Although we have over 110 days sailing on Princess Ships, this was our first cruise on the Pacific Princess. We waited in the terminal where we saw the ship for the first time. It really wasn't as small as I had somehow pictured. We took a 28 day back to back cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to the Amazon River and back to Ft. Lauderdale. This cruise to the Amazon River made stops in Saint Maarten, St. Lucia, Tobago and Devil's Island before we entered the Amazon River. There were four more stops in the river, Santarem, Boca de Valeria, Parintins, and Manaus, Brazil. I won't make this a travelogue, except for the fact that the Amazon River is amazing! There were native Amazonians, monkeys, sloths, piranhas, pink fresh water dolphins and river waters that didn't mix.
The ports and tours in the Caribbean were very nice even though the ship had to pass Devil's Island on the leg south due to windy conditions. When the ship returned north to Ft. Lauderdale, the water was smooth and the stop was enjoyed by all. The tours were reasonable and interesting on the Amazon. We did not encounter many mosquitoes at all (day or night) even though we had taken our malaria pills and had our Deet spray with us. The outside doors on the Panorama Buffett, however, remained closed while in the river to limit bug stowaways.
On December 16th we checked in and got to our room -- an ocean view room on deck 4. The room was fairly good sized although the bed was "tired" so we had to have some foam added to the mattress. The bathroom and shower were tiny and the closets are poorly placed. There were floor to ceiling mirrors in the room to give it a much larger appearance. As this was a Christmas cruise the ship was adorned beautifully with trees, decorations and garland amid rich dark wood walls. The ship had the look of an exclusive English club at Christmas rather than the glitz of a larger ship. The ship had most of the things that you would expect...only smaller. The atrium was small and cozy, there were only two small shops, the dining room was smaller (only one set-seating dining room with early and late seating and no any-time dining rooms), the lounges were smaller, the casino was tiny, the pool was small and the buffet was much smaller. The Cruise staff did double duty with their usual duties that they customarily have during the day as well as being the dancers for the evening entertainment. The best thing was that this ship only holds 680 passengers and this cruise had only 570 (680 on the return trip) so there was always seating to be found at the shows, in the lounges, at the buffet and no backlog getting on or off the ship. Speaking of the lounges...forget the Vista, Explorer, Wheelhouse lounges and the Horizon Buffet. The main lounges were the Pacific Lounge, Cabaret Lounge, Club Bar and the Panorama Buffet. They were just as nice and the service was impeccable. Everything was there...only smaller. We tied up across the pier from the Caribbean Princess in St. Maarten and many came out on their balconies and looked down at us. I am sure they thought "Oh, look, a little ship! Isn't it cute".
The ship took seas a bit rockier than some of the larger ships and one dance performance had to be postponed. The entertainment was typical but good with dancers, comedians, magicians, piano performances and more. There was no theater so all of the performances were held in the Cabaret Lounge on a bit smaller scale. Other bars had their own excellent entertainment. By the way, Bingo had fewer people so it seemed easier to win. We won four times including the snowball (shared).
The food in the dining room was very good with elegant meals as well as home-style meals offered. I am not sure why anyone would want to cruise and eat meatloaf, but I am told it was good. The buffet had all of the fare that you would expect without the crowds. The coffee is typically awful! Princess has instituted a new coffee card for $29 which supercedes other cards and is only good for one cruise for regular coffee and specialty coffees can be obtained on that and the next cruise only for a punch. It's dated. **NEWS FLASH** I had heard that Princess, later this year, will institute a new policy whereas no company, like Vacations-To-Go, will be allowed to discount the price of a cruise lower than what Princess offers. We checked with Sandy, the Captain's Circle and future cruise hostess, and she said that the information is false. Princess will definitely allow discount rooms. I hope she is right.