CABINS: We had 3 side-by-side cabins on Caribe deck (deck 10). These Cabins were all category BA with extended balconies. Cabins were located mid-ship port side, numbers 504,506 & 510. We had the same category on our last ship and loved the extended balcony, which is why we booked them again. We also like mid-ship because you don't feel the ship moving as much. The cabins are a couple feet smaller than standard balcony cabins because of the bigger balcony. You really can't notice the difference though. On the balcony there are 4 chairs, 2 of which can be reclined and a small table. On the first day our room steward, Noel, opened the doors between our balconies. There are hooks to keep the doors open. Some other ships I've been on haven't had hooks and the doors would flop around unless you put a chair or something in front of it.
Like every cabin I've ever stayed in the shower is nice & tiny. I do like that the curtain curves around the shower instead of straight across. Gives you a couple extra inches to move around. The TV in the room is a 26 inch (I think) flat screen. There is a small refrigerator in the room, which comes stocked with a 1.5 litre bottle of water and a few cans of pop (soda for Americans). These will cost you money if you consume them, even if you do buy the pop/soda package.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS:
Main Dining Room: Our dinners were scheduled at 8:30pm in the Da Vinci Dining Room on Fiesta Deck (deck 6). We normally like the late seating but 8:30 was really late. Normally we get 8pm. The first night we got there for 8:30 and noticed a lot of tables were already filled with people who had 8 & 8:15 seatings. Service was very slow, nothing like I've ever experienced before. Nobody took our drink orders for about 20 minutes and food came out extremely slow. We were in the dining room for over 2 hours and didn't even have dessert yet at the 2 hour mark. We also normally have a waiter and an assistant/junior waiter. We never saw the assistant once at our table. Our waiter had to bring and clear the dishes and the dishes sometimes sat at the table for a long time before they were cleared. The reason for this was a combination of the galley being too busy and short staff in our dining room. There was a group of about 900 travel agents from Expedia Cruise Ship Centers on their annual conference eating in Michaelangelo's at the same time as us. With them were executives from some of the other big cruise lines. Because of this, Princess had taken some staff from our dining room and placed them in Michaelangelo. Our headwaiter (Flaveau) also told us that the dining rooms usually have staggered dining times, but this trip they were at the same time do to everyone in the conference having the late seating. We didn't blame our waiter one bit. Russell was fantastic. After talking to Flaveau we never had this problem again and our assistant waiter, Joel, was with us for the remainder of the cruise. We also went to the MDR for 8pm for the remainder of the trip.
The food in the dining room wasn't as good as it had been in the past. But, I am not a picky eater at all so for me everything tasted great, just not as good as it has been. We had a couple pickier eaters with us and they found some things they didn't like, but I'm chalking that up to pickiness.
Formal nights were Tuesday (Sea day) and Thursday (St. Thomas). Escargot and lobster were both served on the 2nd formal night.
Crown Grill: $25 per person. Caleigh was free (she didn't eat anything anyway). Crown Grill is located on the Promeade Deck (Deck 7) Starboard, aft. We always go to the MDR for dinner but this trip we decided to try the Crown Grill. We were not disappointed. I ordered a bottle of wine, Riesling Piesporter. The bottle was $27, which is the same as in the MDR. The food here was incredible, the best I've ever had on a cruise. Instead of being prepared ahead of time like the MDR everything in the CG is prepared to order. We made reservations on the first day for Wednesday's dinner. The dinner is set up the same way as in the MDR where you can order whatever you want off the menu and however much you want. For appetizers I had Seared Pacific Scallops with Smoky Bacon Crisps on a Truffled Potato Confit. I also had the Lobster Cake. Both were FANtastic. Other apps ordered around the table were the Black & Blue Onion Soup (French Onion), Shrimp & Pancetta Bisque and Black Tiger Prawns. As an in between apps & entrees Dave & I both ordered the Prince Edward Mussel Pot. This had to be the biggest pot of mussels I've ever had. As an entree I had the Rib-Eye (14 ounces). It was the best steak I can remember eating in a loooong time. For dessert we all had the The Crown Dependence, which is a sampling of the 5 desserts on the menu. Molten Dutch Chocolate Fudge Obsession (pretty much the same as the warm chocolate melting cake on Carnival), Wild Berry and Apple Cobbler, Lemon Meringue Pudding Tart, Seven Layer S'mores Stack and Caramel Cheesecake Parfait.
