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Author Topic: Golden to Hawaii: 04-27-11  (Read 2957 times)
ccrain
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« on: May 14, 2011, 10:35:59 AM »

Cruise and Travellog:

Golden Princess 04-27-2011 Hawaii 14 Day
E733 VS Aft Suite
Charles and Judy – Colorado Springs, CO

REVIEW

This was a good cruise, but it did suffer in comparison to the 20 day Emerald we took in November 2010 which remains our 4th best cruise ever. The suite was quite a bit smaller (Emerald Deck vs. Caribe Deck), the balcony much more useful (only one beam instead of two), the sea days much more fun and enjoyable (thanks to Eula), the overall food disappointing (even chef’s table), overall bar service disappointing (getting water from most wait staff was not easy), the cruise staff was fun and highly entertaining, close to on par with the fun we had last November.

For those of you tracking suites, E733 is the aft starboard VS suite. A very nice balcony with only one beam and very usable space, but the suite itself is much smaller than C751. There was no extra desk near the couch and the safe/closet area near the dressing table on the bed side was in the center area near the closet.

Room service was much, much slower on this cruise than last. 60-90 minutes for dinner delivery was typical, which made the food pretty cold by the time we got it. That plus the colder weather on the balcony made balcony dining not nearly as enjoyable as the Caribbean in December – although dining in Honolulu harbor while the ship was still docked was great. On the other hand, fresh fruit was abundant on a daily or every two day basis. The grapes and strawberries were fantastic!

The dancing venues were very enjoyable with Rick Kilburn and his quartet in the wheelhouse. Phoenix Rising on the Emerald cruise were a better rock and roll band than Passion, but Passion was definitely danceable and fun. Rick Kilburn and his quartet were the reason we spent a lot of time in the wheelhouse dancing with a bunch of new found friends. No professionals on this trip, just a bunch of fun people ranging from amateurs like us to some really good dancers to some older couples that we want to be like when we grow up!

The activities were very similar with Country Western Night, Disco Night, 50’s Night. The Ultimate Deck Party was different in that the dance troupe came out to dance to the new line dance, but no one even comes close to throwing a deck party like Tim Donovan – ultimate line dance or not. But we still had fun, lots of fun.

I have to mention the Wake Show. We typically only catch it every now and then, but this time Eric and Kelvin were so good together we watched it every day religiously. We’ve sailed with Eric before on the last HI cruise. He was good then, but he’s much better now.

The food in Main Dining, Horizon Court and Chef’s Table was definitely disappointing. Basically underseasoned for the most part – just plain bland. On the other hand, Crown Grill and Sabatini’s were seasoned perfectly. Go figure. We ended up only eating in the MDR once, Italian night and between the burnt garlic in Judy’s penne pasta and the undercooked eggplant and cold cheese on my eggplant parmesan, it was definitely a letdown. So we ended up eating sushi and tapas’ for dinner several nights in Vines, dinner on the balcony a couple of times, Crown Grill and Sabatini’s each once. Never did make it to Skywalker’s for the appetizers.

The Hawaii cruises are great for the sea days and Eula. But the two main down parts is the weather and sea states, along with the time changes. The weather will be cold and the seas will probably be rough the first two days and last two days. But the time changes are killer. 3 hours over and 3 hours back is just not fun.

All in all. A good cruise. Well worth the expense and we will do it again in the future.

Day by Day Travelog:

04-26-2011

Well, as usual, we’re not quite Live. Tomorrow is the day we board on the last Golden to HI for the season before she heads to Alaska. We stayed in Denver last night prior to our early morning flight this morning and enjoyed some Bison filet, and Pot Roast, at Ted’s Montana Grill. Never had Bison filet before, only in a Burger. Quite good. Halfway between a good beef and elk steak. Not too gamey, very tasty.

The flight was uneventful to LAX. We cabbed down to the Doubletree at San Pedro. Our room was ready, so we stored our stuff and took a nice long walk down and around Cabrillo State Park and beach area. The mackerel are running and the fishermen on the pier were pulling them in 3 at a time.

