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4 Princess Pacific Princess Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

We were looking for a relaxing vacation to truly get away from it all, and we found it on the Pacific Princess. Other than some unnecessary and ultimately disappointing difficulty around our dietary restrictions, this was a great trip. ... Read More
We were looking for a relaxing vacation to truly get away from it all, and we found it on the Pacific Princess. Other than some unnecessary and ultimately disappointing difficulty around our dietary restrictions, this was a great trip. Part of the attraction was that it is a small ship, where you get constant attention and service. We flew to Orlando from Boston three days earlier, both to avoid the risk of weather delays (which would have happened had we flown later), and to visit family and friends. We rented a car and drove to Ft Lauderdale the day of the cruise. Embarkation was a smooth process. We went right to our cabin, which was highly satisfactory. The bed was not great at first but they got us a bedboard and all was well. We loved the balcony and spent a lot of time watching the ever-changing show that was the sea and sky-scape, day and night. The entertainment was good to just OK, and paled in comparison to the draw of the balcony, though I had a great time making a complete fool of myself at the passenger talent show. Our luggage arrived in a timely manner, and our cabin steward, Rugnapa from Thailand, was wonderful. Most of the stewards are men, so we had one of only two "lady stewards." Lucky us! We were also well-situated midship so that when we did hit some rough seas a couple of times, we were in a relatively stable spot. The Pacific Princess was the original "Love Boat" on the 70's TV series, which played on the closed circuit TV, fun. The pool and hot tub were great, as was the deck track - 13 times around is a mile. The exercise room could have been open for more extended hours, however. The library was extensive, and was the site of Friday night Sabbath services, with kosher wine and challah provided, much appreciated, and gave us the opportunity to make more new friends. Though we are in our 50's, we felt like the "kids" of the cruise, which we got a kick out of. We only took advantage of two shore excursions, see the excursion section, had a great time.DIning was mostly good, with some notable exceptions. I have both gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance. This is a VERY common combination, as many, many people with celiac disease (which I don't have, luckily) go through periods of lactose intolerance. This is very well known, but as we keep discovering in our travels, venues such as this ship, which do great with the gluten free menu, do not get the lactose thing at all! I also have an unusual allergy to yeast, and ran into issues with the reasonable accommodation request that I made to the dietary people in advance. I had so much difficulty getting confirmation that my needs would be met, that we almost didn't book this cruise. I asked if I could bring my own yeast-free bread, since I don't expect anyone to have this available, and to bring my own vegan margarine, since I suspected, correctly, as it turned out, that truly dairy-free marg, though advertised, would not be available. I went back and forth MANY times with them, just trying to confirm that I could bring these items and would be able to store them in the fridge in our cabin, and trying to get the fridge dimensions. During these exchanges, I was given a list of gluten free items that could be ordered for me, and when I looked at the ingredients, almost every item had dairy and/or nuts in it, despite the fact that I'd specified what my (Very common) allergies were. This offer was made more than once, by the same person. I felt she was not paying attention and became concerned that this would be the situation on board as well. This was finally straightened out, and I was assured that the crew was well-versed in managing food allergies, but I was told that I could only ask my maitre'd to toast the bread for me as this situation was to be considered, and I quote, "a one-off," and that I must not ask this of anybody else. I found this turn of phrase offensive. All very silly, as it turned out that there was a public toaster at the breakfast bar. We only made the seated breakfast once, since we wanted to be able to sleep later on vacation. The breakfast and lunch daily buffet selections were great. I asked several times about getting some gluten-free muffins as they supposedly had a mix, but this never came to pass. I did get gluten-free pancakes one day, and the less said the better, blah. I don't understand why they couldn't get some of the many, many good-tasting products readily available. This was also an issue at dinner. We had great tablemates, and made new friends. Our headwaiter, Feliciano was THE BEST, and went out of his way to accommodate us (my husband also has some unusual food allergies and restrictions), and we can't say that we went hungry at all. The gluten-free selections, while somewhat repetitive, were excellent and very nicely prepared and presented. But it was a bit disappointing to pay top dollar for a luxury cruise, communicate about lactose intolerance WELL in advance, and find there there was virtually no non-dairy, gluten-free dessert available other than albeit tasty sorbets- still it's disappointing to have to see the amazing array of choices and not be able to partake. They were able to make my husband an apple pie, and just served him a slice several evenings, but sure enough, the supposedly non-dairy margarine that they used contained buttermilk, so I was unable to have any. After several requests, they finally tried to make me something using the supplies at hand, and told me that it came out so badly that they couldn't even bring it out, and wouldn't I care for some nice sorbet? Seriously! This was a glaring deficit on the part of whoever orders the special needs supplies as well as on the part of the chef. Some of our new companions were also disappointed that they ordered Kosher foods and only some of what they requested arrived - no soups or desserts at all, though their headwaiter was knowledgable and was able to make sure they had enough to eat, they ended up having pretty much the same fare day after day. So we weren't the only ones having issues. However, we did eat more healthily than we otherwise might have, and at least I didn't put on any weight during the cruise. Disembarkation was OK, if briefly a bit harried, and it was unfortunate that we had to get going so very early, but overall it went fine, and our transfer to Herz was right there. All in all, we would cruise on Princess again, particularly on the smaller ship.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
The opportunity to sail on Pacific Princess for her 10 day Eastern Caribbean Voyager cruise was a real treat. The ship is lovely, the crew is friendly and accommodating, and DH and I were truly able to 'escape completely'. We ... Read More
The opportunity to sail on Pacific Princess for her 10 day Eastern Caribbean Voyager cruise was a real treat. The ship is lovely, the crew is friendly and accommodating, and DH and I were truly able to 'escape completely'. We arrived in FLL the night before embarkation after an almost 2 hour delay in our flight from Boston. While it was raining in Boston and clear in FLL, there was plenty of stormy winter weather in between. After retrieving our luggage, we called for the shuttle from the Fairfield Inn & Suites FLL Airport & Cruise Port. The shuttle is complimentary, and was there less than 15 minutes after our call. The hotel was perfect for spending the night before a cruise, with comfortable bedding and a nice complimentary breakfast. Shuttles to three cruise ports (Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, and Miami) were available for a fee - Port Everglades cost is $8pp. We did not use the shuttle, as a relative in the area picked us up. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in Fort Lauderdale and visited Total Wine to pick up 2 bottles of wine to bring onboard. Embarkation was astonishingly simple, in comparison to the other cruises we have taken. We kept driving closer and closer to the terminal, wondering when we would see where to drop off our luggage. Finally, very close to the front door of the terminal were two luggage cages and three porters. The time from when we got out of the car to the time we boarded the ship was less than 15 minutes, and we pulled up to the terminal at 2:15. Cabin - We were in 6001, a balcony cabin directly on the bow of the ship, overlooking all of the equipment used in docking the ship. As recreational boaters near our homeport, DH and I enjoyed being out on our balcony for every arrival and departure of Pacific Princess during the cruise. Contrary to some reviews I have read about sailing in this and other bow-facing cabins on the ship, we had no limits on accessing our balcony during the cruise, and we were never asked to keep our drapes drawn during the evening in order to block light from the cabin. The cabin was very comfortable, with a queen-sized bed, a loveseat, and a vanity/desk. The closet space was ok, but not as spacious as the larger ships. We had a refrigerator. The bathroom was standard and neither of us felt a lack of space in there. Our steward was Peter from India. He was OK, but definitely not the best steward we have ever had. I found it strange that when I left a note asking Peter to empty the refrigerator of Princess products (soda, bottled water), he hid the bottles and cans behind the drapes in the room. We had more positive interaction from the other steward in the hallway near us, a friendly man who always spoke to us and asked us how we were doing. Ship - Our first walk around the ship to check everything out took less than 30 minutes, another new experience. It is possible to walk from bow to stern on all of the decks, and the two sets of stairs/elevators were plenty. The decor is cozy and elegant, with many inviting corners to sit and relax in. The library (Deck 10) is the largest I have seen on a ship. The walking track overlooks the pool deck and 13 laps equal one nautical mile (1 1/8 miles). I gave up trying to count laps and used one of the two clocks in the area to time my early morning walks. The pool and hot tubs were of decent size, and even when 'crowded', there were never any 'chair hogs' on the pool deck. There are 2 main lounges for entertainment, the Pacific Lounge (Deck 10) and the Cabaret Lounge (Deck 5). The Casino (Deck 5) is small, but has a great lounge. We saw Captain Justin Lawes frequently during the cruise, and found him to be very friendly. His wife and son joined him for the cruise, and we saw them almost daily as well. Dining - The options for dining are MDR (2 seatings), Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini's (available on alternating nights) and the Panorama Buffet. We ate dinner at the 8:15 second seating in the MDR on Deck 5 Aft. The first evening we were at a table for 6 with only one other couple. During