From the Norman Love truffle pops at the Welcome Toast to the
restaurant-like beverage service in the buffet, Princess is filled
with surprises that make it my favorite among the mass market
It won’t blow you away with bumper cars or carousels, but
what it does deliver is consistently solid service, attention to
detail and an eagerness to please.
The recent trip on the Caribbean Princess, our fourth on the
line, proved to be as good as the first. With many of the lines
noticeably scaling back, Princess is an exception. Here’s
some of what made it special:
Ship shape. Princess’ mini-suite is ideal for those who
want more space but not at a suite price. It’s essentially
the size of a hotel room with two flat screen TVs, a full-sized
couch, large counter, and porch furniture featuring reclining
chairs, foot stools and a large table. The closets in the
mini-suites%u2014as well as the balcony rooms%u2014are the largest
we’ve had on any cruise line, and can accommodate three
hanging shoe bags, along with a whole lot of clothes.
The staterooms%u2014as well as the public rooms%u2014were
immaculate. You’d really have to look hard to
find any evidence that the ship was built 11 years ago.
The piazza, the hub of ship activity, this trip featured a
pianist, a we-can-play-just-about-anything band and singer, steel
drums and a former circus performer who twirled lighted hoops in a
blaze of color and grace.
The only downside to the handsome piazza is that it can’t
always accommodate everyone who wants to be there. Getting a good
enough view to take photos of the Mardi Gras party or a seat to eat
your International Café quiche can sometimes be all but
Food; themed and otherwise. Speaking of food, it ranged from
fair to good, in both the Main Dining Room and Horizon Court
buffet. One innovation in the MDR was Caribbean cuisine, a welcome
reminder of where we were. And it was nice to see lobster tail
still on the formal night menu.
Horizon Court themed nights were a lot of fun and we found
ourselves there more than the MDR. German night was alight with a
color-changing, larger-than-life beer stein (in ice, not on ice),
landjagger bites and German hams, pretzel rolls, red cabbage,
sausages, and linzer and sacher tortes. Italian night, with its
gondolier-costumed waiters, served up prosciutto and hunks of
parmesan, fennel au gratin and pasta many ways.
The bakery stuff is where Princess really excels. The breads are
great%u2014from the sunflower-studded rolls to the cheese-topped
croissants to the onion-infused focaccia. The chocolate desserts
were excellent, rivaling some of the best bakeries on land.
The ship was as generous with its buffet hours as it was with
the food offerings. You can get breakfast until 11:30, lunch until
3:30 (if you miss this, there’s “afternoon snack”
from 3:30-5:30, which is a scaled down lunch), and full dinner is
available until 11. Late dining was an especially mellow meal, just
us, a few other night owls and the crew.
Fun and games. While standard fare, the entertainment was
generally good; highlights were a juggler/comedian whose
not-G-rated shtick brought on belly laughs, and a magician/comedian
with same-but-different sleight-of-hand tricks and fast wit.
In fact, everyone seemed to be a comedian on this
trip%u2014including the cruise director, Paul Chandler-Burns. The
Brit’s quips shot out like sparks%u2014in an understated,
under-the-breath sort of way%u2014and made him the ideal emcee. His
banter during the “The Marriage Match Game Show” made
it easily one of the best we’ve seen on any ship.
There were several themed parties, the most memorable was the
“Love Boat Disco Deck Party” held by the pool. The
ship’s singers and dancers, dressed officer-like in white
pants suits and captain hats, did the hustle and other moves, while
the Movie Under the Stars screen revived scenes from the TV show,
interspersing its octogenarian cast members somewhat disconcertedly
jiving to a disco beat.
Well served. Service onboard was attentive from the room steward
to the well-orchestrated disembarkation. Ironically, some of the
best service we had was in the buffet. One night, I was asked by
three different waiters within 10 minutes if I wanted any water or
With the generous room space, great service, varied
entertainment with plenty of laughs, satisfying food sprinkled with
surprises, and four good Western Caribbean ports (seven days of sun
didn’t hurt either), we felt gloriously pampered from ship to
shore. And felt that Princess did its best%u2014and
succeeded%u2014in helping us “come back new.”