We took the Eastern Caribbean and visited St. Thomas, St. Maarten & Princess Cays from 5/22/04 to 5/29/04. This was our 1st cruise with Princess, but our 7th overall (5 Carnival & 1 RCL).
Embarkation: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale. When we picked up our luggage, there were plenty of cruise reps to guide us. We then took the bus from the airport to the cruise terminal. At the terminal, Princess has made this very efficient. You stand in line by your cabin deck. It took about 15 minutes to get thru the line & on the ship. This was the easiest embarkation we've ever had.
Ship: The ship was absolutely beautiful! Even though there are over 3000 people, it never seemed crowded. There was no shortage of chairs by the pools. The movie under the stars was awesome. We suggest planning on doing this one night.
Dining: The food was awesome! We really enjoyed the Caribe buffet on sushi and seafood extravaganza nights (there were 2 of each). We chose traditional dining. We really enjoy having the same waiter & asst. waiter each night. Whenever we wanted food, we could find somesomewhere, there is no shortage of food on this ship. We each got the Coke card for this cruise. It was well worth the cost.
Cabin: We originally booked an oceanview cabin, but were upgraded to a balcony on the Baja deck. Our balcony was completely covered. It had 2 sitting chairs & a table. We talked our room steward into exchanging a sitting chair for a lounge chair on the balcony for us. Our room had plenty of storage. The suitcases slid under the bed.
Itinerary: St. Thomas - For starters we did the St. Thomas Skyride. It was within walking distance of the ship (about 5 mins) and was well worth doing. Our excursion in the afternoon was snorkeling, New Waves Castaway Snorkeling. You get right off the ship onto the snorkeling boat. We really enjoyed it.
St. Maarten - We did the Afternoon Beach Bash. We took a bus to the Orient Beach. It was set up really nicely and was just a relaxing afternoon in the sun. We highly recommend this excursion.
Princess Cays - This is the private island. We just swam and relaxed. They had a BBQ lunch set up. There are plenty of chairs for everyone and plenty to do. We needed no money for this port.
Service: Our room steward, Cesar, was great. He always came and went without disturbing us. We really appreciated everything he did. Our waiter, Eduardo and asst. waiter, Levi, were great. They always chatted with us about our day and were a pleasure. They made sure we were taken care of. At the pool bar, the bartender, Joey, always knew we wanted Sprite. It was a pleasure seeing him. On another note, all staff was very friendly and always said HI when passing in the hall.
We are in our early 30's and love cruising. We really enjoyed this cruise and we will definately take another Princess cruise in the future.
BIO / CRUISE
This was our third cruise and the first with the Princess line. Our group consisted of 7 people, me and my wife, my brother and sister and their spouses, and the real Princess and birthday girl, our 87 year(young) mother. With the exception of my 45 year old sister-in-law, we are all in our mid to late fifties. We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale from Philadelphia. Ports of call were Princess Cays, Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.
Since the airport is only 10-15 minutes from the ship, we suggest you take a cab or a van. The Princess bus transfer, which we were told not to take but did anyway, took over one and a half hours. Live and learn. Princess does a great job with registration. We suggest you get into the shortest line even though the lines are identified by deck.
We had a balcony on the Aloha deck on the 12th floor, and it was great. Plenty of storage room and it was quiet all week. You may want to check to make sure you are not below the night club since weheard that could be noisy. We suggest you pack a night light since the room does get dark. Having your morning coffee on the balcony is a must! Also, you may want to try sleeping a few nights with the sliding doors open to hear the sound of the Caribbean Sea, it's a great experience. Once you have a balcony deck, it will be difficult to book future cruises without one.
Maybe its our Italian heritage but quality food is important to us. We were not disappointed. We selected the personal choice dining but did a "work around" by making a standard dinner reservation at the Island Dining room for the entire week with the exception of the two nights at the specialty restaurants. This was done on our first day. We never had a problem all week and our table was always waiting for us. Since our group preferred sit down service to cafeteria style, we enjoyed breakfast in the Coral Dining Room. Cruisers with children and on tight schedules may prefer the Horizon Court and Café Caribe on deck 15. Our two best meals were at the specialty restaurants, Sabatini's and the Sterling Steakhouse, both on deck 7. Even though it costs $15-$20 more per person , treat yourself, its well worth it. Just buy one less Tee shirt.
