For the first time in 20 years we did not schedule at least one winter vacation because Pam had some surgery late in the year and we knew the complete recovery time could be a few months. In early March she was feeling better and found another cruise she was interested in. While I thought we were done cruising for a while, Pam had been through a painful winter so it was an easy decision to go along with.
We booked a cruise out of Puerto Rico for the 3rd time because leaving from there lets you get to the islands further down the Caribbean without using full sea days to get to them. The Princess ship we booked, the Caribbean Princess, was the same one we had been on twice in the last two years.
While I usually do quite a bit of pre trip research and have some rental cars on hold for us this time I just had a car on hold in Aruba and a guide hired for the day in Grenada, otherwise I was just going to let Pam rest and take each day as it came.
The ship was scheduled to depart San Juan at 11 pm on a Sunday night with an arrival scheduled in St. Maarten for mid-morning Monday. We got to the ship mid afternoon Sunday and just took it easy and ate and drank a bit, which will be a recuring theme for the week.
Since the staff usually is on board for an average of 8 month contracts I knew the odds of seeing any of our favorite staff from last time were slim so we were hoping to find some new favorites this time. Our first few trips to the bar found pleasant and efficient staff but nobody that seemed easy to warm up to.
One of the concerns I had preceding the trip was our evening dining arrangement. We always do what is called Traditional Dining, which simply means you have the same time, same table and same waiters every night.
This time however, because we booked so late we were on the waiting list for that type of dining and placed on what is called Anytime Dining, which is exactly what it sounds like. You go when you want and sit where room is available, and it appears the majority like this type of dining. We never got off the waiting list and were stuck with Anytime Dining. We also always request a table for two, which is somewhat of a rarity on cruise ships. I love meeting and chatting with new people, but when we are at dinner I like it to just be the two of us. The majority of the tables are set for 4,6 and 8, so most people are eating with people they are meeting for the first time.
We went down for dinner the first night at about 8:30 and requested a table for two. The head waiter found us a table set for 4 but said we would be dining alone. That was perfect and the dinner was very good and our waiter was this fabulous young girl, Janelle, from the Philippines that was so delightful and freindly that we would have loved to dine with her every evening but we knew that would not happen under our dining arrangement. As we were sitting at dinner I hear an "excuse me sir" from behind me, as I turn around it is one of favorite staff members,Peter from India, from our cruise last fall. He says to me, where's your camera?
He had just got back on the ship to start a new contract after having 4 months off and was just married three weeks prior. It was nice to see him and a nice end to the evening.
I promise to do less talking for the rest of this report.