I have spent the last hour in bed pondering the last voyage and knew I should write a blog (or for me it truely is like my journal that I share with others).
This seven day voyage is different, it has a totally different vibe than the usually cruises we take at this time of year (10 Caribbean).
Definately a younger crowd, more families, more children of all ages (but a lot of little ones). I have really enjoyed this crowd. I am in my early 50s and I would say my age is probably the norm or a little higher than the norm. Yes there are much older and much much younger. Whereas on the longer cruises I am definately one of the younger.
Having this demographics has been a nice treat. Disco is busy at night, after 10 you still see people out and about and there is a different energy in general.
This voyage had a lot more newer cruisers. Many more first timers or at least under five Princess cruises. Sometimes this required a bit more paitence as they learned the ins and out of things like; how the coffee card worked, the layout of the ship, showtimes etc. But overall I really loved seeing their enthusiasm to learn and experience new things. And by the third day they seemed to have it down pack.
Oh and this meant more people using the Princess@Sea App which I really enjoy too. I found the messenger app to be very helpful this voyage as many of my friends were using it too.
Entertainment on board was top notch, totally blew me away. With three full production shows and the Love Boat Disco Deck Party we got to see the singers and dancers quite a bit. I did find out that the next voyage is the transition voyage as a new team is coming on and for our third leg we will have the new team entirely.
But not only production shows - comedians, singers, folklore shows and more. Then there is all the activities the Cruise Staff did which seem to be in abundance and very well attended too.
Our cabin is probaby one of the best we have ever had. And those new beds are to die for and really make getting up in the morning difficult as I just don't want to leave. It is so quiet too that I often did not hear a peep from anyone around me - oh I hope this doesn't jinx it.
Our cabin steward was the type that is very very efficient but you don't see a lot of. Any issue we had (sink wouldn't drain well) was addressed right away, followed up to ensure it was taken care of and then reconfirmed that it was all good. Linens were changed one day in the cruise and even our shower curtain was changed along with all others around us.
The ship looks great! I really didn't notice anything blaring that should of been addressed. Overall the state of the finishes, furniture, washrooms and overall ship was excellent. And after spending three weeks in six different hotels I can say that the state of those hotels - even though considered 4 star or better -- this ships far surpasses all of them.
Food on board was outstanding. Sure there were the occasional item that I found not to my liking (like the soup the first night) but overall it was a definate 10 out of 10. Probably some of the best food (aside from the Royal) that we have experienced on board. Pastries that are flakey, soft and often still hot from the oven in the IC).
I especially enjoyed the variety of food in the Horizon Court and the different themed buffets.
Next I have to add that the specialty restaurants of Share and Salty Dog were a very pleasant surprise and a true bonus to this ship. I liked them more than I thought I would and have booked each for the next week too.
Dining room was a huge disappointement. With only Da Vinci open for Breakfast and Lunch (on sea days) and part of it sectioned off for Club Class caused problems. Where there normally would be issuess with trying to sit people in this venue for Breakfast and Lunch it was only compounded by part of it not being accessible.
Long queues and complaints were heard every day. Whenever we dined there we had to wait and then to look over at Club Class area and see only a handfull of tables being used and the rest vacant with waiters just standing around only annoyed us more.
We dined twice in the dining room this past week. Since we usually dine later we had really no issue getting a table but there were waits if you wanted to dine before 7:30. So we were not impacted too much, plus we were offered a reserved table in either traditional or a standing reservation in the dining room but we didn't see the need for this and just kept things open.
Also service in the dining room was hit or miss whenever we dined there. Often waiters are slammed with tables and are run off their feet. Instead of providing excellent or even great service they provide adequate service. Head waiters don't seem to be assisting much here like we have seen on other ships. Either there has to be more of a team effort or you need more servers.
Also sadly service in International Cafe is probably the worst we have seen. Waiters roam around but are not efficient. Often you wait for them to come take orders but walk right past or don't clear plates (had to bring to their attention a plate of ice cream that had melted all over a table or as i sit here for over two hours no one has cleared my table). This causes more to line up for coffee. Other times we have seen wait staff take orders for those in line to clear the queue. I do hope this improves next sailing.
People have asked how the laundry service is on board and we put in two bags this week and both were returned the next day. Obviously this is because there are so few elites on board using this perk.
Finally I have to say the crew on here are amazing. It always surprises me that so many people who have long contracts are confined to a ship and away from their families are so happy and friendly. They work day in and day out with the public and every single time I see them they are patient, friendly and helpful. They remember names and greet people by their name. A kind smile, a pat on the shoulder to say hi and even a hug when they say goodbye.
This is the reason we sail Princess. We can get great service, food and itineraries on many lines but Princess' crew are our family and we love our family.
So as we are about to dock in San Pedro today to light fog as the sun starts to rise I say bye to the first leg and hello to the second leg.
I am excited to see some friends coming on today and to spending more time on this beautiful vessel.