Friday, April 21, 2017

New Specialty Restaurant Menus on Caribbean Princess

Salty Dog Menu

Treat yourself to "The Ernesto" burger, created by acclaimed chef Ernesto Uchimura, and named the #1 burger at sea by Cruise Critic. Or try one of our other 100% handmade Gourmet Burgers, including our Princess Burger or Triple Smoked Burger. The Salty Dog Grill also offers new Street Tacos—a Princess first—featuring a choice of grilled chipotle-lime chicken or roasted sweet potato-green chile. And don’t miss the Classic Hot Dogs, plus loaded fries in tempting varieties including chili cheese and bacon & cheese.

Steamers Menu

$12 Cover Charge

Steamers: "Our new family-style seafood restaurant offers dinner served by wait staff for a nominal fee. Choose from Black & Blue Mussels or Classic Clams “Steamers” or the Broiled Platter which includes scallops, shrimp and crab-stuffed flounder. All come with generous sides and dipping sauces as well as starters and dessert. At lunchtime, help yourself to a buffet that includes Gourmet and Ramen Bowls with regionally inspired broths—all at no charge. And join us for breakfast, also at no charge, for specialty egg dishes like omelets, fried eggs and eggs Benedict".

Planks Menu

$12 Cover Charge

Planks BBQ: "Drop by for a classic American-style dinner, served by wait staff for a nominal fee. Our casual BBQ restaurant gives you a choice of "Planks" loaded with four meats, chili, coleslaw and seasoned fries along with starters and decadent dessert. Planks BBQ also serves a buffet-style lunch at no charge, with signature soup and freshly tossed salad, as well as regionally inspired fork-and-knife sandwiches. Buffet-style breakfasts, also at no charge, include savory breakfast bowls customized for you".

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wednesday and Disembarkation

We open our eyes at 730!  Wow I don’t think we have ever had such a restful sleep the last night. We both cant believe we slept so late.

We need to vacate our cabin by 8 so we quickly shower and dress and leave just before 8.

Breakfast in the dining room is a must and it is open until 830 so we have time.  I get the egg/asparagus scramble and a cappuccino.  But what they bring me is not a cappuccino. 

Not sure what it is.  It is not in a cappuccino cup, nor does it have much milk. He hands it to me and apologizes. Says it is made with a machine.  Okay… but I have had cappuccino in the dining room before and they are better than this.  He says he did not punch my card.  Well that is good, and I will get one later.

After breakfast we notice a lot of people have disembarked already.

We stop by Michael’s office to say goodbye.  The office is full and we are lucky cause we get to say goodbye to so many.  Chef David is going home after a very very long contract.  Bug hugs to him and we look forward to seeing him in sept.  Pierre is finished today too as well as his partner Chris.  Hugs for Michael and a big thank you for all he has done for us.

It has been great getting to know his family too.  We are family… family we choose… our cruise family.

We are not in a rush so we head to Vines to sip our coffees.  
Dylan stops by and we chat for a while.  Elkie is going home today too, but she is running around doing her job on this busy morning. She is excited and ready to head on vacation. She will be heading to the Sapphire in June.

Well time to get off the Royal.

We walk off at 1025.  We are trying out the mobile passport app.  We also have Nexus (global entry) but today we are using the mobile app.  So there is no need to fill out the declaration form. But you do need to download the app and register.  Then within four hours of getting off open the app and follow the steps.  You do need wifi to process the form but once it is processed you will get your codes and then you don’t need wifi.

Once you have collected your bags there is a line for global entry, one for mobile passport and the regular line.  There were around a 100 in the regular line (note most had gotten off).  Around 6 in the other 2 lines.

When we got to the custom agent he says did we fill out the declaration form.  No we said we used the app.  He says the form is faster.  Hmm he tells us to scan our codes, which we do, which took no more than 10 seconds each and we showed our passports and we were on our way.

I just kept thinking, well why have the app if you don’t want us to use it.  But I am sure if people are not technologically inclined and don’t have the codes ready it could be a pain and slow.

So use what is right for you.

We were in a taxi right away and on our way to the airport. Cost was $12.50 plus tip.

At the airport we are still too early to check in and wait about an hour before we can check our bag.

Once we do check in we find out our flight is delayed, but no reason is given. We are a little nervous as our layover in Chicago is only just over an hour.  I am suppose to work tomorrow at 520am.

At the gate we start boarding late and then once on the plane we are delayed even longer.  Apparently our routing needs to change and they have to confirm they have enough fuel.  What! I have never heard this before.  But hey enough fuel is important.  We finally take off an hour late.

The 4 year old boy at the window is testing Mom’s patience but I have to hand it to her she did a great job. But that boy was ready to get off in Chicago.

We arrive in Chicago and thankfully the flight attendants asked people to sit to allow those with tight connections to get off first.  Well some listened, but we were still slow getting off.

We ran like crazy to get to the gate.  Thankfully it was not too far and I even had a stop at the washroom.

Phew our flight to Vancouver is delayed too.  And again once we board we sit on the tarmac for over 45 minutes. 

So we should be arriving just before midnight Vancouver time, hopefully earlier if the pilot puts the petal to the metal.  That will be 3 am Florida time.  A very long day made much longer.

Normally I have Thursday Fridays off but not this week so needleless to say I can not safely drive the bus on so little sleep so now I lose a day’s pay as well because of all these delays.

We are currently still in the air as I write this.  All I want is to be home.  Worst thing about travelling is flying…. Just glad the baby behind me finally fell asleep.
Thanks for following along.


Today is another noon arrival.  It seems everyone needs a sleep in after so many port days.

We are no different, except I wake at 630 and read for quite a while then fall back asleep.  Apparently it was rough seas last night but I found it quite good, sure there was movement but not as bad as I thought it would be.

