Caribbean Princess

Caribbean Princess Cruise to New England/Canada       

 DAY 7: At Sea and Ship Review

We joined the culinary demonstration and tour of the galley in the morning and did a wine tasting in the afternoon. The cooking demo was fun. I always enjoy walking through the galley, one of many aboard ship, and seeing the spotless stainless steel countertops and cabinets.  The wine tasting was lovely, with a great selection of appetizers on a platter: lobster, steak tartare, smoked salmon, cheeses, caviar, and more. It was worth the $15 cost but I always wish the waiter would pour me more!  The last day on the cruise was windy and rainy so no one went outside. Too bad, we couldn’t really enjoy the deck on this cruise. For better weather, July might be a better month.  Dinner: Roast turkey with all the trimmings and traditional Baked Alaska.                                                                        

Galley Tour
Galley Tour
Culinary Demo
Culinary Demo

 

Review of the Caribbean Princess

 We liked the ship very much.  It’s a sister ship to several others, including the Emerald Princess we are going on next to the Southern Caribbean.

Galley Tour
Galley Tour

             

Galley Tour
Galley Tour

 

Our balcony cabin had a lovely view out the wide doors. The balcony floor is covered with some sort of spongy porous material that works well. We had a refrigerator in the room stocked with soft drinks. Princess gives very comfortable storage space with a large separate closet, plenty of hangars, and a cabinet of floor to ceiling shelves.  Other furnishings included a single armchair, small round table, desk chair, tv, desk console, and two nightstands each with drawers.  No coffeemaker and no sofa in the cabin.  We peeked at our kids inside cabin which had the same generous storage space. You don’t get a closed in feeling because the back wall holds a wide mirror.  Their desk space was larger than in our cabin. 

Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting

The bathroom has a small shower area and a shower curtain instead of a door (RCCL has a glass door in a tiny round space), ultra-thin single ply toilet paper, and rough tissues (better ones in public restrooms).  I got a cold on this cruise and my nose came away looking very chafed.

Bathroom amenities: bar soap, signature lotion, shampoo, and conditioner with a pleasant fragrance.  The lotion comes out a bit thick.

The steward was very efficient.  He cleaned our room when we were absent and left chocolates on our pillow each night.  He did not fold the towels into shapes like on previous cruises.

I think the temperature in a balcony room fluctuates more due to the glass: the room can be colder in cool weather, hotter in sunny warm climates.  We froze until we told the steward to get the thermostat in our room fixed.  The view from our balcony when seated was clear, not obstructed by the railing.  There’s a large glass partition up to the rail outside. 

The first night’s show included the ship’s singers and dancers, pyrotechnics, and a comedian.  The cruise director on this ship was excellent. He’s talented in his own right and was often funnier than the guest star.  The second night was a dance production with mist, strobe lights, and flashy costumes.  We missed the comedian’s solo performance because he got sick with a migraine. Memorable shows were the Scottish pipe band in Nova Scotia and the crew’s talent show.

Buffet Breakfast: Different type of pancakes every day, individual fried eggs, ready-made omelets, breads and pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, sautéed mushrooms, breakfast meats, smoked salmon, potatoes, and more.  The coffee tasted good and the caffeine worked for me.  Pitchers of cream are available near the coffee urns.  A nice selection of teas is offered.

Afternoon tea is served in the dining room: you get brewed tea with no choice of flavors; mini-sandwiches, scones with whipped cream and jam, cookies and cakes.  It’s served at 3:30 by white-gloved waiters.                         

Desserts
Desserts

Although Princess mentioned in their newsletter that they were adding a third seating at 5:30, it turned out there were only two seatings on this cruise. We had early seating and it was scheduled for 5:30.  I would have preferred 6:00 but we sauntered in near that time anyway with no problem.  You have the choice of fixed seating or free style dining.  We did not take advantage of the restaurants for which there is an extra cover charge.

There are two outdoor grills by the pool.  One serves pizza and the other station serves hot dogs, burgers, and French fries. Their pizza is thin crust and very good, better than RCCL. (We like the Seattle’s Best coffee on RCCL better).

