11-28-10 and 12-8-10 B2B
C751 Aft Suite
Summary Cruise Review
In the top 4 of our 20 cruises. And not just because of the suite either, although the suite perks of Sabbatini's for breakfast, dining room menu room service and the extra room did not hurt at all. We were never bored, had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and even in 20 days, still could not do it all.
That is the mark of a great cruise.
Top notch. From Elena in Sabbatini's to Armen in the dining room to the room service personnel to Carlos, our room steward, to the bar staff in all the lounges and up on the decks, service was simply outstanding. No issues in getting glasses of water or diet coke. All friendly, smiling, eager to please and a pleasure to interact with.
The Emerald is a full Gem Class Super Grand. Probably the pinnacle of the Fincanteri Super Grand designs first produced in the Caribbean Princess and culminates in the Emerald, Crown and Ruby. It has the extra Riviera deck of people, no shopping cart handle Skywalkers, Club Fusion, with the Casino on Deck 6, the Crown on Deck 7 and with the wheelhouse forward of explorers to make room for a larger photo gallery. The ship is absolutely gorgeous and we love the Club Fusion concept and how it got used on the ship. The walking/jogging track on top of Skywalkers is a great idea, the gym is state of the art with Precor elliptical and treadmills and the Promenade, while still narrow and with the stairs detour to Deck 8, is still a great walk around the ship.
Good to very good in the dining room. The HC was also surprisingly good as well. I'm not a Horizon Court lunch fan, but the cold salads at lunch were exceptional. The most noticeable thing about the food was that it was very well seasoned to our American tastes, which meant sweeter desserts and a little more salt, pepper and heavier on spicing. Horizon Court dinners were quite good as well. But of course the best part was ordering off the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to the suite to eat on the balcony overlooking the stern wake. Bonaire was probably the highlight of the dinners on the balcony because the ship was docked till late and we were able to eat in beautiful silence while the town lit up as the sky darkened. We even had guests on the balcony one night as Ken and Merrily, the on board ballroom dance instructors, joined us for dinner. The room service staff dutifully delivered a cart full of food and I served as we talked and ate while the ship slid through the water. Aft balconies are simply the best.
The lamb was outstanding. I had lamb 5 times in the first ten days including Crown Grill and Chef's table. It was all really, really good.
Chef's table was the food highlight and was worth every penny. This was our 5th or 6th chef's table, and we never tire of the experience.
We love anytime dining and not feeling obligated to show up at a certain time. On a couple of occasions we had a light dinner in Vines, drinking wine, having sushi from Vines and salads from the International Cafe. Very light, very nice, very tasty.
I didn't really care for the new production shows. Not as much as the ones in the past like Caliente, one of my favorites. And it wasn't the acting or the dancing or the singing, it was the writing. One of the better ones, Boogie Shoes, had great potential, but had a couple of non-sequitor transitions in the writing that just made me go 'huh'? Of course it also had a couple of memorable moments, the best of which was the cowboy pole dance and the boots segments. Motor City was very good, as it is one of the older ones and one of our favorites as well.
The comedians were by and large ok. Rolling Jay Moore's adult show kind of flopped, but his regular show was hilarious. Billy Vader was good, but when he plays off Tim Donovan, its one hilarious ride.
The little vignettes in the Piazza are worth seeing. From Etienne the juggler, to Alyessa the world champion hoola hooper, they are very entertaining and typically, the performer does several different routines, not just one, so it pays to catch as many as you can.
There was plenty of dancing. With Phoenix Rising in the Wheelhouse, Icon in Explorer's trading off with the orchestra and canned music in Fusion, we had no lack of dancing. In fact on the last day between line dance class, ballroom class, Fusion, Explorer's and the Piazza, we put 13,600+ steps on Judy's pedometer - over 4.5 miles of dancing.
This is where the Emerald, for us, really shined. Tim Donovan and his team made this cruise great for us. Plenty of non-trivia activities, even though we like to observe the musical trivia's. Line dance class with Miko and Alicia, ballroom class with Ken and Merrily, 50's night, 80's night, country western night, Halloween night, the Island Deck Party and Pub Night with Emma, Michael, Alex and Mark, plus MUTS as a backup - we always had something to do - usually two things at the same time! Pub night and the Island Deck party were the most memorable for us if we had to choose, but we enjoyed all the activities and the enthusiasm of the staff was infectious and just made for one great night after another.
Night after night we drug ourselves back to the cabin after midnight, sore and tired, still high from all the dancing and partying, but thoroughly satisfied and talking about what a great time we had. This is a symptom of a great cruise - needing a vacation to recover from your vacation!
We loved the itinerary. Especially since we've been to most of the islands before, we stayed on the ship, or got off for a short time, and enjoyed a leisurely pace uninterrupted by excursion schedules. The islands are beautiful, the people are friendly and certainly not as pushy as Jamaica or Mexico. The ship is our primary destination, but we do like to get off and wander around sometimes.
Princess Cays and St. Thomas were the highlights for us. Princess Cays because of the extensive facilities, beach combing opportunities and great lunch; St Thomas for its great snorkeling, clear water and huge/numerous fish. Treazzure, our sole excursion on this trip, was a great way to spend a day in St Thomas. The food, the snorkeling, the crew were just great and highly recommended.
Dominica, Antigua and Bonaire, three islands we've never been to before, were very nice. The shops of handmade jewelry at Dominica were bargains and the crystal clear water at Bonaire was just incredibly beautiful.
C751 on the Emerald was the Martinique Suite on the aft starboard side of the ship. It has the two beams on the balcony which do limit chair placement, but nothing major. Aft balconies are our favorite. Hands down. Side balconies are windy when the ship is in motion - aft balconies are not - plus the wake noise is perfect for falling asleep to.
The suite was all and more that we hoped for. Roomy, especially the five piece two room bath, walk in closet, dressing table AND desk with a wet bar and dual sliding doors to the balcony, it was simple wonderful. The suite perks are just simply icing on the cake!
Emerald Princess Travel Log:
We're back and ready for another fun filled cruise. Our favorite time of year for a cruise - the "cheap" time for cruising between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On our CC signature this is the "traded off cruise". We were going to do Australia in January, but then the 28 day round trip out of LA on the Sapphire came out and we opted for this cruise and the Sapphire instead of Australia. Australia will have to wait until 2013.
I have brought the dreaded work "laptop" and cell phone. Yes I know it's a vacation, but there are things going on at work that I need to be ready to help on. I just have to avoid ticking off Judy and having my laptop and cell phone end up in 6000 feet of water - but better the laptop than me! So I will be testing VPN access via cruise ship satellite hookups. It also means I can write a better travelog and upload it rather than composing in the internet cafe.
This cruise will be the 20 day (B2B of two 10 day Emerald cruises). We will be visiting St. Kitts, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Thomas (twice), Princess Cays (twice), Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba. Two of the islands we have never visited before and we are doing our first private tour on St Thomas. We have no other tours scheduled. We typically stay on the ship and enjoy having the run of the facilities while everyone else goes ashore.
This will be our 20th cruise on Princess, our first cruise on the Emerald, our first cruise on the Gem class "super grands" and our first cruise in a suite. Judy does still not know about the suite. I'm hoping to keep her in the dark until I get her actually in the door - it's a surprise. We shall see if I am successful - of course explaining the luggage tags will be a problem - time to get my dancing shoes on.
For those of you who haven't followed our past adventures, our new found cruise passion is dancing - ballroom, latin, disco, line - if it has a beat and Judy can get me on it, we can dance it. Amazed at Derrick Hough's choreography, rooted for Jennifer Grey, felt sorry for Max and just love Cheryl Burke - or at least I do! So we will be haunting the wheelhouse or wherever there is dance music. We will also be in the front rows during the production shows, the best place to experience them.
We are also foodies. Loved Season 6 of Top Chef, rooted for Ming Tsi - but he blew it, have noticed Bourdein's bad side has really taken a back seat lately, love Alton Brown, knew Artie was going to win from like Week 2, would kill for a table at Morimoto's and would like to follow Guy around the country. We hope to do Chef's table an Ultimate Balcony Dinner and take advantage of the suite perk to deliver dinner to the room on more than one occasion.
11-26-2010: Fort Lauderdale
We traveled on T-Day to ensure weather wouldn't affect our schedule - we have a history of blizzards happening on the day we fly - and it was cheaper. But good flights yesterday, no problems and the luggage arrived all in one piece and in the first wave of luggage instead of waiting until the last minute and causing my blood pressure to spike!
Cabbed over to the Hilton Marina, splurged on HH points for this trip, and hit the hay. We have a tower room overlooking the marina to the North. Good view. Room is older style, cramped, but functional and there is a balcony. It will be strange moving onto the ship on Sunday into a larger room, but hey, I'm game.
Today has been a good day. We wanted to check out Fort Lauderdale while we had the chance, and the best way is walking. We got up and had our free HHonors breakfast and then walked up to the riverwalk and the Museum of Science IMAX theatre to see Harry Potter. About a 3 mile walk, great weather, overcast with a breeze, so it was nice and cool. The movie was better than I expected. They did a real good job editing an overall boring book - how much camping in England can you take?
After the movie it was time for lunch at 100suite on the river walk. A very nice place with calamari, clams in wine sauce and Samuel Adam's Octoberfest. Beer, clams, fried calamari and flatbread - what more can you ask! There are many restaurants on the riverwalk, fresh seafood, Italian, you name it. If you have time to kill and want a nice environment to walk around in, this is the place to kill a day.
The Riverwalk is very nicely done and it has a real river. The most interesting part is wandering by all the yachts, boats and super yachts. These things are huge, sleek and impressive! The boat traffic is fun to watch, from 100' huge yachts to 10' zodiacs and everything in between.We tried to get on the water taxi at several locations, but all the boats were packed to the gills. We ended up taking a regular cab back to the Hilton to relax for a few hours awaiting the sushi bar opening.
The China Grill at the Hotel has good sushi but at a high price. Really expensive, but I had promised Judy sushi and sushi she would have. (One piece of Nigiri for $5 is a bit much.) We did go during happy hour and the drinks were 2 for 1, which only made me wonder how much it would have been if we had not gone during happy hour!
