Executive Summary: My wife and I believe that any cruise is a good cruise. However, this being our 23rd Princess cruise we would rank it about number 20. We did the identical itinerary in October 2012 aboard the Sapphire and that is the ... Read More
Executive Summary: My wife and I believe that any cruise is a good cruise. However, this being our 23rd Princess cruise we would rank it about number 20. We did the identical itinerary in October 2012 aboard the Sapphire and that is the ship and cruise that we compare all others to.
During this voyage we encountered two unusual problems, a medical emergency requiring a diversion to an unplanned port, Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands which resulted in an additional day at sea and an outbreak of Norovirus which required great effort by the crew to contain the spread of the virus. The Captain and crew did an exceptional job in keeping passengers informed of the progress in solving these problems and the Company and ship provided all the assistance they could in offering facilities and assistance to help passengers alter their onward plans in addition to offering to cover the costs for changing flight arrangements. We found Captain Justin Lawes to be the most visible, approachable and most communicative Captain we have ever had.
The weather on this cruise was not as pleasant as that in 2012 but we only had one day in Bora Bora where the heavy rain and low ceiling and rough water resulted in the cancellation of our planned tour.
One of the deciding factors in our choice of Princess is the outstanding friendliness and courtesy and efficiency of the cabin and dining staff. They did not disappoint on this cruise. As I have pointed out about other cruises there is no standard as to how or when the spas are available. For us this was a major disappointment on this cruise. We found the deck maintenance below standard and we thought that some of the entertainers were not as capable as those we have seen in the past.
Although the cruise did not meet our expectations we will certainly cruise with Princess again.
Detailed description: Because we were flying using “points” we were forced to use a circuitous route via Newark. We left Ottawa aboard a United Airlines flight at 0615 on Thursday morning the 16th connecting in New York for onward flight to Los Angles. The Ottawa flight was on time and uneventful but departure from Newark was delayed 1 hour 16 because the Captain was delayed arriving on another flight. To finish off the flight when we arrived in LAX no gate was available so we waited a further 15 minutes on the ramp. The flights were smooth and uneventful. However, flying United in Economy class is not something to look forward to.
Finally off the aircraft we proceeded to collect our bags which arrived at the carousel quite quickly. We then proceeded outside to find the Super Shuttle boarding area. We checked in with the agent, using individual online tickets to save $3.00 each rather than $3.00 for a double booking. After about a 20 minute wait our shuttle arrived. Despite having only two other passengers we proceeded directly for San Pedro arriving about one hour later after dropping off two other passengers.
Our destination was the Crowne Plaza, a hotel frequently mentioned in Cruise Critic submissions. We had booked this hotel using a Priceline “bid” about eleven months earlier and obtained the room for about 65% off the going online rate ($76/night). We had a very warm, friendly and efficient check-in. We were quite impressed with the room and its amenities. It was large, comfortable, with a big flat-screen TV and in a quiet area overlooking the large and very inviting outdoor pool and spa area. We were disappointed that there was no in-room safe or refrigerator. The HVAC system was noisy but fortunately we were able to leave it off for the night. We were disappointed at the lack of in-room information about nearby points of interest. There is no mention of the USS Iowa battleship memorial moored only three blocks away, nor about the free trolley or the antique streetcar. Pity they aren’t promoting the local area. The next morning we discovered a machine in the lobby that offered electronic info about the area. It’s a little out of the way near the Bell Captain station and only one person can use it at a time. I still prefer pamphlets.
The Crowne Plaza offers ½ hourly shuttle service to the port beginning at 10:30 but you can’t pre-book a specific time. We’re told it’s first come first serve without tickets/numbers being given out. We’re visualizing a crowd scene where everyone is trying to squeeze onto the same bus. We’ll see how it goes.
We walked up 7th street to Gaffey St., about 5 blocks, and discovered a CVS pharmacy which carried all the supplies we were looking for. Coming from the East it was surprising to find a store that carried BWS. CVS prices were cheaper than the nearby Vista liquors on Caffey St.
