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Lunastella

Detailed review of Sapphire Princess, 10 Day Orient Indonesia, 28 Dec – 6 Jan

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1 hour ago, suekay said:

Love your writing style and can't wait for the next instalment. We are cruising out of Singapore on Grand Princess in March 2021 so am looking forward to hearing about Princess (our last Princess cruise was in 2001, we are more Celebrity and Royal Caribbean  these days )

 

Thanks Suekay. We really enjoyed our time in Singapore and I will be writing more about our 3 day stay at the end of the cruise. Keep posted!

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Day 3 (Sea day)

 

Oh the pain, the pain! No not from the perforated disc, my muscles were screaming at me – how dare you abandon me for 3 months and now you expect me to work again, are you kidding me, I will make you pay! Undeterred, I got up at 7am and headed to the gym to quieten those screaming muscles. Fifty minutes later, it was time to quit, it was time for breakfast, well it has been almost 12 hours since I’ve eaten!

 

We had already experienced an IDR breakfast, now it time to try something new all in the name of research. While I prefer a more relaxed breakfast experience, I was willing to give Horizon Court a try. It turns out to be the Grand Central Station of breakfast buffets. Eventually we found somewhere to sit, but it was so far from the actual buffet I could comfortable remain prostrate for the rest of the day and still make my step count. Multiple hikes to the buffet later, I managed to acquire fruit/yoghurt/granola, and a boiled egg and toast, oh and some pretty good banana bread, and obviously coffee(ish).

 

A random photo I know, but the real flowers in the restrooms are pretty impressive

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Another sea day, another opportunity to work on relaxing into the holiday. I’m not quite at the ‘relaxed’ stage yet, need to work on it more, so with that in mind, back to the cabin to pick my ‘relaxing gear’ (kindle, headphones, sunglasses, bikini), and on to The Conservatory to nab some loungers. The rest of the morning was spent reading, listening to music, and plunging into the pool (while avoiding kids continuously jumping into the pool despite the pool attendant’s attempts to quell it) to cool down, it was sooooooo hot today.  I (briefly) watched the crossing of the equator ceremony, I still don’t get it….

 

My morning resting place

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And then it was lunchtime, more food, well it is important to have 3 meals a day. Keen to avoid Horizon Court twice in one day, we went for lunch in the International Café again – small salad and a toasted mozzarella and tomato sandwich, oh and carrot cake, oh and a beer (shock,  all in an attempt to get into the holiday mode - it would eventually kick in on day 5).

 

International Café lunch number 2

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And cake…mini cake mind you

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The best thing about the International Café are wonderful views – forget about the food (which is actually pretty good), you can’t get a better lunch venue than this for the vibe and view. While DM attended a welcome event for first-time Princess cruisers, DS and I stayed put, she read, I wrote this, I am so behind.

 

Lunch view

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DM returned bearing some Princess pins (nice) and we spent the rest of the afternoon in The Conservatory to work on the relaxing bit again. At about 5.30 I was confident that I could head into the open air without risking any serious sun exposure, so I went up to the Terrace pool area and thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the hot tub and watching the wake as the sun was going down, not a bad way to spend an evening. 

 

 What a hot tub view

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However I couldn’t dawdle too long, I had an important date - dinner in Sabatini’s ($29 cover charge). We always try the speciality restaurants early in the cruise so we can book them again if  good. While getting ready we opened the bottle of Rose from Provence which we bought in Singapore and enjoyed some balcony time en famille.

 

DM and DM enjoying a piece of Provence in Asia

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Obligatory pre-dinner balcony shot number 3

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We were really looking forward to Sabatini’s, having heard great things about it, plus we love Italian food. The meal had lots of positives - our waitress was wonderful, the dining room is lovely, the dinnerware is gorgeous, the bread, olives, and balsamic were very tasty. However, the meal itself was nothing extra special, we were equally impressed with the food in IDR, and en masse we agreed that it wasn’t really worth the supplement, although we are glad to have tried it.

 

DS and I shared calamari and roasted vegetables, then I had lobster three ways (why do I keep forgetting that I don’t like lobster), and finished with a beautiful looking tiramisu that tasted nothing like tiramisu.

 

Ah well. In theory, I knew that wine ordered in one restaurant could be transferred to another one, but I didn’t really believe it would work out in practice, turns out it does – so we enjoyed the rest of the Malbac with our meal.

 

DS through the breadsticks

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Sabatini’s food

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Given the massive meal we attempted to walk around the Promenade Deck, but it was ultra windy… and DS is freaked out on the open decks at night time, so we retreated to the cabin to prepare for our first port day – Bali!

 

Before bed, I perused the TV for the first time. How did I not know that the Princess cruise line was the original Love Boat, who knew!!! Well everyone apart from me apparently. Even the safety video features the original crew members from the show. Maybe I don’t read enough Princess reviews, or maybe it’s considered an embarrassing family secret, but how come this is not discussed, this is massive!! I religiously watched the show when I was a kid, I loved it and credit it for peaking my interest in cruises from a very early age. Forget about my parents, I blame my extensive early TV watching for most things in my life.

 

The Love Boat!

