Best For People Who Want
Roomy Princess cruise ships with ample choices for alternative dining, wide-ranging fitness programs; true onboard weddings as well as vow renewal; programs for children of all ages, tweens and teens; balcony cabins; lots of nightlife choices, extensive golf and snorkeling programs.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A more personalized cruise experience on a smaller ship, world-class cuisine.Onboard Experience
Caribbean Princess entered service in 2004, the final sister ship to the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess presented in 1998, once the biggest cruise ship at sea, though that didn't last for long. Caribbean Princess comes in at a heftier 113,00-tons and carries about 410 more passengers at a capacity of 3100. Still, the Carnival Conquest class at 110,000 tons, for example, can carry close to 3400 passengers. This means that the space per passenger ratio on these ships, though not as ideal as her sister ships, results in lounges, theaters and dining rooms that are all intimate enough to make passengers forget they are aboard a megaliner.
Thanks to shrewd layout, multiple dining venues, four expansive outdoor deck areas (1.7 acres!), multiple sports facilities, four pools, and nine hot tubs, passengers are rarely concentrated in any one area. Meanwhile, the mega-ship amenities included for those who can never get enough dining, entertainment, and fitness choices, means the Princess ships of this class make the best of everything for ships in this size and price range. Their programs for younger passengers are exemplary, and their Lido buffet dining spot is open around the clock.
Caribbean Princess was the first Princess ship to offer "Movies Under the Stars," a huge flat panel projection screen showing near first-run films outdoors next to the pool. This was such a hit that the concept has been spread to other large Princess ships sailing in the Caribbean. They recently started handing out headphones to viewers to alleviate complaints from nearby cabins.
Having offered the first wedding chapel at sea (with the Captain doing the honors) on Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess now also features a complete professional digital photography studio in the F/X Digital Photo Center for those all-important wedding photos. The medical center is one of the most advanced at sea, the first to offer real-time teleconferencing support from a leading national cardiac care center in the United States.
The most incongruous factor about these mega-ships is that the public rooms aren't much bigger than those on much smaller ships, and there are surprisingly few bars and lounges for a ship this size. The one head-scratcher to the design is the compromised privacy of many balconies that extend out far enough from the ship that people from several decks above can look right down into your "private" enclave. From the Baja Deck, for instance, you can watch other passengers on their Caribe and Dolphin Deck balconies. Caribe occupants can in turn observe their counterparts on the Dolphin Deck.Decor
Unlike the theme park atmosphere of some other cruise lines, these Grand-class Princess ships décor bestows a refined, understatedly elegant atmosphere, with hand-painted murals and etched glass partitions in the dining rooms. Little apparent expense was spared on materials, with rich fabrics, beautiful woods, and marble everywhere, all topped of with a $2 million art collection aboard each ship. The cabins are tastefully decorated in soft, inoffensive shades -- beiges, creams and muted pinks.Public Rooms
The Club Fusion Showlounge, replacing the Vista Lounge, now has slot machines thrown in and presents production shows, cabaret, comedians and magicians. At night it doubles for a secondary disco for those who get light-headed scaling the heights to Skywalkers.
Skywalkers, the real disco, is suspended between two pillars protruding high above the stern, fully 18 stories above sea level. The moving sidewalk you ride up to Skywalkers is one of the most breathtaking views on any ship, and one that many passengers probably never discover.
As with all Princess ships, you will quickly find the Wheelhouse Bar and the Explorers' Lounge offering cabaret, trivia competitions, art auctions, and pre-dinner dancing. Churchill's Lounge, the one-time sports bar, is now behind the casino and is used for the cognac and cigars set. The sports paraphernalia is still there, but seems oddly out of place.
The main gathering spot, the maple-paneled atrium paneled, has boutiques, cafés and public rooms on each of its three levels, all connected by a circular glass staircase. A string quartet adds to the airy ambiance. The gigantic Casino contains some 285 slot machines and gaming tables beyond counting. You can view live sports on ESPN in the Sports Bar, or recline in leather chairs while perusing any of hundreds of books in the beautiful library.
