Final Day at Sea

Bill set up a massage for the morning on our day at sea so we were up by 7:00 am again.  Surprisingly, the spa gave us a call at 7:20 to wake him up for the appointment.  While he was gone, I got ready for the day and headed down to the Piazza for some tea and shopping.  Since he wasn’t back yet when I came to the room, I started the dreaded task of packing.  This went very well and when he arrived we finished up almost everything.  Princess Cruises asks that you put most of your luggage out before dinner and then the rest later in the evening before 11 pm.  This in theory sounds like a great idea so the staff is not rushing at 9 pm or so to get everything out of the halls.  In practice though, this was a bit of a mess.  The stateroom hosts were busy with turndown service so you had their carts, plus all the luggage in the halls when everyone was trying to leave for dinner or nightly entertainment.

Our plans for meals today were to eat our way around the Piazza.  After we were finished with the packing, we went down to the Piazza.  It was getting close to lunch time so we checked out the food at the International Cafe.  We had to wait a bit for service of the lunch choices were available, but it was ok.  We decided to try the soup (chicken tomato tortilla), each of the four salads, a quiche and a couple sandwiches.  The quiche was not hot, but it was good tasting with asparagus and cheese.  The sandwiches were both very good and we could have them warmed up if we wanted.  The salads were very good.  There was a chicken and cashew Waldorf salad, Greek salad, shrimp and fennel salad and marinated grilled vegetables.  We loved the treats available all week at the International Cafe.  Definitely worth adding a stop here multiple times during your cruise!

Today was the day we would participate in the Ultimate Ship Tour.  I have heard others question whether or not the price tag of $150 per person was worth it or not.  We have done other ship tours and have also toured specific areas of ships (galley, theater and bridge) so we had a lot to compare this to.  The ship tour on the Norwegian Dawn was only $75 per person and was very comprehensive so Princess Cruises had to do a lot to make this worth the price.

First, we were not allowed to bring cameras on the tour.  This was a negative in our opinion.  We would keep an open mind though.  Our first stop on the tour was the theater.  There we got a basic tour of the stage, which was much larger than on NCL and it seemed larger than any of the DCL ships.  We didn’t get to see how the lift operates, but did get to see them pull down a set and a photo was then taken.  After this we went into the dressing room and saw all the costumes.  Much like NCL, they alter the costumes when new crew comes to the ship, however, the costuming looked much better than NCL’s costumes.

From the theater, we went up to the mooring area.  Here we heard about the equipment used to tie the ship to docks and to drop the anchor.  This is quite an operation with many winches, ropes and chains.  It was quite interesting here and we got another photo of the group.

From here we went to the Medical Center.  This was an amazing facility.  There is an x-ray machine, lab, two ICU rooms and a couple regular rooms.  This truly did look like a little hospital.  We learned about medical evacuations, traumas on the ship and even got to see where the morgue is located.

Once out of the Medical Center, we were in passenger areas and headed to the dining room and through to the kitchen.  Here we met with the chef and received the most detailed tour of the galley that we have ever had.  On past tours, we have walked the path that most of the servers walk while the chefs point out what is made in each area.  On this tour, we were taken into the kitchen and saw close up where everything happens.

The Stores area of the ship was a natural progression for the tour as this is where all the food comes in to the ship for the galleys.  The first thing we did was try on chef’s jackets so that we could get the right size for our gifts.  We were able to see where the meat, vegetables and other food was stored.  We also watched a butcher cut tenderloins for dinner and another prepare the fish.  We talked about the challenges the department faces with purchasing enough products at the right price each week.

Next we went down to the Engine Control Room.  We looked at all the monitors and charts used to control the ships engines and systems including all the power and air conditioning as well.

Just around the corner from the Engine Control room was the Print Shop.  In here we saw all the forms, menus, etc that are used regularly on the ship.  We also learned what the process is for the Princess Patter and how the staff handled the change in itinerary at the last minute when we missed St John. We would each be getting personalized stationary at the conclusion of the tour.  It was a notepad that said “Caribbean Princess” along with our names on each page.

Next to the Print Shop was the Photo Lab.  Here we saw where all of our photos were printed and found out that on our 7 night sailing with around 3000 guests, there were over 20,000 pictures taken!  Princess does recycle all of the disposed photos as well.  We were told that after the tour, we would all receive a set of the photos taken of our group.

Now it was time to head below the water level and into the laundry room.  On the past tour of the laundry room, we watched those working and were told what they were doing.  On this tour though, they had crew perform many of the steps in the laundry room for us so we could see the whole process.  This is always a popular stop on the tours.  We were told that we all would receive a plush bathrobe at the end of the tour.  These would not be the ones in the staterooms, these would be the plush, thick ones from the suites!

Our final stop on the tour would be the Bridge.  It is always an honor going on the Bridge of a ship.  This is where the Captain and his officers control the operation of the ship and navigate the waters.  When we stepped onto the Bridge, we were given French Champagne.  There were also canapes for us to sample.  The Captain introduced himself and told us a bit about his history as a seaman.  Of course we would have pictures with the Captain.

After the photos, the Captain explained all the equipment on the consoles, explained what the officers each do and showed us the details available on the radar monitor.  He took us over to the Bridge wing and explained how they pull into port.  The views were great and Bill even saw a whale from up there!  We thanked the Captain and left the Bridge.  It was amazing how much we packed into the three hour tour.  Once back in the room, our gifts were waiting for us (though the photos arrived later in the evening).  Time to repack!  Our conclusion?  The tour was well worth the $150 per person price.

We opted for pizza for dinner tonight since the offerings in the International Cafe did not change.  After pizza, I got an ice cream cone and Bill got some popcorn.  We thought about the buffet but decided against it again.  Instead we went to Vines to have some wine with sushi and tapas.

All that was left for the night was a couple trivia/game shows to attend.  We joined up with our teammates for the game show and had the champagne from our win the night prior.  It was a fun way to end the cruise.

Some notes concerning disembarkation.  This was somewhat of a mess.  It was never clear where the line was to get off the ship and as a result we ended up walking through the dining room where everyone was waiting for their tags to be called.  Though a bit of a pain, it may have been simpler to do the express walk off and carry our own luggage.  I don’t know if this was just due to how the port was set up or if it was a Princess Cruises thing, but onboard wasn’t the best organization.  Once off the ship though, the remainder of the process was very smooth and fairly quick.

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