January 18 – Happy Birthday Bernie – Lets Board the Royal
After waking and getting things organized. Since we bought so much stuff we really needed to make room for all the things.
We had breakfast again downstairs at the restaurant which was again good food, but the restaurant does need to work with cleanliness. The glasses on the table were filthy and the floor was scattered with items.
Again today there are hockey players in the lobby. Last night the Florida Panthers played against the Edmonton Oilers and so this morning the Oiler’s players are all in the lobby. Bernie was like a school boy in the elevator cause he was chatting with two of them.
Back on the road and we dropped our car off at the airport with no issues, but I don’t think we would use Advantage again. The car was great, the price was amazing but the service and pushy upsell and just the feeling that we are being taken advantage of.
Since Advantage does not provide a free shuttle we go and line up for a taxi. The line was long but it moved very quickly and lasted only about 5 minutes. The shuttle that some car rentals offer is handy but can be a pain if you have your suitcases and it is busy, plus it has to stop at all the ships. The taxi only cost $14 and we were dropped right at the pier at 12:15 pm.
Now I should preface this with there are 8 ships in port today. CRAZY….
The line was forming and we are not sure what line to stand in. There is no one to direct us into an appropriate line and we queue up in one line and it looks like there is only one line and that it divides as we get the main door. But with so many people who now are preferred, that line is actually slower. The first check point is the security screening and with only one scanner for preferred and two for everyone else we take much longer than those that were aligned with us before the separation who cleared before we did. So I recommend look and see how long the line is and go in the one that is faster if you are preferred.
We are bringing on three bottles of champagne so when we go thru security we head over to the table for alcohol purchases and we sign a slip for corkage for one of the bottles. What is different is they don’t put a sticker or sign on the bottle we paid corkage for. The only thing they give us is the receipt and say that we just have to show them the receipt if we want to take it to the restaurant.
Now to the next queue for our room cards. It did move fast though and we noticed Nancy in the line so that was nice.
Once we had the cards we don’t have to walk far to get into another long line. The line to board the ship is so long it is actually backing up into the counter area where we got our cards.
In all it took just over an hour to get on board. Sadly this seems to be an area that Princess really needs to improve on. Having someone on the sidewalk directing people to the proper line and answering people’s questions would have been helpful. I wish they would have had two gangways too to ease the flow. But now that I am on let the vacation begin but I am glad I don’t have to deal with that mess again.
We step on board and we immediately are in awe of how pretty she is and we have no real problem finding our cabin. We are only one deck above the Promenade - AFT. The view from our cabin is very good with minimal obstruction.
The room is a bit smaller than other ships but we find it adequate for our needs.
Off to explore the ship a bit and Bernie sees Alfredos and he turns and says “you want a pizza?” oh yeah great idea. This Alfredos is huge, twice the size of the one on the Grand and there are many more menu items too. This Alfredos has salads and pastas as well as more pizza options, and then dessert too. We each order a drink and I get the Calzone and Bernie gets the Royal Pizza and they were both very very good. The service was top notch and so helpful.
We walk around to explore a bit and we come across Hotel General Manager Michael Prasse and we stop him and say hi from Vancouver. He is originally from Vancouver but now lives in England. We chat for a bit and tell him we have a small surprise for him (a box of Purdy’s chocolates from home) to remind him of home.
Muster Drill is at 3:15 and as we walk aft to our cabin to get our life jackets we see Lisa Ball the Cruise Director and she is surprised to see us and big hugs a quick chat. We agree to meet up for drinks real soon.
Our Muster Station is station G which is the Crown Grill/Wheelhouse Bar and when we arrive we see Federico Castro the Captain Circle Host who just joined today after his vacation. We sailed with Federico on the Caribbean Princess a few years ago. He is such a sweet considerate man and so helpful for.
This is our 50th Princess cruise and they commemorate it with some special treats. When we arrive in the cabin there is a beautiful flower arrangement and a bottle of champagne with a card of congratulations. A large bowl of fruit is delivered later and chocolate covered strawberries too. The Maitre d’ calls and asked us about our dining arrangements and we do need to change them. For some reason we are marked Traditional Early Seating, for which we have never had or requested. We request a table for two at 8 am and we are confirmed with our request.
