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Everything posted by ccrain

  1. 10-06-2018 – At Sea To Yokohama Finally a reasonable night’s sleep with no time change. Smooth water, no wind, warming breezes and some pretty good tunes to dance to. Nice complete night. Just a reminder that the Shanghai Meet and Greet has moved to the Explorer’s Lounge. Yokohama immigration will most likely be a zoo. Since this is our first port into Japan we have to have a face to face and ‘biometric’ examination. Two forms to fill out, one per person (mostly already filled out by the ship) and one per family (customs declaration). At 0700 they will start a ‘tender ticket’ type numbering system for the whole ship. First come, first served. As each group of numbers are called, we proceed off the ship, go through immigration and stay off the ship until they ZERO the ship. That’s not an issue since we are heading to Sankien and then Chinatown with CL and Meei (Steiner2010). But if history is any guide, there are some that will not understand the zero the ship requirement. The good news is that Osanbashi is a very nice cruise terminal to be stuck in. Not like Long Beach or Seward. But I suspect it will go better than if we are in the US. The Japanese are very efficient in their manning and usually conduct these inspections with a lot of personnel and Osanbashi is a major cruise terminal. There will be the initial chaos, but that should smooth out quickly. People on Princess tours will meet as stated in their tickets and will most likely get priority in immigration, or a different set of lines. Not much else going on. I will update the blog when we get back from Yokohama… Later!
  2. 10-05-2018 – At Sea to Yokohama ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS Location for the Shanghai leg Meet and Greet has changed to the Explorer’s Lounge. This is to allow them to use the Universe Lounge for the Captain’s Circle party and not kick us out right away! Time is still the same. Ms. Le is apparently able to accommodate more people. Got a call yesterday from a couple on the ship that was able to get in touch with her and sign up for some tours. So the lesson learned is to contact her via email if you can. She’s being very accommodating. END OF ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS Yesterday was actually pretty good. The seas settled down enough for a brisk walk on the promenade, but then last night it kicked up again. (Looks like we have another typhoon to contend with.) Back to rockin and rollin. Hopefully things will settle down once we get into Asia. Not much else to report. Just chillin. Off to the weather pages to see what the Typhoon is doing… Later!
  3. 10-04-2018 – At Sea En Route To Yokohama – Yes, KushiroCancelled ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS Pam has rescheduled her Tokyo tours to leave 2 hours later.Same meeting place, just two hours later to accommodate immigration. Tour willreturn to the ship around 1900. Osaka has apparently suffered major damage in the latestCyclone hit. One of Pam’s tour objectives was totally destroyed. Anotherlocation was substituted. I have gotten a couple of calls from people on the ship(yes, they can find me Heather!) requesting to be included in some of thetours. Unfortunately, all of the tours for those of us on the ship are closed.There are people on the Shanghai leg organizing separate tours, but they mustbe contacted via email or on the roll call board. Without internet access, theonly other option is to call the tour company directly, but that will cost afortune. We should be able to get internet access in Yokohama if you don’t haveit on the ship. END OF ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS REQUEST FOR HELP FROM CC MEMBERS Internet still sucks. Could some of you post weather updatesfor our upcoming ports? We have heard that a supertyphoon is supposed to hitOkinawa, but nothing beyond that. A summary of where and how big and when thelatest set of Typhoons are going would be a great help to us here in internetnever, never land. TODAY’S UPDATE Rough seas continue. Longest stretch of rough water Judy hashad to deal with. But at least laying flat in bed keeps her from getting sick. Butit is getting old watching the same old tv shows again and again. I’ll have tofire up the surface and all the tv shows I have digitized. So I basically spentthe day playing room service. At least I got all my steps in going back andforth to the buffet! Some people must have thought I was hoarding foodsomewhere. Did watch Incredibles 2 on the tube. Is anyone else as disappointed init as much as I was? So yes, the rough water, the southerly route to avoid theworst of it, has resulted in a no can get to Kushiro on time. So we will skipthat port and go straight to Yokohama. Interesting enough, the Captain made theofficial announcement yesterday at 1600, but the scan track display on Channel35 was showing a route path straight to Yokohama all day, bypassing Kushiro.Such is life. This also means that immigration will be in Yokohama and thatwill most likely take a while since Japanese immigration is even more extensivethan US immigration with their thermal cameras to detect people with fevers andsmuggling ‘hot’ objects…. But they are very nice and polite about it. Two more hours back to go. One very night and two when we crossedthe international date line. Something like 8 or 9 total. Everyone’s rhythm isnow screwed up. It was time to break out the pharmacopeia last night and get asolid 8 hours sleep in. That is until Judy’s fitbit buzzed this morning at 0300to get up and do 200 steps! If it wasn’t so cold and windy, and how upset shewould be, that fitbit would be swimming with the fishes in 6000 feet of water!Instead I kissed her on the forehead, got dressed and went out to get mymorning latte and do some blogging…but me and that fitbit are going to havesome words… Jean-Paul and the dining room crew, along with the linecooks, set up a special surprise for everyone in the dining room yesterday. Theycancelled both dining room breakfasts