dinner, Federico Arcos, the Maitre d', came to tell the other couple that their request for the early seating was approved and that DH and I would be then dining alone at this table, unless we wanted to be moved. He was so apologetic about the situation, but we told him that a new table assignment would be fine. The next evening he rushed up to us to escort us to our new table (we had received a card in our mailbox with the new table number) and continued throughout the week to check on our satisfaction with the dining experience. It was great! Our table was served by Martin from Mexico and Katerina from Serbia. These two wonderful people made dinner a positive experience every evening, and they would also greet us in the morning if we saw them at the Panorama Buffet. The food was delicious. We did try the Sterling Steakhouse one evening, mostly because we had been unable to make any specialty dining reservations when we cruised on the Caribbean Princess. It was a pleasant experience, made quite special because Executive Chef Antonio Cortese was preparing a meal for a party of ten at a nearby table while we were there. Honestly, I don't think it is necessary to book the specialty restaurants, as the MDR was excellent.We enjoyed our breakfast on the deck outside of the Panorama Buffet (9 aft) every morning. It is such a beautiful location that most people don't bother with. To me, it is a highlight of the cruise. Cruise Critic M & G - Members from our roll call gathered on the first sea day in Sabatini's. It was very well attended and a great opportunity to meet those I had been chatting with since booking the cruise. Maik from Food & Beverage came to speak to us. I was pleased to see him on the last day of the cruise and tell him how tasty everything was - he had a big smile and thanked me. Ports - See my separate review Captain's Circle - This was our second Princess cruise, so we were able to attend our first Members' Cocktail Party. We were greeted by Captain Lawes and other staff members and enjoyed the brief presentation by Circle Host Jennifer Baldwin. Unlike the past guest reception on another line, there were pleasant beverage options. I definitely would attend another of these. Entertainment - We never went to any of the shows. The first evening after dinner we stopped at the Casino Lounge and heard a fabulous singer/piano player named Funch. That was it for us - we went to listen to him every night for the rest of the cruise. He was wonderful as he played and sang and interacted with the audience - he would greet people as they arrived and wave as they departed, and he often had us sing along. Josy from India was our waiter in the Casino Lounge and he was the best! We attended the Champagne Waterfall Dance Party on the second formal night. CD Peter Roberts did a great job with that. The waterfall is much nicer on the Pacific than on the Caribbean - low key, instead of frenzied. Disembarkation - All good things come to an end! We chose Express Walkoff with our luggage and were to report to the Deck 5 Atrium at 7:10am. It was a small group and we were told that there would be a delay of 15-20 minutes. In any event, we were off the ship, through customs and in a taxi heading to the airport at 7:45. It couldn't have been smoother. Note: Leaving the cabin with our suitcases was the first time we used the elevator during the 10 days - it was a fine trip! Final Thoughts: I can't recommend the small ship experience enough! I hope to be able to sail on a small ship again, and would definitely love to be a passenger on the Pacific Princess for another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
~~ Thursday, January 17th - Greetings from the Pacific Princess ~~ It has been a busy day but we are aboard the beautiful Pacific Princess at sea, bound for our first port of call, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, day after ... Read More
~~ Thursday, January 17th - Greetings from the Pacific Princess ~~ It has been a busy day but we are aboard the beautiful Pacific Princess at sea, bound for our first port of call, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, day after tomorrow. Flying from Orange County Airport -- John Wayne -- very early yesterday morning, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale last evening about 6:30 PM and were met by the free shuttle from the Rodeway Inn & Suites. Ours was a nice but modest motel accommodation: quite good enough for a one night's stay. A Continental Breakfast this morning was enhanced by delicious make-it-yourself waffles: not bad for $72 (AAA discount). This morning at 10:30 AM, the Rodeway Inn & Suites shuttle delivered us to the Cruise Terminal where, before 11:00 AM, we were able to begin our check in -- with NO CROWDS at all! I was really surprised that we would be able to check in that early. Being of the Elite status with Preferred Boarding, our check in went remarkably fast and we were soon ushered into a private waiting room, especially for Elite and Platinum Captain's Circle members, from which we were called for boarding just before noon. We were in our beautiful Mini-Suite 8046 on Deck 8 shortly thereafter. The next order of business was lunch in the Panorama Buffet -- the Club Restaurant was not yet open. We selected an outdoor table at the stern of Deck 9, under warm, sunny skies -- to start with. Soon, however, dark storm clouds rapidly approached and a heavy shower, albeit short-lived, forced us to seek another table beneath the overhang, dry from the rain. Our luggage arrived soon -- three of the four pieces at first, and then finally the remaining carry-on of mine; most of our unpacking is already accomplished. There is considerable storage space available and we have no difficulty finding a place for our things. Being a Wheel Chair cabin -- all that was left to fulfill our mini-suite guarantee booking, the bathroom is huge -- enough to easily accommodate a wheel chair; however, no bath tub, which is somewhat of a disappointment. This mini-suite with 322 square feet is over one and a half larger than a normal balcony stateroom, primarily much wider. Very spacious in any case. At 3:15 PM there was the mandatory safety muster with all passengers required to attend. Our muster station B is the Club Restaurant directly below on Deck 5 at the ship's stern. Princess satisfies this mandated safety drill inside the ship in contrast to other cruise lines who force all of the passengers out onto a deck directly beneath the life boats to which they would be assigned in case of an emergency. We are instructed what to do in case of an emergency and how to properly put on our life vests. Very routine. Shortly afterward, at around 3:45 PM, with all passengers aboard, the Pacific Princess set sail on this 10-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, visiting the islands of Tortola, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Barthelemy. It will be my first visit to these islands, and a main reason for my selection of this cruise. Sail-aways are always celebratory and those from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale are no different. Many members of our Cruise Critic group met on Deck 10 around the jogging track located there, and a good time was had by all. I counted about 24 of our group of 50 that showed up. Well away from land, the air became cool as the sun sank below the horizon, and it was time to retreat inside and get ready for dinner; our traditional dining is the "late seating" at 8:15 PM. Tomorrow at 11 AM our Cruise Critic group will formerly gather for our "Meet & Greet" in the Sterling Steakhouse on Deck 10, hopefully with several of the ship's officers also attending. With 50 on our Roll Call, I expect a good attendance -- especially for such a small ship as the Pacific Princess (680). That's about it for tonight; it may be tomorrow sometime before our satellite internet connection is available to send this first email. ~~ Friday, January 18th - First Day at Sea ~~ Today -- Friday -- has been a slow, quiet and relaxing day, our first day at sea. Tomorrow will also be at sea until we arrive in Tortola on Sunday, our first port-of-call. There was a time change last night, setting our clocks ahead one hour; we are now 4 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. The skies have been clear and sunny and the seas smooth as glass. The top deck around the pools was filled with sun worshipers, enjoying the respite from the cold winter back home. My main activity of the day was our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet at 11 AM, originally scheduled for the Sterling Steakhouse but relocated to the Sabatini's Italian Restaurant due to a scheduling conflict with the "Pub Lunch" in the Steakhouse. Louise, the lady in our CC group who had arranged the Meet & Greet, unfortunately became ill at the last minute causing her to miss the cruise. As a result, it was up to me to fill in for her, conducting the meeting, distributing the name tags I had created along with copies of our CC Roll Call, which I had also created. Surprisingly, there were over 40 of the 50 in attendance. Unfortunately, the Captain, Cruise Director, and other ship's officers who were to have been invited by Louise, failed to attend. We all had a good time in any case, conversing and exchanging information with those with whom we had been blogging on the internet for the past few months. A very successful meeting, I would say. Afterward I decided to enjoy "Bangers & Mash" at the Pub Lunch, along with a Beck's beer. Delicious! With my duties performed, and my appetite satisfied, it was then time for a nap. On our balcony one of the comfortable chairs beckoned; the balmy breezes, the gentle sounds of the sea being parted by the bow of our ship, and looking out over the almost mirror-like water, all contributed to my relaxation. Wonderful! Originally I had thought that tonight would be the first of our two formal nights, but that will be tomorrow night; tonight is just "smart casual." Usually the first formal night is preceded with a Captain's Welcome Party, with free drinks. Time to drag out the tuxedo! Last night's dinner in the Club Restaurant presented the customary first-night menu choice of Prime Rib, which I selected along with Princess' superb mushroom soup. The prime rib was exceptionally good, and I finished every morsel. Dessert was one of my favorites: passion fruit souffle with vanilla custard sauce. Yum! We were seated at a table for 4 along with an older couple from the Toronto area; they seem nice. All of the unpacking is now complete and the spaciousness of our Mini-Suite is now more apparent than before. The increased size is most apparent in the width of our cabin; there are three large windows facing the balcony, the middle one being a sliding glass door. The entire wall is glass. Being a "wheel chair room" our entry door is extra large and, as previously mentioned, the bathroom is huge. Unfortunately, we would have preferred a smaller bathroom with a bathtub. Those are the chances one takes with a "guarantee" booking. The two-category upgrade, however, was still substantial and well worth the long wait. Preceding dinner tonight (our seating is at 8:15 PM) there is a special "Elite Lounge" happy hour from 7 until 8 in the Sterling Steakhouse offering hors d'oeuvres and drink specials; I plan to attend. At just past 6 PM (Atlantic Standard Time) it appears to be getting overcast outside although the seas are still smooth. The day's warm sunshine has disappeared for the day. Almost time to get ready for dinner. ~~ Sunday, January 20th - Tortola, British Virgin Islands ~~ We have just now arrived in the harbor of Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands, where we will be for the day, 8 AM until 6 PM. The skies are crystal clear and the air is balmy pleasant; it should be a beautiful day. Our tour for the day from 10 AM until 2 PM is: ***The Baths at Virgin Gorda & Beach: Bask in the warm Caribbean sun during a relaxing cruise to Virgin Gorda, the third largest of the British Virgin Islands, to visit the Baths, a magnificent slice of heaven on earth. The half-day excursion starts with a refreshing cruise across Sir Francis Drake Channel. Marvel at the splendid painting-like tableaux created where sea, land and sky cross paths. After docking, hop on a safari bus to reach the Baths. Shaped through volcanic activity, this unusual geologic formation consists of massive, time-smoothed boulders piled up in stacks and clusters, which naturally creates intimate grottos, stunning beaches and oasis-like pools between them. Enjoy time to follow spectacular trails, rejuvenate in secluded pools, explore dazzling grottos and swim, sun and relax on the beach in this resplendent destination. Before departing, savor a fresh fruit juice or rum punch as you soak up the amazing imagery in this slice of paradise.