Jay's Internet Log

CCC 2016

CCC 2016 Day 15 – At Sea

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

On her last day at sea Pacific Princess will continue Northwest towards the Bahamas. The ocean current in this area will help her as it also heads Northwest at a speed of around half a knot. Tonight Pacific Princess will approach the Providence Channel once again.

“First aid response, deck 9, zone 2”. That’s what we heard come through our stateroom’s speaker in the middle of the night. It was strange, as things like this don’t really ever get sent into your rooms, especially while sleeping. A few minutes later, the tones that normally begin an announcement came on, followed by the captain saying “So sorry for the first aid response. We had a small fire in the spa. It has been extinguished. It is just after 3 in the morning.” This was a first for us, and everything is just fine.

We didn’t win anything in the photo raffle yesterday, but enjoyed being in there for it. We spent the afternoon relaxing, and went to the Captain’s Circle party before dinner. We didn’t win the raffle in there either, and never have. The most traveled person onboard is on his 150th cruise, and has cruised for over 1500 days. That’s ten times what I’ve done.

For dinner I had country-fried chicken along with a specially ordered French Onion Soup. After dinner, Heather and I did about 10 laps around the track, then went to bed around 8:30. We slept very well until the 3AM wake-up call, which altered our sleep patterns a bit. The sun came up very late this morning because we should have changed our clocks back, but they’re saving that for tonight.

This morning, we had breakfast, and then toured the ship’s bridge. Mom and Dad met Heather and I, along with about 15 others outside the bridge’s main security door, and we were taken in. It’s always special to see the bridge of a ship, and we got some nice photos. In one, Heather grabbed the wheel, not knowing that it would actually steer the ship. She was quickly told to let go of it.

After the bridge tour, we went directly to the cooking demonstration, followed by a tour of the galley. We like to do this on every cruise. The head chef and Maitre d’hotel always joke around during it, and I like filming where all the food is prepared. Mom bought a cookbook, and then Heather and I started packing.

Today is the dreaded packing day. As I write this, we have one bag packed, with two more to go before 10PM. I am currently sitting in the theater for the navigational map auction. With so many very rich people onboard, I doubt that I’ll get it within my $150 limit I put on myself.

[UPDATE] I won it!

Tonight will be our last dinner onboard, which means Baked Alaska! We arrive in Port Everglades early tomorrow morning to begin our trip back home. This has been the first time away from New England for Christmas, and it was spectacular. I was so pleasantly surprised with how Princess Cruises embraced Christmas, and it’s definitely something that we’ll want to do in the future.

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CCC 2016 Day 14 – At Sea

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

On departure from Virgin Gorda, Pacific Princess sailed Northwest on her way back to Port Everglades. The distance from the Virgin Islands to Port Everglades is 955 miles and Pacific Princess will retrace her previous track from the start of the cruise, along the edge of the Caribbean Sea.

I really liked The Secret Life of Pets, and Mom did as well. When we arrived for dinner last night, we all had hats or tiaras on our plates saying Happy New Year. We also had little kazoos, which made for a really fun meal. At times, you’d just hear the horns going off throughout the dining room. I had beef tenderloin and pheasant. The pheasant was a bit tough, but other than that, the meal was excellent as usual.

Afterwards, we got some photos taken wearing our hats, but by the time we got to the show, it was pretty full, so we decided to go to the later one. We never made it, and were asleep by 9PM.

This morning, Heather and I got up and watched the first sunrise of 2017 from our balcony. It was wonderful. We then headed to breakfast, but as we were leaving, I saw an envelope in our mailbox. It was a letter from the captain, telling us the time for our bridge tour. I wrote to the captain about a week ago asking if it was possible, and tomorrow, we get to tour the bridge! Dad will love it.

We are going to watch the Reflections DVD that they made on this trip, and then attend the photo drawing that is afterwards. I’ve been saving my photo tickets, and put in 13 of them this morning.

