Archive for the ‘Princess Cruises’ Category

2011 Best Cruise Lines

Each year we see picks for the best ships, best dining, best kids clubs, etc. with many industry guides and reviewers.  We have seen two of these picks so far this year – Cruise Critic and Conde Nast Traveler.  So how did your favorites do?

Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks 2011

  • Best New Ship – Disney Dream
  • Best New River Ship – Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette
  • Best for Luxury –  Seabourn’s Odyssey
  • Best for First-Timers –  Princess Cruises
  • Best for Families – Royal Caribbean
  • Best Itineraries – Azamara Club Cruises
  • Best for Adventure – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Best River Cruise Line – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value for Money – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best for Dining – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurant – Celebrity’s Qsine
  • Best Buffet – Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Best for Entertainment – Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure
  • Best for Healthy Cruising – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best for Spa Lovers – Seabourn’s Sojourn & Quest
  • Best for Solo Cruisers – Norwegian Epic
  • Best Suites – Oceania’s Marina
  • Best Standard Cabins – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Inside Cabins – Disney Dream
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America
  • Best for Enrichment – Crystal Cruises
  • Best for Honeymoons – Princess Cruises
  • Best for Wine Lovers – Celebrity Solstice-Class
  • Best Cruise Ship Bar – Carnival’s RedFrog Pub
  • Best U.S. Cruise Port – New Orleans

Conde Nast Traveler – Gold List 2011

Rather than selecting one best in each of a number of categories, Conde Nast Traveler gives an overall score for each of their picks based on itineraries, cabins, service, food, design, activities and excursions.  The scores were averages to get the overall score.  Our list shows the cruise line name, overall score and top category.

  • Abercrombie & Kent – Overall Score 83.7 (Itineraries 96.0)
  • Crystal Cruises – Overall Score 92.3 (Service 95.5)
  • Cunard Line – Overall Score 86.4 (Itineraries 89.9)
  • Disney Cruise Line – Overall Score 90.3 (Service 96.1)
  • Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises – Overall Score 87.1 (Itineraries 94.7)
  • Oberoi – Overall Score 84.7 (Tie for Itineraries and Service 94.1)
  • Oceania Cruises – Overall Score 86.6 (Itineraries 94.9)
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Overall Score 91.0 (Service 95.1)
  • Seadream Yacht Club – Overall Score 86.6 (Service 94.4)
  • Silversea Cruises – Overall Score 85.2 (Service 92.1)
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – Overall Score 83.8 (Itineraries 92.0)
  • Windstar Cruises – Overall Score 84.3 (Service 93.2)
  • Yachts of Seabourn – Overall Score 93.4 (Service 97.9)

Conde Nast Traveler: 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

We think that this review is the best representation however as it is your choices for the best of the best.  Travel editors don’t always have the same opinions as those of us who travel for a vacation.  Those who voted assigned a rating of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor for a variety of criteria.  Each reviewer’s total score is calculated and then the average of all responses is calculated.

Small-Ship Lines

  • Seabourn – 91.8
  • Silversea – 88.5
  • Windstar 85.8
  • Seadream Yacht Club – 84.5
  • Lindblad Expeditions – 78.0

Medium-Ship Lines

  • Crystal Cruises – 93.0
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – 91.6
  • Disney – 89.8
  • Oceania Cruises – 86.0
  • Azamara Club Cruises – 84.7
  • Cunard – 84.2
  • Holland America – 81.5
  • Celebrity – 79.9
  • Princess – 79.8
  • Royal Caribbean – 76.3

Large-Ship Lines

  • Celebrity – 87.7
  • Princess – 80.9
  • Royal Caribbean – 78.9
  • Carnival – 70.9
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – 64.3

River Lines

  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises – 90.3
  • Grand Circle Travel – 86.1
  • Viking River Cruises – 84.8
  • Avalon Waterways – 78.9
  • AmaWaterways – 68.5

