ItaVero

ItaVero
Captain

Hometown: Seattle
Joined: 03/03/2017
3
Cruises
13
Reviews
19
Helpful Votes
304

About ItaVero

I've traveled pretty much all my life - starting out in the Merchant Marines at 16 (Guam, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam) - had an interesting discussion with my high school vice principal when I returned late for the school year from my first trip. Didn't discover cruise ships until 2000 - and am making up for lost time.


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Cruiseline: Celebrity Cruises

Cruiseline: Princess Cruises

ItaVero's Upcoming Cruises

ItaVero's Past Cruises

Crown Princess

February 2017 - Crown Princess to South America

"Great trip on a grand ship (that is waaay overdue for refitting. The good news? She's due for a major refit this year."

Following Darwin in Reverse

A big time bucket-lister - rounding Cape Horn and exploring routes and watering holes of the HMS Beagle. Weather (an essential element of this cruise) was more than doable and often downright spectacular. Rough swells chased us out of the open seas into sheltered passages (got to see more of Darwin's channel than might have been planned - but that was a good thing).  Port strikes in Chile made embarkation in Valparaiso a nightmare, and ruined scheduled port tours in Puerto Arenas, Chile - the Crown Princess may have been innocent but it had happened before and they failed to properly inform passengers of what was going on in a timely and credible manner.  Three formal nights - but limited access to Captain and staff during these events (a bit truncated and curt).

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Crown Princess

September 2016 - Crown Princess to Alaska - Inside Passage

North to Alaska - When Haines Eclipses Skagway

The Crown Princess is a grand ship - way over due for renovation (we took her again - to South America, when she REALLY needed renovation. Won't take her again in her current condition. The trip itself, from Seattle to Alaska, to Victoria BC, Canada and back to Seattle was great. Rough winds aborted our planned stop in Skagway and ruined scheduled excursions, but the silver lining was an unplanned stop at Haines - as interesting as Skagway - and less visited by cruise ships (and less spoiled). A special plus was a tasting tour of the Port Chilkoot Distillery  - a craft distillery promoting in house Vodka, Gin, and even Absinthe (they also sold a "bourbon" and a "rye." The glaciers were incredible.

 

We love Victoria, but our arrival was a bit late (dusk) - our stay was short (just a few hours) and the port facility was several miles from the action in town.

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Grand Princess

March 2016 - Grand Princess to Coastal - West Coast

Sliding Down the Coast to California

Everything was soooo easy! Embarkation was doable. Slight delay at the elevators (not bad though) - slight delay getting the luggage delivered - but weren't in a real hurry. Weather was glorious! Incredible views from underneath the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz while sipping champagne. Tried anytime dining for a change - didn't like the lines. Enjoyed the ports of call.

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Celebrity Solstice

June 2015 - Celebrity Solstice to Alaska - Inside Passage

Counting Cruise Ships in Alaskan Ports

Traveled "Aqua Class" on the Celebrity Solstice - Celebrity was our first cruise line (Century) and has earned a special place in our hearts - although we've since been wooed away by Princess. Round trip to Alaska from Seattle - and Seattle has GOT to be the easiest, fastest and most stress-free port for cruise ship embarkation/disembarkation.  We were a bit disappointed with "aqua class" - thought the cabin was small, and the bathroom dinky  - but loved the layout of the ship (there was a great library - reaching up through several decks and STOCKED with Audubon journals and texts. The glaciers were spectacular - the wildlife unique and the itineraries did not disappoint. Bring cameras - and binoculars (our cabin provided courtesy binos - but ours were better). I pity the locals - we were one ship among a circus of four or five dumping thousands of tourists in every port of call - locals didn't seem to mind... Loved the specialty restaurants on board!

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Caribbean Princess

December 2011 - Caribbean Princess to Caribbean - Southern

Caribbean Princess -Aptly Named

We loved everything about this cruise - except maybe embarkation/disembarkation which was a bit rocky at times. Great cabin, friendly outgoing staff - fantastic food (in ALL venues).  We enjoyed first seating (our preference)  and enjoyed our table mates - two ultra liberal Canadians, two ultra conservative east coasters - and us (somewhere in the middle). The ship was in great condition, the entertainment varied and top notch - and this may have ben the first and last trip I didn't begrudge the tip envelopes at the end. The destinations were fabulous (first time for Grenada - spice island (we had nutmegs for years). The sommeliers still wore silver cups on chains around their necks. Cool.

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Coral Princess

September 2010 - Coral Princess to Panama Canal, Central America

Down South, Through The Canal and Back Up North

We loved just about everything about this cruise - The Coral Princess galleys gave Celebrity a run for their money - and Celebrity had one of the best "kitchens" going. Neat midnight buffets - neat demonstrations - neat entertainment.

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Grand Princess

September 2008 - Grand Princess to Europe - Mediterranean

The Stuff Memories are Made of.

Favorite part? Hard to say. The ship, service, ports and excursions were memorable. Particularly the ports. Venice, Athens, Corfu. Pompeii was SPECTACULAR. As was Athens.

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Tahitian Princess (RETIRED)

September 2007 - Tahitian Princess (RETIRED) to South Pacific

Tahitian Princess (RETIRED)

September 2005 - Tahitian Princess (RETIRED) to South Pacific - Tahiti

Dawn Princess

September 2003 - Dawn Princess to Mexico

South of Border - Down Mexico Way

Great tour - especially good for first time cruisers who want exotic but not too exotic.  The Dawn Princess was in tip top shape - the ports of call clean and unthreatening - the service staff were still waaaay willing to please.

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Ryndam

December 2002 - Ryndam to Mexico

Doing it Dutch

This was our very first cruise with Holland America. Enjoyed it - a smaller ship and quite different from what we'd been used to. Not better or worse - just different. She was only six or so years old - and in great condition. I understand she's undergone major renovations since.

