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About jeromep

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Eastern Washington State
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    Cruising, rail travel, home improvement
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  1. Future cruise deposits are really the way to go. Once you have those placed, just head home after your cruise and talk to your travel agent about the next cruises you want to book. Make sure they know your Captain's Circle numbers and you are good to go.
  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds consistency of policy on board to vary, greatly. I mean, it is one thing if each ship has a different way of dealing with some corporate policies. I guess I could expect that in some capacity of any human endeavor, but the inconsistency of how requests are handled inside one ship during one sailing always amazes me. I've learned when cruising to not set expectations too high or expect that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised, and sometimes it doesn't work out. But at least you aren't at home making your own food and cleaning up your own dishes. I'm glad that all of this didn't sour you on your cruise and that you are looking forward to another.
  3. Yeah, everyone is worried about plastic straws, but I'm bombarded with paper crap about shopping. I, for one, don't go on a cruise to shop. I can do that at home and online.
  4. Welcome to Princess. It will be a very different experience over Carnival. Your children are all good cruising ages. We first cruised with our daughter when she was 22 months. It was a good cruise and we had my in-laws with us, so it gave us some breathing room as a couple to do some stuff on our own, but also gave the grandparents some really good quality time with a grandchild they don't see that often. One of the first posters recommended a full suite. I have to agree. Between the space the full suite provides, along with some of the perks, extra dining options, and larger bathroom, this all works in your favor with an infant. I expect that your three other children will be spread out between you and the grandparents for overnight accommodations. The maximum occupancy of any cabin is going to be 4, so be prepared. I don't think you mentioned how you booked your rooms or what rooms you have. You may have already made your decisions on that, so don't mind my 2 cents. Seven months is young to cruise but certainly realistic. Be sure to provision appropriately. Supplies for an infant will not be on board, so you will have to bring with you all the diapers, wipes and other baby service items you need. Overpack, do not underpack, this stuff. Last time I checked, Princess is happy to provide baby food, but you will need to get in touch with them weeks before the cruise to ensure that they have provisioned for you. Feel free to bring with you pre-packaged snacks on board. You will not be able to take food of the ship in most ports due to local customs regulations but pre-packaged snacks like Goldfish crackers, cereal bars, granola bars are not a problem. Dinner will typically run a couple of hours, but you can speed it up by letting your waiter know that you are on a schedule or need faster pacing. Dinner pace is a regular comment here on the boards and the pace of dinner has a lot to do with the kind of waiter you get at dinner along with how many tables they are attending to and how fast the galley is assembling food. Of course, there are many other good dining options for families. I don't want to default you to the buffet, but most evenings some selections from the MDR make it to the buffet, plus they have theme nights in the buffet and you are entirely in control of the speed of your meal that way. Be sure to check out the other eateries on board. Royal class ships like the Regal, have a lot of casual dining venues, some with a cover charge, some without. Finding food on board is not going to be a problem. Room service is complimentary, with the exception of whole pizzas, but you can get all the pizza you want at a couple of different places on board for no charge. Room service is going to be one of your best friends. I had mentioned the benefits of a full suite, well expanded room service is one of them. If you have a suite you can get all the MDR menus each day and order from the MDR menus when the dining room is open. So, if dinner in the MDR isn't realistic, you can get it from room service, but only in a suite. I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with my kids having free reign of the ship. You do see kids making their way places on their own, so it isn't unusual. My experience is that kids on Princess seem pretty well behaved. I think 13 is an appropriate age to give them some freedom, the 10 year old and 7 year old shouldn't be a problem if they are with the oldest, but that is really up to your comfort level. I'd give it a couple of days on board keeping them close by and sensing the "temperament" of the ship before you let them have free reign. Princess has high quality kids programs, so they might find the kids programs so exciting they will never want to leave. Regal is a large ship. Princess does a good job of organizing a ship in such a way that pinch points and places where crowds might gather are minimized. I think you'll find that the she doesn't feel crowded even through there are well over 3000 passengers. In all the cruises I've been on with Princess, rooms were ready when we embarked. We are usually on board in the 11am, to noon time frame. We have always had access to our cabin immediately, dropped our carry-ons, quick inspection of our cabin and wash up and then down to the MDR for lunch. This isn't to say that on the larger ships there may be a delay, but if that is the case head to one of the main dining rooms and have a nice leisurely sit-down lunch. Avoid the buffet on embarkation day, it is always a zoo. Princess does not have a policy prohibiting bringing on board your own non-alcoholic beverages. You'll need to carry them on. Some folks advise to slap a luggage tag to a case of water or pop or whatever and it will get to your room, but others have indicated to not do that as it may get lost or "confiscated". If you want to bring on board your own NA beverages, be prepared to have those things be carry on.
  5. I appreciate your clarification. The Coral and Island are in a class by themselves, mostly because they are Panamax ships and share little in common with most of the ships in the fleet. I'm not referring to on board services and venues (although they have their fair share of differences), but more to the size of the vessel the type of sailing they were built for, and even the company that built them. There is a lot of talk out there about the current mechanical issue that the Crown is suffering from. It is too bad because it is wreaking havoc with all the current itineraries. It sounds like a mechanical situation similar to what the Caribbean Princess dealt with for a couple of years between dry docks. If it is a similar situation, then it is a major mechanical issue which will require an extensive drydock and a huge hull cut to get to the affected machinery. The Caribbean Princess only had its mechanical issue resolved during a long dry dock where they had time to cut open the hull and access the affected hardware. Here is a really useful link which somebody keeps maintained showing past and future dry dock schedules. https://sites.google.com/site/princesscruisesfaq/ships/fleet-drydock-schedule If you look at that page, the Caribbean's most recent dry dock was last year in April and was 30 days, much longer than a normal dry dock. The Crown's next dry dock is scheduled for October of this year and is only about 2 weeks. I'm not sure that 2 weeks will be long enough to fix whatever issue the ship has. Then again, I will reiterate that I don't know the issue the Crown has right now, but is sure sounds similar to the problem the Caribbean Princess had. There is a limited amount of dry dock space around the world and it isn't uncommon for a dry dock to require years advanced notice to schedule. If this is a major mechanical repair, the next dry dock might not be appropriate to fix the issue, which means that the Crown will be a little bit pokey until a long enough dry dock to address the issue. If you do choose the Crown for a British Isles cruise, be prepared for the itinerary you are looking at today to change. You may want to be open to a similar cruise on another ship or be really flexible if you really want to be on the Crown.