Porthole Cruise Magazine 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

  • Best Small Ship (under 500 passengers) – Seabourn Quest
  • Best Medium-Sized Ship (between 500-2000 passengers) – Nieuw Aterdam
  • Best Megaship (at least 2000 passengers) – Allure of the Seas
  • Best Tall Ship – Wind Surf
  • Best River Cruise – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value-for-the-Money Line – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Luxury Line – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Most Family-Oriented Line – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Expedition Cruise Line – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Most Romantic Cruise Line – Windstar Cruises
  • Best Eco-Friendly Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Short-Duration Cruise – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America Line
  • Best One-Day Cruise – Discovery Cruise Line (no longer in operation)
  • Best Private Island – Half Moon Cay
  • Best Adventure Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Activities – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Educational Programs – Cunard Line
  • Best Main Dining Room Cuisine – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurants – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Casinos – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Computer Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Spa Facilities – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Onboard Shopping – Princess Cruises
  • Best Medical Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Children’s Programs – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Service – Silversea Cruises
  • Best Entertainment – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Onboard International Experience – MSC Cruises
  • Best Theme Cruises – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Adults-Only Onboard Options – Crystal Cruises
  • Best Website – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Accommodations – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Best Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers – Holland America Line
  • Best Caribbean Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Canada/New England Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Mexican Riviera Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Alaska Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Central America Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Hawaii Itineraries – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best South America Itineraries -Oceania Cruises
  • Best Mediterranean Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best South Pacific Itineraries -Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Best North Europe Itineraries – Princess Cruises
  • Best Trans-Atlantic Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Asia/Pacific Itineraries – Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Best Africa/Middle East Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best World Cruise Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Bermuda Itineraries -Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Australia/New Zealand Itineraries -P&O Cruises

There are other awards out there and we chose to focus on just a few.  Keep in mind that these awards are all based on opinions of other cruisers or travel editors.  “Mileage may vary”.  There are so many cruise ships and cruise lines available though there is bound to be one that is just right for you.

What is your favorite cruise line? 

Caribbean Princess Chef’s Table Review

As many of you know, we just went on a Canada/New England cruise on October 1, 2011 onboard the Caribbean Princess.  We were lucky enough to get a reservation for the Chef’s Table and had an amazing time.  One thing we found out later in the evening is that the chefs throughout the fleet have sort of a Chef’s Table competition for who can do the best work.  As a result, these dinners are incredible.

When we got onboard we were a little disoriented and forgot that this was to be a priority.  As a result, when I called around 2 pm for a reservation, I was told that the table was full and we would be put on a waitlist.  I was assured that we would be contacted with plenty of notice if we did clear the waitlist.

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National Cruise Vacation Week Kicks Off!

We are seeing many offers this week from October 17 to 23 in honor of CLIA’s promotion for National Cruise Vacation Week.  Here are just a few of the deals available.


Exclusive 2 for 1 pricing on select sailings.

Avalon Waterways

Save up to $2000 per couple on select 2012 Avon Waterways European River cruises!

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival is featuring Fun Select Rates and up to $150 in onboard credits per stateroom for all cruisers.  You will receive $25 per person (up to $50 per stateroom) for 3 & 4 day cruises, $50 per person (up to $100 per stateroom) for 5 day cruises, and $75 per person (up to $150 per stateroom) on cruises of 6 days or longer.

There is also a bonus onboard credit for Europe departures starting June 2012.  When you book a 12 day Europe cruise you will get up to $200 per stateroom for past guests (plus free upgrades) and up to $300 per stateroom for new Carnival cruisers.

Celebrity Cruises

Up to $400 per stateroom on all sailings 4 nights or longer between January 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

Crystal Cruises

Book by October 31 and receive 2-for-1 fares, up to $700 additional savings and much more!

Disney Cruise Line

Between October 17 and November 17, 2011, book a 4 or 5 night Bahamian cruise aboard the Disney Magic and receive  a $50 onboard credit per stateroom.

Holland America Line

Great pricing on select  sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Cruise Like a Norwegian!  Reduced deposits, onboard credits on all three day or longer sailings in 2011 and 2012.

Oceania Cruises

2 for 1 cruise fares with free airfare plus up to $4000 bonus savings per stateroom on select sailings.

Paul Gauguin

Get up to a $100 onboard credit per person for every booking made by November 18, 2011.

Princess Cruises

PreSeason Sale from October 17 through October 23.  On Europe itineraries you can receive free balcony upgrades and up to $100 onboard credit per stateroom.  12 night sailings from as low as $2490 per person in a balcony!  On all cruises 7 days or longer, there are reduced deposits plus an onboard value booklet worth up to $325.

Royal Caribbean

For bookings departing  November 15, 2011 through January 31, 2012, you can get up to a $50 onboard credit.  There is also a offer for up to $200 onboard credit for new bookings made to Dubai, Australia and Europe with departures after November 15, 2011.


Save up to 50% or more to Europe, South and Central America, and Bali and the Indonesian Isles with this One Week Sale!  All-suite accommodations with ocean views, many with verandahs.  Open bars throughout the ship with fine wines at lunch and dinner.  All complementary dining venues!  Complimentary welcome champagne and in-suite bar stocked with your preferences.  Tipping is not required nor expected.  Fares start from $1,999 per person.  This is an all-inclusive opportunity not to pass up.

This is a sampling of some of the offers available during the National Cruise Vacation Week celebration.