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Day 4 Bali (New Year’s Eve)

 

The alarm was set for 6am as the ship was arriving in Bali at 7am. This meant no gym today (it only opens at 7am apparently), but I was secretly delighted as it would give my suffering muscles time to recover. We ended up in Horizon Court for breakfast (I know I know but DS and DM are all for speed). We stocked up on a substantial breakfast as we didn’t know when we would eat again given our private tour of Bali whose itinerary was somewhat still a mystery. I filled up on a ridiculous amount of fruit (excellent on this ship BTW) and a bagel with cream cheese and bacon, oh and a pastry and some coffee(ish). Despite DS’s concerns over attacking monkeys, I took a banana for the trip.

 

Our NYE in Bali

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Tender tickets were available from 7am, and when we got there just after 7 there was already a massive queue, apparently people were very keen to get off the ship. Who could blame them, we were in Bali!!! We ended up with ticket number 13. Unlucky for some, well unlucky for us too unfortunately. The tender takes between 30-45 mins to get to the port, so once all the tenders made their way over, we had to wait another 45 minutes until they came back. After waiting in the Wheelhouse bar for almost 2 hours, we finally got on a tender at 9am.

 

Sapphire from the tender boat

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We were going to be very late for our tour so we used the ship’s wifi ($0.79 per minute) to WhatsApp the driver and keep him updated.  It was quite difficult to find a private tour for Bali on New Year’s Eve. We contacted a number of companies in advance and many were not offering tours today as some of the roads would be closed in preparation for the celebrations. But DS found a company called HBD Tours who was willing to give us a tour for $105US. They had warned us in advance that we may not be able to see much, but we decided to book it anyway.

 

When we arrived at the port, we were relieved that our driver/tour guide was still waiting for us. We left the port in his air conditioned car with cold water of bottles in hand (thank you much appreciated), so far so good. But now our time in Bali was very limited, it was already close to 10am and all aboard time was 4pm which meant getting back to the port at about 3pm just to be on the safe side. DS is very concerned about missing the ship so we always give ourselves lots of leeway (are you seeing a theme here about who is the most risk adverse in the family, not me anyway?). It appears that not everyone is so conscientious about getting back to the ship on time, as by 5pm that evening there were still 200+ passengers not yet back according to the captain’s announcement!  

 

Our tour guide was lovely and so informative, while we didn’t get to see much of Bali, we at least learned a lot about its history, its culture, and its economy. When planning our trip in advance, we had wanted to visit the volcanoes and paddy fields in the mountainous area around Mount Agung in the middle of the island and the Uluwatu temple that is situated along the cliffs, however both of these options were out today as it takes about  hours to get there and another two hours back. So instead the driver did his best to show us what was of interest within an hour’s drive of the port. This did limit options somewhat.

 

First we went to see how some of the world’s most expensive coffee is produced –Lewak coffee -  don’t ask, you don’t want to know. We had a chance to taste some different coffees and teas and I bought some Balinese coffee (nope not the Lewak) to take home. While this stop wouldn’t have been our first choice, we had already said no to our guide’s suggestion to visit monkeys, visit elephants, visit jewellers, so we had to say yes to something!!!  Also, I still had my banana, couldn’t risk it. 

 

A Civet

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Real coffee for the first time in days!

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Next stop, a traditional Balinese family compound which consists of a series of small buildings set around a courtyard. Traditionally, Balinese family members live together in the same compound, each with its own family temple. Our guide said he lives in a similar compound in the countryside, north of Ubud, with three generations living side by side - think of the childcare saving! These compounds are passed down through the generations (I’m guessing there is no inheritance tax here), but as a result there is very little homelessness in Bali.

 

The family temple

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Next stop, a community (rather than a family) Temple. Bali, unlike much of the rest of Indonesia, is mainly Hindu, although not strict Hindu, and along almost every road we passed we saw women making offering of flower and rice to the gods. Technically, you only need to go to the Temple at each full moon and dead moon, but most people pray and make offerings every day.

 

Our guide walked us around the Temple and explained what each gods represent, as well as discussing the history of religion in Bali more generally.  It was hot hot hot in the almost midday sun and I had to resort to using my umbrella. Sure, I am possibly the only westerner to do so, but it just makes sense when you are so close to the equator, um…I may even do it in the south of France, so sun adverse am I.

 

Temple pics!

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Just take the photo already, I'm hot!

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So our next stop – a Waterfall – sounds promising! Had we realised it was 200 steps down to the waterfall, and most importantly 200 steps back up, we may have been less enthusiastic!  According to our guide, there are more spectacular and remote waterfalls in Bali (you’ve all seen the Instagram shots) but this one was closest to the port, so it would have to do. DM wisely decided to stay at the top and enjoy the view, while DS and I in our madness decided to walk down to the base. Going down was ok, going back up less so. There were loads of (young) people trying to get that perfect Insta shot. We make a half-heated attempt and retreated back up the hill. Then I had my banana, no monkeys in sight.

