Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Quick Get Away - Very Last Minute

There was a short repositioning cruise that we had been looking at for about two weeks.  But it was totally sold out.  We kept watching.  Every day we would check about three times to see if anything opened up.

We had discussed the cut off for the latest we could book and both agreed it was a week prior.

Today was the cut off.  I woke up and my honey had text me - I guess we are not going.  I texted back - nope we are going!  When I checked just after 8 am this morning there was availability for insides, balconies and suites.  Now I don't know how many cabins were available but I wasn't about to wait and see I needed to book before we lost these cabins.

I booked directly with Princess (something I don't usually do as I love my travel agent - Best Price Cruises).

I booked an inside cabin guarantee (as no cabin option was shown).  I quickly paid and boom!  We are sailing soon!  In a week to be exact!

I then knew I had to get my Carnival Stock information faxed off to Princess so I could get them to process the $50 on board credit for owning 100 shares of Carnival.  I was concerned because they state that they must have the information within two weeks of sailing.  I stated on the cover sheet that I had just booked and hoped they would be able to process the credit still.  Sure enough within two hours the credit was in our personalizer for this cruise.

Next was getting flights.  People always say how lucky we are to get these coastals and yes they are nice getaways but the one way flights do add to the cost.

Thankfully we have points we can use for pretty much anything and we booked two one way flights leaving the morning of the cruise.  Cost of the flights is $160 each.  It is a very early flight so we booked a room at a hotel right at the airport - again points were used, but cost is $200.

This trip is to surprise a dear friend and waiter on board.  I don't want to post it here just in case but I will let you know how the surprise goes in the end.

We arrive in Los Angeles at 9:30 and we will make our way to the port and drop the bags.  Then we will head into San Pedro to get some wine and other necessary items.

So stay tuned for the day to day report on the happenings on board the Ruby Princess.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Peter Rayner's Review of 15 Day Hawaiian Cruise

Peter posted this very detailed review of their 15 Day Hawaiian Cruise on the Ruby Princess.  He did a very thorough job of reporting that I asked if I can post it here on my blog for others to read and gain knowledge from.  Thanks again Peter. To follow along on my facebook page click here.

15 day Hawaiian Cruise from Los Angeles on Ruby Princess starting 24th March 2016

This was a special cruise for us to celebrate our Pearl Wedding Anniversary (30 years). We decided to arrive in Los Angeles 2 days early to acclimatise and to see some of LA.
We stayed in the Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. It was a good budget hotel option with a nice room. The receptionist allocated us a room on the 2nd floor but offered us the option of changing to a room with patio doors opening out onto the pool area which was surrounded by lovely flowers and nice chairs and loungers. We opted for this and it was a good decision. The room was clean and spacious. There was no restaurant at the hotel, but plenty of options just a short walk away. The first night we dined at the Cabo Cantina and had Margaritas and a decent Mexican meal. Good friendly service as usual in the USA.
The only down side to the hotel was breakfast. They put on a good selection and the food was good, but it was served on plastic plates and using plastic cutlery. It made it seem cheap and real crockery would have given the hotel the class that it deserved.
On our full sightseeing day we opted for the Hop on Hop off bus tour which went right past the hotel. This was $44 per person. We only had time to do 2 routes and made one big mistake. We did the whole red route because we wanted to have a naughty Hot Fudge Sundae lunch at Ghirardelli’s in Hollywood Boulevard. This meant that we had to do half the red route again to join up with the bus tour to Santa Monica. When we got back, we had to do the other half of the red route again to get back to the hotel. It would have been better to transfer to the Santa Monica bus as soon as we got to the transfer point and then we would not have had to do the red route twice wasting all that time. It meant that we saw the lovely Santa Monica beach front, but had no time to get off and wander.
That night we ate at the Saddle Ranch Chop House, right opposite the hotel. The meal was great. I had the best salad dressing I have ever tasted. It was Thai Peanut dressing and was divine. The Ribs were fall off the bone tender and tasted great. Again service was top notch. The bill said tip 20% if you want your server to be President. The last I heard our server was considering running against Donald Trump

