Background: My sister and I were looking for some R&R and this cruise fit the bill. We were looking to go to the Southern Caribbean and took the cruise that has the best price for a balcony.
We flew down the day before from Albany on Southwest. It was an afternoon direct flight.That is a rarity for us. we stayed at the Springhill Suites for free. We are Marriott Reward members and had a free night coming. It is a very nice hotel. Super clean and the beds comfortable.There is a Burger King and Chipotle next door and a McDonald's across the street. Also a shopping center across the street. We signed up for a free shuttle in the am at the hotel. The guy was very rude because we didn't make a reservation for transport from the port to the airport.It was $15 pp and we had an early flight. We didn't want to wait for a van to fill up. Besides a taxi was cheaper. We met the van in the morning at 9:45. He driver took us all to the wrong pier. After the mix up we finally made it to the right place...one hour later. Think a taxi may be better the next time.
Embarkation: Got though the line quickly and were seated with all the others. We waited quite awhile when they announced there was a delay. I think the ship arrived a little late and I think the Coast Guard was doing something. Anyway, they said they would start boarding about 12:45. We were called about 1pm. It took about 20 minutes or so to pick up our room key and were soon on the ship. we were able to go to the room to drop off our totes then on to the buffet. By that time we were hungry but didn't want to pig out because we had a 5:30 dining time. The buffet was good and we were surprised when a dining attendant took out plates and showed us to an empty table. Never had that kind of services before. That happened almost every time we went to the buffet.
Cabin: The best we have had to date. Beds very comfortable. I have a bad back and slept very well. The room looked more like a hotel than a cabin. I think because there weren't a lot of built ins. The closet was next to the bathroom and was separate from the living quarters. The bathroom was the best yet. The floor looked like tiles. The shower had a good lip on the bottom and was of good size for a ship. I didn't get any water on the floor which was amazing. Plenty of counter space for stuff. There was a shelf underneath so we could leave our stuff when not in use. The only complaint...TV is awful. There was nothing to watch except Princess advertising. No networks. I enjoy watching in the am and pm but nothing. Just CNN international and spotty showing of three different sitcoms. Come on Princess ..get some networks and FOX News! Even Love Boat reruns would be fun.
Staff: Great bunch of people. Mars our room steward the best. Saw that we had ice and wine glasses and we were happy. They are the hardest working people on the whole ship. We're not too happy with our wait staff in the dining room. Our table was sort of an afterthought for him. We waited a half hour one night to put in our order. He only had four tables to tend to.Once the order taken the food came at a good pace. The assistant waiter was good and we enjoyed talking to him. Left a note with the small tip for the waiter giving him the info as to why we left that small tip with some encouragement as to how we thought he could improve. Don't know what he thought of it. Some people left him nothing. Sat with a great couple from Wisconsin and enjoyed the dining experience with them. They were on their second week on the ship and filled us in on things. Nice, nice people. Lisa the cruise director and the deputy CD were great. Fun but not over the top.
Food: Good. The scallops and fettuccine were great. Everything else in the main dining room good but not spectacular. I think the food on Carnival and Royal was better. Buffet was good and variety also good. Pizza and hot dogs very enjoyable. Even had a pizza delivered to the room one night. That was fun. Over all enjoyed everything.
Entertainment: Highlight of the trip. My sister and I joined the Princess Pop Choir directed by Lisa and Stu. It was great fun. We had about 6 rehearsals and performed in the atrium the last day. That was followed by a champagne reception.If you have the chance...do it. They had a comedian duo for two nights. Laughed so hard my face actually hurt. Saw one production number show which was typical. I don't usually care for this type of entertainment and this one was not that good either. One night they had a Lionel Richie Tribute. He was awful! I heard a lot of complaints and I'm sure Princess did too.He would be ok as a lounge act maybe. We saw a set with a piano player that usually played in the Cooner's Bar. He was great on the "big stage".Very entertaining. He should have been the headliner!. The crew also presented a talent show that we really enjoyed.Lots of fun
Port: We didn't get off the ship at Princess Cays. Since it is a tendered spot, we would rather have the ship to ourselves.
Curacao Took a ship tour. Went to the liquor manufacturer. Really it is just a tasting room. The don't produce there anymore. We only had 15 minutes here to taste the flavors and buy some bottles to take home. The liquor there was cheaper than anyplace else we saw it. They also took us to a handicraft place where they only made one type of sculpture (I forgot what they called it) Any way they paint the sculpture by hand. No two are alike. Very expensive. Not worth the stop here. Had a tour of the island. Not really the best.
Aruba Took a ship tour. When to the Butterfly Farm. Didn't think I would like it but it was wonderful and educational. Don't miss it. Stopped at the Aloe factory and had a short tour. Bought some products that were a little expensive but need to take stuff home for family. Had lunch at a waterfront restaurant and did some shopping. There is telephone oportunity at the pier hear. Only $10 for 30 minutes. Cheap way to call home.
Debarkation: Very civilized. Met in the dining room about 7am. Called our group at about 7:15. Walked off, went through customs, got a taxi and were at our gate by 8:15. The best debarkation we have ever had.
Parting thought: Really nice cruise. A little quieter than Carnival or Royal but enjoyable. I like different things about each cruise line. I like the beauty and refinement of this ship. Royal has the best food. Carnival has the excitement and also good food. Bottom line....I'll go on any one of them at anytime.