The hotel is older, pretty basic, nothing fancy, but the area is perfect for pre-cruise walking around and seeing the sites of the marina, the beach and the hillsides. After a couple of hours of building up a good appetite we headed for the 22nd Street Seafood Bar and Grill. Steamed clams, mussels, great clam chowder and fantastic break sticks (with fresh grated parmesan melted on top) made this pretty special. Almost as good as the clams at the Boatyard in Vancouver, which is not bad for Southern California.

Looking forward to a relaxing 2 week cruise. We’ve done this cruise before, in 2009, and we’ve been to HI before, so no special excursions. Just some walking around seeing the sights and enjoying those long sea days. We will try and dance our way across the pacific and back, see all the shows and try all the parties. We will also try and do chef’s table as well. We treated ourselves again and did an aft suite, so we’ll be ordering off the dinner menu for as many balcony dinners as the sea will allow.

A little bit about us. We are Charles and Judy from Colorado. This is our 20+ cruise, strictly on Princess. We try and cruise twice a year, for sanity sakes – I need the break. We discovered cruising in June 2001 on an Alaskan cruise tour. I was a kind of a “can you fish off the back of the boat” kind of guy, while Judy gets motion sick looking at water. A strange combination to be cruisaholics, but it was not only cost effective, it was relaxing, fun, highly entertaining and a way to see the world while your hotel follows you around.

On our last cruise we also got bit by the suite bug. 20 days in an aft suite on the Emerald. Wow. So this time we upgraded to an aft suite again. Of all the suite perks, we like Sabatini’s for breakfast the most, ordering off the MDR menu for room service and the mini-bar set up. Princess really spoils you in a suite. But alas, this will be our last cruise for a while in a suite. The upcoming long cruises were just a little to rich for us to upgrade, but watch out in 2014, we’ll probably go back to a suite at least once.

We are also amateur foodies. Watch all the food competition shows, Top Chef, Next Iron Chef, Chopped and the rest. So we love Chef’s table. Can’t wait for chef’s table. Will work on the ship for seats at Chef’s Table! It’s the culinary highlight of our cruise. But we are not food snobs. If we order something in the MDR we don’t like, we get something else. In fact, my inclination is to order anything on the menu that I can’t pronounce. I love to try new foods.

We also dance. Cha-cha, foxtrot, Night Club 2-step, waltz, rhumba, bolero, freestyle, hustle. We have the dancing bug so bad that everytime we hear music, we ask each other what would you dance to this tune. Dancing is a new thing, only in the past 3 years, but we thoroughly enjoy it – and guys, you can buy her diamonds, flowers or chocolate, but if you really want your lady to smile, take her dancing. Trust me, it will pay off big time.

And we enjoy the activities, entertainment and shows. Our best cruises were also the cruises where we had a great cruise staff. Our last cruise, a 20 day on the Emerald last Nov/Dec, with Tim Donovan, was in the top 3 of all of our cruises, just because of the entertainment and interactions we had with the cruise staff. On this cruise Kelvin Joy is our CD. We’ve never sailed with him before, but we’ve heard good things, so we are looking forward to what he has to offer.

On the other hand, while a CD can make a cruise better, we can always find something to keep us occupied. There is always something to do on a cruise, and actually, doing nothing but relaxing or walking the promenade or taking a swim keeps us happy. We cruise to get away, to relax, to enjoy each other’s company, to spend the time together we don’t have when I’m on the road or wrapped around the axle at work. It’s our time.

Embarkation was relatively painless. A little late. We got to the port about 11:15 and actually got checked in right away. However, there was a holdup in getting on until about 12:30. Disney was in port as well and from the line of kids getting on, we were certainly on the right ship.

We are in E733, which is the corner suite on the starboard side. It’s surprisingly much smaller than the Caribe Emerald suite we had last December. The extra desk near the couch is missing and the safe and cabinets are in the center closet area rather than against the wall next to the dressing table. The cabin is about 4-6’ less depth and at least a couple of feet less wide, but still plenty of room for  a14 day cruise. The two structural girders that break up the Caribe deck suite balconies are on the edges of this one, so we essentially have an almost double wide balcony to enjoy.

