I found this cruise during spring break because two in our group are teachers. This sailing still had the five aft balcony cabins on Baja deck available and all five couples booked on the same day to make sure we got those aft balconies altogether.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before and stayed at Embassy Suites for its proximity to pre-cruise supplies. Grabbed a cab to the port the next morning and embarkation was a breeze as always!
We went straight to our cabins and met our room stewardess, Alejandra. She was a wonderful young woman from Mexico and always smiling! She immediately opened all of our balcony doors so we would have adjoining balconies for the week. I can't say enough good things about Alejandra! It seemed she was always on duty and right there in the hall if we needed anything. If we asked for ice or something, we would tell her not to rush and just whenever she got around to it -- well, almost immediately she would be right there with whatever we requested!
The first night seas were pretty rough and we missed Princess Cays the next morning due to high winds. The weather was beautiful, but just extremely windy. The first two days these were by far the roughest seas I've ever experienced in the Caribbean!
I've never sailed during Spring Break and was somewhat concerned about the things I've read on CC about tons of kids, underage drinking, and some out of control behavior. I have no idea how many kids/teens we had on this cruise because there was none of the things that I had worried about. Yes, the kids were loud in the pool area, but they were just kids being kids. There was none of the hot tub hogging, kiddies in the adult pools, elevator button pushing, and running up and down the halls all night that I've heard about! I would not hesitate to book another Spring Break cruise on Princess!
I loved spending time in the Piazza sipping coffee or wine, people watching and enjoying the live music or entertainment!
Entertainment on the ship: We don't go to the production shows so I can't comment on that.
We saw two really good comedians, Darrell Joyce and Carlos Oscar, in Explorers Lounge. This lounge is too small for shows as popular as the comedians. They really needed to be in the Princess Theater at least for one show! We also saw Bert Stratton in Explorers. I've read a lot about him on CC and was interested to see why people love him or hate him. In my opinion he was okay, kind of Jim Carrey meets the piano, but now that I've seen him once, I can scratch that off my list and don't need to do it again.
We played a couple of game shows in Club Fusion that were a lot of fun! I was surprised though at how under-attended these were!
Lisa Ball was the cruise director. This was the second time we've had her as the cruise director and I know she's taken a beating on the CC boards, but we thought she was fine. There were more than enough events on sea days to keep us busy. There were a lot of current movies on MUTS, as well as concerts. Our biggest problem was having to decide between several things and what we could fit in timewise.
Dining: We had late traditional and had a wonderful waiter, Ryan, from the Philippines and his assistant Nicola. Food in the MDR was standard fare, some excellent, some very good and some not so good.
Went to the buffet for breakfast the first day and it was a zoo. People just simply don't understand the station concept and wait in a long, slow line through the fruit (which I didn't want) and through the cold fish (which I didn't want) and wait on the toast (which I didn't want) to get to the eggs and bacon. And if you go around somebody to get to what you do want, you're seen as cutting in line and people think you should be beheaded immediately! Went back to the buffet for breakfast several days later and people had finally grasped the station concept and things moved much smoother! Only ate in the buffet on three occasions and it was standard fare.
The Islands and excursions: In St. Maarten we took the ship sponsored excursion Explore the Boardwalk by Segway. Our group really enjoyed their first time on a Segway. However, my DH and I had done this before in Antigua and the Segway tour in Antigua was so much better, longer, and had much newer Segways!! On a previous trip to St. Maarten, we had done a private tour with Barnard's Tours and that was a much better thing to do because it covered both sides of the island with a stop at Orient Beach and Maho Beach to see the planes come in.
In St. Thomas we did the ship sponsored St. John Half-Day Champagne Cruise. We really enjoyed this! Good snorkeling off the catamaran and close enough to swim to the beach. We saw turtles and even a very large stingray! We had a great time on the sail back and the champagne, rum, and beer was flowing freely!! Hint for anyone interested in this tour: If you are offended by a few people that have a bit too much to drink and get a bit silly, DON'T BOOK A TOUR IN THE CARIBBEAN THAT HAS ANY SORT OF ALCOHOL IN THE NAME! Just because it's called a "champagne cruise" does not mean luxury sailing while sipping champagne out of a crystal flute! I think everyone enjoyed this tour with the exception of one woman that obviously expected crystal and extended pinkies!!
In Grand Turk the guys did the ship sponsored Grand Turk Power Snorkeling and had a great time. The girls went to Margaritaville and had an even better time!! Yes, it is overpriced, but you're paying for the atmosphere and it was worth every penny in my opinion!!!
Disembarkation came much too soon and went as smooth as ever. We had a post-cruise stay at the Hilton Marina and LOVED IT!! We had a room facing the port directly across from the Ruby we had just left. We really enjoyed sitting on the balcony and watching all the ships leave port that afternoon! Grabbed a cab to the airport and flew home the next day.