*** Afterward we will still have a few hours before reboarding the ship at 5:30 PM to investigate the small town with shops, restaurants, etc. Yesterday was our second day at sea and was highlighted by a wine tasting at 3 PM, complimentary for us Elite Captain's Circle Members. A familiar selection of wines included Nobilo sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, Kendall Jackson chardonnay from the US Russian River, La Crema pinot noir from Napa Valley, and Wolf Bass cabernet sauvignon from South Australia; a sweet dessert wine from the sauvignon blanc grape completed our very enjoyable tasting. There will be a second Maitre D' Wine Tasting later on in the cruise featuring more choice wines accompanied by appropriate magnificent hors d'oeuvres -- at a price of $25. Last evening was the first of our formal nights and was preceded with the Captain's Gala Party in the Cabaret Show Lounge -- with free drinks and hors d'oeuvres, where the ship's officers are all introduced. With 680 passengers aboard, there were two parties, one for early dining and one for late dining, about 300 each. Dinner was quite good and my menu choice was delicious leg of lamb with Bananas Foster for dessert. Yum! Following dinner we attended the first production show, "Motor City", in the Cabaret Show Lounge. We have seen this particular show several times now on other cruises but this production was still very enjoyable. Of course my tuxedo got another workout; we were among the FEW aboard dressing in tuxes. Oh well... It is time to start getting ready for our day's outing so I will continue my report later this evening. ~~ Monday, January 21st - Antigua ~~ As I look out of our windows to the sea, the skies are dotted with small clouds but otherwise clear and sunny. The position of our cabin on the ship's port side shields us from the early morning sunshine. The seas remain remarkable smooth with only a slight gentle motion; we have been very fortunate to have had such calm seas. The air, of course, is fresh and balmy and delightfully warm. Today we will be in Antigua, the largest of the British Leeward Islands, where we will dock in St. John's, the capital city. Our full day tour, however, will prevent seeing much of the city. Arrival is at 8 AM and departure is at 5 PM; my tour choice is described as follows: ***Champagne & Lobster, Scenic Cruise & Swim: The quintessential Caribbean dream becomes a reality on this decadent getaway cruise aboard the luxury catamaran Mystic, which includes a lobster and champagne lunch. Your first stop is Deep Bay Beach, with an arched shoreline and water temperatures perfect for swimming. While you relax on the beach, crew members will serve you refreshing fruit drinks. Keep your bathing suit on because your catamaran's next stop is Morris Bay, just a short sail down the west coast. You'll know you've arrived when you see the signature coconut trees that line the sandy shores. While you're ashore, the Mystic crew is busy preparing a delicious lobster buffet for you on board. An open bar and lively Caribbean music complements your glass of champagne and meal.*** Sounds pretty good to me! I'll let you know later how it all turned out. Yesterday's tour in Tortola to Virgin Gorda Island was most interesting with the giant granite boulders arranged by nature along the beach, resulting in many grottos and small beaches. We took a daring cave route to Devil's Bay that required maneuvering between and beneath the giant boulders, sometimes creating very narrow and low passages. The only unfortunate thing was the limited time allowed for our enjoyment of the beaches, the cruise over from Road Town having taken 45 minutes. Our return cruise was made quite festive with the delicious rum punch drinks liberally distributed by the boat's crew; rum is very plentiful and very good in the Caribbean. Even though we still had a couple of hours remaining after the tour, the physically challenging crawling among the giant granite boulders at Virgin Gorda had exhausted me. A short trip into Road Town allowed for some shopping at a market for more wine and a stop at a small Chinese restaurant (only one open since it was Sunday) for a couple of Carib beers. Then back to the ship for a wonderful, restful nap before dinner. The ship departed right on schedule at 5:30 PM. It is time to start the day and prepare for today's activities; our tour meeting time in the Cabaret Lounge is 8:45 AM. ~~ Tuesday, January 22nd - St. Lucia ~~ Big puffy clouds fill the morning skies with the sun beginning to peek through. The air remains balmy and fresh and the seas are calm. Another beautiful day in paradise! Today we will dock in Castries, the capital city of the island of St. Lucia where I have chosen the full day tour: ***Ladera Resort, the Pitons, Catamaran, Drive & Lunch: Indulge in the natural and man-made wonders of St. Lucia. Your six-hour excursion begins as you depart for the town of Soufriere aboard you air-conditioned motor coach. You'll travel along St. Lucia's lush western coast and arrive at Ladera Resort, the first Caribbean hotel to be rated #1 by "Conde Nast Traveler" magazine. Ladera has welcomed Oprah, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, and today, you'll be welcomed by a cocktail, a perfect prelude for your gourmet lunch at the award-winning Dasheene Restaurant, which overlooks the majestic Pitons. After lunch, you'll continue on to the Soufriere docks and your catamaran that will take you out into glorious Marigot Bay, called, "the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean" by author James Michener. Enjoy the view, have some rum punch and swim in the inviting water. Then you'll return to the dock and board your coach for the return trip to Castries.*** The Pitons are twin peaks rising over 2,600 feet above the azure waters of the Caribbean. Yesterday was a very full day in Antigua with our extensive catamaran coastal cruise aboard the beautiful Mystic II, easily accommodating the many of us tourist from the Pacific Princess as well as many from three other huge cruise ships in harbor, one of which was the Celebrity ECLIPSE; another was a German ship whose name I did not recognize. During the day we passed by beach after beach, each more spectacularly beautiful than other. We stopped for over an hour at "Deep Water Bay" where the catamaran maneuvered right up to the sandy beach allowing us to simply walk down stairs onto the beach. Then our coastal cruise continued with generously supplied rum punch until we reached yet another spectacular bay where we anchored for the champagne and lobster lunch, prepared aboard with the large lobster halves on a grill at the catamaran's stern. Absolutely delicious! Our return to the ship did not allow for additional time ashore so it was back to our cabin for a well-needed nap. Our ship departed right on schedule at 5 PM. We are now docked in Castries and I see the large RCL Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship pulling in behind us. It will be another crowded day in town. ~~ Wednesday, January 23rd - St. Kitts & Nevis ~~ Despite rain earlier this morning and a storm squall early in the evening last night, causing some noticeable sea motion, right now the skies have returned to their brilliant blues with a few puffy clouds around and the seas are again very smooth and calm. Perfect for cruising. Today we are docked at Basseterre, St. Kitts, and our tour will take us over to the neighboring island of Nevis. Our ship is not scheduled for departure until 11 PM tonight, so there will still be a lot of time for St. Kitts after the tour, described below: ***Nevis Circle Island Tour, Plantations, Beach & Lunch: Begin your island adventure with a scenic, 45-minute boat ride along the coast of St. Kitts' southeastern peninsula to the beautiful sister island of Nevis. Upon arrival in Charlestown, the capital, embark on a motor coach drive through the tranquil town for a glimpse of the true Caribbean lifestyle. As you circle the entire island, your native guide will provide the history of life in Nevis. Wind you way through sleepy villages and see the gracious Montpelier Plantation Inn and gardens. Continue along Nevis' main road to the Golden Rock Plantation Hotel, located on the edge of a rain forest. Enjoy a stroll around the hotel's lush grounds and take in the panoramic vistas. Then, arrive at Pinney Beach for lunch at LIME Beach Bar. After your meal, relax on a lounge chair or take a dip. Board your boat right off the beach and ride back to port.