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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Sapphire Princess - Day 2 - Feb. 27
This is our fifth time cruising to Hawaii from the mainland. We’ve done this or similar routes in the winter, spring, and fall, and each time the weather and waters have been a bit choppy, so at least based on our experience, this seems to the norm in the Pacific for the first couple of days.

Mrs. Kuki and I are in an aft facing cabin on the stern (C753), thus during the night we certainly felt the motion of the ocean. I did take a Bonine, motion medication prior to sailing because I do most of my writing late in the evening, after returning to the cabin, and starting at a small computer screen while it’s moving around the room does encourage you to want to lay down. However with the Bonine all was well, and I’m suffering no ill effects from the motion.

We held our first CruiseMates group gathering this morning; a scheduled informal gathering to get people to meet early in the cruise. Of course, being the moron I am, I had forgot to adjust my watch for the time change from Mountain to Pacific time, so that move screwed up the plans for some in the group. About 25 of the group, must have been mind readers, and showed up for my messed time. Unfortunately we had disbanded too early for others who did show up at the “correct” time, who I heard from earlier so I owed some a sincere apology.

The ship has also sort screwed up some of our future plans. I had requested that our CruiseMates group cocktail party be scheduled for tomorrow, Monday Feb. 28 as to avoid a conflict with the ship’s Welcome Aboard Party, and first formal night… which are normally held the first full sea day of the cruise… which is today.

Unfortunately, the ship has designated tomorrow as the first Formal Night instead, with the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party. To the best of my recollection, in over 60 cruises, I’ve never seen a Welcome Aboard Party, and Formal Night scheduled for the 3rd night of the cruise. If this were a shorter cruise, it could be a combined Welcome Aboard/Sorry to see you leave party.

Combining that change with the change to 5:30 P.M. for early dining, made the requested 5- 6 P.M. cocktail party schedule a bit awkward, so I’ve arranged to begin our cocktail party at 4:30 tomorrow… or, just after breakfast.

It is a bit awkward planning such events for a group, because you’re trying to accommodate both those with early and late traditional dining, as well as those in the group who are using “Anytime Dining”, without conflicting with dining times, show times, as well as other shipboard activities.

However, I did work with the ship’s assistant group coordinator to assure everyone in our group received invitations to tomorrow night’s (morning) cocktail party. If people don’t toss it out before looking, along with the other “ship spam” they get in their mailboxes, we’ll get the entire group together tomorrow.

Today’s high temperature was in the mid 50s F, making people’s presence on the outside decks quite sparse. This led me to want to spend some time in the afternoon in the cabin, possibly watching some television. Unfortunately, on Princess, as with many cruise lines, television programming is pretty weak. We get that “wonderfully exciting” CNN International for news coverage. This makes sense for ships sailing in some areas of the world, but on a cruise from the United States to Hawaii, it does give one pause. I do have to give Princess a bit of credit. There are a couple of channels offering complimentary “recent run” movies, and no channels offering over priced pay per view movies.

I do know that the main television provider for many cruise lines is a company called MTN, and they do offer a package which includes the U.S. broadcast of CNN, ESPN, For News, and MSNBC, as well as some U.S. network broadcasting. Unfortunately Princess has obviously not chosen to purchase those services, which are available on Carnival, a corporate sister, within Carnival Corporation.

The good news is we got notices in the cabin today that they are replacing all in cabin television sets with flat panel sets tomorrow. So, we’ll have much better quality televisions to watch the bad programming.

This afternoon and early evening the ship did show the Academy Awards show, via satellite, in the Fusion Lounge, and Churchill’s Bar. That may be why they moved Formal Night to tomorrow night. But they may have missed a nice opportunity to turn Formal Night into a bit of a Gala Academy Awards Party.

Today they held the “Traditional English Pub Lunch” from 11:30 - 2:00 P.M. in the Savoy Dining Room. I didn’t attend, but I was told the attendance was exceptional.

This event may have created some problems in the galley, as tonight they were late opening the doors for our traditional early seating. And service in our dining room was very disjointed this evening. Last night at our table of 8 we were very impressed with meeting our likeable and seemingly professional wait team. Tonight they were struggling to get orders correct, and served in a timely manner. With late seating scheduled for 7:45, our dinner, and the messy service seemed quite rushed, and as we left the dining room at 7:40 it appeared the problem may have been spread throughout the dining room, as there were still tables finishing, or waiting to be served dessert. Hopefully we’ll see them get back on track tomorrow evening, or it could be a long cruise, or require a request of a change to “Anytime Dining”.

Last night at dinner our waiter offered to sell the Princess Coffee Card to the people at our table, explaining that the purchase included a “coffee mug”. One of our CruiseMates showed the coffee card she purchased earlier in the day, but explained no mention was made of the “mug” promotion. The waiter told her if she were to bring her receipt with her to dinner tonight, he would get the mug for her. A very kind offer, with the exception of asking to see her proof of purchase; she had the card, so why not believe she didn’t get the promotional mug.

The story got worse tonight. She did bring her receipt to dinner tonight, and the waiter went off to bring her the mug. He brought a small thermal shoulder water bottle bag in its place because he said they were out of mugs. She was a bit disappointed, but accepted the helpful nature of his attempt.

Then a minute later he returned to the table with another server, asking for the bag back, telling the guest she had to get the mug from the bar where she made the original purchase. Their excuse was each bar selling the cards was responsible for the inventory. I asked why someone couldn’t take her receipt and the coupon to the correct bar and fetch her promotional mug, but my question was greeted with no response. I was less than impressed with that type of service!

After dinner we saw the act of hypnotist Matthew Fallon in the Explorer’s Lounge. It was build as “Hypo -tainment”. The act was cute, but as with any hypnotist, very dependant on getting good volunteers from the audience.; tonight’s was somewhat lacking..

To put an exclamation point on the day, when I returned to the cabin to post today’s installment of the Virtual Cruise, I got an error message stating the Internet Café was undergoing maintenance, and to try again later. Later went on for some time, delaying this posting.

Of a positive note, I did see more of the ship’s public areas, and the ship appears to be in great shape. Hopefully the rest of the operation will begin to redeem itself tomorrow.

It’s now the next morning, Feb. 28. I awoke and immediately tried to connect to the Internet, but was still getting the “under maintenance” message, so I thought I would go up on deck to try again; still the same message. I’m wondering if there is indeed maintenance going on, or if I’m getting the Internet Café’s version of “ your call is important to us…”. If so, I’d much prefer just seeing a “No Service Available At This Time” message.

As I was already on Lido Deck, I thought I would try the Horizon Court buffet. It should have come with an error message too. Pre-prepared fried eggs laying under heating lamps were cold, with the yolks congealed, rather than runny.; bacon was so overdone it cracked into tiny pieces when I tried to pick it up with the tongs; bagels and breads totally cold.
They do have a small area to place orders for freshly cooked eggs. If I have an interest in eggs at a later date, I certainly know a visit there is going to be required.

Seems Princess really is struggling a bit to get this cruise started to the level of food and service I’ve come to expect of the cruise line.

The good news is we’re enjoying “picking at it” with the fun company of our CruiseMates buddies.
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