We relax and watched the movie Bad Moms which was good for a laugh.

I head up to the Horizon Court for a late breakfast and as I am sitting there I see a familiar face.  At the same time looks at me and we immediately are shocked.  Giovanni! 

We first met him two years ago on the Crown Princess when he was Mark’s assistant.  We all went out in Victoria where I showed them around.  You can read that trip here.

We hug and catch up.  We can not believe we have not seen each other until today, but that is how ships are.

He has just gotten on and will still be on in September when we return.

I head out to the open deck to watch the sail in.  It sure is a nice sail in.  And boy kudos to the Captain.  He basically turns the ship around and backs in.  Heck most people could not back their car up like he manages this ship.

We are at the furthest away pier.  Disney Dream is in port along with an RCL ship and a Carnival ship that leaves early. Not too crazy but still busy.

We haven’t been here since our first Princess cruise 20 years ago.

We are just about to dock and everyone is crowding the stairs to the gangway.  For me I head back to the cabin and layer on the sunscreen as the Sanctuary has 2 chairs for us.

Yes again today we are not going ashore.  So for the first time ever we basically did not get off the ship the entire ten days (except for a short stop in Aruba to get wine).  At first we felt a little guilty but we both said we needed this.

With a great cabin, and a stunning ship, and trying to limit spending we did what was right for us.

The Sanctuary is not busy at all.   We stare out at the port and enjoy the sunshine.  A lot of people stayed on board.

Departure is 630 but we are late leaving, and I can not recall why.

We had signed up for EZ check but we get a call in the cabin to say we can not use the service because of the international flight we are on.  Okay… we go and get luggage tags.  We take the latest tags we can get (1025). 

That is odd though, since we have used the EZ check service a few times now, all times from, Florida and all have been international flights.  Oh well, who am I to argue.

So we begin the task of packing.  Having the couch in the cabin helps with the packing.  We really did not bring that much and since many of the items we brought were gifts for friends we are a lot lighter going home.

We dress for dinner and head out for our final evening.  We are sad.

As we sit in Vines enjoying our last few glasses of wine we reflect on the voyage.  We both feel so blessed and grateful.

Tonight I suggest Alfredos for dinner and Bernie is agreeing before I even finish the sentence.  So yummy.

Now there really has not been anything that I had noticed that could use some improvement until tonight.  The head waiter in Alfredos. 

Each time we have been here I have noticed him. He seems to pace the entire place and just outside Alfredos.  Bernie thinks he is trying to get his steps in. The guy never smiles. In fact it seems like he is really not happy here. At first I thought oh he must be at the end of his contract. Nope he just at the beginning apparently.

Tonight it seems even worse.  I comment to Bernie that this guy looks bored to death.  Why doesn’t he come around and see how people’s meals are? Nope, he does not approach a single table.  

Okay my rant is over. I will put this in the survey. 

Thankfully all the wait staff there are top notch and don’t seem to be affected by this guy.

After dinner we head down to Ben and Dylan’s cabin for our final goodbyes.  We have really gotten close to them this year and we have a special bond with them (they are the 2 we went to Peru with)  Love you guys.

Back to the cabin around 11 and we do our final packing and put our bags out.

We sit out on the balcony for the last time.  Oh what a nice cruise.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sea Day

It is hard to figure out where the time has gone!  We are at sea today and we have only today and tomorrow then it is back to realtiy.

I take the chance to sleep in and relax in the cabin while Bernie is out doing his own thing.  Another great thing about ships, we can each do our own thing and not worry about the other person.

I shower and meet up with Bernie down stairs in Vines which is rather quieter than other areas in the International Cafe. 

So much happening today:  Outlet sale, Culinary Demo, Art Auction, Pub Lunch, Mardi Gras festivities, Easter Fun for the family, Line Dancing, and movies.

Last night it was a little rough but nothing for those use to sailing. There was movement and it just rocked us. But for many of the newer cruisers it was really moving!

Bernie and I agree to have lunch in the dining room and I am so glad we did as they had the Baja Fish tacos on the menu, one of my favorites.

After lunch I find a quiet spot outside Wheelhouse to write up my blog from the other day and Bernie is watching a movie in the cabin.

We got our disembarkation information today.  We are taking advantage of the EZ Air service for $25 per person and our flight is not till late in the afternoon so this will be perfect.  We won't have to worry about bags and we can maybe do something in Fort Lauderdale first then make our way to the airport later.

Tonight is the first night we don't have anything scheduled. It is a formal night.  Production show Spectacular is in the Princess Theater tonight.  Ray Coussins is performing in Vista Lounge. A new game called Tricky Twisted Trivia in Princess Live.  The Flyboys (who performed yesterday) are in the Atrium later.

I am sure our evening will be filled with lots of laughs.

St. Thomas and Most Travelled Guest Party

We awake and again we are already docked.  We are at Havensight and shockingly we are the only one here.  There is a RCL ship at Crown Bay so that makes a total of two ships in port.  I don't think I have ever seen it so quiet here.

But it is Easter Sunday and so many things that normally would be open are not open because of the holiday.  However everything at Havensight is open due to a ship being in port.

It is a bit overcast and a few showers pass but nothing that is horrible in fact it is quite refreshing.

One thing we have both commented is that we thought the weather would of been much hotter than when we normally travel in January/February but nope it is very similar.  Winds, high humidity, high temps (high 20s) and overcast.  Very similar to what we are use to.

Seas have been very calm, but Captain does announce that we will get a bit rougher weather tonight.  He did announce at the Captian Circle Party the other night that the Atlantic crossing's weather could encounter some bumps as they are tracking a storm.

Princess has put right on the front page of the Patter information about Easter Sunday Mass at St. Peter & Paul Cathedral at 10 am in English and 12:30 in Spanish.

