Saturday, March 26, 2016

This is not your Grandaddy's Cruise... Oh, wait IT IS- Sea Day #1

Anniversary Cruise 2016- Caribbean Princess

Champagne Wishes and Truffle Dreams
Sea Day #1
Monday, March 14, 2016

This was an incredible day of rest and relaxation with perhaps the smoothest seas we have ever sailed on. But this day ended with an amazing ceremony with the Captain and a champagne waterfall and fancy Princess truffles.

Unlike cruises in the past, we woke up to crystal clear seas and calm waters. In fact, the seas were so smooth and the room was so dark that we were able to sleep well past our normal wake-up time of 5AM and snooze until past 7:30AM. It was a GLORIOUS way to start our cruise.

This is the view we had as we woke up (and went outside). 

While Chris got up and did his morning jogging routine, I was able to go to the aft pool and watch the wake of the ship while I did my quiet time. It was a picture perfect morning with not a cloud in the sky and a beautiful breeze. The prayer and personal time I spent with The Lord in that moment I will truly never forget. Thank You Jesus for the beauty you have created. What a great reminder of His awesome powers and the remarkable beauty of the earth and the seas He has created.

This view NEVER gets old. This is by far my favorite area of ANY ship and my favorite thing to do while cruising! 

After I finished my quiet time I went back to look for Chris and he was jogging on one of the packed treadmills. He was in the middle of a jog so I decided to go back to our room and look through the Patter but our room steward Jesus was in the middle of cleaning our room so I just went back to the fitness center to wait for Chris. Unfortunately not only were the treadmills not available until 8AM but they seemed to short-out far too often so Chris was only able to jog 1.5 miles.

While he showered I went down to the International Café to see what breakfast treats they offered. FINALLY, a cruise ship that offers donuts… I was ecstatic. This selection of donuts changed daily and were not as good as the good ol’ fashion donut shop in East Texas but it was an unexpected treat nonetheless.

These donuts were a great way to start my day. 

Once Chris was done showering we headed to the Coral Dining Room for a more formal breakfast. The Princess breakfast menu was not as extensive as Carnival or Royal Caribbean but the service was once again exceptional. The made to order omelets seemed to take a lot longer than usual at 20-25 minutes but once they arrived they were top notch and tasted excellent. The pastry offerings were OK but not as good as Carnival or even Royal Caribbean, whom we think has the least impressive food offerings.

We knew we wanted to lay out and relax on this day so we went back to the room expecting to get our stuff and go to the aft pool. We noticed that we still had not received our pre-ordered drinks of water and other drinks. I called the Guest Services and they informed me that I had to call Room Service and arrange a time to have it delivered. To make a long story short this whole process took nearly an hour and I still didn’t have our drinks. Finally, I was able to have a Room Service team member come to my room to have me sign for the items and they would be delivered at a later time. This was very annoying as it was not made known that we had to call Room Service to get our pre-paid items delivered. I knew that due to Texas alcohol policies certain items have to be delivered once in international waters but again, I never expected this much of a hassle. If you pre-pay for items be sure to call Room Service and have them delivered ASAP. 

Chris got tired of waiting for the whole fiasco to dissipate so he went to the cooking demo in the Piazza but unfortunately there were not any seats. I met him on deck 5 for coffee. Princess offers a coffee card that includes 15 premium coffee items from the Coffee Bar as well as unlimited hot drip coffee and teas and unlimited hot chocolate (of which we were really excited for but looking back now we never opted for this freebie… BUMMER).  This card is $29 and when you include the mandatory 15% gratuity comes to just under $33. This is a great deal when considering the premium coffee drinks can range from $3-5 each. Plus this card is available to use on other sail dates as well. We used all of our 15 punches since we knew we would not be sailing Princess again for a while. If you are a coffee drinker, be sure to look into this. You can order ahead of time or pay for right at the coffee counter.

A view of the cooking demo in the Piazza.

We finally made it to the aft pool around 10:40AM and got settled in the shade for a nice morning of rest and relaxation. The wind had picked up a little bit and we ended up getting our hoodies and wrapping up in deck towels but it was a GLORIOUS morning of NOTHING.

Our view for the afternoon! PRICELESS!

We opted to try out the Mexican Buffet at Café Caribbe and Horizon Court. This turned out to be OUTSTANDING Mexican food, especially for a cruise ship and a buffet no less. We were shocked that we ended up eating at the buffet and not the main dining room but the food was awesome. Be sure to look for this buffet in particular if you are sailing on the Caribbean Princess in the near future.

The buffet not only tasted good but it was decorated well too!

We knew the Caribbean Princess did not offer a jogging track but I wondered if you could jog on the promenade deck 7 so we went there to investigate. It turns out that you can walk. Jog 2.7 laps to get 1 mile. Chris ended up running there most days but you had to climb up a high flight of stairs toward the front of the deck which made jogging a little frustrating.

Despite already having Alaska booked and planned for this summer on the Carnival Legend we decided to go to the Experience Alaska event at 1:00PM. This was a push to book an Alaskan cruise with Princess but we learned a LOT. In fact, the speaker was from Vancouver and gave us GREAT tips on what to do and see there when we take a day trip from Seattle. We are less than 3 months away and we are so excited to explore the northwest.

