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Crown Cruise Vacations | December 11, 2019

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Princess Cruises Archives - Crown Cruise Vacations

Princess Cruises Presents Ketchikan with Totem Pole

November 14, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau now has a beautiful new totem pole, courtesy of Princess Cruises. Crafted by local carver Kelly White, the specially created totem pole is to celebrate the cruise line’s golden anniversary in Alaska.

Inspired by strong and important sea creatures, the totem pole features a killer whale, a powerful hunter and navigator of the seas; an octopus, a mysterious, intelligent and complex creature of the seas; and halibut, a proven reliable food source throughout the year.   Read more...

Woman Marks 282nd Cruise With Princess Cruises

May 30, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

In 1989, Ilene Weiner and her husband set sail aboard the Fair Princess to the Caribbean. That was the beginning of an amazing journey and a long-lasting love affair.

Three decades later, Ilene is still cruising. She is now the most-traveled guest on Princess Cruises and just celebrated her 282nd cruise, marking 2,500 days at sea. Read more...

Alaskan Legend Fannie ‘Q’ Quigley to be Honored by Princess Cruises

May 16, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Fannie “Q” Quigley (1870-1944) was quite a lady. She was a prospector, trapper, hunter, woodcutter, gardener, dog musher and great sourdough cook. She also offered tons of hospitality.

In honor of the Alaskan legend, Princess Cruises will be debuting a new restaurant and bar showcasing her story and featuring locally inspired dishes in a modern saloon setting. Read more...

Princess Cruises and “The Love Boat” cast honored on Hollywood Walk of Fame

July 2, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

 

 

 

 

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises, standing center, and xx from left, attends the ceremony honoring Princess Cruises and the original cast of “The Love Boat” with a honorary star plaque at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday, May 10, 2018 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Princess Cruises/AP Images)

Back in May of 1977, a new TV show premiered that was set aboard a cruise ship. Called “The Love Boat,” the series featured stories of romance, hijinks and adventure on the high seas.

It also made viewers think this cruising travel looks like a great deal of fun. Why not enjoy it themselves, viewers thought? Before long, Princess Cruise became a household name as the setting and, some say, the star of the show.

“The ‘Love Boat’ opened the hearts and minds of millions of television viewers to the adventures of cruise travel by way of the exotic destination our ships visited on the show,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Today, our guests continue to create lasting memories and explore the world on our modern, fleet of 17 premium cruise ships.”

Now those long-ago actors have been honored with an honorary star plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Princess Cruises and the original cast of “The Love Boat” received recognition for their contribution to the history of television and support of the preservation for the Walk of Fame.

Princess Cruises becomes only the third brand to be recognized as a Friend of the Walk of Fame, joining L’Oréal PARIS and ABSOLUT Vodka.

Present for the presentation were Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Jill Whelan (Vicki), Ted Lange (Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Julie) and Fred Grandy (Gopher) joined by Leron Gubler, CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Donelle Dadigan, co-chair of the Hollywood Historic Trust, the superintendent of the world-famous walk,  and Jan Swartz.

The honorary star plaque is located on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the main entrance to the Dolby Theater.

After the pilot show, “The Love Boat” show went on to enjoy phenomenal success, continuing for 10 seasons until 1987 as one of the highest-rated, prime-time television shows in the country.

Pacific Princess and Island Princess were the two original ships but as the show grew in popularity “The Love Boat” was filmed aboard many Princess ships at exotic destinations around the globe.

Photo courtesy of Princess Cruise Lines

Visiting Princess Cays, the private island retreat of Princess Cruise Line

March 7, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

     Image courtesy of Princess Cruise Line

Bill plans to snorkel and take photos of the colorful fish in the coral reef. Mae is looking forward to browsing through local arts and crafts at beach shops. And their son Mike wants to practice his paddleboarding.

The family from Maine says they have been looking forward to Princess Cays which offers plenty of adventure and attractions. Or folks can just lean back in a beach chair and relax.

