Royal Princess (III) - Maiden Voyage
Once we were on the move nearly twenty minutes late, I went back to the extremely loud sailaway party.  The volume for the band was so high is almost drowned out the Love Boat horn while deafening the rest of us.  The only escape from the racket forward appears the be the Sanctuary but you shouldn't have to pay to enjoy some peace and quiet.  There is no decent observation deck on this ship, reminiscent of Norwegian Epic, and it wasn't the only thing taken from that NCL cruise ship.  The boast they have the biggest MUTS screen at sea which is fine but the thing is rather obtrusive.  As we neared Hythe I went round the side and it was such a relief when the band shut up.  The silence was bliss and the sort of thing you normally get on an observation deck.  I was usually back inside by then but a bloke was looking for Osborne House, which I didn't realise you could see from there.  I'm used to Norris Castle, which we passed with the top of Osborne House peeking over the trees.  Mark and Matt left once we'd passed Cowes but I stayed out a while longer.
I went back in and hit the shops!  The usual logo shop also had sundries, including adaptors and washing powder for the launderettes, which is really useful.  The fridge magnets were a bit naff, no bears or postcards.  I had 10% off due to being Elite anyway but this day they gave 10% anyway so I saved more.  I did like the bags they were put into.  Much nicer than the awful plain white bags we're used to across most cruise lines.  When I returned to the cabin, I found it was already turned down for the night.  Even though we were now well on our way, the info channel and weather remained on Friday the 14th.  Dinner was at 8.15pm in the Allegro, which was aft.  One thing they had kept from their P&O heritage when they designed the Grand class, along with the rising sun on the prow.  I was put on a table with singles, though not all of us turned up.  Ron from Portsmouth, Dot from Lancashire and Hazel from Yorkshire were the others, although Hazel said her husband Barry was all cruised out so she came alone.  It's very rare solo travellers are put together so this was welcomed by us all as it's easier to have a decent flow of conversation than when you're dumped with couples and families.  Because Ron and Hazel ordered the same wine, Victor, our junior waiter, thought they were together so Dot and I made jokes about being bridesmaids and mentioning the wedding chapel onboard.  Hazel pointed out she already had a husband so we said it didn't matter, he didn't have to know.  She could go on cruises with her other one.  My dietary requirement hadn't got through but as usual on first nights I choose something simple and Aileen (pronounced Eileen) was very helpful as was Michael, the head waiter in our section.  The food wasn't bad although the chicken was a little pink in places.  While the others went to the Welcome Aboard show in the theatre, I stayed to take photos of the restaurant while it was quiet then went back to the cabin to do the internet.  Being Elite I had a choice of 150 free minutes of 250 for £25, which I wish I'd selected instead of the free one but you couldn't add the discounted one afterward.  It has to be a choice of 79c per minute, 600 minutes for $199 (Time Plan #1), 400 minutes for $159 (Time Plan #2), 200 minutes for $99 (Time Plan #3) or 100 minutes for $69 (Time Plan #4), which puts them pretty much on par with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity except you can upload photos to Wordpress with the latter.  For some reason you cannot with P&O, Cunard or Princess even though the internet is from the same provider.