Sabatini's is a wonderfully delicious 5 course meal with 5 different waiters serving the 7 of us.
The meal at Sterling Steakhouse was equally as good. If you are only selecting one of the two, my choice would be Sabatini's. We suggest you call the Concierge on your first day to set up all your reservations for the week since they do fill up quickly.
Trident Grill located around the pool had great thin crust pizza in addition to the usal burgers, hot dogs and fries. The pizza however baked daily, is the main attraction.
You won't starve on this ship between the 24 hour room service and the food available at the Horizon court, Café Caribe and the Bistro.
In order to see as much as possible, you need to check the daily Princess Patter for a schedule of activities, and plan accordingly. Movies under the Stars was enjoyable especially with the free popcorn and blankets provided.
Here is our review of the entertainment:
Fernandez the comedy/ hypnotist was our favorite attraction. He hypnotizes 15-20 volunteers from the audience and makes them do some hilarious things. The audience was hysterical. In fact we caught his Jerry Springer routine as well on another night.
Bert Stratton the piano player/singer is also a "must see", he is in the Crooners lounge.
James Michael has a high energy comedy/magic act that is very entertaining
Mike Wilson, a comedy impressionist was also very good.
Sarge, a comedian put on a good show.
The Broadway show, Let's Rock, was a high energy production with a young group of singers and dancers. I found it to be only average.
Brandi Chapman, a female vocalist only appeared on our last night and she was terrific, singing Oscar award winning songs. What a great voice!
For the younger crowd there was plenty of after hours partying going on at the Sky Walkers lounge on deck 19.
My wife enjoyed her body massage and we even got Mom an eye facial although she questioned what it could do for her at this stage of her life.
PORTS OF CALL
Princess Cays - this is Princess's private island where you get a tender to their beach. We had a great day and rented paddle boats, rafts and even went sailing on a Hobie cat. Lunch was a nice barbecue.
Montego Bay - we took the Wet N Wild party cruise and were disappointed. The boat was old, small and dirty. Once we got off at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, we decided to stay there, have lunch and not return on the boat. Lunch was a little expensive but we enjoyed it. We took a cab back to the ship.
Grand Cayman Islands - since we previously visited this island we just did some shopping. Of course my wife did buy a ring.
Cozumel Mexico - We booked the Passion Island beach tour which was fun. It's a 5 four tour with 3 hours of actual beach time. Our tour guide Octavio was excellent. The beach and water were beautiful. Trip included lunch and an open bar.
Princess does a superior job. Very organized with little waiting.
We had a great vacation and made a lifetime of memories. The ship is beautiful, great food and service, plenty of swimming pools a wide variety of entertainment, a casino for my brother-in-law and much more. Since I am a sports fanatic, my only disappointment was the lack of a true sports bar with American ESPN, Spanish ESPN just didn't cut it for me. The Churchill Lounge is only a cigar bar, although they call it a sports bar. Other cruise ships also offer an Internet version of the USA newspaper at a daily rate, which Princess did not. Other then that, I had no complaints. We would book another Princess cruise in a "New York minute."
We were on the Maiden Voyage of the Caribbean Princess, which happened to also be during "Spring Break" (so there were way too many children in adult areas). Having been on the Grand Princess and found everything superior we were somewhat disappointed but we still enjoyed our voyage and are planning to go again this summer. In spite of some of its "kinks", it still was a wonderful vacation and a great value.
At times, it felt as if the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. The Cruise Staff seemed somewhat inexperienced which effected the overall cruise. Compared to the exceptional ability of the Grand Princess staff to engage all the passengers in activities the Caribbean Princess staff lacked luster.
The food was good but nothing spectacular. Although, the pizza by the pool was excellent and as always Princess's homemade ice cream was fabulous. The new arrangement of the Horizon Court with the Caribe Grill just didn't work for us. After shows (late) the shelves were empty with the only option open was to be seated and served at the Bistro. If you only wanted a "snack" itwas somewhat annoying.
