Pre cruise-Flew out of St Louis on Southwest. Stayed all night at the Hyatt Place North. Bought some precruise items at Total Wine and Publix. Had dinner at Kelly's Landing. Hyatt Place is fine for a one night stay. We waited an awfully long time for the shuttle at the airport. We take a taxi on our own to the pier. I am not a patient person and don't like to wait for the shuttle. Kelly's Landing was good as always. It's sort of become a tradition to eat there the night before we cruise.
Embarkation- We arrived at the port after 10 and waited inside the terminal with #1 boarding cards. They said they were running late but we were called around noon. They have free wifi in the terminal so while waiting I was able to pass time on the internet with my netbook. Check in was swift and easy as usual. Room was ready. Ended up eating lunch in the buffet, didn't feel like trying to argue our way into the dining room if need be. It was not in the Patters that the dining room was open. I sure wish Princess would get their act together on the dining room being open for embarkation. We did not get our luggage till after muster. I was getting a bit worried but it did show. I hate when it arrives late as I can't relax at sailaway knowing I still need to unpack. We hurried and unpacked and then went to sailaway. It rained! Only time we had rain interfere with anything so that was OK.
Weather-Rained at sailaway but perfect everywhere else. Had a lot of rocking the first few days. I have been on 7 cruises but had to lie down for a while and take some Dramamine the first sea day. Water wasn't rocky, I think it was a lot of wind. Even a few crew members mentioned some crew wasn't feeling well. After the first few days all was fine. The motion was severe enough that they closed the pools on the first sea day after passengers and water were sloshed about.
Room-Had the coveted C753. Wonderful room steward named Carlito. Room was very nice, the balcony was huge. For our final opinion on a corner aft vs the end mini...........our vote goes to the mini. Nothing wrong with this cabin at all but for a little bit more in price you can have the full bath, sitting area, and the covered extended balcony. Would just take our chances with a gty balcony as we don't think the location justifies the price difference IMO for a balcony cabin. Lovely quiet location (no foot traffic) but the wake is loud, there are no breezes. One morning a room service waitress came in wide eyed and said she didn't know that room was back there. I would just value a full bath more than the true aft. If you are an aft lover this is a wonderful cabin. No beam and never smelled anything bad or any soot. You couldn't ask for a more quiet location. We had our own private stair case for muster as well.
Muster-They are now scanning cards when you enter your muster station.
Dining-Anytime dining. Food and service were good. Some servers better than others but no complaints. We attended the cooking show on the last sea day, will have to try to replicate that fettucinni here at home. We did Sabatini's one night, excellent as usual. The only bad experience was at the coffee bar. Details to follow.
Princess Cays-Lovely beach day. Rented a Kayak and had DH scared to death. Never saw a thing thru thru the glass bottom. Bring water shoes, rocks in the water. Forgot ours, DH bought a pair in the shops, $25! Ouch! Took a stroll by the bungelows. Very nice and got to the see the inside of one. Will be booking one for our group in 2012 as the non beach people will appreciate the cool air inside. Only down side is you cannot enter the water from the front of the bungelows. You have to walk a way down to enter the water. You would think they would work on doing something about that problem.
St Maarten-Orient Beach. Took a taxi with others we met on the cruise. Orient beach is very pretty but crowded. There were 4 ships in port that day. We rented chairs for $7 a piece with an umbrella and a drink. The drinks at Pedros were very good. Took a cab back and then shopped a bit before going back to the ship. The water at Orient beach is great, the sand is nice. Nice beach day, just very crowded.
St Thomas-Went on our own to Trunk Bay in St John. BEAUTIFUL beach but it takes a beating out of you to get there. Cab to the ferry to a cab to the beach and then all in reverse. Talked to others on board who weren't happy as they only got one hour with the Princess excursion. We had 2 hours but it was still a lot of work for such a little time. Had we gotten an earlier start we would have had an extra hour. Would do it again but would only do it if I had more time. Shopped downtown and then another cab ride to the ship. Snorkeling was nice but the best was yet to come. Snorkeled away from the path they have outlined and went over the sand and saw a stingray with 2 fish swimming along with it. Very nice.
A PLUS-When did they do away with immigrations at St Thomas? Good news! We didn't have to line up for immigration before getting off the ship! I know we still did that in 08 but am glad to see it gone.
Grand Turk-BEST SNORKELING! We booked with Blue Water Divers on our own. Short $5 cab ride and 6 of us from the ship spent the most amazing 2 hours snorkeling. I saw more in this one afternoon than all the other snorkeling I have ever done. Daniel from Blue Water was awesome. DH didn't feel comfortable snorkeling from the day before but Daniel took a little time explaining how to suit up and breath and he had a better day than before. What might have been an unpleasant day for DH turned out to be the best day of the cruise. Daniel gave us a briefing what to look for in the water before going in and also got in the water and dove down to point things out for us. He would come up and tell us what some things were and what we would be seeing at the next stop. The colors were amazing. I have never seen so many different kinds of fish. We passed the Princess excursion and it looked very crowded. I'm so glad we booked this on our own. After the snorkel trip we spent the rest of our time at Margaritaville. Good times! We were one of the last back to the ship. It's a rough job but someone has to bring up the end!
Cruise director and entertainment-Not the best I'm afraid. The cruise director staff seemed tired/flat. There just wasn't much energy in this group. They always seemed off a bit, like it was an effort to be there. Sam the cruise director wore the same dress every night with some different way of trying to disguise it. Even my husband began to notice it was the same dress. Comedians were OK but we have had better on previous cruises. There was a mentalist on board as well. Very entertaining, you left wondering how didhe do that. Saw a few of the production shows, very good voices and dancing.
Disembarkation-Easy as usual. We had breakfast in the dining room, waited for our colors to be called in another dining room and then made our way off the ship. Always a sad final ding when I place that card in the reader for the last time. A porter helped us find our luggage, got us a taxi right away and we were off to the airport.
One negative-I was made to feel like a criminal using a coffee card left over from a previous cruise (Emerald 08). A barista very loudly told me I was trying to pull one over by using a card from somewhere else. She gave me my coffee after I explained I had the card left from my Emerald cruise and I swear it was with a sneer. I still used the rest of my punches on that card but it really made me apprehensive what I was going to encounter when I used it. I don't like scenes such as one like that. If the policy is we can use the card then the staff should be educated. It should not be up to passengers to defend their use of the card. I bought the buy one get one free and will now be dreading when I have to use it again. She was the only one that questioned the card but she did it loudly and in front of other passengers. I was not happy with the scene and as I stated, it was embarrassing as I do not try to get something I am not entitled to. Isn't it sad that their lack of informing their staff over something so simple will now stick in my mind as a negative? Believe me, that coffee card episode will give me a sinking feeling on the next cruise when I pull it out to use it again.
Any questions, please feel free to ask. We enjoyed our cruise but just found this one to be a bit off from our past Princess cruises. We were still very pleased and would have stayed on for another week if time permitted. We are booked on our next Princess cruise and have 2 FCC's in our pocket for the right booking in the future.