The sail away deck party was subdued to say the least. Not a real party crowd, which is surprising for LA, but the 14 day cruise may be limiting this time of year. We’ve actually run into a couple of crew that we’ve sailed with before. Eula is on board. Eric, the deputy cruise director, we sailed with to HI in 2009. Albuquerque is on board, a veteran Princess Head Waiter that can make some of the best pasta! But alas, he is in traditional and we are in anytime, but maybe we can drop in on him every once in a while during lunch in the MDR.

For dinner we did something we really enjoyed last cruise. Sushi in Vines supplemented by some Greek salad and olives from the international café with a top white flight. Good wine and a nice light dinner.

We enjoyed some dancing in the wheelhouse to the Rick Kilburn band. They did some really good ballroom and will be great to dance to during this cruise. We also checked out Passion, a band from Saint Lucia, in explorers on our way to the Princess theater. Sounded good and we caught a quick Rhumba.

The sailaway show was a completely different format. A lot more video and a lot more dancing numbers. Pretty energetic. We recognized a couple of dancers from previous cruises. The comedy team was Alfred and Seymour. A completely different high energy act with two African American “kids” that bring comedy and dance to the stage. Can’t wait to see their whole show.

We had a nice chat with Kelvin Joy, the CD, about some people we’ve come to know with princess over the years. Samantha Hawker-Thomas, Sam from Nottingham, Vian and Jane, Tim Donovan. Sort of catching up with Princess gossip.

We did plan to attend the welcome aboard dance, but the sea state and the California Current starting a little rock and roll, which put Judy flat on her back for the remainder of the evening. Tomorrow she will probably be down in the Piazza most of the day. We expected this and prepared accordingly. I have my Kindle so I’m set.

More tomorrow…

04-28-11

Breakfast at Sabbatini’s was, as usual, very nice. Sabbatini’s on the Golden. Gotta train the chef to make a spicy omelet. Maybe over the next 14 days I can. Sabbatini’s, being on Deck 7, does not have the view or the setup that Sabbatini’s on the Emerald did. It’s still nice, but I must say, Fincanteri did a great job in designing Sabbatini’s on the Crown, Emerald and Ruby.

Judy did Lei making with LeiAloha while I did the mile + on the deck. She made a straw lei and a kukui nut lei for me. (The straw lei is not made of straw, but made with a straw.) We would get lots of comments later on our lei’s.

Line dancing was in the Vista Lounge (Electrical Slide, Elvira, Achey Breaky) and then I went up to the CC meeting in Skywalkers. We had the Passenger Services Director come up and talk with us. No gossip. Darn. But it was nice to see someone from management. But folks, if you want people to show up, like the captain or the CD, send out invitations when you board. There is a much better chance when they are personally invited.

Judy, in the meantime went to Ukulele class with David and had a good time. She’s the musical talent in the family, but now she wants a Ukulele. The good ones are not cheap.

Ballroom class in the early afternoon was the cha-cha. Toby did a very good job in teaching 4 basic cha cha moves in only 30 minutes. Bingo was after dance class and you do not want to delay the Bingo people.

We did dinner in-suite, the balcony was a bit cold to try it outside, so I brought the table in and served dinner. It was North American. Judy had pronounced the Fettuccine Alfredo very good, after salting. Dinner took a while to arrive. We can’t wait for the port nights when we can have dinner on the balcony watching over the city.

04-29-11

Breakfast at Sabbatini’s…ought to be a movie. It’s so nice to not have to fight the crowds and to eat breakfast in peace and quiet.

The Royal Wedding, recorded, was being shown on MUTS from 0900 to late afternoon. Boy what a long wedding. Lots of people watching.

We went to the Culinary demonstration in Explorer’s. Judy got to help make Tiramisu on stage, which she does not like BTW – she hates soggy pastry or cake.

Judy did hula with Leialoha while I visited the Gym. Since Avatar was playing, and I just couldn’t miss the ending, I did about 3 miles on the Elliptical.

Judy went to Ukulele class with David again while I stretch out on our balcony and read. She hit the sushi buffet for an early lunch, but I drank my lunch from the mini-bar and snoozed for a while. I’m saving my sushi appetite for Honolulu and Todai’s.

