Monday, August 27, 2018

Caribbean Princess, Grand Cayman

Hello from Grand Cayman!

Grand Cayman is a tender port. In some ports the ship may not be able to dock at the pier. The channel may not be deep enough for the ship or the piers could be full with other ships. The ship instead anchors offshore. Passengers are then shuttled back and forth from ship to shore in tenders. The boats used to tender are typically the ship’s lifeboats and in some cases, local boats. Here is a view from Carnival's tendering today. Ours was similar.

Tendering can be a bit of a hassle but in Grand Cayman it is totally worth it.

After having been to Grand Cayman several times we've finally whittled it down. While there are many activities I would recommend for a first-timer, for us Grand Cayman now only means three things:

1. Snorkeling
The walk to the Paradise Seaside Grill is an easy one. The tender drops off at the buildings to the left and we just need to walk to the building on the right.
Look for the blue and green restaurant with the green roof (that's Paradise) and the snorkeling entrance is under the Marine Park Entrance sign. 

The view for the non-snorkelers (like hubby) is nice.

But for the snorkelers the view is even better. Apologies, my underwater camera hasn't been replaced yet but I did get a photo of the huge tarpon in the area. They look scary to snorkel with - some are more than five feet long - but they are harmless.

There are plenty of fish around, a set of cement steps with a railing, and a ladder as well.

You don't have to eat at the restaurant to use the snorkeling area. We always do, though. Here's their menu.

2. Cigar Shopping
While I wouldn't put this on my list, for hubby it's an absolute must. He watches me snorkel, drinks, and eats. And chews on a cigar. He stops at a cigar bar on the way to the restaurant and spends his day chewing on that nasty, gross thing. It's about his only vice and he only partakes when we travel. However, he never smokes it. Whew.

Today his favorite cigar shop was closed for renovations. See the green sign on the door? It won't be open again until September 17.
We did eventually find another shop for him.

3. Cayman Punch
I can't get back onto the tender and head back to the ship without stopping at the Green Parrot Bar & Grill. They make a mean Cayman Punch. Mostly rum and a little bit of punch. We sit there and wait for the line for the tender to go down before we get into it. It can be a long line!
Why not sit and wait with a nice, tasty drink in your hand...

and wait for a new tender to arrive. We won't be getting in line until this one pushes off from the dock.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop Off:
Left in the sugar container at the Paradise restaurant.

If you're looking for today's Princess Patter it's right here.

Tomorrow we're off to Roatan and hubby is planning on some redemption. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Caribbean Princess Sea Day, August 26

We've spent enough years dressing up for work that now when we're traveling we dress casually. Which means most of our meals are in casual dining areas on the ship. The buffet on the Caribbean Princess has had a makeover and is now called the World Fresh Marketplace. We can always find something tasty there. Hubby loves the ramen noodle station at lunch (offered most days) and the salad offerings at both lunch and dinner. They've really stepped up their game in the variety of foods available.
Pasta bar
But where they haven't stepped up their game is in the service department. As a little experiment I've been timing how long it takes a server to come over to offer us drinks. The times have ranged from six minutes to a whopping 20 minutes. Today I got lucky and for the first time in these two cruises someone offered drinks right away. She delivered them and we never saw her again the rest of the meal, and no refill from anyone else, either. At least we got something right away so I guess we just have to be happy with baby steps.

But they need more than baby steps in the handwashing/hand sanitizing department. People walk right by the sinks and dispensers and right into the buffet. The sinks aren't exactly welcoming. Water all over and paper towels overflowing. And no one around monitoring the situation. No wonder people don't stop and clean their hands.

Then there are the people inside the buffet. Today there was a gal in front of me who placed french fries on her plate, picked some up and ate them, licked her fingers and then grabbed the tongs for the fried mushrooms. Seriously? Even if I wanted fried mushrooms I wouldn't have touched those tongs after her. But just think of all the other people I don't see who are doing the same thing. Makes a person not want to eat in the buffet. But without those fancy clothes (and with tonight being formal night) there aren't a lot of options.

Today we found a new option, though. In all our cruises we've never taken advantage of one of the perks Princess offers their Elite passengers, afternoon tea delivered to your cabin. We ordered for two, but what they brought was enough for more than two for sure.

