Showing posts with label Crown Princess TA Nov 18. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crown Princess TA Nov 18. Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2018

Crown Princess Transatlantic Cruise Wrap-Up

The end is here. It’s the last sea day of our Rome to Fort Lauderdale Transatlantic Cruise on the Crown Princess. We missed one port because of weather (Toulon, France) but did make it to Livorno, Italy, Barcelona, Spain, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, and had 10 sea days.

Here are some of our highlights and lowlights. We:
  • Realized a 12 hour overnight flight from the US to Italy is not for us.
  • Found Rome extremely difficult for someone with disabilities.
  • Saw the Colosseum from the handy hop-on, hop-off bus.
  • Visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 
  • Want to return to Barcelona, Spain.
  • Were thankful we were able to finally make it to the Azores.
  • Experienced the longest patch of the roughest seas we’ve ever had.
  • Slept and rested more than we had planned.
  • Watched staler TV than planned. 
  • Had good conversations with like-minded people.
  • Spent lots of one-on-one time with a special crew member.
  • Found the Crown Princess in good condition.
And realized 10 sea days on a ship with sucky internet, without an on-demand TV system, and with the same old Princess buffet is probably not a ship for us. While the Crown Princess is a fine ship, I do need high quality internet for work. I’ve fallen behind on my emails (apologies to all those who are still awaiting a reply from me) and I couldn’t post as many pictures as I’d like because of the slow internet and limited minutes. Since most of our meals are eaten at the buffet, choice is important and this ship doesn’t have what we’ve seen on Caribbean Princess and the Royal and Regal Princess. And since I don’t watch TV or movies at home, I also missed having the free on-demand options on this ship.

So what’s next for us? Well, I am ditching the sling and not going to the ER tomorrow. We have too many plans I don’t want to mess with! While we have insurance that would cover if we were to cancel the rest of our trip, we aren’t going to do that. We will instead be heading down to Key Largo for a couple nights. It’s the closest, reasonably-priced lodging we could find for the special sporting event that we’re attending that is being held November 17-18 in the Miami area. Then off for several more days even farther south before making our way back to Fort Lauderdale for another cruise. And yep, I’m blogging all the way.

And waiting until I get home to deal with the shoulder.

See you tomorrow. More new adventures await.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

Today I did something I haven’t done in a long time. Play skeeball. Fellow blogger Vickie (from Vickie and Bernie Travel), my hubby, and I went upstairs to the Teen Center to the Young at Heart Hours that I mentioned yesterday. It was quite fun. Thanks for the idea, Vickie!

They also had other activities. It was quite busy with all of us young at heart folks.

But when I was playing I was noticing my shoulder was bothering me even more. Hubby even mentioned that he saw I was rolling the ball differently than I would have before. After our games, I returned to the cabin to grab my backpack so I could go work somewhere other than our inside cabin. Once I got my computer and charger and two bottles of water in it, the backpack was too heavy (it really wasn’t, but it was for me) to get onto my shoulders.

Remember the other night when I was slammed by the bathroom door (among other mishaps that night) during rough seas? While I wrote about it on my blog, I hadn’t given all the details. (Didn’t want to worry folks back at home.) So now I have to mention an important part of the story – the part where my arm got twisted as I tried to keep the door off me and the other part where I heard a pop in my arm. While I’ve been trying to ignore the ramifications of that incident, every day since there has been something problematic with that shoulder. Today it was the backpack I couldn’t get on that shoulder. That shoulder has also made it very difficult to hook a certain undergarment, wash my hair, and push off when getting up out of a chair. It has made it difficult to lift beverages out of the refrigerator and hang up clothes.  And hugging our crew member buddy every night has been taking some very careful, and a bit painful, shoulder maneuvering.

So I wandered off to the Medical Center this afternoon. I dislike doctors almost as much as dentists and only go when I absolutely have no other choice.  One of the first questions the doctor asked me was why it had took me so long to come see her. Because I thought it would get better? was all I could come up with.

Uh, well, no. Clearly she was more concerned about my shoulder than I was. She wanted to know if we were heading home in a couple days. When I said we won’t be home until December 23, she recommended I go to the ER once we get to Ft. Lauderdale and be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. That I need to have a cat scan of the shoulder. That I couldn’t wait that long to have it attended to. She gave me a shot (in the rump, no less!) for inflammation and pain and sent me off with acetaminophen to take until Ft. Lauderdale. And…wait for it…

Put in a sling.

