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  #121 (permalink)  
Old March 10th, 2011, 05:30 PM
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I cannot recommend the Chef's Table highly enough. It was fantastic when we did it on Ruby in November. Of course having the Master Chef of the entire Princess Fleet serve it to us wasn't too bad either Fantastic night and worth every penny.
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  #122 (permalink)  
Old March 10th, 2011, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Kuki....

The poor waiter. I know from my interview with the purveyor of Butlers to the cruise industry Why do Cruise Ships have Butlers

that they teach waiters in synchronized service (I think you call it butterfly service?) - all he was saying is that there is more food served per table at a table for 8. I assume he saying the challenge is getting everyone at the table "synchronized.

I have asked the same questions of waiters - "what do you do when three people order salads but not appetizer, two people order appetizers but no soup or salad, four people order soup and salad, one person orders, soup, salad and an appetizer... see?

I have noticed a trend on cruise ships lately to shorten the number of courses on the menu - they put the soups & salads in with the appetizers, for example. They probably did that to save time.

Now - I assume of you wanted to memorize rules (like counting cards in BJ) you could come up with a system to always have a course for everyone at the 8-top, but in reality it seems half the people are eating while the other half are waiting.
Paul,
Sorry, my terminology may have been confusing. When I say I spoke to the Head Waiter for our area of the room (that was how he'd introduced himself), it would be more appropriate to call him the ass't maitre d.

All I really asked was why some nights service was so good, and others not so good.

"Butterfly service" is a bit different, in that enough waiters are on hand, they place down everyone's dinner order in front of the guest at one time, in unison.

Normal restaurant service would be to deliver everyone's portion of each course , to each person at the table individually.... as one would expect in a land based restaurant.

If some people at the table order more courses than others, that's fine. You just skip those who did not order that course.

On the flip side.. the dining room food has been so good no one at our table sees a need to dine in any of the alternate venues.
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Last edited by Kuki; March 10th, 2011 at 06:55 PM.
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  #123 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 02:20 AM
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Sapphire Princess - March 10
As we made our way to Ensenada today the seas were much calmer than when we sailed out from Los Angeles. However, it was a cloudy and chilly day out on deck, which forced most people into the area around the covered Calypso pool, or other indoor areas.

For breakfast this morning I decided to try the French Toast from the Horizon Court buffet. I really should have done a “touch test” first, but instead just accumulated some breakfast on my plate.

When I sat down to enjoy my breakfast, as my fork made contact with the French Toast I realized a saw, not a knife, would be required to cut into it. The molded plastic table out on deck would have been easier to cut.

My expectations for the quality of buffet food are pretty minimal to begin with, however I do believe the crew, or their supervisors, should be doing the “touch test” before I do, to assure the quality of the product is at least edible. As noted in earlier reports, there are options for freshly made eggs as well as waffles. But, that’s really not the point is it?

We haven’t had dinner at the buffet, but I did pass through the Horizon Court buffet late one evening to see what they were offering, and the selection available seemed quite broad, though I didn’t taste anything, except some fruit tarts which were delicious; baked with light and fully miniature pasty shells.

Last night one of our tablemates had a need to visit the ship’s infirmary. Thankfully for something routine for her. She commented the service there was very good, but noted that they charge from everything to cotton balls to bandages. She wasn’t concerned about the charges because she does have travel insurance.

In conversation the nurse and doctor did say the infirmary has been very busy throughout the cruise. This shouldn’t be all that surprising considering the length of the cruise, and the age demographic onboard.

They’ve been faced with several cases of heart failure, and apparently quite a number of cases of pneumonia; explaining that when the elderly travel by air to get to their cruises, picking up some pneumonia is not uncommon.

I’ve always had a hypothesis that cases of “cruise crud” were common for air travelers post cruise, as a fair number of people do seem to return from their cruise vacations with a cold, or such. Apparently the problem is also not uncommon just prior to beginning the cruise either.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the layout of the ship. There’s one bit of confusion in the design of the Grand Class Princess ships, which they have in common with most ships that have both aft dining rooms, and mid-ship dining rooms; the “you can’t get there from here” syndrome.

If you’re in the forward section of the ship, and want to get to the International Dining Room, located at the aft, on Deck 6, you must get across the ship on a deck above deck 6, and go down to deck six once you reach the aft stairways or elevators.

If you’re aft of mid-ship and want to get to the Vivaldi, Santa Fe, Pacific Moon, or Savoy Dining Rooms, you must use deck 7 or higher, to move to the mid-ship elevators or stairway to access those dining rooms.

