Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Kathi Borthwick Eastern Caribbean September 30, 2006
This cruise was planned by me to take my family to the Caribbean for my birthday and it was highly anticipated and booked on-line with Princess.com. It cost 4000 dollars.We previously sailed with RCI JOS and loved that cruise so much that we couldn't wait for another one!
We booked an outside cabin on Emerald deck for our two sons aged 30 and 17 and a balcony cabin on the Lido deck for ourselves, a little splurge for my birthday. Everything was done on our cruise peresonalizer and on the phone with Princess including requests for bathrobes for both cabins, birthday celebrations and a bowl of fruit. We sailed out of FLL on September 30 after a long embarkation. The doors did no ope until after 12.30.We were on the ship at 1.30 We immendiately went to our rooms.
I loved the balcony room and it's nearness to the pools, buffet and MUTS. There were no bathrobes, bowl of fruit or birthday balloons. My sons' room was clean and spacious, also with no fruit or bathrobes. We met our cabin attendantsand they were very nice. We decided to go to the seafood extravaganza in the Horizon court for the first evening. There were cold lobster claws. King crab, shrimp and a few other selections which I can't remember.
We purchased two coke cards for our sons. The seafood was salty and tasted defrosted. I dodn't care for it and I love seafood..The next morning we opened our balcony door to have room service breakfast and found we couldn't because of the smoking in the next cabin's balcony. We ate inside and kept the door closed. Big disappointment.Why no non-smoking deck? I have chronic asthma and can't be near smoking.
Later in the evening we went to the Palm anytime dining for the first formal evening excited, dressed up to the nines because of my birthday. There was a lomg lineup and I could not get near the Maitre-D to ask about wait times.I saw a lot of older people with canes who looked exhausted by all this waiting. We went back to our room for room service club house sandwiches. They arrived cold after 30 minutes. Not happy.
The next morning I thought I had better call down to reserve the Palm dining room for that evening and the rest of the cruise. i was told there were no spaces avilaible only at 5 p.m? This was too early as we had shore excursions booked. I was upset and called hotel services, explained the problems of eating in the room for 3 days and they said there would be an opening in the Palm dining room that evening and the rest of the cruise. I asked the cabin steward for the bathrobes on several occasions and didn't receive them until the third day. We went down to the dining room that evening. We were rushed though our dinner as the server quickly brought my son's main course with our appetizers. Every time I put the fork down the plate was whisked away. I guess you could call it good service . I called it being given the bum's rush. I am not a fussy person but this is getting to me.
We enjoyed the islands and the food in the dining rooms was good.The ship is too big and service is impersonal and unfriendly. The food in Horizon court is poor(canned corned beef for lunch one day, delicious Asian buffet the next) very uneven.We had large holes in our sheets and they were hospital quality ,they wer not changed all week. I never complained to any of the staff even though I felt like it. Didn't want to spoil things for my family.We had better bedding at the Holiday Inn express in FLL. Tendering to Princess Cays were chaotic with no routines in place.
I witnessed a member of Princess staff being extremely rude to a man in a wheel chair whose wife was struggling to get him into the theatre. He barked at her to hurry along as she was holding things up and that she was in the wrong entrance. Inexcusable.
The entertainemnt suffers by comparison to RCI and if you like comedians every night you will be happy on this cruise.People were walking out of the shows as the singers were offkey. My sons were shocked.I was really disappointed I will not be cruising on Princess again.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Mary & Vincent Finelli Western Caribbean September 23, 2006
We always enjoy our first visit to a newer ship and this cruise on the Caribbean Princess, launched in 2004, was no exception. This ship looked majestic in port with her eighteen deck high Skywalkers Nightclub suspended above the rear, like a race car spoiler. Capt. Manfuso was very happy to extend a real warm Princess greeting to us. We also met Passenger Services Director (PSD) Peter Hollinson and his able assistant Rebecca Lamb, who proved to have a wealth of knowledge on the Caribbean Princess. Thus, just a few hours on board, we had several new acquaintances and were about to encounter an old one when we checked on our dining reservations, Maitre D' Nicola Furlan. We had met him a few years ago on the Grand Princess. We also made many new friends including Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara and Pastry Chef Riccardo Bellaera (both from Sicily, Italy) and more on these two accomplished men later.
This ship is the largest of the Princess ships --- picture this: The Grand Princess, plus one more deck. The oldsaying about the Grand Princess when she first sailed from Venice, Italy, in May 1998 was "...she presented a view so grand that only a solar eclipse is more spectacular..." must now be replaced by the idea that only the Caribbean Princess is closer to heaven!
EMBARKATION We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, which is the closest port to our home and thus our favorite. Saturday morning traffic was light on I-95 and we arrived at the port approximately 11:00am. There were still passengers debarking from the last cruise, but we were placed in a large cool waiting room and given a No. 1 boarding pass along with other wheel chair passengers. Boarding time is listed as 1:00pm, but it actually began at noon. We had wheelchair assistance all the way to our mini suite. Later we heard that some passengers had a long wait of up to 3 hours; thank goodness we didn't.
THE SHIP The Caribbean Princess was built by Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, Italy and is hull #6067. Launched in 2004, she is registered in Hamilton, Bermuda and weighs 112,894 gross tons. She is 950.01 ft. long and has a total breadth including wings (2 folding fin stabilizers) of 165.7 ft. ; however, her moulded beam is 118 ft. with a maximum draft of 27.7 ft. Her passenger capacity is 3,740 with a crew of 1,060 (technical staff is 87 --- 23 officers and 64 crew). She has four 16 cylinder diesel engines in vee form, plus two 12 cylinder diesel engines all attached to a synchronous generator. Propulsion is provided by two electric motors activating two propellers, two rudders and six transverse thrusters, capable not only of forward and backward motion, but also of sideways movement. The only thing that surpasses her fuel capacity of 2,649 tons is her fresh water capacity of 2,731 tons. On board there are 14 passenger elevators (lifts), 13 service elevators, 4 handicapped platforms, 4 store platforms and a passenger conveyer (a movable walkway to the Skywalker's Nightclub).
Enough of the mechanical specifics and now to the decor which is beautifully subdued. When entering on the Plaza Deck 5, the most stunning design is John Richen's "Caribbean Symphony" which are three deck tall hand carved aluminum panels set between glass panes. The underwater scenes picture fishes, manatees, medusas (jellyfish) etc. and sea flora. They are truly breathtaking. When inside the elevators, Deck 8 and up have fanciful porthole bubble displays.
The handy Caribbean Princess's Passenger Pocket Guide starts with the following decks: Gala Deck 4 has the medical center, we were invited to tour it but could not make it --- from discussions with passengers who had occasion to use the facilities, we found out that they were more than adequate --- swift and complete. Aft Decks 4 & 5 have the Galley.
Plaza Deck 5 midship has the Island Dining Room with Carlos Ozzimo's "Island Series." He has also done lovely pastoral series for the Coral and Palm Dining Rooms and even the "Grand Casino Series", all of which are acrylic on canvas. The simple wood paneled walls with smoked glass and brass sconces are stately but mellow. On the starboard side near the Panoramic Lifts there is the Joker's Card room with the "Old World Maps Series" (Anonymous), beautifully reproduced on tiles. In the atrium are also located the Grand Plaza Lobby Bar and the Passenger Services and the Tour Desks. Forward on Deck 5 there are staterooms and a Laundromat.
Fiesta Deck 6 aft has the Palm Dining Room, the Gallery and the Coral Dining Room midship. Going toward forward again are the Boutiques and the Grand Casino. All the way forward is the Princess Theater with its warm Tuscan red walls and comfortable seats, with an excellent view of the stage from everywhere.
Promenade Deck 7 aft has the Club Fusion with a Southwestern motif: dark woods, leather, surround bars, and a sunken dance floor and bandstand. Cowboy murals, one wall of old tint types and a mechanical bull complete the aura. Midship is the Photo Gallery, and Trattoria Sabatini, the upscale Italian Restaurant with murals by Istvan Bernath. Next, are two great rooms, the Explorers Lounge with its travel the world motif and the Wheelhouse Bar with its nautical theme.
Midship are more boutiques and the Crooners' Bar with a grand piano and the interesting stained glass panels "Crooners Glass Series" by Janick Arts. >From here there is the best view of the stunning light fixture shaped like a huge pendant flower: its petals of mysterious smoked glass edged in pewter. Look down on the wonderful round mosaic centered on the floor (oops deck). Next go forward to the Sterling Steak House and the Internet Cafe (Vincent and other Captain's Circles platinum and elite members have free internet access). Forward is the upper level of the Princess Theater, with a ramp for wheelchair access. There are many reserved seats for the handicapped and even ushers to make sure everyone is comfortable.