For us we are really enjoying the ship and we don't get off again. We are staying on board the ship for the entire trip.  We have never done this before but we feel this is right for us this time. And we are LOVING it.

We both change into our bathing suits and head down to the Enclave for some pampering.  We spend about an hour and in the entire time there was only one other couple in there.  So nice.

I shower and dress for the day and it starts with a latte and writing and reading in Vines. 

I also get to say goodbye to Michael's wife and kids who fly out from St Thomas today. I am so glad we got to meet them and get to know them.  We hope that they will come to Vancouver soon and we promise to look them up when we visit Britain.

I wander around the ship taking obscure pictures for my game I am playing on my Facebook page (Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie) by posting a pic of something and having others try and figure out where this is on the Royal Princess.

Back in the cabin we watch the movie Lion in the cabin.  We both really enjoyed it and totally understand why it was nominated so much at the Oscars.

For sailaway I head out onto the balcony and chat with my neighbour while sipping wine and enjoying a stunning sailaway.  St. Thomas is perfect for a great sail away and drinks on the balcony.  Ironically the balcony for mini suites has a foot stool but there is no room to put that stool out.

Tonight is the Most Travelled Guest Party (yes it is now called Guest Party instead of Passenger Party).  It is a cocktail party in Club 6 that starts at 7:30.  We arrive and pose for pictures with Captain Nash and it is lovely as we know almost all the officers. 

I take a seat and Ben and Dylan join us.  The food here is outstanding, what a difference from the Ruby and the four appetizers they offered.  Here there is a whole table for sushi, then another for cold appetizers, then a table of hot finger foods, and then another for dessert. 

There is so much food that we just skip dinner and enjoy the party.

For those interested, this trip we are #10 and #11 Most Travelled Guests.

After the party the four of us head down to Vines where we enjoy wine and time just flies.  Up to Crooners to enjoy the piano player Ray Coussins and all is right with the world.

We love getting to spend so much time with Dylan and Ben again and we reflect on our Peruvian trip and future trips back (something is in the works).

We are back in the cabin around midnight and Bernie is asleep before I am even in bed.

Another great day on the Royal Princess.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Super Tuscan Wine Pairing Dinner at Sabatinis

This is a relatively new feature on Princess, but is sadly only available (as far as I know) on Royal and Regal.

The cost of the experience is $60. Now I say experience because it really is. You dine in Sabatinis with very attentive service. In fact you feel like you are royalty with someone there to meet all your needs.

We are sat at a table of 7 - all friends - Bruce and Sharon, Ben and Dylan, and Amanda and us.

Maitre D' Silvio welcomes us and explains a bit of what we are going to experience.

A glass of champagne is delivered to us.

On the table is a basket of Italian Breads (I especially love the salted foccacia).  Our side plate has Aged BAlsamic and Segesta Olive Oil.  In small dishes a blend of Aubergine Caviar & Potato and another of Broad Bean and garlic paste.

An Amuse Bouche is served along with a glass of Il Bruciato.  As Silvio explains the wine and it's history and we taste it.  Then we are told to enjoy the Cappellacci Ripieni di Patate (cappellacci - kind of like tortelini with potato inside) served with Ossobuco and Saffron Potatoes.

Tasting the wine before and after really changes the tastes.  So lovely.

Next is the Appetizer of Fennel Crusted Tuna Loin with fresh Chili, Olives, Tomato and Arugula Tomato Vinaigrette infused with Basil Puree.  This is paired with one of my favorite wines -- Anthilia Donnafugata.  Again taste the wine before and after.  I loved this dish the most. The tuna was perfect.

Second course is Pumpkin Risotto with Mascarpone Castelrosso Cheese and pumpkin puree - sounds odd but it is very good.  It is served with Il Borro wine.  Okay by now we are feeling good.

The main course is paired with Ornellaia ($240 a bottle).  This is probably the only way I would get to enjoy these wines. 

Main course is a beef fillet wrapped with herb crust and prosciutto with an Ornellaia reduction and Tuscan bean salad and garlic foam.  OMG - I know I need more amazing words to describe some of this food but I am speachless.  The steak is probably one of the best I have ever had. 

You know as I am writing this I keep thinking of David and Janice from Halifax and boy you need to try this dinner out - they are huge foodies and would really appreciate it.

Dessert is Zuccotto alla Caterina De Medici which is a Ricotta Cheese Cake with Stracciatella Ice Cream.  And of course it is served with a lovely lemoncello. 

Coffee and tea and we are good! 

The whole event was made extra special because of the wonderful people we were with, thank you.

So if you enjoy great food, and amazing wines look into the Super Tuscan Dinners at Sabatinis where they close the entire restaurant for the evening for this meal and you are treated to a gift of the senses.

I have pictures of everything but will have to wait to get home and high speed wifi to post.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


As I wake I can not believe how rested I feel, how relaxed I feel, how stress free I feel. As we lay there chatting about everything that comes to mind, which is often hard to do at home with all the pressures of work, home, and schedules.  Somehow on a ship we have the time to chat about whatever enters our minds and share.

How do you explain that to people (well I guess like I just did) but the fact we have time to sit across from each other and have a glass of wine and just talk. It is the same with friends we make on board.

It has been lovely sailing with Bruce and Sharon again. Even though we have not sailed with them in a long time, the fact we can catch up with them just by passing their table in the International Cafe and converstaion flows says a lot.  A ship brings that out in you.

Last night as we sat at dinner, Michael's son Franklin loves playing rummy and I mentioned Rummy Block and we both walked over to the library where I showed him the cases with the Rummy Block game.  I promised that we will get together today and I will show him the game.

Again the fact that families have time to sit down with their kids and play games is priceless.  I will advise later on how the Rummy Block game turns out.

