Hello! I really hope this review is helpful! I'm C a 29 yo and I took this a 14 day cruise with my HUSBAND : ) M who is 30 yo.
Past Cruising experience;
We had previously been on 2 cruises together on Carnival. Mainly because they were in budget, and we flat out didn't know better. WE had done a 7 day eastern caribbean and a 7 day western caribbean with them. Our last cruise with them was our last straw. We had heavy smokers, illicit drug users in the room next to us and carnival refused to do anything about it. It was miserable. We had paid the money for a balcony room and were begging for them to move us to an interior room- anything to get away from them, their noise, and the smell of pot.
How/Why we chose princess:
When in port on previous cruises we would always go to the top deck and look at the other boats. We talked to people carrying the other cruise line bags, and all the princess people seemed to be the happiest! We also were jealous of the "cool towels" they got in line to get back on the boat. While looking at numerous cruiseline websites we saw Princess had a "No Smoking on balcony" policy! SCORE! They also had a 14 day cruise that left San Juan the day after our wedding. Sign us up! We were pumped!
Booking through the cruise line:
I went ahead and just booked through Princess because I had so many questions. I looked at orbitz, and princess's website, and there didn't seem to be that much of a price difference. So, for simplicity sake I phoned Princess- and we were effortlessly booked in a mini-suite. The staff was awesome, helpful, and really nice. I was already impressed!
Anchors away! Shuttles and Embarkation!
Ofcourse, since this was our honeymoon, we were EXHAUSTED the day we got on the ship. We left the wedding at 10:30 and were at the hotel by 11. We had to get up at 4 am to get to the airport on time, and then had to change planes in Atlanta. We were both tired, and hungry by the time we landed at 2:30pm in San Juan. I was praying boarding the ship would go easy, and it did! We grabbed our bags and when found the "princess transfer" line. It was more of a cluster shuck, and was really disorginized. I looked at M, rolled my eyes and before I could even complain we were being taken to the bus. I was uneasy about our luggage ridding on a different bus then we were, but it all worked out. Literally 10 minutes later we were in at the pier and there was no line at all to get through security. We walked through and walked straight to an open window, got our keycards, and walked straight onto the ship. I was amazed! The airport was unorginized, but the pier and embarkation was a breeze!
The life jacket drill:
We LOVED the fact that princess meets in seperate locations. We met at Sabatinis resturant for the drill, which was LOVELY compared to carnival where they cram you like clowns in a car on the deck and can't hear or see the demonstration. The drill took 15 mintues, and was nice and air conditioned, orginized, and informative. Already we were impressed with how orginized princess was compared to carnival.
The mini-suite was amazing. We were in cabin D617. Wonderful location! Very quiet, close enough to stairs that it was convienent but not too close for noise/traffic. The mini suite had 2 tvs, and a really big balcony. The biggest sell for us was the bath tub. Not so much for the "tub" but it made our shower more normal size! We really didn't need all the extra space but for our honeymoon it was nice! Next time will probably go regular balcony! : ) Bed was comfortable, so were pillows, and room stewart Tito did a MARVELOUS job! we loved him! :) He was as sweet as could be!
Did the "late" dining at 8:15 pm. We had always done late dining on Carnival because that way dinning didn't interfear with ports. Probably will do early dinning on the next Princess cruise just because by the time 8:15 came we were beyond starving! The food was wonderful- even the food on the buffet! Wide variety and very good quality! Carnivals food everything tasted freezer burnt and like it was cooked in a big pail of butter. M and I hated the buffet on carnival because it appeared to be made with yesterdays left overs. We thought the food on Princess was of higher quality and caliber. And most importantly it tasted like what the food was suppose to taste like, ie chicken tasted like chicken. Not butter. *note that my favorite thing was the hand dipped ice cream at Scoops. The strawberry ice cream was fresh, and the sprinkles on top made my life complete! It was heaven!
The Lido Deck:
We loved the variety of pools and spaces on the lido deck. We really used them all depending on our mood. We did watch movies under the stars numerous nights, which was LOVELY! We also enjoyed a few afternoons with the live bands at the other pool. MOST of our pool days were spent in the santuary ($10 per person for half day). We loved it up there, the shade, the quiet, it really was tranquil! All in all there are options for everyone! If you want a quiet area to read and relax, its there. If you want live band and sun, its there, if you want TV, its there. It literally covers all kinds of travelers!
The Extras and Entertainment:
In Vines (the wine bar) we signed up for 2 wine tasting classes ($15 pp) and loved it! They had wine with cheese pairings and they were really fun! We also did a lot of trivia! (we LOVE trivia). We missed most of the shows as we had late dining. We did see the comedians and they were for the most part really funny! : ) We did feel most the entertainment was aimed at older generations, but we knew that was what the boat was. Not too many people in their 20s on that ship and that was A-OK with us! : )
Why we will sail them again:
There is no way to write all the details that made our trip so wonderful. All the staff we encountered were delightful, and really people persons! You can really tell this cruise line holds itself to a higher standard, and people take pride in what they do. Aside from the transfer at the airport, my expectations were more then exceeded!