We set off from the Midlands around midday on Saturday 28th May 2011, heading for Southampton to join the Grand Princess, of Princess Cruises, due to sail at 1600 hours for the Norwegian Fjords. On arrival at the docks we were met by a CPS (Cruise and Passenger Services) representative and leaving our car to be valet parked we headed into the terminal. Checking in, security and boarding was a smooth, quick and painless process and in around 10 minutes we were boarding the ship! As we approached I was amazed by just how huge the ship really was – I mean I was expecting a cruise ship to be huge, but never having seen one up close before it was still surprising how they look even bigger than you would expect!
As we boarded the ship we had our first photo opportunity – something that was to become quite a highlight of the trip for us! lol
Once we had found our ‘stateroom’ we had chance to peruse our first copy of the daily newsletter ‘The Princess Patter’ which informs guests of all the goings on aboard so you can plan your day/evening. We opted for the simple choice of exploring the ship whilst participating in a little ‘find your way around’ treasure hunt, collecting stamps on a card at various locations to enter a prize draw to win goodies including photos, spa treatments and money off onboard shopping etc, to be followed by food then our first ‘Movie under the Stars’ – Tron: Legacy (despite having seen the film before we fancied just chilling for the evening knowing there would be plenty to keep us occupied all week!)
Then it was time for the compulsory emergency exercise, collect your life-jacket from your stateroom and proceed to your ‘muster station’ for a demonstration how to wear the jacket and talk through the emergency escape procedures. Not fun, but vital for the safety of all aboard!
As the ship set sail a party was held by the pool and the prize winners drawn from the treasure hunt (we didn’t win anything ), we experienced a taster of hot stones massage, then got dressed up and headed down to the dining room for our evening meal – it all seemed very ‘posh’, which by the way did you know was a term coined from the early days of cruising? – It means ‘Port out, Starboard home‘ which was the preference of ‘richer’ cruisers who could afford ‘outside’ staterooms so they could have the best views! ;P We opted for the ‘anytime dining’ as I for one don’t like being tied down to eating at a set time! This meant we could eat in the Michelangelo or DaVinic dining rooms between 5:45-10pm to fit around anything else we wanted to do. In addition to this option there was the choice of ‘Traditional dining’ with set meal times at 6 or 8.30pm, 2 specialty (additional cost) dining rooms and various ‘casual dining’ options including pizzeria, burger/hotdog grill and what was to become our favored dining option for the rest of the week – the Horizon Court buffet diner, open from 6am till 11.30pm serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening meal buffet options – perfect for the lazy diner/over-eaters/picky eaters/children.
With a massage booked for 8am the next day we headed to bed after the movie, first checking the ‘patter’ to see what would be in store for us the next day. This lead to my first disappointment, the lack of ‘scholorship@sea’ activities, something I had been particularly looking forward to. Basically I chose Princess cruise above many other options because they had this program of over 40 courses (educational and leisure) and lectures aboard each ship – little did I know (and their website didn’t mention) that this is actually being phased out/replaced and it is mainly only on longer cruises (14 days). No wonder everyone I asked about it on board didn’t seem to know what I was going on about! 😦 Oh well, at least it looked like there was still plenty to do, even if I wouldn’t be able to indulge my inner geek as much as I would have liked!
- My First Cruise – Norweigan Fjords 28th May-04th June 2011 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Hints and tips for your Grand Princess Norwegian Fjords cruise from Southampton (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Where can I smoke on a cruise ship? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 3 (showard76.wordpress.com)