Embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was terrible. It took almost 2 hours to board the ship. A staff member told us that embarkation was delayed by 45 minutes and there were two ships in port. I felt sorry for many of the elderly passengers who struggled to stand in the lines, especially since it was about 80 degrees out with no breeze. On other cruises, embarkment took 30 mins or less.
We had heard positive comments about our stateroom, E731, from other cruisers on Cruise Critic, which is why we selected this room. I would not recommend this room. The room was in fairly good condition, but the balcony had quite noticeable wear and tear and was not clean. The balcony was huge and it was fun to have so much space. One big negative for this room as it was noisy. On the ceiling where the vent is located, two pieces of metal clanged together literally the entire trip. It sounded like a typewriter. The engine vibration was apparent and I felt like I was being shaken much of the time I was in the room. I generally could not sleep in the bed--as soon as I would lay on my side, I would fall over to my stomach given the heavy vibration of the engines. I tried to make the best of the situation and slept on the couch where I could stabilize myself better.
The rocking on the ship outside of our room was generally not bad. There were some times in the dining room that the rocking was pretty noticeable. I wore a sea sickness patch. I still felt sea sick at times and my husband, who never gets sea sick, had to take sea sickness medicine when he felt like he was going to vomit due to the motion in the room.
While we asked for a table for two for the main dining room, we were seated at an eight person table with people who were all related. One night, we were the only ones at the table. Another night, we sat by a rather disagreeable elderly woman with offensive political views. While the waiter, Christian, and his wife (Rose) were great, I did not appreciate the bad seating arrangement. We only put up with it as we planned to eat in Curacao for my birthday, to take part in the ultimate balcony dining, and to eat at both specialty restaurants. Therefore, we only at at the main dining room on 3 evenings. The food was below average in the dining room. It was not fun to dine there given the seating arrangement and the food quality.
The food at the Italian specialty restaurant was excellent, other than the lobster. Be forewarned that this is "spiny" lobster aka warm water lobster (this is per the waiter). It is not sweet and has an odd taste. This kind of lobster is served in Mexico for about $10. I would not recommend the lobster. I had two bites. However, all of the other food was great, the dining room was nice looking, and the waiter was outstanding. Therefore, I recommend dining here.
The ultimate balcony dining was the highlight of the trip. Wonderful service, food and ambiance (except for the balcony itself being dingy looking). It was well worth the upcharge of $100.
The food at the Steakhouse speciality restaurant was fabulous. The steak was as good as the best steak houses in Chicago. I was really impressed. Service was top notch. We celebrated my husband's birthday and it was great. I note that we had surf and turf. The lobster was Maine lobster and much better than the spiny lobster in the Italian restaurant.
The entertainment on the ship was popular. We tried to go to a few shows and could not get seats.
While it was too windy, we still enjoyed watching a movie outside on the deck--I would recommend it.
There was a severe lack of seating in the dining rooms. We had to walk around, sometimes for more than 20 minutes, looking for seating (and this was only seating for 2 people). I have never experienced this on my other cruises. The ship seemed very overcroweded. Everything was a long line.
I am glad that we had a balcony. It was virtually impossible to get deck chairs. This seems to happen on most cruises I have been on because people hog the chairs all day. This was not a problem for me.
We were late in arriving in Curacao. This was handled poorly by the ship as no one knew what was going on and we were waiting a long time. It was chaotic and a real buzz kill having to wait around. Getting off the ship in Aruba was somewhat better, but there was still a wait. Terrible lines for getting on and off in Princess Cays. The wait to get a tender back to Princess Cays was 45 minutes.
Our cabin steward was excellent. The room was always tidy and he was very professional and pleasant.
By far, we had the best experiences with staff on Princess compared to any other cruise line. I am hoping Princess treats the staff well and that is why the staff seems happy.
The worst thing about our trip was disembarkation. The lines were very long. Also, the luggage was not placed together by stateroom and it was diffcult to locate given 90% of the luggage was black and our luggage was black. We could not decide whether or not to purchase transfer tickets to Fort Lauderdale airport from Princess or if we should take our own bags off the ship and take a taxi. Words of advice-take a taxi--do not use Princess' transfers for several reasons. First and foremost, Princess had us leaving the ship too late given our flight time. I was assured we would have ample time to arrive at the airport and that was not the case. Second, our bus showed up 50 minutes later than scheduled. This made it nearly impossible that we could catch our flight. Staff had no idea where the bus was. The driver putzed around loading the luggage and I had to demand that he leave the port and head to the airport. The driver then made everyone wait on the bus while he took off every piece of luggage-it was idiotic and I felt it was spiteful as he knew we were extremely late. We were the last people to get on the plane and we only made it because a SW staff member let us short cut through security. We were running to the plane in our socks while they yelled for us. So stressful!! The final reason not to take the shuttle is that it costs twice as much as a cab. Cab costs $15.
In sum, the staff on Princess Caribbean is outstanding in terms of friendliness and helpfulness. The food at the specialty restaurants and the balcony dining is excellent (except for spiny lobster). The food in the dining room is below average. The food in the buffet was average. The hamburgers were not good; the pizza was fair. Terrible beer selection-very pedestrian. No craft beers. Mixed drinks were weak, but ok tasting. Wine selection was limited and geared towards low end wines. Our stateroom and balcony were large, but noisy with heavy vibration and rocking. The balcony was in need of cosmetic repairs and needed to be cleaned. The ship overall seemed clean. However, there was a lack of soap in some bathrooms and many of the hand sanitizer dispensers were empty-I did not like this at all. I did not see as much cleaning going on by staff as I've seen on other ships. Embarkation and Disembarkation were slow. Transfers to the airport were horrible and are to be avoided at all costs.