Well I have to say that we really needed this get away after a very difficult year. We decided as usual to depart a day prior to the cruise. We left Chicago the day after Thanksgiving and flew down to San Juan on American Airlines, flight left on time and arrived on time. We of course were delayed waiting for our luggage which was unloaded after a flight that arrived after ours did. Oh well, such is life! Got our bags an queued up for a taxi to the Sheraton Old San Juan and off we went! Of course it was lightly raining as it always seems to be when we fly to San Juan! I handed the taxi slip to my husband and got in line to check in. The girl checking us in was new and said we didn't have a reservation, even after I showed her the confirmation. Long story short, they found us 2 rooms and honored the price. Unfortunately, while that was happening the cab driver increased the price for us by an additional $10 from the quote on the paper, not a great start to the trip but I was NOT going to let that get to us. We were told we were getting a city view room but when I opened the shutters we looked out into the parking garage across from us. It was only one night and would be dark soon anyway so off we went for dinner. My husband is disabled so we asked the bellman for a local restaurant close by. We were send up 3 flights of stairs to the street above us because the food was exceptional. Ok, long story short again, it was horrible. Waited 30 minutes between drink order and food order. Waited 55 minutes for appetizer and then another 45 minutes for main entrees due to short staff in kitchen. Ordered 2nd drinks for the happy hour special but charged full price on bill, response was the usual oh sorry didn't understand what you wanted". After a $150 bill for 5 people we left and went back to hotel to lick our wounds. Not the best day. I took my Mom (74) with for a walk down the waterfront and found a restaurant less than a block from the hotel that we were not told about with no steps.
Saturday morning came and I couldn't wait to go up and check out the pool and the ship, it was so nice to get up early when the city is quiet and see the Crown sitting there just waiting for us!! The pool there is small but adequate. Went with my 17 year old son for a walk to satisfy his craving for a fast food breakfast and walked up to the fort and then hit the BK and a drug store for some last minute items (bottled water, ginger ale, etc.) and then back to the hotel to pack up and go down around noonish to board the ship. Because of the heat and humidity I was concerned about long lines for my husband so I went up to one of the women at the security point and she called for a wheelchair for my husband, while my kids and Mom stayed in line for fairness to other people in line. The nice part was that by the time they brought a chair the rest of the family was already caught up with us and we all checked in together still. Obviously I'm pleased with the speed of checkin even with long lines. We chose to skip the pre-boarding pictures as they never work for us and we breezed through security and boarded the ship. We knew that the scooter rental for my husband would come later so we opted for the usual slow walk for the buffet lunch and then spa tour etc. Kids abandoned us as soon as we dropped items in our cabins.
Mini-Suites: We had a wheelchair accessible MS on Dolphin deck and were pleased with most of the layout. Our cabin steward was wonderful and took care of all our requests immediately. We loved the new bedding on the ship as well.
Once the scooter came we made the muster drill and then off to the shopping talk where another family member sitting next to me won a Movado watch! I'm still holding that against her!
We had main dining with 3 tables for our group. I have to say that of all the many sailings we've been on, these waiters were the best we've ever had. The food all week was fantastic and I went home raving about the French Onion Soup that they served! My mouth still waters thinking about it!
I'll try to keep this shorter now. The ship was in good shape but due to some bad weather a few weeks before there was still some shattered panes that needed to be replaced but all elevators were working. I'm not a fan of the dining room elevators having someone who CAN'T take the stairs and some nights it took 20 minutes to wait for an elevator for him to get in with his scooter. I hope that anyone who reads this review keeps this in mind. Please, if you CAN walk up a flight of stairs after dinner, please do so in order to free up the elevators for those who can't. Those elevators are the only way for disabled passengers to get out of that area.
Ok, for the important part, the bars....LOL....no complaints! We had many favorite spots and no bad reviews from me! Also, we found many places that were quiet at night once we had enough of the more noisy areas.
The Promenade was also a highlight for us. I had already been on the inaugural cruise in June so I was aware of the entertainment that appears there and we did spend quite a bit of time there during the week. My husband loved the cookies too! And a few times we stopped there for sandwiches at lunch too. I just love this ship!
Ports: St. Thomas-well, I do not like the new terminal. At all. We were there when NO shops were open at all. No where to go unless you cab your way there. And try to find a cab that takes scooters? My husband stayed on the ship while we went into town shopping. If I go back on Princess again, I'm not sure what we'll do. They need to think about this further and make many changes.
St. Kitts: We did the tour off the ship to Turtle Beach. Nice tour, the bus is colorful (to say the least) but the driver and guide were wonderful! We arrived at Turtle Beach and were a bit disappointed at how rocky it was and small. We had a soda there and my Husband started to feel ill so we asked where to catch a cab, our guides had been sticking close to us and found a driver, helped us to the car, and wished us well. They were genuinely concerned for us and I felt so good about the people of this island due to our treatment that whole day. When we got back to the pier the security guard there went herself to the ship and got a wheelchair and pushed him back to the ship even though I said I could manage, she wanted to help. Loved this island. The only exception were some of the vendors in the souvenir shop at the pier.
Grenada: We opted due to the rain to just take the scooter and walk about the island. We met up with a young and very tall man named David who walked us around and gave us a guided tour of the downtown area. I gladly paid him the small fee for this and recommend him to anyone who wants just a safe walk around and shopping guide. I would have loved to do an island tour if the weather had been better. NOTE: Make sure that you buy ONLY sealed spices. I recommend going to the shore talk for this port as well.
Bonaire: WOO HOO! I've found my favorite island!! Scooter friendly and all! Very clean, very friendly! Nice small beach right by the pier too. We shopped when we first got there and then kids and I took the Sea Cow snorkeling in the afternoon. We made the right move here! The people that run this boat were great and even watched to make sure the kids knew how to snorkel and stayed close. Now my kids are 17 and 20 but I think because it was Mom and the kids they kind of stuck close to us. I love this island and would go back for a week in a heartbeat!
Aruba: In all fairness, this was not the best day to be in port. The people were friendly but there was picketing (local dispute over taxes) that day as well as construction on the main highway that caused some problems for us. After a bit of a transportation problem we decided to walk it around town and then back to the ship for some sunbathing, swimming, and family bonding.
Well, I said I'd try to keep it short and I see I failed yet again. As a final statement I guess I'd rate this one of our top cruises and would do this exact same itinerary again on this ship. I'd recommend it to anyone! Hope this review helped someone!!