*** Our final port-of-call tomorrow is St. Barthelemy, which is very nearby, and is the reason for our extended stay here in St. Kitts. One highlight of our day on ship will be the Ultimate Balcony Dining I have arranged for this evening at 7:00 PM; this huge Mini-Suite and its extra-large balcony is perfect for such a luxury, I thought. I chose tonight, while we were still in port, and not having to worry about any possible adverse sea motion while dining. The menu will include lobster as well as steak, with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres preceding. And wine. For a price, of course! Yesterday's tour on St. Lucia was very enjoyable, scenic and interesting, albeit a long day. Our drive from the dock was in a comfortable small minibus and seemed to cover a lot of this mountainous island on a very serpentine highway; I am glad that I am not prone to motion sickness as some in our group were. With several stops along the way, for tourist shopping and photo ops, our main destination was the very exotic Ladera Resort which sits up in the hills overlooking the town of Soufriere, with views of both of the majestic Pitons. We were greeted with a welcome cocktail and cold towel and then ushered to our table on a terrace with incomparable views. Lunch consisted of delicious, warm bread, a pumpkin soup, and a choice of a fish or chicken dish; dessert was an apple crisp with coconut ice cream. Complimentary wine was served. Afterward were give a brief tour of the hotel facilities, the one room shown was beyond fabulous! I can see why Oprah chooses this place. Everything is open air with private pools and terraces; bedrooms are upstairs, the beds equipped with netting. Elegant baths and showers are appointed with lots of terrazzo tile artwork and hand carved wood accessories. Truly a work of art. Not bad for around $1250 per day + taxes. Not exactly your Motel 6! We are now at dock, DIRECTLY next to one of Celebrity's huge behemoths, the REFLECTION, which forms a real "Wall of China" blocking any possible views. FORTUNATELY, we just heard that they leave at 4 PM so they should be gone when we return from our tour. It is now time to get busy and prepare for our active day, and escape from the prying eyes of the hordes on balconies of neighbor ship. ~~ Thursday, January 24th - St. Barthelemy ~~ I was lazy this morning and did not write my daily log entry. Now it is almost 4 PM and as I look out of our windows, blue skies and a few clouds are in sight with incredibly blue/turquoise waters of the Caribbean here in the harbor of St. Barthelemy where the Pacific Princess is at anchor. This is our final port-of-call and the only one where ship's tenders were used. The tour of the day -- the only one offered -- is described below: ***St. Barths Scenic Island Drive: Take off on a sightseeing adventure that offers a glimpse at the many surprises this island paradise has to offer. After boarding the air-conditioned mini-bus, just sit back and relax as you travel along Gustavia's tree-lined streets that hold many reminders of the town's Swedish colonial past. Then, continue along the winding roads and rolling hills to St. Jean. Fringed with white sand beaches, turquoise water, and coral reefs, St. Jean is home to luxury hotels and sprawling villas. Next you'll see the salt pond area know as Salines, an unspoiled seaside escape famous for its nude beach. Further on is the beautiful bay at Grand Fond. Here, you'll see a beach different than the rest of the island: swimming is prohibited and spectacular shells cover the rugged coastline. After a drive through some of the charming villages on the north coast you'll return to Gustavia.*** Our driver was low-keyed but informative and our hour-long ride over steep and winding roads, along with 5 others, was excellent. We passed by the airport with a 2100 feet long landing strip, able to accommodate only 20-passenger aircraft and smaller, used primarily for private planes. Some of the beaches viewed were almost identical to those we see in Southern California. Several times the driver stopped for photos at points of view yielding panoramic vistas. This island is a "dry island" as is evidenced by the many cacti present. It is also known as the "Playground of the Rich & Famous" made so primarily by the Rockefellers and Rothschilds in the '70s. Christmas and New Years are the best times to "star spot"; many famous people call the isle home. Like: Steve Martin, David Letterman, Jimmy Buffet and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Year-round, there are mega yachts the size of battleships moored in the harbor; Microsoft's Paul Allen frequently visits in his 416-ft yacht, Octopus. The most expensive hotel on the island is Eden Rock, currently owned by Russian investor Roman Abramovich. After our tour we walked along the town's main street, lined with luxury shops: Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Channel, etc. At the street's far end was a restaurant-bar where I stopped for a couple of beers: small Heinekens at 4 Euros each, or $5.20. Everything is very French and VERY expensive! Our return to the ship early in the afternoon for lunch and a nap was a most welcome retreat. At this moment the tenders are being hoisted back aboard, and when all passengers having gotten off the last tender, the Captain will proceed with our departure, scheduled for 5 PM, but possibly sooner. Next stop, Fort Lauderdale. Now, back to yesterday in St. Kitts, or rather our visit to the neighboring island of Nevis. The trip over was by a public ferry and took about 45 minutes; many of the locals seemed upset that the tourists were taking their spots on the ferry that they routinely take for work. We were also joined by passengers from the Celebrity REFLECTION, further crowding the situation. On arrival we were ushered onto small mini-buses for our ride around the island with stops at two former sugar cane plantations, now luxury hotels: the Golden Rock Hotel, and the Montpelier Hotel. Our native driver was excellent with his narration and personalization, showing us where he lived, where he had gone to grammar school, etc. The drive through town was congested with local revelers, celebrating election results; it was a local holiday. The last stop was the LIME Beach Restaurant -- on the beach -- where we were greeted with a rum punch and a choice of grouper fish or chicken, both served with a salad and rice; I chose the fish which was absolutely delicious! Lightly sauteed and grilled in butter with spices, it was incredibly tender, juicy and tasty. Wonderful lunch! Especially after a second rum punch. The restaurant was all open-air and quite delightful; a musician on a steel drum entertained while we ate. Then it was time to return to town of Charlestown and the ferry ride back to St. Kitts and our ship. Back on ship it was time for a nap and rest before our special event of the day: Ultimate Balcony Dining, scheduled for 7 PM. Beginning with a cocktail of Mojitos along with a generous plate of canapes, the next course was a "salad" including a crab quiche, accompanied by bottle of French champagne. Our entree was "surf & turf", a HUGE lobster tail along with a 10-ounce filet mignon. I was able to finish the exquisite lobster but had to leave some of the steak - reluctantly. Topping it off was a dessert plate of assorted mousses: chocolate, mocha, white chocolate, and hazelnut, topped with slivers of pure chocolate. What a feast! It was $50 each but well worth it. Needless to say it was easy to get to sleep last night! I never knew when we departed St. Kitts at 11 PM. Tomorrow morning at 9 AM, on our first sea day back to Fort Lauderdale, we have scheduled the wonderful gift from our travel agent and friend, Patric, of Travel Travel: Champagne Balcony Breakfast. Several times before we have been similarly gifted and it is a wonderful treat, on which I shall report tomorrow. Tonight at 7:30 PM we are invited to a special reception for 40 of Princess' "Most Traveled Passengers Aboard." This will be the third time we have been so honored. On this cruise we ranked 26 and 27; there are 98 Elite, 127 Platinum, 231 Gold and 190 Blue Captain's Circle members. Tomorrow we have a second meeting of the Cruise Critics group at 11 AM, and tomorrow night is our second formal night, dinner preceded by a Captain's Circle Cocktail Party. A rather full day ahead. ~~ Friday, January 25th - First Return Sea Day ~~ It is early afternoon here aboard the Pacific Princess now well on our way back to Fort Lauderdale and the end of our cruise. The sky is perfectly clear and the sun is warm; the seas are slight with occasional large gentle swells. We have been SO LUCKY with smooth seas during the past days. The gentle sea motion that we do have is almost inconsequential -- just enough to rock you to sleep, if you are so prone. This morning's activities have gone well. The Champagne Balcony Breakfast was delivered right on schedule at 9 AM, perfect timing since the sun had yet to arrive on our balcony; our route of travel is to the northwest so the sun rises on ship's starboard. Right now, however, there is full sunshine on our large balcony. Along with fresh-squeezed orange juice and brewed coffee, a half-bottle of French champagne started the breakfast feast. Plates of smoked salmon along with small onion slices and capers served on an endive spear were accompanied with a delicious dill cream cheese also served on an endive spear. There were also toasted and buttered halves of brioches. Second plates of green salad topped with crisp bacon slices accompanied a delicious bacon quiche along with tomato halves, cored and filled with Swiss cheese and toasted, served with toasted bagel halves. Other plates each displayed a cantaloupe half "bowl" filled with assorted berries: strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, topped with a dollop of whipped cream. To top it off came a plate full of Danish pastries. It was quite the feast! Thank you again, Patric! Then at 11:00 AM was a second meeting of the Cruise Critic group aboard in the Sterling Steakhouse, attended by about a dozen of us. As a self-appointed moderator I suggested that we have a round-table discussion of the cruise to date, concentrating on the more positive aspects to create a positive conclusion to a wonderful cruise. (There is always an endless list of negative comments from some, and I personally didn't care to hear them!) Many of us have cruised on "small" cruise ships before, many had not, and it was interesting to hear the different comments. Several had also cruised on Azamara's small ships -- identical to those of Princess, as well as on Oceania small ships, the last two brands being in the premium category of cruising. Last evening there was a special cocktail party hosted by Captain Justin Lawes and his senior officers and honoring those 40 "most-traveled" passengers aboard and I had the opportunity of speaking with him and inviting him to today's Cruise Critic meeting. SURPRISINGLY, he did! And stayed for over an hour talking with us, answering many questions and taking many comments. He seemed to genuinely enjoy sitting there with us and, of course, we were thrilled by his presence and lengthy conversation. He is from the UK and is really charming - a wonderful icon for Princess. He made our CC meeting a great success. Tonight before dinner is the Captain's Circle Cocktail Party in the Cabaret Lounge, so more free drinks! Being the last formal night, everyone should be dressed up although there are always the sluff-offs. Then later at 11 PM in the Pacific Lounge on Deck 10 all the way forward will be Princess' Champagne Waterfall -- with more free drinks! It looks like a fluid night for all! On other Princess cruises -- and ships, this Princess tradition had recently been combined with the Captain's Welcome Party -- to save money, I am sure! (Carnival bean counters at work.) On this cruise/ship, however, it is an event of its own, as it used to be. Tomorrow's activities will involve a lot of packing -- for me; it is nice for a cruise to slowly wind down the way this one has done, providing a leisurely and unhurried last day to pack up for disembarkation