But back to Dominica.  I wish I could say we did something exciting but for us we did what we needed to do and we just stayed on.  I do love this island but a few things are in play this cruise.  First this is an added trip and one we squeezed in and just being on board is the best relaxation for us.  And heck this ship is beautiful so why not  enjoy it.

Second we are at the industrial pier in Dominica and it is about 2 miles to the town center.  Shuttles are available for $2 per person one way. And the beaches here are great (black sand because of the volacano) but they are a distance away.  Our favorite thing to do here is River Tubing but again since it was booked so last minute we had to be conscious of spending and so tours were sort of out of the picture.

Instead we doned our bathing suits and headed to the Enclave.  Only one other couple was in the Enclave - actually I have never seen the Enclave so quiet.  This may be because we are in port and it is the morning or it may be the demographics of the ship (much younger, families and newer cruisers) oh heck who knows why but it is lovely.

After showering and dressing we ended up in Alfredos for lunch which is so busy.  Guess people have figured it out now. But it is still a nice change and today I had a bowl of minestroni to start which was very good and then I had the calzone, again very very good.

La La Land the movie is playing in the Vista Lounge and Bernie wants to watch the Star Wars movie in the cabin so I am sitting in the International Cafe sipping a kiwi limi cooler (one punch on your coffee card) and writing my blog.

Ship is decorated for Easter and it is fun to see the decorations. I have lots of pics of the decorations that I will put up in the blog when I get home.  This is the first time we have sailed over Easter.

Grenada and the Sanctuary with Crown Grill

We pull into Grenada a little later today so there is no rush to get up and get going and we find ourselves relaxing in the cabin for quite a long time.

When we finally get moving we head to the International Cafe for tea and coffee and we are shocked at how many are dressed and ready to get off the ship and are queuing up.  It is only 10:30 am and we don't dock until noon and it takes a bit of time to get clearance. But people are anxious but I would rather spend my time not in a line. One beautiful thing about arriving in Grenada is it is considered the spice island and they say you can smell the spice as you come in.

So we done our bathing suits and head up to the Sanctuary to enjoy the sail in. The upper decks are quiet and the sail into port is stunning.

But today we are going to hang out at the Sanctuary.  As we melt into the thick cushioned chairs we both agree if we were any more relaxed they would have to throw dirt on us.

We enjoy lunch up there in the Sancturay ($3 fee per person for delivery). It is quiet, not crowded and well worth it. 

Sure there are many times we manage just fine sitting out on the open deck but we also enjoy the Sanctuary too.  For a nominal fee it is worth it for us.

Bernie leaves around 3 and our friend Vida comes up to join me and we enjoy afternoon tea up there together.

Back in the cabin to shower and dress for drinks and dinner.

We are in the Wheelhouse Bar for pre dinner drinks and it is very busy in here.  The Liberty String Quartet is playing and they are very enjoyable.

Tonight the buffet is featuring German buffet which would definately be where we would be going but we have reservations at the Crown Grill with Dylan and Ben, and Michael and his family.

It is so lovely to enjoy a dinner all together and I have especially enjoyed getting to know Michael's kids much better.

Service was outstanding and we were not an easy table.  She had to serve champagne first, water, red and white wine and mocktails for the kids but she handled it like a pro.

Tonight I changed course starting with the lobster/crab cake, then the spinach salad, then I had the prawn dish served with a fried rice.  Dessert of course was the chocolate molten dessert.

We were all stuffed after our meal and such great company.

I think Bernie was asleep within ten minutes of putting his head down.

Lots happening tonight though: Night Sky Lounge, The Movie Jackie in Vista Lounge, Master Illusionist Hawley Magic in Princess Theater, Who Sang What, Where in the World Am I game show, Hot Latin Nights Disco Deck Party and more.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bonaire Evening

We head down to the Platinum Elite Lounge and enjoy a Cosmo for Bernie and a Mojito for me. I really enjoy Club 6 for the PEL event. It is well situated and a nice lounge, not too big and not too small.

We get some glasses from Horizon Court and then some cheese/nuts on two plates.

Oh you see we are having a cabin party. Yeah why not, it is a great way to gather friends in a casual environment.

We call room service for wine glasses, a large ice bucket and three pizzas. You can order pizzas that are brought to you in a large pizza box (like at home). Always available are cheese and also pepperoni. There is also a daily feature and today it is Hawaiin. So we get one of each pizza and it is enough for the 8 of us.

I also made my special cocktail.  Well the bar made the drink I just added the vodka. You see I go get the Kiwi Lime Cooler from the International Coffee Bar (one punch on the coffee card) I then add vodka from our mini bar to it. It seemed to be enjoyed by everyone.

In all we were 8 in the cabin - Us, Michael and his wife Vida, Yami and Timothy, and Dylan and Ben.  Lots of laughs, great time and so much fun to have time to host them all and serve them since they all take such great care of us.

After everyone left around 10:30 we just called room service and they came and collected all the plates and glasses and the cabin was clean - gee wish I could have this service at home after a party.

Also happening tonight is La La Land on Movies Under the Stars, Family Game Night (there are quite a few families on board), Colors of the World is the Production Show tonight, Name that Broadway Tune, $500 Blackjack Tournament, Hollywould You Game Show and much more.

One thing I have noticed is the events seemed to be packed with so many for sale events like Art events (2 events tonight), Effy events (usually two events a day in there), and even announcing the Paradise Lotto Draw each day. But I guess that is marketing.

Tomorrow we are in Grenada but not till later.


Well best laid plans ----

I wake up at midnight and have a pounding head ache.  Hmm how annoying and being in a cabin options are limited.  I take some pain meds and then decide to head out to the balcony to get some fresh air.

So weird to sit out on the balcony at 1 am when the ship is quiet (well at least quiet outside). I stare out at the water and it is so calm and relaxing.  I read for two hours and then feel ready to go back to sleep. But then Bernie is awake.

