THE CRUISE: I've sailed before with RCCL and NCL and I chose Princess this time because it is marketed as being a step above, as well as more mature/adult oriented. In reality, I think RCCL and NCL cater to families with children and adults aged 21 - 50. I think Princess caters to families with children and adults aged 50+. All three of them have entertainment for children, special areas for children, and the major pools and hot tubs are dominated by children. I did not feel like Princess was any better than the other two lines, in fact I thought NCL has had the nicest ships and RCCL has had the best service and itineraries. The only thing Princess does well is food, albeit inconsistently. I may be spoiled having seen the Blue Man Group and Cirque Du Soleil on the NCL EPIC, but the entertainment on this ship was pitiful. I felt like I was watching a high school musical.
Being in our early 30's, my husband and I didn't feel like we fit in at all on this cruise, at least on the other ships, we felt like we had a place. The music played in the clubs and on deck were oldies that my 70 year old dad would have enjoyed, but nothing for anyone younger.
This cruise had three ports of call (Princess Cays, Curacao, Aruba). Due to windy conditions, we missed Princess Cays. I wasn't too upset about it, because the captain got us to Curacao early to make up for the missed port. However, this left us with 4 days at sea. The ship was crowded, everywhere you went you had to wait in a line. Out of the four days at sea, we were only able to get a deck chair on one. If you aren't willing to break the rules and be aggressive and possibly confrontational, you will not get a deck chair on this cruise. Likewise, a lot of the shows, in spite of the fact they were terrible, filled up early and if you didn't arrive to an event at least 30 minutes in advance you were often left standing or turned away.
If I wanted to stand in lines all day and listen to children scream I would have gone to Disney Land.
The ship itself was designed well, but it was also showing it's age. Our cabin was a little squeaky, and in the back of the boat we really felt a lot of vibration and movement.
Overall I would give this cruise a grade of C. I was hoping Princess was going to be the line we committed to and sailed with regularly, but I think we'll keep looking. Our next cruise will most likely be with a smaller line like Windstar.
Curacao: We went to Blue Bay Beach. It was nice, the water was a little chilly though, they had a bar, restaurant, chairs, a pool, and a dive shop for rentals. Others went to Aquarium Beach and were happy with that as well. We were in port until 10 PM so we decided to have dinner off the ship at The Wine Cellar. It was fantastic. I can't say enough good things about that restaurant. If you want to eat there, get reservations well in advance - it's very popular.
Aruba: My new favorite island. We did the Mi Dushi snorkel and sail. It was the best time I've ever had on an island. The crew were fantastic, the snorkeling was great, the ship had a fun atmosphere and the food was delicious. This excursion gets consistently good reviews. You will not be disappointed if you choose to spend your day with them!