The ship is magnificent without a doubt. The Movies Under the Stars was a nice touch. The band that played by the pool and at various other times during the cruise (the name escapes me at the moment) was fabulous as was the solo artist who also performed by the pool! THEY had a wonderful way of getting the passengers to participate and livened up the cruise. All other entertainment was excellent, especially Bert and his Piano!
Personal Choice dining is a plus. We ate very late and never had any difficulty getting a table for two. Service was always quite good. The food, while certainly good, was not as superior as on the Grand Princess.
Embarkment and Disembarkment was a breeze. Princess certainly has the process down to a science. The room was just fine, clean (well new!)the room steward while good missed a few of the little niceties that we expected based upon our voyage on the Grand Princess.
I am sure part of our disappointment was due to its being its Maiden voyage and that by August when we sail again it will have improved to the true Princess standards. I'll let you know!
P.S. When traveling with children, please remember some of the passengers have left their own children at home to have an "adult" vacation. While we expect their to be children, there are areas for adults only and since the crew does not enforce this is is up to the passengers to over see their children. Thanks!
The new Caribbean Princess is well worth sailing on! We would go again in a minute!
We sailed on a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise, visiting St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays.
Princess has this down to a science. We arrived at Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 2 at 1 p.m. and were on board by 1:15. HINT: Complete the pre-boarding paperwork online and save time during embarkation. Check your pre-cruise documents and www.princess.com for details. This is well worth doing in advance, as you can then speed through embarkation. When your documents arrive in the mail, they will have a sticker that indicates "Express Check-In" and you can then use the special lines set up for "Express Check-In" passengers.
In a word, beautiful! Although the ship holds 3,100 passengers, they have designed it with passengers in mind, because you never feel crowded! In my opinion, the highlights are:
1. "Movies under the Stars," an outdoor 300-sq. ft. LED movie screen (like in NY's Times Square) that shows movies and other things like concerts and sporting events (we saw Tina Turner's 24/7 Concert).
2. The Lotus Spa and Gymnasium, a beautiful complex on Deck 16 atthe front of the ship overlooking the ocean. I use the treadmills every day on a cruise, and this is the first ship where I NEVER had to wait for one. It has about 20 of them, along with a full range of other cardio machines (e.g. Stairmasters) and a full selection of weight machines. The spa is beautiful and is operated by Princess, not an outsourced company. The personnel are friendly and the massages are terrific. And there's no sales pressure to buy their products (in fact, no sales pitch at all). HINT: For best selection, book your spa treatments online, before you board. Check www.princess.com for details.
3. Princess Theater, with great views no matter where you sit. We always sat in the last few rows of the balcony, and still had good sight lines. The shows were good, and the selection varied each night.
4. Internet Café, with easy-to-use PC's (just run your guest card through the card reader) – I never had a wait, although sometimes the response time was slow due to satellite transmission, I guess.
5. Outdoor areas. Spacious pool areas (5 pools!) were busy but never seemed crowded. The great promenade deck was never crowded, and is a great place to sit and read.
We selected Personal Choice Anytime Dining and could not have been happier. I had read some reviews where some people had problems, e.g. long waits. We had no problems whatsoever! HINT: When you get on board, immediately make specialty dining reservations. If you want a reservation for Sabatini's Italian Restaurant or Sterling Steakhouse, go there as soon as you board to make reservations. Also, if you want to eat in a main dining room, call the Concierge line (on your cabin phone) and make a reservation several hours before dinner (we called each morning). By following these methods, we were able to eat where and when we wanted...with no problems at all.
A few nights we ate at Horizon Court/Café Caribe (they are connected). They serve the same food at dinner as the main dining rooms, although it is buffet style. The food was good, but the service was only fair and this is an area that could be improved. We never bring formal attire on a cruise because we don't like to get dressed up on vacation...so this is an informal alternative dining venue if you want to leave the nice clothes at home!
There's great pizza outside on Deck 15; we often had lunch there (OK, so we went to the Horizon Court buffet right afterwards too...it is a cruise, after all). They serve burgers outside too, which were OK but not as good as the pizza.
We ordered room service breakfast every day by filling out the card and hanging it on the door the night before. It was always on time (sometimes early) and good!
