This was our third cruise on the Caribbean Princess. We were glad to booked this particular sailing, since it allowed us to leave the Jersey Shore on November 2, four days after Superstorm Sandy, rather than staying home where power wasn't restored until November 8. Just to have heat and lights were a blessing!
Because of the emergency, embarkation took place in Manhattan, rather than in Brooklyn, where the pier was closed. The cruise left 2 days late due to the above and Princess was gracious in giving us a 50% discount on a future cruise as well as a refund for the days missed.
EMBARKATION was a bit stressful, mostly due to post-storm conditions. The lines for security were very long (2 ships had passengers embarking). Princess check-in ran more smoothly; however we were told that there no Preferred Check-In.
CABIN was on Caribe deck, which gave us a nice-sized balcony. However, there were a number of things that needed updating or repair, including stains on the sheets, a lamp that was loose, air conditioning that needed to be fixed, some mildew in the bathroom, and a lumpy bed, none of which I blame on the cabin steward, one of the best one we ever had. He was amazingly attentive and always smiling. Others on the ship didn't seem so happy to be there.
GENERAL SHIP ITEMS begin with kudos to Princess for their superior Elite program. The free laundry alone makes it worthwhile! The ship is starting to show wear, including the fact that a number of clocks on the ship had the wrong time, there were too many announcements from the Cruise Director, and there was a missing corner mirror at the end of the Promenade Deck to see oncoming "traffic", a possible safety hazard. The Future Cruise rep had extremely limited office hours and always had a wait. She even made a joke about this at the Captains Circle party This is a money-maker; why wouldn't you keep it staffed? Finally, the casino was pleasant to be in .....on no-smoking days. If they could only make the whole ship non-smoking, it would be great.
FOOD was the more part, better than I expected. I eat fish most nights, which was prepared well and the variety quite good, especially the orange roughy, the bronzini and jumbo shrimp. Desserts were always a treat, with the Love Boat Dream and souffles especially tasty.
ENTERTAINMENT in the showroom was run of the mill, with comedians and uneven production shows. The Ultimate Deck Party and Piazza Party were more fun. Trivia with the cruise staff was well organized.
PORTS OF CALL were changed due to the storm. We were supposed to call at San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua and Aruba, but wound up with Grand Turk and Aruba. Grand Turk has beautiful beaches and welcoming people, but not much else. The shore excursions were almost all late in leaving. We power snorkeled, well worth the money. The local dive masters were excellent. In Aruba we opted for the beach on our own, having been there a number of times. I'm surprised the cruise couldn't find one other port somewhere in the Caribbean.
PURSER'S DESK was where we had the biggest problem and the main reason for me not giving the cruise more points. During the Ultimate Deck Party, a beer bottle landed on my partner's head from the deck above (we assume accidentally). When he called 911 (his head was bleeding), he was told that the Infirmary was on Deck 4, where he went only to find it closed. No one told him he had to ring a bell after hours. He returned to the Purser's Desk to be asked IF he wanted help and was told that if he said, "yes", would probably be charged. He was left on his own to decide whether he needed medical care and file a report. Only after we got the Night Manager was anything done. First he took us to a separate room to ask the same question, "Do you want help?" My partner should have been told to get help first and that the bill would be discussed later. After going to the Infirmary, finally, a Security Officer appeared and took some information. The whole incident was poorly handled, except by the ship's doctor, who waived the charges and gave excellent treatment.
DISEMBARKATION was handled smoothly,as Princess usually does, though the lines were slow at immigration.