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Old February 27th, 2011, 01:12 AM
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Default Virtual Cruise -Sapphire Princess - LA/Hawaii/LA

Sapphire Princess - Day 1 - Feb. 26
My somewhat odd, but for sure certainly pleasant adventure begins today. Mrs. Kuki and I are now onboard the Sapphire Princess, bound for Hawaii, sailing roundtrip from San Pedro, Calif. I’ll be sailing this identical itinerary in late April on board the Crystal Symphony, and will be writing a Virtual Cruise from that ship as well. I invite you to sail along in the comfort of your homes and offices, and hope you enjoy as much I believe I will.

We flew to LAX this morning from Phoenix, Arizona on Southwest Airlines. I’m Canadian, and Southwest does not fly from Canada, as a result it has been several years since I flew them. Our flight was delayed out of Phoenix by an hour and a half, but the crew onboard were so terrific and entertaining, they made up for the delay.

A couple of lines, out of many, that gave me good chuckles:

The flight attendant, during the safety instruction - “if we loose pressure in the cabin oxygen masks will drop, if you’re traveling with a child put their mask on first. If you’re traveling with two children, pick the one with the most potential”.

Pilot - “We’re honored to have pilots from 4 different airlines onboard today. I’m sure you’re asking why they are onboard. It’s simple, on Southwest their luggage flies free.” In fact, I had seen a couple of crew tags from other airlines on some carry-ons as they made their down the aisle, so this wasn’t just a line, but a bit of humorous poke at the other airline pilots.

Kudos to Southwest for keeping me laughing for my 1 hr. 18 minute fight; wish I could fly them more often.

From LAX to San Pedro we took a taxi. It’s expensive at $70. But our driver was the Mario Andretti of Albania. It took us 20 minutes in heavy traffic to get out of the airport, and 9 minutes from there to San Pedro. The trip had more in common with a thrill ride at a theme park than it did with a taxi ride. And I thought I drive fast! Wow!

Arriving at the ship at approximately 2:00 P.M. the check in process was very fast and seamless. We were onboard about 15 minutes later.
We had requested and have been assigned to early traditional seating for dinners. As it turns out, on Sapphire Princess early traditional dining is lunch.

Early seating is at 5:30 P.M.! As we’re heading west, we gain hours during the cruise, so by the time we reach Hawaii we could be having dinner at noon.

Late seating is scheduled for 7:45 P.M. I’m not certain if that’s the norm on Princess these days, or if it’s been adjusted for the age demographic on this 14 night sailing. I’ll check on that later, and advise.

We’ll give this a try, because we want to dine with members of the CruiseMates group. I’ll just have to pretend that I’m from Europe where the tradition is to have the major meal of the day, mid-day.

I’m thinking the good thing about eating that early is we’ll have an appetite to make good use of the 24 Hr. Horizon Court for snacking later in the evening. They just better not be having any of the shows in the showroom pre-dinner, or we’ll be watching the entertainment, and miss breakfast.

In the end, if the early seating does not work for us, we do certainly have the option to switching to “Anytime Dining”.

In today’s report I’ve just had some fun “poking fun”. We’re delighted to be on the ship; from what I’ve seen so far she’s in great shape, and in the coming days aside from telling stories, I’ll try and share some good information, as well as pictures.
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Last edited by Kuki; March 26th, 2012 at 12:37 PM.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:52 AM
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Kuki...

How are all the CruiseMates getting along - anyone playing any dirty tricks yet?

Anyone show up in a Kuki mask?
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Old February 27th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Holy Moly $70 for the cab ride taking the same trip 3/26/11 guess wewill buy the tranaferr for $40 r/t per person
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:12 AM
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Default 2nd seating

Kuki
On Sea Princess in November, 2nd seatimg was at 8:30pm

Yes, a Hotel near San Pedro (Crown Plazq) said a taxi ride was about $65 from Airport.. think I'll take the bus
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Old February 28th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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When I visited the Carnival Splendor two weekends ago I noticed the Long Beach Airport is much closer to the docks.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Holy Moly $70 for the cab ride taking the same trip 3/26/11 guess wewill buy the tranaferr for $40 r/t per person
On embarkation day we like to "play rich"! The limo business is very competitive. I bet you can get a real limousine to the port for pretty much the same price as a cab! If you are a group of four or more it is cost effective. And it is soooooo nice to have that big shiny car waiting for you.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Sapphire Princess - Day 2 - Feb. 27
This is our fifth time cruising to Hawaii from the mainland. We’ve done this or similar routes in the winter, spring, and fall, and each time the weather and waters have been a bit choppy, so at least based on our experience, this seems to the norm in the Pacific for the first couple of days.

