This was our first Princess cruise. We are 50 years old, and we enjoy cruising to relax in the warm climate in the middle of winter.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before we sailed. Coming from the northeast, you never know about the weather and how travel will go. We booked the Gallery One by Doubletree through Hotwire. The taxi from the airport to the hotel was $30 plus tip. It is about 2 blocks to the beach, so we enjoyed a stroll on the beach. We picked up a few items from Publix and used Starbucks' free wifi, both across the street from the hotel.
It was raining hard in the morning, so we decided to leave for the port around 1:00, instead of our usual early arrival at port. It took about 15 minutes to hail a taxi, and then another 30 minutes to get to the port, so we arrived at 1:45. There was a long line to check in, winding around the building. We were in our room by 2:15. We had our first balcony. Nice. We were on the Caribe deck, all the way forward, a great location, assigned by a stateroom guarantee booking.
Muster drill was a 3:15 in the Princess Theater. We really liked the muster location, having stood in lines, wearing a life jacket, outside on the deck in previous Carnival drills. Sail away was at 4:15, which we enjoyed from the Skywalkers Lounge in the aft.
We chose Anytime Dining, which really worked well for us. We appreciated the flexibility of going to dinner whenever we wished. We had to wait 15-20 minutes a couple of times, but we were given a pager and waited in the Piazza until we were paged. We always chose to sit at large tables with other couples. We met interesting people from all over, with a variety of lifestyles and life stories. The quality of the food was mostly mediocre, with one or two stand-outs.
After dinner each night, we enjoyed wandering from lounge to lounge to listen to bands, participate in trivia games, and people-watch. We found the comedian to be very funny. We watched a football game and a movie on the Movies Under the Stars.
I found the bed to be extremely hard and uncomfortable. The pillows and bedding were not impressive, either.
Several mornings, we enjoyed room service breakfast on the balcony. We did try the buffet one or two mornings and found the food to be good for buffet food. We really disliked the coffee. We did not spend the extra money for a coffee card, so that may have tasted better. I switched to tea for the week.
We spent sea days at the Spa Pool, just below the Sanctuary. We found the area to be calm, quiet, child-free, with comfortable loungers. Lunch was from the buffet or pizza. That is absolutely the best pizza on the seas! I also participated in a wine tasting--for $9.50, we tasted 5 wines and received a souvenir glass. I enjoyed learning about the wines.
On disembarkation day, we woke at 6:30 and went to breakfast in the dining room. We finished packing and were out of the room by 8:30. We were instructed to be in one of the dining rooms by 10:00. We were called to leave at 10:15 and easily walked through customs and off the ship. Very organized.
All in all, it was a wonderful week.
We really enjoyed our trip, and we will sail on Princess again.