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About vcgeno

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  1. We were on the Royal earlier this month and was able to purchase a 7 day wine package so they may be offering it on the one week cruises now. We were on the Crown last summer and were able to do the 14 bottle package on that cruise as well.
  2. We were worried about that as well but noise from the Lido deck with the balcony doors closed was not an issue. The music and crowd noise were an issue when you were sitting on the balcony or had your balcony door open. All in all although we would have preferred not having the noise it was not that big a deal for us.
  3. Our last 3 Princess cruises have been on the Crown, Ruby, and Emerald which as I understand it are basically the same ship. We had a great time on each of those but the Ruby is much nicer. Things we liked: There seemed to be more seating in the public areas. The buffet was set up in such a way to minimize the chaos found on most other ships. The way the ship was decorated seemed much more elegant and less gaudy. The spa recreation area had a therapeutic whirlpool and a waterbed in addition to the heated stone beds, rain forest showers, steam rooms, and saunas. The adults-only swimming area was larger and had more seating. The Sanctuary area is more secluded. One thing we liked less on the Royal was the elevators, they did not seem to have enough as they seemed slower to arrive and were always more crowded than I recall on the other ships. Another thing we found disappointing was that unlike the other ships, you can not promenade outside on the Promenade deck. Instead of an outdoor deck that circles the ship on the Royal, you only have a couple of porches. You are unable to do laps around the ship as you can do on the others. On the other ships we preferred the Promenade deck to the jogging track. We found the food and other amenities to be equivalent to the other ships. We thought it was good and has not gone downhill as others have posted. This was our first cruise as "Platinum" members and enjoyed the discounted internet, and early boarding (we did the medallion check-in and for some reason, they did not know we were platinum and assign us to early boarding until we mentioned it) We went to the nightly Platinum/Elite reception a couple of of the nights and it was nice. A helpful tip for those leaving LA is to leave LA before purchasing some of your prepaid items. We enjoy wine so we bought the gold wine card where we prepay for 7 bottles of wine at a discounted rate. In reviewing our bill in addition to the card and gratuities which we expected we were charged $20 something in LA taxes. When I asked about it at the front desk they said it was the law and if I had waited until leaving LA to purchase the card I would not have had to pay the tax. We had not planned on going on this trip but we got an email offering us an outstanding price on Mini-Suite. The room they assigned on the 15th floor was advertised as having an oversized balcony. What they did not tell us that we were in full view of anyone on the glass bottom/glass-walled bridge that extended over the water one floor up on the Lido deck. As you can tell from the picture below shot from our balcony not only did we have a nice view of the people on the bridge but they had a nice view of us as well. You will have some version of this view if you book odd-numbered cabins M411 through M425. Next time I will avoid these rooms but the mini-suite was outstanding. We saw the The theater was packed and always filled up about 10 minutes before the shows. We saw comedian AJ Jamal on two evenings (different shows historically funny), Brent and Sarah's Comedy Magic Show on two evenings (very entertaining) and one of the production shows (my wife loves them me not so much but they were enthusiastic). Prior to the cruise we did the stay and park at the Crown Plaza. Great hotel, great service would do it again. All that said we had a great time on a great ship and would highly recommend it to anyone. Let me know if you have any questions.
  4. Yes they are in the Thermal Spa. We found them extremely comfortable.
  5. why did you pick that hotel Because the base hotel was not well located and we liked the Kensigton Garden Location Breakfast was included were you picked up and dropped off at your hotel for your 1 day city tour or did you have to make your own way to Victoria No we took a cab to the bus station did you get out at the different sights or stay on the coach and just drive by? We got off to see the changing of the guard, the tower of London/crown jewels, the outside of Westminster Cathedral and a few other places. We also went on a river cruise. your transportation to Southampton was it in a small van or a big Coach - did you take transportation with tickets for Stonehenge - what happen to the people that did take the Stonehenge tickets - they wait around and visit the gift shop A van picked us up from our hotel and took us to a larger bus that had passengers from all 3 hotels that they use. We took that bus to Stonehenge on our way to Southampton. We took the Stonehenge bus from the gift shop to Stonehenge and back. We then made our way to the bus for the trip to Southampton. Hope this helps.
  6. Other than the TV's having problems I heard of no other issues with the ship. Our plumbing worked and we heard no one else complaining. We had great weather and there were no issues getting on or off the ship. When all the excursions came back there was a long line to get back on but that was all that I know of.
