Sights: Acadia National Park, Sandy Beach, Thunder Hole, Mount Desert Island
Driving Distance: 282 km
Accommodation: Patrick’s house
Sights: Acadia National Park, Sandy Beach, Thunder Hole, Mount Desert Island
Driving Distance: 282 km
Accommodation: Patrick’s house
Sights: Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, Magnetic Hill
Driving Distance: 176 km
Accommodation: Delta Beausejour
We used our free voucher to stay at Marriott Courtyard at London Gatwick before flying to Basel. Being a Marriott Platinum elite member, we got free upgrade to a spacious junior suite with food credits to have buffet breakfast at the hotel. We had to move the clock forward that weekend so we lost 1 hour sleep.
Although it was an easy 15-minute walk to the South Terminal where we could take the shuttle train to the North Terminal, we chose to pay £3 each for the Airport Transfer bus to take us all the way to the North Terminal where our flight departed. The bus ran every 20 minutes directly from the hotel & we just paid on the bus.
Super easy check-in with Easy Jet. Their online check-in opened 30 days before departure date so make sure you check-in as soon as you can as they tend to overbook. We paid for 1st row seat with speedy boarding & 1 piece of check-in baggage for £78 per person. At the gate, they announced that whoever could leave 1 day later would get €500 compensation with a 1-night hotel stay. Too bad we were in a rush to get to the cruise port so we couldn’t get the deal!!
The flight was on time & we got to Basel at 2:40 pm.
We woke up at 8:15 am. Of course we had docked at Fort Lauderdale and from the balcony we could see the busy trucks transporting passengers’ luggage from ship to the terminal. This time we (port side) docked facing the terminal, not like embarkation that we faced the water.
This was the panoramic view from our balcony:
We vacated our stateroom just before 8 am & went up one deck to have our breakfast at Steamers. It was another good thing to have a stateroom on Deck 14 (Riviera) as it was easy to walk up one deck to get food and drinks, even with carry-on’s in our hands. Steamers was packed at that time.
During the whole cruise, we never had any problems looking for a table for 2 to eat on deck 15 at any time.
After breakfast, we went to the Platinum & Elite disembarkation Lounge on Deck 7 Aft in Club Fusion. It was about half full at 9 am. At the bar they served juice, tea & coffee.
Our luggage tag was Light Blue 5 and we got called at 9:25 am to get off the ship, 10 minutes earlier than the designated time. We remembered that we had to walk to the midship stairs to get off from deck 6. The aft staircase would only take us down to the Palm Dining room but nowhere else. Don’t know why the ship was designed that way. It was very inconvenient to go to the Palm Dining Room for traditional dining as there were only 2 elevators to take you there. I feel sorry for the disabled as they had to wait for several rounds before they could get in the elevators with their scooters.
I think whoever designed the Princess cruise ships need to take more courses, or Princess should gather guest feedback to understand what the general public like. Another major design mistake is the lack of privacy staying in the mini-suites on deck 9. They are uncovered so everyone from deck 10 & above could see all activities there, plus you can’t enjoy your big balcony when it’s rainy or too sunny. Although I have always stayed in the mini suites, I cursed the balcony every time. So this time I’m not paying more to put myself on show. I’ll just bear with the small cubicle for a short 7-day cruise this time. You could have a glimpse of those Dolphin & Caribe mini-suites in the first picture I posted today.
Talking about design fault, the lack of plugs inside the stateroom was another problem. This was what we could use for most of the time – 2 sockets that are so close to each other that we could not use both when plugging in our tablet for charging.
This was right beside the desk next to the balcony window. There was another plug behind the TV but it was so hard to reach that we just put our nightlight there so we didn’t have to plug it in and out.
Back to our disembarkation, I downloaded the App “Mobile Passport” so we could get to security using the fast lane. At this point only Fort Lauderdale cruise port plus 24 US airports could use this App to speed up entry to the US.
