CB- 11-9, 2013 to 11-16, 2013 Houston, Sea Day,Cozumel,Roatan, & Belize City, Sea day, Sea Day,Houston (7 days)
Arrived at the port at 11:50am from Hobby airport on a Princess transfer bus.(took about 40min.)We did not collect our checked bags from under the bus-the bus driver and port "people" took care of this and it appeared like magic in our stateroom. We had a balcony stateroom on Caribe deck port side in the 600's. Security is first- our wine was in carry on-port staff did not check or open our bag. 12:10pm we were done with security.(note the line for suite,elite, & platinum merges with the crew line for security;not a good system) Next was a separate line for suite,elite, & platinum to check in. This was very fast as not many in line. General line was very long. Just as we finished check in(12:15pm) the announcement came over the loudspeaker that embarkation was closed as they were having problems with the gangway. At 12:55pm the boarding "garage door" was opened and Elite first followed by Platinum started boarding again through the crew entrance as the gangway on deck 7 was still not working properly. We skipped the embarkation photo and headed straight to cabin to drop off carry ons and were in the Coral Dining Room by 1:20pm(they close at 1:30) had a great lunch and met our fellow CC members- Phyljim.(3rd most traveled passengers with 567 days) who were dining at the table next to us.
Our general emergency drill sirens went off at 3:20pm and we were done about 3:55pm. We pulled away from Bayport terminal about 5:15pm, due to luggage not being loaded in a timely matter. Although I did see 2 buses pull up around 3pm. We were suppose to depart at 4pm.
Captain Craig Street, Melania Parnisari Hotel General Manager, CD Neil Roberts,Mario Propato Maitre d' hotel, and Federico Castro Captain's Circle Host.
Food & drink
Soda card for a 7 day cruise is $36.23($31.50,$4.73 for the gratuity,sub total $31.50) This is fountain soda and not cans.
A can of soda is $1.95 + 15% gratuity every time.
Coffee in the International cafe area prices for individual cofees are:
Regular sized brewed $1.25,espresso & macchiato $1.75,cappuccino and cafe latte 42.50,carmel latte,vanilla bean and white chocolate latte $2.75,hot chocolate is $1.50 and premium tea is $1.25.
Elite, Platinum, & Suite lounge was in Skywalkers from 5-7pm for hors d' oeuvres. $5.00 drink specials. There were approximately 156 Elite and 454 Platinum passengers onboard. The most travel passengers are from the same city we live in and we have been on a cruise with them in AK a few years ago. They have 1,224 days sailed with Princess.
In Houston closed. Sunday- salmon with toast and chairman of the board drink. Monday-chips & guacamole and margarita. Tuesday-goat cheese with rosemary flatbread and brezza marina drink. Wedensday-silton with port and port drink. Thursday-closed for captains cocktail party held in Club Fusion. Friday- shrimp fountain and cosmo drink. Also served every night was veggies,olives,apricots,cheese & crackers, & dates.
There is a door hanger to receive complimentary fresh fruit everyday to your cabin,champagne breakfast for 2 people is $32.(half bottle french champagne,pastries,smoked salmon with dill cream cheese,fruit & berries with chantilly cream and quiche lorraine) You can also get stateroom breakfast via a door hanger and room service breakfast,lunch, & dinner.(24hrs) Allow 20-30min. when calling for room service.
Traditional dining first seating 5:45pm,second seating 8pm in the Palm Dining Room.
5:30pm early fixed dining in the Coral Dining Room.
Lunch was served in the Coral dining room from noon to 1:30pm everyday, but port days.
English Style Pub lunch was offered only 2 sea days(Sunday & Friday) in the Crown Grill from 11:30am to 2pm, this is complimentary and the menu is posted outside of Crown Grill.
We tried the Crown Grill for dinner for the first time and really enjoyed it.
International Cafe on deck 5 is open 24hrs.
Vines on deck 5 has complimentary tapas & sushi if you order a drink. Tried both the sushi & tapas on separate evenings.
When leaving Houston-Texas law only allows certain alcoholic drinks to be served , until about 3 hrs. out to sea, then normal service resumes.
There is a wine package for $24 that includes 187ml bottles (choose 4 items) and beer is choose 4 regular beers & 3 wines for $32.50.
Breakfast specials in the dining room
Sunday-Maine blueberry pancakes and AK scrambler. Monday-mexican omlette &Northeast breakfast treat(oats,apple juice,yogurt,almonds, & raisins). Tuesday-The lumberjack(minute steak ,eggs, & hashbrowns) & assorted melon cocktail. Wednesday-ate room service breakfast had too early of a tour. Thursday-eggs benedict & mother's favorite compote. Friday-eggs florentine & fresh fruit with ricotta & lemon. Saturday- JB's French Toast & Kadota fig compote.