on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale. There will be 8 cruise ships in Port Everglades on Sunday and the mayhem -- especially at the airport -- will be substantial. For this and other reasons, we are spending two nights at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, flying back to Orange County on Tuesday afternoon. We have twice before stayed at this hotel -- on Starpoints earned from my American Express card, and it has become a favorite of ours. Hopefully we will be assigned the same room #1080 as before, and as requested. With the very warm afternoon outside the ship right now, cruising gracefully through the calm Caribbean, it is hard to imagine the more adverse weather that will greet most of our passengers from the Midwest and Northeast. Hopefully, Southern California will have returned to our more familiar fine weather by our return. ~~ Saturday, January 26th - Last Day at Sea ~~ Well, I guess I spoke too soon about the perfectly smooth seas we have enjoyed the entire cruise -- until the middle of the afternoon yesterday when a storm front moved in with heavily clouded skies and increased sea motion. It did rain but not substantially, although the sea motion continued, first a yaw (up and down) but later on a roll (side to side), due to a strong wind from the east. With our cabin location being almost amidships, the motion here was minimal compared with cabins all the way forward. Our route of travel has been to the northwest. More of an annoyance, the slight to moderate sea motion continued through the night until presently this morning. The skies are clearing so the sun should still make an appearance, and the whitecaps have disappeared from the waves. Of course, with my only obligation today being packing, I look forward to a relaxed, quiet last full day at sea. There is another "Pub Lunch" in the Sterling Steakhouse at noon that I plan to enjoy. Last night, despite the sea motion, we met in the Cabaret Lounge at 7:30 PM for the Captain's Circle Party (for second seating members) and enjoyed complimentary drinks and canapes. Recognition was made of those of each level: Gold, Platinum and Elite, and awards were made to the most-traveled members. Top awards went to a Florida couple with over 1600 days at sea; I haven't quite reached 300. Then a drawing for three recipients of a bottle of champagne was held; my name was not picked. Oh well... Dinner was very special with lobster tails and Tiger prawns featured (my choice), as well as Beef Wellington. The lobster was very good but didn't compare with the ones we were served during our Ultimate Balcony Dining; those were huge! However, seconds were generously offered. So not much to report right now. I look forward to an un-hurried, lazy day. ~~ Monday, January 28th - Fort Lauderdale ~~ At this moment I am sipping freshly brewed coffee and peering through the floor-to-ceiling windows of corner Room 1080 at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel. The sun rose just after 7 AM and is now shining brightly on the cruise ships down in Port Everglades, to the south; to the left (east) is the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. It is really quite a view! Upon check-in, however, the room was still occupied and we had to wait quite a while for it to be vacated and prepared for us; it was worth the wait! The skies are brilliantly blue this morning with no hint of rain; temperatures are predicted to be in the high 70s or low 80s today and more of the same tomorrow. Our flight home tomorrow is at 2:21 PM so we will be leaving the Sheraton by noontime. Today we plan on visiting the little waterfront restaurant nearby at the Bahia Cabana hotel and then repeating our Water Taxi tour of the waterways of Fort Lauderdale that we so enjoyed two years ago on our last visit. Then lunch or dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. Restaurant is also on our agenda. The two Princess ships (ours and the Ruby Princess) have now departed and I only see a Royal Caribbean and perhaps a Holland America ship in port. Yesterday -- Sunday -- was a very busy port day with 7 cruise ships in port. The street traffic yesterday afternoon was also quite heavy. The Sheraton seems to be more crowded than usual with cruise ship passengers; I guess the word is getting around! Our disembarkation from the Pacific Princess yesterday proceeded routinely without delay; our luggage tag color was called at 9:30 AM and we found and retrieved our 4 pieces of luggage quickly and, with the help of a porter, were soon in the taxi cue awaiting transportation to the Sheraton Hotel; it was less than a $10 fare and we arrived between 10:30 and 11 AM. We spent the time waiting on our room out by the Beach Bar & Grill -- pool and beach. Pleasant breezes tempered the warm sunshine. A couple of margaritas and a large serving of guacamole with chips helped pass the time. The Hotel just seems much busier than on our last visit; perhaps the time of year makes the difference. That's about it for this cruise and trip; I may send one more email but this could be it for now. ~~ Wednesday, January 20th - Corona del Mar = HOME! ~~ This is a final journal installment to inform you of our safe arrival back home last evening after a full day of travel. The flight from Fort Lauderdale to Houston was surprisingly smooth; the plane was entirely full and as a result United again offered to check carry-on luggage through to final destination -- for free! We quickly took advantage, especially with the plane change -- and terminal change -- in Houston. I am not sure how much longer United -- or other airlines -- will continue to offer this complimentary service; normally the second checked piece of luggage is charged $35. With almost two hours between flights in Houston, there was plenty of time for the LENGTHY journey from Gate C18 to Gate E1; there is a Food Court in Terminal E where we had a bite to eat. The approach to Houston Airport was through clouded, rainy skies but our landing was rather good, considering the very strong winds present at the time. The flight on to Orange County left a little early but then we had a long tarmac wait until take-off. Throughout this flight were occasional "bumps" even though the skies appeared to be clear. Several times the seat belts sign came on, but nothing severe. Our route of travel was way to the south, around the bad weather in the Midwest, and our approach to Orange County was from the south, over Indio and Palm Springs, and touch-down was perfect, although almost 30 minutes late. Baggage claim was routine and soon we were at the SuperShuttle dispatcher awaiting our pre-paid ride home. Surprisingly, SuperShuttle put us on one of the Yellow Cabs instead of waiting for one of their vans, which was nice and expedited our trip home were we arrived about 8:45 PM. The house was found to be fine but COLD; I routinely cut off the gas main when leaving on a long trip, in fear of earth quakes, and the first order of business was to turn on the gas and relight all the pilot lights, which I accomplished -- with one exception: the furnace pilot which is always difficult to relight. To break the chill I turned on the range top burners for a while but finally shut them off and went to bed to snuggle beneath the blankets. Again this morning I unsuccessfully tried relighting the furnace pilot light, so now I have called for a service call to do it. Fortunately, it will be a LONG time until my next lengthy trip so the pilot light will be ON for a long time to come! This then is the last of cruise journal entries for the Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Pacific Princess. It was a wonderful cruise that I shall long remember. ~Ron Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Firstly I would like to say, when reading reviews of Cruise Ships. If the writer of the review has had a awful time before even getting on board, it seems usual to assume the review of the cruise will reflect the writers disssatisfaction ... Read More
Firstly I would like to say, when reading reviews of Cruise Ships. If the writer of the review has had a awful time before even getting on board, it seems usual to assume the review of the cruise will reflect the writers disssatisfaction for the time on board. Our booking is made separately from Princess and our arrival to the port of embarkation is 1 or 2 days earlier. Therefore we don't encounter the problems that many passengers felt. Pacific Princess, Amazon Cruise Friday March 13, 2009 Today we board the Pacific Princess, the main reason for this vacation. We had arrived in Manaus on a TAM Airlines flight last night at 12.05am, and caught a cab to the Novotel Hotel in Manaus. We had a buffet breakfast, and there was a big choice of dishes on offer, one of which was Piranha soup. Paul was glad he tasted it. It had a fishy flavor but was not anything out of the ordinary. Catching a cab to the port of Manaus, porters were waiting to take our luggage via overhead pedestrian bridge for a $3 tip. Checking was easy and walked along the wharf to board the Pacific Princess. We arrived in our stateroom, 7014, and looked around and checked out our balcony, which had a great view of the Amazon River. We then did a small tour of the ship to get our bearings, as the Pacific Princess is a much smaller ship compared to the last two ships we have cruised on. The dining room is on deck 5, and we decided to have lunch before going into Manaus to see the famed Opera House. After a delicious lunch, we walked into town amongst the market stalls and easily found our way to this grand building. When we arrived, there were preparations for what we found out later to be a visit that night by Prince Charles and Camilla who were in Manaus on a state visit. A rubber baron built the Opera House, during the rubber boom of the late 1800's. This ended in 1910 after seeds from a rubber plant were smuggled by an employee to Malaysia. It was built from by artisans from Europe using all European materials. It is similar to any European Opera house of that era, and very ornate. It was most definitely the jewel in the crown of not only Manaus, but of all Brazil. There were brass plaques showing commemorating performers who had appeared there including Caruso, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. We walked back to the ship, passing stalls selling everything from bras, halter-tops and panties to remote controls and chargers. Noisier than the stalls in Buenos Aires, there was a colourful lively atmosphere. Back on the ship, we relaxed in the cabin and did some more exploring on deck, before we got ready for the second dinner sitting, at 8.15pm. Tonight turned out to be open seating, so we won't actually find out who our future dinner companions will be until tomorrow night. We met a nice couple from Bakersfield, California, who had taken the forward cruise from Ft Lauderdale and were now taking the ship back again. We also met a nice couple from Zurich who were very friendly. After a delicious dinner, we went to the Cabaret lounge to watch a folkloric show performed by locals with some spectacular costumes, many with amazing feather head dresses. We were back to our cabin by midnight, and