Saturday, December 1, 2018

Free Sewing & Crafting Project Tutorials

Looking for free sewing and craft projects? Need directions, supply lists, or templates? How about how-to videos to accompany each project? Every single one of these has a video tutorial to go along with it!

Cruising Resources

Glossary of Cruise Terminology

Photos to Accompany Cruising with Confidence eBook 

Royal Princess Wrap-Up

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.

  • We loved, loved, loved the choices at the buffet. I think we even ate less on this sailing because there were so many options that we could find something we liked right away. (It seems like on other ships when the choices aren’t that great we would choose one thing, then not like it and go back and get something different.) Our appetites were whetted first time around on this ship. 
  • We always ate outside behind the buffet in the section of the ship called Horizon Terrace. Fresh air, nice views, and outstanding service. Servers were frequently swinging by to check on drinks. Sometimes I’d walk over to get some ice water and they catch me before I even made it there and would grab my drink for me.
  • The buffet coffee is fresh ground, not from syrup, so hubby never had to once use his coffee card to get a good cup of coffee. 
  • Here the silverware is also in a holder on the table. This is the third consecutive ship I’ve seen it on so I do hope it’s something Princess is doing on all ships. So much more convenient than having to pick it up in the buffet line or having it placed on the table itself where passengers would occasionally take away a fork or spoon or knife, leaving an incomplete set.
  • While we love Alfredo’s, we ate there just twice this trip. Remember, you don’t have to order just from the menu. If they have the ingredients, they will make you the pizza you want. We typically share a pepperoni, extra cheese, and garlic pizza. Always tasty. 
  • We absolutely loved the location of our cabin. It was at the back of the ship and was super quiet. We used the aft elevators that took us right up to the back of the buffet and the Horizon Terrace seating. 
  • We felt like someone was trying to play a trick on us because we had another dud of a cabin steward. I swear our last one called this guy up and gave him instructions on what to do (and not to do): Don’t introduce yourself; don’t greet the passengers; do walk in unannounced; don’t clean the cabin when the make up room sign is out. By the second day things were so bad we had to contact the supervisor. Just look at this mess on the balcony we found when we arrived. How do you miss something like this and not clean it up until the supervisor tells you to? 
  • After the supervisor was involved it got better for about a day and a half. Then it went back to the not-so-great way. I won’t go into details on all the negatives, but on the plus side he did keep us supplied with ice. The level of service we’ve received from cabin stewards on the six ships we’ve been on so far this year has varied so wildly, I sure would have loved to interview the head of housekeeping to get an idea of what exactly a steward’s duties are. Not to complain, but just to get a better understanding of the expectations fleet-wide.
  • We liked having the sofa in the deluxe balcony. It had a firm cushion so it was easier for hubby to get up out of it. Of course, once the balcony got clean it was nice as well. We also liked the big bathroom sink that the Royal Princess has. We did laundry by hand and having the extra room certainly made it easier to do the washing.
  • The Wake Show was filmed in Princess Live but no passengers were allowed to sit in on the taping at all. Didn’t make much sense to me. Why have it in a studio if people can’t watch it in person? 
  • On the second formal night a group vow renewal was held in the Piazza. Participants even received a certificate. On both sea days there were weddings held on the aft part of the Lido deck, in the Horizon Terrace section. 
  • I have to be honest here…I didn’t look at the Patter much, other than to find if any crafting sessions were happening around the ship. The only arts and crafts session happened on the last sea day. There were a few things against me going – the most traveled guest luncheon rolled into us going shopping to use up our nonrefundable onboard credit, which then placed us back in the cabin with little time to spare for me to change clothes. Plus on the Wake Show the cruise director made a weird comment about the flower making craft. I couldn’t tell if he was making fun of whoever wanted to go or was making fun of the craft itself. Since I’m totally against doing anything that might embarrass me, I didn’t rush to change clothes and missed the crafting session.  
  • The entire cruise was spent either eating breakfast or dinner (we skipped lunch) on the Horizon Terrace, sitting on our balcony, watching the on-demand movies, or in port. We never went to the dining room, saw a show, hung out at the pool, drank in a bar, went into a shop (until the last day when we realized we had some nonrefundable credit that needed to be used up), or visited the casino (other than to use the ATM to replenish our cash for the next leg of our trip).
Other things:
  • At the guest safety assembly (muster drill) the big monitors between the elevator banks showed important information for those needing to know where to go.
  • There were some familiar Ocean Medallion faces onboard. We had sailed with some of them during the roll on out the Caribbean Princess. This cruise they were doing some filming. 
  • This ship is going into wet dock (as opposed to dry dock) starting today. I can’t confirm what kind of Medallion work they will be doing onboard, but hopefully they will be working on MedallionNet. The internet this voyage really was bad. It dropped quite often and it took forever to load. Then other times it was quite decent. I thought it was bad on the Crown transatlantic voyage, but for me it was worse here. Part of wet dock will be replacement of mattresses, but I wonder if they will be replacing TVs, too. The reason I mention that is one day this week there were several TV boxes in the hallways. I doubled checked the boxes and they were heavy so they definitely had TVs in them.
  • Sunsets were just spectacular this trip. Here is one of my favorites:

