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CARIBBEAN PRINCESS Jan 11 2014-Photo and video review


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There now follows a review (really a ramble-and we'll all be lucky if we live to see the end of it) of our cruise on the great ship/jinxed tub (depending on your ability to roll with the punches) Caribbean Princess which I will herein refer to as the CB to save a lot of typing.

 

There is a BACK STORY of course as there's really nothing that is just black and white in this world...except maybe an NFL referee's jersey. Oh- and of course a zebra, but that goes without saying. Zebra picture coming later just to prove my point.

 

INEVITABLE BACK STORY

 

One year ago I got off the Ruby Princess in Port Everglades and as two crew members were fastening me to the stretcher they found necessary to get me off the ship due to my refusal to leave willingly, I hatched a plan to cruise the Caribbean one year later. I was assisted in my decision by a Mohito, as always,when I need to think clearly.

 

Princess were building a new ship (actually it was some Italians called Fincantieri)

named the Royal Princess and so I booked us-myself and Traveling Companion Carol (TC) in an aft suite on Caribe Deck for January 2014 (like-now!)

 

After a month of thinking Carol thought that she didn't want to go on the same itinerary again (Ruby had and Royal was going to do the Eastern Caribb run to P Cays,St Thomas and St Maarten) and so I canceled the Royal through my trusty man in Princess HQ. Instead we booked the CB, a ship I had admired as she sailed out of P.Everglades the day I got off the Ruby. She had a Skywalkers that excited me-but then I am easily excited.

 

It was in June of last year that Dave Walker on this board published photos of the backside of the Royal (the aft in nautical terms) which showed the suite (C 737) I had booked to be without shade or privacy from above. I later learned that apart from pillow chocolates at turndown the room steward left one a small shovel to shovel soot (from the funnels) from one's balcony down onto the balcony below where they would take up the relay.

 

So we had tickets for a cruise to Roatan, Belize and Cozumel, sailing January 11th and returning to Houston via the "new" Bayport Terminal on the CB instead.

 

As the months passed by November arrived and the CB began the first sailings under the new contract twixt PCL and the Port of Houston. Oh dear....some cruises came back to fog which delayed them disembarking causing passengers to miss flights home and one couldn't sail on the day promised due to high winds and people spent the night tied up at Bayport which isn't Venice or somewhere you wouldn't mind being tied up for the night in.

 

We had uneasy feelings in our stomachs and they weren't caused by Mexican food. We said to ourselves that we would "roll with the punches" and still have a good cruise no matter what...

 

So now I'll get on with the review....

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We had temperatures as low as -13F the week of our departure from Chicago and with the wind chill it was -45F.

 

On the morning of January 10th, the day before we would join the ship in Houston on Saturday January 11th we were up at 4 a.m, already packed and prepared for our arranged taxi at 6.45 a.m for our 9.45 take off to sunnier climes.

 

Only one task remained on my list....to shovel a path through the 2 foot high snowbank that stood between us (on the sidewalk) and the taxi on the mushy, slushy street. This I did at 5 a.m. I cleared a path that would allow us to wheel our luggage to the taxi.

 

We waved goodbye to the two cats we had left in charge of the loft we live in.

A nice Polish lady we trust would come visit and feed and scoop their litter boxes each day and administer cat treats as they are very well behaved. We would miss them.

 

An hour later at the airport (O'Hare) we walked through the TSA Pre line at security-no shoes,belts had to come off. No laptops (my Macbook) opened, no cameras had to be shown....just an effortless stroll through the metal detector.

We had both paid $100 for Global Entry privileges which includes TSA Pre. It is for "no risk" passengers and the best $100 each of us has ever spent.

 

We ate breakfast at the Tuscan cafe, then a brief spell in the United Red Carpet club before boarding our flight to IAH airport in Houston, Texas a state neither of us had visited before.

 

I had bought Carol some Bose in-ear noise-canceling headphones for Christmas and the screaming baby in the seats opposite us put them to the test. They passed with flying colors! I just listened to the baby "music" and imagined the CB waiting for me at Bayport. Mind over matter.

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Once on the ground and off the 'plane we were whisked to the Hertz rental area in a shuttle bus and met the first Texan we would meet-a very nice lady bus driver who does Hertz and Texas proud. Cynics that we are we wondered if all Texans were this nice and considerate and after a week of sailing with them and staying in their hotels and eating in their restaurants we have to say that we have yet to meet one that isn't a salt of the Earth.