Seriously?  I was almost ready to break down crying. I wanted to explain that we are picking up a rental car in Ft. Lauderdale in two days. That hubby doesn’t drive. That we have a week-long road trip planned. And mention again that hubby doesn’t drive. That this isn’t going to fit in our plans. That I have to carry a backpack on my shoulders because hubby is disabled and he can’t carry luggage or carry-ons. That I’ve lived with pain all my life and I can live with it a bit longer.

But I held it all in. I got fitted for my sling. Got my shot in the rump and box of acetaminophen.  Added $251 to my onboard account for medical services.

And had my chat with security.

When you have an accident anywhere on the ship, whether in the cabin or on the deck or in the dining room, security is called to take a report. When you hear security is called, people think you’ve done something wrong. So it was a bit embarrassing to have a chat with security in the waiting room when others were around. Security also takes photos of where the incident occurred (in my case, the bathroom door). So it was even more embarrassing to have security knocking pounding on my door while shouting security. Folks in nearby cabins even peeked out to see what was going on.

Hubby will be bringing me dinner back to the cabin tonight. I’m in no mood to walk out the door in the sling and attempt to eat with one hand in public. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself, and a bit confused about what all this means for our next few weeks. All because of a dang bathroom door in rough seas.

I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself with today’s view. My pity party came later.
One more sea day tomorrow. After that I have no idea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

Another sea day gives me another opportunity to discover things about the ship.
  • While they don’t have peanut butter cookies at the buffet, they do occasionally have a sign out stating they have them available upon request. Maybe we have a peanut allergy on board? 
  • Straws aren’t out either. But you can request those as well.
  • If you don’t want to get up early to see the port talks or the enrichment lecturer, the presentations are rebroadcast on the TV. Movies Under the Stars nighttime showings are also shown the next day on TV. 
  • Since there are very kids on this sailing, they have opened up the teen center to adults from 2-4. They are calling those times Young at Heart Hours and you can play skeeball, ping pong, foosball, and more. Fun, right?
  • In addition to the free pub lunch being offered on some sea days, they’ve also added something they call Curry in a Hurry. It’s was a $12 cover charge and held in the Crown Grill.
  • The other day I went to trivia with Bernie from Vickie and Bernie Travel. Oh my goodness, the place was packed. It certainly is a very popular activity on this ship. I’m sure it has to do with the passenger make up on this transatlantic crossing.
  • Another thing we’ve noticed on this longer sailing is that it is a quieter cruise. There even has been an abundance of passengers practicing good elevator etiquette. Finally a cruise where the elevators are the place where we haven’t seen obnoxious cruise passenger behavior!

Today was another beautiful day for watching the wake. Just look at the color of the water now.
And just watching the water go by. Beautiful.
What’s up tomorrow? How about another sea day?!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

I’ve really tried to give our cabin steward the benefit of the doubt. After coming off a month on the Caribbean Princess where we had the best cabin steward ever, I knew it would be hard for the next steward to come close to meeting Smit’s excellence. But our cabin steward here hasn’t even come close to coming close. We are really flexible people and don’t ask a lot. Just clean our cabin well when we’re ready for it and make sure we have plenty of ice.

I’m a patient person and give people lots of chances. (If you ask my husband I give too many chances.) He might be right. Because lots of chances for this cabin steward isn’t working out so well. There are some things you come to expect on a Princess ship when it comes to your cabin.

You expect your cabin steward to:
  • Introduce him/herself. (I’m still waiting for that one.)
  • Greet you. (Still waiting on that, too.)
  • Supply clean towels. (Ok there.)
  • Wipe down counters. (Sorta-kinda happening.) You can tell he doesn’t wipe down the desktop because if he did he would have noticed these exposed wires, don’t you think? I can’t decide whether to wait and see how much longer it takes him to catch it or report it to the Passenger Services Desk.

