Hautico, we just wandered around the colourful market. Punter Ranus, what a dump, we were there all day, not much to see here, went on excursion mostly consisted of looking at hotels and scenery...dirty place, noticed Sea Princess spent all day re-fuelling and stocking up, obviously cheap for them here, why couldn't we have gone somewhere like San Juan, - a stop for the ship and not for the passengers. Cartagena, we were not expecting much but it came as a surprise, very pretty, we did a trip on a coach and horse, it was a sweltering day so the breeze was welcome. Port Amador in Panama, we did the right thing here and did the small ferry excursion including wonderful buffet lunch and drinks, did trip down Panama for 25 miles through the locks, we had great views for videoing, experienced the feeling of actually going up and down the lock whereas on a big ship you don't really get that feeling, it was expensive but money well spent $149.00. Panama, we had already experienced this, so the experience on the ship wasn't so great plus you did not get as good commentary...Princess made use of the hot day and people about and were at the ready selling bottled water @ $2.00 plus 15% SERVICE CHARGE FOR THE BOTTLE AND NO GLASS. No cool towels or anything. Aruba has changed a lot since we were there last, shops everywhere, always windy here, it was cloudy and it rained heavily for a short while. Tender here . Princess Keys private Island was a god-send, pure bliss and the ship put on a buffet for everyone they did a fantastic job.(could have spent 2 days here) Tortola, booked sun beds here and coach to beach, horrendous journey to beach over drop-over cliffs, beach at end of journey was natural though sunbrellas were not reserved for us and had to seek own. St Martins - Lovely place, spent most of the time shopping, Princess promotes Diamond International because they pay to advertise and Princess gets a cut out of anything you purchase, they pressure you in the shop, I was alarmed when I enquired about one of their rings - changing it from white gold to yellow gold, they said they would rhodium plate it, WHAT! the gold comes off, I put my ring down on the black pad whilst trying on and my ring disappeared only to turn up after my panic, they didn't seem at all bothered....after 10 minutes they said a customer handed it in yea right!! but when I went upstairs a man said he picked it up - I thought that rather strange as he worked there....and why would he take it from the pad?? Don't go there, a shop further on told me they should not rhodium plate, they themselves change the whole shank with yellow gold - be warned....| was furious.
Antigua, gone downhill I thought, paid for an excursion from Princess to go to runaway bay, they took us to another beach which was a dump and full of people pestering you to buy things all the time...Also heard stories of taxi drivers agreeing one price then charging extortionate fares for the return to the ship. St. Lucia, very nice, excursion to a hotel with private beach, nice and clean.
Forgot to say we also called in at Fort Lauderdale, shopping not that good.
When we boarded Sea Princess, we noticed the re-furb. sparkling new, carpets were pristine, new sanctuary, not many used it....flat screen TV's in cabins, new floor on balcony, new carpets, new photographic area, public areas pristine. We were booked for the main sitting at 8.00pm but found the service very slow that we were missing the shows, not the fault of the waiter but the kitchen...food was nearly always cold and not that much of a choice, after second week they changed it to 8.30pm so we sometimes did anytime dining or mostly in the Horizon buffet, the Horizon was excellent, the food there was great all the time but especially good in the evening, they also had a speciality desserts, in the centre with ice cream, cheese and biscuits. everything up there was superb quality. We gave Jeffry our waiter in the dining room our tips for the time we spent in the dining room as it wasn't fair on him. We had a soda card....they coller you as soon as you board, this proved worth while if you have lots of days at sea...you can also use just the card to get a drink at any of the bars/dining in the evening, we bought a coffee card that was a waste of time, the coffee was weak and awful, when we asked if we could have it stronger they said no so we saunted down to the purser who told us we could, We asked for 2 stronger coffees from a guy called Romeo in the Vista Lounge and he said he'd charge us double, he would punch our card 4 holes instead of 2, he was quite nasty when I protested and informed him the purser had said we could have it stronger if we wanted. he had it in for me thereafter, a lot of the Americans were getting off at Fort Lauderdale, we had another week to go, and had purchased the soda card for the 23 nights. when I tried to get a soda from him he said I had the wrong colour sticker and that my cruise was finished, I pointed out we had paid for the card until the cruise finished, I had to go back to the Purser and argue for them to put another colour stamp on, still Romeo got funny about it when I asked for a soda the next day after showing him my soda card , first he tried to serve someone that was BEHIND me, after showing him my card I asked for a tonic he banged down a can (we are not allowed cans only soda,coke,sprite and tonic from the tap) he tried to charge me for it, I said I did not ask for a can and kept showing the card, he snapped ' why didn't you show me the card' I said I did and the person behind me verified this,,,I said why are you so rude to me all the time...I was quite upset and my husband called the supervisor, I have had no apology from Princess, I felt he ruined the best holiday we ever had....
We re-took our wedding vows after 30 years and it was magical, they gave me a red rose huge bouquet and my husband a button hole, took us to the |Captains private lounge where a photographer was waiting, Captain Peter did the service, while they did videoing and Nim took the photos, after the Captain took us to the bridge, my husband was in his element, as he had the captain's hat on while having a go at guiding the ship (only for a moment) The Captain is a marvellous man, so friendly, he makes Princess as his friendliness is spread by his staff throughout the ship (apart from Romeo) he made it special for us.We also got a full bottle of Champers, the Captain said we could share it with our friends in the Dining room without corkage and a framed photo of the event.
Going back to the coffee, they encourage you to buy insulated mugs with the card that you don't need, they don't tell you they're extra. Then we could only use the card in one place, (you can also get free chocolate)
In the Vista lounge after a few days the coffee machine broke down, in the WheelHouse bar there was no coffee machine, and they would not walk the few steps to the Crooners bar to get us one. Maria was more concerned in selling you drinks so she could reap 15% every time...she was very short and sharp when we asked for a coffee, even though we had a hot chocolate there the night before, she would not get one for us and again was very rude.....apart from the incidence with coffee and soda which was now becoming stressful for us, we had a wonderful time. Although we now have 2 useless coffee cards...
Our flight home, was delayed 4 hours....we paid for premium on Thomson, they had to lay on a new plane and informed they had no premium seats on this flight, we were squashed up in our seats, everyone complained about the surliness of the flight attendants, talk about not smiling!!! British Airways were fantastic on the way out!! maybe they could teach Thomson's staff to smile.
We love the ambiance of a small intimate ship such as the Sea Princess, it is easy to fall in love with it and can see why is is classed as the Love Boat.