Emerald Deck 8, Dolphin Deck 9, Caribe Deck 10, Baja Deck 11, Aloha Deck 12, Riviera Deck 14 are all staterooms and suites with a laundromat located on each deck. There is also ship's laundry service which is reasonable and prompt. There is a Terrace Pool aft on Deck 14.
Lido Deck 15 has the Horizon Food Court midship, the Horizon Terrace aft, the Calypso Pool/Bar, Scoop's Ice cream, Neptune's Reef/Pool, Blackbeard's Bar, Prego Pizza and the Trident Grill.
Sun Deck 16 forward has the Lotus Spa with another lovely "Japanese Fantasy Series" by Ozzimo; this is a very peaceful, restful area. There is also the Gym & Spa here. Aft are located the Fun Zone for children and the Off Limits for teens.
Sports Deck 17 aft has the moving walkway up to Skywalker Night Club. Deck 18 forward has Cyber Golf, the Jogging Track, and Center court. Deck 19 has the Skywalker Night Club which is suspended high over the seas like a "Spoiler" on a racing car. Daytime its serene and quiet way up here, at night it's a whole new world.
Over all the ship is lovely with many art works in stairwells and on walls and all tastefully done.
FOOD & SERVICE We had high expectations for our 8th Princess cruise and we feel that they were met. Service always radiates down from the top and Capt. Manfuso is a serene, solid Commander who has well placed confidence in his crew. PSD Peter Hollinson has high standards and he ensures that they are met. Service throughout the ship was gracious, prompt and smiling. Especially helpful on a daily basis was Jr. Asst. Purser Hernan Cicchini (Want a daily paper? Times Fax? La Stampa? Money changed? Postage stamps? Ship information?, etc.). He is always pleasant and prompt, just incredible. Vincent also spent some time with the cordial Environmental Officer Tibor Filipovic to discuss the various on board activities, such as waste disposal, recycling, regulatory compliance, etc. The last CDC Vessel Sanitary Inspection made last March yielded a great score of 99/100.
But, of course it is in the restaurants and dining rooms where the quality is most evident. Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara was always on his toes: He made some potato gnocchi that were so light that they floated off the plate straight into the mouth. The menu was broad, diverse, and the "Always Available" items were excellent: Appetizers of shrimp cocktail, Fettuccine Alfredo in a cheese basket, and Caesar's Salad; and Entrees like Beef Filet, Salmon Filet or grilled Chicken breast. During the week there was succulent Swordfish, Pheasant, Lobster Tails, Ossobuco, and Rack of Lamb, etc. The desserts were great under Pastry Chef Riccardo Bellaera. A freshly made Torta Millefoglie e Crema Inglese was wonderful not overly sweet, just delicious. The piece de resistance was a strawberry crostata made in an almond tart crust with layers of cream, mascarpone, and chocolate --- topped with a rose of thinly sliced fresh strawberries. Ah, Heaven! The ice creams are made on board Italian Style (gelato); try the nocciola, fragole, stracciatella, or the terrific sorbets.
Maitre D' Nicola Furlan is magnificent. His assistant Vitor remembered us from the Island Princess. It was like "Home Coming Week." Our Waiter Eduardo (Portugal) and his Asst. Waiter Pat (Thailand) were perfect. The pace was just right. Princess Cruises have distinctly Italian cuisine, since circa half of their executive chefs are Italian born and trained. We love it. The breads are properly cooked, crunchy crusts, white, whole grained, dark rolls and bread sticks.
Dinner at Trattoria Sabitini ($20 per person) is a must, since the ambiance is lovely and background music included Italian songs by Venditti, the Italian star singer and his guitarist Maurizio Perfetto. The music here was especially welcomed, since the dining room did not have any. The Restaurant Manager is the smiling Loredana and our waiters Florin, Barrio and Roberto served the seemingly endless courses. There is a menu from which to select an entree of Lobster, Jumbo Prawns, Veal Cutlet, Filet Mignon, etc. The rest of the meal is served course by course from platters: antipasti, grilled vegetables, soups, pizza course, salad, pasta course and entree and desserts. A terrific evening --- Ladies you will feel like a queen. The other upscale restaurant located on Deck 7 is the Sterling Steakhouse ($15 per person) which requires reservation and it is renown for prime quality meat. We have not been there, but we'll make it next time.
Dining Options are traditional seating in the Islands Dining Room: a fixed time and table each night. Anytime Dining in both the Palm and Coral Dining Rooms. This latter style is based on available seating, just like shore side, or reservations made through a concierge service by telephone in your room. There is also the 24 hour Horizon Court Buffet and room service. We always use room service for Continental Breakfast. Room service was on time and the food was quite good. If you desire American Breakfast then use the dining room or the Horizon Court.
CABIN We had Mini Suite #D528 on Dolphin Deck 9. The design is long and narrow and the colors cool and restful beige, white and willow green with nice wood accents. The bar and cabinets have granite tops. When entering the suite there is a long narrow hallway, so narrow that the wheelchair had to be folded to get in. On the left is a bathroom with a single sink, tub/shower and shelves for toiletries. Exiting, there is a long walk-in closet and a cupboard with shelves and a personal safe. On the left wall is the king size bed and two end table with dimmer lamps. Next there is a desk with mirror and drawers, and then a long green hide-a-bed sofa, a coffee table and a leather arm chair.
On the opposite wall is a double bar, two TVs, one facing the bed and the other the sofa, and a refrigerator. There are three rather nice prints on the walls reminiscent of Monet (a flower garden, a country home and a small European harbor town). The ceiling has a recessed double wood framed square with rounded edges: Rather interesting and effective. The far wall is all glass with a door leading to a small square balcony, on which are four chairs and a table. Deck 9 balconies are all open to the elements, since there are no covers or tops, cruisers are exposed to the view of others and the elements of wind, rain and direct sun. Deck 10 has partially covered balconies and 11, 12 and 14 are all covered. We were the recipients of strange flotsam, among which a dead rose (we are still pondering the meaning of such "gift").
Our cabin was always neat and well attended by Ernie, and we appreciated it.
ENTERTAINMENT This is s huge ship and there are many venues --- simultaneously every night were several shows in the Princess Theater, the Explorer's Lounge, and the Club Fusion. Cruise Director David Cole keeps it all sailing along smoothly. In the theater the "BIG" shows were good, but not spectacular. The most important innovation is "Movies under the Stars", an outdoor cinema on Calypso Deck 15 by the pool, with a giant screen visible during daylight and at night (now installed on other Grand class ships and on Carnival Liberty, etc.). There are also Scavenger Hunts, dance classes, Scholarship at Seas Programs, Trivia, Bingo and Casino games. There is nice music all around the ship, but alas none in the dining rooms--- only on the last night during the parade of the flaming Baked Alaska. Every evening at the Lobby Bar on Plaza Deck 5 there was great piano music. Bravo to the pianist Si Bi.
DEBARKATION This was a cinch. We are always amazed that passengers are in such a hurry to end their vacations. They bring hand luggage with them to breakfast; even though, they are informed that debarkation only begins after the ship's clearance by Port Authorities. They are so anxious to be off first that they disobey rules and clog the central exit areas of the ship. We always go to breakfast without luggage. Then we return to the cabin and get our hand bags. PSD Peter Hollinson arranged for wheelchair assistance to meet us in our rooms at 8:45am. We were assisted through passport check, baggage pick up, customs and were outside on the Pier at 9:10am awaiting our car. The system was entirely efficient.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 6:00pmDay 2. Princess Cay, Bahamas Arrive 9:30am Depart 4:00pm
The Island of Eleuthera was discovered by Columbus in 1492. Tender from the ship to the island. A great day at the beaches with swimming, snorkeling, water sports and BBQ.
Day 3. At sea We sailed through the "Windward Passage" between the islands of Cuba and Haiti. This is the first "Gala Night".
Day 4. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:30pm A favorite excursion here is the climbing of the famous Dunn's River Falls. We did that when we were younger and able, now we limit our visit to the nearby shopping area.
Day 5. Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:30pm Interesting tours are Stingray City, Butterfly Farm and Helmet Dive. A few years back we explored the Coral Reef on the SeaMobile Submarine (a personalized dive for two persons); however, we do not know if it is still available. This is the second "Gala Night".