Terms and conditional apply to all offers so contact us today for all details at Travel on a Dream.  Starting pricing examples are base cruise only.  Taxes and fees additional.

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.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia

Today we got up a bit later again, around 7:10 am to find we were already in port in Halifax. We spotted two other ships in port, a Holland America ship and a Seabourn ship. A few minutes after checking outside though, the Seabourn ship left port. Not long after this, Oceania Regatta pulled in and then the Carnival Glory docked. We didn’t know it at the time but Vision of the Sea was docked on the other side of us. This meant that five ships would be in port today This couldn’t be good.
We decided to forego breakfast and head out to town. It was 39 degrees Fahrenheit outside! Because we were not right at the terminal buildings, we needed to take a shuttle out of the port area. We tried to find an independent tour for ourselves but there wasn’t anything to be found. I would strongly suggest that if you know there will be three or more ships in port that you make certain you book something in advance, especially if the weather will be chilly.
Once we got off the shuttle, we headed into the terminal. There were quite a few shops in Pier 22. After walking through and just checking it all out, we went back outside. We walked to the next building to find the farmer’s market. Here we were able to get a nice breakfast before heading down the street a bit.
The wind was bitter cold. I had brought mittens and was glad I did. We made our way down to the Alexander Keith Brewery. We went inside and there was a gift shop to check out. This was a nice break from the wind. We pulled out a map and checked out how far everything was. Everything just seemed so far away with the wind so we decided to make our way back to the ship. We stopped at a liquor store to see if they had some local wines. After all we were supposed to go on a winery tour today before it was cancelled. We bought a few bottles and made our way back to the ship. It just was too cold to be outside any longer.
We took it easy over the afternoon and then got ready for dinner around sailaway time. There was a nice sunset over Halifax as we sailed off. Tonight we were having dinner in the Crown Grill. We were hoping this steak dinner would be better than the others we have had.
Dinner was very good. We again were stuffed when we were done with dinner. The steak was much better than the other two nights we had steak, however, it still had a different taste to it. We determined that this is just a personal preference and just didn’t taste like we are used to in the Midwest.
We had surf and turf again. So far we have had lobster every night of this cruise. Only one day left and we are not sure we will be having any tomorrow.

Welcome to St John, no, Enjoy your Day at Sea

Since our shore excursion for St John was already canceled, we decided to sleep in a bit.  We also had to change the clocks to be one hour later so we were losing an hour of sleep so this all worked out.  I still managed to wake up at 7:00 am.  We still were rocking gently but nothing really bad.  I opened the curtain to reveal a very dark, stormy looking sky.  It did still seem a bit windy.  What wasn’t making sense though was that we were going in a circle.  Or at least a big oval.  We were supposed to be at the dock around 8:00 am but it didn’t seem like we were going to make it.

We get to get coffee and breakfast and stopped to say hi to our stateroom host.  He said something about a day at sea and we blew it off, but that was the first clue.  Bill got coffee while I made a donation to the Susan G Komen for the Cure and the On Deck for the Cure.  With this donation, I was able to get an exclusive baseball cap.  Princess Cruises had a non-competitive 5K walk around the ship’s deck for the cause.  I am not prepared to do a 5K right now, but decided to at least make a donation.

The main dining room was our destination for breakfast this morning.  It was a good thing we got there early.  Shortly after arrival to our table, the Captain announced that after meeting with all of his senior officers we would not be calling on St John today.  The sea conditions are expected to worsen throughout the day and with everyone off the ship, they wouldn’t be able to leave port at will.

Here is where I don’t understand some guests.  I must preface this by saying we haven’t seen anyone upset or mad about this decision yet, however, I know on other sailings this has happened and the guests have gotten unruly.  Why would you want to try to make it in to port when it is overcast, rainy, very cold with high winds and most excursions canceled due to weather?  I’m much happier having a day at sea with high winds, not too much rocking and other activities onboard.

We did a little shopping and waited for the new Princess Patter to come out for the day.  Two of the new additions for the day included a Pub Lunch and morning trivia.  We decided to do the trivia and then go to lunch.  When we arrived, another couple asked us if we wanted to join them so we did.  Some of the questions were very challenging, but we were able to pull it off and win.  We decided to meet them later for a music trivia because that’s my favorite trivia!

The Pub Lunch was fun.  By far the fish & chips were the most popular dish.  It was ok.  We sat with a couple ladies in line so we could get a table faster.  Turns out they were both from Wisconsin!  One lives about 5-10 miles from my sister.  What a small world!