looking forward to tomorrow. Pacific Princes, Amazon Cruise Saturday March 14, 2009 After an early wake up call, we got ourselves ready for breakfast in the Panorama restaurant, and we had booked a day tour and needed to meet by 8.45am. We were taken by riverboat from the other side of the wharf from where the ship was docked, for a cruise along the Rio Negro River to where the river meets with the Rio Solimoes, and forms the Amazon River. The amazing point at which the rivers come together is know as the 'Meeting of the Waters' and is where the strange phenomenon of the waters not mixing due to their different temperatures, composition, flow rates and acidity levels, forming a kind of barrier against each other all the way to the river floor until almost 40 kilometres down stream. The contrast in colour of the two is most evident, with the dark black water of the Rio Negro, and the murky brown water of the Rio Solimoes, which contains far more sediment and floating plants. Our next stop was Terranova Island, in the middle of the river, to visit a typical village, and have a close up look at the hardy people who here. We were greeted by the villagers, and walked around the small village with our guide who pointed out how latex is obtained from the rubber trees, and how the people make Manioc, a grain that is the staple of their diet. We also had the opportunity to hold a Sloth, a slow moving creature who lives in the trees of the jungle. It was so cute, almost like ET, but with soft fur and it was very cuddly! After we looked at some of the hand made souvenirs made by the locals, we continued back to the boat and made our way up river to a floating village where we were transferred to small canoes, to access the small tributaries of the river, known as Igarapes. Once there we entered the flooded forest, where dense vegetation made and eerie feel, and where the sound of the forest birds and animals was very loud. We saw lots of birds, some monkeys, a small Alligator, known as a Cayman, and a small Anaconda, which was around 6 feet long already and can be know to grown to around 40 feet long! After the canoe ride, we returned to the floating village and had a buffet lunch of rice, various meats plus salads and fruits. We even tried some of the Manioc, but unfortunately it was like eating sand with no flavour at all! It was organized according to our tour, but some passengers did not eat lunch even though they were reassured about its safety. It's a shame how small minded people can be. After lunch we walked along a raised timber walkway through the forest, to a stagnant pond known as Lake January. Here there were many giant lily pads called Reina Victoria Lilies, which grow up to 2 metres in diameter. There were also many other water plants, and it was all very green. After photo opportunities we walked back and boarded our ferry back to our ship. Onboard the ferry, our tour guides Daniel and Max shared the commentary and unlike other guides we have had, they both knew when to stop talking and at times made us all laugh. We decided to have one last look at the town before we sailed, and adjoining the terminal there were a few open air bars where many locals were drinking. Quite a few were single men and women, and many men we standing on the raised walkway and cruising the provocatively clothed girls, many who had pants on so tight we wondered how they managed to get dressed! At several tables men were drinking beer from a tall glass cylinders(1m) with a tap at the bottom. These cylinders were around 15cm in diameter, and held about 3litres of beer We mentioned earlier that the people in Sao Paulo were well dressed, but Manaus is completely different. Many women of all ages dress provocatively and the clothes they wear are cheap and slutty. Onboard and almost ready to sail, we went to the mandatory safety drill and then up on deck for the 'Sail Away' party. Unfortunately many of the passengers are elderly and it was a bit of a non event, though there were plenty of passengers on deck. We went back to our room and changed for dinner. Tonight we found out who are fellow dining companions would be. Pauline and John are from San Jose, California. John looked and spoke like Humphrey Bogart. Our other two dining companions failed to show up, so we presume they may come tomorrow night or just were taking one of the other dining options. Dinner was delicious. Paul enjoyed a Creole Prawn and seafood stew topped with puff pastry, and Jeff had Alaskan Salmon. Conversation was a little strained, as there were only 4 of us. Across from our table was a table for two, but they clearly did not wish to converse. After dinner we went to the Cabaret Lounge, and tonight's singer was a typical RSL performer. After listening to a few of his medley's we went to the internet cafe, and then turned in for the night. Sunday, March 15, 2009 Jeff decided to sleep in this morning, so Paul at breakfast solo. Afterwards Paul went to one of the most sought after but unpopular places on board, the laundry! On this ship there is only one and its on the same deck as our cabin. As the voyage goes on, no doubt its popularity will increase. Meeting up later we wandered around and struck up conversations with fellow passengers, many Americans say to us when the realise we are Australian is " Oh we love your country" and "Australia must be the only country that likes us Americans". We are taking it as a compliment. After lunch at the Buffet with very good quality food and excellent presentation, we prepared to go ashore. Today's port of call is Boca De Valeria. It is described as a remote village on the Amazon on the edge of the rainforest. The ship's daily news describes it as a remote contrast to Brazils cities, and we can agree with that. We took a tender to a small floating pontoon on the muddy banks of the village. All the children were lining up out their with their hands out, wanting any trinket or money that anyone would give them. Lots of passengers had bought lollies, crayons and other items, which they loved, but it was akin to begging and exploitation in many ways. One passenger had a box of packets of potato chips, and was mobbed by all the children. Although we understood why Princess wanted to give us this glimpse of Amazon village life, we felt that the village we had visited yesterday was more realistic, and did not have the same level of people intent on selling themselves out like a circus for the sake of a tourists dollar. When we returned to the ship, we went to our cabin to freshen up after the heat and humidity, and then went to Trivia, one of our favourite shipboard pastimes. Today's questions were fairly difficult, but our group won, and were all rewarded with Princess baggage tags. The other four people in our group had all done the forward cruise from Ft Lauderdale, and said this was the first time they had won, hence we were very welcome to join them anytime! After Trivia, we had a walk and a snack on deck and playing shuffleboard, then relaxed in the cabin before dinner. Having a gin 7 Tonic in the Pacific lounge which is on deck 9 at the bow of the ship, we were offered Tapas with our drinks. The resident band is called Magnitude they are African Americans and the female lead singer works the room, even when there are very few there. The first night we saw the band the drummer sang "Song Song Blue" It was terrible, Jeff said either of us could sing better than that. We made our way to the dining room and this time sat next to Pauline and John, our mystery dining companions were not there again. Pauline said a quite a few passengers had requested to dine at the first sitting. In the table of 2 next to us was a English couple who now and then conversed. John also had relaxed was more open. We ordered the Cold Shrimp cocktail Paul had Porcini Mushroom Broth while Jeff had Zucchini and Pear soup for the main course we both had Scallops, The shrimp cocktail was disappointing as they looked and possibly were the small watery shrimps that come out of a can. Both soups were lovely and the main course very enjoyable, Paul had Apple Pie and I had Chocolate Mousse on a Bed of Rice Crispies shaped in to a Heart. During dinner on of the head waiters came to introduce himself to us, Jeff asked about the chefs table, interestingly he told us that the Head Chef of all the Princess Cruises is on board. He will be presiding over that table that night so Jeff made a booking. Off to the Cabaret Lounge, tonight was the first production show of the cruise called Shake Rattle and Roll. It was a Troupe of 4 males and 4 girls, doing songs of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Connie Frances, Lesley Gore, The Beatles and finishing with Elvis. It was a good show, all Princess dancers and singers do the same shows so if there are transfers no routines need to be learnt. This was slightly evident with the Lead Singer, last cruises lead singer was very plastic in his smiling and moves, at least last nights was realistic. We met the assistant cruise director she is a Kiwi seems good fun, typically rugby came up and we laughed about our rivalries. She agreed no Kiwi could ever support South Africa even when playing Australia (Lincoln take note) Monday, March 16, 2009 Santarem Today is our last Port of Call in the state of Amazonas, in the city of Sanatrem. The Pacific Princess docked at 7am and would sail at 4.30pm. At Breakfast there were heavy showers, which is typical in the Amazon, and it was such a downpour it was like looking at a waterfall. After breakfast we checked the Internet then went to morning Trivia. Our group which consists of 3 Canadians and an American won, and got a Princess luggage tag each. We left the ship and caught a cab to the centre of Santarem, only 2 kilometres away. The road was full of potholes, which seems to be the norm here. The usual market stalls were here, though there were more hammocks on offer, but as we wandered around but didn't see anything that interested us. We decided to have lunch before returning to the ship, but unfortunately the food was quite oily which was a shame. After lunch we asked directions to the Post Office, and using sign language we were pointed in what we hoped was the right direction. After several more stops for directions, we found the Post Office right where we first got out of the cab! When we walked in there were about 30 people sitting down with numbered tickets, so we took one for ourselves, later realizing we would be here for hours we went to the information booth and got stamps immediately. Back to the ship in a taxi that was falling apart, dodging motorcycle taxis all the way. It really reminded us that this was truly third world. There were a few stalls at the port, and we spent our last Reals on some trinkets. Santarem for us was very much what we had expected, a small town, significant in its area as a staging point for expeditions to the Amazonian Jungle, but nothing else, with little of touristic interest. Back on board, we relaxed in our Stateroom with a few Gin and Tonics, and later Paul went to trivia but had no luck. At 7.30 we went to the Pacific Lounge for cocktails before dinner. At dinner Jeffrey ordered the