This review involves a 19 day cruise/tour during which we voyaged for two weeks on the Caribbean Princess, October/November-2015. Beginning in Toronto and ending in Houston. My rating is an overall 4 points, however, I give the land tour portion a # 5 rating. We have sailed with Princess since 1990, over the last year we have sailed on the Regal Princess, Regal's sister-- Royal Princess, Coral Princess and now the Caribbean Princess which gives us 209 total days sailing with Princess. Would we sail again with Princess? You betcha.
We find much to like in the Princess overall cruise product, this sailing on the Caribbean was no exception; we encountered the same on our three previous Princess cruises during the last year. We prefer the smaller vessels but lately have began to see some benefit of voyaging on these larger ships. So, this was a very good memorable cruise, it would rate a four plus star in my opinion except for the main dining room, which has a few issues.
The Caribbean is eleven years old and one of the Princess "Grand Class" ships, however it carries 500 more passengers thanits three sisters do, this is due to an added deck, the Riviera Deck, otherwise it is pretty close to identical in most aspects to the Star Princess which we have also sailed on. Princess actually reduced the crew on the Caribbean over that on the Star, so the obvious is evident, one gets significantly less crowding and more service on the three sisters. We have read and heard comment that this vessel is not kept up. I find that not accurate at all. The ship was very clean, with new carpets throughout. One person told me on this cruise that it was a "rust bucket" another C.C. review commentator mentioned the "dents" in the interior walls. I find the crew continually painting and scraping, rarely do I notice rust spots. Sometimes on cabin balconies next to the gutter area, subject to salt water spray, one sees rust but only because it is difficult to remove since the cabins are almost in constant use. If one wants to moan about a bit of rust here and there, then look at the HAL ships or even Regent's for that matter.
With respect to the "dents" the commentator does have a point, however, I believe that is in reference to a design deficiency with placement of the wainscoting in all corridors in almost all of the Princess ships constructed within the last 15 years or so. These "dents" are all located on the corner of the alcoves leading into stateroom doors. (Alcoves are great, in that they allow a space to get out of the corridor when entering or leaving ones cabin and a place to leave baggage during disembarkation/embarkation.) The corridors are wainscoted with a beige colored rug material, the dents occur on the corners leading into the alcoves. This means that the wall board material to which the wainscoting is attached is not strong enough to withstand impact by utility carts, motorized wheelchairs, etc. We first noticed this on the Royal when it was less than a year old, on the very new Regal last month we did not notice any dents, if so, perhaps they beefed up the supporting material on the corners under the wainscoting. It does look terrible on this ship and other Princess ships, particularly when the rest of the corridor and rug is maintained in impeccable order. Almost 80% of the alcove corners on the Caribbean suffer this damage. Princess has let this go on for too long, new ship after new ship, makes for a blemish on their normally good creditability.
Here is my "Outstanding" through "Ugly" assessment for this particular cruise/tour and ship:
---I consider the "Skywalkers lounge" on the Princess Grand Class ships to be an outstanding feature. They are located high up on the stern, higher than anything else except the stacks. A panoramic view exists from them and during daylight it is something else to look forward as the ship races through the seas.
--On the ground portion of our cruise tour they had names on all the coach seats each morning. This was great, no pushing and shoving to get ahead in the queue and the first on each morning, your seat is ready for you regardless, which makes for a much more relaxed start to the day. Also, they switched name tags around each morning to make certain everyone got a good seat at least once. First time we experienced that. Bravo.
--Formal Nights--We do love formal nights, they had three on this cruise. Quite a few appear to prefer no formal nights at all. For us, it hearkens back to the days of yore, days of romantic ocean travel which many yearn for the return thereof. Those who shun the penguin suit nights try to avoid the MDRs in favor of the buffet and other venues. It appears that among those other "venues" the specialty high end restaurants are being targeted. So, Princess has responded by requiring formal dress in their specialty restaurants on formal nights, you have to agree to that or you get no reservation. They are supposed to not sit those who dress inappropriately. Humorously and coincidentally, as I was composing this review we had a formal night dinner reservation in Prime Seven. Soon after being seated, there erupted a heated altercation between the maitre d' and a guest, the guest, dressed in a white short sleeve T-shirt with a collar, commonly called a "polo shirt", was getting the heave-hoe, and not liking it at all.