and scheduled a “Brunch” for 1000 on deck5. I was busy room servicing when I got a call from Sue, one of our CoffeeKlatch people, telling me I had to come down and see this. Unfortunately Ideclined, but got a report from Pam later that it was absolutely phenomenal.They had rearranged the entire dining room to incorporate an elegant Sundaystyle Brunch buffet with all kinds of breakfast and lunch foods served by thecook and chefs behind the scenes in the galley. According to Pam it was a spectaculardisplay of flowers, ice carvings, elegantly prepared, and tasty, food. Theycouldn’t say enough good things about it. Sorry I missed it. Maybe they willhave it again next segment. So if you see breakfast cancelled and Brunch at1000, do not hesitate, run, don’t walk to get in early and take your camera tophotograph the tables and food. So in answer to the food question. There is no foodavailable from about 0000 to 0400. (Not even in the IC.) There is no food atall in the Patisserie. The IC starts placing food items at 0400 and are allpastries. The egg mcmuffin sandwich is no where to be found. The pastries donot include glazed doughnuts, only cake doughnuts, and various sweet breadslike raison, carrot, walnut, and a couple of types of muffins like bran, maple,banana and/or walnut. Around 1100 the IC switches to soup, one, 3 or 4 coldsalads and 4-5 sandwiches that can be pressed by the panini press if desired. Thesechoices remain the same all through the night till around 0000. Brewed coffee is available in the IC 24/7, in the Patisseriewhen open, and takes one punch of the old cards or is included with the new E’café-Card.Specialty teas are only available in the IC. Specialty coffees are available inthe IC, the Patisserie and on Deck 14 in the Horizon Court dessert bar area. Thespecialty restaurants and the dining rooms also have access to coffee machines,but not brewed coffee. Typical bagged tea and syrup coffee/hot water is available24/7 in the Horizon Court beverage bar. Hope than answers your questions! Let me know if it doesn’t. Well Judy just wandered in early. So I’ll get to spend sometime with her this morning. Later!
  4. 10-03-2018 – At Sea to Kushiro From The Future! Crossed the date line last night. The ship went Philadelphia Experiment (22 hours into the future) and our biological clocks went two more hours back. We are now 7 hours behind biologically and 17 hours ahead by calendar. October 2nd vanished, but then we will get two October 7ths, which we have identified as 7.1 and 7.2. The sea definitely calmed down yesterday but picked back up last night. Still shaking and shuddering more than rocking and rolling. The navigation track, on Channel 35, has shown a huge diversion from the great circle route we were following in order to avoid the remnants of a tropical cyclone. I can’t see how we will maintain schedule to Kushiro. I would not be surprised to see a very late arrival or even a missed port there. If we miss Kushiro, that means Yokohama will be our entry port into Japan with the typical immigration delays there as well. I will see if we can repeat the Pueblo lecture. I will talk to Mike. Speaking of Mike, they are doing a pretty good job of accommodating 300+ Cruise Critic member requests! Various games and meetings are being scheduled and so far things seem to be going well. At least no one has called me during the night or knocked on my door to complain! (Which is a good thing.) Since not much is going on until we start hitting ports, let me post some lessons learned from this particular cruise planning. As I said previously, the roll call has been active since May 2017. Various members have organized many private tours in almost all the ports. Those private tours filled almost immediately, but some of the vendors expanded the tours with additional busses. (In Ha Long Bay, our private tour person has organized 9 junk boats of around 16 people each.) One important lesson learned is to keep track of the roll call if you want private tours and to sign up a soon as possible. Several people have missed out on these private tours and will have to do Princess tours. Activities are important to organize. We have several volunteer coordinators or various activities on this cruise. From games to slot pulls to luncheons to dinners to M&Gs we put together a list and had people sign up so that we could provide Princess with a count. Providing them with a count gives them an important heads up. Early Coordination with the corporate meet and greet person pays off. I contacted Princess in July and let her know of all the activities we had planned and requested she contact the ship to let them know we were coming – and to take that early vacation before we arrived. I then had the individual volunteer coordinators contact her for their needs. For example, corporate sent new Mah Jong sets to the ship because of the interest. Mike, the ED, was able to set up a World Cruise get together, RV get together and the luncheons and Chef’s table was well organized by Jean-Paul. A couple of interesting notes from the Captain’s Circle party last night. Apparently the Pacific Princess is not going anywhere anytime soon. There is speculation on another thread that she was going away because her last cruise in 2020 was cancelled. So now there is some more grist for the mill. The two new LNG powered ships will be a brand new design. I think we already knew that, but we’ll see what leaks out of the design process. Well its now 0500 in the morning and the line to the IC coffee bar is 15 people long as people wake up early due to the time change. Now its time to sit back and people watch for a while. Later!
  5. Good to know. For those not aware, Eddiestoy was the executive officer of the Pueblo when it was taken and was the last man across the bridge as the last POW returned by North Korea. The sea has quieted greatly since yesterday. Blue sky, scattered clouds and light swells. Judy is back up and operating. Internet access is very bad. Tomorrow we cross the date line and the ship goes 22 hours into the future! Later!
