A very interesting, rejuvenating and memorable 24-day last segment of 2019 World Cruise
Pacific Princess Cruise Review by romyfernandez
My wife and I did not take the complete 111 days 2019 World Cruise with Pacific Princess (PP), Jan 3-Apr 27, Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Lauderdale for two reasons. 1) We had been to almost 93% of the first 87 days, from Ft. Lauderdale to Cape Town in our earlier cruises. 2) We needed time to prepare our 2018 income tax returns in Canada due April 30.
While we had been to Barbados, Guadeloupe and St. Martin several times in the past, we’ve not been to Cape Town, S.A., Luderitz, Namibia, Walvis Bay, Namibia, St. Helena (U.K. Territory, Natal, Brazil, Fortaleza, Brazil, and Devil’s Island, French Guiana, interesting and historical ports in this voyage. This had been in our bucket list for quite some time.
Luck was in our side when due to a cancellation, Oceanview stateroom 4056 was available for our taking on January 28, 2019.
Having cruised with this ship three times in the past, involving a total of 60 cruise days, we knew what to expect on this boat. Pacific Princess continues to live up with Cruise Critic’s assessment as the Best Small Cruise Ship. An intimate ambience with the amenities of a larger ship, this old but elegant beauty sails the world.
With only 670 guest capacity, the 423 guests completing the 111 day world cruise, many had become intimate. We were a couple of 141 guests who joined the last segment of the cruise at Cape Town on April 3rd, disembarking at Ft. Lauderdale on April 27.
What we didn’t expect was Oceanview cabin 4056 would become our home away from home for 24 days. It is one of only two staterooms with wheel chair access. As such, it has more floor space than our balcony staterooms we stayed in mega ships in the past – approximately 280 sq ft of total room space. The washroom and bathroom area was about 56 sq ft, of which the shower area was about 20 sq ft, the largest shower area we’ve had in our many years of cruising.
There was a grab bar near the sink. There were two grab bars and an emergency call button near the toilet bowl. And there were four grab bars in the curtained shower area and a collapsible seat for physically-challenged guests.
Immediately next right to our cabin was the Passenger Service Desk, the Shore Excursion Desk, the Destination Expert Desk, the Purser’s Foyer area with beautiful furniture and furnishings, which we considered as our living room where Arts & Crafts Classes, Carpet Bowls Challenge and other indoor sporting events were held. The impressive ala Titanic stair case joins Deck 4 and Deck 5 Atrium where big events were held, including Champagne Waterfall Night, and Easter Eggs Exhibits. A short walk on our hallway to the left was a small but reliable Medical Center.
Pacific has only two lifts—FWD and AFT. Being on midship location, from our cabin just required a short walk to either lifts to reach public areas on Decks 4, 5, 9, 10 and 11.
Being a small ship, we could easily walk from AFT to FWD or vice-versa with ease, and use the lifts or walk up the stairs from our deck to Deck 9, where the Panorama Buffet Restaurant, Pizzeria, BBQ Grill, ice cream parlor, the Bandstand, pool bar, the pool (only one and small), whirlpool, Internet Cafe, Card Room, Lotus Spa and Fitness Center are located.
Gangway for going off and boarding the ship was often located on Deck 4 FWD, a short walk from our cabin. Gangway for tender was located one deck below, Deck 3 FWD.
Having also cruised with other cruise lines, we always enjoy the food served in the buffet and main dining restaurants on Princess Cruises, especially on this voyage.
Good and friendly service is the norm that can be expected from every cruise lines these days. But having our stateroom steward, our waiter at the main dining room, and many dining staff in the buffet restaurant coming from our native country was a bonus, who treated us royally and pampered us with their friendly and outstanding housekeeping and dining services, making our cruise pleasant, relaxing and memorable.