After a power nap, we went out on deck to walk. They had parts of Promenade sealed off, so we went up on Deck 15 and did a couple of rounds, then shot some baskets and paddle tennis for a hot and sweaty workout. Note – the covering for the sports deck has “dead” spots in it for both tennis balls and basketballs.

Dinner on the Balcony again. Took over an hour for food to arrive and it wasn’t very warm. Tomorrow we will go to the MDR just to give it a try.

Stardust was the production show. We had not seen it previously and really enjoyed it from the 3rd row center. Lots of good dancing and singing. There are a couple of girls in the troupe that really stand out and look like they are having a great time.

After the show we went dancing in the wheelhouse to the Rick Kilburn Quartet. It’s funny how things alternate between cruises. On the last cruise it was dancing in Explorer’s to the resident rock and roll band mixed with the wheelhouse band. This cruise we’ve been almost exclusively in the wheelhouse. The quartet is a really good ballroom band.

Then we went to see Alfred and Seymour. Different type of comedy show. Highly interactive, very funny, lots of energy. Very nicely done. The jokes were fresh, except for the well worn cruise related jokes, and fast. Blink, you might miss one. Do not come in late or leave early. They will notice and take advantage of it. Even with the clock going back one hour, that was it for the night.

More tomorrow…
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ccrain
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 10:37:27 AM »

4-30-2011

One of those near perfect days on a cruise. Lots of fun, entertainment, dancing, food and new friends.

The day started, actually, quite early, with the time changes. I was awake at 0400, or 0700 Colorado time, which is actually quite late for me. I really tried to go back to sleep, but that didn’t work, so it was up and coffee time at 0600. I was able to update the travel log as well before breakfast at Sabatini’s.

Well Judy and I managed to stump the chef at Sabatini’s this morning. Judy requested biscuits and gravy, which they had no idea how to make, and I requested Eggs Florentine, for which they were unable to make the sauvignon sauce. So Judy had toast and Canadian bacon, while I had sauceless poached eggs over sautéed spinach on English Muffin. But it wasn’t actually half bad.

After breakfast we had time to do our mile on the Promenade deck while Judy waited for her Heirloom Lei class with Eula. The heirloom leis are crocheted and much more complex. I went to acupuncture clinic to gather information about using acupuncture for Judy’s motion sickness. If the seas kick up on the way home, we might give it a try.

Judy had the busiest day. She did lei class, followed by Ukulele class, followed by Origami class, followed by Hula class. I kicked around with the acupuncture class, a port lecture on Kuai’i, line dance class with Kelly, but in doing so we missed several interesting lectures, a rum tasting event, a kona coffee tasting event, the wine tasting club and pool games. As we’ve always said, the best sign of good cruise is too much to do and too short a time to do it in.

We did lunch in the HC. Standard fare. Nothing special. At 5pm Toby had a ballroom dance practice session with canned music in Explorer’s, so we hit that for a while. Then Passion came on and played until we left for the MUTS showing of The Social Network, which was a pretty good movie. After the movie we did some snacking in the HC, then hit the room to watch a Movie on DVD and finish the daily blog.

A fun filled day. We were also notified that we would be on at Chef’s table on Sunday, tomorrow. The culinary event of the cruise. We can hardly wait!

5/1/11
For our last day at sea prior to Hilo, Judy was the busier of both of us, and we had Chef’s Table to look forward to.

Heirloom lei class with Leialoha was her first stop. The heirloom lei’s today were crocheted, which Judy really enjoys, and the lei’s are really good.

Ballroom review class with Toby covered the Cha-Cha, the Merengue and the Waltz which was taught during the previous week. Not sure why a review so early in the cruise, but it was a good session.

I watched a bit of Megamind at MUTS during lunch while I waited for Judy to get done with her Ukulele class.

Judy continued her Ukulele Class with David. Now she’s seriously considering buying a Ukulele. How about some more yarn for lei’s? Its cheaper.

Toby then had a special Line Dance class featuring the New “Ultimate Deck Party” line dance. A combination of electric slide, YMCA, thriller, the disco line dance, the money line dance and can’t touch this. A lot to learn in a little amount of time and it will be interesting to see how it goes during the deck party on Honolulu night.

