Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ocean Medallion on the Caribbean Princess

My friend Juan is on the Caribbean Princess and shared some images of the medallion roll out which has now rolled out.

Here are images of what is on sale that you can choose to buy to accessorize your medallion.  Of course it optional.  

I love the different loyalty level colours.  

All items will be availabe on the next cruise.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Big News - My Dream Job

We have big news!

For the past year I have been pursuinig my dream job and today I was offered it!

I am very happy to announce I have accepted the position as Destination Expert for the Royal's 49 Day South America Grand Adventure starting February 2, 2019.

The job will consit of giving lectures about the ports we will be visiting, desk hours to answer questions every day, and assisting passengers in port so that their day is the best it can be. 

Even though I am the one that will hold the position Bernie will be assisting.  Especially shoreside to answer questions passengers may have.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Back In Fort Lauderdale

view from when we left

Darn I set my alarm for 7 am.  So off it goes and I jump into the shower and Bernie is slowly moving.  Then I take a look at the phone and DAMN I forgot my tablet is still on Nova Scotia time an hour ahead.  So the alarm went off at 7 am Atlantic time!  6 am on the ship.

Oh well I am up and showered.

I crawl back into bed and watch a bit of tv.  Oh I am so over the limited news channels.  Thank goodness there is BBC at least.

We have just finished packing up the last few items and we are heading to the International Cafe for a latte and to say goodbye to a few others we missed yesterday.

Our scheduled meet time is 9:40 am and the Platinum Elite lounge is Club Fusion.  Captain Circle host Faye leaves today so I am not sure who the new host will be.

Thanks for following everyone.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Last Day of the Cruise

It is only 2 pm and I figure I should write something about today while I can because normally once the evening starts and I get to travelling tomorrow and then settled back at home I often put off writing.

I do promise I will do a final summary of the entire voyage and my thoughts once I get settled back at home.

Quick funny from last night.  While leaving the Captain Circle Party we had two separate couples ask where the Palm dining room was.  You know the one that is aft on deck six that you can only access from deck seven aft and go down one deck.

We helped direct them as this is a common question and can be confusing as to why they can not travel on deck 6 midship to the aft (well mainly because there is a dining room and galley there and they will make you work if you go thru them).  

Now this is night 6 and I am just curious "where have they been eating all cruise and how did they get there".  Just my cruise observations.

But for today.

Last night when we got our Princess Patter we noted that there was no picture and small blurb of the Most Travelled Passenger.  

They are doing a new format so I am not sure if this is a permanent thing of just a one off as this is the first week with the new format.  However I will say I miss seeing who the most travelled is.  Although I do know it is Steve C with around 1,500 days (but could be off a bit as it is not printed).

We wake at 7 am and I say I really want to dine in the dining room for breakfast today.  So we throw on some clothes and make ourselves presentable as best we can.  

I am going to miss having breakfast prepared for me each day.  That is the hardest meal for me to get motivated and made.  But I will say at least at home my breakfast is usually oatmeal with almond milk and fruit.  I can admit that on board the breakfast has been substantially larger and usually consists of eggs.

On the way back to the cabin I grab a latte and throw back on my pjs and crawl into bed where I proceed to shop on for two bed frames.  Have I told you how much I love this high speed wifi.  I place the order and the frames are scheduled to arrive at the new house on Friday!  

Next I go onto my rewards card and use up some of my miles.  We need a lot of things for the house and so I use my points to buy a lawnmower, heavy duty drill set, and two gift cards to Home Depot (I think those will come in handy).  Again love the high speed wifi.

I even take the time to change our address with a few places.  Why not take on all these administrative tasks while at sea and no time limit.  Saves me from doing it later.

Even though I am hibernating, there is a lot happening on board today.  I took a picture of the Princess Patter for just a taste of what is happening.

I do shower and dress and figure I should come out into the land of the living for lunch.

Lunch is in the dining room and we both are very impressed with lunch.  I had the beef goulash and Bernie had the chicken scallopini.  

After lunch Bernie goes to the front desk to get some change and smaller bills so he can hand out extra tips.  We also always leave our auto tipping in place and tip out extra throughout the week but we also make a point of tipping a bit more to those that really went over and above.