 

Waterfall pics

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Our posing wasn't quite as good as the girl behind us

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Time was ticking, so I asked our guide if we could go to a beach and have lunch overlooking the sea. In my mind, most people come to Bali to spend time on the beaches, so I didn’t want to leave without at least seeing one. On the way we passed a rice field….kind of

 

Rice field…kind of

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We went to Sanur beach which is pretty close to the port, and it is also pretty quiet. There were a couple of beachfront restaurants so we choose one at random and ordered rice and vegetables and a cold beer - if I couldn’t see a proper rice field I would just have to eat some instead. The food was just what the doctor ordered – it felt very healthy and definitely satisfied my five a day. Lunch with a view like this, doesn’t get any better.

 

Lunch views

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A Bali beach

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Tasty and healthy for once!

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Next stop, the port. We were there at about 2.30 so even earlier than intended, but luckily it meant we escaped the queues for the tender and we were back on the ship by 3pm. Overall, our day in Bali was ok, but I feel we didn’t really get to see the best of Bali. This was in no way the fault of our guide, but rather our time constraints and the New Year’s Eve restrictions. But I do feel we saw the real everyday Bali (at least from the back of a car). If I was in this part of the world again I would try to spend a week or so in Bali to explore it better.

 

By the time we got back to the ship we were hot, we were sweaty, and we were generally a bit wiped out. A short nap (for me) and a long nap (for DM and DS) was in order. While DS and DM continued to nap, I went to the pool to read for a while, and then to what was becoming by 5.30 hot tub haunt. Then finally back to the cabin by 6pm to get ready for our second and extra special New Year’s Eve formal night. The glamour would be out in spades!  The view s from our balcony as we departed Bali were pretty cool…

  

Looks like a volcano….

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Sunset

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Obligatory pre-dinner Christmas tree shot 4

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As it was an extra special night and all (any excuse), we went for a pre-dinner cocktail in The Wheelhouse Bar. It’s a lovely classic bar, very comfortable. I had a lemontini, (a bit too sweet for me, but fine). The nuts were also sweet, why is everything so sweet on this ship! I think my sugar in-take is doubling at this point- they take a perfectly acceptable food group and add sugar. Why??

  

Another fab dinner in IDR – I had beef carpaccio, champagne sorbet, sole, ice cream, and (as its an extra special night still) petit fours. DS and I also discovered the mashed potatoes (we shared a side) – I don’t know what they put in these potatoes and I don’t want to know, but they are amazing, please just no sugar! They would become a regular occurrence from now on. As we had already finished our Malbec, we ordered a bottle of pinot noir from France. Dinner was pretty quick tonight, which wasn’t great as we had hours to fill until midnight….

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Obligatory formal night dinner shots number 5 (maybe)

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Treats!

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We walked around the ship, exploring what was going on in each location.

 

Pretty quiet Neptune pool so far

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How long more till midnight…2 hours…no…I cant stay up..and keep wandering around in these heels

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We ended up in Crooners where people were popping champagne/prosecco like it was going out of fashion. Never ones to follow the norm we had a cocktail and played cards. You know its mid-way through the cruise when the cards come out.

 

OK so this helps…an excellent aperol spritz

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The entertainers were trying to get the party started in the Piazza, but there were feel takers. So at about 11.45 we headed up to Neptune deck for the New Year’s Eve party where cruise director Matt was more successful. The MUTS screen showed where each Princess ship was celebrating New Year’s which was pretty cool.  On our New Year’s cruise last year with HAL, free champagne (ok probably sparkling wine) was flowing, but no joy on Princess, ah well, more than enough for one day anyway, we would thank them tomorrow.  Close to midnight, the officers appeared and we did the countdown- happy new decade! After that, we swiftly retreated to bed where we would sleep and sleep and sleep….still blaming the jetlag

 

Happy New Year...almost!

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1 hour ago, Lunastella said:

on the way we passed a rice field….kind of

 

Kind of funny. I live in Butte County in California. There is over 90,000 acres (36,421 hectares) of rice in our county and the neighboring 6 or 7 counties have as much. California has half a million acres (202,342 hectares) of rice. Pretty when it's green but ugly in the off season. It's much more picturesque in countries such as Bali.

 

Loving your review. Thanks for taking the time to take us along on your trip.

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Loving the detailed report of your journey. I also cruise with my sister,  so I have felt similar sentiments to you. Was your cruise director Matt O'Brien? If yes, you got lucky! He's one of the best in the biz. Tell him I said so! I've cruised with him on Royal in 2019. Thanks for posting 😎

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Bringing back fantastic memories of a similar itinerary on the Sapphire last January. Looking forward to day 5! Thanks.

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Fantastic review with excellent writing!!  Thanks for taking the time to put it together and share with us.

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20 hours ago, Thrak said:

 

Kind of funny. I live in Butte County in California. There is over 90,000 acres (36,421 hectares) of rice in our county and the neighboring 6 or 7 counties have as much. California has half a million acres (202,342 hectares) of rice. Pretty when it's green but ugly in the off season. It's much more picturesque in countries such as Bali.

 

Loving your review. Thanks for taking the time to take us along on your trip.

 

No rice fields in Ireland, hence the novelty, lots of potato ones though! 

 

17 hours ago, CruzeQueen2 said:

Loving the detailed report of your journey. I also cruise with my sister,  so I have felt similar sentiments to you. Was your cruise director Matt O'Brien? If yes, you got lucky! He's one of the best in the biz. Tell him I said so! I've cruised with him on Royal in 2019. Thanks for posting 😎

 

It was indeed Matt O'Brien! 

