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Everything posted by ccrain

  1. The person who told me about $50 each way was probably taken for a ride...literally...
  2. BTW - Since you were just on her, any idea who the CD and ED are going to be for the 2019 WC?
  3. Did everyone who was on the 60 day cruise get credited for 2 cruises in their history? I just checked mine and it says 2 cruise credits...
  4. Travelog is now up at: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AnklLO6ZVH8F2W_bFC9liLoG6rvm
  5. Videos, photos and patters are now up on One Drive – Photos and Patters are here: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AnklLO6ZVH8F0HEArN0rbt0TKF9Y Photos are arranged by contributor, along with a large patter folder. The patters are 250MB each and will take a while to download or open. Videos are here: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AnklLO6ZVH8F0HKQ1y2iHV61o3p5 Videos are arranged by Port or activity and some are quite long and LARGE! Some are almost 2GB. They are better viewed downloaded. These are raw .mp4 files, no editing, so parts with you in it or more interesting stuff might take a while to see, hence the reason for downloading. If you would like to contribute, and some already have, you can attach photos to emails to me or link me to a cloud folder and I will download and copy them over to the appropriate video or photo folder. Since I have a OneDrive account with a 1TB limit, this is the best way I could figure out how to distribute everything cheaply…
  6. Patters are scanned and up. https://1drv.ms/f/s!AnklLO6ZVH8F1zh7rxMvWfFxsrB- This is a shared onedrive folder that you should be able to download from. These are full color 400DPI scans so they are huge ~ 250MB each. I don't have the log of the cruise for the first leg. Not sure what happened to it, but if anyone can scan it and send it to me I can include it in the file. Enjoy...
  7. Not quite "unlimited". They limit total useage on a 24 hour basis. 200MB throughput is the lowest tier. 500MB is the highest tier. Not sure if they throttle you down bases on the package or just cut you off at the limit.
  8. You probably did but I definitely slept since I asked the question!
  9. Could you give me some idea of the internet packages and speed of the internet on the ship? I assume she doesn't have the Medallion Net upgrade and is still using the older system. But one could hope!
  10. At the Captain's Circle, Capt Poggi basically said there are no plans to get rid of her right now. We already know the Star and Golden are going to P&O, and they have 4 new ships on order (Sky, Enchanted, LNG#1, LNG#2). The Sun and Sea can't be too far behind. Since Princess is leaning toward larger ships, the Grand, Coral and Island should be next in the P&O que since they have spent so much to upgrade the Caribbean with OM. The interesting thing is that Poggi talked about the 1000 PAX ships the other lines are ordering. (I suspect he is going to work for Fincanteri after his retirement from Princess.) Either he was wishful thinking that Princess would order one or two or he was plugging for Fincanteri or both!
  11. Thanks guys for making the trip from Guam to LA a bit more special! Great turnout for the Hula and Ukulele show! Enjoy your season on the Emerald and I hope we run into each other again soon! Mahalo and Aloha!
  12. Considering the number of dancers during the live music, less to the canned music, you'd think the ED, who did float around various venues, would consider a concert/dance event in a larger venue. When Elua got on board, the wheelhouse was crowded with dancers and non-dancers to listen, and dance, to the music. A regular live event in the Universe would have given a lot of us more options, and possibly increased the liquor sales, over the re-broadcast of the main theater show or an evening movie. There is nothing wrong with too much to do on a cruise ship! The only response we got was this - several of us requested, after Guam, that the 5-7PM canned music dancing be reinstated to Explorer's via messages to the Wake Show. (Although it had been taken out of the patter - Russel, the A/V guy, started it up for us anyway since Explorer's was not being used and they were playing elevator music in it anyway. Russel was GREAT BTW!) So the night it shows back up in the patter again, for that night and that night only, the ED comes in at 5PM and sits with a group of entertainers that came into Explorers on a regular basis for 1 hour till 6PM, I timed it precisely, watching us and a few other couples dancing to the canned music, looking for Russel every once in a while (Russel had left and went to do other things) and glancing over at us every now and then. After he left, we never saw him again. I got the feeling we were being checked up on... But again, Explorer's was not being used for anything else except to play elevator music till 7PM when the Sound showed up and the dance floor got pretty crowded.
