We departed Houston (Bayport) on the Caribbean Princess on Feb. 8th. Between recent issues on this ship with fog in Houston and norovirus, I was a little anxious that things would go well. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
Embarkation went pretty smoothly. We got to the port about 1:00 pm and were on the ship within an hour. We had a mini-suite (D329) on the Dolphin deck (deck 9). Naming the decks was irritating. I wish they just went by deck numbers.
First, I would like to talk about the food. My wife and I both thought the food was very good. The main dining rooms were fine. The quality and selection of the food was generally very good. We always found something we liked. My one complaint about the main dining rooms is that the ship had two formal nights (on a seven day cruise) and did not want non-formal dress in their dining rooms. I think with three MDRs, they could have one set aside for casually dressed diners. On the other hand, the buffets were also very good. I was amazed to get hot food from a buffet. They had a good selection and we always found something we liked. Other reviewers have complained about buffet seating but we always found a table fairly quickly. One thing about the buffets were the desserts. I have been to other places that had nice looking desserts but they didn't taste very good. The Caribbean Princess (everywhere - not just the buffets) had wonderful looking desserts that tasted as good as they looked!
We did the expanded soda cards that included smoothies and milk shakes. The smoothies were awful. You could only get a milkshake at the ice cream bar and they weren't that good. I would just get the soda card.
The entertainment was generally good but not great. They had a singer (Zach somebody) who was excellent and they also had a very good comedian. The Caribbean Princess singers and dancers were good but certainly not great. The casino was small and very smoky - and we lost our shirts at the slot machines. Other venues had piano players and bands but generally nothing that I thought was great.
We paid the $105 per person to use the Sanctuary for the full week. It was the best part of our cruise! I burn quickly in too much sun. The Sanctuary had shade, they had assigned comfortable loungers. The staff was very attentive bringing you extra towels, drinks, fruit, etc. The Sanctuary was also right next to the Spa pool which was very nice. I can't recommend the Sanctuary enough!
The Spa was very nice but it is so expensive that they priced themselves out of my reach. Almost $200 (including tip) for a massage. I got a very relaxing hour long massage on the beach for $60.
We had great weather. Our cruise went to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize. At Cozumel, we got off the ship and wandered through the port area, bought a few things and then used a coupon at a place called Pancho's Backyard to buy a drink, talk with some other old guys and just relax. At Roatan, I had arranged a shore excursion through the internet at Little French Key - a small island paradise about 15 minutes away from the ship. It was the perfect spot to go to relax, swim, eat, drink a little, get a massage, and so on. If you're going to Roatan, you should certainly look up Little French Key on-line. It is not available through the Princess cruise ship. At Belize, we stayed on the ship. First, it was a tender port and a long (30 minute) tender ride at that. Second, based on my last stop at Belize, if you don't have a ship based shore excursion, and you want to just get off the ship and wander around, I consider it to be a dangerous port. Call me crazy, but I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the Sanctuary.
Another thing about this ship is that it had the most pleasant crew I have ever seen on a cruise ship. These were hard working folks who managed to always have a nice word and go out of their way to help you. Very friendly people!
Disembarking was the smoothest, best organized I have ever experienced on any cruise ship. No standing in long lines. They were punctual. It was amazing!
Overall, I would say we had a very good cruise!