After dinner we walked up to the Walgreens to get some water. There is a Publix up the street a little further - south side of 17th - for those of you who want to stock up before the cruise.
All in all. A good day.
11-27-10 Fort Lauderdale:
Even with the day before's long walks, at 0200 I was up and awake. Excited about the cruise I guess. We decided to go to Hugh Taylor Birch state park this morning and hike around the park to see the sites. We cabbed up to the park, it's about 4 miles from the hotel, and hiked around the park for the morning. It's a beautiful park. Full of spider of all colors and sizes, and all kinds of dogs and dog lovers. So having been away from our two labs for two days, we petted almost every dog in sight.
For some reason the rental shops were not open. No canoes or bikes to rent. They have a nice pond/lake to canoe in, which would have been fun. Biking would have been fun as well as the place is pretty flat.
After circling the park we headed to the Fort Lauderdale beach. We had a beautiful walk back to the hotel highlighted by seeing Oasis of the Seas at dock from the top of the 17th street bridge. That is one monster of a ship for sure. The weather was overcast, which really cut down on the heat and we had a nice cooling breeze from the sea.
We did lunch at the Bimini Boatyard just west on 17th street from the hotel. For some reason a fancy burger sounded and tasted quite good and their key lime pie was great. There are a lot of restaurants, liquor and grocery stores in walking distance along 17th street for those of you staying at the Hilton.
At 7pm we had our pre-cruise dinner with some of the CC roll call participants at the Quarterdeck. There are actually two in the local area, one just north of 17th street on Cordova and one further north on 1A nearer the state park. We all had the chance to release the pent up excitement generated in the roll call awaiting this cruise and put names to faces. The food was good, but as is typical to this part of Fort Lauderdale, on the more expensive side. I had the steamers, which are nothing like Pacific Northwest steamers, but still really good. Judy had shrimp and pasta, always a good combination. All in all, not bad.
Staying these two days in the Hilton Marina reminded me of why we cruise. Resort destination hotels are really expensive, and they charge for everything! I travel and stay at business hotels 60+ nights a year, typically Hilton and more specifically Hampton, Hilton Garden or Homewood. Free breakfast, free dinner (Homewood), free internet, free business centers are the norm even for non Hilton Honors members. At Hilton resort properties, like the Hilton Marina, internet is $13 per day for non-Gold+ members, the "free" breakfast has so many rules (orange, glass, or coffee, not both, one sandwich or yogurt, or cereal) and upcharges Judy wanted a rule book! I swear there might even be a counter behind the roll of toilet paper!
Cruising is just cheaper than land vacations, and its one of the reasons the variety of upcharges on Princess don't bother me too much. As long as the basic cruise and food are there, the optional little nickel and diming around the edges don't bother us too much. Besides, one week in Wakiki on a beach front hotel will make anyone long for the simplicity of cruising!
The next cruise out of FLL will be from a different hotel. Maybe back to the Hampton Plantation, or one of the Hilton Garden Inns or the Hilton airport. But I'm glad we did it once, just to check it out.
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. Re-packing the suite cases for embarkation! We'll catch a cab at 11 and run over to the port to get in line.
See ya all on board!
11-28-10 Emerald Princess
Ok, now we are live!
Slept a little later this morning, but still anxious. This would be the day I spring the big surprise. A suite on the ship rather than our typical balcony cabin. A Christmas present just a few weeks early. And it was a rousing success. I told Judy that I had purchased something special for the cruise and had her close her eyes while I led her down the hallway. Opened the door, led her in and said "Merry Christmas"! Surprised her completely. Nice. I like doing that. Our first suite and an aft suite to boot. We're lost in it. So many drawers, closets, cubby holes, we have way too much room and not enough stuff. Its great. This will be a fun cruise.
But I get ahead of myself. We followed our pre-cruise ritual. Repacking the suit cases, getting out the cleaning supplies, last minute shopping at Walgreens, answering some work emails (whoops, where did that come from!). A 10 minute van ride from the Hilton, 8 ships were in port including Allure with a load of travel agents, and we were dropping off our luggage at 11:10 AM. A brief wait in the Elite Lounge, then on to the desk, another brief wait at the top of the escalator and we were on the ship by noon. Pretty painless for sure. Since we've never been on the Emerald before we went exploring. Crown Grill is gorgeous. The wheelhouse more like the Coral and Island than the Grand. Explorers about the same. Club fusion a little more classier than our trip on the CP.
Our other pre-cruise ritual is burger, fries, pizza, a cold long island iced tea and other adult beverages. Nice, satisfying, decompressing and relaxing. Luggage arrived by the time we got back to the cabin, around 2pm. Unpacking was easy with all this room. Then we settled in to await muster drill. Caught a 2 minute cat nap. Muster was almost the same, except for the scanning of the cruise cards with a new handheld scanner. New way to do a quick roll call I guess.
Me on board, judy on board, check. Surprise a success. Check. Luggage arrived. Check. Time to chill. Menu tonight was Sailaway. Pretty much the same menu, but we didn't make it to the dining room. Opted for a quick dance to Phoenix Rising in the Wheelhouse, the Welcome show in the theatre, a quick snack at the HC and then to bed early. Time to catch up on some sleep.
Highlights of the cruise from the first patter that everyone wants to know:
Formal nights are 2nd day at sea and last day at sea prior to Princess Cays. Comedians are Billy Vader, John Mendoza and Rollin Jay Moore. Comedy magician is Justin Flom. Cruise Director is Tim Donovan, and Benji, from AUS, is his senior. There is NFL on MUTS, Sunday and Monday night. Despicable Me, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Salt, Inception, Other Guys, Dinner for Schmucks and Get Low are headline movies at night. Production shows are Boogie Shoes, I Got the Music, Motor City, What a Swell Party and Beatlemaniacs. They will have Princess Popstar, London Pub Night, Country and Western night, 50's and 60's night and 70's disco night.
Captain is Giorgio Pomata, Maitre De is Nicola Furian. Ship's clocks go ahead 1 hour on the first night.
Anyway, that's all for now. Starting to nod off. As always, ask questions and I'll try and get the answers.
11-29-10 At Sea:
The suite is pretty incredible. We've walked through them before, but never thought we'd actually stay in one. The suite is basically two rooms wide. The diagrams on the Princess website don't do it justice. It's much roomier and has a much larger feel than the diagrams show. The refrigerator is bigger than a normal room as well. We could really get used to the suite life. Plenty of storage room, plenty of room in the bathrooms, the Jacuzzi tub even comes with bath salts. The shower doesn't have that loving shower curtain either!
The balcony actually has two beams. One 18" beam near the port side that forms a little nook and protrudes into the balcony area. The second is a full beam that is about ¼ of the way from the starboard side and is pretty much centered in the balcony area. This makes the balcony a bit crowded since we have two full loungers, an end table, a round dining table and three dining chairs. There are two sliding doors into the balcony, one from the bedroom side of the suite and one from the living room side of the suite. One note of import is that the sliding doors can and will slam shut, engaging the lock enough to basically lock you out on the balcony. Happened to us during our power nap today. Aft cabins have almost zero wind on their balconies and it makes for a nice shaded, comfortable space with the sound of the wake providing the perfect white noise. I forget exactly what I was dreaming about, but it was pretty good when the door slammed shut. Good thing the other door was still unlocked, otherwise we would have been doing some interesting gymnastics.
Slept pretty good last night. Judy has to have the head of the bed raised for her Acid Reflux, so Carlos, our room steward, suggested using the life jackets. Great Idea! All three against the wall under the mattresses along with the round thingies raise the head almost perfectly. The added egg crate helps soften the bed a bit, and the extra pillows are a nice touch. It's not a sleep number bed, but it will do quite nicely.
The perks are already spoiling us. Breakfast at Sabbatini's was wonderful. I didn't know whether to eat it or take a picture of it. (But I forgot the camera and I really don't like to waste food, so it's all gone now.) It was a beautiful, perfectly cooked poached egg in a glass brandy snifter type dish on top of rosemary hash browns (diced, not shredded) accompanied by a grilled ham steak. A latte, a cappuccino, orange juice, toast, wonderful marmalade, constant attention by a wonderfully smiling waitress, quiet, no mess, no fuss, no pushing, no clanking of dishes, no noise. This was great. Speaking of Sabbatini's, and having been on all three Fincanteri Grands and the Caribbean Princess, I must admit I really like the layout of the Emerald. Sabbatini's is on Deck 15 aft, next to Adagio's and overlooking the back of the ship with nice views. No more watching people walk by on the Promenade. The light colored woods, the tile floors, the richly colored carpet just create a feel of a location that exudes luxury. We will be back for more breakfasts for sure.
The dEcor is simply breathtaking around the entire ship. We walked through Crown Grill and it is more beautiful than the new Crown Grill on the Golden, and that was absolutely stunning. The dark woods make for an intimate setting that we will be visiting for dinner tonight. We really like the Club Fusion concept over the Vista Lounge. It's just a more exciting vibe. The Wheelhouse is larger and very similar to the layout on the Island and the Coral. A much better setting and layout than the Wheelhouse on the three Fincanteri Grands.
The CC meet and greet was a great success in Skywalkers today. Tim Donovan showed up. We've sailed with Tim twice before. Our Grand cruise with him in April 2009 is still in our top 3 cruises of all time. This cruise holds much promise as well. Billy Vader was very funny last night during the welcome aboard show, Rollin Jay Moore will have an adult comedy night and there are only 31 minors on board. Only 5 teenagers. YEAH!
Our ballroom class held a special surprise. The Emerald has two dedicated ballroom instructors Ken and Merrily Knepper. We were apprehensive when we heard we would have "professional" ballroom instructors until Merrily said - ' the first rule is to have fun'. They are a wonderful couple and they attend the dance bands at night as well. Unlike the cruise staff or the entertainment dancers, who have other duties and responsibilities, these two can interact with us at night as well. This could prove very fun indeed.
Later on the 29th...