Our driver picked us up at 11am and we were at San Pedro just after 12 noon. If we travel from LA again we would stay in either Long Beach or Santa Monica. Not because of the journey, but because we are more beach people than city people and those areas looked really nice.
The boarding process was astonishingly fast. We have never been on the ship quicker. From dropping our luggage to walking up the gangway took only about 20 minutes maximum. There was a bit of a delay on the gangway as they were boarding via the Promenade deck, but this only added about 10 minutes to our wait. We dropped our hand luggage and then went straight to the Da Vinci Dining Room for lunch. We have never done this before as we never realised that the MDR was open on embarkation day (one of the benefits of following Vickie’s Facebook page).
Lunch was nice and relaxed and we had a nice cold bottle of wine. This is where I made an unfortunate mistake. I ordered the 10 bottle Silver Wine Package. What I did not realise was that LA sales tax was added to the bill for this as we were still in port. If I had waited until we had set sail, I would have saved myself more than $18. I did think that the staff member could have made me aware of this before I made the purchase, but then I think he was happy to get the associated gratuity.

Ship in General:
The Emerald and the Ruby are our favourite ships to date. The Ruby is looking good after her dry dock at the end of 2015 and now has Share instead of Sabatini’s and the Salty Dog Pub as part of the Wheelhouse bar. Both new areas look stylish. The only odd thing was a rather nasty smell that hung around the front stairwell and in some of the corridors. It came and went, but did not overly affect us. We did not notice anything in our cabin. It may have been as a result of the ship emptying the sewage tanks while in port, but we cannot be certain.
One positive thing was the ship’s internet. There was full wifi signal in our cabin and the speed was the fastest we have ever had. On some days it was almost as fast as we get at home. I was pleasantly surprised.

We opted for a balcony cabin on the Port side (Caribe 238) and it was up to the usual Princess standard. We like the part covered, part open large balconies and the larger furniture than on the upper decks. We were ahead of the forward staircase, but that does not worry us as we are usually good sailors. It gave us easy access to the Theatre and the Gym, but was very quiet.
Our Steward was Genaro. He was very efficient and looked after us well. Not a great talker and not as much personality as most Cabin Stewards we have had, but he did his job well. Robes and extra hangers were provided promptly and a problem with a dead bathroom bulb was dealt with quickly.
We loved the new waffle robes that Princess has introduced. So much more luxurious than the old ones. The greatest improvement from all our previous trips though was the new Princess bed. It was so comfortable and soft. We have asked for egg crate toppers in the past, but this new pillow top mattress suits us perfectly. The new bedding is also very nice, but the pillows were possibly slightly too soft for our taste. Overall, the best sleep experience we have had on any cruise to date.

Although we opted for Anytime dining, we were concerned about getting a table at our preferred time of 6.30pm to 7pm. This was because of the older demographic of cruisers that usually go on the longer cruises (they like to dine early) and the high number of sea days. As it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary cruise, we also wanted to dine at a table for 2 more than we usually do. I got some advice from Vickie and lined up to see the Head Waiter on the first day to see if he could accommodate a standing reservation for us. The line was long and there were 2 staff members seeing one person at a time. Some people were getting uptight, but I kept calm and waited about 45 minutes in the end. Timothy, the Assistant Head Waiter, listened to my request and said he could not promise anything, but that I should come to the Michelangelo dining room that night and ask for him. 
We turned up at 7pm, but Timothy was nowhere to be seen. Instead the Head Waiter Genel spoke to us and said “Ah yes, you are celebrating your anniversary. Come this way to see if you like this table”. Keep in mind that there was a long queue waiting to be seated and they were being given pagers. We felt like Royalty. He said to come and see him when we finished and let him know what we thought of the table. The table was against the wall by a server station one table away from the window. We both thought that this was a table we would have picked for ourselves and we were really happy. When we said this to Genel, he said that this table was ours at 7pm every evening. Every night we waited in the reservations line and were quickly waived in by either Genel or Timothy. It really made our dining experience special.
Because of this, we got to know our waiters. Sampong from Thailand and Assistant Waiter Alexey from Moldova. They were both fantastic and quickly got to know our likes and dislikes. Our wine was waiting for us ready every night. We do not normally tip extra to waiters on anytime dining as we rarely see the same ones twice, but these two deserved every cent of the extra we gave them at the end of the cruise.