We went for dinner at the Green Onion Mexican Restaurant across the street on 6th street and Palos Verdes. We were warmly greeted and very impressed with the décor of the restaurant. We were promptly visited by our waiter and soon had some beer and complementary chips and salsa. My wife ordered the chicken tostada with cheese enchilada and black beans and rice ($8.50) while I ordered the shrimp flores ($15.95) which came with a cup of albondigas soup, a hearty, chunky, vegetable and meat ball soup. These dishes were very generous and were outstanding. This turned out to be the best Mexican restaurant experience we have had.
The next morning we went to the Grinder restaurant for breakfast. It’s located on S. Harbor Blvd. next to the Sunrise Hotel and in front of the Fishing Industry Memorial. This is an American style restaurant, something like a Denny’s but more intimate, serving all meals and is about three blocks away. Nice atmosphere including patio, good breakfast and excellent and pleasant service. We recommend it. We spent the rest of the day exploring the S.S. Lane Victory, a WW11 naval auxiliary and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum all within walking distance. Late in the afternoon we joined other CC members to do the San Pedro Brewing Company tour and dinner. Good turnout and a nice start to the cruise. We opted instead to have dinner at the Whale & Ale a nearby pub about two blocks west on 7th street. Great choice. Advertized as having the best fish & chips and I wouldn’t argue the point. Great pub full of locals and a pianist to boot. Excellent atmosphere and food.
Day One: We took the hotel shuttle at about 10:45, seems the half hour schedule was abandoned, and we were aboard at 12:30. Very efficient check-in, security and boarding made easier as “Elite” category guests. Very nice Elite lounge with complimentary coffee and pastries. Unfortunately, it’s now 5:00 PM and we still don’t have our luggage. Most of our bags arrived promptly but the last one did not appear until after seven. Our departure was delayed a few minutes in order to get all the luggage aboard. We enjoyed cruising past the Iowa and the riverside restaurants during our exit of San Pedro harbour. This port is undergoing a major effort at renewal and revitalization. We’re very pleased with the cabin (B748). It has an oversize balcony for this category of cabin that is totally private with the exception of the ships rear facing cameras, I hope they are rear facing or someone will be getting an eyeful! All is good!
We love our cabin and our steward, Sayan, has met all our requests and certainly is on top of things. We went to the Michelangelo dining room for Dinner. We had the good fortune to meet Robert, a Headwaiter we have had in the past. He was able to meet our request for a table for two adjacent to a window (212). Our waiters, Tan and Alona, provided us with the exact service we enjoy. I had the thick cut roast beef which was outstanding. Leaving the dining room we spoke with Robert and made a request for a standing reservation for table 212 for the entire voyage. Following dinner we visited the Wheelhouse bar to take advantage of its 2 for 1 Happy Hour promotion (10 to 11PM).
Day Two: We awoke to a cool and heavily overcast day but by 9:30 we have scattered cloud and it is nice and warm. We are getting full sun on our balcony. We have a Carnival ship nearby on our portside sailing a parallel course. We attended an astronomy lecture in the morning given by Dr. Gary Kramer about the death of stars. The Captain made an announcement that late this evening and early tomorrow morning we would be getting into 20 foot swells and 40 knot winds. He advised us to secure things before going to bed. This will be the first time in all our cruising to have such high seas. I’m anxious to see how the ship performs.
Rest of day spent wondering around and killing time reading and just chilling out. At 7 PM we attended a performance by Mike Wilson an Impressionist and comedian. Overall not a bad show. When we went to dinner we were very happy to learn that Robert had arranged for us to again have table 212. I think we now have a standing reservation. Had a great dinner again with Tan and Alona our waiters. We joined two other couples after dinner in the Club Fusion to play a game of Majority Rules. Good time then off to our cabin about 11:00 PM.
Day Three: A little warmer today (70f) with a hint of sun. Some swell but not near the height predicted nor are the winds very strong. Guess we avoided the depression. Managed to get our deck walk completed this AM. Meeting with the with the Cruise Critic roll call group at 11 AM. Want to meet up with the couples we hope to climb Diamond Head with. Looks like we have four couples planning to do the climb. Afternoon too cool and cloudy for sunning.