Oh, my.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

A side note about the staff at the Passenger Services desk: they need medals for patience. They have to deal with so many passengers wanting so many different things, and some of those passengers are pretty darn demanding. I don't know how the staff can keep plugging along after some of the treatment they receive.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket Drop:
We left two today. One in the dining room at breakfast and one in the sugar container at our afternoon tea.

Princess Patter, the place to find everything happening around the ship can be found right here.

Tomorrow we will be in one of my favorite ports for nearby snorkeling and drinks at the dock. Grand Cayman.
Another beautiful sunset

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Western Caribbean Cruise on the Caribbean Princess - Embarkation Day

Okay, Universe, I get it. Stop making plans.

A week ago, hubby had a fall in the airport and we didn't get to 5 O'Clock Charlie's. So today on our turnaround day we were going to leave the ship, walk over to Panera Bread to grab some breakfast, then take the Sun Trolley down to the beach. Hang at the beach until Charlie's opened at noon. Then grab a drink, some lunch, take the trolley back. Stop at Walgreen's to reload our candy stash for the crew.

Great plans, right?

Super plans! Until this hit when we were in Panera. See that blue dot? That's us in Ft. Lauderdale.

And the storm didn't just hit and go away. A good solid two hours of torrential downpours and thunder and lightning. Strong enough and close enough to shake the windows of Panera. And cut the power for a bit. The storm kept coming and coming and coming.
5 O'Clock Charlie's plans were scrapped. As we sat in Panera the time just kept ticking away. 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30. We had another Medallion meeting we wanted to attend back on the ship at 1:30 and time was not on our side.

We made a brief attempt to get a movin' and got as far as Starbucks. We tried to wait the next wave of storminess out as long as we could but...tick...tick...tick.

In the pouring rain we then walked from Starbucks to Walgreens - with a detour thrown in because the sidewalk was flooded. Thank goodness we had hats with us but everything was drenched anyway. I'm sure the Walgreens cashier has seen some folks looking pretty raggedy so I'm sure we fit in just fine. We got back to the ship wet as wet can be (oh well, it's just water, right?) but unfortunately were late for our meeting. Yes, we went straight to the meeting without stopping at our cabin. And yes, we attended it with our clothes completely soaked.

But actually, it worked out splendidly. It was the Q & A session at the end I was wanting to attend anyway. If you remember, last week I attended the Medallion meeting presented by John Padgett, the Chief Experience and Innovation Officer for the Carnival Corporation. That day I also started using the Medallion around the ship and made a video of it. You can find that post and video here. Well, today I had a question the gal presenting had to direct to John Padgett to answer. (Did you know if you stand near the mirror inside your cabin with the Medallion in your pocket your door could unlock? At least for us it does. Don't worry, they're working on it.)

Back to John...John was kind enough to sit down with me for a one-on-one about the Medallion roll-out on the Caribbean Princess. Not just my mirror question, but some of those questions you've been so anxious to know the answers to. I learned so much! I'll be sharing portions of our conversation throughout the week. Thanks for your time, John!

Which leads me to today's Medallion Class update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 
August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Words Money Pocket drop off:
Something exciting happened with one of the money pockets I left in the buffet. Hubby was grabbing some food before muster drill today and one of the buffet stewards was cleaning off the tables. And she had yesterday's encouraging word money pocket in her hand. She had found it today! I'm always excited when a crew member is the one that finds it. (Unfortunately hubby clued her into the fact that I was the one leaving them around the ship. Guess my secret is out.) 

Where did I leave today's? In the restroom at Panera Bread. 

No secret about the Princess Patter. If you're looking for what's happening around the ship today, you can find the Patter right here.

Tomorrow is a sea day and I'm going to listen to the Universe this time. No plans.

Except to check out tonight's sunset. Spectacular!
As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Caribbean Princess Patters, August 25-September 1, 2018

If you know us, you know we like to cruise. A lot. So of course we wouldn't stop with just one cruise. Here we go again.
Map showing the port stops for Western Caribbean. For more details, refer to the List of Port Stops table on this page.