My thought is if you take the auto tipping off you are robbing so many people of the benefit of providing extra service.  Note if you do take the tips off and hand someone like your waiter cash they are obligated to put it into the pool if you removed the auto tips.   This is because no matter how many you tip with cash it never covers all that serve you.  The International Cafe staff, the buffet stewards, the pool attendants, the people who clean the public washrooms.

Note if you don't remove the auto tips they get to keep the cash. 

So keep the auto tips on.  If you can't afford to do this then you should not be travelling.  It is just the cost of travelling.

Of course added tipping is not necessary but it is a nice perk.

Oh that sounded harsh, but I am passionate about this and how hard the crew work and how much they depend on being rewarded by the passengers for extra good service.

Okay back to our regular scheduled blog.

This afternoon is the Shark Week Festivities again.  There are a lot less children on board this sailing so I am curious to see how it goes.  All I want is one of those shark cookies.

Tonight we are heading up to Skywalkers Elite lounge to say goodbye to everyone there.  Then we will make the rounds to say a final good bye to so many.

I am already feeling sad to say good bye.

Oh but I am so excited for the next chapter.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sea Day

After a lovely breakfast we are relaxing in the International Cafe.

So much going on today.

The Patter is packed!  You really can not get bored on this ship.

I start with the Speedy Sudoku challenge which was not as busy today as the first sailing but a good number, maybe 15.  Did not win this time but it was fun.   Winners won a Princess Water Bottle.

Bernie tried to sign up for the Planetarium event for tomorrow but by the time he got there it was full and they were only taking wait list names.  He did not put his name down as it was a long list on the wait list.  So sorry we won't be able to report on this new event.

Bernie tried out the trivia at 11 am and it was very busy he said.  I stopped in to the outlet sail but there was nothing that I was really interested in but there were numerous people buying some very good deals.  Always worth checking out I think.

We sat in Crooners for the longest time chatting with this lovely couple from Florida.  So nice to meet fellow like-minded cruisers.

For lunch we head to the dining room - first time in here this voyage.  I start with the white bean soup and then have the grilled chicken salad.  Both were very good.  

The dining room looks quiet.  Not surprised as many are up on the pool deck getting sun.  Also there is the Pub Lunch being offered in the Crown Grill today.

I run into some friends and since they are staying on for another sailing I get them to come to the cabin and give them most of what is left of our mini bar.  We don't need it and I am sure they will enjoy it.

At 2:15 I attend the Detourist program's event and it was well attended.  Biggest group I have seen.  Kelly and Jase did a great job and I learned some new things about composing stories and hope to use some of these tips in my blog posts.

Bernie wants to go watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean Movie in the cabin so I head out to explore. 

Have to say I love this tv on demand.  Even after three weeks there are still movies and shows we want to watch.  Lots of options for all different types of interests.  Not to mention with the great wifi we have been able to download Netflix shows to watch off line later.

I meet up with Juan and Victor and we head into the wine tasting.  The $9.50 one is being held and this is the one that Elite passengers get for free.  It is something I rarely do anymore but since I am alone and the guys are going I tag along.  

We are sat at a table for three and well we have a lot of fun.  

Just check out the pictures they took!  Note I am sober this is just how I act.

Bernie attending the afternoon tea in the dining room and he really enjoyed it.  However he did find a rather annoying passenger who was quite rude.  She kept raising her voice to get the wait staff's attention.  They when they were not fast enough she place her empty cup in the air.  She did this twice.  Most around her just stared (including the crew) not believing how obnoxious people can be.

Tonight is the Captain Circle Party.  This cruise there are two parties and we have invites for the second party at 7:30.

It is formal night and we are opting to dress smart casual only.  Sadly they have the party on a formal night and state dress is formal but we don't have formal attire.  Don't think it is fair to omit people just because they don't want to dress up.  But I know we will not be the only ones not dressed formally.  

Plus after the party we are meeting up with friends to have a fun dinner together that will be casual.

We also got our luggage tags today.  Sad.  We are yellow 6 which is independent travel arrangements with later flights.  Meeting time in our disembarkation lounge is 9:45. We are not in a rush to get off as our flight is not until 13:40.  

Thanks for following.

St Maartin - Relaxing Day On Board

The ship's thrusters wake us up.  We must be docking.  Wow did we ever sleep well.

I am determined to get up and get dressed and get to breakfast this morning.

Breakfast of champions! 