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:30am Depart 6:00pm We docked at the new Pier, just finished since the devastation of last year's Hurricane Wilma. There is a nice shopping Mall close by the pier where we found excellent values for gift and souvenirs. Here the most interesting tours are the Mayan Ruins at Tulum, the Eco-Archeological Park at X-Caret and some of the best reef snorkeling in the Caribbean.
Day 7. At sea.
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 7:00am
CONCLUSIONS We have enjoyed a great cruise on this enhanced version of the Grand class ships. We are looking forward to cruising on the Crown Princess, launched this year, and the Emerald Princess (2007) to enjoy the newer ships of Princess, which remains one of our favorite Lines. However, we'll make sure not to book a cabin on the Dolphin Deck 9, since on this cruise we were not satisfied with our uncovered balcony. We feel the cuisine is among the best at sea, especially in regard to the Italian dishes, which we found simply delectable. Another suggestion we like to make is in regard to the Princess Patter format which is too wordy and difficult to use. Some other cruise lines offer a summary guide for quick reference to the daily activities, which can be detached from the main paper and carried in the shirt pocket when folded. However, there is a nice handy Quick Reference Dining & Bar Guide.
Our schedule of future cruises for the end of this year is the following: Freedom of the Seas on Oct. 15th, Carnival Legend on Nov. 8th, Norwegian Jewel on Nov. 26th and Queen Mary II on Dec. 9th. Happy Cruising!
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Candy Brock Western Caribbean May 6, 2006
About Us: Jim (64) and I (59) have been cruising for about 10 years. This is our 18th cruise; Seawind Crown, HAL (6 on Zuiderdam, 7 on others), Celebrity Century, NCL Norway, RCI (Enchantment, Brilliance, Majesty), and this Caribbean Princess. We have been spoiled by HAL, and have come to expect certain amenities that Princess could have, but did not offer. We went into this cruise with the notion that this bigger, newer ship would offer at least as much as HAL does, and perhaps that was our mistake. The only reason we booked this ship is because our favorite HAL Zuiderdam is in Alaska, and we do not care to go there. Period.
Overview As expected, the Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship. The color scheme, art work and furnishings in general were lovely, and flowed beautifully. The physical layout is somewhat clumsy, as there are two spots where 'you can't get there from here', if you know what I mean. Some elevators only went to certain floors, and you have to navigate to the other end of theship to get the right elevator. Even the convenient pocket-sized ship map didn't help much. We still had to go to the Atrium to see where we were. With the exception of Ernie, our cabin steward, Raj, the waiter, and the entire Casino staff, the level of service was way below par. I believe 'Anytime Dining' impairs the bonding necessary to attain that 'homey' feeling.
Embarkation Travel to Port Everglades was uneventful, and we arrived at the Pier at around 11:30. We waited outside in a looooooong line for the terminal doors to open at noon. Crying children, complaining passengers, rap music and constant ear-shattering fork-lift noises did not make this wait any easier. Once inside, we waited another 20 minutes in line for check-in, and stood in the boarding line for 10 minutes when the I-Pass computer system went down, stopping the boarding process. Another 20 minutes later we were allowed to board, and were directed (not escorted) to our cabin location by attendants in the elevator lobbies. Somewhat disappointed by our Jr. Suite and the dingy balcony, we went to the Horizon Court for a bite and had a very hard time finding a table. We ended up outside in the heat and humidity for our first uncomfortable taste of CB.
Cabin We were in Dolphin 628, a Cat AB Junior Suite just aft of midships. We had seen photos online, and were pleased by the color scheme in the bedroom part, but did not realize how long and narrow the room would be. The mirror behind the bed did help to enlarge the room visually, but did not make it any more comfortable. We found the walk-in closet to be nice, but almost all clothing had to be folded up on shelves. The only drawers in the cabin are not appropriate for clothing storage. The cabin is divided by a console housing the refrigerator and TV in the bedroom and another TV in the sitting room (both Panasonics with front jacks for DigiCams). Both are on the top shelf and while it's OK in the bedroom, my neck still hurts from watching it from the couch. Of course, you can't watch two different channels because the TVs are 12 inches apart and the sound from the other one is so annoying. We never used the rest of the console space. They should have put some DRAWERS there.
The desk is big enough to write on, but when you open your laptop (no dialup connection), there isn't room for anything else (I moved the phone to the floor). The hair dryer is decent and is right next to the desk with pretty good overhead lighting and another outlet for your curling iron. I guess the desk is really a dressing table.
The balcony is dismal. Four chairs (two that have dingy pads and recline, but not as long as loungers) and a dining table too high for the chairs. We used it for a footrest the few times we went out there. If the chairs had been comfortable, this uncovered balcony would have been great to sun on while you're waiting for a lounger at the pool. I think we used the balcony no more than 30 minutes.
Dining Traditional dining is being kept alive in the Island Dining Room for those of us who prefer it (but not for us, as we were too far down on the waitlist) in one of 3 dining rooms. The Palm and Coral Dining Rooms offered 'Anytime' dining, meaning you can show up at any time and be seated with friends or strangers or alone, and are served by a different waitstaff every time. If you click, you can arrange the same table - same waiter each night, but if you do, please either show up or call to cancel. They will hold such reservation 30 minutes before filling it.
On the 2nd formal night we asked to be seated anywhere and were installed at a nice table for 8. The other six chairs stared at us unfilled for the remainder of the meal. I have never felt so uncomfortable! There was no effort to find us table mates, so the waiter, Raj from India, did his best to make our meal as pleasant as possible. When the lobster was served, very undercooked, and we sent it back, Raj came back with a double-order cooked perfectly! There was a comment card on the table, so we gave kudos to Raj and suggested that 'whoever' seated this couple at an empty 8-top be retrained .
Horizon Court / Cafe Caribe: This 24-hour 'dining restaurant' is very nicely decorated with lots of big windows. That's the best thing I can say about it and Cafe Caribe as well. The service area is divided into stations which more or less contain the same-course foods. The exception is maybe the hot desserts which are by the teriyaki. There is no traffic organization... two entrances mean two directions (or more) and creates a swarm of piranha-like diners who must elbow their way to the front of the station only to find there's nothing they like. The little signs on the sneeze guard are not always taken down when the dish is exhausted, so don't be disappointed if your favorite dessert isn't there after all. I personally found the selections to be nicely varied, and there was always something I loved. Drink selections are regular/decaf coffee, hot tea, iced unsweetened tea and water. Lemon slices are thin and unsqueezable, so you must ask (find) an attendant for WEDGES. Straws must also be requested.
Sabatini's: We dined on 'Sampler Night' which meant we were served several bites of EVERYTHING on the menu (except we chose one main course and one soup). I loved the variety and had a taste of dishes I probably wouldn't think of ordering, but now I know I will. I had the Grilled Sea Bass which was absolutely excellent! Please make time to enjoy this dining venue... you will not be disappointed. Sterling Steakhouse: Based on negative reviews, we didn't dine there.
Room Service: We had Continental Breakfast every day; pastries, juice, fruit, cereal, coffee and tea are offered and delivered in 30-minute ranges, each one delivered on time, and re-checked for accuracy before the steward left. One afternoon I ordered a roast beef on rye with the best potato chips I ever had in my life. I can only assume other offerings are equally satisfying.
Ship FacilitiesAs previously said, the ship itself is quite beautiful. We found all show rooms, restaurants and lounges to be well-planned with very good acoustics and sight-lines. The Atrium area is gorgeous and enables you to find shops, bars and Ship Services easily.
Pools: The 4 pools were very nice, although the Pizza and Burger areas looked institutional, and the servers not very friendly. Every pool was crowded; every lounger occupied or 'saved'. We didn't use the 'swim-against-the-current' pool. We like to swim and sunbathe when the sun is out, not at 4:00 when we have other things to do. We spent NO time there.
Spa: The asian-themed facilities are typically decorated in relaxing natural textures and New Age music. There is a sauna, a traditional steam and an herbal steam (good for you sinus sufferers), and heated stone chairs which drain the tension right out of your bones. Aaaahhh. I had my usual 3 Ionithermie treatments with Leanne from South Africa. I only lost 9" this time, but the thighs are primo!
Warning... the spa pass includes only the 4 things above. Even though there is a door to a pool, it is NOT a HYDRA-THERAPY pool! There are no bubbling warm therapeutic seawater aquajets for your shoulders... It's cold, the hot tubs are cold, it's public (!), they sell alcohol (!)
