Sunday, May 12, 2019

North to Alaska: Royal Princess Embarkation Day

I really hadn't planned on doing a "live from" this go 'round - and I'm still not (I think) but I just can't seem to not to. There's so much to talk about on this particular embarkation day I guess I will do it. Just for today. Or maybe tomorrow too?

We started our pre-cruise night after our Ruby Princess trip (that cruise wrap-up can be found here) at the Pan Pacific. We originally had reservations at another hotel, but I had been watching rates at the Pan Pacific and they dropped significantly just a couple weeks back. Wound up being just a few dollars more than our other reservations, even. So Pan Pacific it was. 

It's so close to the cruise port. Like, it's right there. See the tall building next to the Ruby? Yep, that's the hotel.

One of the nice things about the Pan Pacific is they take your luggage to the cruise port for you. Press a button on the phone, the bellman comes up a few minutes later, and off it goes. You don't have to touch it again until it shows up at your cabin. Just awesome.

One of the other nice things about the day was our breakfast. We met up with Vickie and Bernie who were just disembarking the Royal after having been at sea for OVER FOUR MONTHS. Vickie and Bernie were passengers for part of the time and then Vickie was also the Destination Expert for the Royal's South American voyage. If you want to know about South America (actually, for a lot of other places, too), she's your gal. She's also a blogger. While she didn't blog while working for Princess, she does have a plethora of info at vickieandbernietravel. She also has a Facebook page. (I don't do Facebook, but she does have the link on her blog.) It was great to see them and hear about their adventures. 

Once off they went, off we went. We were so very excited we would get to use our Medallions to check in. We had filled out our order and had them mailed to the house ahead of time, took our pictures, uploaded the other pictures required, and scanned our passports into their system. We had the Medallion boarding pass ready on our phone. We also printed off the new Medallion boarding passes just in case, and also printed the old-type boarding passing as a double just in case. And that was a good thing we did the extra printing. They didn't allow the electronic pass. They wouldn't take the new printed pass. All these folks in their Medallion shirts at check in and we had to use our old standard printed boarding passes. It was a bit disappointing.
After check-in, in Vancouver you are funneled into the same security line and US Customs and Border Protection as the other ships in port. It was a two-ship day so the lines were long all the way through.
We couldn't figure what was the hold up when we got near the gangway. Only after we saw a frustrated couple turn around and stomp off, then overheard some arguing, and saw another port employee come over and talk to the gal checking documentation did we hear what was happening. The gal, who typically would check cruise cards to be sure you were authorized to be on that particular ship, was still asking for cruise cards. Cruise cards the Royal Princess passengers were no longer being issued. Only after the angry passengers were told to go back and get cards and after other passengers tried to tell her they didn't have cruise cards, did that other port employee show up and explain to her we only had Medallions. 

This was Vancouver's first experience with Medallions and it was a bit sloppy. I'm sure they'll get up to date soon. I do know they had a two hour training, and not all employees attended. In fact, I had someone who works at the port (who didn't attend the training) looking up videos on the internet to get up to speed. He came across my Medallion video from last year and used it as his training.

Looking for more information on the Medallion? I'm working on some new videos. I'll let ya know when I get them posted.

Once on the ship, I was thinking someone would pull up their tablet and call me by name. Nope. Lots of people in Medallions dress and Welcome Aboard dress with tablets talking to each other and smiling at guests, but no recognition. It's not like I care if anyone knows who I am, but I kind of thought that was part of the purpose of the Medallion.
There was a Medallion info session in the theater at 2:00. I was surprised to see not many people in attendance. If you weren't able to make it, there are several videos on the TV that are pretty similar to the videos in the presentation.

Something super-important to know about the Medallion... Your muster station information is not printed on it. You have to go to your cabin and look at the back of your door to get that information. When muster drill came around there were many wanderers and people in the wrong place. However, those who were in the right place were able to be scanned quickly. Just tap, wait until it turns green, and walk in.

We have to sit close to the top at muster because hubby has problems with the stairs. Can I just say people are pigs? Look what we found by our seats in the theater. A sideways cup that looked like it might have had a breakfast smoothie in it. And nearby a half eaten bowl of watermelon. Just gross.

We spent sailaway on the super-secret deck outside Facets. It's not that super-secret, but most people don't know about the doors that lead out there.

We also spent some time outside in the back of Horizon Court. We eventually called it quits around dinner time. And went straight back to the cabin. No dinner, no dessert, no midnight snack. 

Want to know the pricing for the Internet? Right here:
As Elite members we could keep our free minutes or apply them towards the package for another 25% off. Since it's baseball season and hubby just can't miss a game, we signed him up for the unlimited package. We're on for 14 days so it defaulted to the 14 day price. It's super fast and super worth it.
I'm not sure how frequently I'll be blogging from this trip. Guess when I have something to say, I will and when I don't, I won't.