Tim is proving to be a very good CD. Lots of entertainment choices, lots of dance venues, and pretty good comedians. Billy Vader last night was good. Justin Flom, comedian/magician was pretty good as well. His card tricks to music was a completely different take on close up magic and highly entertaining. We still, even though we watched carefully, figure out the flying table trick. It's very good.
I really don't like the layout of the new Patter. Entertainment choices were pretty easy to find, but in the new Patter you have to read the details. The old patter had the info several different ways, the most important, to me, was venue by venue. Now the time tables are where all the information is, although little boxed blurbs, like pop up ads, are around the perimeter and provide some additional information. I do like the guides on the back.
There were several dance venues tonight, the Wheelhouse with Phoenix Rising, the orchestra in Explorer's, canned music in fusion and in Skywalkers. Skywalker's remains the last indoor dance venue with smoking allowed and even with the smoking section over on one side far away from the dance venue, Judy could not be in there more than 5 minutes. Oh well.
We saw "What a Swell Party". A new, for us, production show. Kind of ok until the last 10 minutes and then the choreography and the dancing really picked up and went well. We got there 30 minutes early and barely got a seat in the front rows.
Overall entertainment is far better than our last cruise on the Star. In fact, one of our tests is whether or not we have time to do it all. If we don't, then it's a pretty good cruise. As before when we sailed with Tim, he's packed the schedule with all kinds of activities and we just can't seem to do it all.
But the highlight of the evening was dinner at the Crown Grill. Judy had the shrimp with Pancetta bisque, which was quite good. I had the scallops and fau gras appetizer. I had to try the fau gras again, and I still don't care for it. Must be an acquired taste. I had the grilled salad and it was very good. For the main course I had the rack of lamb and Judy had the filet. As usual, her filet was perfect. My rack was great, really really good, until I put their new mint sauce on it and it went to fantastic. The new mint sauce has just a hint of a mild vinegar and it really sent the lamb over the top. For dessert we both had the apple berry cobbler with ice cream. Wonderful. Very tasty. Well worth the $50 cover charge.
Well its been a full day at sea, a full night of fun, food and entertainment, and now its 0100 in the morning and time to hit the sack.
11-30-10 At Sea:
Boy was it hard to get up this morning. Still getting used to the bed and pillows, and our normal bedtime is 8pm at home. Staying up till 1am is just not our normal style. Slept with the balcony door open. Fresh air, the sounds of the ocean, it just doesn't get any better than that. Temperatures have been perfect. 70's to 80's. Nice breeze, not too hot, not too cold. Very comfortable. The A/C works quite well in our suite. On cold, it would freeze us out.
Sabbatini's was our breakfast stop. Their poached eggs are simply perfect. The eggs benedict just absolutely wonderful. Judy had the Belgium waffle with real maple syrup and real whipped cream and fresh strawberries and real butter. Latte's, mocha's and cappacino's are included in the breakfast. Wonderful service, personable and impeccable, with that touch of elegance that really makes you feel special. A very nice start to the day.
We were treated to a tour of the Thermal suite in preparation for using it tomorrow while everyone gets off in St Kitts. I think a nice swim followed by a visit to the thermal suite is in order. There are five of the heated stone benches, a "dry" sauna, a steam bath and an aromatherapy steam room. Unlike the ones near the front pool, these are coed, so I don't have to do this on my own. Never been in a steam room before, only saw them in movies. They also have the Rasul couples room, not included in the suite perks. We will try the steam rooms first. The couples room may have to wait until the next cruise, or the one after that!
Foxtrot was the dance in ballroom class today. Ken and Merrily are very nice teachers. Funny, not too serious and they want to make sure everyone has a good time. A good turnout. Basic forward, quarter turn, promenade and swing step were the four steps taught today. As I always say, guys, you can buy them diamonds and you can take them to the dinner, but if you really want to make your wife smile, take her dancing. I guarantee you will make her very happy...
The patter is absolutely chock a block full of stuff to do today. Movies constantly on MUTS. Trivia, different trivia like majority rules and cruise long speed trivia, every couple of hours, crochet, shuffle board, napkin folding, line dance, ceramics, lectures, Texas Hold Em tournament, culinary demo, pub lunch in the wheelhouse, pool games, bridge, golf, jewelry sale, clearance sale in the dining room, bingo, just a lot of stuff going on.
The crowds. Yes, the super grands have the extra deck and yes the corridors get very busy. It's not helped by the photographers that block areas on formal night either. Venues fill up rapidly. At peak times the Promenade deck is stuffed with people. But it's only temporary. Fincanteri and Princess did an excellent job in laying out the Emerald and her sisters, the Crown and Ruby. Some crowding is to be expected on any ship at peak times, they key is to make sure its not crowded all the time. Things calm down after a while when everyone finds their own little nook and there are a lot of them on the ship. Overall, its really not that bad.
Lunch was at Vines, and yes, you have to buy a beverage to get free sushi or Tapas. Not bad stuff. We did a white flight while Judy stocked up on sushi for lunch. Line dancing was fun in the Piazza, but way too many people and too little room. Miko was sick yesterday, but was back today to teach a couple of line dances. They also had an acrobat in the Piazza the last couple of days and we caught her show waiting for line dancing. Li Liu does some amazing things while balancing 6 spinning plates on sticks, 3 in each hand.
This was our first night in the dining room. As a suite guest, you call up the dine line, or wait until they call you, make your request, any time, any type of table, and then just show up. We walked up to the desk and was immediately seated. Dinner was the Caribbean menu tonight. Pretty good stuff, although the Fettuccini Alfredo is not up to Judy's standards. She was spoiled on the Golden last year with some fantastic fettuccine and she's been searching for its equivalent every since - this had good flavor, just not as good and not sauced as well as it should - some of the pasta was dry. The highlight for Judy was the split pea soup. The highlight for me were the lamb shanks and the shrimp and scallop appetizer. Yeah, I know, I had lamb last night at Crown Grill, but I just couldn't pass up lamb shanks. And it was really good. Melt in your mouth fall off the bone tender. The lentils, potatoes and roasted eggplant that came with it were also great in the stew/sauce that the lamb was cooked in. Not gamey at all. A real highlight of the meal.
After dinner, things get real busy. 7:30 starts ballroom dancing in explorer's with the orchestra, then 8:30 is a comedian in the theatre, dancing starts back up at 9:15, then the 50's sock hop at 9:45, a repeat of the comedian at 10:30, with Justin Flom back in explorers at 8:30 and 10:30. A real packed schedule for sure.
So after careful consideration we did the dancing in explorer's to the Emerald Princess Orchestra - this is a great band. The other night they were playing a rhumba and mixed in the theme to the brady bunch as part of the song. We also Cha Chaed to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. A band with a great musical attitude for sure. Then we did the sock hop in Club Fusion. That was fun. Good music with Icon, we have three great dance bands - Phoenix Rising and Icon, along with the Orchestra - and Fusion has the largest dance floor on the ship. They had the Elvis contest, hand jive, several swings, the twist. If you would like to dress up, just bring your poodle skirt, leather jacket or letterman's sweater and you can fit right in.
After 50's night we hustled up to the 1030 comedian's show. John Mendoza. He's a crowd interaction comedian and with the 1030 crowd it was slow. BTW, the 1030 show was not full at all. The 830one was SRO, but if you wait until the 1030 show, you are good to go for the most part. John had some good bits, some good lines and interactions with the audience. Not a total flop. 12-1-10 St Kitts:
This morning we awoke early - yelling, thrusting, bumping, grinding-because of the docking at St Kitts. The Grand was right behind us. So it was up to Sabattinis for breakfast. This is a really nice suite perk and a good example of how Princess keeps changing to add more value for their cruisers. They didn't have to do this. Suites sell very well on all ships. That's why the suite upgrade is so rare. But having a nice quiet place to have breakfast is just so cool! We've had great service so far. From Sabbatini's to the Crown Grill, to the cruise staff to the bar staff to Carlos our room steward. Everyone has been great!
I find that passengers, for the most part, are far more obnoxious and rude than any crew member I have ever met. I ran into my first chair poacher today. I understand the issue with chair hogs, but why do people feel that because you aren't actually laying in the chair at the time they show up, they can just move your shoes, robe, cruise card and towel to another lounger while you are in the hot tub 10 feet away. Sort of ranks up there with the starving people waiting impatiently in the anytime dining line rushing the opening of the door like zombies in Left for Dead swarming a car whose alarm has just gone off! Well, you just had to be there…
I found out today I am not a thermal suite kind of guy. Good thing I didn't have to pay for it! We did our 16 times around the jogging track up on Deck 19. Yep, there is a deck 19 with the track, the miniature golf course and the sports court and the view from up there is not to be missed. Great photo spot. Then we did the swim against the current pool - it is not part of the Sanctuary on the Emerald, then a hot tub - during which my lounge chair got poached - so we tried out the thermal suites.
Comfortably ensconced on the stone chair, actually tile, I anxiously awaited nirvana, and waited, and waited. After about 10 minutes I asked Judy when I could expect the ethereal plane of existence to open up and elevate my consciousness. I got shushed. After 15 minutes she grudgingly led me into the aromatherapy room where I began to sweat tremendously, but she assured me it was fragrant sweat and it was good for me. She began taking deep breaths, then coughing, claiming it "was a good cough". I was having none of the deep breathing this liquid air so I held on for a few more minutes while the sweat began pouring off of me, the ceiling started dripping hot water on me, the walls began closing in and I couldn't hardly breathe. Nope, not for me. So let's try the "dry" heat sauna. At least it was cooler until I sat down! Holy smokes! You could have cooked an egg on the heated benches. Geez, I wanted relaxation, not being cooked like a turkey in an oven! At that point it was abandon ship and back to the air conditioning of the suite and a nice cool shower. Much better. But now I know where to go heat up leftovers after dinner!
We tried the HC for lunch. Not very much variety on the menu, and plastic wrapped sandwiches. I've noticed a substantial reduction in lunch choices, especially on port days, over the past couple of years. It's not a really bad thing. You won't go hungry, but I do miss the themed lunches that some ships put on.
