Monday, May 20, 2019

Royal Princess in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Welcome back to Glacier Bay, the best day on an Alaskan cruise. I could repeat some of the same things I've said about Glacier Bay, but I've already done that several times over. Instead, I'll provide some links to some of my past blog posts in case you'd like to learn more.
Instead of saying anything new about Glacier Bay let me spend today catching up on some of things about the Royal Princess. I was planning on doing a trip wrap-up from last week, but just realized we'll be losing our internet today. That's one thing I've forgotten to mention about Glacier Bay. In my experience, the internet will be out for the day. So I'll hold the wrap-up until later and I'll instead get out some random info I haven't shared yet.

*Like I said yesterday, the OceanCompass app has done a great job of locating hubby around the ship. There is also another app we are using, OceanNow. This app lets us order things around the ship. Last night I used it to order room service. My cheeseburger made it to the cabin in record time, 20 minutes. Usually if you call room service on formal night you're on hold that long. While the menu is very limited, it did the job. At 2 am this morning while hubby was snoring and I couldn't sleep (probably because I slept most of yesterday away) I was looking through the app and found room service wasn't an option. So it seems the hours are limited, too. 

We've also been able to order fries while sitting out on the Lido deck, and attempted to order a drink with the app in Crooners on the last day of last week's cruise. (Your first drink through the app is free!) Crooners was open but it wouldn't register on the app. It gave me other options of places around the ship I could go to get a drink, but not Crooners. The server said he could still get my drink for free anyway, but when we checked the bill we were still charged. The Passenger Services desk was a zoo because it was the last day so I didn't even bother with standing in the huge line. The app is still showing a free drink so I'll try it again this week.

Other things you can order with OceanNow are pizza on deck, spa products, Ocean Medallion accessories, and even a robe, hangers, and ice for your cabin.
I'll post new Medallion videos once I get home. The MedallionNet here is better than the Ruby but worse than the Caribbean Princess. It's not fast enough to watch any videos, let alone upload them.

*The library was stocked with new board games last cruise. Like boxes and boxes of brand new games all nicely arranged and ready to be played.

*Also at the library, I left my Cruising with Confidence book in the library (this one right here, but the paperback version) like I've been doing on ships lately. I put a book label on the inside cover stating it is donated by the author (me) and asking them to return it the ship's library when they are finished reading it. But like has happened before, it wasn't returned at the end of last cruise. I know that's the chance I take, but I'm paying full price for my own book (no freebies or discounts for this author here) so that many others can read the book - not just so one passenger can take it home and keep it. 

*I've been leaving Encouraging Word Money Pockets all around the ship and also in the Wake Show Box. Cruise Director Matt O reads the Wake Show ones every single morning. After months of cruising where they were only read four times in total, it is exciting to see someone embrace their purpose and believe in the power of positive and supportive ideas, thoughts, words and actions. Way to go, Matt O for helping send those good vibes out into the world! 

*We went to Sabatini's the other night for dinner for the first time. Since I don't like Italian food we've always skipped the place. As I found out, it's not all pasta. 
A couple weeks back on the Ruby we tried Share for the first time and said it was going to replace our Crown Grill visits. Now we're in a quandary. We might want Sabatini's to be the Crown Grill replacement. It was really, really good. After so many mediocre visits to Crown Grill on so many ships across the fleet, eating at Sabatini's and Share have been like a breath of fresh air. I'll do a write-up on Sabatini's at a later date so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, if you get a chance to try Sabatini's on the Royal Princess, do it.

It's almost 7 pm and the internet is back so let's get back to Glacier Bay...We had spectacular weather today and we even got much closer to Margerie Glacier today than last week. Double score! Pictures? Oh yeah, I've got 'em.

If you're looking for the Princess Patter showcasing all the activities happening around the ship today you can find it right here

Want to know more about cruising Alaska? You can search using key words and come up with a slew of posts, but you can also check out my Cruising Alaska resources section here where you'll find the most recent posts.

Off to Skagway tomorrow.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Royal Princess Cruising to Hubbard Glacier

We've fallen into a predictable morning routine on the ship.
*Hubby leaves the cabin before 6 am to get some coffee and some oatmeal.
*I sleep until he calls the cabin a couple hours later to let me know where he is sitting in the buffet. (Side note - the Medallion's Shipmates section on the Ocean Compass app does an amazing job of pinpointing where he is on the ship. I can tell he is in the Piazza right this minute .)
*I take my shower and join him for breakfast and we make our plans for the day.