Chef’s Table – this was probably our 5th or 6th chef’s table and it was pretty good. Not one of the best, but still well worth the time and extra charges. Only 9 of us at this chef’s table, which made for a much more intimate setting and a lot of conversation with the other passengers.

Appetizers were Foie Gras on Brioche (our least favorite), Tuna Ceviche (very good), new potato and caviar (we’re just not caviar fans) and Tempura Coconut shrimp with thai sauce – really good as well. Champagne was good.

Second course was Porcini Mushroom Risotto – it just needed a touch more salt, but otherwise was very good.

Third course was strawberry sorbet with cracked pepper and grey goose vodka. The bloody mary sorbet remains our favorite, but this was pretty tasty.

Fourth Course was lobster thermadore, diver scallops, filet mignon and rack of lamb. All very good. The lobster thermadore was new and different at this chef’s table. Other tables have had just straight lobster tail.

The cheese course was gorgonzola on walnut bread with a balsamic vinegar and port wine reduction. Not as flavorful as past cheese courses have been, but pretty good.

Dessert was grand marnier chocolate mousse. This was very good as well and went well with the dessert wine.

Country Western Night – this was country western night. Line dancing, cotton eye joe and the bang bang game. Judy, once again, got to the final four, but no further.

We did some late night dancing with Passion, but time went back another hour, so we have extra time to sleep tonight.

5/2/2011

In Hilo today. Yes, we walked to Wal Mart. Before anyone goes “HUH?”, here’s the rationale. We are not in Honolulu during the swap meet, and we’ve run out of souvenirs from our last visit to Hawaii for Christmas presents. And we want to walk over to Todais for lunch in Honolulu. We’ve also done the Volcano tours last time in HI, plus the fact that excursions in HI are expensive!

So Wal Mart in Hilo was the perfect choice to pick up gifts and some new HI shirts for the cruise in October. It was about a 3 mile walk, we bought a bunch of stuff and then came back on the shuttle loaded with gifts.

Tomorrow we will start passing out gifts. We are going to pick on our wait staff in Sabatini’s in the morning. We asked what they wanted this morning and one of them said “bath gel”, so we found some fruity scented bath gels at wal mart for him. And we will give some chocolates and macadamia nuts to the other guys – yeah, we’ll even give bath gel guy some chocolates as well.

Other than the grand expedition to wal mart, we didn’t do much else except nap and catch up on some sleep. Napping on the balcony while it was pouring down rain was really interesting and restful. Thunder and lightning was also around which made for interesting light shows last night.

We weren’t very hungry for dinner, so we went to “Words and Music”, a little dancing in Explorer’s to Passion, then a light snack in Horizon Court before heading off to bed.

5/3/11

A great day of cruising starting off with a breakfast in Sabbatini’s. The omelet was spot on this time. Spicy and tasty. No one else showed up for breakfast for over an hour so we got personalized service from the guys.

The only down side of the day was lunch at todai’s in Wakiki. The walk over was nice, with no rain, limited sun. We went through the Ala Moana mall and looked around several shops, and bought a few more things at Hilo Hatties. But the buffet sushi at Todai’s has really gone downhill. Only 6 or 7 different kinds of sushi, none of the exotic types and the rolls were just so so, and no sashimi at all. I had to make sashimi by just stripping off the fish from the sushi. No unagi, no uni, no clam, no tako, no yellowfin, no white fish. I’ll need to find another sushi place for our trip in October.

On the other hand, we had some great shaved ice from a truck along the street back to the ship – passion fruit orange. Very nice and refreshing.

The plan for the evening was dinner on the balcony overlooking Honolulu as the sun set and the lights of the city came on. Dinner was one of the Princess menus, not too extravagant or memorable, but elevated greatly by the setting. Perfect temperature, no breeze, drinks, dinner and a great view. An excellent dinner.

After dinner we went to the Wheelhouse to dance to the Rick Kilburn quartet and talk to a few other couples dancing there. It was very relaxing and enjoyable and I finally got into the groove with just the right beat foxtrot.

Then there was the “Ultimate Deck Party” and the ultimate line dance. Not a lot of people joining in. This was not a party crowd, so the cruise staff invited the dance troupe to give them a hand and it was great to dance with them. It was a good energetic hour of dancing. But after that, the party quickly wound down and after doing several miles and several hours of dancing, we hit the hay to unwind and sleep to the sounds of the sea as the ship glided to the Nawiliwili.