After we got our luggage at the terminal, we showed the receipts that we used the above App to create to the port crew so they let us pass through the priority line that says “Mobile Passport”, similar to the Nexus line.
We took a taxi that cost $12.50 from port to airport, with tips it’s $15. However, we had to wait for almost an hour before West Jet counters opened up for checkin. It was good that we got our boarding passes online so we could use the shorter line for bag dropoff.
It was easy going through security as the lines were not long. There was no Priority Pass Lounge at Fort Lauderdale so we had to wait at the gate waiting area for almost 2 hours, as our flight was delayed for an hour.
All in all, both my husband and myself really enjoyed this cruise as we planned on doing nothing much, so we didn’t really care about what’s happening on the ship. We were there to recharge and relax, and that was not our cruising style at all. If you read my other trip reports, you would know that all my trip days were always packed & I’m always on the go. I’m slowing down to prepare for my retirement!! Soon it would come!
I couldn’t believe it’s the last day at sea. Tomorrow we’re going to bid farewell to the beautiful Caribbean Princess.
We woke up just in time to meet our Cruise Critic friends for a 2nd slot pull at the casino. This time we didn’t win. There went our $15.
Before lunch I spent some time in the dining room on deck 5 for the grand 50% off sale & bought 2 swimsuit cover ups for $10 each.
Then we went to Steamers for Ramen.
There were lots of ingredients like scallop, shrimp, chicken, mussels, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots to pick, then I added noodles & the waiter added the broth for me. Delicious!
Before I took an afternoon nap, I did the online check in for our flight tomorrow. Then we went up to the Skywalkers’ Elite Lounge to have some snacks.
During tonight’s dinner, the waiters did the Baked Alaska Parade.
The show in the Princess Theatre was very good by the Princess Entertainer of the Year 2018, Tom Franek. He was highly entertaining & had great piano skills with various piano stunts. Since there was nothing much to do, we went to watch him again at 9 pm after packing.
We sent extra tips to our dining room waiter Joseph, Lobby Bartender Sawat & our stateroom attendant Ramon, then we spent the rest of the night at the International Cafe, sitting at The Piazza, writing my blog & listening to the piano player singing at Crooners Bar. There’s still one more coffee on the coffee card for tomorrow. We don’t have to get off the ship till 9:30 am. We have a light blue 5 tag.
This is a fantastic & relaxing cruise. We only did 2 long excursions out of 7 days. Spa treatments were wonderful & I took so many naps. That’s a true vacation!
There was not much to write about today as we decided to relax on the ship. We didn’t want to walk around Cozumel or stay on pool deck in the hot & humid weather.
When we woke up, I called the spa to book the $99 Top to Toe special massage for both of us. I added a mini facial for an extra $20. It’s great that we could get lovely Makka again. Both my husband & myself loved her hands. We gave her a big extra tip on top of the automatically added gratuity. I had mine at 9:15 am & Brian’s was at 10:30 am. There was no one at the spa waiting room when I was there.
I went to have brunch at the World Fresh Marketplace while waiting for Brian. After lunch, I went back to the cabin to take a long nap while Brian sorted out our Vienna pictures to post on Facebook.
When I woke up, Brian said he’s hungry so he went to The Salty Dog Grill to get our afternoon snacks. We had those in our cabin.
It’s open seating for dinner so we could go to any dining room but we just went to our set table. I had Scallop & shrimps, it was okay. Then we went out to explore the pier area as it was less hot after dinner.
Carnival Paradise just started to leave when we were on the pier.
There were free pedicabs going back & forth the pier, but they expected a tip.
There was a ferry leaving for mainland Mexico.
There were many shops in the pier area. The new duty free shop had very good air-conditioning.
The waterfront had a big sign of the port’s name.
The area was beautiful with the lights.
We bought a few souvenirs.
I went to Del Sol to check the price of the sunglasses that I bought in Grand Cayman. All 3 ports, Roatan, Costa Maya & Cozumel has the price of $69 but I bought them for $50 so I was very happy.