Mrs. Kuki and I are in an aft facing cabin on the stern (C753), thus during the night we certainly felt the motion of the ocean. I did take a Bonine, motion medication prior to sailing because I do most of my writing late in the evening, after returning to the cabin, and starting at a small computer screen while it’s moving around the room does encourage you to want to lay down. However with the Bonine all was well, and I’m suffering no ill effects from the motion.

We held our first CruiseMates group gathering this morning; a scheduled informal gathering to get people to meet early in the cruise. Of course, being the moron I am, I had forgot to adjust my watch for the time change from Mountain to Pacific time, so that move screwed up the plans for some in the group. About 25 of the group, must have been mind readers, and showed up for my messed time. Unfortunately we had disbanded too early for others who did show up at the “correct” time, who I heard from earlier so I owed some a sincere apology.

The ship has also sort screwed up some of our future plans. I had requested that our CruiseMates group cocktail party be scheduled for tomorrow, Monday Feb. 28 as to avoid a conflict with the ship’s Welcome Aboard Party, and first formal night… which are normally held the first full sea day of the cruise… which is today.

Unfortunately, the ship has designated tomorrow as the first Formal Night instead, with the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party. To the best of my recollection, in over 60 cruises, I’ve never seen a Welcome Aboard Party, and Formal Night scheduled for the 3rd night of the cruise. If this were a shorter cruise, it could be a combined Welcome Aboard/Sorry to see you leave party.

Combining that change with the change to 5:30 P.M. for early dining, made the requested 5- 6 P.M. cocktail party schedule a bit awkward, so I’ve arranged to begin our cocktail party at 4:30 tomorrow… or, just after breakfast.

It is a bit awkward planning such events for a group, because you’re trying to accommodate both those with early and late traditional dining, as well as those in the group who are using “Anytime Dining”, without conflicting with dining times, show times, as well as other shipboard activities.

However, I did work with the ship’s assistant group coordinator to assure everyone in our group received invitations to tomorrow night’s (morning) cocktail party. If people don’t toss it out before looking, along with the other “ship spam” they get in their mailboxes, we’ll get the entire group together tomorrow.

Today’s high temperature was in the mid 50s F, making people’s presence on the outside decks quite sparse. This led me to want to spend some time in the afternoon in the cabin, possibly watching some television. Unfortunately, on Princess, as with many cruise lines, television programming is pretty weak. We get that “wonderfully exciting” CNN International for news coverage. This makes sense for ships sailing in some areas of the world, but on a cruise from the United States to Hawaii, it does give one pause. I do have to give Princess a bit of credit. There are a couple of channels offering complimentary “recent run” movies, and no channels offering over priced pay per view movies.

I do know that the main television provider for many cruise lines is a company called MTN, and they do offer a package which includes the U.S. broadcast of CNN, ESPN, For News, and MSNBC, as well as some U.S. network broadcasting. Unfortunately Princess has obviously not chosen to purchase those services, which are available on Carnival, a corporate sister, within Carnival Corporation.

The good news is we got notices in the cabin today that they are replacing all in cabin television sets with flat panel sets tomorrow. So, we’ll have much better quality televisions to watch the bad programming.

This afternoon and early evening the ship did show the Academy Awards show, via satellite, in the Fusion Lounge, and Churchill’s Bar. That may be why they moved Formal Night to tomorrow night. But they may have missed a nice opportunity to turn Formal Night into a bit of a Gala Academy Awards Party.

Today they held the “Traditional English Pub Lunch” from 11:30 - 2:00 P.M. in the Savoy Dining Room. I didn’t attend, but I was told the attendance was exceptional.

This event may have created some problems in the galley, as tonight they were late opening the doors for our traditional early seating. And service in our dining room was very disjointed this evening. Last night at our table of 8 we were very impressed with meeting our likeable and seemingly professional wait team. Tonight they were struggling to get orders correct, and served in a timely manner. With late seating scheduled for 7:45, our dinner, and the messy service seemed quite rushed, and as we left the dining room at 7:40 it appeared the problem may have been spread throughout the dining room, as there were still tables finishing, or waiting to be served dessert. Hopefully we’ll see them get back on track tomorrow evening, or it could be a long cruise, or require a request of a change to “Anytime Dining”.

