Ports of call- Ft. Lauderdale, Princess Cay, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk and Ft. Lauderdale. First off we live in Florida so we are partial to any cruise line that travels roundtrip from Florida. The ship was not fully booked which was nice. We were the only cruise ship in two of the three "real island" ports so the ports were not crowded and the stores were anxious to make a sale.
Food- The buffet lines were great each time we went. The Crown Grill was amazing, well worth the $25 per person charge. We have been to Sabatini's on our other two cruises so we did not go this time. We went to the main dining room one time because I heard they had CrÃ¨me' Brulee and was disappointed. The CrÃ¨me Brulee was fantastic but the rest of the meal was a dud. The shrimp cocktail was better at the buffet, the Ceasar salad was wilted, the main course of surf & turf only had two Filet choices medium rare and well done. We were worried that medium rare would be raw and chose the medium well which was way overdone. The most frustrating part was we went to dinner at 5:45pm so we would be sure not to miss the 7:15 magic show and at 6:45 we had not even been given the dessert menu yet. I had to hustle the wait staff along a bit so we could get to the show in time. Another couple in my area, got up and left after waiting 15 minutes after finishing their main course and still did not have a dessert menu. It seemed the staff was confused about something each time the trays of food came from the kitchen.
Entertainment: Outstanding, we really liked the "Movies Under The Stars" and the in-cabin movies were all current. I got to see the new Total Recall and the Dark Knight Rises which were not out yet at Blockbuster. The big shows in the princess theater and the explorers lounge were top notch and we did not have any disappointments. Our favorites were Illusionist David Catts, Comedian Miguel Washington and the Once Upon A Dream Production.
Hygiene- After departing St. Maarten (11-28-12) the Commodore (yes the commodore was piloting our ship) came on the loudspeaker and said that they have had a concerning number of people present themselves at the medical department with gastro-intestinal issues and the ship was going into an advanced sanitary mode. For the remainder of the cruise we had to be served all of our food and were not allowed to handle any tongs or spoons to serve ourselves. The staff would not let us sit at any tables in the buffet area until they got a chance to disinfect them from the previous diner. This extra work on the part of the staff seemed to halt the problem as I did not see nor hear of anyone else getting sick.
Staff- The staff was excellent. I lost my video camera one day on the ship and a cleaning person found it and turned it into the passenger services desk. There was no extreme pressure to buy things and everyone was tripping over themselves in eagerness to get you anything you desired except for one bar-steward named Allen from India who I unfortunately seemed to get whenever I was seated for a show. Allen always seemed mad that I only ordered a ginger ale. I had purchased the drink card on the first day of the cruise so it was included. I would think that he would have been happy that he did not have to go print out a receipt for me to sign, but maybe they get a commission.
This is my third cruise on Princess (Alaska & Panama Canal previously). Each time I have cruised on Princess has been better than the previous. I will be trying Norwegian for the first time in 2013, but that is only because they go to different islands. Hopefully Princess will be bringing their Western Caribbean itinerary back to Florida from Texas soon.