On this first sea day on the Caribbean Princess, I was rudely awakened at 7:30 a.m. (this was my vacation after all!) by my loving husband, who had been up since 6:00 a.m. filming all around the ship. He is obsessed with his new video camera, and takes it everywhere, and I'm glad he did, because when we got home again, we had hours of wonderful memories to ease our Post Cruise Depression!
It was hot and very hazy outside, and the clouds and haze stayed around all day. We had breakfast in the Horizon Court / Cafe Caribe buffet, sitting outdoors overlooking the aft pool and the wake of the ship. This became our favourite spot for breakfast all week.
The food was good, varied, and plentiful, but for some reason, breakfast all week was lukewarm. Every day there were two kinds of scrambled eggs, one plain, and one with some kind of vegetable mixed in. On this first morning, I joked that the scrambled eggs containing chopped asparagus were leftovers from James' dinner last night when he didn't eat his asparagus!
After breakfast we tried to lay out on deck, but it was cool and windy with only fleeting glimpses of the sun, a bit disappointing for these sun-starved Montrealers!
Perusing the Princess Patters, I noticed there was a Ship Tour at 9:30, and thought it might be a good idea, since we were continually getting lost on this giant ship.
So off I went to join the tour, hosted by Allice from Vancouver Canada. She was fun, lively, and informative, and although I thought we had covered the ship from aft to bow, I couldn't figure out how we ended up back where we started! One question I did ask her was which decks flow through all the way, and they were decks 7 and 15. Once I knew that, navigating my way around the ship became a little easier.
Lido Deck 15, one of the "through decks".
I also noticed in the Princess Patters, an appointed gathering for some people who had been communicating with each other pre-cruise, on the Cruise Critic board. I had posted there, looking for others on this cruise, so I decided to go meet them. Exactly 6 people showed up! We introduced ourselves, chatted a bit about cruising, then went our seperate ways. In a way, it was nice to see people later in the week on the ship and say hi, but I really wished it were a bunch of CruiseMates instead!
Following this, I tried to lie out in the sun again, but the sun was not co-operating, so we gave up and went in for lunch. I sampled an eclectic mix, all of it delicious, especially the desserts. We ate lunch in the Horizon Court or Cafe Caribe buffet every day and it was always good.
After lunch, we did some more ship exploring, then ended up back outside again. Near the back of the ship, we found the adults-only hot tub and hopped in.
There were two couples and another man in there, interestingly enough, talking about Quebecers visiting Florida. When we introduced ourselves as Quebecers (Montrealers), the man decided he was outnumbered and left! The other two couples stayed, and we enjoyed talking with them for almost two hours in the hot tub! One couple was on their honeymoon, the other couple were their friends, and when we asked where in Montreal they lived, we were all shocked to learn that they lived only about 10 minutes from us! In fact, they lived in the same suburb as our friend Cruise Cynic! What a small world. With our new friends, we enjoyed a drink or two, and when the sun finally made an appearance around 3 p.m. we parked ourselves on a couple of deck chairs for a mid afternoon snooze. Despite the incredible size of this ship, we never once, all week, had a problem finding deck chairs. In fact, there were a number of times where we felt we were alone on the ship, especially on the upper aft deck sunning areas. The main pool areas were of course crowded, because that's where the action is; games, band, movies, etc. but you could always find a spot in the quieter areas, and that's where we liked to go.
This night, the first of two formal nights onboard, we got ready early for dinner, because there was a Captain's Cocktail party at 5:45, held in the Crooner's Lounge, which is essentially, a small seating area, beside a walk through promenade. White gloved waiters served cocktails, including a delicious rum punch, wine, and other mixed drinks, along with tiny, tasty canapes. Never did see or meet the Captain, but we did enjoy the cocktails!