5/4/11

Kuai is our favorite island that we’ve been to. But it really is challenging for walking. We started off this morning, once again, in Sabatini’s and intended to walk to wal mart to swap out a shirt and pick up supplies, but a tropical downpour put a damper on that. Instead we took the shuttle to K-Mart and walked over to Wal-Mart. That was a challenge for sure. No sidewalk and no bike path into oncoming traffic, but we got there in one piece.

We did our shopping at Wal-Mart, swapped out a shirt, picked up some water and sodas and caught the shuttle back to the ship. We could have walked, as I found out going back on the shuttle, with plenty of room on the sides of the road, so note to everyone, you can walk from the harbor to Wal-Mart, or from the harbor to K-mart, just don’t try to go between the two until all the construction is done on the highway between the two.

Last night was movie night, or at least half the night! Judy wanted to see Tron – Legacy, so we had dinner and movie under the stars. The ship was rocking and water was spraying out of the pool and the wind was howling, so while Judy huddled under a pile of blankets, I retreated to the grill area to get out of the wind.

Our intentions were to then watch Burlesque on TV at 10pm. That worked for about 15 minutes when Judy dozed off. So much for watching the movie!

Tomorrow is Lahaina, but with the Zandam in port and traffic restricted into and out of the port, we are simply staying on board and enjoying the pools.

5/5/11

As it turned out, many people stayed on board for Lahaina. But we did absolutely nothing spectacular the whole day. We watched Megamind on MUTS in the morning, after breakfast, then watched some TV while napping. For dinner we did one of our favorite things for dinner. We did a white flight in Vines, Judy had 3 plates of sushi and I had two plates of Tapas. That was it. Nice and light.

We did intend to go to Skywalkers for the chips and guacamole, but the seas started out rough and got rougher, and it can be really bad at Skywalkers. So we deferred. We then danced at Explorer’s with Passion the rest of the evening before heading for bed.

We did lose an hour of time last night as time started moving forward again.

5/6/11

A wonderful day at sea. Formal night, but we decided to get dressed up anyway. The morning started, as expected, with rough seas and Sabbatini’s for some really good eggs benedict. HMMMM! With the seas rough over night and us traveling into the wind, it was a little rocky, but not too bad, although Judy wasn’t feeling too well.

Judy, once again, had a very busy day. Lei class with Leialoha in the wheelhouse working on the crocheted heirloom leis. I now have a selection of 5 kukui nut leis to wear at night. She’s working on the combination crochet/straw leis for her.

Ballroom class was Salsa with Armando. A very quick class. He taught 4 basic salsa moves, basic, cucaracha, baby steps and underarm turn in 20 minutes.

Kelly and line dance class focused on non-country line dances, including the hustle, which is one of our favorites.

Judy continued her Ukulele class with David. On the final night there will be a presentation by the Ukulele class playing for the Hula class. Judy has decided to do Hula, but she’s getting quite good at Ukulele as well.

The wheelhouse was filled with people for Hula class. Leialoha is basically building on past classes to get the group ready for the final production show on Tuesday night, Ensenada night.

Judy tried acupuncture for sea sickness. We’ll see how it works over the next few days. She did the whole treatment which was $150. I hope it works so she can enjoy the rest of the cruise. I suspect as we get closer to the coast and start bucking the currents, it might get a bit rougher.

Since we got all dressed up for formal photos, we decided to take several pictures at various stations. Out of the 30 or so photos, 5 actually came out ok!
After photos we had reservations at Crown Grill. Although the food up to this point has been ok, not bad, but nothing to write home about, the meal at Crown Grill was fabulous. The lamb was so perfectly cooked and seasoned, it needed no other accompaniments such as mint sauce. I even deliberately did not dip the meat on one chop into the sauce on the plate just to savor the taste of the meat itself. Judy had the filet and the lobster tail, grilled. Both were excellent and the filet was melt in your mouth tender and perfectly cooked. The sides were scalloped potatoes, grilled asparagus and sautéed mushrooms. Fantastic flavors. For dessert we had the berry and apple cobbler with ice cream. Hot, not too sweet, baked in the dish goodness. It was a great topper to a great meal.