  • Replenish ice. (We didn’t even have an ice bucket for three days. How can you not realize an ice bucket is missing out of a refrigerator, especially when you (are supposed to) refill it daily? The only way we got it was because I left a note. Now that we have the ice bucket, we only are getting ice every other day. What’s up with that?)
  • Replenish soap and shampoo. (Needed to leave a note on that same piece of paper I used for the ice bucket note.)
  • Makes sure you have a writing utensil and pad of paper to write on. (We had one piece of paper. And used it up when I wrote the note about needing an ice bucket and soap. The paper hasn’t been replaced yet.)
  • Vacuum. (Not sure that’s happening.)
  • Make beds. (Sloppily, but done.)
  • Knock and announce him/herself before entering. (Never. He opens the door first, knocks as he’s walking through the door, and never, ever, has announced himself. If your privacy sign isn’t out, expect him to come in anytime he is on duty.)
  • Ask about dinner arrangements so he knows when best to clean the cabin. (Nope. Don’t think he really cares because he barges in whenever he is ready to clean, not when we ask for the cabin to be cleaned.)

So for only the second time in our cruising history, we will not be leaving an additional tip. If we could remove gratuities just for him, we would. But pulling gratuities mean everyone else would suffer, and we wouldn’t want that to happen.

On a more pleasant note, we did have some nice weather earlier this afternoon. Pizza by the pool. Now that’s a vacation.
Off to yet another sea day tomorrow.

Update: Today was our ice delivery day and we came back after dinner and were welcome by nothing other than a half-full bucket of ice. Guess we're in an ice shortage these days. And I also just realized we never received our elite canape ordering card for formal nights. Calling Smit on the Caribbean Princess, where are you when we need you?!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

The ocean has been really rough for this crossing. During these past few days the open decks, including Promenade, have been closed. The pools have been drained (hot tubs were still full) and the gym has been closed. Seasickness bags have been placed around the ship. Thank goodness these new Princess beds absorb some of the movement at night. Even with the soft beds, sleep has alternated between feeling like you’re on a roller coaster, a see saw, and a merry-go-round.

But now it seems like a new ship. After countless days of the rough seas, things have calmed down. We walked onto the Lido deck today and it finally seemed like a cruise. After being cooped up inside for the past week people are sitting outside, eating outside, and even taking a dip in the now-filled pool. While the wind hasn’t settled down, the sun is out and we even sat by the pool for the first time this whole trip.

So no more rough weather talk today and let’s get to business with some things about the Crown Princess.
  • One thing we like with the buffet here is where we can find the silverware. It’s now placed in a basket/holder on the tables, wrapped in the napkins, just like on the Caribbean Princess. It’s much better than having to pick it up in the buffet line (where then you had to carry it and serve your food at the same time) or just placed on the table (where people would sometimes grab just a fork or spoon out and leave an incomplete set). We hope all Princess start going with baskets on the table.
  • There has been a shortage of seating in the Piazza/International Café/Vines area. They’ve now been placing extra tables from the dining room into the area during the day to accommodate the additional folks sitting inside. 
  • Live vests are available by the pools for adult and child use. We saw this back in August on the Caribbean Princess, too. I don’t know if this in a new Princess policy, but I’ll be on the Royal and Grand in the next month so I’ll be able to tell you if I see them there, too.
  • On the starboard side of the Lido deck there is a wall that looks like a big huge coloring page. The only thing that would make it cooler would be if they had a basket of colored pencils sitting nearby. How awesome would that be to stand and color in a section of it when you had some extra time?
  • I always am interested in where my mini bar items come from. This cruise the mini bar diet Coke is from Denmark.
  • We receive notice in the Patter every day about the dress code. It seems to be more strongly worded on this ship than other Princess ships. The wording on this one also includes specialty dining. 
  • We also received notification in the Patter about not pouring extra shampoo and other liquids down the drain. I didn’t even know that was a thing. 
  • The exchange fee this trip seemed awfully high. 
  • I’ve been spoiled with the super speedy and super reliable internet on the Caribbean Princess. Here on the Crown it’s back to the old, medium speed internet. Hence, very few pictures right now. The internet is certainly better than it used to be 5 years ago, but the speed is not great. I’ve already run out of my 250 minutes and have had to tap into hubby’s.
  • There are so many repeat passengers there are several Captain’s Circle Cocktail Parties to accommodate everyone, the Platinum/Elite/Suite lounge has been moved to Club Fusion, laundry isn’t returned next day, and even the Elite wine tasting has been divided into multiple times.
  • While the TVs are the larger screen TV, they are just fit into the regular TV corner spot. And don’t have the on-demand system.
I think that's plenty for the day. Off to another sea day tomorrow!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