 

Our car was waiting for us-Hertz sent me an e mail telling me which car and offering to change it if I wasn't happy. It was a brand I hadn't driven before-a Hyundai and although I was eyeing Mercedes upgrades for an extra $75 a day I decided that, as we weren't on a driving holiday (as in Germany) it was fine for the few miles we would put on it in one day. It was a Hyundai Genesis and was a very comfortable and well-appointed car.

 

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We traveled the 53 miles to our hotel on some of the widest traffic-free highways a driving enthusiast like myself can imagine. Smooth, well signed highways. We found though that we were on a Toll Road and didn't have the Easy-Tag that is required for open-road tolling so we had no choice but to sail on through the toll plaza and hope that the Federales wouldn't give chase. The tag costs $40 and isn't practical for people staying one brief day. We later came to a toll that had a cash option ($2). Hertz Nerverlost guided us to the Hilton Nasa Clear Lake which was a 15 minute drive from the Bayport Terminal.

 

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We were checked in by Val, another friendly Texan and were soon up in room 1212 with a view of the lake.

 

More soon,

 

Norris not in Texas

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Once on the ground and off the 'plane we were whisked to the Hertz rental area in a shuttle bus and met the first Texan we would meet-a very nice lady bus driver who does Hertz and Texas proud. Cynics that we are we wondered if all Texans were this nice and considerate and after a week of sailing with them and staying in their hotels and eating in their restaurants we have to say that we have yet to meet one that isn't a salt of the Earth.

 

Our car was waiting for us-Hertz sent me an e mail telling me which car and offering to change it if I wasn't happy. It was a brand I hadn't driven before-a Hyundai and although I was eyeing Mercedes upgrades for an extra $75 a day I decided that, as we weren't on a driving holiday (as in Germany) it was fine for the few miles we would put on it in one day. It was a Hyundai Genesis and was a very comfortable and well-appointed car.

 

IMG_0964.JPG

 

We traveled the 53 miles to our hotel on some of the widest traffic-free highways a driving enthusiast like myself can imagine. Smooth, well signed highways. We found though that we were on a Toll Road and didn't have the Easy-Tag that is required for open-road tolling so we had no choice but to sail on through the toll plaza and hope that the Federales wouldn't give chase. The tag costs $40 and isn't practical for people staying one brief day. We later came to a toll that had a cash option ($2). Hertz Nerverlost guided us to the Hilton Nasa Clear Lake which was a 15 minute drive from the Bayport Terminal.

 

IMG_0965.JPG

 

IMG_0963.JPG

 

IMG_0961.JPG

 

We were checked in by Val, another friendly Texan and were soon up in room 1212 with a view of the lake.

 

More soon,

 

Norris not in Texas

 

Waiting with baited breath :)

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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We-Carol and I- both love water. Not just the kind you make tea with or shower under but the real water -the SEA!! It was there outside our window on this lovely (cloudy) 70 deg F Texas afternoon.

 

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I can't wait for this! :-)

 

Yikes! Pressure. I will try and keep it coming but haven't been to the Buffet, Pub Lunch or Trident Grill all day and may stop to eat a morsel!

 

Welcome aboard!

 

Norris

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Ah, a Bimmer tome to subscribe to!

Reclining the ol' La-Z-Boy, taking my shoes off to "set a spell."

 

 

~sent using Cruise Critic app~

 

Welcome Sminfiddle! I am sure the CB is still fresh in your mind. Coming up in the weeks ahead...

 

Dolphins!

Jet boats and crocodiles!

Submarines!

Food porn!

Lots of exclamation marks!!!

Many ship photos!

 

Norris

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We had temperatures as low as -13F the week of our departure from Chicago and with the wind chill it was -45F.

 

Oooo... Another Bimmer review. Hurry up - I have to leave on the 26th to get to the Emerald.:D

 

Howard

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Jzad- Thanks for the enthusiasm! This will be a long haul so I suggest you stock up on ;

Bottled water

batteries

candles

provisions

clean underwear

 

I downloaded about 700 photos to tell this tale and have 3 hours of HD video waiting to be edited (heavily) and put on youtube.

 

Stay tuned!

 

Welcome aboard-muster drill is in one hour.