  6. 09-30-2018 – At Sea To Kushiro Rough water, gale force winds, no sun to speak of, that’s about the long and short of it. Good thing we are on the Coral. You can still find seats here and there on Deck 5, along Deck 6, around Deck 6, upper part of Universe, etc. Not like the Diamond during rough weather – standing room only! Some lectures, dance lessons, trivia, game shows, movies, football. Everything is being utilized and lots of things to do, but as usual in rough weather, Judy is flat on her back. Doesn’t seem to bother me that much. Went up on Deck 14 and had pizza and beer. So cold up there, the pizza guy is hugging the oven space to keep warm. Not a lot of chair hogging going on for sure. Probably not much to update for the next few days. Will really start back hot and heavy after Kushiro as we will be doing a pretty intensive port schedule with late departures. Later!
  7. Yes, there are wine packages available, but they won't give me the paper to be able to reproduce the T's and C's. And there are several different packages!
  8. If you could post some details of how you made the arrangements to be picked up and where you parked the car, that would be great for future cruisers to Kodiak. Thanks!
  9. 08-29-2018 – At Sea to Kushiro Japan A lot rocky and rolly this morning. Wave height tracking from a marine website yesterday while leaving Kodiak showed a large circulation across the entire Aleutian chain from the south east to the northwest across the upper half and the reverse down the other half, along with a cyclone in the Rukyu’s, will make for a rough crossing to Japan. Batten down the hatches! Judy will spend her time on Deck 5 or in bed. Kodiak was great. A sow and 2 cubs within 150 yards was the highlight. Along with spectacular scenery, eagles, swans, deer, seals, gorgeous black sand beaches and scary sized bear tracks. Funniest moment was the sign on the bridge telling everyone that the bears were present stealing fish from fisherman! Pretty cool. It would have been better in clear weather, but it didn’t pour down rain. We rented cars at Budget on Marine Way just up from the ship. All of us walked up to the office to rent 4 cars, all passenger cars with passenger car tires – more about that later. Based on reports of bear sightings north at Abercrombie, we headed to the end of the highway to the north. There we found fisherman fishing a late salmon run in the river with the sign warning about bears stealing fish! After debating walking out to the beach we all went out on the gorgeous black sand beach and found the tracks for the momma and 2 cubs on the beach. Huge bear tracks. We loaded up and headed south checking various salmon creeks and rivers as the crossed the Chiniak highway. At the Y to the south we headed to Chiniak rather than the Pacific Space Port and stopped to have lunch alongside the road overlooking the tidal flats. Still no rain, but it was overcast and foggy. On a clear day, this would have been a spectacular drive. Just before the Chiniak post office we found a sow and two cubs. The momma got within 120 yards of us and we decided to retreat to the vehicles. She wasn’t aggressive, but definitely wanted to be between us and her cubs. It was about 1300 when we saw her and went down a few more miles to another gorgeous black sand beach before turning around and heading back to town. All aboard was 1630 and we wanted to drop off the cars by 1530, but most wanted to do a Walmart run and we needed to fill up with gas. Everything worked out well as we got back to the ship about 1530. Chef’s table last night was fantastic. New dishes, a really, really good chef, and excellent service. The Ahi tuna appetizer, instead of the crab ceviche, was different. The stars were the pumpkin risotto and the mango-orange sorbet with the Grey Goose vodka. Jean-Paul really came through for the Cruise Critic people as the first 10 signups were at the first Chef’s table, and they held it to 10 rather than the typical 12 they would run through. Kodiak as a port is very interesting, but you are going to have to rent cars or take a tour to see more than just the immediate town area. There is limited sites in town and Walmart is about 3 miles away from the dock. Some people were walking it, but the crew was walking to Walmart and taxiing back to the ship. There is also a large Safeway next to Walmart, the Walmart is pretty much a basic Walmart, not a Super Walmart, no groceries, bakery or garden center. The Safeway has all the groceries and deli supplies you will need. There is also a Safeway liquor store next to the Budget office on Marine way in easy walking distance from the ship. I really recommend car rental at this port. Especially if the weather is clear. There are a couple of options. The Budget office is about ¾ of a mile from the ship dock – easy walking distance. You won’t have the variety of cars that are at the airport or at Avis at the airport. There were lots of taxis available at the dock and at various locations around town. The main reason I rented from the downtown location was the return. I was pretty sure that we could get to the airport, but I was concerned about the return trip back to the ship. I was not sure if the ship in port would detract from the number of taxis at the airport. I did hear that Avis actually ran a shuttle to the ship, but I have not confirmed that. I will continue to check on it. Besides bear watching, the rugged coastline of the island is incredible. Very dramatic sea cliffs – similar to the northern California and Oregon coastlines. The temperate rain forest has dramatic tree shapes from the moss coatings. Ferns and sedge grasses abound in the tidal areas. The area around Abercrombie looks phenomenal for hiking and picnicking. Clear weather and/or longer port times would have made this an even better port. In fact, Kodiak has now risen to the top of my list as a place I would like to visit on a land tour one of these days. Probably in July or August to try and catch clearer weather, do some fishing and more extensive bear watching and sight seeing. So back to more rocky and rolly. E’ya all later!
  10. Quikie Update - Just got back from Kodiak where four of us rented cars and headed out. Saw momma bear and cub tracks up north, but got to see a sow and 2 cubs (live) down south before we headed back. Great day, scattered rain, low clouds. Shower, shave and Chef's Table night! Will do a detailed update tomorrow. Off to Kushiro Japan! Later!
