Saturday, August 31, 2019

Royal Princess Turnaround Day in Vancouver, August 31

Hello from a cloudy/sunny/cloudy day in Vancouver. After being in chilly Alaska, the warmer temperatures here feel just outstanding.

Moving cabins was easy, as usual. The things from the drawers went back into our suitcase and all our clothes stayed on hangers. We left our cabin at 8 and let our cabin steward know we were heading out. He contacted his supervisor and when the new cabin was ready they moved our things for us. By the time we got back from our face-to-face with US Customs and Border Protection our new room was ready. We moved straight across the ship from the starboard to port side on the same deck. Everything is in the same exact place in the new cabin so it's like we are in the same cabin. Just have to remember to turn left, not right, when getting off the elevator. Next cruise we go back to our original cabin so we'll be back to turning right instead of left. (Good thing I'm not directionally challenged. I won't comment on hubby's sense of direction.)

While the move when smoothly, the in-transit process in Vancouver is most definitely the day's everything-isn't-always-perfect-in-the-cruising-world Public Service Announcement. See that building right there with the flat white roof and green windows? Like right off our balcony? That's the terminal where we had to do our face-to-face. I'm not about to put anything in writing about who is to blame, but I will say we stood in line for a very long time and my phone showed we were also traipsed a mile through that building before we could get back on the ship.
But we'll forget about that and focus on the good. This week my husband is hitting his 500th day with Princess. The celebration started with the flowers that were delivered to the cabin and continued with the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Eat the strawberries, give the champagne to someone we know on the ship is the plan. From the experience we had when I celebrated my 500 days a couple months back I know it'll be a good week.
Our ship is leaving Vancouver super-late because of the tides and the ship needing to fit under the Lions Gate Bridge. Instead of leaving at 4pm or so today we'll be leaving tomorrow morning around 1 am. All passengers still have to be on board by 5pm but the crew get to stay out until 11pm. Yay for the crew! But because of our super-late departure again this cruise our call to Ketchikan will be cut short.
A beautiful night in Vancouver

I won't be blogging live these next two weeks unless something comes up but I will be working on some new videos and articles. By the end of these next two weeks I hope to have the following information/videos/audio posted on the blog:

  • Interview with 11 year old Emily about the kids club on Princess Cruises.
  • The interview with Emily and her mom about what they learned as first time cruisers, their impression of Princess, and of the Ocean Medallion. 
  • Ordering food, drink, and services through the Ocean Now section of the TV and through the app.
  • Information on Ocean Compass - how to add passengers into the messaging system, find traveling companions around the ship, and directions on how to find your own way around
  • Demonstration of the Play Ocean portals
  • Cabin tour of a handicapped balcony stateroom
  • Ways to get from Anchorage to Whittier, including how the Egan Convention Center staging area works
  • Review of Crown Grill
  • How to find those somewhat secret doors on deck 7
  • An interview with Matt O', Cruise Director Extraordinaire (I hope!)
  • And probably something else I can't think of as I sit here with my feet up on the bed typing this.

Yikes! Now that I look at that list I'm not sure I can get all those things posted in two weeks, especially with the speed and reliability of MedallionNet in Alaska. But I'll try!

Alaskan cruise number 19 and 20 here we come...

Want to find out more about what to do in Alaskan ports?
Check out my Cruising Alaska resources:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Royal Princess Last Sea Day: August 30

Today is our last sea day and it was a full one. And a foggy one.
It cleared up for a while before it turned cloudy again.

While time changed last night and we lost an hour, we didn't mind much. We took our leisurely time getting ourselves going in the morning and didn't have anywhere to be or anything to do until afternoon. I attended another live Wake Show taping (yay to the energy of Matt O') and I hosted an afternoon tea in our cabin.

This afternoon tea was a special one. I had a passenger contact me a couple weeks back as she was prepping for her cruise. She and daughter were traveling together on a girls getaway. How fun is that? We were able to connect once on the ship and I'm excited to say I was able to interview both her and her daughter today during afternoon tea. Guess what? I now have a kids cruise expert. (Hi Emily!) We did some interviews about the kids club, cruising, and the Ocean Medallion, and some filming at one of the ship's portals. I'm pleased to say I'll be sharing the Princess cruise experience from an 11 year old's perspective - and her mom's. Look for more information coming soon!

