Our 5 day W. Caribbean (Cozumel, G. Cayman) cruise was terrific. We met wonderful people, with whom we hope to cruise again. The upgrade/upsell fairy did not come prior to our departure, but she greeted us at Embarkation with a wonderful Port side balcony suite. A few other huge perks included Sabatini’s for breakfast, fresh fruit basket, canapés at night, internet time and coveted laundry service… totally amazing!
Room steward: Shiv was the best we’ve had in 13 cruises. What a great guy- hugely informative, helpful without hovering, anticipatory and so pleasant-always a smile to greet you.
Food: Late seating was well run, served delicious food prepared perfectly. The Head Waiter allowed us the privilege of escargot every night. DR census was lower than normal; the British pub fish and chips this time were excellent! We taught the bartender to pour Black and Tans. The DR was so good we never visited Sabatini’s or the Crown Grill once this trip.
Embarkation, Debarkation: Smooth as silk. While we embarked from Pier 19, we returned to another pier, which was quite a distance from our starting point. Princess shuttled us back to the originating pier. (Thank you, Princess!) They dropped us at the right parking ramp, but locating our car was harder than necessary. We'd like USA Parking to improve the signage within their parking ramps.
Ship itself: We love the Ruby, but she is starting to look a bit worn in spots (especially the handrails). While riding in the tenders we noticed that she needed an exterior paint job, too. MUTS also has some burned out pixels. I have every faith Princess will be attentive to her needs, which history has proven.
Excursions: We are sooo done with Princess shore excursions. They need to make the groups smaller to improve the traveler’s experience. They are more costly when compared to their competition (especially local/ashore providers), and their groups need to be segregated by levels of experience (first timers vs. newbies). They do a good job of describing their excursions, but they are often too crowded to be enjoyable. I suspect the decreased time in port is not directly correlated, but that fact doesn't encourage booking solo excursions. Most of us cruise for the destinations, as well as the onboard experience. We don't want Princess to continually Increase ship time at the expense of shore time.
CC: We enjoyed meeting everyone on our “role call” who attended. Our CC Hostess ScrappyJ did a fabulous job. She invited the Commodore and is staff to our “Meet and Greet” –they came and it was quite a treat! A true highlight of our trip.
Entertainment: Dancers, jugglers, comedians, and musicians were great! The Art show, selection, and pricing truly stunk- Princess made a big mistake with this change. Bingo cards- the sheet colors were confusing in the low light conditions of the lounge. How about printing the color name on the sheets for those of us who are red/green color blind?! We’d appreciate more non-smoking time in casino. Either that, or improve the air exchangers!
Shopping: Great deals, low pressure, and less hallway hawking this time. Thank you Princess! I missed the lower cost jewelry spot where I traditionally bought charms (jewelry) for employees, family, and friends. They only offered Pandora this time.
Cozumel was surprisingly affordable, clean and easy to navigate. We weren't the least bit nervous striking out on our own. We did a lot of research prior, and went with a personalized snorkeling experience through Mystic (Rosie). We preferred that option to the cattle call excursions that Princess runs these days. We snorkeled three locations in 3 hours: shallow, moderate and deep. The marine life was plentiful, the water was CRYSTAL CLEAR to 30 or more feet, and the most pristine shades of aqua and sapphire blue. Our small boat held 10 people comfortably, allowed us to reach spots the big boats couldn't and gave us lots of swimming room. We could drift along the reefs without getting in one another's way.
80 people booked the "shipwreck snorkeling" excursion. Thankfully the group was split between two boats, making the swimming experience more bearable. The two guys who facilitated the event were knowledgeable, but they took us to 2 snorkeling spots we could have swum to from shore! That's not their fault, but why would Princess book an excursion that was basically a sham? If they had advertised this experience for beginners only, we would have known we had to book an excursion with a local provider who would have taken us to "boat accessible only" locations. If we wanted a swim from shore experience, we wouldn't have had to book an excursion. Regarding the port itself, I was surprised by how run down it looked. It is very commercialized, from a Western American perspective. Prices were ridiculously high compared to it's other Caribbean counterparts. Much more for the tourist rather than the traveler.