--The specialty restaurants were pretty good, particularly Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. We also booked the "Crab Shack" almost every time we had the opportunity (Do yourself a favor and don't miss that if you love shell fish). The only disadvantage is the specialties have the same menu each night so if you eat there a lot it can become mundane. Be advised to keep track of what is going on in other eatery venues too, since some of them have specials that you will only know about by reading the daily "Princess Patter". For instance, one Sunday morning on the Regal I noticed that the Crown Grill/Wheel House Bar was having a "Traditional British Pub Lunch" at no extra charge except for drinks, it was outstanding, it was from 11:30 AM-2:30 PM we got there about 12:15 and joined a small line, when we left the line was over a 100 feet long.
--We had a very clean mini-suite with a new carpet and were pleased with the size of the room, but it does not have a curtain divider making for a clear separation of the bedroom, which has a new flat screen TV, refrigerator (ice bucket therein kept full every day), open cabinet and a desk, from the living area which has a large sofa, coffee table, seat, open cabinet and a new flat screen TV. Pulling the curtain allows one to read while the other watches TV or sleeps. The balcony size is significantly larger when compared to the two new and larger Princess ship's mini-suite balconies, Regent and Royal; also the suite proper is slightly larger on this ship as well. (I'm torn between preferring a curtain separating the room in two parts or liking the layout of this cabin which does not have a curtain but has a half moon shaped open and closed cabinet system against one wall in the middle and against the opposite wall, is a partial divider wall with a desk connected to it).
--I use the hot tubs everyday, there are nine hot tubs on this ship while the huge newest Princess ships offer only six and one of the six has no jets. Two on the Caribbean are much hotter than the others which is about time they got the temperature exactly right for me. Those two are found along side the outside adults only swimming pool you can access from the Lotas Spa and Fitness center. The other hot tubs are a little too cool for my taste, too cool is what I found as well on the Regal, Royal and Coral as well as most voyages we have taken on Regent. Unlike our sad experience on the Coral Princess in January there were always towels everywhere all the time, and I mean all the time, no exceptions, good going.
--The before dinner Exclusive Elite Lounge for elite and platinum guests where hors d'oeuvres and half priced cocktails are available is much appreciated. This occurs in one half the Skywalkers Lounge high above the rest of the ship in the stern rendering a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding sea.
--This ship's fitness center is great. Not overcrowded and has plenty of good equipment so there are almost no wait lines. We use it every sea day.
--Shore excursions including the land portion on coaches, were all well organized and very good, at least all those we took, which involved every port. The area tour in Newport, Rhode Island and the New York Brooklyn Bridge walk and area tour rate extra credit. So did the day at Niagara Falls on the land portion.
--After we began to get some sea days to do it on, Princess provided an excellent enrichment lecture series by Dr. Harold Tinberg. Judging from the way he absolutely packed the theatre, standing room only, others must share my opinion. Princess has always done a pretty good job in my opinion of providing for good lectures, this often is one of my favorite aspects of the voyage. I would suggest however that the lecturer presentations get back to focusing more on the areas being visited from historic, cultural and political perspectives, instead of dealing with subjects not remotely connected to the pertinent voyage. For instance, on this voyage and associated cruise-tour we traveled the entire length of the St Lawrence Seaway, an area of the world rich in hundreds of years worth of history and historic events, not one mention of this at all on this ship. This is not to say they shouldn't have had Tinberg or another equivalent, they should have both. I have a hunch that two enrichment lectures on a sea day might detract too much from art auctions, the casino, wine tasting and other money raising events.
--The "Elite" Captain's Circle benefits, like complimentary wine tasting, initial free mini-bar set up and upgraded bathroom amenities, are greatly appreciated. Number one of these perks, for my wife, is the free laundry and for me, the free internet time.
--Unlike Princesses' newest and larger ships, Regal and Royal, this ship does have an real promenade deck, deck 7, and if you include the staircases leading up to the deck 8 wrap around walkway at the bow it is a complete wrap around promenade. It is fascinating that the cruiser's so called foremost authority on ships, Berlitz, edition after edition is fixed on trying to convince guests that the Royal and Regal have wrap around promenades. "The ship features a complete walk around Promenade deck." Actually: That statement is completely false, not anywhere close to being accurate. On those ships the promenade does not go around the bow or the stern. In fact, in the stern one is met by an almost vertical wall of steel where the promenade terminates. There are two bulged out areas on the promenade, one around mid-ship and one close to the stern, on each side of the ship. These are relatively small deck areas, 50'-75' in length on which they place a few recliners. Other than the bulged out portions most of the promenade deck area is closed to guests "crew only" however there are a few short walk-way interconnections between the bulged out portions which run between the windows and the life boats. These are approximately four feet wide where numerous pipes and other fittings occupy a good portion of those walk ways rendering them single file. I use this quote this from Berlitz, just to show you how even professional reviews can be grossly misleading, do your research before booking.
