Island Princess: Embarkation Day

As you know, I’m a Travel Planner with Modern Travel Professionals. I LOVE vacations, I LOVE my job! I’ve traveled every month since August this year, and it’s all been for work. Going to the Caribbean doesn’t really sound like work; but long days of meetings, touring resorts, ships & hotel rooms makes for some very tiring “vacations”. I post pictures on Facebook and I’m sure it looks spectacularly glamorous, but in the end, I’m doing what has to be done so that I have more knowledge about my profession, & the destinations/resorts/ships that I book for my clients.

This time, however, I am on vacation! (But, I am still working, somewhat…I’m taking pictures, notes on food, ship amenities, and I am writing this blog!) My goal for the next two weeks is to try and unplug as much as I can, and enjoy myself. Yes, you read that correctly–I am on vacation for TWO WEEKS! <cue the confetti!>

We left Vero Beach at 9:00AM and was in line for security and check-in at noon. Today, the Island Princess had delayed boarding due to an annual “security check-up” performed by the U.S. Coast Guard. So, everything was just a bit off and delayed. There was about a 60-90 minute delay in boarding, and the staff (who had been busy with the Coast Guard) was behind…rooms weren’t ready until 1:00PM, the buffet was the only available dining location, etc. I have to say, though, it wasn’t a big deal for my family.

For this cruise, I’m sailing with my parents. My mom isn’t cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for the first time ever. My dad will be turning 75 years old on November 29. <cue the confetti again!> We are in a “Mini-Suite” with a balcony. It’s the biggest room I’ve cruised in before. It’s laid out well, and the bed…the bed is SO comfortable! I’m on a sofa bed, and have to say it’s the best one I’ve slept on before. The bed in the room (not the sofa bed) is THE best one I’ve ever tried. I need that mattress at home.

As a travel agent, sometimes I get a few perks. With Princess Cruises, because I’ve done ALL of their training, AND have enough cruises booked in the system, I’m sailing as an “ELITE” guest. When I say I’ve done their training, let me tell you, I have trained with Princess! There are four levels to their training and it took weeks & weeks to achieve their highest “Commodore” Level. I also have to keep that training up to date…I usually do additional training with updates, new modules, etc. at least once a week.

An Elite guest is the highest level you can reach as a returning guest. It’s based on how many cruises you’ve taken with Princess (or how many nights you’ve spent on a Princess ship). I like the way a passenger progresses through their system…you’re rewarded for taking longer cruises. They don’t see taking a 5-7 night cruise as being equal to a 12-15 night cruise.

So, all of that to say that as an Elite guest (weird that I’m Elite and a first time cruiser with Princess) we boarded the ship with the first group of passengers. We were on the ship by 12:45. Not bad at all, even with the Coast Guard delays! I also get some very cool perks with Elite–a one time bar set up, 250 minutes of free internet, free laundry service…I’ll be writing about all of the perks in another blog entry.

After lunch at the buffet (very good for buffet food–I’m not really a fan of any buffet) I went around and took a lot of pictures of the ship and tried to get my bearings. This is a very beautiful ship, but it doesn’t “stand out” as super incredibly awesome. It’s more of a laid-back elegance. I actually love this ship already. It’s not huge (about 2200 passengers) so it’s very easy to walk around and not get lost. There are a lot of quiet places. One of the pools is covered (for bad/cold weather) and every lounge chair there is padded. It’s luxurious! I’m sure I’ll find lots of places to sit, watch the ocean go by and read my Kindle. (Which basically describes a perfect vacation day for me) I actually LOVE the fact that I haven’t yet seen (or heard a DJ). All of the music has been live. I’ve heard a pianist, a couple of steel drummers, and the house band (who are very good).

We’re eating in Provence, one of the Main Dining Rooms each night at 5:15 (early seating). Tonight, I had a shrimp appetizer (DELICIOUS!!), the potato soup (weirdly bland) and a pasta dish with tomato sauce, broccoli and chicken (DELICIOUS!!), for dessert I had the Hazelnut soufflé. It was good, but not incredible. My parents had the prime rib and both said it was the best they’ve had. Overall, the meal was fantastic. I look forward to many more meals in Provence!

After dinner, it was showtime. The welcome aboard show was a magician. It started off somewhat slow, but built into what became one of the best magic shows I’ve seen. He did a lot of close-up magic using a camera onstage with a large screen behind him so everyone could see. Trigg Watson put a lot of heart in his show. He took a moment to mention the fires in California (two of the three guests he brought up on stage were from California, one being very near to the fires, but only have suffered the smoke). He also spoke of his grandfather who inspired his love of magic. I especially loved the family pictures he showed onscreen…he’s been doing magic since the age of four, and has the pictures to prove it. My favorite trick of the night was when he sent a guest “back in time” five minutes. Of course, things went “Timey-Wimey”; the guest didn’t go back in time, but the orange he was holding (in a small paper bag) apparently did make the trip through time. (I also loved that Trigg made a Doctor Who reference).

After the show, I walked around the ship a bit and decided to read, write this blog and to attempt sleep (I never sleep all through the night. I am working on that!!!) All in all, today was a great first day on the Island Princess! I’m looking forward to tomorrow! We’re going to have our first Day at Sea (one of my favorite things is a Day at Sea!).

Talk soon!