The Bon Voyage Experience is Back: Getting on the Ship to say Good Bye!
My Bon Voyage Experience
Remember back in the day when you could get on a cruise ship and say good bye to your traveling friends or family? Even have a bon voyage party? There was plenty of food and drinks and yes, lots of laughter. Well, of course all this ended in the U.S. because certain folks just would not get off the ship when the time came.
Well, the 'getting on board to say good bye' experience is back on the Princess Cruise Line and thanks to my cruising cousins (who were leaving on their 36th cruise in 8 years), I got to try it right here in Brooklyn, New York City.
The Brooklyn Pier is located less than 4 miles from my home, so my objective was to go down to the pier and wave to them as the ship was leaving. Maybe even run alongside of it.
Ah, but one of my well-traveled cousins (see the hub below for some of their early days of cruising) recalled that the Princess Cruise Line started the Bon Voyage program this year at several U. S. ports and it just so happened on the day of their cruise, the program was in effect for the first time right here in Brooklyn.
This is how it works and what is included:
Princess Cruises has revived a tradition from the early days of ocean travel. The new program, called the "Bon Voyage Experience" allows people to come aboard, as in the past, on embarkation day to see off the passengers. The practice ended over two decades ago due to the need for tighter security (and likely having to fill the brig with stow-aways).
The new program debuted in March 2011 starting in Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles and now New York City. Next will be San Francisco and Seattle. Different Princess ships will offer the program in different ports. My cruise ship was the Caribbean Princess.
What's Included for $39.
- I was able to get on the ship and have a 4 course meal with wine - which was probably better than anything I've had in a long time at that price. What was so great is that my cousins were able to join me in the special dining room to enjoy a meal as well.
- A 5x7 souvenir photo (the three of us posed together and each of us got a photo)
- The $39.00 is applied to a future cruise if done within 3 months (Several days later I did find a short cruise to the Bahamas - but it is not until next year)
- A tour guide was included who was quite personable - even handsome - but we had the option of a self-guided tour. With my cousins there, we opted to tour on our own. They know this ship - having sailed on it before. I got to see every place, everything, including their stateroom. And as an extra benefit, I was shown all the places all over the ship where I could also eat. Did I indulge? Of course. But much of the food I just sampled because I was overwhelmed by the food choices.
We had to be there by 11:30am and I had to leave the ship no later than 3:30pm. I was cooperative.
We boarded before the passengers!
I have to say - the staff was incredibly professional and genuinely kind and helpful.
What is needed:
A boarding pass is needed and must be arranged for no later than six days in advance. I had to bring my driver license as ID. It can all be done online.
About the Ship:
The Caribbean Princess was launched April, 2004.
It was built in Monfalcone, northern Italy by Fincantieri
The Caribbean Princess has room for 3,080 passengers and a crew of 1,200
The big ship weighs 112,894 gross tons
It has 17 decks and 15 are for passengers
It travels at 22 knots (or 25 MPH)
The cruise ship pioneered the "Movies Under the Stars" allowing you to laze in a lounge chair on the deck and watch first-run movies. My cousin told me the staff will supply popcorn and blankets.
The ship has 900 balconies and a deck consisting of mini-suites. (In the photo I am on my cousins' balcony)
In 2009 the ship underwent an extensive refit
Food and more food:
For those of you that like to eat more than anything else on earth, there are Anytime restaurants that are open, with fresh foods 24/7
I ate and sampled foods in 3 locations and the food was excellent everywhere
Would I do this again in the future, say with a fun friend or two?
I certainly would. In fact because this is totally new and this is the first it was done in Brooklyn, it piqued the curiosity of the ground staff. When I left the ship and came back into the terminal several staff members met me smiling, and asked if I enjoyed it. Yes! I showed them my souvenir photo. One staffer even suggested I come back again and bring a girlfriend just to have a fun day. Hmmmm. OK I will.
However, this is a new program and according to the schedule I checked, this Bon Voyage Experience was the 10th of the 11 planned with the next one scheduled for June 1, 2011 in San Francisco. But, yes, definitely when it is offered again in Brooklyn I would love to go with a friend. Especially since I know my way around and where all the great food is located.
Note: You do not have to know passengers who are traveling in order to participate. There were four other people who came for the tour and they did not know anyone traveling. We were all free to go our separate ways. Last I read, they will permit up to 50 people on any one tour.
For more information about cruising see links below:
The Bon Voyage Experience
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