his review encompasses a three week (back to back to back) cruise on the Caribbean Princess Oct. 5 to Oct. 26, 2013. The weather was very nice, with temperatures mostly in the mid 60s to 70 degrees and little rain. The foliage was nice the middle week (Oct. 12-19) was the best for foliage. The seas were calm also, with a only a little turbulence here and there. We flew nonstop from RDU to New York and the reverse home. Pretty painless. The back to back part was handled beautifully by Princess. I give them 10 out of 10 for embarkation and disembarkation.
THE SHIP: The Caribbean Princess is a nice ship, more like the Grand than the Crown, Emerald or Ruby. It is scheduled for dry dock in the Spring of 2014 and it does need it. Lots of cosmetic stuff needs updating but overall it was a terrific cruise. The crew/staff was some of the best we've seen. Our cabin steward (Bibiana) was the best we've EVER had in about 35 cruises!
DINING: We started out with anytime dining but were looking for a table for 2 and that was nearly impossible to get. We were told many more tables for 2 will be added during the dry dock, hopefully eliminating this problem. We were lucky enough to get a traditional seating table for 2 at the 5:45 pm seating in the Palm Dining Room and that worked out wonderful. The headwaiter, Dou was wonderful and very accommodating. Our waiter, Emil and assistant waiter, Valeria, were GREAT! The food was delicious some of the best beef dishes I've ever had on a cruise.
ENTERTAINMENT: My husband and I are social ballroom dancers and the music on board was very good. The group in Wheelhouse, G & V Duo, was really nice good music and very user friendly. The "party” band (Retrospect) in Explorers played very good rock and roll. The first 2 weeks we had Big Band music several times with the orchestra under director "Matt”. It was great! Yeah Matt!! The last week, we changed music directors and got mostly jazz (not danceable jazz) and one Big Band set at 6 pm (during dinner :( under director "Chuck”.
The production numbers were okay to good but nothing great. This group of singers (the main four in particular) didn't seem to have any chemistry. The dancers were good as were the production/lighting/etc folks. One of the spotlight entertainers, Finis Henderson, was very good, the rest of the entertainment was okay (Hawley Magic, Scott Wyler a comedian). The surprise entertainer was A.J. Clarke in Crooners. We are not usually Crooners people, but we listened to him about 15 nights out of the 21 on board. He is a young man with a great future in music, sooooo talented. His repertoire consisted of about 800 songs that he played and sang to by heart!! He did a lot of audience participation stuff, which is always popular in Crooners.
We love the New England and eastern Canada ports and they were very enjoyable. We got our lobster fix in Bar Harbor all three weeks. It's one of our favorite cruise stops and such a lovely little town. We did the historic walking tour this time. Newport was equally beautiful to walk around. We did a hop on/hop off (Old Town Trolley) in Boston along with the Harbor cruise. It was a beautiful warm day and lots of fun. We also did a hop on/hop off in Halifax, New Brunswick, Canada and that was very interesting. In Saint John's, we went to the farmers market and did some souvenir shopping.
FITNESS/ETC. There are two pools on the Lido deck, the Terrace pool at the back of the ship, and the Lotus pool near the spa. Unfortunately, non of them is covered. Some people swam in one of the Lido pools and told us the water was warm but we didn't try it. Many people used the hot tubs. The fitness center was nice with lots of equipment, a wonderful view from the front of the ship, and lots of extra things going on (spinning, boot camp, etc.) if you were interested.
All in all, it was a wonderful cruise. We are planning to join the Caribbean Princess again in January when she does a Western Caribbean run roundtrip from Houston.