Norwegian Bliss Christening Celebration Cruise ~ May 30th to June 2nd, 2018

I was very grateful to have been personally invited by Norwegian Cruise Lines to take part in the brand new Norwegian Bliss’ christening and four day celebration cruise on May 30th, 2018 out of Seattle, Washington.

Honestly, it was an amazing experience. I had watched the Bliss from her steel cutting ceremony, through her entire build. So being onboard, especially for her christening was a proud moment for me.

The Norwegian Bliss was my first mega ship, all other ships I have ever sailed on had a maximum capacity of 3200 guest, the Bliss has an almost 5000 passenger maximum. She broke the record for the largest passenger ship to ever sail through the Panama Canal and now to sail to Alaska.

Day 1

I arrived at Pier 66 in Seattle quite early, at about 9:30am. I used www.cruiseseattleparking.com (Republic Parking Northwest) to park conveniently right across the street from the pier. The lot also has a skybridge attached to the pier for easy access.

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Once there I lined up to check in, as there were quite a few VIP guests and events, boarding was delayed a bit, but I was onboard by 11:30am.

I headed up to my room, cabin 14116. It was a beautiful balcony cabin (thanks NCL!). It was really well designed and loved the colour palette.

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Once settled in, I headed to Taste for lunch with a celebratory glass of wine. The food onboard was really good. Then it was time to start exploring the ship.

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I can’t believe the feel of this ship. With over 3100 onboard, she feels half empty, or like a small ship even. She’s designed so well that I never noticed any crazy crowds! After muster, I headed straight upstairs to the Observation Lounge where I was to be for the christening events. It was a great experience and had a lot of fun and bumped into several other travel industry friends. It was great to celebrate all together and toast to the Bliss and wishing everyone who sails on her health and happiness.

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After the christening it was time to relax for a bit back in the cabin and get ready for a special dinner I was invited to by my Norwegian Cruise Line Business Development Manager. I ate dinner in the beautiful Manhattan Room, one of the main dining rooms on the Norwegian Bliss.

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Everything food wise was AMAZING! After dinner, it was time to check out the sail away party that was moved to the Atrium instead of the pool deck. I partied the night away until about 11:30pm, then headed back to my room, where I found my daily for tomorrow, an invite to a cocktail reception tomorrow evening and a mouse in my coffee cup…

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Day 2

If you’ve read my other cruise blog posts, you know I’m an early riser. This gave me an amazing advantage on this ship during this preview. I was able to see and get some great photos of places without anyone…

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First stop… Starbucks… Yes, it is a proper Starbucks and you can use your Starbucks Card here to collect Stars, however you cannot redeem rewards onboard.

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This is the main Atrium, where guest services is located, Starbucks and a great sitting area. Upstairs you see The Local, a great bar with a bowling alley (yes, a bowling alley).

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Next up, the heart of 678 Ocean Place…

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After my walk, it was time to relax for a bit, so I did that in the gorgeous Observation Lounge…

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As I was relaxing, I noticed a few spouts of water in the air, we were following two humpback whales!

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The Observations Lounge is one of my favourite places on the ship by far! Checked out more of the ship, had breakfast at Savor (eggs benny), then toured the pool decks and the Haven Suites.

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After, I headed down to the Bliss Theatre for the Partners First Executive Presentation, where the President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines spoke to us about the Bliss and the future of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

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It was the Seafood Extravaganza up at Garden Cafe, so I had to take part in some Alaska King Crab and Lobster…

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I went back to the Atrium as Wyland (who painted the hull of the Norwegian Bliss) was signing posters. I’m a geek like that, so I did get one lol…

It was time for energy in the form of sugar… So I tried Coco’s…

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I tried the Tiramisu Coupe, and it was as good as it looked…

We then heard an announcement that the rumours were true… Pitbull was onboard and he was going to do a motivational talk with us… Back to the Bliss Theatre…

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He’s honestly a great speaker. But it was time to get ready for a cocktail party I was invited to in the Observation Lounge, followed by dinner at Taste.

