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Old May 15th, 2010, 06:29 PM
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Default Winding Down.. and Interesting Tidbits

Winding Down, and Interesting Tidbits

Today is the day most cruisers normally dread… the last day! It means tomorrow night there will be no towel animals on my bed (even if all mine were visually impaired). Today’s the day we’re told to pack our bags in preparation of walking off the ship, and back to our real lives, where no one really cares what we want for dinner. Today is the day of many goodbyes, and on cruises, often teary eyes because you’re not going to see your newly made friends again.

This afternoon the group of press I’m traveling with were given the opportunity for a Q&A session with Captain Peter J. Van Maurik, First Officer Tim Roberts, and Hotel Manager, David Wood.

It was interesting, and through the course of our discussions, it seemed we were given somewhat contradictory information about some things, than we’d been given before.

To explain, the topic of tendering in St. George came up once again. The Captain explained what they felt the problems were, and the resolution he described was somewhat different than the impressions were left with from Bermuda’s Director of Tourism.

After our talks with him, I was at least left with the impression, that Bermuda would add more tender boats if necessary for smooth tendering processes each visit. The way Captain Van Maurik explained it, there would only be using the one large tender (which can accommodate 750 people at one time), but would be adhering to a schedule, where guests would understand there was a tender every one and a half hours. They would have knowledge of the wait, and make their decisions when and whether to go to shore based on that.

They did admit to problems with a lack of communication with the shore side staff, and Hotel Manager David Wood said he had just purchased 4 telephone, so the shore excursion staff on shore could contact the ship.
I did ask why they simply wouldn’t avoid the hassle, dock in Hamilton, and let guests take land transportation to St. George if they chose. The response was that the stop in St. George is printed in the itinerary, and they suspected a good number of people booked the cruise wanting to stop in St. George.

If weather does not safely allow tendering to St. George, there will be the option of continuing on to Hamilton to dock there if necessary.

We’ll most likely just have to wait and hear more details of the process on future cruises, to see how this all plays out, and if passengers are pleased by it.

Another topic I raised was the issue of having the film wrap blocking access at the buffet lines, preventing passengers from simply helping themselves. In essence it’s a move fleet-wide to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal illness (Norwalk like viruses).

The initial measures will be in place for the first 3 days of every cruise, and then, according to how much illness displays, if the numbers are low, full self service will be reinstated. If a higher number of incidents exposes itself during the 3 day period, the preventative measures will be kept in place for the duration of the cruise (as was the case on this cruise).
They admitted it put some additional strain on the scheduling of staff to man the buffet and coffee/ice tea juice stations. However in their view it’s much better than the consequences of more serious outbreaks of the illness.

A rather “hot topic” these days is the exposure of some wrong doings by Park West Art Galleries, who’d been managing the art auctions onboard most major cruise lines. We were told that HAL has changed over their art auctions to a company called Global Fine Arts in August of this year. Global Fine Arts is an in house program from sister Princess Cruise Line.
Personally, it has never made sense, and still doesn’t, that someone thinks it’s a good idea to go on a cruise to buy fine art. I just don’t get it!

As I’ve been unable to send these daily reports from my cabin, I asked why they hadn’t added bow to stern Internet access during the refit. Captain Van Maurik was surprised by my question because he said it is supposed to be available. He was even more surprised when I told him the Internet Manager told me bow to stern access is only available on the newer ships. I had a little chuckle to myself, because Id guess I got someone into deep do do.

There’s more to tell, and I’ll try to complete a last report including all the other interesting tidbits, and a wrap up once I arrive home.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading along during the cruise, and invite you to join me again in July, when I head to the shipyard in Italy, and sail her out of the shipyard and into Venice for her Christening July 3.
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