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Celebrity Infinity

November 2001 - Celebrity Infinity to Caribbean - Southern

Radiance of the Seas

May 2001 - Radiance of the Seas to U.S. - Pacific, Northwest

ItaVero's Tips

San Diego, California - Didn't spend much time in San Diego - but the town is worth a day all by itself.
Ryndam Ryndam - The Ryndam was built in the mid 1990s - when cruise ships still looked a little like ships (sweeping pointed bow, elegant lines, and nautical stacks). Cool. I understand she underwent major renovations in 2004.
Acapulco, Mexico - I think it was off-season for the divers - but they put on "second stringers" for us - still cool.
San Francisco, California - What's not to like about San Francisco (other than the politics)? Cable cars, water front, China Town - all neat.
Cozumel, Mexico - Cozumel was bright and cheery. Sipped cocktails and watch the swirl.
Coral Princess Coral Princess - The Coral Princess was younger then (she's older than that now...)
Venice, Italy - Explore the back roads (canals) - don't bother with "Harry's" unless you absolutely have to say "'been there."
Grand Princess Grand Princess - Things have surely changed since this trip - but the buffet and MDRs were top quality - no need to pay extra for the specialty restaurant(s).
Cartagena, Colombia - My general motto is - if it doesn't come from there - don't buy it there. Bought some high karate emerald ear rings - gorgeous and affordable (considering).
Oslo, Norway - Take the Hop on Hop off bus. See the Vigeland Sculpture Park (incredible) and the Thor Heyerdahl museum.
Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany - Explore Warnemunde (an easy walk) - buy a fish sandwich and walk to the lighthouse/beach (brrr). Then take a "cruise" to Rostock - bravely shaking off the last vestiges of the cold war hammerlock.
Emerald Princess Emerald Princess - Mid ships - and even a lower deck may be advisable if facing rough seas.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - We came a day early and stayed a day after disembarkation and enjoyed seeing the town (waterfront, Moro castle - and beaches). Great restaurants.
Willemstad, Curacao - Tour the distillery (I was disappointed to learn that all those different "flavors" of curacao are the same exact liquor - with food coloring).
Valletta, Malta - Book early if you can - and get a tour of the Hypogeum incredibly ancient Neolithic bronze-age temple (they only allow a few visitors per month). Failing that - hop on hop off bus will get you a lot for a little.
Venice, Italy - Touring the Madonna del Salute (sp?) baroque church.
Kotor, Montenegro - Lots of cool tours into the interior and the "old capital" but - book these through the ship.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - This was just for disembarkation and a bus ride to the airport - short of time - rush hour traffic and hectic. Not the best end to an otherwise great trip.
Pacific Princess Pacific Princess - It's been a while (November of 2012) but we absolutely loved this ship and everything about her.
Juneau, Alaska - Juneau is the capital but we failed to take advantage of this in any meaningful way.
Celebrity Solstice Celebrity Solstice - Build time on either end to enjoy Seattle. Spend some time in the library - plan to enjoy their formal nights - don't count on too much quality time in Victoria BC.
Seattle, Washington - Seattle has GOT to be the best place to embark/disembark. Build in extra time to explore Seattle - on both ends of the trip.
Skagway, Alaska - Study up a bit on Gold Rush lore to get the most of this stop.
Ketchikan, Alaska - Really fun town - but don't pay extra for tourist King Crab or Salmon (you'll do better on board ship).
Victoria, British Columbia - Victoria BC is often "sacrificed" due to weather - even at the best of times, the port is often at the commercial port and not conveniently close to the town proper. Stops are inconveniently short.
Ensenada, Mexico - Enjoyed the old town - bought some fake Cuban cigars - which was fun (but don't pay too much - try to get a box of phony Montecristo No. 2s - for $20 or $25 - the box is cool - the cigars are crap)
Grand Princess Grand Princess - POSH - port side out, starboard in still works - particularly down the coast to Mexico and back.
Punta Arenas, Chile - Gateway to Chilean Patagonia. Be sure to book wildlife tours - penguins and seals/sea lion colonies. Optional tours to Antarctica are prohibitively expensive - but after all - for me this was a bucket-list trip.
Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina - Walk the town (it isn't that big but is fascinating) - work up an appetite and go all the way to the east end and feast on all you can eat gaucho-style lamb, beef and grilled "king" crab.
Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile - We were only in port for embarkation and it was a MESS. Use your smart device to track Port union strike activity
Montevideo, Uruguay - Great, clean, friendly (and SAFE) town to walk around in. If you haven't bought your herba mate paraphernalia souvenirs, now is the town (leather case, thermos, silver "straw" and silver brimmed gourd) - go native and eschew the "tourist" versions.
Puerto Madryn, Argentina - Great access to wildlife tours (Tombo National Reserve) etc. Town itself is worth an entire day.
Puerto Montt, Chile - All scheduled tours were cancelled due to a small but vocal "union strike." We sat on the bus for over an hour until Cruise ship staff explained the bad news. I walked into town to take photos.
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands - I LOVED Port Stanley. For a special and unique "souvenir" I stopped in at the local police station and asked for a driver's license. The license itself is a big sheet of paper with photo and vitals - for a bit extra they throw in a wallet-sized version (all-told around $50). It took around 30 minutes and is good for life. Warning: the local banks won't accept U.S. dollars that have been "defaced" (that's ANY marks, ink pen scribbles, stamps, etc.). This causes local stores trouble - they want your dollars but don't want to get stuck with bills the banks won't accept.
Crown Princess Crown Princess - Princess Cruise's loyalty programs keep their passengers loyal. All else being equal, I'm pretty locked in (going for the Black Card) - River Cruises excluded.

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