My wife and I booked the Caribbean Princess for our winter vacation not because of the itinerary (we had been to all the ports before, some many times), but because it was going out of Houston where we hadn’t been before. We booked the transfers to the ship ($24 each/each way) as the distance from IAH is about forty miles and not what you would want to pay a cab for. We had to wait about an hour and a half before they had a bus for us.
The port itself is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by oil refineries. It does have parking right there, I don’t know what the cost is for the week but it is available.
Embarkation was a breeze (partly due to the fact that we didn’t arrive till about three). The ship seems similar to the two previous Princess ships (Ruby and Emerald) that we had been on. The biggest difference was the placement of the Skywalkers lounge. There were a few other differences but if you have been on either of the two ships I mentioned above, you will have a very familiar feeling. I am not sure of its launch date but I am sure it is older than the gem ships. It looks a little shabby around the edges, worn metal trim, rust on the decks, broken taps, and in our shower the trim ring that fell off the shower head. Nothing extreme, but noticeable all the same. My biggest complaint is totally personal and might not be a bad thing for you. The activities onboard (especially on sea days) don’t hold any interest for me. The only thing that I look forward to is the trivia competitions. I have the same complaint for all the Princess ships I have been on (if you want to read what I wrote; read my previous reviews, they are all the same). I ended up just reading on the days at sea.
The cruise had only three stops on it which resulted in three days at sea. It would have been better with four stops but I did pick this cruise so I shouldn’t complain.
The first port was Cozumel. Normally we make this our beach day but my wife didn’t feel like that this time so we took a cab to town. The size of this ship dictates that it has to moor at the furthest dock from the city so an $8 dollar cab ride is in order or you will have to walk quite a distance to get there. The price for the ride is $8 for the car up to four passengers, not per person or per couple. If you are only a couple and the cabbie crams in another couple do not let them charge you $8 each pair. They will try to scam you if they can but stand firm and only pay $8. The town hasn’t changed much since the last time we went there and not to the beach. Same multitude of Diamond International stores and all their competitors. Going there reminded me why we started going to the beach all those years ago. Unless you want dubious deals on jewelry, just take a cab and go to the beach south of the port.
Roatan Honduras was our next port of call. We hadn’t been there for nine years and it was probably my wife’s least favourite port she had been up to this point. Back then the island was just starting to receive ships and they were not really prepared for the onslaught of vacationers. When a ship pulled in the entire island seemed to show up and crowd the gate waiting for the fresh wallets to walk into the multitude waiting to see if they could get anything off them. It was like running the gauntlet with what seemed like everyone grabbing and pulling you to see if you would give them money for their wares or just to beg money off you. My wife absolutely despised it and told me to get her back to the ship. Since then they have built a new cruise ship port called Mahogany Bay. It reminds me of all the other fake ports for the tourists on many other islands that only open when a ship is moored there. What it does have that the others don’t is a beach area. It reminded me of Princess Cay or Half Moon Cay only without the food being supplied. There are lots of restaurants there to serve you food, but the ships are so close that you can just go back if you are really hungry. They have a ski lift for $10 to transport you if you don’t feel like walking the hundred yards or so to get to the beach. I was told it is unlimited rides all day. It was a much better experience. We went to Gumbalimba Preservation Nature Park while we were on the island. Roads there are just as bad as the last time I was there so the drive was a bit treacherous. The park is a little expensive for what you get but my wife was happy with the monkey and bird area so I shouldn’t complain.
Belize city was still a bit of a slum outside of the tender area. My wife had no interest in going ashore as she didn’t like it the first time we arrived there, too much poverty. So I went alone and did go for a good walk and found a very nice public beach area about a mile due north. It was well groomed, clean and totally devoid of anyone. It was almost next to the Princess Casino and Hotel. If I come back to Belize I might take a walk up to the beach again and actually utilize it.
The food served was generally excellent; the only slight slip was my steak on our last night was tough. So really I had not much to complain about.
The ship and Princess did what they promised, gave my wife and myself a good vacation. That is all I could ask for.