Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016 - At Sea

Probably my favorite days -- sea days.  And after a good sleep - only woke up once and managed to get back to sleep.  Woke up at 6:30 and felt rested.  Bernie heads up two decks to Lido Deck - at the Pastry Shop - to get our coffees. 

I shower and dress and head to the Atrium to write my blog.  But shortly after I arrive Brian and Timothy arrive.  

We have sailed a few times with them.  It is lovely to see them again.  They are a lot of fun and hope we can get a chance to do dinner or something with them this voyage.

The guys leave and Bernie shows up and it isn’t long before Louise and Brian stop by.  We catch up with them and plan dinner with them tonight.  They both look very relaxed!

I give up on writing the blog as it is now 11 am and I want to do the Super Tuscan Wine Tasting (cost of $40) at 11:30.  We did it last year and really enjoyed it, you can read more about that experience last year here.  Bernie isn’t going though, but Simon joins me at Sabatinis.

We are sat at a table for six and Federico the Maitre D’ welcomes us.  He introduces the two Head Waiters who will be introducing the wines as well as Chef Lee who prepared the food pairings.

Our waiter is Milos who pours us the Princess 50th Anniversary Prosecco.  We have had this Prosecco quite a few times this year and really enjoy it. 

Head Waiter Constatine is introduced to the Star Wars Soundtrack and he enters with a table cloth draped over his shoulders.  Well he is discussing Super Tuscan Wines.  He introduces Remole (bin 222) which sells for $27 a bottle and is served with carpaccio with a lemon dressing.  Second wine is Bin 218 Pietraregia Dell’ Ammiraglia at $29 a bottle and is served with a duck terrine with cranberry relish.

The next Head Waiter (sorry didn’t get his name) discusses Lamaione (bin 204) at $89 a bottle and is served with a risotto ball with a tomato sauce. Next wine is Luce Della Vite (bin 141) at $115 served with a chicken skewer.

Federico comes back and finishes off the wine tasting with the piece de resistance Solaia (bin 204) at $230 a bottle and is served with a lamb lollipop.

Have to say this is the best wine tasting I have ever been to on land or sea.  At a cost of $40 it is a steal.  The wines, the food, the service and the education make for a wonderful event. If you like wines try the Super Tuscan Wine Tasting. 

It is held only one time per voyage and it is only on the Royal and Regal. 

After the wine tasting we join Bernie and Angelique and Joan and go to our first Pub Lunch this year.  Now this is not my favorite but it is a nice change.  Plus the company is delightful.  The fish and chips were okay, my fish was very very salty for some reason.  But it was hot and the fries were yummy.  And of course at my age eating greasy foods never seems to agree with me and I know I will regret it later.  So with a full tummy from the food pairings at the wine tasting and then pub lunch I am stuffed - good thing I skipped breakfast.

Back to the cabin to change into our swimsuits and head down to the Enclave.  This is located at the spa on deck 5.  The ten day package is $229 per person for unlimited use.  Make sure to ask for a tour of the spa area and check it out.
The Lotus Spa on the Royal is the most beautiful at sea in my opinion.  The whole area is a sense of calm, with soothing colors, flowers throughout, calming scents in the air, stunning procedure rooms with ocean views in some.  Even the change rooms are well appointed.

To learn more about the Enclave, here is a link to Princess' site all about it.  

We arrive at the Lotus Spa desk and there are quite a few people waiting.  The two staff behind the counter are attending the people at the front, discussing procedures and appointments.  We wait patiently and was impressed to see that after about five minutes more staff came out to see how they could help.  When we said we were here for the Enclave she took us aside and took our cards and gave us bracelets.

Now these bracelets are made of rubber and have a chip in them that give you access to the Enclave.  But not only that, once in the change rooms the lockers are locked by placing your bracelet to the chip reader that locks and unlocks the lockers.  No more remembering combinations or carrying a key. 

In each locker is a robe and sandals to use.  The robes are plus and so comfortable.  I change and go to enter the Enclave where a staff member says to me “enjoy your relaxation”.  Ahhhh I can feel the stress leaving - who am I kidding I am not stressed but if I was this is the place to go.
The Enclave consists of three steam/sauna rooms with different scents and temperatures.  Go in one then come out and use one of the four showers (each has a different shower head experience and temp to enjoy) to cool off.  

Head into another steam/sauna room.  And repeat.  I giggle to Bernie and say “do you think all the toxins from the wine are leaving my body?”

The pool in here is, well how can I say it - to die for - the steps lead you down and under a large rain shower head.  On each side of the steps is a pulsating head with three jets that focus on your back and neck.  Also on each side is an area to focus on overall body jets.  Then that isn’t the end, at the back of the pool are more jets where you can lay back and let the aches and pains leave your body. 

