We sailed on the July 11 – 18 2010 Eastern Caribbean cruise. My boyfriend and I came on this cruise with two other couples. We have cruised before on multiple cruise lines including Princess (this cruise was the 3rd time), Carnival (twice), NCL (once) and Royal Caribbean (once). We had a great time on this cruise. The ship was in good condition and the food and service and food were excellent. We were able to get right on the ship and into our rooms at approximately 1:30PM. The room was a good size for an inside room (I prefer Princess’ room set-ups as they have a large closet area.) Our cabin steward did a good job and was friendly. Our friends got their bags relatively quickly, ours took a little longer, but they were there before we were ready to change for dinner.
We took the second seating for dinner since it is usually easier to have the traditional dining with a group. This had us in the Botticelli dining room. The service was great for dinner every night. Both our waiter and assistant were friendly and helpful, but the assistant was especially personable. All the food was excellent especially the beef filet medallions, Caesar salad and fettuccini Alfredo – all available every night. The only food that was lacking was the bread, Carnival has much better bread. One of our friends is a vegetarian and enjoyed most of the items she ordered. Desserts were excellent as well. We did not choose to dine in any specialty restaurants as the food in the dining room was excellent and we saw no reason to spend extra money on that. We ate buffet breakfast every day. Our only complaints with the breakfast were the cereal selections were very bland and it was tough to get chocolate milk. The milk was served in pitchers as opposed to the cartons served on many ships which allows a variety of milk types.
The entertainment was okay in terms of the productions themselves. The performers were very talented by the productions were hokie. The two comedians were both funny. The only complaint with this is the adult shows were in too small of venues for the amount who wish to attend and some are turned away by the lack of seating.
The first full day we landed at Princess Cays the first day and had an enjoyable day. The women of our group did a beach yoga class through the fitness center for $12 a person. It was relaxing but if you are a yoga buff it is not very challenging. The rest of the day we enjoyed the beach chairs which were plentiful if you arrived on the island early. The lunch buffet was okay. It was salads, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken and the like. It was not open the whole day like on the ship, it was open from about 11:30 – 1:30. The soda package does not work on Princess Cays, we knew that going in, but it can be annoying to pay for something twice. Some of our group went snorkeling on the island which was okay, but we did better snorkeling in other ports. The snorkeling was pretty cheap on this island though, I think it was like $12. There is a tender at Princess Cays so it can be inconvenient to go back and forth to the ship.
The next day was a sea day and we had a couple’s massage at 8:00 AM which was expensive ($260 pre-tip) but well enjoyed. When it was over it was still early and we got out to the pool to make sure we got chairs. Chairs fill up quickly as on most ships. Of the two middle pool decks there was the Neptune’s Pool Deck which featured music throughout the day and the Movies Under the Stars pool had movies all day. Our favorite was the Neptune’s pool with the music as the movies were extremely loud and it made it hard to read if you were not watching the movie. Some of the movies played throughout the day are not always appropriate for families, so if you have children you should check the Princess Patter for the movie listings. (Although it appeared most of the families on our sailing were consisting of parents with teenagers) The Neptune’s pool also features pool games and demonstrations from time to time. We frequently ate lunch at the buffet, but also ate pizza – excellent for a cruise ship, and from the grill – hamburgers and hot dogs. All was good, especially the chocolate chip cookies from the buffet. The third night was also the first formal night with all the hub-bub such as the Champagne fountain, formal photos and up scaled menu.
The third day we landed in St. Marteen a little later than the itinerary stated due to another ship docking in front of us. We stayed in Phillipsburg the whole day at the beach. We rented chairs and an umbrella from a local restaurant for $15 including two beers. You can haggle with most of the people on the beach for chairs, jet skis and other rentals. Our friends paid $50 to jet ski for 30 minutes. We also took the time to shop on Front Street in the gift shops. We didn’t buy any duty free items as we had to fly home, but the liquor was at a great discount.
The fourth day was St. Thomas. We took an excursion to Snorkel and go to the beach on St. John. We enjoyed the excursion to the National Park – Trunk Bay. The snorkeling is excellent, the best anywhere. The only downside was it was too short. We could have used another hour. We were glad to be taking an excursion to St. John though since there were some problems on St. Thomas a few days prior to our arrival with the shooting death of a Carnival Cruise passenger. That night was also the second formal night.
The fifth day we were in Grand Turk. We stayed exclusively at the cruise terminal at Margaritaville. This is very much like college spring break so if that is not your scene, I would stay on the free beach which is right next to the ship. There is not much to see in Grand Turk outside the cruise terminal as learned from prior cruises, so I wouldn’t bother with an excursion. We were there for about six hours which was long enough.
The last full day was an out to sea day which gave you plenty of time to pack to go home. Dis-embarkment was pretty easy as we took a Princess airport transfer. Overall it was a great cruise. Princess is an excellent, upscale cruise line.