Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Coral Princess Cruise, April 2007 -- Day 9

Tuesday, at sea

It's the final full day at sea so I went shopping. I had gone down to the shops in the ship's atrium lobby several times to look for a t-shirt. But every time I did we were in port and the shops, as well as the casino, are all closed when the ship is in port.

This time I found a Princess logo Panama Canal shirt, bright yellow, and bought it. Jack's purchase for this trip was an orange Ocho Rios shirt he bought last Saturday when Maroon brought us back to the ship after our visit to Firefly.

There are many items from inexpensive to luxury class for sale on the ship and much more variety of items on shore from merchants "approved" by Princess. The TV on board constantly urges us to shop from these stores when we get to a port. We assume Princess shares in the profits. Art works, jewelry, cosmetics and watches seem to be the most popular.

We are pretty much immune to the shopping urge and ignore all the flyers stuffed in our mailbox every day with "special offers." A shopaholic would be in serious trouble.

Other end-of-cruise chores include packing, taking books back to the ship's library, using up the Internet Cafe minutes (100 minutes for US$55.00!) and fixing tip envelopes for our favorites on the staff.

The Coral Princess staff was from all over the world but there seemed to be fewer people from the Philippines than usual. And lots more from Eastern Europe -- many from Romania and Slovenia. Our room steward, Ionel, and our favorite waitress, Irina, were both Romanian and efficient and engaging.

We chose "anytime dining" so we took most of our evening meals in the Bordeaux dining room on Plaza Deck 5. We arranged to have the same table and Irina was our server along with her attentive assistant waiter, Gilberto, from Mexico city. Irina was an excellent, professional server with seven year's experience with Princess Cruises. There are not a lot of women serving and she will go far.

Irina and Gilberto were a great team and we were in good hands. If you didn't order what Irina recommended she would bring you your order and then bring what she wanted you to have. Usually she was right.

Tips on Princess are added to your bill automatically ($10 US per day) but for extra special service a little extra tip is appropriate. Portions of the $10-a-day tip go to staff members you never see and would never be able to give tips to anyway. We always tipped our room service waiters a dollar or two whenever they brought us anything -- water, ice, extra glasses, a bowl of fruit, etc., as they are the lowest paid and generally most cheerful workers on the ship.

Packing was no problem as we didn't buy anything large. When we went to dinner we left our luggage -- except for our hand carry items -- in the hall and when we came back it was gone.

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