Our family chose a Southern Caribbean cruise for February, 2013, with the Princess Cruise line. Our ship was the Caribbean Princess. A week with family was fabulous, and we had so many lovely hours of visiting and laughing. Our visit with them could not have been better.
Embarkation was smooth and without issue. We were greeted by our cabin steward with a smile and enthusiasm. Not once during our week-long cruise was there an issue with our cabin, our steward, or cleanliness. The cabin was beautiful, clean, and kept refreshed by our steward. This was our 4th cruise, but the first one with Princess, and our steward was one of the best.
Dining at the Palm dining room was good. Our two waiters were nothing less than terrific. They both catered to our every wish, explained the dishes, and were tirelessly accommodating. Again, just like our cabin steward, our wait staff in the dining room was wonderful. Sometimes it seemed as if the food was not easily forthcoming from the kitchen, and they were going back and forth to find out where our dishes were, but their kindness and attention made up for any delays.
The food cafeteria for breakfast and lunch was very, very good, with a lot of variety. All hot foods were kept at the proper temperature. Their desserts were alright, but not anything that 'wowed' us. However, we found that their meats, vegetables, and other things were so tasty that we rarely had room for desserts anyway.
The ship is an older ship, and we could find some places in which the wear and tear were showing. This is not an issue of cleanliness, however. Cleanliness is paramount to me, and I was glad to say nearly everything was sparkling clean. The only things that were not kept clean were the public restrooms. Some of those restrooms looked as if they had not been cleaned in a few days. We made every attempt not to use those restrooms, and go to our cabin each time instead.
Although there were two nights at the casino that were non-smoking, the casino was so smoke-filled that it was difficult even to walk through it on our way to another part of the ship. The odds at all of the slot machines and video poker machines were hideously slanted towards Princess.. and I would be surprised if anyone won much at all.
In Aruba, we used Sonny Binns as a travel guide, and I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Binns. We were picked up right on time and boarded his clean, cool, and spacious bus for a wonderful 3 - 4 hours of touring Aruba. Mr. Binns allowed us plenty of time to get out and see the sights. He had a good sense of humor and a wonderful way of giving us information about Aruba.
In Curacao, we took the Princess excursion island tour with a visit to the plantation. Unfortunately, the bus we boarded had an odor of urine in it.. and we felt as if some of the seats had been soiled with urine and not cleaned properly. This made for an uncomfortable afternoon, as you can imagine. Our tour guide, Clarina, was fabulous. She had a pleasant personality, answered any of our questions, and was obviouslyroud of her island.
You can certainlyyy tell that the Caribbean Princess is managed well. Everyone we met who worked on the ship was pleasant and kind. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about their choice of entertainment.
The guest comedian was Sarge, and he was funny and delightful. That was the only entertainment show we enjoyed thoroughly. One night of entertainment was by "The Unexpected Boys" who performed many songs of Franki Valley and the Four Seasons. The main vocalist in this group, Josh, had a good voice, but had trouble hitting the higher notes and was often flat. The other vocalists in the group were reasonably good singers, but in most of the songs, they were not able to harmonize well.. and it was an uncomfortable hour of entertainment for us. "The Unexpected Boys" were a disappointment.
Then there was Bert Stratton, a pianist who was touted as having the humor of Victor Borge with a touch of Jim Carrey. Honestly, his show was so horrible that we left after 30 minutes. We kept feeling that it would get better, but were disappointed when his humor ranged from the insidiously ridiculous, to somewhat insulting when he kept asking the audience to repeat the words that he was saying.. in a "Jim Carreyesque" style. He could probably be a very good pianist that would interject some humor. Instead, he was a wanna-be comedian who spent time playing a piano.
The singers and dancers on the Caribbean Princess were less-than professional or just not terribly practiced. Their singing was at eardrum breaking level, and they were often out of step with each other.
This only leads me to state that Princess Cruise lines should look for more qualified entertainment.
Princess tries hard to give everyone an enjoyable experience, and, for the most part, they were successful...but I think that our next cruise will be on Celebrity again. We would gladly go with our family again.. wonderful people.. but probably not on this ship again.