This was our 5th cruise (4th with Princess, 2nd on the Caribbean Princess.) We were looking forward to visiting some ports we have not yet been to, so the Southern Caribbean itinerary to Aruba and Curacao seemed perfect. Having the Princess Cays visit as our first port was a great way to put us into a "tropical mood" quickly!
Embarkation - pretty well organized
Our flight landed at 10:30, grabbed our luggage and took a cab from the FLL airport. About $20 before tip because we were backed up in traffic entering the port (there were 8 ships in port that day). We arrived around 11:30 and were in boarding group 11. We were in our cabin at 12:15!
Cabin - great, huge partially covered balcony
We booked just a few weeks ahead of the cruise, so we took advantage of the low guarantee balcony prices and within a week we were assigned a BA balcony room, mid-ship on the Caribe Deck. This was our first Caribe deck balcony and we loved taking advantage of the half-covered extended sized balcony. We are now spoiled!
Our cabin was across from the crew laundry facility and it was surprisingly quiet. Disembarkation day was the only morning we heard some noises from crew members coming in and out of the door. Our cabin stewardess "Rona" was the best we ever had. She was extra friendly, patient and accommodating.
We had requested an egg crate mattress pad by fax weeks prior to the cruise, but the request never made it to our Cabin Steward. She was resourceful and added an extra comforter beneath the fitted sheet which helped.
The shower is notoriously tiny, with the extra friendly shower curtain. Taking advice from Cruise Critic postings, we brought plastic clips to weigh down the bottom of the curtain which helped prevent water from getting onto the bathroom floor and the dreaded "curtain cling."
Dining - good
We chose Anytime Dining and ate in the Island Dining Room most nights. The Coral Dining Room is open to Anytime Dining after the first seating, so we tried it and were very disappointed by the service. It was chaotic, with our waiter serving us without an assistant.
The food was good overall. The pizza is always excellent at the Prego Pizzeria by the pool!
Entertainment - slightly hit or miss
The musicals were as I had expected, not very special, but decent entertainment.
I did not care for the Hawley Magic show. It was repetitive and awkward. Burt Stratton (piano and singing) was not our cup of tea, so we only stayed for a little while.
The comedian was hilarious, I wish we had seen more of him.
Hosted game shows were fun to watch. I thought Assistant Cruise Director Chris did a good job of hosting the game shows, his sarcasm was actually refreshing. The Cruise Director was only seen making introductions on stage and on the Morning Wake TV show. Would've been nice to see him participate in some of the entertainment.
Casino - I played the slot machines a little bit, and did not notice a change in payouts from the beginning of the cruise to the end. In fact, I actually won a small bit of money on the last day of the cruise.
Ports - gorgeous
Princess Cays - After leaving the tender dock, we took a right (over the bridge) and staked out a couple of chairs near the volleyball court. It is much less crowded in this area! We had a bar, restrooms, and an auxiliary BBQ buffet within 30 feet of our chairs, perfect! Lots of fish to be seen snorkeling around the life guard station, we brought our goggles from home to use. We waited a bit too long to get lunch, so the burgers were quite dry, but the incredible view makes up for it! Tendering ship to shore takes some of the relaxation out of the day, but they are prepared for the wait in the sun with water and cool towels.
Curacao - We docked about a half hour before our scheduled 2pm arrival. Around 30 minutes after the first passengers disembarked, we headed down and walked off the ship. Walked across the bridge and did some shopping. Even though there was a breeze, it was very hot walking around on the pavement. Wish we remembered to bring some water with us, but there were many places selling bottled drinks along the way.
Aruba - Really is "One Happy Island!" Very safe, no harassment by vendors, all public beaches where you can have a taxi drop you off and have a beach day without having to purchase an excursion.
Disembarkation - speedy and easy
Very efficient and quick. Many crew members around to make sure you were headed where you needed to be. We used EZ check to have our luggage picked up the last night of the cruise and we wouldn't see it until we arrived at the airport baggage claim at home. Everything worked without a hitch!