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CCC 2016 Day 13 – Virgin Gorda

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

Today Pacific Princess arrived back in the Virgin Islands, one week after her first port of call, Cruz Bay. During the night she passed St. Christopher Island, where we called previously at Basseterre, as she sailed Northwest towards Virgin Gorda. 

Wow, this place is great. Heather and I woke up even before our alarm at around 5:45. Heather was up first and noticed that the sun was about to come up. We showered and headed up to the buffet, where Mom and Dad were already up there. I don’t know how they do it. I set up the video camera and captured the sun rising off the stern.

Our tour today consisted of a shuttle to the Baths, which are supposed to be a nice place to swim. They sure are! When we arrived, we were given the option to go down an easy way to the Baths, or a much more difficult way down to a place called Devil’s Bay. Mom and Dad headed to the Baths while Heather and I went to Devil’s Bay. This is now one of our favorite beaches ever. The sand was soft, and huge boulders created caves in the water where you can swim around. Heather scraped her leg and feet on some rocks, but she’s fine. Fish would just swim right up to you. I had the underwater camera, but have no idea (yet) what I got with it. It even started raining out, which was surreal.

After about an hour in Devil’s Bay, we had to hike through an intricate cave system to get over to the Baths. This reminded me of Assassin’s Creed. We had to go up and down rickety wooden steps, crawl through low caves, and use ropes to go up and down slippery rocks. The whole time, we were battling others who were going the opposite direction, as many areas were one-way only. When we emerged, I saw Mom on the beach, and Dad was sitting up at a table under a roof. We swam around there for about fifteen minutes, then helped Mom and Dad back up to the top, where we all started. We had some drinks at a restaurant, bought a piece of artwork, and headed back on our open-air shuttle.

After tendering back to the ship, we showered, doused Heather’s leg in Hydrogen Peroxide, and had lunch. I had some pizza and a burger. I’m now waiting in the theater to watch the movie The Secret Life of Pets, while Heather gets her nails and hair done. Tonight is both Formal night and New Year’s Eve, so it should be really fun!

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CCC 2016 Day 12 – St. John’s, Antigua

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

Last night Pacific Princess departed Martinique and altered her course to the North, towards Antigua. She passed Dominica and Guadeloupe on her Starboard side, then early this morning Montserrat on her Port side, before arrival in St. John’s on the West coast of Antigua.

When I went out on the balcony this morning, I saw what looked like Azamara Quest up ahead of us. We had a 6AM wake-up call today as our tour left at 8:15. Once we got closer to port, I saw that my assumption was correct, and we docked right across from Quest. It was very cool to have two Renaissance ships sitting right next to each other. It wasn’t long before the behemoth Celebrity Equinox came barreling in however. There was also another ship in dock today, which was on a world cruise.

We went upstairs and met Mom and Dad at the buffet, where we had our usual breakfast. Our tour began with a bus ride to an information center, where we watched a short video of the history of Antigua. Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1493, but never set foot on the island, as he was more interested in finding gold and spices, and kept on going.

We then took small trips to two lookouts, which we both very nice. Dai, one of the ship’s photographers, was on our tour and took photos of Heather and I whenever he saw us. Princess is now offering an all-inclusive photo package; something that I actually suggested after a previous cruise. They have always charged exorbitant prices for their photos, and take a lot. You might have a stack an inch or two high at the end of a cruise, but only choose a few since they cost $15 and $25 each. They’ve lowered the overall price of the individual photos, as well as offer a package for $200, where you get all the photos taken of you, as well as digital versions of them. We jumped on this, and are bringing home every photo that either of us are in, even if Mom and Dad are in them too. I don’t know what we’ll do with them all, and some of them are pretty bad, but I find the bad ones to be the funniest ones, so this should be an interesting experiment.

At one of the stops, we could see a home owned by Eric Clapton, and it was enormous and in a beautiful location. Our tour brought us to Nelson’s Dockyard, where we learned some of the history, and saw a house up on a hill that’s been closed to the public for many years. Prince Harry was here a few weeks back, and stayed in that house. We were given a coupon for rum punch, but we opted for Diet Coke instead. It was a nice, relaxing tour.

