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Old January 10th, 2006, 05:05 PM
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Default Jan 9 - at sea

Jan.9 – Island Princess

After waking this morning I walked out on the balcony to find a very promising blue sky, and as the day went on the promise was fulfilled. It was a wonderful and warm day sailing the Pacific Ocean. It seemed everyone onboard could feel the “spirit of aloha? reaching out to us from the Hawaiian Islands. The Island Princess was a very happy ship today!

As one might guess, most of our day was spent lounging in the sun, and visiting with different cruisemates throughout the day as people passed by. Poolside loungers were not a problem, even with the burst of good weather. The passenger demographic tips noticeably towards a more mature crowd, as one would expect on a 15 night cruise, and therefore many are more conscious about spending extended periods of time in the sun.

As I was relaxing in the sun, our dining room waitress Elena, who was working the Horizon Court this afternoon, came by to wish me a Happy Birthday… and it’s still not my birthday.

By afternoon the band was entertaining poolside, the cruise staff were teaching Hula dancing, and poolside games got into full swing with the crowning of the King of the Island Princess. Interestingly, and surprisingly with a crowd this elderly, during the pool game, the cruise staff were able to convince several passengers to jump into the pool fully clothed; and they didn’t even appear to be intoxicated ?

Today, for lunch, I sampled the Island’s pizza for the first time, and it was excellent. For several days now I’ve observed the Horizon Court buffet, and noticed that even at peak times there have been no line ups to speak of, nor any confusing movement I’ve previously experienced with the buffets on the Grand, Golden, or Diamond Princess.

There was also a lunch time dessert buffet extravaganza today, set up forward, near the bow, in the Horizon Court. The presentations were eye catching, though I only sampled one sugar free dessert. The nightly single choice of sugarless desserts to this point has been pretty disappointing, but this afternoon’s offering was quite delicious.

At 4 PM the CruiseMates group got together “en masse? for our gift exchange. Once again I was really pleased because most everyone in the group attended, and it was a very fun and very social affair. And it was clearly demonstrated that one can find some wonderful gifts even when sticking to the rule of a $10- 15 maximum for spending- which we had established beforehand. The people in this group really seem to be melding together nicely, and it shines through in a delightful feeling of warmth and camaraderie.

That was followed up by yet another fun dining experience with our regular tablemates, and servers Elana and Marius. What is especially pleasant about their professional expertise, and an added bonus to us, is it allows us time to chat a bit each evening and get to know them better. It helps make us and them more at ease, and on a cruise 15 days in length I believe that helps enhance the experience for all concerned.

Ah yes… and once again after dinner, Elana and Marius brought a cake with candle and serenaded me with the Happy Birthday song!

Here’s a rather interesting aside about the dining room; we have traditional, assigned, late seating dining in the Provence Dining Room. We had noticed that since the beginning of the cruise a table for 4, immediately next to ours, has been unoccupied. After two days we mentioned this empty table to 4 people in our CruiseMates group (who have Personal Choice Dining), and suggested they may want to talk to the Maitre D about switching to the empty table beside us at “traditional dining?. They came to the dining room that evening and made the request of the Maitre D, but he had to turn them down because that table was “assigned?.

It’s now 4 nights into the cruise and to date no one has come in to use that table at late seating. Elana tells us there are several other tables in the dining room with the same situation. This situation exposes a weakness in the Princess Dining scheme. While many people are wait-listed for traditional dining (and therefore assigned “personal choice?) there are those who are assigned “traditional dining? and for whatever reason chose not to show up, and do not inform the Maitre D of their plans to dine elsewhere.

They could be choosing to dine in the more casual Horizon Court each evening, or in the alternate (surcharge) restaurants (Sabitini’s or The Bayou Café). However because they hadn’t been bothered to “officially? bow out of traditional dining, other passengers wanting traditional dining are left wanting, unnecessarily.
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