I tried watching dinner for schmucks in the Princess theater this afternoon. Just could not get past the painful writing to actually see the dinner. A nap sounded much more inviting and as it turned out, much more refreshing for sure.
We got notice last night we are in on Friday's chef's table. Hoorah! Typically the culinary highlight of the cruise. Can't wait.
Tonight is a full night with Captain's Circle, over 2000 members on board, in Club Fusion at 730, country night at 930, and London Pub Night at 1045. We won't make it to the Motor City production show tonight - it's one of our favorites and I hope they repeat it later.
MUTS, as I've said before, is being far better utilized than our last cruise. The wake show in the morning, then 3-4 movies until the featured movie in the evening. Princess commercials in between showing, which at least are better than blank screens or those screensavers we watched on the star over and over and over again in February.
Once again I can't say enough about how Tim is running the entertainment on this ship compared to the last ship. Like night and day. We actually got bored on the Star for several nights. We're now back to not being able to do it all and that's the way we like it. Three good dance bands, good dance venues, and no hour long canned music "Ballroom" dancing programs yet. Fusion and Skywalkers is canned music, but its good quality DJed music, not simply stick in the CD and hit play.
Dinner was a Princess dinner that featured one of my favorites Coq Au Vin - chicken in a heavy burgundy wine sauce. We started by sharing the braised oxtail over rotelle pasta. MMMM good. Judy has the grilled calamari sans the fennel salad. I had the hearty black bean chowder. The calamari was very good and the baby squid on the plate was even better than the steaks. The chowder was just ok. Not my favorite. Judy ordered the Grilled Beef Fillets and I ordered the Coq Au Vin. Her beef was perfectly cooked and tasty, my Coq Au Vin, while not the best I've ever had on a ship, was pretty tasty. Dark meat would have been better, but the chicken was moist and tender.
Because Captain's Circle was held on a non-formal night, we decided to go and score some free drinks. Ok, some free flavored ice water. No new news on the new ships. No tidbits of information. Most traveled passengers were all over 700 days at sea. Over 2000 CC members with 190+ elites. Ah well there goes our invite to the most travelled party.
After Captain's Circle, we danced at the country and western show. The crowd started small, Motor City must attracted a big audience, but picked up. Line dances, some slow dances, the bang, bang game, but no tush push. Darn! BTW, it was pick on Aleesia night, one of the cruise staff. She also ended up being the target on London Pub Night.
London pub night was a hoot. Tim throws one of the best London pub nights with lots of audience participation, edgy humor, old corny jokes, skits and the like, but still a lot of fun. With over 60% of the audience probably already seeing a pub night, they do need to start changing it up a bit to keep it fresh. Although the golfer was new to us, it's usually a tennis player. They also had drink specials in fusion. $2.99 for Singapore slings, Long Islands, some beers and other drinks. So we stocked up, watched the show, staggered back to the room and hit the sack.
Another great day of cruising…
One of the nicest ports on our itinerary. We might get off for a little while, but nothing fancy. Judy is having her sushi massage, the seaweed wrap massage, this morning so I am catching up on the travel log, downloading email and chilling out waiting for her. Connections via Cisco VPN have been surprisingly good. Using a laptop to compose the travel log offline and then just uploading it has saved a bunch of log on time.
Today was actually one of those catch up on our sleep days. It was a bit choppy last night which caused several balcony doors on the aft end, apparently we aren't the only ones who sleep with the door open, to slam open or shut. That happened several times after midnight and each time it brought me full awake as in geez did we hit a deer?
Needless to say when Judy left for her massage appointment, I just stayed in bed and went back to sleep. Hey, I'm on vacation! We caught bits of MUTs this afternoon, Sherlock Holmes, but the sound was just not right. Other than that we simply took the entire day off…
Dinner was the cosmopolitan menu. I had the crabmeat appetizer, it was just ok, not a ceviche, but with extra lemon squeezed on it wasn't half bad. Judy had the shrimp cocktail. Those shrimps are getting smaller all the time, but still tasty. We both had the salad. She has the Dutch Pork Ribs, I had the leg of lamb. Yes lamb once again. It was really good. Actually really, really good. Judy liked her Dutch Pork Ribs, but I felt they needed some kind of sauce to tie them all together. They were very tender. For dessert, it was Cherries Jubilee with ice cream. That was excellent, as usual. We have a regular table set up by the Head Waiter in the Micheangelo dining room. A table for two in a quiet corner with Armen from the Phillipines - can't spell or pronounce his partners name yet. Service is simply outstanding.
After dinner it was time for a canned music ballroom session in Club fusion. The music selection was actually really good. It was DJed properly with good volume, no repeats on the music and the Club Fusion dance floor is great. We had a good turnout with several couples.
Then we went to see a concert show. The Beatlemaniacs. If you like the beatles, you will like this group. They basically look and dress like the Beatles and play about 50 minutes worth of songs. I liked the music a lot and Judy is a Beatle's fan. I guess my only disappointment was that some of the music was canned, so it was hard to tell what was live and what was Memorex. I know for a fact the horns were canned, it's a 4 piece band after all, and some of the guitars. I'm pretty sure the drums and the singing was live. It was a fun time and lots of people loved it. With the aforementioned caveat, I recommend it as well.
After the concert, it was Island Party night and a great time was had by all. Tim scores again with a great deck party. My dogs are barking for sure. Basically we danced for about 90 minutes. A couple of slow songs, couple of merengues, electric slide, conga line, dollar dance, hooki lau, Macarena and a couple more I can't remember. We grabbed a Fosters, two glasses and headed back to the room to decompress.
Another great day…
12-03-10 St Lucia:
Another restless night. Even the can of Fosters didn't help. The Deck Party was so energetic, the adrenaline kept flowing until early in the morning. That's the sign of great party.
Lt Lucia is a beautiful island. We've been here several times and just chose to go Christmas shopping for the grandkids. Some Del Sol color changing nail polish should keep any teenage girl happy.
Breakfast was at Sabbatinis again. Judy doesn't every want to go back to the buffet. Can't say I blame her. Breakfast is cooked ala minuet and to order. My omelet was nice and spicy with fresh jalapenos. Judy went with the waffle. Three mochas later and we're ready to roll.
Shopping was quick and painless. I don't like to linger. Get in, get out. After shopping it was time to burn some more calories. We set up Judy's Itouch in Club Fusion with her portable set of speakers and danced around for about an hour. The dance floor in Club Fusion is the biggest and the best of the dance floors around the ship. We tried to get a seat in the shade at MUTS this afternoon. That didn't work out well.
Chef's Table was the highlight for the evening. We met at 7pm with the matre de, and started our 13 course menu in the kitchen. The crab and lobster margarita with a very good champagne, followed by a Salmon tartare, a mini fontini cheese tart and a roasted potatoe with sour cream and caviar. Of the four, the cheese tart was the highlight and matched perfectly with the champagne.
Seating was in Micheangelo on deck 5. Beautiful table settings, with fresh baked breads. Love the baked goods on the ship. Most of the main dishes we've never had before. Instead of risotto, we had Linguini Alla Vengole, a linguini pasta with clams and tomatoes in a wine sauce. Absolutely the best starter we've ever had. Blew always all of the past risottos, which we've always thought to be fantastic. The palette cleanser was a lemon sorbet with a little mango and grey goose. Very good, but not as good a the spicy bloody mary sorbet with cracked pepper and grey goose we've had before.
For the main course, the chef simply brought out the entire kitchen. Huge lobster tails, diver scallops, filet mignon and lamb chops with a warm artichoke salad, roasted potatoes and several choices of sauces. We've always had flambeed veal and/or beef before, nothing like this feast. It was pretty incredible.
The cheese course was baked camembert cheese with pine nuts, a port wine reduction, walnut bread a date/fig concoction. This was served with the dessert wine of course. A forkful of the cheese, the port and the date/fig followed by a bit of wine was pure heaven on the taste buds. A very good lemon cello was offered at this point as well. It was much better than the lemon cello I've had before. Sweeter and not nearly as bitter.
Dessert itself was a chocolate ganache in a beer dough fritter, a French vanilla and honey ice cream over a praline. Coffee and several selections of bon bons and petti-fors followed. The strawberries dipped in white chocolate were especially good.
1 Champagne, 1 white, 1 red, 1 dessert and a lemon cello made up the drinks offered. Not being a wine kind of person I can't tell you what they were except pretty darn good. The white was much better for us, the red very robust, but my favorite is always the dessert wine.
The linguini and the cheese course were the standouts of this meal. These two dishes were better than anything in our previous Chef's table. They were absolutely fantabulous. That's not to say that the other courses were bad or not very good, they were all excellent and easily were better than anything we've had since our last Chef's table, but the two stood out above all the rest.
We got done with dinner about 10pm and headed to the production show I got the music. I can honestly say I didn't see that much of the show. The wine, the champagne and the lemon cello decided to knock me over the head about 15 minutes into the show and it was such a lovely little nap too. Needless to say, I can't really tell you whether the show was good or bad.
The days start to blur together - which is a good thing since this is a vacation. As usual breakfast was in Sabbatini's, but a much lighter affair after a meal at Chef's table. We've never been to Antigua before, so it was time to get off and do a little sightseeing and shopping. Nothing big, just looking around the port area and picking up a few things.
Oceania was in port next door. Ocean Princess, before she was transferred to P&O. The 4th of the sun class ships (Sun, Dawn, Sea and Ocean). Our very first cruise ship in June 2001 Seward to Vancouver. Our first introduction to cruising. It looked like she's been upgraded. The bridge wings are now enclosed, not open. Looking at the balcony cabins on the decks brings back a lot of memories. Nice thing about the Sun class, except for location, the size of the opening of the balcony in the outer hull and a few quad cabins here and there, the balcony cabins were all identical in layout, the aft suites the largest and nicest in the fleet and the mini-suites were what are on most ships full suites.
After getting back on board we decided to get in some exercise and did a couple of miles around the promenade. Some more differences between the Emerald and the Grands. No Emerald deck balcony cabins on the promenade at the top of the stairs. Looked like all outside view cabins with portholes.
