Monday, 13 May 2013

Caribbean Princess

I have a niece, Jo, that has been working on cruise ships for the last 8 years and yesterday was the first time in all that time that she has docked in Southampton.  She has wanted to show us her boats ever since she started, so yesterday, she arranged a family day on board the Caribbean Princess for us. 

Wow, as we pulled up at dock gate 4 the sheer scale of this ship was amazing.  This was the first time I had actually been up this close to one and they are awesome things.  At 19 decks high it is like a skyscraper on water.  Jo & Matt came down to meet us, there were 7 of us invited on board -  Rachel and her fiancee Anthony, my Mum, Fred, Izzy, Sophie & myself.  

After clearing security with these dodgy people we embarked via a mountain climb up the gangway which was very steep due to height of the tide.  The main arrival area and central promenade was very impressive and everybody greets you as you walk through, Rach even managed to have a chat with the Captain to make sure he knew what he was doing.  

Our first stop was the crews quarters where Jo & Matt's cabin is.  It's quite interesting to see both sides of the operation and how different they are.  As soon as you go through the door that separates them there is instantly no carpet, just grey painted metal walls and doors and everything is very industrial.  You have to negotiate the M1, the main route straight though the middle of the ship where there's trolley's rushing everywhere carrying luggage and food supplies etc.  The cabins obviously are tiny, usually without a window and where 2 people share the tiny space, but Matt has been upgraded to a rather nice double cabin with sea view for him & Jo, as he was recently promoted which came with a few nice perks.  
Next on the whistle stop tour was weaving our way through the ship up to the sun decks and pools - the pools unfortunately had all been emptied as the day before they had encountered a storm and the water had been sloshing about the ship, then right up the top to deck 19 where the basketball court is located - it was very windy up there,  through to the nightclub which is right at the back of the ship in the odd looking spoiler type thing and then back down to the salon, where Jo works doing her teeth whitening and then round the spa & gym. 

Rach obviously hasn't got the hang of the machines in the gym, a bit like the cooker!  The view from here though is amazing and I think it would inspire anyone to do a bit of a work-out.

We were then treated to a fantastic buffet style lunch with so much food to choose from that you just didn't know what to have.  You could have as much as you like and you could just keep going back for more.  Unfortunately after lunch Jo had to go back to work, but as arrival day for her is just being in the salon for advertising and demonstration purposes we were able to go up with her.  She even talked Rach and myself into being the clients for the teeth whitening demonstration.  Before we took part though Matt took us on the final leg of our tour, the shopping arcade, the central promenade where the daytime entertainment takes place, the casino, theatre and his office.

 It seems that there is always something going on all the time in the central promenade area and it's just a lovely place to sit and have a drink watch everyone go by and just take it all in.  There is a lovely relaxed & comfortable atmosphere on board, it's not all formal and posh like I had imagined, although it is all very beautiful and quite luxurious.

After going up & down stairs, in and out of lifts and getting slightly dis-orientated we ended up back at Jo's salon for the finale.  At this point Rach was starting to back out of teeth whitening due to a fear she has of dentists and was trying to get everyone else in there instead of her, but Jo persuaded her and in the chairs we were.  I have to just mention at this point that Jo hadn't really explained the procedure other than I just paint this stuff on your teeth and you sit under a lamp for a few mins.  So as soon as we laid in the chairs, side by side, we started giggling about the white coat Jo was wearing making her look like a dentist & that Rach didn't really like that look, Jo was trying to be professional like she would with normal clients but normal we are not!! Jo then pulls out this scabby looking ripped towel to put over me and of course that started the banter about the six star salon and from there it just went down hill rapidly.  
Jo then proceeded to start with me as Rach was giving her grief, this therefore made me the guinea pig with an unfair disadvantage, then she produces this plastic, springy mouth guard thing and tells me to put it in my mouth just inside the lips to hold them out the way.  Well, I was already laughing so much that I couldn't get anything inside my lips, let alone this springy plastic thing.  After a few failed attempts and hysterics, and Rach nearly wetting herself watching me,  I managed, but that wasn't all - I also had to wear some silly orange glasses too.  This wasn't quite the look or the experience I had signed up for and I think at this point Jo was getting fearful for her job and wishing she had chosen someone else as we were being too raucous! 
After laughing so much that I was actually crying with tears streaming down my face it was my turn to laugh at Rach, but as I say she had the benefit of being second and managed with hardly any trouble.  She still looked ridiculous though, we both looked like Wallace from Wallace & Gromit!!!!  

As I was first I was able to
wind Rach up a bit as she has a fear of anything dental and I found it hilarious to pretend that it was painful.  It was almost impossible to talk with this thing pinning your lips back so everything sounded silly even if it wasn't and the "more cheese Gromit" was hilarious
between us we didn't stop laughing through the entire treatment which incidentally takes about 40 mins and would cost around £90.00 on the ship or on land £250.00.  Afterwards you have to obviously rinse your mouth out and again I just had to wind Rach up one last time and as I spat out into the basin I shouted out "oh no my teeth have fell out!"  Rach's face for a second was a picture along with a few mumbled swear words

After all the mickey taking and messing around I have to say I was really impressed with the results, it definitely works, my teeth are very noticeably whiter and it was great fun, Thanks Jo.

If you want to have a giggle at us check out the video clip on my Facebook page, it is funny.

The time on board really did just fly by and as it got close to the time when we had to go it was quite sad, I would have liked to have been staying on board a little bit longer but I still don't think I could cruise.  I enjoyed this day as the ship was virtually empty and we had plenty of space to wonder around in, but I'm sure that when there is the 5,000 people (guests&crew) on board that it carries, it's not quite the same and for me that is the reason why I won't be booking up - Sorry Matt.
A massive thank you to both Jo & Matt though for getting us on board and showing us how lovely it is and we look forward to seeing them both when they dock again in a few weeks time.