I had forgot to mention that we got a call from the traditional dining room the other day.  They wanted to know if everything was okay as we had not been to dinner there.  I told him we never do traditional and not sure why we are at a table there and to top it, we are at the early seating.  I do glace at our cards and see that yup we are early seating (5:45) in the Palm Dining Room.  Had not even noticed and the other two sailings had been anytime so not sure how that happened.

Another reason to skip the dining room is this great World Fresh Marketplace.

But to tell you the truth this entire sailing we have not even dined in the dining room for supper as there are just to many great options elsewhere.

We are not sure what we want to do today.  Personally we are not huge fans of St. Maartin after a bad experience here many years ago.  I know we should give it another try but today will probably not be that day.  We also are still tired of the extreme heat that we are just not use to.  

Instead we relax on board visiting with friends.  Attending events and activities on board.  Watching a movie, writing, and lots of reading.  

Rather boring to write about and even read for many of you but that is just what we did.

I did enjoy playing the ring toss in the Atrium - something I have never done, and it showed.

They are still doing work on the Promenade deck aft for the Ocean Medallion stations.  

Drinks to start out the evening
Tonight is the Most Travelled Guest Party at 7:30 in Skywalkers.  We are honoured to be included again.

I really enjoy the party and I love being able to order whatever drink I want and the food is phenomenal.  Below is an Ox tail mini burger and beside that is a phylo encrusted prawn.

There were many other items but did not get any pictures.  The bar staff were very attentive making sure our drinks were always replenished.

Check out this dessert a B52 with mini donut.  Yummy.

Steve and Elkie join us for conversation and it will be so hard to say goodbye to them in a few days.

After the party we really are not that hungry after all those nibbles.  

We head to the shops to see the great staff there.  Natalia is quick to come and give us a hug.  We need to get to Argentina to see her.

We walk past Explorers and they are all set up for the Liar's Club.  Check out the stage props for the show -- very well done.

All in all it was a great day for us.  Total relaxation and lots of kindness.

St. Thomas - Dinner at Planks

We dock only at 12:30 but we are here till late.  There are three other ships in port with us.  Two at Crown Bay and the Carnival Magic with us at Havensight.

Most people are sleeping in today.  The ship is quiet.

They are also doing more work on Promenade aft for the Ocean Medallion.  It is coming along.  While in port they are closing off the area from the midship stairs to the aft stairs.  They are rerouting everyone along the outside Promenade deck.  

We stay on till the mad rush has left and head out to explore and do a bit of shopping.

One of my favorite places at Havensight is a place that sells great wings but when we arrive there today it is packed and the music is blaring and it is so darn hot that we decide to skip it.

We did see a beautiful bridge dressed in her gown with their wedding party at the restaurant and the poor bride was plastered!  Hanging onto her friend and crying.  Not sure what the whole story is but somehow I don't think this is what they had planned.  I believe they were on the Carnvial ship.  No sight of the groom but he hopefully was nearby.

Still so many shops are closed here at Havensight compared to last year.  There are still enough to wet your whistle but many shops have signs saying closed - please visit our store downtown.

We walk around the town for about an hour but we are sweating so much we decide time to head back on. 

In fact we both agree we are over the hot temperatures and sun.  So much hotter than in January and February when we normally visit.

I have taken a picture of the taxi rates for your information.

Also don't forget when going ashore in St. Thomas you take government issued id as you need it to re enter the gate.  

We enjoy a few drinks in Skywalkers tonight - it offers a stunning view of the island.

For dinner we decide neither of us wants to dress up and so we decide to head back to Planks.  It offers a great barbecue in a beautiful environment.  

Make sure to check out the Parrots in the Atrium when we dock in St. Thomas.

Staff are very attentive and will bend over backwards to make sure you have a pleasant experience.  Sorry did not get pictures as I did not have our phone with us.

Tonight is also the 24k Gold Disco Deck Party at 9:30.  Tonight I make a point of going.

It is a lovely night and when the dancers appear they sing/dance to two songs and then the band Tempo kicks in. 

Loved the two songs but I have to say I really miss the vibe of the Love Boat Disco Deck Party they use to have.  Or even the one prior to that where they had dances that people would dance to.

The necklaces that light up are given out and it is a fun atmosphere.  But after a few songs they start the congo line and well you have lost us.  We are off to bed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Day at Sea and Dinner at Sabatinis - Ocean Medallion Update

I really don't have a lot to say today -- ha ha -- famous last words watch this be a long blog!