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Tonight was Jersey Boys, it was such a great show! It does have a bit of swearing (quite a few f-bombs), but it’s such a great show and the cast was amazing. The entire last song was a standing ovation. By the time the show ended, I was beat…

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Such a great day exploring the ship, followed by a perfect sunset with a glass of prosecco on my balcony…

Day 3

5:15am I was wide awake…

Had an amazing sunset, well this morning’s sunrise was just as beautiful…

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Grabbed a Starbucks then watched us sail into Victoria from the Garden Cafe.

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After breakfast and once we were docked at Victoria, it was time to try out the go carts onboard. They. were. awesome! Totally worth it!!!

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After my carting session, I wanted to grab a few photos of the ship as it was really hard to get any in Seattle… On my walk along the breakwater I had a friend show up…

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I didn’t spend much time off the ship as I can see Victoria whenever I want as I live so close, I didn’t want to waste any precious time so I headed back onboard.

Once onboard I wanted to try a couple of the specialty dining restaurants as most weren’t open to us due to all the special events onboard. So I was able to try “Q” for lunch.

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I ordered the platter, but was so hungry I dug in before taking a photo… Oops…

On to dessert… A macaron, Grand Marnier Cupcake and a cup of Gelato later… Relaxed on the Waterfront for a little while, then again went to walk it all off (or waddle, not sure, but needed to move)…

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Teppanyaki…

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Skyline Bar near the Casino…

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Sugarcane… Home of my FAV mojitos onboard, seriously try the Raspberry Guava and the Pineapple Coconut, even a classic mojito from here is HEAVEN!

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Eventually my feet got tired again, I hit my daily walking target by noon everyday on this cruise haha! So I relaxed in the Atrium while Wyland was painting, it was so amazing watching him paint. I think I actually picked up some tips for our next sip and paint that I may want to try out. It was so nice just listening to the jazz music and enjoying an artist at work.

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It was then time to hit another cocktail party, then enjoy my last dinner in the Manhattan Room…

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Again, sorry, no food photos.. I was hungry…

After dinner it was time to try out the other production show called “Havana!”. It was good, costumes and dancing was great, but the Jersey Boys was better.

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After Havana! it was time for bed… It was an amazing cruise preview. Upon arriving back to my room I had a few extra goodies waiting for me so I did a “swag” photo of all the moments I collected this cruise…

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Day 4

A very sad day… Disembarkation day is never a happy day for an avid cruiser… I loved this ship, I can’t say enough about the staff and how beautiful the Bliss is. I was off the ship by 9:30am and sadly scanned my cruise card for the last time and dragged my luggage down the gangway…

Until next time Bliss, until next time…

A huge “thank you” again to Norwegian Cruise Line for the personal invitation to be apart of this special cruise. It’s something I’ll never forget and beyond grateful for being onboard for all the celebrations. I can’t wait to be back onboard on September 8th when I cruise to Alaska for the third time.

xoxo

WanderlustJourney

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 10

Day 10 – Messina, Sicily

Today is my last day of year 31. It’s been a heavy year, but it’s ending on an extreme high. I couldn’t be more grateful for spending my birthday away and experiencing such an amazing cruise. We arrived into Messina just after 7:15am and ate breakfast at Raffles. After, it was time to head down at catch my shore excursion, Exclusive Taormina and Messina from Shore Excursions Group. Once we were all on our bus (about 10 of us), we left the port and got a bit of history on Messina before we got onto the motorway which consisted of over 68 bridges and 39 tunnels to get to Taormina. As we arrived, Mt Etna came into view, still erupting and smoking in the distance.

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We had a walking tour of Taormina, then had a bit of free time wander and enjoy the local foods, Cannolis and Arancini. Taormina was beautiful. I really enjoyed walking around this village, you can really sense you were in the land of the “Godfather”.