Day Four: Still cool and overcast this morning. Sea state about 3 to 4 and about a 4 meter swell. Other than a little pitching hardly any ship motion. Despite the notice that the treadmills over the cabins would not open until 9:00 AM all signs were removed when we arrived at 8:50 AM. Very annoyed that 7 of the treadmills were marked as out of service. This and it’s only day four! Sayan had our room made up by 8:30 this morning. Couldn't ask for more from this Steward. Good day generally. We saw an instrumentalist, Craig Richard, for the seven o'clock show then followed with a good dinner back at table 212. Came back to the room and decided to catch the movie at MUTS and enjoy a spa tub. We were nicely settled into the tub when a crewman came along to close it. It was about 10:15 but he stated that all the tubs were supposed to be closed at 9:30. Not a happy camper.
Day Five: Partially overcast but warn. Sea state about 2 and mostly sunny. Got our exercise in early. Prepared a letter for the President of the company with copy to the Hotel Manager complaining about the hours of the tubs and poor maintenance of the treadmills. Will be interesting to see if I get a response. Most of the day spent enjoying our balcony. We intend to go to the Elite lounge again for cocktails then catch the seven o’clock show of the comedian Jim Colliton. On this cruise the Elite Lounge is being held in Club Fusion because of the large number of Platinum and Elite guests.
Day Six: Woke up this morning to at last see land as we approached our anchorage of Hilo on the big island Hawaii. We hope to get ashore to see some sights and maybe get some supplies. Once ashore we did a little walkabout. Not too impressed but did visit the Pacific Tsunami museum and the discovery museum. Both worthwhile visits. Used the bus to get to and from town at a cost of $1.00 / person each way for seniors.
Day Seven: We got up at 6:00 AM to watch the approach into Honolulu. It was very beautiful to see Diamond Head and the very narrow entrance into Pearl Harbour. Plan for today is to climb Diamond Head this morning then hit Waikiki Beach area this afternoon.
We met up with three other couples at Explorers lounge at 7: 00 AM to climb Diamond Head. We left the ship about 7:40 and walked out of the port area to catch a bus. We stumbled across a taxi area that they claimed would take us to DH for about $22. Their advantage was that they could get us about a mile closer to the park than a bus. They could not accommodate eight passengers so we decided to take two cabs. Meter actually came up to about $30 per cab plus tip. Happy we took the cab because we got to do the climb before all the tour groups arrived. A challenging climb for those of our age but we found it worthwhile. We walked back to the bus stop in front of the park entrance. We learned that if we walked a little further to the West, in front of the University, there was a stop that offered more frequent service to Waikiki. We got the #19 and got off in Waikiki area and walked all the way to the Ala Moana centre taking a bus from there back to the ship. Back aboard about 2:00 PM and dead tired.
We were back aboard for dinner then we enjoyed a great deck party prior to and during departure. This was our second night-time departure and it was wonderful to see the city of Honolulu all lit up as we sailed away to the beat and rhythms of a great band. The entertainment staff really got the passengers involved.
Day Eight: This morning finds us in Nawiliwili Bay on the island of Kauai. This is a very small and interesting port. Free shuttles are provided to Hilo Haddies, Wall Mart, K Mart and the two nearby malls. The “tram” shuttle takes you to the mall where Mariachi’s is located. Free wifi is offered at the mall office where you can arrange a longer island tour. A relatively small port area but a very large Marriot hotel and golf complex located nearby. The hotel is on one of the nicest accessible beaches on the island and the beach is accessible to everyone. We did our usual walkabout and found a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Mariachi’s located on an upper level of Harbour Mall complex. This restaurant offered great prices on food and beer and free Wifi. Show your ship ID and get Happy Hour drinks all day long. Didn’t eat too much but the platters that we saw were very appealing. Set sail at 5:00PM. We enjoyed the singing of tonight’s featured performer Sonia Selbie. We finished the night with a hot tub session under the stars but were again asked to vacate at 10:00 PM.