  7. I realized I had forgotten the links and when I went to put them in it said it was too late to edit. Here it is: https://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/pre-cruise-london.html?fbclid=IwAR2wofxDBPTOKzefNKmKLQyxyQ9_6gS-8LIb5xDSDXJKxQX4VFoCR_uXGQA
  8. For those of you that don’t want the details we had a great time, enjoyed the heck out of the trip and are very glad we did it. What follows is a summary of the things we thought exceed expectations along with some things we thought could use some improvement. We will also give you a run-down of what we did in every port and who we did it with. We do not Bingo, Casino, Art, Photo, Gym, Trivia or spend a lot of time in the bars so will not have much feedback in those area. We will start out with some main areas and general comments: Room/Ship: We had a standard Balcony on the Aloha deck. Our room was impeccably maintained by our friendly and caring room steward. And we could not have been more pleased. The room was bigger than our hotel room we had in London prior to the cruise (more on that later). Bed was beyond comfortable and we used the balcony more than we thought we would (because the cruise is port intensive we had considered getting an inside cabin, were are glad we didn’t). Our TV had some issues but other than that we were beyond satisfied. We sailed on the Sapphire Princess to Hawaii a few years ago and one thing we liked about that ship was that on one of the pool deck areas that had a clear cover. That was nice because you could find a quiet place to read, enjoy the sunshine, but not freeze because of the cool sea temperatures. I assumed that this cruise, because of the cool rainy weather would have that as well. It did not. As a result, the pool areas were for the most part unused and if wanted to get away from the sensory overload from the public areas of the ship your only choice was your room. Food/Drinking/Dining Dinner: As a perk our travel agent (AAA) provided a complementary dinner in each of the two specialty restaurants. We all of our other dinners in the DaVinci dining room. The service in the specialty restaurants was amazing as was the food in Sabatinis. The Veal Chop I had was to die for. The Crown Grill was a disappointment. When you walk in they show you examples of the different cuts of meat. While I understand when you cook it shrinks a but the cut of meat I had was about half the width of the example. It did not seem to be seasoned and was not very flavorful. I love good coffee and was disappointed to learn that the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants do not serve fresh ground coffee but the same awful coffee they serve up in the buffet. The deserts at both the specialty restaurants were amazing. We enjoyed our meals in DiVinci a great deal. The food was good enough, the service was also outstanding. The three folks that greeted and seated you were three of the most customer focused staffers I have ever met and the wait staff was not far behind. We shared a table every night at dinner and feel sorry for those folks that don’t. We met some interesting folks including a former member of the New Mexico Supreme Court, a nun, and a former Mayor of a small town in England. In addition to that we met several Aussies that are taking some amazingly long what for them is winter vacations, and several folks for other parts of the US and Canada. Had some great conversations and enjoyed all the different perspectives. Some ladies from the UK got my wife hooked on mint tea that you make with just fresh mint leaves. Must have gotten popular because a couple of days later they said they ran out of fresh mint leaves. Lunch: They only have lunch in the dining room on sea days and we enjoyed lunch there on both of those. We had lunch in the Buffet one day which was fine. The other days we had lunch off the ship or skipped it all together. Breakfast: We had four breakfasts in the Dining Room and the rest up in the Buffet. You actually get a better breakfast in the Buffet but we enjoy the atmosphere in the dining room more. We had some old coffee cards that were supposed to never expire but are now not going to be valid after the end of August. Because the coffee in the buffet and dining rooms is so bad we would go and get a cup of fresh brewed coffee in the lobby to use up the remaining punches on the coffee card and take that coffee for breakfast. Reminds me of a few years ago when we went to Disney. We had purchased some four day passes for Disney world several years earlier but we had only use 3 of the days. They said they would never expire. 15 years later we were in Southern California and had one day to go to Disney Land so we brought our passes thinking that they probably expired. Nope they happily accepted them and let us keep the old paper pass as a souvenir. Part of good customer service is not changing the rules after the fact. Disney know that, Princess does not. Other: Wine is a hobby of mine and I am in the business. One thing we like about princess is that on longer cruises like this one they sell a wine card where if you agree to buy so many bottles you get them at a reduced rate. We bought the 12-bottle package that lets you buy any bottle of wine up the $45 for $29. If you buy a bottle of wine over $45 the reduce the price by $45. When you did this, especially with the non-California wine it brought the price down to close to what you would pay at a wine retail store. Thermal Spa This was our 5th princess cruise and all the previous ones we purchased the thermal spa pass. The Thermal Spa is an area below the massage area that has steam rooms, saunas, special showers, and heated stone beds. A great place to relax. On this cruise because there were only two sea days we were only going to get day passes. On this cruise they were only selling cruse long packages so we purchased those and because the spa was open until 11 we were able to use it on about 60% of the days. Internet Our cruise had the new improved “Medallion Net” service. We paid $99 to connect one device for the duration of the cruise (you can use multiple devices but only one at a time). They advertise it as being as fast as your home network. Although it is much, much, better