book.

If you have a smart phone then you are set.  Even if you don't have a data package for foreign countries you can use this app.

The app I am referring to is Google Translate App.  You can find it in the Android store here.   Or in the Itunes Store here.  (I have been told that the Itunes version doesn't translate offline).

I have an Android and…

Rick Steves Will Guide Us Thru Europe

As many of you know we will be heading to Europe.  Bernie has been to Europe a few times but stayed in mainly England/Scotland and Amsterdam.  I had only been to Scotland and that was twenty years ago.

When we first decided to head back to Europe for our twentieth anniversary on a Mediterranean Cruise I knew I finally would get to use Rick Steves' information.

I have always admired Rick's shows and guides and listen to his weekly podcast religiously.  

You can find his website here

One of the first books I bought was Rick's Mediterranean Cruise Ports.  I have probably read it ten times and each time I highlight something new.  I have tab post-its to identify each port we are visiting.  

I then went and downloaded his App for Androids (but also available for Apple products).  The app is free and you can learn more about it here.  Once loaded you can then download a bunch of things including interviews, talks and then walking tours, museum tours, city tours.   What I love is once…

Cabin Pictures - Another Great Website to Check Out

Probably the single most asked question is about cabins on board a ship. 

This is a site that has pictures of cabins.  Some ships/lines there are more pictures than others.  But I find that if you have never been on a cruise or are sailing a new cruise line this site can be very helpful.

The site is called

Check it out and even better add some of your own cabin pictures to increase their library.

Another Favorite Cruise Website - Cruise TT

For all you cruise addicts if you are anything like me you like to know which ships are in port when you are in port.  

This can be helpful when figuring out how busy a port will be.

Another great thing is to see if there is another Princess Ship in with you.  

If we have friends who are travelling on another ship this website will help you determine if you cruises will cross paths.

I find it especially helpful when sailing out of a busy port like Fort Lauderdale.  Knowing ahead of time how many ships are in port can often help you when finding a hotel.  Or answering the question "why are hotels so darn expensive" oh yeah there are six ships leaving the next day.

So check out CruiseTT - here is a link to their website.

It isn't anything fancy and isn't the easiest to maneuver around but it can be very helpful.

Click on ships tab at the top.  Find your cruise line and then select your ship.

Choose which month you will be sailing and then scroll down to see the date you are le…

ShipMate App

There are quite a few tools out there that I find so very helpful when planning cruises.  Or tools I use to connect with others who are cruising.

Ship Mate has been around for a while but it has really grown into something that I find to be very helpful. Especially for new cruisers.  Or if you are travelling with friends/family.

The app is free and once loaded you can add you upcoming cruises onto it.

See the itinerary, ship photos, deck plans, shore excursions and even a so so roll call that I personally find cumbersome but does the trick.  I would use other roll call avenues for chatting, like Cruise Critic or create an event on Facebook and have others join.

I like the countdown feature and the itinerary feature.  

Also love the ship tracker.  With this I can see where my ship is currently.  For some reason this excites me - yeah crazy I know, but cruise addicts can relate.

Often I forget where I am going to be on which day and all I have to do is quickly open the app and pull up my crui…

Last Night

After showering I meet up with Bernie in Wheelhouse bar and sat at the bar so we could catch up with Allain Mendoza.  We first met Alain on the Royal last January in Vines.

Bernie gets a Cosmo and I get my Bramble.  Oh that Cosmo is good Bernie adds.

We are later than normal and as we head to deck six for dinner we run into Mitre d' Silva in the stairway he asks about our trip and of course it was great.  He directs us to the dining room on deck five cause it is much quieter and we are given a table for two.

The table is right in front a station, basically the dirty dishes are our view!  Our waiters seem off, food comes out before drinks, no pepper is offered, and our pasta appetizer is not offered parmesan either.  These short three days just don't cut it when it comes to dining room service we find.  The food is good though and that glass of Ancient Peaks is very good.

We decide to head down to Vista Lounge for the Liar's Club.  Bernie hands out chocolates or treats every t…

Monday Sea Day

What a lovely night’s sleep but we are awake at 6:40.We decide to shower and head to the dining room for breakfast.It is being served in Da Vinci starting from 7 am.
We are sat at a table for two and we order freshly squeezed orange juice.Oh my this is so good.So we order another.
I get a half grapefruit and the eggs benedict.While waiting for the food the pastry guy comes by and offers us Danishes
and I respond oh no I am sweet enough as it is.He then smiles and says “croissant then” oh that just cracked me up.

Food was excellent and within a half hour we are out of the dining room and take a seat in Vines and do some reading and enjoy another coffee while the rest of the ship comes alive.
Oh I should add that we got our disembarkation information last night.We are going to have clear US Customs before getting off the ship tomorrow.They have everyone having to go to Vista Lounge at their designated time to clear customs and then they can get off.
Normally when we have done this itinerary…

Sunday Evening

When we come back to the room there is a bottle of Korbel on ice and a gift bag with a lovely crystal rectangle paper weight with an etched Golden Gate Bridge with the words Pacific Coastal.We are number three on this voyage and this is the first time we have gotten a gift like this.Very pretty but boy does it ever weigh a lot.Thankfully we are doing carry on bags for our flight.

We have arranged to meet up with Victor in Alfredos for pizza tonight for 8 when he is on his dinner break.

Tonight I want to try a different pizza and get the Grand Princess Pizza and a glass of wine and sparkling water.Have to say I love the fact that with the All Inclusive Drink Package we don’t hesitate to get what we like.

The pizzas arrive and they look lovely, but sadly again the pizza in the middle section is soggy and needs more cooking (I am guessing) but certainly not as good as we have had on other ships.Or as good as we had on this ship last Fall.

For dessert we let the waiter know that the chef has…

Afternoon at Sea

Back on board for noon, sailaway is 12:30.So holding back hair and earrings so we are not blown away on the pier.Oh I think this wind could cause a bit more rough seas.Time will tell.
We take a sea in the International CafĂ© and enjoy some coffees – I try the new Chai Tea.It is very good, a little sweet for me but very tasty.
Bernie says he is tired so he heads back to the cabin for a nap.For me I grab my tablet and find a seat and read some magazines.But it is getting a bit too noisy in the Atrium because of the martini demo so I head up to the top deck and enjoy a Ultimate Cooler up at the pool deck, but half sweet.
I hobble around the ship looking for what is happening.I finally settle down outside Explorers and chat with a woman from San Francisco who is on her first cruise.
Dolores and Sheila walk by and they invite me to join them for Afternoon Tea – SURE !we are sat at a table for four and shortly after being sat I see Chuck who is also onmy fan page being sat near us.Hugs and soon …

Sunday September 13, Victoria

I awake to the sound from the hallway with the announcement that we have docked in Victoria and we are clear for those to go ashore.The time is 7 am.

Argh… roll over Vickie go back to sleep you are on vacation!

But after about a half hour I decide or more to the point Bernie decides to get up and head down to get coffees.

Kind of nice cause we returned our entire mini bar for two coffee cards that we will use on a future cruise.The All Inclusive Drink Package includes coffees/teas and bottled water.And after all that drinking Bernie brings back a large bottle of water too.Smart man!I knew there was a reason I married him.
On goes the tv and we watch Mike (cruise director) and his deputy Paul on the Wake Show.I love that even on these short cruises they do everything they normally would do on a longer cruise.Including the wake show.
I write up my blog post for yesterday and post them.Internet is very good and we have no issue connecting and posting.I do notice a few changes on the Princess …