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Walking back to the meeting point, I noticed that Mt Etna had really got quite active since we arrived earlier.

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I ended my visit in Taormina on a high note with more gelato, then enjoyed the relaxing drive back to Messina. Once back in Messina, we did a driving tour of the town, then ended at the church near the cruise port. I thought the bell tower was really interesting. It had a full astrological chart on the side with the moon phases and what chart we were in. It was really neat!

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After, I decided I was going to head back to the ship and enjoy the pool for the last time. There was only one more full day left of my cruise! It was so nice to relax and cool down after a few busy days. With only one sea day on this itinerary, I take the relaxation where I can…

I had saved a bottle of wine for today, so I opened it on my balcony for sail away out of Messina. It was nice to just sit on my balcony and just enjoy. As we sailed through the Strait of Messina, two dolphins put on a show right beside us. So good!

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I then took in the performance of Tre Amici. It was their second performance onboard this cruise, however I missed it the first time and was told I had missed out. They were AWESOME! Kind of reminded me of an Il Divo performance. Honestly the last two songs brought tears to my eyes, they were amazing.

After the performance I headed to Le Bistro to use some onboard credits. I had the Napoleon de Legumes and a Creme Brûlée for dessert. It was so delicious.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 10:

Next up… Naples, Italy!

 

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 8

Day 8 – Katakolon (Olympia)

I woke up this morning quite early, about 6:30am. I’m a bit strange as I sleep with the curtains wide open in my balcony stateroom, so the natural light wakes me. I also wake up sometimes in the middle of the night to beautiful starry skies and just take it all in. I love travelling and I love cruising. We arrived into Katakolon just after 7:00am, its a very small, quaint (and lush) town, right near where we docked.

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I went up to Raffles and has a light breakfast at the aft of the ship and noticed another ship sailing towards us in the distance. So far we’ve been lucky. We had just us docked in Livorno, us and an MSC ship in Cagliari, just us again in Heraklion, us and 3 ships in Athens (Seabourn, Celestyal and Princess) and just us in Santorini. As I finished my meal, the Royal Princess came into full view. We were able to get off the ship before the Royal was docked and I knew we had the advantage… it was going to get crazy here by this afternoon…

I did book a shore excursion here, I did the Exclusive Ancient Olympia tour though Shore Excursions Group. Our group was about 14 passengers just from the Spirit, so once we were all there, off we went (thankfully ahead of the Royal Princess guests). It was about a 45 minute drive stunning drive through the Greek countryside to Olympia. I actually really like Greece, it’s a beautiful country. It has quite a diverse landscape as well. Very much reminded me of the Okanagan Valley here at home in British Columbia, just with more olive trees 😉

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Once we arrived in Olympia, we parked and were each handed a bottle of ice cold water for our walk. We walked to the gate of the archeological site and were given the opportunity to use the washrooms before we started off (thank goodness as on the way back we found out they were no longer in service as they got back logged once the big excursions arrived), “eww” I know, but it’s reality haha…

Our guide did an amazing job of walking us around the site, stopping under trees for shade whilst explaining the history of the Olympic Games and the sites we were walking though. She had diagrams of what the buildings would have looked like back in the day and how far they needed to excavate to reveal the site we were walking through today.

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I was also thankful our tour was here when it was, we were one of the first tours here, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves for the first hour and a half (which was amazing for photos), then the cruise ship tours arrived just as we were sent on our way for free time.

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The hill in the distance shows how far down they had to excavate to uncover Ancient Olympia

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We also got to see the place where the Olympic Torches are lit before the Summer and Winter games. I was here in August and they would be lighting the torch for the Pyeongchang Winter Games at this very spot in October. Humbling…

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It was so neat to wander and see the different types of architecture and it’s evolution and additions through the years this place was used. The stadium here is actually the very birthplace of the metric system and units of measure as we know it. The measurement of this stadium became the measurements of a “stade” about 600 feet or 180 metres.

