Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Royal Princess February 2020 Wrap-Up

Sometimes I struggle with doing these cruise wrap-ups. I'll usually go back and see what I said on my previous wrap-ups and either try and write something different or new or exciting. Unfortunately, I happened to read my 2018 wrap-up before I started this one. Not the smartest idea.

Back then, on December 1, 2018 I wrote:
We had a great week on the Royal Princess and always love this itinerary. There were so many good things I don’t know where to start so I’ll just jump right in.

My, how times have changed. The itinerary is different (Caribbean then and Mexican Riviera now) and so is the experience on the ship. I guess that's what happens when you spend 72 days on the same ship within nine months time. The novelty wears off and the warts start to show.

Heck, we're not even done with this cruise yet and I'm ready to put it behind me. But as several of you have been asking how the new Medallion wrist band is working out, I need to you give an honest answer. First, I love the wrist band. It's flexible, it's stylish looking, lightweight, and much more comfortable than the sports band. Big plus there.

As for how well it's working? I still don't know what the deal is, but it took several tries to get it to scan as I was going on and off the ship today. And getting into the cabin? Well, after multiple trips to the Passenger Services Desk (I'm calling it what it is - a huge waste of my vacation time) and a Medallion reprint and hearing more than once there is nothing wrong with it, I still can't get into my cabin without waving my arms around the sensor. When I'm at the door I'm starting to look like a big ole' goose flapping some big ole' wings on takeoff.

Do you ever have one of those conversations where you feel like the person really isn't listening to what you are saying? I've had several of those conversations over these last three cruises, and obviously I'm not getting through to anyone because the most recent response from them was this:

Seriously, a cruise card? I don’t want a stinkin' cruise card. After 14 Medallion cruises and you're telling me I have to put my pretty new wristband away and stick a cruise card in my pocket instead? What the heck? Do you not know how much I really want the Medallion to work? How much time I've invested in making videos for other passengers, showing them how great it is? How I really believed it had great potential? (For everyone but me it seems. Mr. E, the anti-tech guy gets to breeze into the cabin just fine. No flapping wings required.)

It's not the Medallion update I wanted to give, but I guess it is what it is. I have three more days on the ship and while I'm crossing my fingers for a miraculous Medallion recovery, I'm not holding out much hope. 

Update: Finally after many more trips down to Guest Services over the past several days and begging and pleading and more begging and pleading they finally sent someone to the cabin last night. More Medallion reprints, the sensor panel taken apart, batteries checked in the door itself, and multiple system resets (I think it is what he called them) I can finally get into the cabin this morning. 

Except I no longer exist. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess. (And believe me, I was a beggar!)

Update to an update...
Now that I have a few days off the ship, my frustration and disappointed from the cruise is beginning to wane. (Sort of.) So let me share some of the better things we found happening around the ship.

Since one of the cruises occurred over Valentine's Day, our door panel was prettied up as was our TV screen.
 
You can now watch some of the on demand movies under the OceanView section of the MedallionClass app. I could only find a few and only on the app on my iPhone, not on my iPad app.
There is now a "deals" section in the OceanNow portion of the app. We found both drink and retail specials. The special drinks changed daily and were only $7 when ordered through the app. As the app gave me fits most of the cruise I hardly ever opened it so I didn't discover these until late in the cruise.

Other good stuff? We still had a good time, I pretty much finished the presentation for my upcoming Cruising with Confidence class, and we got ourselves a bit of a tan in the warmer-than-Idaho weather. And most importantly, we stayed healthy. 

We do have some other cruises coming up next month. (Not on the Royal Princess.) Not sure if I'll be blogging or not. If I do, I promise I'll work on keeping a positive attitude!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

An Exciting New Ocean Medallion™ Accessory

I said if anything positive came up, I'd be back to share it. Well, something has.

If you remember when I was in Port Kelang, Malaysia back in December, there was a weird smoke smell in the air. With the number of factories nearby it wasn't too surprising.

Once we got home I started researching the area and found Port Kelang had a significant number of illegal plastic recycling factories - factories that many times just burned the plastic instead of recycling it. As I continued to find out more about the difficulties in recycling plastics, E and I made a decision to start working our way towards a zero waste household. We have oh-so-far to go, but we have made some changes in the right direction.

So when a special little package from Princess Cruises made its way to me on the Royal Princess today, I was quite excited.

You know I like my Ocean Medallion™ accessories. I've used the metal clip and the plastic clip. I've used the sports band. And now I'm using a brand-spankin' new band for my Medallion.

Made from ocean recycled plastics.

Yep, you heard me right. Princess has created the first wearable accessory in the world made from 100% ocean plastics.