The food was excellent as usual. For lunch we alternated between the buffet and the MDR and had no complaints. Something different in the MDR was the butter. There was no butter dish on the table. Instead, the waiters served individual butter pats as you needed them. I asked Sampong why, but he did not know. He said the practice had been introduced while on his last break between contracts. The other change was that there were no breadsticks in the breadbasket. I reported this to Vickie via Facebook and, hey presto, the next night breadsticks appeared. I thought this must mean Vickie has friends in high places. However, that was the last time we saw breadsticks for the rest of the cruise.
We did have one big disappointment with dining and that was when we tried to organise Ultimate Balcony Dining. The stateroom directory states that UBD is available from 5.30pm. We wanted to book it at 5.30pm so that we could eat while the ship sailed away from Lahaina. The room service line said that the kitchen does not open until 5.30pm, so the earliest we could book was 6pm. We decided not to argue the point and accepted 6pm. I then asked if I could alter the main course for myself. I don’t particularly like Filet Minon and much prefer Ribeye or New York Strip Steak. We have done UBD many times and have always made this change with no problem. The dining line said I could only change to a dish that was being served in the MDR that night and offered me Cowboy Steak. Now call me picky, but I wanted something better than that for the $100 cover charge. I pointed out that the stateroom directory says that UBD guests can make a special request regarding the menu and that I had done this before on other ships. They said they would have to check with the kitchen staff. I received a call back to tell me that the Executive Chef had refused my special request and that I must select from Lobster, Filet Minon or something from the MDR. I said thank you, but I would cancel and go to the Crown Grill instead. We booked at the Crown Grill and the Head Waiter there was so attentive and welcoming that we were glad to see the Princess high standards were still available on the ship. On returning to the cabin, there was a message from Room Service saying that the Maitre ‘D had now stepped in and agreed to our request and would we like to rebook UBD. I politely refused saying we had changed our plans and did not want to let down the Head Waiter at Crown Grill. I do feel that some Princess staff do not know as much about what Princess offers as the regular cruisers. I cannot believe that the Executive Chef has been instructed to refuse a simple request; instead I think he just made up the decision on the spot to suit him. I had a similar situation last year, when a Head Waiter said we could not wear smart casual in the Crown Grill on formal night. This time there was no problem and the Head Waiter was shocked when we told him we had been refused a booking on formal night because we did not want to wear formal clothes.
Our meal in Crown Grill was fantastic and the service excellent, so we enjoyed ourselves in spite of the let down over UBD.
A change that is not to our liking is the new brand of speciality coffee. Café Select is no more and has been replaced by New Grounds. The coffee card works in the same way, but I found the taste of the coffee to be not to my liking. I tried a whole range of different types and flavours and not one hit the spot for me. I ended up drinking hot chocolate instead. They have also introduced a range of ice coffees from Illy. These cost you 2 punches of your coffee card though. We did not try them.