The next few hours are spent with one of us being awake and the other sleeping.

Then 7 am comes and room service knocks with breakfast. We just put it on the desk and roll over and go back to sleep.

So you figured it out, we didn't make it to Klein Bonaire. Since we have to get up early and catch a ferry over early and then back before sail away at 2 pm, all aboard 1:30.

By the time we get up and moving it is 10:30.

I put on my bathing suit and head down to the Enclave.  OMG I have the place to myself! It feels so posh, so fancy, so exotic. I had it to myself for around 30 minutes then a couple arrived.

The gentleman put his plastic wrist band that they give you to enter the Enclave in his bathing suit pocket. Now it can go on your wrist, but I personally just leave it in the pocket of my housecoat they give us. So this guy's band floats out of his pocket (it is plastic) and he losses it.  Thankfully the pool is quiet and he can find it floating easily. Note the wife's band is still on her wrist.

He complains to me that this band is the dumbest thing ever.  I just respond if you do put it on your wrist you are good or just put it in your housecoat pocket. Guess he doesn't like that answer.

Bernie and I then head to the Retreat pool and relax up there until around 1 pm when we head to the Horizon Court for lunch.

I just LOVE this ship's Horizon Court. So many options and quite easy to find seats especially if you head further aft. 

As we just sit down a woman a few tables away falls to the ground from her seat - not sure what happened but it seemed she fainted. The crew gather around and a head waiter takes control. He calls for someone to call 911, he then gets staff to put chairs all around to block passengers from walking thru or sitting at the tables right beside. He gets down to the woman and says something to her but is saying out loud do not move her. Which makes sense since none of them are medically trained and they arenot sure what is wrong and she is breathing.

Ironically passengers still try to get past the chairs to get to the coveted table by the window! 

A few minutes later the paramedic arrives - it feels like a long time but took less than five minutes, certainly faster than an ambulance at home.  The paramedic dealt with this woman and then got her in a wheelchair and took her to the medical center.

We sail away at 2 pm, well actually a little late, apparently there was a bit of a glitch with the computer getting the zero count even though everyone was back on board.

Afternoon was spent playing in the casino, enjoying afternoon tea, reading and watching a Hula Dance Class and chatting with passengers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


We must of docked as it is 9 am when we open our eyes and the ship isn't moving. Wow I slept like a baby!  Yup we are docked at the first spot right at the first port building in Aruba.  The Island Princess is in dock too along with a Holland America ship. 

However the Island is leaving early (around 1) and shortly after it leaves another Holland America ship pulls in.

When we finally get up and moving and head up for breakfast in the Horizon Court most passengers are off. It is rather quiet on board.

So to take advantage of this calm we done our bathing suits and slather on the sunsceen and head up to the Retreat Pool.  It is still rather windy - as it always is in Aruba.

We enjoy the pool for around 3 hours.  But I have to say being at the pool is a great place to people watch.

One big annoyance is those who think it is okay to bring a portable speaker to the pool area or on your balcony.  But right now this couple has turned their speaker on and is subjecting all of us to "their" choice of music.  Just rude and I am so Canadian I just can't say anything.

I watch, well really listen to this gentleman in the pool who is talking non stop. However he doesn't really konw what he is talking about.  He is going on and on about this ship and that ship and then mentions there is a new ship coming out that he can't recall the name of (I want to scream MAJESTIC) that it will start sailing in May or June (I want to scream IT IS SAILING NOW) then he says she will sail across the Atlantic and be based in the Caribbean next winter (I want to scream NO SHE WON'T SHE IS HEADING TO ASIA) damn it is hard being a polite Canadian.  But goes to show don't think that everything you hear is correct - there is a lot of crap being spread too. This guy needs to read my facebook page.

So after a very comical time around the pool we agree it is time to go ashore. 

We just want to walk around a bit and pick up a few things.  We wander and look in stores, and check out the souvenirs, but we don't buy anything.

There is a grocery store very close to the port that has all the essentials if you are needing anything.  If you exit the port and turn right, then turn left at West Straat, then right at the first block called Havenstraat which is right behind the Royal Plaza Mall you will see the grocery store on your left in a block or so. Nothing fancy but decent prices and even some wine too. Prices are in Aruban Florin which is $1.75 AF for $1 US dollar.

We walk back along the beach  but it is crazy busy here with three ships in port.

This is a beautiful island and so much to see and do - make sure to read previous Aruba posts for ideas on what we have done in the past, including many times to the beach, renting skooters, renting a car, helicopter ride and island tour.

Back on board we grab a quick bite to eat at the International Cafe and now we are relaxing in the cabin. 

Not too much happening on board but a few things for those staying on board.

Evening of Second Sea Day

One thing I love about the Royal is the On Demand TV system. It gives us the chance to watch a movie and then stop it and start right back where you left off.  So that is what we did in the afternoon. Watched a movie - I know, I am on a cruise but for us that is relaxing and it is not something we get to do at home very often.

The Princess Cruise Lover's group had a slot tournament that was a $15 buy in and was very well attended. In the end we walked away with $7 each so not too bad and nice to meet up with others.

We got the Enclave for this cruise.  Bernie and I really enjoy the spa atmosphere and the whole experience, it truley relaxes us and it is just what we need to come back new. Bernie went this afternoon and since his shoulder has been acting up he took advantage of the hot jets to ease the tension and the steam rooms to assist with the muscle aches.

We also went to the BOGO event in Crooners from 3 to 4. As I approached the bar they have a cornered off area where passengers can line up and order and pick up drinks. Sort of like at Starbucks but with alchol.  

While I was waiting for my drinks to arrive this older gentleman approaches and looks around and asks the lovely bar steward "is this where they sell the t-shirts"?  He was serious!  The steward looks confused and asks him to repeat himself, yup he thinks they sell t-shirts here. She patiently responds "sir this is a bar" and points him over to the shops so he can get a t-shirt.  Oh my the crew here are so patient.

