Embarkation: We took a taxi from the airport to the port and arrived about 1:00pm. Tip: do not pay for cruise-line sponsored bus transportation. It is ridiculously expensive ($25 per person each way). The port is 5 minutes and a $14 taxi ride from the airport. When we arrived, there was a very long line outside the building, but it moved quickly. We were on the ship in about an hour.
The Cabin: We had a premium balcony cabin on the Caribe deck. The only difference (that I know of) between a premium balcony and a regular balcony is that it is larger and partially uncovered (hello sun!). The cabin was extremely small (much smaller than balcony cabins on Carnival) and the bathroom was practically microscopic! It didn’t bother us too much because we were hardly ever in the cabin. The furnishings are a little outdated, but again not much of a bother. We had a fantastic cabin steward (John) who always had a smile on his face and kept our cabin in tip-top shape.
The Food: The food was decent. Not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst (I’m looking at you NCL!). The Café Caribe (lido deck buffet) had 4 lines, but usually only one or two were open so they were very busy and crowded. Open all the lines people! We had anytime dining, so we ate in the Island Dining Room each night. The main problem here is a shortage of two-person tables. I know a lot of people like sharing tables, but we don’t which is why we select anytime. Every night, there was a 20-30 wait for a two-person table, but never a wait for a 6-8 person. Clearly, a lot of people prefer a two-person, so they should take out some of the larger tables and add smaller ones. The only night we ate alone is when we made reservations at the Crown Grill ($25 per person surcharge). All I can say is FANTASTIC!!!! The food itself in all areas was very good. No complaints about the food.
Entertainment: This is, by far, the worst entertainment I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. We went to the first production show and it was so bad I thought we were on candid camera. The dancers and singers looked miserable and just had this “Oh God is it over yet?” expression on their faces. We didn’t waste our time with the second show. The comedian was pretty funny and I would have liked to see him again. I thoroughly enjoyed Movies Under the Stars. Gives me a chance to get caught up on recent movies I haven’t seen.
Grand Turk: Love, love, love!! We didn’t book an excursion here because there is so much to do right on the pier. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville has a huge pool, waverider, private cabanas, a DJ, and the beach is just steps away.
San Juan: We really wanted to see the Bacardi Factory and the excursions were expensive, so we went on our own. From the pier where you are docked, it is a five minute walk to the water taxi. It is $1.00 round-trip to Cantano. Once there (about a 10 minute ride). Get a taxi to the factory (about a 10 minute ride). The taxi is $3.00 per person. Also, when you get back to the other side near the ship, hit Old San Juan for some awesome shopping.
St. Thomas: We did the Coral World and Swimming with Sea Lions excursion. I cannot recommend this enough. While it is a bit pricey, it is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget. A van took us from the pier to Coral World (about a 20 minute drive). Once there, we signed “if you die, it’s not our fault” waivers and followed the trainers to an area where we put on water shoes and life-vests. Then into the pool! It was so much fun. The sea lions are a hoot!! Very friendly. The only downside is that they do not allow cameras, but they have a photographer taking a lot of pictures, which you can then (of course) buy on a flash drive for $60.00.
Princess Cays-Beautiful! They don’t have a dock, so you have to tender ashore (small boats that take you from the ship to shore). The island is spectacular! White sand beaches, blue water, a beach side barbecue, and tropical music make for an unforgettable day. They also have snorkel equipment, floats, paddle boats, and water noodles available for rent. Tip: if you want a clamshell, get off the ship early. They fill up quickly and you could end up on the other side of island away from everything like we did. My only complaint is that we were not there long enough!
Disembarkation- Probably one of the smoothest and well-organized I have experienced. We left our luggage outside of the room at 10:00pm the night before and we had to vacate the cabin by 8:00am the next morning. A leisurely breakfast in the Café Caribe followed. We were off the ship by 9:30am and collected our luggage in the terminal. We did have quite a long customs line, but it moved fast. Taxis are plentiful and readily available to take you back to the airport or wherever you might be going.
Overall Impressions: We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and will book with Princess again. Yes, the ship is not the newest and biggest out there, but it was clean and well-maintained and the service was top-notch. They just really need to improve the on-board entertainment. Bon Voyage!