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It's already been a month since our cruise and I haven't mentioned it. More on the why later.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank Chase for for house/pet sitting for us any time we are out of town.

We left on Saturday to drive down to Galveston because I am too anxious to try to drive down day of embarkation. It just feels like you are tempting fate too much - what if there's horrible traffic? What if the car breaks down?

No thank you. I'd rather pay for a hotel for one night. Or in this case, use points to book a free night at the Tremont House.

I've wanted to stay here for years. Its an old hotel (pre-1900) that is rumored to be haunted. And conveniently located near the Strand and the cruise port.

It's also ridiculously expensive. But free? I can afford that.

What I hadn't planned on was Galveston doing Mardi Gras like a budget version of New Orleans. Streets were blocked off for parades - one right after the other. I couldn't smell the sea air over the stench of fried food and alcohol.

But it was fun walking around and collecting beads. For a few minutes. Maybe as much as an hour.

Then I was over it. I'm too old for this shit.

We grabbed lunch then back to our hotel for a quick nap before our massages.

I always like to begin my cruises with a massage. I usually try to book one in the spa for the first day. However I don't know if it is Princess cruise lines or just post Covid pricing - but it was going to cost $400 for just the most basic 1 hour couples massage.

That felt outrageous. So I found a place near our hotel and booked us a massage there for half the price - and an hour and a half each.

One thing different about this cruise is we could board as early as 10am. I am pretty sure I have never been able to board that early. So we got up the next day and went to the port - I believe we were on the ship by 11am.

Vacation has officially started.

Yes we are wearing matching shirts. #theloveboat #hubby #wifey #windblown

We explored the ship a bit and then found our cabin. I always book a balcony now - if we get stuck at sea without power, at least I can get fresh air. Plus it's just nice to be able to open the door and hear the ocean any time we are in the cabin.

I haven't been on a cruise since 2018. So I don't know how much of this is cool Princess stuff and how much is just regular cruise line now.

For starters, they sent us our medallions about 2 weeks before the cruise. They don't use cards anymore, now you have a medallion. About the size of a button we use to wear on our jean jackets.#IYKYK And since we received ours in advance, we were able to buy a holder that attached to our watch bands.

These medallions acted as our room keys. We went through the shorter line to board. They were how we paid for extras on the ship or the photographers knew us. We could even use them to pay for things in the port.

If all cruise lines are not doing this, they should be.

Princess also has an app you can use - it's how I made our dinner reservations before we boarded. It's also how I knew there was going to be an '80s night on our trip. The app even enabled you to GPS yourself to a destination if you wanted/needed to.

Which was great even though we did have some initial tech issues.

Another bonus is now you can watch the safety video in your cabin - or on the app - and just do a quick check in at your muster station.

I've always hated that part. Everyone lining up at the muster station and you can't bring your drinks with you so if you were dumb and purchased one on your way to the muster station you have to either drink it fast or ditch it.

I may or may not be speaking from experience.

I understand the necessity of the safety drill but the new way is much better.

Also we quickly realized that first day that adding the drink package was the smart move. Just 4 drinks a day (each) paid for the package. Plus we got 2 specialty restaurant meals and all the extra food costs, unlimited photo downloads AND 6 prints, and wifi.

Admittedly is was nice being able to eat or drink anything we wanted without worrying about racking up the charges.

All this said, this was actually the worst cruise I have been on. It was still a great vacation and a great cruise - just not on par with others I have had the pleasure of going on.

Frankly the service was not the level I have come to expect on a cruise. Does that make me sound bougie? I don't care. I am a huge advocate for cruising. I love everything about it. The all-inclusiveness (which on this one we had to pay extra - room service wasn't even included!). The relaxation - I love the gentle rocking of the ship.

Sidebar: pre-cruise Rob liked to bellyache about how big our ship was and how he wanted to be on a smaller ship so he could feel it rocking. He quickly re-canted - more on that later.

Another thing I've always liked about cruising is the forced unplugging. I've always found wifi at sea to be spotty at best. Sadly, that doesn't appear to be as true anymore but other than some bedtime scrolling neither one of us spent much time online.

I also like how pampered I feel on a cruise. It's a true vacation from reality. There is usually always someone ready to bring me a drink - all you have to do is look up. Not so much on this cruise. Not only was there very little staff walking around to take orders, but the bars were ridiculously understaffed.

Isaac could never handle a bar by himself these days.

And then there was the food. I always look forward to dinners in the main dining. I like that people dress up - and even more so on formal night. I love the variety of dishes and the opportunity to try something I might not otherwise try in "real" life.

But this ship didn't enforce any kind of dress code in the main dining. We also didn't have assigned tables so there wasn't an opportunity for you to get to know your waitstaff and vice versa. And the menu? Meh. It wasn't as chockful of choices like I have come to expect but what's worse is that everything was blah. The meat was always dry and overcooked - except for the one time I was served literal raw meat. It was mediocre at best.

Completely different story in the specialty restaurants. For those you pay one price and can order whatever you want - and that food was delicious. It was what I have come to expect in the main dining. But you shouldn't have to pay extra to get good food on a cruise. That's one of the perks.

Bottom line is we could not have gone on a vacation for 7 days anywhere for the cost of this one cruise (and that's including adding in the drinks package). By the time you factor in airfare, hotel, rental car - you have probably already paid for a week long cruise. Even if you factor in a hotel the night before. And then you have to pay for meals and activities.

On a cruise you still may have to pay for activities on your days in port - though you don't have to, you can always explore on your own or just stay on the ship.

I know cruising isn't for everyone. Seasickness is a detriment for some. I know not everyone enjoys lounging in the sun as much as Rob and I do. And I definitely would love to go other places. But it often boils down to economics for me. Sometimes I can book a cruise for the cost of just airfare anywhere.

It's dollars and cents to me.

That's enough for now. I'll give you more of the fun stuff next time.

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06. März

We have been on lots of cruises, but I think only one or two were on Princess. They are okay, but I like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, or even Carnaval better, I think. Sorry the food was not good - that is important! I love when I don't have to plan and cook meals, but I want something good still! Glad you got to go, though.

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