 

5 hours ago, 2 mains said:

Bringing back fantastic memories of a similar itinerary on the Sapphire last January. Looking forward to day 5! Thanks.

 

Thank you!!

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1 hour ago, 4hunters said:

Fantastic review with excellent writing!!  Thanks for taking the time to put it together and share with us.

 

Thanks 4hunters, appreciate the encouragement as it does take time (and some effort!) 

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You are doing such a great job!  We leave in 4 days and will spend 4 days in Singapore before getting on the Sapphire.

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Day 5 (Sea day)

 

10 hours later I woke up. It was 10am! Hours after my regular waking time, very unusual. I hope it’s not the start of the new New Year’s habit. As it was so late, I 'postponed’ the gym until later in the day and suggested forgoing breakfast and having an early lunch instead, but I was overruled. Close mutiny. A compromised was reached. I had a light breakfast by the pool (fruit and stollen) and DS and DM went to Horizon Court.

 

Tasty!

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It was perhaps unsurprisingly quiet on the pool decks this morning.  As a result I had no problem in installing myself on a lounger for the morning. I could get used to all these sea days. This cruise has the more sea days than (almost) all my previous cruises combined, I could get used to this, who needs ports!  I read until lunchtime. It was a very lazy New Year’s Day. It was also the first day I felt truly in holiday mode, all cares were blown away.

 

I’m here again

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In the name of research (again) we went to Alfredo’s Pizzeria for lunch. It is supposed to have the best pizza at sea. Did it?? Well it was pretty good and it probably is the best pizza I have had at sea, that said, it is possibly the first time I have eaten pizza at sea, but still. We shared one veggie pizza and one pepperoni pizza between us, plus some salad, gotta have my daily lettuce fix (and they even had beetroot, I’m very happy).

 

Beetroot!

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Alfredo pizza

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In an attempt to work off some of the pizza damage, I went for a speed(ish) walk around the Promenade deck ninth times, which is equivalent to three miles (3 laps = 1 mile). When I say Promenade deck, I mean Promenade deck(ish), as there is no fully-outside deck on Sapphire. You have to take the outdoor stairs to Deck 8 at the front of the ship (sorry my ship terminology is lacking) and then back down on the other side to the Promenade deck. According to my iwatch I did 30km in 50 minutes! I love it, I am moving, but the ship is moving even more! It was so windy, I was afraid my new headphones would suffer a short life, but they survived.

 

Promenade power walking selfie

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And I thought Mitsubishi only made cars

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It was fun walking around and around and around, looking at passengers slumbering on the loungers which pepper the Promenade deck. The sound of the sea and the gentle rolling of the ocean is better than any sleeping tablet. It makes it almost impossible not to sleep when horizontal. I stopped just long enough to take some photos for my which I like to call.... 

 

Shapes of a ship series

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I was pretty hot and sweaty (apologies this is a constant theme) after the walk as it is so humid out there despite the wind, so a quick shower and then some pool time to cool down was called for. I met DS and DM in The Conservatory and they somehow persuaded me to play Boogle. None of us have played it before, and it seemed all a little too easy, and then we read the rules, ah I see, we were not exactly playing it correctly. I think I prefer our way. Either way, I won!!!

 

Back to reading to finish up my second book of the trip. The observant among you may be wondering what ever happened to the ‘postponed’ gym session. Indeed, good question. It did happen eventually. I couldn’t not go to the gym on Jan 1, wouldn’t be a great start of the year, so at about 5pm I went and worked out for about 50 minutes, it’s so much quieter in the afternoon than the mornings. Again so hot, so sweaty, and yet another shower and  cooling dip in the pool, this holidaying is hard work.

 

Pretty quiet up here today

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Back to the cabin to get ready for dinner, with a pre-dinner cocktail and some card playing in Crooners.

 

Obligatory pre-dinner crooners shot number 5?? Declining effort at this point

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The cards are out…(HAL cards on a Princess ship, naughty)

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Another fine dinner in IDR - warm crab and artichoke dip, surf and turf, and a burnt rhubarb napoleon (I had no idea what a napoleon was, a bit like a millefille as it turns out). I am sorry but I only started talking photos of the menus today, better late than never I guess….

 

Menu

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Obligatory (bad) food pics number 6 (bad photos I mean the food was good!

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New Year's Display

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We went straight back to the cabin after dinner as I really needed to catch up on writing this. DS and DM watched a Woody Allen movie, which I gather from their sighs was not good.  Every evening we go through the Patter to see what’s on the next day, usually not too much interests us, but the ice craving demonstration gave me the best laugh of the entire year (all 1 day of it). On hearing that the demonstration would take place by the outdoor Neptune pool, DM declared she would go and watch the ice melt. You kinda had to be there, it was hilarious.

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2 hours ago, Lunastella said:

 

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So loving your review, thank you for taking the time to do it. I’m going on the Sapphire in March and I am enjoying picking up bits of useful information from you. Couple of questions if you don’t mind, 1st where abouts on the ship is this? That end sun-bed needs to be mine at least once! Second question, can you run on the promenade deck? (Pretty sure I read there was a running track on the sports deck but think that would be too hot in the direct sunlight.)