So after two Captain Bounty's we are feeling good and back to the cabin and rest (cause gee cruising is exhausting) until we dress for dinner.

But we really want to see comedian Robbie Printz who won Entertainer of the Year with Princess this year.  Amazingly I don't think we have ever seen him.  We head to the 6:30 showing and laugh our heads off.  He is very good and I can see why he won.

When we exit the theater the Atrium is hoping and the Captain's Welcome Aboard Party is just starting at 7:15.  They are doing it a bit different here now, before they would do the champagne waterfall first at 7:15 and then around 7:45 they would do the officer introductions. Now they did the introductions first then the champagne waterfall.

We get a coveted seat in Vines (it is busy) and enjoy some wine until MIchael and his family and Dylan come in and we all take seats at the Stammisch table. 

While sitting there this woman approaches and asks "I am curious what is the name of the Captain's Little Brown Dog that he mentions in the Princess Patter?"  Ahhh we don't know we respond.  That was kind of weird and certainly not something I would ask if I was starting up a conversation.  We should of just made up a name.  Spot - yeah that sounds good.

At 8 we make it to Crown Grill for our reservation. Our waiter and assistant there are amazing.  Love that the Crown Grill here actually has assistants, for some reason it is not that common on other ships and it really shows.  But again we find the Royal shines and is really the benchmark of how other ships in the fleet should be run.

I start with the spinach/goat cheese with beet salad.  French onion soup and then the filet mignon for my entree served with potato, mushrooms and asparagus.  All was great but I will say that the steak was not up to the "normal" standard I am use to in the Crown Grill.  But everything else was amazing.

While dining Maitre D' Silvio pops by and we quickly share a glass of champagne with him - poor guy is running all over the ship but he does such a great job on board. He comments that we are doing the Super Tuscan Dinner and we say YES we are excited.

Michael, his wife and son and Dylan stop by and we all toast with a glass of champagne.  

It is now just after ten pm and we are full - but not crazy stuffed -

that we have to undo the top button stuffed - we were good.  We wander around and Bernie says hey I haven't had my Bugsy so off to Crooners and a Bugsy.

We run into Timothy and Chelsea on the way back to the cabin and chat for awhile with them.  So cute how so many recognize Timothy from the Cruise Show and want pictures - bettter get mine in too.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Second Sea Day

As we sail towards Aruba I feel so relaxed and happy, sort of at peace. No worries, calmness, rested and just content.  That is what cruising does for us.

We don't wake until 9 am and we are surprised (mind you it is 6 am at home but we are pretty much use to the time change).  

Breakfast is going to have to be elsewhere today as breakfast ends at 9 in the dining room. Horizon Court will do and it doesn't disappoint. It is relatively busy but not crazy - you know the hour before we dock crazy.

I get a bagel and cream cheese and a big bowl of fruit salad and we sit at the window enjoying the meal and stare out at the ocean.

Weather today is scattered clouds but a high of 27C or 80F, and it is muggy. I need to put on sun screen as those clouds are deceptive and you will burn Vickie. Not to mention all the people walking around with very pink skin today from yesterday.

After breakfast we are sitting in Vines enjoying our coffees and doing the day's puzzles available in the library.

I will add the pool decks are busy and if you want a seat around the pool they are in limited supply at 10 am when we walk by but there are tons of lounges that can be had  if you just go little futher from the pool.

Lots happening this morning: zumba, bible study, shuffleboard, golf putting challenge, photo seminar, Maitre d' wine club, bingo, mardi gras dance class, afternoon movie Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, Military and Veterans get together and so much more.

First Sea Day Evening

After a so called nap we both agree we need to shower and dress for dinner.

First stop is Vines where the guys (Mar, Artha and Jun) are so helpful with picking out a bottle of wine and I get my first Bramble of the cruise (not to be my last). 

We are enjoying ourselves and dancing in our seats becaue the Martini demo is happening in the Atrium. This is the first time we have seen them do the martini demo in the evening. But it sure makes sense since those all around the Atrium can see the demo and then order one of the martinis being made.

Silvio the Maitre D' walks by and we surprise him with being on board. He lives with his familiy not far from us in Vancouver.  It is always nice to run into long time crew that we haven't seen in a while.

Dinner tonight is in the Horizon Court as the theme is Mongolian Stir Fry and we enjoy that so around 8 pm we head up and enjoy a great stir fry where you pick out the veggies you want then you select what type of protein and whether you want rice or noodles and then they cook it up and deliver it to you.

It was very good and just the right amount too.

We are sitting with Michael and his family and we chat for a long time and since there is nothing we are scheduled to do we really just enjoy the company and the friendship.

Lots happening tonight including: Who Sang What Motown, Production Show Sweet Soul Music, Movie Poster Trivia, 50s and 60s Music Trivia, Tempo Quartet is playing in the Piazza, The Yes No Game Show, Movies Under the Stars is showing Arrival, and Voice of the Ocean round 1.

They are doing Buy one get one for a $1 two times each day - Crooners 3-4 and then Club 6 10-11 (which is earlier than last Fall when it was at 11-12).

Life is good - isn't it.

First Sea Day

Well so much for a restful sleep. After going to sleep so late I wake at 3 am with a headache (those cosmos caught up with me I guess). And well that was it I was up from that point on.  I predict a nap is in my future.

We dress and head to Concerto Dining room for breakfast at 9 am. I love the Royal as it has so many tables for two and we have no problem getting a seat right away. Ah it feels so good to be back on board.

I really wish I could write some exciting things that happened next, but really it is quite predictable for us.  We sit our butts in the International Cafe and chat with Sharon and Bruce and others who pass by.

