I just got in the door today (7/26/2009) from my 9 Night Caribbean Princess Cruise which left on (7/17/2009) from New York.
1. The Room: We had a $4300 mini suite. The bed was very hard. I took 3 nights of the room steward adding stuff under the sheets before it felt halfway okay. The room smelled like smoke. Because the 3100 passenger ship was overbooked with 3500 passengers, we could not change rooms. The room steward 'Dennis' was nice. Although he never created special towel animal on the bed or anything like typical cruise room stewards do. He cleaned the room. That's it. Nothing special. The room reminds you of a traditional old school hotel room. Nothing Special about it at all. They just added cheap shelf mounted flat screens TVs to help the appearance but it does not help the decor much. The Bath room was a good size for a cruise and it had a tub in it. The balconies on the ship are larger than I have seen on ship. The only problem is that there are two deck (8 & 9) where the balconies stick out from the ship like steps. This means the you look up and see everyone looking at you and you see them. So, no balcony privacy. Most ships the balconies are flush to the ship so have almost complete privacy unless a ship pulls up next to you!
2. The Ship: This ship in no way takes your breath away. It looks a little like it came out of the 'Love Boat' TV show. Nothing special. It has the most illogical design of any ship we have been on. Very Few Venues. Princess ships have a design concept where they break up the pool decks into three areas. This design is actually kind of bad. The Middle section has the Movie screen which is nice. But if they did not have the movie screen you would really be bored. The shows are just okay. They had only two theatrical performances (Musical Tribute, Caribbean theme), Magician (Adult oriented w/Comedy, a magician in a to to), Hypnotizer (okay), Two Comedians. Now, this was a 9 night cruise. You get more than this in a 5 night cruise. What they did was keep repeating the shows over and over and over. They had to do this because the venues/theaters are pretty small when you are carrying 3500 people. And there would be maybe only two major performances going on simultaneously. So people would be crowded around everywhere.
3. The Dining: More Crowds! The buffets had pretty good food. We had lobster or crab several times. I was surprised that there were lobster claws in the buffet on the first day of departure. Of Course they portioned them out to you. But I had my share since most people were unaware it was being served. The dining room food was good also. The service was really bad since there where so many people. So you would wait to be seated, and then wait to be served for each course of the meal. When it arrived it was usually good. The wait staff often time were rude or just non-attentive, we heard this from everyone we dined with. We had anytime seating so we met several new people each night. I believe since they have started charging you automatically for tips that service has gone down (freestyle cruising causes this also). In the buffet you will always find yourself looking around for a while for a seat.
Every Cruise I have been on host special nights on the pool deck. Usually there are several theme nights. Usually there is a Themed cuisine buffet style on the outside decks. In this 9 night cruise they only had ONE and all they served was FRUIT! Oh I'm sorry they did have a few fried appetizers. There was only ONE LINE and a serving area that was only 6 tables long for a ship that had 3500+ (700 kids) people on it! There was not one special midnight buffet evening! No special themes or waiter performances in the dining room. Wait...one night they did wear Italian sailor outfits. This was such an uneventful cruise it is crazy! But if you never cruised you would not know this.
Wait...let me tell you about the ICE CREAM....every cruise I have been own the have self serve ice cream machines placed around the pool decks or the buffet. NOT PRINCESS. When you get on the ship at the door they tell you that free ice cream is only available between 2-4pm. So, if you want unlimited ice cream you must purchase a $93.00 'Soda and Ice Cream' sticker. Okay...you buy this and the you find out that ice cream is only served until 6pm. Wait...and there is only one place to get Ice Cream. Wait...and there are only every 1 or 2 people working at the stand...for 3500+ people!!!! (700 kids). And they give you a mini-cone.
4. THEY TRY TO CHARGE YOU FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING, SPIN, YOGA, ETC......
5. In the workout room they shut down the treadmills at 8pm because there are rooms under the gym and it disturbs the passengers. WHAT KIND OF SHIP DESIGN IS THIS!!!!
6. There is now separate Karaoke Place like Royal and Others...they just convert the main club into a Karaoke place for an hour then change the theme. The cruise director is able to Host every major event because only one thing good is going on at a time. You would think he was the STAR on board. Nice guy but man!
Look...I could go on and on. We made the best of it. We had fun meeting people and doing the thing we did. And just relaxing on deck mostly because the bed was hard. The best part of the cruise was the MOVIES under the stars and the
Food. 85% of the Passengers are from the New York, Boston, NJ, Penn. Areas. And maybe the staff has been beaten down by the strength of the New York style personalities. I don't know... but this is not a quality cruise. It's maybe a Cruise for beginners who don't know better.