Saturday, January 30, 2016

[Day 01] All Aboard Pacific Princess!!!

My east coast family had no problem getting up early in the morning. My dad was up, had made up his bed, gotten us breakfast from downstairs (another Residence Inn perk - complimentary continental breakfast buffet), and walked the the Queen Mary and back before I had even gotten out of bed.

Port of Long Beach


Port of Long Beach

Residence Inn

We arranged for the limo service to pick us up at 12:15. We weren't in a hurry to board the ship since we were going to be on it for 17 days. The drive to the pier in San Pedro took around ten minutes, but it was excruciatingly long with our very talkative driver. I much preferred the guy who picked us up from LAX because he laughed at our conversations and was friendly but didn't talk too much about himself.

Pacific Princess was the only cruise ship in port. I had been docked next to her in port before, so it wasn’t a surprise – but boy, is she tiny! Because of this, check-in was an absolute breeze. It was backwards than how we typically board the ship, as we checked in first, then went through security. Passengers are allowed one 750 mL bottle of wine each (additional for $15 corkage fee), and I had brought two, which I had to register after check-in. This is more strict than Princess has been in the past, as I remember being able to bring on additional wine and beer on the Island Princess at different ports of call with no problem.

We boarded in no time and were directed straight to our cabins. Rachel and I were in 7001, and our parents were directly beneath us in 6001.

Room 7001

Both are forward-facing cabins that we had been "upgraded" to by our travel agent. I put upgrade in quotations because both Rachel and I were skeptical about whether or not this was actually an upgrade. I had searched the CruiseCritic forums for more information on forward-facing balconies on Pacific Princess and most people had a love-hate relationship with them. There were horror stories about the balconies getting swamped with water which soaked into the stateroom and the balcony being unusable because of the high winds. We were nervous.

Forward Balcony

I'm happy to report that we had no issues with water soaking into our room. Even on days of high winds, we were able to open the balcony door and stand or sit outside. The white walls (which, along with the bow of the ship, classify this cabin as "obstructed view") were actually very helpful in blocking wind when seated. The only issue that we had with the room wasn't with the balcony itself, but with the forward position on the ship. We had several rough sea days later in our cruise, and we could really feel the motion of the ocean at the bow of the ship.

Room 7001

We had no issue with storage space, even though we had packed for 17 days and had a lot of luggage. I think this is perhaps the cleanest that Rachel and I have been able to keep a stateroom. Rachel is one to normally toss her clothes and leave them, but we designated laundry bags and kept the room very tidy.

The television is a flat-screen, and though not nearly as large as our television on Royal Princess, was a fine size for watching from in bed or on the sofa. Unfortunately, there was no on-demand TV, but the television line-up for the week was pretty good.

See the telephone in the next photograph? Curse that thing! The ringer sounded like a toy siren on a firetruck, so every time the phone rang, my first instinct was to pick the thing up and throw it across the room. This is why instead of answering, "Hello?" I usually picked up the phone to my dad, "WHAT DO YOU WANT???" Poor guy.

Room 7001

Brace yourself for a controversial bathroom photo. The hairdryer on the wall is really old-school and looks frightening as heck. Rachel brought a hairdryer, so we never touched the thing except to play around. But my mom decided to leave her hairdryer at home and was happy to find that the dryer worked perfectly fine.

Bathroom

The shower is super small, to be expected, but the water pressure was good which is what is really important. Also, the shower curtain was absolutely pointless because instead of tucking behind the rim of the shower, it hovered half an inch above it, allowing water to spray out onto the floor. One time our cabin steward forgot to leave a bathmat, and I almost busted it getting out of the shower during 13-foot swells.  Also, I noticed that whenever I was in the shower and our neighbor flushed the toilet, the water would turn scorching hot for a split second.

Shower

We liked the traditional decor of the room. Rachel pointed out the nice dark woods. It's done well so that it remains classic, rather than looking dated (something that Disney Cruise Line also does really well).

Rachel and I lucked out with the better cabin with 7001.  Because we were a deck higher, we were able to see further over the bow of the ship than our parents in 6001.  Also, our parents were directly above the Cabaret Lounge and could hear them practicing for shows in the middle of the day, as well as the actual shows at night.  We had no issues with noise, besides hearing our neighbor's toilet flush occasionally.