After enjoying a very yummy breakfast we both head back to the cabin and well that is where we stayed.

Sometimes I feel guilty about doing nothing but I quickly get over it.  

Just sitting in bed and looking out at the ocean can occupy me for a half hour!

I do some work online (love the wifi) for our new home - buying things, research on some projects we have to do.

Bernie reads.  We watch a movie.  We order room service - heck why break the routine with having to go out for something to eat.  

Tonight is formal night and we have a reservation at Sabatinis at 7:30.

While getting ready I enjoy some champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries.  Now can I possible dream a better moment - nope.  Talk about coming back new!

The Atrium is very busy when I head out.  I find Bernie and the guys (Juan and Victor) who we met this sailing and we have mutual friends and happy to call them friends now too.

What a handsome bunch we are!

We arrive at Sabatinis and we are sat at a great table.

Here is the new menu. 

After starting with some more champagne - as you do when you are cruising. I want to try different things from our last visit.  Read about our last meal at Sabatinis here

You choose one item from each course.

I start with the Piemontesi which is roasted bell peppers, capers, anchovies (but I opt for no anchovies), green garlic basil vinaigrette.   So very good.

my pasta course is the Pappardelle with braised beef cheek. So tender and flavorful.

this is Bernie's entree of Breaded Veal Vallet with marjoram roasted potatoes and artichokes. He loved it, especially the potatoes.

I had the Polenta Soffice with mushroom, fresh mozzarella and truffle essence.  Oh my it was so damn good.  I want some now!  

dessert is the sampler which I highly recommend

As we walk past Explorers they are holding the Yes/No Game show.  Kelly and Mica is hosting. Check out the new displays.  So nice!

After dinner we are back in Vines.  A friend Peter (who we haven't seen in five years) shows up and we end up catching up with him for a long time.  So nice to see him again.

They are renovating on board the aft area on Lido deck at the photo department and then also at the aft Lido doors where there use to be a long couch.  They are changing this area for Ocean Medallion.  Terminals will we put in here and product displays.  

Princess Cays

We actually set the alarm clock!  We want a quick start this morning as we drop anchor early and we want to head off to the beach early.  

We wake when room service arrives. A simple healthy breakfast to tie us over until the hunger pains just start!  

They open the tenders and we are on board the first tender.

If you are elite or in a suite you get priority tendering.  You still need to enter the dining room on deck five but you are directed to the first tender leaving.

Tenders here are from shore side and they are large and hold well over a hundred people.  This is great in one way as you can move a lot of people but getting on and getting off is slow.  

By 9 am we are ashore and laying in a lounge chair in our favorite area in front of the Cabanas.

Can life get any better?  Here is my view above.

 Sand fleas are out.  Sitting under a palm tree and in the shade is not the best option as the fleas love these conditions.  I did bring some bug repellent and sprayed my chair and this did help.  But I did get bitten in two spots.  

Now before people start saying anything about the fleas do take note that Princess does spray all the time to help combat them.  But they are hard to control.  Every beach I have been to has them.  They are all over the Caribbean and Mexico.  

Sometimes it is worse than others, sometimes it is BAD and sometimes it is almost none existent. Of course they love my blood.

It helps to have bug spray and to stay away from trees and shaded area. 

We spend the next few hours sunning but boy it is hot.  The water is a nice respite from the heat. We both comment on how warm the water is like bath water.  A big difference from February where you have ease into the cool water.

Yes there are still lots of rocks here.  I find the best thing is to wade in on the sandy area then just swim out above the rocks and get deep enough that you can float.  Water shoes can certainly help but I hate wearing them personally.

I take my float ring that I always bring with me and just float around.

We did snorkel and Bernie commented that he thought the coral was doing quite well and had improved since the last time we were here in February.  Sadly some passengers don't understand the delicacy of the coral and stand on some causing them to break and die. 

It never really gets very busy ashore.

Demographics on board is slowly changing.  A lot fewer kids, less families.  Still more than what is normal for us.

Big news is that Ocean Medallion wifi works ashore here.  And it is strong and fast!

Take note that your ultimate drink package works ashore too so drink up.  However some bars have limited drinks.  Also if you have the soda package this does not work ashore for soda as they have no gun dispenser for the soda.  