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After numerous photos, we had some free time to explore the village of Olympia. So, back to the favourite pastime… shopping. I needed some new shoes badly. A few of my shoes had been tattered from the walking and cobblestones by this point (one pair broke within the first 250m of walking in Rome), so shoe shopping I went. Looking back, I should have bought the store. I found a brand of shoes called Parex. Amazingly comfortable and lightweight. I bought a pair on the shoe sale rack for €25 and am now fully regretting not buying a suitcase full. They are honestly the most comfortable and durable pair of sandals I’ve ever owned. I can’t wait to go back to Greece this October and literally buy the stores out. After shoe shopping, magnet shopping and a gelato later, it was time to board the bus back to Katakolon.

Once back in Katakolon, we were dropped near the port, however I walked to the town to check it out as I wasn’t ready to board just yet. This was our last stop in Greece, so I was still on the hunt for a couple more souvenirs aka Ouzo. I headed into a cute store closest to the pier and bought some Ouzo, along with a “Greece” magnet. I did find more of the Parex sandals and shoes in a couple boutiques here too, but didn’t buy another pair (again, full of regret)… Along the waterfront of Katakolon, there are plenty of restaurants and bars offering fresh seafood to ice cold beers (with free wifi of course), so I grabbed a chair, ordered a Mythos and checked in with home.

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Heading back to the ship, the line was quite long while waiting to board. They had an issue with one of the check in security computers, so it was one line in for about 20 minutes. The staff did try to help by handing out ice cold towels (ice cubes still attached) and cold drinks which helped as we waited in the hot sun. I was actually surprised that the Royal Princess departed before us, even though she arrived a good hour after us.

Once back on board, I changed and headed for the pool and relaxed for awhile. I was in a journalling mood today, so that night I relaxed in Galaxy of the Stars for awhile listening to the live band, sipping a refreshing gin and tonic as we sailed out of Katakolon. For being such a great lounge, I was taken back by how empty it was sometimes. After enjoying a beautiful sunset, I had a light dinner in Raffles and called it a night.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 8 – Katakolon:

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Next up… Valletta, Malta!

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 3

Day 3 – Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy)

Slept in this morning… 7:30am! Progress on the “jetlag”… I always sleep so well on a cruise. The beds I think are new, the Norwegian Spirit did go through a dry dock about 4 months prior to my boarding her and it showed. Carpets were new, most of the seating had been replaced and my stateroom (cabin 9052) was in a good state and not much show of any ware. Today was the first day I felt like I was really in vacation mode (not exploration mode) and could relax, we didn’t arrive into Cagliari until 12:00pm

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As mentioned before, I had “Partners First” benefits added to my cruise by NCL, so part of that was to enjoy breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s for the duration of my cruise (usually just a Haven or suite perk on the NCL Spirit). I had a Eggs Benedict and fully enjoyed the french press Lavazza coffee.

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I then headed up to the outdoor area behind Raffles and enjoyed the sail in to Cagliari, with the MSC Splendida right on our tail, docking right beside us, she was the only other ship with us in port.

I didn’t plan a shore excursion in Cagliari, which I was totally ok with. Back into exploration mode, I departed the ship, walked through the visitors centre and caught the free shuttle to the waterfront area of Cagliari city. I knew by reading the Lonely Planet guide the town/city was quite walkable, so I found the street that would wind the streets and up into the bastion, the walled part of the city.

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The views from the bastion once on them was beautiful, the panoramic views from here were stunning. Not to mention all the side streets here, narrow cobblestone roads, looking up to views of local life, laundry hanging in the windows along with beautiful potted plants. It’s exactly how I pictured a small Italian town to be.

