Emerald Princess Part Two

March 26, 2008 -

John Heald

Sitting in the Princess Theatre and watching someone else perform is a very strange feeling. I watched James Lay the Emerald Princess’s Cruise Director host the welcome aboard show this evening and it just did not feel right. It will be a bit like the feeling Bill Clinton would get if Hilary was President…………..just in the same way that I felt I should have been on stage and not in the audience Bill will be thinking that should be me under the desk in the Oval Office ………..sorry…………I meant behind the desk in the Oval office.

Still, at least I got to see a professional work and he had them eating out of his hand……………I mean James the CD not Bill Clinton…………………..more about the show in a minute.

Battle commenced at 7 pm as we got ready for dinner. The Princess Patter, which is the onboard daily program, stated that the dress code was smart casual. I was therefore horrified to find that Heidi had laid out a jacket, shirt and tie and a pair of dress trousers on the bed for me. I asked her why I had to wear the same stuff I wear each and every day at work and she said “You are a passenger and you have to adhere to what’s in the Patter”…………. actually, she didn’t use the word adhere as if she did it would have been the Bambi type of deer ………she is Dutch after all…………….anyway…………….you get my point.

I was going to argue but considering she had a wooden coat hanger in her hand I decided not to ………………….so, that was me all dressed up looking like …………… well……….a Cruise Director.

As we left the cabin we saw Pairut who was cleaning the cabin next to us…………..you know the one belonging to Madame et Monsieur La Stink…………..as I walked past the cabin I held my nose with my thumb and forefinger and went ………. poooooo ……………. causing Pairut to laugh hysterically and Heidi to kick me in the ankle.

As we began walking to dinner it became obvious that the only person who was wearing a jacket and tie was me. Although everyone was dressed smartly, it was a casual smart with nice jeans or slacks, polo shirts blouses etc. etc. Again I was going to say something to Heidi but as my left ankle was still throbbing from her Bruce Lee impression earlier I decided to say nothing.

The demographics of the ship became clear as we went to dinner. They have 800 children sailing and the majority of them are school age as opposed to spring breakers. There are also a lot of older people sailing as well so the mix is actually just about right.

So, it was time to eat and we were about to try our very first experience of Anytime Dining. This is something we have discussed before on the blog thingy and there are those for and against it.

We arrived at 8:10 pm which I would think is peak time. I had heard and read from some of you that there are often long lines for a table so I was very interested in what was in store.

Arriving at the Davinci dining room there were 10 people in front of us waiting for a table. We joined the line and six minutes (yep I timed it) later we had been seated and had received the menus….that’s excellent.

As we studied the menu the Maire’D came over to speak to us. Generoso Mazzone came to introduce himself to us and what a charming and funny chap he is. As you can tell from his name he is Irish ………….. kidding………..Italian and has 20-plus years experience managing cruise ship restaurants.

I asked him about the Anytime Dining and he told me that there is sometimes a wait of maybe 10 minutes or so depending on what time you come and the demographics on the ship. If there is a line passengers are offered a beeper and invited to have a drink at one of the many bars and lounges and when the table is ready the beeper …………. beeps ………….and it’s time to eat.

Generoso also told me that Anytime Dining is especially popular on port days when after a long day of exploration ashore passengers may not want to eat early and therefore the anytime option is a wonderful one. It’s too early for me to decide if I like this as much as assigned seating but certainly it seems that Princess have this option working very well for them.

After Generoso left the Assistant Maitre’D came over and introduced himself and throughout dinner we received numerous visits from men in white jackets asking if we were OK…………….the friendliness of the crew continued to impress.

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Heidi, Anita & Federico

Our waiter was Frederico from the Philippines and his assistant a young lady called Anita from Hungary. Both were fantastic and the service was quick and done with just the right amount of fun. I say this because the day before we joined the ship Heidi and I made a huge mistake and ate at a place called TGI Friday’s and by the time we left I was lucky not to be sharing a cell with a man called Bubba having been charged with beating our waitress with a spare rib.

She was the most annoying waitress I have ever met. I knew we were in trouble when she introduced herself and told us not just her name but the fact that she was very happy because some planet was in line with a moon and Jupiter was going to be doing something which meant she was happy.

