Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Melissa Eastern Caribbean August 15, 2008
My parents have been cruising for years, and I had tagged along for a few when I was a teen. Now that I am in my late 20's and engaged, my fiance and I have taken to cruising as well.
This is the second ship that we have been on in the past year and we prefer Carnival, hands down. We are not big drinkers or partiers, either.
PROS Princess has embarkation down cold. They are excellent at moving a line and getting you on your ship very fast. You get your luggage within an hour or so of being on the ship, too. Very nice starting point, in my opinion.
The ship is pretty big in comparison to others that I have traveled on. Therefore, you are less likely to feel it moving, rocking, etc. Because it is so large, you can find a lounge chair in the sun (but if you want one by the movie screen, you need to get there before 10am).
The cabin steward was a doll. He worked hard and was always pleasant and helpful.
Entertainment wasabove average. The comedian was funny and the hypnotist was enjoyable. I looked forward to the nightly shows.
CONS The senior cruise staff was often rude and rushed. They would host a trivia game and want to get through it as quickly as possible. My fiance and I went to a Wii bowling tournament one afternoon and the guy in charge was so annoyed at the people who had never used the Wii. We ended up teaching people to play (we own one and had played before). The guy just kept saying he couldn't believe that they had never done it before (the people playing ranged in ages from 20s to 60s -- give them a break). The cruise director's staff did little to make me feel comfortable or even happy all week (I am not including cabin stewards -- they are sweet and helpful). I'm the easiest person to please, and they just didn't even try. This was very disappointing.
The casino staff weren't very nice, either. I play roulette and my fiance plays poker, blackjack and tried craps. I like to banter with the dealer when I play, try to establish a little relationship with the person taking my hard earned money, etc. There was only one dealer who would talk back and joke with me. The others were quick to roll the ball and call "no more bets." I lost enough over the span of the cruise, but I could have lost a lot, lot more if there was a decent dealer on deck.
Every activity listed in the Patter (the onboard itinerary) has a "nominal fee." On Carnival, my fiance got free golf swing lessons, played ping pong, golf, trivia, etc., etc. On Princess, he ventured up to the golf area and was told that he could sign up for a clinic at $40 per half hour. We would go to bingo and the card packages were in a range from $10 to $50, and you need to buy a bingo dauber to play. The Scholarship at Sea was offered each day for fees ranging from $25 and up. Temporary tattoos are $7 and up. It just never ended with the nickel and diming on this ship.
The food is, quite simply, bland and cold. The buffet was boring and inedible. The dining room was decent, but not what I have come to expect from a cruise ship. I CRAVED Carnival's warm chocolate melting cake every night. Princess had little selection and almost no taste. I was actually excited to get home and cook my own meals with some flavor (and seriously -- whoever says that after a cruise?)
Everything must go to your shipboard account. I like to pay a little cash here and there, but Princess makes you sign for everything. And, they charge a little more than other ships for their gratuity. It is $10.95 per person/per day. I was tempted to have it taken off of my account and just give cash to the room steward only (let's face it -- the maitre d' doesn't really deserve his dollar a day but the steward should get more than $3 of that $10.95). I didn't bother, in the end. I wish that there was a way you could adjust the gratuity to who you felt deserved it more.
And finally -- the ship's design is one of the worst ever! The dining rooms are at midship, but you have to walk past them and then go down a flight of stairs -- they are not accessible from all sides. It is strange. You can't just walk around and find things to do -- you need to know where things are. I like to take stairs (a little exercise, I figure), but it was annoying to navigate the levels. It is hard to explain, but those who have been on the ship will understand.
I heard throughout the vacation that the staff was ready to leave (our Carribean cruise was the last for the ship -- it is now doing tours of New England and a majority of the staff was getting their month off at the end of our cruise). I spent almost triple on the Carribean Princess than I did on the Miracle last year and was so disappointed that I came to Cruisemates to give a review. I don't mean to bash it, but seriously -- I'd need to be offered some AMAZING deal to travel with Princess again.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Coffeelady Eastern Caribbean July 9, 2008
This was our 5th Princess trip and we had a great time. Due to Hurricane Bertha, our stop in Bermuda was cancelled. While I was disappointed I understand that safety comes first and, it's difficult to dock a huge ship with high waves. Many passengers, including myself and my husband specifically took this cruise because of Bermuda. Once that was settled, the rest of the cruise was fine. We had an inside cabin and I will not take an inside again. Yes, it was a bargain, but I like seeing the water. I prefer a balcony which I will book on the next cruise.