The private 40-acre island area owned by Princess Cruise Line since 1992 is a fun stop on Princess cruises. Princess Cays is located in the Bahamas, in the southern portion of the island of Eleuthera, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

The island is 100 miles long and about 2 miles wide. The island is graced with gently rolling hills and miles of sparkling white sand beaches and mangrove trees. Eleuthera is about 200 miles from where we set sail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As with all shore stops, passengers can stay aboard the ship and enjoy a huge choice of shipboard activities or they can go ashore for even more things to do. On Princess Cays, activities include swimming at the private beach, renting water fun equipment, shopping at the island marketplace and dining at the complimentary barbecue lunch.

Princess Cays has a coral reef teeming with schools of tropical fish for snorkeling and provides all the necessary equipment, including a small bag of fish food to ensure that snorkelers see plenty of fish up close.

Ships can’t dock here so Princess passengers have to take tenders from ship to shore and back. We will be anchored offshore only from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and it is not convenient to take the tender back and forth so passengers are packing what they need for a day on the island.

Bars and drink stations are plentiful on Princess Cays and a large barbecue lunch will be served from 11:30 to 2 p.m. on the island. Grill choices are burgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs with all the fixings. There’s also a big tropical fruit area if diners want to eat light in anticipation of dinner on the ship.

Princess Cays is connected by a series of paved paths that lead to palm tree-dotted beaches where clamshells and private bungalows are available for rent. Bring water shoes, as the shoreline by the water can have sharp rocks and coral fragments.

Unlike some other cruise line private islands, Princess offers excursions to nearby villages from Princess Cays. Although Princess uses a section of the island, the rest of Eleuthera is inhabited by a population of about 11,000 residents.

Princess Cruise Line runs excursions to some of the smaller villages outside the complex, such as Rock Sound known for its bottomless blow hole. The ocean hole is a perplexing natural phenomenon because even though the ocean is a mile away, the rock formation is filled with seawater that appears to ebb and flow with the tides.

On our day at Princess Cays, we saw a young couple get married on the beach. After exchanging vows, the wedding party posed for photos alongside the Caribbean. In their formal attire, the bride and groom and attendants jumped into the air numerous times so a photographer could try to capture the unusual photo.

Next, the groomsmen tossed the groom into the air and caught him for more photos. Then they tossed the bride aloft, still holding her wedding bouquet and wearing her long white dress as she came down safely into waiting arms while the camera clicked away.

The photos must have been pleasing because the wedding party gathered round the photographer, looked at the digital pictures in the camera and giggled. I imagine the newlyweds will have a fun photo album of Princess Cays to share when they return home.

Photo and Story by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

Regal Princess wine tasting is fun, educational

February 21, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

As soon as maître-d Federico Arcos Cantos started talking, I knew I was going to enjoy this wine tasting seminar on the Regal Princess.

“To know about wine is very easy,” Cantos said. “If you like it, then you have found a wine that you like and you know about wine.”

It is not necessary to be snooty or a well-experienced wine drinker to be able to choose wine, Cantos added. “To be a wine connoisseur, all you have to do is taste wine and read the labels so you know what you are drinking.”

But that is an ever-changing goal to accomplish, he said. “There are wineries everywhere now. Did you know there are more than 100 wineries in Texas? Imagine, Texas. Who would have thought?”

That was an interesting comment because I am taking a wine tasting tour in Grapevine, Texas, in two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Texas wineries offer.

At a price of $9.50 per person, the Regal Princess wine tasting was a fun event in the Symphony Dining Room. Tables were elegantly set with five empty wine glasses, a filled water glass and a snack of cheese, crackers and grapes for each taster.

While the servers poured each wine, our class leader would explain the wine’s characteristics, where it came from and what food it might work with best.

The five wines we tasted were Sanctuary Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in California, Simi Chardonnay from Sonoma in California,  Danzante Merlot from Italy, Giordano Barolo from Piermonte, Italy, and Rex Goliath Moscato from California.

We started with the two white wines, then moved on to the two reds and ended with the sweeter moscato. Here are some of the notes I gathered about the various wines:

Sanctuary Chardonnay  – Fermented in French oak barrels which brings out the bright ripe fruit, vanilla and mineral tastes. “Chardonnay is the queen of the grapes,” Cantos said.

Simi Sonoma –  A well-balanced chardonnay with balanced acidity and a generous finish.