We were very fortunate to have Emilio as our room steward -- one of the best cabin stewards ever!
We splurged and chose a mini-suite for this cruise after having booked one on the Grand Princess a few years ago. It was a very spacious cabin, with a sitting area (full-size couch), two TVs and a bath with a full-size tub, as well as a great balcony with a table and two chairs.
The balconies on this ship are built in wedding-cake fashion, and the mini-suites are at the bottom...meaning that the balconies above can look down on yours. We noticed that most of the time, people were not on the balconies above, and we did not feel like our privacy was being invaded even when they were outside. So the question becomes, should you trade balcony privacy for a nicer cabin? Our answer is to go for the nicer cabin...we would absolutely book a mini-suite again! We spent a lot of time on the balcony, especially in the late afternoon and early evening when we would have a few cocktails there. Great sunsets...don't miss them! I noticed too that some mini-suites are cheaper than regular balcony cabins, so check pricing and you may be surprised! HINT: If you want to remove a chair from the balcony and add a chaise lounge instead, just ask your room steward!
There were three sea days, which is great! We had full days in St. Thomas and St. Maarten (go on the America's Cup Sail in St. Maarten -- it is a lot of fun). We called at Princess Cays on the last full day of the cruise and it's nice to just relax and wander on the island. There's a good BBQ buffet at lunch there too.
Without a doubt, excellent, even considering the below-average service we had in the Horizon Café. Princess employees were always professional, friendly, kind and helpful. This is quite a tribute to the staff, especially considering that the crew had been together for only about a month!
In Summary: We would sail Princess again, and would not hesitate to take another cruise on the Caribbean Princess.
We were passengers on the third scheduled cruise, April 17-24, 2004, of the new Caribbean Princess, the second of three new Princess ships being introduced. Our cruise was to the Western Caribbean with stops at Princess cays, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel with two sea days. We selected the cruise because of the ship.new and big! We were not disappointed. Will give some highlights of the ship and cruise as well as some hints for those who may be considering the Caribbean Princess.
The ship is big; 112,000 to 116,000 tons depending on what you hear. The captains log listed 112,000. It accommodates 3000 to 3500 passengers which results in a little bigger than normal crowds at some venues but is NOT anything to be concerned about. It is very nicely decorated with lots of Caribbean pastel colors as well as chrome and brass , has an elegant atrium with a light color scheme, and dozens of places to go on the ship, all giving a feeling of being relatively small and intimate. The ship had the fastest elevators of any ship we had ever been on which reminded usof the elevators in Las Vegas casinos.a real plus if you have waited for the slow elevators on many cruise ships. There are a lot of balconies.
HINT: The balconies on the Caribe deck are bigger than the balconies on many decks.
The ship was new but the crew was experienced. We were a little concerned about a new crew when we booked the cruise. Several crew members had transferred from other Princess ships along with others who came from other cruise lines. We even recognized a couple from other ships we had been on. Service was excellent everywhere, especially in the dining rooms.
We selected traditional dining which meant assigned seating for all dinners. There were A LOT of dining options including personal choice dining in one of the three main dining rooms. ( Someone told us that the personal choice dining was so popular that the dining rooms were going to be shifted to accommodate more for personal dining on the next cruise). The buffets ( There were two) were very good. The lines were crowded the first afternoon due to the large number of people and the traffic pattern which was a little different. Open seatings for breakfast and lunch in the Coral Dining room was easy..no lines and no wait. Interestingly, the attendance in the main dining rooms was far less that capacity.probable due to the number of choices: At least two special rooms ( with a cover charge), pizza, grill and two buffets as well as the three dining rooms. All the restaurants were nicely decorated and offered a very pleasant atmosphere.
The food was very good highlighted by lobster night. We thought the selections in the dining rooms where we eat most meals were excellent. The dining room menus featured a wide selection of international foods that were interesting and delicious. The buffet also had a nice selection. Pizza, compared to other ship experiences, was excellent. I like ice cream ( splurge on cruises) and they had some macadamia nut that was special. Food rating.High.
HINT: We tried the Steakhouse, with a $15 cover charge. The steaks were very good but the rest of the meal and the setting were nothing really special. Service was excellent.