--It appeared to us the buffet area (Horizon Court) had better than usual good quality food. The ship did not seem to run out of desirable food and drink items which is often common on ships toward the end, like bananas, other fruits, good wines, ect. Like all buffets there is crowding at times but it was really bad during many our visits to the buffet and at times almost impossible to locate a place to sit. I do much prefer the layout of the Horizon Court on the Caribbean to those on Regal and Royal though, in that the seating and tables are much more cozy and private and pleasant to sit at while the seating in the two larger ships is more like a army chow line setup. Unfortunately, the space available in the buffet on the Caribbean is grossly inadequate for a full boat. Now, in fairness most this voyage occurred in fairly cold climates, spitting snow at times, therefore all the very abundant outside seating for eating was not used, forcing everybody inside, once we reached warmer climes, i.e. Charleston and south, the outside seating was utilized and the buffet seating situation became tolerable.
Wife says she misses the custom made omlets of the past, now all you get is a pretty much generic omlet, take it or leave it, on the Caribbean the special order options are even more limited and worse, she says. The crew must bring you a juice drink after you locate a table, this is okay and the juice glasses they use on the Caribbean Princess are of a decent size, the problem on the larger ships in this regard is that the glasses they serve you the juice in are half the size of what they used to be. What is next, orange juice in a shot glass?
--We used Princess Air, Princess transfers and Princess hotel accommodations at the beginning of the cruise and at the end we had our own air but used the Princess airport transfer which included a local tour of Houston before airport drop off. Were well satisfied with each.
--Sure nice to have free ice cream available almost all day from the ship's "Scoops" shop. No nickel and diming there. Even though I watch my diet, a little, and don't eat ice cream, I do like malted milk shakes and they make those for me for a couple of bucks extra.
--Some of the musicians playing at various times throughout the ship are pretty good.
--Princess Stateroom new large flat screen TVs (two in mini-suites) on the Regal are great. I certainly appreciate receiving BBC, MSNBC and CNBC and inclusion of major sporting events, for instance, just about every big NFL game was provided on the big screen over the swimming pool, in the bars as well as cabin TVs. The same held true for the World Series baseball games. Good going.
--We have earned free laundry perks but it is nice that Princess still has self service pay laundry facilities on their ships as it takes the load off of the ships laundry facilities, so we don't have to be rationed. HAL has quit putting self serve laundry facilities on their ships so you have to pay them to do it.
--The ships main desk personnel and its shore excursion personnel were very knowledgeable and due their hard work and attention handled most awkward situations professionally. Actually, all this ship's personnel are very friendly and exhibit excellent demeanor, I suggest a Christmas bonus for them all.
--There were very few times we had to wait very long for an elevator. Same number of elevators as the two larger new Princess ships have, where we were continuously waiting and waiting, however, those two both lack a central public staircase, which the Caribbean has in all three elevator towers, this may have a lot to do with the elevator jam ups on the two other ships.
--Very little smoking on this ship. It is only allowed at: In the casino at a limited number of slot machines except on non-smoking days and no smoking at gaming tables, the port side of the open deck Tradewinds Bar on deck 16, a 30 foot or so stretch for standing only on the open deck portion of the promenade on the starboard side, and in a enclosed lounge called "Churchill's" dedicated for smokers only. It appears smokers shun this Princess ship or refrain from lighting up on it. We observed no cheating, that is someone sneaking a puff where they were not supposed to, I'm sure there are exceptions but rare. That is good.
--Normally I'm not much on onboard shopping but I have to admit I'm impressed with the selection of sundries, drugs and other items in the boutique shops. One advantage the larger ships have over smaller vessels is the ability to stock and sell a lot of items not otherwise available. For instance, if your luggage doesn't connect with your sailing or if you forget something it is a comfort to know you might be able to find it on the ship, some of our cruises have resulted in weeks on end in parts of the world where ports had no helpful retail outlets.
--On port days, when we have to muster early, we have began to use room service for a hot breakfast. This works out well and Princess does a great job with the meal and getting it to the cabin on time. We notice some lines now charge for room service or only allow you to have a continental breakfast unless you pay for "butler service". Hang in there Princess.
--Princess is very good at keeping the corridors uncluttered. They don't like it if you put your dirty dishes out in the hall and if you do the steward usually asks you to keep it in your room. But for those who ignore this, dirty platters are usually whisked away. One time a couple stuffed their trays right out in the middle of the corridor so wheel chairs couldn't get by, didn't even bother putting them in their alcove. Some people just don't have any couth.
--Embarkation and disembarkation on cruise lines always seems to be controversial and stressful. We really can't complain, no long line waits, things actually went pretty smooth, coordination as to where you are supposed to muster at disembarkation could use some improvement though.