Danzante Merlot – Has a deep rich ruby color and warm cherry aromas with accents of mocha, red licorice, sage and toffee. Soft round tannins make this wine easy to drink with flavors of black cherries and plums blended with caramel and toffee from the oak.

Barolo Giordano Tradizione – Brilliant garnet-red color with hints of orange on the rim. The bouquet is ethereal and intense with a typical dried rose scent. Wine has a pleasantly austere taste with elegant tannins and a long bitter cherry finish.

Rex Goliath Moscato – Made with muscat grapes, this is a well-balanced wine with deliciously sweet flavors of peach and apricot.

I don’t like white wine but the three passengers sharing my tasting table thought Rex Goliath was the best of our five tastings. With its colorful 47-pound rooster logo, Rex Goliath is the only label I recognized. At my hometown supermarket, Rex Goliath usually costs less than $5 a bottle.

Which just goes to prove what our tasting leader said: “Good wine doesn’t have to be expensive. No matter what it costs, if you don’t like it, then it isn’t worth the price.”

Story and  Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

Loyalty program rewards return passengers aboard Princess Cruises

March 22, 2017 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Now I know why Robert and Sharon Amoruso always seem to look so happy. They have cruised an amazing 1,336 days with Princess Cruises.

That is more than three and a half years of being pampered on a Princess ship.

“We did that over a span of 11 years,” Robert hastens to say. “Our first Princess cruise was in September of 2005. We have been returning ever since.”

What keeps bringing them back? “The ships and the friendly crew,” Robert says.

“The delicious food,” adds his wife. “We enjoy the entertainment, too.”

The Palm City, Florida, couple emphasize that the appreciation which Princess Cruises shows repeat cruisers and the perks that the cruise line offers loyal guests are major reasons to return.

“Those cruise credits that you get never expire,” Robert says. “We have tried other cruise lines but we always come back to Princess.”

I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

At dinner my first night on the Regal Princess, I was seated with three other couples at a “shared” table. As a solo cruiser, I have my choice of requesting a smaller table all to myself or dining with other couples at a larger table. I’ll probably do a bit of both on this cruise but I opted the first night to meet other passengers.

The six other people at my table were all repeat cruisers. In fact, all three couples are taking back-to-back cruises on the Regal Princess. Ken and Nance from Somerset, Massachusetts, had just finished a week on the Regal Princess and are now beginning the second leg of their two-week cruise. The Kansas couple and the New York couple at my table are both doing the first part of their two-weekers.

Only makes sense, all three couples say, because flying is such an expensive hassle that a cruiser might as well look for discounts and book two back-to-back cruises. Then my dining companions began discussing those wonderful perks and I noticed the Princess cruise cards they carried were a different color than mine. Time to learn more about this loyalty program.

Early the next morning, I headed to the desk of Liudmyla Khorolets, hostess of Princess Cruises Captain’s Circle, the loyalty program for repeat guests. In fact, Liudmyla told me, I am now a member myself. She handed me an official-looking Captain’s Circle Passport, wrote my name and membership number in it and added a colorful little Caribbean beach scene stamp with the signature of ship captain Edward Perrin and the Regal Princess name as the ship.

From now on, each time I embark with Princess Cruises, I will get my passport stamped noting the cruise destination, the ship and the captain. Plus, I will no longer be a “blue” card-holding member. Next time, I will move up to a gold card.

Then comes a ruby card, platinum card and – the most valuable of all – a dark colored elite card. Each card offers benefits which, of course, become more valuable as the colors change. Loyalty members also get a pin in the same color as their cruise card. The Elite card goes to passengers who been on 15 Princess cruises or cruised for a total of 150 days. So the Amorusos have been elite many times over.

On my Princess cruise, Liudmyla said that of the 3,575 passengers aboard the ship, 2,387 of them are repeat cruisers. That certainly is a vote of confidence to have so many passengers coming back. The majority of passengers are American followed by Canadian, then British with several other nationalities aboard.

“Last year, we had a 51-year-old man from Scotland who had cruised with us for 2,300 days,” Liudmyla says. “That is the most I have heard of. We did have a woman who was living on board a ship for half a year.”

Sounds like a good deal to me.

