Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Puerto Vallarta

When we wake we realize we are at Pier #3 closest to the Mall.  We did not order room service this morning after yesterday’s order mishap and I am still really not that hungry. 

I was slow to get moving and we somehow get showered and dressed and enjoy a relaxing morning.

Today we are meeting up with Ana who is part of the Cruise Staff and just finished her contract on the Caribbean Princess.  She just got home on Saturday for a well earned vacation.

Along with us is two friends from the Entertainment Dept that Ana included. 

We pile into her VW Bug called Penelope and we are off.
Our day was spent on Los Muertos Beach in the Romantic Zone at the El Dorado Restaurant. 

It was so nice to catch up with her and to enjoy a relaxing day again on the beach.  I just love this itinerary because of it.

Around 4:20 we all agree it is time to head back to the ship and we all grudgingly pack up and return back to our home.
We are docked beside the Carnival Spendor and the Star Princess that is just finishing up it’s South America adventure and the ship we will be joining on Saturday.

I am sad to say goodbye to Mexico but I am relieved in knowing we will be back in four weeks.

Tonight is our Most Travelled Guest Cocktail Party at 7:30 in Club 6. 

After that who knows what will happen.

I am limited with internet this voyage and the next voyage will be even worse as it is 28 days and I only get 250 minutes each and this means it takes a lot to blog (even if I write off line) so blogs may be put on hold.

Thanks for following.


We are docked early and since there is no issue with tender service this morning the crowds can just head off.

We are docked with a Carnival Ship as well as the Grand Princess. 

After the crowds in the Horizon Court for breakfast we decided to order in this morning and ordered tea and cereal and some fruit to the cabin.  We scheduled it for 8 to 8:30 – and I know you seasoned cruisers will know exactly what happened.  Yup a knock at the door at 7:40!  We were both still asleep but we are up now.  Then they forgot to bring tea bags!  We grabbed tea later after we showered.

There is crew drill and since we are meeting up with some crew later we arrange to meet up at 11 on the pier. 

Our mission is to head to Stone Island today.  Easy to do on your own.  You can take a taxi there but it is just as easy to walk out of the port and turn left and keep walking until you come to a small ferry hut (signs mark the spot).  A short ferry takes you over to the other side and to Stone Island (although it is not an island but it does look out at Stone Island).  Can’t recall the price of the ferry (someone else paid and they take US) but it is minimal – buy a roundtrip ticket.

Then when you are on the other side just keep walking along the beach until you find a spot you like.

Miguel, Coenraad and Rodriguez joined us, along with our friends Meghan and Darcy and we had a wonderful day full of laughter.  Which may have been caused by a few margaritas, beers and excellent food.  The water was rather chilly but still nice to wade into.

We stayed all day and we finally waddled back to the ferry and then back to the ship with our belly full and complete bliss.

A hot shower and a two hour nap meant we were ready to take on the evening.  A few glasses of wine in Vines and since none of us are hungry for the buffet we end up grabbing a sandwich in the International Café and enjoying the evening.  The theme in Horizon was German Night – one of our favorites but we are too full.

The production show is Colours of the World – one of our favorites and we enjoyed it immensely.  Great team of singers and dancers on board and they are getting ready to head home in two weeks.

Club 6 is still hoping after the show and we pop in for a bit but decide to call it a night.  Tonight, we put our clocks forward an hour.

Cabo San Lucas

Well I wish I could say it was all exciting and have amazing things to report but it was a great day but nothing crazy.  For two old folks (yup I actually feel old on this ship).

We did not arrive in Cabo until later and because of a later arrival it meant when we dropped anchor the tender queues were LONG. Now I am thankful I am elite and we did not have to wait too long.  Sadly everyone else had around an hour wait to get on a tender.  That is what happens when everyone decides to go ashore at once and it is a tender operation.  Will add that I thought the cruise staff handled it very well and very professional.

For us we walked along the boardwalk around and around and around.  Have to say I find this the most annoying thing about Cabo because you are constantly turning down people who are trying to make a living.

When we finally got to the main drag we started walking inland.  We were on a mission and we got there finally.  Our favorite little haunt – the Burro Locco.  Nothing fancy, in fact it is so far from fancy but it is really authentic.  They don’t have a liquor license so we just get a beer from the store across the street and drink it there.
We walk away STUFFED.