We spent about 45 minutes at the terminal before walking back to the ship. Beautiful Caribbean Princess looked gorgeous with the lights.
We came back to watch the Mexican Folkloric Festival. The singing was just average, the band was not together & the dancing was repetitive. I’d rather watch the ship’s production shows.
We went to the photo gallery to buy our embarkation picture ($25) before going to Club Fusion to watch the country singer/songwriter Rockie Lynne. The vocal trio was well-harmonized. It was a good 45-minute show.
Then we went to the International Cafe to get snacks & coffee. There were still 5 coffees that we had to use up before the end of this cruise. We were told that once Medallion is on, we won’t be able to use those paper coffee cards any more.
We took our food & drinks to our stateroom and watched the movie “Eddie the Eagle”. That was a great relaxing day!
We had to wake up SOOOO early at 6:30 am because our ship tour met at 8:05 am in the Princess Theatre. We had breakfast at World Fresh Marketplace, then went down to check in & got off the ship right away. The walk from the ship to the tour meeting place was so long. Look!
For those who did not want to walk, there was a free shuttle like the Disney tram that you could use, as seen from the picture above. I did not take a picture of the tram, thinking that I would be able to see one when we came back, but there was none in the afternoon.
The pier area at Costa Maya was beautiful but it was so hot & humid.
Signage was clear as to where we had to line up for the ship tours.
Under the big hut, there were so many people, lining up for different tours.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for too long as our tour had the longest duration so we had to leave right at 8:30 am with a 5-minute walk to the bus.
This was the big coach with a bathroom on board.
This was the ship excursion: visiting 2 Mayan ruins:
It took over 2 hours each way to drive to the 1st Mayan ruin, Kohunlich.
Princess gave us a brown bag with a bottle of water, a banana, a chocolate bar & a bag of peanuts for our snack.
As we were entering the jungle, we sprayed a lot of insect repellent on us. It worked well as we didn’t get any mosquito bites at all. My husband paid US$4 to get the license for video-taping. It worked for both ruins for the day. You must have exact change.
This excursion involved almost 5 km of walking & steps climbing. I only climbed to the top of 1 ruin but my husband did all 4 so his legs were all sore & needed a massage on the ship.
The 1st one was Temple of the Masks. This was relatively easy and there were ropes for us to hold on to. Some workers were doing restoration work there.
Here’s a video showing how I got down & how others climbed up the uneven steps:
Then we walked past many other temples before reaching the Acropolis. Here’s the route we followed:
My husband climbed to the top & I just waited for him at the base.
After about 1 hour of walking around, we boarded the bus again. We were given an ice cold bottle of water and a ham & cheese sandwich for lunch.
We ate our lunch during the 30-minute drive to the 2nd ruin, Dzibanche.
Before we started the walking tour, we were dropped off at a restroom area that was 2 km away from the site. This ruin had better preserved buildings than the 1st one.
We first stopped at the Temple of the Captives.
Then we passed by the Temple of Cormorants where workers were doing restoration jobs. We couldn’t climb up this one.
Next we went to the famous Temple of the Owl. Again only my husband climbed to the top but not me.
The last stop was at the Temple of Lintels. This was a big one.
Coming down was a lot harder. It’s better to walk sideways rather than sliding down on the bottom.
On this excursion, I walked for 4.7 km with 7,035 steps. My husband climbed 14 floors of uneven steps. He definitely needed a foot and ankle massage.
When we got back to our ship it was 4:30 pm and we had to walk around the maze of shops before getting to the pier. There was no free shuttle so some people were complaining about the long walk & there were some who had to take frequent stops to rest.
After taking a shower it was time for dinner. It’s the 2nd formal night so it took me longer to get ready. The escargot was very good but the lobster tail was not half as good as Steamers’. The rice was not well cooked & it’s hard in the centre.
My husband said his Short Ribs were excellent. The chocolate dessert was amazingly yummy!
