The kindness of strangers
Turns out, the best way to meet people is to fall flat on your face. We've written about my little, ahem, shall we say, mishap in Florence. What we didn't mention, because it only became apparent later in the cruise, was how lovely everyone who was on that tour was, both at the moment of my wipeout, and later, even days later!
People would come up to me, even up until the last day of that cruise, and ask after my welfare. The conversation inevitably turned into the typical lets-be-friends ones cruisers often have … “Where are you from?” “How many times have you cruised with Princess?” “Do you have children/grandchildren?” “What did you do in port today?” Etc. Etc. It turned out, falling was a wonderful way to meet lots of lovely people!
Not such a great sanctuary …
On the first part of our cruise, we were in an “oceanview” stateroom, which is a fancy way of saying we had a window, but no balcony. In fact, this was an upgrade from what we expected to have, which was an interior stateroom, with neither a window or a balcony. Princess had upgraded us at nearly the last minute to a wonderful oceanview room. It still didn't give us the “feel” of being on deck, so we elected to purchase chaise lounges on the adults-only front-facing Sanctuary of the Crown Princess. We've done this before, and it's been lovely, but to be fair, the last time we did it, we were in the sweltering Caribbean.
This time, our first Sanctuary day was a sea day in the Mediterranean, as we rounded the South of Italy. It was freezing. The lovely deck attendants at Sanctuary brought us blankets (otherwise used for Movies Under the Stars at night) and extra towels, hot tea and scones, but we still left early. Since Sanctuary is such a, well, sanctuary, I was sad that, for these cruises at least, it seems it's just too chilly for true enjoyment. I recommend Sanctuary to anyone, but be aware of the temperature and the wind when you're choosing your lounges!
We have had some of the most amazing crew these two cruises on Princess! To be fair, the Princess crew is always great, and it's the rare cruise that isn't punctuated by wonderful people from all over the world who you get to know. We have had wonderful cabin stewards and waiters, photographers and bar staff over our years of cruising with Princess, but this one may be the best ever.
In particular, we were delighted to see a head waiter, Nelson – who still remembers our names – from past cruises on other Princess ships. He's joined this cruise by the lovely head waiter for our main dining room table, Valentine. And then there are our main dining room waiters – Artem and Mihailo, who are possibly the best ones we've ever had. And, because on this leg of the cruise we're suite passengers, we have the lovely staff of Sabatini's for breakfast, and they, also are amazing – Georgina, Regan, Alex and Illio, under the careful eye of head waiter Alexiy. They are all truly amazing. The best thing for me is that they are all dedicated to keeping Pete alive – for those of you who don't know, he has a life-threateing allergy, and Princess is amazing at keeping him well, and it's largely through the efforts of the crew I've just mentioned.
Our cabin steward is such a hard worker, and, honestly, such a sweetheart. We've never cruised in a suite before (I'll be writing a whole blog about this later) and he's been very gracious as we find our way around the many, many perks to which we are now entitled. Most of the onus for giving us what we want – in some ways it feels like anything we want – falls on him, and he does it all with a smile.
All this being said, I am still struggling with my bourgeoisie upbringing – it's hard for me to accept all these people being at my beck and call 24/7. Especially with the suite perks – it really does feel sometimes like my wish is their command. I know most who comprise the crew of any cruise ship are from Third-World counties, and this gives them a way to bring in more money than is readily available in their home, and that's in some ways a blessing for them, nevertheless, it sometimes makes me uncomfortable being waited on. I keep trying to make the bed!
And lastly, mussels and French fries!
I love seafood, and I always have. Yet it took Princess for me to try, and love, mussels. And now I can't get enough of them. I have them every time they're on the menu (pretty frequently as it happens) … I had them in Santorini. In Sicily. And I'm sure I'll have them many more times, too.
But the real winners here are the French fries, and I'm sure I shouldn't even admit to loving them. But the truth of the matter is that Princess does the most amazing fries on the pool decks (almost always Deck 15) at the grill (on this ship, the Salty Dog Grill). We often have them in place of lunch, they are really that good. Since I have never made a French fry in my life, and I'm not generally a big fan of US ones … not sure what I'll do when this cruise is over. Maybe French fry withdrawal?
Just a few weird little factiods, but some scenes from our vacation. Thank you for reading along!