Shops on the ship were nice. A good selection of both shops and goods. We made several purchases. The casino was large and well done. ( didn't win). Neither the shops nor the casino were crowded even though there were over 3000 people on board. The showroom, however, was standing room only a couple of times. ( The Caribbean Princess does repeat some shows on a second night so there are four opportunities to see the show). Lounge entertainment was good. ( Lots of lounges)
The ports were the standard ones for the Western Caribbean.
HINT: Be sure to get off the ship at the Princess Cays. The facilities on the island are very nice, including sheltered areas if you don't like the sun and lots of beach for those who do. The scenery and view to the ship from the island are worth a photo. They also had a nice barbecue with good food.
We tried the river rafting at Montego Bay, a nice relaxing ride down a river ( shallow in most areas) on a bamboo raft with interesting scenery along the way. It was followed up with a talk on local produce, instructions on making rum drinks, a jitney ( jitney is a wagon with seats pulled by a tractor) ride to a banana plantation where we were fascinated by a description of banana growth and uses, a lunch, and coconut palm climber. We then went downtown.
HINT: Downtown was neither a place to go nor shop. It could use a lot of development which is unfortunate for the local people.
Grand Cayman was very crowded the day we were there. Tenders are required and the docks were filled with passengers from all the ships, many looking for their tour groups which met on shore. We tried the underwater viewing boat which is a good opportunity to see marine life just below the surface. Grand Cayman is well developed, has a lot of shops and good buying opportunities.
The last stop was Cozumel, with a visit to Tulum probably the biggest attraction. Tulum is well worth a visit if you have interest in the Mayans. Shopping in Cozumel is also very good.
HINT: A shopping area right at the pier has been completed in the last few years. It is clean, safe, and has many shops including duplicates of those downtown. Provides a chance to shop if the tour runs long.
Getting on and off the ship is worth a couple of notes. Getting on ( embarking for the sailors) was a little confusing with express and regular lines. Express was for those who registered on line.and had "express" on their ticket covers. ( we registered on line but had no sticker). Boarding started right at noon and we were in the initial large group so maybe that's why things were confusing. Didn't seem to make a any difference because no one was there to give directions..probably our only real complaint with the cruise. Getting off was very predictable and easy..remember, we had over 3000 passengers.
A couple of other hints..
HINT: There is a parking garage right at the ship, maybe the closest we have ever parked to our ship BUT there is a least one other garage and it not hard to end up in the wrong garage..and it is an impossible walk.
HINT: Booking another Princess cruise on the ship will get you some shipboard credit for your next Princess cruise and the down payment is much less than you would normally pay. The risk is also low: You can change your itinerary and date and are given quite a long time to book ( four years in our case).and you still use your travel agent ( who may be able to better the rates quoted). We had researched future princess cruises and were prepared to take advantage of the nice offer.
SUMMARY: Big, beautiful and new ship with a lot of modern amenities sailing to the Caribbean. We had another very, very nice travel vacation.
My 55-year-old husband and I (53) celebrated our 35th anniversary by taking our first cruise, and chose to sail on the new Caribbean Princess to the Western Caribbean. This was only the second sailing of this beautiful ship. We sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale after flying down from Baltimore. Scheduled ports of call were Princess Cay, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
Even though it was Easter weekend and there were crowds, embarkation went without a hitch and very little waiting in line. We had a Princess bus transfer waiting for us from the airport to the dock, which went smoothly.
We had a deluxe balcony stateroom on the Deck 15 (Lido deck), and it was lovely. We heard no noise. There was plenty of water pressure in bathroom. Our stateroom was roomy with plenty of storage in a separate closet, enclosed shelving area (with safe), and bedside drawers and desk. There were lots of wall mirrors and the décor had lovely color choices throughout. The cabin had a small refrigerator/bar/TV stand, a desk, and sliding doors to our nice-sized balcony with table and chairs (plastic).