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Once back at the main Piazza, I saw a tuk tuk and got a one hour tour. It was recommended to me by Elizabetta (an Urban Adventures guide in Rome) who was from Sardinia, so when I saw it, I was in the mainframe of “let’s do it”!. Who knew that Cagliari’s beaches were a protected habitat for flamingos lol? Well, there are flamingos in Italy on Sardinia apparently. We retraced some of my steps from earlier, however this time was getting more historical information on the places I had seen. An hour flew by, I was dropped back off at the main Piazza where I grabbed a beer and connected to wi-fi to upload some photos and check in with family.

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After my rest stop, it was on to my other favourite pastime… Shopping. Again, a few items of cute clothing later from a boutique and a magnet from a souvenir shop, it was back to the ship for me. Once back onboard, I arrived to my stateroom to find a bottle of prosecco chilling on ice, another bottle of red wine and a cheese tray. Thank goodness I didn’t get the UBP (unlimited beverage package). I ate again at Windows tonight, this time with a table by the window, enjoying a beautiful sunset just as we were sailing out of Cagliari.  Tonight I had a Ceasar Salad to start, followed by an Israeli Couscous with Lamb Meatballs, then for dessert, Chocolate Eclairs. Sooo yummy! Afterwards it was to Stardust Theatre… The show tonight was called “Ineffable Two”, it was two performers doing cirque style acts and it was amazing.

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Here are the “dailies” for Day 3:

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Next up… A relaxing day at sea…

 

Ruby Princess – 1 Night Repositioning Cruise

Repositioning cruises can be a lot of work. Most travel agents and seasoned cruisers cringe the moment you say the words repositioning cruises. I get it, it’s a lot of effort for less than 24 hours on a ship, however I feel I have a system down pat that is as effortless as possible. Research your options as early as possible to make the day go as seamless as it can. This cruise was a one day repositioning from Vancouver to Seattle, in the Fall the repositioning cruises will be from Seattle to Vancouver.

By 8:00am my Aunt and I were caravanning into the USA to drop a car off in Bellingham at an airport parking lot for cheap, safe parking. I had booked the Bolt Bus back to Bellingham as it’s a very reasonable option (it was $8.00 USD from Seattle to Bellingham), so we could just clear customs ourselves and get back to White Rock without having to backtrack.

Once back in Canada we picked up our other travelling buddies (a coworker and my Grandmother) parked back at my Aunt’s and boarded the express bus to Bridgeport Station from South Surrey, exchanging to the Canada Line straight to Waterfront, right around the corner from Canada Place (the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal). We arrived just after 10:00am and could have arrived earlier. If there is more than one ship in port, they are directing people to go upstairs after a certain time into a “holding area” in the convention centre. We were given a green card and a number and sat down. They do have free wi-fi in the holding area, which I can see would really help and offset some of the painful waiting time during peak times. We didn’t have to use it however as our assigned number was called within twenty minutes or so. They have the holding area so that they can control groups of about 50-100 people to go through security at once, it is good as at least there are chairs, access to water and washrooms in the convention centre. Once through security we were lined up and sat in rows in another holding area to go through US Customs. There is a Nexus line, so if you had Nexus (my coworker didn’t so we sat in line with him), it would save you more time. We waited here about another twenty minuted and we were called to go through Customs.

I’m so happy I was able to use the priority line at this point, when I check in I have Elite Captain’s Circle as I have completed their travel agent training program. This gives me quite a few awesome perks which I’ll talk about in a minute, however skipping the very long check in line at this point was a huge advantage. Within ten minutes we were boarding the Ruby Princess, Black Elite cruise card in hand. By this time they were boarding, so we didn’t get to take advantage of the embarkation lounge for Platinum and Elite passengers. We were welcomed onboard and we headed straight for our rooms. I had booked a balcony stateroom, however was able to get an upgrade to a mini suite at no extra charge.