When we got back to the dock area, we had to go to a pharmacy for Dad. At this point, he was having some mobility issues, and the narrow streets of Antigua weren’t helping. We went to the pharmacy, but they only had 9 of the items, and he needed about 30, so we asked where another one was, and headed off that direction. We got about half way there, and we decided that Dad needed to rest, so I sat with him on a corner while Mom and Heather went further into town. It was extremely sketchy here, and there were no other tourists around. It took about 15 minutes for them to return, and Heather told me that it was even worse up where the pharmacy was. They got what they needed however, and we headed back to the ship.

I took a few photos of the ships in port, then we got back onboard and had lunch. I kind of wanted to take a nap, but there just happened to be a steel drum back right below our balcony window, and they played until the ships were ready to depart. Equinox ended up leaving before us, since we had a 14-person tour group come back later than planned. I got some nice video of this thing spinning around and taking off before dinner.

It was Italian night, and I had prosciutto and melon, minestrone soup, spaghetti and meatballs, and pot roast. I then took some casual photos in my Ewok shirt, and went up on the top deck for a planned stargazing event. We tried doing this in Alaska earlier in the year, but it was far too cloudy. This time, it was very clear, and after adjusting to the dark, we saw a lot of stars. It was awesome.

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CCC 2016 Day 11 – Fort de France, Martinique

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

Overnight Pacific Princess sailed Northwest, passing between the Islands of Martinique and Saint Lucia in the early hours of the morning. She approached Fort de France Bay from the South, altering her course to port around Cape Salomon for her final approach.

I felt better in the morning, but slept until we were just about in port. A slightly larger ship was coming in right next to us named Crystal Serenity. Heather and I had sit-down breakfast.

We took our time and got off the ship around 9:30 or so, and walked up the shoreline. We stopped at some tents set up with shops in them, and I saw a small beach in the distance, so we headed that way. Once we got there, we saw a homeless Rastafarian on the rocks near the water. He didn’t speak English, and he was hungry. Heather gave him a few dollars and went on our way. Not many people here speak English, as this is a province of France.

We saw a steeple, and decided to head that way. We eventually made it to the Cathedral of St. Louis, which was being restored. We set up in a small courtyard so I could capture it on video, and Heather got yelled at in French for sitting where she wasn’t supposed to.

We kept walking down narrow streets, looking in the various fabric and clothing shops, until we found a market that the locals use. Heather got yelled at in French again for taking a photo of a woman in there.

Wherever we went, whenever I saw a restaurant or café, I would ask the proprietor if they knew where to get French Onion Soup. I asked about eight different people, but they all had the same answer, which was that it was way too hot here for soup.

Once back on board, we had some lunch with Mom and Dad, who had gone to a really nice botanical garden, and then watched the Tim Burton movie Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children.

Dinner was somewhat of a mess because the cruise director decided to change the order of the shows, so people started getting up and going to the show mid-dinner. Dad and I skipped out on dessert to go get a seat as well, only to find the theater almost empty. We saw Kieran Powell, a ventriloquist, who we’ve see before on another voyage. He had a small cough, which he had before as well.

After that, Heather and I got some photos taken that are sure to come out pretty bad, since we weren’t really ready for them, and then we walked around the track a few times, and went to bed.

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CCC 2016 Day 10 – Bridgetown, Barbados

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

On departure from Scarborough, Pacific Princess altered course to port and sailed Northeast along the Barbados ridge, towards Bridgetown. Bridgetown, the capital city, lies on the Southwestern corner of Barbados. This evening after departure, Pacific Princess will sail Northwest towards the Island of Martinique.

As soon as I fell asleep last night, Heather had the balcony door open because it was raining very hard outside. This was some crazy weather we just had, and this small ship was moving all over the place.

