I have sailed on the Princess before, but I took my Mother and sister on their first ever cruise, and they absolutely loved it.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early, and stay at the Hamton Inn Plantation hotel, I booked this because of the good reviews in trip advisor, and was not let down. It as a fantastic hotel, staff were friendly. Was picked up at the airport, and dropped off at the cruise port.
I thought we were in a pickle when there was no close liquor store near by, but low in behold target sold Wine! The mall is a 5 minute walk. Also were the numerous restaurants. Maybe alittle too far for some elderly people, but about a 10 minute walk with Mom...
Anyway the hotel pool and breakfast was great. I was hoping that our day after at the Hampton Inn City center would be the same, but it was not.
No shuttle pick up, or shuttle to the air port, and my gmail account was hacked when I logged into their computer to book a flight and check email. Wont do that again.
Well, onto the cruise...
Embarkation was a breeze, on in about 15 minutes, Princess always does that well.
Ship was packed, all the pools and bars were super busy, funny thing is I don't think they got all there supplies in, they were already out of bud light in the metal bottles...
Because my Mom and Sister have never cruised before, we had to do everything...
So, off we went to investigate.
We stayed on the 14th deck R333. I will never stay on that floor again. You get too much noise from the pool. The live bands and music. You also hear all the scraping from the tables and chairs on the roof of the balcony.
This was one cruise that we got fantastic weather, we slept with the balcony doors open every night, it was wonderful to listen to the waves.
Some people complained that the ship was alittle rocky, yes, there were times where you were walking and suddenly you were almost hitting the wall. It was neat to watch the performers try to stand still, while it rocked. But, I would not say it was really worse that other trips. It was mostly while they were booking it to the next port. (sea day).
First off the food, much better than other cruises on Princess. We ate at the Crown Grill for a special occasion, and was completely in awe.
The steak was mouth watering, and my sister said it was the best restaurant she has ever been to! They even made it surf and turf for us by adding lobster tails. The appies were great, and even the scalloped potatoes were great. They did not look the best, but tasted great.
We split the rest of our dinning between the restaurants and the buffet, depending on how tired we were and what was on the menu.
What I was really disappointed about is they did not have their King Crab night. That is what I really looked forward too.
This time we purchased a coffee card, and really enjoyed. We either had the mocha lattes after supper or had and ice latte by the pool. They staff at the international cafe was fantastic.
Our housekeeping (Bernard) was great, actually so was the rest of the staff. I did not find them unfriendly. Bernard was great, called us by name, and was always on the lookout to point us in the right direction. We were always lost trying to find the buffet, pool, etc. It became a game. They sure do work long hard days.
I would have really enjoyed this at the end of the cruise, it would have been nice to have some quite down time. It was funny, you watch their inhouse tv, and they were alway saying: "Princess Cays, it is all about you!" Well, it is, but I can see them also saying, "It is all about us!" Remember, pack your own water, that cost extra, drinks and souvenirs also cost. You want a floatie, that costs, oh you want your own little hut, yep that costs too. All, in all, the beach was nice, was not happy with the food. It was cold, I would have waited until I was back on board the ship.
Depending on what excursion you book, it does not really give you enough time to do alot. We actually booked off the boat with Bernards tours.
He was great, poor Boyde, got picked to sit in the front, drank too much rum punch... Next time I go, I would not book any tours but take a taxi to Maho Beach and stay there, and have the planes land over head. The waves were incredible, and standing on the beach while the planes take off is something to experience. Hopefully, you do not have a sunburn because the sand shot back from the jets tend to sting a bit. You then have to take time to shop. We were spent from going to Orient Beach, which was great, but long trip, and being stuck in traffic, so we skipped the shopping. Did manage to find some Carib beers for the ship though.
This we booked with Princess. "Views of St. Thomas" Again, it was long and left little time for shopping.
We did go up the mountain the Mountain Top. Beautiful view, and really good shopping with reasonable prices. My sister did not care for the travel up because of the small windy roads, but all in all, it was nice. It is a, been there, done that, now.
We also did the Trolley ride, you definitely wont get drunk on the "free" Bushwacker that you are promised. They are little pee size cups.
Try to sneak extra... :) They are really good. Also, there is a coupon for some money off in the books that are handed out. No parrots up there like they said in the brochure.
We did the swimming with the sting rays!
This was fantastic! All three of us really enjoyed! The snorkeling afterwards was bung. There was nothing. Either they got hit with a hurricane that killed everything or they let people step and pick everything, or we just did not go to the right spot.
The beach looked fantastic, but did not get a chance to spend alot of time there since by the time we got back it got cool and looked like rain, so we boarded the ship. I do not know how Turks looks out side the little compound, but inside was very nice. We did not do the Margaretta at Margaritaville, heard it was expensive, but I did buy a shirt.
All in all, for the time we had and what we saw, we would probably not book a excursion for any of them but just get off the boat and pick one spot and head to the beach. Unless, you wanted to do some snorkeling...
Shows: They were great. Princess did not try to do something really big every night like they use to, it tended to be really bad when they tried. But, this time the did it great. Both comics were really well. And the three shows were fantastic. Did not care for the middle show which had a lot of music from the 50-60's little too old for me. But, the last show was amazing! They used alot of computer imagery, costume changes etc. It was Alice in wonderland, with alittle bit of Wizard of oz, with some lion king thrown in, all done to the 10th degree! It was just fantastic. I do not know who/how they ever thought to create something like that!