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About Dididi

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  1. Tracie, I have followed your blogs/threads in the past. You bring a smile on a very cold day! We'll be on the Royal in 24 days so thanks for the dining room times.
  2. Dididi

    Princess Booking transfer policy

    OP, thank you for informing all of us about the new policy. In our school district, the 2019-2020 academic schedule is not issued until April. I put the 10% deposit on the Christmas 2019 Hawaii itinerary last month to take advantage of the 3 for free deal -- gratuities on a 15-night cruise add up. I planned to wait for the school schedule before transferring the booking to my TA because I don't know if the dates will match. Because our booking was within the 60-day window, I was able to transfer it and get TA OBC. It may be that we'll have to cancel the booking, via our TA. But if the dates work, I'll have the Cruise Critic members to thank for TA OBC.
  3. Dididi

    Guaranteed vs Picking Your Cabin

    We were on a port side deluxe obstructed balcony cabin on the Royal Princess two years ago. This was not a guaranteed cabin but one that I chose because of the large balcony. I forgot to check what was on the deck below before booking the cabin. We were on the Emerald deck (deck 8) right above the piano in Crooners. It was miserable every night. It was as if the piano was INSIDE our cabin. I had to make sure I put the kids to sleep between sets or had to wait until the next set was over. If you are sensitive to noise and are booking a guaranteed deluxe obstructed balcony on the Royal (or her sister ships), you might get lucky or not.
  4. We did the Black Sea itinerary in 2013 on the Pacific Princess (same ship as the Azamara vessels, different line). Because these are unusual itineraries, they always are pricier than Med cruises but well worth it. We walked around Nessebar, and took the bus tour to Bucharest (nothing to do in Constanta save going to the beach). It was a long ride but We had a very interesting visit of Ceacescu's palace with an "old school" official guide who counted the members of our group several times during the tour. It made us feel like extras on a spy movie. We took a private tour in Odessa, a lovely city. We did the "Rocky arms raised" pose upon getting to the top of the Potemkin steps -- that was fun! Crimea is out, which is very sad, but we're thinking about this cruise bc it goes to Georgia and a couple of new ports for us. As others have said, the sail through Istanbul is fascinating: the historical buildings, the bridges, the very fancy homes and motorboats. We had an overnight stay in Istanbul on our way to the Black Sea (not an option in the 2020 cruise), but having lunch outside (deck 9 buffet aft) as we sailed under the bridges and past Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace was memorable. A special itinerary on the AZ Journey: a fantastic combination.
  5. Dididi

    All-time favorite Princess Cruise?

    Pacific Princess 12-day Rome to Athens Black Sea cruise in 2013. Great cruise, new friends, and enjoyed adventures such as hunting for knitting wool (not for me!) in the tiny streets around the Grand Bazaar. Every fall I wear the gorgeous scarfs I bought in Odessa and Istanbul. We visited Yalta, Crimea, and explored palaces from the czarist times. As Americans we can't visit Crimea these days so I treasure my memories of Yalta and of the rest of that memorable cruise. Thank you Princess!
  6. OP, I second JF's recommendation to consult Renmar's awesome obstructed view cabins' site. We have stayed in both 6046 and 6049, and love the virtually unobstructed view (no tender blocking the window nor crew members working on the tenders) and mid-ship location (very little motion and no noise from other decks). The only negative is that, because these cabins are smaller than the interior cabins (we have stayed in 7053 and liked it), they don't have a sofa so the only places to sit are on the beds or on the sole desk chair. If you plan to order room service breakfast, eating it on the small table in front of the little sofa in the interior cabin is more comfortable than eating it in bed or someone getting to sit on the chair in cabins 6046 and 6049. Hope this helps you make the decision that best suits you. We love the Pacific Princess (our next cruise is the Xmas cruise in December) and its sister ships. :D
  7. For all of the reasons set forth above -- in particular unpacking and packing only once, and waking up to a new port without having to deal with rental cars, buses or trains -- and a special Princess specific reason: the gingerbread house contest on Holiday cruises! Once we discovered the amusingly competitive world of gingerbread house building, celebrating Xmas on board a Princess ship became our family tradition. We haven't won but not for trying: the icing nozzles and sprinkles go into the suitcase before my swimsuits. Some day we'll win. Until then, gingerbread soufflé on Dec 25th -- only available on that day -- will console us until the next year.
  8. Dididi

    Iceland - FAB Travel

    We took the Reykjavik and Akureyri tours with FAB three years ago. Couldn't be happier. The guides at both locations were knowledgable and friendly. The buses were small (16 passengers at most) so we went to more places than the ship's tours did, and for a much more reasonable price. In Akureyri we had time to go to the Myvatn nature baths (not as commercial as the Blue Lagoon), which was a lot of fun. We liked our cruise stops in Iceland with FAB so much we returned last year on a land-based vacation.
  9. Dididi