 

Norris

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Jzad- Thanks for the enthusiasm! This will be a long haul so I suggest you stock up on ;

Bottled water

batteries

candles

provisions

clean underwear

 

I downloaded about 700 photos to tell this tale and have 3 hours of HD video waiting to be edited (heavily) and put on youtube.

 

Stay tuned!

 

Welcome aboard-muster drill is in one hour.

 

Norris

 

You forgot - WINE - lots of it...

 

Howard

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I downloaded about 700 photos to tell this tale and have 3 hours of HD video waiting to be edited (heavily) and put on youtube.

 

 

Really looking forward to seeing those. DW and I are taking our first Princess cruise on CB on 1 March.

 

RM275

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Jzad- Thanks for the enthusiasm! This will be a long haul so I suggest you stock up on ;

Bottled water

batteries

candles

provisions

clean underwear

 

I downloaded about 700 photos to tell this tale and have 3 hours of HD video waiting to be edited (heavily) and put on youtube.

 

Stay tuned!

 

Welcome aboard-muster drill is in one hour.

 

Norris

 

I'll be patient! My hubby and I sailed Caribbean Princess a few years ago and loved it!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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Really looking forward to seeing those. DW and I are taking our first Princess cruise on CB on 1 March.

 

RM275

 

I think I can have this wrapped up by then! I wish I could just blast away with a deluge of photos but the "story" (ha!) has to be told as it happened, as it unfolded.

 

CB was a new ship for me but my familiar pattern (of not doing much) takes time to relate. Relaxing is a lot harder than people think!

 

I used 3 cameras and a camcorder and toted a lot of tackle around the ship and had to stop often for "refreshments" as my bar tab will attest, your Honor.

 

I will explain the 3 cameras as I go along.

 

Norris

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Having come from the frozen North (Midwest) while Carol unpacked her steamer trunks of ball gowns and hat boxes I removed my lined leather jacket and went down to the pool area to have a cigarette.

 

IMG_0960.JPG

 

The pool was a little neglected as there was a lot of tree debris on the bottom and the surrounding deck but there were tables and chairs and only me to sit in them.

Chicago was melting away by the minute. Sea air, sea gulls.

 

Prior to this trip we had looked on yelp.com and found an appealing restaurant in the area-Perry's Steakhouse and when we asked Val at the front desk about it she said the hotel would drive us there and pick us up after our meal. Outstanding service Hilton!! We took her up on the offer as it meant I didn't have to find the place and could have a drink (or two) without impairing my driving.

 

But first a nap was calling as we were suffering Negative Jet lag which is where you are discombobulated when landing in the same time zone as you took off from. Comfy beds. Silence. Bliss.

 

When the time came we hooked up with Jesse who was our driver and -well gosh darn it-a real nice Texan fellow!

 

15 minutes later we pulled into a strip mall and there was Perry's. Packed to the gills on a Friday night. Aromas of seared meat made me swoon as we hadn't eaten in over 10 hours (eek!). There was a jazz trio playing in the bar and we were shown to a requested booth in the busy restaurant....

 

Norris, making myself hungry now

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Looking forward to your pictures and the review. Wife and I thought about the CB, but, opted for a B2B on the Ruby on March 1 instead. Maybe we will get to do something on the CB next time depending on where it is in another year. :cool:

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The 3 cameras....

 

There's this one which is for ship photos and general use.

 

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The instruction manual is like a small phone book and I am learning (slowly) how to use it. I am not an enthusiast (yet) but may be once I get to grips with it,hopefully by the time of my next cruise-Sept 2014 on the Ocean Princess from Venice to Rome.

 

It has a zoom lens seen in this next photo along with cameras 2 and 3..

 

IMG_1460.JPG

 

The point and shoot is a Canon S780 which I used on excursions that involved getting wet as I didn't want to risk the Eos Rebel. Two of the three excursions involved me getting splashed.

 

The iPhone 5 was used at the dinner table as it is less cumbersome than the Rebel and was used to send photos to Facebook as we sailed. Some food shots were with the Rebel, usually in Sabatini's where there was only two of us dining at a big table.

 

The zoom was rarely used as I don't carry a tripod (yet)

 

The camcorder is a Canon Vixia HD with a hard drive and produces stunning results on a 1080 p big screen but suffers when youtube loads it at 720p.

 

Dinner at Perry's next....14 hours away from going to the dock (or so I thought)

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