Chorizo en Croute to start, and Paul the Calamari Ceviche. For the main course Jeffrey had the Argentinean Beef Asado, and Paul had the Suckling Pig. Meals were delicious and well presented. We now can assume our mystery dinner companions will not appear. After dinner we played the slots and we won $50.00, so decided it was time to head off to bed. Tuesday, March 17, 2009 Our first sea day of the cruise, and the weather was so mild we ordered breakfast on our Balcony. It was relaxing to gaze at the jungle as we made our way downstream toward the rivers mouth, over the Equator, and on to the Atlantic Ocean later this afternoon. Morning trivia saw our team score 18 out of a possible 20, and we won more luggage tags. Yippee! We had lunch in the dining room today. We both started with a wonderful Onion Tart for appetizer, and Paul had Macaroni with a Ragout of Lamb, then for the main course we both had Beer battered Halibut with chips and a side salad in a Blue Cheese dressing. Dessert for Jeffrey was Nougat Ice Cream and Paul a Hazelnut Layered Meringue. When sailing across the Equator there is a ceremony where King Neptune presides over the Polliwogs (first timers) wishing to become Shell Backs. Eight of them were singled out as criminals to be bought before King Neptune. It was all very weird, reminiscent of the 50s when so many people traveled by ship all over the world. After their crimes were read out over silly things, the royal court (passengers) yelled guilty or not guilty. Guilty was always the cry, and cruise staff in fancy dress threw spaghetti over the prisoners. Then as the prisoners were facing the crowd whipped was thrown over them, it was so stupid, but apparently a tradition on the seas. Paul had crossed the Equator when first coming to Australia so was already a recipient. The rest of the Polliwogs came in front of the King and were doused with freezing water, it was a fun event and as always more people got to know each other. After an afternoon snooze on deck, we went to bingo, and our luck was still with us, as Paul won $50 in the second game and Jeff won the third game and shared $75 with another player. We lucked out in afternoon trivia though. Some are so passionate about playing the game that they forget to have fun. We lazed about on deck before the Formal night tonight. All passengers were invited to the Captains Cocktail Party, but we decided not to go as we were invited to the Captains Circle Cocktail Evening later this week. The ships photographers were busy doing formal photographs, and everyones mood upbeat tonight. We had a pre dinner Vodka and Cranberry, then off to the Dining room. Paul ordered the Louisiana Crayfish as a starter, then Lobster Bisque, and for the main course Beef Tournedos. Jeff decided on the Smoked Duck Breast, Lobster Bisque and then Cornish Game Hen. We chose a St Michelle Washington Riesling. We both had Hazelnut soufflE, and as always, it was wonderful. We went to the Cabaret Lounge for tonight's show "Dance" featuring Riverdance, Broadway Style, ballroom and a very camp send up of Sara Lee and her products with great costumes. The show was good fun, and a perfect way to finish the evening. Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Another day at sea, how relaxing it is! We have set into a pattern of morning trivia before we decide on other activities. This mornings game was close, but alas did not win the prized luggage tags! There was a culinary cooking demonstration by Princess Cruises Head Chef Antonio Marzi, preparing a meal that he said would only take 20 minutes. That would be ok, if you had everything prepared beforehand. He prepared a fresh Pesto Pasta, Ratatouille with Sea Scallops and a Chocolate and Walnut Ice-Cream. It all looked wonderful, and the main course had a delicious aroma. The Cabaret Lounge was full to watch him, and afterwards he was signing his cookbook, and many lined up to purchase it. As with any cruise there is some selling that takes place, but we just turn off if we are not interested. After lunch on deck there was a lecture on French Guyana, about the history and current social situation, and its ties to France. Mel, from Canada, gave an informative and entertaining lecture, and everyone gained some knowledge about the French territory. At 3pm we attended a wine tasting in the Dining Room. The wines offered today included a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, La Crema Pinot Noir, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon then finally a Chilean Errazuris Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines were well explained, and it was another chance to meet fellow passengers. Another round of trivia was next, and our 16 out of 20 answers were not enough, as there was a 4 way tie on 17. One lady from South Carolina, with a very Southern accent, told us she once won 42 luggage tags on a 5 week cruise! After relaxing on deck and watching the sunset over a few G&T's, we went to the Lotus Spa, to relax in the Steam room before dinner. Tonight Paul ordered Smoked Duck breast, Wonton Soup, Surf and Turf, and for dessert a layered Chocolate, Cream and Meringue cake. Jeff chose a Turkish lamb parcel, Wonton Soup, Surf and Turf, and New York style Cheesecake for dessert. After dinner we were walking to the Cabaret lounge, when we were roped in to yet another round of trivia, but Larry and John from New York. Tonight rather than being just about general knowledge, it focused on Entertainment. We managed to win with the boys knowledge of theatre and TV really helping us out. And, you guessed it, more Luggage tags to add to our collection! Thursday, March 18, 2009 Today our port of call is Isle Royale, part of the three Salvation Islands in the country of French Guyana. Isle Royale is most famous for being a part of the French Penal Colony better known for its most famous sister, Devils Island. Adjacent to these two is Isle St Joseph. All three would be no more than 8-10km in area. Devils Island was made famous in the book and movie, Papillion. After a light breakfast, we caught took one of the ships tenders ashore. All three islands have a picture postcard appearance; just what a tropical island should look like. Isle Royale was the main penal settlement, with Devils Island being only for the most incorrigible prisoners. It is now uninhabited, and not accessible to the public for some reason, but we couldn't really discover why. Many of the buildings have deteriorated over time, because of the tropical climate, but still serve as a reminder to France's inhuman penal system. Eventually France only closed this colony due to international pressure. The weather was perfect, sunny with a light sea breeze. As with any tropical location, humidity plays a factor, and many passengers could not handle the stickiness, especially residents of the dryer states of the US. We walked along pathways that were obviously built by convicts. It was spectacular to walk around buildings that could tell so many stories, the church with its murals and the decaying condemned prisoners block. Walking to main building on top of the island, once the administration house that serves now as a hotel, we were able to look across a small channel to see the beautiful Devils Island; and in the gardens all around were roosters, monkeys and iguanas. After having a beer and taking in this view, we found a steep path that took us to the Wardens swimming pool, which was on the shore nearest to Devils Island. We felt we could easily stay on the island all day. Unfortunately the last tender was leaving at 1pm, so after walking along the scenic pathway that encircled the island, we arrive back at the small pier. Back onboard, we enjoyed an alfresco lunch. Afterwards we had a siesta in the cabin, and prepared ourselves for one of the highlights of the cruise, the Chefs Table Dinner, hosted by Chef Alfredo Marzi, the Executive chef of Princess Cruises who is currently onboard the ship. This gourmet event is the first to be held on the Pacific Princess. Chef Marzi was onboard to supervise tonights Inaugural Chefs Table dinner. At 7pm we were invited to meet at the Purser's office where we met Maitre D' Renzo, and after a brief introduction, we were escorted to the ships kitchen. In an area were vegetables were normally prepared, a magnificent table was set up. There, Chef Marzi greeted us with French Champagne, and after more introductions, served us with a Blue Crab Margarita with Avocado and Mango appetizer. Next a Tartare of Sterling Beef with Condiments was served, each dish with an individual explanation. Both of these were so delicious all the while Chef Marzi was chatting, while the most important waiters and Maitre D Renzo fussed around us. Next gourmet delight was a Mini Quiche of Fontina Cheese with Shave Black Truffles. While any these could have constituted enough to eat, along came Red Bliss Potatoes with Crème Freche and Sevruga Caviar. Many of the diners were taking photos and we all were enthralled by the food. Soon it was time for us to leave the kitchen and make our way to the Steakhouse on Deck 10 for the rest of our dinner. The table was set beautifully with flowers and candelabra. Chef Marzi again spoke to us and we were served the next course, Gratinated Gnocchi, still bubbling from the oven. Next to us was seated a very charming couple from Montreal, who were chatty and interesting throughout the meal. They had even eaten at one of our favourite restaurants in Paris, called Flora. We however could not say the same for the couple seated on our other side, and obnoxious couple from Seattle who had an opinion about everything. Next we were served a Raspberry sorbet, which had Grey Goose Vodka poured over it as it was placed on the table. Delicious, and a great palate cleanser. Our main course was carried to the table by Chef Marzi, and the ships Executive Chef, Josef Stumner. It was a huge platter of Veal Shanks and Sterling Prime Rib of Beef, and was carved tableside and served with tiny vegetables and a pan Jus. It really was magnificent. The Ships photographer came by and took photos us with Chef Marzi in between, and then a group photo. Feeling that we could not eat another thing, the next dish to come was a potted Stilton, with a Port Wine Reduction Sauce. It had sharp taste and a delicious creamy texture, and was served with Walnut bread. Dessert was a Brazilian Pineapple Delight. Mascarpone was wrapped in a crepe, and served on a slice of grilled pineapple, and plated on spun sugar. It was complimented with the Late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, which we tasted at yesterdays wine tasting. Chef Marzi sat down and had dessert with us, and spoke about his 38 years with Princess Cruises. At the end of the meal, he presented all the ladies with a single Rose, and then gave us a signed copy of his book, and copies of the photographs taking during the night. A truly magnificent end to the evening, and after we said our goodbyes, we strolled back to our cabin for a well earned rest. Friday March 20, 2009 A day at sea, and time to relax before our next port, Tobago. After breakfast, we visited the Internet Cafe, and then went to our usual Morning Trivia. Our team