Embarked from Ft. Lauderdale 11/24/12. Arrived the day before, rode the water taxi, enjoyed dinner at 15th Street Fisheries, stayed at Renaissance Marriott by the port. All good. Arrived at ship on Saturday about 12:30, lines were daunting, but moved quickly, we were aboard in 45 minutes.
Princess Cay stop reminds you of the Caribbean by Disney. Very nice facilities, paved sidewalks. We just camped out under a shade pavilion and read. We had lunch at a cafe; burgers and hotdogs, and it was very good, better than the typical buffet fare. It was an enjoyable few hours. Our friends rented the clam shell tents, but we made do with the little huts scattered around the beach.
Ship had engine problems, couldn't maintain speed, and so we arrived late to Curacao. This delay, plus high winds, forced the cancellation of our sunset cruise excursion. We took a cab over to Old Town, set up base at an umbrella bar on the water named Vienna ice Cafe. Pleasant. Watched the swinging pontoon bridge open and close. We didn't get much of a taste for Curacao, but it was a nice stop.
We booked a tour in Aruba with Sonny Binns. Very nice. Clean, comfortable van. Didn't realize Aruba was so developed. It has numerous high-rent hotels and resorts. Sonny was very knowledgeable about Aruba. He got a good laugh when he referred to the open-air jeep tours as the "shake and bake" tours. We enjoyed lunch at Iguana Joe's.
Days at sea were especially nice. It was our 11th cruise, but these days seemed better. We camped out on a balcony overlooking pool that overlooked rear of ship. Quieter, both sun and shade available. A waiter around the pool named Allan was a big hit with the wives; he kept the margaritas coming!
We booked an interior cabin on deck 14. Comfortable, good storage. No complaints.
Shows were not as elaborate as some, but quite entertaining. But one did feature a vintage, rotating pink Cadillac! We later learned that was a $100k prop. We had 8:15 traditional seating, and they offered a 7:00 show option on all but one night. Sun, big meal, wine at dinner makes the late shows challenging for us. Enjoyed the singers, dances, illusionist, and comedian.
We thought the Horizon Court Buffet food was better than any we had experienced on a cruise before. Palms Dining Room fare was good, not spectacular, not the best we've encountered, but certainly enjoyable and adequate.
Service was top notch. Dining room waiter, Criselle, was rather new, but very pleasant and accommodating. Room steward, Jeff, was just what you want; great service, never seen.
On Friday we took a backstage tour of the theatre. Most interesting, a great deal of technology. Visited the casino a few times. Good dealers. Smoke free night there was nice.
I had two incidents where I thought Princess offered extraordinary service. First, I failed to log off properly from my ship internet account the first few days, and so I wasted quite a few minutes. Entirely my fault. The manager of the internet cafe checked my account, confirmed the problem, and credited my account with some minutes. It was much appreciated. Second, one of our suitcases was damaged the first day -- the retractable handle was stuck in the extended position. The damage occurred at the hotel before we arrived at embarkation. The customer care desk took the bag, kept it for several days, and returned it repaired! No charge. Apparently they have a good handyman tucked away somewhere onboard. Again, extraordinary service.
Upon our return, we had a later flight, so we didn't hurry off the ship. Enjoyed breakfast in the dining room. Our assigned group left about 10:45. Again, the immigration lines left you feeling you'd be there all day, but they moved quickly. We were in line for a taxi to the airport in about 40 minutes. The security line at the airport was TERRIBLE -- lined up past the horizontal escalators, but again, it moved quickly and we got through in about 45 minutes.
This was a great cruise with great friends. We enjoyed the two ports we'd never visited before, and especially enjoyed the 3 sea days. Princess offers the same itinerary next November, and we may go again!