An ice cream bar on deck serves free soft serve ice cream.  We were so full from all the meals, we never got any.  Plus the chilly, rainy weather was not conducive to ice cream. Fresh cookies were available around the pool area in afternoon or at the buffet. You can also get snacks and desserts at the International Café inside at the bottom of the atrium. Specialty coffee is offered her for a fee. Across the way is the Vines wine bar with free canapés and sushi but you have to pay for cheeses.

Princess menu selections are consistently appealing, and there are good choices on the alternative menu too.  Breads and desserts are all good.  (NCL does custard type desserts well but not pastries; RCCL desserts are okay but their menu selection loses appeal over the course of a week). Princess pastries are very good, much to the detriment of my diet.  So now it’s time to lose weight and get ready for the next voyage.

Lobster Tail
Lobster Tail

                                              

                                    

Baked Alaska
Baked Alaska

            

ship
ship

 

ship
ship

 

For more photos, go to my New England photo album

Cruise Day 6: Halifax

Cruise to New England/Canada on Caribbean Princess

DAY 6: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax
Approaching Halifax

Nova Scotia has its own unique flavor and we enjoyed this port very much. I’d say it’s second to Bar Harbor as a favorite. There’s lots to see and do by the waterfront on your own without having to take a tour. The sun came out and warmed us as we strolled along the boardwalk. We went inside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to view the very interesting exhibits of Canadian naval history and of the Titanic with relics recovered from the wreck.  Lunch was at an outdoor café in the now delightful weather. We browsed the shops, bypassing most of the artsy items. The kids toured Alexander Keith’s Brewery on Lower Water Street and highly recommend this attraction. It’s like a living history display, with costumed characters acting in their time period while explaining the brew making process. Samples of ale are offered in a tavern setting at the end.  This is all within walking distance of the ship. The terminal itself offered the most interesting shops, and we spent over an hour looking around at the wares and buying more blueberry and maple products. Scarfs, sweatshirts, tee shirts, and hoodies are available here along with the usual souvenir shot glasses, cookbooks, and such. The only cookbook I bought for my collection was from the Union Oyster House in Boston.

Boardwalk
Boardwak

Back on the ship, we watched a folk performance of bagpipers and dancers. It was one of the highlights of the cruise and gave a flavor of the area. Nova Scotia is worth a return visit. It’s picturesque with attractive shops and restaurants and scenic attractions if you want them. There’s even the requisite citadel on a hill.  Dinner tonight: beef medallions.

        
                   
Brewery
Brewery
city street
city street
           
Dinner
Dinner
ship
ship with museum

   

Cruise Day 5: Saint John

Caribbean Princess Cruise to New England/Canada

DAY 5: Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John
Saint John

 Another rainy day put us in a dreary mood as we boarded the tour bus for the scenic overview of Saint John, our first stop in Eastern Canada. We had to turn our clocks ahead one hour last night.

We drove through this sprawling, industrial city to Martello Tower, a stone keep which housed soldiers and ammunition in days of old. It seems every port has a fort, and yes, when you’ve seen one…you’ve seen them all. This was interesting in that it had the bunks inside to depict how the troops lived there. It was cold, windy, and rainy. We scampered back into the bus. Next stop was Reversing Falls, where the Bay of Fundy meets the St. John River with voracious tides. I’d seen these huge tides sweep in like a tidal wave on a dry river bed on a previous trip to Canada with my parents in my youth, but here you can see the currents swirling around. Across the water is a pulp plant spewing white smoke. The plant has filters so you don’t get that awful sulfur smell, but it’s a highly unattractive feature of the city.

Martello Tower
Martello Tower

 

Martello Tower
Martello Tower

 

Pulp Plant
Pulp Plant

 

We got out again by the Saint John City Market for a quick peek and decided this was worth a return visit. After lunch on the ship, we walked briskly outdoors to Market Square, a brick building housing a shopping mall. This led into Brunswick Square Shopping Center, which in turn led to the City Market. You don’t have to walk outside; there’s an indoor pedway to get from one place to another. City Market had the best souvenir items with maple sugar, maple spread, more blueberry items, and other foodie goods. There’s some English china and table linens if you’re into that stuff. We didn’t buy a lot here, just a few maple products. The sugar candies are too sweet but worth trying if you’ve never eaten one, and the maple fudge is fresher at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. We tried their java but prefer Starbucks. We were happy to get back to the ship. Despite its natural wonders, this was our least favorite port. Maybe some of the other tours further afield are better. If you arrive before 11:00am, ladies are gifted with a fresh rose and men with a souvenir pin when you disembark. The people are very courteous and eager for tourism so I wish them well, but I’d suggest a nature tour of some sort rather than a ride around the industrial city.