Last day breakfast times:
Cafe Caribe continental 5:30am to 8am
Horizon Court buffet 6am to 9:30am
Palm D.R. 7am to 9am
Calypso Bar & International Cafe
No room service this morning.(last day)
The buffet themes are as follows: (can't comment we only went to buffet once during whole trip):
Dinner times 5:30pm to 11pm
Lunch times noon to 2pm
Sailaway buffet dinner on Saturday
Mexican Fiesta lunch on Sunday and Welcome dinner buffet
Barvarian Festival dinner on Monday
Trattoria buffet dinner on Tuesday
Caribbean Madras Buffet dinner on Wednesday
Oriental buffet lunch & Gala Dinner buffet on Thursday
Pastry Extravaganza lunch buffet & Creole dinner buffet on Friday
Flowers onboard-single rose $7.00,3 roses $19.00, many more to choose from that range in price from $7.00 to $59.00.
Wash/dry prices are $2.00 each load. Put quarters side by side in coin holder. 30-40 min. to wash is the cycle. $1.25 for soap. Open from 7am to 11pm. If on Caribe deck in the aft section go up or down 1 deck and laundry is closer there.(we did 1 load wash, hung to dry in cabin)
Formal nights were Sunday & Thursday.
Sanctuary on deck 17 forward is $10 for a half day and $20 for a full day. Limited space on a first come basis.(we did not use)
On Thursday our sea day we had moderate seas 4.5ft to 7ft and 25kt winds. On the 10:30am Backstage Tour in the Princess Theater, we were really holding onto props onstage, we were rockin. On our last sea day we had a little of the same with the winds NE force 5. We were traveling at 17.1 kts
Here are a few taxi numbers in Houston . Colony Limo 800 991-5466. Yellow Cab 713 236-1111. The following were on a sign right at the drop off point. Pasadena Taxi, Yellow Cab,Towne Car Houston,Taxi & Towne Car, Super Shuttle, & Elite Limo.
This was my 3rd cruise on the CB all different itineraries.
Born to be Wild(7,8:15, & 10:15pm), Caribbean Caliente(7:15pm & 8;30pm),Troy Thirdgill a comedian(7,8:15pm, & 10pm), Hawley Magic a husband and wife team(Jonathan & Trisha) with shows at 7pm,8:15pm, & 10pm. Piano Man was held at 7pm,8:15pm, & 10pm 1 night only on Friday. Cash & Friends a tribute act that is a husband & wife team and another female singer at 7, 8:15, & 10pm. AJ Clarke in Crooner's seemed to have a large crowd every evening that we passed by or watched. He needs a bigger venue?
There is lots more entertainment, just read the Patter. So much going on,too much to list.
We did not have a problem using USD small bills in all 3 ports,received change back in USD.
In Cozumel we did not have any agenda so we walked around the dock area(Puerta Maya),have to walk through a long building of shops just to get outside to breathing room. Then there is a shopping village. Only the crew can walk outside of the building. Once" out on the street" we just walked around and strolled. We found an internet cafe right across from the dock area called i95 Internet also building says Plaza i95(has chinese lions in the front) It is a red building also says A-Mart store. It was $2.00 for 30min. of computer time. Other prices available. We opted not to go to the beach, we just had a La Paloma drink(tequila, grapefruit soda,lime, & salt) at Fat Tuesdays on the dock area and headed back to the adult only pool on the ship and dined at The Horizon Court(our only time)
We docked on the starboard side,pulled straight in. Carnival Dream docked right along side a bit after we secured our lines.
In Roatan we docked at Maghogany Bay. We were the only ship at this dock. We had a Princess tour booked. Gumbalina Preservation Nature Park. We had an A/C mini bus with a narrated tour .You don't take the same bus necessarily on the way in as on the way out so can not leave your stuff on the bus. Have to rent a locker for $3 USD if you want to go in the monkey area (white faced).No sunglasses, large bags, or glasses allowed either;the monkeys will take them up in the trees and you will never see them again. No food or drink in the monkey area either. Don't wear perfume or flowery lotion that day. It is a 45 min. trip to and from the park ,approximately. We had a guide for most of the tour , we went in to the Coxen Cave a re-creation, then walked around to see the hummingbirds and the tropical plants,but at the end you could stay and go to the beach or pool on the grounds or have a snack at the snack bar. We walked down to the beach area for a bit and then got back on the bus as we did not have alot of time before we needed to be back to the ship. We loved the tour guide and the monkeys that you can take photos with and the birds. Free flying macaws were so beautiful. We walked over a suspension bridge,there is another way as well.
If you don't have a tour booked here you will miss out on the local flavor, but the beach area near the dock looked nice and we heard passengers liked it. You could walk or take the chair lift.($12?)
We docked and secured our lines right on time at 9am. Dock was on the port side and we backed into our berth.
We saw car rentals are available here and independent tour desks as you exit all the shop areas on way to taxi's. For a school donation you can get your passport stamped in Roatan(which we did). This is located on the right side just before getting to the taxi's and buses. You also have to exit the dock area via some shops.
