We got into Ft. Lauderdale early afternoon the day before our cruise. Stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Conv. Center/Cruise Port (cashed in points so it was free). Hotel was 3 blocks from the cruise port. Had a nice dinner on the deck of the Bimini Boat House - on the water and a 2 block walk from the hotel. Good food and friendly service.
Took the Ace Charters bus to the ship the next day - $8.00 person. You literally could walk to the Princess Terminal if you didn't have too much luggage, but worth it for us to take the bus. We arrived before they opened for boarding, so had to wait a while. Once they stared checking in people, it went pretty fast, maybe a little over 1/2 hour to get on the ship. Went to our cabin and dropped off our carry ons, then went down to the International Cafe for a quick bite to eat. Then we went on the Treasure Hunt where you went to various locations and got a stamp on your card which you dropped in the entry bucket at the Sail Away party for a chance to win prizes. A good way to explore the ship. Our card was actually drawn and we one a free dinner at Sabbatinis!
The next day (at sea)we spent loafing around the pool and on our balcony. That night we went to our free dinner at Sabbatinis. This is the second time we have eaten at Sabbatinis. The atmosphere is nice & quiet and the service is great, but we were not impressed with the food.
We opted for the traditional dining in the DaVinci Dining room for the rest of our meals. The food was generally very good and the service was excellent. We were lucky enough to have pleasant dining companions. My wife is on a low salt diet and the Head Waiter, Alberto, went out of his way to make sure that she was accommodated. If you let them know of any special requirements they will do their best to accommodate you the whole trip. We also ate breakfast in the DaVinci Dining Room on days that we didn't have an early shore excursion.
On the second full day of the cruise, they warned us of a possible outbreak of Norovirus. They instituted special sanitation steps to control it and asked everyone to wash their hands frequently. They also eliminated self service at the Buffet and had people serving you as you went through the various stations.
We tried to avoid the crowded elevators and followed good hygiene procedures and never got sick.
The weather was pretty windy the whole trip and kicked up the seas a bit. You could definitely feel some motion and it made snorkeling difficult on our shore excursions.
We didn't do a lot for entertainment at night. Went to Movies under the stars one night and went to the comedy shows two other nights. Michael Wilson was very funny and did some great impressions! The other show we saw was Alfred & Seymour, they were hilarious. A warning - don't come to their show late!
The last day at sea was spent loafing around again. It was my wife's birthday that day. I had brought a present for her but was browsing through the jewelry store and spotted a nice necklace and a pair of earrings at a reasonable price. They were Larimar - the gemstone of the Caribbean. She loved them! That night we had Dinner at the Crown Grill. The atmosphere again was quiet and the service very good. They have a good selection of steaks and seafood. We ordered The filet mignon and also lobster. The steaks were cooked perfectly. The lobsters were little 4 oz. tails, but they brought us each four tails. So it was plenty. The only thing that was weird was when I ordered a glass of wine, the waiter asked me how many glasses I thought that I might have. I told him I would probably have two. He brought them both to me at the same time. Overall, I would recommend the Crown Grill.
The debarkation process the next day went very smoothly. We got off at the scheduled time, our bags were waiting at the baggage claim, and we breezed through customs in less than 1/2 hour total. We got a cab to take us back to the Holiday Inn Express. The cab driver didn't seem to happy that he was only taking us 3 blocks. I know those guys wait in line at least an hour to get a fare. The fare was only $5.00 but I gave him a $15.00 tip.
Since it was only 10:00 AM, we couldn't check in to the hotel, so we stored our bags and walked down to the waterfront and picked up the Water Taxi. It was $20.00/person for an all day pass. The Water Taxi takes you up and down the Intercoastal Waterway and stops at 10 different stops. If you want to sight-see, make sure you get on the big double decker boat. It has snacks and beer. We stopped at the Las Olas Blvd. stop and had lunch at Mangos. Excellent food.
We had a good time on our cruise in spite of the windy weather and extra sanitation procedures.