But that isn’t all  -- lay down on the tiled beds. At first I thought now how comfortable can these be?  Really the guy next to me is sound asleep!  How could someone sleep here.  Well let me tell you - very easily.  Apparently I was asleep and snoring according to an unreliable source - also known as Bernie.   

After about 15 minutes on the bed I move over to the water bed that is warm but not hot, just right.  I lay down and bam!  I am asleep again.  What are they doing here - are they piping in relaxation gases?  Nope it is just the environment.

They also have chilled flavoured water for you to enjoy.  Lots of towels including chilled facecloths. 

Now the experience is lovely.  I did notice that there are speakers but no sounds.  I think it would be lovely to have some relaxing sounds in the Enclave.  

There were not enough hooks for the people in the Enclave, Bernie and I shared a hook.  Then Bernie noticed his wrist band had lost it’s cover and the chip in it.  Who knows where it is, probably at the bottom of the pool.  So when he exited he had to go to the front desk for a master key.  But that didn’t work on his locker either, back for another but that didn’t work either.  Finally they got a male attendant to come in and help Bernie open the locker.  None of these things were a big issues just my observations.  I can’t wait to go back.  In fact I have been back in the cabin for an hour and I am ready to go again.

Bernie is napping -- see that relaxing has put us both in a trance.

I am writing the blog and pondering a relaxing bath and a facial - gee life is tough. 

We are meeting up with Louise and Brian at Vines at 7 pm for drinks then dinner.

We have both encountered some interesting - okay who am I kidding - some complainers today.  Again this is the ebb and flow of the first few days on board.

I witness one of the paramedics getting his coffee in the Atrium.  The woman beside him was having difficulty accessing the Royal Princess Account and intranet.  He must of spent a half hour helping her set up her account and access the patter.  Now that is service and I want him to know that it was noticed and appreciated.  Princess Crew go the extra distance.

At breakfast Bernie sat with a couple who complained for a long time about how they showed up at the pier at 10:30 and felt Princess did not treat them well by making them wait to board.  That they felt like second class citizens while in transits, then preferred boarded and that they had to wait till noon to get on.  Bernie tried to explain that even your boarding pass says boarding starts at noon.  But they were not happy.  So how do you answer that.  Not sure why they thought they could show up an hour and half early and be able to get on.  Crazy.

My experience is going up the elevator after my blissful time in the Enclave feeling like jelly.  I board on deck five and then a woman gets on on deck 6.  I ask “how is your day going?”  Her response “well it is cloudy!  I am going to go up on deck but it could rain!  I just had lunch and I am full!  And I am bored”. 

“oh” as the doors open on my floor “well I feel GREAT, hope you have a better afternoon” and left. 

People you have saved up for a long time, your vacation is precious, you are with loved ones, this ship is magnificent.  Now you can choose how your day goes, good or bad -- you decide.  Go with an open mind and be open to what comes to you and embrace it.

Lots happening today:  Zumba, Trivia, Majhong, clay pigeon shooting, bible study, line dancing class, Nikon Camera Sale, MUTS is showing Minions and then Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Gaming Lessons, Basic Digital Photo Seminar, Enrichment Lecturer Bill Rickett presents The Real Pirates of the Caribbean, Book Club, Spa Seminar introduction to Acupuncture, Enrichment Seminar 30,000 years of art history in 30 minutes, Lawn Bowls challenge, fruit and vegetable carving demo, bingo, shopping spotlight show, Super Tuscan Wine Tasting, Pub Lunch, Brunchtime Trivia, Ballroom Blitz Dance Class: The Merengue, Afternoon Movie Ant Man, Princess Pop Choir, Art Auction, Pitching Cage, Future Cruise Presentation:  The Caribbean, Knitters and Needlepoint gathering, Mardi Gras Dance Class, Afternoon Tea, Zumba again, Culinary Academy Specialty Showcase, hole in one competition, and Watches and Scotches.

Now if you can’t find something to do…. Well -- no comment.

Clocks will be set one hour forward at 2 am tonight.

Tonight Hawley Magic is performing in the Princess Theater, the Yes No Game Show, Martini Demo, Karaoke Hour, MUTS is showing Bridge of Spies, Orphea Quartet presents from Argentina with Love in Vista Lounge, Perry Grant in Crooners, Big Band Sounds with Sarah and the Royal Showband in the Piazza, Steve Mehaffey sings and plays in Wheelhouse.  