We stop in and see other friends on board and wander around checking things out.

Lunch was Alfredos - of course Bernie was craving. It was noticed right away that the pizzas are smaller but this is a good thing as they were just so big before.  Now they are more of a personal size and just the right amount for one person.  The head waiter in Alfredos seems to be pacing all over - looks like he has a lot on his mind.  He must be heading home soon as he looks fed up.

Beautiful roses - thanks Michael

By now we are both feeling the effects of little sleep and return to the cabin, put up the do not disturb and crash.

Oh I forgot to add we called to change out our mini bar on the first day and was told it would be changed tomorrow.  They arrived around 3 pm today to change out the items. Still wish they would streamline the mini bar - maybe be able to change it on line ahead of time, or use the Princess @ Sea to change it instead of sitting on hold for a long time (if you can get thru). Then informing them of all the changes.

But one issue is that we had the Do Not Disturb out but room service knocked on the door anyways to change out the mini bar.  Okay we accept that as we wipe the sleep from our eyes in a daze.  We fall back asleep and another knock on the door - again room service.  Wow chocolate covered strawberries are delivered - which we appreciate but we now have given up on sleeping. I think we have slept enough. But I do wonder why even bother putting out the do not distrub. 

We have never sailed at this time of year in the Caribbean - and have never sailed over Easter. The ship is full and there are more families on than what we see in January but it is still a lot less families than what we saw on 7 day itineraries. It is lovely to see multi generational families spending quality time together.

We qualified for the Most Travelled Party (#10 and #11) which is a cocktail party in Club 6 in a week's time. We personally prefer the cocktail party and especially the ones the Royal holds so we are looking forward to it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Extra Tidbits from the First Day On Board

We see a few new things and I wanted to write about them here.  Also the list of officers and entertainment is below.

Captain Nick Nash; Staff Captain Paolo Ansaldi; Chief Engineer Officer Fabio Braccelli; Hotel General Manager Michael Prasse; Cruise Director Ron Goodman; Senior Doctor Dr. Dylan Belton; Customer Services Director Elke Pointecker; Food and Beverage Director Christopher Nothdurft; Executive Housekeeper Mihai Gariel Barzila; Executive Chef David McDonald; Maitre d'Hotel Silvio Zampieri.

Entertainment highlights:

  • Comedian Robbie Printz
  • Piano Entertainer Linda Gentile
  • Illusionist Hawley Magic
  • Vocal Group The Flyboys
  • Production Shows: Sweet Soul Music, Colors of the World, What the World Needs Now, Spectacular.
  • Voice of the Ocean

Movies Under the Stars

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Arrival
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Sory
  • Doctor Strange
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Passengers
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Hidden Figues

Photo package for this ten day is $249

Tuscan Dinner is being offered on this voyage for $60 per person (we hope to do it).

Internet Special for today - purchas a plan and receive up to 40 additional minutes free.

We are sailing over Passover and they have have arranged a Passover Seder service and dinner. You have to sign up for it as space is limited.

Ocean terrace has something new - each day features a dish available at lunch. First sea day it is a Maine Lobster Roll with chips and cole slaw for $7.95. Only available from 11 to 2 pm.

First Evening

After Muster Drill we unpack -- which takes no time at all as we have this down to a science and also we were conservative with how much we brought.

Sail away is around 5. As the Captain needs to slot this ship into the traffic leaving Port Everglades. The Island Princess is following us as we head to Aruba. They will be in port with us as they are on a Panama Cruise.

Princess Cruise Lover's is doing a sail away part out at Outriggers and it is well attended. A big shout out to Debbie for doing the coordinating and keeper of the list, an important job and much appreciated.

It was lovely to put faces to names and to share in the joy of being on such a beautiful ship.

After sailaway we stop to chat with Yami at the Shorex desk. She has been on since we did the crossing and she looks stunning and the Caribbean sun has kissed her face but she is tired and getting ready to go on a well deserved vacation.

While there she calls Ben and he rushes up to see us.  Ben takes us down to see Dylan. Dylan and Ben are the two we went to Peru with at the beginning of the year and we laugh because on that vacation when we casually mentioned this date and a possibility of booking Ben kept say "we will see you then I just feel it".  Well guess he was right.

We make plans with them for dinner tonight and head off and Bernie is needing a bit of food so we say "lets just go to the Platinum Elite Lounge" which is in Club 6.

Well after two hours there, four cosmos each and great conversation with good friends Sharon and Bruce who we met a long time on the Star Princess and kept in touch with.  They live in Boston and their lives are similar to ours and it is so nice to reconnect with them.  I know they are reading this so big shout out to YOU BOTH.

Around 8 we head down to Ben and Dylan's cabin to have a great meal and we reflect on the Peru trip and how our lives have been since the trip and the changes that are because of that journey.

Back in the cabin around 11:30 and we are both exhausted. I wanted to write the blog but I just couldn't keep my eyes open.

I am blogging this voyage but I do have to be conscious of how much of our internet package I use as many of you know our apartment is on the market and we need to watch for messages from our real estate agent.  

Thanks for following I really appreciate all who follow and leave great comments or who stop me on board and comment. It makes it all worth while to hear it and to make a difference.

Emarking the Royal Princess

We catch an Uber to the port ($20 from Sawgrass area) and even though there are 8 ships in port we are swiftly escorted to Pier 2 and the beautiful Royal Princess.

It is around 11 am and this is not a great time to arrive.  Passengers from the last cruise are filing out and there is a long queue of people waiting to get into the building.

But we are not concerned as our plan is to just leave our bags with the porter to be delivered to our cabin and we head out on foot to the Harbour Shops off 17th Street. It is about a 15 minute walk and there are lots of options for food, some stores and best of all a Total Wine store where we stop and get two bottles of our favorite champagne - Perrier-Jouet thanks for the recommendation Franco.