Meals were fine. I just don't understand why people crank and complain about the meals. There's certainly enough food for every taste. What we did notice are the little things -- smaller plates and glasses, and smaller portions at dinner. Not that one couldn't have more but the initial serving(s) were often microscopic in size, and, no grand buffet. One could literally eat 24 hours a day on the Caribbean Princess, so finding something to eat isn'ta problem. Sometimes finding a cold beverage can be daunting at times and not a bar drink. Soda is a bar beverage so just ice water requires a trip to the buffet(s) or back to the cabin. Sterling steakhouse has it's own location rather than as part of the buffets as on other Princess ships; and Sabatini's is well worth the $20 per person charge. It's one of the best meals you can imagine.
Our cabin was on the Baja deck mid-ship which was great once we became acclimated to the ship. Yes, it can be confusing -- e.g., the Palm Dining room is down a flight of stairs -- we found it by accident. It's great if you want a table for 2. Plenty are available. We had the anytime dining rather than the fixed, which was much more convenient especially on extended port days such as San Juan, PR, when the ship was in port until at least 10PM.
San Juan was wonderful. We went to Baracina's -- the home of the pina colada. Well worth the stop if you have seen it on any travel show. Shopping is great and everything is close to the port.
The stop in St.Thomas was cut short due to mechanical problems (as we were told). We went to Coral World and took the semi-submersable sub. It was interesting but not if you have mobility issues. The only rain we had was while we were on the 1 hour bus ride to Coral World. Because our stay was cut short in St. Thomas, no time for shopping; however there was a very small (5 or 6 store) shopping area at the dock. Otherwise, shopping in Charlotte Amalie is worth the trip. Mr. Tablecloth is the best bargain in the Caribbean. If you like the beach, there are plenty of stunning beaches to visit while in St. Thomas.
Grand Turk is just adorable. The ship pulls into the dock, and the beach is right there! Shopping is good with plenty of stores for bargains. Try the Caribbean Coffee. A huge Margaritaville is at the dock area offering plenty of entertainment, etc.
We had a great speaker on Board, Bruce Caplan who lectured on the Titanic. Mr. Caplan lectures around the US and had insightful and informative talks throughout the cruise.
Entertainment is average; Movies Under The Stars was okay, but they need better padding on the lounge chairs.
My only real gripe is that there is NO enforcement of children under 15 in hot tubs. I get upset when I see parents of small children, even infants, in hot tubs (diapers and all). I just avoided the pool areas as much as possible since no one reads the signs. Smoking seems to be a non-issue as many passengers seem to have given up smoking. Shopping on the ship is average -- nothing special. The shops are spread out on 2 levels. Even the laundry facility was fantastic. It helps because one doesn't need additional clothing.
We saw family reunions and weddings and people having a great time. This cruise was very relaxing with no rushing from port to port, and having an extra sea day just made the trip feel that much more relaxing. A cruise is a great vacation bargain with no cooking and no cleaning. That's a vacation. I'm ready to go again.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Jackiesbooks Bermuda June 13, 2008
This cruise took place on the Caribbean Princess -- June 13 to 22, 2008, sailing out of New York to Bermuda, San Juan, St Thomas, and Grand Turk.
We met Princess's Northeast motor coach bus in Baltimore. Since we planned some time in NY after the cruise, we only needed one way tickets. Princess only sells round trip tickets, but this was still cheaper than taking the train and getting a taxi to the Brooklyn Port. It was cheaper than driving. It was very easy. This is a great way to go. I talked to several people on the cruise that had trouble with cab drivers getting lost and/or very expensive car hires. One route goes across PA and the other goes up the coast from DC to NY. If you live in VA, MD, DE, PA or NJ, check this option out.
My husband is disabled so we had a wheelchair escort thru the check-in process. The regular line was moving pretty fast. When we got up to the counter, fellow cruisers that were on the bus with us were very closeto the front of the line.