Disco: Skywalkers Nite Club can only be accessed by a people-mover way up in the shopping-cart handle. Lots of neon and chrome enhance this space-age disco... huge windows reflect the lighting back atcha. We enjoyed the '70-'80s music 'til about midnight when the 'wangstas' came in and they changed to rap music, at which time we left.
Showroom: We only saw one show in the Princess Theater. The seating is comfortable and acoustics and sightlines are excellent.
Photo: Although they were all conveniently labeled as to which DR, sitting, port, etc., we couldn't find most of the photos taken of us. We did notice that the attendant really, REALLY didn't want to be there. When someone couldn't find the cast-off box and handed the unwanted photos to him, he threw them across the counter onto the floor. He needs a cruise.
Casino: The Casino is the biggest cruise ship casino we have ever experienced. While they still have only one Craps table, it IS open during the daytime. You'll also find low rising gaming tables designed to be handicapped-accessible, but were occupied by any and everyone, and are much more comfortable than bar stools, in my opinion.
Internet Café: I'm still fuming there is no dialup access in my suite. I'm accustomed to composing emails and logging on just a few moments to send them, then disconnecting, for a minimal charge. On CB, it's 35¢ per minute for surfing, composing, downloading... everything! I could have dragged my laptop to a hotspot, but it's so far and so much trouble.
MUTS (Movies Under the Stars): This innovative outdoor theater was visited by many passengers, although we never saw SRO... the screen is huge and displays beautiful crisp color even in daylight.
Putting Course: This is an insult. It is very small and shabby, considering its age of 2 years. Don't waste your time.
Staff Ernie, our cabin steward, was the single most important crew member... he managed to keep our cabin neat and stocked despite our ridiculous sleep schedule Leann from the Lotus Spa (series of 3 Ionithermies) was very personable and understanding when I insisted on NOT purchasing any 'product' The Casino Host and many of the dealers were very friendly and pretty much made the cruise for us Raj, our waiter one formal night, was very attentive CD Dave Cole was funny and endearing (sorry, I never got to meet him)
Excursions This is my stock advice. I print it with every review. If you haven't already booked online, when you arrive at your cabin you will find a Shore Excursions brochure listing the various activities available shoreside. You may fill out the order form at your leisure and deposit it in the Express Drop Box at the Shore Excursions Desk. Please keep in mind that the most popular trips sell out very fast. If you are traveling with friends and want to go together, put all the tickets on one room card. One time we ordered separately and one couple got the tickets and one couple didn't.
Ship Activities We found the schedule of activities to be difficult to coordinate with other activities and dining times.The Rest
Passengers: Average age around 40, almost no children underfoot, and no unruly drunks.
Smoking: Bring your own cigarettes. Only a few brands are offered at the bars. If you smoke something simple, like Winston, you're outta luck. Smoking is very limited in public areas.
Motion: Seas were smooth (barely a ripple) so I can't comment on CB's ability to handle rough seas. Personally, I found something missing in the lack of motion, and I didn't have that 'rocking' for 3 days afterwards. Rules and Regs:
Parents and Guardians are responsible for their children's behavior; are asked to restrain them from loud or disruptive behavior, running in public rooms, open decks or passageways and playing in elevators; must encourage all children to conform to the suggested dress code, and wear cover-ups in interior public places
Gambling: Pax under the age of 21 may not attend cash prize Bingo unless accompanied by a parent or guardian and are not permitted in the Casino Skywalkers Nightclub is off limits to pax under 18 or without valid photo ID Alcohol is served to pax at least 21 with valid photo ID Gym & Hot Tubs, sauna, steam rooms or golf areas are for pax 16 and older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian
Pools Spa Pool on deck 16 and Terrace Pool on deck 14 are for adult use only Children are not permitted to use the pools without an adult to supervise No diving, jumping and running Stay off all safety netting For health and safety reasons, CHILDREN IN DIAPERS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN ANY OF THE POOLS Evening Shows: Teens and children are welcome to attend the evening entertainment with their parents/guardians, but may not sit in the front 3 rows of the
Debarkation: Beginning at 8:30, debarkation went very smoothly. I did not like having to wait in the public areas (all seating space taken), but the wait was not too long, and we took turns going to the bathroom. Luggage was easily found, although OUR TSA TATTLETALE LOCKS WERE CUT OFF ! Regardless, we were outta there in plenty of time for our noon flight.
Suggestions: 1. Offer a place to sit while waiting outside for the check-in doors to open. You have seating on the way out, why not on the way in? Bad first impression. 2. Have stewards in the Horizon Court help the 3.000 passengers who are carrying a platter, plate and bowl full of food, silverware and a drink to find a place to sit. While you're at it, give them a tray to make it easier to carry. 3. Sell different brands of cigarettes. 4. Replace that putting course. 5. Lower the sitting room TVs. There's plenty of room on the shelf below.Travelogue
Saturday, Embarkation: [As above] We waited outside (in the heat and humidity) in a looooooong line for the terminal doors to open at noon. Crying children, complaining passengers, rap music and constant ear-shattering fork-lift noises did not make this wait any easier. Once inside, we waited another 20 minutes in line for check-in, and stood in the boarding line for 10 minutes when the I-Pass computer system went down, stopping the boarding process. Another 20 minutes later we were allowed to board, and were directed (not escorted) to our cabin location by attendants in the elevator lobbies. Our cabin was a bit disappointing, but acceptable, and after gathering some reading material, we headed for the Horizon Court for what we hoped would be a wonderful Lunch Buffet.
What we found was a swarm of like-minded cruisers trying to balance a platter, bowl, napkin and tableware while elbowing in to the 'stations' of what you would think were different courses, but are really only divided into hot things, cold things, saucy things, dry things and wet things (like pastry with hot vanilla sauce next to the stir-fry). The beverage bar offered unsweetened (ugh) iced tea and water, coffee and hot tea. Lemons were sliced thinly (impossible to squeeze) and no straws were available. Soft drinks are available from cocktail stewards.
Once we had selected all that we could comfortably carry, we started the search for a place to sit. We went around twice, through the Cafe Caribe and back, and finally went outside in the heat and humidity to an uncomfortable plastic table... no salt & pepper, sugar, steward... a total turnoff. The food was decent, but for seconds, one person has to stay and save the table. Disappointed again, we went down for a nap.
The safety drill is held inside instead (thankfully) of outside on the Promenade, and you don't put on your life jackets until they give you the instructions. After touring the ship, we skipped the Sailaway Party and tried the Sailaway Buffet, which was the cold lobster, crab, shrimp and other seafood. We thought the food was pretty good, but had a hard time finding a table. We skipped the Grand Adventure Showtime, but caught a few minutes of Princess Pop Star, which was somewhat entertaining. Nothing else of interest, so we retired early after a long day of travel and disappointment.
Sunday, Princess Cays We had reserved 2 Floats online, and got there just in time to claim them. Fortunately, there were two unused loungers way in the back, and we were able to drag them down to the shoreline. We ordered the frozen NADoD, and were surprised when they came in a large plastic cup with no top or straw. I asked the steward if there was a lid of some kind, and he said, "No, but I'll get you something" which turned out to be another large plastic cup to be turned upside-down on top of the other. WHAT? How do you keep the sand out of your drink? At every other beach I've ever visited, they have hard plastic cups with TOPS AND STRAWS. Can you tell I'm still mad?
At 4:30 I had a 55 minute Ionithermie with Leann. She is a wonderful therapist, and the cool strawberry/cucumber water, low lights and new wave music gave me the most relaxing few moments of the cruise, so far. Monday, Sea Day Highlights of this day were Josh's Live Cocktail Demo, Battle of the Sexes Pool Games, Piano Man matinee, Survival Challenge (round 1), Captain's Welcome Party, Rock 'n' Roll Party, and 3 showings (we couldn't find seats in any of them) of Steve Moris' Comedy Showtime. Jim signed me up for the "Princess Price is Almost Right Game Show" and I was chosen to "come on down". I received a prize for participating (a certificate for a waterproof laptop case).
We tried to fit a formal night dinner in between shows, but couldn't get the timing right. We were seated with two other couples and a family of four, and had a pleasant, if unremarkable, dinner.