After Muster we have Roy and Sandra from England and Paul and Yvonne from Edmonton join us in the cabin for some champagne and a toast to a great cruise and to Bernie’s Birthday. We head up on the top deck for sailaway with our flags so I hope you all were able to catch us on the web cam.
|Tim and Brian|
We run into Brian and Tim who we have sailed with twice before and then Ed and Margaret are on board too. It is like homecoming week.
|Paul and Yvonne|
|Sandra and Roy (behind the flag)|
Back to the cabin and we unpack and have no problem finding spots for everything with still some space to spare. Suitcases under the bed along with the life jackets (which are normally on the top shelf in the closet).
We decide to head to Club 6 which is the Elite/Platinum Lounge. Tonight’s drink is the margarita gold for $5 but when we ask if we can get any of the other drinks that are offered they say no and since we don’t want the margarita we decide to leave. Here is where things are different on each ship, just a few weeks ago on the Golden and the Grand we could choose any of the drinks that are on offer for the Platinum/Elite Lounge for $5.
So we head off and explore the ship a bit more. We stop in at the Crown Grill and make reservations for tomorrow. We love the open decks and all the smaller intimate areas (like aft behind Horizon Court).
Dinner is at 8 in the Symphony Dining room. We are sat at a nice table for two and Daniel from Peru serves us. He says he remembers us from somewhere and we finally figure out where. He was on the Star with us when we were on three years ago for South America. His Junior Waiter is Inna from the Ukraine who is very helpful.
We get two wine cards of seven bottles each, one Gold and one Silver. The Gold gives us 7 bottles of $45, and the Silver gives us 7 bottles of $29 each. We order one for dinner now and one to be set to the room to enjoy in the cabin. To learn more about the Wine Card read my earlier article/blog about it here
Dinner was very good, we started with the butterfly shrimp Creole which is a new item, and no worries it is not too spicy. Then a lovely salad and for my entrée I had another new item of Pork Mofongo (sorry not sure if I spelled that correctly). It is served with pulled pork, a mash of plantains with a lovely light sauce. For dessert Bernie enjoyed the Hazlenut Souffle and I had my usual the cheese plate.
Franco one of the head waiters comes over and helps us choose a wine (Spellbound) which was an excellent choice. And we arrange to reserve two spots for the Wine Makers Dinner too.
After dinner we wander around a bit and head to the theater for the Welcome Aboard Show at 10:15 (there was also one at 8:15). The dancer did a new number that we really enjoyed. The comedian Jim Collitan had us laughing so hard and we look forward to his full show. Lisa talked about the ship and what to expect along with Simone her Deputy Cruise Director. After the show we stay behind to say hi to Lisa and meet Simone.
We stroll around for a bit but it being just after 11 pm many of the venues are closing or are closed. The Wheelhouse has a lovely band playing called Inner Mood Quartet.
Back up in the room which is just above the Wheelhouse we can hear the band below us but they stopped playing just after 11 so it really wasn’t too bad, but it should be noted that if you have a room above the Wheelhouse you may hear noise from it.
Officers on board are: Captain Dino Sagani, Staff Captain Paolo Arrigo, Hotel General Manager Michael Prasse, Cruise Director Lisa Ball, Senior Doctor Dylan Belton (nice to see him again), Food & Beverage Director Ferdinando Vinelli, Customer Services Director Sandro Merello, Excutive Housekeeper Ruben Verduzco, Excutive Chef David McDonald, Maitre d’Hotel Fabio Marcotti.
A new feature on Princess this year is Festivals of the World and depending where you voyage is sailing will feature events that represent that area. For the Caribbean it is Mardi Gras. So for this itinerary you have the chance to participate in a Circle Drum Class, make your own Mardi Gras Mask with the Arts and Craft lesson or be involved in the cultural Flashmob dance class. At the end of the cruise they will have a huge Mardi Gras Party where you can perform what you have learned.