The daytime activities were plentiful, but not for us. We prefer to just relax and read our books. The evening entertainment, with a few exceptions, was aimed at an older generation. Lots of Cole Porter or swing type of music and bands playing ballroom and Latin dance numbers. There is usually a singer/guitarist playing soft rock on most cruises, but the one on this trip was rarely used and put on at awkward times. He never seemed to be playing anywhere between 8pm and 10pm, which is when we are normally looking for this type of music.
The production shows were good, but they were not the best singers we have come across. Magic to Do was a spectacle and we look forward to seeing it again on future cruises. There was a Canadian Comic called Scott Harris that we thought was very good and a vocal group called ReVoiced that were worth seeing. We did not bother with Voice of the Ocean, as we do not watch the show at home. One thing we saw and did not like was Ye Olde Pub Night. Being British, it made me cringe to think people believe we are anything like that. The acting was corny and the jokes worse.
The Cruise Director, Billy Hygate, was good. He took time to stop and talk to us in passing on a couple of occasions around the ship. The Wake Show has turned in to a set of adverts with tiny bits of entertainment dotted here and there. The Shopping Host and the Effy Ambassador were on it almost constantly. Sales pitches have increased compared to our previous cruises and Effy are now coming across as desperate with their constant stream of offers and invites.
Another change was the ScanDisplay Channel on the TV. It always used to scroll through the safety briefing and officers insignia as well as a map of where the ship was, along with the Captain’s Log, Weather Log and Navigator’s Log. For this trip, there was no safety briefing or list of officer’s insignia. Instead, the map of where the ship is located was almost constantly on. Occasionally, the Weather Log or Navigator’s Log would come up, but very rarely. Also, there was no “This is Day X of your Cruise” notice.