Last night at dinner our waiter offered to sell the Princess Coffee Card to the people at our table, explaining that the purchase included a “coffee mug”. One of our CruiseMates showed the coffee card she purchased earlier in the day, but explained no mention was made of the “mug” promotion. The waiter told her if she were to bring her receipt with her to dinner tonight, he would get the mug for her. A very kind offer, with the exception of asking to see her proof of purchase; she had the card, so why not believe she didn’t get the promotional mug.

The story got worse tonight. She did bring her receipt to dinner tonight, and the waiter went off to bring her the mug. He brought a small thermal shoulder water bottle bag in its place because he said they were out of mugs. She was a bit disappointed, but accepted the helpful nature of his attempt.

Then a minute later he returned to the table with another server, asking for the bag back, telling the guest she had to get the mug from the bar where she made the original purchase. Their excuse was each bar selling the cards was responsible for the inventory. I asked why someone couldn’t take her receipt and the coupon to the correct bar and fetch her promotional mug, but my question was greeted with no response. I was less than impressed with that type of service!

After dinner we saw the act of hypnotist Matthew Fallon in the Explorer’s Lounge. It was build as “Hypo -tainment”. The act was cute, but as with any hypnotist, very dependant on getting good volunteers from the audience.; tonight’s was somewhat lacking..

To put an exclamation point on the day, when I returned to the cabin to post today’s installment of the Virtual Cruise, I got an error message stating the Internet Café was undergoing maintenance, and to try again later. Later went on for some time, delaying this posting.

Of a positive note, I did see more of the ship’s public areas, and the ship appears to be in great shape. Hopefully the rest of the operation will begin to redeem itself tomorrow.

It’s now the next morning, Feb. 28. I awoke and immediately tried to connect to the Internet, but was still getting the “under maintenance” message, so I thought I would go up on deck to try again; still the same message. I’m wondering if there is indeed maintenance going on, or if I’m getting the Internet Café’s version of “ your call is important to us…”. If so, I’d much prefer just seeing a “No Service Available At This Time” message.

As I was already on Lido Deck, I thought I would try the Horizon Court buffet. It should have come with an error message too. Pre-prepared fried eggs laying under heating lamps were cold, with the yolks congealed, rather than runny.; bacon was so overdone it cracked into tiny pieces when I tried to pick it up with the tongs; bagels and breads totally cold.
They do have a small area to place orders for freshly cooked eggs. If I have an interest in eggs at a later date, I certainly know a visit there is going to be required.

Seems Princess really is struggling a bit to get this cruise started to the level of food and service I’ve come to expect of the cruise line.

The good news is we’re enjoying “picking at it” with the fun company of our CruiseMates buddies.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Kuki...

How are all the CruiseMates getting along - anyone playing any dirty tricks yet?

Anyone show up in a Kuki mask?
We've met most of the CruiseMates group now, but tonight is our complimentary cocktail party, so we're sure to meet the rest. Some familiar faces, from previous group cruises, and some new ones. Everyone seems great so far.

Our table of 8 for dinner is having a great time already. Already LOTS of laughs. They must have known, as they placed us in a corner, so we wouldn't be disturbing the Dining Room
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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Holy Moly $70 for the cab ride taking the same trip 3/26/11 guess wewill buy the tranaferr for $40 r/t per person
Yup.. I knew the taxi would be expensive. But I wasn't sure about our timing, flying in the day of the cruise, so I opted to just wait and use a taxi service rather than shuttle or transfers... just for the ease of it.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:44 PM
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Well...

So sorry for the wonky service so far - but nice to hear they are replacing the TV sets. I was on Sapphire just about a year ago and our service was excellent the entire time - no complaints at all.

Here is the problem (and I often try to impart this information to cruisers having problems).

Having worked on a cruise ship I do know this much - no single job on the ship other than head of guest services or the hotel manager knows ANYTHING about anything else happening on the ship outside of his own department.

Now, I am not trying to transfer blame to the nice lady with the coffee card. I am just saying it is basically a waste of time to ask a waiter to fix your free coffee mug problem.