We were assigned D304, a wheelchair access mini suite. I have to say I really liked our room. It was massive. If ever offered, I would totally take a wheelchair accessible room again. I didn’t mind not having a bathtub, when I cruise I’ve never taken a bath anyways. In the bathroom, my Elite bathroom amenity kit was placed (it included an eye gel mask, lip balm, linen spray and a few other extras). The extra room also meant an extra large balcony! The room steward had our free mini bar set up (Elite perk) and three glasses of champagne waiting for us (mini suite perk). Great start to a cruise!

We headed to Da Vinci’s Dining Room for a seated lunch. The food was really good however the portions were a little on the large side, so I couldn’t finish my dessert. We then went off to explore the ship. It’s a pretty big ship, the Ruby Princess has a guest capacity of 3,082, so it’s a medium to large ship for sure. It has 4 pools (one is adult only, near the front of the ship near The Sanctuary), mid-ship you will find Movies Under the Stars (a jumbotron overlooks another pool) and at the aft Skywalkers Lounge with some pretty awesome outdoor space above.

Then the annoyances began to surface. I endured the lengthiest by far muster drills ever. I lost 45 minutes of my life and was not happy about it. It was so disorganized, as people were still boarding the ship during muster. They should have postponed it until the last guests had boarded, that way we could have been enjoying the ship, instead of sitting unnecessarily for almost an hour (clock is ticking on these short cruises).

After the self guided ship tour and muster station mayhem, my Aunt, Grandmother and I decided a snack was a good idea, we stopped by the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar for a very fresh (and delicious) slice of Margherita pizza and a vanilla/chocolate twist ice cream cone. Gotta test all the food options right?

We headed back to our room and enjoyed a cerveza on our balcony as we pulled away from Canada Place, it was Cinco de Mayo, so a Mexican beer was very fitting! Once we sailed away, we went to the aft of the ship to Deck 19 where we awaited sailing under Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge, a definite highlight! With just a few feet to clear, we sailed under, waving to bystanders on the bridge. After a few videos and photos, we were en route to the Elite sailaway party in Skywalkers lounge. They offered complementary hors d’oeuvres and drink specials. In keeping with the Cinco de Mayo theme, it was margaritas all around and they were delicious.

It was then time to walk off the snacks with a little bit of shopping. We headed down to the Promenade Deck, where we checked out our boarding photos and checked out the boutiques. I bought a magnet (I always buy a ship magnet) and a shot glass. My mug cabinet is getting a little full, so I swap it up from time to time to shot glasses from mugs to save on space. It was time to go back to our room, relax a bit before dinner. Our view from our room was facing East, so we were facing Vancouver and that side of the coast as we sailed. There is something so calming about sailing on a ship, I love it. Makes me really excited to sail again in August (this time for longer and on the Mediterranean Sea). Cruising is my happy place for sure.

We ate dinner in Botticelli’s Dining Room at the aft of the ship. We were seated at the very back of the ship at one of the windows. It was such a nice view of the sunset. Shame that’s where our pleasant dining experience ended. Our waiter was very inattentive, I had to ask for a wine list. The girls seated beside us (a bachelorette party) clearly were just onboard to party and very inconsiderate to everyone else with the noise level. It was just very disappointing. I was disappointed in the service level I am used to when cruising and disappointed in the group next to us acting like children in a what is supposed to be a nice dining room. It kind of tarnished my view of Princess Cruises to be honest. I know one day cruises are an anomaly, they can be rowdy, however that is usually kept to the clubs after dark or in the buffet. I was surprised. The food however was delicious and the company at our table was great.

After dinner, we trekked all the way forward to the Princess Theatre where we saw the show “Magic to Do”. This was probably the best show on a cruise ship I had ever seen! It was so good! Definitely a highlight of this cruise. By the time the show had ended it was past 11:00pm, we said our good nights and headed back to our respective staterooms. I sat on the balcony for awhile wrapped up as it was quite chilly and watched the lights in the distance slowly fade by. It was a very smooth sailing, never felt the ship sway once.

