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March 1, 2012
Day 13: Life on the Star Princess

The Star Princess in port in Montevideo, Uruguay

The Star Princess is 950 feet long and 118 feet wide. It accommodates 2,590 passengers and 1,205 crew. There are 18 decks.

Joy, our room steward from the Philippines, is in the 9th month of a 10-month contract

Russell usually gets up at 6:30 or 7:00 am, since he is on a 7-hour sleep schedule. He walks up eight flights of stairs to the Fitness Center to exercise. (Walking the stairs and working out is how he justifies the massive amounts of food he is eating. He tried weighing himself on a daily basis, but with the rolling of the ship he can no longer tell if the scale says he lost 2 pounds or gained 7 pounds.)

Russell walks back down to deck 5 to meet up with Gail, then we go all the way back to deck 14 to have breakfast in the Horizon Court buffet. We are limiting ourselves to granola, yogurt and fruit in the morning.

When Gail was sick with cold, Russell brought her breakfast in bed

We have a variety of ways to amuse ourselves during “at sea” days. Russell tries the daily Sudoku challenge and fails. He made a New Year’s resolution to work on an art project, so he tries to find a seat by the window to draw. (He usually makes a resolution regarding healthy eating, but decided not to this year given the 30-day cruise.)

Russell finds a sought-after window seat to draw

Gail brought a Kindle loaded with ebooks. She joined the ship’s show choir, but had to drop out due to her cold. She also spends a lot of time chatting with people. Everyone seems to remember us (we wear name badges and tend to stand out as a mixed couple), but we are terrible with others’ names.

Gail at a show choir rehearsal

We also packed a variety of board games to play with people. Russell favors obscure Euro games and Gail wanted party games, so we brought “Settlers of Catan,” “Wits and Wagers,” “Risk Express,” “Sneaks and Snitches” and “Telestrations.”

Bernie and Vickie join us for a game of "Settlers of Catan." (First-timer Vickie won, and has not let Russell forget it.)

Between our other activities, we fit in lunch and dinner. Lunch is usually at about 1:30 pm at the Horizon Court buffet, where there is an incredible changing selection that includes everything from roast beef to sushi to seafood pasta. Plus dessert(s). Sometimes Gail simply grabs a sandwich at the International Café, which is so close to our cabin that she calls it her “corner market.”

Gail at her “corner market.”
Ganda, who mans the International Café, is one of the happiest-looking guys we have ever seen

Petya, one of the cashiers in the gift boutique, has taken a special liking to us – probably because we’ve spent so much money there!

For dinner, we signed up for “open seating” in the formal dining room. In past cruises we had a scheduled seating, but we were afraid we would run out of things to say to the same table mates after 30 days together. Open seating lets us eat whenever we want (usually about 7:30 pm) with whoever shows up at our table.

We have met the wife of the U.S. Senior Military diplomat to Turkey, a fellow who has taken 85 cruises, the manager of the New Orleans Superdome (who also managed concerts including Willie Nelson), the great-grandson of writer Ryder Haggerty, a man who opened several grocery stores in San Jose, a couple who lives a couple of blocks away from us back home, cabinet makers, teachers and bus drivers. Almost everyone is retired.

Dinner at one of the “formal nights” with Derrick, Jayne, Jim and Connie

We should say a few words about the food. Cruise line food is not as elegant as it used to be. We recall former days of midnight chocolate buffets, filled with ice sculptures and amazing feats of culinary display. Those are no more. Today, cruisers are charged for soft drinks and specialty coffees. The two best dining rooms have a surcharge. Gail complains that her food is typically too sweet and not hot enough. The cuisine is more geared to Russell, who will take quantity over quality any day.

In the evenings, there is a variety of entertainment and shows at various times and locations. We have seen a magician (he was not as good as our son Joss), a stage hypnotist, professional tango dancers, and the ship’s singer/dancer crew. Sometimes, we just like to watch the ocean go by. We are usually back in the cabin by 11:30, with lights out shortly after that.

Overall, we are happy, relaxed and having a marvelous time. We keep having “pinch me” moments as we cruise around the tip of South America. In a few days, several of our fellow cruisers will leave the Star Princess at Valparaiso, to be replaced by new cruisers boarding for the second half only. But we are here all the way to San Francisco, and that gives us several more weeks to look forward to.

All dressed up for one of the “formal nights”


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