We have cruised for the 3rd time now. Once with Holland America on the Oosterdam, the second time with Carnival on the Valor and now with the Caribbean Princess. I must say that Holland America set the level very high. With Carnival we had lower expectations but where still positively surprised. Now with Princess we knew what to expect - something between Holland America and Carnival - but we think that both Carnival and Holland America were a tad better in most areas. The Valor had more for families to offer, i.e. mini golf. The Caribbean Princess had only a putting green. The Valor had a running track, the Caribbean Princess not. We experienced more lines than on the other ships. It seemed that the number of passengers didn't match the capacity of the ship. The Horizon Grill was very narrow. It was difficult to turn around without bumping into other passengers. We never experienced that on the two other ships. The gym was always packed in the mornings and difficult to get a machine to work out. The biggest indicator of the mismatch between number of passengers and the ship capacity is that they offer three shows every night. On the other two ships two shows gave every passenger an opportunity to see the show. The good thing here is that the shows are shorter. Around 45 minutes or so.
State Room -- Princess offered a better layout than on the two other ships. They pulled down a bunk bed from the ceiling for our son. This did not make the room smaller. Very smart concept. On the Oosterdam, they brought a portable bed into the state room every night, which made it impossible to put a foot down on the carpet.
The ship is in a good shape. Fully met our expectations. Some wear and tear but that's what we expected. But it is always clean and they are constantly cleaning it. They also did some paintwork here and there which my wife didn't like. The paint smell was unfortunately pretty strong sometimes.
The staff is very friendly as we expected, however we believe that the staff on the two other ships we sailed was a little better. Example: I brought a bottle of wine into the stateroom of the Oosterdam and without asking the Steward brought two red wine glasses. That is perfect service. This didn't happen on Carnival and neither on Princess. The Stewards on HA and Carnival folded every night little towel animals, which the kids enjoy. They also nicely arranged the stuffed animals from our son. On the Princess Caribbean they were just on a pile on the bed. No big deal, but those small things make a difference. One day our room was not made. No big problem, can happen, we asked them to do that later and they did, but this didn't happen on the two other ships.
Pools -- the Caribbean Princess has four pools. Two for adults only and two for all passengers including kids. Fresh water, which is nice. The family pools were very crowded on the sea days.
Food -- we always liked the meals. We didn't find anything bad. Service was as always excellent.
Kids club -- good program and this time our son actually stayed a few times there.
Sales pitches -- now here they can be a little hard on you. A simple "No thank you, I am not interested" does not suffice. They wanted to sell me a ticket to a wine tasting event for $25 and I had to say "No" five times in various forms until the waiter gave up. His attitude seemed to change. It seems that they get commissioned for every extra sale. They also tried to sell their 'coffee card' in the first days a little too much for our taste.
My wife went to a free seminar for "the 15minute facelift". At the end of the presentation the Doctor who held the seminar was a little to forceful signing people up for a free consultation. My wife signed up and she was able to see the Doctor immediately. The Doctor gave her a mirror to hold and examined her face. The end result was the Doctor could really do a lot of work to improve her appearance. When my wife asked the price the Doctor said $2,000. The Doctor then asked if she were interested and my wife replied not for $2,000. The Doctor asked how much was she willing to spend? Seemed to be a haggling situation, which she was not prepared for. The Dr. then said she could do some injections around the eyes for $300.00 my wife replied 'no thanks'. The doctor became very quiet and my wife then left. Just a very uncomfortable situation. The pressure to buy additional things was a little too forceful in our opinion. We spent a lot of money for the cruise and don't want to be nickel and dimed for other things.
However overall it was a great trip that we enjoyed a lot. Our expectations were probably a little too high for Princess. We would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.