Although we have cruised many times (HAL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean) we had never done a Princess Cruise. We live in the Houston area, so using the newly opened port was a breeze.
Embarkation: Although you pass through a heavy industrial area, getting to the Houston Port is not difficult and we can see they are working on the roads, so as to widen and improve them, still. Parking right by the ship is so handy. We are so used to having to shuttle back to the ship, but unloading luggage and shooting around to park is so quick, with just a short walk across the parking lot back to the ship. Check in was also quick and the wait to be called by group was painless. NOT so painless was the long slow moving line to board the ship. Our boarding pass had a number and they also placed a sticker number on our clothing. We were told the sticker had nothing to do with boarding. It happened that both our pass and our sticker number was 8. We watched countless people go up to board, using their sticker number, only to be told, NO, not time yet. It was confusing to many. The line divided when we entered the ship and in the next line, we waited until our turn to have our plastic card scanned and our picture taken by a hand held device. That seemed to be the hold up, causing the boarding process to be slower than we had experienced before.
The ability to go right to your stateroom is wonderful. Not so on many other ships. We were told that no dining room was open and to go to Horizon on Lido for lunch. In the past, we have had the option to go to the dining room OR the Lido. However food was good and service excellent, with a smile.
Although we had signed up for Traditional Dining (Palm Dining) we opted to move to a table with friends, thus they assigned us a table in the Island Dining Room, where they put the Anytime Diners. But they gave us the same table nightly with Marion and Igor serving, both fine young men with wonderful service. They each went our of their way to do their jobs, with ease, jokes and good information. A pleasure.
Ship Appointments: Although we understand the Caribbean Princess is going in for refurbishment this spring, we think she is a Grand Old Ship and the occasional little area needing attention did not bother us at all. They are still continuing to paint the outside, at ports, reapply varnish on rails, etc. Beautiful, tasteful decor.
Entertainment: The Illusionist: Jonathon Hawley is excellent, as was the comic Miguel Washington and the unusual juggler, Aaron Bonk Not so the singers and dancers. The first show was painful and we did not attend the second.
We thought the food was quite good and the desserts excellent
Overall, a great start to Princess and we will definitely go aboard again in the future.