Sunday, February 16, 2014

2013 Royal Princess Christmas Cruise - Day 2 - Princess Cays

This post is a chapter of my 2013 Royal Princess Christmas Cruise Photo Review.

This cruise review was originally published on Cruise Critic beginning January 3, 2014.  You can read the original review here.

December 23, 2013 - Princess Cays

Rachel and I ordered room service for the morning. Princess's breakfast room service menu is really limited, and the breakfast sandwiches aren't very good, but it was fun to eat breakfast on the balcony.

12.23.13



12.23.13

We got ready for a day at the beach and went to tender. You have to get a tender ticket in the dining room before you can tender, but they don't actually collect the tickets.

12.23.13

12.23.13

He's cool.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

While I was taking photos, Dad and Rachel found a shark...

12.23.13

Princess Cays

12.23.13

We found chairs on the last beach heading towards the cabanas, and I went exploring. There's a fun little lookout structure which lets you see possibly more of the island than you should be able to.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

Cloud coverage coming...

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

Worker mealtime... behind the scenes areas...

12.23.13

This guy must've spotted me and wanted to make sure that I didn't have an advantage for "our competition."

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

I ventured to the cabanas...

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

Time for lunch!

12.23.13

I liked the hotdog. Rachel said the chicken was good. The corn was rather tasteless.

12.23.13

People started leaving after lunch, and by 3:00 we were among the last on the beach (the last tender was at 4).

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

Sheltered play area for the kiddos...

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

The line to tender was long. I don't believe that the last tender was actually at 4:00.

12.23.13

This house is marked as "private" and has children's toys in the patio. It is the home of the resident manager of the island, but I find it odd that it is so near all of the beaches and touristy part of the island.

12.23.13

And a satellite dish on the roof!

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

We tendered in life boats.

12.23.13

12.23.13

Compared to the other private islands I've visited (Royal Caribbean's Labadee and Coco Cay, and Disney's Castaway Cay many moons ago), Princess Cays definitely the least-developed private island I've visited, and if you're looking for a side-by-side comparison, it is closest in development to Coco Cay. Though it provides a nice beach day where you don't have to take a cab or worry about lunch, it's very basic and really provides just the minimum. I think it's important to note that you can't use the soda card for soda on the island (the bartender gave us juice instead) because they don't have the soda dispensers, only cans. That's something really simple that they're lacking. They have basic water rentals and snorkeling, but now that they're bringing the Royal Princess, I think they're going to really need to step up their game and offer more amenities. I know that I'm especially critical, being an architecture major, but I found myself looking at things like their brightly colored cabanas or Christmas wreaths hung half-hazardly under buffet signs and thinking, "Oh, that's cute that you're trying."

12.23.13

When we got back onboard, Rachel went immediately to the spa because she overheard some women talking on our tender say that massages were completely booked. Well, they weren't. They were mostly booked for sea days. But Rachel came away very annoyed with the spa staff. She said they were very secretive about what times were available. Their conversation went something like this:

"What times do you have open on Wednesday?"
"We don't know yet. We don't work in times. If someone books a 90 minute massage, then it would be different if someone booked a 30 minute massage."
"I understand that, but what is available right now?" "We don't know yet."
"How do you not know yet? If a time isn't booked, that means it is available, correct?"
"But we don't work in times."
"I understand that, but you said you aren't completely booked, so you must have openings in your schedule. I'd like to know what times those openings are."
"Well, what time do you want?"
"I just want to know what you have available, and then I'll decide what time I want!"
"But we don't work in times."

She left without booking.

Rachel thinks that the reason for all of this nonsense is that the spa wanted everyone to think that they were really popular and mostly booked so that others would hurry in and book their appointments. That approach wouldn't work for me, because if I heard the announcement that the spa was almost booked completely, I would think, "Oh, guess I missed out on that one." I think that approach to marketing will only work for people who are really set on getting a spa treatment and will turn away others like me who might do it if they had a good deal running or something.

While Rachel was debating her spa treatments, I wandered for photos.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

After Rachel's stressful attempt at booking a massage (ironic, huh?), we went to the top deck to relax and read.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

We were relaxing in loungers reading our books when suddenly, with no warning, music piped and we were blasted with water. We grabbed our things and ran away shrieking.

12.23.13

This fountain show sprays water EVERYWHERE for an hour on the top deck. If the deck wasn't slippery enough (really, they need to coat it with something that has a grip because I watched so many people slip and fall this week), just try walking around without busting it during this musical water number.

12.23.13

The fountain show was a unique novelty, but I'm afraid that it went underutilized. Except for those of us getting surprised by water sprays, there weren't a lot of people on the top deck to enjoy the show.

See how empty!

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

I don't think it helped that the shows went off between 5:15 and 6:15, an hour during which most are either eating dinner or preparing for it. I think they would have better attendance if they did a show later in the evening.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

Tonight was Italian night.

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

12.23.13

You'd think that a semester in Italy would've taught me that I'm not a big fan of carpaccio.

12.23.13

Maybe I should start taking notes (just when Rachel thought I couldn't embarrass her more - I'll start bringing a notepad!). The above is someone else's appetizer. Rachel's I think.

12.23.13

This was my entree. It was okay. Not really like Italy at all, though. Italians really don't eat much meat.

12.23.13

And to bring back fond Italy memories, we had Limoncello after dinner.

12.23.13

The hazelnut dessert was wonderful - my favorite all week!

12.23.13

Cute little italian outfits...

12.23.13

I almost forgot to tell you about our wait staff! Our waitress was Angelika from the Ukraine, and she was great. She was rather socially awkward, but she was good at her job, and you could tell that she was going to really move up in the industry.

That night, the entertainment in the Princess Theater was Master Illusionist David Cats Presents the Magic Hotel.  I like magic. I loved that movie "Now You See Me" (though that might have had something to do with Jesse Eisenberg...). I don't really look to tear the tricks apart and see how they work because I don't care. I just want to watch magic. Well, David Cats had an interesting opening act. It was rather impressive and entertaining, making himself and his illusionist disappear. His show used this gimmicky audio on how to be a magician ("Step 1: Put a Rabbit in a Hat"... stuff like that) which he did cooler tricks with. I figured it was a good way to mask that he wasn't that great of an illusionist. Then he got into these lame card acts where they used a video camera to project what his hands were doing on a screen, and that was just ridiculously boring. I had to work not to fall asleep. And it was really obvious that he was hiding things in his sleeves because I don't know how many times he rolled and unrolled them during the show. His final act went back to the more entertaining disappear/reappear, but I don't think it was as interesting as the opening act. If you want to see some illusionist tricks, I suggest that you go in for his first number and then leave.

12.23.13

NEXT: Day 3 - At Sea