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.

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