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Old March 3rd, 2011, 03:29 AM
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Sapphire Princess - March 2
It’s day 5 onboard and I’ve noticed that there are more motorized scooters onboard than there are people under 40. This actually seems quite understandable on a 14 night to cruise from L.A. to Hawaii return. This is a long cruise; a sea day intensive itinerary, and for people with mobility problems likely a pretty good way to see the Hawaiian Islands.

The only port of concern would be our stop in Lahaina, on the island of Maui, as that’s a port which requires tendering to shore from the ship.
Those people using motorized scooters have been very respectful; obeying all the street signs, and stop lights.

As I mentioned the other day, activities onboard start early on this ship. I noticed that passenger involved “game shows” were already beginning at 10:30 this morning. I can’t comment on attendance as I was still drinking my coffee and trying to remember my name at that time.

Plus, today we were greeted with great weather, which many people hadn’t experienced in many months at home. The open decks were the busy spot all day, and by afternoon it was easy to tell who forgot how to use sun tan lotion. Lots of bright red body parts moving around the ship.
Once again, looking at the scheduled events in the Princess Patter is dizzying. There seems to be another activity scheduled every 15 minutes. Of course I got to tired just reading the descriptions to attend. Instead, I spent time enjoying the sunshine with Mrs. Kuki and some CruiseMates friends.

Tonight was the second “non-smoking” night in the casino (the previous had been on Day 2). OK, now that I’ve broached the subject perhaps we should have a free for all melee about the “smoking policies” onboard the Sapphire Princess.

All areas of the public areas onboard are designated “non-smoking”, with the exceptions of the port-side Lido Deck (by the Dolphin Pool), Churchill’s Lounge (the Cigar Bar onboard, forward of the casino on Deck 6), portions of the casino (on most nights, and a designated portion of the Skywalker Nightclub.

The policy regarding smoking in guest cabins, and on verandas, is much more ambiguous. Basically it reads that smoking is permitted in guest cabins, “though discouraged” (asking smoker‘s to be considerate of the cabins next occupants), and smoking is allowed on balconies (but be respectful of nearby passengers). It seems that it’s pretty fancy side-stepping of the issue.

It appears as though they want it to appear they are against smoking in guest cabins and on verandas, yet don’t want to alienate those prospective passengers who do smoke. I dislike the spin of trying to sound politically correct, yet making no real decision on the policy.

At this point, I should admit I do smoke cigarettes. Yep… I’m a leper, and perhaps deservedly so. I am happy to abide by the smoking policies set out by the ship, but I do care for them trying to get by with ambiguity.

Statistics say that only 20 % of the population are smokers, so the desires of the majority should in fact be weighed heavily. And the rules for the public areas on the ship make some sense in an attempt to please both smokers and non-smokers. It’s much more difficult a task to appease both when it comes to the cabins on a ship.

Yet, I have a solution that I believe could quite practically put into place. I suggest the cruise line take 20% of cabins located towards the stern of the ship (where smoke will be blown toward the stern when the ship is underway), and designate those as “smoking allowed” cabins, and clearly not those cabin in their brochures, and on their web site. The other 80% of cabins could be designated totally smoke free cabins and balconies. Possibly this may not be as simple to put into practice as it sounds, but probably is also doable.

The one real problem area for non smokers is getting to and from the Princess Theater. Entering and exiting the Theater requires one to pass through the casino. The design is bad in many ways; you enter the Theater on Deck 6, have to walk up some stairs, and then either up or down more stairs depending on where you’d like to sit, or where there might be room.

Tonight we attended the 8:15 show of Steve Moris. More on the show in a minute, but people were lining up for the show almost a full hour prior to show time.

Steve Moris played with the Beach Boys for 20 yrs. His act was very entertaining; a combination of music, musical “schtick”, and comedy. Perhaps his best “line” was in his video introduction… The Kosher Cirque; Cirque Cumcision.

To end today’s report, I have to talk a bit more about service and food issues again. Dinner this time is not the issue, though my Chicken Noodle soup tonight looked eerily similar to my Won Ton soup of a couple of nights back, with very similar ingredients, and taste; only the won tons had been exchanged for pieces of chicken.

But today’s issue was explained to me by some of our tablemates who have breakfast each day in the Dining Room. The Dining Room breakfast menu states that if you order fresh eggs, that not part of the two daily “breakfast specials”, you should expect to wait 15 minutes. One of them ordered eggs, and the order was wrong, and they were required to wait another 15 minutes to get the correct order.

One can get freshly cooked eggs to order at the Trident Grill, beside the Dolphin Pool on Lido Deck in about 3-4 minutes. Go figure? The vast majority of passengers are getting their breakfast on Lido Deck, or Continental breakfast from Room Service, so the 15 minute minimum wait for an omelet in the Dining Room does seem excessive. And if an error is made, why they couldn’t remedy the problem much quicker than another 15 minutes is really bad service.

If readers have followed previous Virtual Cruise reports I’ve written, they’ll know I truly do not expect perfection. In fact I’m probably too accepting of flaws or a few speed bumps in the road during a cruise. But frankly, I think Princess might want to worry more about these things than I do. If they’re not noticing, they really aren’t watching their operations closely enough, if they want to continue to be viewed as a “Premium Brand”.
I have to admit, for probably the first time since I began writing Virtual Cruises, I am struggling with these daily reports because the ship is in such fine shape physically, the cabin services are extremely good, but the other hotel operations are struggling to satisfy me.

Though it may be difficult to understand, despite much of my negative commentary, we are truly having a magnificent time onboard. Weird huh?

Unfortunately one of our CruiseMates tablemates has taken ill. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but does appear to be gastrointestinal. It was reported to the medical team, and they sent in a team to sanitize the cabin, and have assigned a separate cabin steward for the cabin (I assume as a precaution to prevent further spread if the problem is communicable). The guest has been restricted to the their cabin for 24 hrs., to observe. However the person’s spouse was not quarantined, only asked to not use the buffet. We’ll just hope the problem is simple, and that our CruiseMates recovery is speedy.
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