Since we planned to dance tonight, we went back to the room and changed into something more comfortable and went to see Caliente, one of our favorite production shows. Great energy, great dancing, great singing, just a non-stop party on the stage that allowed the troupe to show off all of their dancing, and endurance, skills.

After Caliente, we had a nice chat with Kelvin, the CD. Really nice guy and we loved talking to him very much. Eric, his deputy, has really come a long way from our first meeting on this cruise in 2009. He and Kelvin play off each other perfectly on the morning show, making it a must see the first thing in the morning.

We also danced at the 50’s sock hop for a while before heading to the wheelhouse to spend some time with Rick Kilburn and his quartet. We stayed until almost midnight dancing in the wheelhouse. We had the place practically to ourselves and had a blast talking with Rick and comparing notes on Princess, cruise directors, other bands, etc.

A late night, but a really enjoyable day. The kind of days we love cruising for.

5/7/11

Another day at sea, but we are really getting to enjoy those a lot. Today would be a very busy day for Judy who did Lei making, Line Dancing, Ukelele and Hula class. I was content to simply kick back and watch some of those activities.

For dinner we decided to go back to Sabatini’s. We haven’t been since 2004, but since we know all the guys (David, Antonio, Ricardo, Dimitiri and Iulian), we decided to do it right, but only 2 bites from every dish. It quite didn’t work out that way, but it was close. The pizza was delicious, the anti-pasta pretty good, but the anchovies and marinated sun dried tomatoes were out of this world. The meats and cheeses fantastic, the past course incredible. I had the roasted chicken. Didn’t care for the filling in the roulade, which was chicken liver pate, but the roasted chicken was incredible. Judy had the grilled sea bass and almost refused to give me a bite, but she relented after extreme begging. I had the tiramisu for dessert, but Judy had the white chocolate mousse with lemoncello and raspberry. Her mousse was to die for. The single best dessert of the cruise. (She disagrees and thinks it was the cobbler in Crown Grill.)

This dinner was one of the best, very close to the Crown Grill, but for different reasons. It would have been a tossup between the two. Remarkably, although the dining room food is under seasoned, both restaurant meals were perfectly seasoned.

We saw Steve Carte, the juggling comedian’s show in the Vista Lounge. Not bad, pretty standard comedy and juggling combination. A bit more interaction with the audience and a little more zaniness.

Then it was more Wheelhouse dancing with Rick’s quartet. It is nice to have two good dance bands on the ship, and with alternating breaks on most nights so that we can jump between one and the other.

Lost another hour at night. Coming back losing those hours is kinda hard.

5-08-11

Happy Mother’s Day! Busy, busy day and Italian Night in the dining room to boot!

We started with Paso Doble. A fun dance to learn, but pretty intense and really hard on the feet with all that stomping around! Judy then did her Ukelele class with David and then skipped over to the ribbon lei class. I recorded her class on video and then went to the Life @ sea talk with Kelvin and other crew personnel. In the afternoon, Judy had her final Hula class before the big dress rehearsal for the final show on the final day.

Dinner was Italian, but quite frankly, disappointing. The head waiter cooking penne pasta in the dining room burned the garlic giving the pasta a real bitter taste. The eggplant parmesan, my usual favorite, was underseasoned and under cooked – both the eggplant was not sautéed properly and the mozzarella on top was not melted properly under the salamander. Judy sent back the penne pasta and tried the spaghetti and meatballs, which after a little salt, was pretty good. Service was spotty, not Princess’s best. One problem was that it was a sea day and the dining room got slammed at 5:30, but still not up to usual standards of the last couple of cruises.

Was it really bad? No. It really suffered in comparison to the emerald last November and we won’t go back to the dining room on the last formal night, choosing instead to do sushi and tappas in Vines, but it was adequate, just not up to what we’ve had in the past. That’s one problem with having a really great cruise, all the rest get compared to it and usually suffer in comparison. The Emerald in November, along with the Grand in April 09, are both in our top 3 for service and food. Near perfection is awful hard to beat.

Oh well. Good thing we went to Sabbatini’s the night before and had some really great pasta and service.

