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Bill McNicholas

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About Me

I am a retired USN Captain, business consultant  to Fortune 500 companies, and frequent cruiser!
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  • Cruise tip or discovery
    Caribbean Princess out of Houston cruising Western Caribbean.Overall impressions of the cruise and the trip          We enjoyed the cruise on the Caribbean Princess out of Houston for seven days in the Western Caribbean visiting Cozumel, Roatan, and Belize.  The weather was clear, sunny, warm, and humid.  It was totally relaxing for the most part except for the Norovirus Outbreak, a small one, which the ship handled quickly and under the radar.  This being our fourth cruise through the Caribbean will be our last.  It is different ports, same stores or types, and same junk only with different logos.  Cruising is a great getaway, only unpacking once, visiting different ports, getting off and touring if one wants or just staying on board and enjoying the day and facilities.  This is what we enjoy.   • highlights & top ship features          The Crown Steak House and Sabatini’s Italian Restaurants were great in food and service, but there was a $25.00/person sur charge for them.  The menu was very creative, the service great, and the food super.   The Lido deck theater was fun and a main attraction on the ship.  A lot of first run movies plus some oldies along with recorded concerts of various stars.   • impressions ... of dining          The ship had to main dining rooms and the food went from just okay to great, depending on the menu.  Lobster night was superb which always occurs on the last formal night.  Other times, questionable.  This being our second cruise on Princess, I would rate the food as not as good as the Grand Princess, which we were on in October and November.  Service in the two main dining rooms was great.  Much better than the service we received on the Grand.  The Buffet was a buffet, need I say more, since I am not a great favorite of buffets.  The food was served and not self service due to the Norovirus.  I did not experience the Caribe Restaurant Buffet which changed ethnic venues daily.  There was a pizza and hamburger/hot dog bars poolside.  Did not partake.   • impressions …of the stateroom          The stateroom we had was a mini suite with balcony.  It was totally acceptable and we enjoyed.  The one problem is the step into/out of the bathroom.  At night in the dark or in rough seas, it is an accident waiting to happen.  On the Grand Princess, we had some rough weather, more elderly people, and a lot of falls and injuries.   • impressions …of entertainment          The entertainment was not to our standard or what we expected.  The shows were sort of hammy.  The British Invasion, which we also saw on the Grand, was just a bad and not what one expected in the way of music.  The comedians left a lot to be desired and the material seemed to be just rehashed.   • impression …of activities          The ship had continual activities for all ages, just had to pick what you wanted to do.  At times, desired choices conflicted, since there were so many and ran from 6AM till 1AM.   • impressions …of best bets on shore          Cozumel-take a local horse and buggy trip around town and through the community.  Great opportunity to see Cozumel as it is, not like the strip along the waterfront.          Roatan-The beach trip to Tabyana Beach and the reef was a fun and enjoyable experience.  The beach was beautiful, lunch great, water warm and clear, lots of fish.  Negative was that the reef, though live coral was brown and gray.          Belize-Went on the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins and River Trip.  The bus trip to the ruins was an hour and we had a great guide.  The ruins were awesome and the guide was great in taking the time to provide the history.  The trip to lunch and the boat was another hour.  Lunch was an “It was Edible”.  The boat trip down the river and back to the boat.  Nature’s willingness to cooperate is a major.  From seeing crocs, monkeys, iguanas, birds, termite nests, manatees, dolphins, and many more, time of year and migration play a big role.   • impressions …insider tips          Be prepared for Norovirus in Caribbean since there have been numerous outbreaks on various cruise ships this year.  Carry and use plenty of hand sanitizer, wash hands frequently, and even wear latex gloves when using the railings.  Be prepared to kick back, relax, enjoy, and don’t hold high expectations, otherwise you may be disappointed.  The unpack, kick back, relax, and enjoy is what it is all about regardless of destinations.   • impressions …what's the makeup of fellow passengers (who's on board)          This cruise had passengers from the recently born to the almost centurions with most being in the 50-70 age range from all walks of life.  First time cruisers to a couple that have cruised on Princess over 800 days.   • Impressions …internet connectivity          Internet connectivity is from the satellite and I believe through a router on the ship.  Much better than my experience on the Grand.  Not what you have at home, but doable.  Just the price in the $0.50-$0.80/minute range depending on how many minutes one buys.   • impressions …some things that could have been better.          The embarkation and luggage handling left something to be desired.  Long lines and slow delivery of luggage to staterooms.  60 minutes to stateroom and the luggage was almost 4 hours.  Not like the Grand out of San Francisco where it was under 30 minutes from when the porter grabbed your luggage and you were at your stateroom with the luggage waiting there.  Debarkation was a different story, under 20 minutes from our checkout time, pick up luggage, customs, and out of the terminal.           Traveling the 2.5 hours down the channel from Houston limited the ship to what alcohols it could serve and the casino was closed until the ship cleared Texas law and reached international waters.  Not a strong positive if you wanted a good drink or leave a little money at the tables, but Houston is the departure port.           The distribution of information and activities seemed to be lacking, even though most were in the daily news paper.  It just seemed secretive on some things and activities. (E.g. the balloons in the atrium and then disappeared late in the evening and the talent competition between the two main dining rooms was only announced at dinner, but not in the daily news.  Understand on the Norovirus since the ship did not want to create panic.    (Along with some details about the cruise ship name, itinerary and pricing)          Caribbean Princess out of Houston, pricing for the mini-suite was approximately $1,100/person.  The itinerary was depart Houston at 5:00PM Saturday, Sunday (Formal Night), Monday in Cozumel, Tuesday in Roatan, Wednesday in Belize, Thursday (Formal Night) and Friday sea days, Saturday debark starting at 8AM.
  • My next cruise
    Regaent Navigator to Alaska for a second time.
  • All-time favorite cruise
    Regent Navigator 21 day cruise,  Ft. Lauderdale to SF
  • Favorite tropical drink
    Maitai with Orchid, otherwise Gray Goose or Tito's up, shaken, no virmuth with 2 olives and an onion...
  • Favorite beach
    None
  • Favorite cruise ship activity
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  • Dream cruise destination
    None
  • Desert island packing list
    None
  • Claim to fame/Bragging rights
    None
  • Ask me about ...
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