Sea Day number I-can't-recall with another slew of busy activities, activities I am not partaking in. I find I’m spending more time nursing a cold and babysitting hubby. I wish I was able to spend more time getting caught up on writing (and blogging) than anything else. It’s kind of why I was looking forward to all these sea days. At home I spend so much time with my sewing and crafting tutorials (and fostering kittens – boy, I love those little babies) that I don’t get a lot of time to write. Plus, with hubby around all the time, needing help with this or that (or bringing me the mail when I’m in the middle of doing a video voiceover), I have lots of starts and stops with my work. But when I’m on a ship, being surrounded by water with nowhere to go, with my meals prepared and bed made, I can dedicate more time being immersed in writing. Except in these rough seas. Concentrating on the words on a screen makes me a bit queasy. So while I would like to say, even on smooth seas, blogging from a cruise ship is a glamorous life, it really isn’t.

What’s a day in the life of a blogger like when on a cruise? It’s work. Think about this – what if you had to write an essay every single day while you were on vacation? And you had to proofread the essay as well as make sure it met the needs of your audience? Some days your audience is fellow cruisers. Some days it is your neighbors who’ve never cruised before. Some days it’s your relatives who are ill and need something to take their mind off their health problems. Some days the audience is you; something may be happening in your life during your travels that you have to process through and you use your blog to do it. And somedays (most days, actually) your audience contains all of those people at the same time. It’s a big audience with a variety of needs.  And wait – you also need to take photos to accompany your essay. Don’t forget to edit the photos, too!

And you only have 20 allotted internet minutes a day to post the essay, upload the photos, pay your bills back home, transfer money, email family and friends, reply to emails from readers who are asking questions, make changes to your travel arrangements, and make necessary phones calls using the wifi network. (FYI – I’m basing the minutes on the free internet allotment for platinum and elite cruisers. None of us want to go over them because the cost of extra minutes is so darn expensive.) 20 minutes with high speed internet? Nope, more like medium speed.

And…you don’t get paid to do any of it. Not only do you not get paid to write that essay and take those photos and deliver worthwhile content to your audience, no one is paying for your vacation either. Sure, there are travel writers who get paid to review hotels and tours and cruise ships, but you’re not one of them. Every penny spent is coming out of your own pocket. You paid for your own hotel rooms and flights and rental cars. You paid for your cruise and your gratuities and drinks and tours. You may or may not have ads on your blog, but even with those you could bring in as little as just a few cents a day. Most days it won’t even cover the cost of dropping off one dollar in an encouraging word money pocket.

So why would someone do it? Why sacrifice time that could be spent with your traveling companions? Why, when all the other travelers are closing their eyes on the bus back from a long day of touring, do you stay awake and tap out words on your phone? Or participate in activities you might not be interested in just so that you can get information and pictures for your readers? Why spend all the time, energy, and effort to write an essay and take pictures for others for free?

Because you know you are in a unique position of being able to share a view of the world of travel that others can’t. You have the willingness to share information through your activities and experiences. Just like teachers who teach to make a difference in the life of a child, you write and blog and to make a difference in the life of a traveler.

Here is where I'd add a totally non-glamorous photo of a certain blogger working in the middle of the night in a closed-down buffet if the internet would have allowed it.

If you know a blogger who has added value to your travels, has made your traveling life easier or more enjoyable, please thank them. I know a couple I’ll be emailing today.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Well, that was a bumpy night. Our clothes hangers have been dancing and singing for the last few days as the ship has been both pitching (front to back) and rolling (side to side). Lots of creaks and groans as well. Then last night I got up to get a glass of water from the bathroom. We can’t leave the bathroom door open this trip because it slams closed from the movement. So I stood outside the bathroom to fill the glass, thinking I was holding the door open at the same time. No, the door took me out. Stumbling back to bed from that, the ship lunged and threw me against the desk. When I grabbed the desk for stability I knocked off the silverware that had been sitting on the corner. I knew better than to walk with forks and knives around the floor so I had to wake hubby up to turn on the light. He made some grumpy kind of noise when he turned it on. I found all the silverware, placed it back on the desk while balancing my glass of liquid, and told him thank you. As I let go of the desk to take a step forward on my way back to bed he turned off the light. As I had already started walking in the very dark inside cabin I tripped on the leg of the chair and ran into the wall. At least I had something to lean on. Oh, my. What a night.

So I was ever-so-grateful to get onto dry land today in beautiful Ponta Delgada, Portugal.