What membership benefits do repeat cruisers like the most? “The biggest benefit is complimentary laundry service. You put your laundry in a bag and it is washed and pressed and returned the next day,” Luidmyla says. “That is the favorite of most people.”

Next most popular perks, she added, are complimentary WiFi and a mini-bar set up with free liquor and soft drinks in the cruiser’s stateroom. If I were choosing, I would take complimentary WiFi. One of the special prices for WiFi on my cruise cost $8.99 for 15 minutes. And the internet is notoriously slow aboard a ship.

Other membership benefits include preferred check-in at embarkation, special disembarkation lounge, boutique discounts, vacation protection, complimentary wine tasting, upgraded stateroom amenities, onboard credit, members-only cruise pricing and special onboard events, such as a members’ cocktail party.

“We appreciate our loyal cruisers and the Captain’s Circle is how we recognize and reward their loyalty,” Liudmyla says.

My first-night dining companions Ken and Nance said they have already booked a cruise for the New Year and are looking at other Princess Cruises destinations in 2017.  “I don’t think you can beat their loyalty program,” Ken says. “When you have this many repeat passengers on our cruise you know Princess must be doing something right.”

Story and Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Voice of the Ocean serenades on Regal Princess cruise

March 8, 2017 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Strolling onto the stage of the Regal Princess Theater, passenger Don dedicates his song to his father. Then he starts crooning the Sinatra standard “My Way.”

And surprise.

Don can sing. All three judges of “The Voice of the Ocean” swivel their chairs around to say “I Want You” in asking Don to be on their team. At evening’s end, Don has won the cruise competition as “The Voice of the Ocean.”

A packed audience applauds the man who said he calls “everywhere” his home. Raised as an Army brat and later as a career serviceman, Don said that wherever he hangs his hat is home.

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see “The Voice of the Ocean” finals on the last night of our Regal Princess cruise. I’ve seen enough karaoke to know that many people enjoy singing even if they can’t carry a tune. That is fine. It is fun.

But I wasn’t’ sure that I wanted to sit in the beautiful Princess Theater and suffer through a parade of non-singers.

Turns out the seven finalists were all entertaining and well worth the listen.

“Whether guests are up on stage or in the audience deciding who gets their vote, we know ‘The Voice of the Ocean’ will be a huge hit with Princess guests,” Adrian Fischer, vice president of entertainment for Princess Cruises, said in announcing the singing competition.

“Guests will feel like they are part of the globally popular TV show performing on a high tech set almost identical to the hit show, including rotating red chairs and a live Princess band with back-up singers,” Fischer said. “We’re excited to discover and foster undiscovered talent and offer guests a whole new way to express their love of music and performing.”

The way the cruise show works is that passengers participate in karaoke try-out sessions in ship lounges or showrooms at the beginning of each cruise. Entrants must be 16 years or older. Passengers and cruise staff decide who moves on to compete.

Selected singers then are assigned a mentor – either a Princess musical entertainer or vocalist – who meets with them during the cruise to rehearse with the Princess band and back-up singers.

On the big night, the trio of judges will listen but not see the performer as they decide to turn their “I Want You” chair to choose the singer to be on their team. Once teams are chosen, coaches will then pick one finalist. From the three finalists, the audience votes for the winner who will be awarded a trophy and proclaimed “The Voice of the Ocean.”

“It was a lot of fun,” Bill of Miami said, exiting the theater with his wife. “No way would I ever get up there and sing. I think the people who did were brave and they all did a good job.”

Cruise director Kelly Rose said the Voice completion is part of Princess Cruises “Come Back New” brand promotion. The program was designed to elevate passenger experience by creating enriching moments and lifelong memories.

Winner Don said his singing turn in the limelight was “unforgettable.”

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Regal Princess adds new hi-tech Ocean Medallion device

February 22, 2017 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

A new wave of technology will be available aboard the Regal Princess on Nov. 13. The Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will welcome the high-tech gadget in early 2018.

The Ocean Medallion is a wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the OCEAN – One Cruise Experience Access Network.

The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant on a wristband in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action.

The pre-cruise engage will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so that their onboard experience can be personalized.

The Ocean Medallion also will unlock a guest’s stateroom door, replacing the key card as well as its sign and sail functions.

