Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Royal Princess Officers List

So many have been asking so I thought I would do up a list of the officers as of the January 12, 2019 sailing.

Captain:  Tony Draper (Nick Nash is coming soon though)
Staff Captain:  Paolo Ansaldi
Chief Engineer Officer:  Gaetano Guida
Hotel General Manager:  Michael Prasse
Entertainment Director:  Ron Goodman
Cruise Director:  Matt O'Brien
Senior Doctor:  Dr. Bronwen Roman (Dr. Dylan Belton arrives on January 26)
Customer Services Director:  Carla Ramos
Food & Beverage Director:  Guy French (he is going on holidays soon)
Staff Engineer Officer:  Vladimir Veljesovski
Chief Electrical Officer:  Giuseppe La Terra Bellina
Executive Housekeeper:  Emmanuel Biag
Executive Chef:  Giovanni Sisto
Maitre D'Hotel:  Federico Arcos (going on holidays Feb 2)
Captain Circle Host:  Patrizia Pometcu

Hope this helps.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Thursday - Day in Fort Lauderdale

Bea Damn felt left out so here she is everyone!

We wake and for a second I have to figure out exactly where we are?  Oh yeah - Fort Lauderdale.

I couldn't find my glasses tonight and then it dawned on me, I left them at the hairdressers at Sawgrass.  I called them and sure enough, yup I left them there.  So a quick trip back to the mall to pick them up.  Thankfully I remembered and I still don't know how I left them there and did not realize I had left them there.  Either my eyes are getting better or I did not try to read anything.  I hate getting older.

We then are heading closer to the port area to visit Ultimate Nail Salon on 17th street.  We both get pedicures and we now feel like we are on vacation!

Oh I should mention the weather.  It was rather cold yesterday - well not as cold as it was in Nova Scotia or Toronto for that matter but cold for the locals.  It is funny to see so many with big winter coasts and even woolen hats on!  For us we just put on a sweater or light jacket and we are fine.  

In the early afternoon we are back at the apartment to relax at bit.  We have been busy and we need to get a few things done here.  First is all the paperwork that is needed for the insurance claim.  They certainly don't make it easy to submit a claim but it is done and we will drop it in the mail tomorrow before we board.

I also wanted to go over my St. Thomas presentation.  You see I have volunteered to do that presentation on the upcoming cruise as we visit St. Thomas on Tuesday and it is good practice for me and it will benefit the passengers.

I am excited too because a friend - John Ripper just messaged me to tell me his son Eric who recently joined Princess as a videographer (now a senior videographer) will be joining the Royal January 26.  Can't wait to meet him and then also excited because John and his wife are hoping to sail with him and us!  

Also we heard from friends Ted and Nancy that they just recently booked the South Pacific Cruise we are on for a great price!  

I forgot to tell you all that we booked that cruise for a great deal of a $100 a day for an ocean view and then three days later (just before final payment) the price dropped another $150 each and our agent got us a refund.  Way to go Connie.

Okay back to today.  

We decided to try a restaurant close by called No Name Tacos.  It had been rated highly in Yelp and we wanted to go somewhere close, not too big, and noisy and it met our needs and then some.

Haven't been down to the beach yet so we take a drive down along the beach and back.  Things are just starting to get going, it is early and this old couple is ready to call it a night.  

Back at the apartment around 10 pm we put on our pjs on and watch a bit of Youtube.  I catch up on my blogs and look for my luggage tag holders.  You would think I would of put them in an obvious place!  Nope, can't find them.  Oh well I found the tape and we will just use that.

Tomorrow we have to return the car and then head to the pier.  We are hoping to drop the bags off first.  Great tip if you are renting a car.  Drop your bags off first then return your car and then if you take the shuttle or a taxi you are not worrying about suitcases.

We are at Pier 21 tomorrow as the Caribbean Princess is at Pier 2 - which makes sense since they have Ocean Medallion.  

Well off for the night - cheers everyone!  Thanks for following.

Finally we are HERE - Fort Lauderdale

After a long day we are here.  We have to keep reminding ourselves that even though we are tired and hungry and frustrated we know there are so many people who would trade places with us in a heartbeat.

We booked a car for our stay here.  As soon as our flights were changed I went online and modified our booking to reflect one less day (at least we saved some money there). 

I love booking with National (although many do the same) when you arrive you just go to where the cars are and pick what you want.  

So we picked up a Toyota CRV and loaded the bags in.

We are staying at an Airbnb again.  We booked this place for three nights just north of Sunrise Galleria Mall.

Great location, great apartment.  Also the price was the best.  In fact what we paid for three nights was just over what we paid the hotel in Toronto yesterday.

Here is a link to our Airbnb.  Remember if you ever think you may be booking an Airbnb sign up now with this link and save on your first booking.

It is so nice and comfortable.... and right now that bed is looking very comfortable.  We both agree that we need to rest a bit.

We crash for a couple of hours and then around 3 pm we are off to Sawgrass Mall for some shopping. 