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Loving your review!  I’m sailing on Sapphire March 22 for my birthday. It will be our first time on Princess too. I was on Millennium for New Years this year, in Halong Bay, Vietnam so it was cooler. We had a blast. Here’s a pic from NYE. 

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23 hours ago, BexLulu said:

So loving your review, thank you for taking the time to do it. I’m going on the Sapphire in March and I am enjoying picking up bits of useful information from you. Couple of questions if you don’t mind, 1st where abouts on the ship is this? That end sun-bed needs to be mine at least once! Second question, can you run on the promenade deck? (Pretty sure I read there was a running track on the sports deck but think that would be too hot in the direct sunlight.)

 

Hi BexLulu, This photo was taken at the aft pools/hot tubs on deck 14/15- by the Terrace pool. There is a running track on deck 15 beside the gym, but its not very long. The promenade deck would definitely be a better place to run, but that said, I never saw anyone running on it, only walking. There are no signs saying your cannot run on it, but you might want to ask a member of staff. I'm sure running there early in the morning when there are no people around would be fine. Enjoy your trip in March

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12 hours ago, crzfanatic said:

Loving your review!  I’m sailing on Sapphire March 22 for my birthday. It will be our first time on Princess too. I was on Millennium for New Years this year, in Halong Bay, Vietnam so it was cooler. We had a blast. Here’s a pic from NYE. 

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Looks like a fun  NYE on Celebrity! I would love to cruise around Vietnam, its on  my wish  list. Enjoy  Sapphire in March. I already want to go on another cruise!

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Day 6 (Sea day)

 

Another day at sea, the last before three consecutive port days, ah just as I was reaching true chill out mode. I set my alarm for 7am, managed to pull myself out of bed at 7.30. And I was sore, not muscle sore but perforated disc sore. Maybe yesterday’s evening gym session plus the power walking was too much. Regardless I went to the gym, but barely managed 30 minutes. Ah well, it’s the effort that counts right??

 

We decided to go to IDR for breakfast as I am still not loving breakfast in Horizon Court.  We got a fabulous table by the window. I had fruit, followed by poached eggs on wholewheat toast, a chocolate pastry and coffee(ish). The poached eggs are sometimes soft, sometimes hard, sometimes warm, and sometimes cold, it’s like a lucky dip. The wholewheat toast tastes alot morish than the wholewheat toast at home, guess that’s the sugar, come on guys, it’s supposed to be healthy!

 

Fruit and cottage cheese

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I really wanted to get caught up with the blog as I was still two days behind and I knew I would have very little time to write over the next few port days, so I found a quiet table with a view in Crooners and spend the next few hours writing… and that’s where I am now…I have finally caught up! They are still playing Christmas music around here, there should be a ban on Christmas music after 1st Jan.

 

My favourite writing place

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Oh look, there is a thunder and lightning storm outside. It’s pretty epic. The captain just made an announcement asking passengers to stay inside as the ship’s mast was struck by lightning! And here I stop writing.

 

Ok here I resume, 24 hours after the drama. After the lightning storm I headed back to go The Conservatory to find DS and DM. They were there when the lightening hit and literally thought the glass ceiling was going to collapse, everyone screamed and it was very dramatic apparently, and I missed it. Confident that the ceiling wasn’t going to collapse they continued to lounge.

 

I had read about the ‘English pub lunch’ so (again) in the name of research I suggested going there for lunch. DS and DM were well up for it. But unfortunately it was not to be. When we went down to the Wheelhouse we discovered it was only on ‘specific’ sea days and apparently today was not one of them. Ah well, back up to the Horizon Court. As I mentioned in a previous post I make a rule of rarely taking the lift, so the number of stairs I am getting through per day is epic, yesterday was 67 and the day before 78! Mainly between deck 7 and deck 14 where all the action is. Today, due to the rain and thunderstorm, was the first day I could feel the ship moving. It wasn’t too bad but DM used it as an excuse for us to get her food from the buffet! In fairness, she wasn’t feeling very well today.  As usual I had a salad with piles of veggies and some focaccia, followed by hazelnut pudding. 

 

Tasty food despite the buffetness

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As I only managed 30 minutes in the gym this morning, it was high time I got more steps in. The decks were open again after lunch so I went for a 3 mile fast walk on the Promenade deck (9 times). There was a fellow passenger doing the same but in the opposite direction. I considered high fiving him each time we passed, but chickened out. It was very windy and a little unsteady but it just made the walk more entertaining.

 

Another promenade selfie

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Cue more hot and stickiness, cue another shower. Then I went to meet DS and DM in The Conservatory, and as you may have guessed my seaday routines by now…more relaxing by the pool reading.

 

Then the real drama began! The captain made an announcement that the earlier lightning strike to the mast had knocked out the radar, and while we could progress during daylight we wouldn’t be able to go through the Straits of Singapore in darkness as its one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. A little later he made another announcement saying that the ship was dropping anchor while the engineers continued to try and fix the radar. So we stopped and with that we pretty much said goodbye to our day in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.  DS and I headed up to the aft hot tubs as usual at about 5.30. It was amusing to watch all the other ships around us moving while we remained stationary.

