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Aug 13th, 2009, 02:25 PM
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July 20th was a great day for all of us onboard the Tahitian Princess. It was the first time in four days that we didn’t wake up to a cold and foggy North Atlantic Sea weather day. As we pulled into St John’s, Newfoundland, at the eastern most tip of the American Continent, it was as if a miracle occurred… the sun was out and the passengers onboard all had big smiles on their faces. Everyone seemed to be stepping a little more lively and even though many of us aren’t morning people until our first cup of coffee or tea, we were all chattering happily and laughter could be heard all over the ship. Kudos to Captain Ravera and his staff who worked vigilantly on the bridge both day and night to get us safely through the icebergs, gale force winds
and fog. There were times in the past three days when the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see the water. At 4:00AM of the morning we were to dock at St. John’s, when most of us were sleeping Captain Ravera was called to the bridge by his officers.

While the fog horn blew every 5 minutes warning other ships of our position the ship, again this is no Disneyworld ride folks, was safely guided through the proverbial pea-soup. When I asked the Captain how he managed the long hours on the bridge, he
smiled and said, “It’s part of the job, madam.”

The Newfoundlanders were unbelievably welcoming to the passengers on the TP. We woke to the sounds of a fife and drum and when we disembarked there were two beautiful and friendly black Labrador dogs and a black Newfoundland dog to greet us. Many of the passengers took advantage of a photo-op with the dogs. We were also greeted with the firing of two cannons at the entrance of the harbor. Okay, there were quite a few jokes being made as to where the cannons were being aimed. Anyway, it was quite a nice welcome that made our journey there seem even more of an event.

At 9:15AM my husband, “The Crabby Old Guy” and I boarded a van with a few of the nice people we met on board and were off through the beautiful countryside to get on a boat for whale sightings and a look at Puffin Island. (Some of us were shocked when in Iceland we saw roasted puffin on the menu.) Once on the boat they announced that a pod of 11 to 15 humpback whales and a calf were spotted in the fjord, so we took an unexpected brief detour to go whale watching. The commentator on the boat said
whale watching is 90% patience and 10% luck. Let me tell you it was definitely our lucky day because for more than an hour the whales performed as if they were in a show at Sea World. One mother and calf both breached the water at nearly the same time; it was an incredible sight to see a 30 to 40 ton whale rise out of the water and jump 10 feet in the air. So much was going on that many of us missed incredible photo shots all around the small boat. It wasn’t long before we all agreed to meet back
onboard the TP and swap photos. Interestingly enough the majority of us had taken the cruise to see Puffin Island and the whale watching was just secondary, but at the end of it all we agreed that the highlight of the trip were the whales and even 100,000+ birds on the sanctuary island as fantastic as that was, could not top the whale watching experience.

After we spent over an hour watching the whales we headed back on the original course and sailed out to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and North America’s largest Atlantic puffin colony…what an amazing sight that was! Over a hundred-thousand (who do you think counts all of them to verify the tourist script?) puffins, seagulls and kittiwakes were perched on and flying in huge warming flocks around the rocks and inlets of the sanctuary island. The puffins looked like miniature penguins all
lined up in the crevices in the rock. I was surprised to learn that the puffins only keep their colorful orange beak for three months during the mating season.

Once back onboard the TP most of us headed for the buffet. Although many of us planned to take a stroll through the town which, by the way, is very hilly the urge to take a nice relaxing nap seemed to work for many others of us. You must remember that we all wanted to be bright-eyed and alert when we made our after dinner donations at the casino. July 21st we docked in the French Territory of St Pierre et Miquelon. The town provided us a complimentary shuttle (a yellow school bus) to take us into the heart of the town which was about a 10 to 15 minute ride. The town was a beautifully quaint
fishing village that had much of the charm of a French-mainland town. Outside the information center was a lady playing old French songs on an accordion while inside the attendants were handing out maps and samples of the local berry liqueur.
The weather was sunny and beautiful and it was just pleasant to take a leisurely stroll through the town. The shops were open in the AM and PM but, keeping with good French tradition, even when the cruise ships are in port, most of them closed between
12:00 noon and 2:00PM. We were told that cod fishing was the island’s main industry. For any ladies interested they now also sell cod skin pocketbooks and wallets which are quite attractive. Oddly enough the cod skin resembles the snake skin bags and
wallets that were so popular years ago.