That waiter lives downstairs and only comes to the passenger decks to serve people in the dining rooms (and lido, natch). He has never been to a bar on the ship the entire time he has been onboard, it isn't his job. Nor does he know anything about the coffee mug program other than what he was told to tell you guys in the dining room that night.

The waiter tried to help, he went out of his way to try to find a suitable replacement gift. And in the end he got over-ruled and embarassed for it. That is "bad service" by the cruise ship, yes, but you can't expect personalized service like you would get on Seabourn on a ship like that.

The lady should take her coffee card to a bar and request a mug. If that does not work, go to guest services and tell them. You need access to problem solvers to fix problems on cruise ships, and basically a waiter is not in any position to go outside of his own realm to fix anything.

But I give him credit for trying.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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You know - Princess takes great pride in the fact that they even show popular shows like the Academy awards on their ships. On our cruise we watched the entire World Series. Not long ago it was often not known until the last minute of you were going to be able to see something important if it was happening during your cruise - except the World Cup, of course. Somehow that always gets shown on every cruise.

Of course they moved formal night so not to clash with the awards show, can you imagine how many complaints they would have gotten from the people who couldn't watch the "song of the year" awards and eat their filet mignon at the same time?
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:51 PM
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Just to let you know, I am enjoying your cruise!
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Old February 28th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Thanks for the updates. Hope it gets warmer and I'm sure the service will improve as the second night is normally when everybody is in the mdr while the first night some folks are resting from getting to the ship.

Out of curiosity does Sapphire Princess have your account activity and balance on the TV as Sea Princess did not but Golden did.

Now if they could only train cruise crew as they do for Submarines or Canadian Navy (multiple duties)
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Old February 28th, 2011, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
The lady should take her coffee card to a bar and request a mug. If that does not work, go to guest services and tell them. You need access to problem solvers to fix problems on cruise ships, and basically a waiter is not in any position to go outside of his own realm to fix anything.

But I give him credit for trying.
For sure KUDOS to the waiter for trying to assist. His "superior" should have never embarrassed him or the guest.

Sure she won't pursue the silly mug, and no doubt it will be stored in the back of her mind as we have more and more fun.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 03:07 PM
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Just to let you know, I am enjoying your cruise!


Me too...

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Old February 28th, 2011, 09:04 PM
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Kuki, I'm enjoying your cruise too, I hope it gets warmer!
Say hello to "Cruwysie" for me (Donna & Wayne from Ont.)

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Old March 1st, 2011, 01:18 AM
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We just got off the Sapphire Princess on SATURDAY the 26th. It was a 7 day cruise to Mexico. Yes they were replacing all of the TV sets with new flat screen ViewSonic TV sets. We had a great time. Now we are enjoying your cruise.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 11:09 AM
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Sapphire Princess - Feb. 28
By 10 A.M. the internet service was back up and running, and I was able to submit yesterday’s update.

As I was on deck waiting, about 9 A.M. I witnessed someone ordering a Diet Coke. I am die hard Diet Coke addict, but my ears perked up listening to the order, because even I can’t drink that stuff that early in the morning.

By 10 a slight bit of sunshine broke through the clouds, but the temperature outdoors still couldn’t have been above 50. Yet, there were some hearty souls who were determined to enjoy their “Hawaiian vacation” and were out by the outdoor pool, and in the pool, in bathing suits. And you thought I was kuki!

There was actually quite a busy schedule of events today for those who like to keep busy. A Bridge lecture in the morning; a “Scholarship @sea” lecture entitled “The Pacific War: Head to Head Comparison of the Imperial Japanese and American Navies, Leaders, Ships and Aircraft and Weapons”; BrainBuster Trivia; Ballroom Dancing; another enrichment lecture on the island of Kauai; Ukelele lessons… and those were only in the morning. I spent the day, doing what I do best… nothing.

At lunch there was an Oriental and Sushi Buffet set up at the Calypso Pool. Not entirely favorite type of cuisine, but the folks around me seemed to be enjoying it immensely. Later, of course, there was “Afternoon Tea”, which Princess does very well.

This afternoon we got together with most of the members of our CruiseMates group for our complimentary cocktail party in the Wheelhouse Bar. The Wheelhouse is my favorite bar on this ship. It’s very clubby, with a very nautical and British atmosphere.