Tuesday, Ocho Rios We had high hopes for our River Tubing Safari which was to go from 11:30 - 3:00. We lined up on time at the pier, only to find there was no one there to greet us. Jim had forgotten his sunglasses and tried to buy some at the only store, finding only items of the lowest quality for TEN DOLLARS EACH. The first pair broke after 5 minutes, and the only good thing I can say about these people is that they gave him an exchange. I guess at a markup of about 1,000% they can afford to. Someone finally showed up at about noon, and we filled up a few vans and headed out. The ride up the hill should have taken about 20 minutes, but we had to stop and put air in the tires on the way. The road is narrow and rocky and full of potholes, and I'm glad I took my Dramamine. Once there, we stood at the launch area for about 45 minutes... 100 degrees IN THE SUN ... WITH NO DRINKING WATER ... and the tubes were finally brought back up from the bottom. This was to be a leisurely 2-mile float through scenic areas, but we were pushed and herded and directed to one side or another by 'guides' and were not at all relaxed. We had to hold onto the other rafts, and Jim's shoulder hurt for 2 weeks. At the end we were directed to a shack where we were able to get a drink while our photos were being processed. They had 6 or 8 laptops working, and all the people in our group had to look through all of them, find their photos, decide which ones they wanted to burn to disk, and we were among the last when they had an equipment failure. Our guide was sweating 'cause we wanted our photos and he needed to get us back on time or lose his contract. We made it, but after experiencing the downhill ride of a lifetime! I wouldn't do it again.
Highlights of Tuesday were Comedy Showtime with David Orion, 80's Disco Daze, 80's Princess Pop Star (very good) and Tropical Island Night Deck Party. We chose the Casino.
Wednesday, Grand Cayman Jim stayed aboard while I went shopping. Fortunately I have been there before and knew just where I wanted to go. GC is a very good shopping town, and I try to walk around for at least a couple of hours when I'm in the neighborhood.
I relaxed during my Ionithermie treatment (feel those inches falling off). I had purchased a week of spa passes, and Jim was going to meet me after my treatment so we could enjoy the spa pool, which wasn't at all what we thought it would be. It's not a thermal pool, or even part of the spa! It's a public access pool! Even the water in the jacuzzis was cool! We went straight to the spa desk and spoke to the Manager, who politely agreed to refund the week's fee, less fees for one full day, which we didn't even use. At least we got something back.
We skipped the Ice Carving Demo, Comedy Showtime with Miguel Washington, "Caribbean Caliente" (the Ultimate Party Show, Golden Oldies Princess Pop Star and a Spelling Bee Qualifying Round. After dinner we visited the Skywalkers Nightclub, which was fabulous! Great music, seating, lighting effects, views... we even got up and danced! We left when the gangstas came in and the music changed, then went down to close down the casino.
Thursday, Cozumel This is usually my favorite port, but it was uncomfortably hot and humid, and our bed was so cool and comfortable... we played it lazy all day. We missed both showings of Spotlight Cabaret with Comedy Juggler Adam Kario, Country & Western Hoe Down, Concert with Bert Stratton, Country Princess Pop Star, and an International Crew Show.
Friday, Sea Day My last Ionithermie report showed I lost 9½ inches (my record is 13½), and I was very pleased with the way my skin looked. We started to pack it up, collecting our shore-boughten liquor and filling out our Passenger Questionnaire (we needed extra paper for this one). We're usually sad to leave a ship... not so this one.
We didn't see any of the Culinary Demo/Galley Tour, Survival Challenge Finals, Maitre d' Wine Club, Farewell Variety Showtime with Miguel Washington and Kimika or Spelling Bee Final, but the Princess Pop Star Final was very nicely done.
Saturday, Debarkation The Caribbean Princess is a pretty big ship, but can you imagine 3,000 pax and all their carryon gear sitting in the public places (floors) waiting to get off? We had an early flight and did not feel like waiting, so we went to the gangway and when they called the next number we left. No one was checking tickets (most pax don't even know they're supposed to tear off the stubs). We then found our luggage and discovered TWO LOCKS HAD BEEN CUT OFF. One TSA tattle-tale lock and one TSA regular lock. Nothing missing, but the locks are pricey!
We won't be sailing Princess again, unless a group of friends forces us to.
I recently went on a cruise on the Caribbean Princess. This was my second voyage with Princess, the first being on the Diamond Princess.
I took advantage of the Lotus Spa on the Caribbean Princess, getting a massage, and it was Ok. However; after the massage, the therapist went off on a high pressure sales tactic to sell me nearly $300.00 worth of products I would never use. I did not buy them and after telling the therapist "no", she began haggling with me and I finally had to get up and get out of there. I was half naked on the little treatment table they put you on and this therapist was sales-pitching me some cleansing pills. She spoiled the whole experience and I even cancelled the second appointment I made prior to the cruise.
Also beware in the Lotus Spa, if they cannot fill your appointment time if you cancel, they will charge you a 50% cancellation fee. Fortunately for me they did fill my spot I cancelled for the second treatment and I was not charged a cancellation fee. If they had I would have taken it up with PassengerServices and would refuse to pay it.
I found the therapists in the Lotus Spa condescending and rude; first when I wouldn't buy the products and second when I cancelled the second appointment. I would advise potential passengers that if the therapists in the Lotus Spa get rude with you, get rude right back and threaten to cause trouble. They certainly don't want that.
On my review sheet given at the end of the cruise by Princess, I rated the Lotus Spa a poor rating because of their high pressure sales tactics and their attitude.
Other than that, the cruise was a delight and the Caribbean Princess was a great ship. I will sail on her again.
My wife and I decided to check out the best suite Princess has to offer and booked a Grand Suite on one of the newer Princess Mega Ships, the Caribbean Princess. We are Celebrity regulars and just wanted to see if Princess would meet our stringent requirements. We booked a 7 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Princess Cays, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and back to Fl.
We booked the Grand Suite which is the equivalent of the Penthouse Suite on Celebrity. There is only one Grand Suite on the Caribbean Princess so I could not be choosey as to the date I wanted to sail therefore we had to book according to the availability of the Grand Suite and of course it was available during peak hurricane season, September 24 to October 1st.
We left our home at 10 am on Saturday for our journey to FLL via our truck loaded with luggage. We used the Park and Fly lot which is about $8.00 a day and includes a free shuttle to and fro the port. I used it on our last cruise and it worked out just perfectly forus. We dropped our luggage off with the dock porters and proceeded into a very busy terminal. We waited in the main line to go through security for about 15 minutes and then I proceeded to the Suite and Elite member line. I waited about 10 minutes in this line and when I got up to window the Princess Rep asked for my tickets, etc and when he say my name he summoned someone from the ship who was there in 30 seconds grabbing our carry-on luggage and whisking up onto the ship avoiding any more lines that day. He escorted us to the Grand Suite. I thought that was a very nice touch and I get the same service on Celebrity so we are even with service at this point. In the Grand Suite were 2 bottles of Champagne. I was surprised to see a bottle of Moet and Chandon which is expensive champagne and exactly what Celebrity placed in my room in May 05.
The Suite was very clean, new furniture and over-all very pleasing to the eye. It seemed half the size of the Millennium PS but I would guess the total square footage was around 1,100 sq feet versus 1,450 on the Millie. The furniture was nicer and newer on the Princess and the PC-work area had free internet access which the Celebrity did not so this was a real plus to me. On the Millennium one can spend a lot of money at $.80 a minute accessing email and the internet.
The price for the Grand Suite was on par with the Celebrity Penthouse or maybe a tad cheaper. The complimentary “minature” liquor bar included 2 bottles of cognac, 2 bottles of gin , 2 bottles of volka and 2 bottles of Canadian Club. The brands were mid range and really not what I drink. On Celebrity you get top shelve liquor and you get litres and they provided me as much liquor and mixers and soda as we wanted. On Princess I was told this is it. In the small fridge I got a few bottles of Perrier, 2 small water bottles and 2 cans of diet coke, regular coke and tonic water. They were not going to be refilled without a charge. On Celebrity there are unlimited beverages in the Penthouse Suite. I asked about the big bottle of water on the counter and I was told it’s $3.50 per bottle even for the Grand Suite. I mentioned to the Room Stewardess that I thought charging me for water in the Grand Suite was a bit barbaric and she said one bottle would be on the house. I kept getting reminded that this wasn’t Celebrity and Carnival runs a tighter budget. Considering my wife drinks 5 or 6 cans of diet coke a day I knew this could be an expensive trip. Luckily I carried on 48 cans for the trip and used the mini fridge to keep them cool. We would do the unlimited sodas for the week but I didn’t want to run to a bar every few hours to get a small glass of diet coke so I am glad I brought the soda onboard. I had no hassles bringing the sodas or 4 bottles of alcohol in my carryon luggage. In fact, when in Cozumel I bought 4 bottles of Patron Tequila and 4 litres of Grand Marnier and when putting the boxes through security I said, its water and the Security Agent said, sure, Mexican Water but she let me take the booze to the room which I thought was nice. If you want a great margarita, try Patron Tequila and half as much grand marnier with margarita mix, a great drink.