This morning, it was much calmer as we approached Barbados; my first time here. Once we docked, I took a shower, and when I got out, another ship (Oceana Riviera) had docked. This prompted me to set up the video camera in hopes of more ships arriving, and they sure did. First, I saw Holland America Prinsendam come around the corner, which is another small ship like this one. It was beautiful, and they had even hand-painted “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” on the hull. I called over to Mom and Dad’s room, as they are on the other side of the ship and could see the other ships approaching. Dad said that he saw a large one coming in, and sure enough, Carnival Fascination arrived a few minutes later.

Our tour didn’t start until 10AM today, so Heather and I had sit-down breakfast. I had fruit, pancakes, a hash brown, and of course bacon. It was perfectly cooked as well. Heather had an eggbeater omelet.

We got off the ship around 9:15 and took a short bus ride to the cruise terminal, since we were so far away. We boarded our tour bus and headed off towards Harrison’s Cave, about thirty minutes away. As we departed, I noticed yet another ship entering the harbor. It was Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas.

We had a nice trip over to the cave, took an elevator down about three stories, watched a short video, and then entered an electric tram which took us underground. Our tour guide was Rastafarian, and he was awesome. I recorded most of the trip, and hopefully it came out okay, but it was very dark. At one point, our tour guide had us turn off all cameras and phones, and close our eyes. When we opened them, he had all the lights off, and we couldn’t see anything, even our hands in front of our faces. It was completely dark, and a bit terrifying! He told us a story about how the men first exploring the cave got stuck in there in the pitch black for 17 hours when their batteries died.

Dad and I came back to the ship while Mom and Heather shopped for a bit. They met us up in the buffet. We all had burgers. I then took a nap, and have no idea what everyone else did. Heather woke me up and said that the ship was leaving, so I ran up to the top deck to see us not moving at all. I set up the camera and hung out while two tugboats took us out.

For dinner, I had prime rib and duck breast. Heather and Mom had fajitas, and Dad had chicken. We’re now sitting in the theater for another production show. Tonight is Cinematastic, and they’ll be singing and dancing movie songs. I’m not feeling 100%, so I think I’ll go to bed afterwards. I’m glad that we cancelled our 4×4 adventure tomorrow, as tomorrow is a bit up in the air for me. Mom and Dad are going to go to a botanical garden.

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CCC 2016 Day 9 – Scarborough, Tobago

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

In the early hours of the morning Pacific Princess passed Crown Point, the Southwestern-most point of Tobago, before altering her course to port to approach the port of Scarborough. Passages into Scarborough are assisted by the installation of leading lights on the shore, which help ships follow the correct track into port.

This is our second time to Tobago. We’re not super excited about this island, but it’s fine.  The last time we were here, Heather got a weird negative vibe about it and thought there was black magic happening here. After being in the heart of this island, some of this makes sense.  There’s definitely some sort of strangeness in the air here.

Last night, I woke up to the sound of something scraping back and forth outside on our balcony. This is how horror movies start. I opened the door about a foot, and the wind was so strong and it started pulling me out. The culprit was our small table, and I moved the table and both chairs to the center of the area. The sea was very rough.

This morning, I went out on the balcony to see Tobago getting closer. A few minutes later, I saw the same pilot boat that helped us out the last time we were here; Superstition. Aww yeah. I filmed the boat for a few, and then went up to have some fruit and bacon at the buffet.  After breakfast, Heather lathered me in suntan lotion.  One of the ship’s photographers was down below on the pier, and took a photo of us from down below.

Our tour today consisted of a twenty minute bus ride with one person who had to cough all over everybody, followed by a two hour glass-bottom boat ride. We stopped a few places to snorkel and swim. I wanted to take the underwater camera underneath the boat and have Dad record me from through the glass. This never happened as when I got in the water, it was only about 2 feet deep, and the current was so strong that it carried the boat all over the place. It just wasn’t safe. We then returned to the ship and showered. I think I still have some suntan lotion on me.