Cruising past the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a wonderful sight. On the return trip, we used a car hire that another CruiseMate recommended. We called him when we were going thru customs and he was there within 15 minutes to pick us up and take us to our hotel. The process for pick up in Brooklyn needs to improve. Most of the people leaving are being picked up. The area for pickups is very crowded.
The Ship There were small things that need to be updated/repaired, such as cracked tiles around the pool, missing decorative tiles in the theatre. None of these took away from our fun. I just mention them because there has been talk about her condition. These are the only issues I saw. I love the Movies Under the Stars!
Food We had Anytime Dining. The two times we went to the Coral Dining Room we waited approximately 20 minutes. We then tried the Pal Dining Room and we walked in every night except one. That night we waited 5 minutes. We also ate in the Sterling Steakhouse one night. It was well worth the money. In addition, we ate at the buffet two nights. I have never before done this, but these 2 nights they were having Lobster claws, shrimp and crab legs -- we could not pass. My son and husband loved the Pizza. I found some of the waiters not as friendly as I like, but all were very efficient.
Activities This ship had so many more options for activities than I have had on other lines. It usually had 2 different types of shows in two different locations. I like to play Bingo, but have lately found on some lines that it costs too much for little prize money. Princess had Bingo card packages from $10. The prizes started at $150 and on the last day it was $3300.
My 6 year old attended the children's program at least once a day. He loved it.
Cabins We had an inside cabinet -- P236. The closet area does not have doors, but was the largest closet I have ever had. On the other hand, the shower was probably one of the smallest. The room had 2 bunks that pulled down.
Overall We had a great time and I would not hesitate to book on this ship again. We had a wonderful time on this cruise.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Dianne T Eastern Caribbean June 4, 2008
This was my 14th cruise on Princess and a HUGE dissappointment.
The food on this ship was awful compared to other Princess cruises I have been on.
The crew had an attitude of indifference. I WAS a real champion of Princess.
I have 2 cruises planned for the next year BUT they will not be on Princess.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Bogeyjim Eastern Caribbean April 13, 2008
My wife and I, along with another couple who are close friends (mid 50's to early 60's) just returned from a cruise of the Eastern Caribbean on the Caribbean Princess. I have only cruised once before, five years ago on the Celebrity Summit, so I can only compare the performance of the staff to those on that ship.
We chose to take a package with a Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale, and transfers to the ship and return to the airport at the completion of the cruise. We had a bit of a problem initially at the airport as we could not locate the Princess personnel who were to meet us and provide transportation to the Marriott North. After having them paged, all went smoothly getting us to the hotel. The hotel room was very nice and we were able to relax after the day of travel.
We had concerns about being picked up late in the day on Sunday but those fears were put aside when we were told to be ready in the lobby at 11:30 Sunday morning. Wewere on a bus by noon and on the way to Port Everglades. We arrived at the Princess terminal at about 12:30. The longest wait we had was in going through security, as it turned out two of the three personell performing that task were on lunch break. Once through security we proceeded to the Princess counter for our deck and within approximately 15 minutes were in our staterooms, it could not have gone more efficiently.
The rooms were fine. We had a balcony cabin and our friends an inside cabin, both at the rear of the Aloha deck. Our cabin steward was Rumiel from the Philippines. He was great, attending to every request that was made of him with a smile on his face always. He is truly an asset to Princess. Other staff was very good as well except for a very few exceptions. The wait staff was very good with several of our waiters (we chose anytime dining, and loved it) very friendly and personable. The food was not gourmet, but was very good in the restaurants. We did have dinner one evening at Sabatini's and it was excellent. Our biggest complaint on the whole cruise was the buffet in both the Cafe Caribe and Horizon Court. In a word these areas are "chaotic". There is no rhyme or reason to the lines for selecting your food and people are bumping into each other constantly. Also, no trays to put your plate or glass on, you have to carry them in hand. On the Celebrity ship the buffet was very orderly to the point where personnel were there to take your tray and carry it to your table when you came off the line. There were also occasions where personnel heading back into the kitchen and service areas cut in front of me, which would never have happened on the Celebrity ship, or at least not without an "excuse me". There were also several occasions in the Princess theatre where the cocktail waiters seemed as if they would like to have been somewhere else, instead of waiting on the guests.