Back track to the ship and we are back on board before 3:30. 

Like I said nothing exciting but people want me to report.
I have been enjoying my cruise as a passenger.  I have read two books!  I barely got through one book the entire 49 days. 

I also tried the Enclave and really enjoyed it but it was rather busy so will have to seek out a quieter time later.

The cruise is a younger demographic and a lot of newer cruisers.  It is very different than the last cruise.  Not in a good way or a bad way just different.  At first it was great, it felt like life was blown back into the ship with lots of people and energy.  But it also meant it was much busier and louder and we started to miss the regulars we always saw – especially those of you in Vines every night – you know who you are. 

So which is better – who knows, they are both good just different.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Evening at Sea

It is formal night tonight and we have decided not to dress up formally tonight but dress smart casual and it seems that a lot of people are also dressing smart casual.  But it is nice to see some of the families all dressed up.  Lots of photos are being taken – oh what a great memory and souvenir for a family.

It is also the Captain Champagne Waterfall and the place is packed. So we grab a seat in a back corner of vines and meet up with Darcy and then Dylan and Ben join us and we all catch up with some great laughs. 

We ended up having dinner with them and other friends and it ended up in a cabin and a few bottles of wines and lots and lots of laughs! 

I really wanted to do the Yes No game show but it was much more fun being with friends tonight.

Back in the cabin around 11:45 and well we better hydrate! 
What a great first day.

Sunday – Day at Sea

We wake rested and confused.  During the night Bernie went to the washroom and I could tell he was not sure where the bed was and that he did not have to crawl over the bed to get in like in our old cabin. 

Today we have some housekeeping items to do.  We call to exchange our mini bar.  We actually have a lot of stuff to drink.  A few friends from the last sailing gave us their leftovers – including wine, soda, beer and even Vodka. 

We also have two laundry bag of items to get cleaned.  Bernie needs his suit cleaned and I have some blouses that need cleaning – plus the usual stuff.  Nice to have this perk back and I am sure the laundry won’t take that long to get back as there are not that many Elites on board. 

Next we have to get our wifi cleared up.  For Bernie they see he is in transit as last sailing he was a guest of a guest entertainer but his Captain Circle number followed him (but the benefits don’t) so when he tries to log into the system today to get his wifi free minutes of 150 it is showing that his plan from last cruise has expired and has not cleared for this voyage.  For me the system clearly showed the free 150 minutes as the last voyage I was not connect to my Captain Circle Number so the system sees me as a new joiner.  A visit to the Internet Guru Lew fixes this and by the afternoon Bernie has his 150 minutes. 

People have been asking and I can confirm that when you first log in the system offers Platinum and Elite their free wifi of 150 minutes or you can purchase an unlimited plan for one device (although you an always log out of one device and use a different one) for a discounted rate of 20% off I believe.  But we turned it down as we should be able to manage with the 300 minutes for the 7 days.  Now the next cruise of 28 days it could be tough but they don’t offer an unlimited package as the Star is not ocean ready.  So blogging may slow down on that voyage. 

Next item is we never got our Ocean Medallions as we were unique as we were Guest Entertainers last sailing and this sailing we are guest.  First we went down to the Purser’s desk and asked them as we are the only two guest on board without a medallion.  The woman (who I won’t mention by name) said oh it is not a necessary as it is just a glorified key card.  Well that is technically true right now I thought but probably not a good thing for someone at the front desk to say that.  And that is where it was left – us still without our medallion.  Later we ran into one of the officers we know and they asked how we liked the Medallion and when I explained the situation they went and got us our new medallions.

Last sailing everyone had a blue medallion as they were just rolling it out.  This sailing the medallion colour reflects your loyalty level.  So we have a black one.  The first thing I wanted to do was buy a clip or even a bracelet to put the medallion in.  But the price of the bracelet is too high for my liking at $60 for the silver and $65 for the gold.  But the clip is only $8 and you buy the clip.  I bought the black one.  Not sure if they are only selling the colour that matches your loyalty or not but I bought black.  There are other colours like pink so unless that represents Ruby who knows.  Note there is no elite discount of 10% when you buy things in the photo department, where the accessories are sold.