Room 7001

Wasting no time, we headed upstairs to the Panorama Buffet for lunch. That’s when we received our confirmation of just how young we were in comparison to the other passengers.

See, it wasn’t a complete surprise to us. We had been questioning – who goes on a 17 day cruise? Who can go on a 17 day cruise? That’s a lot of days to take off work! Maybe university employees or students like us. Or retired people. There were lots of retired people.

Pool Deck

We decided to take a walk around the ship, but ended up taking a walk to the pool bar where we purchased one, then two buckets of beer (buy 4/get 1 free - available on the pool deck and through room service). LA was having a cold spell, and so for the first time ever, we boarded our Christmas cruise wearing jeans and sweaters.

Bucket of Beer

Bucket of beer

Sail Away

Port of Los Angeles

Pacific Princess Pool Deck

I took a photo of the public restroom on the 9th deck (aft) because I really liked the dark wood and how elegant it felt.

Public Bathroom

Wavin' Flag

Another first day “woah” moment was during the Muster drill. Our muster station was in the Cabaret Lounge at the bow of the ship. We were all seated inside when the assistant cruise director, Jen, told us that the other muster station was located in the Club Restaurant in the aft of the ship. That meant that we were in the same room as half of the passengers on the ship!

There wasn’t really a party for sailaway – no band playing on the top deck, though there were bartenders serving pre-mixed drinks (which we passed on, opting for strawberry margaritas).

Sending her last Snapchats -

Strawberry Margarita

"I'm really trying to get back into Tequila."

Bon Voyage

Port of Los Angeles

This photo made me "famous". See the tripod across the deck? That's the videographer. Apparently he zoomed in on me while I was taking this photo, and I made it into the cruise in review video. People kept telling me that they saw me in the video, and I was so confused!

Pacific Princess Sun Deck

Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles

Pacific Princess at Dusk

Port of Los Angeles

It was also really chilly, so we headed inside immediately after entering open water.

Continuing our ship tour, here is the lobby. It's very small, but I love the rich red and gold colors.

Lobby

And the Cabaret Lounge, which served as the theater. This is where all of the evening shows were held.

Caberet Lounge

Caberet Lounge

Rachel and I tackled unpacking our suitcases and were mostly done before dinner.

Our dinner table was 6 which was located at the entrance of the Club Restaurant, so we didn't have the best view of the entire dining room, but there was only one point of entry, so we could watch everyone walk by. Our table neighbors the first night were horrible people. Two grouchy couples who talked about us at a level that we could hear them. First they complained about how boring their surroundings (us) were (which was really unfair for them to judge so quickly because we were just having an off night). One of the women (whom Rachel named "Miss Hannigan") made a comment, either talking about Rachel or my mother, "She's just an unhappy person." Rachel and I exchanged glances. Later we were talking about how I had just turned 24, and Rachel says, "Just wait until you hit 25 - there's nothing to look forward to from there." "I think she's 25," said Daddy Warbucks (Rachel's name for Miss Hannigan's husband). "No, she must be younger. She's wearing a sorority ring," said Miss Hannigan (referring to the Clemson class ring). They were really studying us. I listened to their conversations, too, and when they weren't talking about us or other people in the dining room, they liked to brag to each other about how much money they spent on things.

Enough with the atmosphere, and on with the food.

I started with the Red Snapper Mojito because it was the award-winning dish of the 6th annual Bacardi bartender and chef cruise competition. It was just alright. I'm not sure if I was really in the mood for seafood, yet.

Red Snapper Mojito

For my entree, I chose the Cumin-Spiced Texas Beef Chili which was listed as the Home-Style Cuisine for the evening. I went with a lot of the Home-Style options on this cruise, and I really enjoyed them. The beef chili was great. I really like the simpler, less-fancy dishes.

Cumin-Spiced Texas Beef Chili

I think it was my dad who ordered the Cognac-Flamed Crawfish Etouffee with Louisiana Hot Sauce. I don't remember his thoughts on it, but I will share the photo I snapped.

Cognac-Flamed Crawfish Etouffee with Louisiana Hot Sauce

And for dessert, Flourless Chocolate Cake which is delicious, but really, really rich.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

We went to the Welcome Aboard show after dinner, but headed to bed immediately after. We weren't really expecting there to be a lot of nightlife on the ship, and we had 16 more days to party it up.

NEXT: Making Friends and Drinking Champagne