Our third cruise with Princess - the first was to Alaska in 2006, the second, last year, was of the Baltic.
Embarkation was a breeze - got to the Brooklyn terminal at about 1:30 p.m., in our room by about 2:30, up to the luncheon buffet shortly after that. Didn't get sick this time (came down with food poisoning that knocked me out for a few days on the Baltic cruise), so that's a big plus.
Our cabin, on the Aloha deck, was tiny, but that's no shocker. Room steward was very affable and helpful. Had a great view of the City skyline and Statue of Liberty leaving and returning to New York, ironically, more or less in the rain both times.
But that was the only rain we experienced. We had 9 days of sunshine. In fact, it was almost prohibitively hot. It was interesting to go from the murky waters of New York City to the crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Took some lovely photographs.
In Bermuda, we went on a Catamaran and snorkeled in the ocean, which was as warm as a bathtub. That was a wonderful excursion.
Our stops in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas were nixed because of the hurricanes. LOTS of angry people, all of whom were displeased with the replacements: Nassau and Port Canaveral. Still made it to Grand Turk, albeit for about five hours. Went snorkeling there, too, and swimming with stingrays. That, also, was very nice.
Nassau didn't really do it for us; no excursions that interested us (the Caribbean Princess had never sailed to Nassau or Port Canaveral before, so I can imagine the tour desk was scrambling to put shore excursions together). We chose to go shopping in a giant flea market. Nothing special and the area is very poor-looking and seeming. It also smells of raw sewage. Most people on the ship took advantage of a shore excursion to the Atlantis resort, but, from what I understand, it was too expensive and there wasn't enough time there.
In Port Canaveral, we chose the excursion to Kennedy Space Center, which was the highlight of the trip. Even got to see where they launch the spacecrafts, as well as the craft that will go up on Tuesday (8/26).
As for the ship, it's big and crowded, fully booked, in fact. There were a great many screaming children. Getting a seat at the buffet was near impossible, so we had to settle for eating outside in the heat, which was very unpleasant. The food was very good, though I imagine that picky eaters had a very hard time with some of the dining room menu choices. Service was sometimes slow in the dining room during peak hours.
Had a number of encounters with some very rude staffers. Went to play Bingo early in the cruise and was sternly lectured by the ticket seller about why I should buy the more expensive card. It began with "(long pause and 'are you serious?' look) Let me explain something to you..." In the boutique shops, there were a few surly store managers.
In the Crown Grill (where I had a very delicious fillet mignon), a member of our party asked for a plan salad of lettuce, onions and Russian dressing and was told by the waiter and the maitre'd that it was impossible to get a salad with those ingredients in the Crown Grill.
The production shows were very weak, the strongest being Piano Man, which we had seen in Alaska. One of the singers was actually on Broadway. He was the best of the 4, which included a married couple. The dancers looked bored. Of the comedians, 3/5 were very good, 2 were piss poor.
I was very surprised by how unappealing some of the entertainment was; there were a few nights where, when the production shows were repeated, all we could do was go to a Movie Under the Stars, which was nice, but who wants to watch a movie that they've already seen?
The store had a blowout sale of t-shirts for different destinations. I got some nice Bonaire and Antigua merchandise for cheap!
All-in-all, it was a very relaxing trip in bright sunshine. I'm not a beach person, I didn't care about the missing stops, I just needed to recharge my batteries. And that I did.