There were 9 sea days (4 out to Hawaii and 5 back). We love sea days, so we spent our time looking at the ocean and reading our books. I managed to read 3 novels and start a 4th. We were a little disappointed that they did not designate any areas of the ship as quiet reading areas (they sometimes do this in Skywalkers during the day), but we found quiet places most of the time. Knitters and Natters was scheduled in Skywalkers every day, but they were not very loud and one side of Skywalkers seemed to attract the readers on the ship and remained an area of quiet and calm. We also found the open deck near to the Sanctuary surprisingly deserted even though the weather was nice for most of the trip. Another area that suited us was outside the Share restaurant a couple of decks up from the Terrace Pool. One half of this area was designated for smokers, but the other half was a nice area to sit for non-smokers. The seas were calm for most of the trip except for the first 2 days out of LA, when there was a very strong swell. It is the first time I have felt slightly queasy because of the motion of the ship, but that may have been partly due to jetlag. It did not spoil things and I was soon as right at rain.
We looked at the Princess excursions, but they were, as usual, quite expensive. I did some research and came up with Roberts Hawaii. They offered a great package deal of either 3 or 4 excursions. There were some good reports on various review sites and so I took the plunge and booked a 3 tour package. The same trips on Princess would have cost us more than $500, but our all in price with Roberts was $258. We are so glad we did this. Not only was it cheaper, but Roberts were actually running the Princess tours as well as the private tours. The difference was that for 2 out of the 3 tours we were in small groups on a minibus, whereas the Princess tours were on 50 to 60 seater coaches. Our drivers were also flexible and took us to places that we asked about rather than just stuck to the schedule. I cannot recommend Roberts highly enough.
Honolulu – It was raining as we arrived, but this soon cleared up. We took the Pearl Harbor and City Highlights tour with Roberts and were guided by our driver Wilton. He is a distant relative to King Kamehameha and was wonderfully engaging and knowledgeable. The tour to Pearl Harbor included timed tickets for a visit to the USS Arizona at 11.30am. We explored the grounds and it was stunning and humbling. We purchased additional tickets to look around the USS Bowfin a WW2 submarine and were stunned by the memorial showing how many submarines had been lost in the conflict. The trip out to the Arizona was well organised and everyone was respectful. You have to be with over 900 servicemen still lying in the wreck below the memorial. We returned to the main area and had time to grab a hotdog before moving on.
The city tour was great and Honolulu is a lovely place. Wilton kept up the commentary the whole way and asked us questions about where we were from and tailored his information to that. He showed us the state flag with the Union Jack, designating the time Great Britain controlled the islands. After this visit we are thinking of asking for them back. Someone mentioned that they wanted to see Waikiki Beach and so Wilton detoured to take us along the shoreline. We would not have got that on a ship’s excursion. This was our first experience of Roberts Hawaii and they under promised and over delivered. What a nice change to be able to say that.
Kauai (Nawiliwili) – We were with Roberts again and took the Waimea Canyon tour with our driver Marilyn. She was a lovely lady who sang to us a number of times during the day and gave us all a hug at the end of the tour. First stop was a coffee farm, where we were able to sample a range of coffee blends and flavours free of charge. Waimea Canyon itself was breath taking with its range of colours and stunning vistas. Marilyn took us a bit further around the canyon than the big bus tours go so that we could get a Wow view of a waterfall. Only a small bus could have dropped us off at this point. She drove on, turned around and picked us up on the way back so that we could get our photos. We then stopped at Spouting Horn, which was beautiful with its geyser like hole in the rock that sends water into the air. The weather was perfect, which made it all the better. Finally Marilyn dropped us at a large souvenir store, where we were able to get some nice gifts to take home. Another lovely trip and certainly great value for the price we paid.
The last minute drama of the day was that 2 passengers were left behind. They turned up 45 minutes late just after the ship had pushed away from the birth. The thing was that we saw that they made no effort to run as they saw the ship preparing to leave. They just kept on walking at their normal speed. It was only when they arrived at the pier that the staff there encouraged them to wave and jump about. We could clearly see that the Captain and Staff Officer on the bridge saw them, but ignored their pleas. I just wonder if they had attempted to run to the ship rather than just walk, whether the Captain would have had more sympathy.
Hilo – The disembarkation was delayed here because the ship could not get the gangways out. A forklift was required to shift some concrete blocks that were in the wrong spot on the pier and this took around 30 minutes to arrive. Once ashore, we followed the directions to pick up our final tour with Roberts, which was to Rainbow Falls and Volcanoes National Park. This time we were not on a small bus, but on a 50 to 60 seater coach, probably because more people had booked this tour independently. Our first stop was Rainbow Falls, which was very scenic in the sunshine. The driver was very clear what time we should be back on the bus, but as I came down from the top of the falls 5 minutes before the deadline, I saw members of a family on our bus just starting to climb to the top. Low and behold, everyone was ready to go but had to wait for this one family. This set the pattern for the day.
We then stopped at the Macadamia Nut factory. We toured the shop, tasted the free samples and purchased some gifts for home. We then had some lovely ice cream in the café and walked around the gardens. We had been given a time to be on the bus and everyone was back on time except some members of this particular family. We could see some of them sitting in the café still eating and they were already 15 minutes late. One member of the family who was already back was spoken to by another passenger who forcefully said “go and get them”. A couple of the family then returned to the bus to ironic cheers and claps, but 2 more still did not appear. Another 5 or 10 minutes went by and they finally came back with packages. After being told we were waiting, they went shopping before coming back. Can you believe that? They got a hostile reception on the bus and all they could say is “we didn’t know”. A passenger said to the driver “I hope our time at the park is not cut short because of them” and the driver assured us that we would have our full time there.
Volcanoes National Park was much larger than I imagined, with views over the smoking volcano. The museum was interesting with video of lava flows that had only happened a few days before. We stopped off at the steam vents before heading to Thurston Lava Tube and walking through this. The notorious family had learned their lesson and were back to the bus on time.
There were 2 more stops on the way back to the ship, the orchid farm and Big Island Candies. Both of these were not required as far as we were concerned, but some people purchased gifts at these places.
Overall, the tour was not as great as the previous 2, but was still pretty good. The inconsiderate family was not the fault of Roberts, but the larger bus made us realise how lucky we were to be on smaller buses previously.
Maui (Lahaina) – Such a lovely port to visit with the ship anchored offshore and the view of the mountains along the coast. We opted for the Princess Snorkel tour to Molokini Crater. We chose this because Roberts did not offer it and, being a tender port, it made more sense for Princess to arrange our trip to shore. My only complaint was the tour company waiver that arrived in our cabin the night before the tour. Remember that is was now too late to cancel. The waiver said that snorkelling could be hazardous and that we had to agree that we were fit to do it and would listen to the briefing etc. No problem so far. However, at the end it said that we agreed to indemnify the tour company and would not hold them responsible for any incident even if any of the tour company staff were negligent. Now, I don’t mind accepting risks, but I would not expect any company to remain blameless if their staff were negligent and put me in avoidable danger. For example, what if the captain turned up drunk and sailed into a rock? Would I want to claim against the company for that? You bet I would. I spoke to the Assistant Tour Manager at Princess about this in the morning, but she did not want to know. She said it was nothing to do with Princess and said I should speak to the Tour Company. In the end I crossed out the words and replaced them with words that said I would not hold them responsible unless they were negligent. I handed it in with all the other passengers as we got on the boat and no one said anything.
Other than that, the tour was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to snorkel. The scenery on the hour or so journey to the crater was amazing with a few whales spotted on the way out. We had an hour at the site with some great snorkelling in calm, warm seas. There were plenty of soft drinks, a breakfast and a buffet lunch put on by the crew and we did not go hungry. On the way back from the crater we spotted a Whale and her calf lying in the water and the captain stopped the boat and we got within about 25 yards. After about 15 minutes the Whales swam off and we continued our journey. It was closer than we got when Whale watching in Alaska. Our final stop was a site to snorkel again, but this time with Turtles. Our intended site for this was closed, as Tiger Sharks had been spotted, so this alternate site extended our trip by an hour or so. Not much was around at first, but then a Turtle appeared right near us and I swam after it. It rose to the surface right beside me and was just 3 feet away. My wife had a similar experience a little while later. Overall, I think maybe 2 or 3 Turtles were seen over about 45 minutes.
We got back to shore and caught the next tender back to the ship, ordered coffee and cookies for our balcony and just soaked up the view before the sail away and our farewell to Hawaii.

