Friday, August 31, 2018

Caribbean Princess Sea Day, August 31

Hubby and I are people watchers (and listeners). Here are just a few of the comments we've heard over the past two days:

"This is bull sh**. Even hotels have free wi-fi."

"There is no way I'm paying thirteen dollars a day for him to clean my room twice a day."

"The food is terrible on this ship."

"I hate this itinerary. It's too hot."

"Carnival is better than Princess."

"I can't wait to get off this boat."

These comments clearly demonstrate how crucial it is to make sure you've researched the cruise line, ship, and itinerary before booking a cruise. Not all cruise lines are a good fit for all people. And not all people are a good fit for a cruise.

Like our neighbors this cruise. They have already refused to pay the gratuities, they smoke on their balcony (yes, we reported it), leave their dirty dishes in the hallway, and throw their dirty towels outside our cabin. And these aren't kids doing this - these are two middle-aged ladies. Come on, people.

We've traveled enough to know nothing is ever perfect and also know a trip is what you make of it. If you look for problems you will find them; if you look for the good you'll find it. We choose to look for the good.
Another pretty sunrise
Not much else going on for us today. I went to the crafting session, hubby has been out and about visiting with crew, and I did some writing. We're on for another leg of the journey so no packing tonight for us. Our cabin doesn't ever get messy, but after two weeks on the ship we wound up with a junk drawer. You know, like a junk drawer at home. A camera battery charger, directions for my tape recorder, a butter knife and a napkin, pillow chocolates, some straws, a sugar packet, a few loose dollar bills, an encouraging word money pocket, a pen, fingernail polish, crackers, sunglasses, and the drops for the snorkel mask were all thrown in there together. Oh yeah, and a pair of socks and undies. All nice and neat now!

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. I added a picture today of the progress of the area near the photo gallery. Sure is looking pretty.
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop Off:
Left in the buffet seating at lunch.

Tomorrow we're back in Ft. Lauderdale for turnaround. We are hoping the third time's the charm in our attempt to get to 5 O'Clock Charlie's.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Caribbean Princess in Cozumel

Hello from Cozumel!

Man, I love this itinerary and I love Cozumel. It's one of my favorite ports, for sure.

It was a pretty sail in.

We didn't get to dock right away. The current was strong and the Captain had to stop the process and attempt again. Cozumel is a port we've had problems with before with wind and cancelled excursions and multiple attempts at docking so we weren't too worried about hearing his announcement. One more crack at it and he had us in.

The worst part of Cozumel is the walk through the Dufry duty-free shop, of course. You must walk through the length of the entire store to get anywhere. (Although today they are doing construction in one end so it wasn't the whole store. Woo hoo!) If you're a crew member you get to bypass the store. If you're one of the first folks off the ship you can sometimes bypass it, too. When a ship first gets into port the store can't handle the hundreds of people all at once so they let you use the outside sidewalk. But soon the gate closes and you're stuck going through the store again.

If you are having to go through the store here are a few tips:
*Don't dawdle or you'll either have a crowd pushing you from behind on their way out the door or you'll have a store worker making a bee line to you to try and get you to make a purchase.
*Walk with a purpose
*Be prepared to say no more than once.
*Be ready to dodge the throngs of people making their way through.

But once you get through it is a bit better, but not totally. The folks working in the stores inside the port area will also be calling you over to buy again and again and again.

And one more thing to know about Cozumel - you must present your bags, backpacks and purses to the dogs to sniff. So don't bring fresh foods off the ship. You will be caught!

Cozumel is a port we've been to a lot. I mean A LOT. Enough where I even have a top 5 list for Cozumel. That list is here. Hubby's limitations keep him from experiencing everything the port has to offer but we have two things we do again and again that work for him.

Our first stop is always the Money Bar. Snorkeling for me and eating and drinking for hubby. (Their menu is here.) I spent several hours in the water today finding all kinds of things to look at. I wish I had a new underwater camera so I could share everything I saw. So amazing!