Pairing with the Ocean Medallion is the Ocean Compass for both guests and crew. The Ocean Compass is a personal digital experience concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs or via guests’ own mobile devices.

For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa, specialty dining restaurant and shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass via Ocean Concierge will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

“We are in the business of providing our guests incredible vacation experiences that create memories that they will cherish for a lifetime,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

“Ocean Medallion Class will deliver an elevated cruise vacation experience by connecting people, places and cultures from around the world in a more profound way,” she said. “The service Princess guests have always loved will be amplified by the Ocean Medallion.”

The Ocean Medallion will expedite embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.

A” Here and Now” option will allow passengers to place dining orders and have them delivered to their current location. For example, by using the Ocean Compass, guests can order select food and beverages from a lounge chair and not miss a moment of Movies Under the Stars.

While Stargazing with Discovery at Sea on the top deck, parents can order and surprise the kids with hot chocolate without interrupting a moment of the family fun.

A “There and Then” option will allow guests to place a beverage order and have it delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time. For example, guests wanting to enjoy a glass of wine at the theater can place an order prior to the show and it will be delivered to them at their seat.

An Ocean Navigate option accessed through the Ocean Compass will let guests learn the whereabouts of their family. Friends and family also will be able to easily communicate with each other through seamless messaging service.

Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

Sipping ‘mocktails’ as part of Regal Princess beverage package

February 9, 2017 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

A pet peeve of mine is cruise ships that charge inflated fees for soft drinks. My caffeine of choice is cola, Pepsi preferably, which many cruise ships don’t carry. It irks me to pay almost $3 for a small can of Coke or to buy a cruise-long soft drink package at a hefty charge.

But the beverage deal on the Regal Princess isn’t bad. In fact, I like the extras that come with the Unlimited Soda & More Package. The “more” seem to make it worthwhile.

When passengers board many big cruise ships, they will notice tables set up at visible spots selling beverage deals for the length of the cruise. If you are much of a drinker, the unlimited booze deals might be worth it but not for me.

On the Regal Princess, for example, passengers can buy a new All-Inclusive Beverage Package. For a fee of $49 per person per day, plus a 15 percent gratuity, a passenger can enjoy any alcoholic-beverage costing up to $10 on the bar menu, including cocktails, wine and beer. The deal also includes bottled water, tea, sodas and specialty coffees.

If you plan to enjoy several cocktails, beer or wine during the day and evening, this would be a good deal. Plus, that bottled water is a nice addition. It’s always good to take water when going ashore and to keep it around to remind yourself to stay hydrated on a cruise.

When you buy an All-Inclusive Beverage Package, you get a stamp pasted on your cruise card. All you have to do when ordering a drink is show your card for no charge. I’ve noticed many passengers choosing this deal.

What I picked was the Unlimited Soda & More Package for $7 per day plus 15 percent gratuity which totaled $56.35 for my weeklong cruise. So, I drink a Coke for breakfast and one for lunch. How can that be a worthwhile package? On most ships, it isn’t.

However, this Unlimited Soda & More Package really does offer more for your buck. The package includes fountain sodas, mocktails, fruit smoothies and hot chocolate, plus a large insulated plastic Princess glass with a sturdy lid and straw. The glass was handy to keep ice water in my room.

It’s the mocktails that were a surprise and I ordered even more of those than Coke on this cruise. Maybe they sound yucky – a cocktail without liquor? – but they are quite good.

My first night, I found my favorite early evening spot on the second deck in the Piazza, listened to the band and ordered a mocktail mojito. Very minty and refreshing. Later I tried a mocktail margarita. Also delicious. They are surprisingly tasty and they look pretty. The bartender said he could turn any cocktail into a mocktail.

I thought the bartender might just dump a few fruit juices and some kind of seltzer in a plastic glass for those mocktails. They don’t. What you get looks like the real thing with the little garnishes and tastes just as good to me.

I don’t know if anyone else was drinking mocktails on the cruise. But, then again, I don’t think anyone knew that the cold drink in front of me was all fluff and no alcohol. Fun drinks I have never had before.

The motto of Princess Cruises is “Come Back New.” The pleasure of mocktails is something new that will be coming back home with me.

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch