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Old March 12th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Sapphire Princess - March 11
I’ve learned because there are such an unusually high number of motor scooters on this sailing, they are going to decorate them all, and have a parade to lead the disembarkation.

OK, that’s not really true. But, good idea huh?

Off course all the talk this morning was about the Tsunami. And early in the morning when people heard of the Tsunami warnings for the west coast of the United States there were perhaps some mild concerns.
But as we sailed ahead towards Ensenada, Mexico, the seas were quite calm, and as the morning passed word from CNN got around making it seem like our arrival in San Pedro would be unaffected. Those like me who were glued to TV sets watching the incredible devastation and heartbreak in far off places were just stunned.

While we’ve been cruising, it seems the world has become an even more bizarre place; with the horror of what men can do, amongst the rebellion in Libya, and the horror of what Mother Nature can do, with the earthquake and tsunami, it kind of makes you want to turn right around and sail out to sea again to escape.

In the afternoon I went down to the ship’s Internet Café to attempt to sign on and print out the boarding passes for my flight tomorrow. I thought there weren’t going to be any computers left in the café because the service was so slow, most couldn’t do any more than log on and watch their purchased minutes disappear as they tried to reach the airline websites. People were getting so angry I thought the computers might be going overboard.

There’s really little excuse for the “dead” service because the ship is docked in Ensenada, and service simply shouldn’t be this bad. And, if it is, why will it let people log on, and start subtracting minutes used, without getting to the sites they needed, or to take 15 -20 minutes to do so.
I’d think this would be a busy day for people trying to print boarding pass, so I’d also think it would be a good day to have the Internet Manager on duty to deal with issues.

I did speak to the Internet Manager later this evening, along with probably 1/3 of the rest of the ship, and all he did is apologize, and say the Internet has been bad all week. The service continued to be unavailable throughout the night.

If I had realized earlier, I could have gone off in Ensenada in search of an Internet Café, but I couldn’t check in for my flight before 3:00 P.M., and even when a struggle, I have been able to connect to the Internet at some time every other day of the cruise.

Over the years I wrote Virtual Cruises from ships all over the world, and several times on this itinerary from different ships, including uploading pictures, etc. and this is the most I’ve struggled with internet service to get them posted each day. Over the course of the cruise I’ve used approximately 1500 minutes of internet time, so I don’t advise most people do this. That 1500 minutes is aside from the time I spend writing each day’s story. I therefore don’t edit the pieces much, and have to apologize to you folks following me for the bad grammar, and spelling errors that occur when spell check doesn’t know which word I’m trying to type. These are all “live” reports. I don’t send them to the editor for review and editing, so thanks for understanding my excuses.

When I get back to land, and have a chance to review each day’s ramblings in full, I’ll try and fill in things I missed discussing that may be of interest, in a final concluding piece. I’ve also encouraged those in our CruiseMates group to come and share their experiences as well.

Here’s a WOWSER, that I have to admit I knew nothing about… in talking to our Head Waiter again this evening, my ears perked up and my radar got turned on, when he mentioned that the dining room staff’s jobs (including his own) are through an agency, which has a contract with Princess, and they are not directly employed by Princess. Wondering if I’d heard right, he repeated it again when I asked if I’d heard correctly. The subject came up when he was discussing his next contract, stating he’d go home for two months or so, and during that time would talk to his agency to find out which ship his services are required on next.

I know several years ago the dining rooms on Celebrity Cruise Line were a concession, but I’d thought those days are over. Apparently that’s not the case on Princess.

To be factual, I am going to attempt to follow this up with Princess, to get “the word” directly from the source.

I am not a slot machine player, as I prefer to play blackjack and talk to the dealers and people instead of the machines. The slot machine players on the Sapphire can put cash in the machines to play, or use their “sail and spend cards” to get it (with no service charge). If they happen to win, the winnings automatically are applied to their account, and if they want to cash those winnings, or the money they put into the machines, they can go to the cashiers cage to cash in.

What is strange however is that everyone who has any funds on their account at the end of the cruise must cash out. The funds in your account aren’t automatically credited to your “sail and spend” card.

If they encourage everyone to leave their “playing money” on their accounts, and charge the funds to your shipboard account, I have no idea why the remaining balances wouldn’t automatically be credited to the players shipboard accounts.

They do it going in, but can’t or won’t do it coming out at the end of the cruise. Call me a cynic, but I’m thinking they are hoping people with small amounts remaining on that account won’t bother to cash it in, and others will forget to do so before the casino closes. I should point out, they do remind peoplel alot on the last night the casino is open.

It is possible there are some laws which require casino payouts to be handled this way, but I don’t know of any government or agency which would have the authority to demand that. Only on large one time wins are winners required to report their winning on their taxes.

Thanks for reading along for this 14 days, and we can do it again beginning April 24 when I’m sailing the Crystal Symphony. Can I become “Crystalized”? Come along and see.
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