--I almost dread going to the Main Dining Rooms anymore (except on the almost all inclusive's). In the past, for an enjoyable cruise experience one needed to appreciate the MDR. Not always possible today, unfortunately, in my opinion. The MDR really had me debating whether or not to reduce this cruise's experience rating. At the risk of being too harsh on dining experience here, I must point out that ironically, on this cruise, the MDR kitchen and service staff were pretty good and worked very hard, plus, the food not bad at all, (That was not the case on the Coral in January, in addition to long wait times the kitchen and service personnel were grossly understaffed resulting in a very poor dining experience.) However, overall, the Caribbean dining rooms are grossly inadequate for the volume of guests they serve at dinner time. We only use "anytime dining" as we do not want to be relegated to two time slots for dinner as is the case with "traditional dining". On our first four visits to the MDR our wait times averaged about 45 minutes. This MDR problem is seemingly axiomatic throughout the majors as rating services now often say "At open seating you may have to wait a considerable time for a table". Some argue that a 30 minute plus wait time for any good restaurant on shore is the norm, therefore, cruise lines should not be held to higher standards. We are working our way toward 600 sailing days. Rarely have we ever ran into a situation where we had to wait more than a few minutes before being seated in the MDR, until last January on an 11 day voyage on the Coral Princess and now on the Caribbean Princess. Oh, yes, you can make reservations for anytime dining, LOL.
Maybe traditional diners do not experience the grief, confusion and long seating wait times that anytime diners do. Or, perhaps the dining venues are adequate in size and layout but the organization and scheduling of such is deficient to the point it creates much more confusion and consternation than is necessary. Speaking of organization and scheduling, we do know this, there are three main dining rooms on this ship, 1.5 dedicated to traditional and 1.5 to anytime. Except, traditional gets the first two hours of the dining room split between the two. When that dining room finally opens up for anytime, a "cannon could be fired through it" so to speak, without hitting anybody. Us on C.C. also are aware that 75% of us usually book anytime. Those of us who also use all inclusives are aware, that for the most part, they only offer anytime dining. The all inclusives have very little problem with seating, why doesn't Princess get rid of "traditional"? Who knows, except Princess, but they better start paying attention as it is getting worse in their MDR.
Toward the end of this voyage, however, things became more tolerable for us in the MDR because we delayed our preferred dinner time from 6:15 PM until about 7:15 PM.
Tip #1: If the MDR becomes objectionable, try to eat as many meals as possible in the specialty restaurants and other venues, such as on "Crab Shack" nights. The buffet isn't all that bad either, except of course when the crowding there is severe and service is limited, which is often, due to the relatively limited passenger space on the Caribbean and the poor staff to passenger ratios--most all these problems result from the addition of another passenger deck. In summary, limit the use of the MDR to about 25%-40% of your dining on board, that is if, you can not come up with a combination to get you into the dining room after a reasonable wait.
--It has been our experience to find, as a general rule, the Princess captains more outgoing an informative and easy to comprehend than captains with the other two lines we use, HAL and Regent, who often times offer only a dearth of information about what is going on. That does not mean however we haven't had a bummer for a captain on Princess in the past or real good captains on both HAL and Regent. That said, we never heard from this captain once, or at least I didn't hear him, the officer of the watch did all announcements. It would be nice for the bridge crew to explain difficulties they appear to be having, for instance with the stern thrusters, all one day they had a big marine outfit with divers and all working on this problem, parts and stuff spread all over the dock near the aft portion of the vessel. Other passengers with cabins in the stern had been talking about the heavy vibrations resonating throughout the ship when the stern thrusters were being employed. Judging from all the difficulty the ship had during sail away at Fort Lauderdale, apparently the deficiency is not yet corrected. Hope the next cruise isn't goofed up because of this thruster thing, when we disembarked in Houston there was quite a bit of attention being paid by the crew to this area of the hull, up to and including the bridge, who would activate the thrusters at a signal from those on the dock, only to be met by a grinding roar. Previously, our Princess captains and others have kept their guests in the know regarding similar problems. So, the captain might be great, who knows, he kept us safe though, which is the main thing.
---We don't attend the theatre productions very much anymore in order to see the comics, jugglers, and dance entertainment groups. One thing I do not care for is the crowded theatre in the evenings where some of the rows have close to 24 seats in them; many people come very early and grab the isle seats compelling those coming later to squish by the knees of as many as 12 people to get to a open seat, furthermore, these people are reluctant to stand when someone walks by and there is not much more than a few inches between their knees and the seat in front. If one chooses to order a cocktail while seated like that, forget it. I miss the theatre layouts from before, although there is one advantage with this ship, there are no ceiling posts to block views. I do use the theatre for enrichment lectures, although these draw impressive audiences it isn't as overcrowded at those times.