Many of the ship’s passengers were trying to get a signal on their cell phones, but to no avail. One of our dinner companions was told that there are no cell phones on the island. When she asked the information hostess how they were able to get by without cell phones she quickly and earnestly replied, “It’s a very small island.” ah, such a French answer…LOL. One passenger on hearing this story did reply that, “Our teenagers would be revolting and sending up smoke signals.”

This evening was the one “Chef’s Table” on this cruise (on this length voyage there are usually two but with Mr. Norovirus on board one had to be cancelled). Unfortunately, we were not able to do this food-as-theater event but from what we hear it is well worth the $75-80 per-person charge. The meal, which begins in the galley with a tour, includes champaign and wine pairings with appetizers and then everyone goes to one of the specialty restaurants for the remainder of their specially prepared gourmet meal. The entrée is the chef’s choice, and usually includes lobster, veal or lamb and all served in a grand style. Passengers are given a souvenir photo with the chef and Maitre de Hotel and a beautifully hand printed menu. Seating for these events are limited so if this sort of fine dining event is of interest inquire of the Maître’ de Hotel or the call the dining
reservations line early on.

Oh, one final note of calm about our Norovirus visitor, particularly for those coming aboard for the July 25th sailing out of New York. I spoke with the ship’s Senior Doctor, Dr. Lana Strydom, just today (July 23) and she told me that since 7/17 all has been normal on the gastrointestinal front! Food service and all the amenities on board are back to a blissful state of enjoyment. They all did a great job in containing this thing.

July 22 was our last port-of-call in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Sadly, it was a foggy rainy day and for the first time on this voyage we had to tender into the port. Many of the passengers decided to just go into the town and walk around while others
took tours of the city and Bell Museum. “Crabby” and I decided not to brave the elements and to stay onboard and get a few things done, like our laundry.

After a relaxing lunch at the buffet (I am going to miss these lunches) I met with Silvio Zampieri, the Maitre D’ Hotel. Silvio is probably one of the best Maitre Ds I have met on any of my cruises. I know last year several of the passengers had problems with the previous Maitre D’ well, let me tell you, for those of you considering to take a cruise on the Tahitian Princess, Silvio is a breath of fresh air.

We sat and chatted for awhile and Silvio told us that there was a change of scheduling and he was supposed to be on vacation with his wife, Laura and two little boys this cruise and instead he was here working. I can’t even begin to imagine the sacrifices made for those who have chosen to work on these cruise ships. Silvio proudly took out a picture of his two little red headed boys and the look in his eyes spoke volumes about just how much he missed them! However, he said they and his wife would be joining him on the ship in Halifax. He couldn’t be more excited and I wished that we could have been there to see this reunion. I asked Silvio how he dealt with difficult passengers on a day-to-day basis as well as supervise some sixty-eight personnel and with a smile on his face he only said, “It’s my job Signora, it is not always easy but it is what I do to
make sure that you all have a pleasant cruise, and besides, most of my staff are good hard working people and most of the passengers are a pleasure to deal with.” Yet, there are the difficult passengers that all of the crew on all of the ships need
to accommodate. It never fails to amaze me how some people can’t make a request…they just demand.

Later this evening as we sat down at our table and I started to think about all the amazing people we had met on this voyage. A couple from Germany, Peter and Martina, a couple from Australia, Richard and Carol, John and Lisa from Florida, John and Sally, Bob and Elaine and Penny and Don, Pat and Mike, Carolina and oh so many more. What made this trip so wonderful was that we met people who we would love to have as friends for the rest of our lives. Perhaps, the length of the cruise gave us more time to enjoy the companionship of so many others. On a seven day cruise you have fewer sea days and less time to spend with other passengers. We have decided that we really enjoy this length cruise for many reasons, including the people meetings, and
it won’t be our last extended cruise. Peter thank you for the collage picture.