The pool areas were very nice, and even on the "at sea" days we were always able to find four lounges next to each other. On the days that the ship visited the ports of call, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Princess Cays, we stayed on board having visited the first two on our previous cruise, and we had the run of the ship. We would have like to have gone ashore at Princess Cays, but did not reserve cabanas for the beach ahead of time. When hearing that they only have 200 of them, we opted to stay on the ship rather than bake in the sun on the beach.
We saw several shows in the Pricess theare, the best of which was the "Beatlemaniacs". They were terriffic and their show was a trip down memory lane, most of the audience singing along with the group. Bert Stratton's piano/comedy show was also very good, and there was a comedian/magician, Michael James, who was also very entertaining.
I guess the word is that the ship is just about due for a trip to drydock for some rehab after four years of operation. While there were some areas that were showing some wear, overall the ship was kept in excellent condition.
When we returned on Sunday for disembarking, our instructions were to meet in one of the dining rooms at 8:45. We got there early and were released from the ship at about 8:15. It took us about 10-15 minutes to locate our luggage and we were then put right on a bus to the airport. Again, this process went like clockwork.
Overall, while the service level may not be quite up to what we experienced on Celebrity, I would have no second thoughts about taking another cruise on Princess.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Mellocroozr Eastern Caribbean March 30, 2008
Our focus for this cruise was to relax and enjoy the outstanding atmosphere we were expecting on this first trip away from our children (ages 4 & 1). We really bought into the "small ship feel" and "excellent food" reviews (we are I guess what you would call "foodies") and advertising and while we did have a good cruise, we had to really work at enjoying ourselves which is definitely not what we expected to have to do.
Embarkation was flawless, except for the rudeness of some of the embarkation staff which was unexpected and uncalled for by locals wearing Princess uniforms. Some were outright abusive to people, but worse upon debarkation.
Our stateroom was OK. We had a mini-suite which was OK. The room was nice, but the bathroom had a few caulking issues and the sliding door to the balcony was whistling and water poured in on the last day during a big storm. This ship seems so dated in the décor. I could not put my finger on it but I guess you could compare it to buying furnitureat Wal-Mart and then walking into a furniture store with a higher end product afterwards. It looked fine at the time but it wasn't until I toured the Westerdam after our cruise that I realized what was wrong with everything. It all looked cheap.
Service Our cabin attendant and the Palm Dining Room Staff were great. The Buffet staff were hit and miss but everyone working on the ship seemed tired. There was no one that really went over and above to WOW us. The cabin attendant remembered our name and he did a great job keeping our room tidy and fully stocked with towels.
As mentioned in many reviews. Princess has a problem enforcing rules -- some with very potentially serious consequences: no unsupervised children in the hot tubs and pool, using hand sanitizers when entering the buffets, shirts and shoes in the buffets, and the not so serious but really irritating no children in the adults only pools, reserving of deck chairs (some sat empty with towels from 8am until noon or longer).
Itinerary We enjoyed St Maarten including the beach being so close to the ship, but found St Thomas expensive and the people not as friendly. Princess Cays is a great day at the beach. The Cabana was a good investment when a brief shower rolled through for about 20 minutes soaking everyone else.
Entertainment The new Piano Bar singer is not very good unless he was singing a Billy Joel song. Sarge returned to the ship in St Maarten and was very funny. We did not see any other shows, as we found it not worth the struggle for seating each night.
Dining This is going to be a sore spot and you will have to excuse me if I rant. Food in the dining room was mediocre at best. The Halibut was so overcooked on the second night that I did not think you could dry out such a succulent fish to the point it was a solid brick. The sauces were never quite rich enough, or flavorful enough. When I ordered my meat rare, it came out rare, but grey on the outside. We gave up dining at our appointed time after the second night until the Chef's night when surprisingly, the lobster was not overcooked.