We would have been just fine staying on this ship for several more weeks, but with the wet dock happening we knew we couldn’t. So that’s why we decided to head to San Francisco to join the Grand Princess on December 3. We are going to see a couple dear crew members we consider family. Two cruises on the Grand will be a great way to wrap up our year of cruising.

See you Monday on our last ship of the year!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Royal Princess Last Sea Day

Geez, this week has just flown by. Can’t believe it’s our last sea day!
It’s a cloudy one today.
Going from our cruise earlier this month with 10 sea days to this one with just two sea days sure made for a different feel. A lot of activities were packed into those two sea days, activities we didn’t participate in.

One thing we did get to today was the Most Traveled Passenger Luncheon. We were pretty sure we made the cut since we didn’t receive the 72 hour laundry notification. (When we receive the notice about laundry taking 72 hours to be returned because of so many elites onboard we’ve never made the cut. No notification? We make the cut.) So I I checked with the Captain’s Circle host about it and she told us if we didn’t receive an invitation it meant we didn’t make the cut. Of course that made sense, but I asked her the cutoff number anyway. We were a bit above the number so she checked her system and said yes, we were invited. She was sure we received an invitation. Uh, no. At the luncheon another couple at our table never received theirs either, so there must have been some problem with the mail.

We had quite a nice menu today.
I went with the lobster and jumbo shrimp starter. Delicious.
Hubby had the papaya and raspberry starter. He said it was good.
For our main we both had the lamb chops. Is there a word stronger than delicious? If so, that’s how to explain these. Best lamb chops ever, if you ask me.
The chocolate and passion fruit mousse was beautiful.
Had to take off the lid to see what was inside!
We had the environmental officer at our table. I asked her tons of questions and learned so much about environmental issues at sea and in port. I even found out why we saw all the black smoke from the Royal Caribbean ship in Costa Maya the other day – it had to do with the type of fuel being used. In Mexico environmental standards aren’t as strict as in the US so ships can use the cheaper fuel, the fuel that causes more pollution.

This sailing also had the most traveled person on all of Princess Cruises. She has over 2500 days at sea. Can you imagine?

There are several things about the ship I never got a chance to mention, so I’ll do a wrap-up post tomorrow. Then off to San Francisco where we’ll be boarding the Grand Princess on Monday.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Royal Princess in Cozumel, Mexico

Hello from cloudy and rainy Cozumel.

Before I talk about what we could have done and what we eventually did, I need to be firm in this statement: DO NOT TAKE FRESH FRUITS OR VEGETABLES OFF THE SHIP IN COZUMEL!!!

We had the typical note in the Patter about it and we received the verbal notification while on the ship more than once. But people never listen. I tried to warn the couple in the buffet who were taking bananas off the ship; I've warned people over and over: DOGS WILL BE SNIFFING EVERY SINGLE BAG LEAVING THE SHIP.