    Bed on Balcony

    OP, I slept in the balcony the first night of our Caribbean cruise on the Royal Princess. I chose the cabin, an Emerald Deck obstructed view balcony, because of the extended balcony but did not check what was underneath. Our cabin was right above the Crooners piano. It felt and heard like the pianist was inside our cabin. Because this was a Christmas cruise, we were told we could not be relocated as the ship was full. So I dragged my mattress to the balcony. Plenty of room there. I could not hear the infernal piano noise (yay!) but it was a very windy night. When I woke up, I was covered in salt. I dragged the mattress back into the cabin the next morning. For the rest of the cruise I found out the exact times of the sets at Crooners and timed going to sleep to between sets or after the last one. Not fun.:mad:
  10. OP, our daughter was adopted from Russia when she was 15 months old. Four years ago we were planning to take a Baltic cruise on the Pacific Princess and booked a St Petersburg tour with TJ Travel. I asked TJ Travel if I needed to provide my daughter's Russian passport information for the "tour visa," but was advised to provide only the information (name, date of birth, passport number) on her US passport so that all of our family would appear before the immigration officer together. Soon after booking our cruise and the STP tour, Russia invaded Crimea and we decided against going on the that cruise. I remember reading on Cruise Critic's boards about other families with kids adopted from Russia who took ship or private tours in STP and had no issues when their children showed immigration officers their US passports with Russia as the place of birth. This is not "official" guidance but I wanted to share my research and the advice received from one of the large STP tour companies.
  11. We rented a car from Fox after our Christmas cruise because it was the only company quoting a reasonable one-way rental price. Because it's not one of the big companies, I was concerned but the car was fine. No shuttle to the port, but if you take a taxi or Uber to/from the Fox Rental lot, it's much closer than going all the way to FLL. The line at the rental office was long but the agents were excellent.
  12. OP, we wish you a fantastic cruise! In addition to the pools on the Aloha Deck, there's the one for adults one deck up. Most people, whether in the Sanctuary or the "regular" area would use the sun loungers but not the pool. Something to consider perhaps.
  13. OP, like Sea Hag, I checked the deck plan for the Caribbean Princess's Lido Deck and agree that Cabins L103-104 looked just like the ones on the other Grand ships. We were in L102 on the Crown Princess for Xmas. Because we bought the cruise after final payment, the only Lido obstructed view cabin left was L102, the "little" one. We were pleasantly surprised with the cabin's layout and size, and will look for it when booking future cruises. We liked the big window. Never saw anyone on the deck in front of our cabin. It was not a bumpy ride and we did not feel the vibrations we felt while having dinner on the aft of the ship. Regarding noise, the cabins are right below the treadmills. The gym staff on the Crown was very good about enforcing the 8am-8pm schedule, so we never heard or felt anyone running on a treadmill above our heads outside those hours. Because the cabins are at the front end of the ship, no one who didn't have a cabin around there would walk by, so no noise from the hallway. The best part of L102 and its neighbors is the location: the pools, grill, ice cream and pizza, bars, and buffet are only steps away. Could not be more convenient.
  14. Dididi

    What About Air Canada?

    I read this thread for comments about Rouge. I agree with other posters that Economy on Rouge is very uncomfortable. We took an AC Rouge flight from Athens to Montreal a couple of years ago (booked on Princess's EZAir) and found very little space between rows -- this was confirmed by SeatGuru. I suggest that if anyone flies AC, check if it's on a Rouge plane and perhaps consider other options. While transferring to our US-bound flight, we had to get in a line where Canadian customs agents showed us our luggage on a monitor. You had to confirm that those were your bags before you could proceed to US Immigration. This took longer than expected and some people lost their connecting flights. Upon boarding our connecting flight to the US, a guy could not fit his bag in the overhead compartment and slammed the door hard trying to close it. He broke the latch. AC did not have a replacement latch at the airport that evening so we were deplaned. We had to leave the transit area, get our luggage, and go to the AC desk to get hotel and meal vouchers. The only option offered to us was a 6am flight, for which we had to arrive at the airport by 4am to go through check-in and US Immigration once again. I'm writing this long story about a not-fun end to our cruise vacation so that others consider whether the price difference is enough of an incentive to fly AC on an in-bound flight from Europe in order to connect with a flight to the US. If something goes wrong -- guy breaks a latch --, deplaning and trying to get another flight the same day or the next is more complicated than if the long haul flight had arrived to one of the US airport hubs.
  15. Dididi

    Christmas and New Year Cruises ?

    OP, in addition to the above, here are several things I have learned from three Princess Xmas cruises in a row: There are several Christmas-related dining room items on December 25th, including the gingerbread soufflé. That one is only served once a year on Princess, on Christmas Day. While the kids wait in line for their photos with Santa (gifts for all -- one of the Discovery plush toys), there's a holiday themed crafts fair for the kids so they can get one last non-permanent tattoo on their way to see Santa. Champagne fountain and a toast for all on New Year's Eve. It's very festive that night at the dining room -- I still have my cardboard crown (with feather) and beads from the December 2015 Pacific Princess Panama Canal cruise. Any morning with a slice of stollen is pretty festive as far as I'm concerned. The cabin numbers are decorated with an ornament/greenery thing. What is a lot of fun is to see the cabin doors of passengers who enjoy spending the holidays on board: lots of clever decorations! In addition to the Christmas log channel on TV, you'll find a variety of Christmas movies. My gingerbread house building skills have been honed by participating in the contest for three years. Before I pack bathing suits, I carefully stow my icing decorating kit and sprinkles. One last word: if you wish to do non-holiday relating things or take a break from "snow" and Santa, you'll find plenty to do. M