The day dawned, bright and hot. So hot! But it was the day our cruise started! We wandered around town for a bit (see Not Shopping post). And unanimously decided it was time to board the ship, because they give you cold face washers as you get on board and because we were hot.
We wandered out from our hotel and secured a cab to take us from the hotel to the port. Those bags we lugged on trains from the airport to the hotel? They needed to fit into a cab! No problem!!!
Um, well, I suppose that will work! Video Boy spent the whole trip watching out the back window, in case we lost a couple of bags! Meanwhile, only in Hong Kong, could you get in-cab entertainment!
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal was not functional when we were there last year. It is built on the old airport runway, which supposedly was one of the scariest landings in the world. Nowadays, it is luxury for cruisers, who no longer have to schelp to their cruise ships in tenders or park at container terminals.
You know why I love cruising? Lots of reasons, but one of them is ease of boarding. Hand over your bags to the friendly porters, get in the queue of about 2 people, and BAM! Holiday started! I'm sure at some ports and some times there are queues. But not this trip:
Now, one of the reasons I love Princess Cruises, is because they reward you for being a repeat customer with perks. Now we were already Ruby members of the Captain's Circle, which meant we got great perks like 10% off the Reflections DVD (which we NEVER purchase). Meh. If you are on your 6th cruise or 51st to 150th cruise days, we would become Platinum members - which meant FREE INTERNET! We were on our 49th cruise day and unfortunately, we had to wait until AFTER this cruise to become the coveted Platinum members and enjoy priority embarkation (and beat those non-existent queues) and FREE INTERNET.
But as travel agent, you can do online training with Princess, to become an expert, and as you move up through the reward levels, you move up the member levels. Well, it took me a good few hours of intensive quizzing, but before we departed I became a Commodore on Princess online training, which entitled me to ELITE status, baby!!!!! Normally after your 15th cruise or 151th cruise day, you are entitled to Elite perks! Yes - FREE INTERNET! Which meant I could update my family and friends on FB with free abandon! But wait...there's more! Free mini-bar setup with a load of wine and free little bottles of spirits! Thank you! Deluxe canapes selection on formal nights! Thank you! Upgraded bathroom amenities! Thank you! 10% of everything at the boutique, including the sales! Thank you! Complimentary laundry service (towards the end of the cruise, I handed in two bags worth - they would have charged me $148 for all that - instead complimentary for Elite guests)! Thank YOU! Special queue at the purser's desk for Elite passengers! Thank you! Some other stuff too, which we didn't use, but the joy of wearing my black ELITE card around my neck for the entire cruise, with many experienced cruisers wondering "how the hell has she cruised so much?" - THANK YOU!!!
Kids had an interior cabin, as we have had in all previous cruises, but the deals were THAT GOOD, that we were able to afford a balcony cabin! Thank you!
Is a balcony cabin worth it? I have to say, on a warm cruise, like this one, it was nice being able to walk out and enjoy some quiet time, away from all the other guests. Except the occasion where I was enjoying the view and watching Manta Rays (yes!) in the ocean, which of course, the guy on the balcony next to ours, decided was a perfect time to clip his toenails. Sea breeze, warm air, clip. Clip. Clip. Clip. OMG! Really????? It had to have been a guy. Just sayin'... It was also lovely to wake up in the morning and know whether it was morning or night, because there was SUNLIGHT coming in around the edges of the curtains, which you don't get in an interior cabin. Oh, and the extra stateroom space is kinda nice too.
Anyhoo, we phaffed about a bit sorting out soda packages for the kids, getting our cards punched so we didn't lose them like last time (anyone? Wombat Girl?), removing our "pre-paid" gratuities which you don't get charged on Aussie cruises. And then it was beer o'clock!
We actually joined this cruise midway through it's voyage from Shanghai to Singapore. A lot of people disembarked in Hong Kong, and so that's why we must have got such a great deal on the second half of the cruise. So, there was no big sailaway party, but instead, we found a great spot at the aft of the Sapphire Princess, overlooking my favourite pools, and watched the sun set over Hong Kong. Which is where I'll leave you until next post, when we head off to Vietnam!
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