My wife and I just returned from a week on the Caribbean Princess to belated celebrate our 15th anniversary. We had sailed Princess once before -- to Alaska -- aboard the Coral Princess. I wrote separately on the Princess message board concerning our miserable experience with Princess' Northeast Motorcoach Program, so I won't rehash here. Suffice it to say, use any other means to get to Brooklyn if you're coming from the Washington, DC area. All that said, if you ignore the transfers, we really enjoyed our time on the Caribbean Princess.
We were among the very last people onto the ship, due to the transfer programs. We were tired, exhausted, and hungry, and literally sprinted by the picture takers to try and grab something to eat before the lifeboat drill -- in the end, we had about 10 minutes to eat.
We'd booked an obstructed view cabin on Emerald -- 8th floor. I'd researched and, as expected, our level or blockage was very minimal, and we really liked the cabin. It was nearly identical in layout and furniture to the balcony cabin we had on the Coral Princess -- and that is a good thing. Rather spacious, with lots of closet space, and we like the bathroom layout a lot. Our cabin steward was actually waiting outside our room when we arrived -- he feared we weren't coming. He went over everything in the room and was just great. In fact, he provided the best service we've had on a cruise ship, aside from Holland America. He was great.
After reading posts on here, I expected to find the ship in need of repair, or at least looking a little shabby. Luckily, we saw none of that. In fact, we found the ship to be in excellent condition, from top to bottom. Literally. Our cabin location was great too, with very easy access to the main levels and easy elevator access for breakfast dining on the Lido Deck.
In our 40's, my wife and I were definitely among the youngest guests on the ship. Given the date and itinerary, we'd expected clientel to skew on the higher scale, we were a little suprised at just how junior we felt on a daily basis. All that said, it was a very nice crowd, albeit rather sleepy. Check that...very sleepy.
Again, because of previous posts, I had very low expectations for the food. Again, we were very happily surprised. The food was quite good, at all times and across all meals. We ate all but two breakfasts at the buffett, and finding a table was also possible and the lines were not crowded and very easy to navigate. Bravo, Princess! Our sit down breakfasts were also good, whereas we had dinner during the early setting in the Palm Restaurant. Our server and assistant server were, again, excellent, and we very much enjoyed the meals and our table companions.
My only complaint about the ship would be the entertainment. This was the only cruise on which we've been when we didn't try to go to every job, or enjoy the shows we attended. The shows on the first two nights of the cruise were, simply put, awful. We literally walked out of the second-night show, which was an innane mixture of juggling, sword swallowing, and poor humor...not low-brow, just poor. We attended both of the singing/dancing productions, and they were high schoolish, at best. The Elton John impersonator was good, but looking back, I think that was only in comparison to other shows. On the next to last night, they did have a good comedian. That said, on the Caribbean they have three runnings of each show each night, rather than the more traditional two showings. I'm not sure why this was, unless the showroom couldn't accomodate everyone over just two runnings. That said, this meant that the shows were limited to 45-50 minutes each. Far too short. On the entertainment front, we did like at least the idea of Movies Under the Stars, but the one night we tried it -- to watch the Hunger Games -- it was only in the 40's and very windy on deck, so it was very hard to get through the whole thing. On a warm-weather cruise, I'm sure we would have done this every night.
We enjoyed each and every port, for different reasons. Our weather was good at each stop, other than Bar Harbor, where it was rainy and foggy. We'd been there before, so it was okay, but had we not seen it before, I'm not sure we'd want to return after seeing it only in fog and rain. Halifax was great; Saint John was okay...nothing more, nothing less. We ended up liking Boston more than we expected, even though we'd been there many times before. Our favorite port was Newport, which was a new place for us. I know other people have written that the time in Newport was too long, but for us, it was far too short. We didn't anchor until 9:00am, and our tender didn't get us on shore until 10:30. We were on the literally last tender at 5:30pm, and still would have liked more time there.
Disembarkation was okay. It would have been better, had we not been chained to the Motorcoach Tranfer Program, but I won't let that soil this otherwise very positive review.