The reason - the galleys serving all of those dining rooms are located on Deck 6 between the mid-ship restaurants and the aft, International, as well as below on deck 5. From the ship’s public rooms, you simply must get used to using deck 7 for moving the length of the ship, without going up or down near your dining room destination.

A “Backstage Tour” was offered free of charge today, accompanied by the Cruise Director, for those interested in a peek at how the back stage entertainment areas of the ship operate.

At this point, I think it would be unfair to those of you who have been reading along, to not share the follow up resulting from my conversation with our Head Waiter/ Assistant Maitre D.

Upon our entry to the dining room there was a bit of a chill in the air from our waiter and assistant waiter, so we have to assume they were spoken to. Sadly, because my question actually was not directed as a complaint about their service. However, as we know……slides down hill.

At any rate, I noticed right away that our orders were now being taken first, ahead of the smaller tables seating others in our CruiseMates group nearby. As were the orders for another 8 top, not with the group several tables over.

It was not my intent to get our table served ahead of others, and as a result to have any delays or issues simply moved to another table. Interestingly perhaps, the other thing that changed tonight was the assistant Maitre D helped out in the entire section, filling water glasses, etc.

As a result, our table, plus all those around us that we could see, seemed to get efficient and timely service. We finished dinner and left the dining room approximately the same time we did other nights when service was efficient. In other words, we didn’t rush, nor were we rushed through dinner. And all the CruiseMates tables left the dining room within minutes of each other.

When we did leave, I noticed our entire section of the dining room, consisting of perhaps 20 tables was emptying, while the remainder of the dining room still appeared to be finishing dinner. I don’t know if this was coincidence, but it did have an odd humor to it.

BTW… tonight was formal night, and for those who like it, “lobster night”; actually a Lobster & Shrimp combination plate. The lobsters appeared to be a pretty decent size, and the waiters did offer extra lobsters to anyone wanting more, once their first portion was finished. The other dishes on the menu were very good as well, and everyone seemed pleased with the various dishes they ordered.

As we made our way out of dinner, the traditional Princess Champagne Waterfall, had been finished, and the Champagne was just beginning to flow.

Following that, we attended a show in the Explorer’s Lounge, by magician/comedian James Michael. Though magicians on ships are often rather boring, with the exception of the odd illusion, this act was very entertaining.

Tonight was also the 4th night of the cruise when the casino has been designated a non-smoking area after 6 P.M.

As the cruise winds down, what has pleased me the most is that everyone in our CruiseMates group who I’ve been speaking with today, tonight, and the past the last several days; whether in casual conversation passing each other on deck, having drinks, or dining together has commented to me about what a wonderful time they’ve had.

They’ve been telling others, and I’ve had strangers walk up to me to ask me about our CruiseMates group cruises, as well as the name of the agent who handles our group cruises, Nancy Bogert, who all those in the group have been speaking so highly of.

The camaraderie is one of the best thing about CruiseMates, and is the best thing about our group cruises!
 
 
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  #124 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 03:17 AM
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Kuki
Internet service might be slow at night from your view because that is also the time all the daily charges and verification with the credit card companies are performed amongst other uses. My thought ....

On our recent Sea Princess trip,
Food wise, we were a table of ten while the same two servers also served around us a table of four and the other one was a table of six I believe.
What they tended to do was start with the table that arrived first as in everybody was seated. After the first / second night they would ask those who had not ordered an appetizer if they wanted to wait for their soup or salad or be served at same time.
As a large table, it was probably us ordering wine and drinks that would cause one of the servers to be away for awhile delaying the food being served in a more quicker time. What seemed to help was they started to have other waiters come around for water and coffee and as you say the asst waiter finally got in the act.
Removing the drinks person I really think , especially for large tables, causes time issue for the two servers looking after 16- 20 people.

In terms of the Princess Theatre, being an 830pm 2nd seating table we barely made it especially if you had to be present 15-30 minutes ahead to get a seat. The worst thing to my mind was no side aisles , only the centre aisle to navigate long rows.

Enjoy your last few days
Cheers
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  #125 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 08:21 AM
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Kuki .....plese check in with any info you are getting about the Tsunamai...Everyone here is thinking of all of you guys,and hope you all have safe travels once you disembark....hopefully all you felt if anything was a, "what was that" kind of feeling...xoxo
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  #126 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 08:44 AM
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I hope the tsunami won't affect you too much! I hope everyone comes home safe. Say hi to the old "Cruwysie's" for me!
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  #127 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 08:55 AM
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I don't know you, but you were the first person I thought of when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami. Stay safe.
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  #128 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 09:00 AM
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To everyone on board the Sapphire Princess-stay safe. We're thinking of you.
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  #129 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Cruwysie View Post
I hope the tsunami won't affect you too much! I hope everyone comes home safe. Say hi to the old "Cruwysie's" for me!
I was watching the videos of the Tsunami in Japan coming in as I was typing and posting last night's report. LOTS of devasation.

