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Cruise Raider

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  1. I requested turkey sausage instead of pork sausage and they made sure they were stocked every day with it. I also ordered some fresh salsa when I ordered an omelet. So yummmy but a little spicy with the jalapeno peppers in it. Also, they got to know our drink orders by the 3rd morning and they would just show up at our table shortly after we sat down without even having to ask for them. My DH can't really drink OJ so would order a cran-mosa .. their word, not mine!
  2. When we sail out of our home port of San Francisco, I also like taking my own wine and paying the corkage ... but on longer cruises, I may take a couple / few of my own bottles and then just buy a wine bottle package. And yes, I agree, many of the California chardonnays are significantly oaked....something I have really acquired a taste for. I always try to support our local economy so, these wines make it very easy for me to do so! 😉
  3. We took a $249 pp upsell from an obstructed OV to a midship caribe deck balcony on the Grand to Alaska last year. I felt like we won the lottery as we paid very little for the cruise originally. It's the only time we were ever offered an upsell from Princess in our numerous sailings with them. However, we found out late in the game that the big box TA we used for all those cruises has a policy that they don't forward these offers to their clients. I still use them on occasion but really only when we are in a stateroom where we absolutely don't want to change.
  4. Wow ... I am really surprised at these comments although, the post that stated 'different strokes for different folks' pretty much sums it up! I love love love the new wine list and purchase a wine bottle package whenever the opportunity is there to do so. I think the Mer Soleil is a wonderful Chardonnay, although, on the first cruise I purchased it, it was from the Santa Barbara region and most recently, this selection was from the Monterey region. Both are good but the Santa Barbara one is superior. The Rombauer Chardonnay is one of the most wonderful chardonnays ever produced. It is very popular here in the Bay Area, so much so, they oftentimes run out of it at all the wine stores. The Paraduxx red and Ferrari Carano Cab are also very wonderful red wines that are on the new wine list. The Gloria Ferrar (sp?) sparking wine is also quite good and the Mianeto (sp?) is far from swill. Since we live so close to wine country, we do taste many different wines but obviously, we have California taste in wine. I've actually enjoy many white wines from Australia and red wines from Chile and Argentina as well, though. Could our tastes be that much different? To each his own, I guess. I swore that after my last sailing on Princess with the old wine list that I couldn't drink another bottle of Clos Du Bois as long as I lived ... and now, it's been 2 years since I've poured a glass of that. I just got tired of that being my only choice for white wine.
  5. We've traveled on several of the major cruiselines over the last 3 decades, including Carnival and Princess, with most of our cruises being on Princess. Alaska is our favorite itinerary and have sailed up there a dozen times ... it really is the best!! As for choosing a cruiseline, there are so many factors that play into it. - your age - time when you can travel - itinerary stops - importance of the wow factor of the ship etc... For a great deal and a decent chance of great weather, I suggest the end of August or the first week of September for your departure. We've always had great weather during this time of year but as everyone will tell you, there are just no guarantees of that up in Alaska. We went once in the middle to the end of Sept and wow, what a difference! To me, the lack of flying is such a major factor in what sailings I choose, however, our home port of San Francisco does get the older ships ... still good ships, just missing that wow factor that I was referring to. If the Royal is the ship doing the 14 night itinerary, I'd jump on that one in a heartbeat ... that ship does have that sparkle and shine (that wow factor) that I was referring to. With that being said, we sailed on the Grand Princess last year to Alaska and we had a phenomenal trip. We received an upsell offer to a balcony cabin and it was money well spent. Out of all our sailings, Alaska is the place where we think a balcony cabin is the most valuable! But, they can be pricey when choosing an Alaska sailing. With that being said, I cruise out of LA often and always book a flight the morning of my sailing .... so, it isn't imperative to book a hotel and transportation from LA to SF a day early. Some are adamant about doing so, but I've not missed an embarkation ever by not doing so! If having access to an indoor pool is important to you, take a look at that as well. Not all ships have them and it is a great place to sit in the hot tub on a cool day. I think the food on Princess is really good to excellent! Don't know if I can say the same about Carnival's food. Just to throw a wrench into this, Celebrity's food may be even better than that on Princess, albeit, their specialty dining options and drinks are quite a bit more expensive. Everything is a little more elegant on Celebrity, even though they no longer have any stated 'formal' nights. Also, Princess sails up into Glacier Bay and if you can manage to get that on your itinerary, you certainly won't be sorry. Not all cruiselines have the permissions to include Glacier Bay on their itineraries. (I know that Princess, NCL and Holland America all go into Glacier Bay ...not sure which others do but don't recall seeing a Carnival ship up there. ??) Another thing to look into is if the itinerary allows for you to sail through the inside passage during the daytime hours instead of at night. One more thing, but not so easy to find, are the sailings that don't cruise on the western side to visit Victoria but sail between Vancouver island and the mainland. Wow ... what a gorgeous passage!! The activities on Princess are just about right for our liking. We are a couple in our early to mid 60's if that helps. We would play the daily trivia games, take part in the activities hosted in the Piazza (egg toss, ring toss games, etc), go watch the entertainment in all different venues, mainly after dinner such as at Crooner's - the martini bar - almost always has a great piano player that interacts with the guests, in the Piazza where the house band played great music with lots of dancing opportunities, the Piazza where we had a mariachi band playing during the day (while in Mexico), or Puppies in the Piazza in Alaska (the iditorod sled puppies in training with their musher) in Skagway (?). There was a guitar player in another one of the lounges, with an opportunity for more dancing but it was quiet in there on our last sailing. Just a nice quiet place for an after dinner drink and relaxing. There was a couple of interactive events like Voice of the Ocean where passengers competed for the grand prize trophy and Pop Choir where passengers put on a show the last day of the sailing. PS ... I did that for the first time and it was so much fun! They also have fitness center activities (some for a cost) such as Zumba, spinning, etc. as well as spa specials (no real hawking of their services but they do send fliers in your mail daily. They have art auctions but was never pushed towards them ... if anything, you'd really have to look to find out when they were being held. The entertainment is really good on Princess .. .their production shows are anywhere from good to awesome! They also have comedians, magicians, singers, etc ... most of which are really good, and the Love and Marriage show which is usually hilarious! I also like MUTS, the big movie screen out on the top deck. They show major sporting events (Sunday and Monday night football), concerts, movies. If it is cold out, they offer blankets. They put out cushions on the pool loungers at night. There is a pizza oven and grill out there that serves an expanded menu at night ... in Alaska, we had crab cakes and onion rings (yummmm) and in Mexico, we had street tacos (extra yummmm). If you missed the movie at MUTS, it would always be in your stateroom as an option the next day. They do have On Demand TV on many, if not all, of their ships. Oh, and if you book a Medallion Class ship, your key card is replaced with a medallion. I love it ... not everyone does, though. The Medallion Net offers rather low cost WiFi and it actually works .... although, maybe not so well up in the fjords up in Alaska. But, who would be looking at the internet with all that gorgeous scenery anyway. While I wouldn't balk at sailing on Carnival, I think Princess does offer a better experience, at least for the age group I am in.