Princess Patters and Paperwork for the Caribbean Princess
Western Caribbean Sailing August 25-September 1, 2018
Day 1 Embarkation Day
Day 2 Sea Day
Day 3 Grand Cayman
Day 4 Roatan
Day 5 Belize
Day 6 Cozumel
Day 7 Sea Day
Disembarkation Day

Friday, August 24, 2018

Caribbean Princess Sea Day, August 24

Today is our last sea day and it's a cloudy one.
And we're totally okay with that. While most folks are heading home tomorrow, we'll be on the ship for a while still. Plus neither one of us needs any more sun right now. And it's laundry day.

Although we are Elite and get free laundry, we don't always take advantage of it. We used to send out laundry a couple times a week but found having our clothes running through the ship's laundry that much were wearing our clothes out faster. So now we supplement free laundry with using the laundry room and doing some things in the sink. Hubby's the laundry guy so he's off doing it down on Deck 10 since there isn't a laundromat on our deck. The pricing and purchasing system is like this one on Golden Princess a couple months back, $3 for a wash or dry, FYI for anyone coming on the Caribbean Princess soon - the token machine is empty on Deck 10 and the token machine is out of service on Deck 8. Unless they get the token machines filled or fixed, just head to passenger services to purchase your tokens.

In addition to laundry this morning, we attended an informational session for folks staying on for the next cruise. It's a smart decision for Princess to start offering this meeting for folks new to the process. We do back-to-back cruises a lot so there wasn't anything new said we didn't already know, but kudos for Princess for offering general information and having staff on-hand to answer any questions afterwards. They also had specialty dining folks there taking reservations for next week so those staying on had first choice of times for next cruise. We're trying to come away with a zero balance due after these three weeks so I don't think specialty dining will be on our list for this trip. (Although we may splurge for the $12 per person charge for Planks BBQ.)

If you'd like to see what kind of info in-transit passengers get, you can take a look here.

Otherwise today we have a pretty lazy day going on. I was hoping there was an Arts & Crafts session going on but no luck today. The other day - St. Thomas day - I wanted to go to the Arts & Crafts session being held in Sabatini's. But my route to Sabatini's was blocked. Workers had the doors to hallways surrounding Sabatini's and the photo gallery blocked for Medallion™ work. The Captain had told us there was work happening around the photo gallery but I didn't expect it would interfere with my crafts. Ugh. Later I found out the craft session was moved to Explorers. Oh well.

Which leads me to the newest Medallion™ update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 
August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Tomorrow is turnaround day for us, disembarkation day for others. The ship has a couple excursions for passengers in transit, the Everglades Boat Tour one and the Las Olas Waterways one, but we'll be catching either the bus or trolley to make our way down to 5 O'Clock Charlies. Remember, that's the place we didn't get to last week on our Ft. Lauderdale Un-Adventure Day because of hubby's fall.

Looking for the Patter for today? It's right here.

Want to know where I'm leaving today's encouraging word money pocket? In the Planks section of the buffet at lunch.
As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Back to Florida tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Caribbean Princess Sea Day, August 23

Today is a sea day and I was up early enough to snap some sunrise photos. The view changed from one minute to the next.

Since it's a sea day it's a lazy day for me. Hubby told me this morning I need to rename my blog from Debs Days to Deb Does Nothing Days. Part of the problem with today is I made a bit of a mistake yesterday. 

It's been a while since I've sat on a white sand beach in the Caribbean. I forgot that although I might be covered by the shade of an umbrella for four hours, that white sand is reflective. And then the chances are going to be good that I'll be red-faced by the end of the day. Hubby can pull it off because he is already darker skinned then me. But I'm pretty fair skinned so those sun-bouncing-off-the-sand rays treat me a little more harshly. So there will be no showing my face anywhere today. Other than the balcony, of course.

Which is where hubby made his mistake. I was on the balcony this morning and he headed off to the International Cafe for a while. He shut the balcony door behind him as usual. But when I was ready to come into the cabin, I couldn't. Any guesses why? He locked the balcony door behind him. 

With me on the balcony. 

Now, if you ever go to the International Cafe for coffee or snacks or a chat, you know those visits can last a while. Which his did. Which left me on the balcony. With no bathroom available. I tried to keep myself busy with the iPad (again, yay unlimited Internet) but that only lasted so long. I did get a couple photos of the sargassum that's been floating in the water almost this whole trip. Sometimes it is in strips and sometimes it is clumps. But, boy the water color is beautiful.