Today I was lucky enough to catch a rainbow off the back of the ship. It's barely visible above the horizon.

*Then after breakfast we go about our day.

Except today after breakfast hubby headed out to do his thing and I headed back to the cabin to have a little lie down. I was pretty tired so I planned on just a little rest before heading back out for the day. 

And I fell asleep. 

I woke up to go to the bathroom, came back to my little twin bed, and saw that hubby was sleeping in his twin bed. I checked the time and it was 2:00. Oh. My. Goodness. (That's what a dark inside cabin will do for you.) I turned on the bridge cam to try and keep myself awake, hubby headed back out, and I again somehow fell asleep. 

I woke up to a knock on the door. More treats for the 500 day celebration.

The bridge cam was still on the TV.
The time was 3:30 and we were almost at Hubbard Glacier. Yikes.

Just in the nick of time I made it outside to capture the glacier. Our go-to spot is the Horizon Terrace at the back of Horizon Court. Who wouldn't want to sit in these empty, comfy seats on the Horizon Terrace?
The Captain turns the ship around so everyone can get a good view no matter which side of the ship they are on. We didn't get as close as we have in the past. There was a heavy ice flow today. Plus, I'm wondering if the size of the ship made a difference, too.

Here are some other highlights of our time there.
 Tomorrow we're off to Glacier Bay.

If you're looking for the Princess Patter showcasing all the activities happening around the ship today you can find it right here

Want to know more about cruising Alaska? You can search using key words and come up with a slew of posts, but you can also check out my Cruising Alaska resources section here where you'll find the most recent posts.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Royal Princess in Whittier, Alaska

We got in early to Whittier last night.
Last night's 11:30 pm bridge cam view.
While the sun was out for a little bit this morning, the rain started not soon afterwards. We weren't planning on doing much today so it was fine with us.

Want to find out about Whittier? Check out my 5 Things to Know about Whittier, Alaska here.

We did spend some time here this morning:

Just like airlines have loyalty programs, so do cruise lines. The more days with the same line, the better the benefits. But people assume the benefits are unbelievable amazing. Like free cruises and being put up in suites. Nope. Other than some onboard credit, those of us with 70+ cruises on the same line aren't being treated any differently than those with 16 cruises. Or even six cruises. (Sail as a single in a suite on Princess, even if they are only one day cruises? You'll be Elite.)

Those who aren't yet Elite think one of the best benefits is the free laundry. Here's the thing on that - if there are a lot of Elites onboard it could be three days before you get the laundry back. That's half a cruise before you see your clothes again. Send it out more than a few times and the harsh chemicals will have your clothes coming back with little holes in them. Which is why we spend turnaround days, today included, in the laundry room. 

Others think the cruise line will give you free cabin upgrades like you might get with the airline. Heck, no. In fact, while we tried to get moved from our cabin with the bunk bed protrusions so hubby could get in and out of bed easier, we couldn't even get moved to a cabin in the same category even though there was one available. 
Bunk beds sticking out + handicapped hubby = problem
We've asked the cabin steward to put our beds into a twin set up. It won't be ideal, but at least we're not celebrating our wedding anniversary on this trip! After dinner we came back and found our new setup.
Presto, chango. New beds.

Others have told us they thought we got a special Elite rates or free Elite cruise. That we are treated like royalty because we're Elite passengers. We don't get special treatment just because we're Elite. We are treated like we're a valued guest, just like the 3,000 other valued guests onboard. The only time you may get additional benefits is for milestone cruises, like this particular cruise for us. 500 days with Princess. First extra benefit for this cruise, flowers and strawberries and champagne.

We've had a couple weird things happen today and it's not even dinnertime yet. 
1. We received a car seat in our cabin. It was delivered like luggage was and had a tag with meet me on the ship like the people who were on a land tour had. And it had our cabin number on it. Never had that happen before. Hope it has now made it to the proper cabin.

2. Our mailbox, this one right here that we've been using since last August on the Caribbean Princess, was stolen.

It seems a supervisor took it while WE WERE IN THE CABIN, thinking it belonged to someone else. How does that happen? A passenger is in a cabin and a ship employee takes something off that passenger's door without asking? Hubby caught up to him and he said he took it and would be right back with it. And that's been a few hours ago and we haven't seen it since. All these months of cruises where I've been worried another passenger or some kid might take it and here we have someone who works on the ship stealing it? I gotta be honest on this one - I'm a pretty easy going person but I'm pretty ticked that it was taken and still hasn't been returned.
Update: Still no return despite yet another visit with another supervisor. Grrr. I am getting more than ticked. 
Update to the update: Our new cabin steward has gotten involved as our advocate and guess what has been returned to our door? Yep, the mailbox is back!