Sanja and Marty (shopping hosts) are signing off the Royal Princess today as they have family commitments so they will not be on (sad face) but we at least will see them for lunch (happy face) and I can't say how lovely it is to see their beautiful faces when they meet up with us.

We sit and chat for a few hours and hope our paths will cross again soon but I know they will. 

Around 2 pm we slowly start walking back to the pier. When we get there at around 2:30

it is totally deserted. It feels weird, almost ghost like.

We basically walk right thru with short stops for health form and getting key card. No table was set up any more for the wine.  But we are only bringing two on so not an issue.

When we arrive in our cabin our luggage is there but we don't really have time to unpack as we head down to say hi to Michael and spot other friends and catch up with them and then it is time for Muster Drill.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

I am so excited

There is something about waking up the morning of the cruise that never gets old.  I feel like it is Christmas!  I still get excited like it js my first cruise.

This morning however Bernie is the one awake really early and is anxious to get going.

Before i even open my eyes he has showered and is getting dressed.  Gee isn't he cute.

For me I fell asleep late, that nap must of affected me. But when I wake I feel rested.

Bernie goes to the coffee bar near the lobby for coffees while I write this blog.

We are meeting up with Marty and Sanja, the shopping hosts on Royal who are also very good friends.  They are signing off after a long contract.  Remember they boarded with us in Rome in Oct. Whereas we got off at the end of the cruise they were just starting.  Can't wait to seen them again and so many others.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Day in Fort Lauderdale

We sleep like a rock with intermittent waking up wondering where the heck am I.  

This hotel is sort of in the middle of nowhere.  Normally we rent a car and drive around but again car rentals were crazy here.  After checking google maps we see a Starbucks is within walking distance so we head there and all is good in the world when I get my coffee.

Now trying to find someplace to get breakfast. Not as easy as you would think, there are a lot of strip malls in the area but nothing that has a place for breakfast. After walking around for a half hour we give up and head back to the hotel. We later realize we would of been better turning right instead of left on leaving the hotel for many food options.

We request an Uber ride to Sawgrass Mills Mall and first stop is someplace for lunch – we are starving!

PJ Changs – our first visit to this restaurant but Bernie’s sister loves it.  The food is very good, the service, not so good. But it is really only our waiter who seems to be distracted by her phone and someone she knows dining in her section.  She spends more time sitting at their table than getting us food.

Me sitting outside Tommy Bahama Store waiting for Bernie

We wander around the mall shopping – Bernie found some new items from Tommy Bahama store and we were able to get his Bose earphone’s updated with new ear padding.  His had worn down from his beard rubbing it for so many years.

After a few hours we are tired and really getting cranky. That first day after a FULL day of travel and a three hour time change has caught up to us.  We get back to the hotel and crawl into bed and we both fall asleep very fast.  

We sleep for two hours and wake feeling refreshed.
Dinner is at Carrabbas Italian restaurant – certainly not authentic Italian like we are use to in Italy but it is very good and the service fabulous.  

We are back at the hotel 10 pm and excited about tomorrow and boarding the Royal Princess.

Flying to Fort Lauderdale

view from our room
After a wonderful night at the beautiful Fairmont Vancouver Airport we were up very early for our 645 am flight.

We are flying Westjet to Fort Lauderdale via Toronto.  This is not our ideal routing but we were limited due to booking so last minute and costs. 

I sat next to a lovely couple from Maple Ridge who is on our cruise.  There were in fact a lot of cruisers all around us. 

Many who were going to board the Holland American Eurodam on Saturday for a Panama Canal Cruise that ends in Vancouver April 28.

The first flight is just over four hours was quite nice and comfortable.  

We arrived in Toronto and had to go thru US Customs and it was very smooth thanks to Nexus/Global Entry.  In fact the 
Customs agent just took our form and said thank you have a good day.

We had just under three hours between flight and wanted to grab a nice meal but the terminal is under renovation so people are squished into smaller areas and the food options are limited.  We finally got a seat and order via those ipads and they deliver the food.

Now I had not realized this was going to be one of only two options to sit and eat here and we were hungry but normally I hate this type of service. And today’s meal only reinforced that. Prices were crazy high, service was just delivery and hard to get a hold of someone when we needed something – like a napkin or the fries that we ordered and did not get. 

Plus the tablet defaults to 18% gratuity automatically which is sad since there really is no service. Food is, well how do I say airport made.  In the end it hit the spot but it was not good, and each meal was around $20!

After boarding our next flight we had a bit of delay as we waited for bags to arrive at our plane.

The second flight is only three hours but it felt like forever! Seemed like everyone was having a rough day as so  many were moving around and chatting over us and bumping into us and others.  Didn’t help we were tired and that meal was not sitting well with us.  But overall the flight went by and we arrived only around 45 minutes late.

After collecting our bags we called for a Uber and for $25 we were delivered to our hotel – Sawgrass Grand Hotel near Sawgrass Mills Mall.  

The hotel is just north of Sunrise off University Drive.  Looks more like an office building and it was built in the 80s it looks like.  

Daniel at the front desk was very helpful and assigned us to a room on the fifth floor and after going there and seeing that there is an adjoining door (we hate adjoining doors due to the noise that transfers).  So even though it was an upgraded large room we did not want it – plus we smelled smoke (tobacco and other types of smoke). So back to the front desk and a new room – this time on the first floor but it is quiet and will meet our needs for the two nights.

If you go back and read about our hotel booking a few posts ago you will see we were limited with hotel options.  You see there is a huge music festival happening – Tortuga Music 

Festival where they anticipate 90,000 people!  Not to mention all the cruise ships that are in port too.  So prices were crazy high and selection was limited.  We got this hotel for just over $100 a night.

We crawled into bed and even with the three hour time change we both were asleep rather quickly.