Instead you get two of my best photos of the day from Money Bar.
I'm planning on doing a separate write-up for Money Bar and their facilities for one of my Wanderlust Wednesdays so I won't add a ton of water and lounger and food pics yet.

Our other must-stop is Pancho's Backyard.  Their banana leaf wrapped tamales are to die for! All aboard wasn't until 8:30 tonight so we ate there for dinner. Unfortunately, the tamales we love were on their lunch menu. Darn. But we sure love being able to stay in port late and come back after dark.

The umpteenth perfect day.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop Off:
Left in the restroom at the Money Bar.

Tomorrow is a sea day on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale. Boo hoo. So glad we have another week to go

Medallion Class™ and Ocean Medallion™ Updates on the Caribbean Princess

If you're looking for Medallion Class™ and Ocean Medallion™ Updates on the Caribbean Princess for the week of August 25-September 1, 2018, here ya go!

August 31

I don't know why but the Medallion Internet is still letting me run two devices at once. So totally awesome! I can work so much more efficiently.

And the area beside the photo gallery is looking pretty darn nice.

Tomorrow a new cruise starts so it'll be interesting to hear the feedback from the new passengers.

August 30

My Medallion is consistently letting me into the cabin without having to place it up to the sensor. I'm so happy about that!

While right now it's a glorified cabin key, in the future the plan is to have it provide more timely cabin service for passengers. According to John Padgett, eventually the cabin steward will be able to see if you're on your way to the cabin or even if you're off the ship. You know those times when you show up to your cabin and the steward is still cleaning it? Well, with the Medallion the steward will know your proximity and be able to prioritize the cabins depending on your location. Interesting, huh? I'm not sure on the timeline for this feature.

August 29

We're not purchasing anything from the bar this trip, but one of the things we like about bar stewards and bartenders is how quickly they get to know you and know your preferences. When I met a few days ago with John Padgett, the Chief Experience and Innovation Officer for the Carnival Corporation (the guy heading up the Medallion experience) he mentioned one of the plusses of the Medallion will be the speeding up of the get-to-know-you back and forth with bartenders. It usually takes a couple days for them to get to know you and your drink preference, but with Medallion your drink preferences and photo and name will pop up on the bartender/bar steward's tablet. John said they will know who you are and what you like from day one.

It's worth mentioning this again too...I love this fast, unlimited Internet! We have a three ship-hop trip coming up in November and December (the Crown Princess, Royal Princess, and Grand Princess) and I am sure going to miss what we've experienced here.

But I do have a little fluke happening with my Internet login. A great fluke, for sure. The unlimited is one device per person. When you log into the second device, it boots you from the first device. But these last couple days it has been letting me keep the connection on both devices. Yay! With me uploading videos and doing the blog and uploading Princess Patters and photos as well as checking email (and with some of those things happening all at the same time) it just simply ROCKS for me. Hope it keeps up for me!

August 28

I can still get in my cabin without having to put my Medallion up to the sensor. Two days in a row. Yay! And last night I was able to use it on slot machines. The only place I can think of where I'm still using the key card is for getting on and off the ship. Otherwise it's all with the Medallion. The working Medallion. Progress!

We now have cabins on Lido, Riviera, Aloha, and Baja decks with Medallions. See a pattern? From the top on down. Caribe, you're up next. The roll-out is now happening mid-cruise for each deck instead of at embarkation. I'm sure it's saving time for them to be delivered to cabins instead of having the check-in folks on shore trying to explain them to passengers.

And a bit of construction news. Last night I was down at the construction section of Deck 7. Last week it looked like this:

Then this:
Now this. Screen are lit!
On it's way to look like this, right?
Nope. I talked to the contractors working on the area (nice guys, by the way) and they said there has been a change to the design. Instead of the blue background it will be changed to some type of big photo/picture background. They tell me I should be able to see the new design soon. 