The main spot was Target where we bought toiletries for the trip - soap, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, bug wipes, and some food for breakfast each morning.

We also hit a few stores and picked up a few items, but we did not spend as much as we would of in past years.  The Canadian dollar is so low that it is just to expensive for us when we convert the price.

A quick meal at PF Changs and we are not surprised how hungry we are, we have not eaten in over 13 hours!

Back at the apartment we watch a bit of Netflix and then fall asleep knowing we can sleep in tomorrow.

Flights Cancelled!

As we got ready to head to the airport on Wednesday we felt fortunate.  A storm was heading our way and we felt good that we were going to beat it.

Our flight from Sydney to Halifax was at 9:20 and the earlier flight made it in and out and the skies looked clear.

tarmac at Sydney Nova Scotia

My first sign that something may be amiss is my niece's husband who lives in Halifax posted that schools were closed.  Oh no.... but so far no alert for us.

We arrived at the airport, checked in, oh I love this airport.  So small, only two gates and they are pretty much right next to each other.  Security is so smooth and easy and as soon as you clear you are at the gate.  No facilities once you clear security, oh well there is a small vending machine!  Oh and washrooms, don't forget the washrooms.

As we sat there we looked out at the skies and it was clear but we knew it was too good to be true.

Only five minutes after taking this picture the guy from security walked over to say "your flight has been cancelled".  Oh no!  You see the flight originated in Halifax and Halifax airport is shutdown due to ice and wind and snow!  

So we collect our bags and we call Air Canada to see what can be done.  As I sat on hold the lady at the gate (her name is Nancy - that is how small the airport is) dialed for us and gave the phone to me.  I hung up on my cell and used her direct number.  

They have rebooked us on tomorrow's flight.  That would be fine if we could risk it, but we have a cruise to catch and I don't want to risk not making tomorrow's flight.  I ask about possibly driving to Halifax and she says if we can do that we are booked now on a later flight to Toronto then an early flight out of Toronto on Thursday.  Yes that will do fine.

Nancy at the gate printed out our new schedule and even worked at getting us the best seats possible.  I am so impressed with the service here.  I have to say that this is normal in Cape Breton - people go out of their way to take care of others.  I even gave her a hug at the end.  Way to go Nancy.

As soon as our flight was cancelled we called Kenny (our nephew who is staying at our house and who dropped us off at the airport) to come back and pick us up.  

When he arrived we loaded the bags and we were on the road and on our way to Halifax.

Now during perfect conditions the drive should take about 3.5 hours to the airport.  But about a half hour into the drive we encountered snow, and it only got worse.  As we crossed the causeway onto the mainland of Nova Scotia it was the worst we had seen.

There is no way we would normally be driving in this but we don't really have much choice.  Bernie took it slow and soon the snow had stopped and the rain started.

Soon there was no more rain and the roads were clear.  Ahhh I see the light.

We arrived at the airport in enough time to catch our flight, but not our original flight.  Our new flight is scheduled for 1650.

Time for a light meal and some wine.

Our flight is a little delayed but only by a half hour.  

The plane arrives and everyone gets off.  Then just before we started pre boarding one of the gate agents passed out in the gangway to the plane.  Emergency crews arrived and it appears the worker may of had a heart attack.  Staff at the gate were all upset and asked for our patience.  I am impressed at how everyone did reacted.  When they asked everyone to clear the way for the stretcher everyone cleared. I pray that he will be okay.

We ended up leaving about an hour and a half late but we are just glad to be on the plane and heading West.  Also that the agent that was taken away was conscious.

Oh I should add that while we waited for our plane we called our insurance and they said that since the flight delay is over six hours they will cover a hotel room in Toronto and meals and expenses we have incurred.  Make sure you always get insurance!

At this time I also booked a hotel in Toronto.  The Doubletree by Hilton.

We touch down in Toronto and grab our bags.  Now only in Canada will you find Adirondack chairs and a fuse ball game in the baggage claim area.  

We head out with our bags to the hotel pick up spot.  It is damn cold!  We are not dressed for this weather we were expecting to be in Florida.  After a few minutes we call the hotel to see about the shuttle.  He tells us he will be there shortly.  After a half hour we call again - of course I am trying hard to be patient, but I am tired, cold, and hungry.  But I maintain my cool.  He will be here shortly.

He arrives and we drive the 10 minutes to the hotel.  We check in and the first thing I do is head to the business center to print out all the necessary papers we need for the insurance claim.  They want so much to back up the claim and we won't have access to a printer in Florida so we do it here.

Back in the room we change, and crawl into bed.  The alarm is set for 3:30 am - only five hours from now.  The bed is so comfortable though and I just want to sleep in but that darn alarm clock goes off at 3:30.

We shower and dress, and pack what we quickly unpacked last night.  We are downstairs for the 4:20 shuttle to the airport.  I haven't seen these hours since I finished work and I have to say I don't like it.

