Between June 10-20 2009 my boyfriend and I (both in 40's, no kids) took the Caribbean Princess from Brooklyn NY to Bermuda, San Juan PR, St. Thomas, Grand Turk. We cruised once before on Carnival and this was our first Princess cruise. This ship beats Carnival by far!
A quick warning before the Cruise Pros & Cons: Beware of BEACH swimming in Grand Turk. Our ship berthed next to Carnival Destiny ship already at the pier. Many Princess customers were swimming within the designated beach area located close to the Carnival ship. When Carnival quickly pulled out of port, it created a strong undercurrent which sucked the beach swimmers out to sea! It's a miracle nobody drowned, though some were physically & mentally hurt by this scary episode. Princess had to send out a rescue boat. There are no lifeguards.
Ok, now the rest:
PROS: quick embarkation and debarkation. Professional courteous staff. Our room steward, Amado, was outstanding.
Great buffet dining experience. Seemed like the staff really tried to prepare interesting themes and variety. I really enjoyed the ample fresh fruit at breakfast and free room delivery. Extremely good quality pizza by the family pool. We had "anytime" dining for the table-service dining. Twice had great food and service in the Coral dining room - coincidentally (?) when we agreed to be seated with other people.
Ate at the Crown Grill: excellent food & service.
We enjoyed the company of the other cruisers in general a perfect mix of young/mid/older people, from all over US and beyond. Maybe we lucked out, but the kids we encountered were well behaved (unlike our Carnival experience - total chaos where people expected ship staff to discipline the kids).
Adult-only pools (Terrace & Spa) were soooooo nice. These fresh water pools were super clean yet seemed to have no chlorine...YAY!! I spent hours in the water daily and never got the usual chlorine eye/skin irritation.
Spa and Thermal Rooms: we opted to buy the "couples special" whole-cruise access to the 'thermals', which are a series of dry/wet heat saunas. We used them every day; extremely relaxing! Many days we were the only ones in there!You'll have the place to yourself if you go in late afternoon/early eve. before dinner.
Promenade deck: you can walk the complete perimeter of the ship. The bow is a deck higher than the rest of ship, but this step-walking just added to the fun and work-out factor! 2.7 laps = 1 mile : )
All of the musicians, singers, and show dancers were real pros.
Smoking is allowed on balconies, so don't expect to get any fresh sea air there : (
Surly girl 'barista' at the International Cafe was only staff member in need of attitude adjustment (or a vacation herself!)
Comedians were 2nd or 3rd rate. They had a guy billed as a comedian/magician who was neither. Booooo.
St. Thomas: if you're unlucky enough to have a rainy day while at this port, don't bother getting off the ship. The town is a dump. Tourist store rip-offs abound. If you MUST shop for jewelry, don't dare pay the 'first' price they quote you. To Princess' credit, I was so relaxed by the cruise that I lost the b*lls required to deal with the obnoxious salespeople here.
TIPS: despite ample signs prohibiting "reserving" of deck chairs, you won't find a 'free' one after 8 a.m. But just because there's a towel on the chair doesn't mean you can't sit on it. I did just that with no problem after watching only 3 people in the (family) pool yet there were 50+ towel-covered chairs with no people or belongings by them. Let the 'no reservations' rule work to YOUR advantage!
There are FREE saunas in the mens & ladies locker rooms by the fitness center. You don't have to buy your way into the thermal rooms. The thermals just allow men and women in together.
Teeny-tiny cabin showers got you down? Use the FREE large luxurious shower stalls in the fitness/spa area. Especially if you're going to the gym anyway! Added bonus: lots & lots of big clean towels!
In a watery nutshell, we would definately do another Princess cruise.