About Us My husband and I are both a young 60 years old. This is our 6th Princess cruise and our first at the Platinum level. We have also enjoyed several RCI cruises, however we like the perks of the Princess loyalty program better. We chose this cruise because Curacao and Aruba were ports we wanted to visit, and we also wanted plenty of time to rest and relax after a rather hectic and stressful last few months.
We had an uneventful flight to Fort Lauderdale a day before the cruise and enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt Place 17th Street. Great location near the Harbour Shops, great place for restaurants and stocking up on wine/water before the cruise. As we read on CC, Total Wine has an awesome wine selection at very good prices. Had a casual dinner at Gilbert's 17th Street Grill where we stuffed ourselves on outstanding burgers and fries. This place definitely deserves its #2 ranking on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, not only for its food but also for its good friendly service. In the morning we took the 10am shuttle to the port, which is very close to the hotel.
Very easy and smooth which is saying a lot as there were 4 other big ships also sailing out that afternoon. Arrived at the port at 10:20 am. We were curious as to how our platinum status would benefit us. Our boarding passes were marked priority boarding and when we showed them to the Princess authorities, they ushered us to the front of the line, no special door or anything like that. We basically walked right up to the check in windows and had our cruise card within minutes. Then we were sent to a "special" holding area with fairly comfortable chairs for what turned out to be about a 1 Â½ hour wait. At about 12, we were finally allowed to board. There was another "special" waiting room for elites and suites guests and they did get to board before us, but we were still in the first few hundred people on the ship. As soon as we got on the ship, we made reservations for our Crown Grill meal later in the week and headed to the dining room for lunch.
We had a forward balcony cabin on the Riviera deck. We had purchased a category bf guarantee and received a category bc assignment several months before the cruise. This location was ok but we prefer the Caribe deck. Shower seemed especially small....but maybe I just don't remember how small this space actually is. Bed was hard but fine for us, had to get a better pillow from our room steward. Deck was small with 2 chairs and a very small table. We still used the deck a lot and enjoyed every minute we spent there, watching sailin and sailaway at the ports and enjoying a glass of wine before dinner. Our room steward was Pietor from Poland. We told him what we wanted on the first day, actually made a list, and all was done perfectly. We saw very little of him, but we never had to ask for a single thing, it was always just as we wanted it. So he was great and we did tip him extra!
After reading all the recent reviews about the food, I was worried that we would be disappointed, but that was not the case. The biggest change we noticed is that there are not as many choices for entrees and desserts in the dining room and serving sizes were a little smaller. Otherwise, we felt the quality was exactly the same as we experienced 2 years ago on the Ruby Princess and we still had more than enough to eat. We had anytime dining and never waited once for a table. Four nights we elected to get a table for two, and two nights we shared with others, one night we opted for the Crown Grill (make reservations early). No problem ever getting the table for two, although one time we were sent to another dining room so we would not have to wait. Service was good, sometimes very good, but I missed not having the same waiters every night. Because we booked the cruise rather late, we were unable to get the early fixed dining. Our food ratings:
Island/Coral dining room (always found something we liked) B+
Horizon Court (ate several breakfasts and one lunch here) B-
Trident Grill and Prego Pizza (love the pizza) B
International Cafe (our favorite lunch spot) A
Crown Grill (steak and service was outstanding, lobster ok) A
Afternoon Tea (a great experience) A
Room service (used at breakfast, limited choices, great service) B
Entertainment on Board
Overall we felt it was good. We did not attend every show, but enjoyed the ones we did see. As others have said, the singing in the production shows is not the best, but we certainly thought it was ok. Shows were short, 30-35 minutes and most nights the main show is repeated three times now. Princess theatre was always crowded for the middle show.
Our entertainment ratings:
Production Show "Do you want to dance" B-
Almost Elton John C
Hawley Magic A-
Production Show "Born to be Wild" (new show, innovative) A-
Tyler Thirdgill, comedian, best show all week A
We also enjoyed the Caribbean Princess Orchestra, and musical groups Epithani and Solutions. We tried to like Bert Stratton, pianist, and he has a big following on Princess ships. There were at least a dozen couples who booked this cruise just because he was on it. He was usually in the Crooner's Bar and there was never enough room for his fans to see him. He is a great pianist and good singer, and we liked the crowd participation numbers. But we grew tired quickly of his Jim Carrey like facial expressions and boring chatter. We wanted to say "Just play and sing!" Sorry, we just don't get his shtick.
Also did MUTS one night, saw Prime Rush, popcorn and chocolate cookies were nice touch. Sound system not very good. Lincoln and Argo were both shown in the Princess theatre, but we had already seen both of them. Many 1-2 year old movies shown in the staterooms throughout the day and night.
-Loved Zumba class on the pool deck
-My husband enjoyed a talk by an officer who spoke on ship navigation.
-Detox for Health and weight talk in the spa was interesting til the end when it became a sales pitch for algae products.
-Best place to relax/read/nap on the ship is Skywalkers. LOVE it!
-Loved the Promenade deck for early morning walks.
-We like Vines, good wine, great service and great place to experience the activities going on in the piazza.
-The platinum/elite cocktail party with the captain was fun, free drinks and Captain Kent was so personable and funny. He is leaving this ship soon for leave and then Australia cruising next.
-Love getting 150 free minutes of internet time as a platinum benefit. Internet was slow, but this was more than enough minutes for us to keep in contact with home.
-Hot tubs were disappointing, we did not find one that actually worked. They were warm, but no bubbly.
-Ship is in good shape and they are working on it constantly.
-Whole crew is very friendly and service was really excellent.
-Met and truly enjoyed our fellow passengers from US and around the world.
-Enjoyed meeting fellow CC members at the meet and greet. Linda did a good job organizing the event. A little disappointed that no Princess officers attended, as we have enjoyed talking with them at these events in the past.
-Princess offers a lot of game show type entertainment, karaoke, Princess pop star contest. We are not big on these types of activities, but we did try a bit of it. It was okay/entertaining and people seemed very happy with the cruise director, Neil Roberts, and his staff. All of our exposure to them was positive.
-Balloon drop party on the last formal night was fun, lots of music and dancing.
-Hate that formal night is getting less formal all the time.
-Great weather...80s every day til we go back to Lauderdale. I miss the sunshine. Hurry up spring!
We did the walk off with luggage option as we had an early fight. Easiest disembarkation we have ever experienced and we were off the ship and in a cab on the way to the airport by 7:45.
Aruba -- we rented 3 wheeled motorcycle liked vehicles from Trikes-Aruba and did a 3 hour tour of the island. It was AWESOME! My husband loved driving and I loved riding and sight seeing. What a way to experience Aruba's coast, historic sights and towns! There are only 3 trikes for rent and the tour leader drives a jeep. Best tour we have ever done in the Caribbean. Strongly recommended-reserve early.
Can't believe how I have gone on and on. Guess I am reliving the many pleasant moments of the cruise. It was everything we were looking for. We love cruising and we like Princess. It's not perfect, but we did feel like we "escaped completely." We bought a future cruise credit....so I know we're going again. Woo Hoo!!