We went to the new Princess Show, A Fantastic Journey, after dinner. It was very modern with lots of high tech add-ons, though there was no catchy melody. Then we went to the Piazza for the balloon drop.
We had a few drinks at the Lobby Bar before going to bed.
We slept in till 10 am, then we went to the Marketplace to have our brunch. The ship docked at Mahogany Bay.
Carnival Magic was right next to us.
Our port side stateroom could see the chairlifts from the terminal to the beach nearby. The ride on the chairlift is 6 minutes long.
We had a ship excursion with the meeting time of 1:15pm at the plaza right outside the terminal. It was HOT!
There were some natives playing drums with dancers.
We boarded the minibus from Gumbalimba Park. The air-conditioning was good but it was very squished.
The journey took 45 minutes. The excursion that we chose was clear kayaking & snorkelling at Gumbalimba Park.
The park was also famous for its zip line, birds & monkeys but we didn’t have time for those.We paid US$3 to get a locker & started snorkelling right away.
Our own full-faced masks worked nicely. The ship had these for sale for $60, but they were not Tribord like what I have. Mine didn’t steam up easily so it’s very good.
The water was very clear & the 2 guides were very responsible to take care of 15 of us. As I am not a good swimmer, I stayed close to Guide Kenfor & at times I could hold on to the float that he had. There were lots of corals but they were not as colourful as those that we saw in Bora Bora & Tahiti.
My husband even found 2 conchs.
After a 10-minute break, we went kayaking on a 2-person clear bottom kayak. It was an easy trip to the other beach on West Bay, with a pretty good view of different corals that we didn’t see during snorkelling.
We spent about 2 hours at the park before returning to the bus. They had fresh water showers there but the water was quite cold. We waited at the “Bus to Princess” area for the minibus to take us back to the pier. Although there were many tour groups from different cruise ships like Norwegian Getaway & Carnival Magic, the park labelled each waiting area very clearly so guests wouldn’t get mixed up. I strongly recommend to pay $20 more to go with the ship rather than privately.
It was good that we booked specialty dining at Steamers for 7 pm, otherwise it would be extremely rushed to eat at our usual dinner time at 5:45 pm. We got back to the ship at 5:30 pm, so we had time to take a shower leisurely.
Dinner at Steamers was amazing! The cover charge for an appetizer, a main course & a dessert is $12. To add a lobster tail & king crabs was an additional $10. Here is the menu:
The chowder was good. The fried seafood platter was above average but I would recommend paying the extra $10 for the mouth-watering lobster & king crab.
My husband & I shared the food & we were so full that we just tasted a little bit of the key lime pie in a jar.
We went to the show by a passionate & energetic entertainer, Nathan Foley, from Australia. He was excellent but I’m not a big fan of Rock & Roll.
We spent the rest of the night at the Lobby Bar on Deck 5 next to the International Cafe. The bartender, Sawat, was awesome & went all the way to Deck 7 to get us nuts even after their closing time at 11 pm. We love staying at the Piazza late at night that it’s quiet down there, but we could still hear the remote sound of the vocal & piano player singing on Deck 7. Looking forward to Costa Maya tomorrow, our 1st time there.
After a very relaxing breakfast at the buffet, we heard the announcement at 10:30 am that tender tickets were no longer required to go ashore. We then went to Deck 4 midship to use the gangway off the ship. The tender line was very short with only 10 people in front of us, but the 8:30 am excursion passengers were returning so we had to wait for at least 5 more minutes for them to go through security before we could board the tender as we used the same gangway. That was definitely not a good system but I guess there is nothing we can change due to the very limited space in the boarding area.
Most people just sat on the top deck of the big tender.
It took about 5 minutes to go to the shore, then we reached Royal Watler Terminal. There was practically no one there at 11 am.
