Friday, February 7, 2020

Royal Princess in Catalina

As we saw it, we had two choices today.

Take a tender AKA water shuttle into the town of Avalon on the island of Catalina.
Walk a ways to the Mexican restaurant.
Spend 60 or so dollars for some food and a couple drinks.
Do some people watching.
Walk back to the dock.
Take a tender AKA water shuttle back to the ship.


Sit on the balcony where one of us gets this view from a chair.
 And the other person gets this view from their chair.
With both people sitting in the warm sunshine, out of the wind, getting a nice big dose of Vitamin D. Since it is winter, the sun was in the southern part of the sky and was shining on the balcony all day long.

Where we could grab a taco salad and chips and beans for lunch. Add that to a quesadilla off the kids room service menu and we had free Mexican food.

Couple it with free drinks. No Captain's Circle parties on short cruises = one free drink voucher per person.
Instead of people watching, throw in some people listening. You'd be surprised the conversations you overhear from surrounding balconies when you sit quietly in the warm California sunshine. 

Then take a little nap with the sunshine splashing across the foot of your bed as you breathe fresh air and doze off to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the ship.
We've been to Catalina many times before and really have done all we need to do there. (Other than eat.) So of course, we chose B.

It was absolutely blissful. Couldn't have asked for a better day on a cruise ship, for sure. It's the great thing about cruising - you can do as little or as much as you want. And boy, did we do little today.

Tomorrow is a sea day and I have no idea what our plans are yet. If we had a repeat of today I'd be just fine with it. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Embarkation Day - Royal Princess Cruise to Catalina

Our first cruise is a short one. Off to Catalina, throw in a sea day, find our way to Ensenada, and back to San Pedro.

I realized last night I really am ready for this. Ready to leave the crap on TV behind. The junk on the Internet behind. Leave the world behind and live a joyous life, free of negative distractions. 

But not so fast getting away from the Coronavirus concern. For the first time in many years, at embarkation we had to fill out a health questionnaire. This one is specific to the new virus. 
Other than the extra paperwork, so far we haven't heard or seen anything any different than the typical precautions. 

Now let's talk about that joyous life onboard. 

I tried a little experiment at embarkation this time. If you remember, each time when we checked in with our Medallions in Vancouver, Canada and Whittier, Alaska, and even here in San Pedro, California I wrote about how long the lines were for the passengers who already had their Medallions. I think each time I even swore I would never pre-order my Medallion again. Finally this time I did it. (Or, should I say, didn't do it?) We showed up at port with our boarding passes instead of Medallions in hand. And the result of the experiment? A joyous success! It was super easy and super quick to get our Medallions at the port - with no lines whatsoever. In fact, the person at the check in counter told us he tells his family and friends not to order theirs either. That it's faster to wait and get them at the port. And he was right. So from now on in San Pedro I will not be ordering those Medallions ahead of time. (Boy, I like being right.)

Just as fast as picking up our Medallions was our wait in the Elite boarding lounge. The seating area was practically empty. Boarding started just a few minutes after 11 and was so quiet and calm with so few Elites boarding. I don't know how it turned out later, but our group was just AWESOME and so different than we've seen it here before.

Some options upon boarding:
Need to drop your carry-ons? They've got a place for that.
The best part of today's joyous life came right after boarding when I was in my swimsuit and in the Retreat Pool before 11:30. I am not passing up a chance to swim on a cruise ship in a deserted pool. While the water was quite chilly, I did enough laps to get my blood pumping and warm me up a bit. 
Mine. All mine.
After a chunk of swimming and sunning we decided to grab a bite to eat in the dining room. Scored a table for two right before they closed. Yay us.

Decided to head to our cabin for a bit to check on our luggage. 
Couldn't get an elevator up or down as they were so very packed. (Sapphire Princess, where are you when we need you?) 
Walked down the stairs to deck five so we could get an elevator going up from there. Ran into this crazy line at the Internet Cafe. Oh my. Glad I'm not in it.

Received a letter congratulating us on being one of the Most Traveled Passengers on this voyage. As there is no Most Traveled Guest party of this trip we are receiving a meal in one of the specialty dining restaurants. Sabatini's, we're happily coming for you tomorrow night.

Couldn't figure out why there were so many people dressed in San Francisco 49ers gear. 
Found out this is a 49ers fan cruise. They have players on board, autograph signings, special shows and dinners. Only those purchasing the special group cruise package are participating so we'll miss out. They sure are a happy bunch of 300+. 
Lots and lots of these signs on doors. I think it's the 49ers group.
Tonight we went to the Elite Lounge for the first time in forever. Our bar steward buddy is working there this cruise so it's about the only time we'll get to see him. 
Deep Sea Martini. Pretty and yummy. Happy, happy, joy, joy.
Platinum/Elite/Suite Drink Menu
Dinner was the buffet, as usual. The nice thing about these short cruises is folks typically go to the dining room instead. It held true for this cruise, too. The buffet was empty. Love it.
Mongolian Buffet anyone? No lines tonight.
But it wouldn't be a cruise without one non-pleasant thing happening. During Muster Drill we had two little kids from the same family throwing tantrums. Screaming and crying and more screaming and crying. It lasted most of the drill with no parent or staff intervention. So on this ship we now have a whole slew of cruisers who have no idea what to do in case of an emergency because they couldn't hear a thing. Please - if your children are disrupting others from listening to something super-important like Muster Drill, please remove them. Somebody - or a whole bunch of somebody's - lives could depend on it.

Tomorrow we'll be in Catalina, a whole 26 miles from San Pedro. We'll be meandering our way there. May even get some circling in. Our plan was to go ashore and grab some Mexican food and drinks at the restaurant we always go to. But E's just as happy staying onboard. Plus, we're on the Royal Princess who has Mexican food onboard every day. And we have our bar steward buddy working the Elite Lounge where the drinks on the list are only $6.50 during the lounge hours. So it looks like we'll be staying onboard, saving our money, and hopefully spending the day at the Retreat pool. We shall see.