At check-in we waited in line for a very few minutes, we're Platinum (now Elite) and eligible for 'priority' check-in and the line for us was no shorter than the regular check-in lines. Either went quickly and we proceeded to a sitting area to await actual boardWe are retirees living in Las Vegas and fed up with the hassle of flying and the TSA indignities. And a very great bonus.....when I brought down the luggage and lined it up...wife asked which she should take. My reply; leave one for me and take the rest! No weight limits to worry about was a nice bonus. Thus we want to drive to the embarkation port; in this case, San Pedro. A bit of research finds that most cruise port hotels offer 'deals' to stay a night prior to departure and then leave the car in their lot. Rather than give information, go on line and do a 'google' search for cruise-and park hotels in the port of departure. Our hotel was almost walking distance from the pier; their shuttle went back and forth as needed taking up to 6 passengers and their luggage.
From the initial check-in and boarding to departure at the end our experience was fine. The few negatives I'll mention at the end of this review. No point dwelling on these since the overall experience was very good.
ing that required a 15-20 minute wait. Being familiar with the ship made it easy to reach our cabin without much delay. Dropping the 'carry-on' bags in the cabin we then proceeded directly to Deck 14 and........the buffet for lunch.
We are residents of Las Vegas, the land of the big buffet, we know that it doesn't pay to pile it on a plate since one can return as frequently as desired. And it enables me to take modest portions that seem to fill me adequately so that I don't stuff myself. The buffet offers a very broad choice of selections, both hot and cold as well as a plethora of deserts. The preparation was generally fresh and hot (or cold) when put out for selection.
As long as I'm commenting on the food, I'll continue and get to other aspects later. I am an early riser; my wife likes to sleep late so I went to the buffet for breakfast and a custom prepared omelet each morning. By seating in the same area each day she could find me once awake. This prompted me to join others at larger tables and hence meet folks and join into interesting conversation; there was no problem in doing this. As the cruise continued more and more folks recognized me and suggested that I join them. I mention this only to illustrate the friendliness of the passengers.
It seems that the average age of cruisers on this trip was higher than that we've experienced in the past. The older population resulted in another thing.....I have never seen so many electric scooters and wheelchairs in use; and yes, one had to watch out to avoid being bumped. There were many 'walkers' as well. When going to the main dining rooms the alcove at the entrance to the dining room was filled to overflowing with the scooters and walkers. I can say that I only saw seven children....and asked how they could take a month from school. They were being home schooled and had their lessons with them and were required to continue the study. (The last afternoon I had two boys about 7 and 9 in the elevator and in my usual jocular way asked them: 'had enough ice cream?' yeah... 'how about pizza?' yeah.... 'swimming?' yeah.....then they both chimed in "We wanna' stay" Since all were well mannered the elders didn't have any problem with them.
We were "Anytime Dining" for the first time since this was instituted many cruises ago. Frankly I was concerned that it might be a problem since when arriving at the dining room and giving my name I ask the Maitre d' for seating with others. We were easily accommodated every time we asked and met some very nice folks....to a point that we'll continue to maintain contact. The only possible comment in this regard; since tipping is accomplished by an added fee, the servers know that in the anytime room they are independent of the individual table service. Only once was I disappointed in the quality of service. It was not bad, just inattentive. And if one had a special request for a meal, you had to be certain to return to the same room the following evening.
Menu selections were varied as usual and in general, well prepared. On occasion something didn't please and was rapidly replaced with another choice. On a previous cruise we were not pleased with the beef and so stopped ordering those selections. This time I found beef to be tasty and enjoyable.
On rare occasion we decided to go to the dinner buffet because the selection in the dining room didn't really appeal; this is not due to lack of variety but our taste that night.
The Princess Theater shows were scheduled 7:00pm, 8:30pm and 10:00pm with the first being most crowded, sometime even standing room. Our timetable turned out to be: attend the Skywalker Cocktail Hour when the selection looked appealing; go to the 7:00 pm show that lasts about 45 minutes; then head for the 'anytime' dining room for dinner. As mentioned, we met many nice folks and managed to close whatever room we were in since the conversation was so stimulating. An aside, we don't drink very much but those that did have bottles of wine had to be sure that if saved for the next night, the bottle was well marked.
The pizza - hamburger bars provided me with disaster for my waist! In mid afternoon I'd go to the hamburger guy and ask him to put is fries and cook them until they were so crisp that they would break when bent. What a finger food treat!
The production shows were quite nice, though since we were on a cruise in January-February, there were repeats....still fun to attend. (One evening the ship was rocking pretty well; how those dancers don't lose balance amazes me.) The specialty performer nights had some really good talent and some not so great, but enjoyable as a rule. I may be a bit picky since Las Vegas, in addition to being the 'Land of the Buffet', has a great variety of entertainment.
Our cruise included Halloween when a great number of passengers wore costumes and, of course the crew as well. There was quite a gaudy display. We were on board for Veteran's Day and a Memorial Service was held with some reading and songs. All were international and non-denominational.
Scholarship At Sea had three lecturers. All provided a variety of talks on nature, ports, classic history, opera, Only difficulty....they were scheduled at 9:30am, 11:00am and 1:15pm making it difficult to attend other activities. And as is so prevalent, the Patter's list of activities has many conflicts. Guess they do their best to schedule many different ones to suit the taste of a variety of passengers.
Over the past years we've visited Hawaii several times, last in January of this year. Our interest in shorex was minimal. We did go into town at each of the ports taking advantage of the Hilo Hattie shuttles when possible to browse and in Hilo to purchase a tube of tooth paste! LOL
We hadn't been to the South Sea Islands so decided to do the Island Drive type tour at each port; we were not thrilled with them. One in particular did not complete the itinerary selections and when taking us to 'market plazas' for a bit of shopping found that the plazas were actually closed...it was Saturday when they close at noon....and our tour didn't start until 12:30!
I opened by saying that the negatives will be at the conclusion; First, the above mention of the shore excursions. Second; the balcony furniture....two uncomfortable chairs that fold back part way, not conducive to napping, and a small table. Third; while very pleasant, the cabin steward required frequent reminders....replacement glasses, vacuuming, fresh soap and shampoo bottles. All were promptly remedied once asked.