The Internet room on these Grand-class ships do not qualify as "cafés" as there are no café-style treats available. Even worse, there is no tech support and if you can find the printer you may have to fix your settings on your computer to make it work yourself. The connection is generally slow and inconsistent. Sadly, these are some of the worst, and most under-utilized, Internet centers at sea.Cuisine
What can you say about a ship that offers three main dining rooms instead of the usual multi-tiered, bigger than life one? They are more intimate and definitely quieter, but like the Princess "included in the cruise fare" cuisine, they are not likely to elicit a "wow" response either. These main dining rooms predictably offer Princess' Continental-style cuisine unlikely to win any culinary awards, but also elicit few complaints. For gourmet dining, try the alternative option, refined but not snooty, Sabatini's Trattoria for a wonderful selection of Italian antipasti, complemented with such garnishes as Sevruga caviar, delicious pizza, homemade pastas, soups and breads. Salads are tossed before your very eyes, and soup ladled into fresh bread bowls. Seafood predominates on the list of main courses; there are lobster, langoustines, tiger prawns, Chilean sea bass and scallops, with red meat dishes also on offer. Save room for the exquisite Italian pastries that will be wheeled before you toward meal's end.Restaurants
The three principal restaurants, Island, Coral and Palm Dining Rooms, seating just over 500 passengers, feature hand-painted murals and etched-glass partitions. The drapes and carpeting in the main dining areas absorb sound efficiently enough to preclude diners having to holler across the table to one another.
Personal Choice Dining offers either traditional cruise dining (In the Amalfi), with a set seating time (6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) and the same waiter and tablemates each evening, or new restaurant-style seating, allowing passengers to dine when and with whom they choose, with each party seated at its own table, as at a restaurant ashore (offered in the other two dining rooms). Restaurant-style diners may be seated in either of the two elegant main dining rooms any time between 5:30 and midnight. Many passengers are understandably grateful for this reprieve from having to hurry to dress for dinner in the traditional way after a long day ashore.
Sabatini's, (surcharge $20 per person) described above, seats 100, the Sterling Steakhouse features Angus beef and other grilled red meats (surcharge $15 per person). The Horizon Court is open 24 hours per day, with menu service at night, plus casual breakfast and luncheon buffet. There's also a festive pizzeria. For $100 per couple, you can book the Ultimate Balcony Dinner, to be served by a butler who discreetly makes himself scarce behind drapes or out in the hall between courses. The ship's photographer snaps a complimentary photo while you're eating.
At night, the Horizon Court restaurant is transformed into Cafe Caribe, serving up (what else?) Caribbean inspired cuisine with full waiter service at fully set tables.Service
While Princess has a well-deserved reputation for good service securely footed in its British roots, truly personalized service may be too much to expect on a ship this size. That noted, cabin stewards and waiters are both efficient and personable. And rote processes that should be standardized and well executed on other ships but often fail miserably, such as efficient disembarkation, are generally practiced and polished to the point of excellence here.Tipping
A charge of $10 per person per day (including children) is automatically added to your stateroom account for dining and stateroom personnel. This applies to all passengers, adult and child alike, whether or not they choose traditional or personal choice dining. The amount may be increased or lowered at the Purser's Reception desk during the cruise.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.Entertainment
With a dozen or so venues for nightlife, you're virtually assured of finding something that floats your boat, to coin a phrase. There's no faulting the lavishness of the production shows, which feature extravagant special effects. The performers in the cabaret are a talented bunch.Cabins
are built out from the body of the ship so as to permit bigger staterooms. Seven hundred ten of the 1300 staterooms have balconies, ranging up to 257 sq. feet, but they're not very private, as they're in plain view of the occupants of the cabin on the next deck up. Standard inside staterooms are 160 sq. ft., while outside cabins range from 168 to 210 sq. feet. Closet space is minimal except in the suites; leave some things home! Mini-suites with private verandas are 325 sq. feet. Vista Suites, called mini-suites on other Princess ships, range from 515 to 800 sq. feet. Sun and Dawn Princess offer larger minisuites for less money.
All staterooms have color TV with CNN and movies, a radio and small refrigerator, and spacious bathrooms with storage space and hair dryers.Fitness/Spa
It is rare to find such ample fitness facilities. The four pools, including a "swim-against-the-current" lap pool, are uniformly gorgeous, thanks in no small part to colorful mosaics and surrounding palm trees. Low marks, though, to whoever decided to put the separate jogging track right above the spa, as the relentless thundering of hooves overhead isn't terribly conducive to one's enjoying her massage or beauty treatment. Even though prices are substantially higher than ashore, spa services are very popular, especially in the afternoon. You'll occasionally have to stand in line for some of the more popular workout apparatuses in the gym. There's a golf simulator and 9-hole putting green, and courts for basketball, volleyball or tennis.Attire
Seven- to 14-night cruises offer two opportunities to put on the Ritz in formal attire. Many men opt for dark suit instead of tux, while their distaff companions often prefer dressy pants to gowns. The rest of the time, think smart casual.
We just returned from a week aboard the Caribbean Princess and must say we had a very good trip. This is our third cruise aboard this vessel and for being almost ten years old, it is in real good shape. There was some rust and wear and tear here and there,but that is to be expected. They will be relocating after this week's cruise to Europe. We saw a carpet installation company aboard replacing all of the outdoor carpet. But I give them credit since they only worked in a small area at a time.