 We stayed in the harbor/marina area. The day started out beautiful! But it turned rainy after a while.
We did get a small bite to eat and enjoyed the views.
Crepes and ice cream and chocolate and whipped cream.
Coca Cola not from the US.
Even watched locals swimming in what had to be a some chilly water.

This is our last port and we’re headed into six straight sea days. Hoping for smoother waters (the captain just said no way) and no more bathroom doors knocking me silly, silverware spread on the floor during the middle of the nights, and being body slammed into walls. A girl can only hope.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

The ship has finally calmed down this afternoon after some rough times. I heard from our crew member buddy that the medical center has been packed with sick crew members. They've enjoyed a summer of smooth sailing and for many this is their first transatlantic in open waters. Several were worried about the ship movement and had to be reassured it was normal. They were dispersed a couple anti-nausea pills (some required injections) and sent on their way. Our buddy, after taking his meds and a nap, felt much better. Glad things have calmed down for all.

We found out from him that he was offered a promotion and asked for it to be delayed until after our cruise. Why? Because he knew two things:
1. We don’t eat in the dining room.
2. Even if we did, in his new position as junior waiter he wouldn’t be able to find time to talk to us because he would be so busy.
While I’m happy we are getting to see him and visit with him, and it makes me happy he was so looking forward to seeing us, it makes me a bit sad he (temporarily) passed on the opportunity.

It got me thinking. Why is it that we avoid the dining room? While we ask for a two-top, those are limited and sometimes we have to share a table with others. It’s at those tables where a hierarchy is formed and dominance established within the first few minutes of the conversation.

Let’s say we all start with 100 points. Let’s see how things go for us.

Passenger: Where are you from?
Us: Idaho.
We automatically lose 10 points because they assume we are potato farmers. (We aren’t.) Hubby and I both taught in rural farming communities and wouldn’t consider farmers less worthy than someone else, but this is a cruise ship and others do.

Passenger: Is this your first cruise?
Us: No.
No points lost.

Passenger: Do you cruise a lot?
Us: Sometimes we say yes or some or enough. But we lose another 10 points because the passenger goes on to tell us about how they’ve been on 16 cruises and they are elite and all the special privileges they get with Princess. Privileges they assume we don’t get. (How wrong they are.)

Passenger: How many cruises have you been on?
Us: Again, we usually say some or enough. We again lose another 5 points because since we don’t give out our number it is assumed we haven’t been cruising nearly as much as them.

Passenger: What do you do?
Us: This can go any number of ways. If we say we’re retired and they are retired, they tell us we are too young to be retired and lose 5 points. If we say we’re retired teachers we lose 10 points because we were teachers and they were something much more important than us. If we say retired and they are still working we also lose 10 points because they talk about how their business is just booming and how they can afford to go on any cruise they want.

Passenger: What kind of cabin do you have?
Us: Since we usually say inside, we lose 5 points because they are in a mini suite or suite or balcony. We lose 10 points if they tell us how they never stay in anything less than a mini suite.

Passenger: What’s your favorite cruise line?
Us: Princess. Lose 5 points because their favorite is an upper echelon cruise line we’ve never been able to afford.

Passenger: What’s your favorite cruise?
Us: We talk about how we love both Alaska and the Caribbean but it’s hard for us to choose a specific cruise. We lose another 10 points because we didn’t mention their favorite, whether it was South America or Asia or Australia or wherever.

Passenger: Have you done river cruising?
Us: No. Lose 5 points because they do river cruising and it is so much better than whatever the current cruise is that we are on.

Passenger: What are you doing in xyz port?
Us: We usually say we haven’t decided. We’ll probably wander town and get something to eat. Lose 5 points because we didn’t prebook an expensive private excursion.

Passenger: What’s your favorite part of cruising?
Us: We always say the crew. We realize we’ve lost 20 points when we see how they treat the waiters and junior waiters during the meal. We see how curt they can be to them when they didn’t receive the proper silverware, or the course timing was off, or the meat was undercooked. If they knew our relationship with the crew, how we treated them and how we spent time in port with them, we probably would lose even more points.

Passenger: What did you think of the comedian/show/musical group last night?
Us: We didn’t go. Lose 5 points because aren’t involved in the same activities they are.

And thus they are at the top and we are at the bottom. Repeat this on enough cruises and you get tired of always being the loser. So yeah, I’m good with the decision not to eat in the dining room.

