We were hesitant, because a 3 night Princess cruise did not seem like enough time. BUT... we needed a break from SO many things that the timing and hours seemed ideal. During the 8 cruises that we have taken, our favorites were 7 nights in length. However, we have sailed on the Caribbean Princess before, and since we were comfortable with the large ship, we believed that we would be able to take part in most of the activities, not needing time to get acquainted with the ship. In many ways we were correct, because we really were able to navigate throughout this beautiful ship with no problems. But... we certainly were not able to participate in all of the activities, and that is because Princess, even with such a short sailing, offered us SO many choices that there just were not enough hours to do everything we wanted to. Since this was a short cruise, we felt that passengers were a bit younger than is traditional on Princess. I believe that many people took an extended weekend, and thus, this was a party group. There were very few children, or at least, there were not many that we noticed. My husband and I are in our 50's, and we like the sophistication of Princess passengers. As a matter of fact, friends joined us on this cruise that we met on a previous Princess cruise. Joining them on this cruise was a highlight for us, and we all seemed to actually prefer the grouping of passengers on our past longer Princess cruises. But, that is just our opinion.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale terminal around 12:30 p.m., prepared for an early rush of people. Pleasantly surprised, we walked directly onto the ship after receiving our keys from Princess personnel. We went directly to check out our room and make plans for the evening after reading the Princess Patter. Within a short time period, we went to the lunch buffet, and by the time we were finished eating, our luggage was already in our stateroom. Actually, by 2:30 p.m., we were unpacked, greeted by our cabin steward, and reacquainting ourselves with this beautiful ship.
SHIP INFORMATION: The Caribbean Princess is, indeed, huge. We did not, however, find it difficult to navigate throughout. Some of this is because this was not our first voyage on the Caribbean Princess, but looking back, we were not overwhelmed by it size on our first voyage. There are maps of the ship on most walls, and Princess personnel are eager to guide you, if needed. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the decks that go straight through the ship. We definitely suggest reserving a mid-ship cabin, because it makes it easy to navigate yourself from the mid-ship elevators. Although there are, obviously, a lot of people on the ship, we never felt crowded or held back by the masses of people. There are enough elevators to accommodate everyone, and the passenger numbers never affected us. Rooms and activities are well spread out throughout the ship, and as a result, there seemed to be plenty of room for everyone. Staff can be found cleaning the ship constantly, which is why she looks practically new. Of course, some of the carpet needs an upgrade, but everything else sparkles so that it is almost not worth mentioning.
STATEROOM: We chose an indoor cabin for several reasons. The obvious reason is that the price is less, but more important to us was the fact that the room is dark, without the sunlight peaking through in the early morning and mid-day when we took a quick catnap. The room was small but adequate, since we were only inside for sleeping. This is, actually, another reason why we chose not to take an outside cabin… we never used the balcony, because we were just too busy! Getting back to the room… the shower was a bit tinier than we remembered, but our biggest problem was getting extra towels. Our stateroom attendant, Dino, was just not up to Princess standards, and he was not around much. On 3 different occasions, we requested extra towels, and finally, Dino informed us that he only had enough towels for his assigned staterooms [of which we were one!], but he did not have any extras. Indeed, our stateroom was clean enough, but although Princess is our cruise line of choice, we still miss the towel animals on our beds at night. From experience, we knew to request an egg-crate mattress, which was on our bed when we arrived. After speaking with other passengers, their mattresses were not comfortable, but for us, the mattresses were ideal… so, plan ahead by requesting the egg-crates!
DINNING: Again, I must mention that we are not new to Princess, and as a result, we have tried all of her specialty dinning options. To us, the food in the dinning rooms is the same caliber as the specialty restaurants. We chose anytime dinning, which is an option that keeps bringing us back to Princess. It is a luxury to be able to pick and choose your dining times based on other ship activities. Although there were lines at key times, you could easily get a table if you arrived early or late. After the first main show, there were lines, but the maitre-d was always pleasant, assuring us that a table would soon be available. Princess uses pagers for dinner, but we never seemed to have a problem. Also, you are able to make a reservation in the morning for anytime dinning, assuring you a table at the time requested. We ate all of our dinners in the Coral Dinning room and found the food yummy. I will admit that I missed the lobster dinner during formal night, but we were told that lobster was not served on a short cruise. I did have both steak and prime rib that was so lean and tender that I could have cut it with a fork. AND I missed the Princess souffles that are an all time favorite of mine, but again, they are not offered during a short cruise except in the specialty restaurants. The service was impeccable, and our waiter, Elvis, was friendly and very eager to please. We did find our way to a special sushi lunch buffet on our day at sea. We learned that sushi is offered at the buffet on every Princess Cruise during the first day at sea. We were not aware of this, and we were quite happy with the find. We enjoy sushi [obviously], but the wok dishes were just as good. It was a delightful surprise for us, and we will definitely look for such an option in the future. This is not mentioned in the Patter, so check it out for yourselves if you are a fan of sushi. Be aware that you pay extra for ice cream, but it is free during your meals in the dinning room! The ice cream choices are detailed, and we highly recommend the Rum Raisin… WOW, it was almost better than the Princess Love Boat dessert; notice I said "almost". Looking back, we might have paid the additional $20.00 on this cruise to eat in Sabatini's' only because I had my heart set on lobster, and their tiramisu cake is the best on the planet.
