964 days between drinks

At last Australia opened the border to cruise ships and the first Princess vessel to visit Sydney was the Majestic Princess. She had sailed from Vancouver via Los Angeles, Tahiti and New Zealand to be based in Sydney for the southern summer.
Maureen and I had sailed in this ship in 2017 from Rome (Civitavecchia is the port for Rome) to Singapore.
In 2017 she had been ‘fitted out’ for the Chinese market because it was intended that the Majestic would be based in China.
She was based in China until Covid arrived in 2019/20 when the global cruise industry shut down.
Our memory of the Rome to Singapore cruise was not a hundred percent positive for various reasons, so we boarded the vessel on the 20th October of this year wondering what if anything had changed.

Princess marketed the cruise well and offered various incentives to join the ships for an eleven-night cruise to Cairns and back calling at various places of interest. The price we right so we bought a mini-suit, which included free drinks, free wi-fi, and onboard currency. The above shows the mini-suit and in the bathroom, we had a shower over a bath. We never felt cramped.

The above is the view from our balcony the day we boarded.

The main public area of the ship – the Atrium.

The ambiance of the whole ship had changed since our first trip in 2017 and in our opinion for the better. Additional bars had been added in various parts of the ship, so the bar areas were not as crowded as 2017 and it was easy to find a seat.

The Wake Bar overlooking the stern – not at all crowded.

                                       Part of the outside swimming area –

Other end of the pool area – note the large screen for those who were doing various Eastern exercises in the morning. The screen was used all day to show films or sporting matches and there were plenty of stewards to help with the drinks.

Princess has a new ‘system’ – the Medallion – which is free to all passengers. It is circular and has a code embedded in the unit.
The ship has its own ‘internet’ and if you use the Medallion with your mobile phone linked to the ship’s system you can order a drink via your phone,  (I think you click on a picture) the steward will know who you are and where you are even if you move from the location of the order.
We did not use our phones on board.
I kept the Medallion unit in my pocket and as I approached a bar I would be greeted by name and asked for my order.

The above picture show what the barman would see as you approached the bar for a drink – I think the left computer, and the images on the left of that computer – the second one down is your truly.
When you sign into the system (before boarding) you add a recent photograph of just your face and this comes up on the bar person’s computer screen. It worked well and helped breakdown any barriers with the staff.
A big plus for us was that as we approached the door of our cabin it unlocked for us to enter – and when we left in the morning for breakfast the cabin steward would be aware that the cabin was empty and available for cleaning.
The cabin would be cleaned while we were at breakfast regardless of the time that we left. We only saw the cabin steward once one morning as he was finishing placing clean towels in the bathroom, because we had returned early.
The system was efficient.
The unit does not have any personal information on it, nor does it indicate your cabin number, so if you lose it, it will not be a problem, the desk staff just replace the unit.
At the end of the voyage the unit stays with you as it is used to disembark from the ship and it is yours to keep if you wish. The unit can be used as a fridge magnet. The units are free to all passengers.
I kept my unit in my right pocket because I have a pacemaker and had read that the unit (being magnetic) should not be too close to the pace maker. It was not a problem carrying the unit in my pocket.The ship also had an indoor pool with controlled air temperatures – never too hot never too cold.

                                                  Vines Bar – our favourite
We would be at this bar for a drink before dinner. The staff were from the Philippine and their skill at mixing various drinks was very entertaining and they never had any cocktail left over when they had finished – the measures were always just right.

After we had seen a show, we would drop into the Crown Grill Bar

The dining room that we used most nights-  as we entered the Maitre d‘ always asked if we were willing to share a table – sometimes we asked for a table for two because we wished to see a show and we knew it would be popular, so we wanted a fast meal.
Most nights we agreed to share up to six, from experience anymore and one could not hear everyone.
Six was just right and we met some very funny and interesting people. Our dining companions were from Canada, various US States and of course Australians. We met one lady from Canada she was coming up to her fifty-fifth day on the ship and was due to fly home when we returned to Sydney.
On sea days we would also go to the restaurant for breakfast and lunch.
All the staff wore face masks, but passenger had the choice. We carried a face mask just in case, but never had to put it on. A few passengers wore facemasks outside of their cabins.
There had been about 100 passengers (out of 3600) who had been refused permission to land in Tahiti because they showed a positive result on arrival. If they were positive, then by the time they reached Sydney they were clean and as far as I know we did not have a single positive case of Covid.

