We just got back last week off the Caribbean Princess and had a great time with one exception. Within our first hour on the ship while walking down the rear steps I slipped, fell and landed on my butt with the weight on my wrist resulting in a severe sprain which was ultimately diagnosed as a fracture. And we hadn't started drinking yet!
We sailed the CB 3 years ago and were a bit hesitant to go back because the first time out was not a great experience and that is what we look for in a cruise. However in the three years they have made several changes that got rid of the issues we had the last time. Not that all was perfect but it was 100% better this time out.
Sailing from Brooklyn is great. Walked right in, up to the desk, signed in and went to the waiting room. We were early so after boarding large wedding parties and groups we got on and were able to go right to our cabin. First time there wasn't a delay getting in. Dropped off out carry-ons and went about making reservations.
First stop was The Sanctuary. Do not miss this if you don't mind spending a little extra. There was some misinformation posted here about this but here is the story. You can make either partial or full reservations for the entire week as soon as you get on board. You don't need to get up at 6 each morning to get on line, unless its might be for a wait list. If you go as soon as you get on board no problem. We booked 3 half days on "at sea" days and we wished we had done more. The place is amazing. It's quiet away from the kids pools and MUTS so no real noise. The lounges are padded and separated from other loungers so you don't need to climb over people to sit. The attendants are terrific. Your seats are reserved for the entire time so no searching. Plus the spa pool is adults only and a few steps down so you can cool off when needed. It's $10 per person for 1/2 day 8-12:30 or 1-5:30 or $20 for the whole day. There is a discount if you book the whole cruise. We loved it there.
Our first meal was in the Island Dining room although they don't advertise it being open but you get to stay away from people experiencing buffet overload. Muster drill was a pain as usual. We went to our balcony for the sail away and opened the first of two bottles of wine we were allowed to bring on board. It was a beautiful day as was the weather throughout the cruise.
Dinner was terrific the first night and we choose anytime dining. I'm a very impatient person and don't like lines but these weren't too bad throughout the cruise. Never had to wait for more than 15 minutes for a table. One observation. The wait staff in the dining rooms and specialty restaurants seem to cater more to larger tables that tables for two. We had to wait longer than we should for dish clearing, menus etc but this was a minor issue. We ate at both the Coral and Island dining rooms and there is no difference is food or service.
Buffet-This was unorganised chaos on our first sailing and a big issue with people coming in from both ways and in the middle and there was no organization. This time they had one entrance and exit the middle for both so the lines were smoother and the people not as aggravated. Food was typical buffet good, warm and plenty. The juices were warm each morning so just added some ice. One night we had dinner there and they do it up nice with place mats and settings and glassware on the tables. Not cheesy at all.
Pools-We used the spa pool and Terrace pool mostly on port days when we didn't get off the ship. The lounge chairs at the terrace are those mesh type seats and not too comfortably if you (like me) are hefty. But you can deal with it. We tried to stay away from the middle pools as they were kid friendly and MUTS/Music was too loud for us.
Entertainment-Was good typical ship type shows. Please see Alfred and Seymour a comedy duo from inner city LA who were hysterical. Not what you might typically find on a cruise. They had daily entertainment in the Piazza which is the heart of the ship. Beautifully done and comfortable you can get wine, cocktails, coffee or snacks through out.
IF YOU WANT TO TREAT YOURSELVES-Make sure to get the Ultimate Balcony Dinner (Try for it on a day where there is a late sailing so its not too windy. Very romantic and luxurious. They set up a table on your balcony with your own waiter and you get Champagne, Cocktails, Appetizers, Main Course (The largest lobster tail Ive ever had on ship and a fillet mignon) and desert with Chocolate covered strawberries and candies and an 8 x 10 picture free. It's $50 per person and tip if you want to. But worth it and more value than the specialty restaurants and very romantic.
Over all the ship has gotten it's act together. The staff is great the lines for all things are much more organized and flow easier. It is going into dry dock soon so those aesthetic touches that need to be addressed will be soon. We highly recommend the ship.
ONE FINAL HIGHLIGHT-We got off the ship and collected our bags and sought out a porter to help due to my injured wrist. The guy that helped us looked familiar. It turned out to be Vito Antuofermo former middleweight boxing champ from the late 70's -80's was a thrill to meet him and chat a bit for a few minutes. Looks like he could still hold his own.