We didn’t always skip the dining room. We always ate there and didn’t mind sharing tables. Didn’t even mind all the questions. But as we traveled more and it became clearer to us what the purpose of the conversation was, we started pulling back from going in there.  Ever so often we give the dining room another chance thinking the outcome will be different. And it never is. But here is the thing – we’re not at the bottom of the totem pole. Most times we are the one at the table with the most days or most cruises or most ports visited. While we will never be a winner of the I’m-more-important-than-you game, we are at peace with who we are. And with what we know. And with what we represent. And we aren’t going to give anyone the opportunity, through the standard cruiser questions, to put us at the bottom.

While many of those travelers at the table would most treasure their picture with the captain, we have another photo we most treasure. It is a blurry one taken many years ago on this very ship. It’s where our love of crew all began. Rushi, Neville, Sundar, Sid, and Victor represent why we cruise and who we hold dear. We've followed them from ship to ship, added in dozens more like them and have followed those new ones from ship to ship, and will keep booking cruises just to see them.

I’ll answer questions from them and others like them a hundred times over.
Our original gang. 
We'll have some extra sleep coming up tonight as we set the clocks back another hour and then we're off to Ponta Delgada tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

Today’s post will be a short one. We had a pretty bumpy ride last night and an even bumpier day. All open decks are closed and the captain told us to secure our belongings in the cabin. Hubby has a hard enough time walking when seas are calm so movement like this makes it impossible for him. We would typically at least make our way to the Piazza to sit where the ship is a little calmer, but it has been crowded down there this trip. In fact, in the Patter there was a notification telling passengers to move along after you’ve finished your refreshment to allow others to sit. So we are just spending the day in the cabin instead. I’m not feeling so great anyway. Remember last week on the Los Angeles to Rome flight when I went on the record to say if I got sick it would be because of the flight attending who was coughing in his hand as he was pouring the drinks, including my water? Well, it happened. It started a few days ago and today I’m in a full-fledged cold.

So I guess that’s it for the day. Other than an FYI – did you know that trying to concentrate on words on a computer screen during rough seas is just like trying to read a book when riding in a car? Makes ya a bit sick.

Until tomorrow…

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Crown Princess Sea Day

If you’re counting, this is actually sea day number two. The first one occurred because of missing Toulon (weather), so this voyage will have ten sea days total. The only other port we have left on this trip is in the Azores, a port we’ve missed on previous trips because of weather. We will cross our fingers that we have that one available to us. If not, oh well. You don’t do a transatlantic sailing if you don’t like sea days. I do like my sea days. I’m guessing most people on here right now do too, especially with the huge variety of activities planned each day. We have plenty of movies, trivia, and dancing. Pickleball and book clubs and guest lecturers. Game shows and production shows and… penny whistle instruction? I can’t say I’ve ever seen penny whistles on a cruise ship. (If I did, I wouldn’t know it – I have no clue what they are. I’m guessing a musical instrument?)

But we are boring sea day people. I usually write and hubby hangs with the crew. Like I’ve mentioned before, these last couple months have been tough on him and he hasn’t been his same fun-with-the-crew self. I’m hoping he’ll soon get his chattiness back and get back out there. Since I’m on my own today, no more talking about hubby. Let’s just get to business with things I’ve noticed about the ship. (Sorry, no pictures today. Trying to conserve my internet minutes.)
  • I miss the food choices the Caribbean Princess had with their World Fresh Marketplace buffet, but I am enjoying the extra seating they have here. On Caribbean Princess the back sections of the buffet had been replaced with the specialty dining option of Planks and Steamers. Seating was available to all during the day there, but at night the area was dedicated to the specialty options. Here the back seating is always available. Yay! 
  • While the food options here are the same choices we’ve seen on other ships (not Caribbean Princess and Royal and Regal – those are different), I do like that they are allowing entrance (and exit) from both ends of the buffet. Other ships have required you to enter on one end and exit on the other which creates a huge backup. While it gets busy sometimes in the buffet here, I haven’t yet seen the huge line stretched way outside the entrance. We’ve also had theme nights that have been listed in the Patter. Italian night in Livorno, Italy; French night when we were scheduled to be in Toulon, France; Spanish night for Barcelona.
  • Gelato is available at the International Café for $3.50. I think it used to be $1.50 so the price has clearly jumped a bit.
  • They’ve replenished the library for this voyage. I thought I heard them say they added 500 books, but now the library is empty again. On the Wake Show they said some people were taking two or three books and have asked folks to only take one at a time. Starting today they are doing a couple different books for book clubs. When the Patter states, Grab your copy of the first selection of the voyage before they are gone. Books issued on a first-come first-serve basis I know not to get into the middle of that crowd. So I can’t report what the books are they are using.
  • So many Elites onboard meant we received the notification about laundry taking 72 hours to be returned. We’ve been doing our own laundry on all our cruises this year so we’ll probably keep doing it. I love our Purex 3 in 1 sheets! And just as every other cruise when we receive the 72 hour notification, we didn’t even come close to making the cut for the Most Traveled Guest luncheon. The cut off was 638 days. We’ll need at least a good couple more years before we close in on that number. Anyway, I’m totally fine with not being in that group this trip as I’ve seen a few well-traveled folks who have been quite curt with crew. Don’t need that negativity around me. 
  • For those who have been wondering, yes, I’ve still been leaving encouraging word money pockets every day. I just haven’t been taking pictures this time around. They are mostly being left in the sugar containers somewhere on the ship. They fit perfectly in there! And if you were on the shuttle in Barcelona yesterday you just may have been sitting near one. 
  • I’m not posting the Patters, but I am keeping them until the end of the trip. 