I knew we were in further trouble when to take our order she produced the longest pen I have ever seen…………….it was blue and must have been two foot long with a big pink fluffy dead animal at the top of it. During lunch she must have interrupted us a dozen times including once to tell us her “joke of the day” and another to ask us what star signs we were.

I think at this point she got the first indication that I wanted her to go away as I replied “Aquarius” with a mouthful of spare rib, a piece of which flew from my mouth and landed on her arm. We couldn’t wait to get out of there and when she brought the check over she had the nerve to tell us that she accepted tips thankfully as any money received would help her college studies.

I left her a tip begrudgingly and as soon as I had put the seven dollars in the thingy they put the check in she said goodbye and hoped the planets were in line for us and we would have a nice day………….under my breath I said “If I stay any longer my foot will be in line with Uranus”……………….I looked at Heidi expecting to be told to be quiet or worse still receive a smack but I got a smile and a giggle……………..she must have been a really bad waitress then.

So, back here on the Emerald Princess, Frederico and Anita served us with a smile and the occasional conversation and of course they served us wonderful food. Now at this point I am going to tell you what we had for dinner. I am no food critic and if I don’t like something you all know by know I will tell you here on the blog………….however……….it was all super….it really was. Here’s what we had.

APPETIZERS

Heidi and I both had Vegetable Spring Rolls with Hoisin Dipping sauce.

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SALADS

Heidi had Watercress, Red Radish and Iceberg Lettuce in a Honey Mustard dressing I had a Caesar Salad.

MAIN COURSE

Heidi had Fettuccine Alfredo I had Roasted Pork with Apricot Drippings

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Heidi had a few bites of banana ice cream with caramel sauce I had SUGAR FREE chocolate mousse

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Sugar free chocolate mousse with blackberry sauce

It was all outstanding. Choosing the pork for main course was difficult as the menu also contained Prime Rib and fresh Red Snapper.

After a wonderful dinner we went to the show which featured the singers and dancers. There are 13 dancers and 4 singers and tonight they performed an opening to the show based on the song We Are Family………….it was a high energy number and was the perfect introduction for Cruise Director James to take the stage.

James is Princess Cruises’ premier CD and has delivered many of their recent new vessels. He comes across as the boy next door……….the English chap you wish your daughter would marry. He is very comfortable on the microphone and has that rare instant likeability that other Cruise Directors I have seen just don’t have.

I also like James because he likes a steak now and then and like me he has also been given a whack with the ugly stick. After the show we had a drink in the cigar bar where he showed his true passion for the job. One thing that Princess does differently here is that they schedule shows against each other. The theatre seats 800 passengers so they have different shows and events happening at the same time as the main lounge entertainment. This means James has to schedule multiple venues and it’s something that I would find difficult but for him it’s easy.

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John & James

I am sure you will see James on the new Ruby Princess and I now understood why so many people have told me how brilliant a CD he is. The show last night also featured a Princess Legend in comedian Dave Vader who was very funny…………..he was also a supporter of the charity “give an old joke a home” and before coming on stage had obviously had a fight with a bottle of self tanning lotion………………and lost.

I hope to meet him later as he obviously is a wonderful character with some stories to tell.

So, it’s now 1 am and Heidi has turned into a starfish and is snoring away and it’s time for me to go and join her. Being a guest on another cruise line is a strange feeling. I still find myself saying hello to everyone and although most have said hello back some have looked at me as though I am completely mad.

It’s been a fantastic first day and now its time for bed……………………..one last thing before I go ………….heard a guest say something which proves a theory I have always had.

When guests complain they often say………”It was better on” and then mention another line………………..I hear this all the time.

Yesterday as Heidi and I were getting a coffee from The Piazza an older gentlemen was trying to use a free drink voucher he had been given. The bartender was trying very nicely to explain that the voucher was redeemable either through room service or in the dining room…………….this old man would not accept it and started to curse at the crewmember.

I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he wouldn’t mind please stop swearing because the crew member is just doing his job and that there were ladies present………………….he looked at me and then at the bartender and said “ever since Carnival bought your ships you have gone down hill……….I’m going back to Holland America”………………he walked away……….slowly…………..and he probably is still wondering why Heidi and I were laughing so hard.

What a ship this is and I am looking forward to sharing more adventures with you tomorrow.

Goodnight!

Your friends,

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.