We are also had to turn in our invite for the Most Travelled Guest Cocktail Party.  Yes it is a cocktail party which we prefer.  It is going to be held on the evening of Puerto Vallarta in Club 6.   We are the 5th Most Travelled Guest on board this sailing. 

Also during this cruise Bernie celebrates his 750th day on board Princess but we have been told it will be celebrated on his next sailing.  So when we board the Star it should be noted and we will get the Milestone celebrations then.
So that is all our housekeeping things done.  And mixed throughout those things were lots of different activities. 

Breakfast up in Horizon Court with everyone trying to figure out the buffet.  Remember we have just come off a 49 day voyage where the guest knew the layout and now it is mass confusion but give it a few days and it will be all good.

Then a coffee and some reading and then I joined Matt O in his line dancing in the Atrium along with a lot of other people.  Matt does such a great job and it is so much fun! 
I then went and enjoyed our friend Meghan’s balcony – she has one of those jutted out balconies under the sea walk.  She is on Dolphin deck so she is in a perfect spot.  And we had a lot of room for the two chairs and small table.  I would definitely consider this location in the future.  But it is a Deluxe balcony and I really dislike the couch because of the lack storage.  Much prefer cupboard/drawers instead of a couch. 

Back On Board

We are back on board around 12:45 and our cabin is not quite ready yet so we head to Alfredos for Pizza!  Yummy.
Demographics:  Very different!

It is spring break in California and I know it is Spring Break in British Columbia too.  So lots of families are on board.  

Word is there are 600 kids under the age of 18. There are so many kids that a pamphlet was inserted in our Patter called “Parental Advisory”.  What was hilarious was during Muster I sat beside a family with two small kids ages 5 and 7 (who behaved so well during the drill – better than some adults – yes I am talking to the woman on the other side who played Candy Crush during the entire drill).  This the kids first cruise and Mom said she sat them on the bed and read out the Parental Advisory to them.  The little girl who is 5 responded “yup we are not to run and jump in the pool”.  I was impressed.

Sail Away was different.  First it was cool outside and second it was a big deal with the ship leaving Los Angeles on it’s first Mexican Cruise.  

I had seen both Jan Schwartz and Arnold Donald on board during the day.  I so wanted to approach them but knew I did not want to bother them.  But still impressive to see them here.  

So back to sail away.  There was no dance party because the fire boats were there to send us out with sprays of water.  

The USS Iowa was there with the UCLA Trojan band playing as we sailed past. Now that was impressive.  They even played the Love Boat Theme.  But after we got to the end of the channel I was just too cold and went in.

Here is the Patter

We were both exhausted!  We were relaxing and trying to figure out what to do tonight when the phone rang and I instantly remembered!  John and Leslie Ripper are on board!  I have been chatting with John for years and originally their son Eric was suppose to be on the Royal as Senior Videographer but things change rapidly when on board ship and he was moved to the Majestic Princess.  But his parents had already booked this sailing.  

We had arranged prior to their board that we would meet them in Vines at 7!  It was now 7.  We both quickly got showered and dressed and met them at 7:30.

Now first night is always a poor representation of the dining room and tonight was the first night and yes the dining room was busy right at 7:30 when we approached to get a table for four.  Sail away ended at 6:30 and by the time people get down to the dining room the place was packed at 7:30 with people still finishing.  So we gladly accepted a pager and went back to Vines.  But we did not have to wait long – around 15 minutes.

We sat at a table for four (again right beside a bus station with the slamming of drawers and cupboards – still wish Princess would change this design).  You could see our waiter was run off his feet.  With the ship at over a 100% capacity with many of the 3rd and 4th berths filled it means busier restaurants.  And sadly service reflected this.  It was not horrible, but it certainly was not the normal Princess standard service.  I had to ask for water refill two different times.  And some courses were served together.  Might stay away from the dining room for the rest of the cruise though.  It is still good but it is not like we need to go – especially with such a great buffet.

At 10 pm (yes the Production shows are back to a decent hour) we went to catch Sweet Soul Music – one of our favorites.  The Secret Silk is not being shown this voyage.  