We had dinner at Crown Grill tonight. I'll be doing a separate write-up on it - pictures and menus included - at a later date.

We also couldn't forget to get some quick packing in as we have to change cabins for next cruise. Thanks to booking super late, for this next cruise we have to move directly across the ship to the port side. Then the next cruise we move right back to this exact same cabin. 

Today's everything-isn't-always-perfect-in-the-cruising-world Public Service Announcement comes from our balcony where we have smelled someone smoking this week. And it just wasn't cigarette smoke. We had a couple days of weed wafting our way. We know it wasn't the folks next to us on either side (we can see the reflection in the glass) but we never could determine where it came from . As we learned last year on the Caribbean Princess (you can read about that smoking situation here) there really is nothing that can be done.

Tomorrow is our turnaround day in Vancouver, the start of our 19th Alaskan cruise, and the week my husband will be celebrating a milestone cruise - 500 days with Princess cruises. I'll be back tomorrow for one last live-from before I shift to creating and posting videos from the ship.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Royal Princess in Ketchikan, Alaska: August 29

Before I get started on today, I'd like to share a photo of last night's sunset. It was just so beautiful leaving Juneau.

I did have another foghorn alarm this morning. I decided it was time to rouse myself from bed, got on my slippers, and headed out to the balcony to get another picture of the white-out. I could see straight up into the beautiful starry sky but everything around me was fogged in. As dark as it was I figured I should check the time.

1:13 AM. 

Forget that! Off went the slippers and back to bed I went.

Once daylight arrived I again donned my slippers and headed out to take photos. It was an amazingly spectacular day in Ketchikan. I watched all kinds of boat traffic from the comfort of the balcony. Even caught a dog getting in on the action!
We made it to Burger Queen just as it opened at 11:00 today. Even with being some of the first folks there it was still an hour wait to get our burgers. While the plan was to hang out at the Arctic Bar in the meantime, we were taking a crew member (who wasn't a drinker) out to lunch and didn't want to make her uncomfortable. So we sat in Burger Queen, chatted, and caught up with the goings-on while waiting for our tasty burgers. To quote a line from the movie Pulp Fiction, "This is a tasty burger."

We have an early departure today because of the need to get under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver not at high tide so after lunch we made our way back to the ship. Hubby and I headed up to the buffet to grab me a glass of ice and as we were walking, out of the corner of my eye I saw a piece of purple paper being put into one of the worker's wallets. At that same moment I heard the words ridiculously amazing.

I stopped and asked about it. Yep, he found it and thanked me profusely. What did he find? Something I left in the buffet, of course. 
He told me where he found it and I told him we're on for two more cruises and I'll keep putting them out every single day. He and his coworker were quite happy. And so was I.

Today's everything-isn't-always-perfect-in-the-cruising-world Public Service Announcement comes from room service. As I mentioned last night, we had formal night and we were ordering our dinner through the Ocean Now section of our TV so I could show viewers how the process works. While I don't have the video completely together yet, when I do I'll post it right here and you'll see why I'm not recommending you order a grilled cheese from room service. 

We have the Most Traveled Guest Cocktail Party tonight and tomorrow is our last sea day before the end of the cruise. So very glad we have two more weeks to go!

I've pulled the Princess Patters from this cruise off the blog and won't be posting any more of them. The more photos I have on the blog, the more I have to pay to have them stored (or maybe hosted is the word?). I'm more than happy to email updated Patters if you ask, but I won't be adding them here anymore. 

Want to find out more about what to do in Ketchikan and other Alaskan ports?
Check out my Cruising Alaska resources:

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Royal Princess in Juneau, Alaska: August 28

This morning was another one where my alarm sounded like a foghorn. No wonder when I stepped outside and saw this.
Juneau is out there somewhere.
And we weren't the only Princess ship with a foghorn alarm this morning. I heard the Grand Princess from miles away on her approach into Juneau.
But by the time the Seabourn Sojourn showed up no foghorn was needed.
The Grand Princess wound up docking so close to us it kept automatically logging me into their WiFi all day. Guess it kept the information from our cruise on her four months ago.
After the fog burned off the sun was shining and it was a beauty of a day.
 We ate outside on the Horizon Court Terrace and watched seaplanes take off and land.