Easter Celebrations on board

Ensenada, Mexico – Originally the itinerary was for us to arrive at 5pm and leave at 9pm. There was no explanation, but this was changed to arriving at 8am and leaving at 6pm. We thought great; at least we will have time to see a bit of Mexico. How wrong we were.
The weather did not help as it rained all day. We saw and heard the Sea Lions as we entered the port, which was nice. We booked the Bodegas de Santo Tomas & Riviera del Pacifico excursion on board for around $30 each. It was terrible. We could have easily walked to all the stops for free.
Riviera del Pacifico was quite nice to see, but the promise of a free Margarita was I small measure in a small plastic cup. More of a taster than a cocktail. We were also kept lined up in the rain waiting for the guide to tell us when we could go in.
We then went to the shopping area and the bus parked up outside a shop called Ronnies. We were ushered inside as soon as we set foot off the bus and pestered by the staff to look at their silver. We had no interest in buying silver, so eventually got out of the shop to explore further. This shop obviously lets the bus park outside provided the passengers are directed to go inside.
We needed some final gifts to take home for our children, so we wanted to buy some things. However, we could not walk a few yards without being pestered to go into every shop we passed. When we did go in a shop to look around they would not leave us alone. “Come and see this, come and see that. I will give you a good price on this.” We only had to glance at something and it was taken from the shelf and thrust under our nose. We cannot stand that sort of pestering, so we just went straight back to the bus and sat there until we moved on. If they had left us in peace we would have purchased something there.
Our final stop was the wine tasting, which was quite nice apart from one thing. This was not the fault of the tour operator, but one person on the bus was clearly quite ill and should not have been there. She was coughing almost constantly and spitting the result into her handkerchief. We tried to keep away from her as much as we could because we did not want to catch anything from her. Part way through the tasting they brought out some bread and cheese to have with the varieties of Olive Oil that they produce. The first person to pounce on the bowl of bread was this woman who was ill. She had not been to wash her hands and was still holding the handkerchief she had been coughing into. We took one look and decided we did not want to risk eating anything after she had dipped her hand into it. After the wine tasting we went back to the ship and, after washing our own hands, had lunch.
Ensenada was a real let down after the great time we had in Hawaii and I just wish Princess would make it the first call of this itinerary rather than the last. We have been put off going back to Mexico for the time being, but will maybe give other Mexican ports a try at some point.
Long Beach Debark Tour On Your Own – Our flight was at 3.30pm and so we booked the debark tour that would drop us at LAX. On the website, it said it was suitable for flights leaving after 3.30pm. However, when our tour tickets arrived it said it was for flights that left after 4.30pm. I went to the Excursions desk and was assured that it would be OK and that we would be at LAX by 1.30pm.
We were asked to gather in the Princess Theatre by 8.10am. We were then kept waiting until around 9am before we were called to disembark. The disembarkation process was fairly smooth and we were directed to our coach. It was raining and so we got quite wet while loading our luggage. We drove to Long Beach to the Aquarium of the Pacific, which was our drop off point. We did this via a long detour, because of roadworks. We eventually got off the bus at around 9.30am and were told to be back by 12.15pm. A passenger complained that the tour was supposed to give us 4 hours in Long Beach, but nothing was changed.
We had pre booked tickets to tour the Queen Mary, which is now a floating hotel. It was not within walking distance (particularly in the rain) but there is a free shuttle bus. We got there around 10am to be told that the tour we had booked was cancelled. Other options started too late for us so we opted to do the self-guided tour. We found the audio directions very confusing and one of the directions asked us to climb a staircase that was blocked off. We went back to the tour desk to be told that this part of the tour was closed off due to inclement weather and we had to restart 5 or 6 steps further on. In addition, my wife’s audio unit froze at one point and she had to return to get it changed. The replacement unit then ran out of battery at the other end of the ship. The time wasted meant that we had to rush the tour and did not have time to stop for lunch. We have since provided details of the problems to the Queen Mary and they are refunding our ticket costs in full.
Everyone arrive back to the coach on time and we were at LAX by 1pm. By the time we reached our terminal it was about 1.20pm, so we had plenty of time to catch our flight. Although the debark tour was more expensive than taking a taxi, it enabled us to leave our luggage in safety and was worth the extra cost. Getting us off the ship and to Long Beach earlier would have been the only improvement.