Day Nine: This morning we approached our anchorage of Lahaina on the island of Maui. We hope to get ashore to see some sights and maybe get some supplies. Once ashore we did a little walkabout. We were amazed at the number of art galleries and the welcome and information we were given just browsing around.
We took the bus to the Whaler’s village complex where we visited the Whaler’s Museum. This museum is dedicated to the whaling industry. This complex is about a 15 minute bus ride form Lahaina on Kaanapali Beach. The Lahaina bus stop is about two blocks in from the beach/dock at the Wharf Cinema Centre. The fare is $2 each way or $4 for an all day pass. Pass holders are given priority boarding so buy an all day pass to avoid the boarding hassle on the return trip.
Although small the museum is well worth a visit. Admission is $3 per person or $2 for seniors. There are excellent displays of the life of the whalers, their tools and their ships. Although all exhibits are clearly marked and explained you also have the option of taking a self guided tour and using a handheld device and entering the exhibit number you can hear an explanation in four languages.
Take the opportunity to learn about these courageous seamen who usually went out on four year voyages in search of their prey.
Upon returning to Lahaina we walked along front street and enjoyed a couple of beers and a Baja fish taco at Captain Jacks. This is a restaurant located upstairs one block from the port and across from the Banyon tree. Happy Hour begins at 2:00 PM and the 16oz beers are $4. The Baja fish taco at $5 was excellent. Sitting by the open air gallery with the pleasant breeze and cold beer was a great way to watch the world go by below. We were back aboard about 3:00 PM.
This evening is a busy one for entertainment. At 6:15 in Explorers Lounge we watched Fred Becker & Bobbie, his wife. This was a magic and comedy act that was very entertaining. He got some audience participation but despite having some problems with his “subjects” and a problematical sound system he used these challenges to thoroughly entertain his audience. Highly recommended act. At 7:00 pm we went to the theatre to catch Carl Andrews a “mental comedy” act. This act included some remarkable feats but in my opinion was not as entertaining or polished as the earlier act. Good show none the less.
We have our usual dinner at 8:00 PM at table 212. Robert has arranged to have a “special” spicy main course for us. After our appetizer we are presented with a delicious shrimp curry accompanied with rice, papadums and nan bread. The curry is one of the best I have ever enjoyed. After dinner it’s too late for a hot tub, they are still closing at 10:00PM, so we just return to the cabin and enjoy our balcony.
Day Ten: Did an early deck walk then breakfast. Day is starting out cloudy sea state about 3 to 4 with occasional light showers. Easy day and really enjoying the rear deck facilities. Looking forward to dinner tonight as we have booked Sabotini’s. Tonight is one of the Formal nights in addition to having the Captain’s cocktail party for Captain’s Circle members. This function was held in the Fusion lounge. We met up with two of the wait staff that have looked after us in the past and we soon had our favourite cocktail in our hands. We left the party to go to Sabotini’s. Wonderful dinner in a beautiful but largely vacant room. Great service and attention from the chef Francisco. We were presented with two additional courses by the Chef. Way too many calories but a great night.
Day eleven: Woke up to low overcast and lumpy seas today. Walked the upper deck and had about a 40 mph wind across the bow. Going to an Outlet sale event at 10:00 AM. Bought a light jacket for Louise at half price. Rum tasting at 3:00 PM. Good dinner again back at table 212. Thick cut slab of roast beef.
Day Twelve: Morning is sunny and warm. Another two sea days before we arrive in Apia. Still have not seen any sea life although we were told whales were possible. Met today with Mr. Johannes DeVilliers, the DPS, to question the hours of the hot tubs/spas. He de-fused my frustration by stating that he had left a phone message yesterday stating that the aft spa would now close at 11:00 PM. We’re looking forward to testing out that new policy tonight. At 1:00 PM we enjoyed the crossing the equator ceremony where pollywogs become shellbacks. Lots of good sports and fun for all the onlookers.
WiFi service is unavailable on the balcony using the new HP two in one tablet although the Nexus seven does get two bars.
