Star Princess Review Sailing April 3, 2010 to April 10, 2010
We have just returned from the Easter sailing of the Star Princess. The itinerary was Princess Cay, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk with 2 sea days.
Let me give you a little background. My husband and I are veteran cruisers, having started cruising together in 1987 with our first cruise on Commodore's Caribe. That was the start of a beautiful relationship for us with the sea and with cruising in general. To date, we have been on 31 cruises including this last one. We lived in the Chicago area when we started cruising, moved to Naples FL in 1994 and cruised from there until 2004 when we moved back to Chicago for 5 years. We did cruise from there while we were living there and moved back to Palm City FL in May of 2009 and have been on 3 cruises since moving back to Florida. We have sailed on Commodore, NCL, RCCL, Premier, HAL, Celebrity, Costa, MSC, Carnival and Princess. Our favourite lines are Princess and Celebrity.
This cruise was a celebration of my husband's birthday. We booked the Star Princess because we liked the ports and because it is laid out like the Grand and the Golden with a large aft area on Lido deck that is an adult area with lots of deck space and a pool. We booked last minute and got a great deal and our cabin was L207 - an inside cabin on Lido deck forward. The cabin was the standard Princess inside cabin and we liked the location. Plenty of storage for us and our Cabin Attendant, Orlando, was excellent. We were close to the forward stairs, and it was easy to navigate the ship - especially since we are familiar with the layout.
We arrived at the port via Cruise Connection bus and boarded the ship about 1:30 pm. Walked in and went right to check in - no crowds or lines - an easy process. We prefer arriving later rather than earlier so we don't have to stand in lines.
There was a welcoming lunch being served in the Horizon Cafe as well as Pizza and Grill foods. The Star has three main dining rooms - the Amalfi is traditional dining, the Capri (deck 5) and the Portofino (deck 6) are Anytime Dining, the Horizon Court is pretty much always open and there are two dining venues that are additional cost - Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. We ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room (Capri for dinner and Portofino for breakfast) and had lunch in various places - the International Cafe, the Horizon Court or the Grill. Every meal was excellent and the service from the waiters and their assistants was excellent. We love the International Cafe - you can get pastries and quick breakfast there as well as sandwiches and salads for lunch and wonderful desserts. This is also where you get brewed coffee and special coffees - lattes, cappucinos, expressos, iced and frozen coffees - all wonderful. Take advantage of the coffee card that you can buy - you get unlimited brewed coffee and premium tea and have 15 punches for special coffees. It is a bargain and if you are a coffee drinker you will love it. The frozen carmel mocha coffee was so good we had a number of those - very refreshing in the afternoons. There are also homemade cookies there - and the Piazza is just a great place to hang out - great people watching, music, and demonstrations. For wine lovers, I should mention that Vines is also located there along with sushi and other appetizers being served.
Skywalkers on Deck 18 Aft was reserved from 5-7PM for Elite, Suite and Platinum passengers - they served appetizers and had lower pricing on special drinks each day. There was also a Captains Circle cocktail party for all repeaters.
There were two formal nights and the rest were resort casual. Many people dressed for formal nights. If you choose not to dress formally, that's OK too.
The first day out we were at Princess Cays - a great beach day - weather was perfect. We stayed on the ship since we have been there many times and enjoyed the ship. The second day we were at sea (first formal night) and again great weather - many places to sun and great shade as well - the cruise director's (cruise director was Richard Joseph) staff has lots of activities so you can do as much or as little as you like. The third day was St. Maarten (from 10am to 6:30pm) and the weather was picture perfect. We walked into Phillipsburg and spent the day perusing shops and visiting with friends we have made over the years there. There were many excursions offered and of course you can go to Marigot on the French side as well. This port is the very best in shopping that the Caribbean has to offer - there were 4 ships in port altogether but we didn't feed crowded in Phillipsburg. The fourth day was St. Thomas and we docked at Crown Bay - they have improved that site considerably since we were last there and there are shops right at the port. We did walk into Charlotte Amalie and stayed for a short period. We were to be in St. Thomas from 7am to 3:30 pm and there wasn't enough time for us to take a ferry to St. John's which is what we prefer to do there. This was also the second formal night and the Captain's Circle party. The fifth day was Grand Turk and this was a wonderful beach day. Grand Turk is a great little port with beautiful beaches, lots of palm trees for shade, shopping and Marguaritaville and a freshwater pool right there where you dock. It's also great for snorkeling and diving. We spent the day at the beach and reluctantly went back to the ship - again perfect weather. The next day was a sea day with perfect weather again. Then home to Ft Lauderdale. Debarkation was a little late, but we exited the ship about 10am and were the last Cruise Connection bus to leave. I should mention that the ship left from Pier 4 and came back to Pier 29 - those of you who drive should be aware that this can happen and there is a shuttle to take you to the garage at Pier 4- but it can be a long wait for the shuttle - there was quite a back up of people waiting for those little shuttle busses.
I've only touched on some of the things that are available and activities that are on the ship. We don't take excursions anymore since we have been to these ports many times. My only comment about the ports other than what I have already said is that St. Thomas just hasn't put any money into the island that is visible to tourists. And the walk from Crown Bay is not one I would want to make again. If the ship were docked at Havensight, that walk is pleasant and not dangerous. St. Maarten on the other hand has done nothing but improve the docking facilities and Phillipsburg - it is a pleasure to be there. St. Thomas used to be the best for shopping, but no more - St. Maarten has them beat hands down.
As this was Easter week, there were many families on board with lots of kids - they all seemed to be well occupied and behaved - and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The Star has a max passenger capacity of 3100 - the ship was not full to capacity and there were some cabins available. It was a younger passenger mix than we are used to and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
I have the Patters from the cruise and if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that this review is written from our point of view and others on the same cruise may have had much different experiences. We will continue to cruise on Princess and Celebrity and may try Azamara in the future as well as Oceania and HAL - we like smaller ships and those are becoming increasingly harder to find. We have been on three cruises in the past five months (Crown Princess, MSC Poesia, and Star Princess) so will take a break for awhile. Happy Cruising!