The Breakfast Buffets were so disappointing and the shortcuts that were taken were noticed by us in a big way. The bread is bad. The on-board bakery needs a good shake-up. The toast bread was dry and old tasting, and all buns lacked a crust. No decent rye. No offence to Americans, who generally had no problem with the bread, but Europeans are really big on bread -- that is, FRESH BREAD. Don't bake it, put it in a plastic bag for the day and then sit there and pretend that it is fresh. It is such an easy thing to do when you have a bakery 2 floors from your kitchen. Bake fresh bread. JAM -- 5 gallon pails of the cheapest stuff they could buy is what is served; and why the salad dressing ladles instead of spoons? Orange and Apple Cocktail? Not juice. Powdered scrambled eggs, or at least that's what they tasted like. The fresh fruit selection was always nice and on a few mornings they had Eggs Benedict available. I think the above shortcuts could have been upgraded without any effect on the budget had they just eliminated the smoked salmon every morning.
On the last evening, after all comment cards had been turned in for the "big draw," (this is the only explanation we could think of for this) we went to the Caribe Buffet for a light dinner. It was very packed and very hard to find seating which is to be expected after a day at the beach. There were no salt and pepper shakers on the tables in most sections. Did they think we were going to steal them? There was no rhyme or reason to the food offerings -- pasta with undercooked cans of crushed tomatoes as a sauce. Jerk chicken which looked like they took the leftover chicken from Princess Cays and tossed in spices, Curried Chicken Salad which had very little flavour and tasted dry -- not quite sure how a mayonnaise-based salad can taste dry, but it did. It was just a mish mash of leftovers. When you walked to the pool areas, all the deck chairs were being packed up, no movie was offered. At one point, both pools were closed but I am not sure if it remained that way. We really got the feeling that Princess was ready to be rid of us all. We decided to grab a couple of pieces of pizza -- which were always outstanding -- and head to our cabin to order a club sandwich from room service. Our final impression and last night on the ship was probably the worst of all the evenings. We felt unwelcome.
I will not be booking another Princess cruise without assurances that this was not typical. We really looked forward to this trip. After (my wife) being on maternity leave for a full year, we really stretched to book ourselves on this cruise but needed the time together. While we did have a nice time, it was in no way due to anything Princess did to make our voyage enjoyable. I will be looking elsewhere for our travel needs in the future.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Marlene Blackburn Eastern Caribbean February 17, 2008
We just completed our first cruise on 2/24/08 aboard the Caribbean Princess. Overall, the service was great, lots of food and variety of it, and lots of entertainment.
I was pleased with just about everything until 2/19 around 12:30 pm, when my significant other and myself were on the Riviera Deck, 14 Terrace Pool, when much to my surprise, I noticed a woman sunbathing topless amongst children. I immediately notified one of the wait staff that I was offended by it and that there were children in the area. He told me he had just reported it. After about 45 minutes of nothing happening, at least 5 of the crew dressed in white, one with a camera (who took a picture of something), were on the deck but none of them said anything to the woman. After an hour and a half, still nothing had been said. I was ticked off because I had expected something to be done and it wasn't.
I'll never take another (Princess) cruise again for the simple fact that the crew didn't respect my wishes andcorrect the problem.
I later contacted the front desk and asked to speak to someone in authority about it. The man I spoke to didn't let me speak to anyone about it other than himself, and as of that time, which was about 5 pm, there had not been any formal report filed. All he did was apologize to me, which just isn't enough.
I didn't spend that kind of money to see some woman baring herself to everyone regardless of others' feelings.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Dean Eastern Caribbean January 27, 2008
My wife and I sailed the Caribbean Princess on Jan 27-2008 for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess (2 with Carnival, 1 with RCCL) and we sailed with a group of 8 other people. Age ranges were from mid 30s to 70s Our overall experience was a very positive one shared by all of our travel mates.
A couple of positive points that stand out for us:
Embarkation -- We arrived as a group via taxi at about noon and were through the entire check in process and in our cabin at about 20 after 12. Very fast!!
Another thing we liked was the way the sections of Lido and Sun deck were like independent areas of the ship. Depending on which area you were in you couldn't hear any noise from another area bleeding in. Hard to explain but if you were at the spa pool you would not hear any of the movie sound that was just a short walk away. Or if you were watching the movie you couldn't hearthe band playing at Neptunes' pool just a few steps away. It felt like each of these parts of the ship were very independent.
