We've cruised before with RCCL, NCL and Celebrity but hadn't tried Princess and wanted to. Chose this itinerary as we also hadn't visited Aruba and Curacao. Check-in not great, long lines though they did move pretty quickly and overall I guess it took about an hour to get onboard. First reaction on opening the door to our room was 'Oh no'. Although we always have a balcony cabin this was small - where was the sofa? - and cramped, with the decor looking like any motel room you've ever been in. Plenty of hanging space yes, but it seemed they had sacrificed space in the cabin for clothes storage - nice, but rather have it the other way round. Next disappointment came when we sat on the bed - hard as a rock. We mentioned this to the cabin attendant who brought a type of 'pillow top' to put over the mattress, but it didn't make much difference.
Overall, the ship was a disappointment. We'd seen Princess ships in port on other cruises and always thought they looked sleek and modern - well, they look better on the outside than on the inside in our opinion. To be honest, we've been spoiled by Celebrity's ships, having sailed on the Silhouette and Solstice. Caribbean Princess, while only 8 years old, totally lacked any 'wow' factor. It was all just 'OK', nothing special. Ceilings seemed low, no sense of space, we couldn't believe the Horizon Court Buffet had been designed for a ship of 3000 people, it was so small and tight - no large open areas that you find on Celebrity or RCCL. We opted for Anytime Dining and most times had to stand in line for a table, but not usually longer than about 15 mins. Food was reasonable, no major complaints, but the staff weren't trained to the standard of Celebrity's servers - one actually reached right across my husband to pour water as my husband was raising a fork of food to his mouth and nearly put his fork into the waiter's sleeve!
The entertainment was good, though the theater was not comfortable - you had to get there early to get a seat, and the seats were the tightest fit we've ever come across - don't know how some of the larger passengers managed to sit down - maybe they didn't. Overall a lot of the ship's design was poor, with lack of area for loungers round the 2 adult pools for instance and the previously=mentioned very tight buffet area. Also do the 2 lower balcony decks know that the Lido deck cabins - where we were - look straight down onto them?? No privacy there, so nude sunbathing not a good idea!
Plus points. More than one pool, and 2 of them were adults only, which was great because it was a Thanksgiving cruise and there were a lot of family groups onboard. International Cafe was nice with truly delicious individual quiches (best thing on the ship), but not enough seats - this was a theme throughout. I don't recall any problems on other ships of similar size but on this one it was normal to see people standing for some of the entertainment as there weren't enough places to sit. The cruise director and his staff were good and there was plenty to do, trivia, bingo etc and top marks to the band Epithani, who were fantastic.
Read another review that said they didn't get the sense of 3000 people on the ship. We did - previously mentioned lines and crowding at the buffet, and on the times we went to the gym it was packed with people waiting for treadmills - again, not a problem we've previously encountered.
Crew were OK, but hardly anyone greeted us in passing, as they do on Celebrity.
Cruise ports were OK too, no problems, private island better than some we've been to on other ships, but overall this was the first cruise where we didn't feel sad that it was over. The cruise was very average nothing special or memorable. Would we cruise with Princess again? We would probably try once more, but it would have to be on a much newer ship - perhaps the upcoming Royal Princess. But I think we're going to stick to our favorite........... Celebrity..............