  13. The not so memorable parts of the cruise – I would have had this up two days ago, but the internet on the ship has suddenly gone severely downhill. Don’t know what happened, but we had better internet coming across the northern pacific than the last couple of days and this morning is not an exception. Something has failed somewhere. Note – the following issues are those of our experiences that I can accurately convey. Lots of people have come up to me wanting to add their issues to my blog, but I can’t and won’t do that. I can defend my opinion on the problems we ran into because we personally experienced them. If anyone had issues and wants to make them known, they need to post them themselves for accuracy and also be prepared to defend those opinions. Furthermore, I’m going to be a bit harsh in this part. I’ve been nice and positive so far, because, after all, this cruise was for the itinerary. But on the other hand, we’ve had a lot of sea days. And the 15 sea days from Manila to LA, with only 3 port days, were as much a part of the cruise, and cost the same amount, as a port day. And I won’t just say this sucked, or was terrible. I will provide specific examples of the issues and also discuss what could have been better based on past cruises with Princess. We’ve only sailed Princess, so I’m not going to say Carnival does this, or Regent does that, or Holland America did this, that or the other. I can only compare experiences on past Princess cruises, and we’ve done two major ones in just the past year (Panama Canal – 34 days, Australia to Japan – 42 days), so we have some pretty specific recent experiences to compare to. The weather. The crossing from Alaska to Japan was fraught with the outer bands of a typhoon tossed ocean. Judy spent a lot of time horizontal in the bed. Likewise the crossing from Guam to Hawaii, most of the 7 days, were not the roughest, but enough to keep us from dancing most of the time. It has made me rethink our cruising plans in the future after the upcoming world cruise. After the March and April cruises on the Diamond that required long flight times to Sydney and back from Narita, I believe we actually prefer those long flights to sea days that could be wracked with bad weather – especially on a ship with just so so entertainment like the Coral had. Princess can’t control the weather, but they can control the itinerary scheduling, and scheduling this cruise during typhoon season may not have been the best idea. I understand that they wanted to get Alaska in the mix, but they might want to consider an April – May version of this in the opposite direction, hitting Alaska in May. But I doubt they will ever do this particular itinerary again. Missing Kushiro was weather related. Missing the refueling in Yokohama, and thus missing Osaka plus the wasted day in Tokyo Bay at anchor was entirely on Princess – regardless of any issues with the fuel vendor or the Tokyo Bay regulations on bunkering while at anchor. Princess has compensated us $150 each for this episode, so they consider the matter closed. Hopefully they have learned that a good backup plan for these once off cruises would be a good idea. Likewise the long immigration lines at a variety of ports was not Princess’ fault. The changing processes and procedures as to the line numbers and private tours, the meeting locations for getting a number, the crossover crowding between getting a number and a gangway – those were entirely on the ship and I have detailed them elsewhere. In fact, we the passengers started organizing the pre-line lines, just to avoid the chaos. It should never be the passenger’s responsibility to the ship’s job for them. Ship’s Food. As I have previously mentioned, on a 60 day cruise, the food on the ship will get tiresome. Especially when you run out of lettuce for green salad! Unlike the Diamond in March and April, in which the food was pretty bad, the food on the Coral was ok, but not spectacular like on the Island last October. Maybe it was the 60 days, maybe it was just us, but definitely nothing that stands out other than the Brunch we had on the way back to LA. That, and Chef’s table, was the culinary highlights of the cruise. Entertainment – and this is where the majority of the issues will reside. We got bored. A lot of us got bored. Boredom on a cruise ship, for us, is rare, but getting more common in the past couple of years. Shipboard entertainment simply did not meet expectations. Yes, corporate cutbacks are noticeable in the quantity and quality of the on-board entertainment. Especially in the 15 sea days from Manila to LA. Without Elua on board, there would have been almost no activities beyond trivia during the day, and the night time entertainment left much to be desired – as in the T-Rex chasing the weenie around the theater and headlining the Crooner’s piano player (Daniel) into the theater and calling it a show. Daniel actually said it best in the show between Kodiak and Japan where he and Miranda, the CD, did a show in the theater and he said – we’ve run out of entertainment! Daily activities were basically Zumba, no Tai Chi disk, line dancing, limited ballroom classes, trivia (3 times a day), two lectures (on most days, not all), Kinect or Wii, a crafting class (from HI to LA only). Elua activities took up 4 line items from Guam to LA per day and a couple of nightly line items. It almost seemed like the ED was going through a checklist. Zumba daily – check, 2 lectures – check, Paper Airplanes once – check, ring toss a couple of times – check, egg drop once – check. Basically just going through the motions of making sure everything typically done on a 7 day cruise is done at least once in a 60 day cruise. There were a few bright spots in the entertainment. Josh Young, a singer from Broadway, was fantastic, Levenstein, a comedian, was pretty good, but the guy who brought the house down was Kieran Powell, a ventriloquist who put together a show, with audience participation that was memorable. And every one of his shows would prove different because of the different audience members