100% recycled from all kinds of plastics collected from the coastlines and oceans. The plastic casing holding the Medallion is made from hard plastics like shampoo bottles and plastic containers.

And the wrist band? Two water bottles removed from the ocean are combined into fabrics to make one wrist band.
Can't tell it's from recycled water bottles, can you?
The bands are even numbered in increments of two to represent their impact. With a number of 0084 it looks like I'm an early adopter.

Thanks to Princess, I'm the first guest on a ship outside of Australia to get to try it out. There's so much more to tell you about it, but here's the shortened version:

I'll be using it for this seven day cruise and will let you know how it works out. I'll also work on finding out more details of when we can find these showing up for purchase on the MedallionClass™ ships in the US.
Such an exciting development for Ocean Medallion accessories!
If you have any questions about it, let me know and I’ll work on finding the answers. (I’m still learning about this new product myself!)



Sunday, February 9, 2020

Royal Princess in Ensenada

Hello from a cloudy, windy, and chilly day in Ensenada. 

I wound up leaving E on the ship and went out by myself for a little bit. We have a favorite taco place ashore, but it was too cold to walk too far so I was back to the ship pretty darn soon. I was really looking forward to some great conversation with our crew member buddy from the Grand, but since they couldn't make the port I think I'm feeling a bit mopey.

Plus I knew I was going to have to give the Medallion update many of you have been asking for. I've not said much because I've been hoping things would improve. This was my 13th Medallion cruise over the last year and a half and some of the same issues keep popping up for me. Clearly 13 is not a lucky number for me.

Like most of the Medallion cruises I've been on, it doesn't want me to get into the cabin. Others can walk towards their doors and it clicks and unlocks, but not for me. I have to stand there and stand there and stand there while it keeps telling me it's verifying me. I'm eventually able to get in, but not without some delay.
Access being verified...being verified...being verified...being verified...
Not sure why, but starting last night it became even harder to get into the cabin. Now it won't even attempt to verify me. No matter how long I stand there, I have to take my Medallion out and place it onto the sensor and hold it there and then move it around and around and around. It must really be mad at me now. Believe me, the feeling is mutual.
Approach for entry?
Uh, I can't get much closer than this.
What can the OceanFront folks do for you? Tell you the battery might be dying and reprint you a new one. No thanks, not again. I'm hoping it's just a cabin sensor issue. I'll find out tomorrow as we change cabins again.

I wish it was the only sensor issue I'm having, but nope. While I was able to go on and off the ship in Ensenada today with no issue, at Muster Drill there most definitely was an issue. The gal scanning Medallions had to scan mine and rescan and rescan and rescan again. She finally decided to manually enter my cabin number but thankfully at that same moment I popped up.

And the new MedallionClass app? I still can't get the shipmates section to find E. Quits every single time I try. It happened in October and it's still happening now. I've updated both the app and the phone, restarted, deleted and reinstalled. If I want to find E I go to the elevator bank and use one of the portals there. But I can't get too excited about that, either. The location finder isn't really in real time. It'll show me where he was five minutes ago, but not necessarily where he is currently. But a good thing with the app is the first drink is free. At least that's what the cruise director keeps telling us. But for me? Nope, not on my app. Grr.

Speaking of drink orders... around the ship you'll find the crew asking for your cabin number instead of using your Medallion and their devices to place the order. Some crew members do attempt to scan the Medallions but some don't even waste their time and just ask for cabin numbers right up front. 

I am so over it.

Actually, I'm over a few things right now so I think it will be best if I stop blogging this trip. There are too many of those everything isn't perfect in the cruise world things impacting my life of joy. (Some days it's hard work to be honest, yet positive, ya know?) So it's probably best I just stop. A new cruise starts tomorrow, and another one five days later. If anything positive and pleasant and joyful worth reporting comes up in those two cruises, I'll be back to let you know. 

See you sooner or later. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. You know where to find me!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Royal Princess Sea Day

Yet another beautiful day, albeit one with some marine layer clouds floating around.
Unfortunately we thought our plan of spending the day basking in the sunshine on our balcony wasn't going pan out like we'd thought. Today was balcony maintenance so we wouldn't have access for a chunk of the day. We were instructed to keep our curtains drawn and our doors locked, and the dividers between all the balconies were opened. 
When someone tells you the Royal Class ships
have narrow balconies you can believe them. 
So we spent extra time on the Horizon Court Terrace. You know we loved this quiet outside spot in Alaska and we love it here off the coast of California. Fresh air, ocean views, and very few other people.
But step through the doors and you'll be confronted with this kind of crowd.
These two pictures were taken at the same time today. Huge difference, right? If you're looking for peace and quiet, head outside instead. (But shh...don't tell anyone else about it.)

