Pre-Cruise: Flights- Great job by JetBlue from NY
Fort Lauderdale Motel: Rodeway Inn- Nice restaurant for lunch, Good Refurbished rooms, seventy nine+, Free Airport Shuttle and (NOT Free) $10pp to cruise dock (since we wanted to leave closer to ship boarding time) but free shuttle to
Local Restaurant, Rustic Inn Crab House. No fresh hard shell blue claw crabs (Their Specialty?) They do have frozen garlic crabs. Check ahead if you are a crab lover.
Embarkation day-Impressive! : We arrived port at 11:45, Luggage was smoothly taken by porters. They called group 1 at 12:35 and our group 3 at 12:45. Seemed to be onboard at 1:00PM! Headed for lunch at main Dinning Room -- Disappointed- closed due to special reception by one of those i.n.i.t.i.a.l.e.d groups on board. Deck 14 buffet was crowded but process surprisingly good. Went to room at 2:15. Found pre-arranged cruise line excursion tickets waiting on our bed. Also notification voucher of wine gift from TA in room. Luggage arrived in parts throughout the afternoon- plenty of time to get ready for dinner.
Cabin: Mid ship balcony on Baja Deck, B405, seemed a little smaller than recent RCI Adventure of the Sea balcony but we had lots of room. With huge closet space perpendicular to entrance, room was very efficient. No sofa and coffee table. Balcony space with two chairs and small table OK. Bathroom shower space OK. I liked the real bar soap rather than the liquid pump soap that doesn't lather up. Only one cabin steward (No assistant). Liked the steward paging system from room phone- he always called right back. We were given an option each day to order fresh (free) fruit for next day delivery. You might want to bring portable mini clock for cabin. Minor complaints fixed quickly.
Meet and Greet: Princess did not post M'n'G in the ship's "Patter". We had to rely on very nice group of organizers who let everyone know where to meet on these message boards. Although Princess sent a full group of officers to meet with us, Princess did not provide free soft drinks or snacks. Bar waiter kept busy with our cash orders. Nice touch by head chef inviting anyone to fill unreserved spots at Chef's Table (at $ 95pp.) Those who attended raved about the experience.
On Board Entertainment-Shows. We were impressed with the overall high quality! "Piano Man" superb. Hypnotist OK. Motown type "Motor City" show a must.
Food in Main Dinning Room. We chose Anytime Bordeaux Dinning-And made table/time reservations to insure table. Our party of 6 never had to wait. Food was above average. We enjoyed a long delightful selection of desserts. Our waiter Ramir, just received promotion and was a gem.
Alert: When ordering wine or any other paid drink at dinner table, the steward asks for your room card and asks you to sign order slip. At this moment, slip does not contain pricing information. The waiters are so busy they normally don't have time to hand you a priced bill at the end of dinner. Be sure to insist on final priced bill before you leave table. In this way there can't be any question if you see incorrect amount on your room statement at end of cruise.
Room Service: Excellent on time service. We ordered breakfast in room for days with early tours. Main course choice only included Egg--c-Muffin type meal. Adequate.
Days at Sea: Princess provides a full complement of activities. We were always busy either at the pool or one of the other scheduled events.
Pre Excursion/transit Panama history and informational talk by naturalist Professor Ryan a must! He told us about the 'secret' doors on deck 9 &10 to view early Panama lock transit. Only could hear announcement on special TV channel-not in room or hallway.
Excursions/Islands: Aruba- We just walked into town for brief shopping. Crystal Casino open but too early for full complement of table games. Casino in very upscale Ambassador Mall --Gucci type stores.
Cartagena Columbia: We took inexpensive CT 115- 3 hour tour. It met our expectations. The huge fort on top of hill was impressive. Some pushy vendors noted.
Costa Rica: Again we chose shorter, Banana plantation tour, LIO-105; Very good. Beware long bus rides on other tours into the mountains.
Panama: Once through locks in Gatun Lake, everyone must tender to shore to start excursions. We chose Expensive $$$ Tour # 170, Train to Panama City with 'observation' car. We were not happy since we really did not see any more locks, bridges or canal ships in our observation car-just swamp and underbrush. We did receive water, snacks and a very plain subway sandwich. Our trip to Panama City was really -- trip to observation shopping area, 5 miles from city. Return bus ride to Colon was nice, with many historic sites including old US Forts and Camps. This excursion does not expand your appreciation of the canal. You may check with tour desk for adjustments.
Jamaica-Montego Bay: We stayed on ship. It was announced that more than one tour returned late forcing the ship to depart 1-2 hours late. We heard that other tours were" unorganized."
Casino: Full complement of slots and table games with fair payoffs. Enjoyed the automatic, computer dealt, Texas Hold 'Em table. Easy to get used to -- give it a try.
Princess Photo Shop: Photos are getting more expensive: $24.99. We bought our cute 'Costa Rica' boarding picture and CD. When we printed CD when home, fancy Costa Rica overlay was gone.
Debarkation: Superb! We were in one of early groups to catch 12:10 flight. Smooth exit from our on-board meeting place, picking up luggage at terminal and passing through customs.