August 27

It worked, it worked! When we came back to the ship I was able to get into my cabin without holding it up to the sensor. Lanyard around my neck, walked up to the door, and (surprise!)  it unlocked. Woo hoo! On other ships when there is a problem with the door lock someone is dispatched to come and look at it. But when I spoke with John Padgett over the weekend he shared that all the door issues can be handled off-site. They can even program how far away from the door you need to be for it to unlock. By default it's programmed to unlock when you are six feet away. But if you'd rather it be two feet away it can be adjusted for you. Amazing. Anyway, thank you to the person fixing my Medallion issue, wherever you were located!

August 26

One of the things I talked with John Padgett about yesterday was the construction happening in the area between the photo gallery and Club Fusion.

Last cruise the area looked like this:
And today it looks like this. Looking pretty fancy.
 Last cruise the wall opposite the windows by the photo gallery looked like this:
And now looks like this:
I was so excited to see something besides construction panels!

Those areas will eventually turn into this:
So here's what I (kind of) know about that area. Currently there is an app that can be downloaded onto your device called Play Ocean. 

On this app you can find casino-type games that can be played for free. It's my understanding that these newly installed screens in the photos shown above will also have these type of casino games available. Passengers will be able to play for free, and when the casino is open, be able to wager real money. A gaming experience without going into the casino. Sounds interesting.

Not so interesting is the problem I continue to have with my Medallion. I was hoping by now to be able to get into the cabin without having to place it up to the sensor. If you remember, I suspected it had to do with my titanium knees and shoulder screws. John Padgett said nope. So I've gone to wearing the lanyard (and boy, I dislike lanyards) to see if having it out and around my neck would help me open the door. I still have to hold it up to the sensor and rub it and hold it up again and wave it around before it recognizes me and unlocks the door.

But as soon as hubby comes down the hallway, BOOM, it unlocks! I spent a frustrating chunk of time at Passenger Services desk trying to explain the issue but to no avail. The gal kept asking if I needed the distance shortened, and I kept explaining I don't even have any kind of distance right now. I explained I have to place it on the sensor and hold it and move it to even get it to recognize me. In the end my name went on a list with other passengers with issues. I still can't figure out how it works great for hubby and sucks for me. No fair.

Yet it worked when I bought hubby two of the 2 for $20 tshirts. The gal did have to look at my card as well to confirm I was Elite and then manually enter the 10% discount before I could place the Medallion on the sensor.

August 25

Right now we have Lido, Riviera, and Aloha decks with the Medallions. Decks will continue to be rolled out one by one over the next few weeks. Currently we can use the Medallion to open our cabins, pay in the shops and bars, as well as wager with in the casino. (Those without Medallions can do the same, but just with the cruise card instead.) Soon, the Medallion will be able to be used for embarkation and disembarkation. They are working hard at making it a thoughtful and seamless roll-out so they aren't rushing to make it all happen at once. Stayed tuned and I'll get more info to you as the week goes along.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Caribbean Princess in Belize

Hello from Belize on a beautiful morning.

There are three ships anchored here today, our Princess ship and two Carnival ships.

Belize is another tender port. Usually in Belize I'm doing some snorkel excursion (which are always good ones) but this trip I'm trying to make plans around what hubby can do. And he can't snorkel and doesn't want to sit on a snorkel boat in the heat. It's a hot one out today. We've been wandering the ship and taking photos for some Cruise Ship Saturday videos and I filmed one Tuesday Tutorial. At some point today I was hoping to interview a crew member for the new book but that may need to wait until turnaround day. It's a pretty packed day without even going ashore! We've been to Belize several times before and will be back again in November so we're not too worried that we're missing anything by not going ashore on this trip.

One thing we ran across on the ship today was some new seating and menu. It's a place called the Wake View bar - which really is just a seating area - with a limited appetizer menu.

Not sure we'll partake in their offerings, but pretty funny that after a week and a half on the ship we finally found this place.

