Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cruising New England with Princess

morning view from the Ramada in RenoWe are comfortably settled in to our room at the Ramada Inn in Reno, great view of town, comfy bed, fat pillows, inexpensive breakfast downstairs, and screaming fast free WiFi on the tenth floor.  One of the disadvantages of living in the west is the dearth of cruise ports, meaning if we are to cruise anywhere but Alaska or Mexico, we have to fly east to board a ship.  Yesterday was a very long day, awake at 5 or so as we sailed into New York Harbor, then the long process of disembarkation, airport shuttles, airport security and time changes.  We definitely needed a good night’s sleep before getting on the road today and traveling back to Klamath Falls.

setting sun from our balcony on the Caribbean PrincessI plan to write about each day of the cruise in the next few days.  For those who do follow along using the various blog rolls, those posts will not show up because I plan to set the post date for the actual cruise day.  A heads up in case you are interested in reading about this particular cruise.  Just pop over to the archives and there you will find titles based on the date and the port.  Eventually. 

This morning I tried to count cruises, and I think this was the 8th one for me, and the 3rd cruise on Princess.  To say it was disappointing might be an exaggeration, but to call it memorable would be a serious stretch.  We have discussed a bit just what we missed on this cruise, and came to the conclusion that it was that sense of luxury that makes a cruise so enticing that we missed most.

New England_New York-67In fairness, the Caribbean Princess was a beautiful ship, one of the biggest in the Princess fleet with 3200 passengers on board.  The common areas were lovely, the ship spotlessly clean, the staff friendly and accomplished.  Our stateroom was roomy and the balcony a nice amenity, our steward unobtrusive in the background, but everything was done well.

Caribbean Princess anchored at NewportWhat I missed most was truly great food.  The Palms dining room was basically adequate, but not spectacular.  In fact, it was so nondescript that I felt no need to take food photos or even document the menu for the day.  The one night that we passed on the dining room and chose to eat at the Horizon Court Buffet was a huge mistake.  If we thought the dining room was bland, that was before we had the truly awful supper at the buffet.  Another time when Mo decided to try the Calypso deck pizza for a late lunch was a huge bust, with crust that competed directly with thin cardboard and toppings thin enough to match.  Ugh.

arriving in Bar Harbor MaineIn addition to the bland and boring food, there were no great artistic presentations, beautiful ice sculptures, carved fruit, not a single special deck food event, not a midnight buffet or dessert extravaganza.  Breakfast was tolerable, but the pastries were dry and nondescript as well, the bacon greasy and flavorless and the fruit not very sweet.  ah well.  It isn’t just about the food, but it should be at least more fun than a local cheap buffet restaurant.  After paying big bucks for a cruise it just irritates me that to get a good meal we are expected to pay 25 per person extra for a meal in the steak house or the Italian restaurant.

We chose this cruise to see New England in the fall, minus the traffic.  New England wasn’t in much of a mood for color, however, and we only saw a little bit of color here and there.  That certainly has nothing to do with the cruise line, of course, but was still disappointing.  We also discovered that when booking a cruise, we need to be sure that there are sea days spaced in between ports.  Day after day of walking and exploring new places left us fairly well exhausted without much time to actually enjoy that relaxing thing that can happen on a longer cruise.  Next time it will be a longer trip, with more sea days, probably somewhere WARM, and probably with a different cruise line.

Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode IslandI will save my leaf peeping for a time when we are willing to drive to the east coast and visit with the friends I have there.  Yes, the traffic will be awful, the roads narrow, the campgrounds expensive.  Hopefully when we do it we can take our time and follow the leaves on their terms.  I do so much love hardwood forests and want to see them in their full glory of color.

the historic church steeples have all been dwarfed by the skyscrapersThere were definitely high points in some of the ports.  I loved seeing Newport, Rhode Island, a place I barely heard of before we spent the day walking the town and the Cliff Walk.  The weather was gorgeous, the town lovely.  Boston was a treat, and we walked all day and enjoyed a wonderful bowl of truly good clam chowder at Cheers.  The beautiful surprise of the trip was Bar Harbor, (or as I am told Bah Hahbah) Maine, on Mt Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.  We WILL return to Bar Harbor and the park someday with the motorhome and take our time exploring the breathtaking Maine coast.

it is a lobster roll in Bar Harbor MaineSaint John in New Brunswick was an interesting city, with very old stone buildings and nice shopping.  We don’t do cruises for the shopping, however, but we did enjoy seeing the Bay of Fundy in spite of the overcast day and dingy buildings. Halifax Nova Scotia was a complete bust, with our ship’s captain making the decision that 50 knot winds and 14 foot seas would not make for a comfortable ride.  Instead we were routed into Portland, Maine.  Docking in the rain, we looked out over the gloomy city with apprehension.  Once walking around, however, we enjoyed the town and even found some great Mexican food to offset all that bland stuff we had been eating on the ship.  Hot salsa and more jalapenos please in my lobster quesadilla!

Shore Walk in Bar HarborHere in Reno the sun is shining and the skies are clear with temperatures predicted to be in the 70’s.  Our route home via 395 will be beautiful, and we are both really looking forward to picking up the dog and the cat at the Double C and getting back home to our cozy house in the forest. We miss the MoHo as well, and the expense of this trip, the uncomfortable hard bed with a lumpy foam topper surely reminded us that RV travel is the true luxury, even if I do have to cook my very own fabulous food.  At least it is fabulous and tasty!

I hear that the aspens are turning in Klamath, and am looking forward to seeing how our trees are doing and if the green tomatoes I put on the counter before we left have turned red. I look forward to writing about our port visits and having the time to review the photos as I think about what we enjoyed most about this cruise.