We ate in the dining room every night, late seating. Our server was good, lots of selection. The food was excellent. Only a couple of the entrees during the week were less than impressive. The sea bass and prime rib were a little disappointing. We also tried the buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner and always found there to be lots of selection, excellent quality with different theme nights every night; Italian, Octoberfest, Seafood just to name a few.
We did afternoon tea in the dining room and were very impressed. Burgers, pizza and hot dogs on the deck were yummy.
If I had to pick a couple of things that could be improved on, I would say the buffet layout is one. There is no real flow to the buffet. You can enter from two sides which causes a lot of traffic jams when it's busy.
The day spent at Princess Cays is the other item for improvement. The beach and water are lovely, the bbq lunch was very good, loads of shade and loungers, but the last tender back to the ship is at three p.m., which really means you have to start packing up by 2 p.m. to get in line for the tenders. Princess Cays is their own private island. Why can't we stay until 5 p.m.? Give us all a little more time to enjoy it.
These items hardly affected our overall enjoyment of the cruise. We all had a great time and would highly recommend the ship and the line to anyone who wants to cruise.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by B Hayden Western Caribbean January 20, 2008
I was very pleasantly surprised with the inside cabin's space. Huge closet and storage.
Meals were superb. First night service took over an hour to bring the entree but after that night, service was great. Wasn't very personal though as we always had different waiters.
On the down side, the women's restrooms ALWAYS had one stall that was closed for maintenance. Lines all the time.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Brenda D. Eastern Caribbean December 23, 2007
We had a fantastic room Baja 749 corner back balcony. Afternoon sun, on the journey and wonderful moon views at night (ours was a full moon). This Balconey provides you with 2 chairs, and 2 loungers, as well as a table. Our Mom had B752, also a balcony, and the deck was smaller not having 4 chairs but 2. Our daughters had E502 window obstructed but fine.
The ship lacked the wow factor one feels when boarding a Princess ship. It was nicely decorated for Christmas but nothing fantastic with the actually design of the main foyer.
The staff seemed very average. We booked anytime dining. First night we ate in the Palm. The greeting was nothing exciting. The Baramondi? (South American fish) like Perch was awful. I am from the coast and love fish but not smelly fish! Very short menu and very non attentive staff. No napkins on your lap and no real pampering.
Each meal was so, so. Nothing was available that wasn't on the menu, as it was in the past. Waiters in the dining rooms wereso average with no personalities. Personalities were in the two fee-charged dining rooms. Sabatini's and Stering's Steakhouse had waiters that actually had personalities and the food had the taste of cruises of the past. I think dining in the regular dining room was the biggest disappointment.
Nightly Entertainment: Why have an 800 seat venue for 3000 plus people and only 2 shows? Also there was no real wow to the theater as seen on other cruises.
What is the deal with no trays in the buffet area or cafe? While you are busy pumping hand sanitizer, the staff is shoving you a napkin with silverware and a plate and send you on your way. So try negotiating your way through a buffet line with no tray. Not fun. It is actually ridiculous. Also once you find a seat, the waiter will reluctantly get you coffee, but some might show you where you should get your own.
After midnight the ship pretty much shuts down other than the casino. No entertainment at the small lounges or anything other than the disco was an option. Sarge was the best entertainment. The dancers were really a sad group -- nothing like a real show as I have seen on Royal Caribbean.
Some minor details that we missed was the lack of towel folding in the cabins and lack of dining staff entertainment that we had been used to. We always thought it was pretty neat when the staff would sing and dance for you on theme nights.
I guess the best was the weather, then the room. The staff worked as though they were just following the motions. The cocktail servers were swarming, as they have a quota to make and then get time off. Wait staff just served -- nothing special -- no conversation, nothing special. Rooms were clean and the bed (2 twins pushed together) was ok, but as time went on the split between the two became more noticeable.
We found the trip fine with the weather, land trips, and our room, as well as the family group. But if we were just the two of us, and we didn't have the great weather or the nice room, it would have been a long and boring trip.
We will try another line as the staff and the food are an important part of the experience for us.