We spent quite a bit of time out on our balcony where we were tucked out of the wind in the warm sunshine. But I couldn't lollygag all day as I had work to do. While my videos didn't get filmed like I planned, I did take loads of pictures to turn into videos. I caught up on emails, did some travel agent work with a client, and started on a couple rough drafts in response to some reporter's questions.

Tonight is formal night again and the Captain's Circle party. We'll be skipping both. Since we are staying in, we'll be ordering room service - from our TV! It's a new feature on the MedallionClass ships and I'll be filming it for you to see.

Today's everything-isn't-always-perfect-in-the-cruising-world PSA is most likely coming from the Ocean Navigator team onboard the ship. I made no fewer than three additional trips to OceanFront last night to try and rectify my Medallion issue. While I no longer have to press body parts up against the wall to get into my cabin, the door is still not automatically opening even with the new clip and a new replacement Medallion. Hubby can be three cabins away and the door unlocks for him. Me? I have to stand right at the door, count to seven, and then it unlocks.

My frustration with it was bordering on disgust as I was ready to throw the d*** thing across the room last night. I think the Navigator team is so over my problem, and it doesn't help that they've spent the Alaska season with new cruisers asking questions like, "What app do I download?", "How do I get my travel companion on my phone", and "How much is the wristband?" Then I not only show up with my ongoing non-working Medallion issues but also have questions they are unable to answer like, "Will you adjust the range on mine?" and "Where can I find the menus that I read were available?" If I wasn't so desperate to make it work (and get those videos filmed) it would almost be comical.

Tomorrow we're off to Ketchikan and we've got a busy day. I have a/an:
*Morning phone call with our daughter
*Obligatory stop at the Arctic Bar with a lunch time delivery from Burger Queen
*Earlier-than-expected departure because of the tides and Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge
*Afternoon conference call
*Evening Most Traveled Guest Cocktail Party


Want to find out more about what to do in Juneau and other Alaskan ports?
Check out my Cruising Alaska resources:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Royal Princess in Skagway, Alaska August 27

Hello from Skagway!

We had a pretty rainy night last night and it lasted into this morning. We hit a fog bank early as we were just approaching Ketchikan and the horn blowing multiples times was enough to wake me up. I'm glad it did as I made it outside in time to watch the ship pull alongside the dock. While it was still rainy, it was beautiful in the pre-dawn light.
We had others ships in town with us today. We had the Celebrity Solstice docking behind us at the Railroad Dock...
and the Ruby Princess and Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam were over at the Ore and Broadway docks.
Between those four ships we had over 10,000 passengers in port today. The town was packed with people and it was probably the most crowded we've ever seen it. Thank goodness we weren't staying long! Today's priority in Skagway for us was getting to the Sweet Tooth Cafe for the best patty melt in the world. Just look at the meat and grilled onions and melted cheese and grilled rye bread all blending together. Just awesome.

Since we never made it to the bank before we left on the trip, after lunch we made an ATM run to the Wells Fargo down at the end of town. We also needed to get a stack of one dollar bills for the Encouraging Words Project as I already ran out dollars. Now I'm good to drop off the notes for the rest of the trip.

If you want to find out more about what to do in Skagway and other Alaskan ports, check out my Cruising Alaska resources:

We headed back to the ship after lunch and by that time the sun was popping in and out of the clouds. Still a bit cool, but then again it is almost September in Alaska. When we got back to the cabin we were reminded how much we absolutely love this cabin. It's big like a hotel room, not a cruise cabin. And for hubby to be able to easily take a shower in this bathroom requiring no steps? Just flippin' awesome.

Something else flippin' awesome? My Medallion clip issue is being addressed. Thank you J and V for your help, and K for delivering it! I imagine all the folks waiting for my first-hand passenger Medallion videos thank you ten times over as well.

More awesome is Matt O'. We watched the Wake Show taping again last night in the Princess Live studio. I gotta tell ya, that guy is good! I'm hoping to get to interview him in the next couple weeks and post it on here. I've got some great questions and I'm sure he's going to have to great answers. There are people who are just naturals at what they do, and he is certainly one of them.

Now for the frustration of the day. I've been adding these frustrating notes each day to remind everyone that cruising is not perfect and that there will always be something not going the way you'd like. I guess you could call them my own little Public Service Announcements.