Saint John
Saint John

 

City Market
City Market

Cruise Day 4: Bar Harbor

Caribbean Princess Cruise to New England/Canada

DAY 4, Tuesday: Bar Harbor, ME

We took a tender into town in the midst of a raging thunderstorm with rain pouring down and lightning flashing in the sky. After hovering under a tent until the rain let up, we dashed to our bus for a two and a half hour tour of scenic Acadia National Park with a lobster bake lunch. This by far was our best shore excursion and recommended for anyone on this route.

 A blur of shops and restaurants passed by out the rain-soaked window, and within ten minutes, we were out of town and climbing into the tree-covered hills of Acadia National Park. White birch trees stood starkly among aspen and other tall, green leafy trees. Up and up we climbed toward Cadillac Mountain, fog drifting by but parting enough for us to glimpse lovely vistas of valleys and lakes. Finally reaching the summit at 1530 feet, we disembarked and huddled in our raingear and jackets to the restrooms and gift shop. Took a few quick photos and enjoyed the brisk air before boarding the bus again for the ride back to town.      

The clouds were breaking up as we entered a dining hall for our lobster bake lunch. Bibs and nutcrackers were waiting on the tables. Lunch was buffet style. We collected a bowl of clam chowder and a plateful of whole Maine lobster, corn on the cob, potatoes and cole slaw.  A server came around and took off the shell for each of us who’d never eaten a whole lobster before. The meat was very moist. And the dessert…a To-Die-For rich blueberry tart. Maine blueberries are tiny little things that pack a punch.

 After we ate our fill, we strolled through town toward the gift shops.  The sun came out, radiating warmth and light over the hilly terrain and attractive shops of the waterfront area.

There were nice quality shops, especially The North Face store on Cottage Street where I bought a lightweight rain jacket. In the other stores, hoodies and sweatshirts are everywhere but they all look the same at each port.  We snapped up wild Maine blueberry jam, dried blueberries, blueberry honey, and wild blueberry maple spread. 

              

Then the clouds came back so we headed for the ship while considering our next meal. I’d already had prime ribs, veal scallopini, and lamb with mint jelly for dinner. What should I try tonight? A lobster tail, of course. It came with jumbo prawns and garlic butter sauce and was even tastier than the lobster we’d had for lunch. Ah, such choices. Beef Wellington and roast pheasant were also on the menu. Now we’re home and back to plebian food. 

In conclusion, I would say Bar Harbor was my favorite port on this trip with its scenic beauty, high quality shops, and attractive downtown.

               

Cruise Day 3: Boston

Caribbean Princess 7 day New England/Canada

DAY 3: BOSTON, MA

We paid $15 to take a shuttle round trip from the pier into town, about a ten to fifteen minute ride but definitely not doable on foot. We were deposited in front of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market with their tempting shops and restaurants. The kids were thrilled to see a Cheers bar and café from some TV show. Weather was partially cloudy and cool but good for walking. We hung around this area until lunch then made our way a block over to Union Oyster House where I’d made a reservation. I’d enjoyed this restaurant when I lived in Boston many years ago, and I liked it just as much this time.  It’s atmospheric, dating from 1826, with lots of wood inside. We had the best New England clam chowder ever with those little oyster crackers…um, I can taste it now. Then we had moist and tender Boston scrod that you can’t get anywhere else.  Yummmm.  Oh, I miss this food.  We had to pass on the Boston baked beans and Boston cream pie.  Couldn’t eat it all. Great food, great atmosphere! Highly Recommended if you’re in the area. I made reservations online at Open Table.