January 29, 2016 - Fort Lauderdale Turn Around Day

Oh this could be a long day.  With very little sleep I am struggling.  Thankfully I have my latte nearby and I slowly come to life.

Bernie is off to throw the wash in.  Yes we always do a large load of wash on turn around day.  We do get the free laundry perk but doing a big wash every ten days gets it all clean. Really clean!  The ship’s laundry service is great but it often doesn’t get some things out that a regular wash does. 

I start to get the bags out and start packing up things.  We need to change cabins today.  Thankfully we have less stuff now (less wine, toiletries etc) and we are also just moving down the hall to the front of the ship on the same deck.  

We have it all packed and ready to move just before 8 am and when Bernie checks the cabin it is available right now.
By 8:30 we are in the new cabin and totally unpacked.  

Wash is done (some things still need to get ironed) and we are down in the International Café by 9 enjoying another coffee and reading.  Louise and Brian join us and we catch up.

The in transit meeting time is 10:30 in Princess Theater.  Again this turn around we are opting to head off before this meeting time and clear customs and head ashore to do our errands.

Again we walk to 17th Street and hit Publix and Total Wine for our necessary items, toothpaste, salt and vinegar chips for Michael, conditioner, and two bottles of champagne.

Normally we head for lunch next but I am so tired (well really grumpy is what Bernie would call it) and we both agree we should just head back on board. 

I was a little hesitant to head back at noon because I know the pier can be a zoo at this peak time but was happy to say that when we did arrive we presented our in transit cards and we were directed to a door on the far right - marked “in transit”.  No line at all for security!  Then up to the next floor where we joined a queue but it moved relatively quickly.  We were on board around 15 minutes later. 

It is fun to see all the new people coming on board.  Their excitement, their awe of the beauty of the ship, the lost people!  We grab a pizza at Alfredos and it hits the spot.  So I am not hungry anymore but I am so very tired!

It is 1 pm and I get to the cabin, close the drapes, put my ear plugs in and use my eye mask and I am out very quickly. 

I don’t wake until I hear Captain Oliver wake me from a dead sleep.  What is Captain Oliver doing in my cabin?  Oh …. It it is the Muster Drill and his voice is being heard throughout the entire ship.  Well I am not going to sleep anymore and two hours will tie me thru till tonight.
The weather is not cooperating today, it is cool up on deck.  Gee I feel like I am back home in Vancouver it is probably around the same temperature. 

Our friends Angelique and Simon are on board with Angelique’s Mom and friend.  We arrange to head down to their cabin for sailaway (well down from Lido, but one up from us).  They are in M108 it is the first forward cabin on Marina deck and it has a huge balcony.  A bit different layout of the cabin but it works.  Their balcony is right above the wing of the bridge.  Pretty windy when sailing, but great place to be when in port.  I would certainly book this cabin.

We shower and dress for dinner and head down to Vines for some wine.  It is strange not seeing Wilf here, but Ronnie is still behind the bar.

We take our usual seat and order some wine and a man comes over and asks if I am Vickie.  Yes I am!  When he introduces himself as Chris and his fiancé Julie I remember chatting with him on my Facebook Fan Page -- Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie -- about this voyage.  We ask them to join us and we spend about an hour getting to know them.  It is really what cruising is all about.  Connecting with people in a beautiful environment over some good food/good drinks and lots laughs.

Dinner tonight is in Symphony Dining room.  We get there just after 8 pm.  There is no wait at all and we are sat at a table for two in Orlando’s section.  His section is busy but most of his tables are on their entrée/dessert. 

One thing I always hear is how frustrating Anytime Dining is.  Anytime doesn’t mean you will get a table whenever you want it, sometimes you may have to wait.  Of course this depends on the demographics of each cruise.  Last two cruises and this cruise seems to be the same, most people are eating early.  So the main Anytime Dining Room opens at 5 pm - it fills up but 5:30 and then it takes around an hour and a half to eat. So arriving at this dining room between 5:30 and 7 you will probably encounter a wait. 

If you need to have early seating and always want this I urge you to take traditional seating.  Concerto is used for early seating at 5:30 but turns into Anytime at 7:30.

Allegro Dining room has early seating at 5:45 and late at 8 pm.  Whatever you choose remember you are on vacation.  Relax and enjoy the food, the service and the company. 

For dinner I have the prawns with the lemon dipping sauce, then a lovely soup, and for my entrée I have the Curtis Stone pork dish again.  I love this dish, the pork is so moist and tender you can cut it with your fork.  The sweet potato mash has a taste of coconut in it and the pineapple chutney adds a lovely sweetness to it.  The red sauce has a bit of spice.  My only complaint about the dish is it looks so bland.  Everything on the plate is white or beige except for a swish of the red sauce.  It needs vegetables, some color.  But the dish is very good and I would have it again.