  6. I've commented about this before, but I'm glad that Princess is trying out new things and not making all the ships near duplicates of each other. I also really like that they are trying out new concepts and usage of space. I'm excited to see some of the venues change and the focus of the venue change, too. It keeps Princess fresh in a highly competitive industry.
  7. Are you a seasoned Princess cruiser, or is the Sky your first experience with Princess? I think that will help with answering your question. The Crown is an excellent ship, but is part of the older Grand Class. They are large vessels, but compared to the Royal class ships, like the Sky, do feel smaller and a bit more intimate. Crown Princess was last dry docked in March of 2018 and looks like the next one is going to be October of this year.
  8. Thanks for posting the patters. Just noticed that the Circle Host on the Sky, Michelle Loubser, was the same one that was on the Star back in April of 2017. We really liked her. She seemed to be everywhere helping out, especially on port days.
  9. You can take a drink anyplace on the ship. It's like Vegas. And MUTS will be fully operational on Alaska cruises, however it will be pretty cool out on deck at night. They put MUTS covers on the deck loungers at night, which helps to take the chill off the loungers, and I think they hand out blankets, but be prepared to be bundled up if you take in a MUTS movie in Alaska.
  10. Our daughter was 22 months when we last had her on a cruise. She was into pretty basic foods. Any kind of bread product, selected fruits that were popable, like grapes, and anything else that you could stab with a fork to eat. At dinner she was into anything that was chicken and potatoes. It was super easy in the MDR to get them to put up a chicken strip, some fries, and some chopped fruit. None of what we ordered for her was explicitly on the menu, but the dining room was happy to prepare it. I would think PB&J or just PB or just J would be easy to put together. I can make one for my daughter today in about 2 minutes.
  11. I found a video from a source I really like, Cruise Tips TV. Aside from that, we did a Sanctuary Bungalow a number of years back. We opted for the lunch they offered for an extra fee. It was spectacular. We have memories of the sheer quantity and quality of the food we were provided. It was sold to us as food for 2, but our estimate is that we could have fed 6 on the volume of food that kept showing up at our cabana. By that measure, what we paid made it a pretty good value.
  12. @Bruin Steve, you totally hit this one on the head. Renting formal wear on board a ship is a dead business model. As an aside, I think that the online formal wear rental business has some future. Think of sites like Rent the Runway and The Black Tux. For the past 3 or 4 formal events we have gone to, excluding cruises, my wife has rented her evening wear from Rent the Runway. It is both economical and she rents stunning pieces that we couldn't afford to buy, and it doesn't make sense to buy. Every year I see tux sales at various retailers and online sellers which are very reasonable, often less expensive than the purchase of a nice suit, if you are looking for sales. But, yes, the trend of cruise line sanctioned formal nights is on the way out. I wonder why some lines keep it and others have let it go?
  13. The "street" tacos I'm familiar with come from food trucks where I'm from, and they consist of small corn tortillas, sometimes doubled up, sometimes single, filled with some kind of seasoned meat. You are then responsible for dressing them as you see fit from a nearby condiment bar. I'll have to try them on my next cruise, but if they come off the grill somewhat like what I've experienced from various food and taco trucks, they are probably somewhat authentic.
  14. Princess is not Cunard, by a long measure. Do things button up by 11pm, on a lot of sailings, yes, but there is usually something to do after 11pm, up to about 2am; think nightclub and the late bars. Entertainment is generally very good. Production shows are unique and generally excellent. I think the pool vibe has become a little more low key in recent years, which is not a bad thing. I think food is still excellent. Very "continental". There are a few ships in the fleet right now that have a reputation for bland food, but I think that is more on the executive chef assigned to the ship and less on Princess itself. I've heard that the Emerald Princess has some pretty unimpressive food coming out of the kitchen right now, but that is something that doesn't extend to the entire fleet. Princess is doing a lot of experimentation on the Royal Class ships (Royal, Regal, Majestic, Sky, Enchanted, Discovery). Certain marine architectural features are a new thing for Princess on the Royal class ships, ex. Seawalk, evening light show pools, Sky Suites, expanded Sanctuary. They are actively tweaking these features on a ship-to-ship basis and sometimes for the intended market of the ship (notably the Majestic's breakout role in offering cruising for China and its significant differences compared to her sisters). They have done away with the evening light show pool on the Sky and have modified the Seawalk on Sky also. Sky also has some significant interior design differences, especially in door and wall treatment in stateroom corredors. Sky is also the first ship which was built with Ocean Medallion built in, all the rest of the Medallion equipped ships were retrofitted for the service, which was a lot of work and tweaking. My take on the feedback on the Sky is very positive. Like most cruises, if you go into it with an open mind and a desire to vacation and relax, you'll enjoy yourself no matter what.
  15. Hmm. Sun Princess has been in the South Pacific for some time. I find it interesting that it is going to be repositioned to service the U.S. Pacific coast and Alaska. I wonder what Princess is planning for that member of the fleet, long term? The Sun and Sea Princesses are getting pretty old by top-tier cruise line standards.
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