One thing about group cruises; pretty much everyone shows up when the drinks are free. A very nice time was had by all, and we got in a very pleasant hour of socializing. About half the group has sailed with us before on prior CruiseMates group cruises, and about half were people I hadn’t met, but was delighted to meet. Several new folks commented that they’d been reading my CruiseMates articles and blogs for years, and that made me feel pretty good, as not one suggested I should be doing something else.

Those with late lunch dinner seating headed off to the Dining Room at 5:30. Oddly we sat until 6 P.M. until our dinner orders were taken. The service was a bit quicker tonight, and we managed to be done dinner and dessert by 7:30.

The CruiseMates folks who we dine with do really like the personality of our waiter, but truthfully the service continues to be spotty. If we didn’t have several tables of CruiseMates from our group nearby, I’d have likely switched dining assignments by now.

We’ve enjoyed the entrees, but I’ve been less excited by some of the offerings in the other courses, though this evening I ordered a couple of extra pasta with veal strips to share as side dishes with my entrée, to share with the table. And it was delicious.

I’ve really been rooting for things to improve in the area of food and service; to showcase why Princess is considered a Premium Brand. We’re only three nights into the cruise, but so far, I’m still just rooting, rather than marveling.

After dinner tonight there was a production show in the Princess Theater, and the showroom was so full, quite a few people, including our dining mates couldn’t get in. This is a shortcoming I’ve noted before on the Grand Class ships; an ill designed theater.

Princess does attempt to combat this problem by having it’s entertainment repeat during the cruise, using the ship’s large Explorer’s Lounge as an alternate venue for the “headline entertainment“.

If there’s a act or show in the Princess Theater that you really want to see, be sure to head to the Theater as soon as you finish dinner, if you have early seating, and a half hour or so early if you’re show-time is prior to dinner. Failing that, look for it in the Princess Patters (daily newsletter) for when it will repeating.

I’m actually feeling bad that to date my daily reports have taken a fairly negative tone. I really want to love the ship, but “the ship” is making it difficult to do so.

Tonight the seas are acting up once again. We have pretty solid “sea legs” by now, so even being in a stern facing cabin, it’s not having any ill effects on us. However it is dangerous to be close to any man peeing standing up (just contemplate the visual to get the joke) .

I normally do my writing late at night upon returning to my cabin, and then post. Unfortunately, other than the first night, the Internet connection has not been cooperating, so please accept my apologies for the delay.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Rough seas will always make the Internet connection more spotty since it makes it harder to lock in that satellite signal.

It sounds like your sailing is fairly rough, but it should smooth out as you get closer to the islands - hopefully.

It has been a pretty cold winter on the West Coast (but not as bad as the east coast) and there have been a lot of cold fronts moving through one after another. The mountains ringing Phoenix were topped with lots of snow last Sunday.

On my transatlantic crossing on Norwegian Epic last June, 7 days from Southampton to New York City, it was miserably cold every single sea day, including the morning we "steamed" up the Hudson. It literally did not warm up until we were in our berth in NY City, in JUNE! My point is that the weather on the open seas can be cold.

I certainly hope your food improves. I would like to hear you say you loved something as well. Are you going with the simpler dishes (steak) or the more complex ones (Lobster Thermador)? What is the exact problem - served cold? Bland? Or just not good quality ingredients. You know some things can be fixed. I always thought Princess food was a bit on the bland side, but many people say they like it left simple so they can spice it up themselves.

Have a word with Maitre D' if you feel the waiter is somehow ruining your food (bringing it cold, especially). You're the group leader, after all .
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Old March 1st, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
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Kuki, I'm enjoying your cruise too, I hope it gets warmer!
Say hello to "Cruwysie" for me (Donna & Wayne from Ont.)

donna
Thanks Donna and all for the comments, and letting me know you're "cruising along".

RD.. of course we have seen Donna and Wayne several times. I'll pass on your regards.

Once the internet service becomes a bit more reliable, I'll start posting pictures as well.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 11:41 AM
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Paul,

I think this our 5th time sailing this, or a similar route to Hawaii. We know from experience the first couple of days the seas are bit choppy; usually the last couple of days on the return trip too. No complaints about that at all.