After dinner we both skip dessert and head to the gelato bar to get a sundae to share.  While there we spot our friends in Vines so we enjoy the sundae in there.  The Atomic Party Band is playing and we really enjoy them. 

Lots of people are dancing!  After they finish Perry Grant starts up, but really he is not my favorite.  He reminds me of a Liberace character, and really doesn’t play much current music.  This does seem to be apparent in the people who are diehard fans of his, and there are many on this ship.  They love him!  But I am happy to report that Kory Simons is coming back to this ship February 8.

Lots happening tonight on board:  Feature Film Trainwreck in Vista Lounge 7:15 and 10:15, LGBT Gathering, Singles and Solos Mix and Mingle, Variety Showtime in Princess Theater at 8:15 and 10:15 pm featuring vocalist Willis White, Royal Princess Dancers, Showband and Comedian Troy Thirdgill, Late Night Dance Party with DJ Smoke, Where In the World Am I Game Show at 10:15 in Princess Live and of course BOGO Happy Hour in Club 6 at 11 pm.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Princess Cays January 28, 2016

My oh my why can’t I sleep thru the night. Like most nights I am awake at the wee hours.  As I wander around the cabin trying to make as little noise as possible I attempt to read until I am ready to fall back asleep.  So after an hour and a half of reading I am back asleep around 4:30 am. 

At least today is a later arrival to Princess Cays (9 am) and it will be a restful day on the beach too.

We both wake for the day around 8:30 am and I am groggy and just tired.  I tell Bernie just to head up to Horizon Court and get his breakfast and not worry about me.  I relax in the cabin for quite a while and hear the tenders dropping getting ready to take everyone ashore.

It is a bit overcast but still quite warm.  Looks pretty good with regards to wind and it appears the Captain has positioned the ship in just the right spot to use the ship to assist with safer tender operation.

By the time Bernie comes back from breakfast and we are in bathing suits and lathered with sunscreen we head to the pontoon around 11 am.  Which ended up being a very good time as they just made the announcement that there are no waits.  

Being elite we get priority tendering but we are not sure if we go to the dining room and get right on the next tender or do we head to the pontoon.  We no longer get the elite letter at the beginning of each cruise so we don’t know what the procedure is here.  But history warrants that we ask.  So as soon as we head down the stairs at deck five a purser staff is there and we ask and they tell us to just join this parade of people to the tender boat that is heading forward. 

The ride over is a bit longer than what I remember because of a few swells.  Nothing horrible but we all manage. 

Once ashore we agree to head to the right side this time.  

Normally we always head to the left side and head down to where the bungalows are.  This time we cross over the bridge and past the grill.  There are now some food carts over on this side.  This is brand new this season.

hot dog cart

Bar cart in the Taco Cart

Jerk Chicken Cart


There is a taco truck, a wrap truck, jerk chicken truck and a hot dog truck.  Also a bar truck is there too.  This is a great idea!  Easy to see, no lines, and great variety. 
Taco Chart - but no signs identifying it as the Taco Cart

Although the bar truck is set up in the taco truck as it has signs all around it saying it is a taco truck.  The actual taco truck has no real identifiers of what it is or what the menu is.  I believe this is going to be corrected though for the future.  The staff who service each truck have colorful t shirts with the name of their truck on it.  Great concept, worked great today, hope to see it spread out to the other side too.

We both ate at the carts today.  I started with an Italian Hot Dog which was loaded with onions/peppers, pepperoni, a tomato sauce, cheese and probably more.  It was very good, hot and messy - but a nice alternative.  Bernie had a fish taco and he loved it, said it was very spicy and the fish piece was huge.  We both went and got a wrap at this point, they are not very big and I found my BLT wrap to be rather dry and bland with very little sauce in it (but maybe there was not suppose to be any sauce), Bernie didn’t care for his either.  The wraps are very small so they could be a nice snack.  Bernie got a piece of jerk chicken with rice and he really enjoyed it he said.  They still had the grill lines too with hamburgers, chicken, and salads and of course dessert which consisted of cookies and banana bread. 

We make our way to the beach and grab two chairs and we are happy cruisers.  Bernie does go in snorkeling two times and he really enjoyed it.  It is being affected a bit by the high winds as it is making visibility a little poorer than normal.

For me I am happy just reading.  The wind is great because it doesn’t feel too hot then, but be warned the sun is still strong so keep lathering on the sunscreen. 

My eyes are so heavy… I end up napping in the lounge chair - I am sure it was not a pretty sight but a necessary one. 