There are no Butlers on Princess so everything you want in your room goes through Room Service which was an inconvenience to us. On Celebrity I never had to call and wait on the phone to order food and wait 20 minutes. The head of room service was a very nice gentleman and visited me on several occasions and said he would do whatever it took to make me happy and satisfied. I ordered special lunches everyday not on the menu which the main chefs prepared for me, ie, Indian food, Phillipino, Italian, Mexican. The Maitre’D would coordinate my lunch through the Chef and room service and my dining room waiter would deliver it to my room on a large cart. It turned out to be very elegant and we enjoyed our lunches. The Grand Suite dining room table was pre set by my waiter and the presentation of the food in the suite for lunch was nicer than the “Butler” lunch service on Celebrity.
The room stewardess assigned to the Grand Suite was Mary from the Philippines and she was very good at her job. She acted as our quasi-Butler trying to accommodate all our needs. She was tipped accordingly since I really appreciated her excellent service. I have never had a Room Steward or Stewardess on Celebrity that bested the professionalism of Mary so I think Princess scored well in assigning the Grand Suite the top of the line personnel. I have had Butlers on Celebrity that bested the stewardess service.
The balcony on the Grand Suite was long and narrow and about 200 sq feet without a hot tub or wet bar. Nothing will ever compare to the balconies on the M class ships, 1,400 sq feet with wet bar and hot tubs so I was let down by the size of the Grand Suite’s balcony. There were people above the balcony and when we left ports I had confetti all over my balcony. I also had at least 10 cigarette butts on the balcony from inconsiderate folks throwing them overboard in the wind. When we left Fort Lauderdale people were throwing ice overboard and some would comeback and hit us in the head. I think Princess should do something about people throwing things overboard. On the Millennium nothing every was thrown onto our balcony.
Also not having a second bathroom in the best suite on the ship was a big let down since all the Celebrity Penthouse Suites have at least an extra half bath (C class ships) or a full shower bath (M class). On Celebrity its great that they have at least that half bath or more. There are times when one bath is tied up and its tough waiting for 5 or more minutes.
The ports of call on this western Caribbean cruise we have been to numerous times and once you have seen them a few times it gets boring to get off the ship. We don’t cruise to go sightseeing in the Caribbean, we cruise just to get away and get pampered. We never made it to a show on the ship so I cant comment on the shows.
We went to The Steakhouse restaurant once on the ship and had a great meal and to Sabatini’s once and had a great meal. As good as these meals were they did not compare as far as treatment and food quality to the Olympic Restaurant on the Millie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both Princess specialty restaurants but they just were no where as elegant as the M class Ships specialty restaurants. The waiters did a great job in both restaurants and were tipped well, over and above the surcharge. The waiters and Maitre D, in my opinion were not the same caliber as the personnel in the Olympic. The food was not cooked at the table, there was no cheese cart and the desserts did not compare. The desserts in both Sabatini’s and the Steak House were identical to the main dining room desserts.
The Captain did invite me to dinner on the first formal night and we sat at my assigned table. He invited another couple to join us which worked out fine. We were invited to the bridge twice and the Captain Romano was most cordial to us. (see pics of us on the bridge and at dinner). I never was invited to his personal quarters for tea or breakfast (as I was on the Millennium) or was I allowed to tour the engine room after asking a few times. The Hotel Director called the Passenger Services Director on Princess visited my room on the first day and we chatted but that was it. On Celebrity I developed a friendship with the hotel director Renato and saw him most days while cruising.
We realized after this cruise that 7 day cruises are not for us. We don’t want to bother with all the packing and driving for seven days so in the future we will book 10 plus day cruises.
The food in the main dining room was very good and on par with Celebrity. I found no problems with any of the food and the desserts were great too. The afternoon tea was great and we went almost everyday.
In summary we had an excellent time on the Caribbean Princess and I would consider going on a longer cruise on Princess in the Grand Suite in the future. It wasn’t as good as the Millennium experience considering the prices are almost on par. It’s getting impossible to book a PS on an M class ship these days since they are so popular but my next cruise will be on Celebrity.
Princess uses the automatic tipping so I had no choice, I used envelopes at the end to reward those outstanding personnel that made a difference in our cruise but I didn’t tip as much as I would have on Celebrity for some reason. I guess I wasn’t as motivated as I usually am.
Pictures of this cruise, bridge tour, captains dinner and the Grand Suite are on my website, just click below or cut and paste:
Well, I can't say a lot of good things about Carib Princess. One thing I can say the Carib Deck balconies was delightful. It was about 9x9 feet in size. However, the cigar smoke made it difficult to enjoy. The cabin decor looks as if the designer took duplicated the "love boat" TV series of 1980s. The cruise director and sidekick were lame and torture to watch. Most of shows lacked talent. I've seen better at my daughter's school. The dining room experience was awful each time.
We started to eat buffet Carib Cafe. No one said that this ship was a retirement ship. Most of the passengers were white and 50+. The food was bland and breakfast was ok. I enjoyed the ports but beware of sightseeing scam in Grand Cayman. We should have remain at the beach. Coz & Ocho was very nice. Oh yeah we saw the Carnival ship way over in the harbor we wanted to jump off and sto on their ship. We said we would do any thing to get off this ship. This ship is boring to the 10th power. Princess cays ajoke as well.
The really good stuff:
- Embarcation was a breeze, since we had pre-registered on-line. We were aboard in 20 mm! Amen. - The cabins are spacious and well-conceived, with a dressing area next to the showers. The showers are not water-saving and feel great! - The food is excellent, the cruise director was dignified, the dining room staff attentive and professionnal. - The tenders at Princess Cays in the Bahamas are fast and take you ashore in no time. - Excellent open buffet on top deck every night, if you did not want to go to the dining room. Tables are covered with linen, VERY NICE.
The so-so stuff:
- No trays in the Horizon Cafe. You got to juggle your plates, go back for more stuff, then go back for drinks/coffee. Staff does not help, does not pour coffee, as was the case on our many Celebrity cruises. - Not enough tables in Horizon Cafe. Every morning for breakfast we had to hunt, and hunt, and hunt down a table, often cleaning up because the staff was busy elsewhere. A major hassle. - The ice machines in the Horizon Cafe didnot work most of the time. Major hassle. - They charge for ice-cream on the pool deck. I was stunned they would nickle and dime passagers that way. That sucked. - They charge for watery, lukewarm hot chocolate at breakfast. Next time I'll bring my own. - They don't have good tea, only Lipton. Bring your own Bigelow for some decent Earl Grey. - Shows were so-so. Comedian/juggler. Another Comedian/Magician and another comedian couple.... I missed the Celebrity Shows, which were more diverse. One of the comedian was very off-color. Is is really necessary to say the "F" word in front of kids? Did that make him funnier??? NOOOOOO. - Water at Princess Cays was murky. Too many people I suppose. If you want nice clear water and snorkeling, you have to walk away from the crowd, down the beach. It's a coral beach meaning put water shoes on your kids, or their feet may suffer cuts, as was the case in my family. We ended up walking away to a spot that had enough sand for the kids to enjoy a swim, pretty far from the tenders area. - We had requested early seating, but we booked the cruise late and there was no space. We solved the problem by showing up in one of the freestyle dining room the first night at 6 p.m. sharp, and telling the Maitre d' that we'd take the same table every night at the same time. He OK it and we did fine. Some people who did not make these arrangements had to wait for tables, and were very sore about that. - The mini-golf is useless. Poorly conceived and built, it's impossible to play. Go figure! - Wish there were more ping-pong tables, for the days at sea. It was always busy! - I wish the Adult pool spa was sea water, not regular water. Sea water is so therapeutic, it's a shame not to be able to soak your tired bones in hot sea water. I'll go back to Celebrity for their sea water jaccuzis, because I always feel 5 years younger by the end of the cruise. - There was no showcase midnight buffet on the last day. Instead, they built a pyramid of glasses that they filled with really cheap champagne. All along ladies were invited to have their picture taken (another way for the ship to make money). The champagne was so bad we took a sip and surrendered the glass immediately to a waiter.