 

I am surrounded by container ships, I am happy, gotta love container ships

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We headed back to the cabin to get ready for dinner and opened the bottle of the white wine we bought in Singapore – a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. It was too much a New Zealand sav if you know what I mean, too flavoursome, too synthetic. Still managed to finish the glass though, and no doubt we would finish the bottle over the next few days.

 

Obligatory pre-dinner skywalkers shot number 7(?)…they are getting worse by the day

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As we still had plenty of time before dinner, we went up to Skywalkers to play some cards. While there the captain made another announcement to say that they were still unable to fix the radar –one of them was partly working, but that wasn’t enough. However, there was an even bigger emergency, one of the passengers was very ill and needed to be airlifted by helicopter. Earlier in the trip they were requesting blood donations, so we wondered whether it was the same passenger.

 

Over the course of the evening the captain kept everyone updated on progress on the helicopter’s arrival and the situation with the radar. It was certainly a busy and probably stressful day for the captain and his crew, but we appreciated being keep in the loop.

 

Throughout dinner everyone was looking out the windows to catch a glimpse of the helicopter. We could hear it but we didn’t see it. The captain made several announcements asking passengers not to use flash photography as the helicopter arrived, guys give it a break, it’s an emergency, put the phones away.  The retrieval was a success according to the captain, hopefully the passenger is ok. We are not too far from Singapore so they should get to a hospital pretty quickly.  

 

With all the drama, I almost forgot about the food. We had another fine dinner in IDR – I had roasted vegetables and goats’ cheese, chicken and leek pie with a side of steamed veg, and blackforest gateaux with a side of coffee ice-cream. The ice-cream was delicious. We finished our bottle of pinot noir.

 

Menu

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Obligatory dinner pics number 6?

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There was a singing & dancing show in the Princess Theatre which DM and I wanted to go to at 9.45. DS, unimpressed by the earlier show we attended, decided to head back to the cabin to finish a film she started earlier. I tend to avoid the comedy shows (I just don’t get them), but love the dancing ones. With 45 minutes to spare, we went to Explorers, I ordered a very nice glass of Chocolate Box red wine and we played cards.

 

DM looking very stylish tonight all in black

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Chocolate Box

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We were so engrossed in cards that we arrived at the Theatre with only minutes to space and naturally there were no seats available so we ended up standing at the back. The show was much better than the one previous one. They even performed some Irish dancing, it was a gallant attempt, that’s all I will say about that.

 

First pic of shows!

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When I got back to the cabin I logged on to the ship’s wifi ($0.79 per minute) and Whatsapp’ed to cancel our private tour of Kuala Lumpur (KL). Even though nothing was yet confirmed, the captain said that IF we make it to Port Kelang, we would only arrive late morning. As KL is about 1.5hrs from the port, there was no way we would make it there and back within a couple of hours. Out of all the ports to miss, I don’t mind missing this one, while I would have liked to see KL, I am much more excited about Georgetown and Phuket. But it does mean another day a sea - the fifth so far on this cruise. I have never had so many seadays, but I like them, and perhaps I am secretly even a bit glad not to have three intensive port days in a row, maybe I am getting lazy in my old(ish) age. Bed calls…but now that we are anchored I miss the gentle rocking of the ship to put me to sleep.

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21 hours ago, 1emerald1 said:

Could you please tell me who the Maitre'd was on your cruise?

 

I'm sorry 1emerald1, I have no idea, didn't see him/her. 

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14 minutes ago, Lunastella said:

 

I'm sorry 1emerald1, I have no idea, didn't see him/her. 

Ok, thanks.

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Day 7 (not KL, so another sea day)

 

The minute I woke up….ok not the minute….let’s say 20 minutes, I dragged myself from bed and negotiated my way around DS’s bed onto the balcony to see if we were moving, and indeed we were! Radar fixed. Next stop the gym. I had a more successful workout than yesterday – 50 minutes. Today was the day I needed to contact my surgeon and sign up for the surgery or not. It has been 14 days since the injection and while it has worked to some extent I can still feel the pain, it’s not too bad, but it’s not something I want to live with, so hello surgery on 13th Jan. I am going to enjoy the next 10 days!

The previous evening I suggested to DS and DM that we order room service for breakfast as we hadn’t done it yet on this cruise and now we literally had no plans for this unexpected sea day. It arrived just as I got back from the gym, and DM and DS set it up on the balcony, isn’t is lovely!  I should have been more specific in my requests, instead of a selection of breads and pastries we got 1 small pastry each…um might need a mid-morning snack later. But still, drinking coffee(ish) and eating breakfast from your own private balcony watching the sea on the horizon, you can’t beat it.

 

Post-gym brekkie 

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DS’s fancy shot

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While I was in the gym the captain announced that they now have one functioning radar, but because we have lost so much time, we were bypassing the KL stop and heading straight to Penang, and we would arrive the next morning. So it was pretty much what we expected. But now we needed a plan for the day. A new patter arrived – DM said she would go to the film Judy in the Princess Theatre at 1pm, but apart from that not too much interested us; quizzes, line dancing etc. are just not my thing. We considered booking The Sanctuary for the afternoon. We considered booking a massage in the spa. We considered going to the IDR for lunch. So many choices. Ultimately though, we were a bit listless, and didn’t make any plans.

