Spring Break Southern Caribbean on the Caribbean Princess
We booked this cruise about 10 days prior to sailing and chose it because of the itinerary -- we hadn't cruised to Curacao or Aruba previously. The reviews I read from the recent few months were decent, but quite a few comments about the condition of the ship. This was the 3rd cruise we've done on Princess, 9th cruise overall. I was pleased w/ the condition of the ship, the service and overall didn't have any issues other than trying to find the best waitstaff as soon as possible. We were fortunate to have an excellent room steward; the best one we've ever had (Alfred from the Philippines was a joy -- genuine and always smiling; did a great job & was patient in doing our room later in the morning due to the sleeping teenager).
I had read that getting off the ship had been taking up to two hours, but this was the quickest we ever got off and the ship was full. We were in the group that was due to meet at 10:05am but they were ahead of schedule and it was 20 min. earlier. More
They made announcements so groups knew about the change.
Bert Statton was a pianist/singer/entertainer and was a blast. I watched most of his set every night and both of his full shows in the lounges. He is a nut and brought humor, had the crowd participate and sing a little. From kids to seniors, it was great to see so many people having fun together. A++++ for Bert. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
The two buildings w/ the shops by the ships were cool, convenient & had good variety. You can buy wine, liquor and cigars which is good if you want to bring a drink w/ you to the beach. We took the bus to the beach; it was around $2.60 each, but have exact change or at least small bills. We went to Palm Beach which was recommended. Eagle Beach looked nice too, but Palm Beach is where the sting of hotels are so there are water sports and activities to pay for and bars, stores. We went in next to Riu (w/ Radisson on the other side) where you can rent chairs, umbrellas and more. We rented chairs & an umbrella as it was too hot to sit in the sun for long. $10 p/chair & $15 for the umbrella for the day. Walked around looking at the hotels and their layout/pools, etc. 50 cents to use the restroom at the beach, but it was clean.
Headed back downtown and went to Iguana Joes to eat/drink and overlook downtown and the ship. The view is great if you can get a table so you can see down the street level. Went to another bar right on the water facing the ship and it was painted like a cow. Great view w/ a breeze & you are right where you can walk back to the ship.
The color of the water in Aruba was beautiful.
We walked through the fort area and then to the area on both sides of the pontoon bridge. The fort area and luxury shops by the casino were nice and cleaner than other areas. Inside the fort area a number of shops, bars and an area to climb steep steps to get a nice view. Once through this area heading toward the bridge wasn't as clean. The bridge wasn't across at the time so we had to take the free ferry over. They overpacked it to get people across which was a little stressful. It's just a short ride across, but they were way over the limit. Wait for the bridge if the ferry is packed. We were able to walk back via the bridge and that was much better. The area across the bridge isn't great. A lot of stores, not that clean and nothing exciting or worth seeing. We needed a drug store and finally found one, but it was hard to get reliable directions from locals. We stopped by the McDonalds which was packed and took a while, but everyone seemed to be there. We took a cab to the Mambo (not sure if this is spelled right) Beach and that was great. Went over the tall bridge on the way which was a great view. It was later in the afternoon so it wasn't as hot and there are plenty of chairs that you don't need to rent. Swimming area w/ breakwall so the water isn't rough. Drinks available for purchase at a few of the bars on the beach. This made the port a better experience. Once the sun set (great view of that) we headed back and went to happy hour at the place right next to the pontoon bridge. Nicer view of the area at night, including the ship. Some of the stores in the fort area were still open as we walked back to the ship.
Great variety of activities, but need to book in advance if the ship is full. Make sure to read the Special Notes for things such as windsurfing and the Hobie sailboat -- experience is needed. We tried the Hobie sailboat even though we hadn't done it in years and it wasn't easy. We enjoyed it and the jet ski guy who watches over the water sports guests was helpful but he didn't need to be -- instruction isn't part of the deal. We took longer than expected on the Hobie and went to the island BBQ lunch afterward, but it was 1:03pm and they just closed it since it was supposed to end at 1pm. No big deal -- there is food on the ship, but we had forgotten about the time the BBQ lunch ended.
Enjoyed relaxing in the chairs in view of the ship, walking along the beach and going to the market behind the activity area (bring cash for this -- it isn't big and doesn't take long to get through since many sell the same things). George does wood carvings and makes jewelry. I bought a necklace from him 4 yrs ago and this time a carved pipe. Neat unique things & he's proud of his creations).