July 23 was a day at sea and the countdown to our “return to reality” had begun …less than 48 hours till we disembark. Chef Michael Borns and Maitre D’ Hotel Silvio Zampiere gave a funny and well staged – and succulent - culinary demonstration in the
Cabaret Lounge and followed with a tour of the ship’s galley. Aside from learning some new cooking techniques the banter between the two was very funny and left all of us laughing as we walked out of the lounge into the Casino. I just love the fact that on every cruise ship after you have seen the evening show you walk directly into the Casino. Don’t you think this positioning is little like having the milk displayed in back of the supermarket…location, location, location! Now if only the slot machines would cooperate just once this trip and pay for this great adventure. Okay, can’t I dream? Crabby says my dreaming is costing him a small fortune, LOL.

Today we decided to go to the Steakhouse Restaurant for their “Traditional English Pub Luncheon” (no charge). I ordered the Fish and Chips and Crabby had the Bangers and Mash and we were both delighted with our choices. I would recommend keeping an
eye on the daily events to see when these special theme meals are being presented, they are a great break from the dinning and buffet lunches on these longer trips.

After lunch Crabby had to go to the library to return some books and I chose to wander over to the Casino since I was determined to see at lease on of those darn slot machines finally pay off…or maybe NOT! On the way I bumped into JJ King, our Cruise
Director. If you have never sailed with JJ before you’re missing a real personality. For you Baby Boomers out there I would describe him as a cross between Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, and he sings with the style of an accomplished crooner! Yes
ladies, he’s charming, debonair and sniffle, sniffle…happily married to the Manager of the Boutique Shops onboard. There I go again dreaming, oops just kidding Crabby.

As you can see I’m definitely a people person and love to ask questions (I blame it on my age). I asked JJ what led him to a life at sea. He replied “I come from Kent, England and have been with Princess Cruise Lines for 23 years. I first started out
as an entertainer and singer. When you are a land based entertainer you spend a good deal of time auditioning for and waiting for your next job. At sea, well, we get to do what we love every single day, entertain people.” When asked about some of the
difficulties of his position JJ said that on the World Cruise they had 56 Cabaret acts to schedule and manage. This means setting up rehearsals as soon as the act boards, getting the staging right and dealing with the entertainer’s needs and personalities.

Princess Corporate Offices assigns the entertainment onboard each ship and the Cruise Director and his assistant directors have a lot of logistic issues including saying some prays that they all make their flights and show up at their designated port to
board the ship and entertain on time and with their equipment. On this cruise one of the entertainers arrived on the ship without his luggage. Quickly, JJ had to find an outfit for him to wear. A few hours later the wonderful pop-violin musician
was all outfitted in his signature white attire, he was dressed in a pair of officer’s white pants, a shirt from the boutique and a borrowed tie with some sequins glued on to it and he was on stage entertaining all the passengers. When for some reason or other the ship cannot get into the port or has to divert the Cruise Director and his staff are
scrambling to create and fill time with unplanned events for the entire day. What I found most interesting about JJ was his ability to manage all the entertainment on the ship and still be very visible and take the time to sit and talk with the passengers. Also, Princess, particularly on this type of upscale cruise, does not inundate passengers with countless “advertisement” announcements during the voyage. The best cruise directors, like JJ, provide just the correct amount of PA-delivered information to help you know what is going on but not so much that you feel you just stepped into the middle of a Circus Midway. JJ and team, thank you for a job well done!

Oh! I don’t want to forget to give a special mention about Frankie, the Assistant Cruise Director who also can be seen working hard all day and into the evening all over the ship. Late one evening as we were leaving the Casino Lounge Frankie was
diligently putting away all of the Karaoke equipment. I asked Frankie “When do you sleep?” He laughed and said “When the job is done.” Frankie was known by many of the passengers we joined on the cruise and all loved having him on board. Frankie not
only oversees many of the programs on board he also MC’s several of them. He has over 17 years experience at sea conversing with passengers and making their voyage very comfortable and enjoyable. We would love to cruise again with Frankie, and if any
of you see him on a cruise, say “HI” to him for Crabby and I.

