Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's next for me in the cruising scene.

My next cruises aren't until the fall when I will once again head east to enjoy three weeks on the Norwegian Dawn - first spending seven days and make my first ever visit to Bermuda and then stay on the ship and spent 14 days cruising through the Caribbean from Boston to New Orleans.

While I have done this repo before the ports of call interested me enough to do it once again.

San Juan, Puerto Rico in place of St. Thomas was a big factor - haven't been there and there is a lot of history to see in that port.

While I have been to both Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Grand Cayman once before - it has been a few years and a chance to see them again was another deciding factor.

The remaining port, Aruba, Curacao and Cozumel I have been to several times but they are ports that I do enjoy.

Taking advantage of some NCL incentives I was able to book an obstructed ocean view on deck 8 for only a few extra bucks. Have the same cabin 8088 for both segments.

I will be joined by cruising and Facebook friends Dave and Kathy Smith from the Boston area - first met them on this repo a number of years ago and they do it each year.

Like me they have also booked the 2015 fall repo in the Dawn.

Don't know if there friends Jim and Judy will also be joining us - I don't think Jim's health is all that good so perhaps there cruising days are behind them.

While the prices of the repo have only gone UP since I booked the prices for Bermuda they have dropped on a couple of occasions so I have saved about $100.00. As this is the last cruise of the year to Bermuda by the Dawn I think there could be some more price reductions yet.

Because I want the same cabin for both legs I have taken the price cuts rather than an upgrade.

This trip as usual will see be taking Amtrak to get to the east coast and back from the Gulf coast.

However rather than take the shorter northern tier train ride - the Empire Builder to Chicago I decided to cross off one of my bucket list Amtrak rides and are taking the Coast Starlighter to Sacramento and then boarding the California Zephyr to Chicago - this is very scenic as you get both the Sierras and Rockies in daylight and Salt Lake and Denver as well.

While I visited those cities by car many years ago it will be a different perspective going my train.

For the return trip it will be NOLA to Chicago and then the Empire Builder to Seattle and home.

I had toyed with the idea of taking the longer Sunset Limited from NOLA to LA but I want to get back in time to do some volunteering for the 102nd Grey Cup game being played in Vancouver on the last Sunday in November.

More on this later - just might start a separate blog for this cruise.


Star Princess vs the Grand Princess - two similiar yet different ships

The Star Princess along with the Grand and the Golden are considered to be part of Princess' Grand Class of ships.

As is often the case with build alikes - refinements are made as each one is built and then after a few years dry docked and upgraded.

Having spent 49 days on the Grand Princess last year I was quite aware of the ship - it's most glaring fault to me is the lack of a mid-ship stairwell - this meant either a long trot down the hall or using the elevators to get either up to the buffet or down to the rest of the passenger services.

On the Star Princess there is a mid-ship stairwell and I used it most of time I was on the ship.

While the Grand no longer has the Skywalkers lounge - it is now the 0ne Five Lounge - one five referring to it being on the 15th deck - the Star still has the Skywalkers - both were used as the place where the platinum and elite could enjoy there happy hour and treats each evening. The trek to Skywalkers turned me off - did go to the One Five one night on the northbound cruise.

The other difference is down on the 5th deck - while the Grand now has the Alfredo's Pizzeria down on the Piazza and a much smaller Vines - the Star still has the larger Vines and an area where they sell Vines memorabilia which seemed to get little usage.

Those are the only noticeable differences that I can report on from my short time on the Star.

Enjoy and as usual Cheers!