We also wandered the halls looking at the 49ers decors. E liked this one the best. Being a big time sports guy, I think he probably wishes we had a door looking like this one.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the balcony was washed down and the dividers put back in place by 10:30 am. Woo hoo. Sunshine on my shoulders, here I come! But brr, was it cold. Since I couldn't shirk responsibilities like I did yesterday (which, by the way, felt so darn awesome) I stayed in the warmer cabin and spent a chunk of the day on the computer. I have my next Cruising with Confidence class coming up on March 2 and needed to get moving on revamping it. 
Only four spots left! Class is full. Waiting list is available.
Tomorrow we're off to Ensenada, Mexico. We were supposed to be in port with the Grand Princess and treat one of our dearest crew member friends to some food and drink and have some great conversation. But the Grand had to turn around and go back to Honolulu to disembark a sick passenger so they are now heading straight to San Francisco instead of making the way to Ensenada. We're so totally bummed.

We may instead take a walk down to the fish market and grabs some tacos at one of the places nearby. Or we might not. One thing to rule out is the balcony. We got yet another notice telling us tomorrow the balcony will again be unavailable because of another round of maintenance. Two balcony maintenance days in a four day cruise? Seems weird to me.

Flexibility might just have to be my middle name.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Royal Princess in Catalina

As we saw it, we had two choices today.

A.
Take a tender AKA water shuttle into the town of Avalon on the island of Catalina.
Walk a ways to the Mexican restaurant.
Spend 60 or so dollars for some food and a couple drinks.
Do some people watching.
Walk back to the dock.
Take a tender AKA water shuttle back to the ship.

Or

B.
Sit on the balcony where one of us gets this view from a chair.
 And the other person gets this view from their chair.
With both people sitting in the warm sunshine, out of the wind, getting a nice big dose of Vitamin D. Since it is winter, the sun was in the southern part of the sky and was shining on the balcony all day long.

Where we could grab a taco salad and chips and beans for lunch. Add that to a quesadilla off the kids room service menu and we had free Mexican food.

Couple it with free drinks. No Captain's Circle parties on short cruises = one free drink voucher per person.
Instead of people watching, throw in some people listening. You'd be surprised the conversations you overhear from surrounding balconies when you sit quietly in the warm California sunshine. 

Then take a little nap with the sunshine splashing across the foot of your bed as you breathe fresh air and doze off to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the ship.
We've been to Catalina many times before and really have done all we need to do there. (Other than eat.) So of course, we chose B.

It was absolutely blissful. Couldn't have asked for a better day on a cruise ship, for sure. It's the great thing about cruising - you can do as little or as much as you want. And boy, did we do little today.

Tomorrow is a sea day and I have no idea what our plans are yet. If we had a repeat of today I'd be just fine with it. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Embarkation Day - Royal Princess Cruise to Catalina

Our first cruise is a short one. Off to Catalina, throw in a sea day, find our way to Ensenada, and back to San Pedro.

I realized last night I really am ready for this. Ready to leave the crap on TV behind. The junk on the Internet behind. Leave the world behind and live a joyous life, free of negative distractions. 

But not so fast getting away from the Coronavirus concern. For the first time in many years, at embarkation we had to fill out a health questionnaire. This one is specific to the new virus. 
Other than the extra paperwork, so far we haven't heard or seen anything any different than the typical precautions. 

Now let's talk about that joyous life onboard. 

I tried a little experiment at embarkation this time. If you remember, each time when we checked in with our Medallions in Vancouver, Canada and Whittier, Alaska, and even here in San Pedro, California I wrote about how long the lines were for the passengers who already had their Medallions. I think each time I even swore I would never pre-order my Medallion again. Finally this time I did it. (Or, should I say, didn't do it?) We showed up at port with our boarding passes instead of Medallions in hand. And the result of the experiment? A joyous success! It was super easy and super quick to get our Medallions at the port - with no lines whatsoever. In fact, the person at the check in counter told us he tells his family and friends not to order theirs either. That it's faster to wait and get them at the port. And he was right. So from now on in San Pedro I will not be ordering those Medallions ahead of time. (Boy, I like being right.)

Just as fast as picking up our Medallions was our wait in the Elite boarding lounge. The seating area was practically empty. Boarding started just a few minutes after 11 and was so quiet and calm with so few Elites boarding. I don't know how it turned out later, but our group was just AWESOME and so different than we've seen it here before.

Some options upon boarding:
Need to drop your carry-ons? They've got a place for that.
The best part of today's joyous life came right after boarding when I was in my swimsuit and in the Retreat Pool before 11:30. I am not passing up a chance to swim on a cruise ship in a deserted pool. While the water was quite chilly, I did enough laps to get my blood pumping and warm me up a bit. 
Mine. All mine.
After a chunk of swimming and sunning we decided to grab a bite to eat in the dining room. Scored a table for two right before they closed. Yay us.

