We left the Hurricane Sandy battered Northeast a few days pre-cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Resort (POWER! WOOHOO!). Decent place, we enjoyed it and at the Priceline rate of $80/night - it worked. It's a 10 minute walk to shops and restaurants/nightlife, and a 10 minute ride to the port. The hotel does not offer a shuttle and the cabs are pricey. It's still cheaper than renting a car, as the hotel charges $20/day to park.
Embarkation was good. We brought 24-packs of water and they allowed us to check them - they delivered them right to the room! We had to wait for an hour to board as we arrived a little early. Once the line moved, though, we were on the ship in 10 minutes. The Princess staff at the port is friendly and efficient.
Princess Cays was canceled due to damage from Sandy and we were given a $50 OBC per person, which was very generous on Princess' part.
I won't bore you with what we did hour by hour, but overall, the cruise was good. It was my 12th cruise, fourth with Princess.
The entertainment was not impressive. The comedian was awful and I was a little disappointed with the reggae band by the pool as they only performed for about 15 minutes at a clip and were just playing music over the speakers most of the time. On other lines, and on previous Princess cruises, they would play all afternoon with small breaks here and there. That's the kind of Caribbean experience I longed for! The MUTS pool was loud and obnoxious so I rarely went there other than passing through. The terrace pool is by far my favorite, but the lack of deck space means you have to arrive early to get a chair. Surprisingly, there were not many chair hogs on this cruise! We went to Skywalkers most nights for some music and drinks - great time! The crew on board was, as usual, FANTASTIC!
The food was pretty good. I enjoyed the pizza a lot. The buffets were suitable, and dining room food simply good. I remember the food being much better on the Emerald in 2009, but perhaps my tastes have changed. Other people I was with were very impressed with the food, and some found it downright disgusting. I was somewhere in the middle. We called for Room Service on two separate occasions and after being put on hold for 20 minutes, then hung up on both times, we decided to just go grab a slice of pizza. Perhaps they need more help down there. Coffee on the ship is absolutely disgusting (including the "gourmet" coffee at the International Cafe). This is somewhere Princess NEEDS to improve. They should do what Royal Caribbean does - contract out a specialty coffee brand like Starbucks or Seattle's Best. I was more than willing to pay for a good cup-o-joe, but it was not available. Everyone complained about this - not just me.
The ports were good. I've been to each many times, so it was nothing new. St Martin was definitely my favorite - perhaps it's because it was one of the only nice days we had! St Thomas was beautiful, but it was pretty cloudy much of the time. Turks % Caicos will never see another dollar of mine. It was dirty. The locals were not friendly. It was sad to see feral dogs running all over the place. The weather was a bust (it was cloudy and chilly). It is just not a place I would visit again, unfortunately.
The ship was very rocky throughout the cruise, and the captain continued to cruise at a snail's pace, which made it even more rocky. On all the cruises I've been on, I have never gotten seasick, however, on this cruise, I was very close to losing it. Not fun. On the last sea-day, the weather was so bad that people were walking around in sweatshirts. Bummer! Needless to say, we went home without a tan!
Disembarkation was a breeze, but once on the street it was a little confusing finding the transfer to our hotel.
Overall, the cruise was about a 5 out of a 10, some due to factors that Princess could have controlled and others that were beyond their control (terrible weather). I do feel that on their larger ships, Princess is joining the other mass market lines in sacrificing quality for number of passengers. I hope this does not continue.