We never had a problem with finding a deck chair. Except around the pools which happens on every cruise. Of course we saw towels on almost every chair by 6:00 am and nobody around until hours later. It would be nice if Princess enforced their no saving chair policy.
This is the first cruise in years where we had to turn the a/c down in our stateroom to keep from freezing to death,it worked great. We had cabin R524, close to all.
Princess Cay was nice, but do they really need to charge for everything! $5.00 torent a noodle float that probably cost Princess less than a dollar. We enjoyed Curacao, but it was very overpriced in all the stores and even outdoor vendors. Plus getting in so late made it hard to really enjoy the island. Aruba was great and we went into the downtown area and had a very nice day, away from the cruise crowd.
We tried the anytime dining room 1 time during the week and then just ate in the buffet the rest. We have a hard time sitting there for a hour and a half to have dinner, seemed like it took 10-15 minutes to get anything. The buffet food was better than average and the desserts were very good, compared to our last cruise aboard Carnival where everything was tasteless and plain. Their 24hr pizza was really good and the special order room service pizza was fantastic. I believe it had a $3.00 extra charge and then the tip, but well worth it for an entire pizza to enjoy on your balcony.
I hate to say it but the shows put on by the ships dancers and singers were very poor, only cruise where the theater was only half full and people left during the show. The special one time shows featuring the comedian and the magic/illusions was standing room only and well worth the wait.
Our only real complaint would be with the spa. My husband and I always pay for the thermal package and use it several times a day. During the week the mild steam room only worked 2 days and the aromatherapy room was so overpowering that it was hard to stay in there more than a minute or two. Then the steam rooms in the mens/ women locker rooms never really got hot like they should have.
Getting off the ship at the end of the week could not have been easier. We always travel light with just 2 small rollon cases and we got off and thru customs in about 10 min. A word of advice to everyone paying for the bus transfer to the airport, its only 5 miles away and much cheaper and faster to take a taxi. We always go that way and never have a problem with finding another couple to share the taxi and cost. So in closing I'll say it was well worth it and will be trying the new Royal Princess in July, can't wait!. But before that we will be aboard the Allure of the Seas in three weeks and will report on that cruise when we get back. Happy cruising to all out there!!!!!!
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Eileen Flynn Bermuda October 27, 2012
My husband and I are east coast residents and we believed the weather reports issued from October 24 to October 27 and so did not board the Caribbean Princess in Red Hook, Brooklyn on 10/27 for a 4-day cruise. We are senior citizens who laid out $3,400 to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in style. We also consider ourselves reasonable people whose reluctance to embark upon a dangerous voyage would be respected by Princess Cruise lines. Our expectation was that Princess would refund our fare, and, failing that, would at least credit us with a future cruise. We learned to our dismay that Princess Cruises holds to the fine print on its contracts and, even in the face of an approaching super storm that was 1,000 miles wide and held the lowest barometric reading ever recorded, does not give an inch.
My attempt to reason with Customer Service prior to the cruise was futile. A few calls from our travel agent to the cruise line yielded nothing. Dispute resolution through the credit card company was fruitless. The bottom line from Princess: CM(Card Member) needs to learn a lesson; purchase travel insurance next time. Enlisting Carnival Cruise executives to assist was useless. (Carnival is the parent company.) The lesson here is not to buy travel insurance; it is not to travel on a ship owned by Carnival.
Instead of the celebratory bottle of champagne we were promised on our way to Bermuda, we have been left with a bitter taste. Do we regret that we did not board the boat to get our money's worth? Not in the least. Our car would have been ruined. The pier flooded with several feet of water. The ship limped into Boston on Sunday night, after cruising in gale force winds. There were no shore excursions in Boston because the city was under a state of emergency. The waters were so rough in the port that the ship came close to coming off its berth. Scheduled arrival in NYC on 1/31 did not happen because stormy seas coupled with closed ports kept the ship in Boston. When the ship finally arrived in NYC on Friday evening passengers had to disembark in the dark. This would have literally been a nightmare scenario for my husband and me given vision deficiencies and night blindness.
Had Princess administration heeded the warnings of meteorologists and municipal authorities, as my husband and I did, they would not have known in advance the specific horrors that befell cruise passengers, but they would have known that they were taking a huge risk with peoples' safety and that terrible things were definitely in store for Voyage B237..
What we regret is that a company as large and powerful as Carnival Cruise lines, which owns Princess, and that the subsidiary Princess Cruise can be so callous and unyielding. In its advisories on the ill-fated voyage the word "unprecedented" was used; this usage is appropriate given the fact that Hurricane Sandy was the most devastating storm to ever hit the northeast. Unprecedented situations call for consideration to passengers like us; we are active older people who are not thrill seekers. We heed warnings and come inside in thunder storms; we evacuate when municipal authorities tell us to leave in advance of hurricanes. We are the market to whom the cruise lines direct their advertising dollars. Is the bad publicity that they generate from the way they treat people like us worth it? No way!
