I have cruised for fifteen years (now 48 years old), and my travelling companion (67), while new to cruising, has managed to put five cruises into her history in a mere 20 months.
My friend and I sailed on Caribbean Princess on 27 August, from Brooklyn, New York. We received an e-mail the evening before indicating that the ship would be boarding early, and also stating that the parking lot was expected to be closed, so that if one were planning on leaving a car in Brooklyn at the Cruise Port it would be at the owner's own risk As I had an option in Secaucus, New Jersey, I did leave the car there (having driven from Ottawa, Canada). However, upon completion of the cruise, it definitely appeared as if the parking lot had well survived the tropical storm which hit New York and area, and that leaving the car there would have been just fine.
At the last minute, therefore, we booked a "car" into Brooklyn from Secaucus. The driver was efficient, handled all our luggage without complaint, and got us there with a minimum of fuss. The cost for this, including tip, was $130.00 USD. There was no traffic, and we were at the Port by 09:10 in the morning. We were in the waiting lounge by 09:30, and indeed boarding did start just after 10:30 -- although staterooms were not ready.
As we have handicap issues, we did go directly to our stateroom, and found that the steward was more than willing to allow us to leave our carry-on luggage there. This made our life much easier, and as a result we were able to relax and not bother the steward for several hours.
Our Steward, Jefferson, was a pleasant gentleman, and very unobtrusive. We did see him several times the first two days, and barely after that -- although we had no requests or special needs so this is quite reasonable. Jefferson was able to acquire for me the required extension cord for the CPAP machine, and he also taped down the wire, preventing any tripping over same.
The balcony chairs had been stored inside the stateroom, presumably because of wind and rough seas. This was not too bad in our room, as it was an accessible stateroom, and thus bigger. However, in a standard stateroom this would likely have been very inconvenient. We put the chairs back outside, as we did use them, and every evening they were brought back in until mid-cruise when the "all clear" for deck furniture was given.
The ship itself was well appointed, and being under-full because of the the weather warning issues, it was very spacious -- having sailed the same ship just three months before, the comparison was interesting.
The first two days were on the rough side, but I have experienced rougher seas in the Caribbean, with nary a hurricane in sight. We did sail early from Brooklyn, by about two hours, and were well out to sea by the time the worst of the weather created a nuisance land-side.
One side-effect of this was a change to the ports of call. Halifax, originally scheduled for Monday, was shifted to Tuesday (although we did actually arrive there by six Monday evening). As a result, Saint John, New Brunswick was dropped entirely. This was not a particular issue for us, being Canadian and having been there in the past. However, as it was not one of the ports of call on the May cruise, we were looking forward to it as a change of pace.
The dining room staff was above average, and the food was what I expected of Princess.
We took no shore excursions, so I have no comment on those. This was, however, specifically because we'd been on the same cruise just a couple of months previously.
We did disembark together in Bar Harbor, Maine, where we ate at Geddy's (a favourite of mine) and did some shopping. We also disembarked in Newport, Rhode Island, where we went to the Freenet Irish Pub for lunch -- again, a favourite of mine. Otherwise, I never left the ship for anything beyond a stroll in Halifax. My travelling companion did get off in Boston, but with a specific purpose in mind, and was back within two hours.
This was Captain Philip Pickford's last cruise commanding the Caribbean Princess at this time. He moved to the Dawn Princess at the end of this cruise. He is a personable man, and willingly signed my Captain's Circle photograph taken with him. He could do little about the weather or the difficulties regarding the port adjustments, and that was understandable.
He offered little commentary during the cruise, which is typical of him (I've sailed under him in the past). However, every day we did get at least one report directly from him. On the Sunday, he chose to comment upon the issues with the weather, and concluded by saying that everyone should just relax and "enjoy this exhilarating experience." While we personally appreciated this comment, I'm sure there were some people who were less than happy with the circumstances. However, the Captain was correct, this was a rare opportunity to see how weather affects a sailing, and it was overall enjoyable.
Thus, given the circumstances, one must say the cruise was both successful and pleasant.