This was our 6th Princess cruise, first as a Platinum member...Overall, it was a very nice cruise, however, I expected better service from our steward and waiter/asst. waiter and was disappointed.
We always fly in the day before and will continue to do so. Got to Port Everglades by hotel shuttle, which by law requires that you stay on bus until luggage is unloaded. No issue here...They direct you to work with one or two people, as I assume this is how they divvy up...We always tip the guys/gals anyway...
Embarkation - Nothing to it if you are Platinum. Walk right past the LONG line into preferred check-in. Staff there to direct you to the area. We walked in and boarded the boat in about 10-15 minutes tops, and this was about 12 or 12:15. If you are Gold or on your first cruise, you are waiting in line, then herded to a waiting area where they call you section by section. We have done it in the past and the process does not hurt very much, but not waiting this time was a bonus.
Made our way to our cabin where we dropped our carry things and went to lunch on the Lido deck. Our steward was no where in sight yet. The usual lunch fare presented - however we noticed small subtle differences from last year's cruise; i.e. only one type of a mixed green salad, rather than caeser salad and regular, no parmesan cheese for the the salad, only shredded swiss, cheddar gone too...this remained throughout the trip, a few more starches. These are minor inconveniences that tell me the cruise lines are trying to keep the price down but making changes.
We had a balcony room (C632 - Caribe deck 10) in a perfect location for both lido deck and dining room - we had the 6:00 dinner in Bottecelli. Bonus - extra large balcony!!! I would definitely take the same cabin if offered, though we usually opt for letting them assign us (about $50 cheaper per person).
We found generally that the cabin steward (Deo) was not around much. The rooms only came with two bath towels. The one time I requested additional towels, I was told that he would replace them when he cleaned the room at night which was not acceptable since my husband was in the shower! He wasn't too happy bringing them. Also, we asked for wine glasses as we had brought wine before boarding and later in the cruise when we requested additional glasses, since we had brought our two to dinner one night, we were "reprimanded"...this is the first time in 11 cruises that I did not tip extra to my steward (Our standard fee of 11.50 per person per day for all help was charged to our room). We really felt he did nothing to warrant anything extra. I don't know if it was because he was assigned additional rooms or this was just how he worked.
The dining room. Unfortunately, same story with the waiter and assistant waiter. They appeared to be serving three tables, 2 tables of 8 and one of 4. Frankly, their teamwork seemed off. It appeared that the assistant was the one to go get all the food and the waiter just hung around upstairs. We ordered a bottle of wine; now normally, if you order a bottle of wine, they are ready for you when you return the second night with your wine ready to pour...not us. We had to ask for them to bring our bottle. Next, if we asked for something special, we were first told it was not on the menu. I had to ask if he would inquire with the kitchen. I was not requesting difficult things...berries for dessert as an example. Also, we were not addressed by name, which is highly unusual... HOWEVER...I would not have complained to the head waiter since I have read about how difficult their lives become if they have complaints lodged against them. One of the women at our table however was celebrating her 60th birthday and was not happy with the timing of when they sang her birthday song (it was late and the room was about empty except for our table). She complained and they did work harder from the third day on. Once again though, they did nothing to warrant the extra tip, which I felt was pretty sad.
If you cruised Princess last year, you will be happy to know that they did away with that AWFUL nature dvd played on the jumbotron. They listened to complaints and replaced it with concerts and movies. Re Movies under the Stars...last year on the Emerald, we really enjoyed this, however this year, their choice of movies being very old and played out movies did not entice us to go up at night. I really missed this. If you are reading this Princess, bring back first rate up to date movies!!!
One thing I really loved and did not know about beforehand was the Skywalker's Lounge on Deck 18 during the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. It is open to Elite and Platinum cruisers only where they serve hor d'oerves and have $3.99 drink specials. WE LOVED THIS and went every night it was offered. It was not offered one night and we really missed it. Now, due to this perk, we are going to move our dinner to the late dinner time of 8 and spend more time there (we would go around 5:30, then leave for the 6 p.m. dinner. By the way, for us, this took the place of visiting the vines bar, ordering wine and having sushi. I did not miss Vines at all.
Spa - They had a special the first day for $129 where you got 75 minutes, a full body massage, mini facial and scalp massage - do this if you can, it is wonderful and not overly expensive. In fact, I borrowed a robe from them for the balance of the cruise since I am overweight and do not fit in the regulars robes offered in the cabin. If you do this, just be sure to return it to the spa so you are not charged for the robe.
Weather was lovely so the ports of call were enjoyable -
Princess Cays - we always rent a clamshell and aqua chairs. We did not eat here however, we went back on the boat -
St. Thomas - Normally, we go to Coki Beach via taxi, however, this time we went to the Marriott and enjoyed their beach (and you can order lunch)
St. Martin - We always go to Orient Beach via taxi and enjoy lunch at Andy and Cheryl's Baywatch - fabulous fish and a pleasure to be at.
Grand Turk - Marguaritaville (clorine pool by the way)and trolley tour. This was our first trolley tour, it was an interesting hour and a half. We do not care for the beach here.
Played Bingo twice on the last day only. Shows - We only went to the comedy shows in the evening and very much enjoyed them. Note to Princess - we prefer the ones in the Explorers lounge.
Debarkation - we loved the Platinum, Elite and Suite Passenger lounge (Club Fusion - Deck 7 aft) which actually had places to sit, not as in the past in other lounges. Note: we had to change our schedule time of departure which was handled speedily and with a smile...
As I stated first, all in all a lovely cruise, but we would think the service could have been better. Also, you can see small changes as the cruise lines are trying to keep lower prices...not enough to make me not cruise however!