  6. I am sure we must have run into one another ... we went up there often. Mexico was way too hot for me .... way too hot!! I won't be doing that itinerary in the fall again. We are at home and in the 50's and loving it!! As soon as we disembarked in SF, I knew we were back home and I realized how much I appreciate our weather. Now, those earthquakes we've been experiencing since we've gotten home, that's another story!!
  7. We bought one for one of the staff members that was so sweet to us at the passenger services desk. She was ever so grateful.
  8. I get it ... I also love the specialty dinner option ... even a two for one would be better than nothing. 🙂
  9. Princess, all cruiselines, actually change things so often that it is hard to keep up with the latest but this is what I've heard. You can still trade in your mini bar in your cabin to 2 electronic coffee cards that expire at the end of the cruise so now, 'use it or lose it' during your cruise is in effect. Depending on the length of the cruise, it may not be worth your while to trade in your mini bar if your hubs doesn't drink coffee. You will have 30 specialty coffees to drink during that sailing. However, if you don't drink any sodas, waters or alcohol, that's the only reasonable trade I could think to make. I change all my mini alcohol bottles into beer, all my sodas into club soda and I am happy with that trade. I do have the drink package on my next sailing so will probably just leave the mini bar intact. Sure wish we were able to turn it in for a photo or two instead. That would be a great trade for us as we always purchase the embarkation photo.
  10. I think your best bet is to take them on your next cruise(s) and see what they say. That's what I did and was happy they took my old card. As in my above post, I had to surrender my card, they kept it there at New Grounds and I was allowed to use up the punches left on it. I just had to give them my name when I ordered my coffee. I had about 11 punches left on it and it worked out perfectly for my 10 night cruise. I can't say if this is a fleetwide policy or if they will even continue this throughout the year. It wasn't advertised, I needed to ask and was happy they said I could. The worst they were going to say is no, so why not give it a shot?
  11. I was very comfortable on the ship wearing normal clothing .... I would say it was between 68-72 degrees indoors, with just a few exceptions. There were some reported issues with the AC in some of the cabins, but we didn't notice any problems at all in our cabin or in the public areas around the ship. While we were up in the One5 Club while in Mexico, it was very hot up there in that room ... but it was also extremely hot outside and people were opening the exterior doors. And, it was also hot there on deck 7 while we were in Mexico as there were doors out to the promenade deck ... so the AC had to do a lot of extra work. But, all the public rooms away from the exterior doors were always very comfortable.
  12. We just disembarked from the Grand yesterday ... have yet to write a review or go through my photos but can answer your question about formal night. I think you would get away with a collared shirt without a tie on formal night ... most likely, nobody will say anything to you however, a long sleeved dress shirt (with or without a tie) would probably be more appropriate. I didn't see them refusing to seat anyone depending on their dress, though. There was a woman that showed up to dinner every night wearing cut off jean shorts. Once seated, who cares but it definitely wasn't within the dress code and she was still seated. I saw her later in the cruise and she did have black capri pants on ... so why not at least that level of dress at dinner? Alas, I digress!
  13. We were also booked on that same sailing but transferred our deposit over to the Grand when one of our travel mates thought it would be easier not to fly down to LA. We had a great cruise on the Grand and visited many of the same ports, just leaving a day earlier. I agree the heat and humidity was just oppressive, especially in Mazatlan. I made it to the little port area for about 10 minutes before having to head back to the ship. In Puerto Vallarta, we headed to one of the nearby hotels for a most wonderful massage. We stayed onboard in Cabo as we don't much care for tendering into ports. And, we've always gone on a some great excursions in Manzanillo, but didn't plan one this time after having been there several times in the past. Wow ... I think that was a mistake. I was not so impressed after this latest visit and especially with the level of safety warnings rising so dramatically in the last couple of years. I'm pretty grossed out that someone's service animal was allowed to poop in the hallways. That's pretty disgusting!! Glad the rest of your cruise sounded pretty darned good ... you are spot on about Matt O! Funniest and most engaging CD on the high seas.
  14. I now pretty much expect most sailings in and out of California (maybe the entire west coast) to change their schedules like this. However, I was rather surprised our sailing in and out of San Francisco did not have any schedule changes and we even had a medical emergency onboard our last day requiring the captain to turn and slow the ship while we were heading back up the coast. It burned a good 3+ hours and he still made it into the port of SF according to our scheduled arrival time.
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