We have checked out the gym. The treads and elliptical are all Precor with individual TVs. Bring your earbuds.
It was Italian Night in the dining room. One of our favorite nights. The eggplant parmesan was very good. So good I had two. Most eggplant parmesans on land have breaded and fried eggplant, which is the correct recipe, but they grill or saute the eggplant on Princess, not deep fried. I like this a lot more. Then straight to the Veal Scaloppini. Which was very good as well. Topped off with several Lemoncello's, it was a pretty tasty meal. Judy had a salad and the spaghetti and meatballs, which she said was pretty good as well. No dessert for her, but I had the Tiramisu, which was very well done.
After dinner we did the dancing to the orchestra in Explorer's. Unlike the Star in February, Gordon, the band leader, did a really good job of picking a good variety of tunes. Ever Rhumba'ed to White Christmas? We now have. The orchestra is very good and another example of how the entertainment on this cruise is really, really good.
After dancing we sat through Rollin Jay Moore's comedy act. We've seen Jay on three previous cruises, but when he's on, he's on and he did a really good job and had some new material. He throws so much at you, some of it has to stick and make you laugh. His adult show is tomorrow night and we have to try and stay up to see it.
After that it was bedtime. We needed to get up at 0600 to get the day started.
12-05-10 St Thomas:
Using an alarm clock on a cruise ship, I believe is sacrilege. Oh well, the price we pay. Today would be our sole planned excursion on Treazzure out of Red Hook at 9am. We've never done this before and we were both looking forward to a semi-private, only 6 people, snorkeling and lunch trip.
Treazzure is a 65' sailing yacht. Beautiful with plenty of shade, downstairs cabins available for use and Jack the black cat that runs the boat. Danielle and Joe do a really good job. We met Joe at the flagpole behind the burrito place at the American Yacht harbor. He zodiaked six of us to the boat and we took off for St John's. Danielle served mimosas, fruit, fruit juices and coffee cake. We stopped at the first snorkeling spot and the water was absolutely the perfect temperature for snorkeling. I like snorkeling in St Thomas. The water is clear, the fish are large and plentiful, and the sites are gorgeous. I got great shots of a 20# mullet running with a bunch of yellow tail fish. Brain coral, fan coral, sea urchins, lots of little colored fish dotted the reef area. After snorkeling for 90 minutes we had a great lunch, a chicken wrap and a Caesar salad, with some "painkillers", which were very refreshing. We headed for the second snorkeling spot off one of the resort beaches on St John to see turtles and stingrays. We saw several turtles and one stingray with lots of fish. I got some great underwater shots of all the above. We then set the sail and glided back to red hook.
The Treazzure is a great day sail to St John. I would highly recommend them except for one caveat, the time factor. We arrived back at Red Hook at 3:15 with all aboard at 4:30. We just barely made it. One car accident on the road out of Red Hook and we would have been toast. It would be a great day sail if you were staying on the island. To get the two snorkels locations in, with lunch and sail time takes a minimum of 6 hours which cuts it too close for the ship's departure. But others may be more adventurous. If so, I highly recommend them.
The only other issues is that Judy's motion sickness kicked into high gear during the first snorkel, the sail home and the ride home in the taxi. Had to resort to high powered anti-nausea drugs which knocked her down for the rest of the evening. Which was a shame since tonight was Disco night and we do like to hustle. Oh well, you just can't do it all.
Dinner was Chef's Dinner. First of all it appears that Princess scored a major buy of Rosemary and Thyme. It's everywhere! On the hash browns in Sabbatinis, to at least one dish on every menu. I really like rosemary and use it a lot, especially on chickens and turkeys and the hash browns are really good in Sabbatinis, but Judy doesn't like it nearly as much. It is a very strong flavor. Tonight the menu included Strawberry and thyme infused sorbet. It did not work. Tasted like sorbet with a hint of Nyquil. On the other hand the twice baked Goat Cheese souffle with Garlic Sabayon was very good. Garlic and cheese? How could that go wrong? I also had the French Onion soup, which I've always liked. Hey, there was a table of French people next door and they slurped it all up as well! And of course I ordered the lamb and yes it came with a sprig of rosemary, and it was the 4th lamb dish I've had this cruise, but I can't help myself. They really do lamb well on Princess and this was no exception - even with the rosemary! (Judy ordered the mushroom soup and the southern fried chicken but her taste buds were totally off and she was falling asleep in her plate. But she liked both dishes and I tried the chicken and found it well seasoned, crispy and very moist.) Dessert was a Menage a Trois of a raspberry pana cotta, mmmm good, a Tiny Gateau Opera (Layered cake that also very ummmy), and a honey-hazelnut semifreddo with a nutella twist (frozen stuff outside, frozen nutella ice cream inside, chocolate garnish - very good).
Tonight we will miss Disco night in Fusion, Billy Vader on stage, Rollin Jay Moore at midnight with his adult show and late night disco dancing, but I'm going to put her to bed early for the night.
Tomorrow is a sea day, then Princess Cays and then my favorite day of a cruise, turnaround day as an in-transit passenger!
More tomorrow! 12-06-10 At Sea Headed to Princess Cays:
Judy got a good solid 10 hours of sleep last night and feels much better this morning. Breakfast was, again, at Sabbatini’s. We just enjoy the peace and quiet and unhurried nature, along with excellent food and service. The poached eggs continue to be cooked perfectly and the egg’s benedict just simply wonderful.
For lunch we decided to utilize another suite perk. Ordering off the lunch menu and having it on our balcony. The weather on this cruise has been perfect. Hardly ever over 80 and today the sea state is nill, the back balcony in shade, a slight breeze with temps in the upper 70’s. A perfect day to have lunch on the balcony and survey the view out over the sea. Tonight is a formal night and we really don’t feel like dressing up, so we might just order lobster dinner on the balcony.
One thing I forgot to mention is all the fresh fruit baskets we get in a suite. With Grapes! Wonderful, juicy, delicious grapes! Strawberries, pears, apples, kiwis and bananas. On formal nights we get the chocolate dipped strawberries as well.
Instead of dinner we tried out the Elite Lounge in Skywalkers. Munchies and drinks. A lot better attended than past lounges we’ve been to, but no real drink specials except for wine. I think we’ve reached food saturation. Lobster just didn’t sound good. Actually nothing on the menu sounded good.
We went to see Etienne in the Piazza. We’ve seen his full show before on other cruises, but the Piazza is much more up close and personal. We like the little vignettes in the Piazza. They enhance the atmosphere and really do give it that “on the street” feel.
We danced to Icon in Explorer’s for a while and then went to see Boogie Shoes. Parts of it were great, parts of it were “Huh?” The singers and dancers were all great, but the writing and song selection was just a little off for me. The pole dancing cowboys were a great switch, the opening sequence one of the best for us, but the clown and big feet sequence was just out of place and the “Let’s Get Physical” costumes and choreography, along with the transition to chearleaders was just over my head. Besides, where was “Footloose”? Maybe I just don’t get it. We miss Caliente and some of the other shows from years past.
After the show, it was bedtime…
12-07-10 Princess Cays:
Determined to work off some of these calories, we had a light breakfast in Sabbatini’s and then headed to Deck 19 to walk a couple of miles. It’s also a great place to see the sights around Princess Cays. The seas were a bit on the rough side, so we decided not the chance it given Judy’s last bought with motion sickness. Tendering is not the best place to be when sea sick. Hopefully, on the next leg, actually on Thursday this week, the seas will be smoother and we can get off and hike around.
Although a lot of people will say the new “super grands” (Emerald, Crown and Ruby) got the extra deck with no additional public space, that’s not entirely true. The top of skywalkers, where the golf course, walking track and sports court are, is a good example as well as moving Sabbatini’s to Deck 16 and creating Adagio alongside. As an engineer I appreciate the little things they incorporated into the Emerald design as part of lessons learned from the Grands. The automatic doors into the HC from the pool area can create a hurricane into the HC when they open. On the Emerald they created a right angle vestibule with two automatic doors that prevents that hurricane from blowing stuff all around the entrance to the HC. The shuffle board courts are actually on little used wings off the staircases to the exterior of the sports court.
They did eliminate corridor space to create more people space. Crooner’s takes up the entire half of the 7th deck port side. You have to walk through crooners on the port side to get forward or aft, whereas on the Grands there is a walkway on both sides of the atrium and crooners is much small on the starboard side. The two corridors around the Sterling Steakhouse or desert rose, on the port and starboard sides, now had the Wheelhouse bar taking up space that was the port side hallway.
This does create a lot of traffic jams. Especially when they set up the cameras for portraits and take up half the existing walkway and then the theatre lets out. But actually for an extra deck of people it’s not nearly as bad as one might think it could be. This gives me hope that the new ships may not be as bad as people might fear. We will have to try them at least once for sure. At one time I swore off the Grands and would never have considered stepping foot on a super grand, but now, it’s just not that bad.
So we did the Deck 19 walk and picture taking. Judy then took off to use the stone loungers in the Thermal Suite while I did another 2 miles on the elliptical in the gym while watching Travel Channel. After that it was an invigorating swim against the current in the lotus pool, which is kept quite cool and then a muscle relaxing soak in the hot tub and a quick viewing of the ending of the A-Team at MUTS. After that, it was time for lunch, a shower and a power nap. Power naps are an essential part of cruise travel.
For dinner we ordered in-suite from the dinner menu, which was the Landfall menu. The temperature has dropped to below 70F, so it was a little brisk on the balcony, but with an aft balcony there is not much wind. A side balcony would have been unusable. We ordered a light dinner, Linguine Pasta with Littleneck Clams (this was really good), shrimp cocktail (pretty standard), Poached Seafood and Avocado (with mussel, lobster claw meat, calamari, shrimp and scallops – really, really good) with a grilled vegetable and heart of Romaine salad with balsamic vinaigrette (really good with grilled eggplant, grilled asparagus, grilled tomatoe and grilled zucchini). The sun had already set so it was a little on the dark side, which really enhanced the mood. With the wake in the background, clouds in the sky, stars starting to shine, it was an excellent dinner!