We're not too far from Ensenada at the moment, and the seas have felt no different... yet. And assume they won't.

It is darn CHILLY out on deck this morning though.

I will say hi to Old Cruwsie for you... though I bet she won't like the name
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  #130 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
I don't know you, but you were the first person I thought of when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami. Stay safe.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts for our safety. I believe we're all safe. Our thoughts are with those folks devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.
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  #131 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Kuki and all

We are all thinking of you all and quite sure the Captain and his staff are charting a course to avoid the after effects.
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  #132 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 11:34 AM
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I'm watching the news on CNN as many of you probably are.

But it should be noted that we are currently in the safest place to be if in the path of a Tsunami; at sea. Damage from Tsunamis occurs on land on coastal areas, and in harbors.

We are all witnessing a devastating events, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the areas more severely and directly impacted.

It does put any complaints of hard french toast, and service glitches into perspective doesn't it!
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  #133 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 12:15 PM
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This quote just came off the 'Princess Facebook Blog" from the Princess rep.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan especially those directly affected by today’s devastating earthquake. We currently have no ships in Japan, nor are any of our ships considered at risk from any tsunami activity. All Princess passengers, crew and ships are safe. We will be assessing the tourism infrastructure in Japanese ports for our scheduled calls later this month:"

This quote is from Cunard;s Facebook blog,,
"Queen Mary 2 is en route to Nagasaki, all guests and crew on board are safe. The ship has limited internet access due to Japanese laws, we will keep this page up to date with any information we receive"

I just saw an Internet map of the wave action and it is the coast up to Russia along Alaska and North Pacific coast down to Vancoouver island and a bit to Seattle that has a green code meaning waves multiplied by .1+ meter factor not a 11+ meter which happend in Japan.
Your route is way down the coast , no effect at all.

As you say, frrench toast be dammed, give everybody including the crew a hug.
Cheers
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Last edited by robh; March 11th, 2011 at 12:25 PM.
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  #134 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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I'm currently sitting out on Lido Deck and there's some real contrasts. I'm wearing a sweatshirt and a leather jacket, yet there's folks sitting poolside in bathing suits with no shirts on, and a few women in bikinis. Looking at em gives me goose bumps.

It's 10:00 A.M. and I'm a bit surprised there has been no public word from the ship with regard to any information about the Tsunami. just to ease any fears anyone may have.

No doubt there's crew onboard who have families in some of the countries that were more directly affected by the Tsunami, and I'm hoping they are kept informed, and given a means of checking on family.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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BRRR, That would be me, Layered Linda!
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  #136 (permalink)  
Old March 11th, 2011, 01:21 PM
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Default Did you notice

( on a different note ) Did you notice if the MDR was open for business on embarkation day? Many people are coming back from their Cruises on different Princess ships saying that they are being turned away and told only Horzon's is open for lunch. Princess clearly states or their web site, that the dining room AND buffet is open on embarkation day. MDR till 1:30. I'll be on the Sapphire in Sept and would like to know. :-D
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Old March 11th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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( on a different note ) Did you notice if the MDR was open for business on embarkation day? Many people are coming back from their Cruises on different Princess ships saying that they are being turned away and told only Horizon's is open for lunch. Princess clearly states or their web site, that the dining room AND buffet is open on embarkation day. MDR till 1:30. I'll be on the Sapphire in Sept and would like to know. :-D
Regardless of the website,
What is practized normally and depends on the ships location is the Horizon Court is used for both embarking and disembarking passengers on the same day.
Since you will probably not get onboard until after noon you will be asked to go to the Horizon while the rooms are completed and you might find other passengers leaving up till 4-5pm (a lot of the Caribbean ports have air/cruise flights that arrive after 1-2pm and depart after 4pm ) which is why the double bit.
The MDR is certainly open for breakfast on the last day till about 11am but is most likley closed for preparation of that evening, depends on multiple duties of staff I guess.

By the time you get onboard and have wee bit to eat at the Horizon it will be time for lifeboat drill and early dining,
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Old March 11th, 2011, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
I'm currently sitting out on Lido Deck and there's some real contrasts. I'm wearing a sweatshirt and a leather jacket, yet there's folks sitting poolside in bathing suits with no shirts on, and a few women in bikinis. Looking at em gives me goose bumps.