After three hours in the sun we are hot, salty, sticky from sunscreen and have had our share of the sun so we head back.  

Love the new covered tender waiting station.  Also love that the security stations are set up ashore saving you the issue of having to do that when you get back on board.

Of I forgot to mention Bernie is still having problems with his card.  Or I should say Princess is having problems with his card.  He taps onto the Ocean Medallion and it comes up still with no picture.  So he has to go aside and give our cabin number.  It does work in the old hand held devices.  IT is on board and they take note.  This is an issue, but more for us because we are in transit.

Back on board we shower and feel totally new.  Talk about coming back new!

We head up to the Worldfresh Marketplace for lunch.  I am so in love with the buffet here.  So many great options.  I am still waiting for signs identifying what the food items but that is coming we have been told.  They are still working on improving the entire experience.

While up here Deb (another passenger) introduces herself and her spouse.  She reads my blog and I love chatting with them and getting their perspective.  Although I love to cruise and write about it, my perspective is, well -- my perspective.  So to hear and see the same cruise, port stop, event, meal from someone else is very informative.  I love Deb's blog.  You can follow her here, she too is blogging live and I believe in supporting each other and she does a great job.

I want to attend the Detourist session this afternoon which is all about photography and how to use some new tips to improve your experience when travelling with your camera.

Jase leads it and the Platinum Studio artist is also here and he gives some great tips.  I am already putting the tips into action with my pictures.  I often quickly take pictures as I am going by but I am going to try and focus and go slower and really work at capturing what I want to communicate.

The entire session is not very long and easy to attend and informative.

Check out these screens in Club Fusion where you can be the DJ and control what is being played.  I need to try it out one time.

Tonight we head to Skywalkers for the Platinum Elite lounge.  We are shocked when we enter around 5:30 as it is really busy.  What happened to the ship?  The last two sailings you could throw a rock and maybe hit one person, today it is hard to find a seat.

This is a representation of how the demographics have changed.  There are a lot more Platinum/Elite guests.

The chefs are busy replenishing the food station (which is serving prawns with cocktail sauce) and plates and cutlery.  I don't think they had to do that even once last two weeks.

The staff are running around taking drink orders.  Many passengers are annoyed as it is taking too long (according to them) to get their drinks.  Yes is taking longer than normal but hey we are on vacation.  We spot a couple get very frustrated that a table has not been cleared.  It is sad when people act like this.  

We notice that some buffet stewards are up here and more bar staff soon to help with the crowds.  I am very impressed how this ship notices and implements when there is an issue. A sign of good leadership.

One thing we don't care for is the cheese.  Since we got on the cheese seems to be tasteless and a weird texture.  The cheddar, jalapeno jack cheese and the havartti (now I hope that is the names but don't quote me) are really off putting.  The cheddar taste like a processed cheese.  Yuck.  So we have pretty much stayed away from the food station except for veggies and olives.  

Neither of us is really hungry. We had a late lunch and Bernie really just wants to go to watch a movie.  So we divide and I wander down to Vines and order a glass (or two) of wine and some sushi.  I then get some Greek salad from the International Cafe and that ties me over.

I enjoy spending time there and chatting with others and Dominique and Jonathan.  I am going to miss these two next week.

I wanted to add that we traded this weeks mini bar for two coffee cards.  The coffee cards are now electronic and applied to your cards.  It was applied very quickly after calling.  The charge did show up on our account but it was removed later - which is normal.  The cards expire now at the end of the cruise - which is disappointing as there is no way we could drink 30 coffees in 7 days.  Well we could but we would have to harness that energy somehow!  It is also a pain because you don't know how many coffee drinks you have left.  But since we traded in our mini bar we can't really complain.

A new party band has joined the ship.  Tempo is now on board and we really like them and have sailed with them before.

Ocean Medallion update. Seems a lot of people have the Medallion around their neck.  Lido and Riviera decks have the medallions.

Now when you order drinks at the coffee bar you tap your card on the ocean medallion station.  The light ring changes from blue to green.  However when you order drinks from bar staff they still either take your card and tap or they take your folio number and charge it that way.

We got our Most Travelled Guest Invitation also.  Not sure where we fall.  To tell you the truth I rarely check at where we fall as I don't really care but if I get to chat with Faye and she is at her desk I will ask.  We are just happy to be included.  The party will take place the night of Saint Maarten.