We choose this cruise because the ship stopped at some NEW ports that we have not been to before, after so many cruises all of the ports begin to look alike. The cabin steward was very good, he seem to clean the room right away after we put the service requested sign in the door to let him know that we would be gone for awhile, we think that helped him out, because he has 18 cabins to clean and he did not have time to wonder if people have left their cabin.
The food was avg., we ate most of our meals in the Horizon buffet. It seemed like whenever we went to the buffet the food was NOT very HOT. You had to dig down to the bottom of the warming trays to find HOT food, it didn't matter if it was for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The set up for the buffet line was terrible, there is two entrances, but only one starts at the beginning of the food. People where cutting in front of others that had been waiting in line to get their plates. Food placed on the buffet was not in More
any logical order. The butter was NOT near the breads, the salad dressing was not close to the salad, other food was not near where they should be. There was always 2 kinds of scrambled eggs, but they where placed at opposite ends of the buffet. They where always carving meat of some king during the meals. The one nice idea they had was to put a dining room menu by the buffet so you could see ahead of time if you wanted to go for a sit down meal in the dining that evening or for lunch. If you eat dinner in the Horizon, make sure you get there between 6 and 8pm, if you go after that they stop serving home made ice cream for dessert. If you eat dinner in the DaVinci or Michelangelo dining room MAKE sure you have enough people to fill up a table, or you will be put at a table and be STUCK there until the entire table is filled up before you will be served.
The one thing we missed was the two page recap of the national/world news that was always available at the purser desk in the mornings. I asked about it and was told Princess stopped printing it.
The entertainment, some good, some avg. The shows had ok singers and amateur dancers. Junction 21, Tony B, and the hypnotist are good. The cotton candy "gray hair" crowd went nuts for the one man band named MAURIZIO. If you go to the MUTS, (movie under the stars), go at night as it is alitte hard to see during the day with the sun shinning on the screen. If you go to the shows get there early as there are never enough seats in the Princess theater or the Vista lounge The average age of the passengers was well in 60's, so there was not alot of drinking and gambling going or shopping in the ships stores, things got so bad that the ship was keeping their stores open in ports during the last days of the trip. The cruise lines never do that unless no one is buying. The pressure also picked up to buy drinks as the trip went along.
Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze, no more that a 30 min wait on either end. If you make plane reservations thru Princess they are very $$$. We fly in to and out of FLL, we did fly the same days as the trip, no early in or stay over. When we called Princess we where told that there was "no" shuttle bus service from MIA, only from FLL. We found out later that that was not the case. It seems like Princess was running buses to MIA and FLL, during disembarkation. Flying into MIA is a lot cheaper that going into FLL. The ship is in need of some work as it is showing it's age, some of the carpets, as well as the common areas need some work done to them. The beds seem to have the 'SWAY" back feel to them as they have have used a lot and need to be replaced. Overall rating would be a 6.5 out of 10. The weather was nice and warm with calm seas. Would we do it again, maybe on a different ship. Skip the Sanctuary area, this is a semi private area that you pay for to be "quote" away from other people, but all it is, is an area that is gated off away from other people that will not pay $10 for a 1/2 day or $20 for a full day, to be by themselves. Skip the ART auction, everything is over priced, some art was selling for the $35,000+, not too many buying art. Less
Cat HH, oceanview (part obstructed view), we looked at the front end of the life boat. We knew this ahead of time. Tiny closet, starboard side, middle of ship, not too far from lifts. New flat screen tv, noisy a/c as usual, that we had to call on to get serviced because it didn't seem to cool very well.
Aruba is always nice, we have been here numerous times and decided to take an independent island tour after shopping. The driver was very good and showed us parts of Aruba that the cruise line tours do not go to. It was only $20 round trip for the 2 of us in an a/c van.
Barbados, St Kitts, and St Thomas are nice as always. If you are going to do some MAJOR shopping do it on St Thomas, as everything is duty free. On St Thomas it will cost $4 one way from any port to downtown. We had to dock at Crown Bay and it is a LONG walk with no sidewalks to get to downtown. Don't shop in the dock area as it is high $. The Havenshall Mall area in the other port was wiped out by the last hurricane, it is just now being rebuilt. The shops in Barbados and St Kitts are new and very good.
Curaco, again we have been to this island before. Shopping is within walking distance, from the port. Skip the shops in the "fort" area as they are high priced, go into town across the floating bridge and you can find things cheaper. The people speak English and will take US $ and you can bargin with them somewhat.
Grand Turk is nice, the shops around the port area are reasonably priced. The beach is very good for swimming, and if you want you can use the pool area around the bar. According to some people there is not much downtown, in the way of shopping, It will cost $20 per person round trip to go downtown and some places are still rebuilding from the hurricane that hit last fall.
St Vincent and La Romana, DR. Skip these ports as there is nothing to do if you are looking to shop. Both islands are very poor and scary around the port areas. There are about 12 vendors at the St Vincent port, skip going into town as there is only 1 scary store and not much else. There are independent tours at the port but I'm not sure that it is wise to go on one alone, maybe with a large group of people. Save your $10 round trip per person and NOT go into the town of La Romana. The independent tour guys dump you off at the city square where you a "jumped" on by the 50+ vendors selling the same things. The vendors don't seem to understand the word "NO" we are not interested in buying.