This was our 19th cruise and our first on Princess. We are retired and love to cruise. This is our 5th of 6 cruises for 2013. We live in Houston, so we drove straight to the port and parked there.
The parking folks did well, considering this was their first day of service. We had reserved our parking in advance and saved a few dollars. This was a short 4 day cruise, but we had a nice time.
Princess Cruise for a Cause - Salute to Military Veterans
Caribbean Princess - Houston to Progreso - 4 days
November 5, 2013
It was a very different cruise due to the fact that about 90% of the passengers were former military and a few were active duty. (Us included) I think the ship holds 3200 passengers. We had about 1700 passengers.
We saw many unoccupied larger balconies. In my opinion, it would have been good business to upgrade more people and it would not have cost them anything. When I asked on the ship about an upgrade, we were told it was not done on the ship. I think this is another mistake. Other lines make a few dollars by upgrading on embarkation day. Everyone is happy.
Embarkation was slow - probably because it was all new to the folks in the Houston terminal. They were very nice, but many did not know embarkation procedures. This is totally understandable for a first time cruise for the port personnel. Everyone felt that they did fairly well considering it was a first for them. Hopefully they will add refreshment stations such as coffee, juice or water. There was nothing for their first venture. Thank goodness it was a small group of passengers.
As we boarded the ship, it was very "matter of fact". We are used to happy, costumed crew greeting us at the gangway with music playing and everyone singing & dancing. Not this time. It was only a couple of crew to direct you to the door to enter the ship. Then we were on our own. No welcome drinks.....nothing.
Once on the ship, we went straight to our balcony cabin. Nicely laid out with a very, very large closet. The bathroom was small and the shower was very, very small. We didn't get out luggage until almost 4:30 - again I would guess it was a port problem.
When we went for lunch, I asked which dining room was serving. 3 different crew members tried to steer us to the buffet. We finally got directions to the dining room that was serving. There were only 4 others tables taken. I guess they were the only other persistent ones. Seems that they preferred we go to the buffet. Lunch was very good - hamburgers & fries. DH has salmon that was also excellent.
Most everything on the ship was geared toward military & we thought that was nice. I won't go into all of the activities, but there was a lot of brass onboard and we only saw them when they gave seminars - which were interesting. We went to 3 of 4 shows and they were all good. Country singer that is into military, a magic act and a comedian. The singer was excellent & we went to see him again in one of the smaller theaters. The daily news letter came very late at night and this made it difficult to plan the next day's activities.
For the most part, it was a nice cruise. We never saw a ship's officer and the crew were nice, but not overly friendly. It seemed that most of the attention was given to the VIPs - military generals and admirals. We saw their tables in the dining room & they had many waiters and we did see what I assume were ship officers going to their tables. They had candles on their tables! A big NO NO on most lines. Maitre'd never stopped at our table - or any around us. We never saw the head chef - or any chefs. This seemed like a big mistake, especially since there were so few on the cruise. One woman came by our table on the last morning and gave a "canned" speech, thanking us for cruising with them.
We had 2 waiters in one dining room that were fun. There was a cook that made waffles and he was friendly. These were the only crew that got additional tips from us. Our room steward only had a few cabins & we only saw him a couple of times. He never learned our names and did not go out of his way to be helpful. We had to go get our own ice a couple of times. He's lucky to get money from the gratuity pool. The dining room food, for the most part, was average. They had fettucchine alfredo and a souffle appetizer that were excellent, but most things were just OK. Waffles were great as were hamburgers on the pool deck.
Overall, we had a great time & we will try Princess again. I have to assume that this was a very different experience for them because of all of the military. I think NCL and Carnival have them beat for being happy and fun ships.