Monday, April 4, 2016

This is not Your Granddaddy's Cruise... Oh Wait, It Is- Debarkation

Anniversary Cruise 2016- Caribbean Princess

Number 7 is in the Books
Disembarkation- Houston, TX 
Sunday, March 20, 2016
It is hard to believe that this cruise is already over. We have had a GREAT time just resting and relaxing and as boring as this cruise might have seemed (it was)… it was exactly what these exhausted teachers and parents needed. Now we look forward to and count down the days until our much anticipated Alaska cruise (#Alaska2016) and Seattle vacation for our 10th anniversary. Number 7 is in the books… Now time for Number 8!

I woke up at 4AM and could not go back to sleep. I had been dealing with very little sleep and interrupted sleep the weeks and months prior to this cruise but the previous 7 nights I slept perfect. But again, I was going back to reality so I guess my body was just preparing me. We both got up and started getting ready by 6:30AM and we were at the breakfast buffet by 7AM.

We had a 8AM Walk-Off time so we went back to our room and gathered our stuff to get to the Explorer’s Lounge before the masses arrived and the elevators got busy. Despite having to sit in the lounge for what seemed like FOREVER for our group to be called I am so glad we did this when we did because shortly afterwards the elevators, stairs and hallways became clogged up with people.If you plan on doing a Self-Disembark or Walk-Off debarkation, do your self a favor and get to the designated holding spot EARLY! 

We waited in the lounge for well over an hour. The ship did not get clearance from customs as early as the Captain had hoped which pushed back all of the debarkation times. We were the very last Walk-Off group to be called and were supposed to be called by 8AM but were not called until 8:13AM. Unfortunately, I get impatient very easily so I was a little irritated but we made it off the ship. The rest of our morning timeline went as follows: 
8:16AM- On Houston land 
8:24AM- In the “maze” line for customs 
8:40AM- Through the customs line (After being questioned for 5 minutes by what seemed like a non-US citizen… He had a terrible accent. It was sort of ironic if you ask me). 
8:51AM- Leaving the parking lot for our house 
9:57AM- We arrived at our house in The Woodlands

These were fairly good times considering the ship did not get clearance in time and we had to wait in the Explorer’s Lounge for over an hour. In the moment I thought it was taking forever but looking back it was a pretty good debarkation.

Summary and Thoughts
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and Princess Cruise Lines. We honestly think that this is what cruising was like 20 years ago. Princess definitely caters to an older crowd but not necessarily a Holland America level of age groups. (Holland America is known in the cruising world as the “old persons” cruise line). 

I think the food, service and overall atmosphere of the ship was phenomenal and it will be hard to beat by any other cruise line or ship. Princess’s motto and tag line is “Escape Completely” and you will “Come Back New”. I think this was obvious and apparent in our cruise as we literally did ESCAPE COMPLETELY. For this particular cruise and for this point in our lives, this style and type of cruising is exactly what we needed. However, I think if this cruise was taken in the middle of the summer after we had some time to refresh from teaching and the craziness that is our daily lives, both Chris and I would have been bored to tears by day 3. The ship itself did not offer a lot of physical activities or things to do while on the ship such as a rock wall, surf simulator or even a putt-putt golf course.

The Ship
This ship had 4 pools and plenty of deck chairs but was lacking in every other category. In addition, Princess did not offer a lot of during the day (especially sea days) activities like trivia games and other entertainment events. It did have a very unique karaoke competition called “The Voice of the Ocean” which as very neat and cool but most of their other daytime and evening activities were not unique to them and were not highly attended or participated in which in turn made them less entertaining.

Since Princess will no longer sail from Houston or anywhere near us we will probably not go looking to book a Princess cruise in the near future. There is talk of them sailing out of Galveston when the 3rd cruise terminal is completed in the near future but as of right now that is just gossip. If Princess were in fact going to cruise from Galveston, or somewhere within a day’s drive, we would continue to sail with Princess. However, even if they were to sail out of Galveston, I am not sure if I would take my kids on a Princess cruise as the ship itself was not as kid-friendly as Carnival or Royal Caribbean ships.

In 2014-2015 after Chris and I sailed with Royal Caribbean for the first time we were asked if we would stay loyal or Royal or Carnival (and now Princess) and our answer was “We will cruise with the cruise line that offers the best deal and value for the money”. I think after this Princess cruise this statement will remain true as well. Chris and I love cruising and are literally addicted to cruising… we do not care what cruise line it is! We just want to cruise.

Next Up
We have an Alaskan cruise in a little less than 3 months on the Carnival Legend. In fact, we chose Carnival for this cruise based off of price and itinerary. We knew we wanted to sail round-trip from Seattle, travel to several major Alaskan ports and we wanted a balcony. After weeks and months of price comparisons we discovered we can sail on Carnival in an upgraded extended aft balcony CHEAPER than a basic balcony and even an ocean-view cabin on some other lines. Since Alaska is a “destination” type of cruise we didn’t really care which line we sailed on. We went all out on this upcoming Alaska cruise and we cannot wait to see how it turns out.

Cruise Number 7 is in the books and we are looking forward to Number 8. Plus we have Number 9, 10 and even 11 booked and on the horizon… like I said, WE ARE ADDICTED!

Thank you so much, fellow friends and cruisers, for following along and taking the time to read our daily life aboard a cruise ship. I have tried to make this an easy to read and easy to follow blog. I hope you have been able to find some tips and tricks for your upcoming cruise vacations! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Until Next Time… Keep Calm and CRUISE ON!

God is good… All the time! 

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