than the prior service which was unusable, it is slower than you home network, and occasionally does not work at all. That said it is usable and I would do it again. “Medallion Class” When we first got on the ship, we were only issued a normal cruise card but on the second day we got our medallion. We were helping them debug the system so we had to use both the medallion and the cruise card when getting on and off the ship. Other than unlocking your door just by being near it I am not certain what the big deal for the customers is. I can understand why it benefits Princess because they can now track your every movement on the ship (which I find kind of creepy). Princess must be really proud of this because they are making it out to be a big big deal. I wish they had put the money into better dining room coffee. On the Prominade deck, near the photo area, they even erected a shrine to the medallion during our time on board. They even came out with a line of medallion-wear that you insert your medallion into. I found that kind of funny because in the shrine area there is a picture of a man putting a medallion wear neckless on the neck of his wife and by the expression on her face you would think she had just received the hope diamond. Entertainment The singers and comedians on the ship were all very good and because of that we attended more of those shows than we normally do. Enjoyed them a great deal. Wish they would allow them to perform for more than 45 minutes. Ports: Pre-Cruise: We contracted for the 4 day London pre cruise package from a company called Interational Friends. The package included airport pick up, 3 nights at the Royal Garden Hotel overlooking Kensington Gardens and Palace, a full day tour of London, hotel pickup and a tour of Stonehedge prior to going to the ship. Among other things the tour included the Tower of London, the Changing of the Guard, a boat ride on the Thames. Among the things we did on our own was Churchill's War rooms, the National Gallery, the National Ballet at Albert Hall, toured Kensington Gardens, and visited 3 pubs. Enjoyed the experience a great deal. The Hotel was nice and well located but the rooms were very small for what we thought was an upgrade. Guernsey: We did Annette Henry’s walking tour of Guernsey. She brings a wealth of personal knowledge and some dramatic flair which made this a highly insightful and memorable experience. Highly recommended. Cork: Did the ships tour of Kinsale and Charles Fort. Major disappointment. Tour consisted of 1 hour bus ride, 45 minutes in Kinsale (it looks to be a very cute little town) a half hour at the Fort (would have been an interesting place if we would have been able to see all of it) and then another hour back to the ship. Dublin Day 1: Booked a 5 hour “Nearly all of Dublin” walking tour with Dublin Tour Guide including the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library. Learned a lot. Book of Kells was a zoo, Trinity Library was way cool. We were going to stick around after the tour but we were so tired after the long day of walking we went to a pub had a pint of Guinness and a pint of Murphy's to see which one was better (it was Guiness) and went back to the ship. Dublin Day 2: Did the ships Guiness tour. It was touristy, crowded but we enjoyed the heck out of it. We would have been better off on our own. We could have done the whole thing, cab fare included, for the equivalent of $90. Instead it cost us $158. Glasgow: Another couple we met on line told us about a private tour they had arranged to see the Sterling Castle followed by a sheep dog sheep herding demonstration. The castle was wonderful and worth seeing. In my mind's eye I had pictured the sheep herding demonstration to be in a picturesque countryside setting where sheepdogs would move a large number of sheep. Boy was I wrong. We went to something called The Scottish Wool Centre (basically your standard tourist stuff with a small restaurant). It had a fenced in area next to it that had a half dozen or so sheep all of a different breed. When it came time for the sheepherding the sheep went back in their pens and we saw a single sheep dog follow 3 ducks around an obstacle course. Besides me in the mirror after agreeing to go to this, this was the stupidest thing I had ever witnessed. If were driving along and happened upon this it might have been cute, but after driving over an hour to specifically see this, I learned to ask more questions and do more research before agreeing to do things. Belfast: Outstanding Tour. We set up a tour with Belfast Cab Tours of Belfast murals and politics, the rope bridge, Giants Causeway, some Game of Thrones filming locations and Bushmills distillery. Charly our tour guide was outstanding. He took my wife and I around in a London Cab was very knowledgeable and accommodating. A very memorable day. Invergorden: Another outstanding tour. We contracted with Invergordon Tours for an amazing day. My wife and I were escorted by our driver Willie in a Mercedes Sedan. We went on a hike to a waterfall, a boat ride on Loch Ness, St. Andrews Cathedral, Urguhart Castle, Cowder Castle, and the Glen Ord Distillery. Edinburgh: Yet another outstanding tour. We along with two other couples (including the couple that set up the duck herding) contracted with Edinburgh cab tours to take a tour of Edinburgh and then go to St. Andrews. We saw the outside of Edinburgh Castle from several angles, the outside of Holyrood Palace (the queen was in residence), walked through a couple of historic and scenic neighborhoods, went to a historic cemetery where among other things there is a stature of Abraham Lincoln honoring Scottish solders that died in the civil war, and toured Calton Hill before driving out to St. Andrews. In St. Andrews we had lunch, did some shopping, and walked around the old course before heading back to the ship. Normandy: Yet, Yet another outstanding tour. We did the ships tour to Omaha Beach, the US cemetery, had a nice lunch at a local hotel and toured the Debarquement Museum. Very interesting and moving experience. No wonder they are called the greatest generation. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.
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