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Old March 10th, 2011, 11:42 AM
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Sapphire Princess - March 9
This cruise must be getting close to the end because they delivered our luggage tags for disembarkation today. Wait a second! Weíve still got 2 more days! Oh well, sadly every cruise reaches an end eventually.

Earlier in the cruise passengers did receive a notice offering the EZ Check program for disembarkation. If youíre flying any of 6 airlines involved in the program (I cant list them at the moment, as I tossed out that information sheet along with the SPAM), for a fee of $20 they will take your luggage from the ship, print out your boarding passes for the appropriate airline, and send your luggage on to your final destination within the United States.

I am flying Southwest Airlines, who does not participate in the program, plus Iím a Canadian citizen, so I do not think Iíd be eligible, even though I am flying within the United States, for now.

Because of our one stop in Ensenada, Mexico on Friday, for which the sole purpose is to satisfy the legality of the Passenger Services Act, all disembarking passengers will have to clear Customs and Immigration in San Pedro.

The morning was cloudy and a bit cool, but the sun did break through in the afternoon. Many people were taking advantage, trying to sneak in some more work on their tans, others were shopping, playing bingo, etc.

In the afternoon Mrs. Kuki and another person from our group, walked the ship, looking at cabin doors of people in the group who had decorated to enter the CruiseMates door decorating contest. They chose a winner, and brought back pictures of each door that had been decorated.

At 4:30 P.M. we got the group together for our final get together. I brought the laptop so people who were interested could see pictures of those doors which were decorated. Everyone pretty much agreed on the winner, and we awarded very useless prizes to the top four doors.

Afterwards we had a cruise discussion session, and a Q & A session with me. I warned everyone from the beginning, if I didnít have the answer to the question, Iíd be making things up. It was a fun hour, and interesting to hear peopleís opinions about different cruise topics, and to hear what questions they had for me. Either people enjoyed it, or they were being very polite to me.

The single most common complaint from the CruiseMates group was the situation with long lines and overcrowding in the Princess Theater, and the Explorerís Lounge used for the repeat or alternate shows each evening.
The single area which drew the largest rave from our group was the people who had participated in the Chefís Dinner, offered at a cost of $75 per person. They felt they got absolute value for the money, and a wonderful experience out of it.

Our eveningís dinner service returned to awkward mode. The Head Waiter for our portion of the dining room came by on his nightly walk by, and I explained that though Iím not in rush because I donít have to head to work right after dinner, I was just curious why some nights the service flowed so well, yet others were a bit dysfunctional.

We were going to be finished dinner in time to avoid the tables being stripped around us with no problem, but the other CruiseMates tables around us were either being served dessert, or waiting for their dessert before our tables entrees were delivered.

Edgar, our Head Waiter, explained the situation to me (or tried to) that tables of 4 and 6 eat faster than tables of 8, and that tables of 8 order more than tables of 4 or 6. Iím not quite sure what that meant.

I assured him I was not trying to complain, but I was just curious about the glitches on some nights. He held firm to his comments, and insisted that if I look around the dining room, all the tables of 8 were the last to finish their meals. MMMMÖ not a very good system.

I mentioned the night we were still eating dinner when tables around us were being stripped and ready for the next seating. His explanation is that they have to because they have another dinner seating. I did know that! I inquired if that was acceptable, and with no answer to the question, committed to it being betterÖ which really wasnít what I was looking for at this point. I was not being confrontational, rather I was really just looking for information.

During my sixty + cruises, I never knew that people seated at large tables eat more than those seated at smaller tables. Itís fortunate Princess doesnít have tables of 12, or those guest might be still eating dinner when the passengers for the next cruise arrived. Forgive my sarcasm, but it really was quite funny.

I could have accepted many reasons for the glitches in dining room service on the nights they did occur, however this one went ďover my headĒ , as the saying goes. I expect our service will likely be much better over the last two nights, but the other tables of 8 may be waiting a long time for their dinners.

A tidbit of information about the television programming; by accident we discovered some nights the U.S. feed of CNN has been available on channel 43. Itís inconsistent, but you can check for it.

Another tidbit; the CruiseMates group has been terrific to dine with, and to cruise with. If the opportunity presents itself I highly recommend jumping onboard one of our group cruises.

My normal routine for writing a Virtual Cruise is to write when I return to the cabin in evening, and then get online to post that dayís story. On this cruise strangely the internet service is more of a struggle late at night. Yet, in the mornings (around 7:30 A.M.) service has been quite good, and almost fast.

At this point in the cruise Iím frankly more worried about waistband than bandwidth.
 
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