Mom, Heather, and I went to watch the movie Jason Bourne in the theater, while Dad rested. Mom and Heather lasted about 45 minutes before they also went to rest. I stuck around for the whole movie, though I could have also used the rest.

It was formal night tonight, so Heather and I got a few photos taken, and we cancelled a tour for a few days from now. Instead, we are just going to walk around the port area. For dinner, I had beef tenderloin and duckling.

We’re now sitting in the theater awaiting another performance by the amazing guitarist Duncan Tuck. The ship is moving like we’re going through a large storm, and it’s raining hard out. Tonight will be awesome.

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CCC 2016 Day 8 – Bequia

by on Jan.18, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

The small island of Bequia is the second tender port of the cruise of Pacific Princess. The small island is only 5 miles long and lies on the same stretch of islands as Basseterre, the Lesser Antilles.

This navigator really likes talking about Basseterre, but I digress. The Christmas show last night was spectacular, and Thien Fu even asked me to come up on stage and juggle with him. I did it perfectly too, somehow. The dancers put on a little show a la The Rockettes, and did it very well.

This morning, I woke up to a calm sea, as we approached Bequia (pronounced Beh-qway). I saw a few small islands that reminded me of Devil’s Island. There was a small shipwreck between a few of them. Heather and I met up with Mom and Dad out on the back deck and had some breakfast. All of a sudden, it started raining on me, so we inched our chairs in under the overhang. The rain lasted all of about 2 minutes, and then an amazing double rainbow developed. I ran back to the room to get my camera, and by the time I got back up, half of the rainbow was gone, but I still got a few good shots.

We boarded a tender and took a nice, calm ride into town. There’s not much here, and the streets have little sewers running alongside them, so if you’re not careful, you will fall about 1-2 feet down into them. Luckily, none of us fell in them.

Heather bought a small necklace charm, and we walked down to a small beach and I captured some video. The ship was anchored out a bit and kept moving back and forth on the anchor. It was fun to watch.

We eventually came back and I had some spaghetti and meatballs for lunch. Heather is now resting, and we are going to go see the movie Florence Foster Jenkins in about an hour.

The movie was pretty good. Simon Helberg was great in it. Once it was over, Heather and I went back to the room, where Heather fell asleep. I was about to head up to the top deck to record the departure when an incredibly strong rain storm flew in. It’s tough to describe, but the rain was making waves over the normal sea’s waves. It only lasted about 4 minutes, and then I went upstairs.

I set up the camera and spoke with a few of the crew who were up there taking photos. At one point, a gust of wind came in and blew the camera over. I’ll have to cut those few seconds out of it, and I hope it works.

For dinner, I had more spaghetti, but this time it was spaghetti carbonara. I also had the chicken meal that’s on the menu every night, as nothing really caught my eye.

We’re now waiting for a show by Bobby Brooks Wilson, who is Jackie Wilson’s son, and this show was nominated for 4 Grammy awards back in 2014. I’m still waiting to hear if I can record it, and if I can, the camera is here at my feet.

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CCC 2016 Day 7 – At Sea (Christmas Day)

by on Jan.16, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

Pacific Princess will spend Christmas day sailing south across the Grenada Basin towards her next port of call, Bequia. Bequia lies approximately 270 nautical miles south-southeast of Basseterre.

When I naturally woke up right before the sun was coming up, I wanted to go outside and film the sunrise, but instead I went back to sleep, as today was an At Sea day, as well as Christmas Day.

Heather and I had breakfast up in the buffet, where it appeared as though the ship was out of pineapple. A waiter found a few pieces for me, which was very nice. Mom and Dad had a few small gifts for us, and then we rested some more.

We had burgers for lunch, and went to the jewelry store raffle, where out of three prizes, Dad and I won two of them! The prizes weren’t all that much, but it was nice to win. Afterwards, Heather and I went for a swim; a first for Christmas Day!