We were late sailing and it had grown dark and most of the passengers were in various dining rooms for their evening meal, so I do not think many took part in the Sail Away deck party.
I took the above picture from our balcony around 6.00am the day after we sailed. As you see the sea was calm. and the ship was steady.

Two days later off the Queensland coast – once again a 6.00 am picture with an unusual wake. It was beautiful weather for the rest of the cruise and pleasantly warm.

Our itinerary was to be Airlie Beach, followed by Yorkeys Knob, Port Douglas, Willis Island, Brisbane, and finally home to Sydney.
I plan to do a post for each place we visited.

Princesses bearing gifts – beware.

princess-cruises-golden-princess-exterior-02-gallery

I’ve known a number of PrincessesIsland, Diamond, Dawn, Majestic and have booked future time with Golden (see above picture) & Diamond (again) – see picture below.

DP

My wife & I enjoyed our time so much with each Princess we thought it only right that we share our good fortune with our friends around the world.

To encourage our friends to join us, I told them that they would receive USD $25 each (USD $50 per cabin) to spend on their second cruise, if they accepted my invitation to join us on a particular cruise.
I also told them that I would receive USD $25 for each person that I persuaded to sample the charms of a real Princess.

Two friends from New Zealand and two friends from the UK flew to Rome and joined us for the twenty-eight-day

Majestic

Majestic (see pic above) voyage from Rome to Singapore, which we all enjoyed. I have e-mails confirming that our New Zealand friends had accepted the ‘refer a friend’ bonus in February 2017.
On returning home we persuaded five local friends to join us for a cruise from Sydney to Tasmania later this year, and I told them of the USD $25 that each would be credited for their second cruise. Four of our friends accepted the invitation in March 2017.

A couple of weeks ago I contacted the cruise company in Sydney and asked why the bonus for persuading my Kiwi & Pommy friends was not showing on my account, because I wished to use my share of the ‘encouragement bonus’ for the Tasmanian cruise. I received an answer and have posted two parts of it below –

Unfortunately our refer a friends program has been discontinued as of the 11th May 2017. This means that we are unable to provide you with the benefits of the refer a friends program.

Remember my UK & NZ friends accepted in February . . . and four of our Australian friends accepted in March.

Please also be aware that the program was only applicable for guests who referred guests who lived in the same country. For example as you live in Australia the benefits could only be applied to friends who also live in Australia. The program was also set up for the past passengers and non past passengers to travel on the same cruise.

I couldn’t find any mention of the closing of the program on their web site, and as recently as last week I received an e-mail advising me that one of our Australian friends (the fifth one) had accepted the USD $25 offer! In fact, I have e-mails confirming that all my Australian friends have accepted the refer a friend offer. Now I must tell them that they will not be receiving the promised bonus.
The other concern is that one can only persuade Australian friends, yet the web site states Australian & New Zealand friends . . .and still has the refer a friend active link on the main web site.
I persuaded one couple that a Princess is worth more than a mere Celebrity – even though they have already experienced two Celebrities, and didn’t wish to change – but friendship prevailed, and now I must cancel their promised cash bonus.

I can accept that the UK couple are not part of Australia / New Zealand, but as the web site specifically mentions Australia / New Zealand as a refer a friend ‘catchment’ area why have the NZ friends not been credited?

As a global popular Princess why would you place restrictions on possible future sales just because someone has friends outside their home area?

Our Princess promises that we will ‘Come back new’, but I doubt that the nine friends that we introduced will come back at all . . . and if they chat to their friends statistics tell us that each one will negatively influence between ten and twenty-five others against a certain princess. The negative influence is not a deliberate act, but comes out in general conversation.

To paraphrase Warren Buffet – it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose one.

I sent an e-mail to my Princess, about the whole ‘refer a friend’ system and I received a reply, which stated – Your comments have been noted.

