We enjoyed another sailing on Princess, our first on the Emerald. Here are some quick notes which I hope assist my future cruisers!
The ship-----In very good shape, but there were some signs of wear, such as scratches on furniture. We had a balcony on Aloha Deck (12), which was very convenient to the buffets and gym, and whose balcony gave us some privacy (no one from above could see our balcony).
On the first night, we had no shampoo in the cabin. When we asked the steward told us that no one in our area did. Unfortunately, he should have been proactive and let us know in advance. Others in my travelling party of 9, had no soap. Midway through the cruise, they installed a soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower. It’s a shame it’s (1) one shampoo/conditioner combined and (2) they’re getting rid of that eucalyptus fragrance. There was a good size gym, with sauna and steam in the locker room. The gym was rarely crowded and equipment was up to date. I found it disappointing that some of the ship’s personnel simply didn’t smile when greeting passengers. This seemed to be a universal comment from many I met. Kudos to Princess for the fine perks it gives to Elite pax and for having laundry rooms for last minute pressing needs!
Dining—While we were 9 people, we opted for anytime dining. Our first night waiter in the DaVinci Dining Room and busboy were awful; they were slow and didn’t know how to smile. We then tried the Michaelangelo Dining Room and wound up with a waiter (Jonathan) who was one of the most professional and attentive I’ve had on any cruise ship. We wound up asking for the same table every night.
The breakfast buffets were pretty much the same each day; however the omelet worker in Horizon Court was very pleasant, (remembering I asked for papaya!) but the one in Café Caribe was forever having a bad day. Coffee card worth it for cappuccino—but coffee kept coming after desserts at dinner.
We did have a bad experience at Crown Grill. Of the 9 people, 3 sent their meals back (all beef) and almost all complained about cold veggies. Maitre’d was way over her head and refused to deal with situation immediately. While others had troubles, my sea bass was excellent and my partner enjoyed his filet mignon. My lava cake had no “lava” in it. I showed it to the waiter and maitre’d, who agreed, but did nothing. Cappuccino was lukewarm (unlike dining room, where it was hot). Again, nothing was done.
Entertainment---I only went to the production numbers, which were some of the weakest I’d seen at sea. The choreography was simplistic and costumes were just….strange! We did enjoy numerous trivia contest and the pianist by the Piazza (British, sorry I forgot his name) was charming with his rendition of Broadway and standards.
Internet---this was the biggest problem we had. We expect slow signals onboard, but we had no signal in our cabin. We let them know each day from the time we embarked. Internet worker never answered the phone (he admitted this to me—said he was too busy!). We were told we had to keep the cabin door open to get signal. This caused a security risk for us and was frankly awkward. Fellow passengers made comments when walking by and we were forced to be dressed anytime we went online (which, due to our business was needed daily). Long story short—the ship’s staff admitted the problem existed on Day 5 of cruise and offered us nothing but a bottle of wine or Internet time (which was counterintuitive). I was told I have to contact Princess in writing.
Embarkation – very fast. Lines were very short at about 1pm. We had our luggage by 5pm. Very courteous portside personnel.
Antigua---We got a day pass to Sandals and enjoyed the beach, food and sports there.
St Lucia----One of our favorite islands, but there was a problem with cabs here. You had to jostle to get one.
Barbados----hired a cabbie to drive us around the island. Well worth it. Again, it was a hassle getting the cab.
St Kitts--- We took a tour of the rainforest, which included a nice hike and some swinging from vines! Open-air driver was very nice, but we were forced to wait until he filled every seat on the truck.
St Thomas----We visited Sapphire Beach –beautiful and less crowded that Coki or Megan’s Bay which other passengers complained about. We shopped right at Crown Bay—prices were pretty much the same as Charlotte Amalie
Nassau----Again, we visited Sandals. Beautiful property. I asked a Princess officer at Guest Services if there was a free shuttle to the port for my Dad and others who can’t walk long distances. He said, “no”, but as soon as we got off the ship one was there.
Disembarkation – long, as it always seem to be in Fort Lauderdale. Princess did a fine job of organization with this; the problem always seems to be the lack of immigration personal.
Summary- This was a very enjoyable cruise, with great ports. Our biggest disappointment was the fact that so many ship’s personal were reactive to problems, not proactive. Unfortunately, service, one of the keys to successful cruise, has slipped.