Back at the airport we check in and then go thru security.  Thank goodness we have Nexus and we could bypass the HUGE line, which must of been a few hundred people long.  We then clear US Customs and thankfully again because we have Nexus there was maybe only five people ahead of us.

Because of how fast we got thru we were able to sit and have some breakfast.  And we are starting to feel normal.

The flight is not that long, maybe 3 hours or so, I really can't tell it is all such a blur.  We both slept off and on but when we arrive we both are just relieved that we made it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I am Ready as I Will Ever Be

Today is the day we leave!  Our bags are packed!

This time we made sure to line our suitcase with plastic bag at the bottom and on the top.  I don't want a repeat of our last flight from Halifax to Sydney, Nova Scotia where I bags sat on the tarmac for hours.  When we got home everything was soaked.  Thankfully all important stuff were in bags but it did ruin a book, some paperwork and all our clothes had to be washed.

So I am not taking any chances this time.  

All my items are packed in packing cubes too. I need to be organized this trip as we have numerous time we have to pack up and change cabins.  With cubes I just pack items in it and then place whole thing in the drawer.

It will be  along day.  We purposely booked flights that gave us enough layover between flights (and we have three flights to take) as a cushion because of weather or other delays. 

We leave on a 9:50 am flight to Halifax and we don't arrive in Fort Lauderdale until tonight at 9 pm local time.

We have booked a lovely Airbnb for three nights and have a rental car booked too.  The cost of the three nights and the rental car equaled what just under two nights in a hotel would of cost.  So it was a no brainer.  Will post more about the Airbnb later.

Remember if you are interested in booking an Airbnb in the future sign up with this link and save on your first booking, no matter when you book it.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Our Oh My God Trip - 2019

As many of you know we recently retired and moved to Nova Scotia.  One stipulation was that we would be gone in the winter.  Well we did survive December and currently this is the snow we have! (actually we have more than that as this was a few days ago)  Ironically we had a green Christmas.

For years I have been following Yellow Fish Cruises blog as they spend their winters cruising (and more recently adding land holidays) and knew that we wanted to do the same.

I already knew we would be leaving early January and doing some Caribbean cruises.  January 12 - 26 was easily booked on the Royal Princess.  Bernie insists he has to be away for his birthday - who am I to argue.

Then I start my contract with Princess as their Destination Expert for the South America Grand Adventure.  They asked me to come a week early to do some crew training.  So we join Jan 26 for a week Caribbean cruise.

Then we sail on this amazing itinerary around the horn ending in Los Angeles in March.

We knew we did not want to head home late March as winter is NOT over then.  We also HAVE to attend the wedding of a very close friend in Vancouver mid May.  

It made no sense to fly all the way home. Then 5 weeks later fly all across the country again for the wedding, then fly back after the wedding.  Plus airfare would be crazy (around $4,500 total just in airfare)!  

So we started contemplating options of what to do when this cruise ends.

We had lots of options we weighed.  

  • Stay on the ship and keep sailing.
  • Get off the ship and try another cruise line to Mexico.
  • Sail round trip on the Coral thru the Panama to Florida and then back to LA. But the dates did not work well.
  • Get off ship and fly somewhere for a long stay holiday.
  • We looked at places in Mexico.  Then we considered going to the Cook Islands.  Even thought of Australia.  Even though prices were reasonable it was adding up when you added air, accommodations, food, transfers, etc. 
So what did we decide.

On March 23 we will switch from Port Lecturer to passenger again on the Royal.  We will do a 7 day Mexican cruise (which we love).

Then when the Royal returns to LA we will get off and cross the pier and board the Star Princess for it's 28 Hawaii/South Pacific Cruise.  Have always wanted to visit the South Pacific but prices have been crazy.  We just got the cruise for $100 US a day for an obstructed ocean view.  So it was an easy decision.

It again returns to LA and again the Royal will be parked right beside us.  So we will get back on the Royal and sail a 7 day Mexican again and then stay on for the 7 day California Coastal cruise up to Vancouver.

We will get off a week before the wedding.  Rent a car, stay in an Airbnb, visit with old friends and finally attend Katrina and Rob's wedding before flying home a few days later.

In total we will be gone 4.5 months. In total we will visit 25 different countries.  Visit 63 ports.  Relax with 55 sea days.  And enjoy countless glasses of wine.

Since we won't be travelling as passengers on the 49 day South America cruise we will not have a WiFi package.  So I will not be blogging at all that voyage.  

Also since we are also as crew I don't really want to talk about that side of things out in social media for the respect of the crew, the Royal Princess, and Princess Cruises.  

I will be keeping a journal and may share some of it after the cruise but haven't decided yet.

Not sure how much blogging I will do prior or after but knowing me I will want to share with you all how great cruising is and how amazing the crew are.

One great thing is we have our nephew living with us currently (as he too recently moved back to Nova Scotia) and he will be here the whole time we are gone.  It worked out perfectly. 

Thanks for following - I know many of you have commented that you will be on one of the above cruises and like I responded to you in your comment "I really do want to meet up with you!" So make sure you say hi when you see us on board.