Enjoyed the magic of Fred & Bobbie again in Explorers followed by an early dinner in our usual section. Excellent Thai cooked red snapper. Quickly came back to cabin to change and go up and use the hot tub on this gorgeous night. Arrived at the tub at 10:05 to find the tub again closed. Not a happy camper. Returned to our cabin, called the Purser’s desk and supposedly talked to the duty officer, Alexa, at 10:32 to complain then onto the balcony for a good shot of rum.
Day Thirtheen: Cloudy, overcast with an early morning shower. Wrote a letter to Mr. DeVilliers again. See what transpires this time. This has become one big frustration. Not the voyage we anticipated. Received a call at 1800 hours from Mr. DeVilliers with apologies and statements of mis-communications between departments. Assures me spa will be open tonight and that duty officer will check. Enjoyed Elite lounge again followed by a game of General Knowledge trivia which our team won then good dinner.
Arrived at spa at 9:55 and yes it was open. Unfortunately, it was not heated so water temperature was about equal to body temperature. After about five minutes we gave up and returned to room. I returned to spa at 10:50 and met Alexa, the duty officer, and I had her confirm the situation. I am now ready to throw in the towel on this matter. I intend to pursue it with Head Office and postings on the Internet when we return.
Day Fourteen: Today we arrived in Apia, Western Samoa at 7:30 AM, earlier than expected because we had a medical emergency aboard and we have been travelling faster than planned in order to transfer these two patients ashore. A large group of local dancers and musicians greeted us with a dockside performance. Nice little town adjacent to the harbour. Shuttle service into town with drop off at the cultural centre was available for $2 US/person.
We found a special hotel called Aggie Grey’s about half way round the harbour. This is a very old hotel recently renovated. There is a great deal of history associated with this building. Take time to enter and go to the rear where there is a wonderful garden Terrace. Local beers were 6.50 Tala about US$3.00 for a small bottle and 13 Tala for a large. Well drinks at 12 Tala and water (350ml) 2.50 Tala, just over US$1. During happy hour cocktails are 10 Tala. The preceding statement about Aggie Grey’s is a repeat of comments we made two years ago. Shortly after our visit in 2012 the area was hit by a typhoon and Aggie Grey’s was severally damaged. It is now undergoing a total renovation and addition of a new four story wing.
Also new since our last visit is the Catholic cathedral. This is an incredible building to rival many in Europe. Don’t miss the chance to visit. The ceiling is a mastercraft of hand carved wood. There is an incredible painted cupola and beautiful stained glass windows.
During our return to the ship we stopped by “The Edge” bar and restaurant. This is a wonderful port side restaurant in a complex of several establishments in this complex. If you arrive by cruise ship it’s an easy walk from the dock, perhaps 400 – 500 yards. The restaurant has a few tables inside but the attraction is to sit on the deck over the water and enjoy the breeze and the small fish below. There are three local Samoan beers on tap as well as a variety of bottles. A mug of local beer is five “Tala” about $2.25US. The symbol for “Tala” is the same as US or Canadian dollars ($) so don’t be deceived. WiFI is available for 20 Tala for 2 hours. We did not purchase this service so can’t comment on the speed. If you use a credit card there is a 3.5% surcharge.
We didn't try any food but the restaurant seems popular with the locals and we received a warm welcome. Great place to enjoy the Samoan atmosphere. Of note this is the first bar/restaurant I have been to where there was a plate of free condoms in each of the restrooms. Interesting!
Right at dockside the Samoans have set up numerous stalls to sell all the local artifacts and handicrafts. Nearly all you could want was right at hand without having to go to town.
We returned about 1:00PM and as we entered the cabin the phone was ringing. Alexa from the Purser’s office wanted to offer a dinner in the Crown Grill and a bottle of wine. I asked about a “hot” tub but she wouldn't commit to that.
We returned to “The Edge” for happy hour. We enjoyed 2 draft beers, 2 bottled beers and 2 Mojitos for a total of 26 Tala. Good time enjoying a number of Samoans having a good time after looking after cruise passengers all day.
Not much going on this evening. We are going to dine at the Horizon Court for the first time. We set sail for Pago Pago at 7:00PM shortly before sunset. Prior to dinner I went up to the hot tub to check conditions. By coincidence Alexa also appeared. We were both pleased that the tub was “hot”. Delighted!
