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 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.