I woke up very early, I guess I sensed us pulling into the harbour near Seattle. I again bundled up and went out onto the balcony where the Eurodam (a Holland America ship) was just ahead of us docking, then it was our turn to maneuver into position and alongside the pier. We all got dressed and headed upstairs to Horizon Court (the buffet) where we had coffee and breakfast. The waffles are worth the wait, just saying. So crispy and delicious, plus they have lots of toppings to choose from. The buffet selection was very good and very fresh. Once breakfast was over it was time to check out of our room and wait in the Elite disembarkation lounge until we wanted to leave the ship. It was a very quick trip and it had some ups and downs. I was really disappointed in the level of customer service onboard and others noticed the same. I had better customer service in general on my Norwegian Cruise this past Fall and they are supposed to be lower than Princess.

Upon leaving the ship, my shopping bag had developed a hole from my water bottle leaking, which my shot glass fell out and broke on the gangway (thankfully I was able to repair it once I got home), just kinda summed up my trip with Princess, I was left disappointed. We got off the ship only to wait in another long line for passport control, two lines, one from the Eurodam and one from the Ruby. Then joined another long line for taxis.

It was a $20.00 USD cab fare from the Smith Cove Cruise Ship Terminal (Terminal 91) to where the Bolt Bus was going to pick us up, and we got there in plenty of time. Once we boarded the Bolt Bus, we were in Bellingham an hour and a half later. The airport parking had arranged for the shuttle to meet us at the bus terminal, so it was a easy ride back to my car and back home.

Overall, I had a great time. I do like these one day cruises. Talking to other guests, it seems like the customer service and lack of friendliness is contained to the Ruby Princess. So I am willing to give them another try. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing another one this year however, too many other trips to look forward to and not enough time 😉

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Norwegian Pearl – 1 Night Repositioning Cruise

Back in June I was given the opportunity to sign up for a one night repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Pearl on September 25th, which I totally jumped on! The cruise left Seattle, WA and travelled to Vancouver, BC. To get to Seattle, I took the Amtrak train from Vancouver. The train ride was very relaxing, and going through White Rock it really gave a different view. Usually I’m walking along the pier watching the trains go by, this time I was on it 🙂 By Amtrak it is a 4 hour journey from the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver to the King Street Station in Seattle. The train does have priority, so we only had to wait a couple times briefly for a cargo train to finish passing. Once I got to Seattle, it was a $8.40 USD cab ride to Pier 66 where the Norwegian Pearl was docked. I arrived at the pier at 11:30am, checked in, waited 5 minutes then we were boarding the ship. They did say that the rooms were quite not ready when we entered the main atrium, however mine was. I was assigned a balcony stateroom (10586), Category BA. The NCL Pearl is going into dry dock February 2017, I’m going to be honest, it needs it. The carpets in the staterooms are quite loud, it’s currently a colour  theme that fits the Caribbean, not necessarily anywhere else haha. The bed was quite comfortable, bathroom is quite small. The Pearl has a coffeemaker in the room, great for coffee on the balcony in the morning. I was hoping to take a look at a room service menu (as I heard that NCL started charging for room service on some items) however I couldn’t find one in my room, possibly because it was just a short cruise.

After settling in a little bit, I went to the Summer Palace to eat lunch. This is the main dining room on Deck 6 at the very back of the ship. It’s definitely starting to look a little tired. However the food and service was excellent. I had a Caesar Salad to start, followed by a delicious burger and a peanut butter cup chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Did I mention the food was good? After lunch I explored the rest of the ship. The Starlight Theater was beautiful and I can’t say enough great things about the Mandara Thermal Suite (except for a customer service issue at the end). The sauna has an amazing view! If you are ever on this ship, it is a must do, the saunas are part of the female/male only areas which for me is an even bigger plus. I really loved the heated mosaic loungers, the only downside is that they are not facing the windows as I’ve experienced on other ships. The outdoor areas have lots of deck space, the back of the ship has a rock climbing wall and a huge multi sport area. The promenade deck has oversized checkers, chess and shuffleboard. There are so many lounges onboard, having a drink while listening to live music is always an option. The “sail away party” was held midship at the Tahitian Pool, great atmosphere and enjoyed sailing out of Seattle with the daily drink special of a Long Island Iced Tea ($7.95 plus 18% gratuity). It was strong! Thank goodness there are free drink stations around the ship, I refilled mine with regular iced tea and made my drink last about three times over.

