This was my 2nd cruise, 1st with Princess. I brought my boyfriend along for his first cruise experience.
I will start by saying, that I got an incredible price on this cruise. $380 for a 7 night cruise, so i couldn't turn it down. I will also say, the saying "you get what you pay for" definitely was the case here.
Overall I would rate the cruise a 7 of 10. Compared to Royal Caribbean "Freedom of the seas" this cruise did not even compare. The sailing with Royal, i would have given a 10 of 10.
This cruise seemed to be for the elderly crowd. I being 31, and my boyfriend 23, felt rather set apart from the rest of the crowd on this ship. I would say the median age of the other passengers was in the mid to late 50's.
Now, to get into the details of this cruise....
We decided to go to San Juan a few days early and stayed at the Hilton Caribe hotel.. Excellent hotel to say the least. Definitely will stay there again. The staff is very friendly and attentive to all of your needs. They have a beautiful private beach, and a few gorgeous pools, not to mention the free range swans, geese, and peacock. There is a subway right close by so if you're not into spending a fortune on hotel food, subway will suffice quite nicely.
We embarked on Sunday with very little trouble at all. Everyone said to go after 2:00, however we arrived at 1:15. The boarding passes stated that check-in would not begin until 2:00, but when we arrived at 1:15, we got checked in right away, and in under 10 minutes were on board the ship. We packed 2 bottles of wine, and brought them on board to our cabin with us. Our luggage arrived only about an hour after we arrived to our room, so that was no biggie.
We decided to take a tour of the ship. I was a bit dissapointed at the decor of the ship. It seemed like Princess put very little effort into the decoration. It seemed like there was a very low budget and not much was spent on making the ship "pop" like Freedom of the sea's did for me. The ship was very bland, and left alot to be desired. The lighting was blah, the carpets were blah, and there seemed to be little technology. I must say however, the pizza parlor made the best pizza i've ever had. Very nice new york style. There were different pizza's available each day. The food on this ship was very nice. Never anything really to complain about in the food department. I did not like however, how the dining rooms were so seperated. There were 3 dining rooms that were seperated on each floor. I enjoyed the 1 enormous dining room on Freedom of the seas. It was much more elegant. The buffet on this ship i must say was quite nice. There was never a wait, and several seating areas available most of the time. The crew were very friendly and eager to assist you to get a table. They would often take your plates for you to the table and pull up your chair as well. (and this was for the buffet). The bar tenders were fair to say the least. We purchased the soda card, and after receiving a soda, gone back 30 minutes later to the same bartender, he/she would ask to see your sticker again. I felt this was a little innapropriate, considering he/she just saw it a few minutes ago.
We elected to dine in both specialty restaurants both formal nights of the cruise, as we did not want to dress up, nor did we bring a suit, or tux with us. Sabatini's (italian) was excellent. Not a bad thing to say. The waitress from Romania was fantastic as well. Crown Grill was phenominal food as well, however the wait staff? not as good as sabatini's. We did however order too much and ended up asking for our filet, and rack of lamb to go, which they gladly packed for us in a handbag shaped aluminum foil package.
The entertainment on this cruise was fair at best. The costumes were worn and haggered, and the voices, not so great. It is evident where the budget goes on this ship, and that's to the food. Most nights had plenty of seats available for walk-ins, but nobody walked in. I would say the production shows only produced half a packed theatre. The one highlight was however the comedian, however i can't remember his name. There was standing room only for this guy. We only went up to the nightclub (sky walkers) twice. The first time, there was only a couple people in there. The last night (Cruise night) there was a packed house and was lots of fun. The casino was of adequate size, however still ended up losing a little bit of money on the tables.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We disembarked at about 8:00am with our assigned group. Took us about 5 minutes to clear customs, found our bags a couple minutes later, and off to the airport we were.
All in all, I think the cruise was definitely worth the money. Like I said.. You get what you pay for. We didn't pay for alot, and didn't get a whole lot. Would I go on princess again? If the money is right? Sure... Why not... I will however spend a little more to go back on Royal Caribbean. I felt they were much more superior. Most people say the cruise director makes the cruise. I felt this couldn't be more true. Our cruise director was as well in his 50's, and had very little enthusiasm. I Don't even remember his name. He didn't seem to be to interested in his job like the cruise director on Freedom that we had, who's name i believe was Richard Spacey or something. He was a comedian and had lots of energy and enthusiasm, and you could tell really enjoyed his job. He made that cruise very enjoyable.
Anyway.. I hope this helps you in making your future cruising decisions.