All this excitement had us a little tired. We went back to the room to drop off all of the Alaska materials and ended up falling asleep for nearly an hour. This is not typical for us on a cruise ship as we like to “go and see and do” all the time but quite honestly, we needed this rest. This would turn into an afternoon routine for us. After we woke up and realized the time we ran down to Club Fusion for a Mardi Gras Dance class. Monique from Brazil taught us the steps to the Mardi Gras dance and we got ready for the Mardi Gras party the following day. So we are Baptist and we CANNOT dance. We were not the worst ones in the class but I am afraid if this crowd wasn’t so old and this was a more “lively” ship then we would have been. It was a lot of fun and out of our comfort zone so we appreciated it.

Us with Monique... She was awesome and could have played the role of the ACTUAL Cruise Director. Our cruise director, Lee C., was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND most of the time and was not energetic or enthusiastic at all. By far our least CD to date. 

Then it was time for tea time. This is a new tradition for Chris and I as we just discovered it on the Carnival Magic in June 2015. The Carnival Tea Time we have experienced offered specialty teas and very good desserts with a variety of sandwiches. The Princess Tea Time was absolutely incredible. The dessert offerings were the best on the ship and cooked and made to perfection. Not to mention the sandwiches were some of the best I have ever had and actual types that people eat… not just salmon and cucumber. The presentation was indescribable and immaculate. This was the moment that Princess won me over. The scones alone were the best I have ever had, even when we were in England. They were moist and soft and not the usual hard that I have had in the past. If you like tea, well even if you don’t, go and check this out at 3PM EVERYDAY! I promise you will not be disappointed!

The presentation of this was immaculate!

The Princess logo was even on the pastries! 

This was the set-up that was displayed each day the entrance to tea to show you the options of desserts and sandwiches... My mouth is watering as I am writing this! This was just incredible!

This was followed by Happy Hour in Club Fusion. This was a daily special of Buy One, Get One $1 that was open to the entire bar menu. Typical cocktails were $8.95 so 2 people could enjoy a drink AND gratuity for under $12. This was the best prices we have seen at sea and the drinks were some of the best too.

Tonight was the first formal night so we went back to our room to get ready for this special night. We got all dressed up and went to take formal pictures by 5:45PM. There was already a line of 3-5 groups but Chris so lovingly waited so we could get our traditional formal picture from this cruise. After we took these pictures we went to the Island Dining room for our dinner to find a long line. They gave us a pager and we went to the Piazza to watch them set up the Champagne Waterfall for the Captain’s reception later that evening. We had to wait about 25-30 minutes but by 6:40PM we were sitting down to a wonderful dinner. Formal nights in the dining rooms are ALWAYS busy and this was no exception but we did notice that while the service was exception on Princess, the wait staff teams did not work as flawless as on other lines. This meant more work for them and more wait time for us but we will still finished within 1 hour and 30 minutes which is unheard of on a cruise ship.

This was a group called Duo of Angels and they played "EWI" (Electronic Wind Instruments) or electric violins. They were on board all week and we really enjoyed them. 

After dinner we went into the Piazza to find them handing out champagne and truffles. The champagne was nothing special and tasted cheap so I got a mimosa (FREE) instead. The truffles were very chocolate-y but the presentation of them was amazing and very classy with a Princess logo on each one. Formal night is always a big hit on a cruise ship and there is much debate about dress code. I will say that most people seemed to be dressed up more than what Carnival passengers do but about the same as Royal Caribbean. Women were in dresses (Cocktail or longer formals) and men were in mainly suits, coats and ties. Overall I think the dress codes were very laid back on this ship and most of the time Chris (And LOTS of men) got away with shorts and flip-flops in the dining room but on Formal night it was more traditional. 

These were incredible... the presentation alone was AMAZING!


It was an older crowd but most every man was in a suit, tux or tie at the very least. We were able to jump in line to get a picture with the Head Maître’D at the Champagne Waterfall before the Captain made his presence and speech.  

This waterfall was really cool and a "WOW" factor for Princess

I am so glad I was able to get a complete stranger to take our picture! 

Introducing all the officers on board. 

The hotel director... He was not Warren from the Navigator but he did a great job as we loved our room and our room steward!

The Captain did not come down with the other officers and he stayed above and away from guests. 

Formal Night aboard the Caribbean Princess! 

After this we opted to change out of our formal wear before going to the nightly show which was a production by the Princess singers and dancers called The Piano Man. This was easily the best production show we have seen in all 7 of our cruises. The song selections were fantastic and the performers did a remarkable job. This is a production that is not to be missed so be sure to get there early to get a seat. We were able to snag an “orchestra wing” type of seat but we were there about 20 minutes early.

They advertised “The Voice of the Ocean” at the end of this production show and it was just like the Voice on TV. More of a karaoke style sing-off so I figured I would go and sign up. Of course, I can sing really well but I was not prepared and didn’t know which song to choose so I found “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston of which I sang multiple times in High School. However, after I signed up and I began to try to sing the song in my head I got nervous and literally chickened out. We opted to go to the “Yes/ NO” game-show in Explorers Lounge instead. This was a lot of fun and I really wish we would have been there at the beginning to sign up. Can you go 3 minutes without saying yes or no? I think I would have failed but Chris… he could have won! Be sure to look for this in your Princess Patters… It is hilarious.

We ended the night at Movie Under the Stars (MUTS) to watch. Unfortunately it was too late for a late night snack of pizza or even the buffet so we just snuggled up under the stars and watched the movie. I began to get a stiff neck so I retired for the evening back to the room while Chris finished the movie. He came back to the room around 12:30AM where I was still asleep… I guess I should have just stayed!

Tomorrow is our 1st port day and we don't even plan on getting off the ship! We want to experience what it would be like to have the ship all to ourselves.

Stay tuned for Cozumel, Mexico!
Thanks for following!

God is good… All the time! 

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