Decided to head to our cabin for a bit to check on our luggage. 
Couldn't get an elevator up or down as they were so very packed. (Sapphire Princess, where are you when we need you?) 
Walked down the stairs to deck five so we could get an elevator going up from there. Ran into this crazy line at the Internet Cafe. Oh my. Glad I'm not in it.

Received a letter congratulating us on being one of the Most Traveled Passengers on this voyage. As there is no Most Traveled Guest party of this trip we are receiving a meal in one of the specialty dining restaurants. Sabatini's, we're happily coming for you tomorrow night.

Couldn't figure out why there were so many people dressed in San Francisco 49ers gear. 
Found out this is a 49ers fan cruise. They have players on board, autograph signings, special shows and dinners. Only those purchasing the special group cruise package are participating so we'll miss out. They sure are a happy bunch of 300+. 
Lots and lots of these signs on doors. I think it's the 49ers group.
Tonight we went to the Elite Lounge for the first time in forever. Our bar steward buddy is working there this cruise so it's about the only time we'll get to see him. 
Deep Sea Martini. Pretty and yummy. Happy, happy, joy, joy.
Platinum/Elite/Suite Drink Menu
Dinner was the buffet, as usual. The nice thing about these short cruises is folks typically go to the dining room instead. It held true for this cruise, too. The buffet was empty. Love it.
Mongolian Buffet anyone? No lines tonight.
But it wouldn't be a cruise without one non-pleasant thing happening. During Muster Drill we had two little kids from the same family throwing tantrums. Screaming and crying and more screaming and crying. It lasted most of the drill with no parent or staff intervention. So on this ship we now have a whole slew of cruisers who have no idea what to do in case of an emergency because they couldn't hear a thing. Please - if your children are disrupting others from listening to something super-important like Muster Drill, please remove them. Somebody - or a whole bunch of somebody's - lives could depend on it.

Tomorrow we'll be in Catalina, a whole 26 miles from San Pedro. We'll be meandering our way there. May even get some circling in. Our plan was to go ashore and grab some Mexican food and drinks at the restaurant we always go to. But E's just as happy staying onboard. Plus, we're on the Royal Princess who has Mexican food onboard every day. And we have our bar steward buddy working the Elite Lounge where the drinks on the list are only $6.50 during the lounge hours. So it looks like we'll be staying onboard, saving our money, and hopefully spending the day at the Retreat pool. We shall see.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Off We Go Again

I had no intention of sitting in an airport hotel by LAX right now.

After our amazing month-long cruise on the Sapphire Princess, I was quite content to come home and stay home for a bit. I wanted that cruise to stick in my memory for a while. I wanted to remember the friendly passengers and relaxed atmosphere. The adventurous ports and eye-opening learnings. The empty elevators and quiet pools.

But yet here we go again.

It started with the schedule E pulled out around Christmas time. The baseball schedule. (Seriously, who talks baseball in December? He does.) He was willing to give up a trip to San Diego and another one to New York to make a February Arizona baseball trip happen. And if the man wants a baseball game, you can bet I'm going to try and squeeze a cruise out of the same trip. While I would have preferred Hawaii or the Caribbean, the one he was most comfortable with (meaning less rough water and fewer flights) was one to Mexico. Since we don't do just one cruise, we had to tack on another. And another.

Guess it wound up being good timing on our part. Because wouldn’t you know it, a few minutes before we left for the airport this morning the snow started coming down. Hard and fast. We were more than happy to skedaddle at that point.
The view out the airplane window.
After de-icing. Yep, still snowing.
So after a Boise to Phoenix to LAX flight, (don't think I didn't consider leaving him behind in Phoenix!) here we are, spending the night in an airport hotel before making our way to the cruise port tomorrow. We're heading back to the Royal Princess for a while before we're off to Arizona for Mr. E's baseball trip.

I probably won’t sleep much tonight but I will be back tomorrow from the Royal Princess!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Valentine's Day Heart Candy Pouches - Tutorial Tuesday

Today we are making personalized Valentine's Day candy pouches.

Looking for more Valentine-themed projects?

Along with your regular sewing supplies like a sewing machine and scissors, for this project you will need:

Ready to learn how to make them? You can find the how-to video right here:


While my patterns, templates, and videos are absolutely free, if you feel so inclined please consider a donation for their use. Every little bit helps! Your donation helps support the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content to crafters and cruisers all around the world.  

Rather not donate? No worries - go ahead and use them for free! If you do donate, thank you for your support!