After dinner it was back to the dance floor for the ballroom blitz review in Club Fusion. CD music, but pretty good for 90 minutes. Several couples along with Ken and Merrily, the dance instructors, showed up to enjoy the large dance floor. 9PM was farewell showtime and it was only one showing and no way to get a seat 30 minutes prior to the show. It was packed, so we dance instead to Icon at Explorer’s. Just for the heck of it we went to Princess Pop Star finals in Fusion. It was a lot of fun and had some good singers.
I did find out something important, Fusion has a power hour from 8PM till close. All house spirits are $2.99, Pina Coladas, Singapore Slings and Long Islands are $2.99, Dos Equis, Becks, MGD and Miller Lites are also $2.99. Good thing we got 10 more days. Now we know where to go drinking at night.
Back in the room we find something we’ve never had before. An In Transit Patter! Kind of cool. Since Princess is now selling B2B’s as one cruise, it makes sense that more people would be in transit than ever before.
Time turns back 1 hour tonight, then will probably turn forward again tomorrow night.
Later as we turn and burn for another go around!
12-08-10 Fort Lauderdale:
Turn around day. Sabatini’s is not open, but room service delivers to Suites. So we ordered intending to have breakfast on the balcony. Unfortunately, it was around 40F when we woke up, so breakfast would have to be inside for sure.
Not much to do on turnaround day. 200+ of us showed up in the Michelangelo dining room at 1000AM to do the immigration shuffle. The interesting thing was that half of the people returning to the ship were not even checked, they were just sent back to the holding pen. Our papers were checked and we waited until about 11am to get back on. We then just watched movies until the sailaway party. Overall it was a smooth and painless process.
This part of the cruise we intend to eat a lot on the balcony and in the HC/Café Caribe. A change from the dining room. So far the Pizza has been great and the burgers, dogs, chicken and brauts good as well. The fries are coated, like with wheat or batter, which makes them extra crunchy and tasty.
Dinner was good in the HC, but no sailaway seafood buffet in Café Caribe. In fact, there was only one side of the HC open. So far all of the meals at the HC have been pretty good and tasty. We haven’t been there for breakfast, but Judy reports lunch is pretty good and tonights dinner was good as well. I just had the seafood pasta and scallop ceviche. Those were excellent.
After dinner we decided to just do MUTS for the evening. It was actually cold, so we had to huddle under several blankets to keep warm, but it was kind of fun. We haven’t done that in quite a while.
12-09-10 Princess Cays:
The water was almost glass when we awoke this morning, so we saddled up for Princess Cays – stopping at Sabatini’s for breakfast and doing a mile walk on the top of Skywalkers. We haven’t been at Princess Cays for over 4 years, right after a major hurricane and they have changed a lot. Lots of bungalows have been added, there were only 4 when we were here last, the Sanctuary, the little islands in the swim and snorkel area, all the shops, they’ve really done a great job and the place looks beautiful. As is our tradition, we beachcombed north this time about a mile, regretted not bringing our snorkel gear as there is a beautiful little cover about a mile north that is perfect snorkeling.
So we turned around and headed back for lunch and a little sightseeing along the Cay. Lunch was a great. Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, slaw, salad, beans, cookies, brownies and lots of fresh fruit. Really enjoyed it. The tender ride was flat calm on the way back and the Emerald is just an absolutely stunning ship sitting at anchor. I’ve seen the Pug Nosed NCL ships, the M class celebrity ships, the fun ships and the building on a hull RCL super ships, but there is just something elegant about a Princess ship. Fincanteri does a really good design job.
Tonight was formal night and after doing 3 miles today, we really didn’t feel like dressing up. Dancing would not start until late, so we decided to go back to MUTS. Much warmer tonight for sure.
Dinner at Café Caribe was pretty good. (Both sides of the HC were closed.) The beef tenderloin was excellent, the shrimp cocktail good, the bacon wrapped green beans a bit overdone, but the star was dessert. The key lime pie was great, the apple crumble fantastic and the pumpkin cheesecake good as well. We had a good laugh with the couple sitting next to us, they finished their salads and went back for their main course, upon which their table got cleaned off, so they switched to the next table over. You’ve all heard the joke, turned around and my plate was gone, turned around again and my wife was gone…
As usual interaction with the crew is always fun for us. On this cruise it is Elena, one of the staff in Sabatini’s in the morning. Her husband is Emil in the HC and Café Caribe. So we found him in Café Caribe tonight and talked to him for a while. Elena is from Romania and her smile lights up the room. She sees us enter Sabatini’s and immediately starts on our two chocolate mocha lattes. We enjoy talking with and interacting with all of the staff. When we got to Princess Cays, last cruise’s Sabatini’s staff ended up serving the bungalows so we had to stop and say hello to Fabio and crew. Along with Carlos, our room steward, Michael, Aleesia, Miko, Emma and Alex from the cruise staff, we are just having a blast.
Another great day cruising…
12-10-10 At Sea:
A couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday. Ben Kitchen is the Assistant Cruise Director and we have sailed with him before on the Golden to Hawaii with David Cole. Ben’s a lot of fun as well and we like to give him a ribbing every now and then.
The other thing is Etienne in the Piazza. He apparently has two different shows. We saw one last cruise and coming back from Princess Cays, he was on again with a different show. Instead of knives and a unicycle, it was a ladder, a kazoo and a tuba. Figure that one out. The Netflix answer is Maxwell’s Equations. He is extremely funny and a hoot to watch.
We went through a storm early this morning, and BTW time went 1 hour ahead as well. Rain, blowing wind, not too much motion but a noticeable increase. The wind and motion was strong enough to cause us to close the door since it started squeaking and squawking. It started out a dreary day with overcast and rain. Nice and different for a change. I liked it! The sun broke out later in the day.
As usual we went to Sabatini’s for breakfast. (I can’t emphasize how nice this perk is. Quiet, elegant, and unhurried.) Elena made us double shot Latte’s to start and I had a simple poached egg over rosemary potatoes with no hollandaise, and English muffin. Judy had the brioche French toast. The poached eggs were perfect and Judy enjoyed her French toast with no crispy eggs. She hates crispy eggs.
For us the sign of a good cruise is that you can’t do it all. The sign of a really good cruise is that you can’t do it all in a B2B. We are trying, but will probably fail. We missed the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet after ball room dance class, the Waltz, because we got caught up in the martini demonstration. Sorry guys! We basically missed it! We saw all of the production shows and most of the comedians last cruise, so this time we can concentrate on MUTS, the new comedians, Jay Moore’s adult show and Disco night which we missed the first go around.
After the martini demo, it was time to burn some more calories and Judy wanted to use the thermal suite. I went to the gym and did a couple of miles on the elliptical while Judy bettered her Nintendo DS scores while laying back and enjoying the stone loungers. She claims it focuses her mind. (All I could focus on was what the heck was I doing lying and sweating on a hot stone curved chair!) We fully intended to attend the pool games and the bar wars up on deck, or at least attend the snowfall in the piazza, but a nice mixed drink from the mini-bar, and a really comfortable lounger on the balcony got in the way. Oh Darn…
We ordered dinner in-suite again off the dining room menu. They start delivery at 6pm and at 610 our dinner showed up. She spread the table cloth on the balcony table and I proceeded to serve. We ordered Penne Pasta with Mussels (Judy thought it was too fishy, mussels are stronger than clams, but I liked it – the cream sauce was wonderful), shrimp cocktail (as usual very tasty with lots of horseradish in the sauce), a salad for her with balsamic vinaigrette (which Judy pronounced very good), the chunky yellow split pea soup for me (it was ok, not one of my favorites). For the main course I had the Skirt Steak fajitas (nicely done, not anything to write home about, but a nice flavored dish and a welcome change from lamb) while Judy had the roasted cod spiked with Chorizo (she liked this a lot and I tasted it and like it as well).
So there we are watching the sun set, the clouds go by, darkness settling in, we’d skipped lunch and were actually pretty hungry, the weather was warm, but not too hot, humid but not too humid, a cool drink, stars are starting to appear in the sky, good food, good company, the wake whispering in the background – it really doesn’t get any better than that - does it.
As a counterpoint, I do have one complaint about the suite. The couch, which is a sleeper sofa, is about the most uncomfortable couch I have ever sat on. Trying to read a book whilst, love that word – ‘whilst in the tenders’, trying to get comfortable sitting up to read is basically impossible. Yeah I know, I’m getting a lot of sympathy at this point right?
So after dinner we danced in Explorer’s to the orchestra. Gordon has left the ship, so no more dancing Rhumba to the Brady Bunch or Cha Chaing to Jingle Bells, but its still fun. We then hit the tail end of 50’s trivia in Club Fusion. Apparently, Michael and DJ Mark where having a really good time with the audience. Never heard a sing a long quite that lively during a trivia game. After the trivia game came 50’s and 60’s night. A little slow dancing, hand jive, swing. I did have to turn down Michael and Alex to join the twist competition. You see on our third cruise on the Island I got roped into being Tina Turner and have been emotionally scarred ever since…so I never accept any straws, cards, popsicle sticks, stickers or anything that looks like it has strings attached from the cruise staff during the theme nights. Its just safer that way.
We had to leave the party a little early anyway to go see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice at MUTS. It was an ok movie, but Judy wanted to see it. She loves going to the movies. Temperature was perfect, no blankets needed and the sound on the ships with a purpose built MUTS, as opposed to the add-ons like the Star, Grand and Golden, is much much better.
So to summarize a very, very successful day at Sea, I took my wife dancing, sent her off to a thermal spa, did a good workout, had a great power nap, served her a romantic dinner on the balcony overlooking the sea, danced some more and capped it off by taking her to the movies.
This is why we cruise…
12-11-10 St Thomas:
Wow déjà vu! Seems like we were just here. Oh we were! After yesterday today is pretty much anti-climactic. Not much happening around the ship and pretty much everyone got off to shop or play. The QMII was at Crown Bay so we had to dock at Havensite, right behind the Caribbean Princess.