Enjoyed our first dinner in the HC. Great selection of dishes, very friendly staff and we were able to find a relatively quiet corner. Good experience. After dinner we changed and arrived at the tub at 9:50PM. Enjoyed our first evening under the stars and a half moon. Outstanding!
Day Fifteen: We’re at the half way point. We've arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa at 7:00 AM . Day is overcast, some showers and windy. Strong crosswind makes it difficult to tie up. Saturday still as we have again crossed the International Date Line. Beautiful little hurricane hole. Not much here but we didn't do any tours. By turning left out of the port and walking less than 1000 feet there is a wonderful little hotel/restaurant and beach called Sadie’s by the Sea. Great place to stop. Enjoyed $4.00 mugs of beer on their delightful outdoor terrace. Their gift shop had the only decent liquor display so we bought a litre of rum and transferred it to our plastic bottle which we had no trouble boarding. Sadie’s also has their own little beach which you can use for $5 a day. Immediately beyond Sadie’s there is a very active public beach.
If you turn right out of the port and walk about ¾ of a mile you will discover Tutuila Store which has a wide selection of fabrics at very reasonable prices. We are supposed to have a musical send off at 5.00PM. Had a wonderful sailaway for this marvellous little harbour. Dined at our usual table. Went up to the tub just before ten. Windy, overcast with a little rain but the tub was hot and we had it to ourselves. Returned to the cabin about 10:30 and had a nightcap on our balcony.
Day Sixteen: Early awake again. Overcast with winds about 30 knots. Sea state 4 to 5. We are straight into the wind so we have a wind across the deck of over 50 mph. The Captain advised that he has reduced speed in order to improve passenger comfort so we are now running about 3 hours late for Bora Bora. May make up time tomorrow. . Formal night tonight. Enjoyed another good meal then watched “Want to be a Millionaire” Princess game. Still rainy, windy and closed decks so retired to our balcony about 10:30PM. We’re heading east again so setting time one hour forward tonight.
Day Seventeen: Overcast and light chop this morning. Another sea day. Winds have died a little and sun begins to appear about noon. Having a pub lunch, afternoon game, show at seven, Flamico Express and dinner with new friends at eight. Flamenco Express is a duo that performs several dance routines to Flamenco music. Good show. Enjoyed our dinner with Gary and Sheryl from Vancouver. Played a new game where you try to decipher a phrase from a scramble of words. Good fun in the Explorers lounge.
Will be in Moorea tomorrow and we’re looking forward to our whale and porpoise watching tour.
Day Eighteen: Arrived at the entrance of our anchorage area in Moorea at about 8:30 about one hour late because of the winds during our crossing from Pago Pago. Stayed on ship for the morning but enjoyed the Spinner Dolphin, whale watching tour provided by Dr. Michael Poole. This was conducted in a large roofed boat with a very educational briefing by Dr. Poole of the years of research he has conducted on dolphin and other species. We spotted many dolphin, saw some spins then travelled to a shallow lagoon area where we stopped and were given the opportunity to swim and interact with rays and black tipped sharks. Wonderful experience. This was a tour offered by the ship at $129. Returned to the ship about 4:30PM.
Quiet night tonight entertainment wise. We enjoyed our usual dinner then spent 45 minutes in the hot tub with some rain. Good fun none the less.
Day Nineteen: Arrived at Bora Bora anchorage about 7:00 AM. Very narrow entrance to a wonderful harbour overlooked by a 2500 foot volcanic peak. Another day of cloud and drizzle. Took a tender about 10:00 to visit port area. Bought a set of black pearl earrings for Louise. Found a little grocery store and replenished some supplies.
We have a lagoon tour planned for 1:30 but we have had a series of heavy showers since we returned at about 11:30. Don’t think this will be much fun. Went to the dock for 1:30 and by mutual agreement of the operator and guests the tour was cancelled. We returned to the ship to enjoy our balcony in a misty and cloudy afternoon. Saw an instrument show featuring an Australian banjo player and violinist then followed with dinner and thirty five minutes in the tub under a full moon. The Captain announced earlier that we had extended our stay in Papaeete until 2:00PM Friday.