July 24 is our final day at sea. It’s hard to believe that 18 days could pass so quickly. According to the map we are just off the coast of Maine. It’s going to be a very busy day and the Tahitian Princess is rocking and rolling and not just with activity-it is a bit wavy out there in the Atlantic. Oddly enough this is probably the roughest seas we have had in the 18 days. Perhaps, the seas are waving farewell, (ouch! Bad pun).

Early that day Crabby was busy packing and I was going to see what sales were going on in the boutiques today. Yep, the tee shirts are all on sale. Some great jewelry sales but my dear husband would throw me overboard if he saw an exorbitant amount
(according to him) on my cruise card. You know, I should just buy a piece of jewelry and charge it to that darn slot machine by the door. Can’t wait for Crabby to see my casino credits, oops!

This afternoon the Crabby Old Guy is giving a seminar on…and you won’t believe this…drum roll…” A Behind The Scenes Look At The Marketing of Viagra”! Yes, Crabby worked for Pfizer and was amazingly involved with the birth of the world’s most incredible sex drug. Yes, there were plenty of chuckles during the talk as he described how the churches, Congress and many celebrities were involved in getting the drug to market quickly. He did request that no one ask a personal question in regard to taking
Viagra themselves and made sure that everyone knew there would be no samples...LOL. I was just happy this talk was given on the last day since poor Crabby, can you image if it was the first day would have spent the entire trip answering questions.

Well according to Frankie, who MC’d, and JJ the seminar was just great. He had over 200 people there and they all seemed to enjoy it. Considering the rolling of the ship it was a great turn out. Good job Crabby!

Let me tell everyone before I receive a 1000 emails complaining about my calling my sweet husband The Crabby Old Guy. He was the one who gave himself that name. He reads all my blogs and reviews them before I publish then and very often will remind me of a funny story about himself that I missed.
Dinner this last evening was going to be very special night. We had decided a few days before to invite some of the people who had become friends to have a farewell dinner with us at Sabatini’s Trattoria. I also invited Captain Ravera and the ship’s
physician Doctor Lana Strydom to join us. We were all so pleasantly surprised when the Captain and the Doctor sat down and joined us.

The company of friends, food and conversation was wonderful. We exchanged email addresses and reminisced. We had shared so many adventures and laughs in the past 18 days that we all agreed that we had to stay in touch. Nello, one of the wonderful
dining room supervisors, and Silvio stopped by and we thanked them for their fabulous service. It was an interesting feeling to know that we boarded the ship in Dover and did not know any of the passengers onboard and we were now leaving with the
feeling of family members leaving a reunion.

July 25 arrival New York. The Statue of Liberty never looked so sweet. Breakfast would be the last meal we had onboard the Tahitian Princess – for this trip. Entering the Buffet on Deck 9 was bittersweet. Good-byes and hugs were seen everywhere.
We all wanted to hold onto one more moment on this amazing cruise. My wonderful friend Carol (an artist from Australia) surprised me with a pastel of a beautiful dolphin. Carol, it is hanging in my office and I will cherish it forever.

Captain Ravera, and crew, once again you have given us a memorable and safe cruise. It was a privilege to be invited to dine at your table. Hopefully we will meet again on the Ocean Princess (the new name for the Tahitian Princess when it leaves dry-
dock in November). We appreciate the hours you stood on the bridge through the fog, icebergs and rough seas while we slept comfortably in our beds. You are a Captain of Captains!

Ciao and Warm Hugs,

The Savvy Old Lady
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Sep 6th, 2009, 09:14 PM
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Thank you for authoring an informative article on your adventures on board the Tahitian Princess. I will be boarding the TH in Dover 17 Sep for the voyage to Singapore. Your article on the ship and its crew has made me feel good about my cruise ship choice. Again, thanks for publishing on this forum..............Doug Moore
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