On to the buffet itself...I visited with the supervisor the other day. I hardly ever complain but this thing of not being served drinks until forever is getting old. It's unfortunate because the food in the buffet here is amazing. Probably the best of the fleet right now. It's the service that just plain sucks. Like I said, as an experiment I've been timing how long it takes for someone to offer drinks at dinner.

The time has ranged from six minutes to 20 minutes. Two nights ago it was 15 minutes. Ugh.

But last night, after having talked with the supervisor, I didn't even need to start the timer. Drinks came right away and I noticed the crew members working in the buffet were hustling. I hope it's a permanent change, not a temporary one.

It's worth mentioning again - the food is so darn good on this ship. Just last night there was chicken scallopini and meatball sliders and a lightly breaded shrimp-scallop-calamari dish. All were amazingly tasty.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop Off:
We did several today. The crew member who found one a couple days back found another one today, the You are amazing one. Her name is Grace and she said she knew it was meant for her, like Amazing Grace. Really amazing.

We then dropped some in the Piazza and found that one of the girls that helps hubby in the morning found one in the sugar container when she was cleaning tables the other day. Her cabin mate was working and we were all talking about the encouraging notes on them. I told the cabin mate to pick one out of my hand (she couldn't see the saying so it was like a pick a card, any card kind of trick). And she chose the the Never Give Up one. The two girls had a laugh and an oh my gosh and an I can't believe it. And why? Because in their cabin they have a poster. A poster that says Never Give Up. How awesome is that?

Tomorrow we're off to Cozumel.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Caribbean Princess in Roatan

Hello from Roatan, Honduras!
Roatan is an island off the coast of mainland Honduras. Both Carnival and Princess Cruise lines use Mahogany Bay in Roatan; other cruise lines use Coxen Hole in Roatan. Mahogany Bay is so much better than Coxen Hole, especially for beach lovers. The private beach is right there! While we love Roatan and we love the West End - snorkeling is absolutely amazing there - we chose to take the freebie Mahogany Bay beach day instead. While you could rent clamshell loungers or cabanas or snorkeling equipment or kayaks or a slew of other things, we stick with the free loungers.
To get there you can take a $14 flying chair (think chairlift) or walk on over to the beach.

It's a bit of a jaunt to the beach. Hubby had to do some walking today anyway. He called today his redemption day. Several years back he tripped and fell on the cobblestones on our way back from the beach in Mahogany Bay. He was wearing shorts at the time and hit the ground hard. Even kind of skidded a bit. He tore up his knee and lower leg terribly. He wound up having to go to the medical center onboard to have them pick out all the gravel that had embedded itself in his leg. They had him going back to see them day after day for treatment and bandage changes. It took months and months for his leg to heal. He still has big scars from that fall. So he was going to make sure he walked over those same cobblestones today without a fall.

And he did. Good job to my hubby!

The beach was packed with the two ships in port. We know from having been there before that the farther you walk down the beach the less crowded it gets. So that's what we did.

See the yellow loungers? There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. Skip them.
Then come the blue loungers. Skip them.
Then the path curves past the cabanas and it looks like it's the end. But it's not. Keep going.
Once you round that curve you come to the end. At the Hideaway bar and restaurant.
At the Hideaway take a right. And find a beach that looks like this.

Or if you like crowds go back to those yellow loungers and find a beach crammed with people like this. No thank you.

We like the less crowded area. A server from the Hideaway delivers drinks.
Here's the menu.

It was a good great non-fall day, the umpteenth perfect day of our umpteenth cruise.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop Off:
At the restroom on the way to the beach.

Tomorrow we're off to Belize.

Sew an Extra Large Handmade Fabric Hot Pad - Tutorial Tuesday

It's Tutorial Tuesday and today we are making a large potholder. If you have one of those big honkin' glass pans that won't fit on a regular potholder like I do, this project is for you.

Homemade Large Hot Pad for Glass Pans and Casserole Dishes Sewing Project
For this project you will need:

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

Looking for something else? Check out some of my other kitchen sewing and crafting projects!

Otherwise, you can find the step by step how to video for the hot pad right here!