--Finally and unlike the newest Princess ships, this one does have navigation charts posted on the ship. Daily progress however is not updated and other seagoing information pertinent to the voyage is still lacking. After we passed Charleston an additional chart was put up, so we could see how we navigated the Florida Keys, which was good. Apparently the Carnival Corp is beginning to rely on passengers to glean info regarding the daily progress of the vessel from their cabin TV. It is true that technology has allowed for this but we find that info on the Royal and Regal TVs is not all that informative. On this ship I couldn't find any daily voyage info on the TV, in the daily Princess Patter there is an abbreviated comment or two about this from the "Navigator". Maybe most passengers don't care where they are or what surrounds them, position wise, channel wise, country wise, etc. Not me though?
--Not certain why Princess has significantly reduced the number of hand sanitizer stations once found abundantly throughout their ships. Are they going back to the era of mass epidemics or do they know something we don't about sanitizing? Certainly hope it is not a cost saving ploy. For what it's worth though, this voyage was "bug free". I.e.,no hacking and coughing all around in theatres etc. late in the voyage. Hurray.
--There were a couple of smudges on my white dinner jacket, so before the next formal night my wife sent it to the ship's cleaners, which you pay extra for. They sent it back, saying they didn't have the necessary equipment on board to remove spots. First time we ever ran into that.
--Their Internet cafe is small but larger than those on the much larger newest Princess ships, Regal and Royal. Both it and the library are obviously not designed for long world excursion style voyages. The library and the internet cafe on the Caribbean Princess share the same location. The internet is very good and one of the fastest we have experienced on ships, additionally, we get the signal on my laptop almost anywhere on the vessel. Pricey, but we have some internet perks due to our "elite" status so that helps.
--Big on this ship as well as most others in the industry is that many cruisers like the art auctions, part of the on board entertainment programs. Okay, but not for me. These art appraisal prices are done by the art provider, a company that pays the cruise line to be onboard. I guess that is acceptable since so many guests seem to like this, the same goes for the casino as well, even though they know the house always wins in the long run. However, as with the casino, the art exhibits take up huge amounts of on board real estate. I find myself tripping over these exhibits when trying to negotiate the cluttered maze they present when trying to find my way around the ship. They simply get in the way and detract from a quality cruise for yours truly.
--Shore excursions and overloaded coaches---Apparently the days when Princess didn't load the coaches to the max on shore excursions is gone, I guess. Just about every coach we traveled on during this cruise/tour was almost packed. Speaking of coach travel problems, one of which is not necessarily a problem relegated only to Princess tours but one I have a real problem with, is the people who pull the window shades down during sightseeing. Twice on the ground portion of this trip folks felt compelled to pull their shades down due to "sun", they could see the landscape under the shade though while folks behind and across the isle could see very little in that direction. Unfortunately, due the packed coach, there was no seats to move to in order to get away from the curtain pullers. Makes one wonder why they even booked a "sightseeing" tour.
--Princess just can't seem to get a handle on developing a functional system under which they can locate passenger wine bottles stored between meals. It is not just us either, we have witnessed similar wine debacles taking place at tables near us. Tip: take your wine bottle or what is left of it to your room after dinner, I think they prefer you do that and it works out well for us. Make sure they leave the cork at your table and not take it with them, they usually do but not always.
--I am not at all satisfied with the emergency procedures, facilities for such and the drills etc, or the lack thereof, needed to cope with a disaster at sea involving a vessel of this size. The complexities of such give me the chills when I contemplate the potential of a catastrophic accident at sea involving fire, collision or other seagoing eventualities, particularly if the vessel experiences a rapid list to one side or the other. It doesn't appear to me that Carnival Corp learned much from their Costa Concordia sinking.
--Already mentioned, wainscoting dents on corners of cabin alcoves.
--Throughout the cruise, but more noticeable toward the latter days, "really bad" the last day at sea, is the smell of sewage in the forward elevator lift area of promenade deck 7, this is immediately outside of the Princess Theatre. It is also noticeable on the starboard outside promenade deck at that location and sometimes wafts upward to where it is noticeable on decks 9 and 10 balconies. Since Churchill's Lounge must also vent out near that same location the cigar smoke is almost a relief when it overcomes the smell of the sewage.
--One area that has always irritated me on all our cruises and most buffet venues on shore is that tongs are allowed to drop back into the food after someone has handled and touched them. Princess is no exception. In fact some buffets have little trays where one is supposed to lay the tongs or forks or spoons after dishing up the food, for the most part Princess has very few places to lay the tongs so many passengers just drop them right back into the middle of the platter, they might as well handle the food directly.