The following day was the Bay of Biscay.  Despite setting my alarm, I didn't get up until 12.30pm, which was a bugger.  If Princess had Cunard's pillows these beds would be perfect!  Missed the Captain's noon announcement and had to rush to find Princess Live for the John Maxtone-Graham lecture entitled Royal Princess III.  I'd never seen him before so was looking forward to it.  Matt and Mark had saved me a seat in the front row.  Well what a disappointment.  He started off with a huge advert for Princess, how wonderful they are, how he came to lecture for them and how long it's been. Royal Princess (I) was next and he had some lovely photos from his cruises.  He jumped to Royal Princess (II), saying she was now "Andonia" for P&O, talked about her a while before a picture of the first popped up for one sentence.  He continued by mentioning the namings of the original Star Princess, Crown Princess and Regal Princess including how Audrey Hepburn had to hold onto her hat, Margaret Thatcher didn't because she put a pin in it and tales of Sophia Loren.  Grand Princess got in on the act which him wrongly stating she came to Southampton before going to Florida.  She wasn't finished and needed another week's worth of work so we got to see Golden instead in 2001.  What all this had to do with any of the trio called Royal Princess, particularly the one we were on, baffled us.  This was all on top of him forgetting names of people he was talking about and showing a photo of the original Love Boats, Island and Pacific, on the screen and said they were Princess's first ships.  If the daily paper gets that one right it should be a doddle for someone who's lectured for the company decades!  When he finally reached the subject matter it was maybe five minutes and everything we already knew from the Princess press releases, including about the Madrina being christened from the bell of the first one.  Apologies if you don't like any criticism of John Maxtone-Graham but I'm afraid it's all true.  Some people have these authors on a pedestal and refuse to admit they are anything but perfect, even when they hadn't seen them a few years, but he wasn't and it was a shame.  He's an 82 year old man who can have off days, not the infallible God some would rather believe.  There could be many reasons for the errors.  It may have been because it was a new lecture rather than one he'd given numerous times.  Anyone who's read my reviews knows I'm not really one for sitting through lectures of any kind as they rarely get mentioned.  I'd missed Bill Miller's on QM2 in January 2013 due to my friend becoming fluey.  The only maritime one I had been to in the past was on Boudicca in 2008 and that lecturer made mistakes too, in particular saying the original Oriana was in China when she'd been scrapped.  Matt was later lambasted by one of his table companions for daring to say JM-G made mistakes and I have on Facebook by those who refuse to believe he's human, preferring to claim it isn't true when they weren't anywhere near that ship.  Happens to us all even in day to day life and JM-G is no different.  Anyway, despite being warned about the small portions of pub lunch in the Wheelhouse by Matt and Mark, I said goodbye to them and went there for some food.  Well they were right, and the chicken in the curry was a bit odd tasting with pink in places so it was straight upstairs to Horizon Court afterwards for real food.  Their salad selection was severely lacking as were vegetarian options.  I'm not vegetarian but don't eat a lot of meat, no pork at all, so there is a limited selection for those.  Then a wander and, having found the aft bit of Prom deck, subsequently cut my leg on one of the stupid loungers when the foot stool collapsed because they are too big to be put on the corner.  Anyone in them though had a great view though it was strange looking directly at the stern of the ship.  A quick return to the cabin as I'd asked for my formal night canapes to be delivered for 3pm.  They came ninety minutes late and the fruit I ordered didn't turn up at all.  Off to continue exploring and I eventually found the midships bit of passenger Prom deck which you can see through windows.  The problem is there are too many doors clearly marked for crew and these ones aren't signposted.
It was formal night so the traditional Princess champagne waterfall in the atrium.  As I headed back in to get ready they were setting it up.  I find this a little annoying as you can only see things properly from only certain angles.  Captain Tony Draper told us there were under 2800 passengers, nearly 1000 of those American.  A quick pop outside before dinner and it was lovely.  Such a shame the Bay disappointed by having awful weather.  Where's the force 12s when you need them?  After all, climate change people keep claiming the weather has become more extreme yet no evidence in a calm Bay of Evil - booo!  I asked if they'd make the salad I first had on Celebrity back in 2011 and they did.  We were joined by two ladies from Mexico called Martha and Bertha, neither of whom spoke much English so couldn't really join in conversations.  During dinner an alarm went off, lights flashing before the Captain came of to say four times it was a false alarm.  Then it it started again!  Thankfully that didn't go on as long.  We English folks went to the theatre to see the Colors of the World show, which had sets mainly on screens and pre-recorded music.  When I returned to the cabin I found a photo for the maiden voyage left on the bed.  I sincerely hoped that wasn't going to be the entire extent of gifts!


© Patricia Dempsey 16th-23rd June 2013
Not to be reproduced without permission