I described the Dining Room service earlier as disjointed, and that's really the best word I can think of to describe it. For example, two people may be served their appetizers, while the other six face a gap before getting theirs. Then, when more food does arrive we're telling the waiter who ordered what.

I do like to give the Dining Room a couple of days to "get their act together", so we'll see what happens tonight at dinner. The CruiseMates nearby have a different waiter, and as yet I've heard no complaints about their service. I haven't asked, but I will.

I'm really just a meat and potatoes kind of guy. As I said the entrees have been fine, and steaks quite tasty. The hot soups and pastas have been delivered cold, with the exception of our shared pasta dish last night.

Princess's pasta used to be one of the best things they served, in my opinion, so perhaps my standard for them to reproduce is high.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 12:18 PM
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Here's a link to some early pictures from this cruise
CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums - Kuki's Album: Sapphire Princess
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Old March 1st, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Thanks for posting the pictures...I do recognize some of the gang,and glad you are enjoying the cruise. Sorry you seem to be having spotty service and food issues...let's hope they get their act together soon...Ray and Helen must be thrilled to be back with the gang again..regards to all!
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Old March 1st, 2011, 03:12 PM
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Unhappy Food service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post

I described the Dining Room service earlier as disjointed, and that's really the best word I can think of to describe it. For example, two people may be served their appetizers, while the other six face a gap before getting theirs. Then, when more food does arrive we're telling the waiter who ordered what.
I am like you, I would love to think the best of that ship. She is a beautiful ship and I love her.

BUT --

What you describe at dinner is TOTALLY unacceptable cruise ship service. I am not one to make a scene, but the first time it happened I would have remained behind at the end of the meal to explain to the waiter that keeping track of orders and bringing them all together and serving them to the right people is MINIMAL service. Frankly, the second time it happened I would talk to the Headwaiter about training his staff.

I have always been one to rave about shipboard service, and point out that stuff like that does NOT happen on board ship. I certainly hope that it improves for you.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 09:16 PM
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Default Great pictures

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Here's a link to some early pictures from this cruise
CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums - Kuki's Album: Sapphire Princess

Just wondering why there are no names ?
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Old March 1st, 2011, 11:07 PM
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We are book on this cruise on March 26th, so we are finding this very interesting. Also your comments about the dining room, we were on the Celebrity Mercury last fall and had the same issue. It was almost 30 minutes between the time we finsh our soup and the main course came. We do not know what's happening. We were making comments that we could wait to get back on a Princess ship as we have done 5 cruises with Princess and all the other ones were great.
Keep posting.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodk View Post
We are book on this cruise on March 26th, so we are finding this very interesting. Also your comments about the dining room, we were on the Celebrity Mercury last fall and had the same issue. It was almost 30 minutes between the time we finsh our soup and the main course came. We do not know what's happening. We were making comments that we could wait to get back on a Princess ship as we have done 5 cruises with Princess and all the other ones were great.
Keep posting.
[COLOR="rgb(153, 50, 204)"]woodk,
We too are on the March 26th sailing. I hope all these problems get worked out of the Hawaii cruise before we set sail. I am also hoping for calmer seas and nicer weather.

kuki,
I am hanging on ever word and checking back every day to read your posts. I am way too detail oriented about travel. I am taking notes like there is a final exam at the end of the cruise. Thanks for getting me prepared.[/COLOR]
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Unhappy Hawaiian Cruise

Thanks Kuki for your daily reports, we were wondering whether to cruise Hawaii via California with those 4 days at sea, or to do it from Hawaii on NCL and I'm thinking the more you diss this cruise the better doing it from Hawaii sounds.
Cruisin' ain't what it used to be ! and that's a shame.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 12:08 PM
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I just investigated this price comparison. Now I like the NCL option, too. You see a lot of Hawaii in the seven day cruise (in port every single day).

The longer cruises are for people who like days at sea - and believe or not the cost of a 17-day cruise is comparable to the 7-day NCL option after you figure in flights and the hotel you need to book if you want to see anything on Oahu (like Honolulu).

Figure about $4250 for two people for the NCL option (from L.A.) - while a 17-day mainland cruise is about $4000 oceanview (more for balcony).

But I like the actual Hawaii itinerary better with the NCL option - as long as you fly in early and get the hotel in Honolulu.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 01:18 PM
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Sapphire Princess - March 1
I’d noticed yesterday in the Princess Patters that they are offering a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship for $150 per person (CHOKE). Frankly, I can’t imagine what they could show me on the ship that is worth $300 for a couple (unless there happened to be some lap dances involved).

