Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by comment62: Rolling with fun
Overall Member Rating
Rolling with fun
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
SAILING: We sailed from Brooklyn Pier Oct. 17.2009 to explore the New England and Canadian coastlines. I'd sailed Princess twice before- always a great experience. With the exception of gale force winds and high seas which necessitated sailing past our first port of Newport, this cruise rated a B+- the others got an A+. Overall. I actually like Princess better than some "luxury" cruise lines with higher staff ratio but more $$$$$$- this was just too crowded for the highest rating in my view.
GREAT EVERYTHINGS, The staff was wonderful, the ports were great, ship itself exquisitely beautiful however overcrowded. The Captain kept passengers (many nervous/seasick during the storm) well informed of weather changes which was appreciated & comforting. The food generally was fine given the mass feedings though the Crown grill was well worth the service charge of $25.00 for an exceptional meal & service. Our balcony cabin was clean, comfortable and well appointed- our More steward, Daniel, always attentive.
SARDINES: While I understand the logistics of ship placement clearly precludes passenger wish lists, the Caribbean princess seemed better suited for warmer climates & younger demographics who balance overcrowding with outdoor activities and thus even out passenger distribution. It seemed they added cabins on this huge floating palace without expanding public spaces to accommodate the additional bodies- hence the sardine effect & far greater limitations on activity choices. Much of this was likely due to the inclement weather and underuse or prohibition of outside spaces- a safety precaution we all understood during the gale.
PUBLIC SPACES: While the Caribbean Princess really didn't seem overly cavernous, many spaces seemed planned more for their trendiness than for practicality. It seemed the Internet cafe and library were combined in one small room to make space for a rarely, if ever, used wine tasting area. Hence, it was often difficult to find either a computer or quiet place to read since people seemed to use the limited seating interchangeably & long lines resulted.
SMOKING LOUNGE VS SPORTS: The smoking lounge was far too small, crowded, and incredibly noisy with sports tv blaring from every corner- rather than a more subdued & well ventilated area as on other ships ( many have wifi too). The fall cruises are generally the more reserved set who might prefer a nice conversation or good book over a brandy & cigar rather than be held captive to tv racket. The filtration system was also very poor- maybe because the space was simply inadequate. Perhaps, a separate area could be carved out of an existing but under used lounge area for sports aficionados so everyone could be happy.
DISEMBARKATION: pure chaos- unlike I've ever seen before. Since we were ordered out of our cabins by 8am, far too many "color groups" showed up ALL at once, in the picture gallery gathering & lounge area which soon became a HOT, stuffy sardine can of people and CO2- OVER half which had no seats. A few older folks around us complained of feeling ill - forced to stand far too long without sturdier folks graciously offering them their seats. We truly felt sorry for the few staff assigned to handle this swarming, irritable crowd. On past cruises, disembarkation groups either were allowed to stay in their cabins UNTIL called or were more evenly distributed among waiting areas. I can't even see how this was allowed under the fire code.
SAY IT AIN'T SO:You got the distinct feeling as departing passengers, you had your 7 days & Princess had your money- so we were simply being swept, like so much debris, off the ship awaiting new fares. That can definitely influence bookings on future cruise ships or lines. Otherwise it was a great cruise, and I love Princess- just not the overcrowding on some of their mega ships with significantly inadequate public spaces to give passengers some wiggle room. Staying in your cabin for quiet space should not be the only option left to us.
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Cabin review: bA-638
SMALL but comfortable ( Aloha deck-638)- tiny bathroom with fine amenities. Good quality linens & comfortable beds. This time the mini fridge actually worked. Great views from small balcony, but too cold to go out there anyway I would upgrade to a mini-suite next time (if the economy improves.)
Port and Shore Excursions
BAR HARBOR: enchanting with the usual collection of trendy souvenir shops and cozy restaurants with sweeping harbor views. We missed booking for the Arcadia National Park tour which I heard was breathtaking, but had a wonderful, energetic time walking the neighborhoods and salivating over magnificent seaside homes. There is a beautiful walking trail along the water-wish we had rented bikes for it!
I bought long johns at a cute little general store there because I thought it was going to be insufferably cold in Canada - but strangly, it became more moderate as we sailed north. Ironically, I needed them a whole lot more upon my return to the Las Vegas desert with it's rare frigid gale force winds.
One friendly Bostonian directed us to the water taxi which takes you across the river (awesome & different views of Boston) to the Naval yards and the historical tall-ship USS Constitution + Naval museum & only for about $1.50 each way. The water taxi is a treat in itself!!!
You can pretty much do Boston on your own- just remember where the bus let you off for your return to your ship or else you'll add a half hour of mindless wandering & muttering.
It seemed to get friendlier as you sailed North.
Fascinating Maritime museum along a peaceful and beautiful walking trail along the water- Halifax is where many Titanic fatalities were processed as well as where many flights diverted when US airspace was closed following 911- there is a historical & inspiring connection between Nova Scotia and the USA.
You can also take the double decker all around Halifax- but we decided to take a quick look at the Citadel (sp)Fort on the hill- it was totally intriguing & after much begging, they let us in 5 minutes from closing for a whirlwind self tour- wish we had taken more time for that too! If you miss your double decker bus , Halifax has a free city bus- WONDERFUL PEOPLE, BEAUTIFUL PORT.
Good place to get a fix on the citizen's "universal health care". Eye opening. You need to do good time management at this port- little time- much to see!
PS Hope I'm not confusing some attractions with the St. John's Nefoundland.
Brooklyn Pier gets a 5+, We didn't tour NYC- just took Amtrak from DC- then had a Mr. Toad's wild cab ride to the pier since Amtrak broke down along the way & we were running late. HOWEVER, just another adventure & Amtrak is a great way to see scenery along the way with very comfortable & spacious coach seating , but my spouse was right- we should have booked the train earlier.
Very efficient passenger boarding at Brooklyn Pier & a breeze to get on ( especially after 3pm for the tardy set) not to mention a few fleeting moments of being mini-royalty via a plastic stemware of cool champagne upon boarding.
BUT it was TOTAL chaos upon disembarkation (not even a 1 rating). Squished in the waiting areas for what seemed hours,finally released in mass to a sea of look alike baggage -then lugging it through customs (so polite) to a sea of look alike airport buses amid sea of humanity. I've done a LOT of international and domestic travel in past years, but this seemed even more foreign. Eventually the tough talking natives effectively herded their bewildered & sweating post-cruisers into the right bus with little fanfare. We were barely homeward bound and already exhausted!
Didn't really do much in NYC except train in- fly out (BTW: Northwest Airlines has superior legroom in coach compared to other carriers & crews were awesome-though hours of confinment in the middle seat will never be a happy experience unless you are under 10 years old. Like the Princess Caribbean ship- NYC, while an amazing city, is simply too big & complicated for us simple country folks!
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