But Encore and Colours of the World are going to be shown.
We went back to the cabin at 11 pm and the ship was still rocking with guest all over the ship still enjoying the events.  So nice to see this ship come alive again.  But it of course has it’s downfall too.

Turn Around Day - The Royal Princess in Los Angeles!

Officers on Board

We docked early and we are along side at the pier.  Not at the regular terminal Princess uses but the one right next door.  Sorry can’t recall the number but the one right beside the USS Iowa.  The terminal is a large enclosed structure – like something that would cover a tennis court.  

It works but it is certainly not as nice as the other pier.  Note the Royal is too big for that pier.

Disembarkation was slower than normal because this is the first stop for the Royal in the US since it left Fort Lauderdale February 2.  Heightened inspection and security was in place.  All the crew had to go through Immigration and for some they waited up to three hours to go through.  Plus they still had to do their regular job.

For us we had to change cabins.  Not a difficult procedure but we had to move all our own stuff since we moved from a crew cabin to a passenger cabin. It was easy as we used the crew elevator and up to deck 12.

Although our cabin was not ready yet, we were allowed to put our bags in the closet and left our steward to clean whenever he could (note he too had to go thru immigration). 

At 11:45 we met in Club 6 along with a handful of in transit guest.  I don’t remember the last time there were so few in transit.  In total we were around 38 – and some were guest entertainers and some workers.

We were directed off the ship into the terminal where we had to queue up for immigration.  Sadly the officer stamped our passport.  Normally they do not as we are technically NOT entering the US, we are in transit.  But they did and again another stamp on a blank page is taken up.  Oh well who am I to argue.

We then are directed outside and to the entrance and queue up all again to go thru security.  No liquids!  Then we are directed to a large waiting area where we are among a few thousand.  Of course many people are here waiting to board, even though they were directed to come late as the process would be delayed. 

In all we were off the ship for maybe an hour.  It is a pain that LA is the only port that makes all in transit go thru security again.   I prefer the process in Fort Lauderdale.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Passengers Again

Have to say that both of us have really been looking forward to being passengers again.  Today marks that day as we sail the first seven day Mexican Itinerary.  

We move from our Guest Entertainer's cabin.  Which I must say was quite nice and had two portholes to an inside sideways cabin on Aloha deck.

I know Bernie is happy to be getting the free laundry back - especially the ironing.  

We have lots of good friends coming on board this sailing - John and Leslie, Darcy, and our friend Meghan.

I have always enjoyed the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise and I am excited to be doing it again after two years.

I am sad too because this will be our last sailing with Michael Prasse the Hotel General Manager for a while.  He will be on this ship (unless he changes) on the West Coast and we don't foresee sailing the West Coast now that we live on the East Coast.

So sit back and enjoy as I continue with my blogging.  I have missed doing it, but I also enjoyed the freedom of not having to do it daily.  So I can mention now that I am not sure how often I will report but when the urge hits and I have something to say I will report. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

70 Days on the Royal Princess

We have just completed 70 consecutive days on the Royal Princess after joining January 12.

Of course the last 56 have been as the Destination Expert on board.  Where I was hired as a guest entertainer to give lectures on every port.

I also had two hours of desk duty each day.  Where guests (and some crew) were able to come and ask me questions.

One thing I will start by saying is I loved the job.  I wasn't sure how I would feel about it but I really did enjoy it.

Was it hard - oh yeah.  But was it fun - oh yeah.

The things I thought would be easier were harder and the areas I thought would be difficult were easier that I thought.

In the end I am glad I did it.  I know I made a difference for the better in many guest's eyes.  And ultimately that is what it is all about.

I learned so much from the guests too.  Areas I really did not consider.  Like mobility issues, what a child on board may be interested in, how someone might be an aid for someone in a wheelchair, and how I can make each of them have a memorable time in port.

I have received numerous positive comments.  In fact I can barely walk out in the public area a few feet without someone saying something nice.  

I feel like I have made thousands of new friends.  Well I know I have made thousands of new friends.

I certainly saw a different side of cruising (both good and not so good).  

I am really proud of the job I did and as of right now I am not sure what the future holds and if I will be offered another contract or even if I want to do it again.  Time will tell and I am open to what lies ahead.

For those of you on board, both crew and guest, thanks for making our time on board as Destination Experts a memorable one.