I never win anything. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did win back money I’d already played in Las Vegas one time. However, I don’t think you can consider it winning when you break even. The world seems to be … Continue reading
Between the time we docked in San Pedro and our arrival back in Portland, we reflected on our cruise experience. We learned a lot about sailing with Princess Cruises, but five things stand out in my mind
1. The process of embarking and disembarking shouldn’t be a mystery.
We thought we needed to hurry to the ship, which turned out to be untrue. The embarkation process is similar to boarding an airplane. Those who sailed with the cruise line previously and had elite status boarded first. Had we known we had more time, we could have toured the USS Iowa that is docked in close proximity.
Disembarking may have been less of a mystery had we watched the infomercial, but seriously, who wants to spend the last day of their cruise watching television? We looked all over our cabin for information about disembarking, but couldn’t find anything. We looked on our bill, but could find no information there either. We decided to follow the crowd, which was a good move. A crew member asked us for our disembarkment location, which we didn’t have, but he was able to direct us to the proper location. Once there, we saw that people were in groups. Since we didn’t know which group to join we asked another crew member. She was quite surprised that our bill didn’t have the information, so she just put us in the group that was disembarking next. YEA!
It was a pretty simple process, and had we known how fast it was going to be, we would have called our transportation service, A-1 Express so they could be waiting outside the terminal. Our driver Eric arrived as quickly as possible and made his way to LAX to drop us off for our flight home. He was masterful at navigating the LA morning rush hour.
2. Photographers are everywhere.
We were glad we had been warned about the photographers taking pictures on the ship. These photographers seemed to be everywhere; when you boarded the ship, when you left the ship, while you were dining. I’m not against having my picture taken, but they don’t ask you. They made it seem like this is what everyone does. We courteously walked around the “opportunity” or did not make eye contact. The crew was very nice about using our camera to take our photo when we asked.
3. The food is plentiful, but not extraordinary.
The food was good, but didn’t live up to the hype. It was fun to be adventurous and try new things without worrying about the price. I would definitely order the chilled soups, again! The desserts looked amazing, but we learned to avoid cakes. I love cake, but every time that was our dessert choice, it was stale. Pizza is good, but even the pizza at Alfredo’s (which everyone raves about) wasn’t overly special. Everything we ate in the dining rooms was good to great, but not superior to most restaurants.
4. Take the buffet home.
This isn’t something I learned during this cruise, but ALWAYS take advantage of “portable” food (especially if you’ve already paid for it, or it’s free!). During lunch at the buffet on our last full day, I noticed sandwiches wrapped in plastic. I grabbed a couple and took them back to our room and put in them in our refrigerator. We also grabbed some extra cookies and muffins. This little stash came in handy for our flight home the following day.
5. Cruising is a good vacation option.
Did we enjoy it? Yes. Did we love it? No. Do we want to take another one? Yes, but only if it is the best way to visit a specific destination, such as Alaska or the Caribbean. We’re already saving for our next cruise, but we figure we won’t set sail again for another five years or so.
If you’re considering a cruise, do your research. Compare the different cruise lines and cruises on sites such as Vacations To Go. Read message boards (cruisecritics.com). Consider taking a short cruise, like we did, so you can get your feet wet, so to speak, and see if cruising is for you without spending a lot of money.
Day four of our cruise was technically our final day. The following morning we would dock in San Pedro, disembark and head home. While we enjoyed our cruise, we were ready to get home. However, knowing our busy routine was waiting, we took full advantage of these last hours of relaxation.
After breakfast, we spent most of the day on our balcony reading. This may sound boring to some, but it was extremely enjoyable to us. We like to read, but it seems there’s always something more pressing that needs doing. Our cabin was located in the back of the ship, or the stern. Some people would rather be near the front, or bow of the ship, for the views. What we lacked in views was more than made up for by the lack of wind. The sun was warm and the location was perfect!
I had to remind myself that we were sitting outside on a balcony on a cruise ship in January! The following day I’d have to say goodbye to sandals, capris and short sleeved shirts and return to shoes, socks and a winter coat.
We stopped reading long enough to grab some lunch at the buffet, and then took a walk around the ship. It was extremely windy, and I was glad I’d grabbed my jacket. The breeze was just a tad bit chilly for me, so I was glad when we returned to the cabin to resume reading on our balcony.
We wanted to capture the sunset, so we didn’t make dinner reservations. Taking pictures of the sunset seemed more important than where we ate. If you don’t make reservations, you may still be able to be seated in one of the dining rooms, but we didn’t want to be bothered and decided to eat at the buffet again. The buffet is more laid back, no real dress code, but they don’t offer the appetizers, soups and salads that are on the dining room menus. By the way, all the dining rooms have the same menu every night with the exception of their specialty.
After dinner we packed for our return home. We’d missed the infomercial they air regarding disembarking, and wanted to be ready for the unknown.
We put on our Princess Cruise robes and went back onto our balcony soaking up the last of our time at sea. I could have stood there listening to the ocean for hours, but we had a long day of travel ahead of us and it was time for bed. I tried to concentrate on the rocking of the boat as I fell asleep. So peaceful…
I slept very well at sea. I don’t know if it was the rocking of the ship or the enormous amount of food I was eating, but I didn’t have insomnia once. I woke up bright and early on the third day of our cruise and got around to go eat breakfast. We’d enjoyed watching our ship pull into San Diego the day before, so I wanted to do the same as we pulled into Ensenada, Mexico.
We made it to the buffet just as it was opening and took a window seat. We could tell we weren’t in the United States. The tug boats and barges didn’t look the least bit sea-worthy. The pier, however, was very pretty. There was some construction and landscaping under way, and we got the sense it was being done for the benefit of the cruise ship industry.
Tour buses were already circling the parking lot next to the pier. A Carnival cruise ship had docked some time before we arrived, and the locals were ready to welcome tourist dollars! We had been to Mexico previously, and felt no desire whatsoever to take a tour, or get off the ship at all for that matter. Knowing we had nowhere to be at any specific time, we ate a very leisurely breakfast and watched everyone else scurry around.
Our plan for the day was pretty simple. We’d finish breakfast, read on our balcony and then make our way to the pool area to watch the Seattle Seahawks play the New Orleans Saints on a HUGE 30’X40’ jumbo screen. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we feel as though the Seahawks are our home team, even though we live in Oregon.
I’ve never watched a televised football game outdoors on a jumbo screen. It was quite the experience. There we were sitting on lounge chairs poolside in 70 degree weather, watching a NFL playoff game in January. The weather in Seattle (where the game was played) was quite different. Strong winds made the steady rain blow sideways. If we’d had an international call package, we’d have called friends and family to gloat, just a little, about our conditions for watching the game!
One of the nice things about watching a football game on a cruise ship is that you don’t have to worry about snacks! Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, ice cream – you name it, it was available. I have to say it was by far the best way to watch a football game. The fact that the Seahawks won and advanced in the playoffs (and eventually won the Super Bowl!), made the day even better.
We ended the day at the buffet rather than one of the ship’s dining rooms, before returning to our cabin to watch the Colts fall to the Patriots in the other playoff game. We were kind of surprised to learn we could actually catch the game in our cabin. Television offerings are pretty limited, but it’s doubtful anyone takes a cruise to sit in their cabin and watch TV.
We waved goodbye to Ensenada from our balcony and listened to the “bark” of a seal perched on the jetty. We stood outside for a while, wrapped in the warmth of our Princess Cruise Line robes just listening to the sounds of the ship and the ocean. Ahhhh….
(Next: A day at sea, exploring the ship and reading on the balcony)