After lunch we went over to the music trivia, where we did really well, coming in second place.  There were two more trivia contests for the day and we decided to join our teammates again for that.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent at a rum tasting and at the martini bar for a bit.  We got back to our room at 6:29.  Our Ultimate Balcony Dinner was scheduled to start at 6:30!

This I have to say is another incredible deal on the ship.  We paid $100 for this meal.  Not per person, this is the total cost.  It was too cold to do the dinner outside, so we set up the table in the room.  A photographer came to the room and took pictures of us on the balcony (it wasn’t too cold for that just not for eating).  Tablecloths were placed on the table and our “coffee table” and then the table was set just as if we were in a private dining room.  Our server, Timothy and his assistant brought us multiple courses, starting with some canapés, then a crab cake tart, followed by a salad.  Then we had a choice of steak, lobster or surf and turf.  We both chose the surf and turf!  They had drawn butter, gravy and a mushroom sauce to choose from.  After we finished this course, our dessert was brought out.  Finally a tray of “cookies” which had some cookies plus white and dark chocolate treats.  This was all fabulous and we were stuffed!  I imagine Timothy would have left us alone during each course if we wanted that, but we enjoyed chatting with him and asking him questions about his job, ship life, etc.  This was a very enjoyable evening.  We didn’t finish in time for the Captain’s party but we did finish just in time for the next trivia contest and we left to get to Club Fusion.

This trivia contest would be a bit harder than we were used to as the DJ was picking the music.  We ended up victorious though and won ourselves a Princess Cruises water bottle to go along with the personal fans we got earlier!

After this we needed to switch clubs for the movie trivia.  For this one, we had to look at movie posters and name the movie.  The second part was to name the movie from the soundtrack.  We missed two of the songs, but got every poster correct!  Yes, we won again!!  This time we got a magnetic clip and our team got a bottle of champagne.  It was time to call it a night, but not before our teammate proclaimed his goal of the week.  He wanted to be known as “not those guys”, meaning when he walked into a trivia session, he wanted all the other participants to say “oh no, not those guys again” because we always win!

It was time once again to call it a night.  Tomorrow we should arrive in Halifax!

Welcome to rainy Bar Harbor, Maine

Even though we left the curtains a bit open, we still didn’t wake up until after 7 am this morning.  This was not good since our excursion was meeting at 8:15 am!  We quickly got ready.  It was raining so we opted to shower later in the day when we returned.  A quick breakfast at the coffee shop was all there was time for.  We then met in the theater for our group to be called to get the tender ashore.  Once in Bar Harbor, we waited for our bus and then got onboard.  We were going for a tour of the town, Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain.  Afterwards we would go to the Bar Harbor Club for lobster and blueberry pie.

Even though it was pretty rainy all day, we still had a good time seeing Acadia and hearing about its history.  We stopped near Thunderhole to take photos.  It stopped raining enough to get out and take some photos.  After we started to make our way up to Cadillac Mountain.  Unfortunately the rain was blowing sideways and the fog was much too thick to see anything so we didn’t even bother to get out of the bus.

Our lobster lunch was very good and then we had a bit of time to shop before heading back to the ship.  I decided to explore the ship a bit more and made my way up to the kids club.  It’s not just coincidence that we haven’t seen very many kids.  There are actually around 20 onboard and only 10 are participating in the kids clubs.  They do have four different rooms for the different ages.  There are organized activities, both indoors and outdoors for the kids.  The staff will take them down to lunch.  Hours in general are from 8 or 9 am to 5 pm with a break for lunch and dinner.  There are some additional hours in the evening as well, until 10 pm.  After that, they do offer a babysitting service which is $5 per child per hour until 1 or 2 am.  All of this depends on the port schedule for the day.

I pretty much have explored most of the ship.  This is a big ship, with lots of public areas and lots of activities for everyone.

Just as we were getting ready for dinner and also for departure from Bar Harbor, the Captain came on the speaker to tell us that we would have a rough ride up to St John.  We were expecting 40 mile per hour winds and 12 foot seas.  We looked at each other and wondered why this was going to be so bad, we have been in much worse conditions.  Even after dinner we saw paper bags by all the elevators for guests to use if they couldn’t keep dinner down.

Tonight we were going to be having dinner at Sabatini’s.  This is an Italian specialty restaurant.  The service fee for this restaurant is $20 per person.  It is a very nice looking restaurant with an open kitchen design.  The menu sounded very wonderful.  It, however, was not as fabulous as it read.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was very good, it just wasn’t outstanding.  I’m not sure if this was because of the Chef’s Table meal we had the night prior or if it just wasn’t up to par.  We did leave full however.

When we got back to our room, we did have a message that our shore excursion for tomorrow was cancelled.  Now we only hoped that the weather wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t enjoy town a bit.

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