he would pick. The ‘Dating Game’ segment was LOLUYPO funny. He even got a standing ovation from the theater, which is rare for a ventriloquist act. The Hula show in Honolulu was also outstanding. The entertainment staff was also very accommodating to our cruise critic group. We came on the cruise with a plan and cruise critic coordinators for Mah Jong, cards and pickleball. Corporate and the staff brought additional Mah Jong sets to the ship. After the cruise started, Kieran edited the playlist for ballroom dancing down to a good subset of dance tunes for a 1700 to 1900 dance session in Explorer’s. Mike (the ED to Hong Kong) added in an extra hour starting at 1600 at our request for people having dinner at 1700. The 1700 to 1900 dance session was deleted after Manila, but reinstated at our request. After all, nothing was happening in Explorer’s anyway. Mike also stopped by on several occasions to chat about schedules and activities. He took our feedback seriously and implemented a lot of the suggestions the cruise critic group had. I even got a few phone calls from him. After Mike left in Hong Kong, nothing. We rarely saw the new ED and never chatted beyond saying hello in the hallway – and even then left feeling like we were bothering him. Any messages to him were relayed through the CD or ACD’s which were much more visible and active. We had plenty of dancing and the Sound was a great band to dance to. But one of the best and biggest dance floors on the ship, the Universe, was not used. In the HI to LA segment, Elua did Hawaiian music dance segments in the Wheelhouse. The floor and the venue was packed. Why not move them to the Universe? Especially in the Guam to HI segment. Could have put them in Explorer’s instead of another music trivia game. Once again, ELUA in wheelhouse – check. Sound in Explorer’s – check. Other segments in Wheelhouse filled – check. The production shows were just ok. Nothing that wowed me or Judy. The last production show, What the World Needs Now, was an extra show thrown into the 60 day cruise and it was literally phoned into the ship from the looks of it. A lot of vocals, some choreographed walking, hand movements and sitting by the dance troupe, the show band doing the music and some color graphic icons thrown up on the big LCD screen just in case you didn’t know what was going on in the show itself. My biggest issue here was the sound. Where we sat, the microphones were simply not balanced between the singers and the band. One of the male lead vocalist’s microphone, since he has such a soft voice, needed to be boosted, but it wasn’t and the band music blew him out, as it did, but not so much, to one of the female leads. BTW, sound balancing in the theater was an ongoing problem depending on where you sat, between the band sound and the vocalist. During the days from Japan to Manila, sea day entertainment was not a big issue for us as we had lots of resting up and prepping for the next port to keep us busy. (The sea days from Kodiak to Yokohama were pretty rough.) The 7 sea days from Guam to HI were bereft of entertainment at night for the most part, and then suddenly, major shows and activities (a production show and a comedian) are all scheduled on one night! The Universe Lounge was greatly underutilized and when it was used for rebroadcasting the show in the Theater, the sound and video was very poor quality. Nightly movies would have been a much better option. The 5 sea days from HI to LA had a pretty full nightly entertainment schedule, which was good, but that still did not make up for the 7 days from Guam to HI, or the 3 days from Manila to Guam. Some of the scheduling did not even make sense. For example, we had the Love Boat Disco Deck Party, one of our favorite activities, on the night of Nawilliwilli, rather than the following night after a day at sea. Most of us had just spent two long port days in a row, in hot weather, walking our rear ends off, and now disco dancing is scheduled after that? That’s just not doable. Country Western night was also on a busy port night. I do not remember a 50’s/60’s night, or a disco night, or any of the other major party nights. Once again, checklist item or trying to schedule to maximize passenger participation? One of my pet peeves was the scheduling a production show 3 times in one night. On prior ships I have seen additional shows scheduled on consecutive nights in order to accommodate everyone and give the dancers a bit of a break. Again, with 10 at sea nights from Manila to Honolulu to fill, you’d think the ED would want to stretch things out rather than bunch them up in one night, while leaving other nights empty. And where is the rule that you can only have one Liar’s Club, or one Marriage Match Game per segment or cruise? What’s wrong with multiples? Too much work? (Nightly variations on trivia was more the norm at night, and after 30+ days on a ship, some trivia players were taking it way too seriously. Above and beyond the norm.) The daily sea day activities were really lacking from Manila to LA. A lot of the activities on the patter were sales related events. Art related, Spa related, Casino related or Effy related. A lot were unhosted and several were hosted by Cruise Critic people – Mah Jong, Bridge, Knitters and Knatters, pickleball, etc. Where was Giant Jenga, ring toss, scavenger hunts, the Quest, paper airplanes, fruit carving, bar wars on those 15 long sea days from Manila to LA? There is no rule that says you can only do one on a 60 day cruise! People on a 60 day cruise with so many sea days are desperate for something interesting to do besides trivia. Digital photography classes? Computer classes? Future Cruise presentations? A lot was missing from a normal sea-day schedule. Once again – checklist? Future Cruise presentations for Princess cruises were lacking as well. Only a few presentations, 2-3, were given during the entire cruise! I specifically invited the Future Cruise Consultant to give a World Cruise presentation. He did not show up. We could have had several covering all of the 2019 and 2020 destinations, but did not. Too bad. A great marketing opportunity lost and at least something to do for some of us. Likewise, the photography department left a lot of time on the table to enhance their sales, and provide some daily entertainment. Rentals of GoPro’s were offered at $30 per day – a ridiculous amount BTW – but where was the class explaining the use of the GoPro? Or highlighting the cameras on sale? Or the binoculars? You’d think in 15 days at sea you could have at least 2 or 3 photo classes? Again, a missed opportunity to improve sales and provide a little more meat for the customers. The enrichment lecturers, quite frankly, left a lot to be desired. Some attempted to actually talk about subjects that I happen to know a lot about, and they got it cringingly wrong. Some tried to give the impression that they knew a lot about the supersecret black defense world, but anyone who has actual knowledge of how the CIA or NSA operates is completely forbidden to talk about it EVER – even from “open” sources. One series of lectures on cyber crime was completely devoid of anything practical on what or how to prevent or detect it. The lecturer just tried to impress everyone by throwing in random acronyms or IT jargon to impress, not to inform. There was only one lecturer (Chris Impey) that discussed physics (from particles to astro-physics) that I enjoyed. His lectures were good, although his briefing format (video + audio clips in Powerpoint) had content and playability issues that sort of ruined the flow of his actual presentation. Likewise, destination lectures pre-HI were ok. Not the best, not the worst. Dave’s (Elua) lectures on HI were really, really good, but only two of them. He covered the important points – access, transportation, brief history, money, food, local customs, must see’s, must do’s. He did not shill for the Shore Excursions desk. Heck even a couple of shore excursion presentations would have been a welcome addition to the schedule. No computer classes? Jane held a few small IPAD classes within our group that were greatly appreciated and she volunteered to do ones for the whole ship, but was never taken up on her offer by the staff or the IT guy. And it wasn’t like space was an issue on the ship. Explorers had empty time, as did the Universe, as did Hearts and Mind and wheelhouse. When we were only Island last October, the lack of the Universe was noticeable in Mike and Callie’s scheduling – packing Explorer’s, the Wheelhouse and MUTS with stuff. This time, as I’ve stated before, the Universe was underutilized. This was very disappointing compared to prior cruises. So much could have been done, but wasn’t.
  14. Memorable Moments We Will Talk About for Years to Come Whenever cruisers come together, they swap stories of memorable moments. Things and events that happen during a cruise that we will talk about for years. Here are some of the most memorable moments of our 60 day cruise: Off the Ship - Dolores taking a picture of Flat Stanley and Flat Stephanie next to a steaming pile of bear scat in the middle of the road at Icy Strait. The Japanese school kids at Peace Park practicing their English on us, asking questions. CL translating the Kanji script at the Forbidden Palace revealing that the word “Deportment” carved into the gate should have said “Department”. The welcoming ceremony at Okinawa with kids of all ages doing drum and dance routines. The applause I got from the South Koreans when getting back on the ‘party’ bus after going down into the DMZ tunnel and coming back out literally soaked in sweat. The sheer beauty and solemnity of the Punchbowl cemetery. CL and his two college buddies, standing in the middle of flow of people, all three pointing in a different direction as they argue over which way to go next in the Keelung night market. Pulling up and seeing a bear across the little creek, everyone getting out of the cars so quietly as to not disturb the bear, about 100 yards away, and then Harvey accidently hitting the panic button on his keyfob setting off the horn, lights, etc. during the driving around Icy Strait. (The bear took one look at all of us and went back to eating…) The sound 100’s of feeding koi make when boiling up around fish food being dropped in the water at the “extreme” fish feeding event outside Manila. People in several different languages cheering on the little turtles as they tried to get a piece of bread tossed on the water before the koi in Sankien gardens. Stopping in the middle of a Beijing freeway during rush hour to drop off the tour guide on the dashed white line between lanes. Negotiating with the lady in the Shanghai market. The cyclo ride in Vietnam and WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! On the Ship – The curious case of the morning orange juice – and the trials and tribulations of Marty. Morning breakfast was always a fun and ‘noisy’ affair. But Marty (BIGKAHUNA) always ordered a ‘large’ OJ. What he got was indicative of how the morning would go. Early in the cruise he would get the one glass. Sometimes 2. One time it was FIVE. And then once it was 3, but only, according to the waiter, 2 on the table at a time. It became an unwritten test and morning starter to our day. Dancing at night with Sean and Jadine (JACruise200) in Explorers. On the balcony overlooking Hong Kong harbor, at night, with the lights all aglow, with my sweetheart. Our farewell get together with Pam and Ralph(Pamandcookie), Dennis and Barb(gus617), at Ken and Susie’s(SandKinWA) place during sailaway in Nawilliwilli. Our verbal communications used during tours to communicate with the back ranks – WALKING, STEP (Step Ralph, step!), RAMP, STAIRS! Emptying the atrium into the gangway line one morning by loudly announcing WALKING to our group as we trooped off the ship…and then being followed by almost everyone in the atrium… Next up, the inevitable gripes and bad moments of the cruise...
  15. Yep, I realized that a little while after I posted it, but I can't find the edit button on this new forum format and I don't want to spend minutes trying to find it...