Day Twenty: Arrived in Papeete at about 7:30 to a beautiful sunny day, the first in many days. We are stern in and adjacent to a park and entertainment area. We met Sally, a relative, in late morning and enjoyed lunch and part of the afternoon at her home just outside the city and with a view to nearby Moorea. On our return we stopped in at a nearby brasserie called 3 Brasseurs. We’ve come over 10,000 miles to stumble across the same micro-brewery we have at home. They make at least four house brews. We enjoyed the “Blanche”, white beer (650 XPF about $7). Prices somewhat higher than in Canada. A good place near the harbour to enjoy a brew and people watch.
At 7:00 PM we enjoyed a fabulous Tahitian show put on in the theatre by a troupe of about 20 dancers and musicians called “O Tahiti E” folkloric show.. This show was the highlight of our trip so far. After the show we enjoyed dinner followed by a walk through the adjacent park area which was alive with people enjoying the offerings of the many “roulettes” (food trucks) with their wide diversity of offerings.
Day Twenty one: Woke up to a delightful day here in Papeete. The Captain advised us late last night that our departure was being delayed until 4:30 today because we are awaiting arrival of a ship from New Zealand with important provisions for us. We will take advantage of the extra time to walk the harbour promenade later this morning. We walked the length of the pedestrian harbour-side walkway to the stadium, about a mile. Construction is in progress to improve this walkway and include a new marina. Project expected to be completed in 2015.
On our return we walked on the opposite side and about half way back we discovered the Robert Wan Pearl shop and Pearl Museum, claimed to be the largest pearl museum in the world. The museum is free and was a wonderful discovery. There were displays of ancient pearls, how they were discovered and used. There are displays of royal clothing and headdresses of the past and then displays of current cultivation. This is certainly a place to wander in, discover and learn some history and marvel at the beauty of the various pearls.
This was the most spectacular departure we have ever had. The shore was lined with locals all waving us off. The welcome and friendliness of the Tahitians will be a lifelong memory.
We caught the seven o’clock show of Michael Minor a ventriloquist and vocalist. He had a good routine using four characters and his singing and impressions were very talented.
Tonight we dined at the “Crab Shack” for the first time. This turned out to be a fun and outstanding experience. We had the shrimp and hush puppy appetizer followed by the shrimp and crab legs. This main course was outstanding. Although I finished mine, Louise only completed the legs and took the excellent shrimp for lunch tomorrow. We’re happy we didn't also order the soup. We followed dinner with our usual hot tub. Overall a wonderful evening.
Day Twenty Two – We are off on our Pacific crossing of over 3500 nautical miles over better than 7 days. Today dawned cloudy but warm with a few showers about and light seas. The sun came out after noon and it very hot on the balcony. This should be the routine until we get to LA. I won’t report unless there is something of particular interest.
Saw two shows tonight, David Aiken “The Checkerboard Guy”, a juggler and comedian and Doug Funk a Toronto improv comedian. Funk had very good audience participation. Both provided very good entertainment. During dinner, about 9:00 we were advised by the Captain that we had a medical emergency and that we were diverting to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands to transfer the patient. He could not confirm the delay.
Day Twenty Three - Hot and sunny southbound. The Captain informed s at about 9:00 AM that we would arrive at Nuku Hiva at about 2:00 PM and that there would be a tender transfer of the patient. We arrived at the port about 2:10 and had retrieved our tender by 2:50 PM. Very slick operation. Advised we are running about a day late and that our new ETA for LA is about 9:00 AM Sunday the 16th.
Tonight were catching a show by Ric Steel who highlights the songs of Roy Orbison, Jonny Cash and the Beatles. Good entertainer and we look forward o his performance in the Explorers Lounge later in the week. We follow the show with dinner and a tub. Fabulous evening.