Around 2 pm (last tender was at 3) we gathered our items and started to make our way back to the tender pier.  The line was very long as we walked to the end of it. Yes of course people in it were grumbling but I have to say I was quite impressed at how quickly it moved.  We were on a tender within ten minutes.  I especially liked that the staff were handing out cold face cloths to us in the line and cups of water.  The waiter handing out the cups of water was joking around by saying “free water, find the hidden treasure in one of the glasses, who will get the little frog”.  Had us all smiling and puts people in a better mood.

Once on the tender I chatted with a lovely couple from Montreal to pass the time.  The wind has cause a bit more of a bumpy ride.  I have no issues at all with the motion but you could see many were suffering.  So if you suffer from motion sickness I highly recommend you take something prior to heading ashore or just stay on.
One poor woman was doing all she could to not throw up - I handed her my towel just in case. 

Once along side the ship we were quick to get off but we are bouncing up and down and it is banging beside the ship.  It can be very very dangerous and in fact when I step onto the ship about two people behind me the process stops as something crashes behind me and a loud noise scares the crap out of me and others around us.  Not exactly sure what happened but the tender pulled away from the ship right then with many still on. 

I have to commend all the crew who worked the tender operation during this time.  They were very professional ensuring everyone got on and off safety.

Back on board we do our ritual of rinsing off all the snorkel gear, washing bathing suits and then showering for Bernie and a long hot bath for me.  Have to say I love this bath!

We decide to watch the movie the Martian as it has just come up on the tv on demand and we have both been waiting to catch it.  But it is a long movie and we are both tired, but neither of us can nap that well and we need to get ready early tonight to do the things we hoped to do.

Dressed casually we head up to the Horizon Court for dinner.  Tonight they are doing the Fondue meal in one portion of the Horizon Court.  This is a great meal to try if you haven’t tried it.  For only $20 it is a great value.  We did it last year and really enjoyed it.  But it is not very busy there tonight.  Many don’t know about it and holding it on the last night doesn’t help in attendance either.

It is busy up here - first it is only 6 pm and many people who do early seating (which I would say is most on this ship) are up here because of the last night. 

I am excited to try the Asian Soup Bowl feature.  I have seen it a few times on various ships but have never had it.  So I place my order, requesting my meat, broth, vegetables and flavouring with the crew member there.  I take the paper they hand me and place it on the table where I am eating. 

After over 15 minutes with no one picking up my paper - mind you it was crazy busy up here today and staff are run off their feet -- I take my paper myself to the station and see my blow of soup sitting there.  I just grab it and take it back to my table. 

It was very very good - not too hot because it has been sitting for a while but very good.  I highly recommend this as an option.

Of course they still had a large buffet line of many different food options and of course probably the best salad bar I have ever seen on Princess.  Plus their cheese station here is wonderful with so many options of cheese, dried fruit, crackers, and breads. 

Have to comment (and will say this on the survey too) the cheese plate in the dining room has gone downhill fast in the past few years.  On board now if you order the cheese plate for dessert -- which I love to do to finish off my wine -- you get only three pieces of cheese and only two varieties.  Sometimes you get some dried fruit, sometimes you don’t.  Usually there is a piece of walnut bread too.  

The cheese is very cold too where before it was served room temperature.  But the entire plate looks sad and wish it was better so I could enjoy that as my dessert.  So if you like cheese plates I would recommend getting your own at the Horizon Court.

Right after dinner we head down to Concerto dining room to get the rest of our wine so we can enjoy it during the show.  Yes The Voice of the Ocean is tonight.  However tonight the show is at 7:30 -- much earlier than last sailing’s 10:30 time.  I much prefer the later time as 7:30 is very early.  But last sailing it was held on the second to last night, and this sailing it is on the last night.  Again much prefer it on the second to last night.

We take our seats up front about a half hour prior to the show.  The place is packed with only limited seats on the sides, which is hard to get to with no side access. 

Tonight show has HGM, Michael Prasse, singer Rebecca and comedian Steve as judges.  It is fun to watch them play off each other in those big seats.  Also tonight there are six singers (last time I believe there were 8).  Preferred tonight’s smaller group as it was finished within an hour. 

Now if only I could of gotten the couple behind us to shut up!  They were an older couple who basically talked thru the whole thing!  Then she sent him out to get a voting device just prior to the time when it came to vote.  REALLY…. I bit my tongue but I so wanted to turn around and say “are you ever going to shut up”.

Congratulations Brian in winning the Voice of the Ocean.