Overall the Crown Grill was an amazing experience. The food was more than a 10 out of 10. Our waiter Daniel was really good and pretty funny. I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
Crown Grill Menu: http://cruiseweb.com/princess-imagel...SampleMenu.pdf
Horizon Court, Lido Deck Food & International Cafe:
Horizon Court is the buffet on Lido Deck (deck 15). We went there for breakfast and lunch most days. Food is your typical buffet style food. Mass-produced food made for a couple thousand people at once. Like I said earlier I'm not a picky eater so for me everything I had was good. For breakfast you can have an omelet or other eggs made to order. If you want egg whites you can ask at the omelet station. Food mainly stayed the same on a daily basis with some exceptions. For breakfast there were eggs everyday with a separate bowl that changed each day. One day it would be eggs with cheese another day it would have ham. Your other basics of bacon, sausages, bagels, toast, oatmeal, French toast, pancakes and fruit were available on a daily basis. Lunch at Horizon Court was also your basic buffet foods. Still good though. Pastas, potatoes, different meats, sandwiches, soups, and for desert, fruits & pastries were all available at lunchtime.
Just forward of Neptune's Reef Pool is the Grill. There you can get hamburgers (cheese), hotdogs, sausages and chicken sandwiches. The Pizzeria and ice cream bar are located side-by-side on the port side of Lido deck between the two main pools. At the ice cream bar you can get chocolate, vanilla or a twist in a cone or cup. You can also get milkshakes with whipped cream. At the Pizzeria, everyday they have cheese, pepperoni and they have a specialty pizza which changes everyday.
The International Cafe is located in the Piazza on Plaza Deck (deck 5). I went there a few times and every time there was a big selection of salads, sandwiches, pastries, desserts & everyday there was a different soup option. During the day they also had a girl walking around serving milk and cookies. I thought that was a nice little touch. Everything I ate was fantastic!
Pub Lunch: The Pub Lunch was served on both Sea Days in the Wheelhouse Bar on Promenade Deck (deck 7 just forward of the Piazza) from 11:30am -- 2:30pm. We went to the lunch on the first sea day. The menu is written on a small chalkboard sitting on every table. Choices were Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Ploughman's Lunch and Steak & Kidney Pie. There is only 1 dessert and it was Bread & Butter Pudding. I had the fish & chips, which were very good. The fish is Cod. We didn't go to the second lunch so I don't know what was served then. On my last cruise they had Breaded Prawns & Chips, Chicken Curry, Scotch & Egg and a Sherry Trifle for desert. I'm thinking the menu on the second day was something similar to that.
ENTERTAINMENT: Ron Goodman was the cruise director on our ship and he was very good. Much better than Billy London who we had on our last cruise. I saw Ron out around the ship and talked to him a couple times. The "Wake Show" in the morning, which he co-hosted with deputy cruise director Elaine, was very funny. The 2 of them seem to work very well together.
It always seemed as there was something going on. The Patters were packed with activities for all ages and tastes. I only saw 1 of the 3 production shows (Welcome Aboard Show). It was just ok. I was expecting them to sing something that said welcome aboard but it was just 3 or 4 random songs with dancing. Other shows I saw were Comedians Gary Delana (night 2) and Al Katz (night 7). Both were very funny. I missed Al Katz's first show on night 6, after seeing the second one I'm sure the first show was just as funny. Magician David Cats performed 2 shows, 1 Illusions show on night 4 and an "up close & personal" slight of hand show on night 6. I saw the 2nd show, which was pretty good. He only performed 4 tricks though. Throughout most days and evenings there were different little performers in the Piazza. There were Flamenco dancers, singers and "Acts of Strength". The Ultimate Deck Party was on night 4. On night 6 I watched the International Crew Show featuring crew members signing and dancing. A couple of the singers were very good. The last act was "If I Were Not Upon the Sea". I've seen the skit performed on every cruise, but there is still something that is just so funny about it that I keep going back to see it.