After a while I felt like I was going to have to behave like one of those seagulls we sometimes see on balconies in Alaska. They fly onto the balcony to eat food some passenger left out. And then they get stuck and can't find their way back out. They get desperate and fly into the railing glass, fly into the door, fly into one side of the balcony divider and then the other, all looking for the way out. Lucky for me I didn't have to do any of the above. Although when hubby finally showed back up I'm not sure what he thought when I pounded the door with an open the door I gotta go to the bathroom look on my face.

Hopefully that's all the major excitement for the day. I have some writing to catch up on, some tutorial scripts to plan out, and some lobster-looking skin to attend to.

I forgot to mention this week we are celebrating an anniversary and a birthday. Actually, I had even forgotten until the balloons and cards showed up.
When we booked these cruises it was a couple weeks before my birthday. Which then a week later was our anniversary. Which a week after that was hubby's birthday. So when the Princess Vacation Planner asked if we were celebrating anything I naturally said my birthday. Then said actually anniversary. Oh, I guess hubby's birthday. 

Well, it looks like we're celebrating at least a couple of them this cruise. For we received balloons and a sign for our anniversary for our door. We also received a card. Then we also received separate cards to present in the dining room, one for our anniversary and one for hubby's birthday. 

We picked up both cakes and gee whiz it was hard to get them from a supervisor in the buffet. Not quite right to deliver them easily to people eating in the dining room but make it such a hassle for someone who chooses to eat in the buffet. If Princess wants to  offer a celebration treat it should be available for all, no matter where they eat. Grr.

We shared one of the desserts.
And then gave the other one away to a hardworking crew member working in International Cafe.
Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Patter: Today's Patter can be found here. One new thing this cruise that we get with the Patter is a paper called the Daily Crave. It lists all the dining venues and times. I've uploaded today's Daily Crave here so you can see what it looks like.

Encouraging words money pocket:
Dropped off in a menu at The Mix Bar.

Tonight is formal night and I'll leave the balloon-dropping for those who want to fight the crowds. We're headed to another sea day tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be less lobster-y and be ready to be out and about. 

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please click on the envelope icon at the top right of this screen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Caribbean Princess in St. Maarten, August 22

Hello from St. Maarten!
I thought yesterday was perfect. I was wrong. It was today that was perfect. But also a bit sad.

We hadn't been to St. Maarten since last year's hurricane. After today I can say the damage is pretty significant. 
We took a taxi over to Orient Beach and went to the Bikini Bar. Bikini Bar used to be a super busy place. Now it's the only place open on the beach. And pretty darn empty.

Here's a picture from a couple years back. It's hard to see, but in the picture are all kinds of bars and restaurants and huts and lounge chairs along Orient Beach.

Now here's a picture I took today from almost the same spot. The place is decimated. There is not one lounge chair, not one bar, not one restaurant left intact and operating from Bikini Bar on down.

But it's like the beach has been given a fresh start. The crowds are minimal, the sand (and sargassum) are in their natural states. Bikini Bar has brand new buildings and umbrellas and lounges. Comfy lounges. And food and drinks. The menu for the Bikini Bar can be found here.
And vendors bugging you on the beach. They even have a sign to warn you. Just say no and they move on.

It was such a perfect day. A bit of a breeze, nice warm ocean water, and plenty of space to spread out. The beach was not busy at all. Just the way we like it. It's a shame that more people aren't heading to the beach though. They need our tourist dollars. 
Not our drinks but it made for a good picture.
We'll be back to St. Maarten in a couple weeks and plan on spending more of our tourist dollars to help support the island. 

Now ship info...
Today's Patter can be found here.

Buffet info: For those buffet folks who are interested in the seating in the new World Fresh Marketplace, you'll find different types of chairs. The center seating looks a bit different from the window seating.

There are even some couches.
 There are also some tall chairs facing the windows.
 Planks, a bit farther back in the buffet has different seating.
 And Steamers seating is another different venue with another type of seating.

Medallion™ Update:
I've combined my updates to make the progression of the roll-out more clear. 

August 18-25 updates can be found here.
August 25-Sept 1 updates can found here. 
Sept 1-8 updates can be found here.

Encouraging Word Money Pocket: Today's was dropped off in the restroom at the Bikini Bar at Orient Beach. 
I do think I took my own advice.