Considering the overall cost of cruising, the amount of money involved is very small, but the principle is huge.

Flying north for winter

Majestic

Majestic Princess
Reg. London, 144,216 gt, 3,560 passengers maximum. (will it feel crowded?)

There comes a time when winter is all too much as one grows older . . . and older. A few months ago I started to check where to go or what to do, for part of our Sydney winter. Being a wimp, I consider late May is the start of the colder period, so any time after mid May would be fine, after all summer is December, January & February and Autumn is March, April and May, but late May is winter!

I wanted something ‘different’ without too much work i.e changing hotels, bus trips,  or too many plane changes, so once again it came down to cruising.

Maureen & I like cruising, and having sailed in –

IslandPrincess-CruiseShip1

Island Princess – Reg. London, 92,000 gt, 2200 passengers (never felt crowded)

DSC04736r

Diamond Princess – Reg. London, 115,875 gt, 2670 passengers (never felt crowded)

dp-dawn-princess-1600-1

Dawn Princess – Reg. Bermuda, 77,441 gt, 1998 passengers (never felt crowded)

azamara quest

Azamara Quest – Reg. Valetta, Malta, 30,277 gt, 686 passengers (never felt crowded)

Jewel_Ship08

Pacific Jewel – Reg. London, 69,845 gt, 2014 passengers (did feel crowded at times)

so could I find something different?

I clicked on various global travel & cruise sites and in the end I went back to Princess Cruises’ web site and found a positioning cruise from Rome (the port is Civitavecchia, about 80 to 90 kms from the city of Rome) to Shanghai in China.

Majestic Princess is the latest vessel of Princess Cruises and is the newest of the ‘Royal’ class of vessels, the others being Regal & Royal Princess.

A new vessel, positioning cruise, sailing through the Suez Canal (which Maureen has not yet experienced), and then sailing down the Red Sea and in to the Persian Gulf, followed by India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and finally, for us, Singapore where we leave the ship to fly home.

The ship carries on to China, via various Asian ports, to be based in Shanghai so as to focus on the Chinese market. She carries two names one in English and the other in Chinese script 盛世公主号, which means Grand World or Grand Spirit.

The price was right for the twenty-eight day cruise, and she would do about six weeks cruising around the Mediterranean as ‘shake-down’ cruises, before the positioning cruise.
All being well, by the time we join the Majestic Princess the ‘crinkles’ of a new ship, and a ‘new’ crew would have been worked through, so that the little problems after leaving dry dock (there are nearly always problems) had been fixed. The comments / complaints from the first group of passengers would point to any major problems.

royal-class-deluxe-balcony-1600I paid a little extra for a larger balcony, because we spend our quiet afternoons at sea reading, or in my case trying to write. I do enjoy watching the sun come up, or set, over the sea, and the balcony is a big plus for us.

the-seawalk-1-1600It is the first cruise ship to have a glass walk over the ocean, so I’ll be interested in this experience.

piazza-1-1600The Atrium, as well as a meeting place is also used as a village square (Piazza) for acts, music & dancing etc.

princess-theater-1-1600No idea how many people the theater seats.

The above four pictures are from various Princess Cruises’ online brochures.

I have since found out that they do not have a Crooners Bar, which was a favourite of ours on all of the other Princess vessels. Crooners was just right for a 5.00 pm quiet drink with a piano player doing requests.

DSC04087rCrooners Bar Requests ??

DSC03896Crooners Bar Island Princess

The Majestic Princess doesn’t have a Wheelhouse Bar or Explorers Bar – each bar on other Princess ships has a different ambiance, but I have been told that they do have karaoke bars, so I’ll have to find a quiet spot elsewhere :-o)
With such a large Atrium I doubt that it will be a problem – Crooners under another name?

Apparently all signage on the ship is in two language English & Chinese and all announcements are made in both languages.

The ship sails from Barcelona to Shanghai for the fifty six night cruise, departing Barcelona 14th May 2017. We join her in Rome (17th May) and leave in Singapore, so hopefully I’ll have plenty of pictures to post when blogging.

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