Dinner consisted of Vermont Turkey while the wait staff sang Christmas carols. They even made Christmas cookies. We are now sitting in the Princess Theater awaiting a Christmas variety show, which should be quite good.

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CCC 2016 Day 6 – Basseterre, St. Kitts

by on Jan.16, 2017, under CCC 2016, General, Vacation

Basseterre lies 130 nautical miles southeast of Cruz Bay, on the Island of St. Kitts. During the night, Pacific Princess sailed towards Saba Island, before altering to the south to pass west of St. Eustatius Island, and making her approach to Basseterre.

I got up in the middle of the night to see either Royal or Regal Princess sailing right next to us. I was too tired to photograph it, figuring that they would be in St. Kitts with us. They weren’t, so the whole thing could have been a dream.

There was a Viking Ocean ship in the standard port, so we docked at the industrial port. It’s not very glamorous, but it gets the job done. I went upstairs and saw Mom and Dad eating breakfast, as they had a tour a whole hour before us, and then I watched as our ship was secured along the dock.

We were here many years ago, and we took a train ride around the island. It was very nice, and we almost signed up for it again, as it’s Christmas Eve, and something about taking a train interested me. In the end, we decided to check out Nevis, which is an island very close to St. Kitts. Mom and Dad took a cruise over there followed by an island tour via van, and Heather and I took a catamaran over, stopping to snorkel on the way. We’ve taken these types of trips before, and they have always ended up with me being very drunk on “rum punch”. I decided beforehand to not touch it this time, since I have no tolerance for alcohol, and I wanted to sing Christmas Carols later on.

We stopped at the snorkel site, which has a nice shipwreck. We swam out to it and saw some amazing fish. It truly was a great snorkeling experience, albeit short in time. We then crossed the channel towards Nevis, which was a bit rough, but fun on the front netting of the catamaran. Heather kept dousing me in either suntan lotion or bug spray.

When we got to Nevis, the boat dropped us off in about waist-deep water on a beach, for almost two hours. We didn’t really need 2 hours here, as the beach wasn’t nearly as exciting as the snorkeling. As we walked around the beach, we saw some other Princess tour numbers walking around, and learned that Mom and Dad might be at the same beach. We walked over to a little bar area, barefoot through some broken bottles, and saw Dad sitting in there. They were also stuck at this beach. We all went down to the water and sat there. Mom and Heather swam, and Heather ended up finding a huge starfish. Someone else found a lobster, and we all had fun taking pictures of them.

Once our boat came to pick us up, the “captain” told us that instead of taking us back to the ship where we were picked up, he was going to drop us off at the other pier then we could wait for 30 minutes and take a bus back to the ship. This would have gotten us back right at 4:30PM which was the very end-time for us to be back onboard. I’ve never had a Princess tour where we were told to take public transportation back to the ship. Another one of the “crew” told Heather that the sea was too rough to get back in there, but I didn’t trust any of these guys. They told us that they were on no sleep because they had been partying all night for their version of Carnavale. They were also much more concerned with their cell phones than they were for us.

A large Costa ship had come into the main port.  We passed our ship and were very close to being let off very far away from it, when I saw the boat Mom and Dad were on leaving the dock near our ship. I mentioned this to the “captain” and he flung his hands in the air, asked “do you really want to go back there?” and spun the wheel around. In the end, he was making up the whole thing, and it would have cost us about an hour. Princess had no idea of this change either. Anyways, we were glad to be back onboard our ship.

For dinner, I had some braised beef, which tasted like pot roast, and half a chicken. We then joined the crew for some Christmas caroling, which was a real lot of fun. We had our pictures taken with Santa, and the whole ship joined in the fun. I’ve been very impressed with how this ship is celebrating Christmas, which I think I’ve mentioned before.

Mom, Heather, and I went to see an amazing guitarist named Duncan Tuck, who won the Gong Show back in the 70’s. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and the first time that I’ve not been in Connecticut for the greatest of holidays. The important part however, is that I’m with family, and being in the Caribbean isn’t ALL that bad!

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