This review covers a 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise and a 15 day trans-Atlantic cruise.
My wife and I have trusted Princess Cruises with providing high quality, memory-making holidays for many years and this cruise did not disappoint . On the Caribbean cruises sailing we were in a group of 9 friends who have met monthly for 40 years for dinner at each others homes. While we cannot speak for the others, we must say we had an absolutely wonderful cruise and look forward to our next Princess cruise experience.
Once again Princess exceeded our expectations regarding food, service, onboard activities, friendliness of the crew, and itinerary. We do not know how Princess keeps up their high standards but we are so glad to be the recipients of such attention to detail and professionalism.
Embarkation: The port is crowded on turnaround day but we did not wait long to board. It appears that a number of hotels in the area have ceased providing complimentary transportation to the pier and now a contracted provider is used for this purpose at a $6 or $8 per person fee. Check-in went smoothly, we logged our wine onboard quickly. A jovial port hospitality person entertained us with jokes and stories while waiting for the gangway to open. Our walk aboard was smooth with numerous Princess employees welcoming us to the ship. It was a great start to the cruise.
Cabin: Spotless and neat with a great first impression. We met Karn, our cabin attendant, right away and knew from the start we were going to be well looked after. We have always thought very highly about our cabin attendants but Karn turned out to be the best we have ever experienced. Not once did we have to ask him for anything, he seemed to know what we were going to request before we spoke to him. The cabin was constantly refreshed with basic supplies and amenities. Great location amidships, we felt no ship pitching motion and only a slight roll on a few occasions. Crossing the Atlantic was like crossing a lake! The oversized balcony was great for enjoying our daily breakfasts and lunches both of which were brought up from the International Café.
Food: Dining was superb in both food quality and service. One of our group is on a gluten-free diet and each evening the section head waiter came by to discuss her dinner option for the following evening. The section head waiter visited with us each evening to check on our satisfaction with our meal choices. We heard no complaints from our friends and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. We bought a "silver 12 bottle" wine package for this sailing and the subsequent one and it lasted the entire 25 days we were at sea. The soups were amazing, the starters varied and beautifully presented, the salads fresh and appealing, and the entree's whether meat, fish, or fowl, were all excellently prepared. We usually stuck with the sorbets or berries for dessert but enjoyed the crème brulee's and a black forest torte on a couple of occasions.
Activities: We participated twice in the Boutique Fashion Shows organized by Ana Paula from Calypso Cove and had a lot of fun doing that. One of us joined the Princess Pop Choir and the rehearsals were fun and the three performances in the Piazza were crowd pleasers. Good job by Corinne from the Cruise Director's staff for getting the group of 30+ singers to perform confidently. We also took some Spanish language classes from Yris. We intend to do all of these activities on future cruises.
Cruise Director: How fortunate we were to have Kelvin Joy as our CD! This was our 4th and 5th sailing with him and in our opinion he is the best CD in the Princess fleet. What sets him apart from the others is his spontaneity, the ability to go with whatever his audience gives him, his on-stage presence which seems fresh even though one can tell he's told the same stories repeatedly, and his willingness to stop and chat as he passes through the ship. He's incredibly funny at music trivia events and has a quick wit. His staff was a lot of fun especially Yris who was our Spanish instructor. We've sailed with her before and she remembered us, greeting us with hugs every time we met her.
Boutiques: The young men and women who work as Boutique staffers were so much fun to visit with and get to know. Ana Paula, Charlotte, Jerome, Kurt, Natalia, Kristina, Lujpco, Gabriella, and Daria, in Calypso Cove, Facets, Meridien Bay, and Essence are all wonderful ambassadors of Princess. They were so helpful with our decision making and never once exerted any pressure on us to purchase anything. We visited each one at least once daily and they all contributed to the very positive experience we had on our holiday.
Entertainment: Even though we've experienced most of the stage production shows in the past we enjoyed the shows again and admired the skills and talents of the orchestra, singers and dancers. We thought the singers and dancers were the best we've seen in recent years. The headliners were quite good with one exception. Pianist Maria King was phenomenal, with a wide range of music from classical to country. We could listen to her play every evening. Comedians Tom Briscoe and George the Irish comic were very funny. Saxophonist Oli Nez put on a great show. We did not care for Gary T. Carpenter's comedy act at all. The movies on TV were surprisingly good. Watching a movie at MUTS was a bit challenging at times and we think seat location has a lot to do with movie enjoyment outside. Popcorn and milk and cookies are a nice touch at MUTS. Piazza entertainers amazed us with their talents but that is a tough venue to perform in as there really isn't enough room for spectators and some onlookers are not very respectful to the performances. We enjoyed a number of game show events in Explorer's Lounge with the Marriage Game, the Yes/No Game, Majority Rules Game, and the various music and other trivia games being our favorites. Any activity hosted by Kelvin was a hoot.