Let me start out by saying that I have traveled the Caribbean five other times with four other lines, and I would recommend all of the other lines over Princess. Which is surprising to me because I truly expected excellence on this line. My grandmother and her friends traveled through Alaska with Princess a few years ago and loved it! We traveled with Princess through the Caribbean and hated it! My grandmother and I actually debated flying from one of the ports back to the States. Here are some things to consider before booking Princess.
The embarkation/disembarkation process on this ship was by far the best of any cruise line I have been on. The most organized part of the cruise was the disembarkation process. Generally, you are assigned a time to leave the ship based on cabin location, seniority,flight time,and so forth. If getting off the ship in an organized and timely manner is a priority then book Princess. Every group was assigned a specific location so you did not get the same pile up by the gangway that you get with most cruises. It was a very quick and painless process, unlike the rest of the cruise. Also here's a tip, regardless of who you choose to book with, say that you have an early flight even if you are just driving five minutes back to your house. You get off much quicker that way!
The cabin size was not impressive. If you plan to fit 3 or more people in a standard sized cabin do not book Princess. Rather than a pull out couch there is a bunk bed that comes down from the ceiling. I slept on it, and it was not really that bad, but I was stuck on top until one of my traveling companions could put the ladder up the next morning for it blocked the foot of the bed near the entry way. If you choose to book Princess I have two tips, book a bigger suit for three if possible, or tell the person in the bunk to use the facilities before going to bed and don't drink any liquids before bed or eat any questionable food that may force you to use the facilities in the middle of the night.
My aunt is a huge gym rat,and the gym does not open until 7am and is somewhat small. I do not know much about the fitness classes except that they offer Yoga, Spinning, and a boot camp class daily. You can sign up in the gym. I never signed up for any treatments in the Spa. On any ship, the treatments are overpriced, but they do offer a variety of treatments which are overly advertised as is every other nickle and dimming service that can possibly be offered on the ship. The one excellence of the ship besides the embarkation/disembarkation process...product placement!
The dining experience was not our favorite. I have experienced better dining room service on Celebrity, Holland America, and Carnival. The food selection is poor and the deserts in the dining room were not my favorite. I actually found Carnival to have the simplest food for my simple taste buds. If you choose to cruise with Princess or any other cruise line know that you can always enjoy the simple tastes of the kids menu and can order as much as you like. Also if you want hot food to be served hot make sure you request it or else it will be served cold. The wait staff in the buffet were the worst! You cannot get your own juice. They serve it you, which is in theory nice, but that means actually getting it served to you in the first place. Here's another tip. If you go with anytime dining make sure you make a reservation every night in order to be seated promptly or else you will have to come back 15 or 20 minutes later and hope that the next available table has not been given away. Anytime dining was flawless on Celebrity but not so much on Holland.
I truly feel bad for the crew for they are apparently not allowed to sleep. They were always yawning and looking rather tired, no wonder no one ever smiled. I half expected the staff to start a mutiny. If you want outstanding service I say hands down Celebrity wins. The staff on this cruise were very apathetic and unhelpful. Also, do not expect to talk to any of the GMs if there is a major issue. Apparently, there are none of the ship or so it seemed. Also, the ship operates on island time so don't expect any of the bars or restaurants to be open on time. The guest relations staff was rude and mouthy. If you have a problem on the ship either try to get off at the nearest port or wait to complain via this forum, the online survey that you promptly receive in your inbox upon your return home, or some other way. But I highly advise that you refrain from complaining on board because no one cares and it will only raise your blood pressure. It will probably serve you well to skip this aggravation by not booking with Princess in the first place.
Speaking of missing employees, we never saw the cruise director Billy London. He made a few brief appearances during the shows, but I honestly cannot tell you or anyone else, for that matter, what he does. The Deputy Cruise Director,I never heard of that before, did most of the work. The singers and dancers were outstanding and the shows well orchestrated. There was even a hilarious cooking demonstration hosted by one of the Maitre Des and head chefs. Noticing again that the cruise director was absent. The comedian was also good. Daily activities included daily trivia, line dancing lessons, and more product placement presentations (typical on any ship). You and your friends can also sign up to sing in the Pop Choir for the last formal night. In my opinion, I found the cruise director staff on Celebrity to be much friendlier and personable. There were also a lot more youth and teen oriented activities on Carnival with many more poolside games.
The choice is ultimately yours, but for an equal or even a bit higher of a price, I would recommend Holland American or Carnival over Princess. Both ships are more polished and actually care about the customers. You can also speak to the GM's and see the cruise director.