OK, overall, it was a good value, a good cruise on a very nice ship. I would recommend it to friends, with the above warnings.
On Saturday, our family of six - myself, husband, three daughters and a daughter's boyfriend - arrived at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale about 10:45 a.m. There was only a short line, but half an hour later the line grew very long. I was glad to be near the front. We stood in the shade and so did not mind standing. After filling out the health form, we proceeded to the area for our deck, filled out the paperwork, got our ID cards, and off we went to our cabins, a very efficient and painless process.
We had two balcony cabins and one inside on Caribe deck. The showers were not as cramped as I thought they would be; with a little creative maneuvering they were perfectly sufficient. The balcony was double the size of those above and below us, which was nice when the girls wanted to escape their inside cabin and join us outside. Our cabin stewards were friendly and helpful, and our cabin was decorated with balloons for our anniversary. We had lunch in Horizon Court. Like any buffet, there were great and not-so-great food items, but wefound plenty of good food to choose from.
As recommended by others, we reserved our "Movies Under the Stars" (MUTS) and made a standing reservation for Personal Choice dining from our cabin when boarding. The specialty restaurants Sterlings and Sabatinis had to be reserved through Sabatinis in person after 1 p.m. TIP: Confirm your movie the day it's scheduled; the ship's newsletter had our movie listed on a day other than the one I was told over the phone.
Our family chose to meet at the Palm dining room with a standing reservation at 6 p.m. each day for dinner. TIP: If you call the first day to make a standing reservation and decide you want the same waiter and table, call the second day and reserve it. We neglected to do this and did not get the same waiter or table the second night. Our waiter, Carlos, was absolutely outstanding. The fact that my husband and he shared the same last name was an icebreaker. We've never had better service, and even when the dining room was at its busiest, his smile and friendliness never wavered. He brought a cake for our anniversary, too.
Sunday - Sea Day
We awoke this morning to more balloons on our door for my husband's birthday. Our steward said Happy Birthday, and this was apparently by mention through the cruise personalizer, as we did not tell him in person we were celebrating a birthday. We are early birds, so most mornings we were at the gym on the treadmills at 6 a.m. There was no shortage of equipment.
We found plenty of food we liked at Horizon Court for breakfast, and the coffee was perfectly fine. We grabbed a chair by the pool in the morning, in the shade, and spent a couple of hours there. Husband had enough of the pool after about an hour and went to the casino. We spent some time at the auction in the afternoon, which was fun (but I enjoyed the auction on Carnival better, because they had more affordable pieces).
Tonight was formal night. TIP: Give yourself plenty of time for photos before dinner, as the lines for the photographer get pretty long; or wait until after dinner for photos. Tonight I experienced the only item on the week's menus that was a disappointment - the beef tenderloin was dry and overdone. On the recommendation of the waiter (the only night we did not have our favorite waiter, Carlos), I ordered it medium-well, but it came out well done. Of course, I could have sent it back, but there was so much other food on my plate, it was not a big issue. Feel free to order 2 entrees if you cannot make up your mind. David's Cornish Hen was perfect.
We caught the 10 p.m. show on MUTS - "Hitch," a very nice experience. They serve popcorn, but you can also bring food from the Horizon Court or pizza.
Monday - Sea Day
The best pools for peace and quiet, away from all the distractions, are the aft pool and the pool forward near the spa, both adults-only. This morning I had my choice of chairs at the spa pool, where there were plenty of ocean breezes. Morning is the best time to find a chair at any pool; they get very crowded in the afternoon on sea days.
We won a piece of art at the auction today!
Heads up - dining menu change! Monday's and Tuesday's menus were switched. Monday turned out to be Caribbean night, and Tuesday was Italian night. We had chosen Tuesday as our alternative dining choosing to miss the Caribbean menu. So we were a little sad we missed Italian night. We quickly got over it, though, as the pork loin I had was outstanding.
The big show tonight, Caribbean Caliente, was canceled due to a technical problem. They substituted Alexander the hypnotist. I love this show. My husband volunteered to go up on stage during his show three years ago on the Grand, so it brought back memories. It's a riot what people will do while under hypnotic suggestion.
The highlight of our cruise came Monday night, when our youngest daughter entered the Princess Teen Idol contest and won second place. Not too brag, but unlike the other contestants, she sang from memory and not with the karaoke lyrics on the screen. We were so proud of her!
Tuesday - St. Thomas
Our oldest daughter and her boyfriend did the Princess Sail & Snorkel Buck Island excursion and had a blast. The rest of us did a tour with Sunny Liston, which I reserved ahead of time. He met us at the pier with a sign showing our name at 10 a.m., dropped us off for some shopping, then took us on a tour of the island and to Mountain Top. The views were spectacular. The world-famous daiquiri there was overrated and overpriced, and gave me a headache. After the tour (a roller-coaster ride through steep and narrow winding roads), he dropped us at Sapphire Beach, where we snorkeled and swam. He picked us up at 3:30 and took us back to the ship. Sunny was fun, pleasant and friendly. He gave us a fantastic tour and it was well worth the $20 per person.
Tonight was our alternative dining experience. Our daughter and her boyfriend loved Sabatinis, and noted that there is so much food, you shouldn't expect to try it all. My husband and I chose to eat at Sterlings. The food was excellent, the steaks superb, but service was slow. Also, we were not impressed with the restaurant décor.
Unfortunately, we crashed after dinner and missed the Tropical Deck Party.
Wednesday - St. Martin
We arranged for a car rental through "Arthur," recommended on these boards. However, neither Arthur nor his rental station was anywhere to be found, so we chose Best Deal rentals, which also comes highly recommended. For $70, we got a Mitsubishi Space Wagon, a great car for the six of us. Unlike the steep, winding hills on St. Thomas, the roads here were easy to navigate. We drove to Bayside Stables where three of us went on a horseback ride. What a magnificent way to see the beach. They took us for a ride through the nature reserve at LeGalione Beach and down the beach itself. It was breathtaking! After our ride, we went to Orient Beach, which was beautiful and a bit more crowded than Sapphire on St. Thomas yesterday. We went for a quick swim, bought ice cream, then headed back to Phillipsburg for a little shopping and a bite to eat. By this time, we had enough of the heat and headed back to the ship early to mid-afternoon.
Dinner tonight was outstanding, as usual. David had the lamb and I had the prawns. Carlos must have known I did not like a lot of garlic; he steered me away from the pasta pesto dish and brought me a small plate on the side, which was quite good and not too spicy. He always brought our youngest daughter extra shrimp in her appetizer and left us with extra plates of entrees so we could all sample everything.
The girls went to the game room to play Uno after dinner. Interestingly, they reported back that all the Uno cards were missing from every game. It's sad to think that people would steal them - if that was the case. Tonight we used our coupon for two free candids and picked up a couple of photos from the gallery. The photographers have been visible, but not intrusive, which is the way we like it.
Tonight we saw the infamous Bert Stratton in Concert in the Explorers Lounge, which is a bigger venue than his usual performances. He is a terrific entertainer and as others have said, looks a bit like Jim Carey.
Thursday - Sea Day
After our 6 a.m. workout and breakfast, it was another day of relaxation by the aft pool. I got a chair overlooking the stern. The pool is in the shade back here, a great spot to be out of the blazing sun. Everyone went off and did their own things today. David was back at the auction and won yet another piece of art, by the same artist as the previous one, so they will go well together on the wall.
Tonight was the second formal night. We skipped the photos and went straight to the dining room. Tonight's menu featured lobster tails, which were superb. The desserts are pretty great, so be sure to save a bit of room. No matter how full we were, we managed to cram in a soufflé, ice cream, parfait, mousse or that fabulous Love Boat Dream.
We saw Piano Man tonight and were not all that impressed. It was entertaining, but the choreography and vocals were just okay, nothing spectacular.
Friday - Princess Cays
We had so much heat and sun already this week, so we were undecided about how much time we wanted to spend here. We went ashore about mid-morning and snorkeled and we were glad we did. The snorkeling was good and the water beautiful. We were able to get a spot in the shade of a palm tree. TIP: Be on the first or second tender to get your choice of shaded chairs as they go fast. It was a perfect beach day. After returning to the ship, it was time to pack up, as the luggage needed to be out in the hall after dinner for pick-up.
We had our final meal in the dining room this evening. We said our goodbyes to Carlos and nominated him for Princess employee of the month. After dinner we made our last purchases of photos and took a walk up on Sun deck by the spa. Nothing beats the sight of a bright moon shining over the ocean.