Belize City is a tender port. We secured our lines right on time at 7am and first tender was at that time. It was heavily raining in Belize,but we were prepared. We had a Princess tour booked for The Zoo, Howler Monkeys, & lunch. We met at 8am in The Explorer's Lounge. We got on the tender at 8:30am and to the dock at 8:50am. Not sure how they saw the dock as it was not too visible with the weather. Did not use the ship's tender boats, used a local company that guy said dock was about 5 miles from ship. The life jackets said SW Tours on them. 4 ships were in the harbor today. You tender to an area called Fort Street Tourism Village. We docked at terminal 1 for Princess. We had time to use the restroom and then got on bus at 9:25am. Bus did have a restroom and A/C. Our first stop was the Community Baboon Sanctuary we arrived at 10:35am and left at noon.(this was in the country) There was a demo about the plant used for a broom/mosquito swatter which was very interesting. We went on a muddy walk through the area of the local plants and vegetation and saw and heard the howler monkeys. We arrived at the Olde River Tavern-an outside venue but covered by tents and 1 building right on the Belize river. The rain had made the river rise quite a bit. We enjoyed our local Belizean lunch of rice & beans, chicken cooked in coconut milk, and a salad. Belize coca cola was included. Belikin beer was offered for $3.00 USD which I tried and my husband had the coke. Next we were off to The Zoo at 1pm and arrived at 1:35pm. We stayed until 3:10pm at the zoo and arrived back to the tender pier just before 4pm. Last tender was scheduled to leave at 4:15pm. This was an all day tour, but I managed to run fast to the MOHO chocolate shop on the pier and grab a few chocolate bars. The tour company was called Chukka . We loved the zoo, but felt a little hurried. It was a full day with great guides and bus driver. We saw so much of the countryside and our guides told us so much about their country and way of life,can't really get that feeling by staying in Belize City.
Disembarkation breakfast is in the Palm dining room which is a change from the other days on the cruise. There are other breakfast options, but I still want to be served. We arrived a little after 8am in the dining room and the staff allowed us to stay there until about 9:50am.
I heard the fog horn around 6am, although I think it was going before then.( I am a sound sleeper) The first announcement from the captain that I heard was around 7:45am,which did not come on in the cabin. He said that the channel is closed due to the fog and there is a cargo ship in front of us.(the channel is narrow) We are safely anchored and have 2 tugs along side of us. At 8:50am Captain Street said we can not move the ship yet,but the fog is getting better as the sun keeps coming out. We are 45 min. from berth about 1 1/2 miles out once we get under way. Started moving around 9:30am, but no announcement. We had Chloe K tug on the aft. At 10:10am PSD announced that it will take awhile to clear the ship, dock, and to prepare the gangway. At 10:30am Captain Street announced sorry for the delay and we are all secure with the lines.
On the ship it seemed like the crew was making announcements in the lounges and passengers were being patient.
At 10:40am the first walk offs were called to disembark deck 7 midship.11:30am all walk offs done. Red 1 was called at 11:33am.
When we disembarked at 12:05pm we were held up for a short bit on deck 7 outside as they were "messing" with the gangway. We got through,but not sure if others behind us experienced any delays. Saw Mike Z.......(port "guy" in charge(security team) helping figure it out)
The port staff is whom I find fault with. Very disorganized in the luggage terminal building. Ship not communicating with luggage area or vice versa??? Colors of luggage being called to disembark, but luggage cages still being forkliffed in the area. Example Navy 3 luggage was still being unloaded and not lined up in correct spot at 12:20pm and they called us off ship at 12:05pm. Other luggage was in a line on the floor in proper spot and passengers were still onboard.
Found 1 out of our 3 bags in Navy 5 area. Navy 5 was called way after Navy 3-not sure of the time as we were off the ship and did not hear announcement in lounge. Most if not all Navy 5 bags were unloaded and in the proper spot,but the passengers were still onboard.
Customs was pretty fast about 12:35pm we cleared.
We opted to do the Princess transfer bus upon disembarkation( reserved onboard) as the taxi's and Super Shuttle I called on embarkation were $50+. for 2 people.
Princess is $24/person to either IAH or HOU. Our flight was at 2:10pm,but due to late disembarkation, because of fog we had to change to a 5:15pm flight.(Southwest had space for us and allowed the change no problem-no fee)
We were one of the first to board our bus to Hobby at 12:50pm and the bus was loaded and we left at 1:05pm.(there were several buses) we arrived at the airport about 1:40pm.
Port crew has a long way to go to improve embarkation and disembarkations and could use some of their staff to visit other Princess ports to see how it is done. Mike Z....... is in charge of the Houston port(facility security) and I know he was not happy.(heard him say it on embarkation) I believe Metro Shore service is the one in charge at the Bayport Terminal with buses,luggage, check in procedures,etc.
NCL will arrive at Bayport Terminal in fall of 2014, so hopefully the port will be ready long before that time for the extra passengers.
There is so much or so little to do on a cruise, enjoy. I did not list all the activities as there are so many to choose from onboard.
We had a great cruise and a pretty successful CC Meet & Greet with over 20 screen names in attendance.(+1's not included in this number)
Looking forward to our next cruise, some day. Have not booked one just yet, but we will soon.