Tonight is formal night and since we didn’t bring formal wear we’ll probably just grab something from the buffet or get some pizza or whatever. We try and stay away from the indoor areas on formal because we aren’t dressed up. We know our place. However, we were in International Café at 4:30 pm and can tell you the line for dinner started at 4:34. Guess some people like standing in line.

I’d like to say we’re off to somewhere tomorrow, but we’ve got two more sea days before we get to our next (and last) port. Not sure what trouble I might get into (or stay out of) tomorrow. But, bonus – we get to set our clocks back an hour tonight. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Barcelona, Spain

While most of yesterday we had pretty smooth sailing, occasionally we had some bumps in the night last night. It wasn’t enough to make things uncomfortable, but enough to know something was happening out there. Then when I tried to get out of bed in the night to go to the bathroom and got tossed back onto the bed I figured we weren’t going to make it into Barcelona. I checked the TV and it said 48 knot winds were hitting the port side of the ship. So I gave up trying to get back to sleep and headed up to Horizon Court to get some work done. I planned on walking the Promenade deck (starboard side) to get there so I could get some fresh air but it was closed off because of the weather.

But we did make it into Barcelona. Had beautiful sunny skies, even. It was a bit windy and chilly to be riding the top level of the hop-on, hop-off bus. (Well, it is November.) But I needed to take one for the team.

The bus couldn’t have been any easier to find. Right before leaving the cruise terminal there is a stand selling shuttle tickets to the city.
Such a beautiful terminal.

Operating from 9 am to 9 pm the shuttle was 5 euro for the roundtrip ride. Large coaches, like tour buses, were used. It dropped off at the World Trade Center which is near the Columbus Monument. But if you were taking the hop-on, hop-off bus it was maybe 50 steps away from the shuttle drop off. The hop on bus route was number five on the orange route, but you could also use it to connect to the green route. We paid 30 euro for me and 25 for hubby as disabled and over 65 receive a discount. Each route takes about two hours and we did both. Me, upstairs, freezing my everything off and hubby downstairs nice and toasty. While our tickets allowed us unlimited ons and offs for the day, we just rode the loops.

We saw so much! There is no way I can get all the pictures posted, so I’ve chosen just a few. Barcelona is a beautiful city and a place we would want to visit again if given the chance.
The city
Barcelona beaches
Sagrada Familia
Look at the top
We were out after dark
It was a great day. Tomorrow is a sea day, the first of three in a row, and formal night.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Toulon, France Turned Sea Day

Hello from what would have been Toulon, France! Most excursions we were interested in had something in their description that deterred us from taking them. This tour involves extensive walking over uneven and cobblestoned surfaces. Not recommended for guests with limited mobility. So we were going to do what Pescado Amarillo did last week, which was to take the water taxi to Toulon and catch a trolley tour. (Read about her adventurous day in the middle of a flood here.) But as soon as we heard the announcement coming from the captain being broadcast into the cabins we knew what was going to be said. We wouldn’t be visiting France today. Even with the assistance of tugs, we weren’t able to dock in the 50 knot gale force winds. So we had a bonus sea day.