Day Twenty Four – Lots doing today. Started off with Remembrance Day service presided over by Captain. Theatre full. Very impressive service. Still no update about our arrival. Have succeeded in changing our hotel reservation in LA but cannot complete flight change on AC site. Have wasted over 1 ½ hours of internet time without results. Keep getting time out or page fault. Have sent message asking my brother to try on my behalf.
Shortly after 1200 the Captain announced that ETA was 0900 16 Nov if weather holds. Further promised to update at 1630 regarding travel arrangements.
At 1630 Captain announced that patient had been operated on in Papeete and was recovering. Stated that Princess Air passengers were being re-scheduled and others must do own bookings. He stated that free phone and internet would be provided and that claims for additional air charges should be submitted to Princess.
Received message from Gerry that our flights were re-booked. We’re elated and celebrating with a glass of wine!
Enjoyed another show by Ric Steel followed by dinner. Tried to use the hot tub but it was again closed. Not happy!
Day Twenty Five – Woke up to a warm but overcast day. Sea state about 3 and winds less than 20. Last night we again crossed the equator and are making good time for LA going at better than 22 knots. We intend to see Doug Funk, the comedian this evening before dinner in the Crown Grill.
There are extensive line-ups at several locations on deck seven where people are trying to change their flight arrangements. Ship has set up different locations for different airlines and each has an open line direct to airline booking centre. No need to make individual calls. Although never very good, since leaving Papeete the Wifi service has been almost non-existent. This persists until we arrive in LA. The Crown's Wifi has been the worst we have ever experienced.
Captain advised us today that we have numerous cases of Norovirus aboard and many extra sanitary precautions have been imposed.
Spa tub on deck 17 aft remained closed all day and evening for no apparent reason.
We went to Crown Grill for dinner at 8:00 PM. Nice quiet atmosphere with very few diners. Good appetizers. Louise ordered Sea Bass & shrimp and I ordered 8 oz filet with lobster tail plus vegetables for main courses. Beautiful, delicious sea bass and perfectly cooked filet. However, lobster tail and all vegetables were barely warm. A disappointing dinner experience overall. Would only go back if we specifically wanted a quiet night. Wish they would offer an upsell to a premium steak in the MDR. We had a much more enjoyable experience at the Crab Shack.
Day Twenty Six – Cloudy and windy this morning. Spa tub still closed. Went by the spa about 10:30 to find it open. Later talked to a deck attendant who stated it had been closed because of poor water quality. Closed over 36 hours to adjust quality? There are probably less than 300 gals of water. Why not simply empty and re-start. We’re starting to think about packing. The crew show is on in the theatre this evening. Crew show was a sell out and we enjoyed it.
Day Twenty Seven - Cloudy and cool today. Don’t do much. Captain hosted an end of cruise cocktail party at 7:00 PM this evening. We don’t recall ever having one of these before. He gave a speech thanking everyone for their consideration and compassion regarding the deviation in course and congratulated everyone on their efforts to contain the Norovirus. He stated that we were now down to less than 50 cases from a high of over 90. We see Michael Minor again for a very entertaining show followed by dinner. We decide to forgo the spa tonight and visit the Happy Hour in the Wheelhouse Lounge and enjoy some easy listening.
Day Twenty Eight - Last day dawns bright and a little cool with smooth seas again. Enjoy an afternoon spa under MUTS then cocktails, a show at seven by Ric Steel which turned out to be the best show of the trip. Finale was a musical number with the CD and all of the stars we have had aboard since Papeete. Followed this with dinner and then retired to the cabin for a nightcap.
Day Twenty Nine – We’re alongside by 7:15. We hope to start disembarking by 9:00 and our time off is scheduled for shortly after 11:00. We’ll see how cooperative Customs and CDC are today.
Clearance comes early and as disembarkation progresses our time off becomes earlier. We actually disembark about 10:30, speed through the non- US immigration/customs, easily find are bags and are out looking for Super Shuttle within 15 minutes. Perhaps the smoothest dis-embarkation ever. We have a smooth drive to our hotel, the Hilton, after a stop at the airport. Enjoy our stay at the Hilton and a wonderful meal at a nearby Mexican restaurant then the following afternoon we have an uneventful return flight to Ottawa via Air Canada.