Dinner was at 6:00 p.m. in the Coral dining room, where we requested the same table and same waiters as last night, and this is where we ran into the first of our problems with "anytime dining". The Maitre D' and the Head Waiter never seemed to agree on anything and always gave us conflicting information. They did not want to give us the same table again because it was a table for 4, and we were 2. Apparently the only tables just for 2 are located in the Palm dining room, but we did not want to give up our wonderful waiters, so we insisted on their section, and told the Maitre' D that we wouldn't mind sharing the table if need be. Despite all the fuss and kerfuffle, we ended up alone again at "our" table, and enjoyed another thoroughly wonderful dinner, served by our thoroughly wonderful waiters, Rodel and Edgar.
I ordered a delicious salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and the entree of beef tournedos with roasted potatoes and gravy was absolutely superb!
James had a cold yogurt and tamarind soup which he enjoyed, and he raved about his Mahi Mahi entree. Dessert was another hit. James adored his Drambuie Coconut Parfait, and I thought that the Princess Love Boat Dream with a side of whipped cream, was to die for!
Stuffed, and thoroughly pampered, we left the dining room and headed to the Princess Theatre to see the much-touted "big production show" entitled "Piano Man"
I guess we have been spoiled by Carnival's entertainment because we found this show absolutely terrible from beginning to end. The premise of the show Piano Man was a good one; a varied repertoire and salute to the great piano artists of our time, Billy Joel, Elton John. Barry Manilow, and Liberace. The live band was great, the costumes were colourful and extravagent, but the Princess singers and dancers were in a word, awful. With the exception of one male lead singer, the other lead singers and background singers were flat and off key, sometimes painfully so, and the dancers were so uncoordinated I feared somebody was going to get hurt! At times, it seems that the costumes, number of dancers, and production numbers were just too big for the stage. We couldn't wait for it to end.
Bitterly disappointed in Princess's main entertainment, we wandered down to the Crooner's Bar to see Bert Stratton, the lounge entertainer James had heard so much about. In all his research on the ship pre-cruise, he had read nothing but wonderful reviews about this performer, and had even e-mailed him before we left to request a special song for my birthday. Bert had responded, much to our surprise, asking for the words to the song we requested, and we had sent them. So we were anxious to see what this man was all about, and we were not diappointed!
We arrived in the middle of his first set, and I was not prepared for what I saw and heard. I was expecting a laid back lounge entertainer, a crooner, perhaps like Michael Buble, or Harry Connick Jr., someone who could sing well, and play piano too. I never in a million years expected a manic Jim Carrey look-alike who, although he could sing beautifully and play fantastic piano, could also dance like an orangutang and pull faces and mannerisms last seen in the movie Ace Ventura, Pet Detective! Bert Stratton is quite simply, the most amazing and entertaining act I have ever seen, anywhere! We were immediately caught up in his act, singing and laughing along with the many others crammed into the little lounge, and filling the hallways around it. When Bert took a break after the first set, James went over and introduced himself as the "guy from Montreal who e-mailed you", and to our utter astonishment, Bert greeted him like an old friend, throwing his arms around James in a bear hug, and urging him to bring me over and introduce me too! The song we had requested was my all time favourite, "Words" by the Bee Gees, and Bert told us he'd sing it the next set, even sending someone off to his cabin to find the lyrics I had sent him. True to his word, he did a lovely job of singing my favourite song, and we left that night with an autographed copy of his CD and DVD, both of which we have enjoyed immensely this first week post-cruise.
In one performance, Bert Stratton had singlehandedly redeemed our faith in Princess's entertainment
Alas, Bert Stratton wasn't on the ship when we cruised. Some day we'll get to see him. We didn't go to all the shows, either. We saw the very first one and perhaps the one on the second night--but mainly would stop on our way past the Crooner Lounge if there was someone who caught our attention.
Unfortunately, that was a disappointing group for Cruise Critics. We had about 20 for the sailaway. But--then, you are right, we had about 8 for the first day at sea meeting. However, our roll call is still going strong. Those of us who hung out together have become pretty good friends. I'm sure it would be the case with a Cruise Mates gathering, too! We'd all remain friends!