Faneuil Hall area
Faneuil Hall Area

Our stomachs full, we strolled toward the Old State House, which we toured later. This brick building dating to the revolutionary era is near where the Boston Massacre occurred. Following the Freedom Trail, we passed the Old South Meeting House as we headed toward Boston Common.  I saw the old Filene’s building being torn down but didn’t realize Filene’s Basement had moved to another location. Oh well. We stopped in a huge Macy’s to use the restrooms.  You could get lost shopping in here. An H&M is in this downtown area too.  Back on the historical trail, we ended up at Boston Common with a view of the majestic State House up on the hill.  From here we turned back toward the wharf, passing by a historic Burying Ground where many of our forefathers lie at rest.                   

Old State House
Old State House

It’s hard to do Boston is one day. You really need a week here to see everything and to take excursions to the surrounding area attractions.

Union Oyster House

Historic burial ground
Historic Burial Ground

 

Boston Common

NEWPORT, RI

Caribbean Princess, 7 days, NY roundtrip to New England/Canada

DAY ONE: We cruised out of port of Brooklyn. Will write my cruise notes on the ship later.

Leaving NY

DAY TWO: NEWPORT, RI

Our tour group left from the Princess Theatre en masse at 8:00am. We took a tender into town, then boarded a bus. We drove through town and hilly terrain hugging the rocky coast, seeing the numerous sailboats and fishing vessels on the water and learning the history from our guide. This area hosts a naval war college and training for the Special Olympics sailing competition. It looks like sailing, fishing, and tourism are the main activities. Then we turned inland to view the wealthy mansions ranging from stone castle-like exteriors with turrets to white columned palatial structures. Newport is known for its upper crust crowd. Lush vegetation guarded the driveways to provide privacy. The leaves hadn’t turned yet, staying mostly green, with an occasional touch of maple or red.  Back toward town, we passed Touro Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in North America. People settled here in the 1600’s for religious freedom. Narrow streets and three-story Colonial brick houses with chimneys lend a quaint atmosphere.

Newport harbor
Newport harbor

The tour ended at 10:30, so we had plenty of time to stroll through the shops by the historic waterfront and debate which restaurant to dine at for lunch. An outdoor vendor sold hot dogs and clam chowder from the same stand.  The Black Pearl looked intriguing with a dark interior like a historic English tavern and a lively outdoor crowd but we opted instead for the stand-alone The Mooring  with seating overlooking the harbor. I ordered a cup of clam chowder ($5) which was creamy with an overabundance of potatoes. The lobster salad croissant sandwich ($19) had generous chunks of lobster with dill mayonnaise and came served with seasoned fries. I would have liked to taste the delicious lobster mac and cheese but had enough to eat. Good meal in very pleasant surroundings.

Newport street
Newport street

 

After lunch, we strolled by the shops at the waterfront and along Thames Street. We were able to resist the Scrimshaw knives, jewelry, wine stoppers and letter openers. Nor did we succumb to temptation to buy fudge, novelty gifts, tee shirts, hoodies, or shot glass souvenirs.  It was cool and breezy, and I wore three layers of tops. Wimpy Floridians that we are, we got too cold and went back to the ship by 2:00 pm.  Overall impression: A wealthy playground. Not much to see or do here on your own as a cruise visitor except around the waterfront; quaint town with historical flavor.

There’s No Place Like Home

There’s no place like home. Isn’t that the sentiment at the heart of Wizard of Oz?  It’s what I am feeling right now after sitting by the swimming pool at our condo and admiring the aqua color of the water, the golden yellow of the pool area enclosure, the coral table umbrellas, the bright blue sky, and the fluffy white cumulous clouds.           

Hey, aren’t these the same tropical colors as on my website? You betcha. I love the tropics, and that fact was brought home more vividly on our recent 7 day cruise to New England/Canada.

I will be providing port details and descriptions of the ship in subsequent blogs. Suffice it to say I wore three layers of clothing on top and a sweater to bed each night, I was so cold. It doesn’t matter that I grew up in the north. I’m an acclimated Floridian now. Add in some rain to the windy, cool weather, and that’s sore throat time for me. Yep, I got a cold.  Nonetheless, I went on every shore excursion we’d booked, ate my share of food at the buffet, and enjoyed the nightly shows.

Now we’re home, and although I miss the lobster and scrod and New England clam chowder, I am enamored all over again with our warm, sunny south. No more gray skies. No more cold, driving rain. No more shivering at least for a few more months. It should be plenty of time for me to walk off all the calories I’ve gained.