It's 10:00 A.M. and I'm a bit surprised there has been no public word from the ship with regard to any information about the Tsunami. just to ease any fears anyone may have.

No doubt there's crew onboard who have families in some of the countries that were more directly affected by the Tsunami, and I'm hoping they are kept informed, and given a means of checking on family.
Kuki
You must be getting older when looking at bikinis and only goose bumps occur course we can blame it on the weather.

I'd imagin staff have been updated by their own internal news and for passengers, no news is good news as you have the paper news and TV
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Old March 11th, 2011, 02:30 PM
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Aloha Kuki,
Glad to hear your relaxing and safe as well as the Golden Princess, which we will be on shortly and right behind you.
If you have time to answer would be great. My suit needs dry cleaning and it will get wrinkled in the suitcase. What is the ave. turnaround and how much $$. If you don't have time I will understand.
Later in Life,
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Old March 11th, 2011, 03:50 PM
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According to the NNN no cruise ships have been affected in the Hawaii ,California areas .
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Old March 11th, 2011, 05:06 PM
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KuKi,
Hi and glad to hear everyone is safe.
We leave on the March 26th cruise to Hawaii and I have a few questions.
You stated that there is a 3% surcharge to use the shipboard charge card in the casino, for slot there is no service charge. Do I understand that you will be charge 3% if you charge money to your room, but if you use the slot machine there is not a charge. Could you please explain this more
Could you tell me what nights is Formal Night?
Thanks looking forward to leaving in 14 days
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Old March 12th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Sapphire Princess - March 11
I’ve learned because there are such an unusually high number of motor scooters on this sailing, they are going to decorate them all, and have a parade to lead the disembarkation.

OK, that’s not really true. But, good idea huh?

Off course all the talk this morning was about the Tsunami. And early in the morning when people heard of the Tsunami warnings for the west coast of the United States there were perhaps some mild concerns.
But as we sailed ahead towards Ensenada, Mexico, the seas were quite calm, and as the morning passed word from CNN got around making it seem like our arrival in San Pedro would be unaffected. Those like me who were glued to TV sets watching the incredible devastation and heartbreak in far off places were just stunned.

While we’ve been cruising, it seems the world has become an even more bizarre place; with the horror of what men can do, amongst the rebellion in Libya, and the horror of what Mother Nature can do, with the earthquake and tsunami, it kind of makes you want to turn right around and sail out to sea again to escape.

In the afternoon I went down to the ship’s Internet Café to attempt to sign on and print out the boarding passes for my flight tomorrow. I thought there weren’t going to be any computers left in the café because the service was so slow, most couldn’t do any more than log on and watch their purchased minutes disappear as they tried to reach the airline websites. People were getting so angry I thought the computers might be going overboard.

There’s really little excuse for the “dead” service because the ship is docked in Ensenada, and service simply shouldn’t be this bad. And, if it is, why will it let people log on, and start subtracting minutes used, without getting to the sites they needed, or to take 15 -20 minutes to do so.
I’d think this would be a busy day for people trying to print boarding pass, so I’d also think it would be a good day to have the Internet Manager on duty to deal with issues.

I did speak to the Internet Manager later this evening, along with probably 1/3 of the rest of the ship, and all he did is apologize, and say the Internet has been bad all week. The service continued to be unavailable throughout the night.

If I had realized earlier, I could have gone off in Ensenada in search of an Internet Café, but I couldn’t check in for my flight before 3:00 P.M., and even when a struggle, I have been able to connect to the Internet at some time every other day of the cruise.

Over the years I wrote Virtual Cruises from ships all over the world, and several times on this itinerary from different ships, including uploading pictures, etc. and this is the most I’ve struggled with internet service to get them posted each day. Over the course of the cruise I’ve used approximately 1500 minutes of internet time, so I don’t advise most people do this. That 1500 minutes is aside from the time I spend writing each day’s story. I therefore don’t edit the pieces much, and have to apologize to you folks following me for the bad grammar, and spelling errors that occur when spell check doesn’t know which word I’m trying to type. These are all “live” reports. I don’t send them to the editor for review and editing, so thanks for understanding my excuses.

When I get back to land, and have a chance to review each day’s ramblings in full, I’ll try and fill in things I missed discussing that may be of interest, in a final concluding piece. I’ve also encouraged those in our CruiseMates group to come and share their experiences as well.