Today's everything-isn't-always-perfect-in-the-cruising-world PSA comes courtesy of the tidal shifts in and around Vancouver. While it doesn't matter much to us, there are some other passengers grumbling about finding out we are cutting our port stop in Ketchikan short. According to the letter we all received,
"The port authority has advised us that due to tidal constraints around Vancouver, we must sail under the Lions Gate Bridge earlier than anticipated for our arrival on Saturday."
I also received word from someone on next week's sailing (and confirmed here on board today) that the next cruise will be leaving Vancouver super-late because of the same issue. Like, super, super, super late, and it too will change our arrival and departure times in subsequent ports. Flexibility has to be part of any vacation but I do understand their frustration, particularly when it's their first and possibly only visit to Alaska. But yep, everything isn't always perfect in the cruising world.

I had a request to post the Alfredo's Menu, so if you're interested, here it is:

Tomorrow we are off to Juneau and I'm planning on spending the entire day filming Ocean Medallion videos onboard.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Royal Princess in Glacier Bay, August 26

Happy Glacier Bay Day!

Glacier Bay Day is the best day ever on an Alaskan cruise. Once you hear the crack of the ice and watch a chunk drop into the water, you know you are witnessing something amazing and awe-inspiring. Even the anticipation of a calving can be goosebump-provoking.

We started our morning at the buffet for breakfast. Now here's a heads up for those of you traveling on the Royal Princess. Mornings in the buffet, especially on days like Glacier Bay Day, are crowded. Like waaay crowded. Just take a look.
But walk all the way to the back, outside the doors, and you'll find a seating area that's pretty darn empty. That's where we choose to eat. We even saw a whale while we were there! But shh...don't tell anyone as we prefer the peace and quiet.
That's the back of hubby's head in the photo.
There are also several other areas that weren't as crowded when it came time for glacier viewing. If you find these somewhat hidden doors outside of Facets and Crooners they will lead you to a couple not-as-busy decks.

There is also another set of doors outside of Vista Lounge. People don't realize these are here. But they are, and they are accessible to all.
Instead of repeating the same things I say every time I go to Glacier Bay, you can read more about it in a couple of my past posts.

Today, however, we did have some new things happen. First, unlike in the past, the shops were open for most of the day. And probably the biggest change of all - the WiFi was accessible most of the day. I imagine the ship, realizing having 3,500+ passengers onboard with no shopping and no WiFi was a bad mix, made some adjustments. Guess I learn something new every day!

Here are a few photos of our day.
Margerie Glacier:
Coral Princess was with us in Glacier Bay today. 
Lamplugh Glacier is oh-so-blue. 
Between glacier viewings we stopped at Alfredo's for their tasty pizza. It's free and you can even order off menu. Pepperoni, lots of garlic, and extra cheese, please. Hubby and I share one and it's plenty. Yummy.

I guess our day wouldn't be complete without at least one frustrating thing happen. Today I made two trips down to OceanFront, the place where the Navigators (the ones in charge of Medallion related stuff) work. My Medallion hasn't been working since I got on the ship. After my two OceanFront trips I didn't get a resolution and I'm not sure, short of not using my clip anymore, that I will get one. It has been super frustrating as I've been trying to film all these Medallion videos readers and viewers have been asking for, but I can't get my Medallion to work for the filming.

My Medallion clip sucks so bad I have to use an unconventional - and somewhat embarrassing way - to get it to let me into the cabin. Since we have a handicapped cabin and the sensor is lower on the wall than most other cabins, this special way of opening the door works. If we didn't have a lower sensor, this way wouldn't work. I hesitate even telling you, but here goes...

I use my boob. (Go ahead, laugh away.)

I have my Medallion in a clip on the collar of my shirt. Since the sensor won't read it without it being placed smack dab in the middle of it, I have to smash my boob up against the wall until the Medallion gets right up against the sensor, stand there for a moment, and then the door clicks open. It never shows my photo or name on the screen like it should (probably a good thing - don't need someone walking by finding out who I am). No boob on wall, no cabin entry. As for using it everywhere else - shops, muster drill, on the portals, and on and off the ship - I'm having to take it completely out of the clip. (Bet you thought I was going to say I was using my boob again, didn't you?)