The cruise was a 7 days cruise and was and my husband and I would not recommend to anyone. The cruise left out of Houston late and it was not because of the weather. but was because we left Houston so late. the We wee to port In Rotan Honduras, but were not able to because arriving so late. Then we were told that we would be stopping at another port but we were not able to do that because of the weather. We were not able to get of the ship for 4 days until the next port. We rocked back and forth on the ship the whole time and some people fell out of their beds because of the rocking back and forth. Princess will not compensate you in any meaningful way for cruises that are a disaster. Also, the food on the cruise was horrible. It is a cruise line that I would not recommend to anyone. Also, we were not able to go on excursions because of the bad weather. So many of them were canceled.
Embarkation at Port Everglades was worse than Miami. Although not under the control of Princess, they need to work with the Ports Authority on the wheelchair boarding process. They use the "Honor System" (no numbers or log-in sheet to determine who's next) and we had many jump the line causing us to have to wait over an hour before we could board in sweltering heat. There is NO excuse for this especially when you request wheelchair boarding prior to the cruise through Princess.
We had a Balcony cabin (R611) which was common in size and amenities yet these cabins have an overhang from the Buffet above making it quiet and private. NO noise heard from the buffet above at all for the entire cruise. Mattress was sub-par and we had to request foam egg crates to fill in the gully in the middle if the mattress.
Buffet was hit and miss (yet more miss). Main Dining room (Palm) was excellent with great presentation, good portions and served hot. Don't understand why people complain about portions when you are eating a six course meal!
Princess theater too small to allow access to many passengers unlessyou arrive an hour or more earlier. Crew were always smiling and helpful. Customer service desk personnel need some customer service training.
Slots (penny) were VERY loose as were most of the other one-armed bandits in the casino. I hit for over $1500 in one day on the penny slots. Drinks are as expensive as any other line but you can order from Princess Cellars prior to the cruise and have a bottle of your liking in your cabin for the entire cruise. I would most Definitely sail Princess again.
From the Norman Love truffle pops at the Welcome Toast to the restaurant-like beverage service in the buffet, Princess is filled with surprises that make it my favorite among the mass market cruise lines.
It won’t blow you away with bumper cars or carousels, but what it does deliver is consistently solid service, attention to detail and an eagerness to please.
The recent trip on the Caribbean Princess, our fourth on the line, proved to be as good as the first. With many of the lines noticeably scaling back, Princess is an exception. Here’s some of what made it special:
Ship shape. Princess’ mini-suite is ideal for those who want more space but not at a suite price. It’s essentially the size of a hotel room with two flat screen TVs, a full-sized couch, large counter, and porch furniture featuring reclining chairs, foot stools and a large table. The closets in the mini-suites%u2014as well as the balcony rooms%u2014are the largest we’ve had on any cruise line, and can accommodate three hanging shoe bags, along with a whole lot of clothes.
The staterooms%u2014as well as the public rooms%u2014were immaculate. You’d really have to look hard tofind any evidence that the ship was built 11 years ago.
The piazza, the hub of ship activity, this trip featured a pianist, a we-can-play-just-about-anything band and singer, steel drums and a former circus performer who twirled lighted hoops in a blaze of color and grace.
The only downside to the handsome piazza is that it can’t always accommodate everyone who wants to be there. Getting a good enough view to take photos of the Mardi Gras party or a seat to eat your International Café quiche can sometimes be all but impossible.
Food; themed and otherwise. Speaking of food, it ranged from fair to good, in both the Main Dining Room and Horizon Court buffet. One innovation in the MDR was Caribbean cuisine, a welcome reminder of where we were. And it was nice to see lobster tail still on the formal night menu.
Horizon Court themed nights were a lot of fun and we found ourselves there more than the MDR. German night was alight with a color-changing, larger-than-life beer stein (in ice, not on ice), landjagger bites and German hams, pretzel rolls, red cabbage, sausages, and linzer and sacher tortes. Italian night, with its gondolier-costumed waiters, served up prosciutto and hunks of parmesan, fennel au gratin and pasta many ways.
The bakery stuff is where Princess really excels. The breads are great%u2014from the sunflower-studded rolls to the cheese-topped croissants to the onion-infused focaccia. The chocolate desserts were excellent, rivaling some of the best bakeries on land.
The ship was as generous with its buffet hours as it was with the food offerings. You can get breakfast until 11:30, lunch until 3:30 (if you miss this, there’s “afternoon snack” from 3:30-5:30, which is a scaled down lunch), and full dinner is available until 11. Late dining was an especially mellow meal, just us, a few other night owls and the crew.