After the show we met up with Lisa Ball and the new Cruise Director Marahscalh Stanton who takes over for Lisa on turn around.  We have drinks together in Vines and it is lovely to spend some time with Lisa and it is great to get to know Marahscalh some more.  We have sailed with him before but he was Deputy CD then and he has been Cruise Director now for awhile.  We sailed with him as CD back in May of 2010 on the Golden.
It was nice to get to know him and his background, I personally just loved his spirit and you can see how much he truly loves his job.  His last ship was the Pacific and this is first time on the Royal so it is a big change but he is very excited about it and I know he will shine.

After drinks we make our way back to the cabin.  We still have not received our in transit information.  Last cruise we got it the day prior.  A letter, our cards, and the in transit documents.  I know I saw the envelopes for others in their slots but we had not received anything.

So back down to the Purser’s desk to find out what is happening.  A long queue is there, of course.  But thankfully we can enter the elite line. 

Note for those reading this - I would say that 75% of those in the line have issues that could have been dealt with more easily prior to the last night or with more knowledge of what will happen on the cruise.  So because you are reading this blog, or you follow my facebook page you are more aware of what to expect on board.

What are those issues you might ask? 

  • What is the hotel gratuity charge?  A good agent or reading your pre cruise information would of provided you with the info about the daily hotel gratuity charge.  Also it shows up each day on your folio so ask prior to the last night.  Also don’t remove the tips, it is part of the cost of cruising.

  • An issue with a charge on their statement from a few days ago.  It is so easy to check your folio regularly.  You can print it out at the Purser’s desk.  You can print it out from the many machines located usually near the Purser’s desk where you just swipe your card and an itemized statement prints out.  But I highly recommend checking the Princess At Sea daily to check for any discrepancies.

  • Disembarkation questions. These can easily be answered by reading the four page pamphlet that is sent to your cabin with your luggage tags.  Remember you fill in the time you wish to get off at much earlier in the voyage, your disembarkation time is reflected based on what you requested.  

  • If you have an issue with the time they assigned you there is usually a time/desk set up on the last day for you to be able to enquire about changing.  Don’t wait till 11 pm the last night.

I would say those are the most common questions that I have heard about.

So back to not getting in transit information.  We head down and right away they print out our new cards.  We ask if we can also get our in transit cards to use when going ashore, he returns and gives us this.  Then sorry, but what time is the in transit meet time and where… 10:30 Princess Theater.  Since I know there are well over 600 in transits we are heading ashore just prior to that meet time.

One thing I notice is that our folio numbers have changed.  Usually we keep the same number but I am sure they will just carry over the old bill to the new account as usual.  I just hope our wine card that shows our old folio will not have an issue with this new one.  But again, by checking your on board account regularly we will be able to spot and issue as soon as it comes up.

Back in the cabin we reset our alarm clock to reflect the hour we gain tonight and we settle in to watch the rest of the movie -- The Martian.   It was okay but I am glad I didn’t have to pay for it.

Once again around 4 am I am wide awake and take the time to write up my blog and post it. 

Room service is set to arrive at 7 am - note because we are in transit we are able to get breakfast delivered to the cabin.  Note:  this is not always the case so just check, but I have found on our last Mediterranean cruise and past 10 day back to backs we have been able to get room service on turn around day.  But if it is not offered I don’t push it, they are already crazy busy as it is.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

At Sea - January 27, 2016

Lisa doing the line dancing class 
Busy day today…. Well busy to us.  After such a relaxing day yesterday with no set plans today we have a few things scheduled. 

We wake late, around 9 but then again we didn’t get to sleep until late.  Bernie heads out to get the coffees and we watch a bit of tv (watched the movie Trainwreck). 

We slowly get showered and dressed and head down the Atrium to mix with passengers a bit.  Yesterday we barely left the cabin and today we need to get out and mix and mingle. 

Our cabin is so lovely it is hard to leave.  But it is always nice to meet new people too.

So we relax and enjoy people watching and I head to the Atrium floor to check out the beautiful costumes at the Cast Costumes Presentation. 

We run into Lynette and Dan and catch up with them and how their cruise is going.

It is noon and we make our way to Sabatinis for the Most Travelled Luncheon.  This is the top 40 cruisers on board!  We were actually just past the top 40 but because a few are singles and didn’t invite guest it was extended to a few on the standby list.  Cut off was 557 and we are just over 500 days. 

We are sat at Michael Prasse’s (Hotel General Manager) table again.  Bernie is next to him and I have a couple from Ohio beside me.  The first thing the guy mentions is “who do I talk to about the grammar errors in the menu”.  Oh no… I think this is going to be interesting.  Then the woman asks me what I think of our new Prime Minister.  I tell her that I make a point of not talking politics at the table.  She agrees and then asks again what I think of him.  I stop her and then just try to focus on the rest of the table.  Overall it was a great table and we were so happy to be sat with the Tounsends again. 