On a more pleasant note, our mini bar (a nice Elite benefit) switch happened super-quick and tomorrow we're headed to Hubbard Glacier. I'm looking forward to getting some good pictures.

If you're looking for the Princess Patter showcasing all the activities happening around the ship today you can find it right here. I've also added the in-transit information we received today with the Patter link.

Want to know more about cruising Alaska? You can search using key words and come up with a slew of posts, but you can also check out my Cruising Alaska resources section here where you'll find the most recent posts.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Royal Princess in College Fjord, Alaska

Hello from the last day of the Royal Princess' Inaugural cruise to Alaska. I can't believe just how fast this week has flown by. I am so happy we are on for another one.

We just got our cabin assignment last night and it's going to be a bit problematic. We knew we'd have to change cabins but they've put us in a quad cabin. That means the bunk beds (even when closed) will be protruding out of the wall. When we're in those kinds of cabins, hubby isn't able to get out of bed. He uses a bed cane to help get out of bed at home so even without the bunk beds sticking out, getting out of bed on the ship is tough. Since the ship isn't sailing full we're hoping we can get switched to a cabin without the bunk beds. Crossing my fingers hubby can get something workable for him. Celebrating 500 days with a cruise line and your hubby can't get out bed? Might be a bit problematic.

Not problematic? Wanting to stay on this ship for seven more days. Seven days is just not long enough for us, especially on this ship. When I first heard Princess was taking the Royal to Alaska, I swore to hubby we wouldn't go. It was because of some of the same reasons I heard from others:

*The ship is too big. 
As we've learned over the years, a bigger ship = more stability. For someone with balance issue like hubby, bigger is good. Bigger is also better when it comes to the number of activities offered onboard. (Having Matt O, cruise director extraordinaire, helps with passenger engagement there, too.)

*The ship lacks outside viewing areas. 
Most of the time you could find us in the Horizon Terrace. That's the area all the way back of the buffet. We never had a problem finding a place to sit. In fact, many times it was empty.

We enjoyed many meals there and also spent time just watching the world go by.

We also took advantage of what could almost be considered a secret deck. There are doors outside Crooners and the Effy store leading to a seldom used deck with chairs.

Lots of space available on the rail on Glacier Bay Day. See?
Even when the ship was stopped at Margerie Glacier I had no problem finding a spot at the rail. You can also access an additional portion of the deck through doors just in front of the Vista Lounge. You'll find chairs there, too.
Add in those less-busy spots with the other typical areas around the ship, and there are plenty of places to take in the scenery.

*Ports will be overcrowded by the Royal. 
In my Cruising Alaska class a couple weeks back I had a participant ask me when was the best time to go to Alaska to avoid the crowds. My answer was simple - 15 years ago. The number of passengers traveling to Alaska has just exploded in recent years. Unless you are traveling on the Coral Princess and are the only ship in port (let me tell you, those were the days!), crowded ports in Alaska are a given whether you are on a big ship or small ship. 

While I would have liked lines getting on and off the ship to not be so long, I expect the Royal Princess will become more responsive to tide changes and become more efficient in switching gangway decks as the season goes along.

*Alaskan marine pilots raised concerns about navigating the ship, particularly in Ketchikan.
The ship changed course from what we typically would expect on an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver. Taking the green route out of Vancouver instead of the typical "red" route was probably the most disappointing. Coming in from the north in Ketchikan (the brown route instead of the red route) was a bit surprising, but not unexpected based on the marine pilot concerns.
The Royal's Vancouver departure route is in green.
The Royal's Ketchikan approach is in brown.
Would I take another cruise on the Royal to Alaska? You bet. Again, we're so glad we're on for another week.

Tonight in our cabin we were given a letter about the Ketchikan accident. So happy to hear some of the guests involved have been released from the hospital! Not so happy about the media circus about to hit us tomorrow.

Also tonight we had beautiful College Fjord. I'll leave you with some of my best pics.

If you're looking for the Princess Patter showcasing all the activities happening around the ship today you can find it right here. I've also added the in-transit information we received today with the Patter link.

Want to know more about cruising Alaska? You can search using key words and come up with a slew of posts, but you can also check out my Cruising Alaska resources section here where you'll find the most recent posts.