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by George British Isles & Ireland June 7, 2012
I recently travelled with my wife on a Princess cruise to the United Kingdom. It began in Southampton and was supposed to go around Ireland, Liverpool, Scotland and one stop in France. This trip was meant to be a celebratory trip for our 35th wedding anniversary.
There were countless delays. First, boarding the ship on embarkation day. The ship failed a security test, and then there were mechanical issues. Passengers were stuck at the cruise terminal for hours waiting without enough food. Once the ship passed another security test, the cleaning staff were delayed with the staterooms, so we could not enter our rooms. The dining rooms were chaotic as everyone was very hungry after waiting for about 4 hours in the cruise terminal.
The ship did not end up leaving Southampton until 24 hours after the original departure time. We were unsure how this would affect the itinerary, and passengers were not updated very quickly. People were walking around the ship complaining about sitting and not actually cruising, and not knowing what was going on. The next morning (two days afterdisembarkation), we were told that Liverpool (our only stop in England) was going to be cancelled. They should have cancelled Guernsey or Cobh instead. This opinion was voiced by many, many people onboard.
The food was fine (as it should be for the price). Nothing excellent. Entertainment staff continually made jokes about other cruise lines. Holland America was particularly picked on, which is ironic considering we had a MUCH more enjoyable time with that company and not a single complaint. The service from waiters and room stewards was great. Because passengers were on the ship much more than expected with cancellations and delays with the ports, the staff was unable to have the breaks they were entitled to. Other passengers were also taking out their frustration on the stewards, which we thought was so unfair.
If you do go with Princess, be aware that their shore excursions are extremely overpriced. This information is not made clear ahead of time, and they have strict rules about cancellation. One trip in Greenock cost us $140 (for two people) to simply get a ride into Glasgow. We later found out that if we had done it independently, it would have only cost $30 together. We found out in time to cancel our trip in Invergordon (which cost $110) and paid $40 for the both of us to get a ride into Inverness AND shown Loch Ness.
The weather was not great throughout the trip, but that should be expected in the United Kingdom. In Edinburgh, the weather was so poor that we were told we would be unable to tender into the port. This was a huge disappointment on top of the already cancelled Liverpool. What annoyed us, however, was that the decision was made by 7:30am when the weather could have improved in an hour or two. As a result, we had another day at sea. We got very restless and bored with the options available on the ship. We were continually thanked for our understanding, which obviously was not the case.
The night before disembarkation, we put our luggage outside of our stateroom. The morning of disembarkation, there were further delays. We left the ship nearly an hour later, and were rushed when claiming our luggage in the terminal. My wife's bag (which was bought specifically for this trip) had been badly damaged, and she was missing some possessions. There was no one around to speak to about this due to the rush. If staff had 12+ hours to transport a regular suitcase from the stateroom to the terminal, there is no reason for so much damage to the luggage. Because we were late leaving the ship, many passengers were worried about missing their flights from London (about a two hour drive from Southampton where the ship was). It was a very stressful morning and very disorganized. The staff seemed more concern with preparations for the next group of passengers than those they already had. As "compensation" (offered after Liverpool was cancelled at the beginning of the trip), they offered everyone onboard a "gesture of goodwill" in the form of $75 onboard credit. Quite frankly, this amount was insulting. My wife and I chose this specific trip to see Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh. All in all, we saw one out of three ports we really cared to see. We could have easily taken a trip around Alaska for a MUCH lower cost.
When we returned home, we tried to file a claim for compensation by detailing all these issues. We were immediately and flatly denied any form of compensation. Princess is not a company that cares about customer satisfaction. They rely entirely on their passenger contract and care nothing about a truly enjoyable travel experience.
Even with the baggage damage and lost property, we were offered nothing. The Princess passenger contract outlines that passengers are entitled to a maximum of $250 for these issues. We were given the run-around between Princess departments over the phone. We were assigned a particular compensation advisor and she was the one who initially denied us. We tried to speak with someone at the Property Claims Department and they told us they could do nothing as the compensation advisor had put a note on our file that we had been denied for any form of compensation. When we approached her following that, she said that we must not have called them (essentially saying we were making this up) and that we should fill out a "Missing/Damaged Luggage Report Form" which says on the first line "This request form does not constitute a claim against Princess Cruises." After three emails back and forth, she simply ignored our messages.
We are beyond disappointed with our travel experience with Princess. These feelings were compounded with the customer service experience we had after. We asked for a credit to use towards a future Princess cruise as form of compensation, which would have ensured we would be on another Princess cruise and pay them even more money. This possibility was flatly denied. We will NEVER go with Princess again, nor will we recommend to anyone we know. We wish we had read other passengers' reviews before we booked our trip.