So our cruise started out wonderfully, we arrived the day before the cruise left in Fort Lauderdale, stayed at the Courtyard Inn by Marriott off of Griffin drive, They also provide a shuttle service in the evening which take you to local area restaurants and shopping. We ended up at Bass Pro Shop, for dinner and the Islamorada. Was spectacular so we had a great dinner and afterward we went to Kmart for a package of water and some forgotten stuff ( I left my shaving kit and flip flops at home).
Next Morning, we got up, arraigned for our shuttle to the Cruise Port, which the hotel now charges, the shuttle to and from the Cruise Port. It was a $8 per person charge each way which is new now, but I guess that's how it goes. I don't mind, cheaper than renting a car. We headed off to Pier 21, which is way in the back of the port, never been there before.
Since we are now Platinum members, we got to board really quickly and the boarding went fast so no problems there. More
Now once on board, we checked out our room, we got upgraded to a Mini-Suite, D627. Great size room, with a large bathroom but I told my wife not to get used to this, it's nice but I wouldn't pay extra for the sofa. The balcony was great too, it had a painted surface, but no problems as others have mentioned. Yeah, there is a little water on it in the morning, but hey, your at sea, what do you expect.
We explored the ship, had a little light lunch and went to the CC meet up, Heido Ho was there and her lovely daughter. Others were there too, but I can't remember the names but everyone was way cool! We all had a good time.
Since we are first time Platinum members, we got to go to the happy hour (don't know what to call it) they had most nights. It was good, Â½ priced drinks of the day, and some appetizers, not bad. Each night was different. We took advantage of this by having a little appetizer and drink, heading off to show and then dinner. Made evenings really easy and we got to see the shows.
The shows were good, the comedian Carlos Oscar was good and he was funny, the Princess Show "British invasion" was outstanding. Really good cast and show. In San Juan a Flamenco guitarist named Juan Carlos came on with dancers, it was great and the dancers were wonderful. Highly recommend. They also had Motor City and the Band Steel and Latin Connection were great too! A ventriloquist/comedian Micheal Ziegfield was great and singer Bobby Brooks Wilson, son of late Jackie Willson was also on board. I also recorded the "if I were not upon the sea" show, and I'll include a link to this too. All the entertainment was great and cruise director and his staff did a good job keeping people entertained. The Princess Pop star was good
I will say this, the one5 night club was dead each night. We went to see if anyone was there and nada. Only a few diehards but that's it. Last Cruise, omg, the nightclub didn't close till like 0300 one night after the formal night. Rocking solid, don't know if the crowd on this cruise was a early to bed group.
We did each morning in the International Cafe, which is my new hangout for breakfast. Coffee was great there and the coffee card is well worth it. My wife and I would enjoy cappuccino and pastry for breakfast before heading out to the the gym or zumba class. The IC is now open 24 hours a day, and even on disembarkation, the pastry was complimentary, coffee wasn't but I expected that.
Dinners were great, each night was very good, we got into each dining room without much wait. Each dinner and lunch was great, although I know I'm not there for gourmet food, the level was exceptional and very diverse. The only thing I got that was not to my liking was a corn and potato chowder that was served chilled, which thew me off. I like hot chowders but that my just be me. Usually there is a German/Bavarian night in the Horizon Court, which they had, but it was not a great as it normally. They usually have German Beers, and other things sort of a big productin, but not anymore. The food was great, all the German fair but would have liked to seen the whole thing.
San Juan was fun but short, although we didn't do a Princess Ship tour, we charted one locally on the street for $10, tour of old and new San Juan which stopped at Fort. I wish I would have rehearsed it better, the forts are National Parks, which close at 600pm. About the time we got there due to traffic and stuff. If I had know that I would have just walked to it, it was about 3/4 mile from port. Easy walk for most, although uphill. The market had everything, and there is a Starbucks there offering, FREE WIFI! Email and uploads easy, plus Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, which my Sprint phone worked fine along with At&T phone. There were 3 cruise ships in port that day.
St. Maarteen was great, once again we just hoped off the boat, and went to the taxi stand to get a taxi to Maho Beach to watch the planes, if you ever have a chance to do that, I strongly recommend. FUN and exciting day at the beach. It was crowded and the sights were lovely, however expect a few "thong" bikini's so brace yourself. The planes land quick an low. I will post link to video with this review. Awesome! This was the only downside, 5 cruise ships in port this day, and it was crowded.
St. Thomas was good, we did the ships Dolphin Discovery in BVI, which was good, but the guide was real bossy, rude and didn't explain everything. Once we were all gathered, her partner explained everything, but he stayed in St. Thomas, and she came with us, not good. Once we got to BVI, we had to go through customs, and get on buss for 5 minute ride to Dolphin Discovery. It was fun, basic interactions with animals, we got to hug, kiss, belly ride and take pictures with the dolphins. Its a big business, they sold pictures, the best deal was buy all the images and put on CD- rom for $100 dollars. Only downside of this, on the way back they ferry broke down about a mile from St. Thomas. They had to call the ship and tell them we were gonna be late. Thank goodness we were on a Ship organized tour, cause we were late getting back to ship by about 15 minutes. But They waited. Once again, 5 cruise ships in port which made the dock really crowded.
Princess Cays, was princess Cays. Started off overcast, which kept people from going, so tenders were hardly full. But once we got off the boat and on the beach, sun came out and it was fabulous. BBQ was good, and overall fun fun fun! Guess what, only one ship in this port, hahaha!
Our room steward, JoJo, was excellent, although he missed turning down our room one night, but he came by the next morning and apologized, and brought my wife a few extra chocolates. I think they are way too overworked and I believe they have more rooms than normal. Also the guy a few rooms down was being a real jerk, he was complaining the entire time which kinda bothered me. We just ignored him since we were there to enjoy ourselves. Jojo did a good job and was a professional throughout the ordeal.
The Grand is looking good, she has a few rough spots, saw a few spots here and there that could use a bit of paint or polish, but who among us couldn't. We felt safe and comfortable on her and it was interesting to see that class of ship without Skywalkers nightclub. The one5 is the new nightclub and it was nice, well designed but way underused.
Overall, the trip was a blast, not perfect but Princess did a great job. We will be back on another Princess Cruise, hopefully soon.