Dancing the night away between Passion and Rick Kilburn’s group was fun as we went from wheelhouse to Explorer’s and back. No lack of dancing that’s for sure. The bands are versatile and fun. We danced until our feet gave out and then hit the hay.

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 10:37:59 AM »

5/9/11

Another day at sea, one day prior to packing day – the worst day of the cruise. Bummer.

Judy has been attending all the EULA hula classeses. Today was the Hula dress rehearsal with taping for the Reflections DVD. (They put the whole rehearsal on the DVD which was nice.) The hula class was very large, the Eukulele class even larger. I shot a lot of video so I can just relax and take in the show on the last night of the cruise.

We went to Pub Lunch at the Crown Grill for the first time. I had chicken curry and Judy had fish and chips. Her batter was undersalted, but the fish was cooked to perfection and very tasty. The curry was ok, but not very spicy. Still a nice break and a nice addition to the dining options.

We went to Kelly’s advanced Line Dance class with Slap Leather and the Tush Push. We know the “universal” Tush Push and Kelly’s version wasn’t too much different, mainly in the first few steps and the clapping at the end. Lots of fun and a good workout to boot.

Judy went to her Last Heirloom Lei class today. I now have 4 kukui nut leis for the cruise in October and she has 4 straw/crocheted leis.

Kelvin and Eric taped the Wake Show Live in the Vista lounge in the afternoon. That was fun to attend. Kelvin and Eric play off each other extremely well. We/they got to see and meet several of us characters that wrote in every morning – Judy, Judy, Judy; Patricia the Stripper; Delicious Donna; Mike and his wife, who would write notes to each other via the morning show.

We started the evening of Dancing with Passion in Explorer’s and then moved to the Vines for wine, sushi and Tappas for dinner. Much better than the dining room.

After dinner we hit the wheelhouse with Rick Kilburn and his band. Very good ballroom band and they also venture into some really good jazz, but are lacking a horn.

We went to see the British Invasion production show. Because we needed to get aft to the Marriage Game show, we sat up near an entrance and didn’t get the full flavor of the show, but we would come back the next night. The show is/was one of our favorites. Caliente and this one are right up there with a lot of high energy, lots of dancing, good music, and good vocals. Nicely done. Highly recommended.

We participated in the Marriage Game Show for the second time in a few years. Lots of new questions and lots of opportunity to try and embarrass Eric the host, with little success because he’s probably heard it all before. We didn’t win, but then we didn’t try that hard. We wanted to have fun and give the audience a chance to laugh a bit.

After the show, we went back to the Wheelhouse for some dancing before heading off to bed.

5/10/11

Packing day. I hate packing day. It interrupts an entire day and really screws up the nap schedule. We would also dock in Ensenada for about 5 hours, but we had zero plans to get off the ship.

Line dance review class with Kelly got through 6 or 7 of the dozen line dances we learned on the cruise. But we skipped the ballroom review.

They had a Mexican buffet lunch outside the HC, and it was actually quite good. Chips, salsa, guacamole, beef and chicken fajitas – all quite good and nicely seasoned.

Dancing was with Rick and the group in the wheel house until we left for the show. One last twirl around the floor to the guys and then that was it. It was so nice to have two good dance bands to choose from.

British Invasion – Round 2. I wanted to see the show from the 3rd row center this time. We did and it was twice as good. Good interaction with the dancers and singers, great dancing, great vocals, a great show that we gave a standing o to at the end. Really a great way to see a show and a great show to see.

The Aloha Oe Show, the actual end performance of the Hula dancers and Ukulele players, wouldn’t be until 10pm at night. So it was going to be a long night. It was combined with the Princess pop star finals. I talked Judy into going to the show, she hesitated, but she was glad she did. She was up front and did a really good hula dance. The Ukulele players, several dozen of them, were good as well. It was a great production and a great end to a good cruise and a very fitting end to the Golden’s HI season.

David and Lealoha seemed very pleased, but extremely tired as their season came to an end.

5/11/11

Disembarkation day and one of the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. We were the only ship in port and we were off the ship on schedule (0820) and to LAX by 0930 for a 1230 flight to Denver. Not a bad way to end a cruise.
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