We did breakfast at Elena’s. I finally remembered to take a picture of the poached egg over potatoes before I ate it. After a good workout in the gym we lazed around the suite reading. Tonight would be a catch up night by seeing Billy Vader’s act, missed him last cruise, and Rollin Jay Moore’s late night adult act – which wouldn’t start until 1145PM.
Lunch was at the HC with a couple that dances with us. I did try the tongue sandwich – nope, not my cup of tea for sure. The noodles were good, but it was pretty standard HC lunch fare. We sat and visited for over an hour watching float planes take off and land.
After lunch it was enjoy the suite perk of a DVD movie. “Old Dogs”, a powernap and then enjoy sailaway from the aft balcony. We really enjoy these aft balconies. Dinner was in Café Caribe. It was ok. Pretty standard. The standouts were the butter fish, the carrot cake and the hazelnut chocolate cake. Once again the HC was closed and only Café Caribe was open.
Tim Donovan has changed the lineup at night for this cruise and is having a lot more 7PM and 845PM shows rather than 830 and 1030. We went to Billy Vader’s show first. Billy sings, jokes, one liners, messes with the band and with the audience. It was a so-so performance until about halfway through. Billy decided to stand up on the furniture and Tim came out to get him down – and then the fun started. Billy played off Tim perfectly for about 20 minutes and it was hilarious. The highlight of the evening.
After the show we went up to watch some of the movie that was playing “The Switch” with Jennifer Anniston. Where did all these people come from? It was a packed house. It had never been that packed for the previous shows or cruise. Not an empty seat anywhere to be found.
Rollin Jay Moore’s late night adult comedy was very adult, as in really adult, but not filthy like in every other word. Unfortunately he had to revert to some of his material from the regular show to get on track. He never really connected and while some parts were funny, his normal show in explorer’s last week was better.
After that it was definitely bed time…
Thank goodness for 5 hour energy drinks. Between those and double expresso lattes to wake us up in the morning, we would be dragging all day long.
We’ve never been here before so it was time to get off and explore, make a few purchases, see the sights. No organized tours or anything. Just walk around the place. It’s been hot and humid the last couple of days. Under the cover of the vendor market just off the dock, there was no breeze and it got pretty stifling after a while. The locals were out in force to greet us, but there were not very pushy. A simple no thanks was sufficient. Not like Jamaica.
After rummaging about for a while we went back to the ship and used Club Fusion for dance practice. We needed to practice Waltz on a much larger floor. Tonight would be 80’s night, which we missed last cruise. They were supposed to work on our balcony today, but didn’t. After dancing we went up on deck to find some shade. That was unsuccessful, so we went back to our balcony, which was totally shaded and spent a very nice afternoon stretched out on a lounger reading a book.
We opted for something totally different for dinner. A couple of glasses of wine, some sushi, some shrimp salad and greek salad from the IC, and we had a really nice light dinner in the corner of vines watching the sun go down and the ship sail out of Dominica.
We had already seen the production shows, so we were free to do other things. We opted for dancing with Phoenix Rising in the wheelhouse for a while, then heading to Explorer’s lounge to see Princess Peer Factor. A show we’ve never seen before and it wasn’t trivia. (Peer factor is basically two teams of 2 men and 2 women each competing against each other. The first two women had to make a pizza, judged by one of the Pizza chefs. The first two guys had to put on boxer shorts, over their clothes, while wearing boxing gloves. The one with the most shorts won. The next two women had to pick up casino chips, stack them, shuffle cards, deal them, shuffle them, spread them and turn them. This was judged by the Casino host Gavin. The last two men had to stuff two costumes they were wearing with balloons. The one with the most balloons wins. Then there was a group dance challenge. It was different and fun.)
After Peer Factor we went to Club fusion for dancing during 80’s night. We always enjoy the theme nights and this was no exception. The cruise staff is a lot of fun and extremely hyper.
After 80’s night was London Pub Night. This was our fourth Tim Donovan London Pub Night and he does it quite well. In four times, the 3rd just last week, we haven’t gotten tired of seeing it. This time we sat down close and videoed a lot of the show. Time to make another DVD.
Pub night took us early into the morning. Time to crawl back to bed…
Early into Grenada, but then early to leave. The QM2 was anchored and tendering off shore. Ocean liners are built so different from a Caribbean cruise ship. She is a gorgeous ship.
Breakfast was, of course, at Elena’s. Latte’s and mocha’s all around. A little Grenada shopping was in order, but the weather has turned very hot and humid. So we didn’t want to be out in the sun for too long. Ballroom class was at 2pm – the Rhumba. Ken and Merrily are a lot of fun to dance with so we invited them to dinner on our balcony for the evening. It was great having new friends over to share the beautiful view. The food was excellent, from the shrimp cocktails to the scallop ceviche, to the salads. Judy had the filet of beef, Ken had the steak, Merrily had the chicken and I had the duck. All were very good and the dinner conversation was wonderful.
We missed the snow fall in the atrium the other day, but it was back today. I got some great video of Judy, Michael, Mark and Alicia swaying to white Christmas on the stairway while shooting up through the falling snow from the piano. Michael had just returned from an orphanage where he played Santa. That’s really great.
After dinner we went to see Finis Henderson, a “Vocal Impressionist”. He sang Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and a host of others. It was a really good show and he got a standing ovation afterwards. It was really good music.
After the show, it was tropical island deck party and as usual Tim and the crew threw one great deck party. A lot more participants this cruise than last. It was hot, humid and quite energetic. Tim has the best deck parties, although Neal Chandler runs a close second – but I heard he’s retired now and Samantha Hawker Thomas is playing the substitute CD role now. Tim gets in and really leads a great deck party. Its one that will make you sweat, but afterwards you will say that was one heck of a party.
The CD has a lot to do with how much you enjoy the cruise - if you enjoy entertainment, music and dancing. For those of you that read, it probably doesn’t matter, except that when people are being entertained, they are typically not invading those nice quiet nooks that are good for reading. The difference between this and our last cruise is striking. We are never bored, can never do it all and are having a good time with the cruise staff. Last cruise it was quite boring at times. Tim is an excellent CD and we can’t wait to sail with him next year on the Sapphire for 28 days.
There were some new games that we’ve never heard of, but couldn’t get to. Elevator roulette anyone? And at least with Club Fusion, trivia is not boring. Multi-media trivia is really fun in fusion and Mark does most of the music trivia games. We like to watch in between other activities.
Another late night and another early morning…time for bed!
We would not arrive in Bonaire until noon and were scheduled to leave around 630PM. Not having been in Bonaire before, we decided to get off and explore around a bit.
But first we had breakfast with Elena and then Foxtrot with Ken and Merrily. After the deck party it was real hard to get up this morning. We really wanted to just stay in bed. Some shots of caffeine, 50 minutes of Foxtrot and a couple of laps around the deck and we finally woke up.
Bonaire was hot and humid, the water at the dock the most beautiful clear and blue. After exploring town for a while we really wanted to just jump right in.
Judy’s been having lunch in the HC a lot and I must admit the food for lunch is rather good. I typically hate HC lunches, but yesterday they had a shrimp, scallop and calamari antipasta that was out of this world. Not fishy at all, with cilantro, celery and I think some green jalapeno, it was really really good. The cold salads have been wonderful for lunch.
Dinner was on the balcony overlooking Bonaire prior to leaving. It was Italian night and our favorite. The eggplant parmesan was extra special good as we looked out over the twinkling lights of Bonaire. The engines weren’t running so we had a nice quiet dinner.
After dinner it was serious dancing time. Icon was in Explorer’s. We like dancing to the rock and roll bands and Explorer’s has a larger dance floor. The wheelhouse, with Phoenix Rising, is usually packed shoulder to shoulder. Icon played and we danced. Even though it was rock and roll we were able to dance the first 5 out of 6 songs, 2 rhumbas, a cha cha, a foxtrot and a hustle. We even tried a Viennese Waltz.
There was supposed to be a comedian (David Morgan) in Explorer’s after Icon’s first set, but he missed his connection and would catch the ship in Aruba along with Aleysa – a 3 time hula hoop Guinness World Record holder – that was a Piazza act. So we went to the IC instead and had their 3 scoops of gelato for $1.50. Really good stuff. The best was the lemoncello.
The country and western barn dance was at 945. A couple of line dances, a couple of slow dances, Cottoneye joe, the bang bang game and the tush push challenge, a beer, two long island iced teas and a margarita later we were exhausted and headed off to bed.
We’re seriously going to need a vacation after this vacation. These late nights, early mornings are starting to wear. (What!?! Still no sympathy?) So it’s time to pump up the activity level!
This morning is Aruba. We’ve been here many times before, but a lot of people will be getting off the ship, so its off to burn off some calories again and use all the facilities before the final two sea days. Breakfast at Elena’s, then up to deck 19 for our mile walk and some pictures. Judy wants to visit the Thermal Suite so she goes to laze around and I go to the gym and do a couple of miles on the elliptical. A nice brisk swim in the Lotus Pool, a couple of minutes in the hot tub and I feel that I’ve accomplished something at least.
We decided to order a light lunch into the room and have it on the balcony overlooking the port of Aruba. Kind of interesting being the subject of a number of tours circling the ship. It felt good to just stretch out on the lounger and watch the waves interact on the spit near the western entrance to the container dock. It looked like a rip tide was fighting a southerly swell. Watching that for a few minutes was enough to put my lights out for a while.
We watched the sail away from the balcony as well. The Aruba harbor is very narrow and from the looks of the mud we churned up, very shallow. The lone bush/tree on the barrier island is still there, just a bit bigger than it was a few years ago. Just a very beautiful afternoon.
Aleysa and David Morgan made it on the ship. Aleysa did the hoola hoop demo in the Piazza and all I can say is WOW! She brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘move it’! Picking three hoops up from the floor with just her feet was hard enough, she must have hooped at least 30 hoops in her final movement. Pretty incredible.
We did a sushi and IC salad light dinner in Vines with some rather excellent Woodbridge White Zin. The wine went really well with the Feta cheese in the greek salad. After dinner we danced to Icon in the Explorer’s lounge until about 8pm and left to get a seat at the theatre to see David Morgan at 830. The theater was already 80% full at 8pm. So get there early!
