Monday, April 19, 2010

Caribbean Cruise - Day 1

Oh now I know what y'all are thinking......he's not even half way through posts about the Italian trip from last summer and here he goes with another trip !

Well these cruise posts won't be anywhere near as detailed so I'll get it all 'over with' in a few days. It's hard to talk about ships, sun, sea and sand over and over without losing my loyal readers so yes, I'll try and be brief. Well brief for me !

Having said that, I want this to be my log of the cruise and so it may be a bit more detailed than most reports but you can always skip the text and just look at the piccies.

So last Sunday (11th) some lovely Buttonwood Bay friends drove us across to Port Everglades for 2pm which is when we wanted to board the cruise ship. Everything was very well organised and in no time we'd been processed, got our sailing cards (see previous post) and were going up the gangplank and stepping onto Deck 4 on the 2007 Emerald Princess, at 113,000 tonnes and 951 ft long, the 2nd largest ship in the Princess Cruise Line fleet.

The impressive way we were shown to our stateroom (B244) by crew members who were spread out to usher us the right way, set the standard for the rest of the cruise as they were ultra efficient, friendly and plentiful. Just as well when there are 3100 passengers on board.

We got to our room and yes, it was small. Jokes were regularly made by the show comedians about the size of the showers and the fact that, if you so wanted, you could be on the toilet and be brushing your teeth over the sink at the same time. I'd go one stage further and say that if the shower curtain wasn't there, you could shower, pee in the toilet AND brush your teeth over the sink at the same time ! And before you ask, no that's just a theory.

We explored the room and so 5 seconds later, were all set to explore the ship ! It had been raining on and off all day and the sky was overcast and ugly. As we were in port, this wasn't an issue although we hoped it wasn't going to be that way all trip.

Not having cruised for 4 years, I was well impressed with the huge movie screen up on deck which was showing music concerts by stars like Christina Aguilera, Tina Turner and the like.

The first order of business was to go to our muster station for the lifeboat drill and so at 3:30pm, we went to the Princess Theatre and joined 800 fellow passengers to listen to the drill instructions and then try on our lifejackets for size. I wasn't too keen on the bright orange colour though and made a mental note that if we should actually hit an iceberg on the cruise, not only would I be contacting the Guinness Book of Records people but I'd also be asking for a more acceptable blue lifejacket with contrasting white whistle and straps.

Being afloat on the Caribbean, watching one's cruise ship going down, is NO excuse for committing a fashion faux pas.

After returning to our room to replace the lifejackets, we explored a bit more of this massive ship, our home for next 7 days. For a change, it didn't have a central atrium that extended upwards for several decks. Instead it had a much nicer area with opposing sweeping staircases that covered just 3 decks and gave a much more intimate feel to this popular meeting/relaxing mid ship location.

As most people know, eating is never a problem on a cruise ship. Yes you may not like the quality of the food on offer but you NEVER hear any complaints about the quantity. On the Emerald Princess you could have food 24/7 and what I found to be most impressive (or sad, depending on your point of view) were the food choices available as a minimum all day. In my experience, it's usually been pizza and ice cream but not here............

We actually never made choices from this section until the last day but I can tell you the burgers were thick, juicy and awesome (cooked to order and if you wanted one rare, you had to sign a book absolving Princess from all blame for whatever illness might befall you) and the fries were some of the best I've ever had.

But then I'm easily pleased when it comes to burgers and fries !

Then it was 5pm and time to set sail. It was still overcast and raining but we went to the rail and with the larger Independence Of The Seas in the background, we were on our way to, hopefully, sunnier climes.

We had the 'dine anytime' evening meal option rather than picking one of the 2 set times as this allowed us to just turn up at either of the 2 'anytime' dining rooms (the DaVinci and the Michaelangelo) between 5:30pm and 10pm. We'd heard bad reports about this option with stories of passengers being handed pagers and then having to wait 45 minutes to be seated.

All I can say is that we stuck to that option every night and never had to wait in line more than a few minutes on a couple of nights. Even though both dining rooms were identical (although on different decks), we DID see a few pagers being handed out outside the DaVinci but never outside the Michaelangelo. Needless to say we always chose the later dining room !

The other advantage or disadvantage of this anytime dining was that you would be seated with different passengers every time. You could opt for a 'personal' table and after a couple of nights where we sat with some rather disagreeable couples who wanted to discuss politics and Obama's health care reforms, we chose to eat at our own table.

I took no record of the meal choices any night (I'm not THAT anal after all) but there was usually some entree for me to have even though I tended to pass on the starters and soup/salad courses. Desserts were just ok and I did miss not having creme caramel or creme brulee as an option any night.

As we ate late most evenings, we would usually go to the 10:30pm shows in the Princess Theatre and on this first night, we were treated to a wonderful comedian, Kevin Hughes, who has used his masters degree in psychology to create a 'relationship' comedy act that had us rolling in the aisles even more than the choppy seas.

And that was it for the first day and we knew that the following morning, we'd be in Princess Cays in The Bahamas. It's all go on this cruising lark.

I'll end with a short clip of unedited footage showing the on deck movie screen taken just before we set sail.

1 comment:

Jay said...

"Being afloat on the Caribbean, watching one's cruise ship going down, is NO excuse for committing a fashion faux pas."

Absolutely agree! Orange? Pfft!

Sounds like a great time on that floating hotel, and I like the atrium. I've never been on a cruise but I can't see the need for anything taller than that! You'd just get a crick in the neck!

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