As we’ve been to Grand Cayman many times, we already did the stingrays & various underwater activities. So this time we intended to take a public bus to go to the Cayman Turtle Centre. At the pier, a taxi driver approached us and offered a discounted rate of US$8 one way or $12 return per person to the farm. We happily accepted the offer & rode the taxi there. The journey took 20 minutes. The taxi driver, Daniel Lowe, was so good that he even took us inside the farm & showed us around like a guide.
When we paid for admission, they asked how we came & we told them by taxi, so they only charged us US$11 per person instead of the regular US$18. Let’s do some math here:
By taxi: $12 x 2 people + $11 x 2 admission = US$46
By bus: $4 x 2 people + $18 x 2 admission = US$44
With only 2 dollars difference, I would definitely take a taxi to save time, though we gave the driver $6 tip. The comfort level with lovely air conditioning was totally worth the extra bucks.
The green sea turtles were huge. They’re 3-4 feet long & weigh 240-420 lbs. Look at how one would span a few steps.
We also saw an iguana & a crocodile.
We passed through a baby turtle pool & there were kids in the water holding the baby turtles.
Next we went to an air-conditioned display centre to learn about the breeding of the turtles.
The turtle would lay about 1,000 eggs in 10 days.
When the eggs hatched, the little turtles would climb up & instinctively look for water to swim.
We spent about 30 minutes there then we moved to a nearby Tortuga rum shop to try their rum cake & flavoured rum. We bought a 200ml bottle with Banana flavour for US$10. There was no problem bringing this on board the ship when we returned.
The view behind the rum store was beautiful, with a restaurant there.
On the way back, there was a bit of traffic jam & it took 25 minutes to get to the National Museum opposite the pier.
We paid US$8 each to spend about 30 minutes in the air-conditioned building with very good displays & an informative film.
Then I went to Del Sol next door to buy a pair of life-guaranteed sunglasses, on sale for $50 before getting back to the pier. The walk only took 5 minutes.
This time the line-up was long & the tender was packed. We had to sit in the lower deck. It took us 20 minutes to get back to the ship.
We went to the Coral dining room on Deck 6 to have our afternoon tea. Then we went to the Wheelhouse Bar for a drink before dinner. Today the elite lounge at Skywalkers was closed due to the Captain’s party later. I like the Key West Cooler a lot.
The bar was really empty with only 5 people there.
Originally we made a reservation at Steamers. Once we knew they had Surf & Turf, we changed our mind to eat in the dining room instead. However, my filet mignon was too well done instead of medium rare, so I had to switch it. The head waiter Filippo brought another one to me which was like a medium.
The dessert creme brûlée was okay.
After dinner, we went to the Captain’s cocktail for platinum & elite guests at club Fusion. Some people started lining up half an hour before the 7:30 pm start time. It was a fun time to know about the different guest types:
◦ Gold – 476
◦ Ruby – 228
◦ Platinum – 406
◦ Elite – 257
◦ Blue – 1971
It was interesting to know that over 50% of the guests sailed 1st time with Princess.
We went to the show with the Comedian which was quite good before going to bed.
Today has been a great relaxing day! We started with a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in the Skywalkers Nightclub with over 20 members there. After 1 hour’s informal chat we went to the casino to do a Slot Pull together. It was fun!
We had lunch at Steamers. I quite like their Ramen as we could choose our own ingredients & the kitchen staff would add broth or stir fry the noodles for us. We like seafood so we booked dinner at the Steamers for tomorrow night.
After lunch I took a long nap before room service delivered the evening canapés to us.
At 5 pm, we went to the Skywalkers Nightclub for the elite members Happy Hour & had some pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres.
Dinner was very good. The French onion soup had lots of onions & it was cooked perfectly. The leg of lamb was also tender & juicy.
We had fried banana & ice cream for dessert. It was delicious.
I highly recommend the show “Bravo”! The whole singing & dancing team plus the soprano were so good that we went to the 9:30 pm performance again. Both shows were packed.
Humming the beautiful melodies that we heard from the shows, we spent some time in the casino before going to bed.