I went to my usual spot on deck 7 to write, while DS and DM tried to find somewhere by the Neptune pool to sit out, which turned out to be pretty difficult as even by 9.30 everyone had ‘claimed’ the loungers. although no one was actually sitting on them. I am still here writing; Crooners in a lovely spot for writing and drinking coffee (from Horizon Court in this case – I take various different routes to the gym each morning and today I noticed coffee available on the Topsails (??) bar, but it had disappeared on my way back from the gym). Maybe I imagined it. 

 

After catching up on writing this, I did some work. While I had intended not to work on this trip, this unforeseen sea day presents an opportunity to work on a funding application which I would now have to submit before the surgery. After that, I headed up to the Neptune pool to meet DS and DM where we played Boogle until lunchtime. I won…again. Lunch was a salad and some form of bread in the Horizon Court, followed by cherry crumble and coffee(ish). 

 

More salad & carbs

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Next up, my 3 mile power walk where I was joined by DS for the first 2 miles.  Over lunch the captain announced a change in our itinerary. We had assumed that after missing KL, we would carry on to Penang as planned, followed by Phuket in Thailand as planned, then another sea day, and then back to Singapore. However, to our surprise, he said that indeed we were continuing on to Penang tomorrow, but then we were skipping Phuket and stopping in Langkawi in Malaysia instead, and then we were going back to KL, and finally Singapore. You could hear audible gasps as he made the announcement, it did not go down well and throughout the day we would hear people complaining about it.  Lots of unhappy campers today. We were also disappointed as we really wanted to go to Thailand again. Both DS and myself have been there several times and we wanted DM to experience it (if only for a day). We had booked a Princess shore excursion (our only one on this trip) for a snorkelling trip around Koh Phi Phi and the surrounding areas. It was to be our only ‘beach/swim/snorkelling’ day of the trip and we were suitably disappointed that we were missing it to go to a port which we knew nothing about and had not prepared for. They said that shore excursions for Langkawi would be available later in the day, so after our walk we headed to Shore Excursions to look at the options, but they were not available yet. 

 

I’m pretty happy just watching this all day

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Back at the Neptune pool, I read, while also trying to get network connection as we were pretty close to land, but no joy. Throughout the afternoon I kept checking the Princess@sea app to see whether the excursions were available yet.  At about 5pm the shore excursions finally popped up, however none of them appealed to us, they all seemed to involve shopping. There was one nature hike through a rainforest but I don’t think DM would be able for it. We decided that our best strategy would be to find a hotel near the port and have the beach day that we were all looking forward to in Phuket, even if we couldn’t snorkel.  But one issue, we had no wifi, and paying $0.79 per minute to find a resort hotel with day passes would probably end up costing more than the tour itself! DS went down to shore excursions to ask them about nearby resorts, but they had no idea as they had never been to Langkawi before, so not very helpful. I went on the wifi for one minute and Whatsapp’ed DH to ask him to search for us. Desperate measures! 

 

As usual we headed to the aft pools in the evening to enjoy the peace and quiet, then we headed back to the cabin to get ready. No time for pre-dinner cocktails and cards today. We went straight to the dining room. 

 

Evening aft time (although possible on a different evening)

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Pre-dinner balcony shot number 8(?)…it was very windy

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I had a very garlicy but very delicious and decadent goat’s cheese soufflé followed by pork tenderloin with truffled mashed potatoes. This was followed by amaretto ice-cream and some petit fours.

 

Menu

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Obligatory dinner shots number 10000

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As we didn’t finish the petit fours we asked Joffrey if we could take them with us and he kindly facilitated us. As we had finished the Pinot Noir the previous evening, we asked if we could open one of the bottles of wine we had bought in Singapore (a very nice Chianti), no problem at all, we just had to pay the $15 corkage. Perfect. There was a singer in the theatre which DM wanted to see so we spent some time there before retiring for the evening to get ready for our second port day of the trip and to watch on port lecture on Penang. It was great for sending me to sleep. 
 

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I was on the same 10 day NYE cruise (one of the 1200 Aussies with 2 of the 500 loud kids), and am really enjoying your review (I actually remember seeing you on your notebook in one of the bars).

 

We had the same Koh Phi Phi Snorkeling excursion booked, and were very disappointed about the itinerary change. I felt had they skipped KL and then just continued with the planned itinerary, this would have been better than altering to fit in KL (which in all honesty is a wasted port call due to the 4Hr round trip to and from the industrial port).

 

We opted for the Anytime Dining, and actually enjoyed alternating between the 3 included restaurants, though after the first week, we settled on a favorite.

 

In spite of the lightning strike issues, we still had a great cruise, and wouldn't hesitate going on a similar Princess cruise again.

 

Looking forward to your next installment.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Bushy69 said:

I was on the same 10 day NYE cruise (one of the 1200 Aussies with 2 of the 500 loud kids), and am really enjoying your review (I actually remember seeing you on your notebook in one of the bars).

