Three friends and I recently did the 7-day Classic Southern Caribbean aboard the Caribbean Princess.
Ship Info: The ship itself was always kept sparkling clean. Despite others comments on the ship showing its age, if you're not microscopically analyzing things, there were no issues. Any time we were on the promenade deck, there were always workers painting and/or varnishing the wood railings, benches, deck etc. The ship is fairly easy to navigate. There was a good mix of ages on board as well. Very few young children, a hand full of teens, and a good balance of young-mature adults. The ship offers something for all ages.
Embarkation: We landed in San Juan at 11:30 and weren't through customs etc. until approx. 1:30 (there was a bit of a line up and only 2 customs officers working). We had pre-paid transfers and met the attendants at the exit of the airport that took us directly to the pier. Once at the pier, check-in was a breeze. We were in our room no later than 2:30. We spent the remainder of the day exploring and getting used to the ship.
Stateroom: Firstly, I will NEVER cruise without having a private balcony. This was the highlight of our room. Nothing beats waking up to a different view each morning or having breakfast out on your balcony first thing. It was also just nice to sit out and have a few drinks at night. We were on Aloha Deck 12 (up high). You were able to look down on other people's balconies from where our room was. So if you're looking to have more privacy, book a room on deck 12 or higher. Our room was the perfect size for three passengers. I think cramming 4 people in the room might have made it a bit tight. However we were three girls travelling together, that's 3 luggage cases worth of clothes! We were quite comfortable for the week. We had two twin beds and the fold down bunk from the ceiling. The bathroom was small but manageable. There was lots of closet and cabinet space as well. The only thing that could be improved on is the number of outlets to charge cameras/cell phones etc. This was lacking, but not a huge problem.
Service: Overall, the service on the ship was good. We had a fantastic room steward (Marcos; on Aloha Deck) who was always somewhere down the hall greeting you with a huge smile as you left for the day's excursion. He ALWAYS had our room fully stocked with whatever we needed. I don't know when the guy sleeps to be honest...he was great. We met a lot of the crew who were all very friendly and always willing to share a good story or two as well.
Dining: the food on the ship was surprisingly good. Lots of options for picky eaters, so I'm not sure about some of the negative food comments on here...you have to be VERY picky in order to not find something that's to you're liking. They'll cook you pretty much anything. There were a few items on the buffet that were iffy, but what buffet doesn't have those "questionable" items. You could buy a coffee card to get the fancy lattes but we just drank the coffee from the buffet. It was always available...even if the buffet was closed, just walk in and pour yourself some. It's not grade A coffee, but it served just fine for the week. Orange juice, water, and iced tea was also free. As for alcohol, it's expensive on board but you're allowed to bring your own wine on (limit according to Princess is 1 bottle/person...we brought more than that, just make sure you're not bringing the entire liquor cabinet on board with you). 24hr room service was great! Our food was always at our door in under 30 min. Loved having 2 pots of coffee brought to our room in the am!! In the dining rooms, the three of us only had to share a table once the entire week. Quite honestly, I wish we had shared every night! You meet so many interesting people that come from all over the world. There were only 2 formal nights. We saw a few people dressed in gowns but for the most part it was simple cocktail dresses. Even though there were two scheduled formal nights that didn't mean you had to get dressed up. Formal wear was required only when dining in specialty restaurants and the common dining rooms. You could still eat at the buffet/by the pool wearing your casual wear.
Shore Excursions: we booked all of our excursions through Princess online prior to sailing and they were all well worth the money. I'm sure there's cheaper ways of going about shore excursions but this was our first time to any of these islands and we felt we'd rather have structure than waste time figuring out what to do once in port. We visited Paradise Point, did the tram ride, visited the Mountain Top and spent some time on Magen's Bay in St. Thomas, took a ferry ride over to Virgin Gorda and visited the stunning waters of Devil's Bay and the Baths while in Tortola (absolutely gorgeous location!! wish we had more time there), spent the day in Antigua at Rex Halcyon Resort on a private beach that included lunch on the pier (which was excellent!, lots of people trying to sell you things on the beach though) visited the Emerald Pool and Mero Beach in Dominica (beautiful, probably the prettiest island of the entire trip), and did a catamaran sail and snorkeling with sea turtles in Barbados (all you can drink on board was an added surprise).
Disembarkation: on our particular voyage, the ship encountered a technical problem (? not sure what it was), that made us late coming into San Juan. Aside from that set back it was very easy getting off the ship, finding your transfer back to the airport etc. Very organized.
Overall: We were VERY pleased with Princess Cruises and really enjoyed our
trip! Considering we were three girls all under the age of 25 travelling together, we always found something entertaining to do on board and off. Hands down, this trip was worth every penny spent. We disembarked ready to sail again!