We had an absolutely fabulous time and would love to go back to Hawaii again on another cruise. Princess was top for service once again and any little issues that were not to our liking were outweighed massively by the things we did like. We have already booked for Scandinavia on the Emerald and cannot wait to go.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Can You Believe It - Our Next Holiday Is Not A Cruise

As many of you know we love to cruise.  We love everything about it.  The beautiful ships, the great food, the crew, the destinations and the wonderful entertainment on board.

Whenever we have some time off we search for cruises that fit that timeline.  

We have a week of vacation coming up and we thought we would do a cruise. In fact we searched all the sites looking for a deal.  

One big thing is that it is Alaskan season for the ships, and since we live in Vancouver that is an easy option.  But we didn't want just one week.  The other issue is the low Canadian dollar which added about 30% to the cost of any cruise.

Our first hope was to sail on the Island Princess or Coral Princess on a round trip cruise up to Whittier and back.  But both those ships sold out.  So we started looking at other options.

Road trip?  But where to?  Of course again the Canadian dollar would limit us to staying in Canada and when you add hotel, gas, food, drink it really added up and would it really be a relaxing holiday.

We then looked at flying somewhere in Mexico and staying at an Airbnb or condo.  But again the costs added up to around $2,000 each for a few weeks.

Our last option was looking at All Inclusives down in Mexico and a great deal popped up at a resort in Nuevo Vallarta (just north of Puerto Vallarta) for a great price.

We booked this trip thru Sell Off Vacations.  

In fact we were kind of surprised at the low price.  Other times and other hotels were much more.  So we booked.

We have booked the Riu Jalisco  !

We use to go to All Inclusives in Mexico all the time. Usually every year for about six years our annual trip in January was Mexico.  We have stayed in Puerto Vallarta a few times and love it.  And of course we have visited Puerto Vallarta on cruise stops too.

So stay tuned.  I will blog from the resort on occasion on the happenings.  I will review the resort, the city and the activities available.  Of course the food and drink will also be discussed.  

I know this is not my normal topic but with the cost of cruising going up and the exchange rate so poor travelling to Mexico may be more of an option in the future.

Thanks for following.