The menu for the luncheon was:

Chilled Blue Crab Margaritas -- avocado, mango infused with tequila and lime topped with micro leaf salad and a crisp lotus chip


Turkish Orange and Grapefruit Carpaccio Salad -- Mascarpone Flavored with Honey and Chopped Pistachio Nuts Drizzled with Clove Syrup

Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna “Nicoise Style” -- Warm Grilled Salad of tomatoes, green beans, olives, red onions, fennel and egg dressed with lemon and Segesta olive oil emulsion, aged balsamic


Seared Lamb Loin with Truffles and Morels -- Fried Herbed Polenta Discs with baby vegetable melange infused with porcini and madeira jus


Mediterranean Vegetable Mille-feuille -- baby artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and grilled vegetables stacked with phyllo pastry, red pepper coulis and basil oil

Dessert -- Sauternes Jelly with Lemon Verbena Panna Cotta Raspberries, meringue and honey tuiles

Amazing meal - spectacular service and an honour to be invited.

After lunch we head back to the cabin to change into more casual clothes and an hour later we are down in Allegro dining room to attend the Wine Tasting.  We haven’t been to one in a while and thought we should try it out.

It is interesting to be in this aft dining room.  This dining room is used as the Traditional Dining room and it is a bit different than the other ones.  The big Chef’s Table is there and it is beautiful.  We are sat right at the back on a bench and I am right up against the wall.  I can’t see much and the waiter pouring wine for me needs me to move my glass to the middle of the table so he can reach. 

I don’t see the head waiters at all while they are talking and in fact I feel kind of cut off - hey no one puts baby in the corner - okay my movie lines are coming out.

Overall it was a nice event, the wines were nice too.  I like that they have changed them up a bit too.  The cost for this wine tasting is $9.50 (free for Elites - I think at least 60% here are elites too).  Personally I think coming to this event is well worth it but I am glad I didn’t have to pay for it.

Around 4 pm we leave and we are back in the cabin relaxing - but soon Bernie is sleeping and I am writing the blog.

Tonight is formal night and it is also the Captain Circle Parties.  There are three parties tonight and ours is scheduled for 7:30 - 8:00 pm (short).  We don’t have formal attire but we have agreed to attend.  So we will put on the fanciest outfits we have and attend.  I really wish they would not hold the event on formal night.  We like that we don’t have to dress formal on formal nights if we don’t want to and we just stick to the buffet and try and stay away from public venues.  But I don’t like that to attend the Captain Circle Party I have to dress formal.  Okay I have vented.  We will attend tonight and see how it goes.

Lots of other things happening tonight:  Princess Theater is featuring Vocal Group the Unexpected Boys at 6:45, 8:15 and 10:30, Russian Spirit with the Liberty String Quartet, MUTS is showing Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Discovery at Sea Trivia Space, Perry Grant is in Crooners, Are You Smarter than the Cruise Staff, Steel Pan with Tyrone, Marriage Match Game, Steve Mehaffey in Wheelhouse.

January 26, 2016 - St. Thomas

When we wake we are already docked.  Today is a busy day in St. Thomas.  There are a total of four ships in port - two at Havensight (including us along with an NCL Ship) and two at Crown Bay (one being the Oasis of the Seas).  It will be a crazy day on the island.

We both are not sure what we want to do.  Beach is out, it will be just too crazy.  So we head down to breakfast and relax for a bit and discuss it over breakfast and then a coffee in the Atrium.

I tell Bernie I really would like to just relax and get a nap in as well last night was a very late night after having Sanja and Marty over for drinks - think we said goodnight around 1 am.  So I need a nap and I am back in the cabin and sleeping around lunch time.

the results of a great night

Then when I do finally wake up we are both still feeling really lazy so we just grab a salad from upstairs and back in the cabin and we are watching a movie. 

So the whole day was - well very very relaxing.  Nap, lunch, movie, and then another nap.  Any more relaxed they would be throwing dirt on me.

All aboard is 4:30 and I am out on the deck watching everyone file back on board - pier is on the starboard side today.  The throngs of people heading back to the NCL ship are a very different demographic.  Much much younger, I am guessing the average age is 25 because there are a lot of kids.  I am wondering how the kids can be out of school right now.  Gee when I was a kid we were not allowed to be taken out of school during the year. 

