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Trip Report Tales of our Transatlantic cruise, part 1: the cruise.

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Since this cruise involved several ports of call in Europe, plus some time afterwards, I am going to post comments on ports of call on the Europe board, with comments on the cruise here. First, a big thanks to all who gave advice and encouragement. We had such a good time on our first cruise, seven nights in the Caribbean, that we decided to do a transatlantic from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, on Princess Crown Princess, with eight nights at sea and several ports of call.

Getting There:
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the morning of the cruise and took a taxi to the port, fast and easy. All worked perfectly. However, I would not do that again. We had a very short stop in Charlotte on the way, and I was a nervous wreck worrying that the plane would be delayed for some reason, and we would miss the ship. The same day we were going, our daughter was delayed a day from NY to Florida. Thank goodness, she wasn't taking a cruise. They would have missed it. When we went to the Caribbean, we went a day early and stayed in a hotel near the port. It was so much more relaxing. Unless we are taking a cruise from a local port, or there is no other way, I will always go a day early. First lesson learned on this trip.

The Ship:
Crown Princess is the sister ship to Caribbean Princess that we were on before, so it was nice to be familiar with the lay-out. Food was about the same. Entertainment was not nearly as good. The dancers were very good, but singing was weak, IMHO, and the volume was so high on the amps that even the better voices were overpowered by reverberations. Costumes were odd, and not well thought out, IMHO. However, there was one very good pianist and one very good comic. The passenger talent show was wonderful. This trip, we used the library more and enjoyed the open decks because the weather was great. I was able to practice on a piano in a fairly secluded area.

Dinner times:
We met some lovely people and started having dinner with them in one of the dining rooms. While it was nice, they insisted on eating at the exact same time every day. I discovered that it was just beautiful having dinner while sitting out on the adult deck, and we were missing out on that, so we gently parted company, and ate outside the rest of the cruise. Second lesson learned.

Oh Captain, my Captain:
We didn't know anything about the Captain on our other cruise, but it was interesting on this one because of things that happened. Our Captain's name was Nick Nash. I just love it. It sounds like something straight out of a Harlequin Romance novel; you know the kind where the cover would have the Captain perfectly dressed in white with a beautiful woman he has just rescued, all bedraggled with curling wet hair and her clothes half torn off. In reality, Captain Nash is a smallish, slim, rather wiry man with a great sense of humor (we met him at the cocktail party) and a varied reputation amongst the crew. There was a bit of romance to his history.

The story we were told was that, much to the dismay of his parents, he ran away to sea when he was only 17, working ships on the coast of Africa for five years and running banana boats in the Caribbean for another ten. Eventually he went to navigation school, was attached to the British Royal Navy for a few years, and joined Princess about twenty years ago. He is a full Captain and lectures to other captains on navigational methods.

The Cruise: Embarkation day.
We embarked around 4:30 (a short delay because of some supplies taking more time than expected), amid the music of the sail-away party and the announcement that we were making our way at full speed towards Europe. Around 6:30 or 7:00 we had the routine safety drill. Around 8:30, the theater was filled with people attending the show, people were having dinner, etc. We were resting in our cabin when the announcement was made: "This is your Captain speaking from the bridge. We request all passengers return immediately to your cabins. There has been a report of a person in the water. We are in the process of turning the ship around to begin searching. We ask all persons who have balconies to be on the lookout and alert the crew if you see anything." We later learned that, from full speed, it took nearly five miles to bring the ship to a stop to turn around. The Coast Guard was called and arrived with lights, etc. Aother ship had been just ahead of us. They were also contacted. A full count of passengers and crew was undertaken. That took quite awhile. One crew member couldn't be located for about twenty minutes. They were eventually found (don't know the story with that), and it was determined that no one was missing from our ship, so the Coast Guard gave permission for our ship to continue. All this took about four hours. We were kept updated the entire time as to what was happening. That was very much appreciated.

Day two: All well

Day Three - Afternoon:
"This is your Captain speaking from the bridge." Don't remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that we had a passenger who was ill and needed surgery, that we were too far out to sea for a helicopter rescue, and we were going to take a detour back up to Bermuda. A crew member later told us that the Captain gathered crew members on duty and said,"How would you like to see Bermuda?" . . . "Good, we are going there." We didn't actually dock, but came very close to the Island. An ambulance boat met us and the person was transferred to it. We heard later that he died before surgery could be done, but do not know if that was true or not. Captain decided rather than backtrack, we should alter course, and he announced that he was waiting for new navigation charts to be e-mailed to him. All that took five or six hours. Again, we were kept informed.

At Sea:
As time went by, we heard several stories from the crew and staff about Captain Nash. One waitstaff person thought he was too cautious about avoiding storms, etc. I was happy because I would rather have a cautious captain than a fool hardy one. I also figure he is smarter than the waiter and his knowledge and sensible attitude has kept him and his ships safe for many years.

First Port of Call:
Two people were missing when it was time to depart. They were called many times, and a search began. They had not answered the calls or their phone. The cabin steward was knocking on their door as we were passing to our cabin near theirs, so I heard the conversation. No answer. He unlocked the door, and called out. A voice responded: "I'm sleeping." The Steward said,"You need to call the bridge." Voice, "I'm sleeping." Steward, "I'm coming in. Are you Ms. ?" Voice, "Yes, but I am sleeping." Steward, "Well, I am coming in and call myself." Somehow, they had put their cards through the exit machine, then not left the ship. This is the best part. It was the same person who had reported someone overboard the first day. We heard from a crew member that when the Captain realized it was the same person, he was swearing so much and so hard, that the crew members on the bridge with him were doubling over with laughter.

At another port, we did delay departure for about thirty minutes because the captain said there was a storm just ahead and rather than run through it, we were going to wait for it to pass.

On this cruise, I think the passengers came to feel they knew their captain, and felt really good about him being in charge. I know I did, and heard the same from others.

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