  11. 08-26-2018 – At Sea to Kodiak Internet access in Glacier Bay was apparently so bad, they posted in the patter that no refunds would be offered if you connected. Probably the explosion of live streaming from the ship would just eat all the bandwidth available. The rain held off in Glacier Bay long enough to see the Marjorie Glacier up close. High clouds and some cloud fog around the area on the way in. One lone seal on a bergy bit. Pretty cold too. The cloud cover does allow the blue striations to show more prominently on the ice. I’m always awed by looking at geology – the bulldozing of entire mountains into rubble by the glaciers. Lots more trees in the area than our first trip in 2001. Some mountain goats on the way in. No bears. But then, no salmon either. So pretty much the same Glacier Bay. A nice day to relax and watch the world go by. Icy Strait Point was a lot of fun for all of us. Four of us rented vehicles from Icy Strait Lodge on the east side of Hoonah. A jeep, an astro van, a crossover and a sienna. We all convoyed together in case of flat tires or meet and greets with a ditch. It was pouring down rain when we docked at 0600, but by the time myself and the drivers took the shuttle to Hoonah and walked to the Lodge, it was not raining. We drove back to Icy Strait and picked up all the passengers. Based on extensive satellite photo review and google photos, I had a couple of places marked as top prospects for bear sighting and wouldn’t you know it – found a bear at the first spot. (Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then!) A huge black bear (350-400#), which we later found out was a coastal brown bear, just black in color. About 100 yards away across a small creek and digging away at something. He would look over at us, yawn, dig a while, rest, look over, lay down, yawn – whatever he was digging up he wanted it. We continued to the second area, sticking close to the coast and the tidal flats, and saw a mother and two cubs about a mile away across a small bay. Just as we were about to leave a bald eagle lighted in a tree right next to us and decided to put on a display of his wings. Beautiful sight. (I paid him extra for that display – he was not cheap.) In all we saw several bald eagles, those two bears, a deer, couple of squirrels, seals, lots of beautiful country and several dozen blue bag carrying tourists. The rain held off for most of the trip. We did run back into Hoonah to grab some sandwich makings and drinks for an impromptu picnic in the woods. And we found out what “Marine Access Facility” meant on a map – access point to the water! That’s it! We dropped the people back off at the entry point to Icy Strait and returned the vehicles. Barbara Phillips, owner of the lodge, gave us a guided tour of Hoonah on the way back to the ship. Really great little town to visit. Rustic, no 4 or 5 star resorts here, but a really quiet, peaceful and small town. Great place to visit for a few days with lots of things to do in the area with fishing, hunting, hiking and lots of roads to travel in the area as well. But as far as a ship destination, DIY’ers should rent a car to get out. There is not much in town to see at all. All of the interesting stuff and food is in Icy Strait point itself. Oh BTW, the Zip Line is simply incredible. It has to be the tallest, fastest and scariest looking zip line I have ever seen. It has to be a 1500 foot drop from the top to the bottom. The area around the dock is really cool to at least wander through the shops. There was a shuttle to Hoonah for $5 unlimited daily rides. The shuttle drops off in the middle of Hoonah proper, near the cultural center, quite a ways from Icy Strait Lodge. There is a nice walking path along the shoreline from Icy Strait Point to Hoonah. Very clear water, gravel beaches, lots of seals. The roads out of town are well marked on maps of the area. Downloadable PDFs from the forest service. The bear viewing area to the east of town is on private property, so not anyone can use the paths. We saw bears to the south along the coast near the old logging camp and near Long Island. The roads are all very well maintained and pretty good gravel. Not heavily rutted or muddy. No problems with passenger vehicles at all. The Marine Access Facilities on the maps are just roads that go to the waters edge. Probably for launching kayaks and portable boats. I wouldn’t try launching trailered boats there. Too rocky and steep into the water with no boat launch ramps. The forest areas are heavily overgrown. With bears prevalent on the Island I would not be hiking through the woods without bear protection as you can only see a few feet into most of the areas. You could easily walk up on a bear and wake them up into a very uncomfortable situation for all. At sea and a little rolly this morning. Not a lot of rockin. Cloudy and rainy with periods of mist. Pretty miserable outside. So that’s the update for this morning. Tomorrow – Kodiak and a drive around the Island looking for bears… Later!
