Friday, August 25, 2023

My 106th Day on the Island Princess

Goodbye to the Island Princess. Today, my 106th day on the ship, was my last. 

Island Princess arriving in San Pedro California
May 11 view of the ship from my hotel room
Island Princess docked in Southampton
August 25 view of the ship from the airport transfer

What an amazing solo-on-a-scooter adventure it has been. While it's not over yet (Alaska, I'm coming for you tomorrow!) I thought I should do a wrap up of my time on the Island before I join my next ship. 

The Itinerary
It's why I chose this ship for the summer. What an amazing combinations of places I've been to! Over the last 3½ months I've visited:
  • Mexico - Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta
  • Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Panama - Panama City and the Panama Canal
  • Cartagena, Columbia
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Iceland - Akureyri x3, Grundarfjördur, Isafjordur x2, Reykjavik x3, Seydisfjordur
  • Greenland - Nanortalik, Prince Christian Sound, Qaqortoq
  • Norway - Ålesund, Åndalsnes x2, Haugesund x3, Honningsvag x2, Lofoten Islands x2, Olden, Skjolden, Tromso x2, Trondheim x2
  • Denmark - Bornholm, Copenhagen, Skagen
  • Sweden - Stockholm
  • England - Falmouth x2, Newcastle
  • Scotland - Edinburgh, Greenock, Shetland Islands
  • Cobh, Ireland
  • Tallin, Estonia
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Klaipėda, Lithuania
  • Gdynia, Poland
I even crossed above the Arctic Circle five times.
Grand Princess Arctic Circle crossing certificates

I'd love to pick a favorite port or experience but I can't as there were just too many. I do have to say I believe Prince Christian Sound in Greenland is probably the most beautiful place on Earth. Then there was the stuff my husband and daughter like so much. I learned so much about past history and current events, geography, and geology again and again and again. They both would be proud. 

The Food (and a bit about crew members)
I never went to the dining room, but I did order dinner from the dining room menu quite frequently. Once the ship's home port became Southampton the menu changed and included more local flavors. It was a welcome change from those Caribbean and Mexico 7 day cruise menus.
Princess Cruises UK local flavor menu
I ordered from the regular room service menu, too. It was consistently inconsistent. And sometimes downright terrible. Just check what the app shows the item should look like compared to what arrived.
Princess Cruises app grilled cheese pictureUnmelted grilled cheese on Princess cruises
Princess cruises app chili picturePrincess Cruises chili from room service
Beginning today the ship will start charging $5 for each room service order placed by phone. If you want to use the app you'll pay a one time $14.99 charge. I know if I had to pay anything for some of the items I ordered I'd be asking for my money back. They're going to have to step it up or there will be lots of unhappy guests.

The buffet on the ship is small but they do have theme nights where they have an extra couple of dishes to choose from. 
Island Princess Buffet themed night list

Princess has hired a large number of crew from African nations who are about the only ones working with the food in the buffet area now, at least on this ship. They are some of the nicest crew members ever. So were the wheelchair assist team who helped me and my scooter up and down every gangway and on and off every tender boat for 106 days.

Which leads me to...

The Least Pleasant Crew on the Ship
The staff working the Guest Services Desk. I had to visit the front desk more than a dozen times over the course of my trip. I was there during quiet times and at busier times and at no point did they ever show a welcoming disposition or even some empathy. In the overall scheme of things my issues were minor but I was there when someone had reported their lost wallet and another time when someone reported their lost phone. The staff showed not one bit of understanding or compassion in either case. And when I went 5 hours without toilet paper when I was sick with Covid there was no apology for twice forgetting to let anyone know about it. I tried used the crew chat on the app several times during my time onboard and they weren't helpful either. They would quickly end the conversation whether it was done or not. Then they would delete the past conversations.
They want to close their end up, but sorry, we aren't finished yet!
MedallionNet Internet
As soon as the ship switched over to Starlink (Elon Musk's satellite internet) the service improved dramatically. I never had a problem with a page not loading or a blog post not posting. While not super fast it's a tremendous improvement over what we've had on the ship in the past. Heck, I was messaging and posting from Greenland and Iceland. 

Places I Never Went
I never watched a production show or watched a comedian or participated in any of the activities. I never ate in the dining room. Didn't have the clothes being I only took one suitcase and a backpack!
Never went to an art auction or played bingo. I had planned on doing a lot of writing but found I preferred sitting on the balcony, listening to and watching the waves. 
Cruise ship balcony view from ocean
All the audiobooks I downloaded never were listened to, either. I stopped swimming after I caught Covid in the pool. (I'm certain I caught it from the lady I wrote about on May 21. She was near me coughing a nasty cough and it aligned with when I got sick on May 26.) I had planned on using the bike in the fitness room but found exploring ports and having to get on and off the scooter and push it (and those cobblestones - oh, those cobblestones) did my joints in enough that I needed more rest instead of more exercise.
Klaipeda, Lithuania cobblestones

Weird Quirks
The ship is old. The rust is there. 
rust on Island cruise ship balcony
The rust would get wet from all the moisture in the air and it would drop orange rust drops onto everything underneath it on my balcony. My cabin was almost at the very back of the ship and occasionally I'd also get soot on my furniture so I learned to put a towel down before I sat anywhere. 
Island Princess soot on furniture in C727
Handicapped cabins aren't truly handicapped because you can't access the balcony in a wheelchair or scooter. I had three different cabins and each one had the regular height threshold that needed to be stepped over. One cabin did have a ramp - but only from the outside. Um, that's not going to work.
Island Princess handicap balcony access on C726
And the safe in these cabins was in the desk cabinet. Even in a wheelchair you practically have to stand on your head to access it. In all three cabins the first row of numbers weren't working either.
safe in desk of Island Princess accessible cabin C726
Being far from the elevator made it difficult to get through the hallways when the cleaning carts were out there. Thankfully this ship has all kinds of little hallways of cabins at the back I could use as a maze to try and avoid them. But what worked one day didn't necessarily work the next. 
If the steward was cleaning the cabin I could get them to move the cart but sometimes they wouldn't be around and I would get stuck. Let's not even talk about when I needed to access the midship elevators. Or talk about how to scooter around room service trays people have left in the hallway.
Island Princess cleaning cart in hallwayRoom service tray in hallway on Island Princess

Anything Else
I'm sure there is something else worth mentioning, but after 106 days things that were important at the beginning became not-so-important by the end. All the negative things combined certainly wouldn’t stop me from traveling another amazing itinerary on the Island Princess. If you have any specific questions on other things I skipped I'd be happy to answer them.

Coming Up Tomorrow
So what's next for me? Well, I’m not flying home - I’m flying from London Heathrow to Vancouver, Canada today and will be joining the Grand Princess tomorrow for two cruises to Alaska. I may be done with the ice and glaciers and fjords in Greenland, Iceland, and Norway but not Alaska. See you tomorrow from Vancouver!