The guest performers at showtime at Cabaret Lounge were all great and entertaining artists. Being a small ship, PP did not have a production show of its own as being shown in Princess bigger ships. As the norm with smaller ships with other cruise lines, PP has farmed out its production shows to Belinda King Creative Productions (based in Southampton) whose professional singers and dancers (former ballroom dancing winners with ballet and gymnastic training) always dazzled the audience with their every performance.
On this voyage, we enjoyed the informative destination talks and slides shown about the ports we were about to visit and the various interesting and informative enrichment lectures, both held at Cabaret Lounge and replayed the following day on cabin TV. At this lounge, they also showed new movies with free popcorn every time the ship was at sea (the same movies replayed in Cabin’s TV the following day). The synopsis of all movies shown was available at the Library or at Passenger Services Desk.
One of the unique services provided by Princess only on world cruises was the availability of five abridged newspapers available at Passenger Services daily to keep up with current events while away from home—USA Times, The Canadian, Britain Today, Australia Today ,and European News. At the end of the cruise, Princess also provides each stateroom informative “Log of the Cruise,” summarizing the ports covered, distance (Nautical Miles) sailed from embarkation to disembarkation and speed (Knots) between ports for every cruise that other cruise lines do not provide.
On a cruise, one can be active or lazy. Many of the 423 guests completing the 111-day are ‘senior seniors’ who retired to their cabin after the first showtime at 8:00pm. Given our ‘junior senior’ age (79 and 73), we attended events that still gave us enjoyment, and did our own things to have the relaxation we needed after the last harsh and extremely cold winter we had in Canada.
To enrich further our travel experience, we booked for shore excursions on places we’ve not visited yet, organized by Princess (which the ship will wait for any unexpected delay returning to the boat). It was worth every penny we paid for them.
Cape Town, S.A.: We were disappointed our prepaid excursion to the summit of Table Mountain was cancelled on April 4 as it was raining hard that day. Instead it was replaced with a visit to South African Museum and driving tour of the seacoast which we did not see much because of the bad weather. Because the replacement tour was short by 1.5 hours of what we paid, as a good will Gesture, Princess offered us 75% discount! Our tour of the museum for one hour was not wasted. Apart from the floor having dinosaur exhibits we failed to cover (we’ve seen lots of them in Canada and USA), we covered three floors showing stuffed mammals and birds of South Africa, vicariously enjoying the experience of having taken African Safari excursion. Part of the museum was about Nelson Mandela, Tata Mandiba to the South Africans. Again, we saved time and money going to Johannesburg to visit Mandela’s Museum.
Luderitz, Namibia, an isolated town built on a rocky promontory. Visited Felsenkirche (the Church on the Rocks): and Goerke Haus, a grand estate dating to the early 1900s that has been restored to its former glory and authentic period furniture and furnishings, a historical old mansion also sitting on a rock.
Walvis Bay, Namibia (another German colony): Many in our group climbed Dune 7, the highest of the famous massive sand dunes that line the coast, an experience of a lifetime. Even attempting to climb part of the dune is a lifetime experience. Visited Mondesa Township, a village just a few kilometers from the resort of Swakopmund (where Angelina Jolie delivered one of her daughters), but a world away, less developed and less familiar to Westerners. Explored the real Africa-immersing ourselves in its people and authentic experiences.
St. Helena, (UK Territory in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and Brazil where Napoleon Bonaparte was last exiled [he escaped on his first two exiles], died and buried, although his body was returned to France in 1840): Apart from climbing Jacob’s Ladder, built in 1829, with 699 steep steps connecting the lower Jamestown(Capital) to Ladder Hill Fort above, we also had the Napoleon Experience visiting Longwood House, his final residence during his 6 year exile on the island from 1815-1821. The house is now a museum (no photos allowed) maintained by France showing the bed he died, medals, handwritten manuscripts, and other memorabilia. Visited his well preserved tomb (1821) located on a beautiful, serene rain forest. Also visited The Plantation House, a handsome, Georgian-style house built in 1792, as the country residence for the Governor of the Honourable East India Company, now home to the Governor of St. Helana. The Plantation Grounds are home to Jonathan, a Sychelles Giant Tortoise, approximately 187 years old, considered to be the world’s eldest living reptile.