We woke up before sun-up and saw the lights of Ft. Lauderdale in the distance, and felt sad having to leave all this behind. We went for breakfast, finished collecting our belongings from the cabins, and headed to the Explorers Lounge where we found comfortable seats to await disembarkation. TIP: Get out of your cabin early to grab a comfortable chair to await embarkation in one of the ship's lounges. We found embarkation to be very smooth. Announcements are made according to the color tag on your luggage. Exiting the ship was quick and painless, and we found our luggage with little problem. The bright colored duct tape on our luggage helped a lot.
We were very fortunate to have fabulous weather the entire week. It was a great way to reconnect with the family and spend quality time together. We can't wait to start planning our next cruise.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Doug Roberts Eastern Caribbean July 22, 2005
Embarkation We stayed at the Sleep Inn in Dania, Florida the night before the cruise. We highly recommend them and they pick up at the airport and drop off at Port Everglades free of charge.
Embarkation was smooth and took about a half hour when we arrived at 11:30 am. After a short wait in line, we were ushered into a waiting room and issued a number. When the number was called we proceeded through security and check-in. The check-in lines were arranged by deck. If you have express check-in, the Princess representative checks your ID, collects the relevant documents, scans your credit card and you are ready to pose for the obligatory boarding photo and then board the ship. A pleasant surprise was that our cabins were ready for occupancy upon boarding.
The Ship The Caribbean Princess is huge at 116,000 tons and 19 decks. It is relatively new, having been commissioned in 2004. The central focus is on decks 5 through 7 which contain a nice atrium, most of the entertainment venues, restaurants, shops, casino, lounges, theater, photo galleryand the purser's desk. Decks 15 through 17 contain most of the pools, hot tubs, gym, sports and recreation facilities. The adult pool in the aft is on Deck 14. The children's facilities are located on Deck 18 and the spectacular Skywalker's Night Club is on Deck 19. One oddity of the ship's design is the Palm Dining Room which is accessible from the aft staircase and elevators only. If you have anytime dining this is a "best kept secret" as the wait times tend to be less than for the Coral Dining Room which is on Deck 7 adjacent to the shops and main elevators. Although with a capacity of 3,114 passengers and 1,200 crew members, never once did we feel crowded, except perhaps in the photo gallery, which even occurred on the Celebrity Zenith, which is much smaller.
Our Cabin Our cabin was an inside cabin on the Aloha Deck exactly at the center of the ship. The cabin was more than adequate to suit our needs and was well designed and laid out. The cabin attendant, who never introduced himself, was attentive and greeted us by name. There was no closet as in previous cabins, but there was a dressing area between the bath and the sleeping area which has very adequate space for hanging clothing, a small cupboard which also contains the safe. The dressing area also contains more than adequate space for storing suitcases. The television has CNN, TNT, Headline News, ESPN, movies, classic television shows and several channels dedicated to ship activities. Beware of the shopping lady, it became a running joke that she was on every channel as the TV automatically turned to that channel when you turned it on. Watching her too much can lead to an overdose of "perky." I would also take their shopping recommendations with a grain of salt as we have found better prices at other establishments in some, but not all cases.
Food Service Food was excellent both well prepared and presented with style in the dining room. Every evening there was a choice of four entrees, soups and appetizers. There are also four alternative always available appetizers and entrees as well as a light "spa" selection and a vegetarian selection. The Horizon Court Buffet is available 24 hours a day with fairly standard buffet fare. Twice during the lunch hour sushi was featured, with a good variety presented. We chose breakfast at the Horizon Court because of the greater variety available over the sit-down restaurant. Decent burgers, including turkey and veggie burgers are available adjacent to the pool on Deck 15 as well as very good thin crust pizza with margharita, pepperoni and a special of the day. We did not choose to eat at either Sabatini's or Sterling's Steakhouse. Afternoon high tea is served in the Coral Dining room on Deck 7 and is good fun. The buffet served on Princess Cays was good featuring burgers, ribs and chicken. But no cheese for the burgers? They also had lots of fruit and salad items available at Princess Cays.
Entertainment and Activities The Caribbean Princess offers a variety of entertainment in a variety of venues throughout the ship. The main theater offered production shows as well as the employee's talent show which was not only entertaining, but great fun. Three very good comedic acts were featured both in the theater and at the Explorers Lounge. Bert Stratton, who receives great acclaim on Cruisemates among some members, is not everyone's cup of tea. While he is very talented, we found a little bit of his act goes a long way. After a while his seeming inability to finish a song wears thin. He was featured in the very tiny Crooner's Lounge on Deck 7 and once in concert in the much larger Explorers Lounge.
The Caribbean Princess offers a great variety of activities and entertainment for all tastes, unless your tastes run to relaxing inactivity which they have well covered also. We participated in the ballroom dancing classes and I was proclaimed by Jason, the Assistant Cruise Director, to be "the Train Wreck in the Hawaiian Shirt." I preferred to call my dancing style "Oaf Dancing." We found the Newlywed Game to be predictably hilarious. The Cruise Director's staff does their utmost to ensure that the passengers have fun. There is a fairly large casino on Deck 7 which also seems fairly empty at most times. The casino offers the requisite variety of table games and slots from 5 cents to a dollar. For some reason, the poker craze has not caught up with Princess. Bingo is also conducted daily as well as the ever popular horse racing game. Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) is at once both a great entertainment innovation with the 300 square foot screen visible even during the daylight and great stereo sound, as well as an intrusive curse for those seeking peace and quiet by the pools as the movies and concerts blare forth all day. There are plenty of places to sun and enjoy the pools and hot tubs out of earshot. While we had no such in tow, the children and teen programs seemed well organized and well liked by the participants.
The Ports The Eastern Caribbean itinerary is not particularly port-intensive for a seven day cruise visiting but two ports, St. Thomas, USVI and St Maarten/St Martin. Additionally, there is a beach day stop at Princess Cays in the Bahamas. The cruise commences with a very leisurely two days at sea with a third sea day between St Maarten/St. Martin and Princess Cays.
St Thomas On St. Thomas we chose Princess' "Ultimate St. Thomas Tour" excursion as it gave a good overview of the island as well as beach time at Magen's Bay. We found the beach at Magen's Bay to be beautiful and delightful for swimming. Showers and changing rooms are available at Magen's Bay. The tour terminated at Blackbeard's Castle with return to the ship on your own. After a leisurely decent down the 99 steps into Charlotte Amalie, we shopped until we dropped. My wife particularly liked and recommends Mr. Tablecloth which offered substantial savings on beautifully crafted table linens. The cab from downtown to Havensight where the ship docked was $4. Havensight also has much of the same shopping available in town.
St Maarten/St Martin On St Maarten/St Martin we opted for the semi-submersible underwater tour with an island tour. The tour, which included a shopping stop in Marigot on the French side, featured a ride on a semi-submersible boat, which features underwater viewing on the lower deck. Once at the reef after departure from Grand Case, a diver attracted fish using sardines in tomato sauce as bait. Once done with the semi-submersible, we continued on the circuit around the island with an obligatory souvenir stop adjacent to Orient Beach and continued on back to the Dutch side where we had the option to terminate the tour in downtown Phillipsburg or go back to the ship. Since it was early, we opted to shop downtown and take the water taxi ($5) back to the dock area. Liquor by the bottle can be purchased at very cheap prices. We tasted the local Guavaberry Liqueur and decided it to be a "must".
Princess Cays Princess Cays is a wonderful beach day to relax and enjoy the water. Various water sports are available and there are plenty of places to lounge and relax. The lunch buffet was well prepared except for the previously mentioned lack of cheese for the burgers.
Debarkation Debarkation required us to vacate our cabins and assemble in public rooms and wait, unlike Celebrity. We grabbed seats in the Crooner's Lounge which along with the Explorer's lounge are closest to the stairwell through which we would disembark. Once called, we passed through immigration and then joined the scrum for our luggage which took about 10 minutes to locate all four bags. We then engaged a porter to speed us through customs. This is not a good time to try to save money as you will wait in line much longer if you decide to tote your own bags. We had opted for Princess transfers back to the Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and we were quickly ushered to the waiting bus which departed as soon as it was filled (about 10 minute wait).
Conclusion We had a wonderful time and plan to sail again on Princess. I would recommend this cruise for just about any age as only the true curmudgeons or terminally jaded could fail to have a good time.