While many people may have been disappointed, we were actually okay with missing the port. While we’ve never been to Toulon before, we have been to LeHavre, France where I was able to head to Paris and see all a tourist would need to see and hubby was able to head to Normandy Beach and see all a history teacher would want to see. Plus he (well, we) needed a rest day. This past week has been physically hard for him a bit a stressful for me. While we hadn’t planned on staying in the cabin all day, that’s exactly what we did. We were so tired we didn’t even eat. Now that’s tired! There was a new Patter of activities distributed to keep these thousands of passengers busy today. And we didn’t even look at it.

We did drag ourselves out to the Promenade deck to get some fresh air before dinner. The seating on the Promenade deck on Crown Princess is mostly wooden chairs and benches with no cushions. There are a few cushioned seats but very few. While we don’t smoke, for those that use the Promenade smoking section, you’ll be happy to know there are actually a couple chairs there for seating.
Most chairs are like these.
A few are like these.
The seas look relatively calm tonight.

I’m pretty sure I heard the noontime navigational update mention we are expecting more 50 knot winds tomorrow in Barcelona. Now if we don’t dock there I might just be a bit disappointed.

See you tomorrow (hopefully) from Spain.

Looking for the entertainment for this cruise? It’s right here:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Livorno and Pisa, Italy

We purposely scheduled an afternoon tour for today so we could sleep in and sleep in we did. Boy, we slept last night. As soon as I hammered out yesterday's blog post on my phone I went back to the cabin and took some Tylenol PM and was sound asleep by 7 pm. Other than a couple nighttime bathroom trips, I didn't wake up until this morning when room service called to see if they could switch out our mini bar. (Hmmm...privacy sign on the door has room service calling to ask if they can come in, but on Caribbean Princess the privacy sign on a door meant the ladies on the balcony next to us could keep smoking on their balcony undisturbed. Seems there is a bit of inconsistency in policy there if you ask me.)

By the time hubby got dressed (he's a super slow dresser) we barely had enough time to grab his coffee at Coffee & Cones and make it to the buffet before breakfast was over. Something to know about Coffee & Cones - they don't have regular coffee there, only specialty coffees. And something to know about the buffet - they don't replenish food when it's getting close to the end.

Since we weren't sure how we'd be feeling after Rome we waited until we got onboard yesterday before booking this tour. We decided we needed easy so we chose the trolley tour of Pisa. Knowing we won't ever get back to Italy we needed to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And needed very little walking. This is the first time hubby has used a cane and he is having a hard time getting used to it.

Livorno is a working port and you can't just walk off and do your own thing right from the terminal.
Today we had a Looney Tunes ship nearby.
You must take a shuttle to get out of the port area. It costs 5 euros for the round trip ride. Since we had a purchased tour we didn't need the shuttle as it picked us up at the terminal. I use the word "terminal" but it's more like a warehouse from the outside.
We were picked up outside the terminal/warehouse and rode the coach for the half hour ride to Pisa. That is where we were transferred to the trolley for a ride to a restaurant for some snacks. Coffee ice cream and choice of beverage. Red or white wine, water or soda. (If you wanted to purchase an extra bottle of water it was one euro.) Restrooms were free for our group.
Look at the size of the lemons!
There were a few minutes to shop in their gift shop before heading on a walking tour. The walking tour was optional and some stayed behind. We joined the tour for a little while but then decided we weren't sheep and peeled off from the group, took some photos, and headed back to the meet-up spot to sit and wait.
From one side it almost looks straight.
Nope. It really is the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

We then all boarded a trolley for a little tour of Pisa. While the tour description from Princess didn't match our actual tour today, it was still a good day and we had spectacular weather. Our trolley wasn't open air so the pictures aren't perfect. But still a beautiful city.
Beautiful sunset on the way back to the ship.
The terminal had free wifi so once we got back to the ship I grabbed my computer and headed back out  to get to work. All aboard is at 6:30 and with the tour arriving back at 5ish I had to get busy fast Thanks for your patience as I work at adding pictures back in for yesterday's post today. I don't like not being able to add photos as I go but that's how it looks like it'll need to work this trip. Again, thanks for your patience.

Off to France tomorrow!

Found out the number of Platinum and Elite passengers on this ship: 1700! Whew.