Yet, this morning I did see what appeared to be a tour group wandering around the ship, with about a dozen participants.

As of today we could tell we were getting nearer to Hawaii. The skies were getting bluer and less cloudy, and by afternoon the sun was warmer, and many passengers reacted by venturing outside.

The cruise line must assume we “more elderly” folks onboard wake up earlier in the morning than the younger “late night party crowd” on other lines. Maybe because we retire earlier, or maybe it’s because we have to get up more frequently to use the washroom; but in either case, Princess begins their activity schedule quite early. By 9:30 A.M there’s Trivia contests going on, and by 10:30 A.M. line dance class. At 1:00 P.M there’s passenger involved “game shows” and at 2:15 in the afternoon they are already hosting Karaoke.

I am far from being a morning person; though I may be awake by 7:30 A.M. I don’t gain consciousness until 11, and no one can expect to see me at the Jackpot Bingo at 11:15.

For anyone who wants to keep busy throughout the day, the day time schedule is jam-packed with choices, including more “Enrichment Lectures”, movies on the big screen in the Princess Theater, and even knitting classes.

For the “vegetables” like me, it’s quite easy to spend the day outdoors poolside, by the Dolphin pool and people watch, while visiting with CruiseMates as they happen to pass by, spending time relaxing on our balcony staring out of the ship’s wake mindlessly, and making time to fit in an afternoon nap while “watching” an in cabin movie. Today was my kind of day because I managed to do all of those things, and not do all the other things.

For some people an itinerary such as this, with 5 sea days in a row would drive them a bit crazy. For me, it’s the best; allowing the hassles of life on land to dissipate and temporarily disappear from my mind, and simply enjoy relaxing.

The nice thing - on this ship you can do either; stay quite busy, or act like me.

Now it’s time to tell you a bit about our cabin, Caribe Deck, cabin 753, an aft cabin, facing off the stern of the ship. C753 is a “standard” size balcony cabin, not a mini-suite. However, due to it’s location on the corner stern it has an unusual balcony design, with curved railing. It is not a wrap around balcony, but it is deeper than many of the other balconies within the same category.

The Caribe Deck standard balcony cabins are amongst the most desired on the ship by those in the know. And that’s because the Caribe Deck cabins on the sides of the ship are deeper than those on Baja or Aloha Decks, plus half the balconies are covered by the ship’s superstructure, and half of the balcony is open. In C753 the entire balcony is covered, and the superstructure above extends several feet past the end of the balcony, making the balcony itself quite shaded. However, the big benefit of this cabin, aside from the large balcony and the incredible views of the wake, is they are also very private.

I’d forgotten how tiny the showers are in these cabins. It appears Mrs. Kuki and I have grown with age (a nice way of saying expanded). Years ago the two of could share the shower space. Today, not only is that impossible, if I want my feet washed I have to stick them out beyond the shower curtain, and ask her assistance. As well, the bath towels are about big enough for someone who can fit in the shower. The really nice thing about the shower is it has great water pressure, and plenty of hot water.

The cabin is equipped with a comfortable Queen sized bed, complete with good quality sheets, covered with a comfy white duvet, and the tiniest “cheap” and uncomfortable pillows I can recall seeing since I was in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent jail in Arizona (Google Sheriff Joe to understand reference).

Another comparison to jail house amenities might be the toilet paper. It’s so thin, if you hold it up to the light it’s totally transparent. The wrapping on the roles says 2 layers, but I’m assuming one of the layers is the wrapping.

The cabin itself is in wonderful condition, decorated nicely, plenty of closet space, and certainly completely functional, even for a 14 night voyage.

Finally, some great news to report… today service and food during dinner were as good as I expected of Princess when I stepped onboard. It took until our 4th day, but the service was well paced, and every course, from appetizer through dessert was extremely tasty. As a matter of fact for my entrée I chose the Veal Cordon Bleu, which I don’t recall seeing on a cruise ship menu before, and it was delicious. We didn’t have to orchestrate service for the wait staff, and we even had time between courses to chat a bit with our waiter. Just hoping this is the service level we receive and remember for the next 10 nights.
 
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