 

We had the same Koh Phi Phi Snorkeling excursion booked, and were very disappointed about the itinerary change. I felt had they skipped KL and then just continued with the planned itinerary, this would have been better than altering to fit in KL (which in all honesty is a wasted port call due to the 4Hr round trip to and from the industrial port).

 

We opted for the Anytime Dining, and actually enjoyed alternating between the 3 included restaurants, though after the first week, we settled on a favorite.

 

In spite of the lightning strike issues, we still had a great cruise, and wouldn't hesitate going on a similar Princess cruise again.

 

Looking forward to your next installment.

 

 

 

I agree Bushy69, it was a brilliant cruise despite the change in itinerary. I found it much more relaxing than other cruises I've been on given all those sea days. We had intended on trying the anytime dining restaurants, but we got so comfortable with our table and our waiters that it made it difficult to try anywhere else. Offers to extra mashed potato every day are hard to turn down!

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Day 8 (Penang – Part I)

 

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Finally, land!!! I love being at sea but after three days in a row I was ready to explore some of South East Asia. We had a big day today, but a great day. Penang is such an interesting island and I would love to go back to visit for a week or so. We had two private tours booked for today – in the morning a tour of Penang hill and the Kek Lok Si Temple and in the afternoon a food tour of Georgetown.

 

We set the alarm for 7am, no time for the gym today, but I reckon I will get enough steps in (19,500 at last count). As I stumbled from bed to the balcony we were just arriving in port (quick better put some clothes on!). This was our first time docking on this cruise as Bali was a tender port.

 

Great to finally arrive in a port, especially a port right in the middle of the city

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We had a quick breakfast in Horizon court (banana and yoghurt, followed by boiled egg and toast and some interesting hazelnut swirl bread). We were off the ship just after 8am, as even though our tour didn’t start till 9am, we wanted to use our Skyroam hotspot to get on wifi and do some research for our unanticipated stop in Langkawi tomorrow. We furiously googled for hotels and resorts that offered day passes but not a lot showed up. I resorted to using google maps to find hotels along the beach near the port and emailed a load of them to ask about day passes. Let’s see if any respond….

 

Our driver was waiting for us at the port exit at 9am exactly. We booked the 4hr tour through KLOOK (€78 for the 3 of us). As we drove through Georgetown the guide told us about the history of Penang pointing out the mosques, temples, and churches that peacefully co-exist for Penang’s multi-cultural population (50% Chinese, 40% Malay, and 10% Indian). Georgetown looks like a lovely city and I was looking forward to exploring it later. As the British only left Penang in 1957, Georgetown has a distinctly colonial feel and is filled with beautifully restored Georgian buildings.

 

Sights on the ride

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Getting ready for Chinese New Year

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We stopped at the base of Penang hill where were purchased tickets to take the funicular to the top. We decided to go for the normal pass (30RM) instead of the fast pass (80RM). In retrospect, this was a mistake as we waited 40 minutes to get on the funicular, that said, it was a very productive 40 minutes as I emailed a multitude of hotels in Langkawi and already started to get replies…a solid no from everyone so far. The funicular takes about 5 minutes to reach the peak at 2000 meters.

 

The funicular and buildings at the top

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The views from the top are spectacular. There are several viewing points, as well as cafes and restaurants. You can also take a buggy around the hill, although we choose to walk. In the distance you can see Georgetown (which is now a UNESCO heritage site) and the bridges which link Penang to the mainland. We spent maybe 45 minutes up there but you could definitely spend longer.

 

Amazing views over Georgetown

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Have to do some posing

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We could even see Sapphire in the (far)distance, trust me

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There is a temple and a mosque on the hill, and we even found some monkeys. No banana with me today so I was safe.

 

This mosque and temple are literally 100 meters apart, such contrasting styles

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It didn’t take us quite so long to get down compared to going up. Our driver was waiting to take us to our next stop - the Kek Lok Si Temple (Temple of Supreme Bliss, my kind of temple). The temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and houses a massive statue of the Goddess of Mercy.

 

Big enough?

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You could make an offering (for a small fee) and I, naturally, choose ‘bodily health’.

 

Here’s hoping

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DS is much better at this photo lark than me

 

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There were also great views from up here

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After that we drove back through a different part of Georgetown, this was definitely the fancy part of town. Georgetown, in addition to being known as the Silicon Valley of the East, is currently becoming the healthcare capital of the region and medical tourism is big business. Every new development seems to be a hospital. So it’s a good place to get sick.

 

Next time, I’m staying here!

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The driver dropped us off at the port at about 12.30, and we subsequently dropped DM off at the ship. Food tours are more a DS and I kind of thing, and DM was happy to spend the afternoon on the ship. In hindsight it was a wise decision, as it was so hot that afternoon (~38 degrees), DM would have melted!

 

To be continued...

 

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Like a good book that you just can't put down;  you're review is the same.  Once you start reading it; you can't stop.  Thank you for taking the time to show us a fantastic vacation.  The fun goes on and on. 

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On 1/26/2020 at 4:59 PM, AF-1 said:

Like a good book that you just can't put down;  you're review is the same.  Once you start reading it; you can't stop.  Thank you for taking the time to show us a fantastic vacation.  The fun goes on and on. 

 

Thank you AF-1. Just think, if I go on a world cruise, I could write that book!

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