There is one runner back to the ship…. He is a single and is running along the fence 15 minutes late.  He is lucky.
As we sail past the NCL ship I am in awe of all the activities it has on the open deck.  Looks like some kind of jungle gym/obstacle course.  Looks like fun but I would much rather have deck space or even another pool.

Tonight our friends Dylan and Ben are coming over to the cabin for drinks and dinner.

We start with some champagne (remember call room service and they will deliver an ice bucket and champagne glasses).  Then the wine comes out -- oh we better order some food.

For the first time ever we order the pizza from room service. Tonight’s feature pizza is Hawaiian, so we get one of those and two pepperonis.  Note there is a $3 fee for pizza deliver but the pizzas are a bit larger than the ones in Alfredos and they come in a pizza box!  The three pizzas were too much for the four of us, but I am thinking two pizzas would not have been enough.

Anyways another great night with great friends and we finally hit the hay around 1 am.

There was lots happening on board tonight:  Ye Olde Pub Night (which they didn’t do last cruise), comedian Steve Caouette, Liberty String Quartet, Mad Photo Hour, Perry Grant in Crooners, Love Boat Disco Deck Party, Vista Lounge is showing the movie Ant Man and then the Night Sky Lounge at the Retreat Pool.

Monday, January 25, 2016

St. Kitts - January 25, 2016

Our arrival today is not until 10 am but that doesn’t stop us from waking darn early.  In fact I saw the sunrise at 6:44. 

We dress and head down for breakfast and the ship seems rather quiet at 8 am.  I think many did sleep in - just a bit jealous.

I walk out to the seating area on Promenade and watch our entrance into Basseterre.  We see that the Holland America Osterdam is in port.  Looks tiny compared to us, and another thing I notice is ashtrays on their balconies.  I was not aware that they still allowed smoking on the balconies.  
Since we don’t smoke and really hate second hand smoke and would not want to risk having a smoker next to us we will not sail HAL until the policy is changed.

Bernie heads back to the cabin shortly after we tie up and I decide to just sit out here.  I meet a lovely couple from Delaware who I chat with for a good hour.  Just love all the nice people you meet on ships.

Today we had no set plans, heck we hardly have any set plans in any of the ports.  It was key to us to go with the flow and the Canadian Dollar is slowing us down too.  If we go ashore chances are we will spend around $100 in taxi, chairs/umbrellas, drink, food and that is $150 Canadian.  So after much discussion we decide to stay on board and enjoy the Sanctuary.

It has been years since we have gone to the Sanctuary.  The Royal’s Sanctuary is beautiful and large and even has cabanas to rent.  But if you want to reserve a chair for the entire cruise get on board as soon as possible and head straight to the Sanctuary to reserve your chair cause they do sell out.  They do usually keep a few lounges available for daily rentals though.

We take two chairs in the sun and we relax.  Arnold, Basil and all the Serenity Stewards pamper us to no end.  All needs were met efficiently and with a smile. 

I was especially impressed with Basil (from India) who took our food order and drinks and served us in a lovely shaded cabana that was not occupied today.  We both had the tomato gazpacho (Basil even got fresh avocado to put on it for Bernie), I then had a tuna encrusted with sesame seeds and a light salad.  We then returned to our lounge chairs after lunch. 

Around 3 pm they come around and serve full afternoon tea.  The service is amazing and I so want to come back another day.  I can’t justify reserving a lounge chair for the whole voyage but on the occasional day it is lovely and nice treat.  Plus the service the last times we did it was not that good but obviously that is not the case here.  It is amazing and well worth it.

After five hours in the sun we are back in the cabin relaxing when we get a knock at the door Vicky Kammies a Customer Service Agent from the front desk has sent us chocolate covered strawberries.  Now this woman is wonderful at her job, always smiling, always helpful and well Bernie wants to adopt her!  All the Purser’s staff are amazing - we have fallen in love with them all.  Natalya Vityuk who is the Customer Service Agent in the Concierge Lounge is very helpful and it has been nice getting to know here too.  Our Princess Family keeps growing.

Thanks Vicky we will enjoy the strawberries tonight with some champagne.

Even though we are in port today there is a lot going on around the ship.  And tonight we are not sure what we will do but we have a lot of options.

Princess Theater is featuring Guest Vocalist Rebecca Elliott at 8:15 and 10:30, Vista is having the 70s night and has a Name that Tune, Line Dancing and 70s music, Orphea Quartet is playing again in the Atrium with dancing again, Feature Film is the Walk up at MUTS, Hollywood Screen Test is happening tonight at 9:30 in Princess Live, Perry Grant is in Crooners and DJ Smokke is in Club 6.

Tonight is Italian Night - I have pictures of all the menus that I will put up when I get home.