After the sail away party, I headed to the Thermal Suite for some relaxation before dinner. It was so nice watching the sunset from this area of this ship. Afterwards, I headed back to my room, took some more sunset photos from my balcony and got ready for dinner. The only main dining room open tonight was the Summer Palace again, Indigo was closed for this cruise. The food was good, I had a bit of a chill so the French onion soup and fried brie starters took my chill off, followed by steak frites and a raspberry chocolate torte for dessert! After dinner, they had live entertainment in Spinnakers Lounge, there wasn’t enough people onboard to use the Starlight Theater, which I understand. The entertainment was great! What you would expect from a live cruise ship show. By this time the shops downstairs did open and I bought myself a couple shot glasses and my cruise ship magnet 🙂

It was a crazy busy day so after shopping I went to bed and had an amazing sleep! I woke up briefly to cruising under the Lions Gate Bridge and docking ever so gently at Canada Place. I fell back asleep for another hour and enjoyed the view of downtown Vancouver from my balcony. I did have breakfast at the Garden Café Buffet, there were quite a few great choices and pretty good coffee. The one issue I did have was they charged me for the spa, when I had a free pass. Apparently this happened to a few other guests and they simply handed us a card to contact guest relations off the ship. Kind of disappointed that they didn’t handle it onboard, especially as the agents were quite rude to the customers next to me. Didn’t leave the ship with the greatest memory, but it was a pretty good trip overall. I’ll definitely sail with NCL again and hoping they sort out the spa pass issue soon 🙂

I love cruising and can’t wait until my next full voyage!

Cruising is certainly my happy place! 😉

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Disney Wonder Ship Tour

On August 22nd, 2016 myself and 41 other Flight Centre Travel Agents were invited by Disney to spend the day touring the Disney Wonder and learn more about the Disney Parks, before waving off the ship as she made her last voyage to Alaska for the season!

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I really enjoyed the ship overall, lots for the kids to see and do. This ship is going into dry dock in a couple months and will get an upgrade to most of the public areas.

I love how the emphasis on details, like the Cadillac Lounge, the back of the bar is an old front of a Cadillac and features twinkling lighted cityscapes on the walls. The Parrot Cay dining room is very “Caribbean” and I LOVED the pineapple detailing on the chairs (kinda wanted to take one home with me). Animators Palate (this restaurant is getting the biggest overhaul of all) looks like a really neat family dining experience.

The rooms are very decent sized, inside cabins are suitable for a small family, and the balcony staterooms are lovely. We also got a chance to look inside the Walter E Disney Suite which is insane! Not as modern as other ships like NCL with their Haven Suites, but very elegant.

Outdoors on the decks, they have 3 pools, one for kids, one for families and one for adults only. They do have an 18+ area for parents to relax and the spa looks great! One draw back is the heated mosaic loungers are in a dark room with no windows, other ships have them faced to a window to enjoy the scenery. But the private spa rooms look amazing! Definitely would rent one of those for a bit!!

Is it worth the hefty price tag? Maybe. Disney Cruises are EXPENSIVE! However, if you are a huge Disney fan, it would be a bucket list item for you. As each family boards the ship, you are welcomed by the characters and crew and formally announced, pretty cool if you asked me! We cheered on a few families arriving too 🙂 Would I recommend this cruise to a couple looking for peace and quiet, no. The fact it’s a Disney Cruise should say everything, there are kids everywhere.

All in all, it was a super fun day and I can’t wait until my repositioning cruise next month with NCL!

Here are some of my photos:

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