Here’s a WOWSER, that I have to admit I knew nothing about… in talking to our Head Waiter again this evening, my ears perked up and my radar got turned on, when he mentioned that the dining room staff’s jobs (including his own) are through an agency, which has a contract with Princess, and they are not directly employed by Princess. Wondering if I’d heard right, he repeated it again when I asked if I’d heard correctly. The subject came up when he was discussing his next contract, stating he’d go home for two months or so, and during that time would talk to his agency to find out which ship his services are required on next.

I know several years ago the dining rooms on Celebrity Cruise Line were a concession, but I’d thought those days are over. Apparently that’s not the case on Princess.

To be factual, I am going to attempt to follow this up with Princess, to get “the word” directly from the source.

I am not a slot machine player, as I prefer to play blackjack and talk to the dealers and people instead of the machines. The slot machine players on the Sapphire can put cash in the machines to play, or use their “sail and spend cards” to get it (with no service charge). If they happen to win, the winnings automatically are applied to their account, and if they want to cash those winnings, or the money they put into the machines, they can go to the cashiers cage to cash in.

What is strange however is that everyone who has any funds on their account at the end of the cruise must cash out. The funds in your account aren’t automatically credited to your “sail and spend” card.

If they encourage everyone to leave their “playing money” on their accounts, and charge the funds to your shipboard account, I have no idea why the remaining balances wouldn’t automatically be credited to the players shipboard accounts.

They do it going in, but can’t or won’t do it coming out at the end of the cruise. Call me a cynic, but I’m thinking they are hoping people with small amounts remaining on that account won’t bother to cash it in, and others will forget to do so before the casino closes. I should point out, they do remind peoplel alot on the last night the casino is open.

It is possible there are some laws which require casino payouts to be handled this way, but I don’t know of any government or agency which would have the authority to demand that. Only on large one time wins are winners required to report their winning on their taxes.

Thanks for reading along for this 14 days, and we can do it again beginning April 24 when I’m sailing the Crystal Symphony. Can I become “Crystalized”? Come along and see.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prunion View Post
KuKi,
Hi and glad to hear everyone is safe.
We leave on the March 26th cruise to Hawaii and I have a few questions.
You stated that there is a 3% surcharge to use the shipboard charge card in the casino, for slot there is no service charge. Do I understand that you will be charge 3% if you charge money to your room, but if you use the slot machine there is not a charge. Could you please explain this more
Could you tell me what nights is Formal Night?
Thanks looking forward to leaving in 14 days
If you get cash in the casino at the table games or cashier, there is a 3% service fee.

You can get use your shipboard charge card to charge your slot machine play, with no extra service fees.

You do have to go to the cashier on the last day (or any time) to cash out any monies remaining on your "slot machine account".

This cruise the formal night was on the 2nd sea day (3rd day of the cruise). Normally I believe it's the first sea day.

The second formal night is the first full day after leaving Hawaii. The final formal is on the second last night of the cruise - the day before arriving in Ensenada.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 11:06 AM
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Thanks so much for the info, enjoy your next cruise.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Thanks for taking time out of you cruise for us. It was very helpful for me and my wife who are leaving in 2 weeks on the same cruise. First cruise every we even have a balcony. My wife was laughing at parts of your posts.We now know to use deck 7 to go for or aft on the ship and we will be sitting by the pool eating are omlettes and potatoes.Oh by the way is this part of your job to take these cruises if so where do I sign up?
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Old March 12th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Thanks Kuki. I have enjoyed the cruise and look forward to the follow up when you are home and rested. Can't wait for the April cruise. Take care.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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Disembarkation was very smooth this morning (at least for us). We were off the ship, and in a taxi to LAX by shortly after 9 AM.

Taxi $54 + tip this time.

We got to the airport in time to change to an 11:30 AM flight, and we're back in our condo in Scottsdale.... and greeted by a BEAUTIFUL day.

More closing thoughts later.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Oh by the way is this part of your job to take these cruises if so where do I sign up?
There's a long line behind me. I wear a kevlar vest

Hope I helped prepare you for what I hope is a WONDERFUL cruise.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 06:03 PM
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Hadn't posted these pictures earlier, but at our cocktail party early in the cruise everyone in the CruiseMates group got a really nice backpack/totebag thingy from the agent handling the group, as well as these CruiseMates lanyards I'd had made, and some great two sided pens (one side pen, the other highlighter) that our generous CM buddy Mike M. has sent me to take along...



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Old March 12th, 2011, 07:12 PM
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Kuki - thanks for a very interesting and entertaining virtual cruise. Now you and Geena can rest up cuz it's hard work cruising - let alone heading up the cruisemates group.

At least you don't have to change all your clocks tonight/tomorrow.

Jane from the Cruise of the Century with you
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