Natal, Brazil, the 400-year old “City of the Sun”: Visited the largest cashew tree, close to the beautiful Pirangi Beach. Measuring 1,640 feet around, it’s earned a place in the “Guinness Book of Records.” It can be a misnomer though. It’s not a one-trunk tree, like the giant Sequoia trees. The main trunk is more than 125 years old, its roots underground, however, spreads and sprouts as new trunks covering the 1,640 feet enclosed mini-park for this phenomenal tree.
Fortaleza, Brazil, Brazil’s 5th largest city, formerly a Dutch fortress built in 1654: Lovingly nicknamed the “city of light” for its sun-filled days, drove through its many, long stretch of beaches, where the locals and tourists flock all-year round. Drove through its historical buildings downtown. And a stop for almost 50 minutes in Central Market, a 4-storey building, where souvenir items abound for purchase at a discount after bargaining!
It was the last stop where the women in our bus, including my wife, said they needed more time!
Note: Local craft markets in Namibia and Brazil didn’t accept U.S. currency. To exchange US $ into local currency with Passenger Services on the ship, there was a commission of US$4.50 per transaction. As well, local craft vendors in these two countries we visited, hardly spoke English.
Pacific Princess will still make the 2020 World Cruise for Princess Cruises. However, Island Princess with more guests (2,200) and balconies (700+) will make its debut making the 2021 World Cruise, covering 111 days, cross the equator 2 times, 50 destinations, 14 late night calls, 32 countries, 34,000 nautical miles and 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For business reasons, Island Princess is replacing Pacific Princess in sailing around the world. With more cabin rooms, the guests will also benefit in that compared with Pacific Princess with lesser guest capacity being a small ship, the cruise fare will be lesser sailing with Island Princess.
To entice guests on this voyage, Princess had special but limited time offers – 2021 World Cruise Early Booking Benefits for guests still on board the PP and before disembarking at their final destination, Ft. Lauderdale or L.A.: Free Onboard Credit (by stateroom category), Free Gratuities (by stateroom category, Free Wi-Fi, Free Air (by stateroom category), Free Stateroom Location Upgrade, Free Specialty Dining (up to 4 dining), Free Wine: Up to four bottles worth $32 per bottle, and Princess Cruises Captain’s Circle Launch Savings up to $1,000 per person discount applicable to all stateroom categories for guests completing the 111-day voyage (FLL/FLL OR LAX/LAX), or 97-day voyage (LAX-FLL).
Because of the above tempting early booking benefits, when we disembarked Pacific Princess at Ft. Lauderdale on April 27, 2019, the 2021 World Cruise with Island Princess was almost or practically sold out!
As of April 27, 2019, contrary to circulating rumors, Princess Cruises does not have any plan of selling Pacific Princess after she completes its 2020 World Cruise. Whatever the fate of Pacific Princess after that voyage, my wife and I could cherish we’ve been part of her cruising legacy.
It was one of only two staterooms with wheel chair access. As such, it had more floor space than our balcony staterooms we stayed in mega ships in the past -- approximately 280 sq ft of total room space. The washroom and bathroom areas were about 56 sq ft of which the shower area was about 20 sq ft, the largest shower area we've had in our many years of cruising!
There were many grab bars and amenities for physically-challenged guests in the washroom and shower areas. See body of review for details and why we considered this cabin our home away from home throughout our cruise.
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We've been to this port a number of times in the past. This time we just did some shopping at the cruise terminal duty free mall.
Having been to this tendered port in the past, this time we just walked from the pier to a beach on a cove past the marina of expensive yacths where we enjoyed a relaxing swim and met interesting and friendly natives.
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