Fun and games. While standard fare, the entertainment was generally good; highlights were a juggler/comedian whose not-G-rated shtick brought on belly laughs, and a magician/comedian with same-but-different sleight-of-hand tricks and fast wit.
In fact, everyone seemed to be a comedian on this trip%u2014including the cruise director, Paul Chandler-Burns. The Brit’s quips shot out like sparks%u2014in an understated, under-the-breath sort of way%u2014and made him the ideal emcee. His banter during the “The Marriage Match Game Show” made it easily one of the best we’ve seen on any ship.
There were several themed parties, the most memorable was the “Love Boat Disco Deck Party” held by the pool. The ship’s singers and dancers, dressed officer-like in white pants suits and captain hats, did the hustle and other moves, while the Movie Under the Stars screen revived scenes from the TV show, interspersing its octogenarian cast members somewhat disconcertedly jiving to a disco beat.
Well served. Service onboard was attentive from the room steward to the well-orchestrated disembarkation. Ironically, some of the best service we had was in the buffet. One night, I was asked by three different waiters within 10 minutes if I wanted any water or coffee.
With the generous room space, great service, varied entertainment with plenty of laughs, satisfying food sprinkled with surprises, and four good Western Caribbean ports (seven days of sun didn’t hurt either), we felt gloriously pampered from ship to shore. And felt that Princess did its best%u2014and succeeded%u2014in helping us “come back new.”
This was our 2nd time on this ship and our 10th cruise overall. We previously sailed on her in 2004. We booked B749 cabin with an extended balcony overlooking the wake. The best cabin we ever had. We stayed the previous night at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 which was very close to the cruise terminal. We had booked a Jr executive suite in the tower on the 7th floor with views to ocean and cruise terminal. Hotel was pretty good and we had zero complaints.
The next morning we woke up around 6am only to see the ship already docked and some others coming in as well. It was pretty cool to watch! We checked out at 11am and took a very short cab ride with another family to the cruise terminal <7$> was the fare. Check in procedures was pretty easy and everyone was friendly. Now Princess only lets people onboard when cabins are ready. We entered the ship around noon and went straight to our cabin. The cabin was spotless and our very friendly cabin steward greeted us. We gave her a small tip up front andwe always got treated by her like royalty and she kept our cabin in great shape.
Once we entered our cabin we called the desk to make reservations for Sabatini's and also a balcony dinner the following night. We are not too fond of buffet food in general and we don't mind spending a little extra on better food. We toured the spa and inquired about the spa schedule. We did not book anything and received a rather cold shoulder from the sales rep after that. We never went back for that very reason. We stopped at the buffet and the lines were super long. I did not liked the food at all.
It was better then our previous cruise on Royal Caribbean The Jewel of the Seas for sure but still mediocre. We found the International Café where we purchased a coffee card for $30 and it was in our opinion well worth it. Also purchased for 20$ a soda card which gave us a coca cola cup but we only drink club soda but it suited us well. The International Café also served pastries and cold foods and hot croissants and we really liked the place A place to have our coffee was at times difficult to find and the seats are not compfy at all.
Which brings me to our balcony. Seats are small and a small very ghetto looking plastic table. We had coffee on our balcony every morning and it was not easy to balance this small table with our coffee and sometimes a muffin. We had requested a lounge chair but did not get one. Anyways the muster drill went fast and efficient no complaints. Our dinner at night was disappointing and I advise future cruiser to skip it. Nothing remotely outstanding or worth writing about.
The following day we stayed at the aft pool pretty much all day. We had breakfast in our cabin and during the day grabbed coffee and something small from the crowded buffet lines. We played scrabble by the pool deck and enjoyed the sun. Our balcony dinner was $100 total and worth the event. Food again wasn't the greatest but the event was romantic and the waiter very well trained and did an awesome job spoiling us. My steak was totally undercooked and had to be sent to be redone. Lobster in my opinion was too chewy as well. But we loved the event and would do it again.
The following day we docked in Grand Turks and we got off the ship and rented a moped and explored the Island on our own. We found a secluded beach and stayed there for about 3 hrs and just swam or sun tanned, it felt like paradise. On our way back entering the cruise area they had many shopping stores and also a pool area with bar. But we did not explore it and went back on the ship to our aft pool lol. That night we ate in the anytime dining room. We had some nice table mates and the evening was lovely. We ordered a nice bottle of wine with our dinner as well. Again food was okay but nothing special. For the following evening we decided to see if we could get a table at the Steakhouse but it was fully booked. We tried several times and finally they squeezed us in and for a surcharge we dined on some great food. The waiter let us wait 20 min before asking us if we wanted anything to drink and he brought us our wine from the following night and seltzer water. Service was terrible but the food outstanding. It truly was delicious and highly recommend to eat there.