now is following a usual pattern and coming second. Lunchtime was a Mexican Buffet, we arrived earlier at the buffet this time and we were almost pushed out of the way by some of the passengers who must have skipped breakfast! Last night our waiter in the dining room, Nestor, had told us about the Maitre D' wine tasting at 2pm today, and we had decided attend. The wines this time were the high end of the ships wine list, and subsequently, the cost for attending was USD$25.00. We were lucky this time to be at a table for 2, and whilst each wine was poured and being discussed, we were served with canapEs, which was a nice touch. While the wines were very enjoyable, including Veuve Cliquot Champagne and an Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon from California, we had just as much fun at yesterdays tasting. Afternoon trivia was like sharks at a feeding frenzy, getting somewhere to sit, all for a luggage tag. Later Checking our emails and having drinks in our stateroom, blogging and to dinner then bed. It was just good to take it easy and relax. Saturday, March 21, 2009 Today we arrived in Tobago, and Jeff had organized for us to fly to Trinidad, so he could indulge his hobby of flying on different and exotic airlines. We would take a Caribbean Airlines Dash 8-300, on a 25 minute flight to Port of Spain, and the schedule would give us time to be back to enjoy Tobago after just a few hours. We took a taxi from the wharf to Tobago Airport, where we quickly checked-in and received our boarding passes for both the forward and return flights. Once we cleared security in the tiny airport, Jeff decided to take some photos of the Dash 8 arriving, when a Policeman came and asked Jeff to come with him. Apparently it's illegal in Tobago Airport to take photos of planes, even though there were no warning signs anywhere advising you of this. He took Jeff into a small room and interrogated him about what he was doing and where he was going, and why he was taking photos of the airport. He then insisted on seeing all of the photos, and making Jeff delete them from his camera. What a start to the day! Anyway, shortly after that, it was time to board the flight, and the friendly and professional Flight Attendant had little to do on the 25 minute flight except her safety demonstration. After arrival in Port of Spain, we asked the security staff if they would mind if we took some aircraft photos from the carpark, and they answered, "OK Mon, but make it quick" so we made the best of it, and then went to the boarding gate for our return flight. Another quick flight, and we were back in Tobago. Jeff was happy and Paul was keen to get to the beach that had been suggested to us, Pigeon Point beach, only 5 minutes form the airport. The beach was lovely, and nice strip of soft golden sand, with lovely turquoise water. Along the beach were two nice casual restaurants and a bar, where we noticed the 3l cylinders of beer we could not resist it was so cold and delicious , afterwards we enjoyed a lovely swim and some lunch, its was so relaxing. Afterwards we took a taxi back to the ship docked in the capital, Scarborough, and enjoyed the scenery of Tobago, very sleepy on a Saturday afternoon. We played Trivia, and then relaxed on deck. Tonight was Italian, but as we were at the Chefs Table last night and had missed out on Escargot, the Maitre D' had arranged for us to have them served tonight. They were wonderful, swimming in a lovely Garlic butter. Some more Trivia after dinner, then off to bed. It had been a busy day, and we needed some sleep. Sunday March 22, 2009 Today we were in St Lucia, part of the West Indies. After waking up late, we enjoyed breakfast; we noticed another ship in port the Sea Princess. Then we walked around town before bartering with a taxi driver to take us on a sightseeing tour. We drove from the small city centre of Castries, up a steep hill to a lookout where we took some photos, then on past Banana plantations to another lookout, this time overlooking the very pretty Marigot Bay, on sale was Banana wine and we purchased some to try later. We drove through 3 fishing villages Anse La Raye, Canaries and Anse Chastenet before arriving at the lookout with wonderful views of Soufriere Bay and the Pitons. Words or pictures cannot describe this magnificent view. We drove through Soufriere to the sulphur springs, which is known as the worlds only drive-in Volcano, and we knew we where getting closer by the smell. We paid our entrance fee to the National Park our driver dropped us off. A guide met us and took us on a small tour of the bubbling sulphur springs, steam was rising from some others were grey or black. Nearby we noticed a running stream, putting our hands in the water it was quite hot. After a few photo opportunities we started our way back to Castires. We walked past several bars were a local shouted to us "We are going to beat you mon" referring to the one day cricket match between West Indies and England, Paul said "you're not going to beat us, we're cheering for you we are from Australia" We were then ushered into the bar as compatriots. Back on board we had a lazy afternoon before trivia, and then we settled on our balcony as we left port. Over afternoon drinks, we made our way out to sea, and both ships sounded their horns to say goodbye. It was so loud it would have been heard all over Castries. The setting sun cast a golden blanket over the ocean in front of us. Dinner tonight was a Caribbean theme, as always our waiters Nestor and Rey made sure we had everything and more. After dinner trivia was starting and only half our group were there, so another couple joined us, we were tied for 1st place and after several tiebreakers we won the elusive luggage tags. Monday, March 23, 2009 Dominica We disembarked, and wandered through the small market on the wharf. Then we caught a shuttle bus into Roseau, winding through the tiny streets before arriving in the centre of town. We made our way to a local cafe, which had free WiFi where we could update our blog and check emails. Roseau was a scruffy town, but it had a raffish charm about it. Many of the buildings were run down or in a state of disrepair, but it added to the character. The locals were friendly, and didn't really bother us or tout, they just went about their business. There was another cruise ship in port, the Celebrity Summit, so there were many people about. After our wander about town, we relaxed by the seaside before catching a taxi back to the ship for lunch. Afterwards we had planned to go to a beach, but in the end we just decided to relax and take a swim on board. Tuesday, March 24, 2009 Today we arrived in St Barthelemy, a French island in the Carribean. Only 12km long, it's relatively small in comparison other islands. The ship anchored in a bay, and we caught a tender to shore. It's very different to the other ports we had visted before. There is lot of money here, evident from the luxury small cruise ships and yachts, and the boats everywhere. Once ashore we walked past Bvlgari, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and in the Lauren boutique we noticed clothing exclusive to this store. Catching a cab to the Airport to pick up our car, we saw how narrow and twisting the roads were. Driving around St Barth was scary and we really had to concentrate. Drivinf on the right didn't help either. The vegitation is semi arid, with lots of cactus and small shrubs, and after driving the harrowing roads, we needed to rest and have a drink. We found a lovely beach, St Jean, with a restaurant called La Plage. The floor was in sand, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch accompanied by a Fench rose and many wealthy patrons. We were tempted, but unfortunately did not drink, a Jeraboam of Vintage Champagne for 9000 Euros! Back to Gustavia, the main town, we purchased some of the Rose we had for Lunch, and a bottle of Roderer Cristal Champagne that jeff wanted to try, and took a last look at the boutiques. We caught our tender back to the Princess for a winning game of trivia, with our collection of Luggage tags still growing, not to mention the jealous looks from the other teams. Also, we found out Australia is not considered the biggest island anymore, its not even on the list. So much for what we learned at school, go to factmonster.com. Tonight we organized to have dinner with our trivia team, which gave us an opportunity to find out more about each other. Winning a Luggage Tag is hard work. After dinner, we headed for the Pacific Lounge for a game of Jeopardy together. Victory was in our grasp, but we bet all our money on the last question and lost it. Wednesday, March 25, 2009 Our last two days at sea, and after breakfast and relaxing on deck, we caught up with the team, which John called The Hi-Lo's. This morning prize was some very prized key rings, which we won by answering 19 out of 20 questions, beating the next team by 5. The key rings were South Pacific cruises so a rival team member wanted to swap an Alaskan one with Paul, talk about coveted! When we were in St Lucia, we found a bottle of Banana Wine. We had promised to share it with a lovely Swiss Couple we had met early in the cruise, Sam and Bernadette. We met them at the pool, and opened the wine, which turned out to be absolutely vile! Luckily we had a back up, and Paul produced a bottle of Rose we purchased in St Barth. We laughed about the Banana wine, and gave it to the ships paint crew to strip paint! Bingo is only played on sea days, so we bought our tickets, and Jeff won the 2nd game and $50.00, but for the final game we needed one number, but John from the trivia team won it, so we did not mind at all. Tonight's dinner was a Caribbean theme, with a main course themed after each place we had visited. Our wine tonight was a Washington DC Riesling which we really enjoyed. Thursday, March 26, 2009 Today is the last day of the cruise, and we spent much of the day saying our goodbyes to our shipboard friends as we came across them. We played and won the morning Trivia game, but lost in a tie in the afternoon game. We had planned to play Bingo in the afternoon, but as the jackpot was won this morning so we decided to skip it. Lunch on deck, and packing in the afternoon. After our dinner we went to play a game called Majority Rules, we had played it on the last cruise. There is no wrong answer, all you have to guess is what the other teams will answer. Our team split into two, and the prize was a coffee mug. There was a tie and after 3 tie breakers it was still tied. The amazing thing was that it was between our teams, so we won the six mugs, and the last game of the cruise. It was possible we wouldn't see our friends again, so we kissed and hugged Jane, Cecile, John & Pat, as we would not see them tomorrow. It was quite sad! This was a great cruise, The Amazon, Isle Royale, Dominica, St Lucia and St Barth. The shipboard friends were great and too many to mention, but we both want to thank you all. See you on the next Cruise! Jeff and Paul Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Pacific Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 4.0 4.0

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