It has been an unbelievable pain that I hope gets rectified. I'll keep you updated. Otherwise you may see some interesting body parts in upcoming Medallion videos with maybe even a few cuss words thrown in!

The rest of the day was spent visiting with our dear crew members. We are so lucky to get to visit friends in their homes and place of work...on a cruise ship. And this evening I'm heading back to Princess Live to watch another live taping of the Wake Show with CDEMO (Cruise Director Extraordinaire Matt O').

Here's the clip from yesterday's taping where he talked about the Encouraging Words Project:
Love you Matt!

Tomorrow is our first port, Skagway. Our plans are to do what we've been doing every single time these past years. Head to Sweet Tooth Cafe for the best patty melt in the world. Other than that, who knows? (However, I will be sure to keep my body parts covered.)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Royal Princess at Hubbard Glacier

Hello from Yakutat Bay!

We've had a great day today. I told hubby that something about this cruise just feels different but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe because we embarked in Whittier instead of Vancouver for a change? Maybe because we are so very comfortable on this ship? Because we have so many crew members working here who are near and dear to our hearts? Knowing these will be our last trips to Alaska? Perhaps because I have a huge filming schedule ahead of me and I feel confident I can share things first-hand others are asking about? Whatever the reason, it just feels good. I don't even have to rub my I choose joy tattoo to get myself in a positive mood.

Even though it was light out early and we have a balcony cabin, we both woke up later than usual. Moseyed on up to the buffet, grabbed some breakfast, and ate outside on the back of the ship at the Horizon Terrace without another soul to be seen. (But inside? Man, it was crowded.)

I had my Encouraging Words Project pocket with my dollar bill in it, waiting to put in the Wake Show box. Along with leaving my encouraging words pockets around the ship, I've been dropping them in the Wake Show boxes for the last few years. Over the course of those years, the cruise director here (Cruise Director Extraordinaire Matt O', that is) has been the only one consistently reading them - and believing in the power of them. I stopped by several times to see if the box had been put out so I could get those positive vibes into the world. Only when I ran into him did I find out they aren't doing the Wake Show Box during the seven day Alaska cruises anymore. So I gave the Encouraging Words Project money pocket to Matt O' personally.

Then later as I was headed to the crafting class, I saw the Princess Live doors open and CDEMO (Cruise Director Extraordinaire Matt O') was filming tomorrow's Wake Show. I popped in a bit to watch. I even made it in time to watch him as he read my Encouraging Words aloud. I almost taped it live right then and there (I decided against it), but when the Wake Show is on the TV I'll tape it and add it to tomorrow's post. I have to say, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that they've opened the taping up for people to watch. It was interesting to see and I definitely will attend again.

After the Wake Show taping I barely made it in time to the crafts class. I did get to meet a blog reader and her daughter in there. (Hi Chelsea and Emily!) Then I met up with hubby at Crooners where he was already chatting with crew member friends. I so love the connections we've made with the crew members. I do believe it's the best part of cruising for us.

We headed back to our cabin in time for the narration during our approach to Hubbard Glacier. Did I mention how much I love our cabin? Like I said in yesterday's post, we had booked a last minute BW obstructed balcony cabin and were upgraded to free to a special BB balcony cabin. It's actually a handicapped accessible cabin and it is huge.
The bathroom is great for hubby and the shower is easy for him to use since it is walk it (actually roll-in) with a bench to sit on.
While we could probably always request a handicapped cabin, we never do. But this week they've put us in one. In fact, we are on this ship for three weeks and have to change cabins three times. Two of those cabins are handicapped accessible ones. I guess that's a benefit to booking super late - they stick you wherever they can. We are so good with it! I think I'll do a cabin tour video sometime this week as I know there are folks asking about what handicapped accessible cabins are like.

We watched as the Hubbard Glacier excursion boat loaded passengers to give them a closer look. I can't remember the cost of the excursion, but I know it was more than I was willing to pay.
After the excursion left, the Royal Princess moved even closer to the glacier. The Captain turned the ship so both the port and starboard sides got to see the glacier. The naturalist also does some narration during the time. You can hear it from the balconies, open decks, and on the bridge cam station on the TV.

Tonight is formal night and we're skipping it. We'll probably make our way to the buffet where I'm sure we'll find some great choices.

Tomorrow we're off to the best day of any Alaskan cruise - Glacier Bay.