  16. CRUISE WRAPUP – CRUISE CRITIC NOTES Note for all my fellow cruise critic travelers on this cruise. I will be working on a detailed heavily illustrated travelog when I get back home, as well as scanning all the patters, uploading all my stills and videos to a to be determined site for you all to download (I have a lot of pictures of lots of people), as well as, hopefully, creating a video of the cruise like I did on the 2015 Crown 28 Day Tahiti, but I promise that it will be shorter. Give me a few weeks to sort things out, but we have the World cruise in January to prep for as well. I will try my best. I will also leave the Shutterfly site up as long as I can since there is really no reason to shut it down. What was memorable? In a good way! Fellow cruise critic people. They made the cruise. And there are too many to name them all (over 300 on the roll call), although those we spent lots of time excursioning with (Pam, Ralph, Marty, Sue, CL and Meei, Ken and Susie), dancing with (Jadine and Sean, Suzanne and Jim) and people watching with (Jane and Bill) will be very hard to forget! And we can’t forget John and Cheryl (TheRabbit) as he became a milepost in the crowd – literally! It was so great being able to walk down the hallway and actually recognize people and talk to them. It was like one big neighborhood. Pam (Pamandcookie), especially, gets major kudos and thanks for all the excursions she put together. All of her excursions were better, longer and far cheaper than the corresponding Princess ship excursions. I don’t think I could have survived putting all of those together. Jane has to get major props for the on-board activities she handled. The slot pulls, the luncheons, the farewell dinner and the IPAD classes. Other people stepped up and handled Mah Jong and bridge as well, which were well attended in the Bayou Café and the card room. They made the sea days a bit more bearable for a lot of people. The ports. This itinerary, despite the weather issues and the immigration issues, offered a once in a lifetime overview of Asia with a round trip to LA. Missing Kushiro and Osaka was disappointing, especially Osaka and access to Kyoto. But overall, with the early arrivals and late departures in most stops, the ports made this trip worthwhile. Private Excursions. Four ports stand out as the most memorable excursions of all times. Incheon – DMZ, Ha Long Bay – the Junk Cruise, the Keelung Night Market with CL and his college buddies and the Korean BBQ dinner in Seoul. In Incheon on one of Pam’s tours, we ended up getting adopted by a Korean Village Party Bus and treated as honored guests. It was a very memorable experience. The junk cruise in Ha Long bay was incredible. Everything was nearly perfect. The weather was perfect, the sights fantastic, the food great, the entire day was everything you wanted in a foreign port. CL and his two college buddies gave us one heck of a foodie tour of the Keelung night market in Taiwan. The food was definitely local and authentic, but it was CL and his buddies – their taking care of us, guiding us, getting us lost and found, picking out the right food stand – that made the trip so memorable. The Korean BBQ dinner in Seoul during the Incheon port call, something else Pam set up, was fantastic. All of us had a great time eating, drinking and cooking in the middle of Seoul. The food was great, the company and comradery even better. DIY Ports. Hong Kong, Hiroshima/Miajima and Kodiak. These three ports were the most memorable from a DIY point of view. At Hong Kong I did the Ngong Ping cable car to the Big Buddha via the subway system. Complex and scary to plan, but oh so easy to execute. And breathtaking views from the cable car and the mountain top alongside the Buddha. In Hiroshima, we went to Miajima first via the trams and ferry, tried all types of oysters, and then went to Peace Park. Again, scary to plan, but very easy to execute. In Kodiak, as in Icy Strait, we rented a car and caravanned with 3 other cars looking for bear. And found them, both live and tracks. While the rainy weather could have been better, the picnic on the shore of the bay, the mother and her two cubs, the black sand beach, the sign warning fisherman that bears were stealing their catch – all were an experience we will never forget. Next up – Memorable Cruise Moments
  17. 11-14-2018 – At Sea Back To LA Yesterday was a fitting time to visit the area around the Marriott at Kalopaki Beach. Been on the beach several times, been all over Kauai several times for that matter, but never wandered through the Marriott or the golf courses. Kauai is our favorite of the islands with a different vibe and a gorgeous port to enter. The green hills and dramatic cliffs have such a ‘Mysterious Island’ mystique. This time CL and Meei had offered to take us on a tour of the Marriott and the area around it. They have a timeshare there and stay there a couple of weeks a year. Fish feeding, beautiful grounds, lovely flowers, incredible green trees, a beautifully maintained gold course and views to die for. We walked out to the lighthouse on the harbor entrance point – the elevator to the top of the hill was out of order – and then retraced our steps through the multi-million dollar houses back to the beach where I got to scare a couple of Princess cruisers ‘poaching’ Marriott chairs under a shade tree! It was fun! If I was a beach person and a land cruise type person, the Kauai Marriott would be very high on my list of places to stay for sure. However, one thing to note about the architecture of the interior design of the gardens and statuary of the Marriott. (And I would not know this except for the number of cultures we’ve come to see just in this past cruise.) Buddhist based