The food was plentiful and I'd giveit four stars. The Horizon Buffet and Caribe Cafe were going day and night with all kinds of goodies to tempt all palates -- vegetarian, meat lovers, sweet tooth, lots of fresh fruit etc. The coffee and tea could be better. Our dinner was in the Palm Dining Room on the aft Deck 6, which was a challenge to get to -- one must go up and down to reach it from the forward end due to the open atrium in the middle. The food there was plentiful and they aimed to please, allowing you to order whatever you wanted, even off the menu. Our only complaint: It took too long to be served the main course each time we were there, but if you want leisurely dinner conversation with your tablemates, this is okay.
The pool area had a pizza oven that served great thin crust pizza, and also a sandwich grill for fries, burgers, etc. You could pay extra to eat in the special steak house (the Palm Room steak was excellent), Italian restaurant, and one other. We were more than happy with the "included" food.
The new "Movies under the Stars" is fantastic! The ship has a three-tiered outdoor movie theater with deck chairs under the stars. Sound and picture were great.
My husband's favorite entertainment was Bert Stratton, a piano player/singer who did requests on the atrium promenade deck. You can go to his web site using just his name. He was able to play spontaneously all types of music from the 20s to contemporary. He was a mix of Jim Carrey (antics and faces), Victor Borge (humor and wit), and Lurch. He was very entertaining and engaging, bringing his intimate audience right into the show and "whipping us into a frenzy." Don't miss him.
We loved dancing in the Fusion room to the bands, also in the Explorer Lounge, and on Deck 15 to the Caribbean band. All were great. We did not catch any of the shows in the Princess Theater. Richard Hatch of "Survivor" was there for a talk. There were also "Broadway-style shows" with singing and dancing. It was my understanding that all the props could not be obtained when we missed our port in Grand Cayman, so this was a limited show.
We were plenty busy! We played bingo and my husband won part of a $200 pot. He played in the casino a little, but we aren't big gamblers. It looked like a great casino with lots of nickel and quarter machines as well as $1 and up.
My husband took advantage of the running track, which made him dizzy because 10 times around equals one mile and he runs about four miles. The workout room has lots of equipment and beautiful views of the sea. The new Lotus Spa offers a beauty shop, massage, and facials. My husband won a free makeover, which was filmed and shown on the TVs on board. That was fun.
PORTS OF CALL
Princess Cay: This is Princess' private island and is very nice. We enjoyed the water sports and swimming, and they served a nice barbecue to everyone under pavilions on the beach. There are local craftsmen there selling baskets, trinkets, hats and clothing. "Princess Pirates" in full costume meet you for pictures.
Montego Bay, Jamaica: This was a disappointment, but was not without merit. Tenders are needed to get to shore. The cab drivers are everywhere and relentless in trying to procure you as a customer, as are the shop owners -- much pressure, little relaxation. The port is depressed looking and sad. We visited a small shopping center and bought T-shirts, then went to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville ($4 cab fee each) and had lunch overlooking ocean. My husband went down the large tube slide into the water (no cost). A hamburger is $8. I think we would skip this port and enjoy the ship next time.
Grand Cayman Island: Unfortunately, because of high seas, the port authority closed this port to all cruise ships and we had to skip it. I understand it is the most beautiful.
Cozumel, Mexico: My favorite! The ship lands directly at a dock, no tenders. Lots of colorfully costumed people greet you for pictures or just to enjoy. You exit the dock through a large duty-free shopping center (vanilla, alcohol, jewelry, etc.) into the local shopping center with lots of jewelry, handicrafts, T-shirts, etc., at good prices. The water is beautiful; it's very picturesque.
We took the catamaran snorkeling excursion to two coral reefs and it was fantastic! We went in a large, covered catamaran seating 50, with bathrooms. We saw beautiful seas, underwater coral gardens, colorful fish, and sea turtles. It's several hours out, so wear a shirt or sun block! On the ride back, the crew serves both alcoholic and soft drinks and fruit. They were great. It cost us about $50 each for this Princess tour. We took photos with an underwater camera and hope they turn out.
This went very smoothly with little waiting. Again our Princess bus transfer brought us straight to the airport from the dock.
We loved this cruise and found the ship to be beautiful with a crew that pampers you. Montego Bay was a disappointment, and we were sorry we could not see beautiful Grand Cayman, but safety comes first. The price was fair, at $897 each for a lovely new ship and a cabin with a balcony for seven days. Onboard ship activities were wonderful. We want to go again!