This was our first time on Princess Cruise Line. We have traveled many times on Royal Caribbean.
This is also our LAST time of traveling with Princess. We had been told by family members that Princess was far superior to RCL and that after we sailed with them we would never want to go back to RCL. Since we have always been very pleased with RCL, we were excited about having an opportunity to compare and perhaps increase our options in the future.
Having a child with special needs, we have a lot of preplanning with the cruise line in order to bring his oxygen and wheelchair on board. Hands down, RCL has this streamlined to be very easy and efficient. Princess has totally different departments and 800#s and physician statements to deal with. RCL I get it all done in one phone call.
I also prefer RCL's system to pay for gratuities, shore excursions and beverage packages beforehand instead of having it added to our onboard account as Princess does. Beverages and wine are more expensive on Princess and wine list seemed shallow.
Houston was a very easy port to get in and out of. While on RCL we have to wait to access our cabin til about 1pm, Princess lets you go straight onto your cabin as soon as you board.
The first thing I noted was that the cabin was not prepped for my son's special needs. No sign on the door saying Oxygen In Use and no extension cord, as was prearranged. When I saw the cabin steward and mentioned these, he said he would bring us an extension cord that evening, but that Princess does not post an oxygen sign. (Weird...I thought that was a law).
Also, the ship is laid out very difficulty and a puzzle to get from deck to deck and aft to forward, which I had read several times on reviews.
The balcony cabin we booked was not even passable. There were huge dark stains on the carpet that were sticky to walk on so I wouldn't let anyone walk barefoot. There were also stains on the wall by the desk (I would post photos if I could). There were no flat sheets on the bed, just a coverlet. The bed was so uncomfortable and had really bad wear enough to see a visible sag in the center. The shower had a curtain instead of a door as on RCL. And the shower was not clean. The last people's soap bar remnants were on the soap holder and the floor by the drain. I had to get out Lysol wipes and clean before I would let anyone use it. I swear I am not exaggerating.
We ate in the Coral Dining room and was very pleased with our head waiter and wait staff. Very pleasant and helpful. We had a table by the window, but the window was not clean which we noticed on all the windows around ship.
Yes, the Caribbean Princess is older, and we have sailed on older ships on RCL (Seranade of the Seas), but there is no excuse for dirty and unkempt. The Seranade is older, but immaculate and actually my favorite ship on RCL.
Customer Service is far superior on RCL as compared to this Princess sailing. Some explained this because of how the gratuities are earned on RCL.
I prefer the dining experience and food on RCL far above Princess. Surprisingly so, I would even say the desserts are better on RCL. Which was not what we expected. We had the 5:30 seating and were lucky to get the main course by 7:15 or 7:30 the first two nights. After that, the timing improved.
On a seven day cruise, we saw our cabin steward 3 times. This was not shipwide, as I saw the other 2 cabin stewards on our deck all the time. Working hard. There just seemed to be a total lack of supervision.
The crew was goofing around in front of guests and playing silly games on this cruise. I have never seen this on RCL.
Entertainment and activities are much more abound on RCL.
I had read poor reviews on cruise lines before and actually said outloud, "Gee some people aren't happy unless they are complaining" so please understand that I am writing an honest review on our experience.
The three ports were Belize, Cozumel and Honduras and all three were very pleasant.
Princess lost our business and we will be staying with RCL in the future.