guardian statues flanking Japanese murals fronted by statues of Chinese dragons, with statues of Japanese Koi in the background and stereotypical buddhas all over the place. Visually appealing, but culturally and historically conflicted to the point of distraction. Now, after this trip, I can’t look at an Asian themed interior decoration ever the same again! After working up an appetite we went to Duke’s for lunch. Never been to Duke’s before so it was a real treat for us. Their top shelf Mai-Tai was a real killer. OMG, so good. Judy had their Mango ribs, I had their fish and chips, CL and Meei had their pulled pork sandwich. All were absolutely delicious and a taste treat. Of course we had to have the Aloha pie. That was the topping of a perfect meal – but one piece can feed 6 people! CL had a bite or two, but it was up to Judy and I to finish it off. (Dennis and Barb (Gus617) was just down a few tables getting one of their own Hula pies as well.) Last night Ken and Susie (SandKinWA) invited a few of us to a sailaway party in their mini-suite. Munchies, champagne and great conversation while the ship made her S-turn exit from Nawilliwilli harbor. This was the first time the Coral ever docked in Hawaii or in any of Asia for that matter. The Captain made the exit look easy. Unfortunately the scheduling for the Love Boat Disco Deck Party was 2145 on the open decks. This is one of our favorite events of a cruise, but after two straight days in port, in hot weather, with lots of walking and subsequent blisters, we crashed, as did most people, around 2100 hours and even with one hour forward last night, I put in a solid 8 and half hours of sleep. But to make up for last night’s scheduling snafu, Jean-Paul, with his wait staff, and the Chef and his kitchen staff, put on another brunch in the main dining room instead of breakfast. Magnificent presentation and food. While we missed the first one, we were not going to miss this one! Best food on the cruise since the Chef’s table oh so many weeks ago. It was WOW, WOW food of all types. Hot dishes to order on a set menu, with two pasta stations, cold salads, baked goods (with a garlic olive oil bread that was incredibly delicious), meats and cheeses, a chocolate fountain with fresh cut and skewered fruits, fresh fruits of all types, all presented in stunning displays. A visual and tasty treat! Very enjoyable. A wrapup of the cruise later!
  18. 11-12-2018 – Nawilliwilli – The Last Port Hard to believe, as I look back at the 69 pages of this Live From document that we are only 6 days from disembarking and going home. 54 days into a 60 day journey. Pretty cool. Yesterday I was determined not to repeat the fiasco of Guam and we hit Honolulu with a decent plan A, B, C and D. Without immigration, at least, we should be able to hit the ground running. The basic plan A was Walmart, the Swap Meet, Lunch and the Punchbowl. Walmart to pick up aloha wear for the world cruise next year and macadamia nut kisses. The Swap Meet for some replacement t-shirts in Judy’s wardrobe, lunch because we’re tired of ship food and the Punchbowl because we’ve never been. While shuttles to Wal-Mart, two 14 passenger vans running in loops, and Hilo Hattie were available, and TheBus was running, I decided to jump the lines with UBER. (TheBus daily pass was $5.50 per person, $2 for seniors over 65.) We docked at Pier #2 instead of the Clock Tower. (Apparently most ships are docking at Pier #2 now as they have built a new terminal building and it is closer to Ala Moana.) They have added a rideshare lot to the southwest of the terminal building – some security guards were not aware of it. UBER booking and pickup was simple and straightforward. About $10 each way to Walmart, $23 to the swap meet, $15 to the PunchBowl. Not bad. If we’d have had another couple with us the whole day, it would have been half price. Nice thing about UBER is that you don’t waste any time. UBER won’t pick up inside the Swap Meet, and because of a concert in Aloha Stadium, they had moved the swap meet to the other side of the stadium. He wanted to pick up at the McDonalds about a mile away. So we dumped UBER for a Taxi to Nico’s for lunch from the Swap Meet. A little bit more expensive, but saved time and walking in the hot sun. And it was a picture perfect blue sky morning. (Afternoon had some rain clouds hanging around the mountains.) After Nico’s we went to the PunchBowl, then back to Ala Moana and then back to the ship via the free Wal Mart shuttle. At that point in time, we were done in with almost 15 miles on the fitbits, so the extra time was not an issue. A quick salad, lettuce had arrived, then off to the Hula show. Always a treat in Honolulu and it did not disappoint. Then watching the fireworks over Waikiki from the balcony while relaxing in the warm breezes. All in all a really good day. Now for the details. Apparently Hershey’s does not make Macadamia nut Kisses any more! And haven’t for over 5 years! That’s the bad news. The good news is that my waistline and wallet appreciated the missing 10# of candy I had planned to buy. We did find a couple of matching Aloha wear outfits for the World Cruise in January – and a few other minor things. The swap meet was the same as 15 years ago, just a bit smaller. The same t-shirt bargains are there, the same crafts, collectibles, fruits, nuts, foods, knickknacks and dust collectors all over the place. Jewelry shops, shoe stores, clothing vendors, aloha wear, lei’s of all makes and models – and most of the vendors are willing to bargain if you buy enough ‘stuff’ from them. There’s even a luggage vendor or two in case you buy too much to pack. Interesting place. Very hot on sunny days without a breeze. Just a few food and drink vendors. Best place for HI souvenirs for sure. Nico’s for lunch was pretty good. It has been featured on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives. The fish is extremely fresh. We had fish stew in a sourdough bowel, a mahi-mahi curry spiced fillet dish with rice and salad, and a fried calamari salad. It was pretty good. Not knock your socks off fantastic, but pretty good. Not inexpensive either. But all in all, worthwhile to visit. They do have pre-made poke bowels in the retail shop next door, but we wanted fresh fish for the day. Then on to the highlight of the day. The Punch Bowel. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Where do I begin. WOW! WOW! WOW! Placed in an ancient volcanic crater, hence the ‘bowel’ namesake, the location is indescribably beautiful. The green of the trees, the brightness of the flowers, the immaculate manicured lawns, the red, white and blue of old glory in the avenue of flags, all rippling in the breeze against a blue, blue sky. The simple individual gravesite markers, some decorated with flags and flowers, and some being attended to by volunteers and loved ones performing the age old ritual of visitation and keeping the faith. How can one not be moved by such a sight, such an experience? Not since the cemetery in Normandy have I been this moved. From the memorials to the missing, rank after rank of names frequently marked by Medal of Honor recipients, to the ‘frescos’ mapping out the wars in the central marble hall, to the layout of the overall cemetery with its vista points on each side, to the sweeping views of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki from the south vista promontory to the mountain views from the north promontory, to the sight of banyan tree roots embracing one grave marker, to the various memorial markers placed around the area to both generic and specific units of the wars. It was an emotionally draining, yet uplifting, walk among the nation’s best and brightest. It was one of the highlights of the trip so far. So simple, yet so emotionally complex a place to visit. This has to be on any visitor’s must do list. The Hula show was pretty anti-climatic at that point, but still very, very good. They try to do something different every year and this year was no exception. The young girls were still so cute! The older ones, so beautiful and graceful in every movement. The music was fantastic. Best show of the trip by far. We sat, 5th row center, the best place to see everything. Of course they got a standing ovation, and well deserved. So off to Nawilliwilli. How can you not like a port with a name like that! Later!
  19. Overall she's in pretty good shape. A little wear and tear here and there, rust and leaky windows, broken seats in the theater, but nothing really major as they are fixing these little things as we go. No engine troubles, no power issues, no real big HVAC issues - just the typical balancing problems.
  20. Coming into Honolulu after 7 trying sea days. Going to be doing a lot over the next two days, so I will be back when we get done eating and playing in HI...
  21. Unfortunately, in the same vein as your comment, we have had the finest entertainment Princess can afford on this cruise..
  22. 11-09-2018 – At Sea to HI Hit a patch of rough water on 7.2 and its still at it. It reminds me of the Diamond in the Tasman sea last April. Almost head on wind causing buffeting, but with a swell that just won’t steady. Constantly running into potholes, some very large, and lots of twisting, bucking and shuddering. Needless to say Judy is hanging by a thread between the bed and the lower decks. Unlike the Grand class, even in the Tasman, deck 5 center is not a refuge. Still a lot of motion. Might be because of the design of the Coral, long and narrow Panamax, rather than the wide and flat bottomed Grand design. So rough and weird, just couldn’t sleep, so its up at 0200 this morning. Internet is the best it’s ever been this whole trip! Went to the Oceanweather site and it looks like we will be in this rough patch all the way to HI. If we’re unlucky, we will catch a low coming down the west coast from the Gulf of Alaska and hit rough weather all the way to LA. So a couple of notes on very subjective subjects. Entertainment and food. Shipboard entertainment has been, since Vietnam for sure, quite unremarkable. Prior to Vietnam we had a very reasonable port schedule, with only a few ports in a row, so entertainment at night was secondary to getting everything ready for the next port. (Amazing how much ‘stuff’ there is to charge and get ready.) Even in the crossing to Yokohama, the entertainment was reasonable. Since Vietnam, with the large number of sea days, there has been a lot of vocalists and instrumentalists at night, including the Crooner’s piano player in concert in the theater last night. Tonight is a good example of scheduling issues. It’s a packed schedule with major events in both the theater (3 showings of Motor City, a comedy show in Universe (Noodles Levenstein, 2 shows) and Jurassic Park on MUTS. So last night was the Crooner’s Piano Player in concert in the theater, no game shows in Explorer’s and a movie in Universe – a pretty boring and uneventful night. Then three new, and possibly anticipated events in one night rather than spread over several nights to even out the load. If every night was as packed, with events in both Universe and the Theater, then it wouldn’t be an issue, but we go from ‘nothing to do’ to ‘don’t have time to see it all’ in one day. That’s just poor scheduling – period. And we are in a 7 sea day crossing, so its not like anyone is getting on or off the ship that requires such weird scheduling. And this is not the only example of what’s been happening