EMBARKATION & DEBARKATION: Both were a breeze. Embarkation was no more than 20 minutes curb side to gangway. Debarkation was smooth as well. The line for customs was very small and we collected our luggage within minutes of clearing customs.
PRE & POST ACCOMADATIONS: For 2 night before and 1 night after the cruise we stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. We paid $164 for first 2 nights and $79 for the 1 night post cruise. Aaron & Dave both work for a big TA company so we were able to get a TA rate. Location wasn't terrible. It's about 20 minutes from the Ft. Lauderdale airport. The lobby was very nice and had 2 computers to use for printing directions, boarding passes, luggage tags or just checking your e-mail or facebook. The hotel has free wifi in guest rooms. I was a little disappointed there was no continental breakfast but that's not the end of the world. The rooms were clean and have pretty big safes. Jodi & Felecia's safe would not open one night and hotel staff had to break into it. They also complained their room smelled a little musty. Aaron & Allision's room had brown water come out of the tap once. Because of this they comped one night for each of our 3 rooms. It was very nice as I didn't have any problems with my room. The rooms do not include refrigerators but we had requested one for A&A's room because of the baby. It was a small fridge the same size as on the ship. They also brought up a crib for Caleigh. The crib looked like a small jail. It was pretty funny. Overall I didn't mind the hotel, but we most likely won't be staying there again.
Norovirus: On Friday after we returned to the ship from Grand Turk Caleigh wasn't feeling too well. She had thrown up a couple times over a few hour span. We thought it was because she may have got some salt water in her mouth. When waking up on Saturday morning Allison was feeling really sick. A little while later she called the ship's doctor. A nurse came to the room and diagnosed her with Noro. Allison had been quarantined to her room for 24 hours and in this case that was until the end of the cruise. Allison & Aaron were not allowed to put their luggage in the hallway Saturday night. They were told by guest services that someone would come to their room Sunday morning around 9:30 to assist them off the ship. Because there were 3 rooms traveling together passenger services changed the debark times of our other cabins so we can all walk off at the same time. When the 2 ladies from the port authority came to see us off the ship I asked one of them how many cases of Noro were reported. She said a total of 2 cases were reported on our sailing.
SUMMARY: We had a fantastic time! I thought going with an 11 month old wouldn't be good but she was sooo good. The ship was in great shape and all of the crew were amazing!
We put in our future cruise credit but I don't know when I'm going to go on another Princess Cruise. On the 2 Princess ships I've been on have had an average passenger age of 50 or over. I'm looking for more people my age and more fun activities along with more ship board activities. I've never been on Royal Caribbean and we are booked on the Oasis. From all I've seen and read about RCI I think I'm going to want to go on a lot of RCI cruises after we sail the big girl. I'll come back at some point because I want to check out the new Royal and/or Regal ships.
Itinerary: 7 Day Eastern Caribbean
Fri Nov 9 -- Fly from Toronto to Miami
Sat Nov 10 -- Day in Ft. Lauderdale
Sun Nov 11 -- Embark Ruby Princess
Mon Nov 12 -- Princess Cays
Tues Nov 13 -- Sea Day (Formal Night)
Weds Nov 14 -- St. Maarten
Thurs Nov 15 -- St. Thomas (Formal Night)
Fri Nov 16 -- Grand Turk
Sat Nov 17 -- Sea Day
Sun Nov 18 -- Disembark / Day in Ft. Lauderdale
Mon Nov 19 -- Fly home to Toronto