Judy really enjoyed the show. David Morgan is a comedian with a puppet. He’s not a Dan Horn type ventriloquist. I enjoyed the show, but it wasn’t my favorite.
After the show we down to Fright Night in fusion with the cruise staff. Sort a Halloween revisited, but not many people attended.
Talked to Miko, Alicia and Alex for a while. Michael showed up in a clown suit and rubber mask. That had to be hotter than all get out. Miko was a surgical intern, Alicia was the Red Queen, Alex was an escaped prisoner and Emma was a witch. Mark had a rubber ghoul’s mask on, but he was busy DJing.
Miko wants to be a CD. I don’t know about his business skills, but he’s got the enthusiasm, attitude and commitment to make a good CD. His energy level reminds me of Samantha Hawker Thomas when we first met her in early 2002. Course he’s not as cute as Sam was/is, but based on being on board with him for the past couple of weeks, Princess might want to take a look at him for a deputy slot.
We learned the thriller line dance, danced for a while and then the day, the wine and two mixed drinks decided that it was time to go to bed.
12-17-10 At Sea
Well the cruise is winding down now. One more free day before the dreaded packing day. Reality is starting to seep back in, intruding on dreams, waking us up at night. It’s been a wonderful cruise. Definitely in our top 5 of all time. The food has been really good, the entertainment very good with lots to do and the service top notch.
We’ve really enjoyed the suite and the perks that go with it. Breakfast at Sabbatini’s is the number one perk for us, dinner or lunch from the menu delivered to the balcony is a very close #2. It will be hard to go back to the HC for breakfast on the next cruise. Well maybe I should look into an upgrade! Yes, Golden princess deck 15 suites – wow that would be nice! But we do like the aft suites and cabins. You can use the balcony without any issues while the ship is in motion. There is hardly any breeze to blow stuff around.
We have had a lot more interaction with the cruise staff and personnel on this cruise than the last cruise. We will always remember Michael for his down home friendly nature, Ben for his goofy Australian attitude, Alicia for her tolerance for being the most picked on staff member, Miko for his boundless energy (he can go far in this industry), Alex for her smile, Emma for being the kind, cute and innocent one, and Mark for his great musical trivia presentations. Ken and Merrily have been our favorite ball room instructors. Although we love Vian and Jane dearly from our last September HI cruise, we have been able to interact with Ken and Merrily much more and they are closer to our age group.
Carlos, our room steward has been top notch. Elena at Sabbatini’s in the morning has made our mornings for us. Her smile and warm welcome, not to mention the continuous stream of latte’s, mocha’s, cappacino’s and juices, have made it a do not miss for the entire 20 day cruise. Armen in the dining room during our first 10 days was great and the entire room service staff on the second 10 days have been really good to us as well.
So for basically our last day of vacation we did the Sabbatini breakfast with Elena. The sea was a bit rough this morning, so Judy retreated to the Piazza and I just wandered around the ship until the 2pm ballroom class (Meringue) with Ken and Merrily. At 3pm we had line dance with Alicia in the Piazza. Tonight would be the last formal night, so we decided to dress the part. But we first ordered dinner on the balcony and it was the best yet. The setting sun set fire to the horizon as it dipped below the waves while we enjoyed prawns, lobster, beef wellington, shrimp cocktails, salad and ravioli. Everything tasted wonderful, enhanced by the fact that we skipped lunch.
After dinner it was time to dance, but not too strenuous. When in formal wear, I just can’t dance that much without heat stroke. But I like to dress up now and then to show off my wife. So we danced in Explorer’s lounge to Icon, watched Mike Price (the juggler comedian and he’s one of the best jugglers we’ve ever seen) in Explorer’s, then did a couple of dances during the 9pm Anniversary waltz time in Club Fusion. We also watched the Newly Wed, Not so Newly Wed show in Club fusion. After that it was time to call it a night.
12-17-10 At Sea – Last Day
I hate packing day – although in a suite it is a lot easier. Finding all the nooks and crannies we put everything in was a challenge as well. We were determined to enjoy ourselves to the max today, but it hard to include a lot of hard goodbyes. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people on ships, both passengers and crew. A few we’ve kept in touch with, a lot we’ve lost touch with and some, sadly, are gone forever. As in all of our past cruises, our interaction with Princess personnel distinguishes a good cruise from a great cruise – and make no mistake, this was a great cruise. Elena, Carlos, Ken, Merrily, Roy, Peggy, Tim, Miko, Alicia, Emma, Alex, Michael, Mark, Ben and a host of other smiling friendly faces. Saying goodbye to so many was hard.
But unfortunately, reality must intrude and bills must be paid. So its back to the grind, but not until one last fling.
Breakfast starts with Elena, of course. I really wanted to order one of each from the menu, but settled for an omelet, split with Judy, in return for a piece of her Brioche French Toast. We kinda got hooked on the hamsteak for breakfast. Lightly grilled for the slight char flavor, it was always really really good.
We didn’t have anything scheduled until after noon when line dancing, ballroom and a host of other activities were on. So we packed, checked the bill – NOTE you can now swipe your card at the CC host deck and it will print your bill for you rather than standing in line at the Purser’s desk. We’ve actually gotten pretty good at packing, doing a 75% pack in the morning and a final pack at night.
At 12:15 the day really started with Miko’s line dance review, followed by the Cha-Cha with Ken and Merrily. There was a lot we wanted to pack into the last day, so we skipped the traditional power nap in favor of a five hour energy drink. Miko’s pop choir would be in the Piazza and their rehearsals in Club Fusion sounded really good. We wanted to catch that and we also wanted to simply dance the night away.
The pop choir was pretty good. But we also wanted one last dinner on the balcony, and we had to put out our luggage, so we ordered the landfall dinner. It was ok. Judy’s pasta with clams had a little sand in it, so that kind of put her ‘off her feed’, but I liked the Fettuccine Alfredo. The butter fish was very good. A typical landfall dinner, but when served and eaten on an aft balcony – priceless.
After dinner it was dancing to Icon in Explorer’s. When Icon quit, it was time to go to Fusion for the ballroom blitz hour to canned music. A lot of the dancers from the cruise showed up and it was a lot of fun. After the hour of dancing we went back to Explorer’s to dance to Icon once again. There was a 10pm dance date in the Piazza we didn’t want to miss as well.
The farewell dancing at the Piazza got off to a slow start. At first it was just Miko and Emma, then Judy and I joined in with a Cha-Cha. Judy then danced with Miko while I single stepped with Emma and then a bunch of people started joining in. We had a great time for about an hour dancing with Icon. Ben even stopped by to say goodbye.
The real treat came after the dancing when the entire staff, sans Mark, showed up in the Piazza and we were able to say goodbye to Miko, Emma, Alex, Michael and Alicia properly. We even got to say goodbye to Tim and Billy Vader as well. It was closure and it was perfect.
You see sometime during the day we had written Tim Donovan a thank you letter for the entertainment and activities during the cruise. Because, hopefully, Princess reads these boards, here’s what we sent:
We’ve had a wonderful time over the past 20 days. We especially enjoyed the variety of the entertainment, the packed schedule and your entire cruise staff. They are energetic, enthusiastic and a credit to Princess. They helped, in no small part, make this one of our favorite cruises and you one of our favorite Cruise Directors.
We will always remember Michael for his down home friendly nature, Ben for his goofy Australian attitude, Alicia for her tolerance for being the most picked on staff member, Miko for his boundless energy (he can go far in this industry), Alex for her smile, Emma for being the kind, cute and innocent one, and Mark for his great musical trivia presentations. The team’s performance is a testament to your leadership and management. We’ve been blogging this cruise on the Cruise Critic Princess message board in a “Live From” thread if you are curious about the details.
Suffice it to say we have had a great time, and we can’t wait to do it again. Thanks again and we hope to sail with you in the future!
Everyone deserves a pat on the back for job well done every once in a while. We’ve been on cruises with ok cruise staff, good cruise staff and great cruise staff. The ok one’s do their job, the good ones are fun, but it’s still a job to them. The great ones enjoy what they do and commit themselves 110% to making sure everyone has a great time. This team was one of the great ones and it’s a shame we’ll probably never see any of them again, but we can always hope.
Let’s take Tim Donovan for example. He’s a great hands on CD. He doesn’t have to be the ballerina during London Pub Night, but his ballerina is the best we’ve seen; he doesn’t have to let Billy Vader play off him during a comedy show, but it made the show; he doesn’t have to almost kill himself directing 60 minutes of hot dancing on the deck outside during Island Night, but his energy level is infectious and only Miko and Alicia could even hope to keep up with him. So he does all this physical work, plus the morning show, plus all the paperwork, and there is a lot of it, plus Bingo, plus hosting, along with a bunch of other CD related duties – and he doesn’t have to! He could just manage. I know of a couple of CDs who do just that - and not that “just managing” is bad!
The point is that Tim is a great example of personal commitment to doing the best job possible. He walks the walk. Anyone like that is a credit to any organization and deserves a pat on the back.
The worst day of the vacation. But we started it off in style by having a huge breakfast on the balcony while we glided in to dock beside the Crown. Got some great aft shots of the Crown as we docked. There were 7 ships in port including Oasis, Crown and Emerald. The taxi lines were long and we were 30 minutes late getting in.
Our color, Navy 4, was to be called at 9:55, but did not get called until 1030. We didn’t get a cab until 1100 and then got to FLL about 1115. Good thing I have elite status at Continental as we bypassed a huge checkin line (about 50 people deep) and a large security line as well. Our flight was at 1pm and we finally got settled near the gate at 1200. People with early flights today would probably miss them given the load of passengers coming in at the same time.
We’ve always debated flying out the same day versus staying the night and going home the next day. The only time we ever did that, Judy was sick as a dog on the way home. We didn’t get home until 1030PM, making it a very late day, but waking up the next morning in your own bed and not having to travel was worth it.
So the travel log comes to an end. Until next time… Read Less