lately. The bit about the dinosaur in a previous post was not a joke. A vaudeville style show, which according to the promotional blurb received a standing ovation at America Has Talent, with Kamikaze Firefly involved the lighted baton twirling making intricate LED designs in the air, hoola hooping (both having been done previously on-board by others), the T-Rex chasing the wiener around the theater, an audience participation bit, a gymnastics bit with another member of the audience and a grand finale of the two performers getting into two weather balloons and jiggling about the stage. This would have, IMHO and Judy’s, made an excellent kids birthday show. Not for tweens, teens or adults of any age. A lot of people have asked me over the last couple of days – did Princess actually pay for this? Enough said? Two lecturers, destination and enrichment, left the ship in Guam leaving a big hole in the daily schedule. Elua, Dave and Leialoha, have filled in that schedule nicely with Leialoha doing crafts and hula classes, Dave doing Ukulele class and port lectures for HI, and both of them doing Hawaiian music in the evenings, plus being out and about on the ship during the day and being more than happy to stop and talk HI with anyone and everyone. In fact, if we didn’t have them on-board, there would be a huge hole in the schedule. Besides they are fantastic people to talk with and get to know. Let’s talk food. First of all let me start off by saying a couple of important points. We have been on the ship for 51 days. So we have seen about all the different types of food Princess has a recipe for. A bit of boring ‘seen that, tasted this’ is going to be there no matter what. Secondly, we have not eaten dinner in the MDR at all. Judy can’t eat dinner past 1600. So our experience in the MDR has been breakfast and lunches, with the HC, Grill, Alfredo’s, Elite Lounge and IC as the backups. Third, I am a well known proponent for HC eating because of the flexibility allowed to the Chef for the HC menu. That being said - Bottom line summary – food has been ok. Its food. Its sustenance. Its not terrible. The Diamond last April was terrible in the HC until we changed Executive Chefs on the way to Japan. And we are not picky people. This time the HC is just ok. The food is seasoned well, but after 51 days, it is so repetitive, it just becomes boring. For breakfast in the HC, scrambled eggs plain, scrambled eggs with something, American breakfast sausage, British or German breakfast sausage, ham, eggs, omelets cooked to order, plain pancakes, pancakes with some fruit in it, various breads, various cereals, sausage gravy and biscuits, various fruits, various pastries. And it’s basically the same every day. In the HC for lunch, sandwiches, three stew/stir fry type curry/Asian dishes to put over rice, white rice, flavored rice, fried fish, sautéed fish, carved meat, braised chicken, steamed vegetable, salad bar, French fries, mashed potatoes and gravy. And this basically repeats every day with some variety in the carved meats, steamed vegetables and the over rice dishes. In the MDR for breakfast you have the featured items, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Spanish Tortilla, Country Breakfast and English Breakfast, with the standard accompaniments, from the griddle (pancakes and waffles), from the sea (smoked salmon), various pastries, cereals and juices. For a while the MDR lunches were a treat. But only for a while until they too became same ole, same ole. Main courses of fish, meats, vegetarian option. Pasta selection. Salad or soup selection. What has made this part of the trip, from Guam, ‘interesting’ is that we are rapidly running out of ‘stuff’. Lettuce is the major noticeable item missing. Last night in the MDR, we heard that the salad was served with cabbage, not Romaine lettuce. Apparently they ran out of iceberg first since they served a wedge salad with romaine lettuce. No bananas, no iceberg lettuce for the burgers, juices are running low, cheese is running low, no berries, no red bell peppers. Rumors of everything from missed produce shipments to rejected produce shipments are running about the ship (shades of the missing bunker barge in Yokohama), but the real issue is that the wait staff has not been allowed to tell anyone prior to them ordering. Only after you order do you find out that the item you ordered is not available or your salad now has cabbage instead of lettuce. Speaking of rumors, have you heard the latest about the MDR menus? Remember back in the day the always available included Strip steak, then tournedos of beef? Now, the rumor is that Princess will start introducing upsell items in the MDR menu on a regular basis. Want a steak? Pay an extra TBD$. Want steak and lobster, pay extra, like a drink order. So there will be a little side menu on the left hand side page with various upsell items available for an extra price. I’m sure that will go over like a lead balloon. But back to the food issue. All of this would most likely not be an issue on a 15 or 19 day Panama canal cruise. Not with LA and FLL available for restock. Keep in mind this ship was doing 7 day Alaska cruises prior to this 60 day monster, so I’m sure the strange ports and corporate pre-ordering in little known ports has played a large role in this as well. Same with the menu ‘tiredness’. Face it, after 51 days, getting on shore to try even McDonalds sounds VERY appealing! So anyway, that’s it from the Coral bouncing about in the central Pacific! Later!
  23. Started rocking and rolling yesterday. Large swell, high winds. Looks like this weather all the way to HI. Internet very slow due to location and movement. More later...
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