  12. 09-25-2018 – Glacier Bay ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS I heard that the CC luncheon organized by Jane was a great success. Rave reviews on how the crew, and Jean-Paul (a really great matre de), even had a special dish prepared for the group. A lobster risotto. Jane’s coordination with corporate prior to sailing and giving Jean-Paul plenty of warning made even a 90+ group feel special. Thanks Jane! Icy Strait Point – Meet in Patisserie at 0630 to decide what to do. Which highly depends on the weather. Vickie’s tour in Taipei is now full. END OF ANNOUNCEMENTS Juneau was both familiar, fun and disappointing yesterday. It was a great day ashore with lots of stuff to see and do, good food, great shopping bargains, but the price inflation over the years is getting ridiculous! The weather was good. No rain. Clouds were high so the tram vistas should have been pretty good, but fog shrouded the mountain tops so Glacier viewing on fixed and rotary aircraft was most likely suboptimal. One of the many risks of Alaska weather. The sales in town were phenomenal. A $4k piece of jewelry for $1k. Probably could have gotten him lower if I really wanted it, but it had “chocolate” diamonds in it. Not interested. But I did find Judy a Whale’s Tail with a “Dancing Diamond”. How about a $1k skinning knife with a mammoth bone handle for $500. Very tempting. Had it been forged Damascus I would have grabbed it in a second. (Shipping to the states would have been $15.) Fleece at 50% off. Desperate vendors closing their doors for good trying to get rid of inventory. Some vendors were packing stuff to ship to the Caribbean and Mexico. Of course Alaska labeled stuff was the cheapest. It just wouldn’t sell well on St. Thomas. First of all the Coral docks in the AJ dock. That’s the one the furthest away and about 1.5 miles from the tram. The shuttle was $5 for all day – BUT it was FREE after the first couple of hours. So we had a nice walk into town and free rides from then on. Bought fudge at the Alaskan Fudge Company. 15# of fudge in 30 boxes. Already gave away 3 boxes. One to the front deck, one to the room steward and one to our morning barista. More to follow. It’s really, really good! Then we came back for dessert. Their ice cream was 50% off, so we sat in front of the store eating ice cream and attracting a crowd. Probably should have charged them for advertising! Price inflation. OMG! I did not realize how much prices have gone up since we were here in 2015. $45 EACH roundtrip to Mendenhall on the Glacier Express. The public bus is like $2. No wonder the line was so long to catch the public bus. The tram is now $38 each for the daily pass. That’s $83 each for two of the more DIY choices in this port. Good grief! So instead of spending that kind of money on busses or trams, we went to lunch at Twisted Fish. The blackened halibut was fantastic. The halibut fish and chips, nearly perfect. Add to that a white Alaskan Ale and an Amber, perfect lunch. Now we have had our halibut and clam chowder fixes in Alaska and are ready for Japanese food. When we first started cruising we always wondered why people ate off the ship. Afterall, food cost money on-shore. Well, we have since changed our tune as we have cruised more and more and the food on the ships has become standard and safe – read pretty much the same ole same ole. Ketchikan and Juneau are good examples. Smoked salmon chowder. That was a very interesting and tasty treat. So is perfectly cooked halibut fish and chips – with fresh, never frozen halibut. And hot and cold smoked salmon. Taste treats you just can’t get on the ship. Asia will present even better opportunities for WOW food. Dim Sum in Hong Kong, Pho in Vietnam, Sushi and Sashimi in Japan, those stuffed steamed buns in China. Can’t wait to try real Philippino food. That’s it for the morning. Later!
  13. Club class is creating major issues in ATD. It is very underutilized on this cruise so far. The allocation of space and wait staff to that venue is causing a major jam in ATD service. Jean-Paul is trying his best by moving ATD people to fixed seating to relive the ATD crunch, but with corporate dictating Club Class amenities, his actions are very limited.
  14. Laundry is taking 4-6 days for Elites. And yes the 4 packed suitcases are paying off!
  15. 09-24-2018 Headed to Juneau Actually clear sky as of 15 minutes ago at 0530, but no guarantees in the next 30 minutes. We dock at 0900 this morning. Anything we do is weather dependent. If its clear, then it’s the tram first, nugget falls 2nd and shopping 3rd. If its not clear we shop first hoping for clear skies or lack of rain later. Lunch will be at twisted fish regardless. ROLL CALL ANNOUNCEMENTS Icy Strait Point – Meet in Patisserie at 0630 to decide what to do. Vickie has a tour in Taipei, all day, that she would like another couple to join. 8 hours, 4 people total. Cost is TBD, but about $130 each. Contact me via my email and I will give you her cabin number to contact her about it. END OF ANNOUNCEMENTS In the Ketchikan it was rain with periods of less rain, alternating with mist, alternating with no rain and one period of seeing a piece of blue sky! But we pretty much expected this. We did the lumberjack show. A staple for us and highly recommended. All the newbies though it was great too and had a lot of fun. Felt sorry for the lumberjacks standing in a pouring rain handling those sharp axes. We did do creek street. It was sad in a way to see all those magnificent salmon that had died after spawning. But cycle of life. The seagulls were not even fighting over the remains they were so full. After the show it was one of our favorite shopping activities – getting all the freeby handouts as Christmas gifts for the grandkids. Charms, bracelets, pendants, all kinds of cool and free stuff. And since this was the end of the season they were handing them out, one per coupon, and not limiting it to one per family. And we found saltwater taffy. The crew loves salt water taffy. It was also on sale at $3 per pound instead of $12 per pound. Lots of sale items of all types imaginable. Coats especially. Not quite everything on sale. But enough to make others happy. We stuck with the free stuff. We did a nice relaxing and delicious lunch at Annabelles, just across the street from Tongas. Smoke salmon chowder, in a bread bowl of course, Kung Pao Calamari, halibut fish and chips with a 5 piece flight of Alaskan Amber Ale. Now we’re talking some really good food! Getting out of the rain, sitting down and enjoying a hot and scrumptious meal, and beer, was the perfect topper for the day. BTW – Docked beside the Coral was the Time Bandit of deadliest catch fame. Probably getting ready to head out for Red Crab in the Bering Sea. Sailaway was cool, but dry and heading up the channel was very calm and beautiful. Didn’t see any whales. Off the to Koffee Klatch! Later!
  16. CC hostess is Michelle Loubser. Most traveled is above 1800, but below 2000. Cutoff for Most Traveled was north of 990...
  17. Internet sucketh! We will be using high speed on-shore stuff or limiting the important transactions to before 0600 in the morning or between 1500 and 1800..
  18. We just rolled into Ketchikan. Yes, it is rainy and misty and cold. Shopping, lumberjack show, shopping, food, getting wet. Later!
  19. 09-22-2018 – At Sea Northbound to Ketchikan Yesterday dawned almost breezeless with a glassy sea and almost no motion. Last night was a broadside 30kt wind with moderate seas. Wind whistled through the door and several gusts woke me up shaking the bed. Still blowing this morning. Cloudy skies, very little blue, but typical along the Pacific Coast in September with the marine layer up pretty high. CC ROLL CALL MEMBER ACTIVITY ANNOUNCEMENTS – Chef’s Table – Jean Paul has gotten the letter and lists of the roll call members signing up. When they get the schedule sorted out they will send out letters to the cabins with the dates. Don’t expect any Chef’s Tables until after Kodiak. Left, Center, Right – Games will be started in the Horizon Court around 1400 in the afternoons on sea days. Knitters and Knatters are meeting as shown in the Patter. Mah Jong and Bridge are being held as announced in the Patter. Today is 1-4 in Bayou for Bridge. Icy Strait Point – Fellow drivers – We will get together as soon as we dock on Deck 5 to decide how to proceed. Heavy rain, we wait for Ed @ 0830. Light rain to no rain, we drivers can shuttle or walk to town and pick up the vehicles, come back and pick up everybody else. We can pickup the vehicles starting at 0800 at the Lodge. If its clear, let’s plan on getting supplies for a wilderness picnic in town before heading out. I’m going to try and put notices in your mailboxes. END OF ANNOUNCEMENTS Yesterday was also the first formal day, of three for this segment to Shanghai. We decided to do Bayou Café instead of winging it. It was OK. Not fantastic like dinner in the Bayou last October on the Island, or many of the Crown Grill dinners we’ve had, but ok. Nothing to rave about. The meat was cooked very well and it was tasty without that ‘Princess’ unique flavor that we don’t care for. They did not have the Alaskan menu available, but did have lamb chops as a special. Two bite chops. Nothing like Elways in Denver with their huge double Rocky Mtn Lamb chops. But like I said, just ok. Lunch in the HC was disappointing though. It was ‘sushi’ for lunch and the rice was dry to the point of needed to be cooked again. On the other hand, the Mexican soup was great. Spicy and very flavorful. The cupcakes are very good as well. They need more of them. Yesterday was maple with walnut icing. A couple of interesting lectures – one on whales and one on the Aleutian Ballard, a crab boat on the 2nd season of Deadliest Catch that has been turned into an attraction for the Alaskan ports. I miss the Diamond VOD system! We have studiously avoided going to the movies for 6 months to ‘save’ movies for this cruise. Sure enough they have Infinity Wars, Black Panther and a bunch of ones we want to see on MUTS and they replay them the next day, but without VOD or a schedule, its catch as catch can, so we spent time watching bits and pieces of infinity wars yesterday. Hopefully they will replay it on MUTS on nights that are not freezing cold! I’m glad to see that Mike (the ED) has continued the practice of placing the ‘special’ HC items in the Patter where the opening and closing times are printed. That’s how we knew about the sushi and oriental lunch. Tonight is Fajita’s. We did miss Encore last night because of dinner, but hopefully they will replay that one as well during the cruise. We have a lot of sea days on this cruise. That’s it this morning. Tomorrow is Ketchikan, the Juneau. Depending on the weather, we are doing end of season shopping in Ketchikan and Juneau with candy and fudge shopping thrown in. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan for sure and the Mt. Roberts tram if the weather is clear. Otherwise, Nugget Falls on the Glacier Express and maybe some late season salmon runs. Never know. And definitely some fresh halibut, smoked salmon and Alaskan Amber Ale on tap. Later!
  20. 09-21-2018 – At Sea to Ketchikan Yesterday’s M&G was very well attended. Mike, the ED, showed up and helped MC the thing. The Captain, Hotel General Manager, F&B Manager and the Matre De also showed up. We had a good Q&A and several of our volunteer coordinators have already made arrangements for the several meetings and games – Mah Jong, Duplicate Bridge, LCR, hand and foot, ping pong, pickleball, luncheons, dinners, roulette games, slot pulls, all sorts of neat stuff. My thanks to all of them to make this cruise not “Bora-Boring!”. John (TheRabbit) did get his wine on-board – several cases. While is uncorking fees are high, at least his bar bill will be lower. I got to meet so many people from the roll call that my brain is on person name/face overload! You know how you always joke that when giving gifts, give the gift of CASH. Well JAcruise200 gave us a little bag with a card and gifts and OMG it was CASH! But oh so delicately folded dollar bills into the shape of a deer, complete with antlers and a catfish – complete with whiskers and eyes from the dollar bill motifs. So intricate and beautiful! We have to figure out a way to get this home without damage. They are gorgeous and must have taken hours to fold. Can’t thank her enough. They are incredible and Judy wants to learn how to do it! (Good, cause anything I folded always ends up looking like my handkerchief in my back pocket.) We did ‘cash’ in our photo package voucher. Now every photo that has one of us in it is included and the JPEG file is included as well. We will definitely get our money’s worth out of this package. Received 24 of 36 bottles of water yesterday of our water order. That will hold us for a while as we tool north. Definitely a chill in the air with very few people in the pools or even out on the decks. We found a nice lounger on the upper level of the covered pool area for a nice read/snooze. After a rough first night in a new, and much softer, bed, I needed a little power nap, or two, or three… Have not tried the MDR yet. The only complaint I have heard is the Club Class section taking too much space and labor at the detriment of the normal side during busy times. But that appears to be timing related as to when everyone wants to eat – NOW! We did do lunch at the HC and it was pretty good. After a VERY disappointing food scene on the Diamond last April, this was tasty, well seasoned and did not drive us into our emergency excursion rations. The IC is open 24/7, but does not have the Princess Mcmuffin. Only pastries. Nice to be able to get coffee whenever we want it. It was limited on the Diamond to the HC after 0500 and the Atrium bar after 0600. The Atrium bar or Patisserie is only open after 0700. The Elite lounge is open from 1615 to 1815 in the Universe. Lots of elites on this cruise, so the lower level is pretty packed during prime time and the food line is long. They have pared the ‘special’ drink list ($6.50 each) down to 6 or 8 from the original dozen. Only two that I care for – the Mexican Mule (tequila instead of vodka) and the Port Lemonade (Citron Vodka, port wine and sprite). But they do not have the martini glasses or small water glasses with veggies. You can use tongs and get a variety of veggies from serving bowels including bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato and a few others I don’t recall. Great selection. The bands are pretty darn good! (Yeah! I can eat again!) The Sound is the party band. A five piece band with a lead female singer. Good rhythm. Not a lot of ‘my way’ with songs. Good selection. The dance floor in Explorer’s was reasonable occupied with experience social dancers. Everyone kept to their ‘lanes’, no leaping or flying lifts and everyone had a great time! The other band, Blue Jade Quartet, plays to a packed dance floor in Wheelhouse, but still, good selection, good rhythm and experienced social dancers. Several we recognize from prior cruises. Speaking of prior cruises, our hopes to get into the Most Travelled were dashed when we heard that the cutoff was around 990 days at sea, but that the Most Travelled did have less than 2000 days – oh joy…that’s just so…disheartening! Being on the Island last October, and now the un-modified Coral, reminds me of how much I enjoy this class of ship and when she is sold in 2027 to make room for the new build Royal-Regal-Sky-Ocean-Alexandrite Princess, she will be sorely missed as the last of her kind. For those not familiar with the Coral, she was built in France and has been referred to as an ‘Explorer Class’ and Sun II class. She’ actually an intermediate design between the Sun class and the Grand Class with Explorer’s, a two story Universe, a large wheelhouse and a lot of balcony cabins. The Island and the Coral have the infamous bumpout balconies that requires a detailed website and photos to determine if your balcony is covered, uncovered or partially covered. But the main difference is the uncrowded nature of the ship. With both Decks 6 and 7 being entertainment and venue decks, the crowds are split a bit. The elevators are fast, the promenade deck wide and all the way around. The Island was butchered, in anticipation of the 100kT limit for Venice, in the last dry dock with the Universe being removed and the lower level turned into the Gym and a whole host of cabins added to the aft end of the ship where observation decks existed. Very wide and deep observation decks perfect for the Panama Canal and Glacier viewing. Now, on the Island, only the forward decks and the aft Emerald deck, a lot smaller, still exist. The additional cabins apparently have a lot of vibration issues and, quite frankly, make the back end of an otherwise elegant design look like the back end of an 18 wheeler rather than a cruise ship. The really good news is that they cancelled a similar refit to the Coral. Don’t know why, but at least we get to enjoy her on a 60 day odyssey in her almost ‘original’ intended design. The public spaces are remarkably uncrowded compared to a Grand or especially a Super-Grand. So that’s it for now from the Coral, northbound to Ketchikan… Later!
  21. VERY IMPORTANT I really hate to do this on the first sea day, but we found something yesterday that could really affect people’s health on the ships. We bring our own shampoo and conditioner for long cruises since Princess started using the bottles in the shower instead of the packaged Lotus Spa stuff. Usually our steward gives us new or empty/cleaned spare bottles and swaps them out for us. This time we had to dump the old stuff out and clean the bottles, but what we found in and around the bottles was GROSS. Behind the bottles on the chrome attachment plate was black moldy goopee gross stuff. We used a healthy dose of Lysol spray and Clorox wipes to clean it up. Even worse though was that the black moldy goopee stuff was in the shampoo/conditioner and the body gel bottle as well. Especially on the cap threads. (Judy had to clean the pump head threads with Q-tips.) After rinsing for several minutes in hot water, we got it all cleaned out, black stuff everywhere. I’m not sure if it was bacteria, fungus or just some kind of chemical reaction between the soaps and the containers. I don’t want to know. I wanted it gone. The reason the stuff is there is pretty clear – these particular areas just don’t get cleaned very often – they probably don’t think its important. But anyone that might be sensitive to mold or fungus might have a reaction to the stuff when the shower is running and dispersing some of this in the air. So pull the caps and look at the threads in bright light and look behind the bottles with a flashlight and see what you see.
  22. 09-20-2018 – First Day At Sea to Ketchikan The coffee klatch has hereby begun with me, myself and I. Still too early for most. But I have changed the location. The music was way too loud in the Deck 5 bar for even a minute conversation. So I came back up to the IC. But now with coffee and computer, here goes a recap of yesterday. Embarkation day was a breeze. Never stopped walking from the time of drop off to the cabin. The star was in the main spot of the terminal. We were at Pier 92, but still no issues all the way in. We are in a starboard balcony bumpout. Nice view forward along the whole length of the ship. Will be perfect for whale and bergy bit watching. The ship is in pretty good shape in the public areas. You can see the ravages of the sea if you look closely in the nooks and crannies, but overall really good. Add to that the fact that she was not butchered like the Island and actually has an IC, on deck 6 next to the casino open 24 hours, and a Patisserie on Deck 5, both with coffee machines, it has all the makings of a really good cruise. Luggage arrived and the chore of making all of this stuff fit started. Ran out of hangers, of course, used the plug under the bed for Judy’s machine, used the power strip, non-surge suppressed of course, on the spare plug behind the TV, and then plugged in the USB power brick to set up the charging station under the TV. This is the most ‘stuff’ since the 61 day Ruby cruise a couple of years ago. First Patter information – this is the most important patter of the cruise and gets put on the wall. Let’s see. We have Andrea Poggi as Captain. Leonardo Pavan as Hotel General Manager, Miranda Mclean is the CD, Mike Witte is the ED, Luca Baudoino is the Customer Services Director, Giancarlo Iaccarino is the Food and Beverage Director, Saverio Brattoli is the Executive Chef and Jean Paul Musiu is the Matre d’Hotel. BTW – The Pizza is already lots better than the last cruise. The crust is seasoned! Yeah for the taste buds, bad for the waist line! So now for the schedule. We have 3 formal days on the way to Shanghai; 9/21, 10/1 and 10/15. The schedule is only to Shanghai, the first segment of the cruise. Elites booked for the entire 60 days get 500 minutes each segment. There are also daily data packages from 200 to 500MB per day at a daily rate. I went ahead and got an extra 200 minutes. So far the internet is VERY slow from the cabin. Elites are also getting two bar setups, one here and one in Shanghai and after the cruise will get an extra cruise credit for the 60 day duration if booked on the single 60 day cruise. Entertainment – We have 2 production shows in the theater, Encore and Motor City. Soprano is Jennifer Fair – seen her before and she has a great set of pipes! Comic is Scott Wyler and he is actually pretty funny. His intro show last night was a hoot. We have also, Vocalist Sonia Selbie, Guitar Comic Gary DeLena, Instrumentalist Duncan Tuck, Juggler Jeff Taveggia, Vocalist Claude Eric, Vocalist Monique Dehaney, Comedian Simon Colter, Tribute Act of Sonz of Soul, Acrobat Wheel Sensation, Female Vocalist Anna Fegi-Brown, Novelty Les Sandros, Juggler Kikyo Brothers. Games shows in Explorers will be Yes/No, Karoke, Marriage Match, Majority Rules, 50’s night, 70’s disco, 60’s dance, Liars Club and dancing ala Skywalkers after 2300. Universe Lounge will be On the Bayou, NFL Football, Zumba, Ballroom Dance Class. MUTS will have The 15:17 to Paris, Avenger’s Infinity Wars, Battle of the Sexes, Black Panther, Book Club, The Bookshop, Breathe, The Commuter, Finding Your Feet, The Greatest Showman, Hearts Beat Loud, I Feel Pretty, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dog and “many more…”. The party band is The Sound. Wheelhouse bar is the Blue Jade Quartet. The destination lecturer this morning is Mark Harris and we do have a ‘shopping advisor’ (Allyson) till we leave Alaska. I suspect there are another couple of lecturers in the wings. Miranda is running two Zumba classes, one at 0900 (she is leading and she is a tough Zumba instructor) and one at 1500 with Karen. They have pickleball on the sports deck 0900 to 1200, morning trivia, mah jong and bingo in the mornings. They are running several cruise length events like a Mini-Olympics, scrap heap boat challenge, egg drop and scavenger hunts. In the afternoons they have a destination lecture, bridge play, a cruise long trivia challenge, ballroom dance class, ping pong, afternoon trivia, something called tailgate@sea related to football. In the evenings we have elite lounge in the Universe, canned music dancing in Explorers, Duo Adamant is the atrium strings. Solo guitar vocalist Lou McMahon kicks off in the wheelhouse. Then the Blue Jade Quarter. The Sound resides in Explorer’s. They have BOGO! Sort of. Pre-show in the theater. Buy one glass of wine, get another for $1. Interesting. Must have gotten a good deal on a container of wine! So that is a quick and dirty synopsis of the first patter. Later!
  23. Fun?!? You're the one bringing all the wine!!! Yep, this is going to be a lot of fun! See ya!
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