ACTIVITIES: OK, it was only 3 nights, but we expected a bit more in this area. There was BINGO, 1 horse racing game, an art auction, and the traditional pool games, but the kitchen tour and the backstage tour were missing. Even one of the above mentioned 2 tours would have been better than none. The craft activities were also missing, and several passengers were disappointed not to have the opportunity to paint pottery. We felt that the 1-day at sea could have offered additional choices, and there were moments when nothing to our liking was taking place. I was talking for days about the backstage tour, which was our favorite activity on this ship previously, and we were looking forward to experiencing such again. The pool games are prevalent, but the pools are crowded during peak times. We ended up going to the Jacuzzi when we returned from Princess Cay, allowing us a chance to get in without waiting for someone to leave. Also, the pool choices are enough to give you options, if you want to take the time to look around.
ENTERTAINMENT: Princess entertainment options are the best in the business, with more than one different show nightly. On this short cruise, we were a bit disappointed with the welcome aboard show. It consisted of one extremely short number by the Princess singers and dancers, followed by a short routine by a comedian who would be returning the last night of our cruise. The show was short and not much to write home about, although the comedian's show on the final night was extremely funny. However, it was not funny enough for me to remember the comedian's name. There was one production show on the 2nd night of our cruise, Piano Man. My husband and I actually saw this show a few year's ago on this ship; it was the first production of the show ever. We loved it then, and we loved it this time. In fact, to me, it is the best production show that we have ever seen, and if time had permitted, we would have gone to see the 2nd showing of this show. NOW FOR THE BIGGIE… our favorite ship entertainer was Bert Stratton who played at the piano bar every evening. We heard Bert the first time we sailed the Caribbean Princess 2 years ago, and when we were thinking about this sailing, we called to make certain Bert would be playing. Bert is an amazing singer, writer, piano player, and overall entertainer. He plays piano standing and has plenty of energy. Within minutes of his first note, his audience is singing along, while swaying to the music. Bert's personality grabs his audience, and there is always a full house… not to mention the people standing in the ship's aisles listening and singing. Once you attend a Bert concert, you are instantly Bertified, returning for show after show. Currently I am under a lot of stress at my job, and Bert made me leave the outside world and move into his world of music. My husband and I listened to Bert every night, and we left feeling alive with music. Bert doesn't need sheet music, and we are perplexed at how he remembers all of the words and music to just about any song you request. He has a large repertoire of music, and his show is never the same. We were literally blown away by the songs that Bert wrote himself, and several of those that he shared gave me the chills. His music touches your heart and soul, making you a part of the show. I was definitely Bertified, and if given a choice, I would listen to his music rather than attending any of the main shows. He has an unbelievable talent and he is the "real" deal. He appreciates his audience and is just a "good" person. I cannot even begin to give Bert the phrase he deserves. If you haven't heard Bert, you need to visit his web site and purchase his CD's. You will be glad you did!
SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did not have the opportunity to take a shore excursion, and since we only visited Princess Cay, our options were limited. Princess Cay is lovely, but there was a major wind and the water was extremely cold. This was the overall opinion of many Floridians, but people from up north seemed eager to get into the water. The barbecue lunch on Princess Cay was typical of what you would expect. We did walk part of the nature trail, but I left my shoes on the beach so the rocks really began to hurt my feet. Definitely wear your shoes!
DISEMBARKATION: Simple, easy, and quick. Take time to eat breakfast in the dinning room, since most people do not leave until after 9:00 a.m. The breakfast service was wonderful, and the food was a delicious way to end our trip. OVERALL: It was a great 3-day cruise. We would certainly do it again! However, the 7-day cruises have much more to offer, some of which we missed on the 3 day cruise. Overall, however, it was an amazing get away for a very reasonable price. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me, since I have learned so much about cruising from Cruise Critic. I would love to offer you any additional suggestions, and I hope this review has been helpful. Happy cruising!