Save yourself the embarrassment. The dog will catch you and you will get the stares from the rest of the folks behind you waiting to get out of port. Just look at the bags of fruits and vegetables already confiscated by the time we left the ship.
All by 11 this morning
Okay, enough of my public service announcement and back to today. We could have experienced any number of those things we’ve done in the past. (All photos, unless otherwise noted, are from previous visits.)

Today we could have:
*Taken a ship excursion to Playa Mia. Transportation, beach activities, some water toys, lunch, and unlimited drinks. If the waves are too rough, they close access to the water. So nope, don't want to chance it.
*Gone to a tequila tasting. You'll learn everything you’d want to know and come back to the ship quite happy. (Sorry, no pics on this one. Hubby and son-in-law went and came back very cheerful but without any photos.) My choice of alcohol is not tequila, so mark that one of the list.

*Had our first-ever visit to Passion Island, a private island off the coast of Cozumel. No such luck as bad weather caused those tours to be cancelled today. 

*Spent the day at the all-inclusive Nachi Cocom. Great views... 
great food, and delicious, strong, and unending drinks. The food comes in multiple courses and the portions, while delicious, are huge. Just not that hungry or thirsty today.
*Taken the ferry over to Playa del Carmen. With this wind it would have been a rough ride over. After last week's long and rough ferry ride to Dry Tortugas, it would be best not to risk it.
*Headed to the Tulum Ruins like my daughter I did last time we cruised together. Too much walking for hubby so take that one off the list.
*Gone snorkeling in the cenotes (underwater caves) with the stalactites and stalagmites and bats, but not today. 
Besides, last time I went I got caught in a flood. One flood a week is my limit.
*Gone snorkeling with turtles in Akumal Bay...
but last time I got caught in a storm. This was a ship excursion that definitely should have been cancelled. Or at least revised. When your tour guide takes you into the water when the sky looks like this you know nothing but trouble is headed your way. So thankful I was a strong swimmer.
*Stayed on the island of Cozumel and headed to where we’ve been going these last few times - to the Money Bar. More nice views and superior snorkeling. But with the weather as it was with a bit of “chop” (a term Captain Nick Nash has used several times over the past few years) conditions wouldn’t be ideal and could even have been somewhat challenging. I’ve already been there twice this year so I was okay to skip it. (Not really. If the weather was great, I would have been there.) It's such a good snorkeling spot that the snorkel boats drop off there, too.
Or we could stay close and hang out at our favorite place right near the pier, Pancho’s Backyard. Over the years I’ve spent countless hours at a table there with my computer open and fingers flying across the keyboard, all while looking out at the ship. While I didn't bring my computer today, we did sit there watching people,
Nice people viewing today, as usual.
drinking sangria and rum punch,
One sangria and two rum punches were consumed today.
and eating banana leaf wrapped tamales.
Oh so good. So glad they were still on the lunch menu today.
We also watched filming of a Carnival-Univision show called La Gran Sorpresa, The Great Surprise. According to Univision, “La Gran Sorpresa” uses the power of travel to reunite families who have been separated by illness, distance or borders. 

I'm not sure who this surprise was for, but we watched a concert of someone who appeared to be a popular singing star in Mexico. There were a few dozen pre-pubescent girls screaming and cheering. Truth be told, some of the girls had already hit puberty and were dressed so scantily that I didn't dare take a picture during the concert itself. While reality shows make things look seamless, I can tell you from this experience that it took no fewer than four takes of each song to get all the camera angles and the right amount of screaming girls. Afterwards all the girls waited for the singer to come out to see them, but he went a different way. I felt a bit bad for the girls. There was quite a bit of down time between the takes where they just had to stand around waiting to start up again. It took a full hour to film those three songs and then the singer just took off on the girls when the filming ended. 
Setting up the stage beforehand
It was another good day. It was the last port of our Caribbean cruising year and tomorrow will be our last sea day as we make our way back to Port Everglades. Boy, this week has gone by fast.