The power went off on the entire ship the last evening and the person speaking on the intercom was very confusing. Back up power came back and the entire event only lasted for maybe 30 min? We did not watch any shows or attended any kind of events. The Sanctuary was something I wanted to do but the place looked very worn and frankly old fashioned.
The furniture is totally out of style so we decided to just hang out by the aft pool which btw is an adult only area. We did see a few kids but they left in a hurry when told it was an adult only area. The pool lounge chairs are not very comfortable and wish they would change that. Overall we thought most of the staff had an attitude and was not very friendly. We heard this from several other cruisers as well. I could not for the life of me get a muffin toasted from the gal that made toast at the buffet. She had a terrible attitude as well. We also noticed a lot of staff having language issues. This being said we encountered some very friendly staff and our room attendant was the best we ever had.
We booked a Everglades airboat ride after the cruise and this little event went very well. By 9am we left the ship and headed to a bus to drive to the Everglades. Afterwards it brought us to the Ft Lauderdale airport. Overall the cruise was nice and we would do it again. Ship was in pretty good shape and clean. I am cruising again for 13 days in June on the Star Princess Alaska land/sea tour. I am looking forward to another great cruise!
This is a review of the Princess CruiseTour we took May 31 â€“ June 14, 2014. The selected tour was a 7-day â€œOff The Beaten Pathâ€ land tour followed by a southbound â€œVoyage of the Glaciersâ€ on Coral Princess. The selected tour punched our three buttons; Denali National Park, Alaska Railroad and Kenai Peninsula. A similar tour was offered as a Connoisseur tour. We decided the amenities offered were not worth the additional expense.
The travelers were my wife and I (mid 50s) and two friends (mid 60s.) This would our first CruiseTour experience. My wife and I were embarking on our fourth Princess cruise, eleventh overall. Our friends were experiencing their first cruise.
Overall impressions: Four thumbs up. I am so glad we went to Alaska and spent the time we did on land. Of the land based lodges our favorite was Keani. The best overall experience was at Denali lodge and then the train trip between Denali and Talkeetna. Wish we had given ourselves a little more time to go into Fairbanks. Seemed like there was much to see there and we were too tired to take advantage of it. They toldus there were such things as â€œsunsetâ€ and â€œsunriseâ€ which may be true but it never really got dark, even when overcast, while with we in the Alaskan mainland. We did see dark again while cruising the inside passage.
A word about logistics: We arrived at Fairbanks airport, collected our luggage (at least most of it) and reported to the Princess table next to the baggage claim. We were given an envelope with our room key, luggage tags, and information regarding our stay in Fairbanks. The information sheet had our room number, information about the lodge â€“ map and restaurant hours â€“ and information regarding booked tours, as well as meeting information for our next destination. While the key looks generic it is specific to each lodge, so leave them behind you.
The luggage tags included a â€œmeet me on boardâ€ tag for a suitcase that would be transported directly to the ship, and a â€œtravel with meâ€ tag for a large bag that would be moved from location to location. There was also a separate tag indicating our next location. As we arrived at each lodge we were met by a Princess employee with similar envelopes containing lodge information and luggage tags for the next destination. (I assume for post-cruse tours you receive your info for your first stop either at embarkation or arrival at the lodge.)
I think this is going to be wordy. I have divided the review into four sections; Lodges, Land Activities, Coral Princes, and Bays and Ports. Feel free to skip past sections that are not of interest to you.
Each lodge had at least a coffee bar of some sort, a casual-ish bar
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.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Trish New England June 22, 2011
BEWARE OF BOOKING WITH PRINCESS CRUISE LINES
We were booked on a New York to New York, New England cruise and wanted to get off in Rhode Island and visit with our friends as this was the last port before the end of the cruise which was the next day in New York.
We were told we were not allowed to and we would be fined $300.00 each plus $1,000.00 each, they claimed there were no immigration people to handle us which I told them can't be true as they have crew and entertainers leaving the ship constantly.
I suggested getting off in Boston in a larger port and they again said no way.
Yesterday Princess called us directly and told us we were not welcome on their ship and they would only refund our cruise costs nothing else, as they did not want us to talk to any other passengers and felt we would be a detriment to the ship.
We are Platnuim with Princess and do three to four cruises a year and have done over thirty cruises.
So please bewarebefore you book a Princess cruise Thank goodness there are other great cruise lines to choose from.
Remember the Jones Act that Princess likes to use.
Sincerely, A fellow world traveller